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Kelly Smith

Reporter | State / Regional Team
Phone: 612-673-4141
Kelly Smith covers Greater Minnesota and the region. A Star Tribune reporter since 2010, she has covered K-12 education, west metro suburbs and Hennepin County government.
Recent content from Kelly Smith
Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Bu

Minnesota Poll: Evenly split on Kavanaugh before accusation

Minnesotans are evenly split on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in a new Star Tribune-MPR News Minnesota Poll taken before an allegation of sexual assault against him surfaced.
Tim Droogsma tweeted this post-crash self-portrait.

Campaign staffer released from hospital after Republican Party float crash

John Howe and Tim Droogsma were injured in GOP parade float crash.
FILE - In this March 12, 2018, file photo, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson speaks during an interview at the Capitol in St. Paul. Swanson’s

Attorney General Lori Swanson convenes sexual assault task force

Swanson seeks to recommend investigative reforms to Legislature by December.
GOP Secretary of State candidate John Howe, right, and his campaign manager, Tim Droogsma, were injured Sunday in Carver when their float crashed afte

Perfect storm led to injuries suffered by Minn. Secretary of State candidate, his manager

"We're just so thankful; it could have been so much worse," Howe said.
Stickers awaited voters after they cast their ballots on primary election day in August at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in St. Paul.

Minnesota sees surge in new voter registrations ahead of competitive November midterm elections

The spike comes after the state in August saw the highest primary turnout since 1994.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

Rep. Erik Paulsen breaks with Republicans on BWCA, urging feds to reconsider mining decision

Congressman says feds should reverse decision on mining exploration.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with House Republican leadership, and Rep. Erik Paulsen’s campaign released new TV ads sin

Republicans attack Dean Phillips' business background in new TV ads as he competes for Rep. Erik Paulsen's seat

They rip Paulsen's foe for wealth, business practices.
Patti Weber, CIA officer and Woman's Club leader, dies at 75

Patti Weber, CIA officer and Woman's Club leader, dies at 75

When her cover was blown, she became a CIA executive before retiring to Minnesota, where she led the Woman's Club of Minneapolis.
Vice President Mike Pence, alongside Legion chief Denise Rohan, called Trump an “ally and champion” for veterans and listed the work the administr

Pence to vets in Minneapolis: 'We will always fight for you'

Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the American Legion convention comes after the Legion and the White House clashed over President Trump's response to the death of Sen. John McCain.
Rep. Erik Paulsen and DFL challenger Dean Phillips squared off Tuesday in their first debate ahead of the November election. and greeted each other at

Third District forum in Edina focuses on campaign finance reform

It was the first policy forum that DFLer Dean Phillips is holding as he challenges U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen in the west metro congressional district.
DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Tim Walz and his running mate Peggy Flanagan attended a DFL Unity press conference with Governor Mark Dayton and State Rep

Ellison faces mounting pressure over domestic violence claim

National Organization for Women calls for him to drop out of race for the Minnesota attorney general's race, while top DFL leaders say they still back him.
People voted at Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis on Tuesday.

Minnesota sees highest voter turnout for primary since 1994

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office, 22.7 percent of eligible voters participated. In Minneapolis, the city broke a 48-year record for turnout in a midterm primary, with 93,500 voters casting ballots.
Voters lined up to get their ballots on primary election day at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in St. Paul.

Hagedorn wins Republican primary in First District; Radinovich wins DFL primary in Eighth District

Their opponents will be political newcomer Dan Feehan and St. Louis County Board Member Pete Stauber, respectively.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Jim Newberger

At Farmfest, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Jim Newberger, make pitch to rural voters

It was the two candidates' first appearance together.
The Fifth Congressional District candidates squared off in a debate on Aug. 2. The debate included DFL candidates, from left, Patricia Torres-Ray, Mar

DFL rivals work to stand out in competitive Fifth District race

Kelliher and Torres Ray emphasize experience; Omar offers new voice.
State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray.

