Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. 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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On a wall calendar inside Judge's Appliance, there's a note written in the upper left corner. It's a short note, mostly numbers. Aug. 26, 2010, 1:26 p.m., it reads. The note marks a memorable Thursday afternoon for owner Tom Judge. It was at that exact time he called the Hastings Fire Department to his store along 33rd Street to extinguish a fire that was eating away his storefront and choking the rest of his building with smoke. By the time the fire had been extinguished, the place was a mess.
Is Hastings a great place to live? The people of Hastings have spoken, and the answer is a resounding yes. In a survey conducted of 400 randomly selected Hastings households, residents rated city government, services, safety and parks and recreation. Overall, responses were largely positive. "Your ratings are consistently top of the range," said Bill Morris of Decision Resources, Inc., the company that conducted the survey for the city. What do people like most about Hastings?
It's taken a good portion of the year to move a new park and ride lot in downtown Hastings into the action stage, but it's finally happening. Community Development Director John Hinzman told the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority last Thursday that the easements needed to move ahead with the project have been acquired from CP Rail. Design work should begin this year yet, with construction to be done early in 2012. The lot will be located in the south two-thirds of the empty block between Second and Third streets and east of Tyler Street.
An effort to move a part of the Hastings trail system off of County Road 46/47 is now under way. City staff are working to acquire the necessary easements to build a trail along the Vermillion River between 31st Street and Pleasant Drive.
If you're looking for a book, the Pleasant Hill Library might be the first place you go. This weekend, it's also the place to go if you're looking to buy a book. The Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library will be hosting a book sale Friday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thirty-five years, seven months, zero days. That's how long Paul Seleski has worked for the Hastings Fire Department. When he walks out the door at the end of his shift today, July 28, his career as a firefighter will officially be complete. He turned in his notice of retirement earlier this month. Seleski remembers the day he first considered joining the fire department. It was 1975, and he was a senior in high school, making a delivery for Spiral Pizza to the home of his then-girlfriend.
At the age of 9, Cindy Hood of Hastings, now 54, underwent her first eye surgery. It was a cornea transplant in her right eye, and it was supposed to help her see. Hood was born with Aniridia, a rare genetic defect that results in the absence or partial absence of the iris, the colored part of the eye around the pupil. People with Aniridia can also develop other eye problems, however, and Hood did. She had cataracts, and by the time she was 16 years old, she had developed glaucoma.
They've been doing it in Spain since about 1945. Every August, tens of thousands of people flock to the town of Buñol to chuck tomatoes at each other. This weekend, July 31, the tradition is starting in Minnesota. Kevin Walker is one of five organizers of the Midwest Tomato Fest. Two of the other organizers had been in India on a service trip when a girl there asked them if they'd ever heard of La Tomatina, the tomato festival in Spain. When they looked it up and found out what it was about, they had the idea to bring it back to their home state. "We wanted to keep it local," Walker said.
Five business owners in the Hastings Industrial Park may have to split the cost of reseeding some of the ditches along Spiral Boulevard. When the road was reconstructed in 2009, the city opted to forego curbs and gutters and instead let stormwater runoff flow into the ditches along the sides of Spiral Boulevard, Industrial Court and half of Millard Avenue. In order to better manage runoff and stop pollutants, the ditches were seeded with native prairie grasses and wildflowers that would hold the soil in place and help filter the water before it reached the rivers.
An SUV went off County Road 46/47 Tuesday afternoon and rolled in the ditch near Riverwood Drive, causing considerable damage to the vehicle but leaving the driver unharmed. No other vehicles were involved in the crash, and there were no passengers. The crash was reported at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26. The vehicle was traveling westbound on CR 46/47 and went off the north side of the road. Police at the scene weren't sure what caused the driver, a minor-aged female, to lose control of the vehicle.