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 — She posted a Minnesota welcome to Michelle Obama — not on social media, but with an honest-to-goodness poster on the garage of her Cottage Grove home.
ST. PAUL — A new market could emerge for Minnesota's licensed hemp farmers. A bipartisan legislation introduced Feb. 18 in the state Senate would allow hemp farmers to sell their product to in-state medical cannabis manufacturers. Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, who co-authored the bill, said it would give local growers another source for their product, which typically is used in food, clothing and rope.
Three hundred and sixty-four days a year, this stretch of West Point Douglas Road is a place most people rush past on their way to somewhere else. That won't be the case Monday, Dec. 10, however, when the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls into Cottage Grove. The train is expected to arrive at 5:15 p.m. along West Point Douglas Road just south of the 80th Street bridge, near the Youth Service Bureau building. Once the train stops, a boxcar door will drop open to reveal an elevated stage with live entertainment by Canadian hard rockers the Trews and blues guitarist Willy Porter.
COTTAGE GROVE — Our country's military veterans deserve more than just our thanks, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar told a capacity crowd in the Park High School gymnasium on Nov. 10. The senator spoke at the Wolfpack Air Force JROTC Veterans Day Ceremony. It was held on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in November 1918.
Republican incumbent Tony Jurgens beat DFL challenger Tina Folch in the state house race to represent District 54B. Jurgens, an insurance agent who lives in Cottage Grove, finished with 9,951 votes. Folch, a Hastings City Council member, received 9,531 votes. As a member of the state house, Jurgens helped to carry the HERO Center, for which bonding was approved this session, into the bonding bill as members of the capital investment committee.
HASTINGS — A family of five escaped a fire that destroyed their home early Monday morning, Sept. 17 in Hastings. There were no reported injuries to civilians or firefighters. Shortly after 4 a.m., the Hastings Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at 7774 South St. Croix Trail Lane S. The blaze, which started in the garage, is under investigation, Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt said. "When we arrived the garage was fully involved and the fire had spread to the kitchen and attic," Schutt said. "It's a total loss."
If pub crawls aren't your thing, you could have gone on a lemonade crawl Aug. 25 in Cottage Grove. Ten lemonade stands sprang up throughout Cottage Grove, the first city in Minnesota to host a youth education and empowerment program called Lemonade Day. Each year, youngsters around the country are encouraged to learn financial fundamentals by opening their own lemonade stand. Each child who registers receives an Entrepreneur Workbook that addresses such topics as branding, creating a budget, controlling inventory and serving customers.
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?"
HASTINGS — A photo of Hastings police officer Albert Jacobson gazed out at his descendants during a May 15 ceremony on the green near Sibley Street. Jacobson and other fallen Dakota County officers were honored as part of the annual Hastings Police open house. The event coincided with Police Week, when the nation honors men and women who have served or sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Jacobson was shot to death July 10, 1894, while pursuing a burglary suspect. He is the first and only Hastings officer killed in the line of duty.
The Newport Transit Station will serve as a park-and-ride lot for this year's Minnesota State Fair. The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the Metropolitan Council March 13. Metro Transit, a service of the Metropolitan Council, operates expanded park-and-ride services throughout the Twin Cities to provide easier and more frequent public access to and from the fair.