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They earned more than $1,100, then bought and wrapped Christmas gifts for two families of nine people. The fourth-grade students at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Hastings learned a little bit more about community service and the holiday spirit this year through an annual project initiated about five years ago. "About five, six years ago, the fourth-grade teachers discussed a community service project, one that would impact the community and the kids could have a hands-on experience," said teacher Carol Howd.
Eat healthier, stay healthier. It is a simple message, but one in which Hastings Independent School District 200 has placed a heavy emphasis on this year. Through a variety of steps, programs and activities, the School District is making "Smart Choices" to improve student nutrition. More than a year ago, Dakota County schools began a "Smart Choices" initiative designed to support the health of students and staff by creating an environment that encourages healthy food choices.
Alfredo, Brent, Jason M. and Jason L. are college class participants, recently completing a college class through Metro State University. This class, though, was held for 15 weeks where the four young men are currently living - the Dakota County Jail in Hastings. Another twist to this innovative program is that, in addition to the 15 inmates who were members of the class, another 15 students in the class were from the "outside," attending Metro State University (MSU).
More than a year after a police chase through Hastings, the individual charged with four felonies as a result of it will appear in Dakota County District Court next month. Since the chase, Roman Tokarev has been incarcerated through the Minnesota Department of Corrections at Oak Parks Heights prison. His release status on a prior robbery conviction was revoked. In the Dec. 2, 2009 incident in Hastings, Tokarev was charged with two counts of assault by means of a motor vehicle, one count of fleeing a police officer by means of a motor vehicle, and one count of theft of a motor vehicle.
In the end, Seth Greengo had the right answer and was named the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School Geography Bee winner Friday afternoon. The other two finalists were Graydon Buck and Payton Agen. All middle school students participated in seven oral rounds and a written test. The finals included both written and oral responses. Seton middle school teachers Colleen Peterson and Tim Sullivan coordinated this year's Geography Bee.
Bags and bags of nonperishable food items were packed into two waiting vehicles Friday morning and delivered to Hastings Family Service. Fifth-grade students of Teri Hunter and Anne Burns at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School coordinated the drive, which collected 1,208 pounds of food and $381 in cash. Of the cash, $320 was raised at a bake sale held by Kathy Gleich's seventh-grade students. The food drive was the 27th annual one to help collect food and raise funds. The fifth-grade students were responsible for the drive.
When the food totals were tabulated for Merchants Bank's "10 Days of Giving," this week, almost 4,000 pounds of food had been collected by students and the business community. This food came at a critical time, helping Hastings Family Service restock the food shelf as it helps a record number of families for the Holiday Assistance distribution. The results from the "10 Days of Giving" were expected to be announced at Saturday's arrival of the Holiday Train. Due to the weather, most of the Holiday Train pre-event activities were canceled.
Dakota County elected officials and administrator had their salaries frozen for 2010. They will be thawed slightly for 2011. At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved next year's compensation for itself, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows, and County Administrator Brandt Richardson. The end result will be a 1-percent base adjustment plus $400 medical plan incentive payment. The County Board developed the $400 payment to ease employee's financial transition to the new base medical plan.
Less than three weeks after her husband Tylar Hokanson was convicted of murdering her 17-month old son Nicholas, Melissa Hokanson is now charged in connection with his death. On Tuesday morning, the Dakota County attorney's office charged Hokanson, 19, of rural Dakota County, with one county of manslaughter in the second degree - child neglect (felony), and two counts of neglect of a child (one a felony, the other a gross misdemeanor). Nicholas died June 23, 2009, in Wisconsin.
The deadline is approaching to vote for your favorite hero as part of the United Way of Hastings "Hastings Heroes" calendar sale. Buy a calendar and then vote by Dec. 15. The United Way calendar initiative is a locally-produced "Hastings Heroes" calendar.