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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HUDSON — Online predator investigations in St. Croix County didn't start and stop with the Super Bowl. A joint operation among state officials and local law enforcement agencies made headlines and netted multiple arrests when the massive sporting event descended on the Twin Cities earlier this year. As it turned out, it was just the beginning of such investigations in the area. "The officers cut their teeth during the Super Bowl operation," said St. Croix County Sheriff Office Lt. Brent Standaert.
A St. Croix County jury will decide this week whether a New Richmond teenager's comments represented a threat that put a business and a school district on high alert — or whether it was all a bad joke. Attorneys on Monday, Sept. 17 laid out competing descriptions of how the events surrounding a March 29 comment by 19-year-old Nicholas Cherrier should be interpreted. The New Richmond man is charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with one count of making terrorist threats, a felony to which he pleaded not guilty.
More than three-dozen felony charges were filed Monday against a Pierce County woman accused of housing an animal-fighting operation on her farm.
HUDSON — Charles "Charlie" Grant was a multi-tasker long before the term was en vogue. He demonstrated that ability in the early 1970s when, as St. Croix County's sheriff and operator of the department's lone squad, he used the vehicle for double duty on a prisoner transport. Grant needed to drive a convict from Hudson to prison in Waupun. But he also needed to bring his family to Green Bay for a Packers game. His solution: Put the three kids in the back of the car with the convict.
A Prescott man with a lengthy criminal history was arrested Sunday after an ATV crash in city limits. Prescott police said officers were called at 2:51 p.m. Sept. 9 to Kinnickinnic and Flora streets for an ATV crash. According to a news release, officers arrived to find an ATV in the street that had been driven by 28-year-old John P. Lubich, who was found with injuries.
A Twin Cities man who told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel was hospitalized Sunday after a rural Hager City crash. The crash, reported at 1:20 a.m. Sept. 9 on County Road D in the town of Trenton, resulted in Burnsville resident Austin Smith being transported to Mayo Clinic Health System-Red Wing. Smith, 29, told Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies he fell asleep while driving before crashing into a culvert, which sent his 2016 Nissan Versa airborne and into a ditch. Deputies were assisted by Red Wing ambulance and Wisconsin State Patrol.
The woman living at the Pierce County property where more than 1,300 animals were removed amid dog- and cock-fighting suspicions tried sneaking a safe containing 5 pounds of methamphetamine out of the house, according to authorities.
ELLSWORTH — The 24-year-old roofer accused of killing his coworker with a power saw at a River Falls-area job site pleaded not guilty this week to homicide and mayhem charges. St. Louis, Mo., resident Miguel A. Navarro entered the pleas Sept. 5 after a preliminary hearing that moved the case into trial phase. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles set the case for a six-day jury trial beginning May 31, 2019.
HUDSON — Led by gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers, a slate of Democratic candidates met with supporters Thursday during a campaign stop in Hudson. The event represented Evers' first public visit to the Hudson area since he won the August primary, defeating seven other Democrats seeking to run on the November ballot against incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Evers told a packed house at Hudson Bagel & Coffee Co. that, in spite of the crowded field that split Democratic support, the party is energized.
Animal rescues and arrests followed the discovery of an alleged dog- and cock-fighting operation where suspected drugs were also found last week in rural Pierce County. Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — who spent days assisting law enforcement at a 7789 County Road BB farm — announced Thursday that 1,300 animals were found there. A news release said most of the animals were chickens, along with more than a dozen dogs allegedly bred for fighting.