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Improvements Planned for City of Afton

Some major improvements are coming to the City of Afton. Updates on the downtown improvement projects were made by City Engineer Diane Hankee and the council authorized Springsted Incorporated to move forward with temporary financing for the total construction project timeline of 3.7 million dollars. City Administrator Ron Moorse talked with KDWA News about the principal reason for the improvement and the timeline involved with the project.

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Administrator Moorse goes on to outline some of the goals of the project and what changes residents and visitors may experience while work is underway.

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We asked if the timing of this construction would coincide with new internet upgrades for the area.

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(photo by the City of Afton)

   

Norlander Pleads Guilty in Fitzgerald Case

Brian Phillip Norlander has pled guilty in Washington County to a third Degree Conrolled Substance Crime. Norlander is one of three juveniles charged with providing the synthetic drug that lead to the January 2014 death of Tara Fitzgerald of Woodbury. Washington County Juvenile Division Chief Tony Zdroik explains why a murder charge against Norlander was dismissed.

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Norlander was placed on probation under Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile; a blended sentencing provision that allows the Court to impose an adult prison sentence but stay the execution of that sentence on the condition that the juvenile remain law abiding and comply with all terms of probation.

   

City Holds Public Hearing for Property Rezoning

The Hastings City Council held a public hearing on the rezoning of the property at 107 West 21st Street. Community Development Director John Hinzman talked about the reasons for rezoning the property.

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Viking Cruise Lines Interested in Mississippi Navigation

City officials received news this week that Viking Cruise Lines has expressed interest in navigating up the Mississippi, creating some questions and speculation of what this may mean to the current plans along the Hastings Riverfront. City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee spoke about the announcement and whether there has been contact with the travel vendor.

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Hastings Tastings Has Large Turnout

The 20th annual Hastings Tastings was held on Tuesday evening and the hall quickly filled with several hundred hungry ticketholders. Displays from area restaurants lined the walls of Mother Seton Hall and made the rounds sampling of a wide variety of entrees and desserts. Executive Director Chris Koop commented on the large turnout.

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We also talked to Noreen Bishop from Emily's Bakery, who was there as well.

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The event kicks off March Minnesota Food Share Month, and each ticket purchased at the event helps feed a family of 5 for over a week.

   

City Admin Talks About RSI Fraud

KDWA News is following the recent announcement by the City of Hastings, that a contractor, RSI Associates, Incorporated has been implicated in the forgery of surety bonds covering the first phase of the construction involved with the Riverfront development. We asked City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee to explain just who has been impacted and where the investigation may lead.

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In addition to the city, other subcontractors are also victim of the deception. Mesko Lee continues what the city has done to inform those workers.

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Once notified of this fraud, the City began the process of determining the validity of other surety bonds and Mesko Lee describes the outcome of that investigation.

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HFD Recruits Receive Ice Water Rescue Training

The City's new paid on-call firefighters received Ice Water Rescue Training this past week. Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt talks about what's involved with this type of training.

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Chief Schutt continues with advice for both firefighters and the general public.

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City of Hastings Falls Victim to RSI's Document Forgery

The City of Hastings received notice from law enforcement agencies that the City may have been the victim of a document forgery crime relating to a performance bond and a labor and material payment bond delivered to the City by RSI Associates, Inc., the general contractor for the City of Hastings Project 2014-3, the Riverfront Renaissance Phase 1 ("the Project"). This issue does not involve the phase 2 construction project, which contains the Rotary RiverPlace Pavilion. The City has initiated an investigation and received notice from Western Surety Company, the purported issuer of the bonds, stating that as a result of forgery, alteration, or other reasons, the bonds are not valid bonds and should not be relied upon. A Suspension of Work Order and a Notice of Termination of Contract have been served on RSI Associates, Inc. The City has also received notice that RSI Associates, Inc. has filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections. The Hastings Police Department has referred the matter to the applicable prosecuting authorities to consider criminal charges against the individual(s) who are alleged to have been involved in the forgery and delivery of the bond documents. This incident appears to have involved a sophisticated forgery scheme to defraud the City and subcontractors. Measures are being taken by the City to safeguard against similar issues in the future and to verify the legitimacy of all current bonds in place with the City. The City will determine what legal action in the bankruptcy courts and other venues will be taken against RSI Associates, Inc., its owner, and all individuals involved in the alleged forgery. Other cities and public entities are being warned to implement similar safeguards. The City has notified all known subcontractors and material suppliers for the project of these issues with the bonds and has requested to work cooperatively with the subcontractors to identify work that has been completed and materials that have been supplied and ordered. The City is reviewing all options to allow for timely completion of the project.

