Staff Directory 6134711

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-Duluth tested lead levels in drinking water in 102 homes this spring; 30 had lead levels above the current EPA limit of 15 parts per billion, and

High lead levels found in old Duluth homes' drinking water

There are 4,600 city-owned lead service lines still in use, largely in pre-1930 homes.
Nearly 500 acres of the Lester River area in Duluth are among 2,400 acres of parkland that would be turned over to the city in a proposed land transfe

Duluth may gain thousands of acres of parkland to protect

City to gain 2,400 acres in tax-forfeit land transfer with St. Louis County.
Huber Engineered Wood expects to employ 150 people at a new wood products plant near Cohasset, and hundreds more could be indirectly employed to suppo

New $440 million wood plant planned on Iron Range

Project would be "the biggest development in the forest products industry in 40 years."
Melissa Cramton stopped to chug a free beer as she ran down London Rd during Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday morning.    ] ALEX KORMANN • alex.korm

Recovery run: Grandma's Marathon brings the crowds back to Duluth

"I think we saw the community had missed the event maybe just as much as the runners."
The pandemic caused rental vacancies to rise and rents for some units to fall in Duluth as students stayed home and more buyers entered the housing ma

Pandemic made 'unusual' Duluth rental market

Fewer college students in the area meant more options for renters
Bhupesh Pattni

Bhupesh Pattni tapped to be Iron Range district judge

"In a lot of ways it's a privilege to help diversify the judiciary and the bench," Pattni said.
After rethinking its space during the pandemic, Duluth’s Northern Waters Smokehaus closed its indoor storefront and expanded the outdoor ordering an

Duluth's Northern Waters Smokehaus deli out, pickup window stays

DULUTH – The winding line through the DeWitt-Seitz Building was long a hallmark of the Northern Waters Smokehaus experience. Now it's just a memory.The Canal…
This water level gauge in Duluth’s Chester Creek near Skyline Boulevard is one of 19 that the Natural Resources Research Institute is asking residen

Researchers asking for public's help measuring Duluth streams

Crowdsourced data will help inform decisions that affect waterways.
Four people charged in alleged 'gunfight' amid Duluth homicide

Four people charged in alleged 'gunfight' amid Duluth homicide

Several shots were fired toward homicide suspect Patrick W. Battees Jr. as he fled, police say.
Law enforcement officers formed a line between protesters and an Enbridge pump station Monday.

Native American contractors' letter seeks end to protests over Line 3 pipeline

The letter said it's a 'false narrative that there is no Native American support for this project.'
Rescuers searched for a 31-year-old man in the St. Louis River on Wednesday near Duluth’s Boy Scout Landing. He had attempted to rescue two children

Man drowns in St. Louis River after jumping in to save two kids in Duluth

Kevin Ingles, of Superior, Wis., had tried to save two children.
Duluth will receive $58 million from the American Rescue Plan and is seeking another $44 million in earmarks to boost the city’s pandemic-strained f

Duluth weighs options for spending more than $58 million in federal pandemic relief money

The city may also request $44 million in additional funding from Congress.
Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, raised her fist in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge pipeline site in Clearwater County on Monday, June 7.

Line 3 opponents turn up the heat with protest, confrontation

Dubbed the "Treaty People Gathering" and organized by a host of Indigenous, environmental and faith groups, Monday's protest was split between the peaceful march and pump station confrontation.
Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.

Ely custard shop settles sexual harassment case, kind of

But lawyer wants state to retract new release announcing settlement.
A bulldozer pushed dirt along Park Point beach.

Watch for Park Point beach closures this summer as debris is cleaned

The affected stretch is near the shipping canal.
One possible Spirit Mountain solution the city is exploring is to lease it to a private operator.

Why can't Duluth just sell Spirit Mountain? It's complicated.

Federal and state laws, Indigenous concerns make sale an impractical answer.
Shawn Pearson

Walz appoints first Black judge in Duluth

Shawn Pearson has been active in child protection cases and as a mediator.
Superior Mayor Jim Paine highlighted a major municipal broadband investment, policing initiatives and more at the state of the city address Thursday n

Superior mayor outlines initiatives to 'leave normal behind'

The state of the city address highlighted broadband, policing and housing plans.
In September, Susan Dusek, a Realtor for Edina Realty, posed for a portrait in front of a house for sale in the Congdon Park neighborhood in Duluth.

