Local News

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    Hastings City Council Meeting Preview

    The Hastings City Council meets Monday evening. Mayor Mary Fasbender provides a preview of the agenda.

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    City Parks Receive Donations

    The Hastings Parks and Recreation Department has received donations of $800 from the Zeller Family for a park bench and $500 from Dakota Electric for the 2021 Annual Safety Camp. Resolution to accept the donations have been placed on the Consent Agenda for the April 19th meeting of the Hastings City Council.

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    Heritage Preservation Commission Meeting Preview

    The Hastings Heritage Preservation Commission meets virtually for regular business on Tuesday, April 20th. Agenda items include a Certificate of Approval review for replacement windows for a structure in the 200 block of Sibley Street, and an update regarding a Newspaper Archive Digitalization Grant for the City. Meeting access information is provided on the City website, at HastingsMN.gov.

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    Brewery Tax Credit Bill

    Minnesota State Senator Karla Bigham has authored legislation to provide tax credits to breweries who have been affected by loss of income due to the COVID pandemic. Bigham stated she had much-appreciated help from local business providing testimony during committee sessions.

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    Hear the complete interview with Senator Bigham on Community In Depth.

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    Weekly COVID Update

    Vaccination rates for COVID in Dakota County continue to climb, as the Department of Public Health now reports that over 109,000 County residents are now fully vaccinated. The County reports that 1,267 new cases were reported last week, and 75 required hospitalization. Complete statistics are available on the Dakota County COVID Dashboard.

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    FFD Obtains New Ladder Truck

    The Farmington Fire Department has taken possession of a new ladder truck for the Department. According to a post on social media, the new truck, designated "Ladder 1", will be replacing a fire engine that is over 28 years old. Ladder 1 has all the capabilities of the engine it replaces with added features like modern technology, advanced safety systems, and of course the aerial ladder on top. Ladder 1 will be housed at Fire Station 1. Before it starts responding to calls, all the equipment will be mounted and all of the firefighters will be trained. The FFD expressed thanks to the Farmington City Council and city staff for their support in making this first of its kind apparatus for Farmington a reality.

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    COVID Shots At Pleasant Hill Library

    Dakota County Public Health has announced the scheduling of two COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Pleasant Hill Library. The clinics will be held Tuesday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 27. Public Health officials have set up online appointment scheduling to reserve a spot. Links to the appointment webpage are provided on the News page of KDWA.com.

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    Tuesday, April 20

    Tuesday, April 27

    Villas At Pleasant Hold Groundbreaking

    Stuart Simek and Simek Property Group held an official groundbreaking ceremony on Friday morning for the Villas at Pleasant housing development, located at the corner of Pleasant and Northridge Drives, in Hastings. Representing the City of Hastings, Council Member Lori Braucks was in attendance.

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    Simek, of the Simek Meat Company family gave some insight to the development.

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    The development will feature one level living and is ideal for those 55 and older.

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    Brand To Step Down

    The City of Prescott has announced that City Administrator Jayne Brand has decided to step down from her position as Administrator. KDWA spoke with Brand, and she provided her reasons for the move.

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    She also said that moving to the City Clerk position would be helpful to the new Administrator.

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    The City hopes to have the process of hiring a new Administrator completed by the end of May.

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    Prescott Restaurants Prepare For Summer

    With COVID vaccination rates going up, Prescott is gearing up for summer business, especially in the restaurant sector. Coordinator of the Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce, Casey Johnson, says the restaurants are preparing.

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    Hear the entire interview with Casey on Community In Depth.

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    UWH Welcomes New Board Members

    The United Way of Hastings (UWH) welcomes Christopher Domingos, Robert McDowell, and Sarah Osterberg to the Board of Directors. From the UWH Press Release:

    Christopher "Chris" Domingos has worked in the Nuclear Industry for over 20 years and joined Xcel Energy's Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in 2018 as its Site Vice President. Prior to Chris' nuclear career, he served in the Naval Reserves as an officer in the Merchant Marine Individual Ready Reserve Group. Chris is an avid golfer, skier, scuba diver, and Tom Brady fan. He lives in Woodbury with his wife and their three sons and enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities with his family. Chris is looking forward to continuing and strengthening Xcel Energy's great partnership with the UWH as a member of its board and serving our community together.

