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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Farmington police can't be everywhere at once, but they've got a few sets of extra eyes on parts of the downtown area. There are 54 surveillance cameras posted around the community, giving Farmington police a chance to see things that happen even when they're not there. The camera system was a large purchase, but it's come in handy more than once. Farmington police administrative sergeant Jim Constantineau said the surveillance system is a work in progress.
The Farmington Business Association is going to have to find another place to put up its community Christmas tree. The vacant lot on Third Street, where the tree has been placed for the past few years, won't be vacant much longer. By this fall, a 3,000-square-foot building will be taking up the space. Last Wednesday, Immanuel Dental owner Dr. Linden Dungy closed on the purchase of the vacant lot.
While the economy has meant plenty of doom and gloom for many Farmington residents, it might offer a blessing in disguise for taxpayers. On Monday, the Farmington City Council agreed to refinancing a bond issued in 2003 to cover costs associated with construction of the law enforcement center and central maintenance facility. Doing so will save the city more than $104,000 on bond payments. Issued at an interest rate of 2.95 to 3.65 percent, the original general obligation bond was for $3.74 million.
They say every little bit helps, and in Farmington's case, that may just be true. After more than four years with the current auditing firm of Kern, DeWinter and Viere, the Farmington City Council will give a new firm a whirl - and save about $23,000 at the same time. On Monday, council members selected Smith Shafer and Associates as the city's new auditing firm. The company was one of eight to submit a proposal when finance director Teresa Walters posted a request for proposals in May.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. I don't know who they are, but they've pretty much labeled me as a bigmouth. It's been almost two years since I purchased my own camera - a fancy one, complete with all kinds of attachments, filters and such. We have cameras here at the office, but for some reason, I've decided to use my own when it comes to shooting pictures for the paper. I think it's a comfort level, although I was pretty doggone comfortable with the cameras here, too. Well, this is the problem I now face: I have too many pictures.
In an effort to be a little more earth-friendly, and save a few dollars, the Farmington City Council has decided to go paper free for their meetings. On Monday, council members agreed the time has come to do away with printed versions of the city council agenda, and instead just pull it up on a screen. It turns out it would be cheaper for the city of Farmington to purchase five iPads than it is for city staff to prepare, print and deliver the agenda packets in the current format.
A sign in the Depot Way Arts Park currently declares, "We Own Downtown." It's signed, "The Downtown Boyz." Apparently, the so-called "Downtown Boyz" are a handful of teenagers who have been getting a little too creative with spray paint around downtown Farmington. And for at least a few, their creative streak should be just about over. Farmington police have identified three juvenile males as some of the creative culprits scrawling graffiti on buildings and artwork in the art park.
All that's left is to check off the days until Aug. 29. That's when Farmington's new city administrator, David McKnight, will begin his job. The background check on McKnight is finished, and the current Mendota Heights administrator has passed with flying colors. He doesn't need to move far - McKnight was born and raised in Farmington and still calls the community home. And now, his contract is squared away, too. On Monday, the Farmington City Council approved McKnight's employment agreement, which lays out McKnight's salary, pension plan and paid time off.
If you're planning to hold a National Night Out party and would like Farmington police or firefighters to stop by, now is the time to get your party scheduled. Farmington community service officer Richard Girard is accepting registrations though Friday, July 22, for the 28th annual National Night Out block party. So far, Girard has only received four registrations. He typically, he receives 25 before the event. He figures more will come soon, but hopes residents will get those in sooner than later.
While most Farmingtonites were sweating out the hot temperatures over the weekend, a few folks found a spot to stay cool - maybe even cold - last Sunday. They headed to the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena and laced up their skates. During July, the city of Farmington is offering ice skating lessons and open skates at the arena on Sundays. The lessons require pre-registration, but the open skates are held every Sunday through the end of the month. It's been about five years since the city has provided summer ice at the Schmitz-Maki Arena, parks and recreation director Randy Distad said.