Staff Directory 10645411

Matt McKinney

Reporter | Regional Team
phone: 612-673-7329
As a roaming reporter for the Star Tribune, my assignments come from all across the region, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to the Bois Forte Band in Tower, from the farm country Amish to up North fishermen. Special areas of interest include but are not limited to business fraud, sand mining, the Mayo Clinic's multi-billion-dollar expansion known as Destination Medical Center, crime, shoreline development and outstate news. Send tips and story ideas to me at
Recent content from Matt McKinney
A 220-kilowatt solar array powers the St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Plant, along with a biodigester that turns sewage into energy.

More cities across state are turning to renewable sources of energy

Solar, wind and hydro fill increasing roles in municipal power grids
Saint Mary’s Church in Melrose, Minn., is shown in this photo from March.

Sheriff: Teen admits setting fire to 120-year-old church in Melrose

Parishioners now must ask why as they debate whether to rebuild or restore.
Before launching Big River, Reggie McLeod found himself trying to persuade editors to let him write more about the river, because he enjoyed being on

Winona magazine Big River focuses on all things Mississippi

Big River's staff cranks out six issues a year for 5,000 subscribers
FILE - In this April 26, 2018, file frame from video smoke rises from the Husky Energy oil refinery after an explosion and fire at the plant in Superi

Superior, Wis., residents unsettled a month after refinery explosion, fire

A month after the explosion in Superior, people aren't sure how safe their soil and air are.
Someone set fire to the main building at the Sherburne County camp.

Volunteers to discuss future of Sherburne County camp

Arsonist set fire to the camp's main building, causing $200,000 in damage to the historic White Building that was kitchen, dorm and meeting space.
Aerial views of the Biesanz Stone Company and the frac sand mining operation near Winona, Minn.

Winona County ban on frac sand mining challenged at Court of Appeals

Attorneys on both sides were rigorously questioned by a three-judge panel.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum

Minnesota congresswoman calls on refinery to stop using highly toxic chemical

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said the use of hydrogen fluoride in a major population center is "unacceptable."
Katie Alee, 16-year-old wheelchair user and accessibility advocate, center, met with other state representatives and advocates at the William O’Brie

Minnesota state parks targeted for better accessibility for the disabled

It's time to make at least one or two state parks accessible for the disabled, commissioner says.
The Andeavor refinery in St. Paul Park

Legislators push to end refinery's use of toxic chemical

Public needs to know evacuation plans for St. Paul Park refinery, and first responders should do drills, two Minneapolis legislators said.
The Andeavor refinery in St. Paul Park

Superior refinery fire is reminder of toxic leak risk in Twin Cities

Major accidents involving hydrogen fluoride are rare. But the explosion and fire at the oil refinery in Superior, Wis., was a reminder of the potential danger at another refinery in St. Paul Park.
In this aerial photo of Husky Energy oil refinery taken Saturday morning damaged storage tanks, mangled pipes and pond of water and other liquids were

Twin Ports mayors want Superior refinery to stop using highly toxic chemical

Superior, Duluth leaders ask Husky Energy to stop using hydrogen fluoride.
In this aerial photo of Husky Energy oil refinery taken Saturday morning damaged storage tanks, mangled pipes and pond of water and other liquids are

As governor tours Wisconsin blast site, focus is on toxic chemical

The cause of Thursday's massive explosion and fire at Husky Energy, Inc. in Superior, Wis. has yet to be determined.
Kelli Briggs and her daughter, Gabby Shaul, 17, brought their belongings inside their home along with their Bernese mountain dog, Koda, 4, Friday morn

Superior refinery fire raged near chemical tanks with deadly risk

If a tank of hydrogen fluoride had been compromised, a "killing cloud" could have endangered 180,000 people.
Natalia Johnson, 12, right, and her sister Iley, 15, stood outside Amsoil Arena in Duluth with their 6-year old pug, Tucker, and some of their belongi

Superior, Wis., evacuation order lifted at 6 a.m., mayor says

The evacuation order, which followed a fire at an oil refinery, was lifted as of 6 a.m., the mayor said in a Facebook post.

Minnesota flood warnings include Mississippi River in St. Paul

Minor flooding expected along rivers for the next few days.
Ji Chen skied the cross country course Wednesday at Theodore Wirth Park.

Tired of endless winter? Twin Cities skiers can't get enough

Deep snow, fresh tracks, freezing temps: Winter's staying power delights some.

