Staff Directory 386835651

Mara Klecker

Reporter | Washington County
Phone: 612-673-4440
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mara Klecker covers the western Twin Cities suburbs for the Star Tribune. She previously spent two years covering social services for the Omaha World-Herald. 

A native South Dakotan and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's journalism college, Klecker has always called the Midwest home. She's worked on journalism projects in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Nepal. In her free time, she can be found reading, hiking or planning her next international trip.
Recent content from Mara Klecker
Margarita Trautmann

Margarita Trautmann, an editor and Spanish language translator, dies of COVID-19 complications at 67

Margarita Trautmann was as self-assured and comfortable at a formal dining table with politicians as she was sitting next to her husband on the banks…
Duane Solem

Duane Solem, a businessman and swing band musician, dies of COVID-19 complications at 91

Duane Jerome Solem always had advice — even if it wasn’t always what his company wanted to hear. He was a pragmatic man, a believer…
Michael Zakrajshek watched as his mom, Tawnya Heino, tried to connect to the internet in their driveway in Chisholm, Minn.

Minnesota school districts change grading policies for distance learning

State officials also recommend that transcripts include language indicating grades from mid-March through the end of June reflect distance learning.

2-year-old boy dead, 3 hospitalized after Becker County house fire

The toddler's father and brother had gone back in to try to rescue him.
Richfield Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez, shown in 2018.

Bloomington, Richfield commit to equitable COVID response

The Edina City Council plans to act on a similar resolution in June.

Bloomington City Council OKs temporary closing of community center, continued operation of motor vehicle office

City Council votes to shutter Creekside for the rest of the year, but the motor vehicle office will stay open.
Sharon Carlson, center, distances even at home in Andover with daughters Jaime, left, and Kristin.

Staying vigilant, Minnesotans stay in to fight COVID-19

In sticking with the routines they've developed, they say they're doing their part to help medical workers, flatten the curve and reduce the spread.
Patrick F. Petit with three of his grandchildren, from left, Caelan, Kieran and Charlie.

Patrick Petit, a teacher and woodworker, dies of COVID-19 complications at 82

On a phone call with family members in his final moments, he had a simple directive: "Be happy, be kind and keep learning."

One dead in fire in Columbia Heights townhouse fire

The victim was believed to be the owner of the townhouse.
After the food was gone and the last takeout orders served, chef Rory Marino comforted co-owner Sarah Schrantz on Sunday, May 3, at Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters, Lyn-Lake bar and restaurant, closes its doors for last time

A couple hundred people came by on Sunday to stay goodbye to the Uptown Minneapolis bar and restaurant known as a "real melting pot."
The Bloomington City Council.

Bloomington City Council will take more time to decide on closing community center, motor vehicle office

The City Council unanimously decided to delay the decisions until May 18 to allow for more resident input.

Walz signs order to protect COVID-19 relief funds from creditors

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan: The money should be used to help the needy and keep families together.
Lexi Gramlow, a junior at Wayzata High School, sat for a portrait outside her home Tuesday afternoon in Plymouth.

COVID-19 has Twin Cities school counselors connecting with students from a distance

School counselors across metro area districts are working to find ways to connect with students from afar.
Harambee Elementary Principal Delon Smith looked on as student Nyaire Kirkwood, 9, checked out her Chromebook.

Transition to distance learning is mostly smooth, local schools say

The need to get the shift right for students became more apparent as the week progressed: Gov. Tim Walz said chances are "relatively slim" that students will be returning to classrooms this school year.
Andrea Royce, top, homeschooled her children with the help of Carlota Bernal, a friend who helps with child care.

Minnesota parents, too, are tested as education moves back home

Groups for home-schoolers are inundated with requests for tips, advice, resources and just plain reassurance.

Edina cracks down on large gatherings not in compliance with 'Stay at Home' order

Starting Monday at 8 a.m., group activities not in compliance with physical and social distancing will not be allowed in Edina. The city received many…
Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley in a file photo.

Consumers warned not to borrow from unlicensed lenders

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says online lenders may charge illegal interest rates.
Some Minnesotans stranded abroad in pandemic find their way home

Some Minnesotans stranded abroad in pandemic find their way home

But others are still trying to find a way back.
Minneapolis firefighters battled a fire in the 2400 block of Central Avenue on Sunday, March 22, 2020, in northeast Minneapolis.