Prescott Planning Commission Meets

The Prescott Plan Commission met on Monday March 2nd to discuss the city's planning and zoning goals. Prescott City Administrator Jayne Brand goes over the agenda.

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HFS Kicks Off Food Share Month

Hastings Family Service asks you to be a change agent for hunger during the month of March. Hastings Family Service Executive Director Chris Koop explains.

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National Parks Service Presents for City Council

The Hastings City Council was given a presentation on the National Parks Service's Centennial Initiative at their regular meeting on March 2nd. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Superintendent John Anfinson talked about how one of the goals of the 2016 celebration is to make people aware they live near a National Park.

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Anfinson went on to talk about some of the other goals for the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.

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HFD Evacuates Residence After Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Residents of a multi-unit dwelling in Hastings were evacuated for about an hour on Sunday while a fire crew made sure the building was safe. Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt explains.

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Science Fair Winners for St. John's School

Winners have been announced for the 18th Annual Science and Technology Fair held at St. John the Baptist School in Vermillion on February 27th. Elisa Kurzawski, Cody Niedercorn, Ryan Clemens, Jack Sieben, Grace Sieben, Theresa Kiminski, Allison Wentzler, Abby Strommen, David Petit, Jackson Hanson, Noah Kirby, Nick Endres, Mandy Bauer, and Chloe Hanson were the winners and will go on to the Regional Science Fair held in Mankato this April.

   

HPD Members Participate in Polar Plunge

Members of the Hastings Police Department recently teamed up with the Hastings Sharks Special Olympics Team to participate in a Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics. Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer talks about the experience.

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New Trail Construction Scheduled for April 2016

Construction for the Point Douglas Regional Trail is scheduled to begin in 2016. The trail will be a strategic connection in Washington County's growing network of recreational trails. It will will link two bridges over two rivers in two states. The Point Douglas Trail will allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross the Mississippi River bridge to downtown Hastings and from there connect with Dakota County trails. It will also provide a crossing to the east, over the St. Croix River bridge to downtown Prescott. There are also plans for a future trail link that will run north to Afton, Bayport and Stillwater. Land acquisition for the trails is scheduled to be completed by March and the county will solicit bids for construction next winter, with work beginning in April 2016.

IGH Teen Admits Intent to Join ISIS

An Inver Grove Heights teenager has admitted that he had intended to go to Syria last May to join the Islamic State group. 18-year-old Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. FBI agents stopped Yusuf at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on May 28 where he planned to travel to Istanbul, Turkey. Yusuf confessed he had arranged to meet another man, Abdi Nur, in Istanbul and travel with him to Syria. Nur is also charged in the case, and is believed to already be fighting with militants in Syria. Investigators say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria in the past year to fight with militant groups and at least one has died there. Yusuf faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set.

Immunization Clinics Offered by Dakota County

The Dakota County Public Health Department provides immunizations to adults and children without health insurance coverage for immunizations. Dakota County Public Health Disease Prevention & Control Coordinator Christine Lees says recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis underscore how important vaccinations are to protecting the health of the public. And, some people, such as children who are too young or those who can't receive certain vaccines for medical reasons, are better protected when more people are vaccinated. Immunization clinics are offered at both the Dakota County West St. Paul and Apple Valley Service Centers for children and adults who are eligible for the Minnesota Vaccines for Children and Uninsured and Underinsured Adult Vaccine programs. Call Dakota County Public Health for more information at 952-891-7500 or visit the website www.co.dakota.mn.us and search "Immunizations."