Minnesota flood risk low despite historic April snowstorm

A slow warmup over the next few days means there is only a low risk of flooding throughout Minnesota, with the potential for some minor…
After her flight to Paris was grounded, Delta Air Lines flight attendant Victoria Flees slogged through snow with as much dignity as possible on Satur

Historic blizzard slams into Minnesota; record snowfall possible

Travel is discouraged as snow falling at 1 to 2 inches per hour and 50-mph wind gusts created whiteout conditions. With 10-plus inches at the airport, flights were grounded until late Saturday. More snow is to come, so Sunday events are getting called off.
Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker

Unsolved murder case of Cold Spring officer is closed

Focus of investigation committed suicide in 2013.
SEIU workers staged a one-day strike at Mayo's hospital in Albert Lea, Minn., in December.

Mayo Clinic, union to meet with judge over lockout of Albert Lea health care workers

The National Labor Relations Board will hear a complaint filed by hospital workers' union.
Dr. John Noseworthy of the Mayo Clinic tipped his hardhat to the crowd following an outdoor groundbreaking of Discovery Square, one of two projects ac

DMC private investors spend another $131 million remaking Rochester

That's slightly less than what was invested the year before, a drop that officials attributed to the timing of projects rather than a slowdown.
The $257 million riverfront project has retail, housing and a hotel.

'Home run' development on horizon for Rochester's riverfront

But some city planners and residents worry that the scope of the $257 million riverfront project is too much, too fast.
As work proceeds on the new bridge at Red Wing, Minnesota road crews will install a new ramp that will take traffic in a new direction to Hwy. 61.

New ramp coming for Red Wing bridge

It's a step closer to the bridge's eventual replacement next year.
It's been two years since St. Mary's Church in Melrose was set ablaze and the person responsible still hasn't been caught.

Fight over Melrose church hit by arson has divided local Catholics

A 2016 fire gutted the Church of St. Mary, scarred the Melrose community
Photo by Leila Navidi: John Nasseff

St. Paul publisher and philanthropist John Nasseff dies at 93

Nasseff died Feb. 21, the day he turned 94, at his St. Paul home.
Rochester flag redesign contest Round 1 winners
Public voting
First place: Leo Ariemma, Woodbridge, Ontario

Rochester considers designs for new city flag

Medical symbols, stars and bars, crosses ... and lots of geese.
Zachary T. Anderson

Family friend pleads guilty to murder, rape of 5-year-old Minn. girl

Zachary Anderson of Monticello immediately sentenced to life in prison in death of 5-year-old Alayna Ertl.
Alan Geisenkoetter Jr.

Snowmobiler faces murder, drunken driving charges in death of boy, 8

Snowmobiler's blood alcohol level was allegedly twice the legal limit three hours after the incident.
A bell mysteriously left outside the doors of the Nicollet County Historical Society a couple of years ago was thought to have originated from the old

A dogged volunteer uncovers the mystery of the bell of St. Peter

It's a story that includes history, tragedy, family lore, town gossip, a thrilling discovery - and a second, enduring mystery.

Grants kick-start energy efficiency projects around Minnesota

A Department of Commerce program to kick-start energy efficiency around the state named 39 projects, from LED lighting in La Crescent to solar panel systems analysis for dairy farmers in west-central Minnesota, in its latest round of grant awards.
Regina Mustafa

Rochester mayoral candidate victim of crude anti-Muslim comment

Threat was left on Regina Mustafa's webpage.
The parents of Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. said they’ll remember their 8-year-old son as a boy who was both a budding outdoorsman and someone willing to

Family calls 8-year-old killed on Chisago Lake a budding outdoorsman and eager helper

Alan Geisenkoetter Jr. died five days after he and his family were hit by a snowmobiler on Chisago Lake.
Server Peter Tazin took an order from Brenda Luther, Michelle Luhman, Hannah Wright, Jean Fox, Stacy Weelborg and Ruth Grimm in an igloo on the roofto

Rochester restaurant's rooftop dining domes to be taken down

Fans of Rochester igloos are upset, but an official called them hazardous.
Alexander Weiss told Rochester police he felt threatened in the aftermath of a minor traffic accident.

Rochester murder case may hinge on the phrase 'duty to retreat'

Rochester man's claim of self-defense in shooting likely to be tested at trial.
Alexander Weiss

Rochester man charged in killing of teen who dared him to shoot

A 25-year-old Rochester man was charged with second-degree murder after a minor fender bender led to a confrontation, which led to a dare and a fatal shot.
Muhammed Rahim

Family that fled Iraq is left reeling by teen's shooting death after Rochester crash

The teenager shot to death was part of a tight-knit Iraqi family who fled homeland six years ago for a safer life in the U.S.
Server Peter Tazin took an order from Mayo colleagues, from the left, Hannah Wright, Jean Fox, Stacy Weelborg and Ruth Grimm in an igloo on the roofto

Rochester's popular rooftop 'igloo' dining may not survive

Rochester officials say the popular rooftop domes could be hazardous
The red neon sign of the old Austin Municipal Plant has already been moved to the new utilities offices. The smokestacks will come down soon.

