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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It was race day on Saturday at Valley Crossing Community School. Scouts from Pack 196 gathered to test their creations against one another's at the annual pinewood derby race. The cars - each constructed by the scouts - spanned the conventional to the unusual, where names like the Flaming Cookie, the Junk Drawer and the Batmobile did battle on the wooden track. Trophies were awarded for overall times and for each division, among Lion Cub, Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelo scouts. The Top 3 overall finishers were Zach Olson, Zach Carlson and Tyler Olson.
Firefighters said a hot laptop computer was to blame for townhouse fire that left the residence unlivable. Woodbury crews were called at 2:16 p.m. to 8655 Quarry Ridge Lane Unit A for a structure fire. Fire Cmdr. John Wallgren said the fire was roaring by the time crews arrived. "Everything was going in the first floor," he said. The blaze, which started on a couch in the two-story townhome, caused "significant damage" to the home, Wallgren said. Crews from Cottage Grove and Oakdale also responded. The home's sole female resident was not home at the time of the fire.
University of Minnesota researchers aiming to make safer roads are turning to Woodbury students for a new project - and a tempting offer. Officials announced last week that Woodbury was selected among communities across Minnesota to participate in the University of Minnesota Teen Driver Study.
Several businesses on Commerce Drive and two in CityWalk were burglarized last week. According to police records, four properties on Commerce Drive reported burglaries or attempted burglaries on Jan. 9. Steve Wills, investigative commander for Woodbury police, said two other businesses were hit in the CityWalk district the same night. Small amounts of what Wills termed "startup cash" were taken in most of the burglaries, which occurred overnight between Jan. 8-9.
Prosecutors charged a Woodbury man with felony assault after he allegedly beat a woman at his home. Antonio Lee Richardson, 23, appeared in court in December on one count of third-degree assault, a felony. According to a criminal complaint, Woodbury police were called to Richardson's Harvest Path residence at 4:34 a.m. Sept.
Washington County prosecutors on Wednesday charged an Oakdale woman with murder in connection with the overdose death of a Scandia, Minn., man. The woman, 21-year-old Emily Katherine Frye, is charged with one count of third-degree murder. She is accused of selling Frank Eck, a 23-year-old Scandia man, methadone. Eck died Aug. 1 of what a medical examiner ruled "acute methadone toxicity." "We have a rash of overdose deaths, not just in Washington County, but all through the metro area in the last year and a half," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said through a news release.
A Woodbury man suspected of selling drugs was arrested Saturday, Jan. 5, after police executed a search warrant at his residence. The suspect, Jermaine Louis Avril Scott, 25, was charged Monday with one count of fifth-degree drug sales, a felony. According to a criminal complaint: Police began investigating Scott after receiving reports of suspected drug activity at his Cornelia Trail residence since mid-December. Those reports prompted police to perform a "trash pull" at Scott's home on Jan.
A Woodbury woman was charged last week following allegations that she brought a mentally impaired teenager to Ramsey County, where the 19-year-old was sexually exploited on multiple occasions. The St. Paul City Attorney's Office charged the woman, 50-year-old Cheryl Ann Tchida, with one count of neglect of a vulnerable adult, a gross misdemeanor. According to a criminal complaint, Tchida was the teenager's legal guardian. "The facts in this case are outrageous," said St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing.
Tears, laughs and a lighthearted dance tribute marked a ceremony held Thursday, Jan. 3, in honor of Andy Sommer, a Woodbury High School Spanish teacher who died in December. Audience members nearly filled the school's auditorium, where speakers shared memories of Sommer, who died Dec. 19 following a battle with esophageal cancer. Speakers included WHS social studies teacher Hank Freeman, who, in a playful tribute, told audience members she was able to connect with Sommer by going to her "happy place." "Tell the kids to laugh," Freeman said she believed Sommer would say.
A Woodbury woman noticed a white truck following her home, but it wasn't until she received a text message from a neighbor that she became truly alarmed. The woman, responding to a text reading "There is a dude looking in your windows," ran out of her apartment on Dec. 22 and confronted a man outside her residence who authorities said begged her not to call police. Officers later found the man, identified in a criminal complaint as Jeffrey Scott Hurst, at his Cottage Grove home, where he allegedly admitted to spying on the Woodbury woman. Hurst was charged Dec.