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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Fire. Mud. Tall walls. Obstacles that would make most people turn away lured thousands of brave runners who headed to the hills of Afton Alps Ski Area Saturday, June 30, and Sunday, July 1, for the Warrior Dash race. The race consisted of a three-mile course littered with 12 obstacles, including a rappelling line, a military crawl, a rope climb, a fire jump and a mud crawl. Many runners took their time tackling the challenges and Afton Alps' hilly terrain. Others gave it their all throughout the race; one runner on Sunday completed the race in just under 24 minutes.
It's game over for three St. Paul men accused of stealing from Woodbury's Walmart. The men, who allegedly participated in the theft of four video game consoles in May, were charged this month with felonies stemming from the incident. The men, Tramar R. Valentine, 23, Evans Ohene, 21, and Jamarr J.
A man who allegedly made off with stolen merchandise at a Woodbury store wasn't as fortunate the three days later, when authorities said he was poised to pull off another theft. William Ray Bronson, 34, was arrested June 12 after staff at Walmart alerted police to a possible theft in progress. Washington County prosecutors charged him with one count of aiding and abetting theft, a felony. According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, police were called June 12 to Walmart after staff there witnessed a man and woman staging merchandise near a door.
Cymbals crashed, horns sounded and crowds cheered Saturday at a musical event held at East Ridge High School. Drum- and bugle-corps teams from the country came to Woodbury for the River City Rhapsody event. Teams included Minnesota Brass, a St. Paul-based drum corps. See the attached photo gallery for more images.
Woodbury firefighters were pushed to the limit Tuesday after enduring a stretch that their chief said was perhaps the busiest ever for the department. Todd Johnson, Woodbury's fire chief and deputy public safety director, said the 17-hour span beginning late Monday and into Tuesday resulted in 27 calls for service.
Heavy storms pushing through the metro early Tuesday left much of Woodbury without power this morning. According to Xcel Energy, more than 2,200 customers in Woodbury were without power as of 8:15 a.m.. "We are experiencing widespread outages in Minnesota due to severe weather conditions and are unable to provide exact restoration times for each individual outage," according to a statement on the utility's website. "As crews assess changing circumstances, revised estimates will be provided frequently." The storms, which struck the area around 4 a.m., produced high winds and hail.
A Woodbury man faces two felony charges after allegedly beating his girlfriend so severely that she was left with deep cuts and couldn't determine what month it was once authorities arrived. Thomas Schoenthaler, 31, was charged May 29 with one count of third-degree assault and one count of domestic assault by strangulation.
Gary Esler listens intently as the radio crackles to life. He jots down information as his partner's operating radio equipment connects with someone from Hawaii. A Navy veteran who was once stationed in Hawaii, Esler asks for the controls. "Aloha! Where are you located," Esler, a member of the Cottage Grove-based South East Metro Amateur Radio Club (SEMARC), asks the other ham radio operator. The two exchange information before signing off. Connections like these excite the Hastings resident. "I guarantee you we'll work all of the United States today," he says.
A Woodbury man convicted in a Dakota County shooting case is entitled to a new trial, an appeals court decided. The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a 2010 second-degree assault conviction against Marcus Rollins of Woodbury, declaring the case was "plagued by structural error." The case was remanded for retrial. Rollins was accused of pulling out a gun and firing three rounds into an SUV on March 13, 2010, in Burnsville.