'Gut-wrenching' fire hits Central Avenue in northeast Minneapolis

The four-alarm fire spread to neighboring buildings.

1 dead, 2 injured in Minneapolis shooting Sunday night

The suspect fled on foot, police said.
University of Minnesota senior Courtney Hruska (left) helped her younger sister Alexa, a freshman, move out of her dorm room. Both students will retur

Minnesota college seniors grieve the loss of milestone moments to COVID-19

Canceled commencement ceremonies and other events are among the memories lost in the last semester before graduation.
Students worked on arts and crafts at Highland Park Elementary School last week.

Minnesota schools, parents struggle to adjust to school closure

Just as parents scramble to find ways to adjust their lives during the school closures, St. Paul and Minneapolis educators have their own challenge: finding ways to teach nearly 70,000 students from a distance.
Vials of COVID-19 samples were tested on Tuesday at the Minnesota Department of Health These are not the samples from the first confirmed case of coro

State reports 2nd coronavirus case, this one in Carver County

The Carver County resident was likely exposed while traveling in Europe.
Dean Flaherty and his dog Shiloh to the post office in Willernie to pick up the daily mail back in March 2003. After the weather was warm enough Sunda

After this warm weekend, temps in Twin Cities will be more March-like this week

But the week will still bring above-average temps.
Meg Noakes of REM5 helped Cargill employees with their headsets so they could watch the New York Times virtual reality documentary titled “Traveling

St. Louis Park virtual reality lab aims to use the technology for more than just entertainment

REM5 offers virtual reality training on racial equality, gender bias.
University of Minnesota students took advantage of the warmer temperatures as they walked to and from classes on Feb. 24. Just days later, the tempera

Twin Cities hits 50 but don't put snow shovels away just yet

It's the highest temp in the metro in 127 days.

Minneapolis restaurant employee shot during altercation with customer

Police said the injury was not life-threatening.
Police responded to numerous 911 calls about a shooting at Rouge at the Lounge nightclub in downtown Minneapolis early Sunday, Feb. 23.

Fatal shooting in Mpls. nightclub renews safety debate

Man dies at hospital hours after being shot at nightclub Sunday.
Edina Chamber of Commerce President Lori Syverson, center, wearing glasses, and Development Director Deb Hansen, right, at table, spoke with attendees

Edina leads way as area chambers of commerce seek new ways to stay relevant

Suburban chapters focusing on workforce development, well-being rather than the conventional model of business marketing.

Music venue at Hopkins Depot Coffee House rebranded as the Freight Room

Students lead effort at Hopkins coffee shop.
A GarbageMan worker emptied containers in Bloomington in 2015. The city’s organized collection program began in fall 2016 with the goal of reducing

Minn. Supreme Court sides with Bloomington group on organized trash

The case involved a citizens' group efforts to put the city's organized trash collection plan up for a citywide vote.
Mark McKee and Ingrid Aune were ready to cool down after baking in the 200 degree heat of Nickolai Koivunen’s MinneSauna on the ice of Lake Harriet

Post-storm burst of extremes will bring sun, then subzero temps

Minneapolis and St. Paul have declared snow emergencies as some parts of the metro are expected to total up to 8 inches. Lake Crystal in southern Minnesota reported 15.5 inches.
Conor O’Meara, who has autism, broadcasts “Conor’s Corner” weekly from a tiny studio in St. Paul, with co-host Scott Applebaum, left.

St. Paul man with autism living the dream with his own radio broadcast

His message to listeners like him: "Go out there, do what you do. A disability doesn't define who you are."

Protest over India's citizenship law draws 200 in St. Paul

About 200 people — most of them Indian-Americans — gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol on Sunday to protest a citizenship law recently enacted by…
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, who oversees elections in the state, said that local officials will have to figure out how much of a risk th

City, county officials are choosing to opt out of Minn. presidential primary

With loyalty oath to GOP or DFL made public, many in nonpartisan work may skip vote rather than be labeled.
The sun rose above the main gate on the first day of the Minnesota State Fair in 2016, the year fair officials added bag checks at entrypoints.

Minnesota State Fair will add metal detectors at entrance gates this year

The fair said the change, part of $10 million in upgrades planned for this year, will help maintain a "safe and secure environment."
Hannah Mangen works directly with domestic violence victims and fears more abused women could end up killed.

