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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Fire displaced two residents and destroyed a 19th-century home Saturday in Hudson. Hudson firefighters said the 481 Jacobs Lane home was left uninhabitable after the fire, which took eight agencies to battle. St. Croix County property records show the home is owned by Mary Ann Windolff. Hudson Assistant Fire Chief Jim Perucca said she and her adult son were forced to make housing arrangements. No one was injured in the fire, which Perucca said began in the basement. The cause was undetermined, but Perucca said it appeared "electrical in nature."
HUDSON — A Roberts man implicated in a church embezzlement scheme with his wife was convicted Monday of three criminal charges but avoided prison. Unlike his wife — a former St. Paul school administrator who was sentenced last year to two years in prison — Michael LaVenture will avoid time behind bars after pleading no contest to three misdemeanor theft counts. "I'm sorry for what happened between my wife and the church," a choked-up LaVenture said during his June 11 sentencing hearing.
A River Falls lawyer will challenge for an Assembly seat while a former Capitol police officer will seek to unseat the St. Croix County sheriff. Filings for the November election closed Friday, June 1, in Wisconsin, leaving a three-way Democratic primary for the Senate District 31 seat. Taylor resident and Wisconsin Farm Bureau local affairs director Steve Boe and Trempealeau County Supervisor Jonathan Schultz will compete with former Assembly member Jeff Smith, of Eau Claire, for the 31st Senate District seat.
HUDSON — The New Richmond man accused of shooting his son pleaded not guilty last week to first-degree intentional homicide in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Kayle Fleischauer, appearing for the first time in court wearing street clothes after being released on bond the previous week, also pleaded not guilty to a second count — possession of a firearm by a convicted out-of-state felon.
A Hastings man blamed his gambling addiction on an embezzlement scheme that netted him $70,000 at a Prescott-area golf course, but a plea agreement struck Tuesday will allow him to repay that money while addressing his problems. Robert P. Magnuson pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft May 29 in Pierce County Circuit Court, a charge that will be dismissed if the 58-year-old abides the terms of an agreement.
Police were investigating a bank robbery report Thursday in downtown Hudson. Hudson police responded just after 9 a.m. to Wells Fargo, 600 Second St. A person who said she was inside the bank at the time of the robbery said staff were "pretty shook up" after the incident but not harmed. That witness, who asked to remain anonymous, reported hearing a commotion during the incident, which occurred shortly after the bank opened for business at 9 a.m.
The Red Wing man and Ellsworth woman sought in a western Wisconsin shooting case were arrested in Barron County, authorities announced Thursday. A post on the Barron County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page said the suspects, previously identified as Red Wing resident Shawn Goplen and Ellsworth resident Kari Blank, where taken into custody at the Rice Lake Dollar General store.
A former Hudson dentist's legal troubles intensified last week when a malpractice suit was filed against him in Minnesota. Andy Mancini, the Woodbury man who operated Hudson-based La Petite Dentistry until it closed in April, is being sued in Washington County District Court by two St. Croix County women who allege he was negligent in his services for their children. The suit, brought by Hudson resident Rebecca Viebrock and New Richmond resident Lisa Vansomeren on behalf of their children, names Mancini, La Petite and Figero Crowns as defendants in the case.
HUDSON — A St. Croix County judge must reconcile conflicting statements in deciding whether to proceed with a terroristic threats case against a teenager or to toss it out. A preliminary hearing for Nicholas Cherrier revealed differing accounts of a statement that serves as the linchpin in the prosecution's case that the 18-year-old made threats to "shoot kids." He's charged with felony terroristic threats and disorderly conduct stemming from the March 30 incident at the town of Hudson-based Nor-Lake refrigeration company where he worked.
A Hammond woman was killed and two other people involved in a Memorial Day weekend crash were seriously injured, according to Polk County authorities. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said 57-year-old Brenda Soderberg was killed in the May 27 crash, reported at 11:30 a.m. on Highway 46 just south of Amery. She was the passenger in a pickup driven by 63-year-old Keith Soderberg, who was airlifted to Regions Hospital. The Hammond man was listed in critical condition Tuesday.