Talk of the District: ‘Difficult Decisions are Bringing About Positive Changes for Kids’

Stillwater Area Public Schools Superintendent Denise Pontrelli

“What comes easy won’t last. What lasts won’t come easy.” This is one of many similar quotes I’ve run across about change that resonates with me at the start of this new school year. There is no doubt our school district leaders have made some very difficult decisions in the past year. It certainly hasn’t been easy on them, on our staff, or on families and residents in our community. But as the quote suggests, we’re not in the business of making the easy decisions. Continue Reading →

Schedule Released for 2017 Hockey Day Minnesota in Stillwater


The Minnesota Wild, FOX Sports North, Minnesota Hockey and the Stillwater Organizing Committee have announced the schedule for the 2017 Hockey Day Minnesota in Stillwater. The statewide hockey celebration will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21 at an outdoor rink that will be constructed in Lowell Park. Proceeds of the event will benefit Stillwater area youth hockey programs.

The Ponies will be featured in games throughout the day. In the first game at 10 a.m., the Mahtomedi Zephyrs boys hockey team will take on the Thief River Falls Prowlers. Continue Reading →

Stillwater Mourns the Loss of Chicago Dogs Owner Bruce Chesin

Bruce Chesin at Chicago Dogs. (Photo by Carl Wegener)

Stillwater is mourning the loss of Chicago Dogs owner Bruce Chesin, who passed away this week. Chesin’s Chicago Dogs hot dog stand has become a staple on the north end of Main Street in downtown Stillwater. Chesin is known for his caring, friendly personality — and his positive attitude. The Chesins opened their first Chicago Dogs operation in 1999 in “The Gardens” on Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street at the Minnesota State Fair. Because the stand was so popular at the Minnesota State Fair, the Chesins purchased a concession trailer and started serving up Chicago Dogs at county fairs, art shows and special events. Continue Reading →

Education and awareness essential to helping children stay safe

Many Minnesotans spent last week mourning the news they hoped would never arrive: Danny Heinrich account of the kidnapping, sexual assault and the eventual murder of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. Jacob’s kidnapping changed the way in which many of us, now adults, were parented as children. “Stranger danger” became a household phrase. Some of us can recall being banned from riding our bikes alone. Many of our families discussed “safe houses” and code words that would help us feel more secure in our own neighborhoods. Continue Reading →

Take at Look at the 2016 Discover Stillwater Photo Contest Winners


Discover Stillwater has announced the winners for its 2016 Summer Photo Contest. Overall, 290 photos were entered into the contest. Jeanette Moss McCurdy won first place with a shot of the Andiamo. Kelley Brenner took second place, Michael Boege took third place and Katie Linehann won the 2016 Popular Vote Photo Contest. Honorable Mentions were given to photos by Tom Wieland, Nathan Lodermeier and Subree Subramanian. Here’s a look at the photos:

The winning photos were chosen by the CVB Board of Directors. Continue Reading →

Afton Alps Family Fall Fair and Slopeside Swap


Get the family into the lifelong sport of skiing with a kickoff celebration and great deals

Weekends — September 30 through October 9

WHY: Because winter is coming and we all need a way to embrace it. Because skiing is a lifelong sport. And because Afton Alps is our own big-time resort with a small-town feel. It’s time to get into skiing already at the Afton Alps Family Fall Fair and Slopeside Swap. WHAT: Need some new gear to shine on the slopes this winter? Continue Reading →

Local Views: Lead in the Water in Stillwater Area Public Schools


To the editor:

If you are a parent, you’ve probably received the dreaded sheet of paper in your child’s backpack: Someone in your child’s classroom has lice. You start feeling a little itchy-stratchy just from reading the headline on the page. The schools send out alerts if there is strep in the class, if police or ambulance are called to the school, if school is going to be closed for weather. Not to mention the multiple fundraising notices. The schools did not send out a notice about something very concerning. Lead in the water at the public schools. 

In 2014, the school district hired a consulting firm, Field Environmental Consulting, to test the lead levels in each of the schools, at each water spout.  They received that report in 2014. They knew that there were schools with lead level in the water at 7 of the schools in the district had water sources with lead in excess of the highest safety threshold set by the Minnesota Department of Health. The district was aware of this is 2014. But no notice was ever sent to parents, families, or staff about the lead in the water of these schools. 