Smokestacks coming down for new Austin rec center

The recreation center, with an anticipated completion date of fall 2019, will anchor further redevelopment plans.
Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, shown in 2011 with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, has announced that he won’t seek re-election when his fourth term in of

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede won't seek re-election

Ardell Brede, a bubbly presence for 16 years, has overseen city growth.

Election dates, license plates, eye drops: New state laws take effect

A new license plate that honors police officers killed in the line of duty will be coming, thanks to a law now in effect.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith resigns as chairwoman of Rochester's DMC board

Smith is leaving the DMC board to take over the U.S. Senate seat now held by Al Franken.

Rochester coalition to fight city's affordable housing crisis

Coalition hopes to steer millions toward solutions.
President of the Minnesota Nurses Association Mary Turner shared the nurses solidarity with SEIU workers as they staged a one-day strike at Mayo's hos

Mayo Clinic locks out most striking hospital workers in Albert Lea

Union claims it's the first-ever health care lockout in the state.
President of the Minnesota Nurses Association Mary Turner, shared the nurses solidarity with SEIU workers as they staged a one-day strike at Mayo's ho

Mayo hospital workers in Albert Lea call one-day strike to protest stalled talks

Picketers cite stalled labor talks; officials call it grandstanding.
Construction of the $19 million Eide Bailly Center, shown here in an architect’s rendering, could begin in downtown Mankato as soon as February.

Seven-story building for Mankato wins key approval

Proposed office building adds to string of new construction
Bud Lawrence

Mankato's Bud Lawrence, champion of Dakota causes, dies at 86

A chance meeting with a Dakota Indian leader forever changed the course of Louis George “Bud” Lawrence’s life, leading him to march in support of…
Rita Andersen is one of a group of Albert Lea residents who oppose the Mayo Clinic’s plan to shift most hospital services to Austin.

Report says Albert Lea can support hospital, but it would be costly

A newly published consultant's report that says the city of Albert Lea could support a full-service hospital has emboldened citizens there who are fighting a Mayo Clinic decision to reduce services.
The moves in Stewartville, Minn., ignited controversy across Minnesota about school lunches and those who have trouble paying.

Ex-Minn. cafeteria worker says staff told to toss lunches for students unable to pay

Many had the hot entree portion of their meal removed from their tray, the angry former worker said.
Hot meals like pizza won't be denied to Stewartville students who have negative balances in the future.

Stewartville schools to give hot lunches to all students, paid up or not

However, parents who owe more than $75 may face debt collection.

Judge's ruling on Winona County ban of frac sand mining stirs interest

Efforts to enact similar bans have so far foundered in neighboring counties.
Krista Paulsen, left, and Hilari Erickson threw away boxes from a building that was formally the office for Zumbro Ridge Estates.

Rochester's bold growth plans threatened by housing crisis

This economically vibrant city already was considered one of the hottest real estate markets in the state before the Mayo Clinic's $5.6 billion expansion took off in earnest last year with multiple construction projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest caught on video

Worthington man files brutality suit over 2016 arrest caught on video

Man's arrest, incident caught on tape last year.

Rochester mayor, council improperly spent taxpayer money on meals, auditor rules

City Council's monthly outing cost taxpayers $10K, auditor finds.
Sara Sturgis and Joe Deden of the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center inspected a 19th-century cabin that sits on their new parcel of forest.

Lanesboro, Minn., learning center acquires prized piece of forest

Nearly a mile of Root River shoreline to be used for wildlife study.
Image from "Thunderbird Strike"

Minn. lawmaker wants to tighten arts grant rules after video game labeled as 'ecoterrorism'

He said winning video game of bird zapping pipelines "has zero benefit."
The Eau Claire City Council voted to ban children from the council dais during meetings after one of their members, Catherine Emmanuelle, said she had

Eau Claire City Council votes to ban children from dais after breastfeeding debate

Sometimes testy debate centered on woman's right to nurse her child in public.
A bicyclist soaked in the fall colors at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Biking, hiking and water sports have revived the mining region.