    Robert "Bob" McDowell, PhD, may be familiar to some in the community as he is the Hastings Independent School District Superintendent. Bob's introduction to his first year at Hastings Schools was dealing with the pandemic. His 25 years in multiple roles across metro school districts have helped prepare him for his role as Hastings Superintendent. In addition, Bob has a Doctorate of Education in Leadership, a Specialist degree in Educational Administration, a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Bachelor of Science in Technology Education. Bob continues adjunct work for Bethel, St. Catherine's, and St Mary's Universities as well as serving 10 years in the National Guard. Bob lives in Stillwater with his wife, Suzanne, and their three school-age children. They spend much of their time attending their children's sporting events and concerts supporting their interests. Bob and his family also enjoy spending time at their cabin in the summer, downhill skiing in the winter, and when not attending their children's activities, spending time at home with their two dogs.

    Sarah Osterberg's ties to the Hastings area began with her parents, Brad Brozik, a Hastings High School graduate, and Kathy Siewert Brozik, growing up in Red Wing. The Broziks settled in Mankato, where Sarah was born and raised. She was active in sports, music, church, and outdoor activities and recalls spending a lot of time with her family at their cabin on Lake Francis. After high school, Sarah attended St. Cloud State University and earned a degree in Finance. She began her career in IT Sales and Recruiting at TEKsystems in the Twin Cities. At college, Sarah met Hastings native, Mike Osterberg, whom she married in 2017. Sarah and Mike settled in Hastings in 2018 and Sarah began working as a Commercial Loan Officer at Premier Banks in Hastings. Sarah and Mike will be adding to their family with the birth of their first child in June. Sarah believes in the importance of giving back to the community with the gifts and talents she has been blessed with. She joins the UWH Board as its Treasurer.

    "Chris, Bob, and Sarah will bring strong decision-making skills to the UWH Board," said Mari E. Mellick, CAE, Executive Director. "They will help implement UWH's new vision plan as UWH partners with the Hastings School District, Communities in Schools Twin Cities, and other local organizations to impact youth and families in our area."

    The UWH is an independent United Way that has worked for nearly 60 years serving Hastings and the surrounding rural communities within Independent School District #200. Its mission is to build partnerships to improve the lives of people in our community. For more information and to donate, visit UnitedWayOfHastings.org.

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    (Domingos, Osterberg, McDowell. Submitted Photos)

    Afton Approves Road Repair

    The City of Afton has reported that renovation of the bridge and culvert located near 14041 Valley Creek Trail was approved at a recent City Council meeting. According to the City website, during the project, Valley Creek Trail will be hard closed in the immediate area, and no traffic will be allowed through the construction zone. The start and duration of the closure has not yet been determined. The city will send out notices to residents along Valley Creek Trail alerting them to the road closure.

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    Public Hearing For Permit In Denmark Township

    The Planning Commission of the Town of Denmark has announced a public hearing on April 19, 2021 to hear comments on a request from JBL Properties, LLC, for a conditional use permit for the property located at 12181 Margo Avenue South in the Commercial/Industrial District. Request is to allow the operations of Light Manufacturing and Outdoor Storage. This meeting is open to all interested parties. The permit would allow Twin City Pallet to operate on the property. Meeting access information is provided at the link here.

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    Farmington Schedules State Of City Address

    The City of Farmington will conduct a virtual 2021 State of the City address on Thursday, April 29 at 9 AM. According to information provided by the City, Mayor Joshua Hoyt will be giving his first State of the City address since his election to mayor in 2020. He will provide updates on what the city has accomplished in the last year along with what to look forward to in 2021. Mayor Hoyt is looking forward to celebrating Farmington businesses in his presentation and all they have accomplished in the last year as well. As this event is not open to the public, residents can watch the event live on on the City's YouTube Channel, or local cable channel 180.

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    County Emergency Services Receives Grant

    Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins has announced that the County has received a grant for equipment to support first responders and the Dakota County Special Operations Team. The grant will be used for continued funding of the County's 800 MHz radio, and to maintain the emergency operations center equipment and software. The Special Operations Team is made up of 36 people, with members from the County and all 11 cities, representing fire, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. The team responds to incidents involving hazardous materials, technical rescues and collapsed structures at locations throughout the County.

