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    Advisory Commission Meets Thursday

    The Hastings Public Safety Advisory Commission meets for business on Thursday, April 25th. Items on the agenda include an introduction of a new employee in the Fire Department, and reports from Fire Chief Mike Schutt and Police Deputy Chief David Wilkse on updates from those departments. The Commission will discuss upcoming events, including Police and Fire Department Open Houses, and National Night Out. The Commission will also review results of interviews of applicants to the Commission, and discuss current health and wellness programs in the fire and police departments. Old business includes a year-end summary, and review of a committee memo regarding tobacco use and vaping. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 PM in the Volunteer Room of Hastings City Hall.

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    Chief Requests Department Adjustments

    The Prescott City Council met on Monday, April 22nd with one of the items on the agenda, being a presentation from Police Chief Eric Michaels. The Chief, who took office in January, had addressed the Personnel Committee on Tuesday, April 16th requesting department funding be realigned from paying for part-time officers, to instead, funding full time officers. The current department, according to Michaels, has not been successful in finding any qualified part-time officers, despite more than 6 months of posting such positions and requesting candidates from the Chippewa Valley Law Enforcement training program in Eau Claire. When the request was made for additional funding, however, it was not revealed to the personnel committee that a full time officer, Brett McMahon, had been fired just one day before.

    At Monday's council meeting after a successful and non-contested vote to approve the addition of another full time officer, I asked a member of that committee, Alderperson Maureen Otwell, why the request for another officer was approved when funds would be available from letting McMahon go. Otwell said that she was not aware that the officer, the only female in the department and hired in January of 2018, had been fired. KDWA attended the swearing in of McMahon and of Mark Peterson over 14 months prior, and reported in April of that year, that Peterson had already left that department.

    KDWA has now requested, through the freedom of public information act, a copy of McMahon's personnel file to determine if there had been disciplinary issues that might explain the reason for dismissal and whether or not similarities exist to a pair of abrupt firings of 2 other Prescott Police officers, in August of 2017. Those officers, also under the same 2 year probationary period, were terminated just prior to them qualifying for regular, full time status, which also provides benefits. All officers must abide by the 2 year probation, which states they can be dismissed at any time and for unspecified criteria, during that probationary period. In his presentation, Chief Michaels listed a $12,000 cost to the city associated with hiring and retention of each candidate, regardless if that officer stays 1 month or one year.

    Loss of training costs, uniform and customized duty gear are also incurred by the department, as well as shift shortages such as those that took place during last weekend's Flood Run when none of the current part-time officers were able to work the needed shifts. Requests from city staff including the Mayor and City Administrator on the history of officer turnover, and the practice of releasing officers who are nearing the end of the probationary period, have not, as of this report, been received.

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    Chief Schafer Tops Food Fight Totals

    The messy but satisfying conclusion to the 2019 Food Fight was held on a drippy, rain soaked day at the Dakota county Sheriff's Office with a full contingent of paperatzzi in attendance to commemorate the event. The challenge named a clear winner, with all three charities- Hastings Family Service, 360 Communities and Neighbors Inc. totaling up donations of foodstuffs and financial donations during Minnesota Food Share Month. The three-way competition between Dakota County Sherriff Tim Leslie, Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer, and West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver challenged each leader to raise the most food and dollar donations with the person who raised the least amount awarded a pie in the face from the other participants. 1 pound of food raised equaled one vote. with 1 dollar raised equaling 5 votes.

    Financial donations can be stretched the furthest, according to Chris Koop who was on hand to celebrate the winner. She applauds each for going to great lengths to be part of the effort each year and confirmed that Hastings Chief Schafer was the winner by far, responsible for donations totaling 10,473 votes, far outpacing his opponents.

    Events such as Stuff the Squad Car and other efforts added 398 pounds and 2,015 dollars to the resources of Hastings Family Service and the satisfaction for repeat winner Schafer as he and the Sheriff administered two plates of whipped topping into West St. Paul Chief Shavers face. Shavers took the pretend pies graciously, saying he will turn the duty over to the next chief as he has announced his retirement after 37 years to be effective at the end of May, long before the next food fight takes place. Photos of the event can be found on the KDWA facebook page.

       

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    Neighbors Ask For Safety Updates

    Neighbors are taking their concerns to their councilmembers, with two separate incidents involving safety mentioned in the 1100 block of 4th Street West. A top concern is speeding in the residential neighborhoods now that more children are outside and traversing sidewalks and crossings. Councilmember of Ward 2, Joe Balsanek, received emails from multiple neighbors voicing their questions and asking him to forward the concerns to local law enforcement for a response.

    Balsanek did receive a reply from Chief Bryan Schafer that the area is one of Hastings' Top 10 streets to focus on each year, especially during the summer. Schafer noted that he has instructed the Commander to have police patrols spend extra time in the area with plans to get the electronic speed sign located in that corridor. A second issue, however, has neighbors in that block concerned due to repeated police visits to a residence.

    Balsanek has asked for verification of a treatment or offender use of the property, however, that information has not yet been received. Balsanek plans to continue asking questions that may impact the safety of that neighborhood in his ward.

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    Prescott PD Responds To Weapon Call

    A Monday morning incident in Prescott prompted a press release from Police Chief Eric Michaels who stated that at approximately 9:19A.M., A Prescott Police Officer was traveling in the southbound lane of STH-35 when he observed a male subject discharge rounds from a firearm in his front yard. The male subject then entered his residence. A section of State Trunk Highway-35 which is generally known as the south end of Broad Street, was closed off for safety reasons, and nearby homes were evacuated. Nearby St. Josephs School was also notified and advised to keep the children inside until an all clear was given. At approximately 11:30A.M., the male subject was taken into custody without incident. Several agencies responded to the event which is still under investigation.