Sen. Patricia Torres Ray appears in court after arrest in immigration protest

The charges were pleaded down in Hennepin County District Court to a petty misdemeanor, with a fine of about $200.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, seen a district DFL convention on June 17, said Monday that she would return $2,500 in speaking fees from two Minnesota community col

Found violating rules, Rep. Ilhan Omar will pay back college speaking fees

Rep. Ilhan Omar violated House rules by accepting speaking fees.
Early “no-excuse” absentee ballots have grown in popularity since the state allowed it in 2013.

Early voting on pace to set a record in Minnesota before Aug. 14 primary

Nearly 30,000 ballots have been submitted so far, up 151 percent from this time in 2016.
The Minneapolis Rowing Club hosts a three-hour “Rowing Adventure” class that gives a tour of its boathouse on the Mississippi and teaches rowing s

'Rowing Adventure' gives rookies a workout on the Mississippi River

Class teaches rookies the increasingly popular sport of rowing — and provides a full-body workout.
Dean Phillips, Democratic candidate for Congress, gave out free cookies and lemonade from his revamped 1960s milk truck at Music in Plymouth.

Dean Phillips takes his campaign on the road — and lakes — hoping to unseat Paulsen

Dean Phillips hopes his campaign tactics boost energy — and votes.
95th Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Paul C. Thissen donned the robe that was missing right after he took the oath. Former Chief Just

Former state Rep. Paul Thissen sworn in to Minnesota Supreme Court

The move solidifies a five-member progressive majority on the court.
Waate Aubid of East Lake, Minn., harvested pattypan squash at the Dream of Wild Health’s farm in Hugo. “You get to eat healthy, you don’t get ch

Across the state, indigenous food movement takes root

Tribes embrace gardens and traditional foods to combat health crisis.
State Attorney General Lori Swanson in a February file photo.

Minnesota bans Florida veterans charity that officials say deceived donors

It's part of a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent veterans charities.
DFL candidates for governor Erin Murphy and Tim Walz have lined up behind single-payer health care.

DFL candidates in race for governor highlight health care plans

Two of the three leading candidates get behind a single-payer approach.
House Speaker Paul Ryan visited Minnesota on Monday, where he spent time at Best Buy HQ with Rep. Erik Paulsen, then held a roundtable discussion with

Paul Ryan talks jobs, taxes with Reps. Paulsen, Lewis at Minnesota firms

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan visited several Twin Cities businesses Monday, touting tax cuts and technical careers while also talking up the chances of two fellow Republicans facing competitive congressional races this year.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Tina Smith looked out Friday at County Road 38, cut off by the flooded Des Moines River in Currie, Minn.

Dayton, leaders see damage in flooded southern Minnesota

Slayton and Tracy are among the cities hardest hit after some parts of southwestern Minnesota got 8 to 10 inches of rain.
War re-enactors, Daryl Jorgenson, Tom Lalim and Michael Campbell wait under an overhang with the American flag for the drum roll to signal the raising

For some Minnesotans, July 4th was a washout

Wet weather flooded basements, downed trees, jeopardized crops and closed roads.
Ellen Palmer plays with her daughter, Lilly, and son, Walter, at Lake Nokomis on Friday in the early afternoon. She has the flexibility to spend extra

From city halls to corporate offices, more skip out of work early for 'Summer Fridays'

Nearly half of U.S. companies surveyed are offering some type of the benefit this year — up from 21 percent three years ago.
Children played on the playground equipment next to the large crowd watching the Johnny Holm Band perform on stage at the Summertime by George outdoor

Rotary Club leads the way in improving quality of life in St. Cloud

It has fought to improve the city's parks and fought youth homelessness in the city.
Yellow law enforcement line with police car and lights in the background.

Fatal police encounters in Minnesota since 2000

More than 160 people have died in forceful encounters with law enforcement in Minnesota since 2000.
The Initiative Foundation held Enterprise Academy, a 12-week program to boost business development in St. Cloud and other central Minnesota cities.

