Staff Directory 101372379

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
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.
Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, in April.

New St. Paul city attorney sues DFL legislator for defamation, 'innuendos'

Lyndsey Olson alleged in a court document that state Rep. John Lesch smeared her professional reputation in a letter to the mayor.
Maplewood police Cmdr. Dave Kvam, shown in 2013.

Minnesota incident included in 2018 U.S. school-shooting total shouldn't be, police official says

Cmdr. Dave Kvam said school shootings should be defined as deadly, intentional criminal acts in talking about officer's gun that discharged.
Kara Blevins, 27, has been missing in northern Minnesota since Feb. 2.

Authorities in northern Minnesota searching for pregnant woman missing since Feb. 2

Kara Blevins, 27, was last seen in the town of Akeley. Investigators have yet to find evidence of a crime.
John Tribbett, left, and Ilana Budenosky with the St. Stephen’s Street Outreach met with a man who was panhandling along Nicollet Mall, Thursday in

Super Bowl visitors leave some Minnesota Nice along with winter gear

Parkas piled up, thanks to last-minute collection.
Simon Caquelin, 7, of St. Paul died Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 after sustaining injuries in a sledding accident in Wisconsin in late January.

St. Paul boy dies after hitting tree while sledding at Scout camp

Simon Caquelin hit a tree while sledding at a Boy Scout camp last week. After 10 days in the hospital, he died Monday.
Residents packed a St. Cloud City Council meeting on Nov. 6 for a discussion on a moratorium on refugee resettlement, which failed to pass.

Minnesota communities are considering resolutions that affirm they are welcoming to all

City councils in Willmar and St. Joseph are expected to discuss resolutions Monday. The measures don't change policy but are considered symbolic.
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national an

NFL officials, players discuss taking a knee, racial equality in sports

More than 200 people attended the third annual Super Bowl Town Hall held by the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality.
John Tribbett, left, and Ilana Budenosky, cq, with the St. Stephen's Street Outreach met with a man who was panhandling along Nicollet Mall, Thursday,

Where did the homeless go in Minneapolis during Super Bowl week?

Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis has opened up space. And over the weekend shelters will extend opening times.
Hennepin County’s Amanda Koonjbeharry helps lead a group working to address sex trafficking during the Super Bowl.

Hennepin County staffer helps lead Super Bowl committee cracking down on sex trafficking

Committee hopes Twin Cities' response can be a model for future games.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs draws visitors year-round to Steamboat Springs, a mountain town in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Colorado hot springs draw crowds year-round to Steamboat Springs

In this Rocky Mountain town, natural hot springs keep things steamy year-round.

Sauk Centre pilot killed in small-plane crash in Stearns County

Authorities found the wreckage of the plane Wednesday in a Stearns County farm field hasn't yet been identified.
Gavin Smith and his dad, Quentin Smith, rear, reacted to a play in the second quarter.

For Vikings fans, defeat is familiar ending to 'miracle' season

The Eagles fans lived up to their reputation — pelting Vikings fans with beers before the game and doing the same to the team bus as it prepared to head to the airport.
Braden Eichten of St. Paul cheered on the Vikings at Brit's Pub earlier this season as they scored a touchdown. Collective celebration and Vikings vie

Want to watch the game with a crowd? On a lake? With a Skol drum? Here's where

As the Vikings travel to Philadelphia to take on the host Eagles in Sunday's NFC title game, some Minnesota fans opt for collective celebration.
Marilyn Brooke Goffstein

Marilyn Brooke Goffstein, children's book author and artist, dies at 77

The author of some 30 books kept writing and telling stories until she died on her 77th birthday.
Mohamed now among most popular baby boy names in St. Cloud, reflecting area's diversity

Mohamed now among most popular baby boy names in St. Cloud, reflecting area's diversity

The St. Cloud Hospital also recorded a recent record number of babies born there in 2017.