'Fast and furious' Duluth housing market keeps breaking records

Median home sale price in the Twin Ports region passed $216,000 in April.
Duluth City Hall will reopen Tuesday after being closed more than 14 months.

Masks off, doors unlocked: Pandemic restrictions ease in Duluth

Pandemic restrictions are easing, although masks still required at some sites.
Teen opened fire into Duluth crowd, killing man, charges say

Teen opened fire into Duluth crowd, killing man, charges say

Police records identify the victim as 22-year-old Juamada K. Anderson, of Duluth.
FILE-Former Denfeld High School Principal Tonya Sconiers and the Duluth school board have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit she brought in 2019.

Duluth school board to pay $329K to settle lawsuit brought by former principal

Tonya Sconiers said she is "happy to be moving forward."
Dennis Hannuksela

Charges: Paroled murderer kidnaps, rapes woman near Duluth

Dennis J. Hannuksela was convicted of murder in 1987.
Essentia Health is the largest health care center in Duluth.

Essentia Health, CHI merger falls through

Essentia acquisition of Minnesota, N.D. clinics and hospitals off the table for now.
The Grand Portage crossing on the U.S. border with Canada in March 2020. As the U.S.-Canada border closure enters month 15, the Northwest Angle remain

Many Minnesotans eagerly wait as Canadian border talks start

COVID border closure isolated Northwest Angle, stifled tourism.
St. Louis County Jail Derek E. Malevich

Iron Range man charged with fatally stabbing former girlfriend

Derek E. Malevich of Virginia was charged Friday.
Flecks of ore containing copper, nickel, cobalt, palladium, platinum and gold seen in core samples taken from around PolyMet property.

How much gold is hiding underground in northern Minnesota?

The precious metal has not been mined in Minnesota since the turn of the 20th century.
ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com Duluth Mayor Emily Larson is proposing a $24 million investment in Spirit Mountain, following a recommen

Duluth mayor proposes $24 million investment in Spirit Mountain

$12 million in state bonding money will be requested.
Essentia Health is Duluth’s largest employer and has more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

Nurses 'anxious' over planned Essentia Health acquisition of CHI hospitals

The Duluth-based health system's merger leaves some staff skeptical.
FILE-The half-built Mesabi Metallics taconite mine project in Nashwauk, Minn., in 2014. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is pulling state

State pulling leases for long-stalled Mesabi Metallics taconite mine

State says company had "no more than $100 million" available of a $200 million requirement.
The William A. Irvin was carefully moved into its slip in the Duluth harbor in 2019. The floating museum reopens for tours May 21 and will bring back

Duluth's Haunted Ship returns this fall after years on hiatus

The William A. Irvin floating museum opens for normal tours on May 21.
Merge Urban Development A rendering shows the proposed apartment building that would replace the Esmond in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

New plan for Duluth's former Seaway Hotel: Tear it down, replace with housing

Redevelopment plans for the building fell through.
Lake Superior College instructor Dave Werner moved debris around inside a shipping container during a residential fire simulation for recruit training

More work, fewer applicants: Duluth Fire Department steps up recruiting

DULUTH – Evan Jamar didn't know what his dream job was until his dream came true."It's like waking up for Christmas every morning," he said…
The northern lights lit up the night sky over Lake Elora on March 13. A film about a Korean couple who travel to Minnesota to see the northern lights

Another movie shoot coming to Minnesota's North Shore

Local producer calls the region an "untapped frontier for production."
FILE-A buyer is eyeing the shuttered Verso paper mill in Duluth and is seeking millions in state support to help convert the mill to make tissue paper

State aid sought to reopen Duluth paper mill

ST Paper plans to convert the shuttered mill to make tissue paper.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken.

Victim, suspect missing in downtown Duluth shooting

Police say there is no current threat to the public.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said a department consultant will analyze data on traffic stops in part to answer demands from the local NAACP to brin

Duluth to take closer look at police race bias, traffic stops

Outside audit to examine lopsided demographics.
Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida asked Joshua Roy and the other protestors to move over to the side for a few moments while the Line 3 workers flattene

Enbridge shells out $750K to law enforcement for Line 3 protest costs

A fund set up by the state PUC reimburses agencies for enforcement tied to project.
FILE-ICU nurse Sam Moder received the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth from nurse Sherry Johnson in Decemb

Duluth has COVID-19 vaccines to spare; come and get them, hospitals urge

St. Luke's and Essentia are both seeking to increase the reach of the local supply.
In September, Susan Dusek, a realtor for Edina Realty, posed for a portrait in front of a house for sale in the Congdon Park neighborhood in Duluth.

