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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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.
Drivers, you may exhale now. Washington County project planners are reopening two key roads in Cottage Grove ahead of schedule. September 9, the barriers will come down at the intersection of Hinton Avenue and 70th Street, restoring access to and from Hwy 61.
Planning is set to begin later this year for construction of a roundabout at Hinton Avenue and 70th Street in Cottage Grove.
The enthusiasms of the late Scott Pengelly were nearly as numerous as his friends. Pengelly, who died Dec. 29, received a sitting ovation Aug. 23, when a wrought-iron "Tree of Life" bench was dedicated in his honor at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Friends, family and former colleagues at the Department of Natural Resources gathered to celebrate the man described on the bench inscription as "dedicated DNR spokesman, outdoorsman, conservationist, State Fair enthusiast and friend."