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Liz Workman, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners chair, touted the upcoming SMART Center and noted the county's challenges at the State of the County on Wednesday morning. Workman and Matt Smith, Dakota County manager, focused on affordable housing, mental health and public safety during the address at the Ames Center in Burnsville. Much of the event took place in the form of a moderated question-and-answer session where Workman and Smith answered a wide range of general questions on different aspects of the county.
A partnership between Dakota County and ridesharing service Lyft is giving certain county residents on Medicaid waivers a new transportation option to and from their place of work. The partnership is a pilot project focused on assisting people with disabilities find work in non-public transit locations or hours, the county announced in a press release on Monday. Any residents who receive home and community-based services are eligible for the free program that started in April.
An almost $23.55 million Hastings Middle School construction project started Monday and required a little creative thinking from school administrators — where to put the classes when construction goes on next school year? A science class needs a sink, so an art room was found to be a fit. A computer lab will be repurposed into a full-fledged classroom. A teacher with two classrooms will have to settle with one for half of the construction project.
For 30 years Hastings Middle School social studies teacher Spencer Johnson worked at Fort Snelling doing historic interpretation during the summer. Most days that meant giving presentations from a certain role like a blacksmith, fur trader or soldier. But one summer morning a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer arrived with a black bear that had been hit by a car, said Tom Lalim, the program manager at Historic Fort Snelling. Johnson told the officer that they wanted to keep the bear — he planned to use it for his presentations.
A Google search for "diet" brings up over 1 billion results. On the first page you will find a mix of weight-loss diets, warnings of bad diet habits and advertisements that rank diets by weight loss, among other things. The second page somehow gets a little more broad and specific at the same time: a diet for arthritis, a diet webpage from the federal government, The Mayo Clinic Diet. It goes on like this for result after result, page after page — what must be 1 billion results minus the 20 results on the first two pages.
Aside from a small snafu involving light switch placement, renovations at Pleasant Hill Library are moving along smoothly and are in the final stages. The $3.6 million renovation includes adding in a new technology room, a 1,500-square-foot expansion that includes expanded meeting space and other improvements. The construction started last October and is set to complete in early-to-mid July.
Hastings School Board accepted a new bid for upcoming middle school improvements and received an update on the district's financial future at its March 27 meeting. Superintendent Tim Collins detailed that Burnsville-based CM Construction withdrew an initial bid for Hastings Middle School improvements, due to misbudgeting its bid. The board agreed to accept a bid from Corval Construction Inc. in its place, with a higher cost of roughly $20.9 million from CM's low bid of $20.66 million.
Hastings Community Education officials are banking on a Minnesota House bill that would raise reimbursement funding for screening kids before they go to school. The screenings are done by schools before children enter public school, with the state reimbursing the districts for each screening. Reimbursements have lagged behind costs for years and left districts having to pay from their own budgets to cover the costs.
Dakota County's Board of Commissioners approved an over $600,000 design contract for the Safety and Mental Health Response Training Center on Tuesday, March 26. The board is partnering with Collaborative Design Group Inc. on the SMART Center, an Inver Grove Heights-based training and law enforcement facility, for its architectural and engineering design. Collaborative Design Group Inc. was one of five companies to send the county proposals.
Hastings students from fifth to 12th grade performed in a band concert Monday night. The bands performed at the Hastings High School gymnasium in their all-district band concert for one of the last all-band concerts of the year. The bands' remaining all grade-level performances are on May 13 for the spring concert. The high school bands play together again June 7 for graduation. Various jazz bands shows are still scheduled from now until the end of the school year, with the bands' jazz concert at 7 p.m. March 28 at the Performing Arts Center.