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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Two Afton bridges are deemed structurally deficient. Diane Hankee, Afton's city engineer, told City Council members Feb. 21 that a bridge on Valley Creek Trail and one on Trading Post Trail received the designations and require repairs. She said the costs could add up to $40,000. The issue will be heard at the next Afton Public Works Committee meeting.
Challenging Michele Bachmann has become a biennial event for Democrats in the 6th Congressional District. A Woodbury man, however, is hoping to unseat the three-term congresswoman through a different channel - he plans to beat her as a Republican. Ron Seiford is currently collecting signatures to run as a Republican against Bachmann, who he expects will remain in his district after new district lines are finalized.
Elizabeth Koprucki's effort to complete her domination of Minnesota high school alpine racing fell just short when she finished second at Wednesday's state meet. The East Ridge junior finished 1.12 seconds behind the champion, Megan Danelski of Hermantown, according to unofficial results. The East Ridge girls squad competed in the team portion of the meet.
After riding high all season, the East Ridge girls alpine ski team advanced Wednesday to the state tournament. The girls team team finished second in Section 4A competition -- a top-two place good enough to earn the state berth -- held at Wild Mountain.
Behind a memorable performance by senior Justin Pahl, an underdog Raptors squad took down Woodbury in a home thriller. East Ridge topped Woodbury 70-69 in the game, bolstered by Pahl's 29 points and a defense that helped snuff out an 11 point deficit. Raptors head coach Paul Virgin said his team's defense was the difference maker in the rivalry game. "That Woodbury team is really good," he said of the Royals, who opened the week ranked No. 9 in the state. "And they're well coached.
One of Minnesota's winningest soccer coaches has landed at East Ridge High School. East Ridge officials announced Thursday that Anthony Bidwell, who led the Eden Prairie High School girls soccer team to a state title in 2010, was named head coach of the Raptors boys program. "A social studies teacher at East Ridge, Anthony is thrilled to take on this position that couples his passion for both teaching and coaching," East Ridge Activities Director Trent Hanson said through a news release.
A Woodbury woman was elected last weekend to the highest state post for Minnesota Republicans - at least temporarily. Kelly Fenton will lead the Minnesota Republican Party as its deputy chairwoman while the party waits to select its new chairperson. Outgoing Chairman Tony Sutton announced Friday, Dec. 2, that he was resigning his post - just one day before the party convened its central committee meeting. During the meeting, Fenton was elected to the deputy chair post on the second round of voting by party activists.
Would it have been Braedon Hyland's wish to see Saturday's Woodbury-East Ridge game end in a tie? Coaches on both sides of the 2-2 draw thought so. "A tie was meant to be," said Royals boys hockey coach Wes Bolin. "It was probably the impact that Braedon had on the game. A tie was what he probably had in mind." Raptors coach Doug Long agreed. "It seems fitting, yeah," he said. The game began with a tribute to Hyland, an East Ridge senior who died Oct. 14 from injuries sustained in an Afton automobile crash.
A Republican-led forum on reform issues drew numerous critics of GOP policy Thursday at a Woodbury City Hall meeting that became surprisingly partisan for organizers. House Majority Leader Matt Dean, one of several lawmakers who led the meeting, said it was the first time the so-called "Reform 2.0" sessions had been overtaken by politics. "The politics is counter-productive," Dean, R-Dellwood, said after the meeting. "It's a waste of time." He said he expected a more policy-driven discussion, where citizens could provide input for the legislative process.
Jim Gelbmann said he still has unfinished business. After serving 16 years on District 833 School Board, the Woodbury man said he is seeking re-election in hopes of tackling one last major issue: the state's education finance formula. "The Minnesota Miracle of 1973 has become the Minnesota nightmare for a number of Minnesota districts," said Gelbmann, one of seven candidates vying for three School Board seats. He said districts like South Washington County find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes time for referendum measures.