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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If the Woodbury-East Ridge matchup hasn't developed into one of the area's premier rivalries, someone forgot to tell the players and fans at Friday's game. On the final play in the game's second overtime, crowds on both sides of Royals Stadium roared, waiting to see whether East Ridge's two point-conversion attempt would seal the win or end in defeat for the visiting Raptors after drawing the game to 34-35. The two-point attempt was stuffed by the Royals and returned the rivalry's the Golden Griffin Trophy back into Woodbury possession.
A Woodbury teenager's days in District 833 may be numbered, depending on the outcome of allegations that he attempted to bring two knives and bags of marijuana to a high school dance. Woodbury police said formal charges were pending against a 14-year-old boy who was stopped Sept. 16 at East Ridge High School during a school dance.
A Woodbury man accused of exposing himself and propositioning teenage girls near Woodbury High School pleaded guilty this month to one count of indecent exposure. Andrew Ream, 28, entered the plea Sept. 19 in Washington County District Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced in the misdemeanor case on Dec. 15. The case is one of three where Ream is accused of driving up alongside juvenile females in the area surrounding Woodbury High School. In the case to which he pleaded guilty, Ream allegedly approached a girl Dec. 13, 2010, while she was walking home from school through Ojibway Park.
New Life Academy is in mourning. One of its most beloved teachers, Cheri Thomas, died last week after a long bout with cancer. "It has a pretty big impact," NLA secondary principal Lynn Atkinson said. "Cheri just really brought her uniqueness here. It is a pretty big hole. It is a loss. "It's definitely changed around here a little bit." Known by her students as "Frau" - the German word for "Mrs." - Thomas was the school's German teacher for 11 years. Atkinson began at the school in 2000, the same year Thomas started teaching there.
A Woodbury woman whose home fell into bank ownership after foreclosure is accused of gutting the house and selling off tens of thousands of dollars in fixtures before she moved out. The suspect, Riana Bennerotte, was charged in July with one count of defeating securing on realty, a felony calling for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. She made her first court appearance Sept. 14 in Stillwater. The 35-year-old is accused of stripping out $57,650 worth of property from her former Eagle View Terrace house after ownership transferred to US Bank.
The Raptors ran into a wall Friday night. Coming off a convincing Week 2 home win over Forest Lake, East Ridge had no answers for a Mounds View defense that smothered its way to a 17-0 win at the Raptor's Nest. "That's probably the best defensively coached team around," East Ridge coach Mike Pendino said after the game. The Mustangs' defense blanketed a Raptors rushing attack that couldn't find a rhythm and stifled nearly any semblance of a passing game. That began with 4:10 left in the first quarter, when East Ridge senior quarterback Brandon Johnson threw an interception that gave Mounds
Police are searching for suspects involved in a so-called "skimming" operation at a Woodbury ATM. A magnetic card-reading gadget was discovered Sept. 9 before would-be thieves had a chance to exploit its data, but police said it had the potential to fleece dozens of unfortunate customers out of their money. According to a preliminary report, a Woodbury man using an ATM at US Bank on Valley Creek Road noticed his card got stuck on the card reader when he attempted to retrieve it from the machine.
A Woodbury woman accused of smashing a man in the face with a brick-like object was sentenced last month to jail time. Brenda Dittbenner, 45, was convicted Aug. 26 of third-degree assault - a charge stemming from a March 2010 case when she allegedly confronted and battered her boyfriend. As part of a plea deal, the felony-level charge was reduced to a gross misdemeanor conviction.
The Royals earned their first win of the season Friday night behind a strong second-half output and a powerful rushing performance from running back Junius Wilson. Woodbury (1-1 overall, 1-1 Suburban East Conference) defeated Hastings 29-23 at home, securing head coach Andy Hill's first win for the team. "We just threw down the gauntlet and said, 'Hey seniors, it's your year,'" Hill said after the game, his second for the Royals after losing last week to Stillwater. The Raiders jumped on the board in the first quarter after Woodbury failed to convert a fourth-and-one attempt.
Closer than ever now, supporters of a baseball field for special needs children are looking to close the funding gap for the unique Woodbury ballpark. "Just because they have a disability doesn't mean they shouldn't have the same opportunities we have," said Ryan Warner, one of six local businessmen behind an effort to complete fund-raising for Woodbury's Miracle Field. Their marquee event occurs Sunday, Sept.