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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Take a quick peek through the doors of the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena these days and you might think you're in a sandbox rather than an ice arena. The floor inside has been completely torn out, and inside, there are mounds of gravel where there is usually ice. But Farmington Parks and Recreation director Randy Distad says that's a good thing. It's all part of the project to upgrade the 30-plus year-old ice arena. The project started this spring, and, according to Distad, is progressing right on schedule. "We're making good progress, that's for sure," he said.
Farmington High School students connected in a big way Tuesday morning -- literally. All 1,600-plus of them. Up and down the hallways, spilling out to the high school football field. There they were -- a giant chain made of the 2009-10 student body. Lined up stairwells, around the perimeter of the second floor in the gymnasium. They were everywhere, all waiting for their two seconds of fame. Tuesday's student body chain was all about building up school spirit, and breaking down barriers. It was a project courtesy of the FHS Peers for Peers team.
It's a warm, sunny Tuesday morning. In the southwest corner of the property, Aaron Ehlers fires up his riding lawn mower. He's got a big job ahead of him. Actually, the yard work he does this week will take him a good three or four days. Come Monday, his work will be on display for hundreds of visitors. Aaron and his dad, Buzz, are the caretakers for Corinthian Cemetery in Farmington.
Memorial Day means different things to different people. While some people are pulling out swimsuits and sunblock, a handful of Farmington's veterans will be polishing their black shoes. While others are out on pontoons or jet skis, the firing squadron will be cleaning their guns. The upcoming weekend is more than just a long weekend to some of Farmington's residents. To the couple dozen who stay home so they can spend several hours in cemeteries, this is the weekend to say thank you for freedom and to honor those who have fought for it.
A few months ago, Farmington resident Glen Anderson attended chamber of commerce function in Lakeville. He didn't realize one day, he might be able to save a life because of that event. An investment representative for RoundBank in Farmington, Anderson likes to get around to different business gatherings to do a little networking. When he went to that particular function Anderson got to hear about a new program in Lakeville called Take Heart Minnesota.
It's a good thing lightning doesn't strike the same spot twice, because one hit last weekend could have been much worse than it was. Sometime around 2:40 p.m. Saturday, Farmington firefighters were called to the Northern Natural Gas plant on County Road 50 in Farmington, because one of the buildings was on fire. Farmington fire marshal John Powers believes the fire was started by a lightning strike. The National Weather Service confirmed there had been lightning in the area prior to the time when the fire started.
Pretty soon, getting new license tabs or a passport will be just a little easier for Farmington residents. Earlier this month, Minnesota legislators approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Pat Pariseau (R-Farmington) that gives the go-ahead for an Office of Deputy Registrar for the Department of Motor Vehicles in Farmington. In other words, Farmington residents will only have to drive to city hall to get a new driver's license or buy license tabs, instead of going to Lakeville or Apple Valley.
On May 17, the Farmington City Council presented Heritage Preservation Awards to Farmington residents Gary and Cynthia Raynor, owners of the home at 421 Oak St., and to former Heritage Preservation Commission member Edgar Samuelson. According to city of Farmington administrative services director Lisa Shadick, the HPC has given out the awards since 2000. In that time, 13 locations and individuals around the city have received the award. The Raynors were recognized for their attentiveness to their home and for serving as a model for preservation efforts in their home.
Last year, Farmington's Warrior to Citizen group held a picnic for the families of men and women in the military. It was at the Dakota County Fairgrounds, and about 160 family members turned out for the occasion. It was, by all measures, a success - so much so, another Military Family Day picnic is planned for this weekend. And organizers are hoping to have just as many - if not more - military families join in the fun. "It's just an event to bring military families together to have a fun day," said Warrior to Citizen founder Annette Kuyper.
We're coming up on a couple of really big, important weekends in the world of military and veterans affairs. This next Saturday is Armed Forces Day, and a World War II reenactment event has been scheduled at the Dakota County Fairgrounds to coincide with the holiday. The following weekend, Warrior to Citizen will hold its second annual Military Family Day at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. And the weekend after is one of the biggies -- Memorial Day. But along with all of those holidays and activities comes another -- Buddy Poppy Day and Poppy Day, two separate but equally important days.