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Hastings Sings Qualifiers Coming Up

With Rivertown Days planning well underway, its time to warm up those vocal chords, pick out a favorite tune and get ready for Hastings Sings. Volunteer Chuck Spavin tells us about this year's event.

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Spavin continues with just who may participate.

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Spavin noted that a second qualifying round will be held in July at the Point restaurant with the date and time to be announced soon. The winner of Hastings Sings will represent Hastings in the statewide finals of Minnesota Sings, taking place in September in St. Paul. For more information, check out the minnesotasings.com website.

Departure of 14 District 200 Staff Members

The recent District 200 School Board meeting covered a wide range of topics including the departure of 14 staff members due to resignation or retirement. Teachers from McAuliffe Elementary, JFK Elementary, Hastings Middle School and Tilden, as well as food service workers, custodians, student assistants and paraprofessionals will not return for the 2015-16 school year. Several of the teachers retiring had careers of service exceeding 30 years with Nancy Ahn, teacher at McAuliffe dedicating 42 years of teaching. Thanks go out to these educators who have made a difference in the lives of our students.

   

Man Busted Stealing Copper

A Rochester man has been arrested in Hastings for stealing from a local business. Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer goes over the incident.

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Update: Sidewalk Cafe Approval Process

The Hastings City Council was updated on the Sidewalk Cafe approval process at their regular meeting on April 20th. The process was set in motion when Bella Vista and other downtown establishments expressed a desire to provide sidewalk seating for their customers. Hastings City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee addressed the council.

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MeskoLee went on to give the council staff's recommendation for the next steps in the process.

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New Chamber Location Determined

Hastings is a community on the move. And so apparently, is the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. Following the purchase of the building leased by the Chamber by artist entrepenuer Mecca Manz Page, the Chamber will move to 314 Vermillion Street. The new location will prove convenient, as it sits directly across Hwy 61 from the existing site, adjacent to Downtown Tire and Auto. Chamber staff will begin moving at the beginning of May and hope to be settled in prior to the busy summer season which includes Rivertown Days.

   

Funding Goal Met for River Place Pavilion

In developing news on the Riverplace Pavilion project, John Hanson from the Hastings Area Rotary spoke with KDWA News during their "Hops and Grapes" Fundraiser Thursday night. Hanson has been involved with the effort to construct a dedicated gathering area that will be a multifunctional space for events of all kinds. The undertaking began 3 years ago and Hanson announced the progress to the guests attending the event.

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Hanson explained fund distribution as the project begins.

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Despite the lengthy process, now the project timetable picks up the pace, Hanson tells us what to expect next.

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To see the drawings of the Pavillion, see the www.hastingsmnrotary.com website.

Perkins Remodeling Next Week

Chris Kennedy, General Manager of the Hastings Perkins announced that a change is coming to the restaurant. On a recent shopping showcase program, Kennedy discusses the change and what it will mean to diners.

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(photo by Reggie Bauer)

   

Student Brings Stun Gun to CG Middle School

Spring fever is a common ailment, but when it comes to driving, Cottage Grove Police Chief Wollery reminds motorists that their priority should be the safe operation of their vehicle.

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Chief Wollery continued with a surprising situation handled by Cottage Grove Police last week at an area school.

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We asked Chief Wollery if this type of weapon was familiar to police.

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HFAC to add Kersplash Climbing Wall

The Hastings City Council has approved the purchase and installation of a Kersplash climbing wall at the Hastings Aquatic Center. As part of the 2015 budget process, a need was identified to add fun amenities at the Aquatic Center and a climbing wall was at the top of the list. A budget allocation of $9000 was made for the purchase and installation of the wall. Staff have gained approval from the Minnesota Department of Health to install the climbing wall on the east side of the deep end near the drop slide.

Levee Park Renamed

A motion passed by the Hastings City Council will give the name Hastings Riverwalk to the area being revitalized by the Riverfront Renaissance from the CP rail bridge to the Lock and Dam. In a close vote, an amendment was added to the motion changing the name of Levee Park to Riverfront Crossings. Mayor Paul Hicks proposed the amendment.

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Councilmember Joe Balsanek was among those opposing the amendment.

