As a forestry expert and city parks enthusiast, Mike Phillips was well-qualified to help lead development of a "school forest" in Newport. Now, the learning center there bears his name.

Phillips, a longtime employee of the state Department of Natural Resources, died in 2008. On Sept. 29, his family was on hand for dedication of the Michael J. Phillips Outdoor Learning Facility at Newport Bailey Family School Forest Park.

The facility, a joint effort of the city and South Washington County schools, is described by the city as a "unique 'wall-less' classroom" containing remnants of an oak savanna and many aspen, basswood, oak and cherry trees.

Each year, about 1,200 elementary students visit the area, according to the school district.

Earlier this year, the Newport Park Board approved a $50,000 financing plan for the facility that included $12,000 each from the city and the school district and $10,000 from a memorial fund that was created in Phillips' name.

Mayor Tim Geraghty said then: "Mike did a lot of work on the school forest and this is long overdue," according to the meeting minutes.

The park is just west of Century Avenue and Wild Ridge Trail.


Superintendent hosts community events

Keith Jacobus, who took over this fall as superintendent of the South Washington County schools, has scheduled two community conversations in Woodbury during the next two weeks.

On Monday, he will speak at Woodbury High School from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On Oct. 24, he will appear at East Ridge High School, again from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The superintendent plans to discuss student achievement results, among other topics. Attendees also will have opportunities to ask questions.

Before arriving in South Washington County, Jacobus was assistant superintendent in Osseo. He succeeded former Superintendent Mark Porter, who was let go as result of perceived shortcomings in his communication and leadership skills.


ALC students raise money to help poor

Economics students at the White Bear Lake Area Learning Center met a goal of raising $1,000 for a service-learning project offering financial assistance to entrepreneurs in Third World countries.

Funds were raised during a craft sale last month that attracted 40 vendors and at least 200 people, according to a school district newsletter.

The students -- who participate in non-traditional programming that includes online learning and a parenting program with in-house daycare -- plan to make micro-loans of $25 to $50 to entrepreneurs in Honduras and other countries. When loans are repaid, the money will be steered to other entrepreneurs.

The project is to be facilitated by Kiva, a nonprofit group that allows people to establish loan accounts at the website Loan recipients may include farmers seeking to double grain production or women struggling to pay nursing-school tuition, the website states.

The ALC students continue to accept donations for the loan project. Anyone wishing to contribute can contact teacher Tim McGraw at 651-773-6406. The White Bear Lake district includes students from Washington and Ramsey counties.

Century College sets program open house

Century College will host an open house Tuesday for its career and technical programs.

Areas of study include automotive service, computer forensics and visual communications technology.

The open house runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on the college's East Campus at 3300 Century Av., just north of Hwy. 694.