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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On the sidewalks along high school grounds, hundreds of people lined up Sunday afternoon with signs and voices to send a message: Hastings and Minnesota do not tolerate hate. The gathering was a counter-protest organized in response to a press release published by Westboro Baptist Church that designated Hastings High School as one of its picketing locations. WBC, established in 1955 by Pastor Fred Phelps, is a primitive Baptist church in Topeka, Kan., known nationwide for its public protests of homosexuality.
When plans for the new Highway 61 bridge were originally presented, they included a pedestrian and cycling trail to give non-motorized traffic a safe and attractive route across the river. However, the trail simply ended at the north side of the bridge. Since those original plans came out, staff from the City of Hastings, Washington County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation have been working on a new trail plan. Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein presented three concepts to the Parks and Recreation Commission Tuesday evening.
Three cars were broken into at Hastings High School Jan. 28, while, inside, students and parents enjoyed a couple games of Raider basketball. The thefts occurred at about 7:30 p.m., and all three occurred within a short time frame, said Police Chief Paul Schnell. He believed all three vehicles were locked. The perpetrator stole a number of credit cards and then used them around Hastings and St. Paul.
Two Hastings ice sculptors have again proved their skills at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Greg Schmotzer and his teammate, Chris Swarbrick of Hudson, Wis., won the first-place prize in the carnival's multiblock ice sculpture contest. Tom Schiller placed third with his teammates James Nadeau of Waterloo, Iowa, James Quast of Greer, S.C. and Andy Anderson of Inver Grove Heights. First place Schmotzer and Swarbrick's sculpture is titled "Guardians of Enchantment." It depicts three dragons looking up at a hollowed out sphere, sitting on a tribal-tattoo-style base.
Hastings firefighters responded to two fires in less than 24 hours at a set of condominiums along Village Trail. The first, which started about 11 p.m. Wednesday night, left one condo heavily damaged. The fire started in a washer/dryer combination unit and spread into the walls of the building, moving into the attic area, said fire chief Mike Schutt.
It's only been about two years since the Hastings Redevelopment Authority and the Economic Development Commission merged into the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority. But in those two years, the new agency has been busy - and successful in its mission to aid development and redevelopment all across the city. HEDRA combined the goals and functions of both HRA and EDC. HRA focused on downtown redevelopment through rehabilitating buildings and offering loan programs to downtown property owners, explained Community Development Director John Hinzman.
Hastings High School's drama club is about ready to produce its winter play. "The Laramie Project" will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 and 13. Written by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project, "The Laramie Project" takes a step away from traditional theater productions. It's a look at the death of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old who was severely beaten and left for dead, tied to a fence post outside Laramie, Wyo., in 1998.
When Dennis and Joy Lichtsinn started the Smart Ride shuttle service in Hastings four years ago, it was a way to serve their community. Now that they're in need of a little help themselves, the community is stepping up. The Lichtsinns were dealt a heavy blow in November. First Joy had to have surgery to remove a tumor. It wasn't cancerous, and the surgery was successful, but expensive. Then just a couple weeks later, Dennis suffered a severe stroke that wiped out a significant portion of his memory.
A building fire left a home severely damaged along Red Wing Boulevard in Ravenna Township Saturday night. The fire started in a wood-burning fireplace in the home about 15 minutes before midnight. Combustibles left too near the flames contributed to the blaze, said John Townsend, Hastings' assistant fire chief. It went undetected at first because it started in the walls of the house.
William Joseph Boldt, 38, of St. Paul, has been charged with two felony counts in connection with the armed robbery of Hastings' AmericInn Hotel Jan. 20. He has been charged with one count of aggravated robbery in the first degree and one count of aggravated robbery in the first degree, aiding and abetting. Police have identified a second suspect who has not been arrested at this point.