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    Recycling For Business

    Earth Day is April 22, and Dakota County encourages residents to honor it by recycling right at your business. To reduce confusion and improve the quality of materials recycled, Dakota County adopted a standardized, designated list of recyclables that haulers must collect and everyone must recycle, including residents, businesses, schools and government. Standardizing the basic items that are recycled, no matter where you live in Dakota County or the hauler you have, benefits everyone. According to information published by the County, all businesses are required to recycle the designated list of recyclables and follow best practices. The county offers a variety of resources to help businesses recycle right. Learn more about recycling requirements for Dakota County businesses and download or request free resources at the link provided here.

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    PTSD Bill Clears Assembly in WI

    On Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Assembly approved the Public Safety PTSD Coverage Act, which is now headed to the governor. The legislation clarifies worker compensation law pertaining to benefits for law enforcement officers or firefighters when they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. According to a press release, this bill allows for those suffering from PTSD to get the help they need. Representatives of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association were at the Capitol for the final legislative action. With the increasing suicide rates for first responders suffering from PTSD, the hope is that these changes will make a difference by allowing for increased access to treatment and support.

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    HPD Weekly Review

    With the recent civil unrest in the Metro Area, Dakota County was included in a 7 PM curfew order for Monday night. Hastings Deputy Chief of Police David Wilske said that activity related to the demonstrations was not apparent in Hastings.

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    No new curfews have been declared.

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    Gergen Receives Proclamation

    The Prescott City Council took a moment during the April 12th meeting to recognize outgoing Alderperson Josh Gergen after his years of service to the City. In a Proclamation presented to the Council, Gergen was commended for his true dedication to his position, outstanding leadership, sincere concern for Prescott, and his devotion to the common good of the community. The Proclamation concluded with the Council's thanks and commendation for Gergen's years of dedicated service and wishes for health and success in the coming years.

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    Prescott Grant Activity

    The Prescott City Council was notified that the City of Prescott was awarded a Community Development Block Grant from the State of Wisconsin to be used for renovations at the Prescott Food Pantry and to repurpose part of the building for COVID vaccinations. The $944,600 grant was approved by the State earlier this year. During the April 12th meeting, the Council also heard a proposal to submit for a grant from the WI DNR for the development of land for the proposed Freedom Park Trail.

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    Plan Commission Meeting Review

    The Hastings Planning Commission met on Monday, April 12th for regular business, and deliberated the final plat for 13 single family lots in the Wallin 19th Addition in Hastings. After a staff report presented by Community Development Director John Hinzman, the Commission voted to recommend approval of the plat to the City Council. The Commission also held a public hearing for a City Code Amendment regulating climate-controlled storage. No testimony was presented at the hearing, and the City Council will conduct a 1st reading for the Amendment on May 3rd.

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    HHS Returns To Hybrid Model

    Hastings High School has returned to a hybrid learning model, due to a spike in COVID cases. Mary Ellen Fox, Health Service Coordinator with District 200 talks about the explosive rise in cases in the Hastings Public School system.

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    Fox stated that the District is dealing with new variant of COVID.

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    Keep up with learning model changes on the District Website.

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    360 Communities Fundraiser

    With Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month comes increased efforts to educate the public about the difficult path to recovery for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Locally, 360 Communities provides assistance to victims. Vicki Illa, Lewis House Supervisor explains.

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    360 Communities will be having their 35th annual Fundraiser on Friday.

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    Again, that website is 360Communites.org.

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    Pine Bend Receives Energy Star Rating

    Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery received the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award in recognition of the company's superior energy management programs, resulting in energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, highlights energy performance across a variety of Koch Industries' companies and sites, including the Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount. At Pine Bend refinery, recent investments have contributed to the energy efficiency strides made in 2020, including a new a state-of-the-art combined heat and power system which supplies much of the refinery's power needs. In the past five years, Pine Bend has improved its energy efficiency by 10%.

