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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The holiday celebrations are already in full swing. I attended one work holiday party during the middle of a snowstorm. Holiday work parties are always exquisite torture, set to the backdrop of smooth jazz. You stand awkwardly with these people whose peccadilloes involving paper clips and tuna sandwiches are intimately familiar, but whose personal lives are a complete mystery. I was surrounded by tables covered with platters of cookies, crock pots brimming with barbecue meatballs and fancy cheese platters, but I was too busy attempting small talk and too nervous to eat much at all.
For several years in the 1990s, rapid population growth was a fact of life in Dakota County. New developments popped up and were filled, seemingly in a matter of months. The county is still growing today, but the pace of that growth has slowed dramatically. With most of the county's developable land already filled with homes, much of the growth boom has moved to other nearby counties. According to the county's biannual Community Indicators Report, Dakota County remains the third most populous county in Minnesota, accounting for 13.5 percent of the metro area population.
Most days Kayla Peterson wouldn't think twice about performing in front of a few thousand people. As a student at the Classical Ballet Academy, the Boeckman Middle School sixth grader has been a regular performer in Ballet Minnesota's holiday productions of The Nutcracker Suite. But Wednesday, Peterson was nervous. Because on Wednesday she wasn't just in front of a crowd of strangers. She was in front of her classmates. All of her classmates. Wednesday's Nutcracker show was the first of the holiday season for Ballet Minnesota, and there were special deals for school groups.
To some the holiday season means gifts, hefty spending and an abundance of food. For others, it's being thankful for the things you have and cherishing the people who are in your life. The past few years have taken a toll on many families, and some aren't able to have that extra gift under the tree or the extra large ham for Christmas dinner. Also, we think of how the troops are spending their holidays overseas, not able to spend it with their families. So, what it is the true meaning of the holidays? In a way, I guess its different, yet the same to everyone.
I do not have what could reasonably be described as good luck with cars. My first car, handed down to me by my father just before my sophomore year of college, was a 1990 Toyota Camry that the dealer described as ice blue but that my brother insisted on calling powder blue. Some might consider it bad enough to have such an unfortunately colored car. But about a week before he handed over the keys, my dad hit a deer just a few miles from our house in Stillwater. It smashed into the front of the roof.
A family dispute boiled over on Thanksgiving day in Castle Rock Township, and a 22-year-old Wisconsin man faces felony charges as a result. According to a complaint filed last week in the Dakota County Attorney's office Anthony Tyler Spease got into a fight with his stepfather around 4 p.m. Nov. 25. Dakota County Sheriff's deputies broke them up, but when it became clear deputies were not going to arrest anybody Spease reportedly got upset and threatened to kill his stepfather."I have $2,000 in my pocket right now and I'm going to buy a gun," he said, according to the complaint.
Despite a growing number of unknowns, Dakota County has developed its 2011 budget. At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved a 2011 budget of $307 million and a property tax levy of $129 million. The 2010 budget was $368 million. The levy was $128.
The Farmington School District got a little support and a few words of caution regarding about a list of construction projects proposed for district schools. The district presented a list of projects from its recently updated facilities report at a special meeting Dec. 8 after receiving requests that it share the proposals with the community before making any decisions about whether to proceed.
Farmington residents should see a reduction next year in the taxes they pay to the Farmington School District. The Farmington School Board approved a property tax levy of $19,637,822. That is a reduction of just over 6 percent from the $20,902,219 levy the board approved for 2010. Finance director Jeff Priess said the reduction is due in part to a reduction in the overall market value of property in the district. The levy approved Monday will mean a 2011 school district tax bill of $11,677 for the owner of a $250,000 home. That is $38 less than the bill for a $250,000 home last year.
A group of Farmington pastors wants to help bring the city closer together. For the past two years pastors from The River Church, Faith United Methodist, Bible Baptist, New Heights Christian Fellowship and Middle Creek Vineyard Church have been gathering under the name Farmington Area Christian Evangelicals. They have made the rounds at Farmington businesses to offer prayers. They have prayed for city leaders and at Farmington schools.