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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The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office saw a significant leadership change in 2017. Chief among them was the resignation in July of Sheriff John Shilts and the subsequent appointment of his successor, Scott Knudson. Gov. Scott Walker appointed Knudson, a Somerset resident, who ascended from his No. 2 role as chief deputy to sheriff when he took the oath in August. Knudson will complete Shilts' remaining term, which expires after 2018; he said he will seek election in the fall.
Authorities said there’s no indication of what claimed the life of an infant found dead last fall in Baldwin. The final autopsy on Aubree Long revealed “no anatomic cause of death,” nor any trauma to the 14-week-old’s body, according to Ramsey County Medical Examiner findings released Thursday by Baldwin police. Toxicology blood tests also turned up nothing out of the ordinary, according to the report.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack admonished a Kinnickinnic Town Board member who had told authorities he was within his rights to shoot a dog to death. "Sir, we have laws for a reason," the judge told David J. Nelson, before sentencing him to a fine for the misdemeanor offense of intentionally killing a dog. In sentencing Nelson Thursday Dec. 21, Vlack stopped at several points to remind the town official about the law and to add context to statements about the June 23 incident that left a neighbor's dog dead.
A New Richmond teenager pleaded guilty to a vehicular homicide charge last week in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Dalton R. Mundle, 19, entered the plea to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle during a Dec. 20 hearing. Prosecutors allege Mundle was under the influence at the time of a Jan. 30 crash that left a passenger, 19-year-old New Richmond resident Jordan Tulgren, dead. An 18-year-old female passenger from Baldwin was also injured in the crash. Mundle also pleaded guilty to a third underage drinking offense at the hearing.
There's not much left of the structure that had become one of Willow River State Park's most recognizable features. Water now flows unabated over what remains of the Little Falls Lake dam after it was breached in 2015 amid Department of Natural Resources concerns that it couldn't withstand a heavy flood.
A former New Richmond woman faces felony drug charges after allegedly selling pot to a police informant. Authorities allegedly confiscated more than a quarter-pound of marijuana during the Dec. 13 bust on Highway 65 south of Richmond Way in New Richmond. The suspect, Marie T. Allen, 56, was charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with two felonies — delivering THC and THC possession with intent to deliver. She's also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.
The first returns signaled early support for Rep. Shannon Zimmerman and John Calabrese in primary races to determine Republican and Democratic candidates for the Senate District 10 race in western Wisconsin. Most votes were in from one of the five counties in the district — Dunn — where Zimmerman held a 217 to 138 edge in votes over fellow Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow.
A St. Croix County man who pleaded guilty to an OWI earlier this year faces new charges after allegedly driving a tractor drunk and crashing into traffic signs, a street light and a power pole. Emerald resident Justin M. Wink was charged with OWI-third offense, possession of drug paraphernalia and operating while revoked after the Dec. 1 incident. The 26-year-old posted $2,000 cash bond on Dec. 7 after pleading not guilty to the charges earlier that week. According to a criminal complaint:
ELLSWORTH — A former UW-River Falls student who crashed into two pedestrians will spend three months on house arrest and another year on probation after pleading no contest this week to two crimes in Pierce County Circuit Court. The sentence was issued at the same Tuesday, Dec. 12 hearing, where Jacob Zwiefelhofer pleaded no contest to two reckless driving charges, one a felony, the other a misdemeanor. Judge Joe Boles' sentence calls for the felony conviction to be dismissed after three years if Zwiefelhofer abides the terms of a deferred judgment agreement.
A gunshot struck a River Falls business Thursday night after a round was accidentally fired during a domestic argument, according to authorities. That version of events was the most detailed yet in an incident that initially affected at least one UW-River Falls dormitory and shut down a portion of South Main Street late Dec. 14.