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    Bigham Responds To Killing

    Following the police killing of Daunte Wright, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced that the Senate Judiciary and Transportation Committees would host "fact finding" public safety hearings in the next two weeks. Despite promising to discuss additional public safety, criminal justice, and police accountability measures following the passage of initial reforms last July, these hearings will be the first to discuss public safety issues in the 2021 Legislative Session. Senator Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove), along with ranking lead Senator of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), and Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) released a statement saying, in part, "It has not yet been a year since the death of George Floyd, and it should not have taken the death of another unarmed Black man to convince the majority [in the state Senate] to hold hearings and continue our work." Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who is prosecuting the case, has announced that the former officer, Kimberly Potter, will face 2nd degree manslaughter charges. Potter was arrested by agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 11:30 AM, on Wednesday, at BCA headquarters in St. Paul. She was booked into the Hennepin County Jail. to hold hearings and continue our work." Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who is prosecuting the case, has announced that the former officer, Kimberly Potter, will face 2nd degree manslaughter charges. Potter was arrested by agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 11:30 AM, on Wednesday, at BCA headquarters in St. Paul. She was booked into the Hennepin County Jail.

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    (Kimberly Potter. Hennepin County Photo)

    Legion Scales Back Memorial Day Events

    The Hastings American Legion Post 47 has announced they are planning a scaled down version of events to commemorate Memorial Day for 2021 on Monday, May 21st at 10 AM. According to sources, the event will be similar to last year's, and will be held at the Rotary Pavilion in downtown Hastings only. Due to COVID restrictions, there will not be a visit to the Veterans Home or a presentation at Roadside Park. KDWA will bring you additional details closer to the event.

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    UWH Applying For Grant

    United Way of Hastings has announced an effort to apply for a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Drug Free Communities grant by May 10th. According to information presented at a recent Helping Kids Succeed partner meeting, the grant criteria include an existing community-wide coalition focused on substance reduction, with 12 different community segments represented, and the coalition must be trying to reduce use of 2 different substances. This is a 1-year grant, renewable for up to 5 years. Minnesota Student Survey data shows Hastings has higher alcohol and vaping rates than the state-wide averages. Grant awards will be announced on Aug 30.

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    Fiber To Home Coming

    Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) has announced plans to begin building a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Hastings that will be capable of delivering speeds of 5 gigabits. Officials at HBC said they hope to begin construction on a main fiber trunk line as early as mid-April. According to a press release, HBC currently has a presence in Hastings, providing high-speed Internet to local industry. HBC president Dan Pecarina said the company will be expanding its footprint to include residential customers. According to HBC Director of Technical Operations, Michael Barker, the project will begin by constructing a transport route on 15th Street from Pine Street west to General Sieben Drive. Barker said that residents should start seeing crews begin to mark underground utilities like communications lines, gas, water, and sewer, that are located in the city right-of-way, adding that the company hopes to begin constructing the transport route by the middle of April, depending on weather. Once the trunk line is constructed, HBC will start building the fiber network. The first area to be built will in the area north of 15th Street W., east of Tierney Park, with construction beginning sometime in late April or early May. According to Pecarina, HBC will also have a local Customer Care office in Hastings.   

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    Hwy 52 Project Begins

    Motorists traveling on Hwy 52 in either direction between Co. Rd. 86/280th St. and Hwy 19 near Cannon Falls can expect delays as the road is reduced to a single lane beginning Mon, April 19 through Sat, June 19. These lane closures will allow crews to begin resurfacing the road. Truck restrictions, as well as a length and width restrictions, will be in effect. This means, prohibited vehicles, including buses and hazardous materials or vehicles required to stop at railroad crossings, will be detoured around the area due to the narrowed lanes. Restricted traffic will be detoured via Hwy 19, Hwy 56, and Co. Rd. 86/280th St. The lane restrictions mark the beginning of a summer-long project on Hwy 52 that includes repairing concrete pavement, installing cable median barriers and repairing two bridges. For more information, please visit the Hwy 52 Hampton to Cannon Falls project webpage.

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    Crime Victim Week

    Every year, millions of Americans are affected by crime. Many will need ongoing care and resources. Acting Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena reminds residents that April 18-24 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to celebrate the progress achieved, raise awareness of victims' rights and services, and stand with our families, neighbors, friends, and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime. You can show your support for victims by building their trust and engaging your communities in response efforts. Please call the Dakota County Attorney's Office at 651-438-4471 to learn how you or someone you know can get the help they need.

