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Miguel Otárola

Suburban Reporter | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-4753
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: Spanish
Miguel Otárola is a metro reporter for the Star Tribune. He covers Minneapolis' western suburbs during the week and breaking news on weekends. He also writes about immigration and music on occasion.

Otárola moved to Minneapolis in 2016. Born in Chile and raised in Arizona, he graduated with a master's in communication from Arizona State University. He is obsessed with music, listening to and reading about music from across the spectrum, digging at local record stores and writing a music newsletter. He is the proud caretaker of a black cat named James Blake.
Recent content from Miguel Otárola
Hennepin County commissioner candidates Irene Fernando, left, and Blong Yang.

Fernando and Yang vying for Hennepin County Commissioner in District 2

District 2 race features a political newcomer and ex-City Council member.
Renderings of the Grandview Green concept, part of a June presentation by the city of Edina.

Edina puts brakes on Grandview Green project over Hwy. 100

The 750-foot bridge — widely referred to as a "lid" — would support a public green space over the highway and be surrounded by private development. The city says bridge could still be decades away.

Hennepin County unable to make new IDs in two locations

Two service centers in Hennepin County were unable to process applications for new driver's licenses or state IDs Saturday because of connectivity issues with recently…

McLaughlin, Conley go head to head for Hennepin County commissioner

The longtime incumbent and the first-time candidate went deep in debate Thursday night.
The Hennepin County Board approved using state grants to relocate people to this fourplex at 2408 4th Av. S., Minneapolis.

Hennepin County spending $214,000 to house a dozen people from tent camp

Residents of homeless tent camp are expected to move into the former Kateri Residence next week, officials said.
The race for Hennepin County sheriff pits challenger Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson and incumbent Rich Stanek.

In Hennepin County sheriff's race, claims of a partisan divide

Sheriff Rich Stanek, looking for his fourth term, is running against Metro Transit police Sgt. Dave Hutchinson.
"Love Power" Jesus mural in Minneapolis' West Bank neighborhood Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Minneapolis, MN.

Ann Sandell, founder of Minneapolis' Love Power Church, dies at 86

A painting of Jesus already adorned the two-story brick building at Washington Avenue and 14th Avenue S. in Minneapolis when Love Power Church began renting…

Hennepin County Government Center parking ramp to close for construction

Crews will be repairing the garage's concrete floors and walls, resealing the floors and repainting lines, with work set to be done by Nov. 19.

One dead after pickup-semi collision in Redwood County

The pickup truck crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic, authorities said.
Three Hopkins West Junior High students died last school year, sending a massive wave of grief and sorrow among the student body. On Friday morning, t

Hopkins middle school begins to move on after student tragedy

Students posted messages of love and kindness in an effort to bring peace to the school.
Sisters Rory, 2, left, and Henri, 3, looked at a child’s artwork while visiting the Farmers Market with their grandmother Julie of Bloomington.

Bloomington art exhibit aims to share fears, anxieties of immigrant children

Separation from family is among the deep fears and anxieties depicted in drawings and essays curated for Bloomington exhibit.
County Administrator David Hough presents the 2019 budget to the Hennepin County Board Tuesday.

Hennepin County eyes a 5.5 percent increase in the property tax levy

Funding for child protection services is at center of need for $43 million in new revenue.
Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton to meet with Minnesota county attorneys about abuse by clergy

Meetings this month are the first step in possible grand jury investigations.
Wildflowers grow in a prairie at Minnetonka's Lone Lake Park in July. The nonprofit group Protect Our Minnetonka Parks sued the city Thursday over a p

Environmentalists sue Minnetonka over proposed mountain bike trails

Group is concerned about the impact of proposed mountain biking trails.
Thor Cos.’ founder Richard Copeland waved ceremonial scissors as CEO Ravi Norman beamed at his side at Friday’s block party at Plymouth and Penn a

Thor's new headquarters touted as a 'beacon of hope' for North Side

Regional Acceleration Center designed as catalyst for prosperity and growth

Officials: 24 Hennepin employees investigated for misconduct

Twelve resign in the face of misconduct allegations.
Edina Mayor James Hovland said city staff members had some reservations about the creation of a resident oversight board to review police misconduct c

Edina aims to improve racial equity, drops police oversight board

The multiyear plan, approved last week by the City Council, includes dozens of directives but leaves out some requested by a task force that sought to address police relations.