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    Empty Bowls Fill Local Foodshelf

    The Hastings High School Ceramics Students Empty Bowls event earlier this month raised $2,146 for Hastings Family Service. The support the Hastings community demonstrated is deeply appreciated. Bert Casperson made the special delivery on Monday morning. The total was over 4,000 which was a goal that Casperson wasn't sure could be met due to a snowstorm that came the day of the event. An equal amount was donated to Heiffer International, a charity that buys crop supplies and animals for families across the globe that can be used to better their lifestyle and give them a way to support themselves.

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    Dakota County Greening

    Environmental information shared at the recent State of the County address for Dakota County indicates that nearly 463,000 tons of waste was generated in Dakota County in 2016. According to fact sheet published by the county, nearly 55 percent of that waste was recycled, and Dakota County is committed to effectively managing protected lands in the County, and over 2800 acres of land are being restored, enhanced and maintained. Other areas of accomplishment for the County include building energy costs being down almost 24 percent, and accident rates being lower than average. The State of the County Address was delivered on Wednesday.

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    Egger Updates Spring Progress

    Hastings Public Works Director Nick Egger sat down with KDWA to give an update on the workload that Hastings has for the Spring. Egger commented that the recent rainstorm was quite the deluge.

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    He also stated that the amount of water from the rainfall was not entirely beneficial.

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    Hear the complete interview with Nick Egger on In Depth, only on KDWA.

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    Prescott Council Organizes City Positions

    The annual organizational meeting of the Prescott City Council took place on April 16th with the first order of business to give the oath of office to Alderpersons Maureen Otwell and Rob Daugherty who were both re-elected at the Spring vote. Next item of business was to approve Cedar Corporation as the city engineer, to approve the Prescott Journal as the official public newspaper, and to name Heywood, Cari and Anderson law office as the City Attorney. Philip A Helgeson has represented the city since 2015. Bailey Ruona was then appointed Council President by a unanimous vote.

    A variety of Council Committees were then distributed among the Alderpersons including a representation designation for commissions. The Planning Commmission representative will be Rob Daugherty; Library representative Gene Seipel and Freedom Park Representative, Bailey Ruona. Maureen Otwell will be the city's representative for Prescott Community Recreation and Josh Gergen for the Prescott Industrial and Economic Committee. Each will be a voice for the city at those commission meetings.

    The Board of Review will be overseen by Mayor Dave Hovel and include Gene Seipel, Maureen Otwell and Dar Hintz. City Administrator Jayne Brand also sits on that committee. A full list of council committee designations can be found on the Prescott City Website- www.prescottwi.org

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    DARTS Fundraising Event Recap

    DARTS held its 5th annual Fundraising Breakfast on 4/16/19 at Mendakota Country Club. Our featured speaker was James Hereford, President and CEO of Fairview Health Services. Since their merger with Health East, they are an over $7 Billion organization. James responded to questions about the future of health care and painted a picture about the value of community and connectedness. He stated that studies show the detriments to health isolation can cause anyone and that the health impacts become greater with age. His message tied in well with the DARTS mission to create connections that enrich aging. We see on our bus rides, like the Hastings LOOP, that riders connect with each other, form new friendships and help to remind each other that they matter. Learning Buddy volunteers like those in Hastings talk about how wonderful it is to see the impact they have on a child - to see their purpose as bigger than just the cookie baker. The morning was a wonderful success, raising over $37,000 for DARTS.

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    Jurgens On Drivers License Debate

    During his vist to KDWA for our weekly Session Update, Representative Tony Jurgens addressed a question about a bill which had been passed in the House last week, regarding a proposal to make drivers' licenses available to all.   

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    Hear more from Representative Jurgens each Wednesday throughout the session, only on KDWA.

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    Prescott Council Agenda Apr 22

    The Prescott City Council will meet for regular business on Monday, April 22nd. The meeting will open with the Consent Agenda, which is approval of meeting minutes of the City Council, and the Public Works, and Personnel Committees. The License Committee has three requests on the agenda: a Class B beer and Class C liquor license request from Carbones, operator license requests, and a request from Malone Middle School for use of the public square and amplification on June 5th for an end-of-school-year celebration. The Planning Commission will report on the scope for downtown development, and the Personnel Committee will present a request to create a fulltime Patrol Officer position in the Police Department. Public Works has two items on the Agenda: the purchase of a new front end loader, and the financing requirements for the purchase, and a resolution to designate officials authorized to declare official intent under reimbursement bond regulations. Once the items of the agenda are considered, the meeting will adjourn.

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    District Schools Receives State Grant

    On Friday's Tim Collins Show, a breaking news announcement was made about some funding that will make a difference in how District 200 is able to serve all students, regardless of an increaseingly diverse population. He first gave some background on how the district, which has a non-white enrollment of just 8%, nearly half of that being hispanic, has refocused on meeting the educational needs of underserved students.

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    Collins explains more about the process needed to access educational grants

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    He also acknowledges that the more than 800,000 award had some cost to attain.

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    Tune in Today for the re-broadcast Highlights of last Friday's Tim Collins Show, or listen online at kdwa.com to the complete 40 minute program

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    Sieben Celebrates 50 Years

    Sieben Carey Personal Injury Law is proud to celebrate noted trial attorney Harry Sieben's 50-year anniversary at the law firm. Upon graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School, the Hastings native joined the firm, then known as Grose & Von Holtum, on April 15, 1969, and has actively practiced law in Minnesota for five decades. According to a press release issued by the firm, he helped build Sieben Carey into one of Minnesota's largest and most successful personal injury law firms by fighting for the rights of injured people. In November 1970, Sieben beat a 16-year incumbent for a seat in the Minnesota Legislature. He served seven terms including four years as Speaker of the House. His legislation to protect clean air and water, worker's rights, and a rational system to finance Minnesota government still stands today. Another career highlight, and perhaps dearest to Sieben's heart, is his dedication to the U.S. Armed Forces. He served 35 years in the military, seven in the Army and Army Reserve and 28 years with the Minnesota National Guard. Sieben retired as a Major General in 2003.

