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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WOODBURY — There is still time to help a foster child by donating new backpacks, baby items, pajamas, stuffed animals and books to Crossroads Church in Woodbury. They are bundling these items to make "placement bags" that will be given to children who have been placed in the foster care system. The public can donate backpacks, pajamas, books, toothbrushes, toothpaste and blankets in three age categories: Baby — ages newborn to 2; elementary — ages 3-9; and teen — ages 10-18.
Their names were Arnold Alvin Ades, Mark Mason Steeley, William Lee Christenson, Raymond Charles Huot Jr., William James Crockett, Gary Wayne Peterson and Marlyn Ronald Anderson. The first three were all members of the 1967 graduating class at Park High School. All were born or lived in Cottage Grove or St. Paul Park. All served in the Vietnam War. None came back alive. Their names are among the 58,000 inscribed on the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
COTTAGE GROVE — Our country's military veterans deserve more than just our thanks, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a capacity crowd in the Park High School gymnasium on Nov. 10. The senator spoke at the Wolfpack Air Force JROTC Veterans Day Ceremony. It was held on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in November 1918.
COTTAGE GROVE — The word on the street is that there are words near your feet. The paved trail at the inclusive playground at Woodridge Park in Cottage Grove bears a poem, stenciled in white letters, that reads: Whether you stand firm like a mighty tree Or softly sway like a beautiful flower, However life may move in you, Share in this place a precious hour.
Newport Elementary School is overcoming one of the biggest obstacles to learning: poverty. The school's improved scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test earned them a spot on the annual "Beating the Odds" report that was published in September by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was the school's second consecutive year on the list. "Newport has historically been one of the lowest performing schools," Principal Rich Romano said. "That's not the case anymore."
COTTAGE GROVE — Charlene Stevens has been fired as city administrator. City Council unanimously voted to terminate her contract at its Nov. 7 meeting. "I do want to thank Charlene Stevens for her years of service to the City Council, city staff and to the citizens of Cottage Grove," Mayor Myron Bailey said. The move follows her yearly performance review, which City Council member Steve Dennis called for at the Sept. 19 City Council meeting.
East Ridge High School's fall musical, "Les Miserables" opens Friday, Nov. 9 and runs two weekends through Nov. 18. "Les Miserables" chronicles the journey of French peasant and ex-convict Jean Valjean as he tries to build a new life and be a surrogate father to a little girl named Cosette. But he also must stay one step ahead of Javert, the relentless police inspector who is determined to put him back in prison.
ST. PAUL PARK — A neighborhood Halloween attraction signed off Oct. 31 after more than 30 years. The Nelson family's tricked-out yard display in St. Paul Park attracted generations of costumed kids with its rows of tombstones, hanging skeletons and gallery of glowing jack o' lanterns. Family members would dress up as witches and vampires. "I've never been at my own home for 33 years to pass out candy," said Dawn Walker of Hastings. "'Cause I'm the head witch here."
ST. PAUL — DFL Challenger Anne Claflin came from behind to unseat GOP incumbent Keith Franke in the race to represent state house District 54A. Final but unofficial results show Claflin, of South St. Paul, with 9,300 votes. Franke, of St. Paul Park, finished with 8,925 votes. Her victory flips the district back to its tradtional blue. Franke, the former mayor of St. Paul Park, won the seat in 2016, a victory that, while close, nevertheless helped the House GOP pad its majority and turned House District 54A red for only the second time in decades.
Republican incumbent Tony Jurgens beat DFL challenger Tina Folch in the state house race to represent District 54B. Jurgens, an insurance agent who lives in Cottage Grove, finished with 9,951 votes. Folch, a Hastings City Council member, received 9,531 votes. As a member of the state house, Jurgens helped to carry the HERO Center, for which bonding was approved this session, into the bonding bill as members of the capital investment committee.