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    Keeler Recognized

    On April 10th, the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program announced that Sophie Keeler, Miss Hastings for 2020, was one of several students, faculty, and staff recognized by the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa during their annual Tapping on the Mound ceremony. Inducted into the Blue Key Honor Society, Sophie is an honors student with a 4.0 GPA. Blue Key members represent high scholastic ideals, leadership, and diversity of background. Selection is one of the highest honors given to rising seniors.   

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    (Sophie Keeler. Photo Credit: Miss Hastings )

    HFD Weekly Review

    The Hastings Fire and EMS Department responded to 6 calls for service in the past week, including a farm equipment fire in the 11000 block of Oakgreen Avenue on the 10th, and a motor vehicle accident on the 8th on Main Street in Vermillion. There were no injuries reported for the accident. The Department also responded to another equipment fire in the 4000 block of 170th Street East that investigators say was started by electrical arcing that ignited fence post material. There was no damage estimate listed for the fire, and no injuries were reported.

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    316 Crash Update

    The MN State Patrol has updated the information regarding a fatal vehicle accident on Monday morning near the intersection of Highway 316 and Otero Avenue, south of Hastings. According to the State Patrol crash reporting website, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by 33-year-old Red Wing resident Danielle Michelle Marie Moore was southbound on 316 when her vehicle drifted across the center line and side-swiped a northbound tractor trailer driven by 64-year-old Inver Grove Heights resident Thomas Albert Blomberg. The Hennepin County Medical examiner responded to the accident, and Moore was declared dead at the scene. The report indicates that Moore was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Blomberg was not injured in the accident.

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    HHS Returns To Hybrid Learning

    ISD 200 has announced that due to a spike in COVID quarantines in the District, high school students will go back to a hybrid learning model starting Tuesday, April 13. According to Superintendent Dr. Bob McDowell, there was another significant spike in quarantine numbers of 60 students at the high school on Monday, bringing the total to approximately 200 students. The speed of this spread is causing the District to move the high school back to hybrid learning. A complete breakdown of the hybrid learning model is available on the News page of KDWA.com.

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    Fatal Accident On 316

    The southern 2 miles of Highway 316 were closed to traffic on Monday morning after a fatal crash just south of 200th Street. According to initial reports, County and State officials were on the scene, along with the Hennepin County Medical examiner. According to the state patrol, an SUV collided with a semi truck. The driver of the SUV died at the scene. Eyewitness reports say that MnDOT trucks were used to cordon off the accident scene. Local resident Tim Figge described what he saw as he was leaving his residence just after the accident.

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    Figge also commented that improvements to the roadway in recent years may contribute to an increase in accidents.

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    Stay tuned to KDWA for updates on this story.

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    (Photo submitted by Tim Figge)

    Prescott Kiwanis Student of the Week

    The Prescott High School Counseling Office announces that the Prescott Kiwanis Student of the Week is Senior Max Wazlawik. According to the nomination submitted by Special Education Teacher Megan Hare, Max is an outstanding student and has the ability to brighten everyone's day. He works hard in all of his classes and is always striving to learn more. In addition, Max is able to overcome every situation with his strength and positive attitude. Max also loves helping others which is shown by the multiple places he volunteers in the Prescott community.

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    (Max Wazlawik. Submitted Photo)

    Woodbury Grad Serving At Sea

    The U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach reports that Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Verhulst, a 2017 Woodbury High School graduate, is currently serving as a fire controlman on the USS Philippine Sea, a U.S. Navy Flight II Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. His job is to operate and perform maintenance on weapons direction systems, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile systems, and gun weapon control systems. Verhulst joined the Navy four years ago. According to Verhulst, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Woodbury. Verhulst commented that he moved around a lot when he was younger, which helped him stay flexible, adding that when he moved to Woodbury, he got a job which gave him a good work ethic. The Navy Office of Community Outreach occasionally features sailor's stories with ties to the local community.

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    HPD Weekly Review

    The Hastings Police Department logged 52 entries to the Police blotter for the week ending April 4th, including a vehicle crashing into a building in the 1400 block of Vermillion Street, a crisis call in the 3400 block of Cory Lane, and a missing person case in the 1200 block of Sibley Street. The accident resulted in a citation issued to 21-year-old St. Paul resident Kue Nae for driving without a valid license, and the crisis call was cleared with no further incident. The missing person case remained under investigation, as of the time the report was generated.

