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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Authorities said alcohol may have been a factor in a head-on crash Saturday that killed a 21-year-old Somerset woman known for her love of horse riding. The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office said Stefanie S. Biedler was killed in the crash, reported at 11:17 p.m. Dec. 22 in the eastbound lanes of Highways 35/64 in Somerset. Deputies began receiving reports six minutes earlier of a wrong-way driver headed west in the eastbound lanes.
Awakened by a loud crash in the middle of the night, a rural River Falls woman went to the first floor of her house and found the front end of a car inside it. Authorities later determined the car vaulted out of a ditch, flew 110 feet in the air before punching a massive hole through the side of the town of Pleasant Valley house. "The driver, the residents and others on the road were fortunate that this was not worse than it was in regards to personal injury," St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said.
A St. Croix County man and his sister were responsible for the theft of a Salvation Army kettle this month, according to Minnesota authorities. Anoka County prosecutors on Wednesday, Dec. 19, charged Houlton resident Travis H. Johnson, 30, and Lakeland, Minn., resident Amanda L. Johnson, 24, with felony possession of burglary tools and misdemeanor theft. According to a criminal complaint warrant:
Mark Gherty had set his sights on becoming a teacher. Though his father was a leading legal mind in St. Croix County at the time, the younger Gherty had plans outside the courtroom. And then the 1970s happened.
Hudson police on Saturday investigated a possible OWI incident involving a recently resigned St. Croix County judge, who was not arrested or cited in connection with the traffic stop.
Members of a drug task force executed a search warrant at a Somerset man's home after a man who allegedly bought drugs from him shot himself while high on a rare hallucinogen, according to authorities. A criminal complaint in the case states police confiscated the victim's cellphone, which turned up a string of texts between him and the suspect, Justin R. Perry. The victim, who survived the shooting, had allegedly requested marijuana extract, LSD, methamphetamine, MDMA and a rare drug known as DMT.
Eleven people are seeking to succeed Judge Eric Lundell in St. Croix County's Branch I court. Gov. Scott Walker's office released limited information about the applicants Wednesday, Dec. 12. Eight of the applicants requested confidentiality, spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg said; their names were not released. The applicants who did not request confidentiality are James Johnson, John Bjork, Julie Weber and Michael Nieskes.
There is a special place in Washington, D.C., dedicated to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, but you won't find Lee Murphy's name there. Not yet, anyway. But after more than six decades since his death, the necessary combination of perseverance and influence was achieved to include the late St. Croix County highway patrolman's name on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall.
Authorities said alcohol was a factor in a crash that injured a motorist Sunday, Dec. 9, in rural Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the crash, reported at 6:33 p.m. at County Road BB and 370th Street in the town of El Paso, involved a single-vehicle rollover. The vehicle, a 2005 Chevy Malibu driven by Spring Valley resident Julie A. Samlaska, was found on its roof. Samlaska, 57, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of OWI. She was taken by Ellsworth ambulance to Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin for her injuries, the extent of which was not released.
Support for legislation that took powers away from Wisconsin’s incoming governor and attorney general last week was generally split along party lines. Lawmakers representing St. Croix and Pierce counties were no exception. For Sen. Patty Schachtner, the lame-duck session represented a reality check.