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Update: Missing Boater Found Safe After Accident on the St. Croix River

The boater who was reported missing after an accident south of Bayport on the St. Croix River early Sunday morning has been located alive, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The boaters in the accident were identified as Jason Elgersma, 36, and Kristin Erickson, 35, both of Minneapolis. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has marked the boat as a safety hazard on the river, and ordered that it be removed by the owner in a timely manner. The boating accident remains under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Continue Reading →

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Authorities Search for Man After Boating Accident on the St. Croix River

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a man who went missing after a boating accident early Sunday morning south of Bayport on the St. Croix River. According to a news release, a man and a woman were aboard the boat at the time of the accident. The boat took on water and was partially submerged. The woman made it to shore safely. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Stillwater School District’s Decision to Close 3 Schools

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday morning issued a ruling that the Stillwater Area Board of Education acted within the law when making the decision to close three elementary schools next school year. The Court concluded that the March 3 school closure hearing “afforded a reasonable opportunity for interested parties to testify on the question under consideration,” conformed to the requirements of Minnesota law, and therefore, the Board’s decision to close Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools the schools is “supported by substantial evidence” in the record. “We appreciate the Court’s consideration of this issue,” a statement from Stillwater Area Public Schools reads. “Our student, staff and families of varying perspectives have remained earnestly and deeply engaged throughout this process, and we are grateful to them. We are looking forward to working along with our communities to continue our transition into the start of the 2017-2018 school year.” Continue Reading →

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Washington County Board Appoints Chief Deputy Dan Starry as County Sheriff

The Washington County Board of Commissioners appointed Chief Deputy Dan Starry to the post of Washington County Sheriff, after Sheriff Bill Hutton announced his intent to retire from the office on April 30. Starry will serve the rest of Sheriff Hutton’s term, which runs through Jan. 7, 2019. Starry will be sworn in in early May. Hutton will take over as the executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association. Continue Reading →

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Police, Stillwater Schools Investigate Assault Near Stillwater Junior High School

Police are investigating a report that a Stillwater Junior High School student was assaulted Monday afternoon just a few blocks from school. The assault happened across the street from Fairview Cemetery on Orleans Street and Osgood Avenue. The child was approached for a ride home from some teenagers Monday afternoon, and after he declined a ride twice, they reportedly got out and beat him up. Here is the letter Stillwater Junior High School Principal Eric VanScoy sent to families:

Yesterday, while walking home from school, a Stillwater Junior High School student was assaulted by a group of unknown males. The incident occurred just a few blocks from school by Fairview Cemetery on Orleans Street and Osgood Avenue. 

We’re currently working with officers from Stillwater and Oak Park police departments to investigate the situation and search for the individuals involved. Continue Reading →

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Charlie’s Irish Pub Bartender Dan Schiltz Wins Best Bartender in the Valley Contest

Dan Schiltz — of Charlie’s Irish Pub — wowed judges and took home some serious bragging rights last weekend during the Best Bartender in the Valley competition. Schiltz won the 2017 Best Bartender in the Valley title with his technical take on a classic concoction: Judy’s Irish Old Fashion. Schiltz began crafting the cocktail by rimming a lowball glass with espresso grounds — which he the dipped in high-proof bourbon — and lit on fire to toast the grounds. In a separate glass Schiltz muddled ginger-infused sugar and chocolate bitters, poured 2 ounces of 2 Gingers over the sugar and served the drink neat with an orange accent. The annual Best Bartender in the Valley competition was held March 12 at Pub 112. Continue Reading →

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Rita’s Italian Ice Opens for the Season on St. Patrick’s Day

Rita’s Italian Ice is opening for the season on Friday, March 17. In case you weren’t aware, Rita’s Italian Ice is located in Lucky’s Station on Greeley Street and Curve Crest Boulevard. The Stillwater location is open from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday -Thursdays, and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The menu includes Italian Ice, Cream Ice, Frozen Custard, Milk Shakes, Misto Shakes, Sugar-Free Italian Ice, Gelati, and Frozen Custard Cakes. The frozen treats are gluten and fat free. Continue Reading →

