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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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.
An East Ridge High School student involved in a two-vehicle crash earlier this week has died. South Washington County School District Communications Director Barb Brown confirmed that Braedon Hyland died this afternoon. Hyland was from Woodbury. "He is recognized for his enthusiasm and great sense of humor," Brown said in a news release.
The National Park Service announced Wednesday that the deaths of three Woodbury family members at Grand Canyon National Park were not accidental. According to a news release, preliminary investigation into the deaths of Anthony DeHaven and his two children, Jace and Jersey Dehaven, revealed the possibility of a murder-suicide. "It is important to note that these findings are preliminary and that additional investigation is ongoing," a Grand Canyon National Park news release stated. The investigation did not indicate the involvement of an unknown person, according to the release. The Dehave
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.
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.
When Joe Cuoco sees images of the contorted steel beams that became grim symbols of Sept. 11, his memories stretch back farther than 10 years. Cuoco, a New York, N.Y., native, had a hand in erecting all that steel during construction of the World Trade Center complex, including the Twin Towers. "The design of the steel girders - I've never seen girders like that, ever," said Cuoco, who now makes his home in Woodbury with his wife Herborg.
A Cottage Grove woman remained in critical condition Wednesday after a weekend rollover crash on Interstate 94. The driver, Michelle Leane Geiger, 36, remained hospitalized at Regions Medical Center in St. Paul, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Her passenger, Kaylee Lyn Geiger, also was taken from the crash by ambulance, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Regions staff had no information Wednesday on the passenger. According to a report released by the State Patrol, a witness saw Geiger's vehicle heading westbound on I-94 at 3:34 p.m.
Minnesota flags flew at half-staff Monday in honor of a 24-year-old Woodbury soldier who died earlier this month. Ian Williams McConnell, an active duty Marine and 2005 Hill-Murray School graduate, died July 4, according to a news release from Gov. Mark Dayton's office. According to the release, McConnell served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, where he performed explosive ordinance disposal. "Sgt. McConnell was compassionate and selfless and had a good sense of humor," according to a proclamation issued by Dayton.