Woman arrested after Faribault man stabbed to death

The couple had a history of domestic violence, police said.
Dave Hughes, the endorsed congressional candidate in Minnesota's Seventh District, spoke in June at the Republican state convention in Duluth.

Trump tweets 'Total Endorsement!' for Collin Peterson challenger Dave Hughes

The president declared his support for the GOP Seventh District challenger Saturday morning.
Aaron Claus of Carp Solutions hurled a carp from their boat in to the back of a waiting pickup truck. Crews pulled invasive carp from nets in Stieger

To boost Lake Minnetonka, carp get tossed from nearby lakes

Overpopulation of the invasive fish is choking several area lakes and degrading the habitat.
Hennepin County Deputy Administration Jennifer DeCubellis, shown in 2017, said there is a “sense of hope.”

Hennepin County placing more mistreated kids with relatives, fewer in shelters

A report released Thursday points to some progress since reforms were enacted in 2015.
Richfield has more than a dozen projects, including a Primrose School, worth $200 million currently underway.

'Explosion of interest' leads to $200M Richfield redevelopment boom

Housing, auto dealerships, doughnuts and more are headed to Richfield, which is suddenly hot.
A rendering depicts the proposed new fire station and expanded police station at the city campus in Minnetonka.

New Minnetonka fire, police facilities would reflect larger, changing departments

City Council to consider $25 million proposal.
A woman watched as commuters navigated Portland Avenue southbound during the evening rush hour Friday.

Mpls. joins national lawsuit supporting high fuel efficiency for vehicles

Minneapolis announced that it has joined an amicus brief with 17 states challenging the Trump administration’s plans to weaken fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The…

After family tragedy on Lake Superior, a plea for kayak safety

The kayak ride off the Apostle Islands that killed all but one member of a Wisconsin family would have been strenuous for even a highly trained kayaker, experts said.
Lois Langer Thompson oversaw an $86.2M budget in her post atop the system.

Hennepin County Library Director Lois Langer Thompson leaves for new post

After 10 years, Lois Langer Thompson departs for a similar role in Washington.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, shown in California. Federal immigration agents could be asked to identify themselves while on Hennepi

Hennepin County could ask immigration agents to improve conduct

Hennepin Board members draft resolution listing behavior expectations.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who's running for state attorney general, spoke with fairgoers Saturday.

For Ellison, day at fair is about issues, not allegations

Ellison met by the DFL Party tent with more than a dozen people, who came up to shake his hand, take photos and chat, mostly about policy.
Hennepin County is now the owner of the Thrivent Financial building in downtown Minneapolis after the $55 million purchase of the glassy, angular stru

Hennepin County closes deal on Thrivent building in downtown Minneapolis

It will be about two years until the county is able to expand into the building.
People walked along the pedestrian trails of Normandale Lake in Bloomington on Thursday.

Normandale Lake in Bloomington to be drained to kill invasive curly-leaf pondweed

Most of Bloomington's 112-acre Normandale Lake will be dry until April.
Local activists and public defenders have said that federal agents arrest immigrants in courthouses or county buildings.

Hennepin County finalizes deal for legal services for residents facing deportation

County Board finalized a $275,000 contract 4-3.
Environmental and recreational issues were the focus Saturday at Game Fair where Minnesota candidates for governor Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson debated.

Tim Walz, Jeff Johnson go deep on guns, copper mining and other outdoor issues

The gubernatorial debate, held at Game Fair in Ramsey, was the third in the last two days.
The St. Louis Park City Council, shown in 2016. Elected officials see the policies as a way to quickly assist renters whose affordable housing goes up

West-metro suburbs give low-income tenants more rights — or at least more time

New policies give tenants time and resources if displaced by new landlord.
Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene spearheaded the idea of an immigrant legal defense fund.

Hennepin Co. to set up $275K deal with nonprofit for legal help for immigrants

County Board expected to decide Tuesday whether to award $275,000 contract.
A common bumblebee at Lone Lake Park. Habitat for the rusty patched bumblebee could be affected by proposed bike trails.

Trail plan in Minnetonka pits bikes against endangered bees

A plan to add mountain bike trails at Minnetonka's Lone Lake Park worries naturalists concerned about the fate of the rusty patched bumblebee.
The grounds crew rolled the tarp over the field at the start of a rain delay during the Twins-Royals game at Target Field on Friday.

After a night of heavy rain across central Minnesota, more is possible Saturday

The St. Cloud area got up to 4 inches of rain Friday night.

