Katrina Styx started working at the Hastings Star Gazette 2010 as a reporter. She became the editor in 2016. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
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Down in the Ozarks, Amanda Neuharth's grandmother is practically a living legend. Violet Hensley, now 96 years old, has been nicknamed the "Whittling Fiddler," the "Stradivarius of the Ozarks," and the "Fiddle Maker," and with good reason. Hensley builds fiddles by hand, using techniques taught her by her father and some of the simplest of tools. She's made 74 fiddles and still does some work on them today.
Hastings' building official, Tom Bakken, looks forward to winter every year. An avid skier, he spends much of his free time on the slopes when they're open. This year, he set himself a goal: ski 58 times - once for every year he's been alive. He didn't start the 2012-2013 winter season with a goal in mind. But as he got going, he decided he'd like to make it out at least 50 times this year. Last year he downhill skied 43 days.
In 2002, the Hastings community joined together to pay tribute to the life of Nick Clare. Clare, a Hastings native, was a senior at Montana State University in Bozeman when he lost his life in a car accident. Following his death, his family and friends organized the first annual Nick Clare Memorial Run.
Next weekend, Hastings High School students will put on a show that's very different from ones they've done in the past. This year's spring musical is "Once Upon a Mattress." More than 35 students are involved in the cast, technical crew and orchestra. The musical, which features music by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer, is based on the classic fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea," only it's not quite so pretty.
A lot can change in 100 years. The Hastings Cooperative Creamery Association, which last week celebrated its 100th anniversary, has seen several changes of its own, but one thing has remained at its core. "We seek to benefit our farmers," said Dave Zwart, the plant manager. The co-op is a milk processing and bottling operation that is owned by the farmers who send their milk there. Currently, there are 105 owners, or patrons, as they're called. Between them, there are about 8,000 cows.
Hastings High School athlete Hailey Lundquist is this year's Athena Award winner. The Athena Award recognizes female athletes for their athletic accomplishments. Winners across the St. Paul metro area, including Lundquist, were recognized at an awards program April 17. Lundquist is a three-sport athlete. She plays softball, tennis and hockey. In softball, her accomplishments include: three-time letter winner, All State 2012, All Conference 2011 and 2012, All Metro team 2011 and 2012, All Section 2011 and 2012, Team Offensive MVP 2012, Team Defensive MVP 2012 and team captain in 2013.
Hastings High School saw 42 students welcomed into the National Honor Society April 1. The induction ceremony marked the beginning of a year of service for the new members. The National Honor Society is an organization that recognizes students for excellence in scholarship, leadership, service and character. But more than anything, it's a service organization, said Kayla Brown, a senior NHS member and one of this year's officers. Hastings students this year have to do 60 hours of community service projects to maintain their membership. HHS students host several projects each year.
When budgets get squeezed, it's inevitable that programs are lost. That's exactly the case in the Hastings school district this year. Bundled in with a number of staff reductions across the district are the elimination of two high school extracurricular programs: cheerleading and the math team. The cuts are a result of reduced school funding due to declining enrollment.
Last year, Hastings High School's top show choir, Riverside Company, made its first appearance at the Show Choir Nationals and placed third. Last weekend, the choir returned to nationals, held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., and did even better. Judges ranked them the second best high school show choir in the nation. Riverside Company qualified for nationals by earning grand champion awards at regional competitions. Grand champions from qualifying events were considered. The HHS choir has been preparing for this performance for months, said director Lin Warren.
Just over 49 years ago, three farmers from Hastings took a risk. They built a ski area on a hill near Afton, opening with just a couple rope tows and 37 skiers on their first day, Dec. 21, 1963. Today, Afton Alps is a successful business that's grown beyond a simple ski hill. There are 18 chair lifts now, 48 trails, four base areas, night skiing and riding, snow tubing and an 18-hole golf course, said Amy Reents, Afton's communications manager and former owner of the resort.