Staff Directory 558007041

Brooks Johnson

Reporter | Duluth/Superior
Phone: 612-673-4229

Brooks Johnson writes about the Duluth/Superior region. He joined the Star Tribune in 2019.


Raised in Fargo and educated at the University of Montana, Johnson worked at newspapers in Idaho and Washington state before heading to the Duluth News Tribune in 2016. He lives in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood with his wife and son and can often be found hiking, running, reading or doing other Duluthy things.
Recent content from Brooks Johnson
Construction on Superior Street in Duluth as seen from an airplane in October. Hundreds of construction, mining and logging jobs were lost in the regi

Duluth area lost more than 500 jobs in 2019

A three-county region around Duluth lost jobs despite the overall growth of employment across Minnesota.
The development proposed 137 units, most of them for seniors, on 10 acres near City Hall

Under pressure from residents, Hermantown votes down senior housing project

The City Council voted 3-2 against the project, citing its height, density and location as problematic.

Hermantown seeks sales tax increase to raise $28 million for hockey arena

The City Council voted to ask the Legislature if it can raise up the money over the next 20 years with a 0.5% sales tax increase.
Snowplow drivers have been on strike since last Wednesday in St. Louis County.

St. Louis County plow driver strike ends with contract deal

DULUTH – After five days of picketing, and more than a foot of snow, the St. Louis County plow driver strike has ended. Negotiators…
A model of the Twin Ports Interchange on display at a MnDOT meeting Jan. 13 in Duluth. Parts of the project have been delayed due to cost overruns.

Duluth's 'Can of Worms' interchange is $100M over budget before work begins

If state funding doesn't come through, the project will be scaled back.
Dan Wallgren marched with snow plow drivers as they picketed in front of the St. Louis County Public Works Department building in Duluth on Wednesday.

St. Louis County plow strike continues after heavy snow

"Public safety is at risk and it's now past time for the county to call the union back into mediation," a union official said Friday.
Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola is one of the defendants named in a federal lawsuit brought by a former Cloquet police officer who is claiming hi

Fired Cloquet cop sues county attorney, others for $4 million

Scott Holman says he was retaliated against and his civil rights were violated when he was reprimanded for a social media post.
St. Louis County snowplow drivers picketed in front of the St. Louis County Public Works Department building in Duluth as snow fell on Wednesday.

Plow drivers strike amid snowfall in St. Louis County

Plowable snow fell Wednesday afternoon and more is expected this weekend.
Several inches of snow are expected overnight across the Duluth region.

St. Louis County plow strike planned for Wednesday

St. Louis County plow drivers and other public works employees are poised to go on strike starting Wednesday and will continue "until the demands of the members are met," the Teamsters Local 320 union announced Tuesday.
FILE - A strike could be imminent from St. Louis County public works employees, including snowplow drivers.

Timing uncertain on St. Louis County plow strike as snow arrives

Teamsters won't say when they plan a work stoppage, which can begin anytime now.
Kyham L. Dunn (left) and Solomon Byrd Jr.

Two charged with murder in Duluth fentanyl overdose death

The victim leaves behind a 3-year-old son who had lost his father to an overdose the week before.
Holly Sampson

Duluth foundation $75 million richer as leader retires

Holly Sampson led the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation for 30 years.
The Superior Shores resort in Two Harbors has sold for about $15 million to the owners of Lutsen Resort.

Superior Shores resort sells for what might be a Minnesota record amount

New owner Bryce Campbell also bought Lutsen Resort in 2018 along with his mother and business partner, Sheila Campbell.
Jesse D. Frye

Accountant charged with swindling $235,000 from Duluth Chamber

Jesse Frye was charged with felony theft by swindle.
A bus pulls into the Duluth transit center on Wednesday. A free downtown circulator route, the DuLooper, is set to start in March.

Duluth starting free downtown bus loop

The DuLooper will begin service in March.
Duluth’s oldest microbrewery, Lake Superior Brewing, recently closed its operations near the corner of Superior Street and 27th Avenue West.

One of the state's earliest craft breweries closes its doors in Duluth

Landlord says parts of the business were for sale.
"Everyone in this room is here to lead the revolt," said DFL Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, co-chair of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force

Duluth leaders ready to fight crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women

Both state and national lawmakers speak out to help tackle trafficking.

Duluth man wanted in overdose death arrested in California

Deshaun Clay Robinson is facing murder charges from the 2017 death.
Dennis Gunsolus stood among his vast collection of over 200 antique stoves in the basement of his home in Duluth.

