The Star Gazette will launch an advisory panel in October as a new way to connect with the community and get valuable feedback from our readers about our print and digital products. We will call this the Hastings Readers Board.

We are looking for up to 10 volunteers who will meet four times a year, giving us story ideas, advising us on trends and generally promoting civic engagement. Think of this as a focus group that meets regularly and includes community sharing.

Ideally, the Hastings Readers Board will include people representative of the youth, families and seniors living here as well as the faith, nonprofit, business, education, safety, arts and health care communities that make up the greater Hastings area.

If you know of anyone who might be a good fit or if you are interested, please contact me by Thursday, Oct. 4 at 651-301-7870 or, or Jake Pfeifer at or 651-301-7880. He is the new regional editor who introduced himself to readers in a column last week.

United Way of Hastings has graciously offered us the agency's conference room for our first meeting. We will meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, for one hour. Future meetings likely will be in early December, late February or early March and then mid-May.

After the first meeting I will update all readers in a column about the board members' initial ideas and let you know who they are. If we are fortunate enough to have too many nominees, we'll put people on the list for next year. I'm hopeful that five inaugural board members will agree to serve two years so we can have rotating two-year terms.

This won't be a big time commitment, but we believe the Hastings Readers Board will make a big difference in your local paper. I'm excited to get started.