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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Among the statements jurors heard last week in the trial of a suspected puppy mill operator was that the defendant was breeding dogs for the United States government. That wasn't the case, said the former leader of a federal dog-breeding operation, but it's true that there was contact between the federal government and Stuart Earl West, who ran the Alma Bottom Pointing Labradors facility out of his town of El Paso home.
A guilty plea was entered and two sexual assault charges were dismissed this week in the case of a former Hudson girls basketball coach. Under a plea agreement announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, Louis J. French pleaded guilty to using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. Three other charges — first-degree child sex assault, repeated sex assault of the same child and causing a child to view sexual activity — were dismissed as part of the agreement.
A Minneapolis woman accused of stealing an Ellsworth-area dog pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge last week, arguing she rescued the animal. The Pierce County District Attorney's Office charged 58-year-old Holly L. Neff with one count of dognapping, a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. Neff made her first appearance Oct. 23 in Pierce County Circuit Court, where she was released on a signature bond after entering the not-guilty plea.
A collision with a deer on Interstate 94 led to a chain-reaction crash involving 10 vehicles during Thursday’s morning rush hour in Hudson. The Wisconsin State Patrol said the crash occurred at 5:50 a.m. in westbound traffic near the Hudson bridge over the St. Croix River. No injuries were reported, but five of the vehicles involved had to be towed from the scene.
An Elmwood woman sustained minor injuries Wednesday after striking a bear on a Pierce County roadway. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office responded to the crash at 11:09 p.m. Oct. 25 on Highway 29 west of 620th Street in the town of Martell.
There will be a Little Falls Lake again at Willow River State Park. The Wisconsin Building Commission last week approved a slate of projects, including the $19 million reconstruction of the Little Falls Lake dam in the town of Hudson. Approval of the project marks a major milepost in a process that began in 2015 after Department of Natural Resources officials concluded the former dam had become structurally vulnerable if faced with a major flood. The dam has since been breached and partially removed as a precaution while efforts to replace it have been underway in Madison.
PRESCOTT -- Police said a body recovered last week in Prescott was not the result of foul play. Prescott Interim Police Chief Rob Funk said an employee at Leo’s Landing (137 Front St.) discovered a woman’s body Thursday, Oct. 19 near the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. According to a Pierce County Sheriff’s Office log, numerous deputies were called at 11:58 a.m. to assist at the scene.
A rural Elmwood man might have used unconventional means to raise dogs, but it didn't amount to the dozens of crimes he's charged with, his attorney argued Monday in court. Stuart Earl West had research that backed up the diet of deer and cattle carcasses he fed the yellow labrador dogs he bred and sold, defense attorney Keith Belzer said during the first day of testimony in West's trial.
NEW RICHMOND — Carrie Hickman will never forget the sight of her daughter lying in a hospital bed. The victim of a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend's sister, the then-15-year-old was left with a slashed neck, a bruised and swollen face and defensive injuries sustained while trying to fend off her assailant.
Crews responded to a two-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon in downtown New Richmond. The crash occurred just before 5 p.m. Oct. 19 at South Knowles Avenue and East Second Street. Two vehicles appeared to have been involved. Two ambulances were called to the scene for possible injuries. No other information was immediately available.