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.
- Member for
- 1 year 10 months
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.
After years of trimming the city's budget, Farmington City Council members are considering a $1.3 million levy increase for 2012. At a July 27 budget workshop, council members took a second look at the wish list for 2012. This time, they didn't try to cut from it. They looked at the needs before them and decided the time had come to plan for the future. A preliminary budget must be approved by Sept. 15, but this year, council members hope to have the preliminary numbers set far before the deadline. And those numbers, at least, so far, include a tax increase for Farmington residents.
Minnesota's state government shutdown earlier this month didn't have any immediate effect on Farmington. But there was a little bit of trickle-down, particularly on housing construction in the community. According to Farmington city planner Lee Smick, a lot of residential development was slowed - almost stopped - because the state could not complete electrical inspections. When the state shut down, the state-employed electrical inspector who had been doing Farmington's inspections was laid off.
Take a stroll through Dakota City Heritage Village during the Dakota County Fair in August, and you'll see plenty of people dressed somewhat ... oddly. They'll be the women in the long, heavy clothing, the men sporting suspenders and top hats. All volunteers, it's those folks -- dressed in period-appropriate costumes -- who help bring Dakota City to life every year. Finding enough volunteers can be daunting task, according to Dakota City Heritage Village board of directors vice president Mary Hendricks.
The past week has been particularly soupy in Minnesota, with local radio broadcasters declaring it "Underarm-ageddon." The phrase sums up the moist heat wave we are enduring. It's a much more clever twist on words than this past winter's "Snow-mageddon." In the midst of this heat wave, I've been searching for a new car. I thought it might be time for me to buy a summer beater. I have a reliable, sensible car with working heat for the wintertime. But I crave the unpredictable experience of a car that is over 10 years of age. I'm looking forward to a flashy sports car which is past its prime.
During the hot, humid days last week and the week before, Farmington firefighters had more than their fair share of false alarms. And they weren't alone. Around Farmington, firefighters were dispatched to at least a dozen calls of smoke alarms going off in homes and businesses. In all of the cases, there was no fire, but Farmington fire marshal John Powers said it's better to be safe than sorry. "We always try to err on the side of caution and get everybody started then cut back after that," Powers said. The problem seems to be in the wiring, he said.
He claimed he was giving the teenage girls "energy readings." Farmington police see his actions as criminal sexual conduct. Farmington resident Russell Castillo, 37, will appear before a Dakota County judge Sept. 24 on two second-degree charges of felony criminal sexual conduct. The complaint issued by assistant Dakota County attorney Elizabeth Swank alleges that Castillo forced two teenage girls to perform sexual acts on several occasions. Both girls are related to Castillo. Now 16, the first girl to report an incident was 15 years old when Castillo allegedly started touching her.
Farmington police can't be everywhere at once, but they've got a few sets of extra eyes on parts of the downtown area. There are 54 surveillance cameras posted around the community, giving Farmington police a chance to see things that happen even when they're not there. The camera system was a large purchase, but it's come in handy more than once. Farmington police administrative sergeant Jim Constantineau said the surveillance system is a work in progress.
The Farmington Business Association is going to have to find another place to put up its community Christmas tree. The vacant lot on Third Street, where the tree has been placed for the past few years, won't be vacant much longer. By this fall, a 3,000-square-foot building will be taking up the space. Last Wednesday, Immanuel Dental owner Dr. Linden Dungy closed on the purchase of the vacant lot.