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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Every year, the Farmington School District celebrates the work of its students during an all-school art festival. Last Saturday, a handful of those students and their artwork were further honored. Over the weekend, the Dakota Valley Arts Council introduced 12 young artists, all of whom had artwork at this year's art festival. The artwork showed by those students is now part of the artwork featured in Farmington's Depot Way Art Park. Nine of the 12 new pieces were unveiled during a ceremony Saturday afternoon.
To many, Labor Day symbolizes the beginning of fall. To residents on Walnut Street, though, Labor Day will definitely bring the end of a long, dusty and inconvenient summer. The Walnut Street reconstruction project that started last spring is right on schedule, and will likely be done on time - by Labor Day. According to city of Farmington engineer Kevin Schorzman, the reconstruction is in its final phases, with curb and gutter work already being done in some sections. Paving of the road is happening this week, along with the pouring of driveways and sidewalks.
Farmington voters will have plenty of choices when it comes time to fill two seats on the Farmington City Council this fall. When the filing period closed Aug. 17, seven residents had filed affidavits of candidacy to be considered as candidates city council. The two four-year seats up for grabs are currently held by Christy Jo Fogarty and Steve Wilson. Both incumbents have filed for reelection. Other residents to enter the race are, in alphabetical order, Jason E. Bartholomay, Lenny Hall, Don Hayes, David Pritzlaff and Jerry Ristow.
I was really confused Friday morning. I don't often sleep with my windows closed during the summer. I like to sleep with fresh air, so unless it's really hot for a really long time, I don't turn on my air conditioner at night. Well, last week was really hot for a really long time. The AC was on. My windows were closed. But I still woke up around 3:40 a.m. I heard sirens - storm sirens. I could hear the rain outside, but it didn't seem all that hard. I have a weather radar application on my cell phone, so I checked that. Sure enough, there was a storm warning.
They swore it was a tornado. It turns out, they were right. On Sunday, the National Weather Service confirmed what many Farmington residents suspected all along: a tornado, not straight-line winds, caused severe damage to the central part of the community during an Aug. 13 storm. The tornado created a 1 1/2-mile path that was about 250 yards wide, from the neighborhood near the intersection of Exceptional Trail and Ewing Street northeast to the intersection of Dunbury Avenue and Dupont Way. At first, the National Weather Service said damage was caused by straight-line winds.
Mother Nature wasn't picky when she decided whose homes would be damaged by last Friday's early morning tornado. She didn't care if the home was old or new, if the homeowners had lived there for one year or several. She just took a deep breath and blew out a tornado, causing damage to a corridor about 1 1/2 miles long in the central section of the city. Some houses received minimal damage but had lots of trees down. Other homes lost roofs, the sides of the garages, swing sets, swimming pools or patio furniture. Dan Buysse and Katie Clausen are neighbors on 192nd Street.
Stroll through the Horticulture building at the Dakota County Fair this week, and there's one thing you won't see: any of the large, ripe vegetables from a Second Street garden here in Farmington. Gardener Emil Boostrom has no real urge to enter any of his humongous kohlrabi or crazy-long cucumbers in the county fair. He's content to let his zucchini grow huge along with the rest of the squash in his garden. "I don't monkey around with all that," he said. "I just go out and share it." And that, he does.
Clean-up efforts are under way after strong winds caused a considerable amount of damage to the central part of Farmington Friday morning. Severe weather sirens sounded around 3:30 a.m. Friday. According to Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky, the winds moved from the west to east, knocking down several large trees and damaging several homes in its path. The storm itself came through the area sometime around 4 a.m. The area that received the most damage is near 193rd Street and Pilot Knob Road. Herlofsky said there is "a concerning amount of damage" to the homes there.
It's Monday afternoon, and I'm at my desk. I've been to the 2010 Dakota County Fair once already, and I've got to say - I love this time of year. Sure, it's a pretty steamy day, and sure, wandering through the heat and humidity already has me feeling like a good nap would hit the spot. And maybe the bellyful of Taco Dick's and 4H chocolate shake is adding to my fatigue. But I'm a sucker for a fair, no matter what the weather. I know I've said it before, but I'm a fair person. Maybe it's part of my upbringing. I was born in New Ulm, which is home to the Brown County Fair.
With one week down, and one to go, four Farmington residents have filed as candidates for two seats on the Farmington City Council. Filing for candidacy for the 2010 Farmington City Council elections opened at 7 a.m., Aug. 3. By the end of the first day, two residents, former city council member David Pritzlaff and Farmington parks maintenance supervisor Don Hayes, had filed their affidavits of candidacy. Farmington resident Lenny Hall filed his affidavit of candidacy the following day, Aug. 4, and current city council member Christy Jo Fogarty filed hers Tuesday, Aug.