   

HPD Car Involved in Crash

While responding to a call, a Hastings Police car was involved in a car crash last week while responding to a report of a burglary in progress. Chief Bryan Schafer gives the details.

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BDT's 24-Hour New Play Challenge Returns

With the success of last year's 24-hour New Play Challenge, the theater company has identified 6 playwrights who will each guide a team of directors, actors and stage managers through the 24-hour process of rehearsal and performance of their original work. All skill levels of participants are welcome to be involved with the project which will take place between the hours of 7:00pm on Friday March 27th, and 7:00pm Saturday March 28th. For more information about the New Play Challenge, visit www.blackdirttheater.com.

   

HFD Responds to Serious Crash

The Hastings Fire Department responded to a crash Tuesday afternoon just southwest of Hastings. Chief Mike Schutt gives a quick rundown.

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Girl Pleads Guilty in Farmington Hazing

A 17 year old female from Farmington has pled guilty to a gross misdemeanor offense in connection with a hazing incident that occurred in September of 2014. She was the driver of the vehicle in which two juniors were locked in the trunk as part of a hazing ritual among Farmington High School students. She was charged with gross negligence resulting in bodily harm, while a misdemeanor charge of assault in the fifth degree was dropped. Judge Michael Mayer sentenced her to six months of probation and 25 hours of community work service. As part of the conditions of her sentence, she must attend the safe driving course at DCTC, attend a victim empathy class, and write letters of apology to four victims. 15 other youth and young adults involved in the incident have accepted diversion from prosecution by agreeing to participate in the County Attorney's Office Youth Accountability Program. The program requires them to attend an educational class, pay restitution if owed and complete community work service hours. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom says he's pleased to have the matter resolved with all youth involved taking responsibility for their actions and hopes the victims and the community can move forward.

   

Reward Raised for Information on Reuter's Murder

On June 22nd 2014, Jason Reuter was killed at his home, and the family is still seaching for answers to those responsible for the murder. His father, Mike stopped by KDWA Radio to announce the latest effort in the case.

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HFS Begins Fundraising for MN Food Share

Hastings Family Service kicks off fundraising for Minnesota Food Share Month in March with its celebration of local cuisine. Hastings Family Service Executive Director Chris Koop talks about this highly anticipated event.

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Allina Finds Interim President

Jim McGlade, Allina Health Human Resources Director, has accepted the role as interim president for Regina Hospital. McGlade is a key member of the East Region Senior Leadership Team and has been a leader with Allina Health for more than 20 years. He has spent a great deal of time at Regina during the past year on transition projects and has a good base understanding of the organization. He will have significant work to do including an upcoming Joint Commission survey, major construction projects and continued transition work into Allina Health. McGlade will begin the transition process with departing Regina president Ty Erickson next week. Erickson has accepted a position with Essentia Health in Duluth. In the meantime, Allina Health will begin a formal search for a new president of Regina hospital.

Dakota County Changes Warning Siren Policy

If gathering summer clouds leave you in the dark about just how severe the weather might be, Dakota County emergency officials are making a change in the way outdoor warning sirens will be sounded. A survey of criteria that triggers the outdoor sirens was assessed and it was determined that area residents experience siren fatigue. This may then result in those residents disregarding the signal when the weather is at is worst. Currently, the emergency sirens are sounded for all tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings. The new policy will rely on data that reflects a sustained wind speed criteria to decide when to activate sirens during a severe thunderstorm warning. Effective immediately, outdoor sirens will sound when wind speeds are expected to meet or exceed 70 miles per hour. If the new policy had been in effect over the past five years, use of outdoor warning sirens across Dakota County would have been reduced by 75 percent. The change in policy was recommended by the National Weather Service based on more accurate weather forecasting and technology, as well as wind damage information. Local police and fire personnel can still have the outdoor warning sirens activated if they feel conditions are dangerous for residents, as in the case of a funnel cloud being spotted. While Dakota County residents may hear fewer outdoor warning sirens in coming years, Sheriff Tim Leslie urges everyone to stay vigilant. He says anyone who hears a siren should immediately go inside and get more information from their television, Internet, smartphone or radio and take appropriate action.

   

 

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