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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SOMERSET — Patty Schachtner took her oath of office last week with a nod to history and her hometown roots. Friday's swearing-in ceremony represented the first time a Somerset resident was ever elected to the Wisconsin Senate. "Today, Somerset, you put yourself on the state map," Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling told an assembled group of students and community members inside the Somerset High School gymnasium.
An east metro man was killed Monday when the vehicle he was driving crashed into a St. Croix County bridge abutment. The Wisconsin State Patrol identified the driver as 46-year-old Lake Elmo resident Derek S. Baker. Troopers were called at 10:19 a.m. Jan. 29 to eastbound Interstate 94 near Baldwin for the single-vehicle crash. The State Patrol said the vehicle left the road, entered the median and struck the bridge structure.
A Monday blizzard socked western Wisconsin, dropping as much as a foot of snow in areas. The snowstorm that closed schools and made for some harrowing afternoon commutes wrapped late Monday, Jan. 22. Somerset reported 12 inches of snow, with 11 inches recorded in Hudson and about 7 inches in both River Falls and Ellsworth, according to National Weather Service totals. Baldwin reported 12.5 inches. Southern Minnesota saw the biggest totals, with Owatonna recording 17 inches of snow.
Forces outside St. Croix County were at play last week when Patty Schachtner became the first Democrat to win a 10th Senate District seat since the 1990s. In the weeks leading up to the election, piles of money surged into the campaigns of both Schachtner and her GOP challenger, Rep. Adam Jarchow.
NEW RICHMOND — Education is central to Tony Evers, a gubernatorial candidate who last week touted his ability to win statewide elections. The thrice-elected state superintendent of public instruction called on St. Croix County Democrats to back him during a Thursday, Jan. 11 visit to New Richmond. “I believe my experience as state superintendent … that differentiates me,” he said.
HUDSON — St. Croix County law enforcement leaders shared the struggle surrounding emergency mental detentions last week with Wisconsin's top legal authority. The lengthy process can tie up officers for hours, wrack up overtime costs and exacerbate the already difficult experience for those at the center of the ordeals, officials from different agencies told Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Two Minneapolis men were killed and a third was hospitalized with serious injuries after a crash Saturday in rural St. Croix County. The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as the driver, 32-year-old Eduardo F. Salvidar, and a passenger, 24-year-old Milton E. Valenzuela Favela.
NEW RICHMOND — Matt Flynn said he'll be a fighter for Wisconsin against Scott Walker, casting the Republican governor as one who's left the state awash in corruption. "We need an aggressive candidate against that guy," he said, arguing the two previous Democrats to challenge Walker hadn't gone on the offensive enough to win.
A Baldwin man remained in jail last week on a $10,000 cash bond after being charged with showing child pornography to a juvenile. A preliminary hearing was held Jan. 9 for Andrew L. Roth, who is charged with two counts of child porn possession and two counts of exposing harmful material to a child. If convicted on one of the four felonies, Roth faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
When Patty Schachtner beat Rep. Adam Jarchow Tuesday, she flipped a Republican-held district to Democratic for the first time in 17 years. The Somerset woman garnered 55 percent of the vote in the Senate district held since 2000 by Sheila Harsdorf, who vacated the seat after being appointed to fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker's Cabinet.