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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Let's face it: college isn't cheap these days. Some families start saving a college fund from the day a child is born. Others hope for an athletic stand-out to get a full ride and play a specific sport. Some kids start working at an early age so they can save for college. But usually, it all comes back to one thing. College isn't cheap these days. And that's why Farmington High School students can consult the school's new career center. It's not just a place where students can explore their post secondary education options.
First grade students have a lot of energy. A lot of energy. What they probably don't know, though, is that their excess energy is helping them learn. "They have a lot of energy, and they need a way to release that energy in a productive way," said Riverview Elementary School first grade teacher Julie Auge. And that's why, when her class doesn't have phy ed or music, Auge often takes them to the school's Brain Room. The RVES Brain Room is a new concept around Farmington schools. Principal Kim Grengs brought the idea to the area from her old school district in Perham.
Nobody really likes them. They're dark, stinky and germy. But sooner or later, everyone will use one. Yep. We're talking about port-a-potties. As much as you can count on youth sports teams practicing in your neighborhood park, you can pretty much bet there will be a port-a-potty there this summer, too. In fact, the city of Farmington recently entered a three-year contract with the company, Biffs, Inc., from Shakopee. Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad said the three-year contract was developed so the city did not have to do the same thing every year.
Farmington mayor Todd Larson wasn't sure about giving his first State of the City address in 2009. After all, he'd only been in office for a couple of months when he had to deliver last year's address. This year, though, he's got a full year of being in office behind him, and he's got some things he's looking forward to working on.
There's good news for neighbors of the Dakota County Fairgrounds. Chances are, things will be a little quieter in your neighborhood this summer. On Tuesday, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve changes to the county's ordinance that regulates assemblages of large numbers of people.
It might not have been the Xcel Energy Center, and Niklas Backstrom might not have been in the net, but there was still plenty of excitement at Meadowview Elementary School's annual floor hockey tournament March 11. The tournament capped off several days of skills training in phy ed teacher Joe McCarthy's classes. Students in grades 1-5 learned all of the basics of hockey -- in a scaled-down version, with no checking, of course -- over the past couple of weeks. Students in grades 1-2 just learned about the skills and played a little during class.
Understanding death -- especially a sudden death -- is hard for anyone. Grasping the whys can plague a person's well-being for days. "Why did it happen?" "Why him? Why not me?" "Why?" is one of those questions children ask over and over as they're trying to understand a new concept. And if that new concept is death, why is a pretty big topic. Two elementary children have died in Farmington schools this school year. Those deaths naturally brought out whys from classmates and other students, but there's no one answer to any of those questions.
Not too far down the road, folks over in Hastings are watching the Mississippi River to see if reaches flood level and spills over the banks. Here in Farmington, though, the Vermillion River is already over the banks in some areas. That's just a common sign of spring around these parts. That's not to say residents shouldn't be careful when they visit Rambling River Park or try to walk the trails through downtown. The river is high, and it's flowing at a pretty steady pace.
Whether the cause is illness, natural, accidental or intentional, death is hard for those close to the deceased to deal with. When it happens to a student, regardless of age, death impacts more than just family and close friends. That's why Independent School District 192 has a group of counselors who are specially trained to help when someone in the schools dies. Known informally as the trauma team, the five counselors help those who are hurting to grieve, but they also also help keep everyone else's school days on schedule.
When Amanda Christensen moved to Farmington last summer, she had no idea she was going to make history in her new community. All she knew was that she wanted to be a firefighter. This week, she accomplished both when she sat down for orientation Monday evening. Christensen was among the six newest Farmington fire fighters to start orientation this week. She's also the first woman to join the local department's ranks. It came as a surprise when fire chief Tim Pietsch called her last week to ask if she'd sit through an interview for this newspaper story.