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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NEW RICHMOND — Labor shortages, pay disparities with Minnesota and testing hurdles were among issues raised Monday by western Wisconsin nursing home officials and educators. Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, and Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman met June 3 with about 20 officials who discussed struggles facing the certified nursing assistant (CNA) profession, which largely tends to nursing home residents.
Lifted by a message of unity, the River Falls High School Class of 2019 set sail Sunday, June 2. Graduation speakers Madison Priestly and Grace Redmond reminded classmates of the success students saw over the past school year: A turnaround football season marked with a conference title; a trip to state for the girls' soccer team; a third consecutive state entry for volleyball; yet another state trip for the gymnastics team; and state titles for the marching band and forensics teams.
Hudson Common Council members on Monday, June 1, will consider a contract between the city and Lakeview EMS for ambulance services. The Lakeview EMS Contract Negotiating Committee on Thursday approved a contract and voted to send the document to the full council for consideration. The proposal would effectively bring to an end the city's 42-year partnership with St. Croix EMS and begin contracting ambulance services with Lakeview. Thursday's meeting finalized details leftover from a May 22 negotiation meeting, where the bulk of the contract's framework was settled.
St. Croix County officials required an outside firm to determine the impact of a proposed manure digester on neighboring property values. "None of us as staff are qualified to do that," St. Croix County Community Development Director Ellen Denzer said at the May 23 Board of Adjustment meeting, where the project was revisited. The applicant proposes to build a manure digester in the town of Pleasant Valley, where turkey litter and manure would be processed and converted into natural gas. Other byproducts from the process would be converted to fertilizer products to be sold.
A St. Croix County Board candidate embroiled in a 2018 election recount dispute is making his case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court after an appeals court rejected his argument. New Richmond resident Ryan Sherley, a District 13 candidate who drew exactly as many votes as incumbent Scottie Ard, petitioned Monday, May 28, for the state's high court to hear his case.
St. Croix County public health officials began exploring outreach possibilities after reviewing data that showed fewer than 60% of local 5-year-olds were on schedule with recommended vaccinations. According to data released at the Wednesday, May 8, St. Croix County Health and Human Services (HHS) Board meeting, 58% of the county's 5-year-olds were up-to-date with their vaccinations as of the end of March. The percent of St. Croix County 2-year-olds up to date on measles vaccinations was 81% and 64% for 5-year-olds.
St. Croix County supervisors decided an $8.4 million borrowing request to fund three projects wasn't ready for prime time. County Board on Tuesday, May 7, rejected the request, which would have sold bonds to fund a "special needs" wing in the jail, a heating-air-conditioning and-ventilation (HVAC) overhaul to the Government Center and a new mobile command vehicle.
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).
Concrete on the new Interstate 94 crossing at Hudson was still fresh when Brian Erickson began patrolling St. Croix County. The reconstructed bridge saw scarcely 50,000 trips a year after it opened in 1995. That same stretch saw about 90,000 trips in 2018. "It will be interesting to see what it looks like 10 years from now, 20 years from now," said Erickson, a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper who retires Thursday, May 2. During his 25 years patrolling highways in St. Croix County and western Wisconsin, Erickson said he's struck most by the evolution in how people drive.