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 -- Their performnce of “Alice” earned the cast of New Life Academy 2nd place In Section 4 of the Minnesota State High School League One Act Play Festival. The play, written by Jerome McDonough, is a one-act mashup of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. The play, which was set in an urban subway station, was directed by Janette Bach and Gina Kortuem.
NEWPORT — Newport Collision Center has new owners. Steve Adams and Heather Hegi bought the business in December. Previously, they owned Crystal Auto Spa and Auto Body in Crystal. They closed that location and merged the two businesses. "Otherwise, it's business as usual," Adams said. "All the same staff has stayed on." They bought the shop from Dave and Kathy Baker, who retired after running the business since 2001. Newport Collision Center has operated in the same location since 1982.
Eight teachers in District 833 have have been nominated for the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Education Minnesota, who organize and underwrite the contest, released the list of nominees Jan. 18. The candidates are: • Scott Alton, first and second grade teacher at Pine Hill Elementary School • Linnea Balderrama, English language learning, Grey Cloud Elementary School • Karen Buckeye, special education, Park High School • Linnea Gamache, reading specialist, Cottage Grove Elementary School
Legislation by state Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, is aimed at preventing gun violence in schools. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Bigham on Jan. 17, would require school districts to establish threat assessment teams to spot and assess individuals who might be planning an attack. The teams typically include police, mental health professionals, teachers and school staff. The threat assessment protocol was developed by the Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education in response to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
COTTAGE GROVE — Officials, staff and residents celebrated the completed expansion of Norris Square at a Jan. 8 dedication ceremony. The $65 million project tripled the size of the senior living community. The new campus features a 68-unit independent living building and a 75-unit skilled nurse and memory care facility as well as a three-story independent living building. All three are connected by concourses, eliminating the need to venture outside in inclement weather. The project also added the equivalent of 72 full-time jobs.
About 50 people joined together for a hands-on barn-building demonstration Jan. 13 at the Woodbury Central Park Amphitheatre. Audience members were invited to join preservationists in assembling a scale model of a 19th century vintage barn. The educational event and ice cream social was intended to promote preservation efforts in regard to the historic Miller Barn in Woodbury.
Cottage Grove police believe an adult male and three juvenile males entered unlocked vehicles and used garage door openers to burglarize two homes in the northwest portion of Cottage Grove near 65th Street South. In a statement, police said they responded to a 911 call from a vigilant homeowner early Jan. 4. Cottage Grove and Woodbury police officers arrested the four after a traffic stop. They were taken into custody without incident. The four were booked under probable cause first-degree burglary and theft from motor vehicle.
The "Elwell Elves" came bearing gifts to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital on Dec. 10. Dolls, toys and games were handed out by volunteers from Newport Masonic Lodge 118 and Queen Esther Chapter 26 of the Order of the Eastern Star. They bought the items earlier this month as part of their annual Santa Project, which is funded by donations from individuals and businesses. This year, they also purchased a PlayStation system and games that hospital staff can lend out to patients.
WOODBURY -- CityPlace shopping center in Woodbury has a new owner. Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland Retail Property Fund, LP, acquired the retail center for $77.8 million. The closing date was Dec. 18. The retail portion comprises about 30 percent of the total of the 100 acre site. Nothing will change for residents or shoppers, Woodbury Senior Planner Eric Searles said.
The District 833 School Board approved the final tax levy for 2019. The unanimous vote at its Dec. 13 meeting followed a public hearing where two residents presented questions to the district. The increase means the owner of a home worth $250,000 would pay about $49 more in the school portion of their property taxes in 2019, finance director Dan Pyan said. The increase was driven by a slight jump in enrollment, which necessitated more levy dollars, and by more than doubling funds for the alternative teacher compensation program from $700,000 to $1.5 million.