A promotional photo from the newly-unveiled website of The Confluence, confluencehotel.com. Members of the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority toured the building in the fall and were impressed with the progress being made toward completion of the project, which has been extended to May 31, 2023. Photo courtesy of IDM Hospitality Management
News
One last look back at 2022

Compiled by John McLoone

Here’s our look back at the top news stories of the second half of 2022 in Hastings. Continued from last week.

July

There’s a new tradition in Hastings. Nicole Sindelar and her team at Hastings Golf Course/Hastings Public House arranged a Fourth of July Parade. Hundreds of people lined the parade route. More than 40 groups participated in the parade, which kicked off festivities at the golf course. The night was capped off with another incredible fireworks show sponsored annually by Vermillion State Bank.

Hastings School Board Director Mike Reis’ censure was extended by School Board Chair Brian Davis. The censure came after Reis made numerous email requests of other board members and district administration and forwarded

email correspondence to the Hastings Journal and KDWA radio. Reis emailed Davis, “Please provide reasoning behind the continued improper censure.”

Declining enrollment puts a wrinkle into Hastings School District Budgeting. Director of Business Jennifer Seubert told the school board that the district projected 4,495 “pupil units’ for 2022-23, 104 less than 2021-22. That accounts for a loss in general education aid of about $95,000. The district was expected to bridge the budget gap with federal COVID pandemic relief money.

The Hastings Chamber of Commerce and a large team of volunteers celebrated a successful Rivertown Days Festival, featuring music acts through the downtown area over three days.

The brief, embattled term of Mike Reis on the Hastings School Board came to an end with his announcement that he resigned on July 18. Reis emailed, “To all the supporters and voters, thank you.”

Fleet Farm made a big announcement on the main stage at Hastings Rivertown Days on Saturday, July 16. General Manager Kyle Cupp told a crowd that the awaited Hastings store would open Sept. 9. Fleet Farm jumped right in as a major sponsor of the event and other Hastings causes. The store is located in the remodeled former Target store, 875 General Sieben Dr.

A special election was announced by the Hastings School District for someone to fill the remainder of the term of former Director Mike Reis, who resigned.

The Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority voted to hire a real estate broker to market a 50-acre parcel in the Hastings Industrial Park. The city has tried to market the site on its own for years with no takers. Rokos Advisors, a Minneapolis commercial real estate company, will receive a 3 percent commission of the sale that the purchaser would pay.

August

Hastings voters went to the polls in a primary election for two at-large seats on the Hastings City Council. Making the cut for the final ballot were Angie Haus, Dave Pemble, Ian Martin and Tom Wright.

The Black Dirt Theater draw crowds with its adaptation of “Newsies.” Co-directors Robin Starch and James Lane and over 70 cast members plus countless crew members put on the show which told the story of Jack Kelly, “a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city.”

The Hastings City Council forwarded for review to its Public Safety Advisory Commission what actions the city should take regarding regulating and licensing THC edibles, which are available in several Hastings stores. New Minnesota law allows adults 21 years and older to possess and consume the cannabinoid edibles that contain up to five milligrams of THC. Three candidates filed to run to fill the seat of Mike Reis, who resigned from the Hastings School Board member. Filing for a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot were Tod Kullmann, Pamela Onnen and Mark Zuzek.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development approved two grants to help Intek Plastics expand its Hastings facility. Intek plans a 60,000-square-foot expansion with a more than $8 million investment that would create 46 new jobs over the next three years.

September

Emily’s Bakery and Deli closed its doors at the end of November 2021. Opening in its place is the Wuollet Bakery in the former Emily’s location at 1212 Vermillion St. Wuollet has six Twin Cities-area locations, and a big crowd ready for sweet treats was on hand for their opening.

It was well worth the wait. Three years after Target closed its Hastings Store, Appleton, WI-based Fleet Farm opened its 125,000-square-foot Hastings store for the first time on Sept. 1. The grand opening celebration started Sept. 9, with the Hastings American Legion participating in a flag ceremony to mark the opening.

Class rock bands Foghat and the Guess Who played to a full “house” at Levee Park for the Hastings Rotary Club’s Rivertown Live concert. All profits from the event go to charitable causes in Hastings. As a volunteer organization, the Hastings Area Rotary Club relies on donated time and talent to make the event a success. Pitching in with club members were community groups and high school athletes.

A difficult budget year for the City of Hastings was aided by the fact that Hastings homes increased in value by more than 20 percent. As a result, Hastings was able to add more money through its tax levy. The council approved a preliminary 2023 budget just over $38 million with a tax levy of $17.3 million, an increase of 6.6 percent from last year.

A home burned on Sept. 14 on Villa Court. A resident at the home was transported to Regions Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The fire was believed to have started on the outside of the house.

A 24-hour ballot drop box was in installed in front of Hastings City Hall in advance of the Nov. 8 election. The box is protected by video surveillance, and it was one way for early voting to take place for city residents.

A 59-year-old Hastings man died from injuries sustained when boats collided near Kings Cove Marina in Hastings. The collision occurred between a cabin cruiser and a small Jon boat. Killed in the accident was Dallas Larson of Hastings.

