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
Crystal Norcross spoke as part of Healing Minnesota Stories at the area the Dakota refer to as Bdote, or “meeting place of rivers,” as Fort Snelli

The gates are once again open at Fort Snelling State Park

Visitors return to Fort Snelling park in search of nature, healing
When the State Theater closed in 2008, the roof leaked and the inside was filled with trash. A local developer has been restoring the historic buildin

An Art Deco moviehouse regains its shine in Ely

After a 5-year renovation, State Theater set to reopen later this year
Remember fall color? This Summit Avenue maple tree from 2016 hints at the the blaze of seasonal touches in store for us this year, thanks to our wet s

Wet Minnesota summer could come with upside of a fall awash in color

"It should be brilliant," the DNR's Val Cervenka said, adding that all the rain helped trees stay healthy and green.
Earlier this week, police asked for the public’s help in finding Jacob Michael Lavoie, 21.

Family says body found in Duluth waters is that of missing 21-year-old

A UMD student went missing near that area earlier this week.
In this April 22, 2012, photo, a black bear grazes in a field in Calais, Vt. Minnesota bear experts say that black bear attacks are rare and fatal att

Minn. woman identified after she was killed by bear on Rainy Lake

The Maple Plain woman, staying on a remote island in Ontario, went to check on her barking dogs when she was attacked.
In this April 22, 2012, photo, a black bear grazes in a field in Calais, Vt. Minnesota bear experts say that black bear attacks are rare and fatal att

Black bear kills woman on remote Rainy Lake island in Ontario

Minnesota bear experts say that black bear attacks are rare -- and fatal attacks even more so.
Eden Prairie police released this photo of an animal spotted Monday afternoon near Purgatory Creek. Minnesota DNR wildlife experts say it's likely a c

At ease, Eden Prairie: It wasn't a cougar

Wildlife experts who examined a photo of the animal say it's likely a coyote.
Granite Peak in Montana.

Witnesses tell of climbing tragedy on Montana mountain

As his horrified son watched, a 65-year-old Circle Pine man lost his footing and fell.
Granite Peak in Montana.

Minnesota man dies climbing highest peak in Montana

Man, 65, and his son were climbing highest points around country.
Gophers football fans cheered on the team in 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium. Minneapolis park officials reversed course hours after trying to limit parking

Park Board reverses field after angering Gophers fans with tailgating change

Minneapolis parks officials did a quick about face after limiting tailgating and parking space at East River Flats Park.
Touting their success at hosting Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018, the team and Twin Cities boosters believe they have a good shot at reeli

Vikings toss hat in the ring to host NFL draft and another Super Bowl

Vikings express interest in hosting the massive event again, and NFL draft, too.
Authorities are searching for Dylan John Bennett, 22.

Son shot and killed parents in Minn. home before fleeing to Mexico, charges say

Barry Bennett, a former NFL player and Long Prairie physical education teacher, and his wife, Carol, were found dead in their home on Wednesday.

Former NFL player, wife found dead in Long Prairie home; police search for known suspect

News about the deaths of Barry and Carol Bennett spread quickly among those living in Long Prairie.
Part of a bluff above Hwy. 68 between Mankato and New Ulm has fallen away. It’s one of many landslides being inventoried by researchers in a statewi

Geologist is on a quest to map landslides in Minnesota

Charting vulnerable areas could protect lives, property, waterways
This year, the timber rattlesnake has become the talk of Winona in southeastern Minnesota.

Rattlesnake sightings create a buzz in SE. Minnesota bluff country

Many longtime residents have made peace with the timber rattlesnake, content to coexist. Others, not so much.
In this Monday, June 17, 2019, photo, a cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. San Francisco supervisors

It's soon to be the law in Minnesota — no vaping in most public places

"It's an important step in making sure we're not normalizing the use of e-cigarette tobacco use," Minnesota Rep. Laurie Halverson said.
Supporters hold a tribute to the former St. Andrew's Church in St. Paul on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

Fight to save former St. Paul church from wrecking ball is lost

The Twin Cities German Immersion School is readying a $5.1 million addition to replace the former St. Andrew's Catholic Church.
Clouds hung in the sky in Rosemount after Monday evening storms left many areas flooded. Extreme rains have become common this summer in Minnesota.

With glut of rain, Minnesota is having a tough time drying out

A barrage of recent storms flooding streets, swamping basements and casting parked cars afloat is adding to one of the soggiest years on record.
In 1981, Bruce Laingen smiled as his parade moved through the streets of Odlin, Minn.

Minnesota native, top American held in Iran during hostage crisis dies

Bruce Laingen was often seen on the news bound and blindfolded. His wife tied a yellow ribbon around the oak tree in the front yard of their home. He was 96.
Crews unearthed a diving bell in the boathouse of the ­Glensheen Mansion while preparing for building restoration.

Yet another mystery is uncovered at Duluth's storied Glensheen mansion

"This is one of the coolest things we have historically uncovered," Glensheen's director said regarding a diving bell recently brought to the surface.
Brig. Gen. Stefanie Horvath embraced her mother, Catherine Horvath, as her wife Christy Starks looked on during a promotion ceremony Tuesday in Rosemo

'There are no limitations.' Minnesota salutes new brigadier general

"There are no limitations," Stefanie Horvath said shortly before a ceremony in front of family, friends, Minnesota Guard colleagues and dignitaries that included Gov. Tim Walz.
To try to stay ahead of mosquitoes in the Twin Cities, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District has already treated about 100,000 acres.

