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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Maybe it was the new venue, maybe it was the pre-Valentine jitters. Or maybe, it was just the idea of sampling a few new wines. In any event, Farmington liquor store manager Randy Petrofske was thrilled and a little surprised by the large turnout that showed up at the Feb. 9 wine tasting event at the Farmington American Legion. Hosted by Farmington Liquors, the event featured two of the liquor store's vendors.
The city of Farmington has been without a finance director for three months, but that's about to change. It will just take one more month. At a Tuesday night meeting, the Farmington City Council approved the hiring of Teresa Walters to fill the vacant finance director position. Walters wanted to wait until she knew she had a job lined up before turning in her resignation to the city of Waseca. Walters has been Waseca's finance director for just short of three years. Prior to that, she worked for a decade for the city of Bloomington, first as an account clerk, then as an accountant.
Members of the Farmington Fire Department are sporting a new look these days -- and a new ranking system, too. Not too long ago, the fire department bought more than 40 helmets, courtesy of the Fire Relief Association, which approved the $8,000 expenditure. But with those helmets, firefighters also got something they can claim for years, maybe even generations, to come. They got their very own number. It might not seem like a big deal to someone on the outside of the fire department -- lots of times, people are just happy to know there are plenty of firefighters around when they're needed.
Though an investigation is being conducted into the accident involving Feely Elevator manager Mark Malecha, it is too soon to tell whether the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue any citations. Any time there is an incident that involves employee safety, OSHA will conduct an investigation to see if there are any violations. The Farmington investigation began Friday, OSHA spokesperson James Honerman said. OSHA officials were in town Tuesday, as well, to take statements as part of the investigation.
The Thursday evening rescue of Feely Elevator manager Mark Malecha will likely go down in Farmington's history books as one of greatest success stories told by local fire fighters and police officers. Malecha was pulled to safety at 7:39 p.m. Thursday, after spending the day trapped in a 45- to 50-foot deep silo at the Farmington elevator. The accident was reported at 11:17 a.m. Thursday. Malecha was in the process of filling a semi trailer with corn. He went down into the silo to try to loosen a clog inside.
From the outside of the Feely Elevator silos, onlookers were left to wonder what was happening inside the silo where Mark Malecha was trapped. Inside, though, medics worked diligently to save Malecha not only from being crushed by the shifting corn, but from toxins that were building up inside his body while he was trapped. The latter, referred to as crush syndrome, could have resulted in serious complications once Malecha was pulled from the silo. Dr.
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.