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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Officers responded to two separate crashes one day apart last weekend along the same stretch of Highway 35 in Pierce County. The first crash occurred at 10:35 a.m. Friday, June 22, when Pierce County sheriff's deputies were called to a motorcycle crash on Highway 35 near 1005th Street in Diamond Bluff. The driver, 65-year-old Thomas J. Kormylo, was taken by Red Wing ambulance to a hospital for undisclosed injuries. Deputies said the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, resident was northbound on the highway when he swerved his 2007 Harley-Davidson to avoid a deer in the road.
A number of Wisconsin schools will be using gunshot-detection sensors when classes resume this fall to try to get police to respond more quickly to a mass shooting. The sensors are among various security upgrades schools are rolling out with grant money state lawmakers approved this year after the shootings in Parkland, Florida. Officials say the Kenosha Unified School District plans to use $384,000 of its nearly $900,000 award to install sensors from New Mexico-based EAGL Technology at its 43 schools.
St. Croix County Sheriff's Office leaders were satisfied they had found the right body cameras for their officers. They just needed the right apparatus to hold them in place. The new cameras offer deputies different options — they're military-grade cellphones capable of audio recording and GPS tracking — but while testing the devices, sheriff's officials learned there was a drawback. There wasn't anything holding them in place.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office will be drawing from other agencies' experiences while minding potential legislative changes as it prepares to launch its body camera program later this year. The cameras — beefed-up smartphones, actually — will be issued to the department's patrol deputies, jail staff and investigators later this summer, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said. The $230,000 program comes as state lawmakers revisit body-camera legislation that will likely be resurrected after crumbling in 2017.
The former Hudson dentist facing ongoing scrutiny for his dental practices pleaded no contest this week to two misdemeanor crimes, though a plea agreement allows for the charges to be dropped after a year.
A Minneapolis man allegedly had an older pickup truck he'd stolen from Ohio, but a girl with him said they went to Hudson where "it's easier to steal cars from there." Authorities said in a criminal complaint that the man did just that, and drove a 2-year-old SUV out of a Hudson driveway that was loaded with belongings he'd snatched from other parked cars.
Hudson residents can expect to see more water at Lakefront Park, but officials said flooding was not predicted as of Tuesday. St. Croix County Emergency Support Services Director Steve T’Kach said the St. Croix River was expected to reach 84.1 feet by Saturday, June 23. The river was at 81.5 feet in nearby Stillwater as of 11 a.m. Tuesday; the seawall at Hudson’s Lakefront Park floods at 80 feet.
A Star Prairie man is set to be arraigned next month on allegations he sexually assaulted a child at his mother's former home day care facility. St. Croix County prosecutors charged 21-year-old Rodney W. Dionne with one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child, a crime that carries a mandatory 25-year prison sentence if convicted.
Two people from Minnesota were injured Sunday in a Pierce County crash that authorities said appeared to involve alcohol. Pierce County sheriff's deputies were alerted to the crash at 5:50 a.m. June 17 on Highway 35 in Diamond Bluff near County Road O. According to deputies, the vehicle, a 2003 Ford Expedition driven by 26-year-old Elk River resident Kyiyoo Vinson, crashed and overturned several times in a ditch.
A St. Croix County lawmaker and Hudson’s mayor will hold a public meeting next week to update residents on business and civic developments. The event, dubbed “What’s Happening in Hudson”, will be held Wednesday, June 20 at Agave Kitchen. Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, and Mayor Rich O’Connor will lead the meeting, which, according to a news release, will provide “detailed updates” on projects including the former dog track site and Hudson’s downtown area.