Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin.
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St. Croix County officials required an outside firm to determine the impact of a proposed manure digester on neighboring property values. "None of us as staff are qualified to do that," St. Croix County Community Development Director Ellen Denzer said at the May 23 Board of Adjustment meeting, where the project was revisited. The applicant proposes to build a manure digester in the town of Pleasant Valley, where turkey litter and manure would be processed and converted into natural gas. Other byproducts from the process would be converted to fertilizer products to be sold.
A St. Croix County Board candidate embroiled in a 2018 election recount dispute is making his case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court after an appeals court rejected his argument. New Richmond resident Ryan Sherley, a District 13 candidate who drew exactly as many votes as incumbent Scottie Ard, petitioned Monday, May 28, for the state's high court to hear his case.
St. Croix County public health officials began exploring outreach possibilities after reviewing data that showed fewer than 60% of local 5-year-olds were on schedule with recommended vaccinations. According to data released at the Wednesday, May 8, St. Croix County Health and Human Services (HHS) Board meeting, 58% of the county's 5-year-olds were up-to-date with their vaccinations as of the end of March. The percent of St. Croix County 2-year-olds up to date on measles vaccinations was 81% and 64% for 5-year-olds.
St. Croix County supervisors decided an $8.4 million borrowing request to fund three projects wasn't ready for prime time. County Board on Tuesday, May 7, rejected the request, which would have sold bonds to fund a "special needs" wing in the jail, a heating-air-conditioning and-ventilation (HVAC) overhaul to the Government Center and a new mobile command vehicle.
River Falls would be among three University of Wisconsin campuses tasked with harnessing collaboration to reverse the trend of falling Badger State dairy prices under a bill moving through the Legislature. The bill seeks to spend $7.9 million annually at UW campuses in River Falls, Madison and Platteville with the aim of finding solutions to the state's sagging dairy industry. The bill would create a UW Dairy Innovation Hub, which would add faculty, create an advanced dairy academy and boost research programs.
The tug-of-war over the gray wolf's place on the endangered species list last week came to Hudson, where advocates on both sides of the debate appealed to lawmakers. Supporters and opponents of the latest effort to remove wolves from the list spoke to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, who was joined by a panel of state lawmakers and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Concrete on the new Interstate 94 crossing at Hudson was still fresh when Brian Erickson began patrolling St. Croix County. The reconstructed bridge saw scarcely 50,000 trips a year after it opened in 1995. That same stretch saw about 90,000 trips in 2018. "It will be interesting to see what it looks like 10 years from now, 20 years from now," said Erickson, a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper who retires Thursday, May 2. During his 25 years patrolling highways in St. Croix County and western Wisconsin, Erickson said he's struck most by the evolution in how people drive.
A key St. Croix County panel handed a mixed bag to supporters of a proposed animal shelter seeking to build a facility outside Roberts. Though the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment on Friday, April 26, approved a conditional-use permit for St. Croix Animal Friends, it tabled action on a pivotal variance being sought. The permit allows the use of the property, but the proposed building can't be constructed without the variance.
The future of a St. Croix County manure digester remained in limbo after questions remained and would-be neighbors of the project continued to voice opposition.
The effort to construct an animal shelter near Roberts reaches a pivotal stage this week when it and several other projects go before a key St. Croix County committee. The St. Croix County Board of Adjustment will consider the 6.5-acre St. Croix Animal Friends facility one day after the panel reconsiders a $55 million manure digester project on Thursday at the Government Center.