PERSPECTIVES - Woodbury - South Maplewood


Hill-Murray senior has jazz hands

John Blanda is shown at the baby grand piano in Hill-Murray High School’s choir room. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

John Blanda, in a sense, has the world at his fingertips.
Blanda, a 17-year-old kid from Maplewood, is quiet, laid back and comes off a bit spacey, but still sharp.
And sharp quickly comes to the fore when he sits at the piano.


Her heart’s in the effort

Not long after a chunk of metal was embedded beneath her skin and wires became a part of her heart, Sara Meslow quit her job.
She found a more pressing mission: starting a camp for kids with heart disease.
Now, about 13 years later, the Lake Elmo resident is among 10 people worldwide who recently received a Bakken Invitation award, along with a $20,000 grant, from Medtronic, which named it for company co-founder Earl Bakken.


Afton Alps celebrates 50 years

Afton Alps co-founder Paul Augustine blows snow from a snow gun on a slope at Afton in the mid-1960s. (submitted photo)

Following a change in ownership and months of renovations and new construction, Afton Alps is inviting the public to check out its improved resort and to celebrate 50 years of skiing.
The ski facility is no longer the rustic, mom-and-pop operation that attracted skiers for decades. The redesigned resort now features high-tech snowmaking machines, a new guest-services building, with a  stainless steel look, and improved terrain park.


A look back at the Dome’s glory days

After a 31-year run, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome awaits demolition to make room for a new facility to house its main tenant: the Minnesota Vikings. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

Jerry Bell, Bill Lester reflect on the good, the bad & the ugly sides of the stadium

A couple of guys who knew it best


For Bruentrups, historic farm still feels like home during holidays

In her Mrs. Claus attire and he in Santa hat for the Breakfast with Santa and later open house Dec. 7, Raydelle and Bill Bruentrup still spend time at the old homestead, volunteering countless hours on behalf of the Maplewood Area Historical Society. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Growing up on his family’s farm, Bill Bruentrup milked cows twice a day. Even on Christmas.
“On Christmas Eve, we’d milk a little bit earlier than we normally did so we could come in, clean up, eat dinner, and then we would open our presents,” the 72-year-old said. “I remember getting ready for Christmas, because we tried to get as many things done as we could.


The Christmas gift I always longed for ...

Was there a present you wrote on your wish list every year when you were a child -- a present you never received? Maybe it was a much-desired pet or a toy that “Santa” disapproved of. Or perhaps there’s a gift on your adult wish list that you’re still holding out hope for.
Or maybe you unexpectedly did get that longed-for item and were overjoyed.
Here, newspaper staff members reflect on holidays past and what they did, and didn’t, find under the tree.


Johnson High School Hockey is 100 years in the making

Picture of ‘47 Johnson High State Hockey Champs (submitted photo)

The date of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Johnson High School boys hockey team is getting close at hand.
The celebration will be Saturday, Dec. 21, and things are beginning to really heat up for a get-together of East Siders that might prove hard to handle -- especially when it involves old hockey players, with old memories.
The event is billed as “The Pride of the East Side.”


Community to throw fundraiser for hit-and-run victim

Wade Souster, 31, of St. Paul, is shown in recovery with his cousin, Angie Hammerlindl. (submitted photo)

Wade Souster has been making a slow recovery since a vehicle struck him in a hit-and-run collision near Lake Phalen.
The 31-year-old was walking when he was hit in the early hours of Oct. 3 and found by another driver around 4 a.m., lying in the median of Phalen Boulevard, near the intersection of Atlantic Street.
Emergency personnel were called to the scene, and he was brought to Regions Hospital.


Embrace the warmth of a good book

Looking for a holiday gift with a Minnesota connection?

Jill Yanish • Pamela O’meara
Review staff


Janie's legacy of laughter and love: After toddler’s death, parents pursue memorial playground

A 17 months old, Janie Zahradka heads toward the playground at Edgerton Park in Maplewood. (submitted photo)

When Janie Zahradka was 7 months old, she sat on her dad’s lap at Casey Lake Park in North St. Paul to swing, because the playground wasn’t built for someone her size.
“She was always the happiest when she was outside playing,” said her father, Tony Zahradka, an assistant baseball coach at Johnson High School and teacher at Guadalupe Alternative Programs on St. Paul’s West Side.


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