The report does show that no drinking fountains were found to have had lead rates over the threshold, but without notice to parents and staff, were children advised not to fill their water bottles from fountains only? Or were children filling water bottles from sinks in classrooms without anyone knowing the lead levels were well beyond safety limits? Continue Reading →

Teen Book Club and TAB (Teen Advisory Board) at Stillwater Public Library


Join us at the Stillwater Public Library for Teen Book Club, for teens in grades 7-9. Bring a book you’ve recently read and see what others are reading. Come for a chat and fun activities, games or to check out a cool book trailer or author website. A great way to meet new friends! Our first meeting of the school year is on Monday, September 12th at 4:00 pm. Continue Reading →

Stillwater Public Library Open on Sundays This Fall


The Stillwater Public Library will open Sundays from September 11 through December 18, 2016. Service hours will be 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday hours in 2016 are made possible by a generous gift from the Stillwater Public Library Foundation and its donors. With busy weekday and Saturday schedules, Sunday hours provide a great alternative time to come and use the books and services offered by the library. Stop by and visit the library on a Sunday this fall! Continue Reading →

That Noise You Heard Early Thursday Morning was the Xcel Energy King Plant

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The mysteriously eery noise that jostled many people in the Stillwater area out of bed at about 4 a.m. Thursday was an emergency valve release at the Xcel Energy King Plant, according to Bayport Police. “When their system gets to a high pressure level, the emergency valves release the steam which can be very loud,” a Bayport Police Department Facebook post reads. “Dispatch and our Facebook page received numerous questions about the noise after it occurred early [Thursday] morning. There is no danger to public when this occurs and is done automatically by their system.” So, fact has it that a UFO didn’t swing through the valley Thursday morning … Continue Reading →

Washington County Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Stillwater Area Public Schools

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A Washington County District Court Judge dismissed one of three lawsuits brought against Stillwater Area Public Schools following the approval of the BOLD plan that calls for the closure of three elementary schools. Judge John R. McBride on Tuesday morning issued an order dismissing Melissa Douglas’ writ of mandamus petition to require Stillwater Area Public Schools to improve all nine elementary schools in accordance with the May 12, 2015 bond question approved by voters, or seek new voter approval for a changed purpose. In his order, McBride said the claim in Douglas’ petition that the district must gain voter approval on its plan to close the schools was based on a “misreading of state statute.”

“By electing to close three schools, the district had abandoned a portion of the project authorized by referendum,” McBride wrote in his order. “Minnesota statutes do not require the district to make improvements to facilities that are being closed and projects that have been abandoned. Nor do Minnesota statutes require the district to submit the decision to abandon part of the project to the voters by way of referendum.”

Douglas said she is disappointed in the judge’s decision, and plans to appeal. Continue Reading →

Neighborhood Meeting to Learn About Stillwater Ice Castles is Wednesday


A neighborhood meeting will be held in the Council Chambers at Stillwater City Hall at 6 p.m., Wednesday, August 24 to learn more about a proposed Ice Castle attraction this winter in Lowell Park. The meeting is an opportunity to learn more about the Ice Castle attraction and to provide input to city staff. “It’s essentially like building a giant fort out of about 25 million pounds of ice, tunnels, fountains, pathways and waterfalls and slides that are all lit up with lights and surrounded by music,” Ryan Davis, of Ice Castles Inc. said. “It really becomes an out of this world experience.”

Here’s a look at Ice Castles Inc.’s presentation to the City Council last week:

Ice Castles LLC is proposing to build an ice attraction in Lowell Park that will be open from late-December to March. to prepare, Ice Castle crews would begin construction of the attraction in mid-October, and finish cleanup in early-April. Continue Reading →

Zootopia, Third Wheel Project Bring Summer Tuesdays to a Close Tonight

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Tonight is the final Summer Tuesdays event of the year. The final installment of Summer Tuesdays in Lowell Park kicks off with Third Wheel Project taking the stage at 6 p.m. and Zootopia playing on the big screen at sunset. The marketplace opens at 5 p.m.

Remember to bring blankets or chairs to hang out and watch music and the movie. HERE’S A LOOK AT THE FORECAST. Continue Reading →