William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.
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WOODBURY — Trial. Error. Repeat. That's the unspoken methodology of a group of Math and Science Academy students. Next month, their team, the Rhythm Packed Mechanics (RPM), will compete at the FTC (First Tech Challenge) World Championship in Detroit. The second-year robotics team has been focused on improving the design of their sole nonhuman teammate, a zippy little cube with claws named Phillip D. Lander. "Once we get closer to the competition, we meet a lot more frequently and lengthen the amount of practices," co-captain Anita Chetty said.
Monkeys made mischief monkeys at Middleton Elementary School, courtesy of author and illustrator David LaRochelle. He held hourly sessions Feb. 27 in the school library, where he shared his creative process with students by telling a story and drawing it on the spot. The subject: Why you should never give a book to a monkey. LaRochelle began by writing numbers one to 10 on an easel. He then turned each digit into a picture that moved the story along.
ST. PAUL — A new market could emerge for Minnesota's licensed hemp farmers. A bipartisan legislation introduced Feb. 18 in the state Senate would allow hemp farmers to sell their product to in-state medical cannabis manufacturers. Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, who co-authored the bill, said it would give local growers another source for their product, which typically is used in food, clothing and rope.
COTTAGE GROVE — The good news: technology is making firefighter protective clothing more lightweight, breathable and effective. The bad news: it's not cheap. Consider a recent donation of 57 protective hoods to the Cottage Grove Fire Department by the city's public safety board. In an unusual move, the board footed the entire $5,800 cost. Fire Chief Rick Redenius, who initially requested around $1,000, isn't arguing.
WOODBURY -- Their performnce of “Alice” earned the cast of New Life Academy 2nd place In Section 4 of the Minnesota State High School League One Act Play Festival. The play, written by Jerome McDonough, is a one-act mashup of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. The play, which was set in an urban subway station, was directed by Janette Bach and Gina Kortuem.
NEWPORT — Newport Collision Center has new owners. Steve Adams and Heather Hegi bought the business in December. Previously, they owned Crystal Auto Spa and Auto Body in Crystal. They closed that location and merged the two businesses. "Otherwise, it's business as usual," Adams said. "All the same staff has stayed on." They bought the shop from Dave and Kathy Baker, who retired after running the business since 2001. Newport Collision Center has operated in the same location since 1982.
Eight teachers in District 833 have have been nominated for the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Education Minnesota, who organize and underwrite the contest, released the list of nominees Jan. 18. The candidates are: • Scott Alton, first and second grade teacher at Pine Hill Elementary School • Linnea Balderrama, English language learning, Grey Cloud Elementary School • Karen Buckeye, special education, Park High School • Linnea Gamache, reading specialist, Cottage Grove Elementary School
Legislation by state Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, is aimed at preventing gun violence in schools. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Bigham on Jan. 17, would require school districts to establish threat assessment teams to spot and assess individuals who might be planning an attack. The teams typically include police, mental health professionals, teachers and school staff. The threat assessment protocol was developed by the Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education in response to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
COTTAGE GROVE — Officials, staff and residents celebrated the completed expansion of Norris Square at a Jan. 8 dedication ceremony. The $65 million project tripled the size of the senior living community. The new campus features a 68-unit independent living building and a 75-unit skilled nurse and memory care facility as well as a three-story independent living building. All three are connected by concourses, eliminating the need to venture outside in inclement weather. The project also added the equivalent of 72 full-time jobs.
About 50 people joined together for a hands-on barn-building demonstration Jan. 13 at the Woodbury Central Park Amphitheatre. Audience members were invited to join preservationists in assembling a scale model of a 19th century vintage barn. The educational event and ice cream social was intended to promote preservation efforts in regard to the historic Miller Barn in Woodbury.