Woodbury Community EXPO

The Woodbury Chamber of Commerce and the Woodbury Community Foundation are hosting the first annual Woodbury Community Expo at Bielenberg Sports Center on Saturday, April 24, 2010, 10 am – 4 pm.

The EXPO is an opportunity for local businesses and nonprofit organizations to promote their companies and causes to the public. The event is free to attend.

For more info, visit the Woodbury Community Foundation website.

According to an email sent by Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation, the event is sold-out (127 booths!) and more volunteers are needed in the following areas:

Please contact Alisa directly if you are interested in helping. Just email her with your preference and time availability. (Alisa@WoodburyFoundation.org, 651-788-6586)

• 3 AM SATURDAY SET-UP!: Yes, that is 3 in the morning. We need help from some night owls to do some manual labor with regard to electrical and overall set-up. A lot of hauling and schlepping. If you are up to it, please let me (Alisa) know asap!

• Exhibitor Greeters: Check-in exhibitors and assist exhibitors with locating booth and answering questions

• Event greeters for the public: Familiar with event areas to answer questions

• Exhibitor monitors: Roams the event to ensure rules and regulations are being followed by exhibitors

• Volunteer coordinators: Point person to manage volunteer schedule

• Entertainment/Seminars: Point person to check entertainment acts at appropriate time, assist with PA needs also for seminars

• Food: Monitors food area to ensure area keeps clean and point person for the food exhibitors

• Garbage: Roams the area to pick up garbage from the public and exhibitors, changes garbage containers

• Kids Activity Area: Maintain the area so it is always neat in appearance and replenish supplies (crayons, coloring sheets, etc.)

Woodbury Citizens’ Academy graduation

2010 Woodbury Citizens’ Academy class picture

The first Woodbury Citizens’ Academy ended today with the graduation ceremony at the Eagle Valley Golf Course.

I am honored to be part of this first WCA class with 25 members. During the last nine weekly sessions, we learned about all aspects of Woodbury community: city government, public safety, community activities, city works, history, education, local media, business, and voluntarism.

It was a great opportunity to learn about the community and to meet some leaders in the community. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in learning and getting involved with the community.

The graduation ceremony began at 7:15 with welcome and remarks by Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation. Then each class member was presented with a graduation certificate and the book Volunteer for Life: Achieve Your Personal and Professional Goals by Kelly Jahner-Byrne who spoke at our last session on voluntarism. Kelly is the winner of the 2001 Mrs. Minnesota pageant.

A heartfelt thank-you to Alisa Rabin Bell, Matt Stemwedel (City of Woodbury) and Marisa Novak for planning and organizing this program. Thank you Matt and Marisa for volunteering your time to the Woodbury Citizen’s Academy.

Dorothy Ann bakery & Café in Woodbury deserves a special thank you for providing refreshments at each program day.

Marisa Novak, Qin Tang and Alisa Rabin Bell


Americans are big on volunteering. People volunteer everywhere, in schools, senior centers, hospitals, and many other non-profit organizations. They volunteer in local communities and on mission trips thousands of miles away.

The unmatchable spirit of voluntarism found in this country is part of what makes United States one of the greatest countries, if not the greatest country on earth now.

Any program dealing with local communities can’t be complete without talking about voluntarism and community services.

Voluntarism is the focus of session nine of Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, held today at East Ridge High School. It is our last session of learning. Next week’s final session will be our graduation and celebration party.

We had presenters and panels representing different non-profit organizations in the community.

Bill Hargis, Mayor of Woodbury, who was supposed to be at our first session to talk about city government but missed it back in February, came today and shared how he got involved in different volunteer activities and later became the mayor of Woodbury.

I have seen the mayor’s pictures in local newspapers and city publications countless times, but this was probably the first time I met him in person.

Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation, organizer of this first Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, said a few words about the Woodbury Community Foundation and some upcoming events.

Valerie Jones, Community Thread, gave a presentation on voluntarism. She talked about the national, state and local trends and resources.

Dick Stafford, former Washington County Commissioner, talked about the Woodbury Veterans Memorial.

Darrin Ewing, talked about the Woodbury’s Yellow Ribbon Network.

Michelle Witte, President of Woodbury Community Theater and Vice President of Arts Connection, talked about how the permanent home –  the Loft Theater at East Ridge High School – for the Woodbury Community Theater came about and the new Arts Center to be built in the near future, thanks to the $2 million donation by Dorothy Merrill.

Larry McFadden talked about Kiwanis Club, a global organization dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.

Mary LaPrairie, talked about Relay for Life, the biggest fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.

Theresa Janechek talked about Woodbury Days as its Council Chair.

