Staff Directory 10645991

Mary Lynn Smith

Reporter | Metro
Phone: 612-673-4788
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mary Lynn Smith is a general assignment reporter for the Star Tribune. She previously covered St. Paul City Hall and Ramsey County. Before that, she worked in Duluth where she covered local and state government and business. She frequently has written about the outdoors.


After graduating with a master's degree in public affairs reporting, the Chicago native moved to Minnesota and fell in love with the outdoors despite being a Girl Scout dropout. Smith became an avid long-distance runner and cross-country skier, keeping her fit so she could backpack in the mountains and paddle the BWCA and Quetico wilderness areas with her husband and three children. Now that her daughters are adults, she gives them the heavier packs.
Recent content from Mary Lynn Smith

Body of 92-year-old southern Minnesota man is recovered from drainage ditch

Marvin Borkenhagen likely was clearing debris from a culvert before he was swept away.
Lagoon Avenue in Uptown Friday afternoon. Minneapolis and St. Paul both have cleanup days scheduled in April.

As Minnesota's snow melts, the garbage emerges

Minnesotans prepare to collect layers of litter that piled up over the winter.
Flood preparations in 2010 in the Fargo-Moorhead area included dike building and sandbagging.

After decades of spending, Minn. river cities feel ready for rising spring waters

For years, officials have invested millions of dollars, which should make this spring less daunting than the 1997 and 2009 flooding.
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.
The cattle barn at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds collapsed Tuesday night.

Roofs collapse at Shakopee motel, barn at State Fairgrounds

No initial reports of any injuries as rain fell on the already wet and heavy snow.
As temperatures get out of the single digits, there's warning that flooding is a possibility this spring. Carver is on the banks of the Minnesota Rive

Chance of major flooding across state rises with anticipated snow

A spike in temperature and rapid melt could create even more trouble in Minnesota in coming weeks.
Former priest Thomas Adamson, who was accused of molesting boys, leaves “a legacy of pain and sorrow,” attorney Jeff Anderson said.

Former priest at the heart of Catholic Church sex scandal in Minnesota dies

Removed from ministry in 1985 and the priesthood in 2009, Thomas Adamson lived out his final days in Rochester. He died last week at age 85.
John Clark Donahue, shown in 2002. Donahue, who co-founded Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre Company and became a central figure in a 1980s sex abus

John Clark Donahue, central figure in Children's Theatre scandal, dies at 80

Children's Theatre founder was jailed for sexually abusing boys.

76-year-old woman assaulted in her rural Mankato home dies

Authorities, however, note that the public is not in danger because the assault appears to be an isolated case.
Forecasters hope we won’t go from ice fishing to sandbagging, especially in low areas like the St. Croix shoreline in Stillwater.

As Minnesota's snow piles up, flood worries are rising, too

A slow, steady melt is what's needed to keep spring deluge at bay. Right now, all that can be done is wait and see.
Jeanne Ann "Jeanie" Childs was stabbed to death in her Minneapolis apartment in June 1993.

Should police turn to genealogy sites to catch a long-sought killer?

Use of genealogy sites can open doors on cold cases, but at what cost?

Big Lake couple found dead in their home are identified

Investigators said there was no sign of trauma or violence and don't suspect foul play.
A photo of Jayme Closs posted to Facebook by her aunt Jennifer Smith.

Jayme Closs finds comfort in the letters and gifts from strangers

The Barron, Wis., teen and her family posted a note of thanks on Facebook.
A snowy street scene along 5th Avenue near downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday.

But wait, there's more: 3-6 inches of snow expected in Twin Cities

A steady, and sometimes heavy snowfall, will continue through most of Thursday before tapering by the evening, Up to 12 inches is forecast for north central and northwestern Minnesota.
Jay Mitchell, hospitalized in the burn unit at HCMC and awaiting amputation surgery after suffering from frostbite, was reunited Tuesday with his dog,

Reunited with dog, frostbite victim says: 'This is who I gave up my feet for'

Jay Mitchell says about his reunion with his best friend, Hero: "[He's] all I have in the world right now."
Tom Goeltz, whose daughter Megan was killed by a distracted driver, waited with others to testify at the Legislature.

Fight against distracted driving in Minn. focuses on phone use

As Legislature weighs heftier penalties, advocates focus on cellphone use.
Jay Mitchell suffered frostbite after several cold nights in his truck.

