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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Edward Jaworski, of Mahtomedi, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of criminal vehicular operation, one count of drunken driving and one count of driving after cancellation in Washington County District Court. Jaworski was involved in an Aug. 22, 2010, crash at Valley Creek Road and Woodbury Drive that severely injured East Ridge High School student Sean Fitzpatrick. Two other teens, Woodbury High School students Paige Plunkett and Chelsea Vadnais, were also in a car with Fitzpatrick when it was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Jaworski.
Minnesota's oldest ice cream parlor is up for sale. Selma's Ice Cream Parlour in Afton has sat vacant since the winter of 2009, when it closed for the season and never reopened. Selma's eventually went into foreclosure and was bought by CorTrust Bank at a sheriff's sale for $746,611.60. CorTrust Bank, which is based in Mitchell, S.D., has a branch in Woodbury. Northmarq is handling the sale. The asking price is $299,000. Ronn Thomas, vice president of brokerage for Northmarq, said Selma's has been on the market for the last few months.
Ann Haering's fight has come to an end. The East Ridge High School senior, and Woodbury resident, died Sunday, Feb. 20 after her battle with leukemia. She was 18. "My best memory of Ann will be when she could just be herself in between when she was sick," said Samantha Greeley, an East Ridge senior and friend of Haering's. "I'll remember when she could just have fun with us." Haering's fight had been a roller coaster for the past four years. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Feb.
For past few weeks local parents have been advocating to save their neighborhood elementary schools from possible closure to make room for an expanded Spanish Immersion program. However, one group - students at the Gateway gifted and talented program - has been mostly quiet until now. A group of Gateway parents at Bailey Elementary, which houses the Gateway program, is circulating a petition requesting that no change be made to the schools.
For the past 10 years, Ashley Hurley has been haunting and scaring at Zywiec's Haunting Experience in Cottage Grove. "Making people scream is my favorite thing," she said. Hurley, who now acts as the Haunting Experience manager, learned to scare from her father, who was also a haunter. "My dad was actually the first person to take me through Zywiec's," Hurley said. "I loved it and from there on out, I loved everything about Halloween." Now in its 21st year, Zywiec's has grown to become one of the best haunted houses in Minnesota.
During the day Brenda Stanton, of Woodbury, is a paraprofessional at Pine Hill Elementary School in Cottage Grove, but during her off time, Stanton can be found experimenting in her kitchen. Stanton sells all-natural energy bars and gourmet popcorn with her business Driving Force Energy Co. Stanton sells such flavors of popcorn as blueberry, chocolate, peanut butter, peppermint, jalapeno, strawberry, rhubarb, caramel and even spicy habanera.
When fall rolls around, it brings with it cooler weather, changing leaves and fresh, crisp apples. "When you bite into a fresh Minnesota apple, it doesn't get much better than that," said John McPherson, who is the orchard director at the Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings. For many families, heading out to the apple orchard is a tradition, whether it's to pick a few apples, drink some hot cider or maybe just go for a hayride. "It's a chance for some people to be outside," said Alice McDougall, owner of McDougall's Apple Junction in Denmark Township.
Michael Frome Academy is no more -- at least in name and location. On July 1 the environment-focused charter school packed up its classrooms and moved to a new facility in St. Paul Park. "We needed to find a bigger spot," director Kirsten Kinzler said. "It was pretty packed in our old space -- it was very close quarters in there." The school will include kindergarten through fifth grade this fall. The new facility is housed in the activities building and parish hall at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in St. Paul Park on Holley Avenue.
Many consider Belwin Conservancy a great place to observe nature and the land, but next month the Afton destination will also be a place to observe the night sky. In a partnership with the Minnesota Astronomical Society, Belwin is in the process of building an observatory, which will house a 10-inch diameter refracting telescope. The observatory will be located near the education center. "It's one thing to see a picture in a book of space, but to see a live image like that, there's something special about that," Belwin director Steve Hobbs said.
After 40 years as a part of District 833, Liberty Ridge Elementary School third grade teacher Mary Wellman has seen a lot of change. Wellman has seen everything from women teachers being forbidden to wear pants to no outdoor recess to not having specialist teachers. "I've seen a lot of changes, but the thing that has remained constant is the 8- and 9-year-olds," she said. Wellman, 62, will be retiring at the end of this year. "I'm young enough to still do a lot of other things," she said.