Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

This past year, a number of new businesses and development projects gained steam or were finalized. A new yarn shop in downtown Hastings opened in November, the Raider Rack was created at Schoolhouse Scoop in September, Planet Beach moved downtown in April, and of course, the city gained its first brewery.

Spiral Brewery held its grand opening April 20-22 to locals' delight. Owners Amy, Nick and Jen Fox, Luke McGuire and Claire Sandahl worked on getting the building ready on 111 Second St. E., since August 2017.

"We're really excited for people to try the beer for one, but I think when people get in here they'll quickly see that the space is really welcoming and warm and cool to hang out in," Amy said.

In addition to the beer names paying homage to the city of Hastings, some pieces within the taproom are centered around the rich history. In the seating area, all the table tops and benches were made from the original flooring inside the building. Another piece of historical significance will be a few of the photos hanging on the wall. The brewery found old photos of the Hastings bridge from the Pioneer Room at City Hall. They were able to enlarge the photos which will be displayed in the taproom.

In addition to new businesses, development and renovation projects gained a foothold this past year.

More than 100 people attended the open house for the Highway 316 Safety Improvement project hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation this past February. Neighbors expressed concerns they have with the area from the north junction of Highway 61 to south of Tuttle Drive.

The project is slated to take place in 2021. The total project budget is $8.2 million. The north junction of Highway 61 to south of Tuttle Drive will have $1.4 million of the total budget for pavement repair and trail and related improvements.

Molly Kline, the south area engineer for MnDOT, said the turnout at the open house was much larger than what they had expected. The event was held in order to receive public input on improvements to help with safety and traffic flow for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists on Highway 316.

According to MnDOT, Highway 316 carries more traffic than Highway 61 with many vehicles averaging trip lengths that exceed 30 miles. About 45-55 percent of all trips begin or end in Hastings. A speed study by MnDOT shows that many vehicles travel about 5-10 mph over the speed limit throughout the corridor and 15 percent travel even faster.

Pleasant Hill Library has began its renovation to expand by 1,500 square feet this fall. The expansion will allow for the creation of a new iLab/Maker space and increase the size of the community meeting room.

The project began in March 2017 with a needs assessment that was reviewed by the Library Advisory Committee. In October 2017, the Dakota County Board approved the assessment. Kodet Architectural Group was selected for design and an open house was held in February 2018 to discuss the proposed floor plan. The County Board then awarded the construction of the renovation to Ebert Construction in September with a goal to reopen the site in summer 2019.

In the interim, Pleasant Hill Library is open at Westview Mall, 1355 S. Frontage Road, Suite 200.