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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For those who follow high school swimming closely, there are relatively few surprises each season. It seems like certain teams are always good.
This season, the Hastings gymnastics team will take to the mat with a new coach leading them. Having a new coach will be nothing new for the Raiders. Jeanne (Judge) Kasel takes the reins of the program this season, and she will be the team's third coach in three years. When the position became available, Kasel jumped at the chance to take over for the team. She spent last season as an assistant for the Raiders. "I really have a passion for kids, and watching them become their best," she said. "I love the sport. Gymnastics is a sport where boys and girls can excel in so many areas.
It was easy for Hastings swimming coach Katie McAlpin to summarize her team's performance at last week's section swimming meet in Richfield. "We were extremely pleased," McAlpin said. Hastings qualified two relay teams and has swimmers in six individual events for this weekend's state meet. In the process, the small Raiders team placed fifth out of nine teams at the section meet. "This year, our energy at the section meet was better than any other year we've had since I've been coach," McAlpin said. "The girls were out there having fun.
Three administrators at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings are on paid leave during an investigation about fears of retaliation at the home. Over the summer, during a survey at the home, residents spoke up to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs about the concerns. That prompted the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs to begin its own investigation of the matter, leading to the paid leave of the administrators. On leave are the homes administrator, Chip Cox, the director of nursing, Connie Ball, and one of Cox's aides.
You'd never know it by looking outside, but the winter sports season is just around the corner. As in: Tuesday. That's right. The winter sports season officially kicks off Tuesday when the Hastings girls hockey team travels to Red Wing to face the Wingers. Practices begin for most other sports over the next two weeks. Two captains from last year's team return this season for Hastings. They are Courtney Boucher and Brittney Huneke. More captains will likely be named soon. A total of 31 girls made the team, including 24 returning players.
The biggest meet of the season for the Hastings girls swimming team is under way. The section meet began Wednesday for the Raiders, who are hoping to qualify as many swimmers as possible for the upcoming state meet. "The girls have been working hard to prepare for our season-end meets," coach Katie McAlpin said. The section meet is in Richfield. The top 16 swimmers from Wednesday's preliminary round return to Friday's final round. The top two swimmers in each event are guaranteed a trip to the state meet.
Four Hastings High School seniors signed national letters of intent Wednesday afternoon during a school ceremony in the commons area. The four accepted scholarships to compete at the Division I level. Wednesday was the first day seniors could sign the letters. Brittney Huneke signed to play hockey at Maine. Cassie Kimmes signed to swim at the University of South Dakota. Liz Keena signed to play basketball at North Dakota State University. And Zach Rohr signed to wrestle at Ohio University.
The Levee Cafe, long a popular dining destination in downtown Hastings, has temporarily closed. A handwritten sign recently was posted on the restaurant's front door alerting patrons of the closure. "We regret to inform you the Levee Cafe has temporarily closed," the sign reads. The restaurant is located at 100 Sibley Street. The Star Gazette is working to update this story. Check back for more details.
Paul Boettcher must be one of the world's most prolific pumpkin growers. Sadly for the Carpenter Nature Center, Boettcher is stepping away from growing the orange orbs. At 77 years old, he says the job's physical demands are too great for him to continue, and the search is under way at Carpenter to find the next pumpkin producer. "It's just getting to be too much at my age," Boettcher said. "If I were younger, I'd just keep on plowing, but I'm 77. All of this, it's a lot of hard work. You plant by hand. You hoe by hand and you harvest by hand.
The season came to an end Wednesday night for the Hastings volleyball team. The Raiders lost in the first round of the section tournament to Farmington in three straight games. Farmington won 25-16, 25-23 and 25-13. "We were just flat," Hastings coach Rita Girgen said. Hastings fell behind in the first game, 9-1, before coming around and playing well for the rest of the first game. In the second game, it was Hastings in control. "The first set, we were just flat," Girgen said. "Then we picked it up. We carried that over to start off the second set.