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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Wisconsin judges always get the final say in sentencing — including the power to override plea agreements between lawyers. A Pierce County judge demonstrated exactly that level of discretion this week in sentencing a drunken-driving offender on his ninth such conviction. The judge, Joe Boles, didn't believe the punishment fit the crime. "I cannot go along with the recommendation," Boles said at the Monday, Oct. 9, sentencing hearing for Mark B. Harmon, a homeless man who previously lived in Lake City, Minn.
TOWN OF CLIFTON -- A loose Great Dane running on a Pierce County road led to a weekend motorcycle crash that hospitalized two Minnesota residents. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said Randolph residents Jeffrey Thompson, 46, and Stacey Popp, 45, were southbound at 8:24 p.m. Oct. 7 on County Road F in the town of Clifton when the motorcycle they were on struck the dog.
A Pierce County man who faces 125 animal neglect charges returns to court Tuesday, Sept. 26 on allegations he was scouting land for a dog kennel when he violated terms of his bond. Prosecutors charged Elmwood resident Stuart E. West with misdemeanor bail jumping after an Aug. 7 incident in rural Pierce County. He makes his initial court appearance Sept. 26.
Hudson police opened a death investigation Wednesday after the discovery of a woman’s body along the St. Croix River. Police Chief Marty Jensen said the woman was a 74-year-old Hudson resident. Police were attempting to confirm her identity with relatives, he said. The death, he said, does not appear suspicious “at this point in time.” The chief said the woman had not been reported missing.
A St. Paul skydiving instructor had anything but a soft landing last month after allegedly attempting to parachute from atop a St. Croix County cellphone tower. Court documents filed this week state the man’s parachute got hung up on power lines on the way down, snagging him and causing him to receive an electrical shock. The 44-year-old survived the July 29 incident, but was later charged with two felonies stemming from the failed attempt, which left 127 customers without power for nearly two hours.
A popular east metro golf course must pay out $130,000 to former employees who were the targets of sexual harassment and reprisals by the owner, according to a Washington County District Court ruling. Judge Mary Hannon ruled Monday, Aug. 21, that William Doebler and Mississippi Dunes Golf Links violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) and allowed a hostile work environment for employees who faced sexual harassment and reprisal. Hannon admonished the golf course in her ruling, saying its failure to respond to sex discrimination allegations was "alarming."
A Prescott man was arrested on suspicion of multiple felonies Tuesday after a stabbing at his apartment. Prescott Interim Police Chief Robert Funk identified the suspect in a news release as 66-year-old Dennis A. Frank, 66. The victim, a female, was not identified Wednesday pending family notification. She was hospitalized “and is receiving care,” the release states. According to the release:
A trio of Minnesota men are accused in a rowdy night that allegedly led to a burglary and a robbery at a Prescott apartment. One man booted down the door of an apartment complex before he and others entered the building and wrestled a man's cellphone away, according to charges filed last week in Pierce County Circuit Court. The men allegedly fled the area in a boat to Hastings, where one suspect reportedly slugged another in the face.
A chain-reaction crash Friday in Pierce County sent a Hastings woman to the hospital. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said the injured woman, identified as 32-year-old Christina L. Johnson, was a passenger in a car that was struck by another vehicle pushed into oncoming traffic after being rear-ended on Highway 10.
Pierce County prosecutors say two Twin Cities men are responsible for more than $400,000 worth of stolen equipment found last winter at a Spring Valley man's property. Rosemount resident Wayne A. Torseth and St. Paul resident Andrew Patrick Olson were each charged Aug. 2 with 17 counts of receiving stolen property. Olson, 31, is also charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Warrants were issued for both men Aug. 3.