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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A former Woodville gas station manager faces felony charges in St. Croix County Circuit Court after allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from her former employers. A criminal complaint against Cindy M. Meyer alleges she stole about $37,600 from the BP gas station while she was employed there from 2014 to February 2018. The 40-year-old Woodville woman's first court appearance is set for Nov. 15 on two felony theft charges. According to the complaint:
A Prescott man accused of sexually assaulting and stabbing a woman earlier this year allegedly violated his bond conditions Oct. 19 by driving her in his car, which authorities say he then used to flee police into Minnesota. Jason J. Kulla, 46, was charged with two felonies — bail jumping and fleeing an officer — after being arrested Thursday, Oct. 25. He made his initial court appearance Monday, where Pierce County Court Commissioner Jorv Gavic set Kulla's cash bail at $100,000.
State Sen. Leah Vukmir downplayed polling that showed her trailing by double digits in the race for U.S. Senate, saying she expects a visit Wednesday by President Donald Trump to give her more steam as Election Day nears. Vukmir, of Brookfield, met with supporters Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Hop and Barrel in Hudson, where she was joined by fellow Republican Sean Duffy, a congressman from Hayward. A Marquette University Law School poll conducted earlier in October showed Democrat incumbent Tammy Baldwin with a 10-point lead over Vukmir ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
A St. Croix County Circuit Court judge called a New Richmond man's actions toward his mother "absolutely reprehensible" before sentencing him to prison. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack on Monday, Oct. 22, sentenced 26-year-old Omar Martinez to four-and-a-half years behind bars and five years on extended supervision. Martinez, who pressed a handgun to his mother's head, pleaded guilty July 30 to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor battery involving a dangerous weapon.
Fire in a field near the St. Croix-Pierce county line was extinguished Tuesday after a combine caught fire. United Fire Chief Gary Newton said fire crews responded to a minor fire Oct. 16 in a field on County Road Y in the town of Rush River. A small fire began near a bearing on the combine's corn head, which threw sparks that ignited some corn stalks, Newton said. Firefighters from United's Baldwin station, along with River Falls fire department crews extinguished the flames. Newton said damage to the combine was minor.
A Minnesota man drove to Hudson with plans to have sex with a 15-year-old, according to charges filed last week in St. Croix County. But instead of meeting a child, the 38-year-old man was met by authorities who had been tracking his movements after he allegedly arranged the encounter with a police officer posing as a child.
Authorities arrested a teenager outside Hudson last week after the SUV he was in lurched across Interstate 94 traffic into a ditch, where an officer found a woman inside mouthing the words "help me, help me." The woman later told officers the suspect, her passenger, said he "would rather be handicapped" before grabbing the steering wheel, eventually overpowering her and sending the vehicle into the ditch.
A 72-year-old man was airlifted after a single-vehicle crash Friday outside New Richmond. The crash, reported at 3:08 p.m. Oct. 12 on Highway 64 at County Road T, left the St. Paul man and lone occupant of the vehicle seriously injured, according to St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson. The man was flown by LifeLink to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The sheriff said the man's 1998 Jeep Cherokee was westbound on Highway 64 when witnesses said it drifted off the road and rolled.
A Hammond woman and a horse were killed Friday morning after the animal was struck in the middle of a St. Croix County road. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 53-year-old Diane G. Johnson, the driver of a 2009 Chevy Impala.
Four people were injured after a two-car crash early Wednesday in rural Hudson. St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said deputies responded at 5 a.m. to McCutcheon Road and County Road A for a crash. The driver and two passengers of a 2008 Toyota Prius were extricated from the vehicle and transported by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Knudson said. He said the driver was a 45-year-old Hudson man, who had a 56-year-old Hudson man as his front-seat passenger and a 61-year-old woman as a back-seat passenger.