Michelle Leonard started covering the Farmington community in June, 1994. 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 Farmington American Legion Auxiliary Unit 189, and acts as 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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This week is the last big push for Toys for Town organizers. It's the week when the last few family names come in, the last week for toys and financial donations to be made. And, come Saturday morning, it's the annual wrapping and distribution for Farmington's Toys for Town gift drive. According to the Farmington Police Department's Marjorie Boese, the 2010 drive is gearing up to serve the 74 families and 215 kids on this year's list.
Even though the city of Farmington was still clearing streets on Monday, the 17 to 18 inches of snow that fell over the weekend was more of an inconvenience than anything. City crews spent a good part of the day clearing the rest of the streets downtown, after putting in many hours trying to clear snow on both Saturday and Sunday. The weekend was busy for Farmington police officers, too. Over the two days, officers responded to two crashes due to the snow, as well as 21 spinouts or reports of cars getting stuck.
It's never too early to teach some lessons, like how to be compassionate, how to give to others who have less than you do. That's what teachers in Farmington's School Aged Care program figured, too. They do all kinds of service projects with older students in the program, but finding one that would be easy for Kindergarten-aged kids to do -- and for them to understand -- isn't all that easy. But one of the teachers heard about the Christmas bear project that Castle Rock Bank does.
'Tis the season of giving, and that's just what organizers of the 2010 Toys for Town gift drive and Farmington Food Shelf hope will happen over the next few weeks. The Farmington police department -- organizers of the annual Toys for Town drive -- and food shelf folks are teaming up this year, in hopes of using all of their resources to give those less fortunate folks a happier holiday. The collaboration seems to be a little bit of a no-brainer to acting chief Jim Murphy and food shelf volunteer Kim Donohue, who are working together to meet the community's needs.
Sometimes you have to give a little, especially when it's for the greater good. That's what Farmington's police sergeants figured this year, when they decided to ask for just half of their contracted raise amounts in 2011 and 2012. It's not the first time they've given concessions in the amount they're being paid, either. "We knew it was the right thing for us to do," said administrative Sgt. Jim Constantineau. Typically, the Farmington Police Department accounts for the lion's share of the annual operating costs in the city's budget.
After months of discussion and debate to iron out details of the 2011 budget and levy, Farmington City Council members were quick to take action Monday night. The Farmington City Council took less than 10 minutes to approve the 2011 financials and eliminate the position of administrative services director Lisa Shadick. Council members and city staff spent more than six months wrestling with the levy and budget documents, trying to find ways to get the most bang for the buck.
"Paralysis by analysis" is how Farmington City Council member Christy Jo Fogarty described the council's decision to delay a decision to deal with a deficit in the fund that pays for the annual seal coating of Farmington's streets. On Monday, three of five council members said they weren't ready or interested in approving a franchise fee agreement to build up the funds that are needed to pay for the city's seal-coat street maintenance program.
Though there doesn't seem to be any extra money in the city's 2011 budget to open a deputy registrar's office, the project could still happen next year. The city of Farmington has received a "very promising" proposal from an unidentified, outside source, according to city administrator Peter Herlofsky. Herlofsky is hesitant to give away too many of the details because the proposal hasn't even been presented to the city council just yet. Plans for opening a deputy registrar's office in city hall were more or less dead in the water following a Nov. 22 city council budget workshop.
Riverview Elementary School kindergarten teacher Renee Schultz is still kind of reeling from the recent announcement proclaiming her Farmington's Teacher of the Year. She's had a few weeks to get used to the idea, but she's still very honored to have been selected by her peers for the designation. The Farmington School District is the only place she's ever taught, and she's got the better part of two decades to her credit. She started in Early Childhood Family Education at Akin Road Elementary, then transferred to the district's Kindergarten Center when it opened.
If this keeps up, there's going to be a lot of super-smart kids coming out of Meadowview Elementary School. And they'll be pretty fit and trim, for that matter. MVES has a new club for students in grades 1-5. It's called the Running Club, and its membership requirements are simple: just run. So they do. Every day, about 300 of the school's students take to the small track behind the school. The first- and second graders run for a minimum of half a mile. The kids in third through fifth grade run a minimum of a mile.