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Mara Klecker

Reporter | Washington County
Phone: 612-673-4440
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mara Klecker covers Washington County for the Star Tribune. She previously spent two years covering social services for the Omaha World-Herald. 

A native South Dakotan and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's journalism college, Klecker has always called the Midwest home. She's worked on journalism projects in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Nepal. In her free time, she can be found reading, hiking or planning her next international trip.
Recent content from Mara Klecker
Dmitri Moua, a junior in Roseville, along with Zachary Greenwald, a junior in Hopkins, opened the door for male dancers.

Boys allowed to join Minnesota high school dance teams

The Minnesota State High School League agreed to a settlement that will allow boys to compete beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
People attending the memorial service held candles during a moment of silence to remember the bombing victims.

'It's tragic': Dozens at Minneapolis Buddhist temple honor victims of Sri Lanka attack

On Sunday evening, more than 30 people gathered at the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara in north Minneapolis to send peaceful energy and blessings to the victims of the attacks in Sri Lanka.

Lakeland residents, officials divided over how to fill vacant City Council seat

is just the latest sign of dysfunction in the city, where more than 300 residents have signed a petition calling for an audit.
Fred Henderson, brother of the victim, and Tawana Henderson, his mother, held a photo of Mark E. Henderson Jr.

Woodbury reaches $1.5M settlement with mother of man killed by police

The settlement comes after a panel ruled last fall that a jury should hear the suit filed by the mother of the man fatally shot by police in a hostage crisis.
High School Principal Rob Bach took to YouTube to respond to the bathroom controversy.

Stillwater High students, principal go back and forth over locked bathrooms

School officials said the decision was made to curb vaping and vandalism, but students have launched a multifaceted campaign to "Let Us Pee."
If you remember last year, when Alfonso Velez plowed around cars in the 2100 block of Portland Avenue S. in Minneapolis, you might want to put that sh

April looks to deliver another record-breaking snowstorm

Major airlines, including Delta and United Airlines, already have issued weather waivers for flights on Wednesday and Thursday out of MSP.
A worker tried to clear snow and ice from the Metro Government Center Plaza station during a storm last April.

'That's it, I'm moving': Winter storm likely for Minnesota this week

Parts of the state could get over 6 inches of snow.
Tip-Off Tailgate
Nicollet Mall was transformed into a Final Four party with themed activities, decorations and a Ferris wheel.

Minnesota Madness begins countdown to the crown

Tens of thousands of basketball fans descended on the streets and skyways, reveling all day and into the night in Final Four fan activities that stretched from U.S. Bank Stadium to the Minneapolis Convention Center and along Nicollet Mall.
Hope House resident Carlin Jones, 52, has diabetes as well as HIV and cannot walk. He is among those living longer after becoming infected with the vi

After 25 years, Stillwater home focuses on aging with HIV

"Individuals with HIV now have to worry about that aging thing that you and I have to worry about," said Bill Tiedemann, Hope House's executive director. "So now for [Hope House] it's about how we can help them age in place with dignity and compassion and how we can take our mission outside the house's walls."
Sudais Omar, a student at Galtier Community School, one of the winning schools, read as part of the “Read to the Final Four.”

The youngest readers courted in this Final Four challenge

Final Four planners hope friendly reading challenge is just the beginning for budding readers.
Third grade teacher Chris Warner engaged his students in a book discussion during class at Marine Elementary School in Marine on St. Croix in January

Charter school won't be moving into Marine Elementary next fall

River Grove balked at moving to vacant school in Marine on St. Croix.
Members of the crime lab collected evidence from around the car where one man was shot to death and another wounded on 7th St. N heading into downtown

Driver shot dead in car, passenger wounded on edge of downtown Mpls.

Car flees after a driver is killed, passenger is critically injured while Twins game is played blocks away.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

Lake Elmo to use 3M settlement money for new well

The city getting about $2 million toward the construction of replacement well.

Cottage Grove considers lodging tax, visitors bureau

A 3 percent tax on lodging would help boost tourism.
For Valerie Castile, working on the tool kit with Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and others was a highly personal project.

Valerie Castile and John Choi create guidelines to reduce officer-involved shootings

Prosecutor and families collaborated on a guide to reduce police use of force.
Tom Anderson, 67, right, a student in the senior citizen education program who retired from 3M after a career in sales, sat in his nonfiction writing

More than 500 retirees taking classes at U — but not to earn a degree

Minnesotans 62-plus are heading to class through U's Senior Citizen Education Program
Josue Huerta of Service Restoration squeegeed a few inches of water from a flooded basement caused by rain and melting snow in the west-metro suburbs.

