Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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When the Hastings boys and girls track teams get ready for each day of practice by warming up in the HHS gymnasium, it's a beautiful sight for boys coach Jason Koch. The gym is filled with athletes. "It's so exciting to see that we have so many kids, we fill the gym during our warm-ups," he said. "Hopefully we can maintain that in the years to come." Koch expects about 60 boys to be on the team this year. "That has grown significantly over the past few years," he said. "A few years ago, we were in the 40s. We want to stay in the 60s.
If all goes as planned, it is going to be one very good year for the Hastings boys golf team. It will also be a year with a number of underclassmen playing big roles for the Raiders. Coach Pete McGinnis has all kinds of varsity experience returning. The one strange part about all that experience is that most of it comes in the form of freshmen and an eighth-grader. Approximately 45 boys are out for the team. "It's going to be very competitive," McGinnis said. "The lineups will change. With the improvement the kids are making, it's going to force others to continue to work hard.
Many Hastings coaches this spring are working with youthful and inexperienced teams. Nobody, though, has a team more youthful than girls golf coach Becky Hartung. She has just one senior, no juniors, just four sophomores and just four freshmen. The rest, all 24 of them, are eighth-graders and seventh-graders. Hartung sees the youthfulness as a real opportunity for the Raiders. "I'm looking at it like the future is going to be bright," she said.
The Hastings High School spring musical has been canceled after what was supposed to be a welcoming party for new members of the Drama Club turned into anything but that. On Saturday, March 26, a Drama Club cast party was planned at a member's home. Cast members planned what they thought was going to be a "positive, welcoming experience," for new members of the club, according to HHS principal Mike Johnson. The plan, though, went awry. "It turned in to a situation where there was a lot of anger, fear and confusion," Johnson said.
Hastings resident Ryan Levine can't say how well he fared, but he promises one thing: Those who tune in to watch Wednesday's Wheel of Fortune show won't be disappointed. Levine was in California in January for a taping of the show, and his time in the spotlight finally arrives Wednesday, April 13. The show airs at 6:30 p.m. on WCCO (Channel 4). The Hastings man has his wife to thank for the big appearance. At nights, Samantha would look on in awe as her husband solved puzzle after puzzle.
Hundreds of volunteers turned out in Hastings on Saturday morning to fill sandbags, which will be used to protect homes in east Hastings from rising floodwaters. In all, more than 20,000 sandbags were filled by volunteers. Some of the sandbags were put to use immediately at two homes in east Hastings. Long lines of volunteers passed the sandbags from the street to the homes. The effort was coordinated by Bless Hastings and the City of Hastings. The sandbagging took place in the parking lot of Christ Family Church.
Living along the shores of the St. Croix River north of Hastings provides homeowners a chance to get up close and personal with all kinds of wildlife. But what one homeowner there saw last week was anything but a welcome sight. In her backyard was an adult bald eagle, covered in snow and ice. It couldn't fly and needed help. The homeowner picked up her phone and called down the road to the Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings. She spoke to Jim Nielsen, a board member at the nature center, and told him about the eagle.
United States Representative John Kline was in Hastings Friday to get informed on this year's predicted flood. Kline met with Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows, Dakota County Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Carlson and three other county sheriffs at the Dakota County Government Center. He then traveled to east Hastings to get an up-close look at the Mississippi River, which is expected to hit its flood stage by Saturday, March 26.
Every two years, the Minnesota State High School League reviews its competitive section assignments. Every time the assignments change, there are winners and losers. This year, consider the Hastings wrestling team among one of the winners. For the past four years, Hastings has competed in the same section as Apple Valley. That, ultimately, has meant that qualifying for the state tournament as a team is all but impossible. The Eagles were the No. 1 ranked team in the nation this year, fielding a team of athletes resembling a lineup most small colleges would die to have.
Earlier this month, there were reasons for the contractors working on the new Hastings bridge to be optimistic. While predictions called for the possibility of significant flooding, the weather was cooperating and it looked possible that a devastating flood was going to be averted. That optimism was thrown out the window this week. "There was some optimism that the levels wouldn't reach what was forecast, but it looks like they're going to," bridge project manager Steve Kordosky said this week.