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A new city, new challenges ahead

I've been in Farmington for a long time already. A really long time.

Come June, I'll have been covering the Farmington community for no less than 19 years.

When I started, I was hired by the Lakeville Life & Times, which had a section dedicated to Farmington. Eventually the L & T was sold, and we merged with the Thisweek/Dakota County Tribune family. I continued to cover Farmington there for the next 18 months, until I was hired by the Independent.

It was October, 2000 when I came here -- still, to cover Farmington. But we also had the Rosemount Town Pages. So I covered Rosemount's school news and business news for a few years, as well.

So I'm not really sure why, now that we've blended our publications into our new paper, I feel like I'm a stranger to Rosemount. I've been around Rosemount almost as long as I've been in Farmington.

See, the catch about being a single gal who owned her own home was that I had to have a part-time job. And so I did. For more years than I can count out of the last 12 1/2 years, I greeted folks from both Farmington and Rosemount from behind the deli counter at Cub Foods.

Yep. That's why my picture looks familiar. Picture that with a hairnet, black hat and apron, and you've probably seen me before.

Now I'm finding my way back into Rosemount. It's a little different mindset -- thinking of stories not just about Farmington, but our neighbors to the north as well. Working on my story about Farmington's crime scene unit, Nathan suggested I look at Rosemount's crime scene team. It caught me a little off guard at first, I'll admit, but it makes perfect sense.

Over the years, I've come to understand there is a lot of cooperation between the communities in Dakota County. I'll never claim to know everything our civic leaders combine, but I know the fire departments in Dakota County have an effective mutual aid system in place, and I know our police departments collaborate on occasion when searching out the bad guys.

Our schools ... well, that's just a whole lot of sharing right there no matter how you look at it. North Trail Elementary School is in Farmington's school district, but it's located in the city limits of Lakeville, and if you cross the street, you've got a Rosemount address. Try that on for sharing, right?

So it makes perfect sense that, on occasion, I'd be hitting the streets of Rosemount. Mostly, I'll be doing what I do in Farmington, but at the same time, I think this new publication will offer some exciting opportunities for me as a journalist.

I'll be able to take a little more time to develop some stories that are more area-inclusive. I'm excited about that, because it's been a while since I've had the chance to really spread my wings, so to speak.

And there's that part where I get to meet new people, too. One of my best friends is a Rosemount resident, and I have a handful of high school friends who live there, as well. And of course, I still have plenty of co-worker friends at Cub Foods. They've all been great over the years, filling me in on some exciting things happening up there.

But now I get to develop some new contacts, too. And I don't even have to wear a hairnet.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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