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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COTTAGE GROVE — Cullen Kiely, 9, couldn't figure out why everybody in Metropolitan Stadium was screaming their heads off and carrying on like their pants were on fire. All he knew was that his big sister had dragged him to see a group called the Beatles. It was Aug. 21, 1965. It would turn out to be the band's one and only concert in Minnesota. "I didn't think much of it at the time," Kiely said. "We knew they were big, but who knew their legacy 50 years later would be so enormous?"
SCHOOL DISTRICT 833 — Arthur Williams is the new principal at Middleton Elementary School in Woodbury. His hiring was approved by the South Washington County School Board at their Aug. 9 meeting. Williams spent the last five years as principal at Jefferson Elementary STEM School in the Winona Area School District.
NEWPORT — It was so hot Sunday at Pioneer Memorial Park in Newport that some savvy operator probably could have sold shade for 10 dollars a foot. But the city's annual Pioneer Day proved a roaring success, with its grassy oasis of striped tents, food booths, inflatables and bushels of sweet corn.
Pineridge Garden Club members Marianne Lyzak (left) and Claudia Glass tend flowers outside of Cottage Grove City Hall on July 31. The club designed and planted the garden, which includes Russian sage, petunias, zinnias, marigolds and other floral varieties. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia
Annual Night to Unite picnics in Cottage Grove drew police, firefighters, residents, elected officials and Strawberry Fest ambassadors together to renew their shared commitment to crime prevention, public safety and community pride. A visit by a city fire truck, sirens wailing, was a highlight at a block party hosted by Lindsay Elwell of Cottage Grove. Her daughter Amelia Mizell, 5, wore her star-shaped police sticker with pride. At Ideal Park, the outdoor picnic included yoga on the grass. There were 45 registered parties, Community Affairs Officer Adam Pelton said.
WOODBURY — Crime pays. Particularly when your names are Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. In "Chicago," the two deliriously conniving murderesses scheme, vamp and dance their way from death row to fame and celebrity. The musical is set in 1926, when the windy city was awash in bootleg booze, political graft and the spilled blood of mob hits. Created by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, it killed 'em when it premiered on Broadway in 1975. A 2002 film version won six Academy Awards.
School construction and renovation projects are proceeding mostly on track, District superintendent Keith Jacobus reported at the July 26 meeting of the South Washington County School Board. These projects include: New Oltman Middle School Administrative will begin moving into the 192,000-square-foot building, which was built on agricultural land on the south side of 65th Street, east of Geneva Avenue and west of Wildflower Drive, near where areas of Woodbury, Newport, St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove meet.
Their annual picnic featured hot dogs, burgers, pony rides, a bouncy house and a police vehicle fair, courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department. But the main attraction was the venue — the nearly complete masjid (mosque) that will serve as the home of the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. It's the result of five years of planning and fundraising by the society, who have outgrown their worship space on Commerce Drive in Woodbury.
COTTAGE GROVE — Three people were injured, one seriously, after a wrong-way, head-on collision July 27 on Highway 61 in Cottage Grove. The driver of one of the cars was arrested after refusing a breathalyzer test. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that Maria Melendez of St. Paul was driving northbound on Highway 61 from 80th Street shortly after 7 p.m. when her 1998 Toyota Camry collided with a southbound 2012 Camry driven by Christian McCormick Ellis, also of St. Paul.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — She was a "boss lady" whose sex trafficking ring enslaved vulnerable foreign women. Now, she's looking at a long prison stretch. Sophia Wang Navas, 50, of Chino Hills, California, has entered guilty pleas to racketeering and sex trafficking, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced July 31. She faces up to 12.5 years in prison. The racketeering charge includes the concealment of the proceeds from the sex trafficking of Chinese females throughout the Twin Cities metro, including Oakdale, Woodbury, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Blaine and St. Louis Park.