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's firefighters have a lot of planning to do this week. Come Friday, Station 1 will likely be flooded with people, as the department and the community say goodbye to a friend and colleague. Longtime Farmington fire chief Ken Kuchera died Sunday, June 6, following a lengthy battle against colon cancer. He was 63. A man whose family has a history of giving to the community, Kuchera was no exception. He joined the Farmington Fire Department in December, 1971, after serving as a firefighter for two years in Burnsville.
Sometimes, teachers can learn a thing or two from kids. Like, for instance, how kids tend to enjoy anything - anything whatsoever - that resembles a video game. And when it comes to finding new teaching tools, that is a very valuable lesson for teachers. So really, it should come as no surprise the Great American Sing Challenge's Sing-Along, the technology-driven vocal music program, has been greeted by enthusiasm by Farmington's third graders. The Great American Sing Challenge is a new, national initiative in its second year.
What do Saturdays and the Walnut Street reconstruction project have in common? The 2010 Dew Days parade, of course. Not only will the upcoming Grand Day parade be held on a Saturday - a change from the long-standing tradition of having it on a Sunday - but the parade route will be slightly altered this year, thanks to reconstruction work on Walnut Street. Instead of the usual route -- leaving the fairgrounds and traveling north on Third Street to Spruce, then east on Spruce to go south again on Fourth Street -- folks on the other side of Third get to watch from their front yards.
I was out at Corinthian Cemetery Tuesday morning, visiting with Aaron Ehlers about being caretaker for one of the community's cemeteries. And as I'm mentally preparing for the Memorial Day weekend, I know I'll be spending a little time out there, too. While I was out at the cemetery, I took a few minutes to look around. I live right next to the cemetery, so I drive by it a couple of times a day. It's one of those things that is as much a part of my neighborhood as the Tamarack Park or the little dog next door that barks at me every time I go outside.
A group of Farmington middle school students beat out more than 60 other teams from around the country and the world, taking first place in their division at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals held May 26-29 in Knoxville, Tenn. The team, called JAM2K, includes Katie Aaron, Kelli Elmer, Jeanna Gaalswyk, Ali Grebner and Maricia Pacheco, and is co-managed by Jan Gaalswyk and Cynthia Kelly. JAM2K competed in the Do or DI challenge, which asks teams to create a five-minute skit with only seven minutes to prepare after being given all the details they must incorporate into the skit.
If you like outdoor concerts, cold beer and warm summer nights, Farmington is the place to be these days. Beginning this weekend, and going through the end of September, there are eight outdoor concerts planned around the community -- even more, if you count the Dakota County Fair's offerings. But while the fair usually brings out musicians, the concept of outdoor concerts and events seems to be picking up support around the community.
Take a quick peek through the doors of the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena these days and you might think you're in a sandbox rather than an ice arena. The floor inside has been completely torn out, and inside, there are mounds of gravel where there is usually ice. But Farmington Parks and Recreation director Randy Distad says that's a good thing. It's all part of the project to upgrade the 30-plus year-old ice arena. The project started this spring, and, according to Distad, is progressing right on schedule. "We're making good progress, that's for sure," he said.
Farmington High School students connected in a big way Tuesday morning -- literally. All 1,600-plus of them. Up and down the hallways, spilling out to the high school football field. There they were -- a giant chain made of the 2009-10 student body. Lined up stairwells, around the perimeter of the second floor in the gymnasium. They were everywhere, all waiting for their two seconds of fame. Tuesday's student body chain was all about building up school spirit, and breaking down barriers. It was a project courtesy of the FHS Peers for Peers team.
It's a warm, sunny Tuesday morning. In the southwest corner of the property, Aaron Ehlers fires up his riding lawn mower. He's got a big job ahead of him. Actually, the yard work he does this week will take him a good three or four days. Come Monday, his work will be on display for hundreds of visitors. Aaron and his dad, Buzz, are the caretakers for Corinthian Cemetery in Farmington.
Memorial Day means different things to different people. While some people are pulling out swimsuits and sunblock, a handful of Farmington's veterans will be polishing their black shoes. While others are out on pontoons or jet skis, the firing squadron will be cleaning their guns. The upcoming weekend is more than just a long weekend to some of Farmington's residents. To the couple dozen who stay home so they can spend several hours in cemeteries, this is the weekend to say thank you for freedom and to honor those who have fought for it.