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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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.
Sen. Sheila Harsdorf has been in talks with the governor's office regarding the top agriculture position within his cabinet. The River Falls Republican confirmed she and members of Gov. Scott Walker's office discussed the position — secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer protection — currently held by interim Secretary Jeff Lyon. He was appointed to the post in August after former Secretary Ben Brancel retired. "We had a good conversation," Harsdorf said last week.
The Stillwater man accused of stashing more than 130 pounds of pot in a St. Croix County storage unit could avoid prison, according to statements made last week in court. The attorney for Karl R. Heinrichs said Oct. 25 that a recommendation in a related Minnesota case calls for the 45-year-old to receive a combination of probation and jail. The St. Croix County Circuit Court hearing was originally set for a plea and sentencing, but that was called off after defense attorney Eric Johnson announced a surprise development in the Minnesota case.
Among the statements jurors heard last week in the trial of a suspected puppy mill operator was that the defendant was breeding dogs for the United States government. That wasn't the case, said the former leader of a federal dog-breeding operation, but it's true that there was contact between the federal government and Stuart Earl West, who ran the Alma Bottom Pointing Labradors facility out of his town of El Paso home.
Pierce County Board members will consider a plan to restore funding for a vacant agriculture agent position amid an outcry from local agriculture leaders and others. A portion of funds would be diverted from the Land Conservation Department's cost-sharing program to pay for a UW-Extension ag-agent, according to a proposal outlined Oct. 24 by County Board Supervisor Mel Pittman.
A settlement was approved last week in a lawsuit over a man who was killed after striking a cow on a Pierce County road. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles approved the settlement — the terms of which were sealed — at a Thursday, Oct. 19, hearing. "This is the best we can do under the circumstances," said Chuck Bye, attorney for the estate of David Alan Kelch.