Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the National Hockey League, was the keynote speaker at a Pucks Against Poverty luncheon Friday in Duluth. Also participating in the event were former Bulldogs hockey star J.T. Brown of Burnsville, Minnesota Duluth women's hockey head coach Shannon Miller and Duluth mayor Don Ness.

O'Ree, 76, also spoke at Proctor High School and the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland Lincoln Park branch in Duluth.

Brown, who recently signed a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and played six games for the team at the end of the regular season, flew back from Florida especially to attend the event.

Good read: Duluth News Tribune story, here.

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An opinion on the new Vikings stadium debate by Duluth blogger Tim Bouvine titled, Godfather Goodell 'offers' legislators deal they can't refuse, is published here.

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A must-read, inspirational piece by Duluth blogger Brian Prudhomme (left) on Duluth East student-athlete Becca Zwak:

"Becca Zwak has the intellect, heart and natural abilities that most prep athletes dream of.

Whether it’s soccer, basketball or softball, her talents could potentially leave scoreboards and record books torn apart. That’s certainly the type of damage she hopes to be remembered for by the end of career.

Zwak, a Duluth East junior, has done plenty of damage already, but not the type any athlete could ever anticipate. She made the varsity basketball and softball team as a 9th-grader, and was a member of the varsity soccer team by the fall of her sophomore year. A lengthy athletic career seemed inevitable. Then came a basketball game in Hermantown on February 3, 2011." Read more.

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A record 1,848 people registered for Saturday’s 23rd annual Fitger’s 5K Run & Walk in downtown Duluth.

Mike Reneau, 34, of St. Paul, claimed the men’s division title, winning in 15 minutes and 10 seconds, just two seconds off of the course record (Jeremy Polson, 2002, 15:08). Reneau placed 20th (2:14:37) at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January.

Duluth’s Katie Koski, 39, won the women’s race in 17:48.

An unofficial total of 1,596 finishers (1,496 runners, 100 walkers) completed the 3.1-mile race.

All net proceeds — about $20,000 — from the Fitger’s 5K benefit the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF), a Grandma’s Marathon program focused on the promotion and development of youth athletics in the Northland. (Source: Grandmas's Marathon)

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Duluth Education News: The Minnesota Department of Education has issued a positive review and comment for the Congdon Park and Myers-Wilkins Elementary School construction projects. Both projects will provide the schools with modern classrooms, media centers and kitchens; up-to-date safety and security features, better handicap accessibility and configurations to allow for community use before and after school, among other updates.Officials say they expect to solicit bids for the two projects beginning in mid to late May. Construction is expected to begin later this summer. Both schools are scheduled to be complete in September 2013.

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Duluth ad studio SwimCreative has refused to allow recent University of Minnesota Duluth graduate Beau Walsh to retreat quietly into the sunset. In lieu of duct taping Walsh to his swivel chair, founder and creative director Patrice Bradley announced his addition to the creative team.

Growing up in southern Minneapolis, Walsh pursued all things creative, including his interests in design and music. This summer he will be allowed leave for an upcoming concert tour across the country of Poland where he will perform original songs with his sister. (Yeah, he really is that neat-o.) Read more.

Photo Credits

Willie O'Ree: Howie Hanson / For StarTribune.com | Mike Reneau, interviewed after today's 5K by Rick Weegman of Duluth News Tribune. Submitted | Beau Walsh: Submitted

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