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    (Photo Courtesy of SiebenCarey)

    Dakota County Jail Booking Apr 18

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Thursday, April 18th, Hastings Police arrested 19-year-old Hastings resident Allison Cristal Barber on misdemeanor charges of theft and interfering with a call to 9-1-1. Barber was booked and released as the charges are processed. Rosemount Police detained 35-year-old Lakeville resident Matthew Duane Carlson on felony charges of 2nd degree sale of narcotics, 5th degree possession of marijuana, fleeing police, and a felony parole violation charge, and misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a revoked license, and speeding. Carlson remains in custody and made an appearance in court on the 19th. And Farmington Police arrested 30-year-old Cannon Falls resident Scott Edward Eberly on a felony charge of aggravated 1st degree robbery. Eberly is also wanted in Goodhue County on a misdemeanor charge of failure to pay child support. Eberly remains in custody as the charges are processed. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Ribbon Cutting For Public House

    On Thursday, The Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce brought their ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors to the Hastings Public House, which is the restaurant at the site of the Hastings Golf Club. Owner Nicole Sindelar welcomed a group of area dignataries, business leaders and the Chamber's Ambassadors to a formalized re-introduction of the historic venue. Mayor Mary Fasbender shared her enthusiasm with the continuation of the business, citing her support for the new spin on the familiar locale. I asked Sindelar what is the best part of operating a business in Hastings

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    Long an icon in town, I also asked Sindelar what is her prime focus for the venue

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    As winter is replaced by spring and sun, the golf course has opened and the schedule is already filling up with special events, private parties and opportunities to write another chapter, perhaps with a short yellow pencil.

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    Bird Watching With Care

    As the birds migrate back into the area from their winter away, a report from the Great River Road Visitors and Learning Center director Jessica Bierbrauer who has found it helpful to explain a temporary installation at the bird feeding station windows at the center this spring. According to Bierbrauer, the Mississippi Flyway is the flightpath for all types of winged creatures and has existed long before the center was constructed. As more information has been gathered , the impact of bird-window collisions and resulting songbird deaths is now much better known. To minimize the effect to these birds, some simple strips of reflective mylar tape have been installed hanging from the eves in front of the window as a diversion to prevent bird strikes. The center plans to eventually install a UV see through film on the windows that has been developed by the American Bird Conservancy. Some of the birds that benefit from the preventative measures include sparrows, warblers, Baltimore orioles, indigo buntings and many others that reside here or travel through this area. She invites visitors to experience the grand overlook from Freedom Park during your next visit to Prescott.

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    Planning Commission Public Hearings

    The Hastings Planning Commission will meet on Monday, April 22 at 7 PM in the Council chambers at Hastings City Hall. Items on the agenda include three public hearings. A request for rezoning and special use permit for Deals with Wheels, proposing an auto sales business at 2414 Vermillion Street will begin with a staff report by Justin Fortney, City Planner. Next will be the City of Hastings proposal for an ordinance Amendment that would allow keeping of chickens in residential areas. Fortney will provide a staff report. Public comments will also be taken in regard to the final draft of the Hastings 2040 Comprehensive Plan. A review will also be made of comments provided by affected jurisdictions. Other business may also be addressed prior to the meeting's end. The next meeting of the Planning Commission is scheduled for May 13th.

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    Fleeing Suspect Captured After Chase

    During torrential downpours on Wednesday, April 17th, Zumbrota Police Department reports that a vehicle fled from authorities on Hwy 52 Northbound around 3:35pm. The driver had warrants for arrest. Squads from the Minnesota State Patrol also participated in attempting to stop the as yet unnamed suspect. Just South of Cannon Falls, a Goodhue County Sheriff's Office Deputy used stop sticks which the vehicle struck. Then Cannon Falls Officers deployed stop sticks in two locations just south of Cannon Falls, but the suspect's vehicle did not strike those stop sticks. The pursuit left Hwy 52 at Hwy 19 and entered on to surface streets in the Cannon Falls neighborhood adjacent to Hwy 52 and Hwy 19.

    The suspect vehicle made several turns and was able to return back onto Hwy 52 Northbound. A Dakota County Sheriff's Office Deputy then deployed stop sticks just north of Cannon Falls and the suspect vehicle had both passenger side tires to go flat. The suspect exited Hwy 52 at Cty Rd 86 and fled on foot into a field. After a short foot pursuit of the driver, the suspect and a passenger were taken into custody by officers around 4:12pm. The report lists that no officers were injured. The suspect was taken to the hospital to be checked out. Following charges, the suspect will be named.

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    Prescott Chief Proposes Addition

    The personnel committee meeting for the City of Prescott was held on April 16th. Alderperson Maureen Otwell called the meeting to order with Rob Daugherty and Dar Hintz also attended. Police Chief Eric Michaels and City Administrator Jayne Brand represented staff. The main purpose for the meeting was to hear a proposal from the Chief to create an additional fulltime patrol officer position. The schedule currently has two officers on days and two at night. The proposal would use the current Part time wages budget and over time budget and school contribution to cover the cost.

    A previous focus was to hire part time officers, however, the response from the ad posted during the last 6 months for part time officers resulted in just 3 applicants, none of which passed the preliminary background process. The Chief has also explored the availability of prospective hires from area academys, without success. Chief Michaels also recommends that a fulltime School Resource OfficerOne issue concerning the chief is that all three current part time officers have full time jobs and are unable to fill shifts that may be needed due to vacations or sick time. All were contacted for support for the Flood Run with none able to help out.

    Another issue is the cost of the hiring procedure as well as funds outlaid to outfit new hires with a safety vest, uniform and other duty gear..Approximately 2,200 is assigned to each officer with 12,000 needed for training and uniforms. A multiplatform solution was proposed by the Chief with funding from part time and overtime that is already in the budget to be used to hire another full time officer. A motion was made to recommend to council to create another fulltime patrol officer position. That motion passed. That recommendation will now come before the council.

