Our favorite things: Getting paid to go to garage sales? Michelle found that experience hard to top in 2012We have written a lot of stories over the past year. At a rough estimate, we filled more than 1,500 pages with news about Farmington. That’s a lot of stories we have worked to prepare, then sent out into the world. And while some of them were relatively small things, others have stuck with us over the months. This is a look back at those stories, our favorites from 2012.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
It was a cool Friday morning back in April. I had set out to find a picture for the Farmington page, and maybe get a Pet of the Week photo while I was out and about.
When I turned left off of 195th Street West into the Charleswood development, I had no idea what I was about to encounter – much less, that the story I’d stumbled upon would be one of my favorites for 2012.
Charleswood garage sales
I’d spotted a couple of garage sale signs. It was late April – about the right time of the year for the kick-off of garage sale season – and as I started driving around the streets of Charleswood, I counted 1 … 2 … 3 … Oh, forget it. There were open garage doors everywhere I looked, with hundreds of goodies spilling out onto driveways.
It seems I’d stumbled into one of the Charleswood neighborhood garage sales. Now, I have been known to frequent a garage sale now and again over the years. I have a huge, antique trunk (complete with the paper lining somewhat intact) in my basement to prove so, not to mention quite a few fun, unique serving pieces I’d picked up along the way. Truth be told, I have imposed a self-moratorium on going to garage sales.
And yet, here was this garage, jam-packed with tables and mounds upon mounds of clothing. Bright colors everywhere. It was enticing, to say the least.
So I made a quick call to the office. “Have we ever done anything on the Charleswood garage sales?” I asked.
It turned out we had not. And so I was going to get paid to go to garage sales. Sweet.
I marched up the driveway and met Lori Hoffmeister, a garage-sale expert if I’d ever met one. We got to talking a bit. She admitted to being somewhat addicted to going to garage sales, going so far as to say she watched an episode of “Hoarders” and decided it was time to pull back a bit. It was a fun morning, and I made my way around to a few sales.
I don’t know why this struck me as one of my favorite stories of 2012, but when I came across it, it made me smile so I guess that qualifies. Plus, I got paid to go to garage sales. Sweet.
Rambling River Center
One of the things I love about this community is the “get it done” determination I see time and again in its residents. We see it in projects like the Yellow Ribbon Network and all they do for military and veterans, the Ice for Tigers group that wants to build a second sheet of ice at the arena, or, in one case, Farmington’s Rambling River Center members.
Back in April, the members of Rambling River Center successfully paid back a loan to the city of Farmington. It was a $90,000 loan given when the old city hall was converted into the present Rambling River Center.
When the senior center relocated in 2009, it was with the understanding that the members would hold fundraisers to repay the $90,000, and they’d be able to pay back the money in five years. Well, our community’s seniors kept up their end of the deal – they paid back that loan in just three years.
A fundraising committee was set up at Rambling River Center. They had at least 39 events to help raise the money, and the center got 148 individual or family donations for the project. A room naming rights project netted $33,500 in pledges.
I’d read over the years about the earlier days of Farmington’s senior center. In fact, back in 1982, when a group of senior citizens wanted to get a center going, the city gave its support, but charged the group with the task of raising funds to get the project started. To no real surprise, Farmington’s seniors of that generation met their goal, too. And, as it turns out, some of the seniors from 1982 were the parents of the men and women who helped to raise the funds for Rambling River Center this year.
So I guess I wasn’t really surprised when I learned they’d met their goal. In fact, I can distinctly remember seeing the check presentation on that week’s council agenda, and calling Rambling River Center director Missie Kohlbeck right away to share words of congratulations.
I love that Farmington has a base of hard-working, selfless individuals at Rambling River Center. As the community’s elders, they have lived through far tougher times and have a work ethic that is sometimes lost in today’s lifestyles. I love that they set an example for the entire community by setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and in turn, giving back to future generations. That’s why Rambling River Center’s accomplishment was one of my favorite stories of 2012.
A big ol’ turtle
Every so often, we come across somewhat … weird news. And this one kind of fits the bill, which is why I’ve included it.
Plus, I’m fond of turtles.
One afternoon in September, I took a phone call from a gal on the north end of town. She called to report a large snapping turtle had apparently made itself comfortable on someone’s front step, and that she’d enlisted the help of one of Farmington’s police officers to remove it.
