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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There was a time, not so long ago, when Farmington city officials had so many new housing developments being proposed, it was almost hard to keep them all straight. Ah, the good old days. Since the economy turned sour and the housing market came to a screeching halt, city of Farmington planners haven't seen many new housing development proposals. None, in fact, since the Dakota County Community Development Authority's Twin Ponds development was approved by the Farmington City Council in December, 2007. But that changed last week.
Have you ever noticed how much work goes into taking a vacation? It's not necessarily the packing. It's not necessarily the financial planning. You have to think about how you're going to get to where you're going, and you have to work out the timing while you're actually on said vacation. When it comes right down to it, the days leading up to a vacation can easily be stressful enough to offset any relaxing you might do. Such is my day today. It's Monday. I leave on a nearly two-week vacation tomorrow. But this day was one I'd been dreading all weekend.
The Aug. 13 tornado that damaged more than 120 homes in Farmington only took a few minutes to rip through the central section of the community, but the damage it caused took nearly 10 days to clean up. Though there are countless trees missing and quite a few homeowners are still dealing with repairs and insurance claims, the city of Farmington maintenance crews were able to wrap up most of the post-tornado clean-up efforts this week. Just how much the tornado actually cost the city of Farmington for services like collecting debris and downed trees hasn't been figured just yet.
Cuts to the city of Farmington's budget are on the way, and those cuts likely mean someone will lose his or her job. During a Monday budget workshop, Farmington City Council members directed city administrator Peter Herlofsky and finance director Teresa Walters to find up to $500,000 in reductions for the 2011 city budget. Those cuts will almost certainly mean at least one city employee and possibly more will lose his or her job. City staff has proposed a 2011 levy of approximately $9.195 million.
It's never too early to start making plans, and when it comes to planning a whole week of activities to celebrate Farmington High School's Tiger Pride, well, it's safe to say those plans are already in the making. Members of the 2010 FHS homecoming committee have been meeting for a couple of weeks already, drumming up plans and themes for the big week. That big week is coming up fast, too -- school starts on Tuesday, Sept. 7, leaving just 18 days until homecoming week begins. Homecoming 2010 starts on Saturday, Sept.
Every year, the Farmington School District celebrates the work of its students during an all-school art festival. Last Saturday, a handful of those students and their artwork were further honored. Over the weekend, the Dakota Valley Arts Council introduced 12 young artists, all of whom had artwork at this year's art festival. The artwork showed by those students is now part of the artwork featured in Farmington's Depot Way Art Park. Nine of the 12 new pieces were unveiled during a ceremony Saturday afternoon.
To many, Labor Day symbolizes the beginning of fall. To residents on Walnut Street, though, Labor Day will definitely bring the end of a long, dusty and inconvenient summer. The Walnut Street reconstruction project that started last spring is right on schedule, and will likely be done on time - by Labor Day. According to city of Farmington engineer Kevin Schorzman, the reconstruction is in its final phases, with curb and gutter work already being done in some sections. Paving of the road is happening this week, along with the pouring of driveways and sidewalks.
Farmington voters will have plenty of choices when it comes time to fill two seats on the Farmington City Council this fall. When the filing period closed Aug. 17, seven residents had filed affidavits of candidacy to be considered as candidates city council. The two four-year seats up for grabs are currently held by Christy Jo Fogarty and Steve Wilson. Both incumbents have filed for reelection. Other residents to enter the race are, in alphabetical order, Jason E. Bartholomay, Lenny Hall, Don Hayes, David Pritzlaff and Jerry Ristow.
I was really confused Friday morning. I don't often sleep with my windows closed during the summer. I like to sleep with fresh air, so unless it's really hot for a really long time, I don't turn on my air conditioner at night. Well, last week was really hot for a really long time. The AC was on. My windows were closed. But I still woke up around 3:40 a.m. I heard sirens - storm sirens. I could hear the rain outside, but it didn't seem all that hard. I have a weather radar application on my cell phone, so I checked that. Sure enough, there was a storm warning.
They swore it was a tornado. It turns out, they were right. On Sunday, the National Weather Service confirmed what many Farmington residents suspected all along: a tornado, not straight-line winds, caused severe damage to the central part of the community during an Aug. 13 storm. The tornado created a 1 1/2-mile path that was about 250 yards wide, from the neighborhood near the intersection of Exceptional Trail and Ewing Street northeast to the intersection of Dunbury Avenue and Dupont Way. At first, the National Weather Service said damage was caused by straight-line winds.