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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The effects of the state government shutdown have been, for the most part, subtle here in Hastings. But legislative gridlock has forced at least one local organization to close its doors temporarily. The Lewis House in Hastings is part of 360 Communities and offers a safe haven for women and children who experience domestic violence. The facility provides immediate needs as well as emotional support, resources and legal advocacy to more than 900 women and children each year. As of July 1, the Hastings location has been closed.
Last week, Hastings' newest restaurant, Me and Julio, had planned on opening its doors to the public this weekend. They even got a day of employee training done. But because of the state government shutdown, the restaurant has been forced to adjust those plans. Me and Julio now plans to open Monday, Aug. 1, as long as the state is up and running by then. Construction and mechanical work has continued over the past weeks, but the restaurant can't have food or alcohol into the building until it passes its electrical inspection.
Dr. Kevin Tri, DDS, had never gone on a mission trip before. But when he heard about an opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic for five days with 18 other dental surgeons from across the country, he knew it was a trip he wanted to take. "It was the right time for me," he said. Tri was attending a mini residency on implant and reconstructive bone surgeries on the east coast when the dentistry mission trip became available. He made the trip the week of Memorial Day. The Dominican Republic is located southeast of Florida in the Caribbean Sea. It shares a border with Haiti.
It's not easy to find an area of untouched land these days, especially so close to the metro. Before Europeans settled in Dakota County, the majority of the land here was covered in prairie. Today there are only small bits of that prairie left intact; of those areas, only pieces are currently protected. The largest section of protected prairie is located just southeast of Hastings, and it just got a lot bigger. A scientific and natural area (SNA) is state-owned land that is managed in a way that protects existing native plant and animal species located there.
After about two and a half years of meetings, collaboration and goal setting, the Mississippi Makeover Project has finalized its implementation plan for revitalizing Spring Lake, the Lower Vermillion River and pool three of the Mississippi River. The plan was finalized at the end of June and is the result of the project's first phase. The Mississippi Makeover Project is a part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies being done on Lake Pepin and the Lower Vermillion River.
New play equipment at Cari and Westwood parks is slated for purchase. The Hastings City Council approved the purchase agreement with Webber Recreation for the two structures at its meeting Tuesday evening. The structure for Cari Park includes a security measure that the Parks and Recreation Commission hopes will deter vandalism. Residents around the park requested security there. For the past several weeks, one such measure has been a topic of discussion that reached the national level.
As of July 1, people prone to locking their keys in their cars won't be able to have a police officer open their doors for them anymore.
A nationwide warrant for arrest has been issued for a Hastings woman, Wendi Bartell Dimm, 44. Bartell Dimm was charged last Thursday, June 23, with depriving another of parental or custodial rights, a felony. A court order has been issued to take Bartell Dimm's 5-year-old son, Timber, into custody. On June 5, Timber's father was scheduled to pick up the boy from school, according to the custody agreement with Bartell Dimm, explained Hastings Chief of Police Paul Schnell. The father, who does not live in Minnesota, was supposed to have custody of Timber for the summer.
The Hastings City Council approved the site plan for a new office building at the southwest corner of Fourth and Sibley streets Monday. The 3,800-square-foot building is being built by Stotko Speedling Construction for Carlson Capital Management, a wealth management advisory firm currently located just north of Hastings, along Margo Avenue. The Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority had owned the lot since 2003, when it purchased the land and razed a blighted house there.
There aren't many people who have heard of Dravet (dra-VEY) Syndrome. It's a severe form of epilepsy that starts when a child is less than a year old. It's also incredibly rare. According to Dravet.org, there are only 7,000 to 14,000 people in the U.S. with Dravet. Alex and Patty Dohman got a crash course in the syndrome about a year and a half ago when their second child, Clover, started having seizures. We met them about a year ago, when Clover was 13 months, and her parents were looking to the community for support in the form of a fundraiser.