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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This winter's snow has been a hassle for a lot of people. Just imagine, then, how frustrated a firefighter would be if he or she couldn't attach a hose to a hydrant buried in snow while trying to put out a house fire. That's what has Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch worried these days. A few weeks ago, the fire department responded to a minor fire. It was more or less out by the time they arrived, but they still had to take time to dig out the closest hydrant.
Farmington could very well have its own licensing center downtown within a couple of months, if things continue to move ahead the way they have been. At Monday's Farmington City Council meeting, city administrator Peter Herlofsky told council members he is working with two outside firms that are interested in operating a registrar's office out of city hall. If things move ahead on schedule, the office could be open very soon. "Ideally we would like to start it during the winter months," Herlofsky said. "A couple reasons.
It's kind of hard to gauge in July just how many snowblowers a business might sell in December. Sales of snowblowers, shovels, sidewalk salt and all the other snow-removal items are way up so far this year at Pellicci Ace Hardware. But when manager Stuart Emich had to place the orders for this winter during last summer's trade show, he had no idea how many more he would have to order this year compared to last. For the past few years, Pellicci's has sold an average of six to 10 snowblowers in a season, Emich said. This year's heavy and frequent snowfalls, though, have driven demand way up.
Police are still not sure why a driver turned his Chevy Aveo onto train tracks in downtown Farmington last week, but they expect to file charges in the matter very soon. Farmington detective sergeant Lee Hollatz has spoken with the driver of the car, which was more than officers at the scene of the Dec. 20 car-train accident could say. Around 10:40 p.m. that evening, police officers responded to a report of a car being struck by a train near the Elm Street crossing.
Finding five top stories each year is never really easy. But here's a stab at what stories meant the most to me in 2010. Destination Imagination When I first visited with the Destination Imagination team JAM2K - Ali Grebner, Marcia Pacheo, Jeanna Gallswyk, Kelli Emmer and Katie Aaron - we were just doing a cute little story on how this group of girls has done the Destination Imagination challenge for the past several years and how they had qualified for Global competition.
As December winds to an end, so does the term of city council member Steve Wilson. After six years on the council, Wilson sat at the council table one last time Monday night. The third-place finisher in the 2004 election, Wilson was appointed to council to fill a seat vacated when then-council member Kevan Soderberg assumed the mayor's post. He sought re-election in 2006 and was successful in his bid, but in 2010 he finished third again and lost his seat to Jason Bartholomay. With six years of public service under his belt, Wilson is focusing on the opportunities that wait in his future.
It might be a little hard to build a house when most of your supplies are being eaten, but somehow, kindergarteners at Akin Road Elementary School figured out a way. Granted, the houses they were building were gingerbread houses. Paired up with parents, grandparents, family friends, aunts or uncles, the kindergarteners set to putting graham crackers and frosting to good use Dec. 17. It's a tradition that's been around as long as ARES principal Karen Bergman can remember. They were doing it in the school years ago when she was a teacher. She's done it with her sons, too.
In all of my 43-year-old wisdom, there is one very hard and real fact I've learned to accept: sometimes, you just gotta suck it up. For a few years already, I've wondered about this cruel game Mother Nature and Father Time have played with my complexion. It's not fair to have wrinkles and pimples at the same time. One or the other. That way I can find the appropriate lotion or potion to combat the signs of age. I suffer from what I call Peter Pan Syndrome. I know I have to get older, but I certainly don't want to grow up.
You do something long enough, and eventually it can almost run itself. That's what happened with this year's Toys for Town wrapping and distribution day. When late-arriving volunteers got to Boeckman Middle School Saturday morning, they were surprised to hear they were out of luck - all of the family names had been distributed, and the early birds were hard at work wrapping. The number of families being served went down this year, according to Farmington Police Department's Marjorie Boese. Last year, the program served nearly 100 families.
About 4 1/2 years ago, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist put in an application to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Last week, he came home after finally participating. Lindquist left for Quantico in September, not long after Labor Day. A full 11 weeks later, he returned to Farmington last Thursday and began the agonizing process of sorting through months of e-mails, newspapers, reports and other paperwork. "It's like coming back to a house you lived in and somebody went and moved everything on you," he said last Friday.