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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Once again this weekend Farmington residents will have a chance to get scared for a good cause. On Friday and Saturday the Support our Troops Haunted House will return for the third year to the Dakota County Fairgrounds for its third straight October. The event raises money to support deployed soldiers and their families. The group behind haunted house has so far sent more than 250 care packages to deployed soldiers, sent Christmas trees and gifts to Iraq and Afghanistan and sent school supplies for Iraqi children.
Republican candidates in District 36 got an opportunity to speak directly to voters last week without any input from the other side of the ballot. DFL candidates Steve Quist, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Pat Pariseau, and Sigrid Iversen, who is facing incumbent Pat Garofalo in the 36B House race, were absent from the Sept. 29 forum sponsored by the Dakota County Regional Chambers of Commerce. Both said they informed organizers as soon as they got the invitation that they had a conflict that night. Quist was teaching confirmation classes at his church.
Farmington City Council candidates' views of how the city manages its money seem to depend on the side of the council table on which they currently sit. City council incumbents Christy Jo Fogarty and Steve Wilson spent much of an hour-long forum Sept. 29 defending the city's spending decisions, while their challengers complained about "wasteful" and "uncontrolled" spending. Lenny Hall, who described himself as the only candidate whose own economic status puts him near the poverty level, complained about the city's recent purchase of a $60,000 play structure for Rambling River Park.
When you're responsible for writing a weekly column you learn quickly that inspiration can strike at anytime. Riding a bike? Inspiration! Reading a book? Inspiration! Watching a situational comedy on ABC? Well, probably not. But everybody needs a break now and then. Inspiration is tricky, though. Ideas that seem wonderful and perfect and permanent one minute can disappear entirely the next.
Candidates for city and state offices got a chance to speak to voters Wednesday night in a forum sponsored by the Dakota County Regional Chambers of Commerce. The forum was for candidates in the city council, Senate District 36 and House District 36B races. Much of the forum focused on issues important to business owners, and council candidates talked a lot about the need to rein in spending. Both of the Republican candidates in the state races got a chance to speak largely uninterrupted, as neither DFL candidate in those races appeared.
People who have come to expect their popcorn comes in ready-for-the-microwave bags might be surprised to see behind the scenes at Clem's Homegrown Popcorn. The Castle Rock Township operation, which has been selling popcorn for the past 12 years, is less Orville Redenbacher and more Old MacDonald. The corn grows in long rows on about 3/4 of an acre. It looks like any other corn field until you pull the husk off one of the cobs and find a long, slender cob covered with kernels that are nearly orange rather than the yellow of sweet corn.
Now that their neighbors can finally get to their church, the members of New Heights Christian Fellowship are inviting everyone over for a party. Like many of the residents on Walnut Street, the church was a little isolated over the summer as crews did a complete reconstruction of the road and the sewers that run beneath it. Church members had access to an alley behind the building, but there wasn't enough room back there for everyone. The lack of parking created issues for some people, especially older churchgoers who have trouble walking.
For a quarter century, Last Hope has been making matches between lonely animals and families who can love them. It's a service founder Bev Orr knows is needed more now than it was when she launched the organization in 1985. As families struggle with finances and lose their homes, more and more have had to give up beloved family pets. Orr has always had a soft spot in her heart for animals.
A reduction in property values around the Farmington School District should mean lower taxes next year for district residents. The District 192 School Board on Monday approved a preliminary tax levy of $19,632,920. That's down from $20,902,219 million last year. According to finance director Jeff Priess, the reduction is due primarily to the fact the state is picking up a bigger portion of the costs. The shift is the result of an approximately 6 percent reduction in property values districtwide. The change does not affect all district funds, but it has some big impacts in certain areas.
A former Rice County inmate, now incarcerated in the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights, has been charged with conspiracy to murder Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom and Dakota County District Judge Rex Stacey. The Rice County Attorney's office on Wednesday charged John Stephen Woodward, 47, with two counts of conspiracy to commit premeditated first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. According to the complaint, investigators learned that Woodward hired and agreed to pay money to another inmate to murder Backstrom and Stacey, who pr