Staff Directory 6370588

Mary Lynn Smith

Reporter | Metro
Phone: 612-673-4788

Mary Lynn Smith is a general assignment reporter for the Star Tribune. She previously covered St. Paul City Hall and Ramsey County. Before that, she worked in Duluth where she covered local and state government and business. She frequently has written about the outdoors.


After graduating with a master's degree in public affairs reporting, the Chicago native moved to Minnesota and fell in love with the outdoors despite being a Girl Scout dropout. Smith became an avid long-distance runner and cross-country skier, keeping her fit so she could backpack in the mountains and paddle the BWCA and Quetico wilderness areas with her husband and three children. Now that her daughters are adults, she gives them the heavier packs.
Recent content from Mary Lynn Smith
The Minnesota River, near Shakopee.

8,000-year-old skull found in Minnesota River goes home to its Native American descendants

The remains have been turned over to the Upper Sioux Community to be cared for.
Delta ticketing agent Mohamed Abdi, right, helped a passenger check in at MSP’s Terminal 1 on Friday.

Pent-up travel demand for this summer runs into higher costs

It will probably cost more to fly and drive this summer, but those wanting to hit the road are undeterred.
Travelers walk through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in April. Travel is roaring back this year.

Summer travel is roaring back. Are higher prices and demand impacting your plans?

Airfares are rising, as is demand for hotel and car rentals. Understaffed airlines and bad weather have canceled or delayed numerous flights. And gas prices continue to inch upward.
Gardeners flock to the Friends School of Minnesota fundraiser plant sale Friday morning at the Minnesota State Fair grounds.

Finally! Minnesota snaps out of persistent cold spell

Record high temperatures are possible by Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.
At least three Minnesota children under age 3 who have had liver inflammation may be part of a national cluster.

Minnesota parents should watch for hepatitis symptoms in children

Three Minnesota children who had liver inflammation may be part of a national cluster of hepatitis.
Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha

Minnesota Republicans question investigation into car crash involving two DFL leaders

State Auditor Julie Blaha was cited for failing to yield in the August 4 rollover crash.
Minnesota ranks fourth out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., for the most expensive infant care in the country, averaging $1,341 a month or $16,087 a

Most Minnesota moms use unpaid leave after having a baby

The Minnesota Department of Health report was released Thursday at a time when Minnesota lawmakers are debating competing proposals for paid family leave.
Richard Wyffels, in a 2017 handout photo

Former Alexandria police chief charged with theft of city funds

An investigation found that Richard Wyffels used a city-issued credit card to buy $65,700 worth of goods that don't appear to be in the Police Department.
Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.

Rep. Angie Craig tests positive for COVID

The Minnesota congresswoman tested positive after a White House gathering that included House Speaker Pelosi, who also tested positive.
Maplewood Police are on the lookout for Coco Chanel, a white-faced capuchin female, who was reported missing by her owner.

Maplewood police on the lookout for missing monkey

The owner reported that the capuchin went missing while in a car at Cub Foods in Maplewood.
In this 2018 photo, Dr. Nathan Chomilo checked the ears of 15-month-old Tedra Gbelia during her well-child visit as her mother Lorpu Cyrus distracted

Study calls for racial equity improvement in Minnesota Medicaid program

Report recommends changes to improve racial equity and health outcomes for Black Minnesotans
Hannah Justin, Cat Urlich, Aubrey Davis and Lizzie Stenhaug play Mario Kart on Nintendo 64 during game night at Stenhaug’s Golden Valley home on Fri

Omicron's speed drives shift in Minnesota's COVID-19 mindset

Infections might seem inevitable, but health officials stress that prevention still works — and is crucial in the near term.
Shoppers drank and toured the tables during a homemade craft fair inside Lakes & Legends Brewing Company in Minneapolis on Dec. 11.

Minnesotans face off with omicron in their own way

The highly transmissible variant hasn't changed lots of minds
Minneapolis firefighters extinguished a fire Thursday night at a homeless encampment off Washington Avenue N. near the Mississippi River.

Firefighters battle blaze at Minneapolis homeless encampment

Firefighters report no injuries.
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson

Sheriff Hutchinson pleads guilty to misdemeanor drunken-driving offense

Dave Hutchinson crashed his SUV near Alexandria last week while attending a state sheriffs conference.
Jerry Rau, known as the “Minnesota Minstrel,” died on Oct. 15 at age 83.

'Minnesota Minstrel' Jerry Rau, who brought folk music to street corners, coffeehouses, clubs, dies at 83

Rau found bliss as a troubadour, passion as a peace activist.
COVID-19 hospitalizations remain at high levels in Minnesota.

COVID-19 cases continue to stay high in Minnesota hospitals

Minnesota hospitalizations for COVID-19 cases remain at the highest level for the year. More federal medical reinforcements are set to arrive in Minnesota next week.
Canine patient Willa licked veterinarian Kristi Flynn during an exam Nov. 17 at the University of Minnesota Lewis Small Animal Hospital in Falcon Heig

COVID pandemic takes a toll on Minnesota veterinary clinics

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has created shortages in everything from toilet paper to restaurant staff, also has taken a toll on Minnesota veterinary clinics, making it tough for many pet owners to find animal care.
Anya Eckroth, 7, and her mom Kate Eckroth waited in line Wednesday for Anya’s COVID vaccine at the Mall of America.

