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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Things couldn't have been more still or calm Sunday, Aug. 11, on the St. Croix River in Afton - and that's exactly what raised a commotion. Dead air in the St. Croix valley caused a hot air balloon loaded with 15 people to stall directly over the river at 7:50 p.m.
Authorities from Department of Natural Resources investigated a Woodbury man's role in a reported shooting threat that occurred Aug. 4 in the city's northwest corner. The incident began at about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 4 at Jordan Ranch on Upper Afton Road. Interviews with witnesses revealed a man was approached by a stranger and was harassed about hunting.
Kayte Barton has always been around Woodbury Days. Her mother Kathy led the parade for years, so Barton tagged along and helped out during the event. As she became an adult, volunteering for the event just seemed like a natural extension. "I've kind of grown up with it," Barton said. "It's in my blood to help wherever I can." Her dedication to Woodbury Days drew the attention of the event's council last year. She was named 2011's Woodbury Days Volunteer of the Year. "That's pretty cool," Barton said upon learning of the award, which was announced this month.
Officers on Tuesday, Aug. 14, arrested a man at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who is accused of ripping off Prestwick Golf Course by staging a golf tournament that vanished into thin air. Todd Allen Rocha, 54, was arrested by Washington County Sheriff's deputies at the airport, where he was taken into custody on a warrant.
A brutal fight between a dog and its owner left a Woodbury man with puncture wounds and the dog mortally wounded. Police were called Aug. 9 to a residence in the 11000 block of Sand Castle Drive for a dog attack. A man there reported his 5-year-old pit pull attacked him without provocation at the home. The man was able to get away from the dog and armed himself with an 8-inch butcher knife. He attempted to leave the house, but the dog lunged at him again. The resident responded by stabbing the dog twice on either side of its ribcage.
An investigation into juvenile sex trafficking turned up a teenage girl and the arrest of a Little Rock, Ark., man this month in Woodbury. A Minneapolis police officer investigating juvenile sex trafficking activity spotted an ad Aug. 9 on the website Backpage.com that depicted the image of a provocatively dressed young woman offering "unrushed service, full of pleasure." The officer called the number on the ad and spoke with a female who said she was at the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury.
Prison time was ordered for a Minnesota woman convicted of participating in an identity theft ring that was busted up at a Woodbury hotel. Angeline Marie Jereczek, 28, was sentenced July 27 to 6 ½ years in prison following a February 2012 guilty plea to a felony identity theft charge.
t's just after 2 p.m. on a Tuesday at Royals football stadium. Beneath a high sun, a group of teenagers works its way through a routine on the field. But instead of pads and helmets, these students march across the field with gear made of brass, steel and wood. They are the Woodbury High School marching band, and they're well into what's known as "Heat Week" - five days of intense training designed to turn the students into a cohesive unit. Band Director Brent Comeau calls it "rite of passage" for marching band members.
An untimely pizza order spelled doom for a St. Paul man who faces a felony drug charge, according to Woodbury police. A criminal complaint against the 28-year-old man spells out the allegations like this: The man was at the Red Roof Inn on Dec. 20, 2011, while Woodbury police were combing the motel for mail fraud suspects.
David Carlson doesn't mind bucking the system. After serving four years as a Marine Corps infantryman, the Woodbury resident said he got his fill of falling in line. "That's the end of that," the 30-year-old said. Carlson said it's that spirit that has energized his campaign to defeat state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount. He, Bills and Bob Carney Jr. face off on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in a Republican primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Bills is the Minnesota Republican Party's endorsed candidate, a distinction that offers heavy support from the party.