Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin.
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River Falls would be among three University of Wisconsin campuses tasked with harnessing collaboration to reverse the trend of falling Badger State dairy prices under a bill moving through the Legislature. The bill seeks to spend $7.9 million annually at UW campuses in River Falls, Madison and Platteville with the aim of finding solutions to the state's sagging dairy industry. The bill would create a UW Dairy Innovation Hub, which would add faculty, create an advanced dairy academy and boost research programs.
The tug-of-war over the gray wolf's place on the endangered species list last week came to Hudson, where advocates on both sides of the debate appealed to lawmakers. Supporters and opponents of the latest effort to remove wolves from the list spoke to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, who was joined by a panel of state lawmakers and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
A large law enforcement presence closed off a section of Highway 35 Monday morning in Prescott. The situation, which closed the road from Kinnickinnic Street to Walter Street, was a "police incident," said Prescott City Administrator Jayne Brand. She could not confirm reports of a possible standoff situation, but said officers remained on the scene as of 11:35 a.m. "We don't exactly know what's going on," she said. Prescott police, along with Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies and an ambulance, were seen near the north end of the closure.
RIVER FALLS — One by one, supporters of building projects at campuses in River Falls and Eau Claire made their case Monday to members of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee. The panel, which will reshape Gov. Tony Evers' budget, held an all-day hearing April 15 at UW-River Falls' University Center, where columns of speakers lined up to offer support and opposition to budget proposals. Two building projects received long turns in the spotlight during the hearing — one for UW-River Falls, the other for UW-Eau Claire.
The Little Falls Lake dam project at Willow River State Park was likely delayed several weeks after floodwaters breached a temporary dam securing the construction site. State Park Manager Aaron Mason said the breach occurred Sunday, March 24. Time-lapse photography from the project's website shows water breaching the site around 2 p.m. Sunday and quickly filling it over the course of the following hour. "We certainly had an incident that had some flooding and damage," Mason said.
A Pierce County sheriff's deputy was injured last weekend after an apparent accidental gun discharge in South Dakota. Aurora County Sheriff David Fink said Marty Shepler was shot inside a vehicle while retrieving a pistol when "it went off." Fink said the incident, which was reported to authorities at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, appeared to be an accident. "That's what I believe it is," he said.
The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee will hear public input next month in River Falls. The city, which comprises both Pierce and St. Croix counties, was one of four cities chosen for Joint Finance public hearings. The River Falls hearing will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 15 at the UW-River Falls University Center Ballroom No. 260. Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, sits on the panel, which reshapes the governor's budget before presenting it back to the Legislature. The committee's process calls for public hearings around the state.
Shannon Zimmerman gave hope to the notion of compromise between a Democratic governor and the Repubilcan-controlled Legislature — at least on a few issues. The River Falls Republican told attendees at a Thursday, March 21, meeting that education and transportation were two issues ripe for dealmaking.
Mental health and addiction were front and center Monday at UW-River Falls. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes joined state Sen. Patty Schachtner on campus March 18, where panelists shared their struggles and students poised to enter the mental health profession voiced concerns about what lies ahead. Without more resources, "we will not win this fight," Schachtner said during a news conference with fellow Democrat Barnes. They learned from Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Counseling and Health Services on campus, that mental health concerns are increasing among UWRF students.
Newly released records describe a climate of disturbing encounters, leering looks and provocative political commentary that surrounded Eric Lundell while he served as presiding judge of St. Croix County Circuit Court. The now-retired judge left a wake of vexed employees in the county courts system during the months leading up to his retirement, which coincided with revelations about alleged harassment, according to previously unreleased St. Croix County documents compiled during an investigation into a complaint against Lundell.