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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A new initiative at 360 Communities is about to provide a new way to support survivors of abuse: a new therapeutic dog. "Ranger" is a victim support dog that is currently being trained by Pawsitive Perspectives Assistance Dogs (PawPADS) to respond to traumatic events.
Jack Dressen has decorated his apartment with hundreds of Santa Claus decorations for the Christmas season. Dressen is a 92-year-old resident at Park Ridge Apartments. He said he decorates every year. Dressen's Christmas tree is covered in Santa Claus ornaments. His apartment is filled with stuffed Santa Claus dolls and figurines. As an avid golfer, Dressen even has a shelf full of Santa Claus figurines who are golfing. Although he has purchased many of the decorations himself, he said many have been gifts from people who have liked his collection and wanted to help it grow.
Dakota County is looking to reduce its budget for next year, although its property tax levy is set to increase. The Dakota County Board of Commissioners will vote on the final budget at its Dec. 13 meeting.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently launched a support group in Hastings for people who are raising a child with a mental illness. The peer-led Parent Resource Support Group helps parents meet the challenges of raising a child with a mental illness, learn coping skills and develop problem-solving skills. Cari Juarez, parent educator at NAMI Minnesota, said that when she started working with NAMI two years ago, there was only one support group in the county, located in Apple Valley.
The new world studies teacher at Hastings High School has a passion for history. His journey to becoming a teacher though, can be traced back to his love of ultimate frisbee. Derek Fairbanks, a 2007 graduate of Hastings High School, had always loved playing ultimate frisbee, but there wasn't an organized team when he was in high school. Once he graduated, a team was organized, and he decided to coach.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students recently scored above average in the Measures of Academic Progress (MAPS), a test that creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student's learning level. Tim Sullivan, principal at SEAS, said he is impressed with the students. The school has students take the MAPS test in the fall and spring as a way to examine if any curriculum changes need to be made or improved.
Hastings Dental Associates has been in the Humbert family for 62 years, ever since it opened in 1954. Now, co-owner Stephen Humbert plans to retire. He will sell his part of the practice to co-owner Trent Anderson at the end of this year. Anderson and Humbert have been part-owners of Hastings Dental Associates since 2003, sharing the practice as 50/50 partners. Anderson said he is now looking forward to living up to the standards the Humberts have built for dentistry in the community.
Downtown Hastings was transformed into a holiday extravaganza for the fifth annual Holiday Hoopla on Saturday, Nov. 26. Christmas decorations were up, holiday music was playing outside of the Hastings Beauty School and horse and hay wagon rides were seen traveling up and down Second Street.
The Hastings Wal-Mart is now offering a new online grocery shopping service with store pick up. Wal-Mart shoppers have the opportunity to order their groceries at walmart.com/grocery; a personal shopper at Wal-Mart will pick out all the groceries on their list and the bagged groceries will be waiting for the shopper to pick them up at the time of their choosing.
GiveMN announced record-breaking numbers from Give to the Max Day 2016, a day when thousands of Minnesotans raise millions of dollars for local nonprofits. The eighth annual giving day experienced a technical issue during the day that caused GiveMN.org to switch to a scaled-back website for part of the day.