New program helps boost minority entrepreneurs in St. Cloud and central Minnesota

Saida Omar dreams of one day opening a salon in St. Cloud, Minn., and a new program launched this spring is designed to help her…
Nick Faber, president of the St. Paul teachers union, left, and Superintendent Joe Gothard spoke with Keely Young-Dixon who held her 1-week-old daught

St. Paul Schools, teachers union team up to woo new families

Campaign aims to get back students who have recently left the district.
President Donald Trump made his first visit to Minnesota as president on Wednesday, culminating in leading a rally in Duluth.

At rally, Trump touts economy, ability to win Minnesota in 2020

President Donald Trump hailed the impact of his deregulatory policies and steel tariffs Wednesday, and predicted he would win Minnesota when he runs for re-election in two years.
At Park High, sisters Marissa, Abby and Kaylee Korth, 8, 14 and 10, got vegetables from the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.

As need rises, Minnesota schools step up summer food outreach

While the number of students qualifying for federally funded free and reduced price meals has risen statewide, many still go without the extra help during summer vacation.
Hazel Dicken-Garcia of St. Paul, a longtime University of Minnesota journalism professor.

Hazel Dicken-Garcia, longtime University of Minnesota journalism professor who helped shape the study of media history, dies

Hazel Dicken-Garcia’s impact in life is measured in the hundreds of former students who now fill newsrooms and university lecture halls nationwide.
Mason Schmitt did a flip off a cliff at quarry number 2 at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve. The increasingly popular park is a magnet for young people

Quarry Park near St. Cloud celebrates 20 years this month as it grows in popularity

It draws an estimated 150,000 visitors each year, a turnout that keeps growing.
A 3- acre parcel of land on Nowthen Boulevard NW at 170th Avenue is where a new elementary school will be built in Ramsey.

Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota's largest school district, begins work on its biggest construction project ever

Voters approved $249 million to expand or renovate all of the district's schools.
Hopkins Superintendent Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed sat with Alice Smith Elementary School fourth-graders as they studied Minnesota rocks during class.

Hopkins superintendent makes history

The first woman and person of color leading the west metro school district, Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed is part of a changing face of leadership serving a student body that is increasingly diverse, too.
As boating season kicked off, patrols reminded owners of a new rule requiring CO detectors. Above, boats cruised Lake Minnetonka.

As boating season kicks off, new state law kicks in

Sophia's Law, which requires CO detectors on some boats, took effect May 1.
Leny Wallen-Friedman.

Edina teachers, school board report threats amid tensions

School board Chairman Leny Wallen-Friedman apologized and said he failed to back up teachers.
A rendering shows Wayzata’s new ninth elementary school that will open in fall 2019 in Plymouth.

Wayzata school leaders vote to change boundaries

500-plus students will switch schools in a plan the Wayzata school board approved Monday night. The changes won't take effect until fall 2019.
Third grader Aruna Doobay was excited when Go. Mark Dayton offered to sign the essay she wrote about his visit Wednesday to her school. Dayton visited

Dayton takes pitch for school aid to Minn. classrooms

The governor's $138 million plan may be a long shot since GOP lawmakers aren't backing it.
Kim Nelson, assistant principal at Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy, left, discussed a map of proposed school boundary changes with parent Anita Carline

Twin Cities school districts reshuffle boundaries amid growth

From Anoka-Hennepin to Wayzata, crowded districts drawing new borders.
The Central Perk set, made famous by the comedy “Friends,” is on display at the exhibit, “Television: Out of the Box” at the Paley Center for

St. Cloud café finds Warner Bros. doesn't want 'Friends' like them

Company tells Central Perk to drop the name and lose the orange couch.
Mounds View High students Hannah Berndt, left, and Sanjana Dutt, center, from H.E.A.R.T - Helping Every At-Risk Teen - organized a wellness week by ha

Twin Cities schools boost mental health programs after student deaths

Rocked by suicides and violence, students spearhead a quest for more resources.
The outdoor archery range at the Mississippi River County Park will soon be supplemented with an indoor range in response to growing popularity.