This Duluth man amassed an army of antique stoves. He hopes they outlive him.

His basement is a showroom of more than 200 ornate and meticulously restored home heating devices that date back more than a century — the product of a lifetime of work.
A woman attempted to walk her dog through the thick snow on E. 8th St. in Duluth following the Thanksgiving weekend storms.

2019 was Duluth's third-snowiest year on record

Snowfall totaled 129.6 inches this calendar year.
Karla J. Winterfeld

Sentence upheld for former Duluth teacher in sex assault case

DULUTH – A former middle-school teacher convicted of having sex with a teenage boy will face her full 12-year prison sentence, the Minnesota Court…
North Basswood Avenue in Duluth is slotted to be completely redone and paved in 2020. The road is littered with potholes.

Duluth will ramp up road construction in 2020

With a half-percent sales tax increase now in place, 17 miles will be repaired.
Waves crash against Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum Sunday, December 29, 2019 near Canal Park in Duluth, Minn. A large multi-day winter storm featuring snow,

Winter storm's second round takes aim at northeastern Minnesota

Falling temperatures could cause icy roads and sidewalks.
A 1000-foot freighter passes through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., in January 2018.

'A new Soo Lock': Gateway to Lake Superior gets $75 million in funding

If additional funding is approved on time, the $922 million project could be completed by 2027.
The Nemadji Trail Energy Center, a natural gas plant proposed in Superior, Wis., by Minnesota Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative, needs a closer en

Appeals court orders further review for Minnesota Power natural gas plant

Though the plant would be built in Superior, the judge held that the Minnesota PUC has "authority to approve or reject Minnesota Power's agreements with its Wisconsin affiliate regarding the construction, operation, and output of (the plant)."
The University of Wisconsin-Superior received a $1 million gift to bring back a floating classroom like the L.L. Smith Jr., shown on Lake Superior in

Anonymous donor gives $1 million for floating classroom in Superior

Vessel could launch in the next few years, thanks to an anonymous donor.
A skiier caught some air off a ski jump in the Spirit Mountain terrain park this week.

'Always a week or two or three' from cash crisis, Duluth's Spirit Mountain tries to avoid bailout

City plans to be engaged in returning ski hill to financial health.
Provided photo

Hermantown school evacuated for gas leak for the second time this week

Students won't be back until Jan. 2.
Dan Olson, business agent for LIUNA Local 1091, testifies in favor of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline at a state hearing Thursday in Duluth w

Enbridge Line 3 debate rages on in Duluth at project's 66th public meeting

Another set of state approvals is needed after an environmental review was expanded.
College of St. Scholastica President Barbara McDonald poses for a portrait in September. The college announced nearly $4 million in federal and privat

College of St. Scholastica gets largest public and private grants in 108-year history

The nursing program gets a nearly $4 million boost from federal and private grants.
1200 Fund Chairwoman Betty George, right, announces $500,000 in loans and grants for day care providers in Duluth alongside Mayor Emily Larson on Wedn

Duluth offering $500,000 to boost city's child care options

The day care shortage may be holding back economic growth.
Scot Kleinendorst

Former NHL player dies from injuries at Grand Rapids paper plant

Scot Kleinendorst was 59.
Signs imploring drivers to share the road with ATVs are scattered around county roads in Superior, Wis., which is considering asking voters if they wa

ATVs on city streets? Superior sends the issue to voters

The council approved a referendum at Tuesday's meeting.
FILE - St. Louis County public works employees voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike over the weekend after contract negotiations broke down.

St. Louis County plow drivers, other road workers approve strike

No date has been set for a work stoppage.
Joan Gabel, the new University of Minnesota president, was on a retreat with the Board of Regents in Faribault in July. On Friday she asked the univer

U president asks university system to pay off $6.8M in debt at UMD

UMD has not had a balanced budget since 2011, when enrollment started to decline. $5.2 million in budget cuts will go on as planned.
University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Lendley Black annoucing $5.2 million in budget cuts at a Dec. 4 news conference.

UMD faculty leaders condemn handling of loss of School of Fine Arts

Faculty senate says it wasn't consulted, but administrators contest those claims.
With top speeds of 90 mph and an average speed of 60 mph, the Northern Lights Express train trip between the Duluth Depot and Target Field would take

Duluth leaders try to fire up legislators on passenger rail to Minneapolis

Money will again be sought for the Northern Lights Express line.
The ski slopes on Spirit Mountain in Duluth, MN as seen from an airplane on Oct. 30, 2019.

