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.
- Member for
- 1 year 9 months
About a year and a half ago, I ran into Bob Brownawell at a fundraiser of some sort. Bob was a school board member when I started covering Farmington in 1994. We got to visiting about how Farmington has changed over the years. We talked about the sometimes wacky hours that come with this job, and I mentioned the fact that in order to continue affording to do what I do, I have to work a part-time job. "Single girl plus mortgage equals part-time job," is just something I've grown accustomed to saying. Then somehow, our conversation turned on a personal note.
Second grade students at Riverview Elementary School spent an afternoon displaying verbal art when they hosted the Poetry Cafe Feb. 23. The students learned about poetry in their classroom, and even wrote a couple of poems to perform -- one about themselves, and one as a group poem. Students took turns at the microphone in a classroom made up to resemble a cafe. Between each student's reading, classmates responded with a few finger snaps and "Cool, cool, cool." And so it was.
Empire township board of supervisors chairman Terry Holmes is pretty sure he knows the outcome of his reelection bid next week. Chances are, he'll be successful. Holmes is running unopposed, and it's not the first time. In the more than two decades he has spent on the Empire Town Board, he has never once run against another candidate. Holmes isn't actually sure just how many years he's actually been on the board. It's been 23 or 24, he thinks. He's kind of lost count. "It's fun to watch our community grow and to be a part of it," Holmes said.
A smile is a smile, no matter what language you speak. And there are a few new smiles out at Christian Life School, where five foreign exchange students are learning about American culture and studying the English language. The students are seniors Luisa Mercado from Mexico, Daniel Neyra from Honduras, and fourth grader Won Kim, fifth grader Sung Hyun Park and sixth grader Woonghee Lee, all of Seoul, South Korea. Mercado is the oldest of the visitors. At age 19, she's already graduated in Mexico, but wanted to spend time in the United States and improve her English skills.
Any hopes that last week's warm temperatures might bring an early thaw were more or less crushed by Mother Nature when she dumped somewhere around 15 inches of snow to Farmington Sunday and Monday. Even early into Tuesday afternoon, piles of snow lined the downtown streets while city plow crews worked their third day in a row, trying to get rid of all of the extra snow. The snow started falling Sunday morning, and it wasn't long before the first plow crews were out and about. Farmington director of municipal services Todd Reiten said the plows first hit the streets at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
After a couple years of financial ups and downs, the Farmington Fire Department Relief Association's pension plan might finally see some relief of its own. It's been a rocky couple of years for just about everyone who carries investments. A stock market crash left investors hurting. Add to that eight retirements for the local department and the dollars add up. Or down, depending on how you look at it. For the past couple of years, the Farmington Fire Relief Association has had to turn to the Farmington City Council for financial assistance.
Establishing priorities isn't always easy, but there's a group of concerned Farmington residents and business owners who are giving it a try all the same. That group includes the folks who came out to last week's Grow Farmington session at city hall.
Part of my job is to ask questions. To do a little digging. To find some answers. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a photo in a February, 1961 edition of the Dakota County Tribune. To be frank, it's got me a little stumped. So I figured I'd check with the community and see if anyone out there is able to help. It's a community curiosity. A historical mystery.
Any way they look at it, the Farmington City Council has realized they need to turn to residents to help keep the city's roads in shape. Farmington needs residents to help pay for the seal coating process that maintains city streets. Of that, there seems to be little question. But the question council members have wrestled with is whether to get that funding through a levy increase of $500,000 or so, or whether it is time to start asking residents to pay franchise fees. The idea of using franchise fees to pay for seal coating has been tossed around for nearly a year. The concept is simple.
Of all of the cities in Dakota County, Farmington tops the list when it comes to foreclosure rates. 2010 was the second consecutive year the city had Dakota County's highest foreclosure rate. According to a Jan. 19 report from the Dakota County Community Development Agency, Farmington ranks fifth in the total number of foreclosures, with 206 sheriff sales in 2010.