Stearns County park to open its first indoor archery range

A central Minnesota park is looking to tap into the growing popularity of archery by opening its first indoor archery range with hopes that it will become a regional attraction.
Burnsville teachers picketed this week near the school district office to protest the 300th day without a teaching contact.

Big shortfalls mean Twin Cities schools cut teacher, staff jobs

Metro school districts face a combined shortfall of more than $100 million.
Fairview Health Services employees visited Hastings High School as part of a program to train staff and students on handling trauma situations.

In the aftermath of U.S. school shootings, Hastings High School students learn how to stop bleeding in metro's first trauma class

In an era bedeviled by school shootings, trauma training enters more classrooms.
A donated Metro Bus converted to a “mobile town hall” is St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis’ latest effort in outreach.

St. Cloud mayor launches mobile bus to bring meetings right to neighborhoods

St. Cloud's mayor is taking his weekly town hall meetings on the road, launching a "mobile town hall" bus that he will drive around the…
Tracy Norman Brant, 35, of Breckenridge, Minn., was charged with murder of his 3-year-old son on April 19, 2018 in Wilkin County District Court.

Breckenridge father charged in death of 3-year-old son

Couple had blamed 2-year-old for causing bruises to 3-year-old who later died, the charges say.
Cate Barnes, second from right, a junior at Avalon Charter School in St. Paul, chants with a sign that reads “I don’t want to die” during a rall

Minn. students rally for gun control on 19th anniversary of Columbine

Hundreds converge on State Capitol for second gun-control rally in a month
Dean Scheele held a photo of his father’s World War II bomber crew. His dad was the only crew member to survive the war.

WWII mystery, letter helped a Minnesota class learn history firsthand

Letter from anguished mom led Glencoe eighth-graders deep into history.
Allan Law, 73, who has helped the needy for more than 50 years, hugged a former student at the Little Earth gym.

The 'sandwich man' is on a mission to feed Minneapolis' homeless

Allan Law hopes to hand out 1 million sandwiches this year to people in need, at all hours of the day or night.

Breckenridge police investigate killing of 3-year-old in Wilkin County

The boy died of blunt force trauma, but what made those injuries is not yet known, officials said. No arrests have been made.
This undated photo provided by the Stearns County Jail in St. Cloud, Minn., shows Scott Staska.

Former Rocori superintendent charged with indecent exposure in St. Cloud, Waite Park gas stations

Scott Staska resigned from his job earlier this month.
Hally Sharrow prepared a drink at Vikre Distillery in Duluth, one of the few distilleries outside the metro. Brainerd hopes to be up next.

Minnesota's microdistillery trend is heading north after Brainerd OKs rules for cocktail rooms

Like the state's brewery boom, distilleries have popped up across the Twin Cities. But they have been less numerous outside of the metro area.
A thin ice sign marks the area under the bridge separating Gray’s Bay and Wayzata Bay. ] (Aaron Lavinsky | StarTribune) Over the course of a particu

Bad news for boaters: Ice-outs on Minnesota lakes behind schedule

No lakes have yet recorded ice-out so far, making for an unusually late season.
(Clockwise) Reps. Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson, Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis

Full-page ad calls out Paulsen, Lewis, Emmer and Peterson on gun control measures, NRA donations

It's unclear who exactly is behind the group "Listen to the Children."
Virginia Lovness

Stillwater artist Virginia Lovness, who realized dream of building Wright-designed house, dies at 93

The fashionable, flamboyant Virginia Lovness captivated Frank Lloyd Wright one day in 1955 and he agreed to design her house — one of 12 buildings he did in Minnesota — that she then built by hand. Virginia Lovness, 93, of Stillwater, died Feb. 16.
Superintendent Gary Anger, who took the top spot in Shakopee last year, chatted with first-graders. There are 31 superintendent vacancies across the s

School districts from Osseo to Apple Valley seeking leaders

In the CEO-like role, superintendents face responsibilities ranging from referendum requests to addressing the growing number of school threats.
Minneapolis schools Superintendent Ed Graff listened to a man speak against the budget cuts the district is facing.

