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.
HUDSON — St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman said he initially considered sending Dalton R. Mundle to prison for his crimes. The New Richmond man had pleaded guilty to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in the January 2017 crash that left his best friend, Jordan Tulgren, dead. The conviction carries a maximum 25-year prison sentence.
An Ellsworth Middle School student who allegedly referenced bringing a gun to school was taken into custody Wednesday morning. An automated voice message from Ellsworth School District Superintendent Barry Cain went out the morning of Wednesday, March 21, alerting families to the situation. Cain said in the message the student did not make any threats toward others and that it didn't occur at the school. The text did, however, "mention thoughts of bringing a weapon to school," Cain told families.
The River Falls school community was shaken Monday by two separate events, one involving a student's death at Meyer Middle School. Superintendent Jamie Benson sent an automated voice message March 19 to families in the district confirming the death of a sixth-grade student. "The death of any young person is a loss that, in one way or another, affects us all," he said in the recorded message.
A 72-year-old Somerset man was convicted late last month in Minnesota of child rape. According to an Albert Lea Tribune News story, Joel M. Radjenovich pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to second-degree criminal sexual conduct on the third day of a jury trial. The victim in the case was younger than 13, according to the charges. The news story states Radjenovich entered what's known as an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to concede enough evidence exists to find him guilty without pleading guilty.
A Hudson student was issued a citation Thursday after a school-bus conversation that concerned at least one other classmate. Hudson School District Superintendent Nick Ouellette emailed district families Thursday evening to say the incident was investigated by police and deemed not to be a threat. "However, because of the fear and anxiety statements like this make, the student was issued a citation," Ouellette wrote. He said there is a heightened police presence in the district on Friday.
Firefighters responded this week to a machine fire at Federal Foam in New Richmond. New Richmond Fire Chief Jim VanderWyst said firefighters were called at 7:32 p.m. Monday, March 12, to 600 Wisconsin Drive business for a fire. He said the fire was contained to a machine that applies hot rubber to a foam product. The fire started after the machine jammed, VanderWyst said.
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.