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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The concept and design renderings for the Pleasant Hill Library renovation were revealed at an open house Feb. 22. About 50 people attended the open house inquiring about the project with some asking very good questions, according to Dakota County library director Margaret Stone. The most common questions was: when will the library close and when will it open? Stone said there are no official dates set just yet, but the library will close for construction sometime in fall 2018 with plans for it reopen in the spring 2019.
Clara Schultz was awarded the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Heart of the School Award at the Feb. 7 school mass. The annual award honors members of the SEAS community who give their heart and soul to the success of the students. Schultz has been part of the SEAS family since 1991. Ten people were nominated for the award this year, but according to a SEAS press release Schultz was the clear choice.
HASTINGS — Spiral Natural Foods Co-op is kicking off their Building Bridges campaign with a open house on Thursday, March 1 from 6-8 p.m. at the Onion Grille. The kick-off party will feature live music and hors d'oeuvres and give the community an opportunity to learn more. "If you believe in having a co-op in this community, if you want to have access to good food then I would have you attend and see how you can help or join to help support that," said Matt Malecha, general manager of Spiral Natural Foods.
HASTINGS — More than 100 people attended the open house for the Highway 316 Safety Improvement project hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation Feb. 13. Neighbors specifically expressed concerns they have with the area from the north junction of Highway 61 to south of Tuttle Drive. The project is slated to take place in 2021. The total project budget is $8.2 million. The north junction of Highway 61 to south of Tuttle Drive will have $1.4 million of the total budget for pavement repair and trail and related improvements.
HASTINGS — The Caturia, Smidt & Starkson Funeral Home and Crematory broke ground for their new facility to be located at the old Knights of Columbus Hall off of Highway 61 south of town. Jesse Starkson, owner of the funeral home, said the groundbreaking is honoring a more than 70-year history of a family-owned business in town. "Our new building is a direct result of the request and the ideas of families in which we are entrusted," he said.
Hastings Fire Department responded to a building fire call in the 13400 block of 90th Street Feb. 19 around 2:50 a.m. Upon arrival, firefighters found a barn fully involved in flames. Firefighters worked to protect the other out buildings. The large barn was completely destroyed and there was damage to a smaller out building. In addition, there were two vehicle fires. The origin of the fire appeared to come from the large barn building, but a cause is yet to be determined. There was an estimated $250,000 in losses.
TJ Pottinger was honored with the February Rotary Student of the Month award Feb. 8. He was nominated by Hastings High School staff member Tim Haneberg. Pottinger holds a GPA of 3.992 while taking AP courses and college level courses. He is involved with Hastings High School activities including Link Crew and National Honor Society.
The Hastings City Council approved a raise to the 2018 residential solid waste contract rates at the council meeting Feb. 5. The rates will go into effect April 1 at the beginning of the second quarter of 2018. Tennis Sanitation renewed their contract with the city in 2015. Soon after, the company learned that the dumping fee at the facility would be increased. Tennis said they decided to absorb the added cost because they had just signed the three-year extension about a month before finding out the rate would increase.
The Swingin' on the River show choir competition was held at Hastings High School Feb. 10. Eighteen groups from all over the Midwest came to compete. HHS show choirs Divaz, Upstage Revolution and Riverside Company performed at the competition. The award for best vocals went to Bemidji High School, best choreography went to Glenwood High School and the best band was awarded to Omaha South High School. The Grand Champions were Glenwood High School from Chatham, Ill. The first runner-up was Bemidji HIgh School and the second runner-up was St. Francis High School.
Hastings High School Students will perform Nothing Serious, a comedy by Rich Orloff, Feb. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. in the HHS auditorium. The play is a collection of nine short plays. Janelle Ranek, play director, said the stories span from the very realistic to the quirky, but all of them have a poignant message. Each story pinpoints moments in everyday life and amplify them which draws the audience in.