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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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.
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.