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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I spent my junior year of high school in Sweden. It was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot about foreign cultures. About life. About meatballs. It wasn't perfect, I'll admit. I asked everyone I met about that bikini team that was so popular in all the beer ads at the time, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. They couldn't even point me in the direction of the JV team, which I believe mostly stuck to one-pieces. The lack of swimsuit-clad supermodels aside, though, the year was filled with remarkable opportunities.
A popular north-Farmington coffee shop is going to go through a transformation in the weeks ahead. The Ugly Mug has always been more than a typical coffee shop. With beer and wine on the menu, as well as hearty sandwiches, the business was designed as a mix of coffee shop, restaurant and bar. Now new owners Kathy Stronach and Dan Radmacher are going to push those distinctions even further.
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.