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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State and local officials scooped ceremonial dirt piles June 26 during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Little Falls Lake dam, a $20 million project that will rebuild the existing structure and restore the lake above it at Willow River State Park. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia
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.
The former Hudson dentist facing ongoing scrutiny for his dental practices pleaded no contest this week to two misdemeanor crimes, though a plea agreement allows for the charges to be dropped after a year.
A Minneapolis man allegedly had an older pickup truck he'd stolen from Ohio, but a girl with him said they went to Hudson where "it's easier to steal cars from there." Authorities said in a criminal complaint that the man did just that, and drove a 2-year-old SUV out of a Hudson driveway that was loaded with belongings he'd snatched from other parked cars.