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School Year Will End a Day Earlier than Expected for Stillwater Area Public Schools

Parents take note (and arrange for childcare, if needed): Students last day of school will come one day earlier than expected in Stillwater Public Schools this year. The Stillwater Area Public Schools Board of Education on Thursday approved a shortened calendar for students, moving the last day of school for students from Thursday, June 1 to Wednesday, May 31. The change is so more than 200 school staff members have more time to move between — and within — school buildings before next school year. The calendar change comes as the district looks to close Marine, Withrow and Oak Park elementary schools, boundary changes, construction, transition students from a junior high to middle school model and change the high school from a 10-12 to a 9-12 building. The Minnesota Court of Appeals has not yet ruled on the appeal of school closures. Continue Reading →

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Two Public Hearings Set for Short-Term Rentals in Stillwater

The Stillwater Planning Commission is hosting a public hearing next week to gather feedback about a proposed ordinance to allow, and regulate, short-term home rentals in town. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 8 at Stillwater City Hall. The city council will consider the same proposal during a public hearing at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 21 at City Hall. If you cannot attend either public hearing, but would still like to participate in the process, you may submit written comments to Community Development Director Bill Turnblad via email at bturnblad@ci.stillwater.mn.us. The proposed ordinance hearing is a response to the popularity of websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO that enable property owners to rent out space in their home on a short-term basis. Continue Reading →

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Hill Murray Tops Stillwater 6-3 in Section Finals, Advances to State Hockey Tournament

The Hill-Murray Pioneers topped the Stillwater Ponies 6-3 Friday night’s Section Finals to advance to the the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. Hill-Murray scored three goals in the third period (2 with an open net) to claim the Section 4AA title, and clinch a berth to the state tournament. Here’s a quick recap of the action via @PonyHockey on Twitter:

#11 Noah Cates scores with 15:45 left in the 1st! Assisted by #13 Austin Murr! Ponies up 1-0! Continue Reading →

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Updated: Police Investigating Report of Suspicious Activity Involving Kids

Update: Washington County investigators have since confirmed that an incident at a bus stop in Lake Elmo this morning was not malicious in intent, a statement from Stillwater Area Public Schools reads. “Local law enforcement have reported it was a local parent checking in on a student who was presumed to have missed the bus. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two calls of suspicious activity involving elementary school age children. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office:

At 5:37 p.m on March 1, the sheriff’s office was notified of suspicious male at Lake Elmo Elementary School. “The male entered the school after hours and approached staff asking for a child by name who was is an after school care program,” according to the report. Continue Reading →

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Partnership Plan holds 10th annual Gala to support educational enrichment

The “Mystery Wall” will take its place as the newest activity to spice up a night of fun-with-a-purpose at The Partnership Party on March 11. This will mark the 10th anniversary of The Partnership Plan’s gala that raises funds to support enrichment projects and activities in Stillwater Area Public Schools. The Partnership Party is scheduled for Saturday, March, 11, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at Envision Event Center (formerly the Prom). Admission is $75 per person, although teachers and staff of Stillwater schools are invited to attend at the special price of $50. The Partnership Party got a major reboot last year, renaming itself from Jeans & Jewels and revising the night to provide much more opportunity for socializing. Continue Reading →

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Open Letter to Stillwater Area School Board, Superintendent Denise Pontrelli and Kristen Hoheisel

I submitted my open letter to all Stillwater School Board members, Superintendent Denise Pontrelli and Executive Director of Finance and Operations, Kristen Hoheisel:

