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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HASTINGS -- The remaining bounty of last year's Minnesota Twins pitching was planted Wednesday at Afton State Park. Twins and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notables gathered at the park to plant 25 trees as part of the joint "Break a Bat, Plant a Tree" program.
An Afton man was named the Republican Party of Minnesota's newest communications director. Craig Westover, 61, was selected by state GOP Chairman Tony Sutton to replace the party's outgoing communications director, according to a Monday news release. Westover, a former Pioneer Press columnist and conservative think tank member, joined party staff May 1. "As an op-ed writer and a think tank analyst, Craig has a solid reputation as a strong, principled voice for conservatism," Sutton said in the news release. Westover replaces Mark Drake, who departed for a private sector communications job,
A woman who thought she was connecting with a Facebook friend was actually being manipulated by a Woodbury man determined to mine her personal data, according to criminal charges filed last week. Timothy Peter Noirjean, 26, is accused of hacking women's Facebook accounts faces 13 counts of felony identity theft. He was charged April 13 in Washington County District Court and is set to make his first court appearance on the charges May 26. A 20-year-old woman called Oakdale police in February 2010 to report someone accessed her computer after posing as a Facebook friend.
Billy Stout said he's guilty - he used to text and drive. The East Ridge High School senior said as recently as six months ago, he sent off messages using his cell phone, even going so far to memorize the where the buttons were on his keypad in hopes of keeping his eyes on the road. The habit didn't go unnoticed by friends. "I said, 'Billy, just give me your phone and tell me what to say,'" said East Ridge classmate Jessica Samii. Bad driving habits won't go unnoticed tomorrow by law enforcement, either. The state's Department of Public Safety announced that distracted driving will be the
Pete Orput promised himself he would not call for any changes within his first 90 days in office. Orput admits he has already broken that promise, but submits that it's a minor change: the newly elected Washington County attorney has encouraged his staff to partake in casual Fridays - provided they are not in trial or meeting with witnesses. "These people are doing God's work," he said, noting how he regularly sees his prosecutors working on Saturdays without receiving overtime pay. "I wish I could do more for the folks here.
National Guard soldiers from Cottage Grove, Woodbury and other communities around the state leave Thursday for a one-year deployment in Afghanistan. The 22 soldiers represent A Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard. A departure ceremony will be held at 11 a.m.
East Ridge earned a clean sweep of rival Woodbury Friday night in the cross-town matchup to end the season. The Raptors topped the Royals 79-71 in the game, held at Woodbury High School. East Ridge held a slim 31-29 lead at the half, but opened it up quickly into the second frame, at one point leading by double-digits. Woodbury narrowed the gap, bringing the game within four points with time running out. "When you play Woodbury, there's no safe lead," East Ridge coach Paul Virgin said after the game. "I didn't relax until the buzzer." Adam Schwartz led the Raptors with 24 points.
Woodbury figures prominently in a slate of transit options connecting the Twin Cities with Eau Claire, Wis., announced Wednesday by a transportation commission. The seven transit options presented by the Gateway Corridor Commission include mixes of bus traffic, light rail and commuter rail. The commission, formed in 2009, is tasked with studying and planning alternative transportation options along I-94. The options will be presented at Feb. 24 meeting at Woodbury City Hall.
One of Woodbury's most conspicuously vacant properties could be open for business this fall if a Twin Cities real estate developer has his way. Wellington Management seeks to redevelop the State Farm Insurance building, with plans to bring 2,100 jobs to the location, which has sat empty since 2005. Steve Wellington, president of Wellington Management, proposes renovating the 420,000 square-foot complex for multiple uses - including the addition of a major retailer - to the tune of $68 million. He said plans call for an $18 million renovation he said is poised to house a Twin Cities-based fi