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    PPD Weekly Review

    The Prescott Police Department logged 79 entries to the Police blotter for the week ending April 11th. Included among the entries were a traffic stop near the intersection of Broad and Orange Street that resulted in a citation issued to 50-year-old River Falls resident Polly Ann Relyea for operating without a valid license, a disturbance call in the 100 block of Broad Street that resulted in a citation issued to 33-year-old Cottage Grove resident Michael Duane Condon, Jr, for disorderly conduct, and an animal complaint call for a possibly injured raccoon. The DNR was notified and took possession of the animal.

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    Local Book Awarded

    Rosemount author Kevin Kunkel's picture book "The World We Choose" has been named "Picture Book of the Year" by Texas-based Reader View. According to published reports, Kunkel is proud of the accomplishment, and the book is about seeing the good around us and believing in hope. Kunkel also teamed up with musician and Lakeville native John Hilsen to record a promotional video in support of the book. Kunkel says the award will help him share his message with more children and parents.

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    (Photo Credit: Kevin Kunkel)

    Suspect Evades Arrest

    Residents of Cottage Grove living in the area of 95th and 100th Streets recently noted an increase in police activity on March 30th. According to a police department post on social media, around 5:45 PM, officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a male driver of a suspected stolen vehicle. The driver left the area and officers engaged in a very short pursuit before calling it off based on the driver's unsafe speed and driving activity. A short time later, the stolen vehicle was found unoccupied on the 9800 block of Hamlet. After a lengthy and exhaustive search by officers and K9 units, they were unable to locate the suspect.

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    Newport Fire Station Construction Begins

    Site preparation has begun in Newport on land near the intersection of 2nd and 21st Streets, near Wilson Truck Lines, for the construction of a new Fire Station as part of the new City Hall Public Safety Complex. According to a post on social media, the Department said that when completed, they will be able to combine all the apparatus and staff into one building for the first time in 50 years.

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    HHS Returns to Hybrid Learning

    Breaking News from ISD 200:

    Message from the Superintendent

    Good afternoon Raider Families,

    As I shared in the Raider update yesterday, we monitor the COVID-19 situation in each of our buildings daily. We had another significant spike in quarantine numbers at the high school today, bringing us to approximately 200 students. Today alone, we had to quarantine 60 students. The speed of this spread is causing us to move the high school back to hybrid learning. The hybrid model shifts us back to 6 ft of distancing for quarantines and reduces the number of students in the building at any time. However, it allows us to keep kids in our buildings at least two days per week.

    The schedule for the rest of this week is as follows:

    Tuesday, April 13 - All HHS students Distance Learning periods 1, 3, 5, 7 with Zoom class meetings and work posted in Schoology

    Wednesday, April 14 - Flex Day

    Thursday, April 15 - Cohort A attend school at HHS periods 1, 3, 5, 7Friday, April 16 - Cohort B attend school at HHS periods 1, 3, 5, 7

    The High School will be sending out information specific to high school students, special education, cohorts, and daily schedules moving forward.

    We are all trying to keep as many kids in the buildings as often as possible. However, at this rate, we run the risk of having many more students home due to quarantine instead of in school. I continue to be thankful for everyones support and patience.

    Robert McDowell, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

       

    Prescott City Council Meeting Preview

    The Prescott City Council meets Monday evening. City Administrator Jayne Brand provides a preview of the agenda.

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    Video Leads To Arrest

    A person alleged to have been tampering with vehicles late last week has been arrested in Hastings. According to a press release issued by Police Chief Bryan Schafer, officers received information about a video being circulated on Facebook showing a female suspect tampering with parked vehicles by pulling on door handles in south Hastings. Police received another video via Tip411 showing the same suspect in a second tamper incident. As this information was circulated within the Hastings Police Department and conversations were taking place with community members, a third tip was received, identifying the suspect in the videos. Officers were able to confirm the identity of the female and she was subsequently arrested without incident. During this investigation the suspect was identified in a previous credit card theft and fraud case. The suspect, Sara Oldag, age 37 of Hastings, was jailed at the Dakota County Detention Center for misdemeanor Tampering, Theft, Identity Theft, and felony Financial Card Transaction Theft. Oldag made an initial appearance in court on the 9th.

