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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Will Hastings will be the first Minnesota city to incorporate Sonic Screen, an audible deterrent that can target teens, into one of its parks? The Hastings Parks and Recreation Commission doesn't have an answer. The technology is relatively new, incorporating a high-frequency noise emitter into the playground structure. The noise can be set to such a frequency that only people in their teens or early 20s can hear. It can also be set so adults can hear it as well. It has been included in a proposal for new play equipment at Cari Park. News of the proposal has been popular.
A farm in the 18000 block of Hogan Avenue was the site of a large fire early Sunday morning. The Hastings Fire Department received the call at 3:38 a.m. June 12. The first crews to arrive at the scene saw heavy smoke and flame in one of the outbuildings, said John Townsend, Hastings' assistant fire chief. The fire was already too hot for firefighters to attack it from inside the structure, so they had to manage the blaze entirely from the outside. An employee at the farm reported the fire. He had been working on a piece of equipment when some fuel ignited, Townsend said.
The Hastings Parks and Recreation Department has attracted considerable attention since it began considering including Sonic Screen, an age targeted device to deter teen loitering, at Cari Park. But not everyone is looking forward to its installation. Sonic Screen technology emits a high-frequency noise that only teens can hear, according to its proponents.
A house fire Sunday afternoon caused substantial damage to a single-story Hastings home at 808 W. 15th St. The fire department received the call at about 5 p.m. The fire was started by a child, said Assistant Fire and EMS Director John Townsend. The 8-year-old was playing with a lighter in his bedroom and ignited some material from his bed. The fire grew from there. The boy alerted his family, and they exited the home.
As of Tuesday morning, the Vermillion River bridge on General Sieben Drive had been closed to allow crews to conduct repairs. There were some "rather significant" bumps in the pavement, said Tom Montgomery, Hastings' director of Public Works. "They've been there for over a year and just gotten progressively worse," he said. Whether caused by the high volume of traffic that crosses the bridge or the weather, Montgomery couldn't say for sure.
As an eighth-grader at Hastings Middle School, Mikayla Zeien was not looking forward to high school. She had been picked on by her classmates enough to disrupt her education, and the prospect of continuing into high school with the same kids was not an appealing one. So she started doing some research on online high schools. A friend of her sister's recommended one called Insight School of Minnesota. "It seemed like a perfect fit," Mikayla said. She's not the only one who thinks so. Attendance at online high schools is growing in Minnesota.
Hastings can't stop Asian carp from spreading upstream, but it, and other sites on the Mississippi River downstream might be sites for alternative technology to deter the invasive fish. In April, a bighead carp - one of four Asian carp species - was caught near Prescott, prompting a new wave of concern for the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers' ecosystems. Of the four species, two pose a threat to local waterways: bighead and silver carp.
Playground vandalism has plagued city parks departments for years. When Hastings' Parks and Recreation Commission heard a proposal for two new playgrounds May 10, it also heard of an innovative new technology called Sonic Screen to deter youth from loitering at playgrounds after the parks close. As people age, they naturally lose the ability to hear certain high frequency levels.
A bill to ban the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana has been approved by both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the State Senate. The Senate approved the bill last Thursday, May 12. Senator Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, announced her intent to introduce the bill to the Senate last December. A companion bill in the House was approved at the end of February. The Senate received the approved House bill and made some changes before taking its final vote.
On May 3, what had been an empty storefront in the little strip mall across from the Salvation Army store opened its doors as a new dry cleaning and laundry business. The new Hastings Clean'n'Press is one of 16 branches in the south metro and owned by Tim Mikel. The company is expanding, Mikel said, and Hastings, with its southern location and high-traffic made it an appealing spot. "There's not a whole lot of southern locations," he said. Mikel has been in the dry cleaning business 24 years, and his is a family business, he said.