'It was pure survival': One man fights despair, frostbite in the polar vortex

Jay Mitchell thought he would die in the relentless, brutal cold. Then he got help and treatment. But there's still a chance doctors might have to amputate one or both feet.
Matt and Kim kept warm on a heated stage as they played a free outdoor concert Friday, days after the worst of the polar vortex.

Get ready for weather whiplash as temps could approach 40 this weekend

Temperatures landed into positive territory only early Friday after a 78-hour stretch of sub-zero cold in the Twin Cities area.
Jay Mitchell suffered frostbite after several cold nights in his truck.

Strangers rally to help a homeless man and his dog

Jay Mitchell was stunned by the generosity of those contributing to a GoFundMe page set up to help him during his recovery from frostbite.
Rascher Plumbing and Heating plumber Jason LaBelle stayed busy fixing frozen and burst pipes Thursday after three days of extreme cold.

Warm-up begins in Minn., bringing relief and home hassles

Temperatures were rising Thursday inside and out, bringing a return to routines. But the deep freeze left some pain, especially frozen plumbing.
Katy Nordhagen walked carrying her 3-year-old dog Peppers after taking him out for a bathroom break Wednesday in Northeast Minneapolis.

Utility asks customers to turn down thermostats in deep freeze

All Xcel Energy natural gas customers are urged to lower thermostats to 63 because of "significant strain" on the utility's natural gas system. Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin schools will be closed Thursday.
A pedestrian crossed 2nd Avenue at 6th Street in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday night during what normally would be the evening rush hour.

Wednesday mail delivery canceled

It was the latest in the long list of closings due to the extreme cold. The temperature is expected to dive to minus-29 in the Twin Cities by Wednesday morning for the first time since 1996.
Thanks to a push from rural Minnesota drivers, the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit on most two-lane state highways is being bumped up to 60 mph.

Cheers, criticism greet move to raise speed on rural highways

While national researchers worry about higher speeds, state studies have found something different.
Former University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo participated in a 2015 panel discussion at Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis.

Former University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo dies at 87

He is credited with improving graduation rates, restoring stability, and raising the school's profile as an undergraduate teaching institution.
Barron Area School District Administrator Diane Tremblay said administrators will meet with Department of Justice officials on Thursday to work on a p

After Jayme Closs returns, Wisconsin town wonders how to feel safe

The randomness of a meticulously planned crime has shaken residents of Barron, Wis.
Facing charges: Jake Patterson appeared with one of his attorneys via video. Charging documents sat on the table.

Charges: Suspect says he killed Jayme's parents, abducted her

The 13-year-old Wisconsin girl told authorities that the suspect first killed her father at the front door of their house, and then broke down the door to the bathroom where she and her mother were hiding.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was high-fived early Friday in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Rice Lake, Wis., by an investigator who

'This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!' Missing Wisconsin 13-year-old found alive

Three people east of Gordon, Wis., described the dramatic moments when the 13-year-old was found almost three months after she disappeared: dirty with matted hair and wearing shoes too big for her.
A 46-year-old man was arrested during a prostitution sting in St. Peter, Minn., in 2017.

Plan explores broadening sex trafficking law to cover victims of all ages

The state's current Safe Harbor law focuses primarily on young victims.
A Dakota County jury found the Independent Women’s Football League and the Minnesota Vixen discriminated against Christina Ginther, right, a transge

Jury's award to transgender woman after rejection by football team is a Minnesota first

Player awarded $20,000 in pioneering business discrimination case.

Man dies of injuries suffered when he was hit by car in Columbia Heights

Erik R. Johnstone, 48, of Fridley, was hit after he stepped off a median at University and 40th avenues NE.

3 charged in Eden Prairie robbery linked to man's death

A 63-year-old man died of cardiac arrest in connection with a home invasion.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine clears final major hurdle with state

Federal officials opened a path for a second mine just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Wolf researcher Austin Homkes stood next to the largest jack pine in the United States, which is in Voyageurs National Park along the Namakan Lake sho

Northern Minnesota jack pine is the largest in the United States

The tree along the Namakan Lake shoreline in Voyageurs National Park makes Minnesota the home to four of the 783 national champions and co-champions.
A 2018 DFL precinct caucus meeting in Eden Prairie in February.

