Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.
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Schoolhouse Scoop is now dishing out dessert in Cannon Falls. Hastings' Schoolhouse Scoop expanded this summer with the opening of the new location on July 1. "I feel like every small town needs to have a hard-scooped ice cream parlor," said Amy VanZee, owner of Schoolhouse Scoop. Ice cream has always been nostalgic for VanZee, who has memories of growing up in St. Paul and making frequent visits to the Dari-ette, which also happened to be where she got her first job.
Hastings' Health Solutions Center held its third-annual Kids' Day event raising $2,500 for the six local elementary schools. The event was held over two days. The first day featured a dunk tank, $5 haircuts, a raffle for prizes donated from local businesses and pizza and water for purchase. There was also a bounce house, face painter, police officer and ambulance from the Hastings Fire Department. The event also focused on health by featuring health stations that taught kids exercises. Parents and kids learned how to recognize emotions and kids received spinal screenings.
Something didn't look right to Jerry Harrington when he was on his way out of town for the weekend with his girlfriend, Melanie Olson. The couple was driving down Vermillion Street when Harrington noticed a vehicle parked in a parking lot near the old Mill. A woman's leg was sticking out of the vehicle. Olson told him to turn around and go back just to check it out. Olson hopped out of the car and went over to check on the woman. She immediately yelled back to Harrington to call 911. "It looked really bad, she was cold to the touch," Olson said.
Caturia Smidt Funeral Home will move to a new location in 2018. The funeral home plans to take possession of the Knights of Columbus Hall, 3075 Vermillion St., at the end of December in order to begin construction on a new facility. The Knights of Columbus Hall will be torn down in 2018 to make room for the new 12,000-square-foot facility. It will have a chapel, ample off street parking, a reception space and a crematorium.
A power outage early this morning at the Dakota County Government Center initially caused court proceedings to be cancelled. The power was restored by 10:30 a.m. and courts’ in-custody will resume at 11 a.m. All other court activities will resume at noon.
Hurricane Harvey's destructive toll on the Houston area and 33 Texas counties hit too close to home for Joshua Leone. Leone, the general manager at the Green Mill in Hastings, spent 32 years in Houston before moving to Minnesota in February. Leone still has a home that was built only two years ago in Conroe, Texas. It was completely flooded with 2 to 3 feet of water on Aug. 24 during the storms from Harvey. He arrived back in Houston on Aug. 28 to deal with the aftermath. He and his wife, Elizabeth, drove 23 hours straight until they arrived in the area.
Hastings Middle School held their first Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports assembly of the year on Sept. 6. Students walked into the assembly with the eighth-grade jazz band playing music. The first assembly had the theme of 'The Raider Way' in which students learned about what the words safety, responsible and respectful mean at HMS.
A parade of pigs joined United Way of Hastings at its kickoff event before the first home Raider football game Aug. 31. No, not live pigs, but they were life-size statues. The United Way of Hastings began a financial empowerment campaign as part of its theme of Building a Better Hastings. The five pigs, all decorated in a way that represents their sponsors, will be displayed around town. Mari Mellick, the executive director of United Way of Hastings, said that the pigs bring attention to financial empowerment and act as a visibility piece for that topic.
A Hastings man was arrested following a standoff with police Saturday, Sept. 9. Warren Kocurek, 57, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault after Hastings police responded to the 2300 block of Pine Street at 12:04 p.m. for a report of a domestic disturbance. According to police, a female victim escaped the address after being threatened with a handgun. The woman told officers that there was a male in the residence with a potential mental health crisis.
Hastings Fire and EMS Director Mike Schutt is on paid administrative leave, according to the city. Schutt was placed on paid leave Wednesday, Aug. 30, City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee confirmed. There is an ongoing city investigation while Schutt is on leave. John Townsend, assistant fire and EMS director, is taking over fire chief responsibilities during Schutt's absence.