Alexandria couple die in first fatal fire in Minnesota in 2018

The mobile home didn't have smoke detectors.
Patrols were stepped up in 2017, but state officials still saw a spike in boating accidents.

State boating deaths slow, but distracted driving leads to surge in accidents

Officials say apps, GPS take drivers' eyes off the water.
An emergency shelter for homeless teens ages 15 to 19, the Loft Shelter will open soon in downtown Duluth and be operated by Life House, a nonprofit.

St. Cloud, Duluth add homeless teen programs

Of the state's homeless youth, 40 percent live outside the metro
A 46-year-old man was arrested during a prostitution sting in St. Peter, MN. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ ï - May 31, 2017, St. Peter,

New task force to help Stearns County crack down on sex trafficking

A two-year state grant will enable the task force to work full time on sex trafficking crimes.

State's liquor stores toast Christmas Eve opening

Melissa Surdyk arrived at her family's Minneapolis store to find an unusual scene for Christmas Eve: 35 people standing outside in the 20-degree morning, waiting…
At the Lower Sioux Indian Community, teacher Ryan Dixon used an online game to teach students the Dakota language earlier this year.

"Ojibway Netflix" app launched as part of effort to revive American Indian languages in Minnesota

The streaming service was launched this month by a Winnipeg-based company.

Cow on the run is detained by Stearns County, then reunited with owner

The cow may have traveled more than 20 miles.
In St. Paul, DFL Senate staffer Suzanne Sobotka watched from her State Senate Building office.

For many Minnesotans, Franken news brings resignation and melancholy

Moments after Al Franken stood on the U.S. Senate floor and announced his resignation Thursday, a red-eyed staffer answered the senator’s locked St. Paul office…
Heidi Kopischke, west metro regional navigator at the Link’s Passageways Shelter and Housing Program cleaned up an apartment to get ready for a sex

Mayo Clinc launches gift registry to support sex trafficking victims

The registry accepting donations of items to support sex trafficking victims in Minnesota is one of many new initiatives before the Super Bowl.
Kate and Jeremy Keeble created the Hungry Hippie Hostel in 2016 out of a former horse barn outside Grand Marais, Minn.

Hungry Hippie Hostel outside Grand Marais satiates North Shore travelers

This renovated horse barn has become a hot spot in its new life, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Slain Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker

Cold Spring honors police officer Tom Decker five years after fatal shooting outside bar

Five years after the shooting of police officer Thomas Decker, the community of Cold Spring, Minn., paused to remember the incident and pay respects to the man who lost his life.
Golden Valley police officer Matt Boelter tried to de-escalate a tense scene in a role-playing scenario with a man who had just been fired.

Stearns County deputies are latest in Minnesota to train in de-escalating mental health calls

Last month, 12 of the department's 41 deputies learned about different types of mental illness and acted out role-playing scenarios.

Blue Earth seeks answers after 4 teens are charged in attack on teammate

Among the questions: What prompted the beating last month and why did it take so long to be investigated?
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have unsuccessfully tried to mediate an agreement between the county and the band.

Amid "public safety crisis," Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe holds rally to protest impasse with county

Monday's rally came days after the Mille Lacs Band sued Mille Lacs County over a policing agreement.
A young sex-trafficking victim sat in her room between classes at the Link’s Passageways Shelter and Housing Program in Prior Lake in May.

More Minn. sex trafficking victims are getting help

That could be a sign of more awareness and services.
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Interim Police Chief Sara Rice stood near the sign where she and her department have jurisdiction on the reservation.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe sues county over policing dispute

Talks have deadlocked and Dayton's attempt to intervene failed.

Father of St. Cloud 3-year-old who shot himself is arrested in Montana

The father, a felon, wasn't allowed to own a gun.
Some of the crowd in the St. Cloud City Council chambers during a meeting earlier in the month.

Report: Refugees have almost no impact on Stearns County budget

As St. Cloud debates resettlement issue, numbers show costs to county are negligible.

