Posted 8/18/21

From Page 1 “I heard from many business owners in the district and Hastings specifically all session long wondering when that was going to come, and it did come. I expected that it would, but as …

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From Page 1

“I heard from many business owners in the district and Hastings specifically all session long wondering when that was going to come, and it did come. I expected that it would, but as I’ve mentioned before, it got caught up in political games. It took until the very last minute practically on June 30 to get that passed so that the income that the individuals received or the businesses received from the federal government were turned into grants that they did not have to pay income tax on in the end.”

Jurgens said up to $10,200 in unemployment insurance income is also being forgiven.

There’s talk of a bonding bill in the fall for capital projects.

“It’s going to be heavy on infrastructure,” he said. “There’s going to be money in there for DNR projects. There’s going to be money in there for wastewater treatment plants.”

He predicted the bonding bill to be in the $250-$400-million range.

“There’s a long way to go before that gets done. I know that there’s been talk about it, and it wouldn’t take much to put the actual bill together, but whether there’s agreement from the four caucuses and the governor, that’s another matter,” said Jurgens.

The legislative break has given lawmakers a chance to hear from their constituents.

“It gives us the opportunity to get back out in the community, more than what we do when we’re there (in St. Paul) 12-14 hours a day, so that’s been nice,” said Jurgens.

Barse questioned the possibility of another COVID-19-related health emergency being called. Officials said they’ve heard nothing, but it could happen.

“He could do it today if he wanted to,” said Jurgens of the governor. “There were no changes made to Chapter 12 and statute. That’s the chapter that gives the authority to call an emergency. So while his emergency powers for the past emergency ended June 30, he could issue a new one today. Now the other thing that got stuffed into I think the tax bill at the very end of our session, there were expanded authorities given to some of his commissioners. So the commissioner of the Department of Health statutorily now, they could declare a health emergency. They can basically do the same thing the governor did without the governor calling an emergency, for example a mask mandate. That’s in statute, and that could happen. I haven’t heard anything specific.”

Neither had Bigham.

“I haven’t heard any additional word about that,” she said. “I haven’t heard of any plans for restrictions.”

Mayor Mary Fasbender

Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender also praised the work of the chamber and was hopeful that the community can work together to continue to curb COVID-19.

“I’ll just compliment the chamber with Rivertown Days. I agree that was a huge success. I know that brought people into our community that were new to our community. I heard many good compliments on the music feature this year,” she said. She also spoke of the success of the National Night Out events held recently, as well as coming events in the historic downtown.

And on to Hwy. 316…

“The Hwy. 316 project is continuing to move forward. Tuttle Drive now has a roundabout. I drive out there and you know, it’s really making progress, and it just looks so different. I’m excited to see that phase move forward now,” she said.

On the topic of Hwy. 316, Barse stressed how important it is that businesses in that area are communicated with on the progress of the project.

“It’s going to have an impact on them,” said Jurgens of the project. “I feel for the businesses out in that area. It’s going to impact your businesses. There’s just no way around it. Hopefully the detours and the workarounds won’t impact the businesses too much. I just ask for patience and hopefully then the project will be worth it.

City Councilmember Tina Folch questioned City Administrator Dan Wietecha if the city is getting regular updates on the project.

“Is our public works staff here at the city, are they receiving more notices than what’s pushed out in their email newsletter?” she asked. “I had asked the community person from MnDOT if they could provide at least to me some information, buy I haven’t heard anything from them in like at least a month, and I was just curious if anything else was going to the city that we’re not aware of. Residents do send us inquiries wondering like ‘Why did construction stop? It’s been like five days, and I haven’t seen anything.’ How am I supposed to know? They indicated they some information is given to the city public works staff, so I was wondering if there is a regular communication where we could maybe be helping to share a little bit more.”

Wietecha said there’s communication between the city and state, but not to the point where they get regular updates.

“It’s MnDOT’s project, and theirs to communicate. We don’t want to be communicating things different than what they are,” he said. “I’d be happy to find out more or pass on a response if there was a specific question.”

Folch responded, “I just think it would be helpful if the residents knew what to anticipate in the weeks to come, and that’s what I’ve asked for them in the past.

“They had given me some depictions as to what the phases would be and then they got off schedule like right off the bat from what they originally said. I just think it would be helpful if folks just knew what was coming some they don’t feel so blindsided about things starting and stopping.”

Moving on to the COVID-19 topic, Fasbender said, “I think it’s important for the community to know how important it is to try to keep this at bay by doing the simple things – getting vaccinated and wearing masks inside public spaces. School’s going to open soon, as we want our kids to be able to be in school. I think it’s a huge for us to take part in helping those efforts so they can go back to school, and our restaurants and small businesses can stay open,” she said. “There’s only a few more weeks of being outside. Eventually we’ll have to be inside and we want to take those precautions now to hopefully prevent any other additional closures.”

Economic Development

City Economic Development Coordinator Eric Maass told meeting attendees that lots is happening around the community.

“We’re moving forward with a project on the UBC site with a developer that’s interested in that. We’re anticipating that coming forward in September for approval of a developer’s agreement,” he said.

The parcel was a former UBC lumber yard, located in downtown Hastings.

“It’s on the backside of downtown. There’s currently two cold storage buildings there that the city utilizes with a vacant parcel. That is proposed to be a market rate apartment project,” said Maass.

County Commissioner Mike Slavik

Batting cleanup at the meeting was Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik, whose message centered around COVID-19.

Dakota County is again mandating employees to mask, and health precautions are being taken.

“Public health is still very closely watching what’s going on in Dakota County, in Minnesota and across the nation in terms of COVID,” he said. “The fact is we don’t have a wall around our counties so you never know what happens with that.”

He said data is continually being updated on the county’s COVID dashboard and that notifications will once be sent out on the status of county COVID levels via Facebook.

“You just try to help those who want to be informed to know what’s going on,” said Slavik. “As of Monday this past week, the staff were required to wear marks. On Tuesday, the board actually went and created a policy that is a mask on, mask off depending on certain thresholds that don’t need to go before the board.. Right now, Dakota is substantially very close to high spread according to the CDC. When it is substantial or high, we required masks in county facilities for everyone. “

He said in Dakota County, there are 254,000 residents fully vaccinated. Of that total, 329 were tested as getting COVID after they were vaccinated.

“So that is about .02 percent. The value of the vaccine has made a case for itself with that,” he said.