Minneapolis schools brace for cuts as district tackles $33 million budget deficit

Some parents and teachers express outrage at proposed cuts.
Students, including Aashay Desai, 16, left, and Aashna Sheth, 16, both of Plymouth, gathered at Harriet Island Regional Park in St. Paul before matchi

Ad confronts Minn. congressional delegation on gun control, NRA donations

In a full-page ad, a mysterious group called out Minnesota’s congressional delegation on gun control measures and on donations from the National Rifle Association. The…

Heavy snow for southern Minn., but false alarm for most of metro

The Twin Cities area is only expected to get a dusting or up to 2 inches of snowfall overnight.
Keith Jacobus, South Washington County schools superintendent, announced the decision last week.

Metro school to remove Indian emblem from gym 24 years after changing nickname

The decision isn't popular with all in the community.
Chris Endicott.

More criminal charges filed against Lakeville principal charged with stalking, burglary

His next court date in Dakota County is May 31.
Kenzie Swanson and Cam Williams on the trap range at the Minneapolis Gun Club. The Lakeville South High School students were among the few students wh

Minnesota pro-gun students are sitting out school walkouts

Some students reject protests and back Second Amendment.
Dora Hall reunited with her daughter during a lockdown in February at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.

As threats surge after Fla. shooting, Minnesota schools take no chances

Many are facing the problems for the first time, and it's putting communities on edge.
Yoga instructor Kelly La Frenier, left, led a group of boys through yoga poses and mindfulness exercises during a class through the Link, a nonprofit

Partnership between Minneapolis yoga studio and nonprofit brings yoga, mindfulness skills to teens on probation

Instead of going to the county's secure detention center or the Home School, boys on probation attend the reporting centers and are tutored, participate in activities and learn about conflict resolution.
Architectural renderings show plans for additions that will nearly double the space at the private school’s Upper School campus along the Mississipp

Minnehaha Academy unveils designs for rebuilding campus destroyed in deadly gas explosion

Modern additions to replace buildings damaged in deadly 2017 gas explosion.
Social worker Jessi Hornick finished a briefing with transport officer Richard Murray on a woman he had driven to the hospital in Mankato that day.

Blue Earth County diversion program pairs police with social workers

Blue Earth County diversion program pairs police with social workers.
Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Commissioner of Education and Kevin Lindsey, Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights listened to comments at an event in D

Minority students and those with disabilities disproportionately suspended, study finds

Students of color, disabled more likely to be suspended or expelled.
Jeffrey Ryan Thomas, 23, of Brainerd is being held in Crow Wing County Jail on charges of first-degree attempted murder; he’s accused of poisoning a

Brainerd man charged with poisoning baby with antifreeze fluid

The infant girl survived and is now in foster care.
The Mille Lacs Kite Crossing is in its 14th year and will draw spectators and athletes from across the country to tiny Garrison, Minn.

Go fly a kite on ice on Lake Mille Lacs

Snowkiting is a growing sport across Minnesota's 10,000 lakes
A Minnesota state trooper made a traffic stop in western Minnesota and uncovered $1.75 million in high-grade marijuana that led to the arrest of three

More busts along I-94 suggest pot coming from legal states

The busts, surprising in their worth, have some authorities wondering whether the I-94 corridor that slices through the heart of both states and Wisconsin is becoming a major pipeline for marijuana and other drugs.
The Laurel Street Bridge offers a view of the Mississippi River in Brainerd. The city is joining other waterfront towns in treating the river as a nat

Brainerd pushes ahead with plan to revitalize river, downtown

It's part of a statewide trend in revamping access and amenities to the Mississippi River.
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