Here is a link to an article published by the City Pages, “Stillwater school officials can’t explain financial adviser’s six-figure payday,” for your review. It is not new news to you, but you have neglected to take action for the best interest of the taxpayers. During the January School Board meeting, the School Board’s majority voted 4-3 to give Kristen Hoheisel blanket approval of contracts up to $100,000 without board review. As a taxpayer I am demanding a reversal of this January vote. I rarely hear the board ask any thought provoking questions in order to make better decisions. This rubber-stamp approach has to stop. Continue Reading →

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Sarah Stivland: Thoughts on Being a Stillwater School Board Member

The past few weeks since being sworn in as one of Stillwater School District’s newest board members has been a whirlwind of trainings and meetings. I’m learning what it takes to be an outstanding school board member. The primary purpose of the school board is to execute wise judgement in the use of community funds in order to provide the best possible learning experiences for each and every child in our district. According to Minnesota Statute 123B.09 subd.8:

“The board must superintend and manage the schools of the district; adopt rules for their organization, government, and instruction; keep registers; and prescribe textbooks and courses of study…”

In order to create the best possible learning environments, school boards must continuously engage with all community stakeholders to share accurate data on costs, academic achievement, building needs, innovation and technology needs, population trends, and many other important factors. In order to have an effective system, community members need to be engaged in the process. Continue Reading →

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Details of New Marine Area Community School — Grove Elementary — Coming Into Focus

Details about the new Marine Area Community School (MACS) are starting to come into focus. The group starting the new K-6 charter school set to open next fall recently announced its name — Grove Elementary — rolled out a new logo, is starting the process of hiring teachers and will soon enter into lease negotiations for the school’s location. “From nearly the start of our planning, we’ve been considering three locations: the current Marine Elementary building, the former Concordia Language Village buildings at Wilder and Christ Lutheran Church in Marine,” Marine Area Community School Board Chair Kristina Smitten said. “Because District 834’s Board of Directors imposed a stay on itself due to the ongoing legal situation, District 834 leadership has felt unable to discuss the possible sale of the Marine building,” she continued. “We are proactively moving forward — we need to for our students and our community — and we are absolutely thrilled about the opportunities presented by the Wilder facilities.”

Learn more about Grove Elementary

At the January business meeting, the MACS board unanimously decided to enter into lease negotiations with the owners of the Wilder Forest buildings, which are located in May Township on Norell Avenue about six miles southwest of Marine and about nine miles northwest of downtown Stillwater. Continue Reading →

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First Open House for Osgood Avenue Project in Oak Park Heights, Stillwater Set for Feb. 8

Washington County is hosting an open house next week to present information — and gather feedback — about potential improvements to Osgood Avenue (County Road 24) between 50th Street North in Baytown Township and Oak Park Heights and Orleans Street East in Stillwater. The public meeting will be from from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Washington County Government Center. The open house will be in the lower level conference room 16. This is the first of two planned public open houses relating to the $2.4 million project. Continue Reading →

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Twin Cities Live is All About Stillwater This Week

Twin Cities Live is all about Stillwater this week — culminating with a live broadcast from Pub 112 on Thursday, Feb. 2. Twin Cities Live will broadcast from Pub 112 from 2-4 p.m. Thursday. “The show’s theme is Food, Fashion and Fun,” according to a news release by KSTP – TV. “Twin Cities Live is about more than just Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Continue Reading →

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Bayport Officer Who Helped Save Suicidal Veteran Will Be Honored at Winter Gala Community Awards

The Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce recently announced the winners of their first annual Winter Gala Community Awards. The awards will be presented at the Chamber’s inaugural Winter Gala Community Award Celebration on Friday, Feb. 10 from 5:30 – 11 p.m. at the Water Street Inn. The Winter Gala Community Awards Celebration is open to the public – a $75 ticket includes a multi-course dinner, party favors, silent auction and raffle, live entertainment, awards ceremony and a tour of the Ice Castles. “We are very excited about this first annual inaugural event,” Chamber Director Robin Anthony said. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Historical Society’s Winter Ice Cream Social is Today in Lowell Park

The Washington County Historical Society’s annual Winter Ice Cream Social is happening  today, Saturday, Jan. 28 in the Lowell Park amphitheater. The Winter Ice Cream Social is from noon to 4 p.m.

Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop will be serving ice cream. There will also be free coffee, chili for a nominal fee, and of course, a bonfire. The event started back in 1950 when Stillwater businessman Gib Larson of Snowland Foods, along with a few other business people, held the first winter ice cream social at the St. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater School Closings Argued Before the Minnesota Court of Appeals

The Minnesota Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday relating to the Stillwater Board of Education’s decision to close Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools. A panel of three judges — Kevin Ross, Larry Stauber and John Rodenberg — heard 15 minutes of oral arguments by 834 Voice attorney Fritz Knaak and Stillwater Area Public Schools attorney Peter Mikhail before the panel will determine if the school board provided sufficient evidence that closing the three schools was “necessary and practicable,” under state law. The court will rule on 834 Voice’s appeal of the school closures by the end of April. “The Legislature recognizes that the closure of a single school is a major issue with respect to a community — and I think the fact that we are dealing with three here is meaningful,” Knaak argued in court. “There should have been a separate determination (that closing three schools was necessary and practicable) in this instance for each of those three schools. Continue Reading →

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Sticks in Stillwater Mite Hockey Festival Takes to the Ice this Weekend

The Sticks in Stillwater Mite Hockey Festival is set to take place this weekend at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center. The second annual mite hockey tournament is a family-friendly event that will feature more than 100 mite hockey games over two days featuring 600 kids playing on teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. The tournament takes place at the outdoor rink at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center from Jan. Continue Reading →

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Pizza Ranch is Now Open in Oak Park Heights

Pizza Ranch opened the doors of its newest franchise across the street from Stillwater Area High School in Oak Park Heights this week. Pizza Ranch’s buffet features pizza, broasted chicken, sides, salad and dessert. Pizza Ranch also offers delivery, pick-up and catering options. The new franchise location is the second for lifelong Stillwater residents Ernie and Kris Swanson, along with their son, Ernie Swanson Jr., and daughters Julie Hove and Jennifer Swanson. The Oak Park Heights restaurant is open Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m – 10 p.m.

“Opening a Pizza Ranch in our hometown has been a dream for our family for years,” Ernie Swanson Sr. said. Continue Reading →

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3 Washington County Commissioners Sworn Into Office After Re-Election

Three Washington County commissioners were sworn into office Jan. 3 after being re-elected in November. Commissioners Gary Kriesel (District 3), Fran Miron (District 1) and Lisa Weik (District 5) were sworn into four-year terms.

Commissioner Kriesel was first elected in November 2004 to represent the residents of District 3. He was re-elected in 2008, 2012, and again, in 2016. He retired from Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) after 33 years, and served two years on the Stillwater City Council. Continue Reading →

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2017 Best Burger in the Valley Cards Now Available

If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, “Best Burger in the Valley” cards are now available. Burger cards for downtown Stillwater’s eighth annual Best Burger in the Valley competition are now on sale at the participating restaurants. This year, 9 downtown restaurants will compete for the “Best Burger in the Valley” title, while raising awareness and funding for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Burger cards cost $40, and are good for a burger at each restaurant Monday – Thursdays from January to March. This year’s participating restaurants include:

Pub 112 – 2016 defending Champion

Water Street Inn

Brine’s Bar & Restaurant

Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque

Lion’s Tavern

Revé Bistro and Bar

Grand Pizza

Nacho Mama’s

Leo’s Grill & Malt

To date, the “Best Burger in the Valley” contest has raised more than $102,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Read the story of how the “Best Burger in the Valley” contest began

 

Past Winners:

2016: Pub 112

2015: LOLO

2014: Oasis Cafe

2013: Oasis Cafe

2012: Reve 324

2011: Leo’s

2010: Smalley’s

Continue Reading →

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Victorian Christmas at the Historic Courthouse

