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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This past Saturday was a big day for Farmington High School senior Natalie Cherne. Not only did she have to take her ACT tests, but she also met President Barack Obama. She was off from school during the state teachers' convention last Thursday, just like the rest of her classmates. But while her classmates were finding something else to do with their break time, Cherne watched her cell phone all day.
One of the nice things about living in a rural community is the lack of crime. Right? Well, yes and no. There might not be the big, dramatic crime that makes headlines, but there still is a fair amount of incidents that happen in Dakota County's townships and smaller cities. That's why the Dakota County Sheriff's Department is starting a new outreach program called Block Club meetings. "This is a way for us to help the citizens and for them to help us," said Sgt. Jim Gabriel, who is organizing the Block Club meetings.
While Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist is off at the National FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., he's learning plenty of skills to make him a better officer and chief. Meanwhile, back in Farmington, police sergeant Jim Murphy is learning quite a bit, too. In Lindquist's absence, Murphy has assumed the role of acting chief for the Farmington Police Department. Murphy joined the local department on June 3, 1996, and was promoted to a sergeant in September, 2000. These days, he's getting a taste of management until Lindquist returns in mid-December.
Making connections is always a good thing, even when it comes to trails. That's why Pilot Knob Road was closed for a few days earlier this month -- so a new section of trail could be installed alongside the road. By itself, the trail doesn't seem to be much more than a strip of blacktop.
Farmington's housing construction is far from what it was in the heyday of the earlier part of the decade, but it's still coming back. "It's slow, but steady," said Farmington building official Ken Lewis. To date this year, the city of Farmington has issued 76 building permits for single-family housing. Lewis expects to see another dozen or so before the end of the year. That will bump the totals for this year past last year's total of 77. "We'll bypass that this year," Lewis said.
For five years now, the Tiger Stars program has been helping Farmington's elementary kids understand what's right and what's wrong, and how to act accordingly. The idea behind the program is that there are some core values every person should have: Respect. Honesty and trust. Courage. Responsibility. And generally, most families teach those characteristics. Kids usually learn those behaviors at home. But sometimes it doesn't hurt to have a little positive reinforcement at school, too. That's where the Tiger Stars program comes into play in Farmington's elementary schools.
Farmington Scouts from Pack 120 and Troop 120 learned about the proper disposal of the US Flag during a flag burning ceremony at the Farmington American Legion Saturday. They helped Legion members inspect flags and burn ones that were old and tattered. Pictured, Isiah Toutges and Ben Wilson place one of the larger flags on the fire while Commander Leonard Weisbrich and member Frank Lamberty watch.
MEA Week is something most kids look forward to, and something their parents are not necessarily as excited about. It's a long weekend for students and, presumably, their teachers. There seems to be a general impression that teachers get a few extra days off. And for some, that's true. But there are quite a few misconceptions out there, too. Farmington High School social studies teacher Todd Karich plans to head to St. Paul later this week to attend some of the annual teacher's convention.
The problem with hobbies, I've decided, is finding the time to hobbyize. I was so proud of myself on Sunday night. I finished an afghan that I started Fourth of July weekend. Yep, three months ago. It wasn't even a big afghan. And it was a pattern I'd made before. I simply didn't have the time to do it. My house is a collection of hobbies -- I have an incredible stamp collection, if only I'd have the time to mount them all instead of leaving them in the sleeves. I've dabbled in genealogy. I enjoy wine tasting. I love to cook.
A 46-year-old Castle Rock man who was charged with using a front-end loader to charge at police and firefighters last January has been acquitted of all charges. Brady John Gunhus was arrested by Dakota County sheriff's deputies for denying firefighters access to a fire on his property. He was charged with a gross misdemeanor for obstructing firefighting.