Rain, snowmelt creating 'perfect storm' for soggy basements

With much of the Twin Cities snowpack melting, the water has to go somewhere. For many homeowners, it's yet another mess from winter.
Working from memory and armed with shovels and picks, Minneapolis park keepers Jennifer Dennis and Ryan Susag have been working to clear drains packed

Rain, snowmelt get Minnesota scrambling to fight flooding

A steady, two-day rain expected to drench the knee-deep snowpack across much of Minnesota is raising flood concerns and sending crews to work to find a place for all that water.
Producer Alaina Myers ran the teleprompter for SWCTC’s “Weekly Wire” anchors Ann Schweisguth and Justin Atkinson.

Local public-access channels fear FCC proposal that threatens their future

FCC rule change poses threat to financial survival of service in many communities.
The ceiling section of darkening curtains is 55 percent complete at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in preparation for the NCAA Final Four in early A

$4.6 million curtains going up to block sun at U.S. Bank Stadium

The fabric panels will be removed after the Final Four, but can be reinstalled for future events. Officials said they'll also help with concert acoustics.
Snowmobile crashes into power pole in Scott County, killing two

Snowmobile crashes into power pole in Scott County, killing two

Sheriff's Office says alcohol may have been a factor.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar

FBI investigating report of threatening graffiti aimed at U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar

Authorities are looking into a report of a threatening graffiti message aimed at Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. A photo showing the words “Assassinate Ilhan…

Education program for Washington County juvenile offenders to be discontinued

South Washington County schools drop funds after 35 years.
Jake Weber with Ice Dam Guys was steaming off a large ice dam from the gutter of an Edina home on Thursday afternoon.

Ice-dam horrors lurk beneath February's record snowfall

All that fluffy white stuff is bringing some "epic icicles." If allowed to grow, the ridges of ice can cause water damage inside a home.
Carey Garcia-Heublein worked with Sofia Sanchez, left, and Evelyn Diaz Hernandez at the teen center in Landfall, Minn., a city founded to save afforda

In tiny Landfall, leaders prepare to deal with the pros and cons of self-ownership

On the verge of paying off its debt, mobile home community readies for the future.
Walz family finds letter from former first lady, calls it an 'amazing gift'

Walz family finds letter from former first lady, calls it an 'amazing gift'

Gov. Walz's family found an undiscovered message from a former first lady as they moved into the St. Paul residence.
Jim Adam blows snow in front of his house on West Lewis Street in Mankato, Minn.

More snow, cold coming, but this winter has been about average

January can claim the polar vortex, but the winter weather is here to stay through February.
"The 1968 Exhibit" at Minnesota History Center.

Woodbury police use history exhibit in implicit bias training

Woodbury officers used visit to contemplate race relations and inequality.
A crash involving a semi-truck slowed traffic on 694 due to snow and freezing rain in February 2015.

Freezing rain overnight brings slippery commute, sidewalks

The Monday morning drive to work or school will be a slick one for many. A freezing drizzle that fell in the Twin Cities on…
Pedestrians walked across the snowy University of Minnesota campus near Dinkytown Sunday night.

Snow winding down; 4-7" likely in metro; many schools closed

The first swing in this week's winter one-two punch began Sunday night with around a half of a foot of snow falling across the Twin Cities, soon to be followed by a deep freeze.
The Kinnickinnic River flowing though Heritage Park in River Falls, Wis., in 2016.

River Falls, Wis., approves plan for Kinnickinnic River after dams are gone

Project sets stage for how city will manage the river once two dams are gone.
This rendering provided by the Minnesota State Fair shows what the construction project on the north end of the fair will look like when completed for

State Fair OKs ticket price hike for 2019, $20M in improvements

After a record-setting year for attendance, the Great Minnesota Get-Together is set to grow even bigger. And so are its admission prices.

Norovirus outbreak hits Oak Park Heights senior living community

Boutwells Landing has canceled activities and implemented protocols to prevent further spread of the illness.
Director Woody Allen

Stillwater film society stirs debate with 'Woody Allen month'

After announcing screenings for "Woody Allen month," a Stillwater film group has found itself at the center of a debate about how and if art can be separated from its artist.
Rendering of redevelopment project in Forest Lake submitted by Gatehouse Capital.

Possible redevelopment coming for Forest Lake feed mill

Proposal for site includes a conference center, hotel.