Duluth OKs bailout of Spirit Mountain, but says it's a 'short-term fix'

DULUTH – The City Council voted Monday night to give the financially struggling Spirit Mountain $235,000, but the decision spurred calls for discussions about…
FILE - Young cannabis plants from Minnesota Medical Solutions, which is planning to open a Duluth dispensary.

Duluth getting its first medical marijuana dispensary

DULUTH - The city is getting its first medical marijuana dispensary.Duluth was an "obvious choice" for Minnesota Medical Solutions now that the state is requiring…
Authorities on Friday said they were seeking Deshaun Clay Robinson, 20, on a warrant for third-degree aiding and abetting murder charges related to a

Duluth police looking for suspect just charged with murder in 2017 fentanyl overdose death

Deshaun Clay Robinson is being sought by authorities.
CenterPoint has said it needs the money primarily to address the rising costs of such infrastructure projects as upgrading and replacing pipelines.

CenterPoint Energy customers will see 5.8% interim rate hike on Jan. 1

Regulators are expected to take about a year to weigh the utility's full increase request.
FILE-University of Minnesota Duluth chancellor, Lendley Black hosted a “Town Hall” meeting during an earlier budget crisis. The school is now cutt

UMD to cut faculty, merge College of Liberal Arts and School of Fine Arts

The school is looking for $5.2 million in budget cuts.
Minnesota Power customers will see an interim rate increase of 5.8% starting in January.

State regulators approve rate increase for Minnesota Power customers

The 5.8% interim increase goes into effect Jan. 1.
Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge has been stuck in the down position since Monday at 1 p.m.

Stuck for two days from heavy ice, Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge working again

De-icing efforts and Mother Nature helped thaw the heavy ice.
A snowplow worked to clear streets in Duluth Sunday morning. But days later, some areas of the city remain impassable.

Duluth mayor says city fell short in response to snowstorm

Even with 40 plows on the road at a time, some areas remain impassable.
The Aerial Lift Bridge has been stuck in the down position since 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge still stuck, forcing ships to reroute

Heavy ice will be removed beginning at 10 a.m.
A van was completely snowed in by plows on Superior Street in downtown Duluth Sunday afternoon, which was quiet on a traditionally busy holiday shoppi

Duluth blizzard busts Small Business Saturday for merchants

Small stores take a big hit, but they're giving it another try next weekend.
Neighbors worked together Sunday morning in an effort to clear out as much snow as possible from E. 8th St. in Duluth, Minn.

Travel advisory lifted as Duluth copes with nearly 22 inches of snow

The city lifted its travel advisory and said Park Point in the harbor was open again to visitors. On the North Shore, a popular rock formation near Tettegouche State Park was destroyed.
After 41 years, the longest-running business in the Duluth Skywalk will close its doors. Allison’s Hallmark store does not have a specific closing d

Duluth skywalk losing longstanding staple as Allison's Hallmark store is closing

The card and gift shop is as old as the Holiday Center.
Duluth's Christmas City of the North Parade takes over downtown Friday

Duluth's Christmas City of the North Parade takes over downtown Friday

Now in its 61st year, the parade this year is dedicated to KBJR's longtime receptionist, who died last year.
UMD women’s hockey head coach Maura Crowell drew up some plays for her team at a recent practice.

UMD women's hockey coach fights to make her mark in shadow of predecessor

Maura Crowell's office is a shrine to her team's glorious past, with wall-sized photos and the words "NCAA National Champions" painted above her desk.
Scrolls from the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue that were burnt by the fire hang out the back of the destroyed building in September.

Remains of artifacts charred in Duluth synagogue fire burn again in garage

What remains of the twice-burned texts will still receive a proper burial.
The intersection of Lake Avenue and Superior Street in Duluth will be closed for several weeks this summer for construction.

Downtown Duluth roadwork saves busiest year for last

Lake Avenue bridge work will coincide with final stretch of Superior Street reconstruction.
Cannabis is seen growing in Leafline Labs headquarters in Cottage Grove in April. Leafline is one of two licensed manufacturers in Minnesota.

Hermantown clears a path for medical cannabis facilities

Minnesota wants eight more distribution centers around the state.
Tiny houses were built in St. Cloud in 2015. Duluth is asking builders to get creative to build affordable housing on land that it is giving away.

