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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A former western Wisconsin lawmaker is seeking a return to office. Democrat Jeff Smith, a former 93rd District Assembly member from Eau Claire, announced Thursday he will be running for Kathleen Vinehout’s Senate seat. “Since the senator is running for governor, the 31st Senate District will be in need of a strong and experienced leader who can step right in,” Smith said in the March 15 news release.
A heightened police presence will be at schools in Hudson after a threat was investigated late Tuesday. Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen said a threat reported at Hudson Middle School led to an officer visiting a student's home, where he conducted interviews and searched for weapons. Jensen said none were found. The student allegedly made reference to "shooting up the school," Jensen said. "We don't believe there was any credible threat," the chief said Wednesday morning. "But in this day and age, you've got to make sure you take all the necessary precautions."
HUDSON — A Somerset man allegedly told investigators he'd saved "a lot" of child porn to his computer. Authorities last week put a number to that estimate — about 10,000 files. That revelation came Friday, March 2, during the initial appearance for Richard J. Caldwell, who faces 10 counts of child porn possession. Law enforcement officials in the courtroom said the number of files drew gasps from fellow jail inmates during the hearing, which was conducted through videoconferencing between the courtroom and a jail conference room.
A western Wisconsin lawmaker cried foul last week after authorities determined a Houlton man's social media post wasn't the threat he believed it to be. Rep. Adam Jarchow took to Twitter to voice his disgust with Wisconsin State Capitol Police after authorities there opted not to press charges. The flap stemmed from a Facebook post by Garry Fay, who took umbrage with a post of Jarchow posing with his AR-15 rifle shortly after the Florida school massacre.
St. Croix County authorities said a potentially dangerous situation was averted after the makings for a suspected pipe bomb were discovered in a Somerset man's apartment. Sheriff Scott Knudson said the items were found Friday morning in a unit at the EZ Living Apartments complex on Main Street. A 30-year-old resident, David Lee Johnson, was arrested and later charged with felony possession of improvised explosives, along with two marijuana-related misdemeanors. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell held Johnson on a $25,000 cash bond.
St. Croix County authorities said a potentially dangerous situation was discovered at a Somerset apartment where a man was later arrested. Sheriff Scott Knudson said “suspected bomb material” was found Friday morning in a unit at the EZ Living Apartments complex on Main Street.
River Falls residents will get the opportunity to hear from candidates for City Council and School Board next week during two forums. The first event, held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 12, will feature council and mayoral candidates. Invited candidates are Mayor Dan Toland and his challenger, Aaron Taylor. Candidates vying for two open at-large seats are Scott Morrissette (incumbent), Jeff Bjork (incumbent), Michael Page and Judie Foster Babcock. District 4 candidates invited to appear are incumbent Todd A. Bjerstedt and challenger Ben Plunkett.
A woman was rescued from icy waters Thursday after falling into Lake George in River Falls. Firefighters on scene said the woman, whose identity wasn’t immediately available, was attempting to save a dog that had fallen through the ice. The woman was seen being pulled to shore by firefighters before raising herself up on the riverbanks under her own power; she was immediately loaded into an ambulance.
Four people, including three children, were hospitalized after a three-vehicle traffic crash Monday on Highway 10 in rural Ellsworth. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the crash was reported at 4:17 p.m. March 5 near 800th Street in the town of Trimbelle, where a westbound Ford Explorer and an eastbound Chevy Silverado collided head-on.The Chevy was then rear-ended by a third vehicle. The driver of the Chevy, Randall J. Hendrickson, 67, Prescott, was trapped and had to be extricated. He was taken by ambulance to River Falls Area Hospital (RFAH).
Authorities said a fight between two men led to a stabbing last week in rural St. Croix County. The incident, which left both men with varying degrees of non-life threatening injuries, launched a law enforcement investigation after they arrived Friday, March 2, at Western Wisconsin Health, where staff reported the incident.