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 8 months
It's not always easy to get something new out of an old place like Dakota City Heritage Village, but the folks out there are giving it a shot this month. Instead of offering the Grand History Day program Dakota City has held for the better part of two decades, this year, they're trying something new: the Harvest Moon Festival. "We're trying some different things," said Dakota City president Gary Smith. "We call it a Harvest Moon Festival because it is.
This is the time of the year when gardeners begin to admit defeat. Seeds planted in the spring have grown into plants, produced flowers or vegetables. And now, most are starting to whither and die off. That's what is happening at the community garden behind Meadowview Elementary School. As the days grow shorter, the sections of the garden are coming to an end.
The Farmington community has set the standards pretty high when it comes to supporting the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Next month, the bar will be raised even higher. A group of volunteers is planning an event to salute the community's veterans as well as the men and women who are currently serving. Called Farmington's Patriotic Day Celebration, the event will be held a week before Veteran's Day, but its purpose is much the same - to honor and thank the men and women who have enlisted to serve in the United States Armed Forces.
An artist in residence program starting at Farmington High School this week will help the concert choir get more in tune with one another, so to speak. On Tuesday, the men's vocal chamber ensemble Cantus began its artist in residence program at FHS by giving a free a cappella concert for the FHS choir, and for the male students of the ninth grade music program.
As the Farmington City Council continues to hammer out details for the 2011 city budget, they plan to tackle two big topics Monday night. At a 6 p.m. budget workshop, council members will continue discussions regarding franchise fees and potential staff cuts. The issue of franchise fees came up during the Sept. 20 city council meeting, when city administrator Peter Herlofsky submitted a proposal to add fees to the gas and electric company bills that residents pay monthly. The fee would be $1.60 per month, per utility.
For the better part of two decades, downtown Farmington's McVicker lot -- that space between the Farmington Steak House and Gossips -- has been for sale. There have been a few potential buyers for the lot, but over the years, those deals all fell through, and the lot still sits empty. But this time, it seems like the project will go ahead. Dr. Linden Dungy, owner of Immanuel Dental is interested in purchasing the open lot. He proposes to build a 3,000-square-foot building that would allow him to increase the size of his office space from three to six chairs.
A decision about whether to cut one or two city staff positions will have to wait. Farmington City Council members need a little more time to weigh the pros and cons. Up for discussion are two positions that would save the city close to $200,000 if they were both eliminated - the administrative services director post held by Lisa Shadick, and the economic development specialist position held by Tina Hansmeier. Council members identified those two positions during a Sept. 27 workshop as ones that could be eliminated.
Everyone can use a little help now and then. That's true in Riverview Elementary School, where Lisa Schlosser has been helping kids in kindergarten through third grade reach their reading goals through a new program, Minnesota Reading Corps. The program isn't new to Farmington schools -- it's been around Farmington Elementary School and Akin Road Elementary for a couple of years -- but this is the first year for Riverview.
So there we were in the Boeckman Middle School auditorium last Wednesday afternoon, a little clique of photographers. Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on stage, congratulating 12 other communities for their achievements. I was there in my blue American Legion Auxiliary vest and tie, representing one of our community's veteran's organizations. I was snapping pictures for the Independent, of course, but also for several other newspapers in our company. I was going with the whole two-for-one kind of thing.
Now, repeat after me," said Francis Kofi from the center of the music room at Meadowview Elementary School. "Ki. Ki. Lam-bey-bey-bey." Obediently, the room full of fifth grade students began to chant, "Ki. Ki. Lam-bey-bey-bey." They kept on with the chant for a few minutes. Once in a while one would shoot a sideways glance at the classmate sitting along side him or her. The chanting sounded a little funny, but they were establishing a rhythm. It was something the kids could hear. Something they could follow.