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
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.
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 cgonzalez@startribune.com - 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.
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