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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When former city administrator Peter Herlofsky stepped down from his position May 31, Farmington's city engineer Kevin Schorzman started doing double duty - he kept up with his department's needs, but he took on the role of interim city administrator, as well. Schorzman is in the final days of that role now. Farmington's new city administrator, David McKnight, moves into city hall for his first day on Monday, which means Schorzman can go back to just being the city engineer. Schorzman talked earlier this week about his three months as administrator earlier this week.
Farmington High School athletes are taking a test this week, and the school year hasn't even started yet. They're taking a new test, called ImPACT -- Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing - and it's one school officials hope will help students in the long run. FHS athletics director Jon Summer said the school is among the first schools in the state to implement this type of testing, but he wouldn't be surprised if more schools follow suit. New legislation regarding concussion management was passed this year in hopes of addressing head trauma issues many athletes face.
Sixth grade can be a pretty scary year, but a new program in Farmington's middle schools aims to make that transition easier. Called Where Everyone Belongs, the program is designed to ease the transition from elementary to middle school. It seems to have worked well in other districts, because it is widely used around the state and throughout the nation, Dodge Middle School principal Chris Busmann said. Farmington educators have been interested in the WEB program for several years, Busmann said. It requires buildings to designate staff to act as advisors, and with that comes some training.
Farmington mayor Todd Larson says he doesn't have any big aspirations to make his mark on the NASCAR circuit. But he does have some pretty big plans, all the same. He plans to raise about $900 for the local food shelf. Larson's gotten a taste of the racing life. He's taken a race car out for a pretty fast spin. He's been in a commercial for it, too. He's still working on the "talking smack" part of it, though. Larson is one of the participants in the upcoming Race for Hunger Mayor's Cup event Sept. 9, at Raceway Park in Shakopee.
Attention all Farmington photographers -- it's time to get snappin'. The deadline for the 2012 EXPOSE Farmington photo contest is this upcoming Monday, Aug. 22. The contest started in 2007, about the same time the city of Farmington started its community calendar project, municipal services coordinator Lena Larson said. Since then, the contest has yielded so many photos that many are used for projects beyond the calendar. Larson sat down Tuesday to explain a little about the photography contest Tuesday.
Dear Empire Township Residents, Please accept my heartfelt apology. I came to your Empire Celebration Aug. 4 - I really did. I came, camera in hand, to take pictures of your community celebration. I wandered around and around, for about an hour and a half. I think I probably had about 100 images, even though my camera battery was getting low and my photo card was already full when I got there. I stood in the middle of the town hall parking lot, erased a bunch of old Pet of the Week and Student of the Week pictures.
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.