Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
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Mark Porter has found a new job as a school superintendent. Porter, the former District 833 school superintendent, was hired Thursday for a similar position with the Monroe County School District in the Florida Keys. The school board there selected Porter over four other finalists, including the current schools chief. Porter will be the district's first superintendent hired by the school board; he'll replace a superintendent who was appointed by the Florida governor, according to the Key West Citizen newspaper.
A revamped Perkins restaurant in Cottage Grove could give customers a glimpse at what all of the chain's locations will look like. The local restaurant recently completed a remodeling project that spiffed up the exterior of the building as well as the lobby and dining areas inside. The Cottage Grove location was the first in the country to receive both an interior and exterior remodel simultaneously, said Nate Raway, the local restaurant's general manager.
A key administrator is leaving South Washington County Schools. Rick Spicuzza, an assistant superintendent, is leaving for a similar position in the Mounds View School District. Spicuzza has served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and assessment in District 833. He was hired in 2007 to help the district study its student test scores and better align teaching to state academic standards. Spicuzza will become deputy superintendent in the Mounds View district, where he worked before coming to South Washington County Schools.
Vandalism A Cottage Grove resident reported an odd incident of vandalism on May 20. The homeowner called police after someone put bologna on windows, the driveway, the garage door and on the windows of a vehicle parked at the home in the 6500 block of Bluestem Lane. A Cottage Grove resident reported May 27 that a home in the 8700 block of Greene Avenue was hit with paintballs. There was no damage. Police received a report June 1 that a house in the 8400 block of Greenway Avenue had been struck with paintballs.
A Cottage Grove woman accused of suffocating her infant son after drinking heavily caught cable television attention. Talk show host Nancy Grace put a cable-TV spotlight on the case of Toni A. Medrano, who was charged this month with manslaughter in connection with her 3-week-old son's death in their Cottage Grove home last year. Washington County prosecutors allege Medrano, 29, drank a bottle of vodka before falling asleep on a couch with her newborn son. She awoke hours later and the baby was unresponsive.
A Cottage Grove man is accused of attacking and punching a police officer. Washington County prosecutors have charged Nathan C.
A Cottage Grove man allegedly ripped up a city park with his car during a police chase in the first of his three arrests in three days this week. Richard J. Smith Jr. was arrested for suspected drunken driving early Sunday after he allegedly fled a traffic stop and led police on a pursuit through town to Hearthside Park. A day later, he was picked up on suspicion of trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Cottage Grove residents who want a close look at police operations -- from the right side of the law -- will have their chance this summer. The Cottage Grove Police Department is planning its second Citizen's Academy, an eight-week course meant to expose people to police operations and raise awareness about law enforcement issues. The academy will run for three hours on Thursday evenings from Aug. 9 to Sept. 27. It will include lectures, demonstrations, tours, hands-on exercises and a squad car ride-along. The academy is free; participants will receive a polo shirt to wear to class.
Gary Esler listens intently as the radio crackles to life. He jots down information as his partner operating radio equipment connects with someone from Hawaii. A Navy veteran who was once stationed in Hawaii, Esler asks for the controls. "Aloha! Where are you located?" Esler, a member of the Cottage Grove-based South East Metro Amateur Radio Club (SEMARC), asks the other ham radio operator. The two exchange information before signing off. Connections like these excite the Hastings resident. "I guarantee you we'll work all of the United States today," he says.
Lisabeth Mackall remembers her husband's condition after was he was transported by medical helicopter from the scene of his car crash. "It was bad," she said. As he lay at North Memorial Hospital, Savage police officer and Cottage Grove resident Frank Mackall had minor scrapes and no broken bones but there were serious concerns about his head trauma. "It didn't look good," Lisabeth said of Frank's early prognosis. Yet just as remarkable as his survival in the one-vehicle crash has been the success of his recovery.