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After two and one-days of deliberations a Dakota County jury on Thanksgiving morning convicted Tylar James Hokanson, 24, formerly of Northfield, of two counts of murder in the first degree and two counts of murder in the second degree in the death of his stepson Nicholas Arthur Miller, 17 months old. Nicholas died June 23, 2009, in Wisconsin. The trial began Nov. 1. Following the reading of the verdict, Judge Robert King sentenced Hokanson to life in prison. "Nicholas Miller suffered horrific injuries through the actions of his stepfather," said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.
Hastings High School senior Katarina Gapp, Hastings Middle school student Nick McGrath and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School student Mike Tappella are the winners in the annual Hastings Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1210 essay contests. Gapp won the Voice of Democracy contest and McGrath and Tappella won the Patriot's Pen competitions at the other two schools. They will read their essay as next year's Memorial Day observance.
When approximately 350 seventh-grade students heard the theme, "Vision of Peace," they took their image of it and created artwork. Last week, the winners were announced in the annual Rivertown Lions Club Peace Poster contest. The top winners are Ciara Christensen and Dharma LeMoine-Tennant. Second place winners are Erin Smothers and Kalyne Henrichsen. Third place winners are Kaylee Morris and Kallyn Lutz. Helping to judge the contest was Jeanne Mamer, retired Hastings Middle School art teacher. The contest is open to seventh-grade social studies students each year.
Dani Truax, Peter Schultz and Cody Wagner are active Hastings High School students. But they share a bond with about 20 to 30 other students in that members of their families are currently serving in the military. Several have been, or are already, deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Through the Hastings High School Military Support Group, the students find support, friendship and ways to help members and their families. They are currently in the midst of one such project now at the high school - a sock drive which leads to a sock toss next week.
She graduated from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School and Hastings High School, and was previously employed by Hastings School District 200 as psychologist. Then she went into the school administration field. This week, Jill Moes, Ph.D, returned to Hastings, and her education and spiritual roots. On Monday, Nov. 15, she began her new position as principal of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School. She succeeds Rita Humbert as principal of the Catholic School here in Hastings.
The Christmas spirit arrived early for Karissa Rother, 12, and her neighbors and friends Halie and Mikaela Harder, 10 and 12 respectively. Through hard work, time and a desire to help others, the three friends, who live next door to each other on Owen Avenue just south of Hastings, will reach out to children thousands of miles away this holiday season. Their project was to fill as many shoeboxes as possible through the international organization, Operation Christmas Child.
What do a tuning fork, crystal goblets and rubber bands have in common? All three can be used in producing sound. For almost an hour last Thursday, the first- and second-grade students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton learned about sound - one of the wonders of science - through demonstrations presented by the Science Museum of Minnesota. Katie Urban was the leader. Throughout the hour, she and the students plucked objects, blew into and on glass objects, rubbed together objects, and listened and watched.
When 41-year-old Michael Frederick Schmidt of Hastings was convicted in September of first-degree criminal sexual conduct of a nine-month old, he was ordered to undergo a presentence investigation and a psychological investigation. That order is still to be completed. At Monday's sentencing hearing, Schmidt's attorney, who he had apparently fired, then rehired, indicated that Judge Joseph Carter's order had not been fulfilled. Carter set a new sentencing hearing for 9 a.m. Monday, Dec.
For years, his family farmed the land west of Hastings that would be become one of the Dakota County's regional parks. Then, Carl Schaar and his wife Dorothy moved near another county park, this overlooking Lake Byllesby near Cannon Falls, where they lived there for 20 years. At the age of 102, Carl Schaar died Thursday, Nov. 4, at Angel Care Center in Cannon Falls. More than 30 years ago, the land the Schaar family lived on and farmed, became Spring Lake Park. The beautiful area overlooks the Mississippi River and Spring Lake.
The young people did their part and the community responded again this past week. Five separate food drive collections helped to restock the Hastings Family Service food shelf for this upcoming holiday season. A total of 8,452 pounds of food and $2,255 in cash donations were presented to Hastings Family Service Monday afternoon. Hastings Family Service Executive Director Chris Koop praised the generosity of the of the community for its giving spirit. "Every ounce of the food will go back to help people in our community this holiday season," she said.