The Merrill Community Arts Center's dream for a Black Box theater at East Ridge High School became reality Tuesday with members of the arts group, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, city officials and representatives from the South Washington County School District among others holding a groundbreaking ceremony.

Construction on the $1.3 million space adjacent to the Loft Stage will begin this month. It will include a lobby, restrooms, box office and a green room. It will have 120 seats and be used for theater and music performances, rehearsals and visual art displays.

The theater is expected to open in early 2013.

As part of the agreement with the South Washington County School District, the district will cover costs to maintain the theater and use it for school and community activities.

The arts center, named after Woodbury resident Dorothy Merrill, who donated $2.3 million to establish a community arts center in the city, also has a campus on Rivertown Drive. That serves as home to the Woodbury Community Theater and is used for office and meeting space.

cottage Grove

Teen wins national modeling contract Alexandria "Ali" Williams-Seymour, who just graduated from Park High School, beat out hundreds of competitors to win a national modeling contract with prom and wedding designer Tiffany Designs.

Prom Guide magazine hosts the annual contest, which includes a $5,000 scholarship for the winner.

Williams-Seymour, 17, will attend St. Catherine University in St. Paul, where she plans to earn her doctorate in physical therapy. She has been awarded the college's Presidential Scholarship.

"Since I am a dancer, my goal is to specialize in the treatment of dancers and other athletes," Williams-Seymour said.


New fire chief leads volunteer department Kevin Colvard is Hugo's new fire chief, replacing the retiring Jim Compton.

Colvard's appointment, on the recommendation of City Administrator Bryan Bear, was effective June 1. Colvard was sworn in during a City Council ceremony on Monday.

The city's volunteer fire department fought several major fires in recent years and had a significant role in responding to a stricken north-side neighborhood after the Memorial Day tornado of 2008.


Zephyr move delayed,Main Street detoured Traffic on Main Street north of the Stillwater Lift Bridge will be detoured for a month during construction of the city's new pedestrian plaza.

The city previously had announced that work would be postponed to allow moving the Minnesota Zephyr dinner train to Bayport, but that move now won't happen until at least July 15, the city said last week.

Construction of new crosswalks and piping water and sewer lines to a new restroom building on the plaza will require diverting traffic along Water Street, the city said. The detour will start June 18.

Zephyr owner David Paradeau has said that he plans to move the train from a siding on the north end of Stillwater to tracks at Andersen Windows at Bayport. Individual train cars will be hauled on flatbed trailers through Stillwater because railroad tracks south to Bayport no longer exist.

School administrator going to Bloomington Chris Lennox, assistant superintendent for Stillwater Area Public Schools for the past four years, is headed to Bloomington.

As assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, Lennox oversaw curriculum and instruction, student support services and community education. He also supervised 12 building principals.

He'll assume similar duties with the Bloomington public schools starting July 1.

Lennox previously was Stillwater High School principal from 2003 to 2008. He also was a principal in South St. Paul, and began his career more than 20 years ago as a secondary math teacher at Brooklyn Center High School.


Farmers market seeks sellers for summer Applications are being accepted for the Mahtomedi Area Farmers Market, which begins June 23. The market will be open at Triangle Park from 8 a.m. to noon and continue every Saturday until Oct. 6. Limited space is available. Call 612-250-9699 for details.

washington county

High schools team up to win robotics title Robotics teams from Stillwater Area High School and Park High in Cottage Grove teamed up to claim the inaugural Minnesota State High School Robotics Championships last month at the University of Minnesota.

Park's team, the Data Bits, and Stillwater's Armada beat out 28 teams for top honors. The competition, organized by Minnesota's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), gave students and their mentors six weeks to complete a robot to solve a common problem.

Students score high at WordMasters event Seventh-graders from South Washington County schools finished in eighth place in the Blue Division of the 2012 WordMasters Challenge, a national language arts competition entered by nearly 220,000 students. The South Washington County team competed against 294 other teams. The district's eighth-graders finished ninth out of 302 teams.

Two students won top honors in the individual competition. Noah Beukelman and Morgan Waste, both seventh-graders at Lake Middle School, were among 62 participants who earned perfect scores.

The competition challenges students with words that are considered to be above grade level and has them use the words to complete analogies.


School district's website has new look A year-long project came to fruition Monday as White Bear Lake Area Schools launched its redesigned website.

The home page includes tabs that allow users to find information on district news, events, academics, employment, and community services and recreation. To comment on the new design, e-mail commu

KEVIN GILES, JOY POWELL and tim harlow