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Riverfront Renaissance Phase 3 Approved

The Hastings City Council has approved the commencement of the final design work for Riverfront Renaissance Phase 3. Hastings City Engineer Nick Egger outlines what the phase 3 design plan will entail.

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Egger went on to recommend using the same contractor for phase 3.

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The final design plan and budget for Riverfront Renaissance Phase 3 will need to be approved by the council at a later date.

   

New Prescott Superintendent is Dr. Richard Spicuzza

The Prescott School board has announced they have unanimously selected Dr. Richard Spicuzza for their next superintendent. Dr. Spicuzza has accepted the position and contract details are still in the works. Dr. Spicuzza is currently the deputy superintendent for the Mounds View School District, and prior to that position held an assistant superintendent position in the South Washington County School District. Prescott School District Superintendent, Roger Hulne, will be retiring as of June 30th, 2015. The Prescott School Board worked through a recruiting agency to fill the vacancy and brought three final candidates to Prescott for a full day of interviews with staff, students, and community members. Dr. Spicuzza has a strong educational background in Psychology, including a Ph.D. in Education Psychology from the University of Minnesota. With a long career in education, Mr. Spicuzza has background in many areas including teaching, differentiation, curriculum and assessment, and administration. His career has included planning a new school construction project and implementing the relocation process. After working in large urban districts for many years, he is very excited to embrace the opportunities of a smaller district. He is especially enthusiastic about Prescott based on evidence of great community support for the schools, student achievements above state standards, and a wide range of extracurricular offerings along with a strong athletic base.

Massive Garage Fire

Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt reports that just after 4:00am Saturday morning, fire and police crews responded and extinguished a garage/home business fire at 1937 Oak St. The fire started in a shed that was attached to a large garage that housed a taxidermy business. On arrival, flames were through the roof approximately 30' high. Several power lines, both feeder and service lines sustained major damage. While the garage and business are a total loss, the fire was stopped before reaching the home. In addition, a wooden fence, a neighbor's shed and children's play structure was also damaged from the fire. The family dog did perish in the fire, which was determined to start in a heat lamp being used in the dog kennel.

Nitrates Found in Well Water

What's in the water? Recent tests have confirmed that in private well water found in Dakota County, it's more than hydrogen and oxygen. An elevated level of nitrates have also been discovered, in amounts exceeding the safe drinking standard. Another component, manganese, was found in higher rates in 20 percent of the wells tested. The cities most affected, by results of the testing, were Coates and Marshan Township with Nininger Township, Ravenna and Vermillion Townships also showing higher levels than neighboring communities. Dakota County Groundwater Protection Supervisor Jill Trescott first gives us the scope of this water issue.

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A general solution is a reverse osmosis system with an average yearly cost of just over $300 per year. The use of a water softener system alone does not remove the nitrate deposits from water. We asked if the water used by the City of Hastings is affected in a similar way.

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A main concern for longterm ingestion of nitrates are the possibilities of an increase risk of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, lowering of oxygen absorption in the blood and possible nerve damage. If you have not tested your well's water quality, Trescott gives the number to call.

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Tire Thefts in Hastings

A recent string of thefts in Hastings has targeted a particular type of victim. Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer explains.

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Sheriff's Dept. Seeking Federal Grant

The Dakota County Sheriff's Office has applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The $450,000 grant, which pays $150,000 annually over three years, would fund a pilot program to more efficiently identify those who violate orders for protection. An order for protection is a civil court order issued against a person accused of domestic abuse to prevent them from having contact with their victim. The grant would allow the county to hire a full-time deputy to enforce orders for protection and to purchase a new squad car and license plate reader. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslies talks about what the grant would allow his office to do.

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However, if a bill being considered by the state legislature that sets data retention for law enforcement agencies at 30 days does not pass into law, it could make the Sheriff's Office inelegible for the grant. Sheriff Leslie talks about how the bills passing could effect his proposed program.

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Photography and GM ASEP Collab at DCTC

A hit television show in the United Kingdom called "Top Gear" recently became the focus of a collaboration between Photography and GM ASEP students at Dakota County Technical College. The collaboration started with the generosity of General Motors, who provided a 2015 Corvette for use in the GM Training Center at the college. The car, valued at $65,000 has been loaned to the program and Instructor Mark Hickman thought about a collaboration with the school's photography program. Hickman tells us more.

