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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.
It is a natural fit, Rep. Denny McNamara, Republican, Hastings, said. This past week, Speaker of the House Elect Kurt Zellers named McNamara as chairman of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. The appointment is effective with the start of the 2011 Legislature in January. Last month, McNamara had been appointed chairman of the House State Government Finance Committee. He now steps down from that position. "This is a committee I am quite familiar with, having served on it each of my eight years in the Minnesota House," said McNamara.
The outdoor skating rinks in Hastings will open for the season Monday, Dec. 13. Weather permitting, the rinks will be closed Feb. 21. The City of Hastings Parks and Recreation Department will operate and maintain warming houses for three recreational skating rinks and three hockey rinks. The rinks are free for the general public to use during posted days and times. Two additional rinks are flooded and maintained, but they will not have open warming houses. The participating rinks are Wallin Park, Isabel Park (includes the oval), Wilson Park, Lions Park and Pioneer Park.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has fined a Hastings couple $100,000 for their part in an alleged mortgage fraud scheme dating back to 2005. According to the department, Kristina Marie Birt of Hastings bought eight homes between 2005 and 2006. The homes were allegedly purchased as investment properties with the intent of flipping them for a profit. Birt bought the homes, which were routinely for sale-by-owner or private sales, at substantially higher amounts than the listing price to allow for cash back at or after the closing.
DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton continues to lead the state-wide voting for the state's highest-elected position - even after the recount - but in Dakota County, it is a different story. It was that way on Election Day, Nov. 2, and continues that way after the votes were recounted last week. Republican Tom Emmer carried Dakota County Nov.
Dakota County District Judge Joseph Carter sentenced Michael Frederick Schmidt, 41, Hastings, to a sentence of 27 years, 18 of which must be served in prison.
Another holiday tradition will return to Hastings at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, when the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stops at the depot on East Second Street. As in previous years, the stop offers entertainment and an opportunity to raise food and funds for the food shelf at Hastings Family Service. Before the brightly-decorated train arrives, there will be some other activities at the depot. All are invited. A sing-along with Kelly Casey-Spavin from Entertainment Shows starts at 3:30 p.m.
After two and one-half 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.