Mining the magic: Cuyuna Range reinvented by influx of silent sports

Thousands of tourists come for award-winning bike trails, trout-stocked lakes, deep waters for scuba diving and quiet bays for paddleboarders and kayakers.
Scenic highway through Jay Cooke reopens five years after flood

Scenic highway through Jay Cooke reopens five years after flood

Repairs restore washed-out passage through Jay Cooke State Park
Mohamed lye carries his 2-year old daughter Nafiso, with his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille, left, at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport near Bloo

New Trump travel ban fuels anxiety in Minnesota

The new order may draw legal challenges, but it's too soon to tell what will eventually happen, said a Somali attorney in Minneapolis.

Obituary: Volunteer chess coach and role model Jack Mangan dies at 67

A fundraiser, elementary school teacher and founder of several Minneapolis chess clubs that continue today, Mangan died Sept. 1, four months after a terminal cancer diagnosis. He was 67.
In a photo taken from video, Robert Kniefel, 61, of Lakeville, was rescued via a State Patrol helicopter early Thursday after spending nearly three da

Hunter rescued after nearly 3 days in forest north of Twin Cities

Robert Kniefel, 61, of Lakeville, built a fire to warm himself and endured heavy rains in the Nemadji Forest.
Sawyer Ruby Rose Hanson, 4, of Kenyon, Minn., was reported missing at 7:16 p.m. Tuesday.

Missing Minnesota 4-year-old found safe in a field after lengthy search

Authorities believe the girl followed a cat into a cornfield near her home northwest of Kenyon when she disappeared Tuesday night.
A house wrecked by Hurricane Irma in Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla., Sept. 14, 2017.

Minnesotans living and working in Irma's path face rebuilding task

Minnesotans in Irma's path come to terms with what has been lost and count their blessings.
Robin Hensel is escorted out of the Little Falls City Council meeting in June 2013.

State Supreme Court ruling reverses disorderly conduct conviction of Little Falls woman

"I feel like justice was finally served," said Robin Hensel, whose removal at a City Council meeting was at the heart of the court's decision.
Near-empty shelves of canned foods at a WalMart store in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday. Minnesotans with homes or businesses in Florida are among

Minnesotans with homes or businesses in Florida brace for Irma

Anxiety mounts as residents scramble for food, water, gas and other supplies.
Faribault's Johnston Hall once again eyed for demolition

Faribault's Johnston Hall once again eyed for demolition

Johnston Hall is all that remains of an 1888 divinity school.
Rita Andersen stacked signs at Mary-Go-Round Shoppe, part of Albert Lea residents' campaign against their Mayo Clinic-run hospital.

Albert Lea rises up against Mayo's plan to trim hospital services

As Mayo defends planned cuts, Albert Lea fights back.
H-E-B employees helped distribute water, ice and bread to Aransas Pass residents on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Rockport, Texas. Many want to help vict

Minnesota charity officials warn of online scams in Houston flooding

Online pleas may not funnel aid to victims of Houston flooding.
“It’s a shame we have to fight like that, and bring all these old memories back,” said World War II veteran Mel Dahlberg, of Jordan, Minn.

Nazi resurgence alarms Minn. WWII vets, Holocaust survivors

In the aftermath of last weekend's deadly violence in Virginia, no one may be feeling more anger and fear than those who battled the Nazis and those nearly killed by them.
Construction site of a 20-story Titan Hilton, one of the first projects built under Rochester�s DMC initiative. It is a Titan Development project be

First public dollars go to Rochester's Destination Medical Center project

The money will go to Rochester for infrastructure work related to the project.
Local historians don’t want Rochester to ignore its past as it pursues its Destination Medical Center expansion plans remaking its downtown.

Residents fight for old Rochester

Preservationists fear Mayo Clinic development could erase city's history.
Gregory Stavrou, then executive director of Rochester Civic Theater.

Minn. arts group faces upheaval after sex harassment allegations against ex-director

Gregory Stavrou, accused of sexual harassment, had resigned in April after arts group called for his firing.
Minneapolis Police Lt. Greg Reinhardt displayed two of the body cameras that will be tested by the department.

Failure to turn on body cameras flouted policy

The officer who shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond late Saturday apparently violated his department’s rules on the use of body cameras when he…
The state DNR shuttered the money-losing Fort Ridgely golf course last year, saying it no longer fit with the agency’s plans for the historic site.

Chance of reopening Fort Ridgely golf course 'not promising,' supporter says

A surprise 'No' vote from the Fairfax City Council left the Friends of Fort Ridgely without a government entity and fiscal agent to pursue their plan.
Sagal Abdigani and Abdisalam Wilwal are suing the U.S. government after their family was held for 10-plus hours at the U.S.-Canada border.

Somali-American family from Eagan sues feds after being detained at border

The family was released after authorities determined that the father, who was on a watch list, wasn't a threat.
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