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Hickman called Photography Instructor Bill Eilers, and the two instructors got their students together to plan a shoot with a Hollywood twist. Eilers had his students bring their lights, cameras and video gear to the GM ASEP lab.

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Photography instructor Bill Eiler noted students in both programs got excited about the work they are doing in the classroom, where students got some practical experience, and really saw their training in action. The photography students had been learning about making studio photographs and using software to composite the images. This assignment allowed them to learn by doing while meeting students in another DCTC program. Both instructors agree that these kinds of collaborations create a sense of connection and community for their students. Hickman and Eilers intend to collaborate again in the future.

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For more information about GM ASEP at DCTC, contact Mark Hickman at mark.hickman@dctc.edu or 651-423-8363.

   

Preview: Hastings City Council Meeting

The Hastings City Council will hold its regular meeting on Monday, April 20th. Hastings Mayor Paul Hicks goes over the agenda.

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Mayor Hicks eloborates on the proposal for cafe seating on downtown sidewalks.

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(photo by Reggie Bauer)

   

AD-1026 Forms Due from Farmers June 1st

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds farmers that the 2014 Farm Bill requires producers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form with their local USDA service center by June 1st, in order to become or remain eligible for crop insurance premium support. Most farmers already have a certification form on file since it's required for participation in most USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. However farmers, such as specialty crop growers who receive federal crop insurance premium support, but may not participate in other USDA programs, also must now file a certification form to maintain their crop insurance premium support. The Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form also known as AD-1026 is available at local USDA service centers or online at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Vasquez Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison

Jorge Roman Vasquez of St. Paul has been sentenced in Dakota County to 19 years in prison. The 36-year-old Vasquez was convicted in March of attempted murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the second degree and felon in possesion of a firearm. The sentence handed down is the maximum sentence permitted by law. Vasquez was arrested in August of 2014 for the drive-by shooting of a 35-year-old male at his apartment complex in West St. Paul. The victim was shot once in the right arm and right leg. Vasquez fled the scene and was later arrested at a St. Paul apartment without incident. During the course of their investigation West St. Paul police learned that Vasquez had recently been released from prison and that his girlfriend had previously been involved in a relationship with the victim. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he was pleased to see Vasquez brought to justice for this violent crime.

Upcoming Spring Workshop at HHS

The College Advisors Network has opened registration for its Spring Workshop at Hastings High School. Marketing Director for College Advisors Network Gloria Weinblatt gives the details.

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Leash Laws for Dogs in Cottage Grove

If you are a dog owner, local law enforcement reminds the canine community of their responsibilites.

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While license costs differ from city to city, Cottage Grove Police Chief Craig Wollery gives a cost-saving option for your pet.

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DNR Seeks Input on Controlling Invasive Carp

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on a statewide plan to combat invasive carp threatening Minnesota rivers and lakes. The Minnesota Invasive Carp Action Plan includes 35 measures for combatting the threat of bighead, black, grass and silver carp. Invasive carp, which feed on vital plankton, aquatic vegetation and mussels, reach weights of 40 to more than 100 pounds. Invasive carp populations compete with native species for food and habitat. Silver carp leap out of the water when they hear approaching watercraft, potentially injuring boaters and water skiers. The plan updates a 2011 document and is focused on efforts to monitor, prevent, and slow the spread of invasive carp in major rivers and lakes. Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters of the Mississippi, individual fish have been caught near the Twin Cities and in the St. Croix River. The DNR will accept public comments on the draft plan through May 8th. Action plan copy requests, questions and public input can be directed to Nick Frohnauer at 651-259-5670.

   

Hastings In Talks for Mutual EMS Aid with Western WI Areas

The City of Hastings has been working on a mutual-aid agreement for emergency medical services with a number of ambulance services in western Wisconsin. Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt talks about this effort.

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Recap: Prescott City Council Meeting

The Prescott City Council met for a longer than usual session on Monday, April 13th. Prescott City Administrator Jayne Brand goes over the meeting.

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