Start the holidays early this year with the Victorian Christmas at the Washington County Historic Courthouse this weekend, November 18th-20th. The Friday night Gala Fundraiser is the perfect date night, with Lift Bridge beer samples, wine from Domacin Wine Shop, hors d’oeuvres and desserts from many area caterers and restaurants, including Lake Elmo Inn and Event Center. Vendors offering hand-crafted items for sale means holiday shopping is done early! Fantastic door prizes from Rivertown Inn, South Hill Vintage, The Wedge & Wheel, also including a Kindle Fire, and gift cards from area businesses will also be drawn on the night of the Gala! Reservations are $40 per person/$70 for two in advance, $50 per person at the door. Continue Reading →

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Election Results: Strivland, Ptacek and Pelletier Win Seats on Stillwater School Board

Incumbent Mike Ptacek, and newcomers Sara Strivland and Jennifer Pelletier have been elected to serve on the Stillwater Area Public Schools Board of Education, according to preliminary Election results from the Minnesota Secretary of State website. Both Ptacek and Stivland oppose the closure of Marine, Oak Park and Withrow elementary schools and have said they would seek to reverse the BOLD proposal. During her campaign, Pelletier has said she would not seek to reverse BOLD. Continue Reading →

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Election Results: Stillwater School Board, City Council and State Representatives

Welcome to the 2016 Election Results Page for Stillwater Current. We’ll have live updates on local races right here, so check back. Election results are posted on the Minnesota Secretary of State website. Incumbents Sen. Karin Housley, Rep. Bob Dettmer and Rep. Kathy Lohmer all have big leads with a majority of the precincts reporting. Stillwater Area Public School Board (elect 3)

With all precincts reporting, Jennifer Pelletier, Mike Ptacek and Sarah Stivland have won the three seats on the Stillwater Area School Board. Continue Reading →

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Sara’s Tipsy Pies: A Perfect Crust and Just the Right Amount of Alcohol

Isn’t pie the best? Especially when it is straight out of the oven, still warm and filling the house with sweet, fruity smells. The way to tell a great pie from a garbage pie is the crust. It should have a nice bite to it, a little crispiness. Lackluster pie is all too common, like most frozen pie from the grocery store, once you bake it up in the oven, you are most certainly going to be disappointed with soggy crust and a mediocre filling. Continue Reading →

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St. Croix Catholic School Middle School Information Fair is Nov. 15

St. Croix Catholic School (SCCS) is hosting a middle school information fair on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 6:30 pm for families interested in enrolling in the current school year or 2017-2018. The fair will be held in the middle school commons (upper level of the school campus), located at 621 Third Street South in Stillwater. Established in 1999, St. Croix Catholic School’s middle school program for grades 6, 7 and 8 is a proven program, dedicated to preparing students to be successful in high school and beyond. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater School District’s Insurance Will Cover 3 Legal Challenges to BOLD

The legal challenges to Stillwater Area Public Schools’ BOLD plan that includes the closing of three elementary schools next year won’t cost taxpayers more than $100,000, after all. Insurance will cover the three lawsuits brought against the district by VOICE 834 and Melissa Douglas, according to Stillwater Area Public Schools. The lawsuits were filed in response to the school board’s approval of Superintendent Denise Pontrelli’s BOLD plan that includes the closure of Withrow, Oak Park and Marine elementary schools. The district has said that their insurance does not cover the legal fees relating to the three lawsuits — and that all of the legal expenses would come from the general fund that pays for teachers, support staff, curriculum and other things that directly support students. This week, the district posted this update about legal fees to the district’s “Fact Check” webpage:

Insurance to coverage (sic) a portion of legal costs related to school closure

After an initial denial of coverage by its insurance company, the district has received notice that underwriters have amended and clarified coverage for the three lawsuits related to the closure of schools. Continue Reading →

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