Going buggy: Just as gnats die down, mosquitoes are out in full force

"It's a challenging year," said Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, which is doing its best to take the sting out of the threat.
Norm Coleman outside his Washington, D.C. office in 2015. Coleman announced Tuesday that he will undergo surgery later this month to remove part of hi

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman to undergo cancer surgery

Doctors plan to remove part of his lung where cancer has re-emerged.
A sign for Bde Maka Ska at 32nd Street Beach, which is one of three beaches that closed Tuesday.

Bacteria levels close three Minneapolis beaches

Minneapolis park officials plan to retest the bacteria levels on Wednesday.
The tower, a nod to Rochester’s ag beginnings, risks being moved as part of a land sale.

Giant corncob is Rochester's pride; will it be a landmark?

Fans want the official designation for the old water tower in hopes of keeping it standing in its spot.
A northern Minnesota bear that likely was rummaging through garbage got his head stuck in a plastic ring.

Roaming Minnesota bear with accidental collar has neighbors pitted against each other

Bruin's plight is sign of a wider problem — people feeding wild animals.
“This is a big day for the survivors,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, seen in 2016 with New Ulm abuse victims. The New Ulm Diocese agreed Wednesday

New Ulm Diocese reaches $34M settlement in clergy abuse case

If approved by the courts, the $34 million settlement will be the third in Minnesota.
John Fawcett

John Fawcett, business owner who inspired others, dies at 82

His awkward gait, the result of cerebral palsy, made the Duluth man instantly recognizable walking down the street.

Minnesota will get disaster relief to cover winter storms, flooding

Federal aid will be available to 51 counties and four tribal governments.
D-Day survivor George Siegfried spoke from his Bayport home Thursday about what he faced on Omaha Beach 75 years ago.

D-Day memories live on for Minn. man at Omaha Beach

"I was no hero," George Siefried said 75 years after he landed in France as part of the Allied invasion, turning the tide of World War II. "We just did what we had to do."
St. Cloud VA spokesman Barry Venable said the wind turbine, manufactured by J.K. Scanlan Co. of Massachusetts, didn’t work well almost from the star

St. Cloud VA pulls the plug on its clunker wind turbine

A St. Cloud wind turbine idled by problems will be demolished.
Jake Patterson walked into court for his sentencing in the murder of James and Denise Closs at the Barron County Justice Center in Barron, Wis., on Fr

Jake Patterson sentenced to life without possibility of parole

"You are the embodiment of evil," Barron County District Judge James Babler told the kidnapper of Jayme Closs and the murderer of her parents. Closs' statement called Patterson "a coward."
Dante S. Tini, a U.S. sailor from the Iron Range, was killed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Decades after Pearl Harbor, a Minnesota sailor's remains are coming home

Minnesota serviceman's remains ID'd, returned to family on the Iron Range.
Kidnapping victim Jayme Closs, second from left, appears with her family and supporters to receive a "hometown hero" award from the Wisconsin Assembly

Jayme Closs stays quiet as Wis. lawmakers award her 'Hometown Hero' award

Jayme's aunt Jen Smith spoke on the teen's behalf, thanking the Assembly for the tribute.

Skeletal remains found in Boundary Waters are human

The remains were found in an area where a New Mexico man had planned to camp through the winter.
St. Paul College President Rassoul Dastmozd

St. Paul College president abruptly announces he's leaving

His abrupt announcement came after faculty protests over his leadership style.
Monday, July 30, 2018 was dedication day for the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school in Bena, Minnesota. Here, former U.S. Sen. Al Franken recounted how he o

Donors flock to Franken's Leech Lake library campaign

The former senator thanked his Facebook followers for providing books and money for the reservation school's library.
The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office received a call in October about a vehicle parked at the trailhead to the Sioux Hustler Trail, which loops aro

Scattered remains, possibly human, found in the BWCA

Authorities found them in an area where a New Mexico man had planned to camp for the winter.
Members of the Jacobs family at the PACER Center's annual benefit in 2005. Alexandra and Irwin Jacobs, at right, were Patron Party co-chairs.

Irwin Jacobs shot his wife, then himself, officials confirm

The Hennepin County medical examiner listed the cause of death for both of them as "multiple gunshot wounds," and ruled Alexandra Jacobs' death a homicide and Irwin Jacobs' death a suicide.
Irwin Jacobs' estate in Orono.

Irwin Jacobs, wife found dead in what close friend calls murder-suicide

While Irwin Jacobs was widely known for his business dealings, Alexandra avoided the limelight that her husband often relished.
Fans reacted on Nicollet Mall at the end of Monday night's championship game in Minneapolis. Virginia won 85-77 in overtime over Texas Tech.

Final Four gives the Twin Cities one more shining moment

As the Twin Cities area wrapped up host duties for the men's basketball tournament, it proved once again that it can host a national megaevent.
Trout fishing in southeast Minnesota is partly dependent on fish raised at the DNR’s Lanesboro hatchery. Trout are known to gather beneath the Lanes

State-owned Lanesboro hatchery getting a $5 million remake

A $5 million project will replace a DNR building that's riddled with problems.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, left, and City Administrator Bruce Grubb pose next to a sandbag tote board in Fargo on March 29. The city aimed to make 100,0

Fargo poised to avoid 'really bad' flooding as fight moves north

"What people are seeing now is the power of the river," said Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney.
Dr. Jon Pryor, who abruptly left his job as CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, called the severance package on the low end of what is typical for a CEO at a

Hennepin Healthcare pays out nearly $1M to former CEO

Hospital officials say the severance package is typical for such jobs.
Jake Patterson left the courtroom after he pleaded guilty Wednesday during a hearing in Barron, Wis.

'Bye, Jayme': Closs kidnapper pleads guilty at dramatic hearing

The plea deal stipulates that Jake Patterson will not be charged with any offenses in Douglas County, where he held Jayme. The agreement means she won't have to testify at any trial.

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.
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