Duluth giving away land to spark affordable housing projects

New single-family homes in Duluth are typically $300,000 and up.
Matthew Amiot

Duluth synagogue fire starter chooses prison over treatment

Matthew Amiot asks to execute his sentence after fleeing treatment.
In 2017, fresh nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the pipeline near St. Ignace, Mich., as Enbridge Inc., prepares to te

Minnesota attorney general supports Michigan suit to shut down Enbridge pipeline

State law, not federal, controls the routing of pipelines, the filing says.
Thomas Allen Micklewright

Charges: Couples' night turned deadly after drinking in weekend shooting on Fond du Lac Reservation

Thomas Allen Micklewright was charged with second-degree murder.
A portion of the Lakewalk in Duluth recently reopened, but there is much storm damage that still needs to be repaired.

Duluth's Lakewalk reopens, but another $25 million in work awaits

The trail is getting reinforced so Lake Superior doesn't wipe it out again.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson

Help wanted: Duluth hiring its first sustainability officer to give city eco-boost

Mayor says the community "wants to do more and move faster" on the issue.

In Duluth, Veterans Day celebrations now closer to home

A state veterans cemetery unofficially opened a year ago and was dedicated in September.
FILE - A swimmer floats off Park Point Beach with the ship Tuscarora visible on Lake Superior.

Duluth may shore up Lake Superior lifeguard program

Tourism tax dollars could help expand hours and capabilities on Park Point Beach.
A panel at UMD’s Entrepreneurship Conference featured, from left, Jamie MacFarlane, Castle Danger Brewing co-owner; Ben Hugus, Ursa Minor Brewing CE

Castle Danger, Bent Paddle, other Northland brewers share recipes for success

Duluth entrepreneurs share recipes for success via university panel.
Work remains to be completed near the intersection of Lake Avenue and East Superior Street in downtown Duluth on Thursday. The city said the street wi

Incomplete Superior Street reopens in downtown Duluth next week

Unfinished portions will be covered with asphalt until next spring.
Matthew J. Amiot

Homeless man who started Duluth synagogue fire caught after fleeing again

DULUTH – The man who started the fire that destroyed a historic Duluth synagogue in September fled the chemical dependency treatment facility he was…
Derek Medved spoke with newly re-elected Council Member Arik Forsman on the phone at his watch party Tuesday night at G.B. Schneider. Medved won one o

Duluth elects first African-American to City Council; council president ousted

The council majority was at stake in Tuesday's election.
Voters cast their ballots Tuesday at the Arlington Hills Community Center in St. Paul, where a question about the city's organized trash collection as

Voters head to polls on issues ranging from trash to schools

Voters across the Twin Cities arrived at the polls at sunrise on Tuesday morning to cast ballots on a variety of local races including school referendums, City Council and county commission seats.
From left, UMD College of Education and Human Service Professions Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana, professor David Beaulieu, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan at

UMD professor recognized for contributions to indigenous education

"I learned a long time ago that these issues of stereotypic images and prejudice that are uniquely branded at American Indians will never go away."
Lake Superior College President Patricia Rogers, left, and St. Scholastica President Barbara McDonald see opportunities for their schools to work toge

In Duluth, new college presidents are old friends

They're forging a private school and community college alliance.
Essentia Health is partnering with Moose Lake’s Mercy Hospital.

Safety in numbers: Moose Lake hospital joins Essentia Health

Mercy Hospital hopes the new partnership will heal its financial distress.
A rendering of the proposed 96-unit Launch Lake Apartments complex is shown next to the Endi complex at 21st Avenue East and London Road in Duluth.

Mpls. developer has big plans for Duluth, including housing overlooking Lake Superior

Launch Properties suddenly has a list of projects in the area.
Jamal Jackson

Duluth jury convicts man of 2018 murder outside a downtown bar

Defense had argued self-defense in the September 2018 downtown killing.
Two men from the “Indigenous Pipeline Council” hold a press conference in Duluth Saturday announcing an oil pipeline coming through Duluth, a pran

Enbridge and its controversial Line 3 pipeline targets of hoax

A made-up protest group "announced" an intrusive pipeline through Duluth.
University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Lendley Black hosted a “town hall” meeting for faculty, staff and students in 2014 on a budget crisis th

Job cuts feared as UMD aims to trim $5M from budget next year

The move could cost 50 jobs, and faculty members fear it will hit them the hardest.
Little remained of Duluth’s nearly 120-year-old Adas Israel Congregation synagogue after it was gutted by fire early Sept. 9.

Duluth synagogue fire starter gets some jail time, treatment

"We're going to know very quickly whether it works or not," said the judge.