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 death of longtime Hastings resident John Zgoda shocked many of those who knew and worked with him. His battle with esophageal cancer began just last May and claimed his life Jan. 10. John Zgoda was born in Hendricks, Minn., and came to Hastings when he was just 6 months old. He was probably most widely known as a city employee. He first joined the ranks of city staff in 1977 as a part-time meter reader, said Director of Public Works Tom Montgomery. He moved into a full time position with the utility department after that and continued to work his way up through the ranks.
People across the country are waiting to hear news of an American couple from White Bear Lake that were on board a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, Italy, Jan. 13. A Hastings woman is among them. Sara Heil, the daughter of Gerald and Barbara Ann Heil, is in Italy with at least one other family member, waiting at the scene of the shipwreck for divers to recover those who remain missing. According to the U.S. Embassy to Italy, there were 120 Americans on the ship, the Costa Concordia.
In 2010, Hastings experienced one of its most painful years for development. There were only four residential building permits given out that year. The good news is that in 2011, the numbers are up. The city gave out 25 residential permits last year, 20 of which were for new single family homes. "Growth is occurring," said Community Development Director John Hinzman.
For Veteran's Day last November, a group of third-grade students at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School sent letters to Minnesota soldiers serving in the Army in Kuwait. They didn't get any letters back, but Monday, Jan. 9, they got an even better reply. Sgt. 1st Class Robb Lutz was one of the soldiers who received letters from the students. He got a 17-day leave from duty and flew home to visit his family.
Police responded to a minor crash at the intersection of Vermillion and 15th streets at 2:47 p.m. Dec. 26. While stopped at a red light on eastbound 15th Street, a Cannon Falls woman was rear-ended by Thomas O'Brien, 20, Hastings. Damage was limited to two small scratches on Schuette's vehicle. Firefighters responded to a report of a cooking fire in a multi-family dwelling in the 400 block of Ramsey Street at 1:45 p.m. Dec. 27.
One of Hastings' new storefronts is all about hands - handmade specialty soaps and home décor, handcrafted jewelry, handmade tutus for kids - and to top it all off, massage therapy. Chrysalis, located at 110 E. Second St. in downtown Hastings, isn't Barb Odman's first venture into business, but it is her first formal storefront. For the past two years, she's operated her massage business, Barb's Therapeutic Massage, out of the Riviera building along Sibley Street.
It began as a simple call for help. But what started as a situation with an escaped dog turned into a battle between a local animal rescue group and one of its former supporters that has resulted in accusations of theft against the man who captured two of the rescue's dogs. The story started in late October. Braveheart Rescue south of Hastings had taken in a pair of white huskies, Lacy and Cagney, knowing the animals were in need of special attention and socialization before they would be able to go into someone's home.
On Christmas Day, when families are gathering in their homes and sharing the joy of the holidays, a handful of men and women will be out on the streets, driving around the city and county alone. They are Hastings police officers and Dakota County deputies, giving up the chance to spend one of the most family-oriented holidays with those they love to protect the public. "They do, literally, sacrifice their time to keep the city and the county safe," said Cindy Galland. "And a lot of times it is a thankless job." Cindy Galland knows just how much an officer does give up.
If you ask Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein, Hastings residents have a choice when it comes to the coldest season. You can either embrace winter or run from it, and running won't get you very far. He intends to embrace it. That's one reason he's excited to see three free local outdoor ice rinks open for the winter. "I hope our residents are looking forward to outdoor skating as I am," he said. After two weeks of ideal rink freezing temperatures, Bernstein had hoped to have the rinks open to the public Dec.
George Vandersluis had a date that morning. He was a U.S. Marine corporal serving on the U.S.S. Honolulu, a flagship for Admiral Kimmel before Kimmel transferred off. It was a Sunday morning, and the only thing on Vandersluis's mind was getting through his morning duty so he could go play tennis with his date. Vandersluis was part of the color guard, and he had to raise the flag over the ship for the day. But the minute that was done, he said, he was going to be off the ship.