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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What do making Christmas cookies and helping military families have in common? Giving that warm, fuzzy feeling, of course. Fortunately for warm-fuzzy seekers, there's a way to tie those two feel-good activities together, and it's just a little over a week away. Farmington's second annual Warrior to Citizen Cookie Walk will take place Dec. 5, at Trinity Terrace. It's an opportunity to munch on some really great cookies, and to help military families in the community. Event coordinator Kara Hildreth came up with the idea a couple of years ago.
Donations have been down in the past couple of years, but the number of families who need assistance through Farmington's Toys for Town program is on the rise. Last year, Farmington's annual gift drive helped about 250 kids from just fewer than 100 families. This year seems to be on pace to meet, or even exceed that number. By Nov. 17, this year's list already included 28 families. "It's not a slower pace of names coming in, but a difference in the number of toys that are coming in," said Marjorie Boese, one of this year's Toys for Town coordinators.
The message from the Farmington City Council to city administrator Peter Herlofsky is perfectly clear -- one of the city's management staff has to go. After another two-hour budget workshop Monday, council members agreed to most of the recommended budget adjustments brought to them, with the exception of one. They agreed to a projection of $340,000 in building permit revenues for 2011.
In a world of e-mails and text messages, writing letters may seem to be a lost art. But Dodge Middle School language teacher Brianna Fleetham knows there is power behind words, and now her seventh grade students know that, as well. At the beginning of the school year, Fleetham gave her students a pretty straightforward assignment: write a letter that makes a difference. Her requirements were simple: choose a subject that is important to you, and find an appropriate audience to write to. And so they did. Some wrote letters to the editor and submitted them to the Farmington Independent.
The 2010 Toys for Town drive is under way. As of Nov. 17, the Farmington Police Department had already collected the names of children from 28 Farmington families who need a little help this holiday season. Last year, nearly 250 kids from approximately 100 families received gifts through the Toys for Town gift drive.
Tick tock, tick tock. The clock is ticking for the Farmington City Council. With one more budget workshop scheduled for Monday, council members have just a few more days to make final decisions for the 2011 city budget and levy. Council members have wrestled with decisions on how much to cut, and what types of programs or positions should be trimmed from the 2011 budget. Come Monday, they will most likely make those decisions final. But what do three or four months of budget workshops, new options and countless questions mean to the taxpayers of Farmington?
Bratwurst can be a good choice when planning a Sunday afternoon football gathering. Come to think of it, bratwurst can be a good choice for a German festival, too. It's a sure bet, then, that there will be plenty of bratwurst around Farmington High School on Sunday. And sauerkraut. And pork schnitzel, roesti and kartoffelsalat for that matter. Sunday is going to be a big day for the German students of FHS, as well as their families and friends.
Castle Rock resident Pat Higgins is upset, and he's not just blowing smoke. Higgins is frustrated because he can't find anyone that will listen to his concerns about the amount of smoke being produced by outdoor wood boilers in the township, especially in his neighborhood. His house sits on a hill on Audrey Avenue. He moved the house there in December, 2007. It didn't take long, he said, before he started to notice the lingering smoke that was being generated at a neighbor's place a quarter of a mile away.
Lots of kids say they want to be a firefighter when they grow up. The Farmington Fire Department can help make that dream come true. On Thursday, the fire department will hold its first Farmington Fire Explorers program information meeting at Fire Station 1. Anyone between the age of 14 (having completed eighth grade) and 21 is welcome to attend and learn more about the program. Firefighter Christopher Matek is organizing the local Fire Explorers program, which will meet monthly. The program is designed to teach participants about all types of things related to fire fighting.
How many cotton balls fit in a gallon jar? How much does that pumpkin weigh, in kilograms? Those are just two of the questions kids at Farmington Elementary School are being challenged to answer if they choose to think like a scientist. FES teacher Debbie Ruth saw a vacant display window at the school and came up with a new idea to promote science.