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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With 11 retirements and resignations last year, the Farmington Fire Department is going through a bit of a personnel change, to say the least. But it's a change chief Tim Pietsch is comfortable with. "It (2009) was the year of retirements," said Pietsch. "It started just after the first of the year, then it seemed like there was almost one a month." But along with all of those vacancies came quite a few requests. Pietsch gets calls on a regular basis from people who are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter.
Farmington's newest police officer is no stranger to the job, or to the area for that matter. In fact, Peter Zajac is feeling pretty comfortable in his new surroundings, even though he's only been on the Farmington Police Department for a little more than a week. Zajac was hired to fill the patrol position that will be open when officer Andrew Van Dorn moves into his new role as a school liaison officer. He comes to Farmington from the Faribault police department, where he worked for 3 1/2 years. Zajac earned his law enforcement associates degree from Alexandria Technical College in 2005.
Parents have a lot to think about these days. There's daycare schedules. Sports schedules. Homework help. Juggling everyone's day-to-day activity. The list goes on and on. Kids, too, have a lot going on. Sometimes they fall in with the wrong group of kids, and sometimes the stress can be a little overwhelming. Then there's the whole growing up thing. In the past, Farmington has offered sessions on drug and alcohol use and how to recognize it, but those are just a couple of things that can play into a kid's development.
It's been a pretty busy couple of weeks for Farmington High School jazz band students. It's not easy winning all the awards they have recently, but someone has to do it. The good news is, the Farmington community will reap the benefits from the recent whirlwind excursions of the FHS jazz ensembles at a free concert Monday night. All told, the FHS jazz bands participated in three competitions and festivals sat before numerous critics, and earned three awards. That's not to mention the 15 individual awards and scholarships students earned, or the three team awards they brought home.
There was a time when cops walked the streets of Farmington. The town was small, the one or two constables knew everyone, and everyone knew them. Those days seem long gone. But are they really? Not quite, says Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist. These days, a few cops still walk the beat, but the streets have been replaced by hallways. Those cops are school liaison officers Steve Kuyper and Jason Fox. The neighborhoods they patrol are Farmington High School and the two middle schools. "Back when cops used to walk a beat, a cop was given a neighborhood.
After nearly eight hours of confinement, Feely Elevator manager Mark Malecha was rescued from the corn silo where he became trapped before noon Thursday. Malecha was pulled to safety at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday, after having spent the day trapped in a 45- 50-foot deep silo at the Farmington elevator. He fell into the silo at approximately 11:20 a.m. Malecha became trapped as a semi truck was being filled with corn this morning. He apparently went into the silo to try to loosen a clog.
The number 13 sometimes conjures thoughts of bad luck, but there's nothing bad about 13 when it comes to this year's Farmington Community Expo. It turns out, this is the 13th year of the community expo, and this one promises to be the biggest, and perhaps the best, in the event's history. With 110 exhibitors ready for Saturday morning -- the most in the 13-year run -- and a new location, there will be lots for residents to see and do. The community expo has been held at Farmington High School for a number of years, and this year is no exception.
Laundry is one of those pretty mundane tasks that everyone ends up doing sooner or later. But for one Farmington resident, doing laundry wasn't so boring Wednesday. Just before 3 p.m. Tuesday, Farmington firefighters responded to the report of a basement fire on the 18100 block of Echo Terrace. According to Farmington fire marshal John Powers, the fire started in the dryer, then extended into the wall cavity behind the dryer. Firefighters arrived within five minutes of the call, and were able to extinguish the blaze quickly.
For more than a decade, the teachers and therapists at the Birth-3 Extended Campus have been helping families throughout the Farmington School District. Few know they're there, or just what they do. But what they do is very important to families of babies and toddlers who show signs of learning disabilities or of those who help to reach some of the early milestones in a child's life.
When Farmington chef Peter Christenson boarded his plane Jan. 9, he thought he was going to do some mission work and help install a bread oven at an orphanage. What he didn't realize was that he'd soon get a first-hand look at the devastation that follows an earthquake. A corporate chef, Peter joined a mission group from his boss's church on a trip to Fedja, Haiti this year. The plan to help install a stone bread oven at the All of God's Children orphanage there, so they could make bread and sell it in the nearby market.