John R. Russett
John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts.
You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett
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FARMINGTON — Kenny LaBeau has built a career on food. When people ask for recipes to some of his kitchen creations, they are met with the same response — there is no recipe. "Kenny's pleasure is feeding people," said wife Alicia LaBeau. "He likes to feed people, so anything he can do to make people happy when it comes to food, he's all over it. It's what he does." Just two years after celebrating the 30th anniversary of Longbranch Saloon and Eatery, the owner and driving force behind the operation has another celebration planned.
Returned from Vietnam unopened with "KIA 10-31-72" written on it in black marker, its contents of Kool-Aid and cookies made known from the note taped to the outside, a plain brown package showed up 20 years later at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A replica of that package, along with some of the more than 400,000 items left at the wall in D.C., will be in St. Paul at the State Capitol grounds through Sunday, June 24, along with "The Wall That Heals," a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Red Wing resident and Lake City Lumber owner Spencer R. Kuehl, arrested Jan. 25 as part of a sex sting in Eau Claire, Wis., pleaded guilty to felony child enticement late afternoon Friday, April 13, in Eau Claire County Circuit Court, according to court documents. Kuehl also was charged with attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 12, a felony, which was dismissed at Friday’s hearing.
In a letter sent to School Board members in late February, Red Wing High School teacher Scott Bender described the current state of staff morale as the worst he's seen in his 20 years with the district. Citing eroding expectations of student behavior, Bender depicted the high school's halls as vulgar-ridden, students rarely reprimanded unless those vulgarities are directed specifically at staff.
Red Wing Public Schools Supt. Karsten Anderson said Monday that while district administration might differ somewhat on the approach, they are willing to work alongside teachers to address climate issues plaguing district buildings. Burnside teacher Jody Sjoblom, Red Wing High School teacher Scott Bender, and Kim Cory, who teaches at Twin Bluff Middle School and RWHS, expressed concern over the environment within the schools.
In Polk County, Wis., a man — young by most standards at no more than 23 or 24 — picked up the phone, dialed 911, then sat down on the couch next to his gun and waited for an officer to arrive. Little more than an hour's drive north of Spring Valley Police Chief John DuBois' office — up through Baldwin, past Pine, Bear Trap, Wapogasset and Deer lakes — sits the town of Centuria. Years before he became a chief, DuBois patrolled the streets of Centuria with its roughly 950 residents, anxious and unsure, awaiting a solitary call.
On a good day, Trish Nolan never would have met the man. It began as a group of four. They would sit around and talk regularly, usually until around 2 a.m., as music from the employee lounge permeated the halls. He kissed her behind the scenes when he thought no one was looking. He lied to her about his alcoholism. He lied to her about his marriage. He got her phone number. Then he showed up at her apartment and raped her. "It was like," Nolan paused, "going into hell."
Far from a new issue, law enforcement and mental illness have become increasingly more entangled since state governments began to close their mental health hospitals in the 1950s, continually taxing the agencies tasked with responding to those in crisis.
A Red Wing man was charged Friday in Wisconsin with first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 12 and child enticement, both felonies, according to Eau Claire County Circuit Court documents. The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reported Spencer R. Kuehl, 54, allegedly responded to a Craigslist ad for a sexual encounter with a minor placed by an Eau Claire police detective. When Kuehl arrived for the encounter in Eau Claire, according to the Leader Telegram, he was arrested.
A former Pierce County Sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony theft in Pierce County Circuit Court Friday, Dec. 22. Robby Joel Jaeger, 35, who worked as a Spring Valley police officer until November 2012, was charged with felony theft as well as unauthorized use of a Village of Spring Valley credit card, according to a criminal complaint filed in early September.