HPAAC gala a success

The sixth-annual Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council (HPAAC) Annual Gala was held Friday, Nov. 3, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Great Hall. Almost 300 people came together to celebrate the vibrant arts life of our two river towns. HPAAC serves to support the arts and artists in our communities.

Because of past gala fundraising, HPAAC has offered a variety of summer arts programs that served over 300 kids in Hastings city parks. HPAAC has also created new opportunities, otherwise closed because of family finances, to kids wanting to take piano and other lessons as well as participate in the high school music programs. Adults too, have received scholarships. Because of the success of the gala, HPAAC hopes to double the number of kids and adults served in 2018.

2017 was a landmark year for HPAAC with the opening of The Artspace River Lofts, which provides 37 units of living/work space for people and their families involved in creative pursuits. HPAAC secured the original public and private support for the 2013 market research documenting that a successful project was possible. In addition to housing, the River Lofts has generated over $13 million in new construction and approximately $60,000 in ongoing annual property tax revenues.

A major focus of the gala is honoring citizens who have made significant contributions to the arts communities. This year, Judy Johnson, the founder and director of the Great River Road Theatre in Prescott, has been named 2017 Prescott Arts Hero. This honor coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Great River Road. Today, the Great River Road Theatre has grown into a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing classic musicals and comedies to the Prescott area. In 2017, the Great River Road Theatre moved their production of Annie to the auditorium in the new Prescott High School. They have also produced a dinner theater show in February since 2001.

Allen and Debbie Saunders were honored for their hours of volunteer work in several areas. Debbie has been a pillar in the establishment of HPAAC. She currently serves as secretary and treasurer. She was also a founder of the River Valley Band. Allen currently holds a leadership role with RVB, which has grown from 40 to 70 members in the past year. They meet every Tuesday evening at the high school. Allen also coordinated the HPAAC Summer Arts Program in 2017.

We thank the many, many individuals and organizations that contributed to the gala's success. Thanks in particular go to the music departments of Hastings and Prescott schools for their performances, the MC couple Libby and Dave Wasylik, and over 150 businesses and individuals who donated gifts and money. A very special thank you goes to all who attended. Deserving special thanks is Joshua Greene who chaired the planning and implementation of this memorable evening.

Dick Graham

HPAAC Board of Directors

A thank you to Chief Schutt

I have lived in Hastings for the last 53 years. Now, at 91, from time to time I look back and cherish all the good in my life: my daughters, son-in-laws, my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and especially my last husband Wally.

I remember back 25 years ago, in the spring of 1992, when Wally had a massive heart attack. It was about 3 a.m. when he called out for help from the bathroom. I dialed 911, and an ambulance was dispatched from the Hastings Fire Department. What seemed to be only seconds later, I heard the doorbell ringing, and there was fireman Mike Schutt. You see, Mike grew up across the street from Wally and me. In my haste, I had turned on the outside porch light, but had forgotten to unlock the front door. Mike immediately began CPR on Wally and continued until the ambulance and paramedics arrived.

Over the years, when Wally and I would talk about that fateful day, he would always tell me: "You know, it was Mike who saved me that day." Fireman Mike Schutt helped give Wally another 20 years of life, and I am forever grateful for that. I have personally thanked Mike, but felt it was time to let the citizens of Hastings know, and thank him publicly.

Thank you, Chief Schutt, for all of the wonderful things you have done for my family, for Hastings and the surrounding communities. Your leadership at the fire department is invaluable.

Dorothy Swanson