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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State Sen. Leah Vukmir downplayed polling that showed her trailing by double digits in the race for U.S. Senate, saying she expects a visit Wednesday by President Donald Trump to give her more steam as Election Day nears. Vukmir, of Brookfield, met with supporters Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Hop and Barrel in Hudson, where she was joined by fellow Republican Sean Duffy, a congressman from Hayward. A Marquette University Law School poll conducted earlier in October showed Democrat incumbent Tammy Baldwin with a 10-point lead over Vukmir ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
A St. Croix County Circuit Court judge called a New Richmond man's actions toward his mother "absolutely reprehensible" before sentencing him to prison. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack on Monday, Oct. 22, sentenced 26-year-old Omar Martinez to four-and-a-half years behind bars and five years on extended supervision. Martinez, who pressed a handgun to his mother's head, pleaded guilty July 30 to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor battery involving a dangerous weapon.
A Minnesota man drove to Hudson with plans to have sex with a 15-year-old, according to charges filed last week in St. Croix County. But instead of meeting a child, the 38-year-old man was met by authorities who had been tracking his movements after he allegedly arranged the encounter with a police officer posing as a child.
Authorities arrested a teenager outside Hudson last week after the SUV he was in lurched across Interstate 94 traffic into a ditch, where an officer found a woman inside mouthing the words "help me, help me." The woman later told officers the suspect, her passenger, said he "would rather be handicapped" before grabbing the steering wheel, eventually overpowering her and sending the vehicle into the ditch.
A 72-year-old man was airlifted after a single-vehicle crash Friday outside New Richmond. The crash, reported at 3:08 p.m. Oct. 12 on Highway 64 at County Road T, left the St. Paul man and lone occupant of the vehicle seriously injured, according to St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson. The man was flown by LifeLink to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The sheriff said the man's 1998 Jeep Cherokee was westbound on Highway 64 when witnesses said it drifted off the road and rolled.
A Hammond woman and a horse were killed Friday morning after the animal was struck in the middle of a St. Croix County road. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 53-year-old Diane G. Johnson, the driver of a 2009 Chevy Impala.
Four people were injured after a two-car crash early Wednesday in rural Hudson. St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said deputies responded at 5 a.m. to McCutcheon Road and County Road A for a crash. The driver and two passengers of a 2008 Toyota Prius were extricated from the vehicle and transported by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Knudson said. He said the driver was a 45-year-old Hudson man, who had a 56-year-old Hudson man as his front-seat passenger and a 61-year-old woman as a back-seat passenger.
An alleged animal fighting operation discovered last month in Pierce County turned up an example of a bloodsport awash in cash, cruelty and crime that experts say generally flies under the public's radar. The Spring Valley-area bust resulted in more than 1,700 chickens and 20 dogs being seized, while the residents of the property now face dozens of animal fighting-related charges in Pierce County Circuit Court.
A St. Paul man who thought he was talking online with a 15-year-old child was arrested in an online sting conducted last week by authorities in St. Croix County. St. Croix County sheriff's deputies allege the 59-year-old man arrived in Hudson with a box of condoms in his car after having sent a half-dozen images of his genitalia to the fictitious account.
A Somerset man accused of operating a drug house returned to court this week after officers raided his home while searching for a man sought by Nevada authorities. The Sept. 26 incident led to two arrests, the discovery of suspected methamphetamine, extensive drug paraphernalia, more than $2,800 in cash and a gun, according to court documents filed in the case. The resident, Justin J. Grobner, 40, was charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place, meth possession as a party to a crime — both felonies — and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.