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Circumstantial evidence -- such as leading police on a high speed chase in a van like the one described by a witness and being found with a hammer, 100 gambling cards and $336 in cash -- was enough to convict a St. Croix County man of burglarizing a local bar, according to an appeals court decision released May 30. William D. Van Beek, now 30, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and five years extended supervision, and ordered to pay court assessments of $7,042 after being convicted of burglary.
While the process for getting permits for smaller signs will be easier and less expensive, it won't be legal to erect a new billboard in most rural areas of St. Croix County under a proposed sign regulation ordinance. The new ordinance, expected to be voted on by the County Board during its June 19 meeting, does not apply to the county's cities and villages or to the towns of Hudson, Forest and Cady -- which have their own zoning ordinances. If adopted, the new law will replace standards that have been in place for 30 years, said Planner Ellen Denzer.
After months of meetings, a consultant recommended last week that St. Croix County hold on to the northern quadrants of the Government Center property and look at marketing the southern quadrants. Dennis Welsch of Barsness Consulting Services said his company is suggesting that the county keep 47 acres for county operations and future expansion and convert 35 acres to new uses and public infrastructure improvements. Welsch gave his report during the County Board's May meeting, one of the few held in the evening. It was after 10 p.m.
St. Croix County's Finance Committee agreed Thursday to allocate $3,000 for legal research for the judge who is presiding over the O'Connell family's civil lawsuit against Catholic bishops. Last August the parents, sister and brothers of Daniel O'Connell filed a lawsuit against U.S. Catholic bishops asking for the names of an estimated 5,000 priests the American church has identified as sexual abusers and predators since the 1950s. O'Connell and intern James Ellison were found shot to death at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson Feb. 5, 2002.
The deadline is past, but St. Croix County has gotten no bids on 18 acres it owns in New Richmond. Last December an appraiser told the County Board that the parcel -- which was cut off from other "county farm" property by Highway 64 construction -- is worth over $1 million. The land is zoned commercial. At least one developer had shown an active interest in the property and had asked to take soil borings. But even he didn't submit a bid. "We received nothing," reported Administrative Coordinator Chuck Whiting Thursday.
Christian Community Home of Hudson has been chosen as the preferred service provider as the St. Croix County Board looks to sell or rent out the county-owned facility in New Richmond. County Administrator Chuck Whiting announced March 20 that the proposal review committee made the decision Monday and "is initiating exclusive negotiations" with CCH. The Wisconsin law firm of DeWitt Ross & Stevens will represent the county in negotiations. Whiting declined to say how many businesses had submitted proposals.
St. Croix County employees who want to donate their unused paid time off to a co-worker whose infant son is receiving chemotherapy may soon get their wish. The county's Finance Committee voted last week to approve a PTO (paid time off) donation program to help employees who are on unpaid leave due to a life-threatening illness or injury. The policy will go to the full County Board for its action in March. Co-workers have scheduled a series of fundraisers and are looking for other ways to help the family of jailer David Dykes.
The public is invited to an information meeting regarding possible future uses for parts of the 82-acre St. Croix County Government Center site in Hudson. The meeting -- which will be held 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the County Board room of the Government Center in Hudson -- will be hosted by Barsness Consulting Services. The County Board hired Barsness Consulting last fall to develop a process that may lead to the sale of excess land around the Government Center.
In the four years since St. Croix County began taking real estate payments online, the amount paid that way has escalated, reports Treasurer Cheryl Slind. "It amazes me the number of people who will pay their taxes by credit card," said Slind.
As the St. Croix County Board prepares for its 2007 goal-setting session, the plan is to have fewer and more specific goals, said River Falls Supervisor Tom Caflisch. Caflisch briefed other supervisors on behalf of the Administration Committee during the January County Board meeting last week. In previous years supervisors have set as many as 15 goals.