Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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Cottage Grove resident Bob Beskar has made Royal Oaks Elementary his home for the past 12 years as the school's custodian, but something seemed to be missing. At the end of every day Beskar, who works as the school's night cleaner, takes down the school's American flag. "People see it during the day, but the older elementary schools don't have the lighted flags so it comes down every night," said Beskar, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
It's finally here. After nearly 10 years, several starts and stops and a reshaped vision, the Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center is a reality. Arts Connection held a grand opening for the Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center-East Ridge High School campus Feb. 22. The East Ridge campus includes the new Black Box Theater. "It's so exciting," said Michelle Witte, executive director for Arts Connection. The East Ridge campus joins the already established Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center-Rivertown campus.
While many Americans watched President Barack Obama's second inauguration on TV or via the Web, two East Ridge High School students found themselves in the heart of the historic occasion. Freshman Grant Feuer and sophomore Lynnae Boe traveled to Washington, D.C., Jan. 19-23 for the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference. "I never saw myself actually getting this experience to be on the mall that day," Boe said of the Jan. 21 event.
It's the time of year when many people find themselves fighting the common cold, but last week a case of whooping cough, or pertussis, was confirmed at District 833's Lake Middle School. Since January of last year a total of 160 whooping cough cases have been reported, according to Fred Anderson, an epidemiologist with the Washington County Public Health & Environment Department. Whooping cough is a respiratory illness that is caused by bacteria. The incubation period for the bacteria is about 7-10 days, Anderson said.
Gary and Lori Swanson's farm in Afton embodies the "family farm." Gary Swanson spent his childhood on the farm, which his family bought in 1942, and he has since raised his own family there. "I never got far in life," Gary Swanson joked about staying on the same property all his life. The Swanson family was named the 2012 Washington County Farm Family through the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program.
The 34th-annual Art in the Park, sponsored by the Afton Area Business Association, will be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22.-23, in Afton's Old Village. Roughly 70 to 80 art vendors will set up around Afton's Town Square Park selling a variety of items including jewelry, stained glass, photography, lawn art, painting, clothing, purses, doll clothes, hair accessories and garden art. "We've a got a few really unique photographers," said Kathy Jarvis, one of the event organizers.
Over the last two years, Washington County Libraries has grown its eBook collection to more than 2,500 titles. Now, it is hoping to expand that collection further and create opportunities for local authors. Washington County Libraries recently launched "Library Local Content," which allows local and independent authors to submit eBooks to be included in the library's catalogue.
Couples seeking a unique wedding experience will have that opportunity during the Washington County Fair. Free weddings and vow renewals will be offered for the first time at the Washington County Fair Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 1-5. Couples will sign up 30 minutes before their desired time slot for either a wedding or vow renewal at the fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. The ceremonies, being officiated by 10th Judicial District Judge Greg Galler, will take place on a hill overlooking Washington County's Master Gardeners Fairest Garden.
The recently reopened Selma's Ice Cream Parlour received a poor welcome to the neighborhood earlier this month. Selma's was broken into two nights in a row. According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the break-ins occurred June 15 and June 16. A records clerk declined to release additional information, saying the case remained under investigation. "I know it's not personal, so we don't take it that way," said Becky Nickerson, owner of Selma's. "It feels really invasive.
East Ridge High School seniors made their final walk on Saturday during the school's graduation ceremony. East Ridge's graduation was held June 2 at the Perch, the school's gymnasium. "These students are high achieving, caring responsible individuals," East Ridge principal Aaron Harper said. Roughly 348 students received diplomas on Saturday. The ceremony included two student speakers - the class president and a student-elected speaker - as well as a student-elected staff speaker.