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If you own a residential property in Dakota County, chances are the market value of that property decreased this year. The annual 2011 market value report released this week by Dakota County Assessing Services shows that market value changes varied across property types for the 2011 assessments for taxes payable next year. Most apartment values were unchanged. Residential properties decreased an average 2 to 4 percent. About half of the commercial properties were unchanged, and the other half were reduced 2 to 4 percent.
There is nothing definitive to report yet, but this is a busy time for Spiral Natural Foods as it continues to look for a new location, seek new members, prepare for fundraising, and consider a revitalized store for the future. In February, Hastings Family Service relocated to the west side of the building that Spiral Natural Foods occupies on East Second Street downtown.
March -- Minnesota Food Share Month -- was a record-setting month for Hastings Family Service. A total of $186,554 was raised and 19,994 pounds of food collected for the emergency food shelf. That is almost $50,000 more than last year. FoodShare Month is spearheaded by faith communities and joined by civic organizations, schools and businesses to re-stock food shelves across the state of Minnesota. This year's theme was "Mission Impossible? Not if you help." "We feel extremely blessed," said Hastings Family Service Executive Director Chris Koop.
A Bible story set to music takes center stage this Sunday, April 10, at St. Philip's Lutheran Church, 1401 W. 15th St. The children's choirs of the church present their annual musical, "Malice in the Palace," at the 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. services. Music director Ellen Diischer has been directing the children's musicals for 16 years. Heidi Nelson assists her. "The kids love doing this," said Diischer, "And it is another ministry here at St. Philip's.
Celebrate the afternoon of Sunday, April 10, with music as the Courier Quartet and the duet of Hastings residents Bill Strom and Gordon Gathright present a "Songs 4 Mission" concert at 4 p.m. at Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 400 W. Ninth St.
When her daughter was in second grade at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Linda Kummer became involved in the Junior Achievement program. Kummer was, and is, employed by Wells Fargo Bank here in Hastings, and the bank is a strong supporter of the Junior Achievement Program. That was 13 years ago and Kummer still visits Seton School, and she is still part of the community outreach effort of Junior Achievement. It is part of who she is, she said. "I love working with the kids," she said last week, as she led a unit on "community" to Ruth Riles' second-grade classroom.
The Dakota County Parks Department will continue to use minimum-security prison inmates to provide park improvement for the next two years. At its regular meeting last week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved a two-year contract with the State of Minnesota for an Institution Community Work Crew (ICWC) from May 1, 2011 to April 30, 2013. The ICWC program puts minimum-security prison inmates to work for four eight-hour days per week in the community under the supervision of a state-employed crew leader.
The river has been part of Lloyd Fanum's life for as long as he can remember, dating back to when he was in the Merchant Marines and now the Coast Guard Auxiliary. And, he has lived along the Mississippi River in East Hastings for 30 years. Before this year, he has been a part of two Hastings floods - 1997 and 2001. The City of Hastings came with sand bags those years, too, but that effort paled in comparison to what occurred last week when Fanum received sandbags, sand, and the volunteer help to protect his house from the rising river, which is reaching closer and closer to his home.
Nick McGrath has done it before - written an award-winning essay for the Hastings Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1210, placing third. Last week, he was named the winner (for seventh- and eighth-grade students) of the Dakota County Elks Lodge #2832 essay contest. He received a Target gift card. McGrath's essay is now entered in the state competition with the winner announced at the end of April. The state winner advances to the national competition.
Kallyn Lutz loves art and her Hastings Middle School art teacher Elizabeth Carroll considers her an exceptional talent. So does Darrell Pepo, also a Hastings Middle School teacher. Pepo, who had not met Lutz until last week, saw some of her work, and other art students' work displayed in the main and counseling offices, and was impressed. The works were "Awesome Action" characters constructed primarily out of wire. He asked Carroll about having one of the students make him one using his guitar-playing experience as the focus of the character. She thought immediately of Lutz.