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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Sometimes you have to crawl before you can run. And baby steps are just part of the process. That's kind of how the Grow Farmington initiative is coming along. There are dreams and plans of making great strides one day, but members have to develop their plans step by step, first.
Farmington City Council members covered a lot of ground at a March 10 goal setting retreat and set out several goals for the year ahead. Meeting in Lakeville, four of five council members aired their thoughts, concerns and ideas for 4 1/2 hours Thursday. Council member Terry Donnelly was not present. No Farmington city staff members were in attendance, and though the meeting was open to the public, no residents attended.
City of Farmington employee Rob Boerboom is a low-key guy. He's not usually asked to sit in on council meetings, or give lengthy reports. He doesn't meet with the public often. He's maybe not one of the more recognizable faces around town, but the city relies on him and so do the residents, whether they know it or not. Boerboom is the city of Farmington's information technology specialist. He's the guy who works with the computers and all that technical stuff that confuses most people.
It was a pretty quiet night at the polls in surrounding townships Tuesday. With two of three townships holding uncontested races, the winners in Empire Township and Castle Rock Township were decided long before the polls closed. Officially, though, Empire Township Board chairman Terry Holmes received a total of 27 votes. In Castle Rock Township, Mike Rademacher was the lone name on the ballot, though incumbent Pete Schaffer had originally filed for reelection. Schaffer pulled out of the Castle Rock race, leaving Rademacher alone on the ballot. Rademacher received 85 votes.
For a lot of people, getting up in front of a group of other people and speaking is pretty scary. And for some people, yelling at a locker is just a little nutty, too, but they're okay with that. At least, that's the case for many of the members of the Farmington High School Speech Team. More than one has had to talk to lockers or argue with doors, but they're getting used to it. Over the past five or six years, the FHS speech program has boomed.
There's a long-standing joke around the state - you know, that one about Minnesota's two seasons being winter and road construction? Well, Farmington must be in for a treat this year, because there won't be road construction to worry about. Outside of a couple of day projects to put down the final layer of asphalt on the streets that were rebuilt as part of last summer's Walnut Street reconstruction, there are no new road construction projects on the books in Farmington this year. None. Anywhere.
There's good news and there's bad news for Farmington taxpayers. The good news for those who have raised objections over the past few months is that the city of Farmington will not rely on franchise fees charged by electric and gas utility companies to pay for seal coating projects in the city. But the seal coating projects still need to be paid for, and come next fall, that will mean higher taxes for residents. It's not clear yet just how much taxes will increase.
Just days after the city announced the license center's opening on its web page, the desk at city hall was vacated and the window closed. That's because the state of Minnesota has denied Farmington's application to issue motor vehicle licenses and license plate tabs, regardless of the special legislation passed in 2010 that designated the city of Farmington as a deputy registrar of motor vehicles. On Monday, the city of Farmington received two rejection letters from Patricia McCormack, director of the Driver and Vehicle Services division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Farmington City Council members will talk about their goals and try to come up with a list of things they would like to accomplish at a retreat scheduled for Thursday, March 10, in Lakeville. Council members plan to meet by themselves, with no city staff or city attorney present, for about five hours in the community room of Lakeview Bank. The purpose of the retreat, according to mayor Todd Larson, is to develop goals for 2011. "I don't want staff there because I don't want anyone's ideas influenced in any way.
About a year and a half ago, I ran into Bob Brownawell at a fundraiser of some sort. Bob was a school board member when I started covering Farmington in 1994. We got to visiting about how Farmington has changed over the years. We talked about the sometimes wacky hours that come with this job, and I mentioned the fact that in order to continue affording to do what I do, I have to work a part-time job. "Single girl plus mortgage equals part-time job," is just something I've grown accustomed to saying. Then somehow, our conversation turned on a personal note.