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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Trained tax assistants through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program are almost ready to offer their help through the Hastings Senior Center. This program is for seniors and low-income individuals who have basic tax returns. Appointments can be made starting Wednesday, Jan. 25, by calling 651-480-7689. Appointments begin Feb. 1 at the Tilden Community Center, 310 River St. Appointments can be made Mondays from 3-6:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Vince O'Brien has stepped down from his position as chairman of the Hastings School Board in the middle of his third term. Vice chair Lisa Hedin was voted in to replace O'Brien as chairwoman. O'Brien withdrew from his position on the board in order to pursue a new position out of state. He will be the executive director at the Colorado Continuing Legal Education. The opportunity just sort of fell into his lap, O'Brien said.
Three generations of pilots were aboard the Dec. 28 Delta flight from Minneapolis to Portland and back to celebrate the career of one Hastings pilot. Steve Weber, a Hastings native, piloted his last flight before retiring with some special guests on board. Weber's 93-year-old father Wally, a former pilot, and and his 26-year-old son, Brian, who is also a pilot, were on the flight along with some other immediate family members.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations on accountability, state plans and data reporting for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. Minnesota will submit their plan for the implementation of ESSA in September 2017. ESSA is the newest version of the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It also replaces the No Child Left Behind Act that was enacted in 2002. ESSA focuses on the goal of preparing all students for success in college and careers.
Kathy Gleich, religion teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, was chosen as Educator of the Year by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. According to the Chamber, Gleich was chosen for many reasons, but "one of her strongest qualities is the ability to lead by example, teaching respect to her students by showing respect for them." In addition to teaching religion, Gleich acts as the technology coordinator for the school and promotes the importance of community service to her students. Gleich said she was overwhelmed and humbled by the recognition by the Chamber.
Cindy Thury-Smith was chosen as the 2016 Volunteer of the Year by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. For the past 15 years, Thury-Smith has been updating records, rebinding city council books for future historians, providing tours of City Hall and more as the curator of the Hastings Pioneer Room. When the city decided to cut the position in 2012 due to budget restraints, she decided to continue her work there as a volunteer. According to the Chamber, Thury-Smith is a true historian at heart.
About 120 local students will go to Minneapolis and St. Paul Jan. 5-8 to serve as legislators, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, cabinet members and media representatives for the Model Assembly conference. The Model Assembly is a simulation of Minnesota state government in which approximately 1,600 students in grades 8-12 throughout the state take part. Model Assembly is a program offered by the YMCA Youth in Government.
Third-graders at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton recently experienced a lesson in geography through a program called Mystery Skype. “Mystery Skype is an education game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype,” said Clara Schultz, third-grade teacher at SEAS. Schultz first learned about Mystery Skype when she attended a Technology Integration Workshop sponsored by Catholic Schools Center of Excellence and Tierney Brothers. The goal of the interactive learning game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking yes or no questions.
Katy Hertel grew up on Ridgewood Court and now has very fond memories of the neighborhood. "We had this really awesome tight knit group of families," Hertel said. The 1997 Hastings High School graduate moved to California about five years ago. She still wanted to see the neighbors and catch up when she returned for Christmas, but everyone was so busy, especially during the holiday, that there wasn't much time. She came up with the next best thing. "Let's just go out in Minnesota style," Hertel thought.
A new auto repair shop will be opening at the start of the new year. Hastings local, Holt Hakseth, said Tri-County Auto Care LLC will be open for business Jan. 1. Hakseth, a 2011 graduate of Hastings High School, said Tri-County Auto Care will be a part-time business for him on evenings and weekends. He has a degree in automotive technology from Dakota County Technical College and is currently working at V&L Repair, a shop for heavy equipment repairs, during regular work hours.