Domestic violence advocates left short of funds by stalled bills

Two stalled federal bills leave advocates for victims scrambling.

Snow from overnight slows morning commute in the metro

Numerous crashes and spinouts reported.

Several cars of a Union Pacific train derailed in western Wisconsin

No one was injured and no hazardous material spilled.
Fran Heitzman, founder of the non-profit operation Bridging, poses for a portrait at the warehouse located in Boomington, Friday afternoon. ] Elizabet

Fran Heitzman, who founded nonprofit furniture bank, dies at 94

Fran Heitzman often said he "failed at retirement."He'd owned a dry-cleaning company and then a landscaping business, and his attempt at retiring in 1980 was…

Man surrenders after hostage incident in Sauk Centre

The hourslong standoff ended with no injuries.
St. Louis Park's newest Council Member Nadia Mohamed, right, spoke in support of a resolution before the council concerning the sale of vaping product

St. Louis Park to ban sale of vaping products, e-cigarettes

The ordinance takes effect in February.
Andrew Peterson in 1885, standing by the log cabin he first lived in on his farm in Waconia. In the background stands the later farmhouse that still e

How did Minnesota's early settlers make it through the dark, cold winters?

Early Minnesotans had to get creative to stay warm in frigid temperatures.
Standing before City Clerk Melissa Kennedy, Nadia Mohamed took the oath of office Monday as an at-large member of the St. Louis Park City Council.

St. Louis Park's youngest and first Somali-American city council member sworn in

St. Louis Park's Nadia Mohamed sees a "new era" of inclusivity.

One wounded in north Minneapolis shooting

Shooting appeared to be in 2700 block of Thomas Avenue.
While several existing city commissions have addressed topics of sustainability, Richfield Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez, shown in 2018, said that the es

Richfield approves new sustainability commission

City officials hope the commission will provide an ongoing platform for residents to stay involved in efforts to make the city more sustainable.
High water and rolling waves sent Lake Superior spilling across downtown Grand Marais during a winter storm Dec. 29.

Winter storm lashes much of Minn.; snow to return today

In the Twin Cities area, this morning's commute could be a slick one with freezing rain and icing before the precipitation turns into snow. About 4 to 6 inches are expected in the metro by tonight.

Man's body found along a road in Meeker County

Authorities are asking the public for help.
Edina High School student Isabel Melton was inspired to join the city’s Planning Commission by her grandparents’ involvement in Edina and her own

High schoolers step up to help run the Twin Cities

They want a seat at the table and want to be a part of planning for the future, city officials across the metro area say.
John Kline worked diligently to stuff a pair of Tory Burch boots so they’d stand upright for display in the Gateways Thrift Shop in Hopkins.

Jewish nonprofit opens boutique thrift shop in Hopkins to employ those with special needs

Boutique shop gives adults a chance for a paycheck, dignity
A memorial set up for firefighter Steve Boesl and Assistant Chief Curt Boesl at the Millerville Fire Hall.

Farm family mourns brothers, prays for son after silo tragedy

Twelve-year-old Alex Boesl was thrilled for Christmas. To get ready, he strung colored lights around his bedroom and decorated his own small Christmas tree. That tree now sits in his Minneapolis hospital room, where he's being treated for inhaling toxic silage gas at his family's farm in Millerville, Minn.
The farm where two brothers were overcome by silo fumes and died. Credit: Douglas County

Firefighter dies trying to rescue brother, nephew from grain silo

One died trying to rescue the other as boy, 12, hospitalized.

Bloomington establishes $15 million affordable housing trust fund

The Bloomington City Council on Monday approved a $15 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund, just in time to save more than 300 affordable units at…
Phillip Murphy in his north Minneapolis flower shop in August 2016.

St. Louis Park man did time in the workhouse for a messy yard

Phillip Murphy said there were many reasons why he hasn't been able to clean up his yard — including the five days he spent in the workhouse.
Police officers stood outside while investigators began their work on the second floor of a building in the 2000 block of Portland Ave. S. Sunday nigh

Man found dead of gunshot wound in south Minneapolis apartment

Minneapolis police are investigating a Sunday night killing in the 2000 block of Portland Avenue S., according to police spokesman John Elder. Officers were alerted…
Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul, left, and Jim Hovland of Edina.

Mayors Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Jim Hovland of Edina are named to national Climate Mayors committee

They are joining 22 other mayors from across the country committed to battling global warming.
Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg chatted students on campus in April.

