Staff Directory 558007041

Brooks Johnson

Reporter | Duluth/Superior
Phone: 612-673-4229

Brooks Johnson writes about the Duluth/Superior region. He joined the Star Tribune in 2019. Sign up to receive the new North Report newsletter.


Raised in Fargo and educated at the University of Montana, Johnson worked at newspapers in Idaho and Washington state before heading to the Duluth News Tribune in 2016. He lives in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood with his wife and son and can often be found hiking, running, reading or doing other Duluthy things.
Recent content from Brooks Johnson
FILE-Full Homemade Thanksgiving Dinner with Turkey Stuffing Veggies and Potatos

It's not too late: Last-minute Thanksgiving takeout options around Duluth

There's still time to order ahead.
Workers watched and guided crane operators as they moved a section of a wind turbine tower off the BBC Xingang and onto a flatbed truck.

Another record season for wind turbine shipments at Duluth port

About 525,000 tons of blades and tower parts will move through the harbor this year.
Christopher Boder

25 years for Duluth man in 2019 murder of father of five

A Duluth man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday for his role in the 2019 shooting death of Timothy Nelson.Christopher F. Boder,…

Duluth's UnitedHealth office getting new tenants, $16M upgrade

A surgery center and other offices will move into its complex in Duluth.
Glensheen Mansion is asking visitors, like Lori Schafer, to come sooner rather than later to avoid any state shutdown.

North Shore's balancing act: How to 'stay safe and stay open'

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, northeastern Minnesota officials are grappling with how to promote public health without hurting the local businesses in desperate need of tourism traffic.
Vacant city-owned land in West Duluth is being eyed for up to 120 units of affordable housing.

Up to 120 new affordable housing units planned in west Duluth

Nonprofit's vision could add 120 units to west side.
FILE-Sophie Gray Spehar disinfected each table in her art classroom in September at Duluth’s Piedmont Elementary School. Duluth schools will soon re

Northern Minnesota on defense as virus rages unabated

Community spread is rampant in Duluth and beyond.
Misty L. Mattinas

Charges: Mother drinking, looking at phone before crash that killed 3 year old in Cloquet Sunday

Misty L. Mattinas has been charged with vehicular homicide.
FILE-The Edwin H Gott passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth this summer.

Beat the virus first, then worry about the economy, Duluth business leaders told

"We have to deal with the problems we have right now."
Minnesota Power headquarters at Lake Avenue and West Superior Street in Duluth.

Minnesota Power looks to ratepayers to recover mine and mill losses

Verso and Keetac closures equated to losing all residential business at once.

3-year-old dies in Cloquet crash

A 3-year-old boy died on Sunday after a single-vehicle crash in rural Cloquet, authorities said, and a 5-year-old girl was hospitalized with unknown injuries.The driver,…
FILE-Jennifer Schmidt, a traveling RN, conducts a nasal antigen test on a student at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. A new COVID-19 testing si

Free rapid COVID-19 test site opens in Superior, Wis., results in 15 minutes

Results available in 15 minutes for Minnesota or Wisconsin residents.
Chamber staff members celebrated 150 years with a virtual annual meeting on Thursday, despite experiencing an extraordinarily challenging year.

Duluth Chamber celebrates 150 years at a tough time for area businesses

Pandemic has made it difficult for businesses, organization alike
U.S. Steel has lost more than $1.2 billion through the first nine months of 2020 amid a 30% drop in net sales, but the company saw a “market recover

Keetac will restart, bringing all Iron Range mines back online

No timeline for the last of the Iron Range mines to come back online.
Tim Nesgoda waved a U.S. flag with a group of around 35 Joe Biden supporters who gathered in Duluth on Tuesday evening.

Despite attention, Trump gained little ground on Iron Range

  Hibbing, Minn. – Despite unprecedented attention from the president’s campaign this year, Iron Range voters were not swayed. St. Louis County as a whole…
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake.

Wisconsin college to remove 'Indianhead' from 'out-of-date' name

New identity to be in place next fall for a Wisconsin technical school.
Maggie Thunder-Hawk distributed T-shirts at the get-out-the-vote event at American Indian OIC in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Native groups working to get out Indigenous voters in charged election

Minnesota's 80,000 Indigenous are being courted like never before for votes
A home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood shows signs of taconite dust buildup due to the nearby BNSF taconite facility and dock.

BNSF does an about-face, will resume taconite dust payments to homeowners in Superior, Wis.