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    Hastings Planning Commission Meeting Preview

    The Hastings Planning Commission meets virtually for regular business at 7 PM on Monday, April 12th. The Commission will conduct a public hearing for an amendment to City Code relating to climate controlled storage, and deliberate the final plat for the Wallin 19th Addition for 13 single family lots on General Sieben and River Shore Drives. Meeting access information is provided on the City website at HastingsMN.gov.

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    Weekly COVID Stats

    Dakota County reports that over 87,470 county residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the County COVID Dashboard, the median age of cases remains 38, and the median age of COVID-related deaths is still 83, with 4 reported in the last week. The 14-day case rate per 10,000 people is 40.29. Complete statistics are available on the Dakota County COVID Dashboard.

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    Hope Students Reach Donation Goal

    The students at Hope Christian Preschool in Hastings celebrated meeting their goal of collecting 100 boxes of cereal for Hastings Family Service during MN Food Share month by lining up all the cereal boxes as dominoes. This is the 40th year for MN Food Share and its efforts to help restock the food shelves in the 7 county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Hope Christian Preschool is located at 16898 Michael Ave in Hastings.

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    Transport Tax Increases Sought

    On April 6, Minnesota House Democrats unveiled a comprehensive funding proposal that's designed to fund Minnesota's transportation needs for the next two years. According to State Representative Tony Jurgens (R-Cottage Grove) that plan would force drivers to pay more at the pump and elsewhere. He said that, "Raising the gasoline tax has been very unpopular with Minnesotans in the past as they hurt our lowest-income residents the most." Jurgens said the House majority proposal includes a $350 million gas tax increase, a billion-dollar light rail tax hike, and hundreds of millions in other fee increases over the next four years, including registration and tab fee tax hikes, and an increase to the Motor Vehicle Sales tax.

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    Statewide Tornado Drill

    Spring Storm Season is upon us, and a statewide tornado drill will be held on Thursday, April 15 at 1:45 PM and 6:45 PM. ISD 833 states that elementary schools (PreK-5) will be using the drill as an instructional lesson to prevent large gatherings of students in small rooms. Teachers will talk to students about staying safe, where to go in the school during a tornado and other safety procedures. Secondary schools (6-12) will show students the safe areas for shelter throughout the school day since dismissal is before the 1:45 PM drill. The tornado drill at 6:45 PM is a great way for students and families to practice their emergency shelter plans while at home.

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    ISD 833 Suspends VLA

    ISD 833 has announced that the K-12 Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), created during the pandemic to meet state requirements for families who needed to opt-in to full-time distance learning, will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year. According to a press release, in February, parents had the opportunity to complete a VLA survey, and the results showed that there was low interest in VLA for the next school year with only 482 families indicating they would consider it. The responses were spread out across all grade levels (elementary, middle and high). Based on this survey information, staffing timeline requirements and the availability of a vaccine, South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) is not planning to continue the VLA option next school year. SoWashCo will continue to review any new state guidance and will make adjustments to the plan if necessary.

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    Services For Garza And Ford

    On April 4th, Prescott residents 22-year-old Tayler Garza and 22-year-old Dalton Ford were killed in a tragic car accident at the intersection of County Road 42 and Newton Avenue in Burnsville. Community members and friends of Tayler and Dalton have organized a memorial service for Friday evening at 8 PM at Laney Field, near Malone Intermediate School, where there will be a candle lighting ceremony, a moment of silence and the release of 2 lanterns in their memory. A visitation is also planned for Sunday, April 11th from 11 AM to 1 PM, at the Prescott High School, with a service officiated by Pastor Steven Meyer at 1 PM. A GoFundMe account has been set up for Tayler, and a link to the account is provided here.

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    (Tayler Garza and Dalton Ford. Submitted Photo)

    Prescott Plan Commission Deliberates Yoga Studio

    The Prescott Plan Commission recently deliberated a concept plan for a yoga studio in town. According to the meeting minutes for the April 5th meeting, Cortney Franklin presented the plan for a 2,100-square-foot building in North Acres Business Park. According to City staff, the lot is currently an outlot and would need to have a new certified survey map completed to make it an actual building lot. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation informed the city the entrance would need to be 500 feet off of Highway 29. Franklin stated she has been working with her builder as to how to better place the building on the site. There was also discussion regarding stormwater and green space. It was suggested she may need to get an engineer involved to help with the site plan and stormwater. The Commission did not make any recommendations on the plan, pending further information from Franklin.