So I called FPD sergeant Kevin Mincke, the officer who removed the 15-pound snapping turtle from a front step on Sept. 4, and safely delivered it to the banks of the Vermillion River.
The turtle was spotted on the front step of a house at the 18800 block of Dunbury Avenue. Fire marshal John Powers was in the area, investigating a fire that had happened earlier that day, when a woman flagged him down to ask for help with the turtle. Powers called for police assistance. It turns out, Mincke has had previous run-ins with snapping turtles, and he’d learned what to do – and what not to do – in such cases, so he took the call.
I learned some very valuable tips on snapping turtle removal that afternoon. For instance, don’t try to put them into cardboard boxes. Apparently they tend to break out the sides of the boxes. Instead, a neighbor found a storage bin with a lid, which worked better for transporting the turtle.
Also, it’s good to have a snow shovel handy. Even in September. Because that’s what Mincke used to scoop the turtle up and place it in the bin.
Mincke brought the snapping turtle down to the Vermillion River, and let it go near the bridge off of Highway 3 in Empire Township.
“It was kind of cool. This thing was ready to go. He stuck his head out, looked around and said, ‘I’m outta here,’” Mincke said at the time. “He kind of tucked his head down, pushed off and away he went into the water.”
Farmington’s police officers are called to respond to domestics disputes, to burglaries, vandalism and all kinds of bad stuff. But it’s nice to know that they’re around for all types of emergencies – even the unusual ones.
In early November, I met Riverview Elementary School fourth grader Madelyn Price, a little girl who grew a big, big cabbage.
I mean, a big cabbage. It was 22 pounds.
I learned about Maddie when I received a press release from the Bonnie Plant company. It seems that last year, third grade teachers participated in the Bonnie Plant Cabbage Program. Students received cabbage seedlings at the end of the school year, then had the summer to take them home and plant them. To nurture them, and watch them grow.
Well, Maddie took her seedling to her grandma’s house. Together, they planted it and cared for it.
“We took good care of it,” Maddie said when I talked to her. “We watered it and we added a secret ingredient, too. Horse manure.”
In Minnesota alone, 408 schools participated in the Bonnie Plant Cabbage Program this year. A total of 8,770 students from around the state entered their cabbage in the contest, but only Price was declared the winner by Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner David Fredrickson. For her efforts, Madelyn received a $1,000 savings bond, to be used for her post-secondary education.
Meeting Madelyn was fun, and I enjoyed visiting with her mom, Jenny, who came to join us for the interview. Maddie didn’t necessarily care for the coleslaw they made from her giant cabbage, but she sure did enjoy telling her story. And I think that’s part of the reason I chose the giant cabbage as one of my favorites – because it just goes to show that everyone, young and old, has a story to tell.
Semi vs. power line
Ah, yes. The semi vs. the power line. Who remembers that excitement during this year’s Dew Days parade? I certainly do. I was right next to the semi. It’s not often news breaks right in front of – or above – me.
But there we were, hundreds of Farmington residents and visitors, lined up along Third Street, taking in the Dew Days parade. It had rained all day – I remember watching from the window of our dry office as the Zumba folks danced in the rain out on Oak Street – but miraculously, three minutes before the parade was to begin, the clouds parted and the sun came out.
Umbrellas lined Third Street, a few people still wore rain ponchos, but the street was full of paradegoers.
The color guard had passed by, grand marshal Russ Zellmer had gone by. The fire department brought its trucks out, and the last of the FFD units was just about to round the corner of Third and Spruce. A semi followed the fire department.
I was walking alongside the semi when everyone heard a big “boom!” Over near the library something looked and sounded like fireworks had gone off. When I looked up, I saw what the problem was – right above me, a power line had attached itself to the top of the semi. Or maybe it was the other way around. In any event, I skedaddled right out of there.
It was a good thing there were several police officers near the intersection, and that the fire department was still right there. They had to clear the area, move all of those paradegoers to Walnut Street and down Fourth Street instead. The parade stalled a bit – no doubt, it really stressed out members of the Dew Days committee – but 15 or 20 minutes later, it went on, with a shortened route.
Afterward, I found out this year’s parade had 94 units. It was the largest parade in the history of Dew Days. And while the semi and power line accident was inconvenient, no one was hurt, and no one missed any of the parade. I like to think of it as another successful Dew Days celebration, full of memories of all kinds.