October

The Hastings School Board is considering a change to policy that would allow the public to comment at board meetings. The board moved to instead hold listening sessions with two board members in an adjacent room to hear resident concerns.

It was announced that Hastings officially won the competition to keep an expansion by Intek Plastics right at home. The Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority agreed to transfer a 3.1 acre parcel adjacent to the Intek property to the firm for $1 as part of the economic development package put together along with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to keep Intek’s project in Hastings.

Representatives of IDM Hospitality and developers of The Confluence welcomed members of HEDRA and city officials for a tour of the work in progress at the 100,000square-foot building. IDM officials said the building will be open for business by May 31, 2023, and hotel rooms will be able to be reserved online at confluencehotel.com by the end of the year. The Confluence development is located in the former Hudson Manufacturing building along the Mississippi River at 200 2nd St. W. The facility will be an homage to the history of the building with a “town and country feel.” In addition to the hotel, there will be a bar and restaurant, 350-person event space and apartments. The Confluence is expected to employ 65-70 people.

The Hastings School Board was met with dozens of local residents attending in silent protest. Placed throughout the crowd were many people holding up signs directed to board members of the meeting. The majority of the signs contained depictions from a sexually explicit book available in the Hastings High School Media Center. The parents want access to the book restricted. A committee at the school district voted to keep the book in the library.

November

Dakota County celebrated the reintroduction of American plains bison to Srping Lake Park Reserve in Hastings. County officials, bison experts, indigenous leaders, legislators and community partners gathered to mark the return of bison to the park’s prairie, where they will help to manage and diversity roughly 150 acres of park space in Dakota County. The bison roam within large, fenced paddocks to ensure the wellbeing of the animals as well as the safety of park visitors. The county will welcome 15 bison to Spring Lake Park Reserve.

The Hastings City Council heard a presentation about the collaboration that led to a new and improved Hwy. 316. MnDOT engineered a complete rebuild of the thoroughfare on the south end of Hastings last year. With compact roundabouts at intersections, there were some problems with trucks navigating. MnDOT took input from the city, residents and the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and worked to fix the problem, even taking out a roundabout at 31st Street.

Voter turnout was high in the Nov. 8 fall election. Winners of two at-large seats on the Hastings City Council were Angie Haus and Dave Pemble. Mark Zuzek easily captured the open seat on the Hastings School Board. For local statewide races, voters chose Republican Shane Hudella for the District 41B House of Representatives seat and Democrat Judy Seeberger for the District 41 Senate seat.

The United Heroes League broke ground on its Rink of Dreams at its property at 152211 Ravenna Trail. An NHL-sized sheet of ice will be developed there with boards, locker rooms and stands. The project will be the beginning of the development of the property for the future, which will also include an indoor facility and athletic fields. Mary Fasbender termed the UHL property as a unique asset to the community, as well as to military families. If things go as planned, UHL hopes to attract the attention of the NHL for the National Hockey Day game and Hockey Day Minnesota.

Hasting School Board Director-elect Mark Zuzek was arrested in Woodbury on charges of driving while intoxicated Nov. 17 at 8:53 a.m. The arrest reports indicate that Zuzek was pulled over by Woodbury Police after receiving complaints about an erratic driver. Zuzek reportedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.181, more than double the legal limit for intoxication in Minnesota. Zuzek was jailed overnight before being released on a $12,000 bond.

State Rep. Tony Jurgens organized a town hall meeting putting a spotlight on the problem of housing and homelessness in the community. Community organizations representatives were on hand to talk about the problem, and one formerly homeless resident talked about years living in the woods outside of Hastings. He now has an apartment in Hastings and is employed.

The 25th running of the Hastings Gobble Gait was a huge success. The event started in 1998 as a small Thanksgiving Day race to raise funds for Hastings Family Service. Over the years, the Gobble Gait Fun Run has raised over $1.8 million to support Hastings Family Service. As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, 1999 HHS graduate, Super Bowl Champion and musician Ben Utech sang the National Anthem before the race.

December

Honored with a spot on the Hastings High School Athletic Wall of Honor were Dick Cragg, John Dewall, Terry Hartman, Al and Sandie Storlie, Jackie Kranz, Bob Majeski and Greg Sandkamp. They were honored at halftime of a girls basketball game.

The Dec. 5 Hastings City Council meeting started off with a moment of silence honoring two longtime Hastings residents that gave all they could to the community they loved. Kevin Hoeschen, known as the founder of the famous downtown car shows, and First Sergeant Dean Markuson, who was known for his dedication to providing as much support as possible to veterans and organizations who support them. Hoeschen passed away Nov. 27, and Marukson on Dec. 2. Both left an indelible mark on Hastings. The Hastings School District tax levy was approved with a 9 percent increase. The levy was $19.1 million, up from the 2022 levy of $17.5 million.

The Hastings City Council bid farewell to at large councilmembers Lori Braucks and Mark Vaughan. The two served on the council for eight years and were honored by their colleagues on the council and gifted a print of historic Hastings City Hall.

January 11, 2023