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 open seat in the state Senate appeared to remain in Democratic control after a former legislator led his Republican opponent Tuesday at the polls in western Wisconsin. With one county’s results outstanding, Eau Claire resident Jeff Smith was poised to capture the Senate District 31 seat vacated by Kathleen Vinehout during her unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign. Smith led Plum City farmer Mel Pittman on the strength of results in Eau Claire County, where he won 22,288 to 14,070.
A Prescott man accused of sexually assaulting and stabbing a woman earlier this year allegedly violated his bond conditions Oct. 19 by driving her in his car, which authorities say he then used to flee police into Minnesota. Jason J. Kulla, 46, was charged with two felonies — bail jumping and fleeing an officer — after being arrested Thursday, Oct. 25. He made his initial court appearance Monday, where Pierce County Court Commissioner Jorv Gavic set Kulla's cash bail at $100,000.
One person was airlifted and three others were transported by ambulance Sunday after a two-car crash near Bay City. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said 69-year-old Bay City resident John M. Farrell Jr. was taken by LifeLink III air ambulance to Regions Hospital. A Regions spokeswoman said he was listed in fair condition Tuesday.
Prosecutors on Friday charged a Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputy with multiple counts of child sexual assault. St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes, serving as special counsel in the case of Allen J. Wojcik, charged the 31-year-old with two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child and two related counts. All four charges are felonies. The sheriff's office this week placed Wojcik on paid administrative leave. The allegations did not occur during the course of his work with the department.
A Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputy was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child sexual assault. According to the Pierce County Jail log, Allen J. Wojcik, 31, was booked at 5:32 p.m. Sept. 26 on suspicion of second-degree sexual assault of a child. He was transferred to the St. Croix County jail, where he was also listed on a Wednesday jail log.
A Bay City man was killed Friday when the tractor he was driving rolled on top of him, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. Deputies on Monday, Sept. 24, identified the man as Marlan M. Hanson, 71. Authorities were called at 1:26 p.m. Friday to a home on 300th Avenue in the town of Hartland for a tractor accident. Investigation revealed Hanson was trying to remove a downed tree on his driveway with an Allis Chalmers tractor when the machine rolled on top of him. The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office pronounced Hanson dead on the scene.
A Twin Cities man who told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel was hospitalized Sunday after a rural Hager City crash. The crash, reported at 1:20 a.m. Sept. 9 on County Road D in the town of Trenton, resulted in Burnsville resident Austin Smith being transported to Mayo Clinic Health System-Red Wing. Smith, 29, told Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies he fell asleep while driving before crashing into a culvert, which sent his 2016 Nissan Versa airborne and into a ditch. Deputies were assisted by Red Wing ambulance and Wisconsin State Patrol.
The woman living at the Pierce County property where more than 1,300 animals were removed amid dog- and cock-fighting suspicions tried sneaking a safe containing 5 pounds of methamphetamine out of the house, according to authorities.
ELLSWORTH — The 24-year-old roofer accused of killing his coworker with a power saw at a River Falls-area job site pleaded not guilty this week to homicide and mayhem charges. St. Louis, Mo., resident Miguel A. Navarro entered the pleas Sept. 5 after a preliminary hearing that moved the case into trial phase. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles set the case for a six-day jury trial beginning May 31, 2019.
Animal rescues and arrests followed the discovery of an alleged dog- and cock-fighting operation where suspected drugs were also found last week in rural Pierce County. Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — who spent days assisting law enforcement at a 7789 County Road BB farm — announced Thursday that 1,300 animals were found there. A news release said most of the animals were chickens, along with more than a dozen dogs allegedly bred for fighting.