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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St. Croix County Board is not yet whole, but it got one step closer this week. The board on Tuesday, April 2, appointed Baldwin resident Nancy Hable to succeed Shaela Leibfried, who resigned the District 18 seat after announcing she was moving out of the district. In her speech to the board, Hable said the vacancy spurred friends and family to suggest she apply. She said she would bring a teamwork mindset to the board. "To be a successful board of any kind of organization, you have to have communication and teamwork," Hable said. "And I'm all for doing both."
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.
Cary Rose was riding a rig when it dawned on him. A volunteer with the River Falls Fire Department at the time, the then-20-something realized he'd been bitten by the public safety bug. There was something about helping people during their time of crisis that connected with him. "Something just clicked back then," Rose said decades later, on the precipice of retirement. "I wanted to be in emergency services."
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.
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.
St. Croix County officials continued monitoring the flood threat this week in anticipation of rising rivers in the area. According to a Monday, March 18, National Weather Service report, there is at least a 50 percent chance the stretch of the St. Croix River from Stillwater running to Prescott, where it meets the Mississippi River, and down into Minnesota's Wabasha County, will receive major flooding.
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.