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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Outrage over a River Falls prep sports controversy took on bipartisan backing last week. Lawmakers from both parties authored a letter to to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), which raised the ire of River Falls High School football supporters in proposing to move the Wildcats to a football-only conference comprised largely of La Crosse-area schools.
An issue that municipal officials in St. Croix County say is putting the squeeze on local coffers is being targeted by the Tony Evers administration. The Democratic governor earlier this month said he would include a measure to close the so-called "dark-store loophole" in Wisconsin. A 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling allows retailers to have open stores assessed at the rate of a vacant store, allowing them to pay lower property taxes.
Dr. Robert Bailey III blazed a trail in the 1950s when he became the first black professor at UW-River Falls. Even now, more than 25 years since his death, the former sociology professor will break new ground. He will become the first African American person to have his name grace an office at UWRF. What houses the university's international study programs will in 2020 be renamed the Dr. Robert B. Bailey III Office of International Education.
A rural Somerset man was appointed to a St. Croix County Board post that was vacated after its former occupant became a judge. On a split vote Tuesday, Feb. 5, County Board members chose Jim Endle to be the next supervisor for District 2. The seat was vacated last month by Scott Nordstrand after he was appointed by former Gov. Scott Walker to serve out the remainder of former St. Croix County Circut Court Judge Eric Lundell's term. Endle will complete the remainder of Nordstrand's two-year term, which began in 2018.
St. Croix County is turning to lawmakers for help in solving a widening problem that officials say is draining local coffers and hamstringing law enforcement departments tasked with handling mental health crises. Because fewer beds are available in western Wisconsin hospitals, police and St. Croix County Sheriff's Office deputies who transport people for emergency mental health detentions often trek from St. Croix County to a secure mental hospital in Winnebago County.
Residents of the St. Croix River valley woke up to minus-30 temperatures Wednesday, with even harsher windchills. See the attached photo gallery for images of those who braved the cold.
There's an elevator leading up the chimney at Xcel Energy's Allen S. King Generating Station outside Stillwater. It's the preferred mode of transportation for St. Croix County emergency communications technicians when they go to service radio equipment tucked inside the 786-foot "King Stack," as it's known, along the St. Croix River. But the elevator doesn't always work. "Then he has to hoof it," said St. Croix County Emergency Support Services Director Steve T'Kach.
A Prescott teenager was injured Saturday after the SUV she was driving crashed into a tree. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said 17-year-old Lauran Korfhage was taken by ambulance to Regina Hospital in Hastings for her injuries, the extent of which were not disclosed. The crash was reported at 1:39 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, on 1180th Street near 497th Avenue in the town of Oak Grove. Deputies concluded Korfhage was northbound on 1180th Street when she lost control of a 2009 Lincoln MKX, which went into a ditch and struck the tree.
The fate of a proposed $55 million St. Croix County manure processing plant was placed in a holding pattern after a meeting where residents raised concerns about the project. Several neighbors of the proposed Western Wisconsin Biogas and Nutrient Recovery Project voiced opposition to the prospect of odors, truck volume and other issues Thursday, Jan. 25, while proponents described plans as a boon to the regional agriculture industry.
RIVER FALLS — Dan Brandenstein had only one class with Dr. Richard Swensen, but it was a life changer. A physics major, Brandenstein needed to take a chemistry class toward his degree at UW-River Falls. Swensen taught the chemistry class, where he would chat up the young Brandenstein during laboratory sessions in the early 1960s.