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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April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Community members in Hastings volunteer with several organizations. The Star Gazette took some time to talk to local volunteers with Allina Health Hospice and Palliative Care. Judy Plucker, volunteer coordinator with Allina Health Hospice and Palliative Care, said they currently have 350 volunteers and about 640 patients. "The family is always grateful when they can get respite," Plucker said.
In addition to working full time as a sergeant with the Hastings Police Department, James Galland has been working one or two shifts with the Metro Transit police. He was recently honored for his part-time service with Metro Transit by receiving the Timothy Bowe Memorial Award. Timothy Bowe was a Minnesota State Trooper who worked part-time for Metro Transit. He was killed in the line of duty while assisting Chisago County deputies in 1997.
The public safety committee reached a consensus during their second meeting regarding a predatory offender ordinance that will be recommended to Hastings City Council. City Council members Lori Braucks, Lisa Leifeld and Tina Folch, City Attorney Dan Fluegel, City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee, and Chief of Police Bryan Schafer were in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the drafted ordinance, idea of a retroactivity, the impact of various "safety zone" ranges, listen to public comment, and discuss a recommendation to bring forward to City Council.
Dakota County Board Chairman Mike Slavik had a positive outlook in his April 5 State of the County address at Royal Cliff Conference Center. Dakota County is a great place to live, work and play, Slavik said. In a residential survey conducted by the county in 2016, 95 percent of residents rated having a high quality of life in Dakota County. Slavik said the results of the survey reinforced the work that the county is doing.
Regina Hospital has recently opened its newly remodeled Medical Imaging Department, a $6.4 million project. The complete remodel of the unit has included the upgrade or replacement of three major diagnostic tools including the magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography and radiographic/flouroscopy equipment. John Tonsager, director of clinical and support services at Regina Hospital, said that efficiency is something they are gaining with the remodeled department.
Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding a proposed speed limit increase on Highway 316 in Hastings. MnDOT has agreed to not raise the speed limit in the area until after a safety study has been completed. "I appreciate that MnDOT was willing to continue meeting and talking about this and the involvement of the city as well ... I think we got to a resolution where everybody wins," Jurgens said.
The Dakota County Sheriff's Office purchased two drones last summer. Chris Melton, a sergeant at the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, said the county is on the cutting edge of new technology with the more than $17,000 purchase. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The sheriff's office became certified through the FAA in January 2017. Nine people at the sheriff's office are certified to fly the drone. Every time it is flown, it needs to be manned by two people — the pilot and a visual observer.
What do you get when you put Mexican and Italian together? According to Jennifer and Bernardo Melecio, the answer to that question is Lock and Dam Eatery. The owners of Vista Rio, located at 101 E. Second St. in downtown Hastings, will be redecorating, revamping their menu and putting up a new sign outside the building to open as Lock and Dam Eatery in mid-April. "With the name Vista Rio, you don't think you're going to get both (Mexican and Italian)," Jennifer said.
Michael Haatvedt hopes to bring a little Nashville, Tenn., down the street by opening Country Nites Saloon. The new owner said that he has always dreamed of opening a bar with the idea of Country Nites and he is on track to open the saloon by mid-May.
An upcoming fundraiser to be held at the Hastings pavilion at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 15, will remember the life of Abbey Rother by raising money for Special Olympics with Abbey's Ride on the River. "(Abbey) had a soul that glowed," said Craig Holm, owner of CycleBar in Woodbury.