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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They may own bragging rights as the city with the largest inclusive playground in Minnesota — a 21,500-square-foot climb and swing venue that accommodates able-bodied and disabled children alike. But even should it be eclipsed by newer, larger facilities, the Woodridge Park Inclusive Playground will still represent the collective heart of Cottage Grove, whose residents, elected officials, city staff and business owners worked four years to bring it into being.
Lisa Horn of the Minnesota Run Series met with members of Cottage Grove Random Runners Sept. 28 during one of their regular runs at Woodridge Park. Horn is visiting running clubs around the region to promote their Series Participation Award, a seven-race challenge where groups compete to register the most members for each event. Clubs can follow the standings online. The meet-ups also provide the chance for Minnesota Run Series to become more involved with the running community they serve. "We realized that more and more runners are deciding to run with clubs," Horn said.
Middle School students in District 833 will experience a “test” Oct. 6, but not to worry: this one is staged. The Park High School Chamber Theater will tour its one-act play “This is a Test” for 6th, 7th and 8th grade audiences. Public performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 5 and Oct. 7. Stephen Gregg’s one-act comedy should amuse anyone who has ever dreaded a major exam - if only by virtue of the fact that they’re watching someone else suffer.
When it comes to their Catholic faith, actions speak louder than words for Sharon and Michael D'Agostino of Woodbury. If there's something to be done, be it serving Easter brunch at Little Sisters of the Poor, supporting the Woodbury Life Resource Center or raising money for the Nyumbani Orphanage in Kenya, they step up. "We learned it from our parents," Sharon D'Agostino said. "We both were raised in homes that give back a lot to the community."
Once a year, the Cottage Grove Public Works Department turns into a construction zone amusement park, offering their fleet of boom trucks, construction vehicles, snowplows and bulldozers for supervised rides. Their Sept. 21 open house drew hundreds to their facility along West Point Douglas Road. Jillian Nelson, 11, crossed off an item on her bucket list when she and her grandfather Douglas Marlatt rode a cherry picker several stories into the sky. Guests also enjoyed hayrides, hot dogs, inflatables, face painting and a balloon animal artist.
The six-legged roundabout is now open at the junction of Highway 61, Innovation and East Point Douglas Roads. The $3.2 million project is a collaboration between the city of Cottage Grove, who paid $2.1 million of construction costs, and Washington County, who contributed $1.1 million in state aid money.
If the idea was to light a "Firebird" under the seats of District 833 students, the Minnesota Orchestra hit the mark. An invited audience at East Ridge High School on Sept. 15 heard a stratospheric performance of Stravinsky's "Firebird" by the full orchestra, led by musical director Osmo Vanksa. Band and orchestra students from East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools and Lake Middle School also heard "Roman Carnival Overture" by Berlioz and "Pavane pour une infante défunte" by Ravel.
Robots invaded East Ridge High School Saturday, Sept. 16, during the East Metro Collaborative Competition, which included 26 visiting robotics teams from around the state. The offseason tournament was hosted by Woodbury, East Ridge, Park high schools and Woodbury Math & Science Academy. It was inspired by the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) program, which encourages kids to apply science, technology, engineering and math to build their own remote controlled robot. High school teams squared off two by two on a special playing field.
You don't have to be a martial arts champion in order to be a Marvel superhero. But it helps. Woodbury High School graduate Mike Moh will unleash his fists of fury in "Marvel's Inhumans," a fall series that debuts Sept. 29 on ABC. "I've definitely been a fan of the movies and that whole cinematic universe every since I saw the first 'Iron Man,'" said Moh, who holds a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. "That was a game-changing movie."
Newport Elementary School will get a much-needed upgrade to its playground, thanks to a donation from MidWestOne Bank. Barbara Lacher, second vice president retail managing officer at the bank's Newport office, presented principal Rich Romano with a $15,000 check at the school's open house Aug. 30. Bailey Nurseries will donate $1,000, Lacher said. "It's just been a school in need, and being in the community we are in a position to be able to help," she said. "We're just thrilled," Romano said.