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 new year brings a new way of doing things for some folks around Farmington City Hall. Following last year's budget process, the city of Farmington lost administrative services director Lisa Shadick, administrative assistant Lisa Dargis, and parks and recreation maintenance supervisor Don Hayes. Each individual carried a certain amount of responsibility around the building. Dargis coordinated the city's 2-year-old farmer's market. Shadick was in charge of everything related to elections. Their absence means the city needs to figure out how to redistribute responsibilities.
Some things just work so well, they might be worth repeating. Take the Dakota Communications Center in Empire Township. It opened a couple of years ago as a joint project of Dakota County and all of the cities in the county. By all accounts, it's a success story of the county's High Performance Partnerships group. That's why the cities and county are again looking to the HiPP group for ways to work together.
New Farmington City Council member Jason Bartholomay was sworn in Monday at the first meeting of 2011. Before that meeting was over, he'd made a couple of statements, made a few motions and accepted nominations to represent the council on several committees. That comes as no surprise. This is a guy who ran for the city council in 2008. He wasn't elected then, but he didn't give up. Bartholomay has lived in Farmington for four years. He's married and has a couple of children. He works as a strategic enterprise consultant, which means he does a lot of analysis of businesses.
These are the days when people start thinking about New Year's resolutions. One of the most common one is to lose a few pounds and live a healthier lifestyle. Now Farmington Community Education is offering a new program to help folks do just that. Called Tiger Health Hub, the program promotes health and wellness by allowing the public to use school facilities and equipment to reach their fitness goals. There are two sites in the school district that are open to the public. At Farmington High School, participants can use the indoor walking track or the fitness center.
It was business as usual Monday at the first Farmington City Council meeting of 2011. At least, business as usual for three out of the five members, since up until 7 p.m. that night, Jason Bartholomay had never taken a seat at the council table. Once Farmington's newest council member was sworn in, though, Bartholomay joined right in on the action, making several motions in his first meeting. Most of the first meeting of 2011 included annual organizational matters. Council member Julie May was designated as acting mayor in the absence of mayor Todd Larson.
This winter's snow has been a hassle for a lot of people. Just imagine, then, how frustrated a firefighter would be if he or she couldn't attach a hose to a hydrant buried in snow while trying to put out a house fire. That's what has Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch worried these days. A few weeks ago, the fire department responded to a minor fire. It was more or less out by the time they arrived, but they still had to take time to dig out the closest hydrant.
Farmington could very well have its own licensing center downtown within a couple of months, if things continue to move ahead the way they have been. At Monday's Farmington City Council meeting, city administrator Peter Herlofsky told council members he is working with two outside firms that are interested in operating a registrar's office out of city hall. If things move ahead on schedule, the office could be open very soon. "Ideally we would like to start it during the winter months," Herlofsky said. "A couple reasons.
It's kind of hard to gauge in July just how many snowblowers a business might sell in December. Sales of snowblowers, shovels, sidewalk salt and all the other snow-removal items are way up so far this year at Pellicci Ace Hardware. But when manager Stuart Emich had to place the orders for this winter during last summer's trade show, he had no idea how many more he would have to order this year compared to last. For the past few years, Pellicci's has sold an average of six to 10 snowblowers in a season, Emich said. This year's heavy and frequent snowfalls, though, have driven demand way up.
Police are still not sure why a driver turned his Chevy Aveo onto train tracks in downtown Farmington last week, but they expect to file charges in the matter very soon. Farmington detective sergeant Lee Hollatz has spoken with the driver of the car, which was more than officers at the scene of the Dec. 20 car-train accident could say. Around 10:40 p.m. that evening, police officers responded to a report of a car being struck by a train near the Elm Street crossing.
Finding five top stories each year is never really easy. But here's a stab at what stories meant the most to me in 2010. Destination Imagination When I first visited with the Destination Imagination team JAM2K - Ali Grebner, Marcia Pacheo, Jeanna Gallswyk, Kelli Emmer and Katie Aaron - we were just doing a cute little story on how this group of girls has done the Destination Imagination challenge for the past several years and how they had qualified for Global competition.