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    Questions Concern Signage

    During the meeting of the Hastings Heritage Preservation Commission on April 16th, members were presented with a request to install a new awning and sign at 120 2nd Street East, which is the former location of Lawrence Interiors. Staff liason Justin Fortney began by stating that the HPC had not allowed signage on awnings in the past except on the valence of the awning but added that in the recent past the HPC had reversed that practice due to photographs showing that awnings were historically used with painted signage and the Design Guidelines did not specifically prohibit this practice. Some Commissioners made mention that the Spiral Brewery awning sign appears larger than was approved. Fortney said the documentation for that sign is under the requirements, but the actual sign installed has not been measured. In considering the awning and sign for 120 East 2nd, Commissioners pointed out that the proposed sign appears to be significantly larger than every other sign downtown and cited the Design Guideline 8c. which states that "signs should be appropriately sized and complement the building exterior."

    They also cited a similar requirement of the color and zoning ordinance for downtown sign size with the requirement that any Awnings should be sized to fit the windows and storefronts behind.

    One member voiced their opinion that the proposed sign is too large for the small storefront and windows behind the awning. The applicant said his client directed him to try to utilize the largest sign possible. He added that he has some ideas for an alternate proposal, but would need to discuss it with his client. He said the awning size could be reduced or divided into separate awnings. Commissioners stated they would have a committee view other awnings downtown the following day to determine if there are existing large awnings over small windows. Commissioners said they would like to review that information along with some alternate proposals the applicant would discuss with his client.

    The Commission denied the application as presented (6-0) based on the following findings of fact. Based on the following Design Guidelines and Ordinances, the HPC found that the proposed sign and awning are incompatible with the building due to the small scale and proportions of the first floor versus the large scale of the sign and awning. The color of the awning sign is incompatible with the building because the existing building color pallet is not compatible with blue and blue is a color that is not found downtown or is known to have historically been used. Another issue to consider is that the style, colors, lettering, and materials of the sign should reflect the age of the building and Signage shall be permitted on canvas or treated cloth awnings where they are compatible with the age of the building and character of Downtown.

    The applicant will confer alternate options with the client they represent and propare another proposal.

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    Raffle Success Recap

    St. Joseph School in Rosemount has reported a successful campaign for this year's Catholic Schools Raffle. Teachers, staff and the surrounding community united with students and their families to raise $17,925 for the school. From Jan. 11 to Feb. 24, St. Joseph School students sold $5 raffle tickets as part of the Catholic Schools Raffle, a fundraising program provided free of charge by sponsor Catholic United Financial. Catholic United Financial provided promotional materials, raffle tickets and prizes for the program at no cost. On March 5th, the raffle officially concluded with a prize drawing ceremony broadcasted live on the Catholic United Financial website. St. Joseph is one of 89 schools in Minnesota and the Dakotas that were involved in 2019. Video, photos and a list of prizewinners and results are available at CatholicUnitedFinancial.org/Raffle.

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    CDA Opens House Credit Apps

    The Dakota County Community Development Agency is now accepting applications from affordable housing developers for the 2020 Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The CDA is committed to assisting in the financing of affordable rental housing for low- to moderate-income households, and will accept applications in accordance with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit 2020 Qualified Allocation Plan and the Procedural Manual. Developers must submit a Notice of Intent to Apply form by May 17, 4:30 p.m. and a 2020 Tax Credit application by June 3, 4:30 p.m. Forms are available on the CDA's Housing Finance Resources page.

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    Kiwanis Honor Mastel

    The Prescott Kiwanis Student of the Week for April 17 is Prescott High School freshman Colin Mastel. Mastel, son of Todd and Maria Mastel, was nominated by Prescott High School teacher B. J. McKnight, and according to McKnight, Mastel shows very positive approach to class materials and assignments that is infectious to both fellow students and the teachers. McKnight has worked with him in several classes over several years and says he brings a witty sense of humor and a positive attitude to class. Mastel's future plans are undecided at this time, and he enjoys fishing, playing sports with friends, baseball, and volunteering at church.

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    River Master Plan Revision

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revising its Upper Mississippi River Master Plan and is seeking the public's input. The strategic land use and recreation management document will guide the district's comprehensive management and development of natural, recreational and cultural resources of the Upper Mississippi River basin. The current master plan was approved in 1988 and was supplemented with a Land Use Plan in 2011, which was an interagency document that also included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands managed for habitat as part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Reviewing the Corps' master plan affords the public the opportunity to provide input on refuge land use as well. The existing plan can be found on the Army Corps of Engineers website. A public meeting will be held in the future, though a date and venue have yet to be determined.

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    Local Impact From Heavy Rains

    Heavy rain that fell on Wednesday contributed to some flash flooding, at least one wall collapse and very slow going thanks to ponding of water on several streets throughout the area.In Prescott, the retaining wall on the east side of highway 10 was compromised by water, causing a partial collapse and the closure of the northbound lanes on Wednesday afternoon. Law enforcement and other public safety crews cordoned off the area and are watching the status of the wall which borders the Peacock Ridge Townhome Development.

    River levels are also expected to rise due to more than 4 inches of rain that was recorded to have fallen in several central Minnesota Cities. Hydroplaning was a hazard on Vermillion Street at mid day with the rate of rain outpacing the storm sewer's capacity creating ponding in some lanes of slower moving traffic.

    Just beyond the bridge into Washington County, the low point of the northbound lane was the site of several near accidents as accelerating cars hit the water instead of retaining contact with the road. With a second crest of nearly 17 feet, The City of Hastings has issued several updates on the re-closure of local streets including East 1st Street, under the train bridge; Lock and Dam Road; and the Spiral View Loop that provides access to Hubs and Captains Bay marinas. East 4th Street is currently open, however the city will monitor water levels and react to close this road again if warranted. County Road 54, Ravenna Trail was open as of Wednesday evening.