Many homeowners' checks had been halted without notice.
Vice President Mike Pence pointed to an attendee at the conclusion of his speech at Range Regional Airport in Hibbing, Minn. on Monday afternoon.

Pence appeals to Iron Rangers with focus on jobs, economy

After several aides test positive for COVID-19, vice president's rally in Hibbing exceeds state limits on the number of attendees.
Workers prepared a section of W. Superior Street in downtown Duluth to be covered in asphalt through the winter before work on a permanent surface is

Three years in, work on Superior Street in Duluth will now go four

Superior Street project has tested local businesses.
FILE-Construction on the Husky Energy oil refinery seen from an airplane in October 2019.

Superior refinery rebuild continues amid Husky merger

DULUTH — The $750 million rebuild of the fire-damaged oil refinery in Superior, Wis., will continue as owner Husky Energy completes a merger…
The Duluth City Council approved $300,000 in additional tourism tax money for Spirit Mountain to help it open this year.

Will there be pent-up demand for Duluth's troubled Spirit Mountain?

Spirit Mountain hopes for pent-up demand and local travel to help right itself.

Duluth firefighter charged with felonies in woman's assault on trail

Conrad J. Sunde IV faces two felony charges related to the incident.
A home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood shows signs of taconite dust buildup due to the nearby BNSF taconite facility and dock.

Superior City Council to BNSF: Resume taconite dust payments

The city is pressing the rail giant to resume cleanup payments to homeowners.
An empty Zeitgeist theater in Duluth in September. Hospitality and food service jobs have dropped by 30% over the past year in the region.

Job seekers drop out in Duluth leaving smallest workforce in decades

Retirements, parents staying at home to care for children and COVID-19 concerns are all a factor.
Republican Rep. Pete Stauber and Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom

Northern Minnesota congressional race reflects shifting political allegiances

DFL opponent Nystrom focusing on health care.
A Tudor house in the heart of the Congdon Park neighborhood in Duluth is for sale.

Duluth housing market continues surge; prices hit new record

The median sale price in the region reached a new high of $205,000.
Sarah and Seth Maxim, with their children, bought a former fitness center in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood, with plans to reopen Lake Superior Brew

Duluth's oldest craft brewery will be revived in a new Lakeside home

A couple buy Lake Superior Brewing and will move it to the city's east side.
A group of health care workers walked through St. Luke’s Emergency Department.

Duluth hospitals operating near capacity, as COVID-19 cases expected to worsen

Officials warn of a "perfect storm" as non-COVID hospitalizations continue to increase.
Duluth officials are cheering the $13.5 million set aside in the bonding bill for Lakewalk and seawall repair, the city’s one big request.

Duluth lands Lakewalk expansion as part of state bonding bill

Region gets $125 million from state bonding bill.
A grand jury recently indicted Sheldon J. Thompson on five counts of first-degree murder in the death of his pregnant girlfriend and her son.

Cloquet man charged with first-degree murder in deaths of pregnant girlfriend, her son

Sheldon Thompson could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Ely teen charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing brother

The 13-year-old victim told police his brother wanted to kill him.
Visitors took in the fall colors and Lake Superior view Tuesday at the Summit Chalet in Lutsen. Winter tourism is looking promising for northern resor

North Shore's busy summer has extended into fall, winter

Resorts are adding more amenities to lure new visitors.
Christopher Boder

Man found guilty in 2019 Duluth shooting death of father of five

DULUTH – Christopher F. Boder, one of two men charged in the shooting death of a Duluth man last fall, has been found guilty of…
The 10-story U.S. Bank building in downtown Duluth is for sale. The bank intends to remain as a tenant.

U.S. Bank lists downtown Duluth building for sale

The bank intends to stay in the 10-story Superior Street building.
Mike’s Western Cafe has closed after 38 years in business in Duluth.

Duluth loses longtime Lincoln Park cafe to coronavirus

Mike's Western Cafe has closed after 38 years in business.

Minnesota Supreme Court weighs whether new natural gas plant in Wisconsin needs further review

Minnesota Power wants to proceed with its plans without further environmental studies.
A home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood shows the taconite dust that builds up due to the nearby BNSF taconite facility and docks.