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    Flower Basket Sponsors Sought

    A sure sign of summer in Prescott is the hanging flower baskets in town. The Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce is once again seeking sponsorship for the baskets. According to a post on social media, the Chamber is offering the opportunity to sponsor baskets along Broad Street to families, businesses, and other local organizations. Baskets can be sponsored to commemorate a loved one, in support of a business, or beautifying the downtown area. Sponsorships are available until May 14th by contacting the Prescott Chamber.

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    Parks Open For Rental

    The Dakota County Park System has announced that reservations for new outdoor ceremony venues at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Spring Lake Park Reserve and Thompson County Park are now open. According to information provided by the County, these intimate venues offer beautiful backdrops, from a rustic forest to Mississippi River views. Reservations are available 2 to 5 PM Friday through Sunday from April 23 to Oct. 31. A link to the reservation page and more details is provided here.

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    Cannon Falls School Referendum Set

    The residents of Cannon Falls will be asked to consider a referendum from the Cannon Falls School District on May 11th to consider Board's plan to improve school facilities. According to published information, the referendum has four issues to consider. Issue 1 sustains the current 1:1 technology initiative ratio that provides one computer hardware device per student plus infrastructure at a cost of $400,000 per year for 10 years. Issue 2 aims to Improve the career and technical education spaces and indoor air quality at a cost of $10.45 million. Issue 3 asks residents to consider spending $1.575 million to improve gymnasium deficiencies and the outdoor athletic stadium. Issue 4 is artificial turf instead of a grass turf at the outdoor athletic stadium, for $685,000. If all four pass, property tax for a home valued at $255,000 would increase by $126 per year. An informational meeting will be held at 6 PM on April 12 at the Middle/High School Auditorium. Voters can head to the polls on May 11 from 7 AM to 8 PM, at Cannon Falls City Hall.   

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    Washington County Park Free Entrance Days

    Washington County has announced that it has added free entrance days at its parks to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, National Get Outdoors Day on June 12, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 26. According to a County press release, these days will all be annual free park-entry days for all the county parks, adding that National Get Outdoors Day will replace Explore Your Parks Day, which the county celebrated on the first Saturday in June. The Friday after Thanksgiving will have free park entry to encourage people to get outside on the busiest retail day of the year.

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    State Supreme Court Decision Prompts Bill

    A controversial ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court has brought renewed focus on the state's criminal sexual-conduct laws. The court recently set aside an assault conviction, essentially ruling that someone can't be guilty of rape if an incapacitated victim was voluntarily intoxicated. Legal observers say the court was interpreting state law, which advocates say is outdated. Lindsay Brice, of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, says pending legislation would close loopholes like this one.

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    State Representative Kelly Moller is a chief sponsor of the legislation. She says the plan should be adopted with all of the included fixes, so that there won't be public backlash over future rulings.

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    The measure also raises the victim age limit from to 13 to 14 when it comes to statutory rape. Backers of the bill say the time to act is now, with April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, also noting the movement comes on the heels of Women's History Month.

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    Paulson Named Assistant Fire Chief

    The City of Hastings has announced the promotion of Captain Chris Paulson to the Assistant Fire Chief position with the Hastings Fire Department, effective April 12. According to a City press release, Paulson has 23 years of experience in fire and EMS, including 11 years as a training officer, five years on the Dakota County Special Operations Team, and the past five years in a supervisory role as Captain. During the past couple of years especially, Chris has played an integral role in Hastings Fire Department leadership as the Department updated its standard operating procedures, staffing and response models, and plans. The City received 15 applications for the Assistant Fire Chief position and interviewed three candidates. There were two interview panels with representation from Fire Department leadership, full-time and paid-on-call firefighters, Police and Administration leadership, Public Safety Advisory Commission (PSAC) members, and a neighboring Fire Department.

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    (Chris Paulson. Photo Source: City of Hastings)

    Test Reveals Malfunctioning Sirens

    The monthly testing of the Tornado Sirens in Hastings on Wednesday revealed that two of the sirens in town were not functioning correctly. Deputy Chief of Police David Wilske explains.

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    The City contracts with Ancom for maintenance and repair of the sirens.

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