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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A Farmington man is in jail after allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl at his home, then stabbing a Lakeville woman several hours later. Randall James Thole, 50, faces five counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and two felony counts of second degree assault after a series of events that started Aug. 6 and ended in the early morning hours of Aug. 7. According to complaints filed by the Dakota County Attorney's office, the events started in the evening hours of Aug.
When he was a student at Farmington High School, Tony Sandrin never once auditioned for a school play, and yet, he just may wind up on television this fall. A 2010 FHS graduate, Sandrin is an extra this summer for the AMC channel's television series, The Walking Dead. It's really no big deal - it's just something to do. Sandrin is a student at the University of St. Thomas, where he is studying criminal justice. He's also in the Army ROTC through the University of Minnesota.
When the folks down at Castle Rock United Methodist get together for their annual hog roast, it's for more than just a meal. It's for the fellowship, too. The congregation has held its hog roast for more than a decade already. It started as a fundraiser to pay for some upgrades to their church building. It's changed a little bit over the years, but it seems to be growing in popularity. And why wouldn't it? The meal starts at 11:30 a.m and is served until 6:30 p.m. From 3:30 to 6 p.m., the band Turn Around will provide live music, and a silent auction will take place until 5:30 p.m.
Living in the country can be calming. It's quiet. It's secluded. But it's also easy to become a victim of burglaries. Most of the burglaries in Dakota County happen during the daytime, and many of them are happening in the county's rural neighborhoods, according to sheriff's captain Jim Rogers. There have not been too many this year, but Rogers still urges residents to lock up and take notice of strangers. "A lot of times, there are no close neighbors, so they can be an easy target," Rogers said of homes in rural parts of the county.
The city of Farmington is making another attempt at opening a license center at city hall. The city opened a licensing center briefly in February. But the state of Minnesota ordered it to close just a few days later. The state cited several reasons for its denial of the center, including a proposed public/private partnership between the city of Farmington and QuickServ, the company that operates the license center in West St. Paul. A few revisions have been made to the partnership agreement.
Huh. It's August already. My 25th class reunion is this upcoming weekend. Well, at least one of them is. The other is next weekend. Everyone should be as lucky as I am, to be invited to two high school class reunions. Twenty five years ago, I sat through two graduations, but I only accepted a diploma after one of them. My family moved from Gaylord to Hastings when I was going into sixth grade. My class reunion this weekend is with the Hastings High School Class of 1986; next weekend is with the Gaylord High School Class of 1986.
When interim city administrator/city engineer Kevin Schorzman asked the Farmington City Council to support $600,000 for street projects in the 2012 budget, he was really looking down the road, so to speak. Council members aren't ready to go ahead with a full $600,000 tax increase for street rehabilitation this year, but at last week's budget workshop, they suggested they would support at least $400,000 for that purpose. Schorzman said the expenditure might hurt up front, but it will save taxpayers money in the long term.
There will be no chicken coops in Farmington backyards. On a 3-2 vote Monday, Farmington City Council members rejected an ordinance amendment that would have allowed residents to keep a small chicken coop in their yards. After months of discussion at both the planning commission and city council levels, the "chicken ordinance," as it had become commonly called, was put on this week's agenda for a public hearing. One resident, Mary Yakibchuk, spoke in favor of the amendment.
If things continue the way they've been going, Olivia Hallberg will be ready to run just about any building at Dakota City Heritage Village in a few years. She's got at least three years before she's ready to volunteer on her own, but Hallberg is looking forward to that day. A Boeckman Middle School student, Hallberg took a break from summer vacation to learn a little history last week. It was the second time she's participated in the Summer Youth Camp at Dakota City. Dakota City holds four such camps during the summer, according to Dakota City board of directors president Pearl Shirley.
A motorcycle fire at the car wash on Highway 3 has Farmington police a little perplexed. The facts are simple enough: around 10 a.m. on July 27, a middle-aged white man drove a 1981 Suzuki motorcycle into a stall at the car wash. Video from the car wash shows the man was washing the motorcycle when it burst into flames. Instead of calling 911, the man apparently ran out of the stall and got into a older model pickup truck driven by a middle-aged, white woman.