Minnesota officials thinking about mail-only ballots for 2020 presidential primary

Backers of the mail-only ballot say it will make it easier to administer the election.
Jerry Hennessey

Fugitive elevator manager from Ashby, Minn., turns himself in

Jerry Hennessey, who now faces a mail fraud count in federal court, told a friend he was "in big trouble" before fleeing to Iowa.
Boynton Health at the University of Minnesota conducts a survey every three years to help the student health service address key concerns affecting st

Rising number of University of Minnesota students report mental health concerns

That makes it the top health issue on campus, according to a student survey released this week.
The Closs family home in Barron, Wis.

A month after Closs vanished, feeling in hometown 'very dark'

Town and family struggle while investigators keep hope alive: "The motive isn't there. The reason isn't there. I wish, wish, wish every night before I go to bed that we find a clue."
Wild Rumpus Bookstore owner Tom Braun in the Linden Hills landmark in 2010.

Tom Braun, who co-founded whimsical Wild Rumpus bookstore in Minneapolis, dies at 74

Creative and talented, Braun always had a thousand ideas, those who knew him said.

Fergus Falls man charged with second-degree murder in shooting at mother's home

The 29-year-old man is in jail after allegedly shooting a man in his mother's home in Audubon, Minn.

Becker County man jailed in Audubon death

Authorities say there is no threat to the public.
Alatus released this rendering of the Rice Creek Commons business area as it began to redevelop the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in A

Ramsey County, Arden Hills at odds over ammo plant project

County negotiators called for a pause in hopes of returning to negotiations later.
Terrence "Terry" Brisk

Shooting death of Little Falls deer hunter remains a mystery

The family of Terry Brisk is desperate for answers in his 2016 death.
Tara Reitan, left, and Bridget Reiter hugged before going into the funeral for Haylee Hickle today in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Reitan had babysat for Hayl

'Your world has been stolen': Girl Scouts, mother laid to rest

The four victims of last weekend's horrific hit-and-run crash along a highway in northwestern Wisconsin will be laid to rest over the next two days.
Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

Carleton College gets major boost from single $50 million donation

The alumni donation gets college's $400 million fundraising drive off to a strong start.
Andrew Goette, flanked by wife Ashley, cradled their 4-day-old son Lennon Andrew.

Minnesota man beats death, then gets to hold his newborn son

When Ashley Goette stood over her husband Andrew's lifeless body and pushed down on his chest, he was 28 -- and she was 39 weeks pregnant.
Jayme Closs, 13, has been missing since her parents were found dead in their Barron, Wisconsin, home.

911 call log: Officers found door kicked in, parents' bodies, no Jayme

Officials renew efforts in search for Wis. teen whose parents were murdered.
People search along Highway 8 near Barron, Wisconsin, for signs of Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who has been missing since early Monday, after he

Dozens of volunteers help in search for missing Wis. teen

Despite the turnout of about 100 volunteers, Thursday's ground search ended in frustration.
Brainerd’s historic water tower, seen in 1952, has been called Paul Bunyan’s flashlight. It was decommissioned in 1958.

The push to save Brainerd's landmark water tower begins

The clock is ticking on whether Brainerd’s landmark water tower can be saved. A citizen committee has about two years to cobble together enough donations…

Trying to flee the law in St. Paul, man jumps from eighth-floor window

The 27-year-old Bloomington man survived the fall but is now headed to jail.

Minnesota National Guard helps with hurricane relief efforts in Florida

Six soldiers and a helicopter will head to Florida as it recovers from the Category 4 hurricane.

Minnesota Red Cross aids hurricane relief efforts

The Red Cross also said it's in need of blood donations from around the nation.

Physical therapist can't turn back time, but helps runners slow it down

As people age, they lose lean muscle mass, flexibility and cardiovascular ability.
Mick Stephens made his way around Lake of the Isles during a morning run. Stephens, a longtime marathoner, had both knees replaced and is back on the

Aging yet active, baby boomers test the limits of artificial joints

For many in a generation hooked on running and recreational sports, artificial joints are a godsend.
'Daddy! I found a sword!' Minnesota girl pulls 1,500-year-old pre-Viking era artifact from Swedish lake

'Daddy! I found a sword!' Minnesota girl pulls 1,500-year-old pre-Viking era artifact from Swedish lake

Saga Vanecek found the sword after stepping on what she thought was a stick.
Diane Page, shown in 2017, held a White House brick made by slaves that is part of her and her husband Alan Page's collection of African American art,

Philanthropist Diane Sims Page, wife of Alan Page, dies at 74

She made a name in her own right helping "execute a lot of Alan's wishes and dreams."
Former Scott County Commissioner Joe Wagner

Minnesota funeral home cited for storing applesauce in embalming room

Mortuary lost appeal after being cited for a dozen violations.
FILE - In this June 9, 2014 file photo is a sculpture portraying a wounded soldier being helped on the grounds of the Minneapolis VA Hospital.

