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 is 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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The Farmington City Council hopes to announce the finalist candidate for its vacant city administrator position by mid July. On Wednesday, council members identified the six candidates they would like to interview to fill the city's top spot, which was vacated May 31, by former administrator Peter Herlofsky. The names of the candidates have not been released, but human resource director Brenda Wendlandt plans to contact the six individuals Monday, June 13. Candidates must accept the invitation to be interviewed before Wendlandt can make their names public.
It's one thing to be honored once by your peers, but twice in three years? Well, that's pretty special. Farmington High School speech coach Rick Halley knows that very well, indeed. He's been named Section 1AA Speech Coach of the Year - twice. Halley received his latest honor just a couple of weeks ago, when his peers in Section 1AA chose him for the 2011 award. "I was very honored," Halley said. "In 2008 I had received the Speech Coach of the Year, too. It doesn't often come back around so soon." Halley's not sure why he was chosen again, but he's got some pretty good ideas.
The Farmington Economic Development Authority has decided to expand its membership to include two ex-officio members. The only problem right now is that no one has expressed any interest in becoming one. The city posted the two openings on May 19. Applications are due by June 17, so there is still time to apply. But with a little over two weeks to go, no one has stepped forward. The two new commission members will have input on economic development issues in the city, but they will not be able to cast votes.
Fourteen people have made the first round of cuts in the search for a new Farmington city administrator. The city of Farmington recently pulled its posting for the city's top job, but not before collecting 29 applications. Mayor Todd Larson and Farmington human resource director Brenda Wendlandt sifted through all of the applications and pulled the 14 they thought best met the job's requirements. Those 14 applications have been shared with the rest of the Farmington City Council. They've been asked to select their top five candidates, then to share those names with Wendlandt by Friday.
Tuesday morning started off like any other Tuesday for Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky. He came to work. He ran a staff meeting. And then he finished cleaning out his office. Herlofsky's last day with the city of Farmington was May 31, ending a five year and one month career in this community. He refuses to say he is retiring - he's just not going to work. "What is special to me is that I do not have any plans," he said Tuesday afternoon. "My schedule is up to me now.
Reading books paid off big time for North Trail Elementary School first grader MacKenzie Frame. She read so much, she got to rule her school for a day. Along with all of the other students at NTES, Frame was challenged to collect pledges through a recent school Read-A-Thon. The incentive? Principal Steven Geis would step aside for the student who read the most. That means Frame was principal for a day last Wednesday. Principal Frame came to school with her hair pinned up, a pretty lavender dress and a matching sweater. After all, she had to look the part.
While some people are making plans for a long weekend with family and friends, others around Farmington are making plans for a long weekend that includes paying tribute to the community's veterans who have passed away. To men and women in Farmington's Veterans organizations, the Memorial Day weekend is more than just a time for a picnic or a sale. This weekend marks one of the most important days of the year - the day to remember those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Reading comes easily to some kids. For others, not so much. At North Trail Elementary School, volunteers have done wonders to help the latter become the former. This year, NTES broke out a new reading program called Literacy LEAPS - Literacy Enriched Activities with Parents/Volunteers - and it seems to have helped quite a few struggling students. It's also brought a little personal joy and satisfaction to the volunteers. Teacher Kim Bollesen set up the program this year.
A Farmington employee has lodged a complaint regarding a personnel matter against the city of Farmington. The Farmington City Council met in closed session following its May 16 meeting to discuss the claim. City attorney Joel Jamnik could not discuss the nature of the claim, nor identify who had filed it, because it is a personnel matter. However, Jamnik said an offer to settle the matter has been offered. Jamnik has been talking to the employee's attorney, John Fabian, about a potential settlement.
There is good news for homeowners looking to make a change on their properties. After a year of not being able to grant variances on projects that would change residential structures, the city of Farmington and other communities once again have that ability. Chances are, most residents didn't know they weren't able to make changes.