    Updates to all information will be provided on the KDWA.com website and listed in our Flood Resources page as well. If you have a concern or news item relating to this developing situation, please connect with us online or by phone- 651-437-1460. Motorists are strongly cautioned not to travel through standing water on the roadways.

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    Dakota County Services Highlighted

    Population was one topic that received attention at the recent State of Dakota County presentation made in Burnsville on April 17th. In the years between 1990 and 2000, Dakota County's population grew by nearly 30 percent. In the past 10 years, second and third tier suburbs including Eagan, Apple Valley, Farmington and Rosemount have dramatically increased their populations as development continues, with the county's population forecasted to grow from the current 422,000 to 475,000 in the next 10 years. Some of the effects of that rise is the development of a larger system that helps those who are in need, are vulnerable or require other services to maintain their quality of life. The social safety net provided by Dakota County handled more that $43 million of monies collected and distributed for child support.

    On average, community services has 161,000 active cases open to service a multitude of needs by Dakota County residents. Public Safety also plays its part in the management of that population. There were 2,021 adult criminal cases charged in Dakota County in 2018 with 12,267 bookings into the Dakota County Jail. There were also 629 juvenile cases that were diverted from the traditional court process into youth accountability programs, allowing those students to mitigate the impact that their actions may have caused, and take a different, diversionary route. The addition of the new SMART Center, scheduled for completion in 2021 in Inver Grove Heights, will help train public safety personnel in the complex skills needed to perform their jobs. More numbers and facts from the county will be featured on our website and in upcoming newscasts.

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    State Of County Recap

    The annual State of Dakota County presentation was given to approximately 150 guests who gathered on Wednesday morning at the Ames Center in Burnsville. Hosted by area chambers of commerce, the event was an opportunity to review the past year in several sectors representing the work done for and by Dakota County programs. Rather than a standard speech format, more questions and answers were provided by Dakota County Board of Commissioners Chair Liz Workman and County Manager Matt Smith. Just before the event began, I was able to ask Smith for a preview of what he might highlight

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    He also noted that success is dependent on many

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    More on the State of the County can be found in the news page at KDWA.com

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    Vehicle Pass Required May 1

    A reminder that beginning on May 1st visitors will be required to have a Washington County Parks pass attached to their vehicle to park at Point Douglas Park, which is located just outside of Prescott. Payment information and locations for procurring the annual pass can be found on signage in the parks. According to the Washington County website, electronic pay stations will be installed at 2 locations along the park. The move was enacted, says the county , to provide for resources, repair and upkeep of all Washington county parks. A pass is not required to drive through the park or just to drop someone off. Vehicle permits can be purchased online with the link below.

    https://www.co.washington.mn.us/493/Vehicle-Permit-Information

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    So St Paul Totals Food Donations

    Results of the March Foodshare Campaign continue to be announced, and the City of South St. Paul has released their numbers from the campaign. According to South St. Paul Community Affairs Liaison Deb Griffith, the City set a goal to collect a food and monetary donations that would equal the City's ZIP Code. Griffith said that a total of 19,367 pounds of food and $37,317 were collected during the drive, for a total of 56,684. The drive was headed by the South St. Paul City Council , Neighbors Food Shelf and West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier.

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    Woodbury Scout Earns Eagle

    Woodbury resident Evan Murray of Boy Scout Troop 559 received his Eagle Scout award and will be holding his Court of Honor on May 4. According to information published in the Woodbury Bulletin, Murrays Eagle Scout project was developing a rolling produce cart for the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf. The cart is to be used in the new CCEFS facility in Oakdale. Murray is a senior at Woodbury High School, and plans to attend Georgia Tech in the fall to study music technology. Boy Scout Troop 559 of Woodbury is chartered by Woodbury Lutheran Church.   

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    (Photo credit: The Imagery, Rod Oman)

    Rosemount Mayor Addresses City

    On Tuesday, Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste described the community's high quality of life and explained how the City will work to improve it even more during his 2019 State of the City message. The Mayor reported on the City's growth and the accomplishments of City staff, volunteers, and groups outside government. He predicted that last year's strong growth in housing developments will continue this year. The pace may increase after that as the land at UMore Park is developed. According to the Mayor, Rosemount is aggressively working with developers to bring more retail to the city. City staff and leadership continue to draw on the expertise of consultants to plan a new community facility, and expect to make decisions about it in the next few months. The Mayor delivered his remarks to members of the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and was introduced by U.S. Rep. Angie Craig. Chamber President Maureen Scallen Failor hosted the program.   

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    Easter Egg Hunt Saturday

    The 32nd annual Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by Edina Realty in Hastings will take place this Saturday at Roadside Park, beginning with the traditional air horn start right at 10am. The event is open to children ages 10 and under with hunting grounds divided by age. Be sure to bring your camera-Everyone is welcomed to visit with the Easter Bunny. There is plenty of candy and some lucky eggs will have a special number that can be turned in for a prize. Remember, the hunt starts at 10am sharp and is over in about 10 minutes! Roadside park is located just west of the Highway 61 and 55 intersection on the south side of the road.

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    Spring Flood Run This Saturday

    The annual Flood Run will take place this weekend, with thousands of motorcycles shaking off a very long winter to participate in the tradition that began with 12 in 1965 as volunteers headed to Winona to help with sandbagging during the historic flood. Now in it's 54th year, a 10 dollar wristband donation proceeds go to Gillette Children's Hospital and a raffle for an Indian Scout Motorcycle at the conclusion of the run will benefit Operation 23 to 0 the awareness program that seeks help for the 23 former veterans who take their own lives each day of the year. The headquarters for the start of the Spring Run will be at the Beach Bar in Lake St Croix Beach which gets underway at 8:00am. Kickstands up at 10:30am.

