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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An alleged animal fighting operation discovered last month in Pierce County turned up an example of a bloodsport awash in cash, cruelty and crime that experts say generally flies under the public's radar. The Spring Valley-area bust resulted in more than 1,700 chickens and 20 dogs being seized, while the residents of the property now face dozens of animal fighting-related charges in Pierce County Circuit Court.
A St. Paul man who thought he was talking online with a 15-year-old child was arrested in an online sting conducted last week by authorities in St. Croix County. St. Croix County sheriff's deputies allege the 59-year-old man arrived in Hudson with a box of condoms in his car after having sent a half-dozen images of his genitalia to the fictitious account.
A Somerset man accused of operating a drug house returned to court this week after officers raided his home while searching for a man sought by Nevada authorities. The Sept. 26 incident led to two arrests, the discovery of suspected methamphetamine, extensive drug paraphernalia, more than $2,800 in cash and a gun, according to court documents filed in the case. The resident, Justin J. Grobner, 40, was charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place, meth possession as a party to a crime — both felonies — and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
Aging facilities and a growing demand for science-related studies are among factors UW-River Falls officials say warrant a new building on campus. University officials on Monday unveiled a $111 million proposal for a Science and Technology Innovation Center, slated to be built on the footprint of Hagestad Hall on East Cascade Avenue.
Authorities responded to the scene of a second collision Thursday within hours of a fatal crash at the same St. Croix County intersection. St. Croix County sheriff's deputies were called at 4:11 p.m. Oct. 4 to Highway 63 and County Road G in the town of Emerald for a two-vehicle crash. The intersection was the scene of a fatal crash at 7:28 a.m. the same day. Sheriff Scott Knudson said one person was injured in the afternoon crash, but that person's injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
Authorities said the rising morning sun may have been a factor in a Thursday crash that killed a New Richmond man. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office said 27-year-old Joshua J. Derrick was killed in the two-vehicle crash that left a second driver hospitalized. That man, 49-year-old Brian W. Holldorf of Baldwin, was take to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with undisclosed injuries.
A 33-year-old woman was critically injured Sunday after being shot on private hunting land in Polk County. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said the woman, of rural Clear Lake, was leaving a hunting stand at 7:15 p.m. when she was shot in a field by a 17-year-old boy from Star Prairie who was hunting on adjacent property.
One person was airlifted and three others were transported by ambulance Sunday after a two-car crash near Bay City. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said 69-year-old Bay City resident John M. Farrell Jr. was taken by LifeLink III air ambulance to Regions Hospital. A Regions spokeswoman said he was listed in fair condition Tuesday.
Communities in Pierce and St. Croix counties were among municipalities that were awarded broadband funding grants from the state Thursday. The Public Service Commission (PSC) and Gov. Scott Walker announced the broadband grant awards, which total $7 million. The funds were distributed among 37 communities. The projects in Pierce and St. Croix counties represent build-outs of existing projects that have been developed in stages.
Lawmakers traveled this week to western Wisconsin to learn what residents think of a massive manufacturing project on the other side of the state. Foxconn was the only item on the agenda Monday, Oct. 1, at events in New Richmond and River Falls, where Somerset Sen. Patty Schachtner was joined by Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh and Sen. Janet Bewley of Mason.