After decades, BNSF suddenly stops taconite dust payments to Superior homeowners

Railroad abruptly stops paying many homeowner claims.
FILE - Last fall’s Catalyst Content Festival, an independent TV and film showcase, was responsible for “bringing a lot of eyeballs here” and ent

St. Louis County eyes luring TV and movie shoots with $1 million incentive

It would be first in state to offer reimbursements for film, TV productions.
Jesse D. Frye

Duluth accountant pleads guilty, will repay area chamber that he swindled

Jesse Frye took $355,000 from two businesses, including the local Chamber of Commerce.
Pecan Ave. in Duluth has one of the few public lanes on a public road in the city. ] ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com Duluth markets itse

If Duluth is such a great outdoors city, where are all the bike lanes?

Duluth has just 12.5 miles of bike lanes on the city's 450 miles of roads. City officials and council members have long sided with on-street parking needs.
Robert Lee Bennett III

Charges: Superior, Wis., man stabbed mother to death

It's Superior's first homicide since New Year's Day 2017.
FILE - A rape kit in the emergency department at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Duluth man sentenced in sex assaults with evidence from 2005 rape kit

Conviction relied on evidence from Duluth's rape kit backlog.
A skier caught some air off a ski jump at the Spirit Mountain terrain park last winter. Duluth’s ski hill will open this winter after the City Counc

Duluth bails out Spirit Mountain — again — and ski hill to open for winter

The city approved a $300,000 cash infusion Monday evening.
FILE - Richard Melvin, Ph.D. collected water samples from Lake Superior around the Park Point Beach House in August. Traces of SARS-CoV-2 were found i

Coronavirus found in Lake Superior at Duluth beaches, though waterborne spread unlikely

It's more likely to spread on crowded shores than in Lake Superior waters.
FILE - The Hull Rust taconite mine in Hibbing is included in Cleveland-Cliffs purchase of ArcelorMittal USA for $1.4 billion.

Two Iron Range taconite mines are part of $1.4 billion steel merger

Two Iron Range taconite mines are part of the purchase.
Susan Dusek, a real estate agent for Edina Realty, in the living room of a Tudor house for sale in the Congdon Park neighborhood of Duluth. More buyer

Sold! Twin Cities homebuyers spurring a run on homes in Duluth

Home sales hit a 15-year high in Duluth this summer even as inventory hit a 15-year low.
FILE - Advertisements for the Catalyst Film Festival outside of the Zeitgeist in downtown Duluth for its inaugural year in Duluth last year. It will b

Indie TV festival goes digital only for second year in Duluth

Catalyst Content Festival drew 1,100 attendees last year.
Zeitgeist in Duluth has a large painted mural featuring different famous classic films.

As a Duluth arts hub goes dark, a call for help

Zeitgeist revenue is down more than 50% and 30 people have been laid off.
President Trump danced down the catwalk to "YMCA" Friday night in Bemidji as his supporters cheered him on after his speech there.

Trump, Biden stress jobs as they bring campaigns to Minnesota

At a Bemidji rally, President Donald Trump also had a warning about refugees. It came hours after Democratic challenger Joe Biden flew into Duluth. Union, working class voters were the focus of the visits to a region of shifting political inclinations.
Utah-based military contractor Borsight wants to bring a U.S. Air Force F-16 maintenance contract to Duluth.

Defense contractor eyes Duluth hangar for F-16 work

Borsight is seeking a federal contract and needs the space AAR vacated this year.
Essentia Health’s new clinic under construction on Superior Street in downtown Duluth. Originally slated to open by the end of 2022, the new hospita

Essentia's new Duluth hospital opening pushed back a year to 2023

A year into construction, project size, budget have grown by $100 million.
Thomas Pertler

Carlton County's former top prosecutor for more than a decade disbarred for misconduct

Thomas Pertler failed to disclose police officer misconduct.
Riley Krenz, a freshman chemistry major from Rosemount, and her mother, Molly, began unpacking the second of three carts with her belongings as they m

Stakes high as students return to UMD

Cases have been rising among young adults all summer in St. Louis County.
Kellyn Taylor of Flagstaff, Ariz. crosses the finish line of Grandma's Marathon Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in the Canal Park neighborhood in 2018.

Grandma's Marathon in Duluth adds a female runner to logo

An increasing number of women have run Grandma's nearly every year since it began in 1977, and a majority of half-marathon runners have been women since that event began in 1991.
The new Bremer Bank branch in Duluth.

Bremer Bank opens first branch in Duluth

Originally scheduled for a March opening but delayed by the pandemic, the 3,200-square-foot branch officially opened July 20.
The Edwin H Gott passes under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Superior will be looking at ballast water t

Lake Superior researchers get $5M boost to combat invasive species

The University of Wisconsin Superior is using the new federal grant to help find affordable ballast water treatments and better understand how invasive species are spread by ships.
Prof. Sara Marie Sorenson addressed her public speaking class at Lake Superior College. About a quarter of students are on campus at once.