    The event, expected to draw up to 35,000 participants, takes place along both sides of the river- On Highway 61 through Hastings and on Hwy 35 through Prescott. The ride is organized by the Polaris Corporation, Riders can make a variety of stops and those who make the full run will receive a gold pin at the end. Cities will have local accomodations for riders coming through and drivers are asked to be patient as the ride often delays traffic as they move along the route. Expect traffic in Prescott and in Hastings between 11am and 12:30 and again from 4-7 pm. Local law enforcement may aid with traffic control for the safety of all.

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    Council Considers Tobacco License

    One item on the administrative portion of the Hastings City Council agenda was to review the application and make a determination for an Exclusive Tobacco Store license for Muath Ahmed of Hastings Tobacco & Vape located at 1769 Market Boulevard. Interim City Administrator Julie Flaten gave an overview of the request which involved a 2016 incident which was not indicated by the applicant on a recent renewal as required.

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    Ahmed appeared before the council to explain.

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    The council then discussed possible outcomes. Councilmember Vaughan directed a question to the City Attorney, Dan Fluegel, asking if compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco are the same.

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    Councilperson Balsanek shared his experience about the disparity in compliance checks.

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    Councilperson Leifeld, also a member of the public safety committee, stressed her support of preventing tobacco access to minors. She then offered her view on the current request.

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    Councilperson Braucks, who also sits on the public safety committee, asked if there was contingency wording in the ordinance.

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    Fluegel noted that any requirement made of one business must be met by all , and there is no current language in related ordinances. Braucks then stated her position.

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    Before the final vote, Councilperson Vaughan suggested a closer look at the current ordinance.

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    The final vote was 5-1 with Braucks voting nay.

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    Shopper Gets Scammed

    A report of fraud was brought to the attention of local authorities when a local shopper made a purchase through an on-line Garage sale site. According to the report, their family purchased an Apple product online which was determined to be stolen when the purchaser tried to register it. The device was in an unopened plastic covering and unopened box. The resident reports that police are looking into the matter. She reminds those who use such sites to be aware that offers that seem to be a deal can sometimes be a dud.

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    Dakota County Jail Log April 15

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Monday, April 15th, police in South St. Paul arrested 35-year-old St. Paul resident Alexander Scott Christoff on a felony charge of malicious punishment of a child, and 2 misdemeanor charges of assault, and misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, and interfering with a call to 9-1-1. Christoff remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 17th. Rosemount Police arrested 32-year-old White Bear Lake resident Lynae Nicole Davis on felony charges of 3rd degree possession of drugs, and 5th degree possession of marijuana, and a misdemeanor charge of bringing contraband into jail. Davis is being held without bail as the charges are processed.

    And Dakota County Deputies detained 20-year-old Stevie Lynea Ikwe Aki Zempel on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of marijuana, and misdemeanor charges of failing to stop after an accident, driving with an invalid license, and disorderly conduct. Zempel remains in custody and mad an initial appearance in court on the 15th. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Dakota County Job Ops

    Dakota County has posted its weekly listing of job openings, which include an account technician in the Accounts Payable department, three community living specialists, 2 social workers, an electronic content management associate, a correctional deputy, and a principal legal administrative assistant. Complete details, job applications, and application deadlines can be found by logging on to Agency.GovernmentJobs.com/Dakota.

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    Senator Appointed To Water Council

    On Monday, the office of Senator Karla Bigham announced that the District 54 Senator was recommended for appointment to the Clean Water Council as the Senate DFL Caucus member. Upon appointment Senator Bigham will be one of 17 members of the Council which will help advise the Legislature and the Governor in administration and implementation of the Clean Water Legacy Act. Senator released this statement Its an honor serve on this committee. I look forward to sharing my experience handling East Metro water issues with the council and Im also grateful for the opportunity to help guide policy and budget decisions that will protect Minnesotas water, The Clean Water Council was created through the Clean Water Legacy Act (Minn. Stat. Ch 114D) which was signed into law June 2, 2006. We'll hear more from the Senator tomorrow on our weekly Session Update. For more information about the Clean Water Council: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/about-mpca/clean-water-council.

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    HFS Tallies Food Totals

    The results for the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign have been published, and according to Hastings Family Service, over 20,500 pounds of food were collected for the food shelf and HFS received contributions totaling $162,278. HFS Associate Director Amy Sutton stated that the Hastings area communities once again proved that when we work together, every person, every penny and every pound makes a difference in the fight against hunger. The city-wide food fight ran from Feb 25th through April 7th and helped HFS maximize the proportionate matching dollars available through the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign. The Community's generosity ensures that the nutritional needs of families in the Hastings area can be met over the summer when children are no longer eating lunch at school, and increased daycare expenses stretch already tight budgets.

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    Lyft Pairs With Dakota County

    Dakota County is partnering with the rideshare company Lyft on a pilot project to provide another transportation option for people receiving home- and community-based services to get to and from work and community activities. The pilot project is focused on improving independence and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities, and is supported by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. With Lyft as a transportation option in Dakota County, individuals will be able to access reliable transportation on an on-demand basis.

    This innovation addresses a transportation gap and will allow people to take jobs outside public transit service areas or when public transit is not available. The new transportation option launched on April 1st. The service will be phased in, with all of those who receive Home and Community Based Services eligible to use Lyft to go to their community employment by fall 2019. Individuals can receive assistance learning how to use Lyft services by emailing TravelTraining@co.dakota.mn.us. People who are eligible for the program can sign up through their case manager, or can email sslyft@co.dakota.mn.us if they have questions.

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    Dakota County Grad Completes Basic

    The U. S. Air Force has announced the graduation of U.S. Air Force National Guard Airman Brendan Seepersaud from basic training at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, San Antonio, TX. Seepersaud, a 2016 graduate of Lakeville South High School, completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills, and earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Seepersaud is the son of Dion and Benita Seepersaud of Elko.   

