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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Lance Klapak, owner of Wildside Graphix in Hastings, is starting a new business venture. He recently opened a new bait shop in the lower level of his building. Klapak has owned Wildside Graphix for 22 years. An avid outdoorsman who fishes and hunts "just about everything," he said, he started thinking about opening a bait shop last year, when Hastings' last shop, Killroy's Sk8 and Bait, closed. "It came out of necessity," he said of his store. Without a local bait shop, anglers in Hastings have had to go to Prescott, Wis., for any live bait.
Work is officially under way for the new addition to Las Margaritas. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday morning to commemorate the event. The addition will more than double the restaurant's existing space, bringing its total capacity to 186. It will include about 2,000 square feet of indoor seating with a full bar and another 800 square feet of exterior patio dining space. The addition will keep with the existing Spanish-inspired style and color.
Melanie Mesko Lee is officially Hastings' new city administrator. She was voted into the position at the council meeting Monday evening. Local government work is something Mesko Lee has wanted to do since she was young, she said. She got her bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration and right after college took an internship at the state senate. A second internship brought her to the City of Oak Park Heights, and that turned into a two-year position.
Hastings firefighter/paramedics rescued a teenage boy from the Vermillion River Saturday evening, shortly before 8 p.m. "When we found him, he was in the river down by the Ramsey Mill ruins," said Fire and EMS Director Mike Schutt. Responders are unsure how, exactly, the teen got into the river in the first place because of conflicting reports. He was with a group of friends, some of whom had also been in the water but were able to get out on their own. Responders used special water rescue suits that allowed them to go into the treacherous moving water.
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.