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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Now that the last of the city of Farmington's 2012 budget open house events has come and gone, council members are getting ready to finalize the upcoming year's levy and budget. The three open houses were an addition to the budget process this year. The goal was to outline a budget plan that would include setting up several individual funds and raising taxes to build up those funds so city officials could afford to buy new vehicles and equipment, or do necessary street and infrastructure work.
I had to break the news to Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch Monday: for the first time in I don't know how many years, I will not make it to Turkey Bingo this year. And as much as I enjoyed the 451st Army Band concert two years ago, I won't make it to that, either. Instead, I'll be holed up in my house with The Beau, and our new addition - a 4-month-old rat terrier named Rissa. Yep, that means The Beau and I are taking our relationship to the next level of commitment. We're adopting. We're becoming "parents." I grew up in a house where we always had pets, both dogs and cats.
This Saturday marks the 61st Turkey Bingo party at Farmington Fire Station 1. After so many years, it's probably the longest-running annual event in the community, and it draws a pretty good crowd each year. This week, we talked to fire chief Tim Pietsch to get his thoughts on Turkey Bingo. Tell me why you guys do Turkey Bingo. It started as our main fundraiser. When I say fundraiser, I mean it allows us the opportunity to buy equipment, supplies, things that normally would be budgeted for. We can buy them, and maybe accelerate the purchase of some of these items.
Maybe it was just bad timing, or maybe it was bound to happen sooner or later. Either way, Farmington firefighters were down one engine when they were called to a fire that destroyed a Farmington resident's home Friday. Last Tuesday, Farmington firefighters took Engine 1 out on a call. When they returned to Station 1, they noticed some moisture coming from underneath. At first, they thought it was a water leak, but when one of the firefighters got down to check it out, he found a leak to the fuel tank instead. The city's mechanic was called, the engine was taken into the shop.
It was a busy week for Farmington Police Department receptionist Marjoire Boese and her coworkers. On Oct. 31 Boese started collecting names of families for the department's 2011 Toys for Town gift drive. One week later, she already had 25 families on her list. It seems like 2011 is going to be a big year for Toys for Town, Boese said, just because her phone started ringing as soon as the police department started taking calls. "I have not stopped fielding calls," she said. "We're off to a really early start." Last year, Toys for Town delivered gifts to 87 Farmington families.
Internships aren't usually illegal, but one Farmington man is facing felony charges after passing along his knowledge to a minor. Craig Martin Gisch has been charged with three drug-related charges after officers found 28 marijuana plants of varying sizes, multiple pieces of marijuana paraphernalia and more than two pounds of marijuana in his home last May. According to the complaint filed Wednesday in the Dakota County attorney's office, Gisch was also training a minor under the age of 18 to grow, cultivate and sell the drug.
Frost covered most lawns in Farmington Friday morning, but not at the home of Mark and Kerrie Davis. Their lawn, instead, was covered by the foam Farmington firefighters used to extinguish the blaze that destroyed the Davis family's home. Farmington firefighters were called to the Davis home on the 5900 block of Upper 183rd Street West at 6:40 a.m. According to Farmington fire marshal John Powers, the fire started in the garage, but spread throughout the entire upper level of the home.
Parents help their kids with homework all the time. Last week, Meadowview Elementary School parents got to learn a little with their kids, too. About 340 students and parents learned all kinds of fun little science facts Thursday evening when Meadoview's Parent Teacher Partnership hosted The Works, a science education program out of Bloomington. The Works features a number of engineering-style projects that are hands on for students. The kids got to learn how to make kaleidoscopes and Silly Putty-like putty. They learned how electronics work, they did a little circuit testing.
More than 1,200 people attended the 2011 Patriotic Day celebration at Farmington High School Thursday evening. This year's ceremony honored the community's World War II veterans. Speakers included Col. Kevin Gerdes, who provided a history of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Divison; WWII veteran Dick Carroll, who shared his tale of being shot then taken as a prisoner of war; and Betty Wall Strohfus, one of the first female pilots of World War II.
It happens to just about every new journalist: the first-time jitters. Working up the nerve to even just make that first call for that first interview can be nerve-wracking enough. Knowing that information has to be put together into a well written format is also pretty intimidating. But the knowledge that your own name will be attached to that story? Well, that about takes the cake. After a while journalists get used to all of those little nuances of the craft, but taking those first steps can be a little unnerving.