Minneapolis VA cited for failures in connection with vet's suicide

Officials are seeking ways to minimize gaps in care.

Deputy shot with arrow; suspect in custody after Sauk Centre standoff

The deputy, who was shot in the arm, suffered noncritical injuries.
A veterinarian at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota held a Little Brown Myotis bat.

Minnesota health officials seek woman who dropped off rabid bats

Health officials need more information about where dead bats were found.
Eric Fryman, left, Annaliese, 5 (in Eric's arms) Jansen,3, held by Cari Mews, Kyra 9, in front. Fryman and the children are dead after their kayak cap

Dad, 3 children likely suffered hypothermia when they died in Lake Superior

Sheriff issues preliminary findings; additional test results awaited.
Even though the weather was cloudy and muggy, a decent crowd gathered for the last day of the Minnesota State Fair on Monday, Sept. 3, 3018. The fair

Fair breaks attendance record, surpasses 2M for first time

Over the 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, 2,046,533 fairgoers streamed through the gates.
Eric Fryman, left, Annaliese, 5 (in Eric's arms) Jansen,3, held by Cari Mews, Kyra 9, in front. Fryman and the children are dead after their kayak cap

A light on a dark Lake Superior led to sole kayak survivor

A young mother from Wisconsin was pulled from the water after her family's kayak capsized. Three children and their father died.
A 911 operator answers emergency calls at a Minneapolis dispatch center.

Human error led to 911 outage in Minnesota, two other states

No serious incidents were reported during the hourlong disruption.
Joseph Gomm

Stillwater prison still in partial lockdown four weeks after corrections officer killed

Corrections officials dispute complaints about inhumane conditions.
Christensen Farms CEO Glenn Stolt spoke about his surprise about the ICE raid and his frustration with the media coverage not being entirely accurate

Big Minnesota pork producer 'surprised' by immigration raids

Christensen Farms says third-party vendor may have hired illegal workers.

Corrections officer in St. Cloud assaulted

An inmate who had just been through intake elbowed him in the face, authorities say.
Starry stonewort can be hard to identify; its dense mats compete with native plants.

Invasive algae infests first Twin Cities lake

Medicine Lake infested with starry stonewort.
Doug Arneson became emotional while talking about his uncle, Navy Cmdr. John Micheel, who was shot down during the Korean War. At left is a painting o

65 years after pilot vanished, family hopes for answers

Repatriation of Korean War remains renews Minnesota nephew's hopes.
A 911 operator answers emergency calls at a Minneapolis dispatch center.

Cause of 911 call disruption remains a mystery

The afternoon outage hit police and county law enforcement departments across the Twin Cities metro area and around Minnesota. Officials are sharing alternative numbers to call in case of emergency.
Pallbearers carried the body of correction officer Joseph Gomm to his gravesite at Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville on Thursday.

'We're family': Slain corrections officer is saluted by thousands

"I think everyone feels this loss," Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen said of the killing of Joseph Gomm at Stillwater prison.
A whitetail buck kept a close eye on the photographer as he approached through the woods near Duluth.

First-ever Minn. deer management plan is 'delicate balancing act'

The 10-year plan is designed to provide more transparency, balance interests.
A fight over public breast feeding in the kiddie pool at the Mora Aquatic Center raised hackles and a call for a “nurse-in” at the municipal pool.

Police called over breast-feeding brouhaha at Minnesota pool

Cops called in over dispute over nursing in the kiddie pool.
Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy spoke Thursday as Washington County Attorney Pete Orput stood next to him.

Stillwater inmate accused in corrections officer's death had run-ins

Prosecutors said they are awaiting end of BCA investigation before deciding on charges against inmate.
The scene of an officer-involved shooting in Chanhassen on Friday that left a Minnetonka High School student dead.

Carver Co. releases 911 transcript in fatal police shooting, deputies' info

One deputy's personnel information includes four disciplinary actions and several awards.

Video prompts probe into police handcuffing black teens in Mpls. park

Police are investigating the validity of the 911 call that prompted the incident.
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