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St. John's School in Vermillion had an exciting morning on Monday. The school was evacuated just as the students were arriving for classes. The hallways were filling with smoke and a noxious smell. The Hastings Fire Department was called. The teachers and students stayed in the church basement (across the street)for about 90 minutes until the "all clear" was given to return to school. Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt told Principal Sister Tresa and staff that a roof furnace had burnt out and the fan was blowing smoke and the smell into the school.
The dogs will take center stage this year, including one from a Hastings apple orchard, when Hastings Reads 2013 is celebrated. The theme of the annual observance is "It's a Dog's Life," and the book selections for elementary age to older readers center on the dogs. Hastings Reads is planned and sponsored by the United Way of Hastings, Dakota County Pleasant Hill Library, Friends of the Library, AAUW, OASIS, Hastings public schools, the Ruth and George Doffing Charitable Gift Foundation, the Hastings Public Schools Foundation, and Hastings Community Television.
The freshly painted band stands in the senior high school's auto mechanic room looked brand new. More were in the process of being painted, and another 60 from the nearby band room were about to be rolled into the room last Thursday afternoon. Hastings Boy Scout Troop 503 member Matthew Moynihan was doing his share of painting too, but he was also in charge of the project. The painting of the 175 band stands from the high school and middle school was Moynihan's Eagle Scout badge project, scouting highest achievement. The project has been under way since October, said Moynihan.
When Hudson Zieske and his family went to see the Holiday Train stop at the depot in Hastings two weeks ago, he forgot to bring his coloring contest entry. A quick return trip home brought the entry back to the depot for judging. It's good the Zieske family did just that. Last week, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton first-grader won the contest and received his prize, a very big gift basket filled with goodies from Hastings Family Service. Hudson's eyes lit up when the basket was delivered to his classroom Thursday morning.
Rachel Weber knows her countries, states, rivers and lakes, and how they are connected to each other. That knowledge served her well last Friday when she won the annual St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School Geography Bee. "I'm happy," the eighth-grader said. "Our seventh grade geography class really helped, but other than that, I didn't do much preparing." In preparation for the final competition, Rachel and the other sixth- to eighth-grade students took a 25-question written test. Rachel ranked near the top.
What started with a broken taillight and an erratic driver quickly turned into much more on Dec. 14. Early that morning, a Hastings Police officer observed the taillight and the erratic driving, and initiated a traffic stop. During that stop, a large supply of methamphetamine was found, the driver was arrested and the passenger is now also under investigation. On Monday, Dec. 17, Roseanne April Kohnen, 26, Minneapolis, was charged with one count of a controlled substance crime in the first degree, and one count of controlled substance crime in the first degree (sale).
Christmas wishes do come true. Ask little Mikko Gegen, who is battling cancer. With the help of his grandmother, Judy Capeti, and Mark and Maureen Linnemann, who own and operate Skip's Sprinklers, Mikko's house on the city's west side glows with holiday lights. "Our house has a light display that is absolutely to die for," says his mom Shelly on the family's CaringBridge website. "I never, in my wildest dreams, would have imagined it would turn out like it has." She indicated that Mikko has been "campaigning for weeks" to have Christmas lights on the house.
Justin Michael Pakonen of Hastings was charged Monday, Dec. 17, with eight felony counts of possession of pornographic work involving minors. The charges were filed in Dakota County District Court. The 27-year-old defendant told Hastings police he was depressed and that viewing the images on the computer helped him. According to the criminal complaint, a Minneapolis Police officer working as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) observed some peer-to-peer sharing of child pornography, which was coming from an IP address in Hastings.
The 100 special Christmas stockings all hung on the walls of Tilden Community Center. Now, they are enriching the holidays of people in the community, primarily at the Lewis House and the Hastings Veterans Home. The empty red stockings were hung on the walls several weeks ago and people throughout the Community Education programs were encouraged to take one home, decorate it and fill it with some stocking stuffers. Some just did just the decorating, others brought the stuffers, including shampoos, toothpaste and toothbrushes and candy.
An inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility now serving a sentence in Faribault will be sentenced Jan. 16 after being convicted of conspiracy to murder Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. Jurors reached a verdict Friday, Dec. 7, in the trial of John Stephen Woodward, 49. The jury found Woodward not guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault against a witness in Woodward's Dakota County criminal case in 2007. Originally, Woodward had been charged in 2010 with two counts of conspiracy to commit premeditated first-degree murder.