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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Army veteran Patrick Nickle didn't have a story to tell. He had dozens. For documentary maker Justin Atkinson, it was a matter of finding the right one. "I was trying to find the story," Atkinson said. "When he started talking about his first deployment to Afghanistan he got very emotional. I thought, 'Whoa, that's the story I want to tell.'" Nickle is one of three local veterans who are featured in "A Salute to Veterans" on local cable channel SWC-TV, where Atkinson works. The series premieres Nov. 6 on Channel 18.
A crew of volunteers didn’t allow a virtual nor’easter keep them from their mission: rebuild a backyard deck at the Cottage Grove home of a disabled veteran. Employees of area Home Depot stores and members of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Cottage Grove braved gusting wind and slashing rain Oct. 21 to replace the structure at the home of Sheletta and Shawn Brundidge.
There’s a lot more to the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” than that iconic scene of Gene Kelly dancing with a lamp-post in a downpour. For example, there’s….well, just what is that movie about, anyway? “Not a lot of people know the plot,” said director Janette Bach, a drama teacher at New Life Academy in Woodbury, where a student cast is rehearsing for the stage version of the classic musical. It opens 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
East Ridge High School senior Kate Sawyer recently took home a TWIST EPIC award, which stands for Target Women in Science and Technology and Engagement, Passion, Innovation, and Curiosity. Sawyer, of Woodbury, is one of 25 women in Minnesota to earn the honor, which recognizes those who demonstrate their dedication to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She received the award Oct. 13 at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis. At right is her Target engineering mentor Janell Hibbard.
Cooper Swenson, 6, is a photogenic little guy with blond hair and a sweet smile. He’s mad about trains and likes to wrestle with his younger brother Sawyer, 4. The elder son of Kate and Jamie Swenson of Cottage Grove was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 3. He’s non-verbal and may never speak. He creates his own weather: he can be a sunbeam one moment, a category 5 the next.
Students at Lake Middle School took a running jump Oct. 17 when they tried out a concept called Vault Safe. The pee-wee version of pole vaulting was created by Olympic pole vaulter and gold medalist Stacy Dragila and her former trainer Steve Thomas. Thomas stopped at Lake as part of a national tour to promote the sport, bringing his cargo of cut-down bamboo poles and a Johnny Appleseed's enthusiasm — not only for the sport of pole vaulting, but for its confidence-building potential.
They didn't get to see snow, but they sure packed a lot of Minnesota into one week. St. Ambrose of Woodbury Catholic Community hosted two members from their sister parish in the village of Esmeralda Cuba last week. On their first trip to the United States, Fr. Yosbel Puentes Dousac and Sister Leticia Ortiz Alonso dined at the home of a parishioner, attended Mass, visited St. Ambrose school's Spanish immersion class, saw the new St. Croix Crossing bridge in Oak Park Heights and toured the Cathedral of St. Paul. They also dined at Sole Mio restaurant in Woodbury.
Eugenia Popa is proud of her Romanian origins. Her home in Woodbury is decorated with ceramic plates and traditional folk masks, bearded and horned, that hearken back to ritualistic pagan times. She considers her homeland to be unique among its neighbors in Eastern Europe. It owes its name and romantic language to the Romans, who made Dacia, as it was known, part of their empire from 106-274 A.D. "It's the only country of a Latin origin surrounded by Slavic people," she said.