Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
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Last weekend I rolled out to Watertown, South Dakota, passing endless corn and soybean fields. The dew point was palpable, as if steam was rising from the infinite corn leaves as they breathed oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Sweat has nowhere to go when the air is so heavy you could wring it out like a dishcloth. I passed one steamy small town after another. I've noticed a lot of small towns adopt themes. For example, Lindstrom is definitively Scandinavian, with a water tower shaped like a coffee pot and Swedish street signs. Olivia is the corn capital of the world.
Mary Hince doesn't get out much anymore. She has a bad back, and some other health issues that make getting around difficult. But that's OK. She watches church services on TV in her apartment at Trinity Terrace and goes out to eat occasionally with family members. For the most part, she's happy. Hince has had a good life. She spent 55 years married to a man she loves and still misses, she's got eight children and she's even gotten to live out a few of her dreams. Hince grew up in Rosemount.
Every year around this time community newspaper employees from across the country sort through the best work they've done over the past 12 months and send off entries to compete for recognition as some of their state's best journalism of the year. Given the general consensus about journalism's future that might seem a little bit like competing for the title of prettiest girl on the Titanic, but hey, an award's an award. We've won our fair share of awards over the years in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest, but I've seldom had any role in handing out the awards.
A Farmington building that has been home to a medical clinic and a preschool will disappear sometime in the next few weeks. Rich Ludwig, administrator at Trinity Care Center and Trinity Terrace, said the building attached to the former Sanford Hospital has become a burden. It's expensive to maintain and there has been little interest from potential tenants. The building is attached to the former hospital, but its heating, cooling and other systems are separate, and the building has deteriorated rapidly since it's been vacant. "It was a really, really tough building," Ludwig said.
There's not a lot of common ground between bank balances and blacksmiths' anvils. Dealing with one is a mostly mental pursuit, the other mostly physical. Kate Aspenwall likes it that way. She's got two jobs to keep herself busy. One exercises her brains, the other her biceps. During the day Aspenwall is a personal banker at Roundbank in Farmington. She likes the job, and she's good at it. But she gets restless sitting at a desk all day. She likes to be up and moving. "I get bored pretty easily," Aspenwall said. That's where Kate's Farrier Service comes in.
Halfway through the filing period, the ballot is starting to shape up for November's District 192 School Board election. It looks like there will be at least one person left out when the votes are counted. As of Aug. 10 four people had filed to run for the three available seats. Veronica Walter, who was chosen in 2008 to fill the term of board member Terry Donnelly, will defend her position on the board.
Farmington parents' frustrations over class-size projections in Farmington schools spilled over to school board members Monday night, and that seemed to ease at least some of the parents' concerns. A vocal group of elementary-school parents has complained since the beginning of the summer about projections that had as many as 31 students in some second-grade classes. Administrators have said all along that high numbers are normal as the district gathers better information about the number of students who will actually come through the door when classes start Sept.
Garden tractors have long been useful tools for hacking away at overgrown lawns, but at this year's Dakota County Fair the normally peaceful landscaping tools are going to unleash a whole new kind of destruction. The lawn tractors and their drivers will be set lose on each other in a miniature-scale demolition derby to be held at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11. The lawn mower derbies are a relatively new phenomenon in Minnesota, but fair board member Chris Wright said they're big in the South.
Hal Brown's first introduction to animal chiropractic was while he was still studying chiropractic therapy for humans. In one class, he watched a video that showed a cowboy in South Dakota adjusting horses. At the time, Brown dismissed the concept as impossible - chiropractic for people was difficult enough, he said. Not to mention, practicing on animals was illegal in the U.S. A show on canine physical therapy inspired Brown, though, and with encouragement from his wife he looked into animal chiropractic again.
The 2010 Great Prairie Dakota Dash 5K run at the Dakota County Fair is planned for 8 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 15 at the fairgrounds. It will be the first time that the fair has played host to a fun run, but organizer Todd McIntyre hopes it won't be the last. "We thought the fair would be a nice spot," said McIntrye, the founder of Great Prairie Sports, which is organizing the run. "It's the second largest county fair in the state.