Police: St. Cloud 3-year-old shot self with dad's improperly stored gun

Police say the boy's father, a felon, was not allowed to own a gun.
In 2002, the search for Joshua Guimond included the Stearns County Mounted Reserves searching the low areas on the campus of St John’s.

Investigators hope 15th anniversary of St. John's student's disappearance sparks new tips

On Nov. 9, 2002, Josh Guimond left a party on campus around midnight and disappeared without a trace.
Marcee Schwitalla sat through debate on a tobacco ordinance at a St. Cloud City Council meeting last week. The council will vote again Nov. 20.

St. Cloud mayor vetoes 'tobacco 21' ordinance after a split City Council approves it

ST. CLOUD – In front of a packed City Hall audience, a split St. Cloud City Council narrowly passed a new ordinance last week…
The City Council meeting drew more than 300 people, some carrying U.S. flags while others held signs that read “All Are Welcome.”

St. Cloud council soundly rejects ban on refugee resettlement

City Council voted 6-1 against the measure in a meeting that was at times heated, and approved a resolution saying that the city is a welcoming community.
Main Street in Fish Creek, one of the quaint villages that dot the Door Peninsula.

From fish boils to fall colors, Wisconsin's Door County shines in autumn

The postcard-perfect forested scenery of the Wisconsin peninsula takes center stage.
Sophia Baechler, 7, of Edina, died in 2015 from carbon monoxide poisoning while riding in a boat on Lake Minnetonka.

Minnesota law requiring carbon monoxide detectors on boats wins national recognition

It's the first boating law of its kind in the U.S.
Officers from multiple agencies waited in a hotel room during a prostitution sting in St. Peter.

Minnesota police, led by Minneapolis, prepare to crack down on sex trafficking during the Super Bowl

Police updated city leaders Wednesday on plans.
Drones are increasingly being deployed by law enforcement agencies around Minnesota to help spot suspects and hunt for missing persons.

Stearns County deputies tap drones for aerial searches

A growing contingent of Minnesota law enforcement has an "eye in the sky."
The new position will bridge gaps for Indian youth in the justice system. It is funded with grants of $25,000 each from Pine County and the Mille Lacs

Pine County, Mille Lac Band will hire cultural coach to help at-risk youth

The new contract position, one of the few of its kind in Minnesota, starts Jan. 1.
Minneapolis got an early shot of nasty weather Friday afternoon before Halloween.

3 dead as snowstorm makes driving treacherous in Minn.

A 58-year-old St. Paul man was killed when his pickup spun out and rolled over in a ditch on Hwy. 169 in Princeton.
Sherburne County seized 9 pounds of marijuana during an arrest Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. A 37-year-old man was arrested, receiving drug shipments from

9 pounds of marijuana shipped from Colorado seized in Sherburne County

One arrested in Big Lake.
A young sex-trafficking victim sat in her room between classes in Prior Lake at the Link, which provides services and housing for sexually exploited y

New campaigns launching in Minnesota to curb sex trafficking ahead of the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl here, prevention efforts are picking up across the state.
Ryan Dixon led his high school class on a walk through the Lower Sioux Historical Site, teaching them Dakota words along the way.

Lower Sioux aim to revitalize Dakota language in Minnesota

Minnesota is embracing an effort to reclaim American Indian languages.
A child holds a sign during a city council meeting on refugee resettlement moratoriums Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, at city council chambers in St. Cloud, M

Amid refugee debate, St. Cloud OKs 'welcoming' resolution

After one St. Cloud city leader proposed a moratorium on refugee resettlement, the City Council instead passed a resolution Monday to support being a "just and welcoming community."

Authorities identify St. Cloud officer who shot and wounded Willmar man

The Willmar man was treated at the St. Cloud Hospital for noncritical injuries.
St. Cloud City Council Member Jeff Johnson said he plans to wait until November to introduce a resolution recommending a moratorium be placed on the r

St. Cloud to consider resolution on moratorium on refugee resettlement

But some council members said the resolution doesn't have enough support to pass.