Duluth housing market in 'new normal' as listings remain scarce

Homes for sale dropped by half between March 2020 and last month.
The proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center in Superior, Wis.

Minnesota Supreme Court: Environmental review not needed for Wisconsin gas plant

The ruling benefits Minnesota Power, which plans to build a $700 million plant in Superior, Wis.
Sam Nelson and her six-year-old daughter, Kadence, from Superior, Wis., laid roses, a lit candle and a teddy bear at the base of the Clayton Jackson M

Chauvin verdict celebrated in Duluth: 'A lot of shock, followed by relief'

City Council President Renee Van Nett said "There is always work to do."
Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, addressed members of the press during the event on Tuesday. The Federal Biscay was

Shipping season officially kicks off with first saltie in Duluth

The Federal Biscay was the first overseas vessel to arrive this season.
Duluth’s Old City Hall on E. Superior St. downtown will soon include a 13-room boutique hotel.

Hotel coming to Duluth's historic former City Hall

Four of 13 rooms will be "affordable hostel-style"; summer opening set.
Advertisements for the Catalyst Film Festival have been plastered on the outside of the Zeitgeist in downtown Duluth, in hope of drawing industry atte

It's on! Indie TV fest returns to Duluth with bold plans

Catalyst Content Festival returns to Duluth theaters this fall
Photo by Alex KormannProtesters demanding an end to police violence against Black citizens marched Wednesday in downtown Duluth.

Daunte Wright's killing resonates in Duluth: 'We will not give up'

The local NAACP reissued its demands for Duluth Police Department reform.
Sediment dredged from the bottom of the Duluth Harbor was pumped onto Park Point beach last fall as part of an effort to raise the beach front and pro

Shard cleanup on Duluth's Park Point beach should be finished in June

More beach nourishment will close a stretch of the beach this summer.
Woman dies in single-vehicle crash north of Duluth

Woman dies in single-vehicle crash north of Duluth

Authorities said alcohol and high speeds were likely factors.
FILE-A snowboarder at Spirit Mountain in 2019. Duluth’s public ski hill is expected to report a profit from this season and plans to invest heavily

Duluth's Spirit Mountain turns profit, plans to add new lounge, skate rink

New amenities will be coupled with increased prices.
An inmate at the Moose Lake prison who argued he should be released due to how the facility has handled COVID-19 has lost his case at the Minnesota Co

Moose Lake prison properly handled COVID-19 risks, appeals court rules

An ACLU suit sought release for inmates, which the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied.
Brooks Johnson / brooks.johnson@startribune.com FILE-Construction continues on East Superior Street in downtown Duluth in 2019. The project will stret

Last year of Superior Street construction kicks off Monday in Duluth

It's a busy year for road work around Duluth.
ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com FILE-A border marker on the Northwest Angle on Feb. 9, 2021. The northernmost part of Minnesota is only

Border tensions rise for Northwest Angle residents: 'We don't matter'

Pressure from U.S. officials has not yielded concessions from Canada.
Minnesota Power wants to add fast-charge power stations for electric vehicles in its service area. (Ford Motor Co./TNS)

Minnesota Power planning fast-charge EV stations — for residents and tourists

Customers, for a cost, could recharge across the service area.
Duluth man who died in Easter Sunday fire identified

Duluth man who died in Easter Sunday fire identified

Another man died in an accidental fire at the same apartment building in August.
The Grand Portage Point of Entry on the U.S. border with Canada closed to nonessential travel in March of 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19. ALEX KO

Minnesota, Canadian lawmakers search for border solutions

No "vaccine passport" for travelers to or from Canada yet.
FILE PHOTO — Duluth Mayor Emily Larson unveiled a number of new initiatives during her address and alluded to the $60 million in federal coronavirus

Duluth mayor eyes 'a better normal' as city recovers from pandemic

Equity and sustainability were themes of Monday's state of the city address.
ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com FILE-Castle Danger Brewery dumps excess beer that had gone bad down the drain in January. A new report s

Minnesota breweries drained by pandemic as on-site sales dried up

600 jobs lost, contribution to state economy slips.
FILE-Snow falls as waves crash onto the shore in Canal Park in Duluth in 2019. The City Council is poised to delcare a climate emergency in the face o