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    (Photo Courtesy of the Joint Hometown News Service)

    Craig Recaps First 100 Days

    Counting just 100 days since her inauguration, US Congresswoman Angie Craig has released a by the numbers report to the constituents of the 2nd Congressional District. Craig highlights 248 outreach meetings which included appearances at more than 45 community meetings, including three Town Halls in Dakota, Goodhue and Scott Counties. Her office has also held five mobile office hours with five more planned across the district in the coming weeks. Craig also points to the authoring of three bills and the consponsoring of 93 with more than 60% of those considered bipartisan. She also states that her goal is to be a good representative for the needs and priorities of all constituents in the district who voted her into this national office.

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    Council To Approve Construction Bid

    The City Council of Hastings is set to award a contract for the 2019 Neighborhood Infrastructure Improvement Program. City Engineer Ryan Stempski submitted a request to approve the bid from A-1 Excavation, of Bloomer, WI, for $3,375,829. Three bids were received for the contract, and according to Stempski, all three were competitive, and the overall cost stayed within City budgetary constraints. The City estimates the project at $3,493,500. The City Council will review and vote on the request to award the contract at the April 15th meeting.

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    Crime Victims Rights Week

    Beginning in 1981, the Dakota County Attorney's Office has observed National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) during the month of April. This is an annual challenge to the nation to confront and remove barriers to full justice for all victims of crime. The Dakota County Attorneys Office observes NCVRW by celebrating progress achieved in crime victim services and raising awareness of victims rights and services. Our office stands with the families, neighbors, friends and colleagues of those whose lives have been forever altered by crime. The NCVRW is also a reminder to victims that they are not alone. In 1977, the Dakota County Attorney's office established a Victim/Witness Assistance Program that has served tens of thousands of victims who have received non-judgmental support, case specific information, and guidance through the criminal justice system in Dakota County. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom commented: "We work hard each day to reach all victims to help them create hope in a time of adversity. Whether harmed with personal trauma or financial losses that have been inflicted upon them by those who commit crimes in our community, our staff seek justice for all victims of crime."

    If you or someone you know has been a victim of crime, help is available. For more information regarding crime victims' rights or other services, contact Kelly Nicholson, Victim Witness Supervisor, Dakota County Attorneys Office at 651-438-4471, toll free at 1-877-396-6382, or the Dakota County Attorneys website at https://www.co.dakota.mn.us/Government/Attorney

       

    Public Hearing On Chicken Ordinance

    An item on the agenda of the April 22nd Hastings Planning Commission meeting is a proposed ordinance amendment that would allow chickens as pets in single-family residential districts. The amendment includes provisions such as possible licensing approval by the city council; neighbor notification, confinement requirements, a limit on the number of chickens kept, no nuisances or unsanitary conditions and the prohibition of keeping roosters. Details included in the proposed amendment can be found on the www.hastingsmn.gov website . Prior to the 22nd, persons may contact the Hastings planning Department with any questions. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7 pm in the Council chambers at Hastings City Hall.

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    Denmark Township Board of Appeal

    The local board of Appeal and Equalization for Denmark Township, located in Washington County, will meet on Tuesday, April 16th from 4:30-5:30 pm at the Denmark Town Hall for the purpose of determining whether taxable property in the jurisdiction has been properly valued and classified by the assessor. Those who believe the value or classification of your property is somehow incorrect, are directed to contact your assessor's office to discuss your concerns. If you disagree with the valuation or classification after that discussion, you may appear before the local board of appeal and equalization. The board will then review your request and may choose to make adjustment. Generally, you must appeal to the local board before appealing to the county board when disputing valuation. The Denmark Town Hall is locate at 14008 90th Street South in Denmark Township.

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    Mayor Previews Council Agenda Apr 15

    For the meeting of the Hastings City Council on Monday, April 15, Mayor Mary Fasbender provides a preview of the agenda.

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    Dak Co Plans Park Clean Up

    Dakota County Parks is seeking volunteers for upcoming events at parks throughout Dakota County. Volunteer for Earth Week Park Clean Up at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, join their group of Raingarden Stewards by planting, weeding, mulching and maintaining raingardens throughout Dakota County, or help them combat the invasive garlic mustard plant. Begin by signing up for free training. For complete details and registration, log on to the Parks page of DakotaCounty.us.

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    Tenebrae Service In Depth

    With Easter fast approaching, Oakwood Church in St. Paul commemorates the events of Good Friday with a Tenebrae Service. Oakwood Communications Director Chris Ruud describes the setting.

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    Hear the complete interview with Chris, today on Community In Depth.

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    Rotary Recognizes Deshler

    The Rotary Club of Hastings has selected Rose Deshler as the Student of the Month for April According to a press release issued by the Rotary Club, Rose has servant's heart, is not afraid to take on challenges, and has amazing perseverance to accomplish any goal. As an officer for the National Honor Society, she embodies the four NHS pillars of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character, which align well with the Rotary core values. Rose coordinated two bake sales this year, which provide all the funding for the Hastings NHS organization. Rose wants to serve her community and is deeply committed to not only doing what she can to make a difference, but also inspiring others to do the same. She is a great representative of our school and the Hastings community. Rose plans to attend Centenary College of Louisiana next year.

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    (Pictured left to right: Dean Deshler- father, Jodie Deshler-mother, Rose Deshler-Student of the Month, Lara Deshler-sister, Cindy Oppold-HHS nominating staff, Laura Zabel-HHS nominating staff, Derrick Jaeger-Rotary member. Photo courtesy Hastings Rotary)

    Easter Services Schedule

    Many local places of worship had provided their schedules for Easter Week with many holding services on Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. For a list of many of these schedules, please view our complete listing that you'll find on the KDWA.com/Community-events page of our website. Additions are always welcome. Please send them to news@kdwa.com before Wednesday, April 17th to be included.

