Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin.
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A large law enforcement presence closed off a section of Highway 35 Monday morning in Prescott. The situation, which closed the road from Kinnickinnic Street to Walter Street, was a "police incident," said Prescott City Administrator Jayne Brand. She could not confirm reports of a possible standoff situation, but said officers remained on the scene as of 11:35 a.m. "We don't exactly know what's going on," she said. Prescott police, along with Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies and an ambulance, were seen near the north end of the closure.
The effort to construct an animal shelter near Roberts reaches a pivotal stage this week when it and several other projects go before a key St. Croix County committee. The St. Croix County Board of Adjustment will consider the 6.5-acre St. Croix Animal Friends facility one day after the panel reconsiders a $55 million manure digester project on Thursday at the Government Center.
St. Croix County Board members next month will decide the fate of an $8.4 million borrowing package that would fund three projects including an expansion of the county jail. On a split vote Monday, April 15, Administration Committee members approved the proposal, which would update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the St. Croix Government Center and replace the county's 20-year-old mobile command vehicle — in addition to the jail project.
St. Croix County's top executive is a finalist for a similar job in Florida. County Administrator Pat Thompson confirmed he is one of several people vying to be county administrator in Florida's Escambia County. The county is in Florida's panhandle and contains Pensacola. The six-person finalist list was revealed in a local Escambia County news report. "It's an opportunity that I'm exploring and that Escambia County is exploring with me," Thompson said Tuesday, April 16.
RIVER FALLS — One by one, supporters of building projects at campuses in River Falls and Eau Claire made their case Monday to members of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee. The panel, which will reshape Gov. Tony Evers' budget, held an all-day hearing April 15 at UW-River Falls' University Center, where columns of speakers lined up to offer support and opposition to budget proposals. Two building projects received long turns in the spotlight during the hearing — one for UW-River Falls, the other for UW-Eau Claire.
The recovery of debris washed away from the Little Falls Lake Dam construction site is nearly complete, according to officials tasked with evaluating the situation. Miron Construction Co., the contractor hired to construct a new dam at Willow River State Park, said Monday, April 8, that cleanup was 90 percent complete. Total cleanup was expected to be complete "in the very near future," according to Miron spokeswoman Jen Bauer. Lumber and other construction materials were swept away March 24 after a swollen Willow River breached a dam that protected the construction site.
A $5.3 million project seeking to convert the St. Croix County jail's gymnasium into a mental health wing cleared its first hurdle last week. The project was part of a three-pronged proposal that would also replace the county's mobile command vehicle and upgrade the St. Croix County Government Center's heating and air conditioning system.
St. Croix County Board will continue to include alternating evening and morning meetings, despite an effort to change that arrangement. The board currently meets at 9 a.m. from November to February and at 5 p.m. between March and October. A bylaw proposal at the board's April 2 meeting sought to change the morning meetings to an hour earlier. Before voting on the bylaw update, Supervisor Roy Sjoberg proposed moving all County Board meetings to 5 p.m. He said the morning meeting times can be a struggle for some board members who work during the day.
St. Croix County Board is not yet whole, but it got one step closer this week. The board on Tuesday, April 2, appointed Baldwin resident Nancy Hable to succeed Shaela Leibfried, who resigned the District 18 seat after announcing she was moving out of the district. In her speech to the board, Hable said the vacancy spurred friends and family to suggest she apply. She said she would bring a teamwork mindset to the board. "To be a successful board of any kind of organization, you have to have communication and teamwork," Hable said. "And I'm all for doing both."
The Little Falls Lake dam project at Willow River State Park was likely delayed several weeks after floodwaters breached a temporary dam securing the construction site. State Park Manager Aaron Mason said the breach occurred Sunday, March 24. Time-lapse photography from the project's website shows water breaching the site around 2 p.m. Sunday and quickly filling it over the course of the following hour. "We certainly had an incident that had some flooding and damage," Mason said.