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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Farmington's girls hockey team came out on both sides of a pair of tightly-contested 3-2 games last week. The defending Missota Conference champions saw their comeback attempt fall short in a 3-2 loss at No. 10-ranked (Class 2A) Eden Prairie last Tuesday night, but came back to beat Section 1AA rival Owatonna on an overtime goal by Hannah Alexander Friday night at the Four Seasons Center in Owatonna. The Tigers trailed for much of the game against the Huskies despite posting a 42-17 advantage in shots on goal.
The Farmington wrestling team started and finished strong during a fifth-place team finish at Saturday's eight-team Big Lake Invitational. The Orange and Black scored 66 points in the opening round, then, after posting just five points in the second round, came back to win nine of 10 of their consolation matches en route to a total of 138 points. The Tigers filled 12 of 14 weight classes and 10 of those wrestlers placed in the top five of their brackets. "The young men on this team keep surprising us with how well they are handling themselves," head coach Chad Olson said.
For years, Farmington girls basketball coach Jason Berg has taught an up-tempo, full-court pressing style of defense designed to slow down opponents by baiting them into playing at an uncomfortably fast pace. That approached has worked, to an extent. The Tigers have played at about a .500 clip over the last five years, and when they've been on the winning end it's often been as a result of their defense forcing a high number of turnovers. Now, the Tigers are finding even more success by toning their defensive pressure down a notch.
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.