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The Hastings Bridge Project - three years in the making - has reached an exciting and critical milestone: late today, construction crews will reroute the southbound lane of traffic on Highway 61 onto the new Hastings Bridge. Approximately 24 hours later, crews will reroute the northbound lane of traffic on Highway 61 onto the new bridge. Please note that the pedestrian walkway will not be completed until the end of the year - no pedestrians will be allowed on the bridge.
The Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings has a new executive director. Jen Vieth was the unanimous choice of the three committees tasked with hiring a new leader for the non-profit center. The position became available earlier this year when Jim Fitzpatrick decided to retire after serving as the director for the past 32 years. Vieth is just the second executive director at the center. A comprehensive search began when Fitzpatrick announced his retirement in late 2012.
The annual inspection of the Hastings bridge was planned to take two weeks, but crews finished their work last week. There are no lane closures planned this week. The inspection had closed one lane of the bridge between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. last week, causing long delays for travelers.
Highway 61 motorists traveling through Hastings may experience delays beginning June 8 when the roadway is reduced to a single lane between Spiral Bridge Road, near Hub's Landing, and Third Street in downtown Hastings. The lane closure will take place between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8 and again on Thursday, June 9 through Friday, June 10. A flagging crew will control traffic to allow for alternating traffic across the bridge during the closure.
Apples, pumpkins, and hayrides will be celebrated this weekend when the annual Apple Fest is celebrated this weekend in the St. Croix River Valley. Apple orchards will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offer a variety of activities, including tours and petting zoos. Participating orchards include Afton Apple, Carpenter's St. Croix Valley Nature Center, Fischer Croix Farms, McDougall's Apple Junction and Whistling Well Farms.
The fall raptor release at Carpenter Nature Center will be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. The program is presented in partnership with The Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota. Rehabilitated birds of prey will be released at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visitors can learn about and photograph eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls. There will be many activities for children and you may bring empty printer cartridges to recycle for the raptors.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation told elected officials in Hastings on Wednesday afternoon they planned to reduce the speed limit on Highway 61 between the Hastings bridge and U.S. Highway 10. The current 60 mph speed limit will remain in place between The Point Restaurant and the end of the concrete barrier for southbound travelers.
A crash just north of the Highway 61 bridge claimed the life of one person Monday morning, May 3. Brian Jacobson, 34, of Lake City, died in the crash. The four-vehicle accident was reported at 6:20 a.m. near the King's Cove entrance. In addition to the fatality, two people were injured. In the latest information released by the State Patrol, the drivers of the other vehicles have been identified as Anthony L. Mancheski, 19, Maplewood; Ka Lee, 47, Newport; and Jason Brommerich, 33, Hastings.
Despite being shorthanded and battling the worst weather he's ever competed in, Hastings resident Greg Schmotzer still found a way to ice the competition. Schmotzer and Tom Klug, another Hastings resident, won the multi-block ice carving competition at the St. Paul Winter Carnival last weekend. It was Schmotzer's fifth win in six years. Another Hastings resident, Tom Schiller, came in second place. Schmotzer and Klug's carving depicted a mountain lion perched on a rock formation, looking down on two rams as they were butting heads.
A 30-year-old Cottage Grove man apparently rented a vehicle at the Hertz Rent-A-Car at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and did not return it within the four-day time period. For two months he apparently drove the vehicle to and from his job as a Dakota County corrections officer at the Dakota County Law Enforcement Center in Hastings. This week, the Minneapolis Airport Police Department charged Antwayn Terrell Hunter with one felony count of theft of motor vehicle in Hennepin County. According to the criminal complaint, an officer with the Airport Police was called Aug.