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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COTTAGE GROVE — Three people were injured, one seriously, after a wrong-way, head-on collision July 27 on Highway 61 in Cottage Grove. The driver of one of the cars was arrested after refusing a breathalyzer test. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that Maria Melendez of St. Paul was driving northbound on Highway 61 from 80th Street shortly after 7 p.m. when her 1998 Toyota Camry collided with a southbound 2012 Camry driven by Christian McCormick Ellis, also of St. Paul.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — She was a "boss lady" whose sex trafficking ring enslaved vulnerable foreign women. Now, she's looking at a long prison stretch. Sophia Wang Navas, 50, of Chino Hills, California, has entered guilty pleas to racketeering and sex trafficking, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced July 31. She faces up to 12.5 years in prison. The racketeering charge includes the concealment of the proceeds from the sex trafficking of Chinese females throughout the Twin Cities metro, including Oakdale, Woodbury, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Blaine and St. Louis Park.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — Put down that smartphone. You've binged enough on "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Game of Thrones." Binge on fresh country air instead. The Washington County Fair opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5. Enjoy food, carnival rides, truck pulls, live music, arts and crafts and 4-H live animal exhibits. Live shows include country singer Tim Sigler 8 p.m. Friday and the Red Rock Swing Band 3 p.m. Sunday.
COTTAGE GROVE — It's been a short summer for Nick Falde. July 5 was his first day of work as the new principal of South Washington County Alternative High School. "I like being part of the alternative learning type environment because every kid has a story," Falde said. "And I think you can get more in depth into their story and really get to know them as individuals. It helps with goal setting and it helps them get to their next step, whatever that next step may be, college or the military."
OAKDALE — The Metropolitan Council is moving ahead with the public engagement phase for the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project. Last week, the council hosted the first of a series open houses intended to gather community comment on the nine-mile, round-trip route that will run from St. Paul to Woodbury. About 60 people attended a July 18 open house at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale. The Gold Line will run from Union Depot through the East Side of St. Paul, Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury.
Pete Potyondy, 35, of Cottage Grove, plays the title character in the Locally Grown Theatre production of "Sherlock Holmes." The show is free and runs 7 p.m. July 25-29 at the outdoor amphitheater at Cottage Grove City Hall. The play was written by Ashley Martinson based on the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For more information, visit www.locallygrowntheatre.org . William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia
If you go: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" runs at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School, 4200 Pioneer Dr., Woodbury. Performances are 7 p.m. July 20-21 and 27-28 and 3 p.m. July 22 and 29. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at https://merrillartscenter.org/ It may have Disney in its pedigree, but Woodbury Community Theatre isn't putting on a kids show. Their production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," which opens Friday at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School, embraces the dark witch-burning delirium of medieval Paris.
Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Yetter was honored June 26 at the Washington County Commissioners meeting. Yetter was selected by the Lakes Center for Youth and Families to be the 2017 recipient of the James Trudeau Law Enforcement Award. With Yetter is Sheriff Dan Starry, commissioners Stan Karwoski, Gary Kriesel, Lisa Weik, and Fran Miron, Lakes Center executive director Matt Howard, Carol Trudeau, Rep. Bob Dettmer and Commissioner Jack Lavold. Submitted photo courtesy of Washington County
WOODBURY — While other children her age probably were splashing in a pool or riding their bikes, 11-year-old Norah Badroos stood in a rehearsal studio at Merrill Community Arts Center, with one eye on her script and the other on her fellow actors. "We're learning to use our emotions when we act, to have fun doing our performance," she said. Norah and her young castmates had signed up for The Play's the Thing, one of several summer day camps at the center. They spent the week rehearsing "Just Like Us," a play by Craig Sodaro.
CubERRt the robot showed off its motor skills at the June 21 South Washington County School Board meeting. Manning (or womaning) the controls was Iaong Lor, captain of the East Ridge High School robotics team, who call themselves the East Ridge Robotics Ominous Raptors (ERRORs). She was assisted by team members Kennedy Uzpen and Alex Gerber. The ERRORs designed and built CubERRt to compete against other robots in tournaments here and in Detroit. They finished in second place May 19 at the Minnesota State High School League Championship at the University of Minnesota.