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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NEW RICHMOND — A stride past a puff of cigarette smoke and children playing on the sidewalk leads to the entrance of the Lowrey Hotel, where visitors are greeted by a bulletin board in the foyer. An assortment of messages spell out hotel owner Stacy Wright's code of conduct for tenants. There are many edicts among "Stacy's Simple Rules," as they're listed, but Wright said one above all sums up her philosophy as owner of the inn. She can recite it from memory.
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.
St. Croix County jurors convicted a Hammond man last week of his eighth impaired driving offense. It took the jury less than three hours June 6 to convict Jeffrey A. Cormican of all four counts, including OWI-eighth offense, which calls for a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years. The 49-year-old was also convicted of operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration — a felony — and two misdemeanors, resisting an officer and operating while revoked.
The alarms were raised came when a Hudson police officer saw a truck that matched one reported stolen days earlier. The second red flag went up when he watched the truck roll through a stop sign.