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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STILLWATER — Though the three-year anniversary of Megan Goeltz's death is nearing, the event remains a raw nerve for her survivors, who described her loss during an emotional hearing Monday in Washington County District Court. "Our hearts are forever broken," her sister, Melissa Goeltz Lewis, said at the Jan. 7 hearing. The hearing brought to an end the criminal case against the driver in the crash that killed Goeltz, North Hudson resident Drew Fleming. He pleaded guilty to one count of reckless driving, a gross misdemeanor.
A felony theft charge was filed against a Minnesota teenager suspected in other retail crimes after he allegedly took GoPro cameras from a Hudson store. St. Croix County prosecutors charged 19-year-old Tristin A. Tresise with one count of felony retail theft after a Dec. 16 incident at Fleet Farm. The Bloomington man was ordered to post $250 cash bond at a Dec. 17 hearing in St. Croix County Circuit Court. According to a criminal complaint:
Somerset resident Scott Nordstrand was appointed to be St. Croix County's next circuit court judge. Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday named Nordstrand, a St. Croix County Board member who once served as Alaska's top law enforcement official, to succeed Eric Lundell on the bench after the longtime judge abruptly announced his resignation in November.
An off-duty St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving over the holiday weekend. Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a news release issued Wednesday, Jan. 2, that deputy John Shilts Jr., a seven-year veteran of the department, was arrested by Wisconsin State Patrol troopers after the Dec. 30 traffic stop outside New Richmond.
Contrasting theories will be examined next month in the case of a New Richmond man accused of shooting his teenage son to death in April.
Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018. It was the election victory no one saw coming. After the Republican primary between two Assembly members was sewn up, history suggested Balsam Lake Rep. Adam Jarchow was in the driver's seat to succeed Sheila Harsdorf in the state Senate. After all, Harsdorf's seat had stayed in GOP hands for the past 17 years.
TOWN OF PLEASANT VALLEY — Tire screeches aren't an unusual occurrence outside Troy and Jessica Reis' home. "No one slows down," Jessica said. The aging farmhouse is situated at an awkward rural intersection where drivers often make last-second adjustments to make their turns. There was no tire screech, however, leading up to the Dec. 16 crash that shook the house they rent. "It literally sounded like a bomb went off," Jessica said last week, recalling the incident, which happened at about 2:30 a.m.
The year 2018 brought the end for the embattled Lowrey Hotel, where residents were displaced after the building's owner opted against renewing the lease. When building owner Jim Beebe notified Stacy Wright in April that her extended-stay New Richmond hotel would be closing in September, it touched off a scramble to find new living arrangements for her approximately 50 tenants.
Two southeastern Minnesota men suspected in a St. Croix County home invasion were indicted in Minnesota on federal robbery charges after a multi-jurisdictional investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota announced Dec. 21 that brothers Lennie D. Brooks, 33, Zumbro Falls, and Randy L. Brooks, 23, Wabasha, were indicted on one count each of interference with commerce by robbery. A third person, 20-year-old St. Paul resident Autumn M. Nichols, is charged with the same count.
Authorities said alcohol may have been a factor in a head-on crash Saturday that killed a 21-year-old Somerset woman known for her love of horse riding. The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office said Stefanie S. Biedler was killed in the crash, reported at 11:17 p.m. Dec. 22 in the eastbound lanes of Highways 35/64 in Somerset. Deputies began receiving reports six minutes earlier of a wrong-way driver headed west in the eastbound lanes.