New staff welcomed at Hastings council meeting

Cub Scouts came bearing treats


The March 18th Hastings Council meeting, a special night for promotions and introduction of employees, brought many visitors to the meeting hall.
“Welcome, this is always one of our favorite nights because we get to welcome new employees,” said Mayor Fasbender. “We get to watch people be promoted and our audience is full of family and friends. So, thank you all for being here tonight.”
Right out of the gate, new council member DawnMarie Vihrachoff swore the oath of office. Mayor Fasbender thanked her husband Dan and daughter Mary, who were in attendance, for allowing her to do this as it is important to have family support.
Assistant Fire Chief Chris Paulson welcomed Joseph Neuman, who was promoted from a paid on-call firefighter to full-time firefighter. Neuman started with the department in 2019, went to paramedic school and worked for Hennepin County Medical Center for a year before coming to Hastings full-time.
Jojo Zhang, not in attendance, was recognized as the new Communications Intern. Zhang is a senior at Macalester College studying Environmental Studies, and Media and Culture Studies.
Zachery Knochenmus joins the police department as an investigator. Police Chief Wilske stated, “Zach started with Hastings PD in January of 2020 and served in the patrol division on nightshift. He also has been part of the South Metro SWAT team as an operator for the past three years. Zach will complement investigator Chad Schlichte and we continue to look for quality hires to add a third investigator. We look forward to working with him daily as the new investigator and have the utmost confidence that he will do a fantastic job.”
New police officer Mike Running was next to be introduced by Chief Wilske.
“Mike comes from a family of law enforcement,” said Wilske before administering the oath of office. “His father, Mike Running Sr., is a commander with St. Paul PD, his sister Erica Running is an officer with Inver Grove Heights PD. Mike grew up in South St. Paul and attended St. Paul High School. Mike furthered his education at Inver Hills Community College, earning his associate degree in criminal justice. Mike recently worked as a Cook County Deputy where he served since 2017 until we recruited him down to Hastings.”
Occupying the back row seats in the meeting were members of Cub Scouts Troop 9444 and leader Nick Haltvick. The boys came to treat the council to one of their main fundraising products - popcorn. Whenever the troop receives cash donations, the money is put into the Hometown Heroes Fund which allows the scouts to give back to the community. After the boys presented the treats to the council members, which they were encouraged to share with their families or other city employees, each scout introduced themselves. The boys also asked a question or shared what they liked most about scouting. First up was Josiah who said he liked scouts because his dad is there. Caden Rover asked the council, “What is your favorite movie?” Councilmember Leifeld was first to answer “Up” because of the kid in the cute uniform which reminded her of them. Cub Scout Harrison said he likes the scouts because they learn a lot of skills. Patrick Klein said he loves camping the best.
Tami Omdal from Northland Securities reported they recently accepted bids for the sale of the general obligation charter bond. The bonds are being issued for infrastructure improvements for the 2024 Neighborhood Project, Civic Arena upgrades and to complete the financing for the City Hall Dome and HVAC repair and upgrade projects. Hastings received a rating of A++ which is one step below the highest rating.
“There was strong interest which is why there were 12 bids received. The final result on the rate, we use what's called the true interest cost which takes into account the purchase price and the offering from the underwriter, was at 2.86%,” Omdal stated. “In February, when my colleague Jessica Green was before you, at that time we were estimating 3.15% based upon market conditions. I would also note the bonds were bid with premium, meaning the purchaser is offering more than the face value in order to get higher coupons. That amount of that premium was used to reduce the principal amount of the bonds being issued. So, you have a new resolution before you tonight because last week when your packet went out the bids had not been received. The principal amount of the bonds being issued is $9,330,000. Again, great results for the city, that means lower debt service payments because of that lower than anticipated rate.”
After hearing the favorable rates and principal savings, the resolution was unanimously approved.
The council approved the site plan for Storage Werks. Chad Smurawa with Legacy Crossing LLC petitioned for approval to build a storage rental business located at 2489 Spiral Blvd. The plan with amendments that the driveway and fire exits be reevaluated with no outside storage allowed was passed by the Planning Commission on March 11, 2024. Councilmember Dave Pemple questioned the safety of entering the facility from Spiral Boulevard as this area of the road can get slippery in the spring and winter and asked if the entry could be moved to Glendale Avenue. Smurawa stated that Spiral was the only viable/allowable area to enter, according to the lay of the land and following engineering plans. Some obstacles in that area by Glendale included an engineered hill, culverts on Glendale, a turning lane and a power pole. He also mentioned the drainage pond needs to be in that area as well.
Councilmember Haus asked if the walking trail would be affected at all, and Smurawa said it would not. The site plan resolution passed with a Fox/Vihrachoff motion, 6 ayes with only Pemble dissenting.