St. Louis Park rabbi arrested in underage sex sting operation

The rabbi, a director of youth outreach, was arrested in a sting leading up to the Super Bowl.
The Apple Valley Aquatic Center closed early Tuesday afternoon after an 18-year-old allegedly pushed an 8-year-old boy off a water slide.

Maple Grove man suspected of pushing 8-year-old off Apple Valley waterslide

The boy is in stable condition after falling 31 feet to the ground, police say.
An estimated 200 people protesting the killing of Thurman Blevins by two Minneapolis police officers marched downtown Tuesday.

Protesters decry Blevins death, block light rail in downtown Minneapolis

The protesters gathered in a circle, chanted and took a knee.
More than 65 trips spread between 40 bus routes across the metro area will be suspended because of a shortage of drivers at Metro Transit.

Driver shortage leads Metro Transit to suspend trips on dozens of bus routes

More than 65 trips spread between 40 bus routes across the metro area will be suspended.

Minnetonka police want to connect mental-crisis callers with therapists

When Scott Marks isn’t serving Minnetonka as a community engagement officer, he’s providing counseling at an outpatient clinic in Golden Valley. Seeing mental health patients…

Brooklyn Center man charged after allegedly driving a boat while drunk and striking a child

Brooklyn Center man was drunk and tried to flee, police say. The child is OK.
“How many children’s lives and people’s lives are we going to have to accept losing before we decide that there are some minimal things that we

St. Louis Park seeks to strengthen firearm regulations upon request from students

The move is the result of discussions held this year between city officials and St. Louis Park students who pleaded for stricter gun control following a spate of school shootings across the nation.
Tenant Lourdes Vargas says her apartment building has numerous problems, including an infestation of mice and cockroaches.

As conditions at Richfield apartments remain poor, nonprofit developer takes the heat

Richfield officials are underwhelmed with Aeon's progress.
Joseph Gomm was a corrections officer killed by an inmate at Stillwater prison.

Stillwater corrections officer's funeral to be held Thursday

Joseph Gomm, 45, was killed while on duty last week.
Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed, shown in June, is planning to visit Minneapolis at the end of July.

Prime minister of Ethiopia to visit Minnesota for the first time

The prime minister of Ethiopia is expected to visit Minneapolis on July 30, and city officials are urging him to help end conflict between that…
Mourners embraced one another for support atop the Faith Deliverance Holiness Church steps in the middle of the service for Thurman Blevins on Saturda

Thurman Blevins mourned and honored at Minneapolis funeral

Thurman Blevins, 31, was shot and killed by police on June 23.
Riders pay for LimeBikes through a smartphone app and can park anywhere, at no cost to the cities. The suburbs are eager to get going, but the company

Though first to sign on, Golden Valley and Edina still await their dockless bikes

Delayed shipment testing the patience of officials in Golden Valley and Edina.
Susan Yost walked through a scaffolded pedestrian walkaway toward the shops at 50th and France. Construction of the Nolan Mains apartments and a nearb

As 50th & France area grows, business owners feel the pinch

Four businesses in the district have closed during construction, according to the city of Edina. Others are looking forward to the projects' end.
My annual obsession with finding (and blasting) summer's hottest song

My annual obsession with finding (and blasting) summer's hottest song

An annual quest seeks the single track that captures our national mood.
Thousands marched through downtown Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon to demonstrate agains the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Thousands join Mpls. march opposing immigration policies

The Families Belong Together protest, one of hundreds taking place across the country, packed at least six downtown blocks before heading back to the Convention Center.
Erin Holly, who works at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, kissed Trina, who was being adopted.

New group living space hopes to decrease stress in shelter dogs

The area, which opened to the public in June, is the first of its kind in the country, according to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.
Edina chooses preferred developer for old public works site

Edina chooses preferred developer for old public works site

Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate was chosen for apartments, but questions remain about public spaces.

Minnesota immigrant advocates demand end to local ICE cooperation

The coalition is asking Hennepin and Ramsey County officials to stop assisting ICE agents.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said he has “concerns” about a proposal to add 50 new officers to the St. Paul Police Department.

St. Paul mayor: 'I have concerns' about plan to add police officers

Carter said chief's call to add 50 officers should not be the city's "driving goal."
Mary Hogan, a Minnesota ICE official, was scheduled to speak at Richfield meeting.

Richfield police change mind about inviting ICE speaker

Officials worried that U.S. border controversy would cloud local meeting.
The city started its organized garbage collection on Oct. 3, 2016, and not all residents are happy.