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    Prescott City Organization Meeting

    An organizational meeting for the Prescott City Council will take place on Tuesday, April 16th beginning at 5:30 pm. Generally a procedure formality, the meeting will set the official newspaper and appoint officials to city positions. Such positions are City Engineer, City Attorney, Appointment to Council committees and election of Council President. A resolution will also be made to appoint a public depository, which is a financial institution which accepts public payments for bills and fines. Consideration will also be made for candidates for commissions and boards. Those candidates are: Mark Jennings, a candidate for Zoning Board of Appeals; Karen Petersen for Prescott Housing Authority and Larry Imm for Prescott Cable Commission. Other business may also be considered before adjournment. The meeting is open to the public.

       

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    Honors For Local Law Enforcement

    The Dakota County Chiefs of Police Association will honor 11 individuals at their annual breakfast held Friday, April 12th at the Mendakota County Club. The Association President is Hastings Police Chief, Bryan Schafer who said it's an honor to present these awards to officers, deputies and citizens of Dakota County for going above and beyond in serving their communities. In addition to the 11, a special recognition will be given to a pair of retiring chiefs, Eric Gieseke from Burnsville and Mitch Scott of Rosemount. Five Officers will be given the Award of Honor- Officer Geoffrey Latsch from Hastings; and four officers from South St. Paul. Dennis Brom, Julie Bishop, Todd Waters and Derek Kruse. Four officers will be given the Exceptional Officer Award; Lakeville Police Sergeant Sandy Thoeny, and three officers from the Dakota County Sheriff's office- Sergeant Matt Wayne, Detective Brian Eells and Detective Ryan Fitzgerald. Two Citizens will also be given the Award of Excellence- Christine and Steven Werner will recieve that honor.

       

    Accident Claims Life of Pepin Man

    The Pierce County Sheriff's office confirmed that an accident that took place on Wednesday, April 10th just before midnight resulted in the death of a Pepin Wisconsin man. According to the report released on Thursday, his office responded to a single vehicle crash on State Highway 35 just north of 375th Avenue in Diamond Bluff Township. Allen Mitchell, 64 of Pepin was operating a passenger vehicle southbound on State Highway 35 when the car swerved, entered a private driveway and struck a large landscaping type rock. Lifesaving efforts were performced however, Mr. Mitchell was pronounce deceased at the scene by Pierce County Medical Examiner John Worsing.

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    School Board Approves Project Additions

    On Wednesday the Hastings School Board met for a special meeting with just two items to deliberate involving additions to the proposal for work to be done at McNamara Stadium. A Motion was made to accept the low base bid submitted by Peterson Companies, in the amount of $1,896,500, with the additions of an outdoor wheelchair lift to be added for better access from the stadium entrance to the bleachers. A cost of 119,000 was listed for that item. The second addition was a better containment design for the trash enclosure which would add netting to the site. The additional cost was listed at 46,000. A total of 165,000 was added to the base bid for a new total of 2,061,500. A unanimous vote of 7-0 was recorded. Following the vote, a closed door work session was then convened for other topics. Tune in to the Tim Collins Show this Friday at 9:10 am. to hear more about topics concerning District 200.

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    Snow Day Buries Spring

    Snow, high winds and freezing rain combined to deliver a one-two punch to much of the area on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. School and many community events were cancelled for Thursday. Power outages in a few areas north of Hastings were said to be caused by branches falling on lines. The heavy wet snow was pushed into the middle of downtown streets to allow for parking and business access. Several accidents also took place, many on Highway 52 during the morning hours as traffic came to a near standstill. The projected warmer weather this weekend and into next week should deplete the piles, but some inconvenience is anticipated until that can be accomplished. One benefit, the gaping potholes from last week, seem to have been temporarily filled although they are not likely to last.

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    Photo provided by Kyle Johnson

    Dakota County Opens Senior Housing Waitlists

    Information received from the Dakota County CDA on Thursday announces the opening of waiting lists for 2 bedroom units of Senior Housing in 19 properties managed by the CDA. The waiting lists have been closed and will reopen at 9am on Monday, April 15th. The following Dakota County CDA Senior Housing Program waiting lists (2-bedroom units only) will open at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 15th. Some of the properties involved are Mississippi Terrace and Rivertown Court in Hastings, Vermillion River Crossing in Farmington and Cambrian Commons and Cameo Place in Rosemount. These wait lists will remain open until further notice. Interested applicants may apply online at www.myhousing.dakotacda.org.

    Farmington (Vermillion River Crossing)

    Hastings (Mississippi Terrace and Rivertown Court)

    Inver Grove Heights (Cahill Commons, Carmen Court and Hillcrest Pointe)

    Lakeville (Argonne Hills, Crossroad Commons, Main Street Manor and Winsor Plaza)

    Mendota Heights (Parkview Plaza and Village Commons)

    Rosemount (Cambrian Commons and Cameo Place)

    South St. Paul (Dakota Heights, River Heights Terrace and Thompson Heights)

    West St. Paul (Haskell Court and The Dakotah)

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    Grateful Gathering At ArtSpace

    The third in a series of community conversations will take place on April 16th. Lisa Valentine has more information.

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    The Hastings ArtSpace Lofts are located next to the Depot in Downtown.

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    Prescott Police Adds Officers

    At the Prescott City Council meeting on Monday, a request was received from Police Chief Eric Michaels to address the Personnel committee about a plan he has for his department. Specific details were not given for the plan. The department has added two officers with a local connection in recent weeks, Nick Jacobsen and Eric Learned who will graduate from the Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy, located in Eau Claire.

    Being a law enforcement officer in Wisconsin takes a great deal of training. CVTC Associate Dean of Emergency Services Eric Anderson said the 720-hour academy instructs the recruits in six areas: policing in America, tactical skills, patrol procedures, legal context, relational skills and investigations. The requirements for graduation is also robust. A student who fails a test has one chance to re-take it. A second failure means dismissal from the academy. The Prescott Police department has stated that they are always in need of part time officers and currently have 8 full time officers which serve the population of nearly 4300 residents.

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