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Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced Tuesday afternoon that Josh McLay, 37, of Hastings has been charged with eight counts of embezzlement of public funds and eight counts of theft by swindle. The charges are in connection with the alleged theft of over $13,900 from the Hastings School District. At the time of the alleged thefts, McLay was working as the Hastings High School head wrestling coach. He has also served as the high school assistant principal since July 2016.
A Spring Valley/Elmwood wrestler is facing battery charges from a Nov. 28 school altercation, according to a criminal complaint. Felony battery charges were filed against Santana Schlegel on Jan. 7, alleging that Schlegel pushed another student into a locker after a brief argument, causing injuries. According to the criminal complaint, Schlegel apologized for pushing the student and attempted to "get [the other student] cleaned up," but the school nurse saw the injured student and took him into her office.
After spending 25 years working for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Lt. Steve Albarado took on the department's role as chief deputy at the start of 2019. Formerly filled by Jason Mathys, now the county's administrative coordinator, the chief deputy assists Sheriff Nancy Hove in almost all of the administrative duties. Albarado was picked out of four internal candidates and will now be mostly building budgets and policies, rather than fieldwork.
A Pierce County sheriff's deputy's criminal case over child-sex charges will reset, after scheduling issues arose for the St. Croix County District Attorney's Office, who is prosecuting the case. Allen J. Wojcik, 31, is facing four felony charges of allegedly sexually assaulting a child, but the charges were dismissed without prejudice on Jan. 7, after no prosecuting attorney was available from St. Croix County for a late January trial, said Michael Nieskes, St. Croix County's district attorney. Charges dropped without prejudice can be filed again at a later date.
At Ellsworth High School, a Jan. 12 murder mystery dinner fundraiser for the school will have an appropriately nefarious plot — a killer class reunion. At 7 p.m., the Ellsworth School Foundation is hosting a murder mystery dinner that will feature attendee participation, cash bribes and a play focused on a mysterious murder of a former alumni. Proceeds for the fundraiser are being used to help replace the drama department's outdated wireless microphones.
Ellsworth's Cheese Curd Festival has a new, larger site in hopes to better tackle demand after last year's festival drew an unexpectedly large attendance. At Monday's Ellsworth Village Board meeting, board members approved a roughly three-block setting for the festival that spans from East End Park to Broadway Street in Ellsworth's East End. It almost triples the available space for the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce's festival, which last year was confined to East End Park and vendor space on Crosscut Avenue.
TOWN OF RIVER FALLS -- A 77-year old River Falls man was hit by a car and taken to the hospital on Thursday in the town of River Falls.
A Spring Valley man reported his daughter to police for allegedly stealing and selling his valuable coins worth more than $12,000 to fund her methamphetamine use, according to a criminal complaint. Spring Valley resident Elizabeth Wallin allegedly stole several collector coins and sold them through Craigslist listings to a Maple Grove, Minn., man. The 28-year-old woman turned herself in to Spring Valley police in April and gave them two glass pipes for meth use and admitted to using the drug daily, according to a complaint.
Peg Feuerhelm is retiring in January after 35-year run in the Pierce County Clerk of Courts office, beginning as a clerk to leading the office. The Ellsworth native has overseen the office's switch from mounds of paper documents to solely electronic filing measures and in a job that is consumed by what could be seen as mundane court administrative duties, she's relished the position. "I have always enjoyed my job," Feuerhelm said. "It really has been a pleasure to serve the people of Pierce County and to do something for the community."
On Dec. 6, Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service Director Jessi Willenbring was working a 24-hour shift. Working extra or long hours have become frequent for Willenbring as the eight-municipality ambulance service has seen dwindling volunteers over the last three years. "I do this job and I do a lot of time outside my salary time sort of volunteering my time here," Willenbring said. "I want to be able to volunteer at my church, I want to sell popcorn for my boy's boy scouts ... but you just run out of hours in your day."