Sunday, November 2, 2014

We endorse Vaughan and Bayers for Hastings City Council

Hastings friends: I wrote a letter to the editor to the StarGazette and it was published today. I'm wholeheartedly supporting Mark Vaughan and Joanna Bayers for Hastings City Council. 
Please make the time to vote - this is a very important election for our city. Tell your friends and neighbors, too!
Here's my letter:
It’s a critical time in the history of Hastings. On Nov. 4, we have an opportunity to elect city council members with the experience to make a difference, be proactive, and move our city forward. While all candidates on the ballot bring certain skills to the table, two rise to the top – Mark Vaughan and Joanna Bayers. 
Both Mark and Joanna have the background needed to meet the challenges we face and keep Hastings on the right path. They will listen to residents, introduce new ideas, and ask the right questions before making decisions. Please join me in voting for Mark Vaughan and Joanna Bayers for Hastings City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hastings City Council approves own double-digit salary raises

In a vote that came as a surprise to no one, the Hastings City Council approved salary raises for itself last night in a unanimous 6-0 vote. Mayor Paul Hicks, who received a 12.5% raise effective January 2015 (he will now earn $9,600 annually), was on vacation and not present for the Oct. 20 vote. Also in January, council members will receive a 16.7% salary increase for their part-time work representing Hastings residents. They will each make $7,200 annually.
One of the council members present Monday night, Tony Alongi, made a point of reminding the viewing audience that members of the Hastings City Council had not received a raise since 2000, and had even decreased its pay for one of those long 14 years, seemingly in solidarity with the Hastings city staff, before returning its pay to its original level the following year.
Fast forward to 2014 and it was Alongi, along with Council Members Schultz and Nelson, who formally recommended the very raises that passed on Monday night. As members of the council Finance Committee, the three officials said they studied other cities’ council and mayoral salaries and learned that Hastings was paying less than the average. None of that is in dispute.
What some in the community may call into question is the large leap the Hastings council is taking to “catch up” with other cities. Many of those other cities have been, and still are, in better economic shape. If it’s critical that Hastings council members get paid the same as other cities our size, why not just increase salaries in 3-5% increments over time?
We also thought it was telling that, during his commentary on Monday night, Alongi described the salary he receives as a “stipend.”  Some folks may think that $600 per month (after the raise) qualifies as a bit more than a stipend – some might even call it “grocery money.”
So, if the “stipend” our council members and mayor receive is so insignificant, why the need for such a large increase? And if it’s truly such a token amount of money, why even collect a salary at all? Why not just earn $50 per meeting? Or, better yet, if the mayor and council would work for nothing, as true “public servants” and “volunteers,” that would put another $52,800 back into the Hastings general fund.
I’d like to see at least one of the council members (or mayor) turn down this raise and give it to the charity of their choice. $1,200 would be a great donation – and think of the positive publicity.     (breath not being held).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hastings Council Candidate Forum Now on YouTube

Here's the link to the Hastings City Council candidate forum held July 24. Please remember to get out and VOTE on Tuesday, Aug. 12. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hastings City Council candidate forum now airing on Channel 15

A big thank you to the four Hastings City Council candidates who appeared at the Hastings Happenings candidate forum on Thursday, July 24. Thanks also to Our Saviour's Lutheran Church for use of your wonderful facility.

Hastings residents will have four great candidates from which to choose on Tuesday, Aug. 12 (primary) and Tuesday, Nov. 4 (general election).

Candidates include: Joanna Bayers, Lori Braucks, Ian Martin and Mark Vaughan.

Those who couldn't make it to the forum may now watch replays of the event on Hastings Community Television - Channel 15. It will air each day at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.. 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Stay tuned to Hastings Happenings here at www.HastingsHappenings.CO, on Twitter at @HastingsMinn and on Facebook for upcoming coverage of the local Hastings election. Please let us know what you would like us to ask these candidates in the coming months.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Send us your candidate questions for the July 24 forum!

The Hastings City Council candidate forum, sponsored by HastingsHappenings.CO is coming this Thursday, July 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Hastings.

All four remaining candidates will be participating in the forum - answering questions that you submit in advance. Questions will also be taken at the forum itself via audience question cards.

What would you like to ask the candidates? Please send your questions to or include in the comments section of this site.

Thanks - hope to see you at the forum!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hastings llama breeders mentioned in New York Times article

Sue Morgan and one of her mini-llamas in Hastings.
Susan and George Morgan of Hastings have an unusual side business - they raise llamas just outside of town.

The couple, which operates Gemini Mini-Llamas, was recently mentioned in a New York Times article about folks around the country who have taken up this vocation.

From the Times article:

It’s part of the bonding process, said Susan Morgan, 54, a home-care nurse in Hastings, Minn., who breeds miniature llamas with her husband, George, 56, an engineer. “They recognize each other by the hum,” she said. Two months after one of her females gave birth, Ms. Morgan said, they were still humming at each other.
Her husband said he gets a lot of questions about it. “People come up to me and ask, ‘Why are the llamas humming?’ ” he said. “And I’ll say, ‘Because they don’t know the words.’ ”

Hear of something going on in Hastings that you'd like us to investigate? Have a good story idea? 

Please email us or comment below. We are dedicated to covering items that you want to hear about. 

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hastings in the news: Voices of Hope DVD for breast cancer caregivers

Inspiring today to see a press release come over about Voices of Hope: Family and Friends, a DVD dedicated to the caregivers of recovering breast cancer patients.

This was put together by the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group - a local group that has done great things to benefit patients, their friends and family members all over the United States. Congratulations to them for their success, and thanks for your efforts! (And they are taking donations, so please give what you can).

The release was picked up by the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee.

From the release: Voices of Hope: Family and Friends is in DVD format and may be played on any TV, computer or DVD player. It is the second DVD in the Voices of Hope series created by the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group of Hastings, Minnesota. Voices of Hope, first in the series, was designed to offer comfort, direction and helpful resources for patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer and the people who love them. You'll hear first hand from real women sharing their journey from diagnosis to treatment to recovery. Voices of Hope speaks from the heart in only the way a survivor can to talk to someone newly diagnosed. This DVD has made a huge difference in the journey of many, many patients.  

The Voices of Hope series is available online at On this website you are able to view three minute trailers of both of the DVDs available. Please note that these DVDs are not-for-profit and that Voices of Hope makes no income from this labor of love. However, due to costs of production and distribution, any donations are greatly appreciated.

Read more here: