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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As a little girl, Ashley Hochhalter of Hastings knew she had a sibling - a little brother - who lived somewhere else. She had met him once, when she was only 3 and he was just a baby. When she was 6, she begged her mother to help her find him, and when the hunt was unsuccessful, she was devastated. Ashley's biological father was a poor match for her mother, and the two split up before Ashley's mother even knew she was pregnant, so Ashley never knew her father growing up.
According to National Weather Service forecasts, the Mississippi River is expected to cross into the major flooding stage about midnight, March 26. As of 6 a.m. March 25, the river was at 13.72 feet. The latest predictions say the river will reach 18.9 feet on March 31. At that height, portions of Lock and Dam Road will be under water, and those who work at the lock and dam will have to use an alternate route to get to work. There are two options available, said lockmaster Mike DeRusha. Primary access will be via the city's paved bike trail over the Lake Rebecca levy.
This Friday, the Dakota United Hawks will play their first games of the adaptive floor hockey State tournament. Both teams have earned the No. 1 seed in the South Division. Dakota United is a program serving athletes with physical or cognitive disabilities that prevent them from playing sports on their schools' conventional teams. Students from schools across the region join to compete against other adaptive teams in the state.
There were plenty of concerns raised by residents around the corner of Highway 61 and County Road 46/47 after Kwik Trip presented its plans for a gas station and convenience store there. Neighbors of the property spoke up at a public hearing last month. Bright lights from the fuel pump canopy were one worry. Another was the noise produced by a two-bay car wash, which was proposed at the north side of the property.
About this time next year, the City of Hampton will be getting started with a major road reconstruction project. Construction will cover less than half a mile of the city's downtown streets, but those streets will be rebuilt entirely - with new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, parking, water and sanitary sewer mains and storm sewers.
Warm weather conditions this week aren't a guarantee of high water levels this spring, but they're not easing fears of bad flooding either. "It's not an ideal condition," said Hastings Public Works Director Tom Montgomery. The reason it's not ideal is that snow and ice has been melting continuously, rather than intermittently. "Ideally we'd have freezing overnight, or we'd have a period of freezing to slow things down," he said. How the warm-up will affect flood levels will depend on what sort of weather comes next.
Cities scrutinize their development trends every year regardless of the economy, but the nation's most recent recession has had some places eyeing development even more closely, as it can serve as an indicator that things are starting to turn around. In Hastings, the city council heard its annual community development report at its meeting Monday.
In 2001, the Mississippi River reached a flood stage of about 22 feet. In 1997, it crested just nine inches lower. This year, National Weather Service predictions are already preparing Hastings for even higher waters. As of Monday, flood forecasts estimated a 50 percent chance that the river would crest at 24.5 feet. If it does, it would be the second-highest flood on record in Hastings, second only to the historic 1965 flood, which crested at 25.9 feet.
As of March 18, roughly 50 employees at Smead Manufacturing's Hastings location will be out of work. The layoffs are a direct result of high unemployment, which has adversely affected Smead's sales. "It's no secret that unemployment remains exceedingly high," said Smead's vice president of marketing, Jim Riesterer. Smead makes products to help people stay organized - items that often find primary use in businesses. "Our level of sales is very much tied to the unemployment rate, as well as the overall economy," Riesterer said. Another factor is the level of competition Smead faces.
Having his knee ruined may have just been the best thing to happen to Jake Kranz. He had been the captain of the football team at Hastings High School and could have played Division I or Division II college football if he had wanted to leave Minnesota. Instead, he decided to go to St. Cloud State University after graduating from HHS in 2006. The first year on the team there he was ineligible to play - a common practice for first-year players, called redshirting.