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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An artist in residence program starting at Farmington High School this week will help the concert choir get more in tune with one another, so to speak. On Tuesday, the men's vocal chamber ensemble Cantus began its artist in residence program at FHS by giving a free a cappella concert for the FHS choir, and for the male students of the ninth grade music program.
As the Farmington City Council continues to hammer out details for the 2011 city budget, they plan to tackle two big topics Monday night. At a 6 p.m. budget workshop, council members will continue discussions regarding franchise fees and potential staff cuts. The issue of franchise fees came up during the Sept. 20 city council meeting, when city administrator Peter Herlofsky submitted a proposal to add fees to the gas and electric company bills that residents pay monthly. The fee would be $1.60 per month, per utility.
For the better part of two decades, downtown Farmington's McVicker lot -- that space between the Farmington Steak House and Gossips -- has been for sale. There have been a few potential buyers for the lot, but over the years, those deals all fell through, and the lot still sits empty. But this time, it seems like the project will go ahead. Dr. Linden Dungy, owner of Immanuel Dental is interested in purchasing the open lot. He proposes to build a 3,000-square-foot building that would allow him to increase the size of his office space from three to six chairs.
A decision about whether to cut one or two city staff positions will have to wait. Farmington City Council members need a little more time to weigh the pros and cons. Up for discussion are two positions that would save the city close to $200,000 if they were both eliminated - the administrative services director post held by Lisa Shadick, and the economic development specialist position held by Tina Hansmeier. Council members identified those two positions during a Sept. 27 workshop as ones that could be eliminated.
Everyone can use a little help now and then. That's true in Riverview Elementary School, where Lisa Schlosser has been helping kids in kindergarten through third grade reach their reading goals through a new program, Minnesota Reading Corps. The program isn't new to Farmington schools -- it's been around Farmington Elementary School and Akin Road Elementary for a couple of years -- but this is the first year for Riverview.
So there we were in the Boeckman Middle School auditorium last Wednesday afternoon, a little clique of photographers. Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on stage, congratulating 12 other communities for their achievements. I was there in my blue American Legion Auxiliary vest and tie, representing one of our community's veteran's organizations. I was snapping pictures for the Independent, of course, but also for several other newspapers in our company. I was going with the whole two-for-one kind of thing.
Now, repeat after me," said Francis Kofi from the center of the music room at Meadowview Elementary School. "Ki. Ki. Lam-bey-bey-bey." Obediently, the room full of fifth grade students began to chant, "Ki. Ki. Lam-bey-bey-bey." They kept on with the chant for a few minutes. Once in a while one would shoot a sideways glance at the classmate sitting along side him or her. The chanting sounded a little funny, but they were establishing a rhythm. It was something the kids could hear. Something they could follow.
Farmington High School teacher Jason Kohlbeck isn't a speech coach. But that's not stopping him from organizing an oratorical contest for students this year. Kohlbeck is a member of the Farmington American Legion. He's an adjutant for Post 189, which means he's got a few extra things he's working on for the Legion. He's the guy who is working to build up membership, and he's the guy who is responsible for organizing many of the post's programs for students. Well, not too long ago, Rick Rottman of the Cannon Falls American Legion came to visit.
We've all been there and done that: something in the oven or in the stove gets just a little too hot. The smoke detector in the kitchen goes off. Sometimes you can just open a window and wave away the smoke, but sometimes pulling out the battery works just as well, right? Well, yes and no.
Two city of Farmington employees may be looking for new jobs if the Farmington City Council decides to cut their positions next Monday. During a 2011 budget workshop Monday, council members identified two staff positions they feel could be eliminated in order to save city programs and other departments. The positions in question are the economic development specialist post, held by Tina Hansmeier, and the administrative services director, held by Lisa Shadick.