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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
Two U of M athletes arrested on criminal sex charges

Two U of M athletes arrested on criminal sex charges

Athletic department says they've been suspended from team play while it investigates

Mediator reaches out to cities before politics become toxic

The League of Minnesota Cities aims to share best practices in governance and conflict resolution, which can reduce insurance claims made against cities.
Museum director Lynne Blomstrand Moratzka leads a tour of Gammelgarden, showing Swedish immigrant life, in August.

Scandia group proposing tourism upgrades, including arts and heritage center

Washington County town considers reconstructing a structure from its past.
Don Fraser

Ex-congressman, longtime Mpls. mayor Don Fraser dies at 95

Fraser was the mayor of Minneapolis from 1980 to 1993. He remains the longest serving mayor in the city's history.
The Rince Na Chroi Irish Dancers performed in the Grand Old Day 2019 Parade on Sunday.

After almost taking a hiatus, Grand Old Day was grand indeed

Thanks to determined neighbors and last-minute fundraising, the decades-old event happened as usual, with thousands of people walking up and down the popular St. Paul shopping and restaurant district.
The Stillwater Gazette, one of Minnesota’s oldest newspapers, will celebrate its 150th year of publishing in 2020.

Stillwater Gazette is returning downtown

Newspaper's move comes during revitalization of Main Street after opening of the St. Croix River bridge.
Crash followed police pursuit, closing down part of I-35E on Sunday

Crash followed police pursuit, closing down part of I-35E on Sunday

Several people were injured; the suspect was arrested.
Voters approved seven of 15 building referendums on Tuesday. The six that failed were all in greater Minnesota and totaled $250 million in building pr

Voters around Minnesota say yes to $539 million in school upgrades

Seven of the 15 building measures passed on Tuesday.
Dr. Thomas J. Stillwell

Flying doctor Tom Stillwell is remembered for finding 'human connection' delivering care by air

Last fall, Dr. Thomas Stillwell put in notice of his retirement from Minnesota Urology. He planned to fully retire in two years but in the…
Traffic backed up in the east metro after a crash Sunday.
Credit: MnDOT

Pickup veers onto I-694 shoulder, killing man next to his vehicle

A pickup truck veered onto the shoulder of Interstate 694 in Oakdale on Sunday morning, authorities said, striking a vehicle that had pulled over and killing its driver, who was standing outside the vehicle.
Lakeland city hall, as seen in 2013

Authorities renew call for tips about 2016 Lakeland city hall arson

Authorities are offering a reward for information on those responsible for a 2016 arson incident that destroyed the city hall building then under construction…

Prior Lake man dies from injuries while on vacation in Mexico

His brother said he had severe injuries.
St. Paul man killed in motorcycle accident near Maplewood

St. Paul man killed in motorcycle accident near Maplewood

Donald Nordquist, 68, was thrown off the motorcycle.
According to Police a Virginia woman handcuffed behind her back committed suicide by shooting herself through mouth.(Dreamtime/TNS) ORG XMIT: 1285234

Man fatally shot in Minneapolis' Warehouse District identified

Police said a disturbance between two groups may have escalated into gunfire.

Lakeland City Council meets, but it's still at odds

After four failed attempts in the past weeks, Lakeland’s City Council held a meeting Thursday. The special meeting, held at noon, ran for about two…

Lake Elmo sues neighborhood association over trail use

Officials say paved trails near Sunfish Lake were intended to be public.
Four-year-old Maren Haugen got her pink cowboy boots ready for a ride on Daisy the pony at a class at River Valley Riders in Afton.

Property and indoor arena allow Afton horse therapy program to grow

Afton nonprofit expands riding lessons with new indoor arena.
The Edina team, seen celebrating its victory

'Joy, cheering and definitely some tears': Edina robotics team celebrates national honor

It's the first time that a Minnesota team has won the national award.
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.
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