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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An issue that municipal officials in St. Croix County say is putting the squeeze on local coffers is being targeted by the Tony Evers administration. The Democratic governor earlier this month said he would include a measure to close the so-called "dark-store loophole" in Wisconsin. A 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling allows retailers to have open stores assessed at the rate of a vacant store, allowing them to pay lower property taxes.
Dr. Robert Bailey III blazed a trail in the 1950s when he became the first black professor at UW-River Falls. Even now, more than 25 years since his death, the former sociology professor will break new ground. He will become the first African American person to have his name grace an office at UWRF. What houses the university's international study programs will in 2020 be renamed the Dr. Robert B. Bailey III Office of International Education.
A rural Somerset man was appointed to a St. Croix County Board post that was vacated after its former occupant became a judge. On a split vote Tuesday, Feb. 5, County Board members chose Jim Endle to be the next supervisor for District 2. The seat was vacated last month by Scott Nordstrand after he was appointed by former Gov. Scott Walker to serve out the remainder of former St. Croix County Circut Court Judge Eric Lundell's term. Endle will complete the remainder of Nordstrand's two-year term, which began in 2018.
St. Croix County is turning to lawmakers for help in solving a widening problem that officials say is draining local coffers and hamstringing law enforcement departments tasked with handling mental health crises. Because fewer beds are available in western Wisconsin hospitals, police and St. Croix County Sheriff's Office deputies who transport people for emergency mental health detentions often trek from St. Croix County to a secure mental hospital in Winnebago County.
Residents of the St. Croix River valley woke up to minus-30 temperatures Wednesday, with even harsher windchills. See the attached photo gallery for images of those who braved the cold.
There's an elevator leading up the chimney at Xcel Energy's Allen S. King Generating Station outside Stillwater. It's the preferred mode of transportation for St. Croix County emergency communications technicians when they go to service radio equipment tucked inside the 786-foot "King Stack," as it's known, along the St. Croix River. But the elevator doesn't always work. "Then he has to hoof it," said St. Croix County Emergency Support Services Director Steve T'Kach.
The fate of a proposed $55 million St. Croix County manure processing plant was placed in a holding pattern after a meeting where residents raised concerns about the project. Several neighbors of the proposed Western Wisconsin Biogas and Nutrient Recovery Project voiced opposition to the prospect of odors, truck volume and other issues Thursday, Jan. 25, while proponents described plans as a boon to the regional agriculture industry.
RIVER FALLS — Dan Brandenstein had only one class with Dr. Richard Swensen, but it was a life changer. A physics major, Brandenstein needed to take a chemistry class toward his degree at UW-River Falls. Swensen taught the chemistry class, where he would chat up the young Brandenstein during laboratory sessions in the early 1960s.
TOWN OF HUDSON — Anyone who's explored the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness knows the value of a good map. Maps depicting waterways, portage routes and campsites help visitors navigate the massive northern Minnesota wilderness, where charging stations are nonexistent and manmade landmarks are intentionally sparse. "This," Hudson resident Joe Spadino, clutching a map, said, "is the lifeline up there." But the map he held in his hand last week is unlike any other depicting the Boundary Waters.
A Republican proposal would fund Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' campaign pledge for tax relief, but would tap different funds to pay for it. Rather than pay for the cuts through Evers' preferred option — a reduction of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit — the GOP proposal would fund it through state budget surplus funds.