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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Dave Austin was captivated by media reports he saw about yellow Labradors rescued from an Elmwood-area man's kennel, so he and his wife knew exactly what they wanted when word spread that the dogs were being put up for adoption. The suburban Milwaukee couple figured there'd be a mad rush to adopt the puppies seized from Stuart West's town of El Paso home. "But the mamas that are 2 and 3 years old — people aren't looking so much to adopt them because of the babies," his wife, Cathie Austin, said.
A 12-year-old boy was hospitalized Saturday after being thrown from a horse-and-buggy ride at a Stockholm Christmas celebration. Pepin County Sheriff Joel Wener said the boy was one of eight passengers, along with the horses’ owner, on a buggy at the God Jul festival, held Dec. 2, when the incident occurred at about 12:46 p.m.
ELLSWORTH — The Elmwood-area man who converted his home into a dog kennel deemed to be the worst a state inspector said he ever saw was sentenced Thursday, Nov. 30 to jail time and probation. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles sentenced Stuart E. West to 40 days in jail and three years on probation after the town of El Paso resident was convicted by a jury in October of 62 misdemeanor offenses. The 40 days will be reduced to 26 when accounting for time served and good time.
Two people questioned in the aftermath of a Prescott man's death were charged this month with felony drug crimes. The charges followed the death of 51-year-old Collin D. Jones, found dead Nov. 12 at an 865 Helen St. apartment in Prescott. Interim Prescott Police Chief Rob Funk said Jones' cause of death remains under investigation. Two people who had been with Jones in the apartment were questioned in connection with the death. Those people, Rhinelander residents Jenna R. Ohm and Kyle J. Bushong, were later charged in Pierce County Circuit court.
TOWN OF TRENTON — The Pierce County Sheriff's Office was investigating a weekend fire that displaced the resident of a Hager City-area home. Ellsworth Fire Chief Brent Langer said the home at W7680 165th Ave. in the town of Trenton was left uninhabitable after the fire, first reported at 6:41 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. He said investigation of the fire's cause was turned over to the sheriff's office.
Pierce County Board members finalized the 2018 budget without adding money for an agricultural agent — but left the door open for that to change. Instead of amending the budget to flow funds from one department back into the open position, county supervisors let the vacancy remain while state funding for the UW-Extension program takes shape.
A Maiden Rock man was injured this week after tumbling down a hill on an ATV. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office responded at 9:14 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, to an area on 125th Avenue in the town of Maiden Rock for an ATV rollover. The victim, identified as 67-year-old Norman O. Hilleren, was transported by ambulance to Mayo Health System in Red Wing for his injuries, the extent of which were not disclosed. Deputies reported finding Hillern near the bottom of a hill. They later learned he had been traversing the hillside when he lost control of the vehicle and rolled down.
A Hastings man is due in court next month on allegations he embezzled more than $70,000 from a Prescott-area golf course. Pierce County prosecutors allege Robert P. Magnuson pocketed cash after issuing fake golf club memberships at Clifton Highlands between September 2016 and March of this year. The 58-year-old is charged with one count of felony theft by false representation.
Two drivers were hospitalized in separate crashes Tuesday evening on Pierce County roads. The first crash, reported at 5:47 p.m. Nov. 14 on 410th Avenue in the town of Ellsworth, left Arkansaw resident Jordan Pittman with undisclosed injuries. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said the 28-year-old was taken by Ellsworth EMS to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
Two former Prescott police officers are suing the city in hopes of getting their jobs back. The suit, filed Oct. 16 in Pierce County Circuit Court, seeks a reversal of the decision that left former officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most out of work with the city of Prescott. "The decision was arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive," according to the lawsuit. City Administrator Jayne Brand said Monday, Nov. 6, that the city had been served that day with the lawsuit and had no comment.