The Woodbury Community Foundation aims to grow with the city

Organization is looking for rising and unmet needs.
Ariane Schaefer interpreted at the trial as Hamline freshman Maddie Thieschafer, left, and Kelly Rodgers observed.

Mock trial helps deaf, hearing-impaired students see themselves in law

Even a brief introduction to what happens in a courtroom can be beneficial for deaf students.
Bill Belanger in his state Senate office in 2000.

Former GOP state legislator William 'Bill' Belanger dies at 90

Belanger had a long career of public service in Bloomington.

Woman injured in north Minneapolis shooting; another woman arrested

A woman was taken into custody at the scene.
A holiday bough at a Wisconsin chain store shows elongate hemlock scale (EHS), appearing as brown specks, on the underside of its needles.

Invasive insect found on evergreen decorations in Minn., Wis.

Evergreen wreaths and boughs should be bagged or burned to prevent spread of pests.

Scandia group aims to reconstruct historic Tower Barn

Last known "tank house" in state could see new life as a public building.
Zach Carlsen’s goal is to wear the same outfit for a year: gray pants, black T-shirt, navy sweater, shoes and, yes, multiples of socks and boxer sho

Stillwater man is sticking to one outfit for an entire year

Zach Carlsen's decision to reboot his wardrobe was inspired by a desire to simplify his life.
A dusting of snow couldn’t deliver a white Christmas to the Twin Cities. Buck Hill’s artificial snow contrasted with a brown landscape in Burnsvil

White Christmas dreams look to come true ... a day or two late

More than 70 percent of the past 118 Christmas Days in the Twin Cities saw at least some snow accumulation. This year marks the fourth Christmas this decade sans snow — 2011, 2014 and 2015 also brought brown Christmases, according to the National Weather Service.
An Ely man has built a carousel out of the ice on Burntside Lake as a gift to friends and family. To see a video of it in motion, go to

Ice carousel near Ely spins a new tradition

With the help of an electric motor and scattered luminarias, the chunk of ice near Ely transforms into a carousel — a tranquil spinning retreat from the party's other activities.
The Olfelt House in St. Louis Park sold in April for $1.2 million after nearly two years on the market. It was designed in 1958 by Frank Lloyd Wright,

Concerns raised about changes planned for Frank Lloyd Wright home in St. Louis Park

New owners plan to update the house, much to the chagrin of fans.

Washington County OKs budget driven by public safety, state mandates

And in Anoka County, the approved 2019 budget includes the biggest tax levy hike in nine years.
Multiple agencies are responding to a fire at Church in the Maples in NYA. For now, the congregation will meet at their sister church in Arlington rep

Fire destroys church in Norwood Young America

A church in Norwood Young America that celebrated its 160th anniversary in September was destroyed in a fire on Sunday night.
Bob Bergland, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1977 to 1980.

Former U.S. ag secretary Bob Bergland dies at 90 in Roseau

Even when he was booed during speeches, the target of angry farmers in the late 1970s, Bob Bergland remained stoic — a Norwegian Minnesotan through…

Ecolab Foundation gives $5 million to U for green research

The money will fund endowed chair, scholarships and more.
Tom Insley brought his son Aaron to Granite House on Monday. “We are just really confident that he’s in a good place,” Aaron’s mom said.

In West Lakeland Township, a home is born for those with traumatic brain injury

Granite House in east metro will provide care for 4 young people in a family setting.

Woodbury man convicted of identify theft ordered to pay $772K in restitution

Former charity worker stole donors' IDs, using info to pay bills, tuition.
A MnDOT snow plow clears snow on northbound Hwy. 52 at the Marion Road Southeast exit Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, south of Rochester, Minn.

Colder temps coming on heels of season's first big snow

Now that the snow is behind us, prepare to bundle up.Roads on Sunday were still being cleared in the wake of Saturday's storm, which smacked…

Man killed by Bemidji police, officers identified

The BCA is investigating the shooting that occurred Wednesday night during a traffic stop
After cod is treated in a solution, the resulting lutefisk is ready to cut.

Forest Lake pastor pens lutefisk eulogy, then puts tradition on ice

A beloved tradition at Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake had reached its quiet end.
Best Buy customer service specialist Seth Hotchkiss waited on customers at the store in Roseville. Going for pickup rather than delivery might be wort

Cyber Monday shoppers find thieves snooping at their stoops

Those waiting for packages are encouraged to be vigilant in this peak time for theft.
A method of transforming food shelves into more welcoming places with a wider variety of healthy food choices is continuing to expand across Minnesota

Food shelf overhaul project expands across Minnesota

Eight more sites have been selected to adopt the SuperShelf model.