Campus speech codes flagged at three Minnesota colleges

A report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education criticized the colleges' policies, saying they could restrict student expression.

Bloomington City Council considers Valley View site for Community Center

Bloomington proposal faces some opposition.
Neighbor Eric Stiver put flowers and stuffed animals on a chair on the porch of the home where David Schladetzky shot and killed Kjersten Schladetzky

Two children, parents dead in apparent triple murder-suicide

A neighbor heard the two boys screaming and saw them running out the front door of the home, coats on and backpacks in hand. "I thought it was a game. … All of a sudden, the gunshots started ringing out," he said.

Woman killed in Minnetrista crash identified

The 18-year-old was killed after the vehicle she was driving struck another vehicle.
Boats were lined up along Lake Minnetonka's Big Island on a Saturday afternoon in July.

Lake Minnetonka gets stricter rules against sewage discharge from boat toilets

New rule is an effort to prevent another outbreak of illness.

Bloomington to decide whether to move ahead with proposed community center at Valley View Park

Neighbors have pushed back at the city's choice of Valley View Park as the spot for an updated community facility.
A bike commuter made his way towards the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge, above Hiawatha Avenue in the morning snow Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Minneapolis. T

Pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm could cause travel chaos in state

Snow is expected to fall starting late Tuesday afternoon, dropping up to 6 inches that will be whipped around by strong winds Wednesday.

Bicyclist struck and killed by semi in Minneapolis identified

The cyclist who was killed in a collision with a semitrailer truck Wednesday has been identified.Alexander David Wolf, 30, of Minneapolis died Wednesday afternoon of…
Coon Rapids-based "Don’t Cry ... I’m Here" has welcomed more than 500 refugee and asylum-seeking children with dolls tailored to their ethnicity.

'Don't Cry ... I'm Here' dolls welcome newly arrived refugee children to Minnesota

A Twin Cities nonprofit has, for the past 2 ½ years, provided more than 500 newly arrived refugee and asylum-seeking children with dolls and bears that look and dress like them.
Four Seasons Mall in Plymouth, photographed in 2013, has sat vacant for years.

Plymouth approves plan for long-vacant mall site

Project would offer units for families and seniors, commercial space and a park-and-ride ramp.
Shawn Azadivar and Tsubasa Tanaka, of Golden Valley, grabbed a few beers at Pig Ate My Pizza’s new location Friday afternoon.

Downtown Robbinsdale becoming a 'little Eat Street'

W. Broadway is now dotted with a wide variety of eating options, which has helped draw visitors and revitalize downtown.
Nadia Mohamed, who became the first Somali-American and Muslim on the St. Louis Park City Council, was just one of several younger women to win in sub

Election reveals shift in suburban leadership

More young women from diverse backgrounds are running — and winning.
St. Paul police on the corner of Wayzata Street at N. Rice Street as they investigated after a reported shooting Sunday night.

Man found shot on Rice Street is St. Paul's 30th homicide

A man was shot to death Sunday night in St. Paul, marking another violent weekend in a city reeling from a near-record-breaking year of gun…

Woman's death is Minneapolis' first fire fatality this year

Another fire fatality was reported in Red Wing.
Tim Busse and his wife, Heather, shared a celebratory kiss Tuesday night in Bloomington after Tim Busse was elected mayor.

Tim Busse elected Bloomington mayor, city's first new one in 20 years

Other top suburban races included Anoka and Ramsey County Board seats.
A "Guns Down St. Paul" sign was placed near the scene at E. Maryland Avenue and Hazelwood Street where a shooting happened over the weekend.

Uncomfortable norm: St. Paul grapples with fatal shootings

Mayor Melvin Carter on Sunday encouraged residents to attend a series of public safety forums that begin this week.
One person was killed at the crash scene Sunday morning in I-94 in Washington County.

Driver strikes, kills pedestrian standing next to his vehicle along I-94 in east metro

The man was standing next to his vehicle parked on the shoulder.

SUV driver flees scene after striking man in south Minneapolis

One man was in serious but stable condition after he was hit by an SUV Sunday night, police said. Officers received a report about 5:45…
Eldon Tessman congratulated Army veteran Brittany Ritchie Sievers.

Minnesota Rotary Club is the first in the world specifically for veterans

The Rotary Club of Minnesota Veterans, formed in October, aims to have veterans helping veterans.