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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Spotlight draws arrest A deputy stopped Jan. 4 at W3202 160th Ave. in Maiden Rock to tell a man that his high-powered spotlight was blinding motorists. The man was arrested for two warrants. Puppy mill report investigated
Fire crews from around St. Croix County responded Tuesday morning to a house fire in the town of Kinnickinnic. The fire was reported at about 9:20 a.m. Jan. 9 at 1237 County Road N — in between River Falls and Roberts. Initial scanner traffic suggested the home was not occupied at the time of the fire.
Two candidates for the 10th Senate District seat will appear next week in River Falls for a forum.
A Woodville man pleaded not guilty to a seventh OWI offense last week in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Joseph A. Lynum, 43, entered the plea to the offense and a misdemeanor charge of driving while revoked during his Friday, Dec. 29, arraignment hearing. He faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Traffic trouble • An Elmwood man was arrested at 11:23 p.m. Dec. 22 at 330th Avenue and County Road S in Plum City after a traffic stop. The 23-year-old was arrested on suspicion of OWI and was cited for operating left of center. • Deputies were called at 4:13 a.m. Dec. 23 to W829 County Road G in Elmwood for an unwanted intoxicated person. A 31-year-old Red Wing man was arrested on warrants, including one from Clark County.
An Elmwood-area man's dog breeding practices landed criminal convictions this year and he's not through with the court system yet. A jury in October convicted Stuart E. West of 62 counts — mostly related to failure to provide proper food and drink, along with eight convictions for animal mistreatment. He was acquitted on 15 counts of improper animal shelter space and 48 counts of improper ventilation for the dogs.
One of Pierce County's most hotly debated issues in years ended 2017 where it began — without a UW-Extension agricultural agent. The Pierce County Board voted in November to adopt a budget that does not fund the position that had been left vacant since Greg Andrews retired in January 2016. Area Extension Director Kristen Bruder said that's the way the issue will remain until the board decides to re-engage it. She said the situation is in a necessary cooling-off period.
TOWN OF TRENTON -- A southeastern Minnesota woman was killed and an Ellsworth woman was airlifted Thursday after a head-on crash in Pierce County.
Authorities said there’s no indication of what claimed the life of an infant found dead last fall in Baldwin. The final autopsy on Aubree Long revealed “no anatomic cause of death,” nor any trauma to the 14-week-old’s body, according to Ramsey County Medical Examiner findings released Thursday by Baldwin police. Toxicology blood tests also turned up nothing out of the ordinary, according to the report.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack admonished a Kinnickinnic Town Board member who had told authorities he was within his rights to shoot a dog to death. "Sir, we have laws for a reason," the judge told David J. Nelson, before sentencing him to a fine for the misdemeanor offense of intentionally killing a dog. In sentencing Nelson Thursday Dec. 21, Vlack stopped at several points to remind the town official about the law and to add context to statements about the June 23 incident that left a neighbor's dog dead.