Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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NEW RICHMOND — There are no frills at the Lowrey Hotel. For $350 a month, you get a bed, a desk, a chair and a dresser. Cheap plastic racks provide a makeshift food pantry if you like. The hotel has one microwave for its 50 guests to share. Television, cable or internet? Try somewhere else. Lowrey owner Stacy Wright outfits guests with linens, towels and pillows that they can bring downstairs weekly to be laundered. She said she's not there to pamper her guests.
Officers on alert following a $25,000 fireworks theft in Somerset arrested a group of Twin Cities men in June after they arrived in the middle of the night outside a St. Croix County fireworks store in trucks allegedly packed with tools to commit a burglary.
A Red Wing man was recovering Thursday after riding a motorcycle into a barbed-wire fence Wednesday outside a rural Ellsworth home. A spokeswoman said the rider, Anthony J. Pirri, 45, was listed in good condition Friday at Regions Hospital. Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies were called at 2:18 p.m. July 4 to W5774 Highway 10 in the town of Ellsworth for a motorcycle crash. Deputies determined Pirri was driving an off-road motorcycle on private property when he lost control and struck the fence.
NEW RICHMOND — A stride past a puff of cigarette smoke and children playing on the sidewalk leads to the entrance of the Lowrey Hotel, where visitors are greeted by a bulletin board in the foyer. An assortment of messages spell out hotel owner Stacy Wright's code of conduct for tenants. There are many edicts among "Stacy's Simple Rules," as they're listed, but Wright said one above all sums up her philosophy as owner of the inn. She can recite it from memory.
A 22-year-old Hastings man died last weekend after a trench collapse in Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said 22-year-old Joseph T. Sanderson was airlifted Saturday, June 30, 2018, after the accident at N7155 690th St. in the town of Martell. Deputies said in a news release that Sanderson succumbed to his injuries later that day at Regions Hospital.
ELLSWORTH — The Prescott police officers fired by the city last year will not get their jobs back, a judge decided Tuesday. Buffalo-Pepin Circuit Court Judge James Duvall dismissed a lawsuit brought by former officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most and denied motions from their attorney that sought to restore their jobs and provide them back-pay. The contract outlining the grievance process was ambiguous "at a minimum," the judge said, but concluded it was clear that, as probationary officers, they were not eligible for just-cause termination rights.
Officers responded to two separate crashes one day apart last weekend along the same stretch of Highway 35 in Pierce County. The first crash occurred at 10:35 a.m. Friday, June 22, when Pierce County sheriff's deputies were called to a motorcycle crash on Highway 35 near 1005th Street in Diamond Bluff. The driver, 65-year-old Thomas J. Kormylo, was taken by Red Wing ambulance to a hospital for undisclosed injuries. Deputies said the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, resident was northbound on the highway when he swerved his 2007 Harley-Davidson to avoid a deer in the road.
A number of Wisconsin schools will be using gunshot-detection sensors when classes resume this fall to try to get police to respond more quickly to a mass shooting. The sensors are among various security upgrades schools are rolling out with grant money state lawmakers approved this year after the shootings in Parkland, Florida. Officials say the Kenosha Unified School District plans to use $384,000 of its nearly $900,000 award to install sensors from New Mexico-based EAGL Technology at its 43 schools.
St. Croix County Sheriff's Office leaders were satisfied they had found the right body cameras for their officers. They just needed the right apparatus to hold them in place. The new cameras offer deputies different options — they're military-grade cellphones capable of audio recording and GPS tracking — but while testing the devices, sheriff's officials learned there was a drawback. There wasn't anything holding them in place.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will be drawing from other agencies' experiences while minding potential legislative changes as it prepares to launch its body camera program later this year. The cameras — beefed-up smartphones, actually — will be issued to the department's patrol deputies, jail staff and investigators later this summer, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said. The $230,000 program comes as state lawmakers revisit body-camera legislation that will likely be resurrected after crumbling in 2017.