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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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.
It's not always easy for Krista Allgor to talk about what she's seen in Cambodia. Families that can't afford food. Children working in factories to help pay their parents' debts. Teachers asking for bribes just so they can support themselves.
It looks like it will be a while yet before the former Hudson building in downtown Hastings is redeveloped. Last Thursday, the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority, which owns the building, reviewed three redevelopment concept plans for the building, but none of them were particularly attractive to commissioners present. Only Pam Holzem, Ron Toppin and Anthony Alongi were at the meeting.
In March of 1989, Dave Osberg took a new job. He had been working in St. James when the city administrator position in Hastings opened up. City Hall had a much different dynamic back then. There was significant unrest in the council prior to Osberg's hiring, and it continued in some measure into the first part of his career here. Anyone who came into his position would have had a tough time, Osberg said. "All the sudden, it's 24 years later.
In early March, an overnight snowstorm meant an unpleasant surprise for Hastings resident Jane Snyder. Weather reports had been predicting snow, so Snyder watched the news to see if there were going to be any school closings or snow emergencies. Seeing none, she figured she would just have to get up early to clear the vehicle off before going to work. Snyder had parked her work vehicle on the street for the night, knowing she would be leaving at 6:30 a.m., before plows typically get to her street.
A new initiative to help support Hastings youth is under way. Helping Kids Succeed - The Hastings Way is a project aimed at creating a web of support for youth, helping them be more successful in their lives and education.
A new program at Regina Medical Center is working to help improve Hastings residents' general health. A Healthier Hastings 4 All (AH-HA) will offer health assessments, screenings and follow-ups; community health challenges, activities and events; promotion and support of community health efforts; and a community health needs assessment. AH-HA is part of a larger health initiative spread across Minnesota and western Wisconsin that launched last year.
The Hastings City Council agreed with the administrative committee's recommendation to seek applicants for the soon-to-be-vacant city administrator position. The committee met last week and voted 2-1 to post a notice of the vacancy, rather than appointing assistant city administrator Melanie Mesko Lee. The recommendation was approved unanimously by the full council Monday evening. The council's approval came with strong encouragement to Mesko Lee to submit a letter of interest and resume for the position.