It’s interesting to learn about the different organizations and volunteer opportunities.

When Valerie Jones asked every participant to say one word what volunteer means for him/her, the following were mentioned.

Rewarding, grateful, inspiring, fulfilling, personal, long-term, learning, giving, sharing, etc.

These words summarize well what voluntarism is all about.

Meet the local media

As a writer and someone who cares about the local community, meeting with editors and publishers of the local media and learning about what they do and how they do their jobs are of great interest to me.

I am fortunate to be part of the first Woodbury Citizen’s Academy. Today, for session seven, we had the opportunity to meet the press in the Woodbury City Hall.

The following people gave us a brief history and overview of each entity they represent.

• Hank Long, Managing editor – Woodbury Bulletin
• Ted Lillie, Publisher – Lillie suburban newspaper
• Debbie, Editor – Woodbury Magazine
• Julie Lehr, Communications Coordinator and Jason Egerstrom, Communications Specialist – City of Woodbury Communications

Hank Long, Ted Lillie and Julie Lehr walked us through the development process of how to cover a news story, using Woodbury Lakes Shopping Center as an example. They talked about the five stages in the process: rumor, application, public hearing, approval and grand opening, and demonstrated how one would go about identifying the sources and issues, and writing from interesting angles.

Debbie Musser shared how she plans an issue of Woodbury Magazine. She also let us play the role of editor and brainstorm ideas for the Magazine.

It was a really interesting and informative session. I not only learned some insights of the local media, but also met with the people in charge of the media. What a great learning and networking opportunity!

I knew Hank from writing for the Woodbury Bulletin. I thought he always writes about other people and put other people in the spotlight. Today I could finally put him in the spotlight. That’s why I took a picture of him during his presentation.

So here comes Hank, editor of Woodbury Bulletin.

Oops, my picture turned out to be a little blurry to be useful. So unless Hank is willing to send me a picture of himself, you would have to get a paper copy of Woodbury Bulletin to see him. You can get the newspaper in grocery stores or gas stations in Woodbury. It comes out every Wednesday.

For the monthly Woodbury Magazine, you can get free subscription by requesting it via its website. I highly recommend it. I enjoy reading the Magazine with beautiful photos and nice articles.

I am not so familiar with the Woodbury-South Maplewood Review. You can get more info from its website.

City of Woodbury has a few publications worth mentioning and reading: the Woodbury City Update (10 issues per year) and Parks and Recreation brochure (three times a year in April, Aug. and Nov.) that every household and business in Woodbury gets automatically.  

The City of Woodbury website has a wealth of information. You can sign up for InTouch lists to get updates on different topics from the city.

BTW, when you go to the city’s Parks and Recreation website to register for classes, you can see a photo of my son. That photo won the Woodbury Photo Contest a few years ago. I am glad they like the photo and have it on their website.


Education opportunities in Woodbury

Education was the topic of today’s session, the session six of Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, held at Woodbury High School.

The following school principals and administrators from local schools gave presentations about birth to adult education, school choices (public, charter, private) and brief introduction about individual schools.

  • Linda Plante, Principal, Woodbury High School
  • Nicole Robbins, founder, Footprints Academy/Peace of Mind Early Education Center
  • Terry Campbell, Administrator, New Life Academy
  • Matthew Metz, Principal, St. Ambrose of Woodbury
  • Tiffany Simmons, Globe University

Alison Canty, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator at School District 833, shared her experience as a student growing up in Woodbury.

Woodbury is a growing community with a variety of education opportunities. Having high quality education and different choices of schools have certainly contributed to the growth of the community.

I can’t believe we have already been more than half way through with the 10 week program offered by the Woodbury Community Foundation. I look forward to every session to learn different things about Woodbury. When you have fun, time just goes by so quickly.

Next session’s topic is about local media. As a writer, that certainly will be my favorite topic. I look forward to meeting with editors and publishers of the local media. 

Learning about Woodbury history

Learning about the history of the community we live in and hearing older generation talking about what life was like in the old days are fascinating.

That’s just what we did today at session five of Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, held in the oldest church of Woodbury, maybe one of the oldest in the whole state, Woodbury United Methodist Church.

Several members from the Woodbury Heritage Society came to do a presentation and panel discussion to share their knowledge about Woodbury: its geography, history, first settlers, first churches, first mayor, first developments, early schools, early community life, population growth, etc.

It was great to learn where our street or school names such as Bielenberg, Red Rock, Middleton came from, among other things.

We had a chance to see some pictures and artifacts. We also did a whirlygigs project to take home. That’s what kids played with before they had plastic toys so common today.

