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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At about 6 p.m. Thursday evening, June 14, a hazardous material release forced residents along East 18th Street to take shelter inside their homes for nearly three hours. Magnesium phosphide, a chemical used for fumigation, was released from the ConAgra Mill property. The fire department is still investigating how the chemical came to be released.
Last Friday night, 410 Hastings High School students donned blue caps and gowns to receive their high school diplomas while their family and friends watched from the stands at Todd Field. The seniors weren't the only ones to get recognition. Five teachers officially finished their teaching careers at HHS.
Eighteen dogs are still waiting at Braveheart Rescue for new, permanent homes. In April, the Marshan Township Board told the rescue, which is located in Marshan Township, that because it didn't have a proper rescue permit, it could no longer operate. The township does not have an ordinance to allow rescues, and board members denied Tracy's request that they create one. Board members gave Braveheart owner Brandi Tracy until July 17 to find homes for all the rescue dogs on her property. Tracy has been running the rescue for the past three and a half to four years, she said.
The Hastings Police and Fire departments responded to the 4000 block of Shannon Drive Wednesday evening, June 13, to a structure fire at a single family, split level home. Upon arrival at 10:37 p.m., the attached garage was fully involved and the fire had progressed into the main front entry way, up the stairs and into multiple rooms on the upper level. The fire had self-vented through the windows on the upper level, said Fire and EMS Director Mike Schutt. Crews used the main front entry to gain access to the home and launch an offensive interior attack.
You may have seen them around town lately: bright blue T-shirts with "Team John" across the front and "Mikko" and the number 21 on the back. Team John isn't a sports team; it's a support team, and one that's astonished one Hastings family. Toward the end of February, 5-year-old John "Mikko" Gegen, son of Jon and Shelly Gegen, had to go to the doctor. He had the classic strep throat symptoms, was diagnosed and treated. Just a few weeks later, the symptoms returned, only this time they were accompanied by night sweats.
By July 17, Braveheart Rescue Inc. will have shut its doors as a dog rescue. The rescue, which opened about three years ago just a few miles south of Hastings in Marshan Township, was ordered to close by the Marshan Town Board at its April 17 meeting because owner Brandi Tracy did not have a valid permit. The issue first came before the township board late last year, when two Siberian Huskies got loose from Braveheart.
Ask a Hastings resident why they like living here, and chances are you'll hear something about the small-town feel or strong sense of community. It feels friendly. It feels safe. But one Hastings family knows all too well that Hastings isn't immune to dangers often associated with bigger cities. Kyle Mickle, 24, was walking home from a bar when it happened. He had been at a friend's house earlier in the evening and got dropped off at the bar for a few drinks around midnight Thursday morning, May 17.
It was 1995 when Hastings area resident Bets Thorkelson started noticing how prevalent breast cancer is. Her son was playing hockey that year, and there were four other hockey moms that had been diagnosed. It might be a good idea to have a screening of her own done, she figured. In 2005, Thorkelson was diagnosed with breast cancer. It took a year and a half of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation to control the tumor. It was during her treatment, in 2006, that she decided at the encouragement of her niece to sign up for the Susan G.
It wasn't the prize Hastings resident Steve Foote was hoping to win, but it was a prize that the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department was thrilled to have dropped on its doorstep. The prize Foote won was a $20,000 baseball field improvement project for his city from Chevrolet's "Diamonds and Dreams" program. At first, Director of Parks and Recreation Barry Bernstein was skeptical, but with some research he realized the prize was legitimate.
It's a story of a troubled boy turned killer who holds a profiler hostage at an old farm, and it happened, in part, just outside of Hastings. The story is fictional - part of the plot for a movie titled "Profile of a Killer," a psychological thriller in which the boy challenges the profiler to make him stop committing his crimes. The farm is real. Located a couple miles west of Hastings, it's been in the Volkert family for more than 100 years. It's most recent resident, Herbert Volkert, moved into it in 1942, said his brother, Ferdinand Volkert, who lives in Northfield.