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 Woodville man pleaded not guilty to a seventh OWI offense last week in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Joseph A. Lynum, 43, entered the plea to the offense and a misdemeanor charge of driving while revoked during his Friday, Dec. 29, arraignment hearing. He faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
A Hudson woman was killed last week while snowmobiling in Michigan. The Gogebic County Sheriff's Office said 51-year-old Michele M. Megard died Friday, Dec. 29, after her snowmobile crashed and was struck by another rider in the group.
On the surface, there's not much out of the ordinary about the Murr property. There's an aging cabin hugged by trees sitting back from a beach along St. Croix River shoreline. Murr family members spend summers there enjoying barbecues, holidays and, like others along Cove Court, general leisure time. In fact, the most notable developments surrounding the Murrs' property didn't even happen on site in 2017. They happened in Madison and in Washington, D.C.
Authorities said there’s no indication of what claimed the life of an infant found dead last fall in Baldwin. The final autopsy on Aubree Long revealed “no anatomic cause of death,” nor any trauma to the 14-week-old’s body, according to Ramsey County Medical Examiner findings released Thursday by Baldwin police. Toxicology blood tests also turned up nothing out of the ordinary, according to the report.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack admonished a Kinnickinnic Town Board member who had told authorities he was within his rights to shoot a dog to death. "Sir, we have laws for a reason," the judge told David J. Nelson, before sentencing him to a fine for the misdemeanor offense of intentionally killing a dog. In sentencing Nelson Thursday Dec. 21, Vlack stopped at several points to remind the town official about the law and to add context to statements about the June 23 incident that left a neighbor's dog dead.
A New Richmond teenager pleaded guilty to a vehicular homicide charge last week in St. Croix County Circuit Court. Dalton R. Mundle, 19, entered the plea to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle during a Dec. 20 hearing. Prosecutors allege Mundle was under the influence at the time of a Jan. 30 crash that left a passenger, 19-year-old New Richmond resident Jordan Tulgren, dead. An 18-year-old female passenger from Baldwin was also injured in the crash. Mundle also pleaded guilty to a third underage drinking offense at the hearing.
Editor's note: This story is part of a series recapping the top stories of 2017. Read the other top stories here. Two neighboring communities battled this year in court over land annexed outside River Falls. The city of River Falls came out on top in a November trial that sought to determine whether an annexed parcel in the town of Troy was close enough to the city without sharing a boundary. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman ruled that the 220-acre Mann Valley property is sufficiently near River Falls after a two-day trial.
There's not much left of the structure that had become one of Willow River State Park's most recognizable features. Water now flows unabated over what remains of the Little Falls Lake dam after it was breached in 2015 amid Department of Natural Resources concerns that it couldn't withstand a heavy flood.
PRESCOTT — Reports of a man missing in dangerous temperatures ended with him being found cold, but alive. Prescott Police Chief Rob Funk said the man was discovered "a little worse for the wear" during the Tuesday, Dec. 26, incident, though apparently free of serious injuries. He said a Prescott police officer found the man just south of town near St. Joseph's Cemetery along Monroe Street. The man had gone out to look for his dog — a trek that took him to the Mississippi River, where Funk said the man fell in.
A former New Richmond woman faces felony drug charges after allegedly selling pot to a police informant. Authorities allegedly confiscated more than a quarter-pound of marijuana during the Dec. 13 bust on Highway 65 south of Richmond Way in New Richmond. The suspect, Marie T. Allen, 56, was charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with two felonies — delivering THC and THC possession with intent to deliver. She's also charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.