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St. Croix County is slated to pay less interest than expected on its proposed highway maintenance facility after approving the lowest bid for the project's general obligation bonds. The lowest of nine bids came from Minneapolis-based Northland Securities, Inc., which offered a 3.0051 percent interest rate for the $27 million project. That rate will tack on about $9 million in interest over 20 years, which is about $1.3 million less that the county projected earlier this year. County supervisors approved the bid with a 17-2 vote Feb. 8.
A new commission set to launch for St. Croix County will seek possible routes to address the area's growing transportation needs. The Transit Commission will develop policy regarding any transit programs the county develops, including transit options for senior citizens, people with disabilities and businesses whose employees commute. Commissioners' tasks will include contracting potential private partners, applying for transportation grants and purchasing new equipment. Any funding decisions, however, will remain under County Board authority.
St. Croix County will add two additional Children Services staff members as communities throughout the state struggle to serve children of families ensnared in substance abuse. The number of children the county's Health and Human Services department took into custody more than tripled from 2016 to 2017, marking the highest number in nearly a decade. Supervisors unanimously approved a budget amendment to fund the additional staffing at their Feb. 8 meeting.
A Cottage Grove man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife following a failed murder-for-hire plot. A Washington County jury convicted Stephen Carl Allwine of first-degree premeditated murder Jan. 31, concluding a week-long trial. Washington County District Judge William B. Ekstrum handed down the life sentence Feb. 2. First-degree murder convictions come with a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
A Cottage Grove man has been convicted of first-degree premeditated murder. Stephen Carl Allwine drugged and shot his wife, Amy Allwine, before attempting to stage her 2016 death as a suicide, prosecutors said. Her death followed the failure of an elaborate, months-long plot Stephen Allwine hatched to have his wife killed. Jurors agreed, issuing a guilty verdict Jan. 31 after nearly eight hours of deliberation, the Pioneer Press reports. Sentencing is scheduled Feb. 2.
Does the Constitution protect political contributions as a form of speech? Should constitutional rights extend beyond individuals to entities like corporations or unions? A 2010 Supreme Court ruling concluded "yes" to both questions, but residents of St. Croix County will have a chance to weigh in with their ballots in April.
St. Croix County supervisors appointed Chris Matter to fill a vacant seat on the county board last week. Matter will replace former Supervisor Agnes Ring to represent District 2, which covers parts of St. Joseph and Somerset. Ring stepped down from the position in September after announcing her new position with Family Resource Center of St. Croix Valley, which she said could cause potential conflicts of interest.
St. Croix County land and homeowners will see a slight decrease in property taxes next year if a budget proposal the county's administration committee recently approved gains county supervisor approval. The 2018 budget committee members approved Oct. 18 includes a .09 percent tax levy rate decrease in the county portion of property taxes. That decrease would drive down the county portion of property taxes from $896.73 to $895.96 on a home worth about $242,000, the county's median value.
A former St. Paul assistant principal accused of embezzling nearly $200,000 from a rural Baldwin church will spend two years in prison and faces seven years of probation. Kara Amundson-LaVenture faced six felony theft charges in 2015 after members of the New Centerville United Methodist church discovered about $190,000 had been misappropriated during the nine years Amundson-LaVenture served as the church treasurer.
Properties in the towns of Stanton and Richmond totaling about six acres will shift districts to the city of New Richmond following unanimous votes by the St. Croix County County Administration Committee Sept. 20. The Stanton property, a parcel just under one acre that contains a business and a private home between Noble Road and Highway 64, will shift from Ward 1 in Supervisor District 2 to Ward 2 in Supervisor District 12. County Supervisor Roger Larson, whose district previously encompassed the property, will hand the parcel off to Supervisor Daniel Hanson.