Suspect injured in officer-involved shooting in St. Cloud

According to the BCA, the man was armed and fired.
Sister Colman O’Connell

Colman O'Connell, Catholic nun who led St. Ben's as its last monastic president, dies at 90

Over seven decades, she saw St. Ben's transform from a small women's-only college to a growing school with coed classes.
Suhan Mohamed in the pool warming up before a swim meet at Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minn., on Thursday, October 5, 2017. Nimo Gohe (not pictur

Somali girls make history on St. Cloud swim team

First Muslim girls to compete for their St. Cloud high school swim team have gotten lots of support from coach, teammates.
Interim tribal Police Chief Sara Rice and officer Noah Melberg made a welfare check at a home on the Ojibwe reservation.

Calling it 'public safety crisis,' Dayton orders end to county-tribal dispute

The 15-month dispute is over policing of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation

St. Cloud police investigate swastika painted on wall of junior high school

Police say no similar graffiti had been reported and that they believe it's an isolated incident.
Red River flooding in 2009. The governors of Minnesota and North Dakota announced Wednesday that they’re creating a task force to address the stalem

North Dakota, Minnesota governors form new flood control task force

The 18-member task force will meet for no more than two months.
Contaminated land in Cass Lake held homes and a ball field.

EPA sues city of Cass Lake over clean up costs of Superfund site

If a judge signs off, the city will pay $30,000.
Ayan Abdi left , and Nimo Ahmed took a photograph with St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis during a monthly dinner at his home.

Around a home-cooked meal, St. Cloud mayor bringing people together

Mayor Dave Kleis has taken a nontraditional approach to engage the city.
Rendering from Minneapolis-based landscape architecture company, Confluence, of a vision for revitalizing space along the Mississippi River in St. Clo

St. Cloud reconnects to Mississippi River with trail, plan for redevelopment

From a trail to new amenities, the city wants to boost river access.
In Edina and St. Louis Park — the latter not until Oct. 1 — the age to buy tobacco has been raised from 18 to 21 in an effort to keep tobacco out

Detroit Lakes nixes ordinance to raise tobacco sales age to 21

Attempts to raise the tobacco sales age from 18 have so far failed to take off outside the Twin Cities.
Haisley Jo, the baby of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, is in good health, family members said.

DNA tests confirm infant belonged to slain Fargo woman

Infant Haisley Jo, is doing well and is with her father.
From left: Steven Powers, Joshua Holby, Thomas Barker.

Three men charged in kidnapping, rape of 15-year-old Alexandria girl

The victim had been held captive for 29 days before escaping.
Minnesota’s much-anticipated annual pop of fall color could be more vibrant and earlier than usual this year.

Minnesota's fall colors could be more vibrant earlier this year

The Twin Cities had above normal amounts of precipitation in August, and all that rain could now help produce more brilliant fall colors, peaking sooner.
Savanna Marie LaFontaine-Greywind

Indians look to murdered woman's spirit as source of strength, resolve

As Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind is laid to rest Thursday, those who mourn hope her story will raise awareness of the plight of Indian women.
Nicole Matthews, right, of Minneapolis and her daughter Kiora Burgess-Matthews, 13, attend a prayer circle Tuesday for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind.

Pregnant Fargo woman died from homicidal violence

Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was eight months pregnant when she disappeared from her Fargo apartment earlier this month, died from homicidal violence, authorities said Tuesday.
The Long Prairie drive-in movie theater screen was damaged in a July 2017 storm and the theater has been shut down to make repairs.

61-year-old family-run Long Prairie drive-in theater still closed after July storm

A month after a storm ripped up its big outdoor screen, one of the few drive-in theaters left in Minnesota is still shut down as…
Attention and enthusiasm were directed skyward on Monday at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Cloudy skies aside, Minnesotans fully dazzled by partial eclipse

Across most of Minnesota, overcast skies granted only glimpses of the much-anticipated solar eclipse, but throngs of people went out to get a look anyway.
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