I have lived in Woodbury since 2001. I don’t know how many times I have driven past the Woodbury Heritage House and Garden located at the corner of Radio Drive and Lake Road. In the last couple of years I wanted to take my kids to visit it, but never did. It’s a shame. I will make sure to visit the little house this summer. After today’s presentations I am really motivated to do so.

I want to say thank you to Bill Schrankler, Wayne Schilling, Kathryn Ho, Ken Wolterstorff and Bud Urtel from the Woodbury Heritage Society for your informative and interactive presentations and discussions. Thank you for what you have done to help keep Woodbury’s past alive. I hope your love for Woodbury has inspired a few souls to join you in your wonderful cause.

Woodbury Heritage Society is in need of volunteers who can help preserve and document Woodbury’s history and aid residents of our community in learning and understanding more about Woodbury’s early years. Please visit Woodbury Heritage Society’s website for more information.

Visit Woodbury Public Safety Dept.

Today I had an informative and interesting visit to the Woodbury Public Safety Dept.

Learning about Public Safety was the topic of the second session of the 10-week Woodbury Citizens’ Academy, a  program offered by the Woodbury Community Foundation.

Woodbury Public Safety director Lee Vague welcomed everyone and gave an introduction of the Department.

The unique thing about the Woodbury Public Safety Dept. is that our Police, Fire and EMS are all under one roof. As one organization they work closely together. We have some police officers who are also paramedics or firefighters.

According to the City of Woodbury web site, currently the Police Department has 62 sworn officers and 17 civilian employees that include community service officers and support services personnel. In addition, there are approximately 30 volunteers who participate in the Reserve, Explorer and Park Patrol programs.

The Fire Department has three full-time fire chief officers, one part-time chief officer, a full-time fire inspector, nine full-time firefighters, support staff and 85-plus on-call firefighter/EMTs.

Woodbury Public Safety Dept. is well supported by the community. We have the Woodbury Public Safety Board, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote crime prevention and public safety by supporting the Woodbury Public Safety Dept.

I had the opportunity to check out the police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, to watch demos of how to save lives, to try my hands on a gun and a fire distinguisher.

The tour of the Public Safety Dept. with demos and hands-on was fun.

I got to ask some questions and learn something new.

All the guys who were present to do the presentations and demos and to help with the tour were really nice and great to talk to. I was very impressed by them. They are proud to serve the community and to do the job well.

I want to thank them all for their dedication and service.

I feel safer now knowing that we have a well run Public Safety Dept. with well trained police officers, fire fighters and paramedics who can respond to emergencies quicker than in most others communities.

Woodbury Citizens’ Academy

The Woodbury Citizens’ Academy, a 10-week program offered by the Woodbury Community Foundation, started today. I was one of the 25 participants in this very first class.

Our first session was held at the Woodbury City Hall.  

Woodbury Community Foundation’s executive director Alisa Rabin Bell welcomed everyone and gave an introduction of the Foundation.

Then we learned about Washington county and Woodbury city governments from various officials. 

County commissioner Lisa Weik talked about the role and responsibilities of county commissioners.

Deputy county administrator Molly O’Rourke gave an overview of Washington county structure, operations and services.

City council member Paul Rebholz talked about the role and responsibilities of city council members. 

City administrator Clinton Gridley gave an overview of city structure and operations, city budget and other isssues.

All participants are interested in the Academy to learn more about the inner workings of the local government and to get involved in the community. Some have lived in Woodbury for 30 years or their whole life, others moved here only a couple of months ago. Many expressed interest in giving back to the community.

A community can only thrive when its people are informed, involved and engaged.

Woodbury Citizens’ Academy is a great program to inform, involve and engage its citizens.

I am sure by the end of the program, we will all be more informed, involved and engaged. 


A chance to learn about the Woodbury community

In today’s Woodbury Bulletin there is an article about the Woodbury Citizens’ Academy, a 10-week program offered by the Woodbury Community Foundation. The purpose of the program is to introduce residents to local government and organizations. It will begin on February 4, 2010.

This is not the first time that I read about it in the paper. I just didn’t give it much thought before, not because I was not interested, but because of the schedule conflict due to my kids’ basketball practices.

But today after reading that only four people have enrolled in the program, and there is room for 25, I thought it’s sad that so few people are interested in the local government, organizations and community.
So I decided to enroll myself.

I went to the Woodbury Citizens’ Academy website for more information and downloaded the application form, then filled it out and emailed it right away. It didn’t take a lot of time.

I am looking forward to participating in the program. I have lived in Woodbury since 2001, I know I still have a lot to learn about the local community. I am also interested in meeting other leaders and citizens of Woodbury.