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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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.
A burglary suspect returns to court this week on allegations that he helped steal a safe from a Woodbury business. Washington County prosecutors charged Travail Adam Crumble with one count of third-degree burglary. The 24-year-old makes his initial court appearance Thursday, June 7. Authorities identified Crumble as a suspect through fingerprint analysis found on materials from Haven Chemical Health, located on Wooddale Drive. According to a criminal complaint: Police responded to a burglary complaint Nov. 1, 2011 at Haven Chemical.
Washington County prosecutors allege a Woodbury man convicted last year of identity theft was back at it again this year. Andrew Sinaberg, 45, was charged May 11 with one count of felony identity theft. Sinaberg pleaded guilty last year in a case where he was accused of using his ex-wife's identity to collect unemployment benefit payments. He received a five-year stay of adjudication in that case, with the stipulation that a judge could execute a 13-month prison sentence if Sinaberg violated terms of his probation, which required him to remain law abiding.
This week you'll notice something new on the Bulletin's opinion pages. We're debuting a series of columns by local legislative candidates. The series kicks off with incumbent Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, featured just below on this page. The Bulletin reached out to candidates in Senate District 53, House District 53A and House District 53B. With local endorsing conventions out of the way, we figured now is a good a time to learn about the candidates. It's possible new candidates will emerge to force primary elections.
It wouldn't be a stretch to call Nathan Rubin brainy. He is this year's Woodbury High School salutatorian. He carries a 4.26 grade-point average. He loves learning. But then there's a literal side to the adjective. Rubin is fascinated with the human brain. In eighth grade, he read the book "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain," by Oliver Sacks. "It was the coolest thing ever," Rubin said. He was hooked. Now he explains to friends how the human brain contains 100 billion neurons.
Sheri Li never saw herself rising to the top of her class. But in her junior year, the Woodbury High School student opened up her report card and saw that her class rank had jumped to No. 2. Then it hit her. If she put in the work, she could get there -- "and what a great thing that would be," she said. Li attained that goal and was named valedictorian for the class of 2012. "It hasn't hit me," she said last month of the achievement. Her chief responsibility as the WHS valedictorian will be to give a speech during commencement, held at 2 p.m.