Students settle into pandemic normal as Lake Superior College starts semester

Now in its second week of classes, it was one of the first campuses in the state to resume in-person learning.
A faculty group is calling for swift action to address systemic racism at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Anti-racism faculty group at University of Minnesota Duluth wants new hires, mandatory classes

Group's letter echoes calls for racial equity at other campuses in state.
Essentia Health is lobbying Congress for a $1 billion plan to add ICU-capable beds around the country.

Essentia Health pitching $1 billion proposal to add 2,500 ICU beds nationwide

Ten regions would receive $100M in federal money to add the ICU equipment.
Sgt. Matt McShane on the job with the Duluth Police Departmentin 2019. McShane authored a post that's gone viral on a recent encounter in which he sai

'I almost shot an unarmed Black man': Duluth police officer's post goes viral

DULUTH – A Duluth police sergeant’s viral account of nearly shooting an unarmed Black man has drawn praise, condemnation and an apology from the police…
A Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling has protected the historic and fire-damaged Pastoret Terrace and Paul Robeson Ballroom properties from demolitiom

Duluth's Kozy Bar again spared wrecking ball after Appeals Court steps in

A court ruling protects the fire-damaged landmark in downtown Duluth some still want to see redeveloped.
A large radiology room that can be converted into an emergency operating room is one of the new features of St. Luke's Emergency Department.

New $37.5 million emergency department opens at St. Luke's in Duluth

It's the first step toward a new hospital.
Vice President Mike Pence, followed by Rep Pete Stauber, waves as he heads to his motorcade after arriving at the Duluth International Airport for a c

In Duluth, Mike Pence promises a 'more prosperous Minnesota'

The vice president spoke on jobs, tax cuts and gun rights.
Researcher Richard Melvin checked the water temperature in Lake Superior near the Park Point Beach House before collecting water samples Saturday. A s

Researchers check Lake Superior beaches for coronavirus

Samples of Lake Superior taken on busy weekends in Duluth show no sign of the coronavirus.
Steve Grove, commissioner of the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, led a discussion with Dululth leaders to talk about efforts

In Duluth, economic recovery is stalled by uncertainty

The pandemic hit the region's workforce, especially minorities, hard, but officials see reason to be hopeful.
Duluth fire captain Jason Siegle visited with newborn Ezra Glenn along with his mother, Sam Van De Steeg, and father, Ryan Glenn, on Tuesday. Siegle w

Duluth firefighters first to scene for surprise home birth

Already three weeks early, baby was born two minutes before help could arrive.

Duluth convention center board shows executive director the door

Chelly Townsend's contract isn't renewed, no explanation given.
Allete CEO Bethany M. Owen posed for a portrait in the board room at the company’s Duluth headquarters.

Allete's 1st female CEO takes helm at crossroads

Bethany Owen says the parent of Minnesota Power is in "a very important spot in its journey."
New Lake Superior Zoo CEO Haley Cope posed for a portrait in front of one of the signs directing visitors to the bear and cougar exhibits.

Duluth zoo fights for survival as new leader takes over

The pandemic has threatened an otherwise banner year for Lake Superior Zoo.
The Edwin H Gott passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth on Tuesday evening as it began its journey on Lake Superior to Nanticoke, Pa., which si

As Duluth port cargos lag, 'lost time can't be made up'

The pandemic's effects on the economy have not spared Great Lakes shipping.
FILE-Faculty at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s largest college are demanding better pandemic preparedness and are asking administrators to “

Faculty of UMD's largest college threatens to teach online only

They want the campus better prepared for COVID-19.
Iron workers set up a crane to move steel for the construction of buildings on the site of Essar Steel Minnesota's taconite mine project in Nashwauk,

Long-stalled $2.6 billion Iron Range taconite plant gets dusted off

The Nashwauk taconite mine and pellet plant seeks reissued air permit.
FILE-Two mechanics work on an a commercial airplane at AAR Corp. in September 2019. Duluth is seeking a settlement with the company after it closed it

Duluth negotiates $200K settlement with company that quickly left airport hangar

City has another tenant lined up already: Cirrus Aircraft.
A juvenile bald eagle perches atop a Minnesota State Trooper vehicle as authorities try to move the bird away from Cascade Lodge resort on Hwy. 61, wh

Eagle attack on North Shore thwarted by resort chef

The eagle was believed to be injured when a resort guest got too close.