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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Wisconsin voters will see three state Supreme Court justice candidates on next week’s primary ballots.
The retirement of a longtime prosecutor has led to a new face at the Pierce County Courthouse. Pierce County Assistant District Attorney Bill Thorie retired Feb. 1 after 25 years with the office. "We wish Bill well on his retirement," Pierce County DA Sean Froelich said. "He'll be missed." Filling Thorie's role as Pierce County's full-time assistant DA is Kaley Walker, who until last week had been working on a limited basis with the St. Croix County District Attorney's Office.
St. Croix County firefighters responded to two structure fires between Saturday and Monday, one of which destroyed a Baldwin business. Gary Newton, Baldwin chief for United Fire Department, said a Saturday night fire at Baldwin Machine & Fab resulted in a total loss. Firefighters were called to the 1080 Sixth Ave. business at 10:06 p.m. Feb. 10.
A UW-River Falls building was temporarily evacuated Tuesday after a small fire in a heating unit. A campus spokesman said River Falls firefighters were called at 9:39 a.m. Feb. 13 to the Kleinpell Fine Arts building for the fire, caused by a burned-out motor in a heating unit in the north stairwell. The fire filled the building with smoke. Students and staff were allowed to re-enter the building just before 10 a.m., according to the university. No injuries were reported. Firefighters continued ventilating the building, where classes resumed.
Authorities said a man arrested in St. Croix County was the driver in a hit-and-run crash that left an Amery woman dead. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that 50-year-old Lisa Allen died Monday, Feb. 12 — three days after she was struck by a car while crossing a street in Amery. Witnesses to the Feb. 9 incident gave police the license plate and a description of the suspect's vehicle, which briefly stopped before allegedly leaving the scene.
The trail for a New Richmond man who allegedly bolted from authorities went cold last week. Too cold, in fact, according to court records. A criminal complaint against Kenneth R. Shutes Jr. states he ran from a Feb. 6 traffic stop, but eventually called 911 to report he was so cold he needed an ambulance.
• Deputies responded at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 to a driving complaint at N1090 825th St. in Hager City. A complainant reported seeing a vehicle cross the centerline and possibly strike a barrier in Minnesota. The driver, a Hager City man, was found in a nearby bar. He was sober, but arrested for violating bond conditions. • Deputies responded to a collision involving a power pole at 11:06 p.m. Jan. 28 at 1108 Partridge Ave. in Elmwood. The vehicle fled the scene but was later found. A Spring Valley suspect was arrested for a probation hold.
HUDSON — Authorities said a two-day sting last week led to the rescue of human trafficking victims and would-be prostitution customers in St. Croix County. The operation was timed months in advance to coincide with the Super Bowl, occurring in Minneapolis — just a half hour’s drive from Hudson, where state, county and local authorities launched one arm of a two-pronged sting.
Courtroom logic says jurors tend not to look at defendants when they return a guilty verdict. A panel of Pierce County jurors faced no such burden in January after finding Michaela M. Sousa guilty of felony child abuse. The defendant was nowhere to be found. Pierce County District Attorney Sean Froelich said Sousa attended the first day of the trial, but was a no-show the second day. "That is very unusual," he said. "I have never experienced that."
Scott Walker announced plans last week to turn the state budget surplus into checks for Wisconsin families. The Republican governor outlined that plan along with several other proposals he called on legislators to pass during his Jan. 24 State of the State speech. Walker proposed a child tax credit that would provide families about $100 for every child under 18 living at home. "This is your reform dividend," he said of the $122 million proposal. "You deserve it."