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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There are lots of changes happening at the former Regency Inn and Suites in south Hastings, and a new face behind it. Champak Bhakta is the new manager, and part owner of Anadi Inc., the Cottage Grove corporation that bought the 50-room hotel. He has been working in the hospitality business about 30 years. Bhakta took over the hotel March 2 and is getting started on a series of transformations he hopes will reverse the site's reputation. First is the name.
For years, Minnesotans and politicians have been debating whether or not to allow racinos in the state. There have been several arguments on both sides of the matter, but one Hastings man says that without one, his business will either die or have to move out of the state. Dave Astar owns Astar Thoroughbreds, a thoroughbred farm just north of Hastings. After working for United Health Group and moving all over the country, he and his wife Debbie decided to settle in Minnesota, at least until their children graduated high school.
It's been a rough season for the Hastings girls basketball team, and the end of the regular season didn't change any of that. The Raiders lost their final regular season game against Forest Lake 74-36, leaving them 0-18 in the Suburban East Conference. "We didn't play very well," said head coach Mike Harp. "Their size gave us a lot of problems and we weren't able to defend real well." Offensively, the girls were aggressive. They got a lot of shots off but only shot 22 percent. "We pushed the action," Harp said.
Installing a rain garden hadn't been a priority for Hastings residents Andy and Amy Tix. In fact, they'd never really considered putting one in their yard until a friend of theirs, Mike Isensee of the Dakota County Soil and Water Conversation District, suggested they consider one in their landscaping project. They attended the Blue Thumb - Planting for Clean Water program to learn more about it, and after attending a series of workshops, they got to sit down with a landscaper who helped draw up plans for their specific property based on aerial photos they brought with them.
All his life, Loren Flom wanted to play music, but he didn't know how to read the notes. He loves listening to music, but it seemed that performing it would be out of his reach. "I can't play anything except the radio," he said. Every June, Flom and his wife Doris take a trip to Branson, Mo. Three years ago he found a shop that builds and sells mountain dulcimers. The mountain dulcimer is a folk string instrument developed in the Ozarks by people who wanted a stringed instrument that sounded like a bagpipe.
Anthony Mancheski, a 21-year-old Maplewood man, was sentenced Friday after being charged with criminal vehicular homicide, a felony, for a fatal crash he caused just north of the Highway 61 bridge in Hastings May 3, 2010. Judge Mary Hannon placed Mancheski on probation for 10 years and ordered him to spend one year in the Washington County Jail. The four-vehicle crash resulted in the death of Brian Jacobson, a 24-year-old Lake City man and a member of the Army National Guard.
Last Thursday was all about setting priorities for the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority. Specifically, it was about setting priorities regarding the former Hudson Manufacturing building along West Second Street. One point was made clear: HEDRA wants to keep the building, not demolish it. "I feel pretty strongly about that," said chairman Dennis Peine. "I think we should definitely be looking at reuse." Beyond that, HEDRA had to nail down what it wanted to see happen at the site in 2012.
It wasn't the sort of skiing accident Dani Truax ever expected to have. A junior at Hastings High School, she has been skiing on the Welch Village Developmental ski team since she was in third grade. On Feb. 11, she was with her team at the Coffee Mill Ski Area in Wabasha for a competition. Her accident didn't happen on the slopes, though.
A new restaurant is getting ready to move into part of the vacant space at Midtown Center, in what used to be the Thrifty White drug store. Tokyo Grill, a Japanese restaurant, has signed a lease with Mid-America Real Estate Group, which is managing the property. The restaurant would not occupy the entire space available there. The lease gives Tokyo Grill 3,900 square feet adjacent to the Salvation Army, said Jesseka Doherty of Mid-America Real Estate Group.
For more than 35 years, Hastings has had a Hallmark store. Next month, it is expected to close its doors. Ric Claydon first opened the store in Westview Center in 1976. "We were building a chain of stores, expanding our business," Claydon said. He had two other stores, one in Red Wing and one in Cottage Grove, and the Hastings location fit right in line with the others. The shopping mall was just being built then too, and Hallmark prefers to locate in shopping centers, he explained. Back then, Westview had the list of typical shopping center tenants, Claydon said.