Revamp of Wildwood Library in Mahtomedi will offer more space

A proposed design adds public meeting spaces and outdoor seating, fireplace.
The sign on the Chipotle restaurant on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

Chipotle may reverse firing of St. Paul manager

Chipotle is reconsidering its decision to fire a St. Paul restaurant manager for not serving five black men and asking them to prove they could pay before taking their order last week.
Lake Elmo Fire Station on Luverne Avenue

Lake Elmo's 'turnaround' results in lifting of penalties against it

The League of Minnesota Cities has been impressed with changes the city has made.
People at the Minneapolis homeless encampment tried to stay warm near an early morning fire.

Minneapolis homeless camp now confronts the cold

Plummeting temperatures have raised anxiety for those in flimsy shelters

911 transcript shows man fatally shot by Minneapolis police was suicidal

Authorities also identify police shooting victim in Shakopee.
Haley Olson, left, Hannah Kane and Emma Swift played Just Dance on the Nintendo Wii at Stillwater’s Valley Friendship Club. The eight-year-old gathe

Stillwater's Friendship Club expands social life for kids with disabilities

Club members join friends for foosball, karaoke, pool and board games in a safe, supervised space.
Joel Glaser, holding his partner Jethra, attended a memorial at Temple Israel for the injured and eleven who died over the weekend in a synagogue in P

Minn. gatherings offer healing, light after Pittsburgh shooting

People of all ages and faiths filed out of Temple Israel after an hourlong service held amid tight security in Minneapolis. It began with a moment of silence and ended with a call for harmony and healing after an anti-Semitic shooting in Pittsburgh the day before.

Marine on St. Croix buys closed elementary school building

Local charter school is considering moving in; deal called a "win-win."
The Stillwater Lift Bridge, shown in 2014.

Stillwater Lift Bridge season extended because of high water levels

Water levels will need to fall 4½ feet before crews are able to float the span — which is sitting on a barge — back to its original location.

University of St. Thomas investigates after racial slur found written on a student's door

The University of St. Thomas is investigating what it calls an “act of hate” after a racial slur was found written on a student’s door…
Jayme Closs

More than 1,000 tips checked out since Jayme Closs disappeared

Vigil, sheriff's update planned as hunt for Jayme Closs enters second week.
Debralyn Bryant, a volunteer firefighter, took notes as engineer Brian Costello packed up hoses in Inver Grove Heights. Many departments are strugglin

Stretched thin, Minnesota volunteer fire crews sound the alarm

As recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters becomes increasingly difficult, several metro area fire departments have been forced to add full-time positions.
Members of the Somali-American community arrived at the scene to look over the small pond where the bodies of Bushra Abdi and Zeynab ìHapsaî Abdalla

Teen cousins accidentally drowned in Chaska pond

Their car veered off the road into the water. Family and friends who stood vigil prepared to gather again to bury the women.
Bushra Abdi (left) and Zeynab (Hapsa) Abdalla both 19, had been missing since early Saturday.

After frantic search, bodies of 2 missing women found in Chaska

Two bodies were pulled from a murky pond in Chaska late Sunday, bringing a frantic two-day search for two 19-year-old cousins and best friends from Shakopee to a tragic end.
3M campus in Maplewood (Provided photo)

Watering ban may be in store for Lake Elmo if no relief is found for wells

City seeks to ease pressure on two remaining wells uncontaminated by PFCs.
Friday afternoon traffic fills the two blocks of Chestnut Street in Stillwater in 2017. Dwindling downtown parking options played a part in a developm

Plans for Stillwater's old armory include apartments

Owners feel the city's parking goals limit the building's redevelopment potential.

Afton's makeover almost complete

Pedestrian-friendly downtown was one goal of $22 million plan.
Carolyn Carlson along with her fellow political science students in Professor Timothy Johnson’s “Justice in America” class Thursday at the Unive

Powerful testimony at Senate hearing grabs attention around Twin Cities

The day drew hushed clusters of viewers, and later, intense and emotional reactions from supporters on each side.
Nova is helping get Buster up to speed as the Woodbury Police Department works to train its own K-9 officers.

Doggie treat: Woodbury police find benefits in bringing pup training in house

Instead of importing dogs, Woodbury is raising its next two K-9 officers.
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