State high court: Bloomington trash hauling plan can be put to vote

The Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling is a victory for Hands Off Our Cans, a residents' group opposed to Bloomington's organized trash collection system.
Lil Leuthard Ritter and Sister Agatha Grossman look at an old photo of Joseph Schmid and his immediate family on Sautrday.

Hundreds of Lake Minnetonka family descendants are reunited

Hundreds of Schmid descendants meet for first time and are strangers no more.
Berek and Amanda Awend, along with drummer Kevin Sundberg and bassist Ryan Bash, rehearsed for Sunday’s music festival at Beth El Synagogue and Beni

St. Louis Park synagogue, Catholic school come together for a 'common sound'

Music festival spotlights interfaith collaboration.
Edina Mayor James Hovland, shown during a City Council meeting earlier in June, says that an incident cited in a recent race and equity report related

Edina to revise race report after concerns over anonymous comments

Investigation by parents, officials cast doubt on reported incident.

Three people shot in 'chaotic scene' in Uptown Minneapolis

Police have not arrested anyone in the shooting.
A rendering shows the proposed building at Westwood Hills Nature Center.

Plans for new Westwood Hills Nature Center building move ahead at higher cost

Critic says "deluxe" Westwood Hills project not best use of funds.
The Southdale Library is slated to be replaced by 2021 as part of a project county commissioners are vetting.

County presents alternatives for Southdale Library site

The current building is likely to be demolished in the middle of 2019, with the new library opening in 2021.
Edina residents listened to a discussion about a proposed development near Southdale Center during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Edina rejects residential project near Southdale

The move was another win for neighbors strongly opposing taller buildings in the Southdale Center area.
The proposed seven-story 7250 France Avenue apartment tower has been redesigned several times, and it continues to draw opposition from surrounding ne

Edina leaders, residents at loggerheads on future development

City weighs its evolving footprint against residents' resistance to apartment towers near Southdale.
Burnsville Police Sgt. Chris Wicklund turned his body camera off after completing a call. More suburban communities are considering police body camera

Suburban police taking a closer look at body cameras

Bloomington, Robbinsdale and Savage are among departments considering utilizing devices.
The grave of Vietnam veteran Ronnie Lee Bailey was adorned Saturday with a mini-flag as well at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

This Memorial Day, all Fort Snelling headstones get flags

For the first time in 35 years, all Fort Snelling graves are being marked.
Mary Jane Yue, 67, is an avid player who says she is addicted to pickleball. The racket sport has long been popular among older adults and large group

Flurry of new courts feeds pickleball frenzy in west metro

Cities are entering what Eden Prairie recreation supervisor Bob Lanzi likes to call Phase 2 of the fever, as parks and recreation departments move from retrofitting gyms or tennis courts for pickleball to building permanent facilities actually designed for the game.
North High student Maryama Yusuf said“I don’t really like to talk in front of people,” but spoke with power as she presented research she did on

In Ms. Bell's North High classroom, sociology is a way to break stereotypes

Her students examined topics including domestic abuse, poverty, the mistreatment of immigrants and gang violence.
Normandale Lake Estates resident Jurline Bryant had been evicted from another complex in Richfield two years ago under the same circumstances.

Once displaced in Richfield, renters now being forced out in Bloomington

Forced to leave Richfield complex, they face similar fate in Bloomington.
The video clip of a black man being handcuffed by a Edina police officer disturbed many, who saw unnecessarily rough treatment by an officer.

Edina gives go-ahead to address 'long-term racial inequities'

City Council approves report by task force formed in response to a viral video of an Edina officer handcuffing a black man in 2016.
Harold Gifford touched the passing casket of his brother Quentin Gifford after Saturday’s service at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel. Quentin died at

76 years after Pearl Harbor attack, Minnesota sailor is laid to rest

Quentin Gifford of Mankato was 22 when he died on the USS Oklahoma.
Richfield state Rep. Linda Slocum said she’s retiring from public service to “get control” of her health.

Richfield, Bloomington representative retiring to focus on health

Richfield DFLer, who helped land funding for I-35W/494 interchange, is leaving after 12 years at Capitol.
Steve Lyon and the SLP Community Band during their final rehearsal before they perform the piece he wrote about his cancer journey, "Melanomore," at t

St. Louis Park band conductor tells his cancer story by composing 'MelaNoMore'

Steve Lyons and the St. Louis Park Community Band will perform the piece at Orchestra Hall on Tuesday night.

Two killed in crashes in outstate Minnesota

One of the fatal collisions was between two motorcycles.
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