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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Raucous Raptors rocked the rafters at the conclusion of Sunday’s commencement at East Ridge High School. Nearly 450 giddy grads tossed their hats in the air at the conclusion of the ceremony in the school’s gymnasium, as Principal Jim Smokrovich introduced the class of 2016 to the world. In her remarks to her classmates, class president Haley Webb recalled her anxiety during her first year at East Ridge. She wondered if kids from Cottage Grove would mix with kids from Woodbury.
Gary Johnston didn't choose the flamingos. They chose him. He's the man who tends the ever-shifting flock of kitschy lawn ornaments that greet motorists along the east side of Highway 61 between 80th Street and Summit Avenue in Cottage Grove. Johnston, whose property abuts the highway, recently rearranged the colony of flamingoes — also known collectively as a flamboyance — to reflect the biological imperatives of the season.
East Ridge High School launched the local 2016 prom season with a dance Saturday evening at A'bulae in St. Paul, following the grand march in the afternoon in the high school gym. (Staff photos by William Loeffler)
The robotics teams at East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools each received $5,000 from Northern Tier Energy in March. The donations to the District 833 schools are part of a strategy to work more closely with the robotics programs, said Paul Anderson, Northern Tier's vice president of public relations. "Over the past couple years we've taken on, I guess you'd say, a higher level look at our contribution within the community, he said. "We're trying to make sure we're fully involved and engaged in the community."
The damp and dreary evening is classic horror movie weather, with lashing rain and gusting wind. It's the kind of night when a couple's car breaks down on a lonely stretch of road and they're forced to seek help by knocking on the door of the only sinister gothic mansion for miles around. The wet gloom lends an appropriately spooky vibe to the proceedings inside a small storefront in St. Paul Park, where auditions are under way for a locally produced slasher film.
A Newport man was convicted March 4 of stealing funds from the family trust of his mentally impaired father. Jeff Allen Johnson, 61, pleaded guilty to Washington County District Court to two felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail, with credit for one day served and the option to serve out the remainder on work release. Johnson was ordered to pay restitution of $84,785.15 to Woodbury Health Care Center—$100 a month. He will also serve 10 years of probation.
It may have seemed slightly nuts to clear brush in Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park in the middle of February. That's by design, says Andy Schilling, watershed resource specialist at the South Washington Watershed District. The conservation group worked to clear 20 acres of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle along a section of paved trail north of Ravine Lake and south of the pine plantation below the Washington County South Service Center. They planned to finish by end of the month, Schilling said, but the work might extend into March.
Despite a slight dip, District 833 continues to graduate its high school students at a rate well above the state average. A Minnesota Department of Education report released Feb. 22 showed that the district graduated 91.05 percent of its 1,386 students in 2015. That's nearly 10 points higher than the overall Minnesota graduation rate of 81.88 percent, but slightly below the district's 2014 graduation rate of 92.5 percent.
Cable TV subscribers in south Washington County now have an alternative to Comcast. CenturyLink has been given the green light to provide their Prism TV service to select homes in Cottage Grove, Woodbury, Newport, St. Paul Park and Grey Cloud Island Township. Service to select homes could begin at the end of the month. The South Washington County Cable Commission approved a five-year franchise for CenturyLink at its Feb. 11 meeting at Cottage Grove City Hall.
Woodbury High School’s production of “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” took second last week in the 3AA section finals of the Minnesota One-Act Play Competition. East Ridge was fourth with its adaptation of “William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.” The tournament took place Feb. 3 at Park High School. Eagan took the top spot in the four-way face off. They will perform their winning production of “Doubt: A Parable” at the 2016 State One Act Play Festival Friday, Feb. 12. The two-day festival at St. Catherine University’s O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St.