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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"Once Upon a Mattress" is the fall musical at Woodbury High School. Based on the children's story "The Princess and the Pea," it features a dictatorial queen, aptly named Queen Aggravain, who decrees that nobody in the kingdom can marry until her son, Prince Dauntless, finds a wife of his own. That's not likely to happen anytime soon, thanks to the queen's interference. The kingdom's maidens and bachelors seemed destined for a life of singlehood until a feisty princess named Winnifred blows into the kingdom like a hurricane.
TJ Maxx/Home Goods opened Sunday morning in Cottage Grove. The 40,000 square foot complex is the company's first dual site in Minnesota. The scene was skin to black friday, with some shoppers camping out overnight in order to get the best selection of Rae Dunn pottery, clothing, food, housewares and other items.
SCHOOL DISTRICT 833 — If anyone deserved to write his name in the wet cement at the brand-new Oltman Middle School, it's Mike Vogel. Vogel, who will retire Oct. 31, arguably did more than anyone to help grow and reshape the district's footprint during a quarter century of change. He negotiated purchase of the land and oversaw the construction of both East Ridge High School and the new Oltman Middle School. The South Washington School Board bid farewell to Vogel at its Oct. 17 meeting.
District 833 students scored well on an annual standardized test that measures college and career readiness. Results released Oct. 17 showed that the graduating class of 2018 exceeded the state average in all four categories — mathematics, science, English and reading. Their overall composite score of 22.4 beat the state average of 21.3. "We're pretty proud of that percentage," said Brian Boothe, director of professional development and accountability. "A majority of our students who take the ACT are demonstrating some aspect of career and college readiness."
Lowering health care costs continues to be my top priority, as it was two years ago. Last session we tackled this issue head on and made great progress, approving new laws that banned the practice of surprise billing, and lowered premium rates for those purchasing health insurance on the individual market. Because of this, we finally ended the double-digit increases Minnesotans had experienced every year since the implementation of Obamacare. We also provided more choices by bringing more competition into the market and provided better access to care. We're off to a great start, but there's still more work to be done.
As a parent of two teenagers attending a public high school, I know that now more than ever Minnesota needs a strong investment in all education, pre-K through career training. Our communities continue passing referendums but our classroom sizes are bulging and teachers pay for supplies out-of-pocket. We can no longer place the burden of financing our schools on property taxpayers because the Legislature doesn't want to even pass funding levels that keep up with inflation.
SCHOOL DISTRICT 833 — Teachers who want extra supplies for their classrooms often have to dig into their own pockets. Or, they can appeal to the public's generosity by posting their request on the crowdfunding website www.donorschoose.org . A long wishlist had accumulated on the site from teachers in District 833: • A new classroom set of three novels and plays for a 12th grade language arts class at South Washington County Alternative High School • A new rug and adjustable wobble chairs for second-graders at Crestview Elementary School
WOODBURY — Minnesota native and 2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson is the featured guest at this year's Wellness Fair at Woodbury Central Park, 8595 Central Park Place. The fair runs 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, and is sponsored by Woodbury Thrives, a grassroots organization that promotes physical, mental and social health. An elite middle-distance runner, Tollefson was born in Dawson and attended Villanova University in Philadelphia, where she was five-time NCAA champion.
St. Paul police have a man in custody following a domestic incident this morning at Oltman Middle School in Cottage Grove. According to a statement, Cottage Grove police were notified at 8:52 a.m. by the school resource officer of a distraught woman who said she had been held against her will and assaulted by her domestic partner. The woman and her partner had been dropping off a student at Oltman when the woman said she used the opportunity to escape.
WOODBURY — Police, fire and EMS responders were kept busy by severe thunderstorms that barrelled through the area Wednesday, Oct. 3. Tree damage was reported at several locations, including Settlers Ridge Parkway and Whitewater Drive. Public Safety spokesperson Michelle Okada said they also received reports of trees on power lines at Crackleberry Trail and Glen Road. High winds toppled this tree in the 3900 block of Fairway Drive near Bailey Road. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia