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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One month later, not much has changed in the Farmington School District's preliminary budget, and that has some parents disappointed. A group of Farmington parents felt like they had won a victory May 24 when they convinced the District 192 School Board to delay a decision on a preliminary budget that included elementary school classes with as many as 31 students. But as the school board prepares to take action on that budget next week those class size projections remain unchanged. That doesn't mean those numbers won't change in the months ahead.
The weather was perfect, the crowds were large and by the time the final ride had been ridden Sunday afternoon the message seemed to be pretty clear: That's the Dew Days we remember. That was the idea with this year's version of Farmington's summer celebration. For several years Dew Days bounced around town, and it seemed to lose fans and build up debt along the way. So when a new group took over for this year's event the idea from the beginning was to bring things back downtown, where the celebration had been held for most of its history.
For years, Harbee Tharaldson was the guy who emceed the Mountain Dew Days grand parade. It was his contribution to the annual city celebration. This year, his son, Kyle, has found his contribution to Dew Days, too. Like his dad's task, Kyle's involves a microphone and speakers. But unlike his dad's contribution, Kyle's also involves a keyboard and some really talented musicians. Kyle - "Cookie Butterlove" as he's known in the Twin Cities music circuit - was the guy responsible for finding all of the free music on the stage on Oak Street Saturday and Sunday.
While some of Farmington's city staff are busy getting ready for this weekend's Dew Days celebrations, others have tasks that aren't as much fun to think about. Like, for instance, paring down requests and working up a budget that Farmington City Council members will approve. City staff and council members have met several times since early May, laying out the plans for the 2011 budget. It started with city administrator Peter Herlofsky asking council members to identify priorities for the upcoming year's budget.
It's kind of hard to build up something that was already great, but city of Farmington administrative assistant Lisa Dargis is up to the challenge. Dargis is the one who put together Farmington's Farmer's Market last summer. And now, she's gearing up to bring another one to the community this summer. Believe it or not, she's probably going to make it bigger and better. It won't be easy, because last year's inaugural season went very well. The 2010 Farmer's Market season opens next week, Thursday, June 24, with a special kick-off event.
Four people can only do so much. And when it comes to doling out thousands of dollars to benefit thousands of Farmington students, well, those four could use a little help. Once a team of more than 20, the Farmington Area Education Foundation is looking for a few new members. Right now, there are only four board members, and that's all there is to the Foundation's membership. Before too long, simply because of the way the bylaws spell out term limits, those four won't be able to hold on to their posts. But they don't want that to happen.
In what seems to be a never-ending story, city officials are hoping a final chapter in the tale of the Exchange Bank building is at least in the works. For more than a decade, ownership of one of downtown's oldest buildings has been a cause for controversy between city officials and the company that bought it from the city in 1998. The city of Farmington has been involved in litigation with Hosmer Brown III and Hosmer Brown IV, the owners of 2004 Real Estate Company, since last August.
After 13 years with the Farmington police department, chief Brian Lindquist is certainly no old timer. But all the same, he's seen a lot of changes in the way policing works in his time here. Back when Lindquist came to Farmington, there were four squad cars for a team of eight or nine officers. There was one computer for the department, and reports were hand-written.
Way back, oh, 24 years ago, a friend gave me a graduation card with a simple message on it - Life is short. Have fun. And really, I've tried to. I had a blast through college (by choice), and haven't exactly settled down with a husband and kids (not necessarily by choice). I have a job that is plenty stressful at times, but I work with a great bunch of people who make me laugh every day. But 24 years is a whole lifetime. I seem to be waxing poetic this week or something. Maybe it's the simple acknowledgement that today marks my 16th anniversary of covering this community.
With the Farmington High School Class of 2010 commencement coming up Friday, we recognized it's been a long time since any of us around here had to cross the platform. We've maybe forgotten the anticipation of the night, the excitement for the future. So we decided to have a conversation with one of Farmington's soon-to-be graduates, Amanda Verch. Amanda admits she's not been as active in extracurricular events this year as she was in the past.