Duluth City Council considers declaring climate emergency

The resolution will require city officials to outline "concrete steps" toward
FILE-Two Duluth firefighters removed wooden boards and debris from a doorway where smoke was pouring out in the former Paul Robeson Ballroom and Kozy

Duluth sees most fires in a decade in 2020 as more people cooked at home

Fire damage in the city more than doubled from 2019 levels to $3.8 million.
Between January and February, the Duluth metro area — St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas (Wis.) counties — gained 2,800 jobs, according to state figur

Workforce shortage constrains growth in Duluth area

Thousands have yet to rejoin the workforce as employers in the region seek more applicants.
Andrea Crouse, left, and Miranda Pacheco at a recent COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood.

COVID-19 outreach team breaks down barriers in Duluth's most diverse neighborhood

Local nonprofit promotes health equity in diverse Hillside neighborhood.
Thomas Allen Micklewright

Cloquet man pleads guilty to shooting friend on Fond du Lac Reservation

Thomas A. Micklewright accepted a plea deal Tuesday that brings a sentence of seven years in prison.
Theresa Thornton, a motor-coach operator for Landline, checked passengers in as they boarded at Duluth International Airport. ]

Car service expands ride options for Sun Country flights in Minnesota, Wisconsin

A partnership with Sun Country was just starting to roll when the pandemic hit.
Darby Voeks, left, with the 29-year-old man he pulled out of frigid Lake Superior waters near the Duluth ship canal on Wednesday.

Lake Superior surfer saves man, dog from drowning in Duluth

High waves and frigid temps made the lake attractive for surfers Wednesday but potentially deadly for others.
FILE-The Edwin H Gott passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth in August. A rebound in the steel industry bodes well for the Port of Duluth-Super

Strong steel demand fuels hopes for solid Great Lakes shipping season

The Port of Duluth-Superior is coming off its lowest tonnage year since 1938.
Work continued on the Canal Park section of Duluth’s Lakewalk in early March. The rebuilt trail is scheduled to reopen by mid-June.

Duluth's Lakewalk set to reopen by Grandma's Marathon in June

Until then, officials say to keep off the unfinished trail in Canal Park.
ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com The median home sale price in Duluth rose 22% in February compared to the year before.

Duluth-area home inventory drops in half, but buyers keep looking

The median sales price in Duluth jumped 22% in February to $174,000.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar highlights the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package at the Boat House restaurant in Duluth on Sunday, March 14. The act

Virus relief package a 'lighthouse' for Duluth restaurants and bars

DULUTH – Restaurant and bar owners are calling the $28 billion in grants included in the federal coronavirus stimulus package a lifeline for Duluth's hard-hit tourism…
FILE-Two nurses set up a patient in his room at the St. Luke’s Emergency Department in Duluth earlier this year. Patient volumes have yet to fully r

Duluth hospitals recovering, but not back to normal yet

Essentia and St. Luke's both made major cost cuts to weather a drop in patient volumes.
Dr. Nick Van Deelen and Eric Lohn have been named co-presidents and co-CEOs of Duluth-based St. Luke’s. They have led the health system on an interi

Co-CEOs will continue to run St. Luke's in Duluth

They have led the regional health system on an interim basis since December.
A Duluth task force says investing more in the city-owned ski area would be worth the economic impact and jobs it would generate.

Report recommends investing $23M in Duluth's Spirit Mountain

A report recommended investing another $23 million in the ski hill.
Open water has returned to Lake Superior at Duluth’s Canal Park after a cold spell rapidly formed ice in February only to see warm weather melt it a

Lake Superior ice disappears as fast as it formed

After maxing out at 50% coverage two weeks ago, the lake has lost nearly all of its ice.
CEO Rick Born of tech firm RBA in Wayzata. RBA, which provides technology services for businesses, has grown its employment by 10% this year, and with

Duluth's 'offshore to the North Shore' tech firm acquired by Wayzata firm

Saturn Systems will remain in Duluth as an RBA subsidiary.
St. Luke’s received the first 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before noon on Wednesday and plans to administer the shots on Satu

First Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccines arrive in Duluth

St. Luke's will be distributing its initial batch of 100 doses on Saturday. The hospital's vaccine clinic has averaged 450 shots per day and can handle 600.
FILE-A California woman is suing Duluth for injuries after tripping on a pothole

Flight attendant sues Duluth over pothole she says broke her ankle and foot

City contends injuries caused by her negligence.