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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Whenever Jeff Welle drives over the Highway 61 bridge in Hastings, he finds himself looking at an empty piece of land right along the river at the east end of downtown and thinking it would be the perfect spot for a senior housing cooperative. Welle is the housing manager at Greenhouse Village in Roseville as well as a developer for Greenhouse Village. The company is definitely interested in developing the block, Welle said, but needs to know the community would be willing to support it if they decide to go forward. "We're right at that point where we know the feasibility is good," he said.
Come this spring, there will be some highly visible activity happening at Valley Chevrolet. The dealership will undergo a major renovation, replacing its entire front and updating the interior with state-of-the-art equipment. The facelift is being done because of a General Motors directive to make all Chevrolet dealerships uniform in appearance, explained Valley Chevrolet General Manager Tom Ward. "So it's recognized by everyone who sees it," he said. It will definitely be a noticeable change.
It took a little longer than expected, but Carlson Capital Management has its new office. The 3,815-square-foot building, located at 118 E. Fourth St. across from Hastings City Hall, opened Dec. 2. CCM is a wealth management firm that works with clients to put together a complete financial plan that integrates investment, estate, tax, retirement and cash flow, risk management and philanthropy planning. Each client gets a plan tailored to his or her individual needs and goals. Jeff Carlson, co-founder and principal of the company, said he's wanted to build on this particular site since 2003.
More passengers have been recovered from the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which sank off the coast of Tuscany, Italy, earlier this month, but the parents of Hastings resident Sara Heil are still among the missing. The Heil family posted an update Jan. 25 on the search on their blog, heilfamilyupdate.com , describing the events as they wait. The family is watching the search first-hand from Italy. "As the days come and go we find this to be such an extreme test of our patience," the family wrote.
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.