How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for kids in Minnesota

Minnesota sites gear up to administer vaccines to children ages 5 to 11.
File photo. A Salmonella outbreak likely caused by contaminated onions has sickened people in multiple states. (Dreamstime)

Salmonella outbreak likely caused by contaminated onions sickens Minnesotans

CDC advises people to throw out fresh whole red, white and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico.
Health care workers have to decide whether to continue the legal fight against COVID-19 vaccination mandates.  ] ANTHONY SOUFFLÉ • anthony.souffle@

Many Minnesota health care workers fighting vaccine mandate have received exemptions

Those health care workers will have to decide whether to continue the legal fight to stop the mandate.
Tiffany Doherty, who has recovered from a breakthrough case of COVID-19, talked with her dog Hazel before going on a walk with her son Cian Doherty, 1

Faith in COVID-19 vaccinations remains despite breakthrough infections

Of more than 3 million fully vaccinated Minnesotans, fewer than 1% have experienced a breakthrough COVID-19 infection. Hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated are even less frequent.
Runners head out at the start of the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Twin Cities Marathon and 10-mile race are back, with COVID protocols

After the global pandemic shut down last year's race, COVID-19 precautions taken this year will help keep runners, volunteers and spectators safe.
Damon Thibodeaux wore a Vikings cap in 2012, given by the Minneapolis law firm that helped free him.

Damon Thibodeaux escaped death row for a crime he didn't commit, but died of COVID-19

Soon after his first dose of vaccine, he became ill with COVID and died.
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Lloyd Timm, 19, of Kellogg, Minn., was among 429 sailors killed aboard USS Oklahoma while the ship was moored at Ford Island, Pe

80 years after Pearl Harbor, a young sailor comes home to Minnesota

The remains of a 19-year-old killed aboard the USS Oklahoma were recently identified.
Suni Lee arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to cheering fans Thursday afternoon.

Olympics star Suni Lee makes a triumphant return to Twin Cities

The gold medalist and St. Paul native returned home after a triumphant turn at the Tokyo Olympics, greeted at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by about 100 fans.
Alex Moeller, 18, right, of Prior Lake, and Cole Zwiefel, 18, of Chaska, were vaccinated last week aboard a mobile vaccine unit at Chanhassen High Sch

COVID variants driving many Minnesotans to go get vaccinated

Every day, a slow stream of Minnesotans finally is getting vaccinated after months of hesitancy.
Those in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle are hanging onto a thread of optimism that the U.S.-Canadian border could reopen next month to vaccinated Ameri

Canada opening could put resorts back in business

Word that the border may reopen has buoyed businesses hit by the yearlong closure and those eager to return to Ontario's remote northern waters. But they're also wary.
A leery population: Todd County, with the county seat of Long Prairie, above, has one of Minnesota’s lowest vaccination rates.

Low-vaccine Minn. counties make high-risk gamble

Quick spread of delta variant in rural areas alarms health workers.
An employee at Stella’s Fish Cafe in Uptown carted away debris Friday night from an arson fire behind the restaurant. The cafe is near where Winston

Upheaval in Uptown now a priority of Minneapolis officials

Social media posts have highlighted lawlessness; city leaders are pledging to take action with stepped-up police patrols.
Two people arrested in Montana in slaying near Northfield, Minn.

Two people arrested in Montana in slaying near Northfield, Minn.

A man and a woman were arrested near Laurel, Mont., about 20 miles southwest of Billings.
Starry stonewort was found in Turtle Lake near Bemidji.

Invasive algae found in Pimushe Lake near Bemidji

Starry stonewort can form dense mats and compete with native plants. It has never been eradicated from any U.S. lake.
a painful wait for closure Lynn Wright, left, with her daughter Cheyenne, listened to a celebration of life and memorial for her husband Michael Wrigh

Minnesota mourners find solace after long-delayed funerals

Family and friends are finally coming together to share stories, laugh, cry and linger.
David Docter

Normandale music teacher David Docter dies at 85

He was among the first instructors hired when the Bloomington college was established in 1968.
Arlie Gonsior, 6, jumped up and down to stay warm while waiting for fresh french fries with her family Thursday at the Kickoff to Summer at the Fair.

Minnesota State Fair preview offers taste of return to normalcy

A bone-chilling day couldn't dampen enthusiasm at fairgrounds.
A group of masked South View Middle School students waited nervously for their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday afternoon in

No face mask? It's about time for some Minnesotans; too soon for others

A day after the governor announced the statewide mask mandate was lifted, Minnesotans were feeling conflicted.
Kuabcag Yang, 13, of Brooklyn Park, got his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Jenn Doble on Thursday at Children’s Minnesota.

Younger teens start receiving virus vaccine in Minnesota

Expansion of immunization drive comes as the state reports 1,011 new cases and 19 virus deaths.
Twins fans like friends Jake Renner, 6, and Cameron Leapaldt, 5, from Chanhassen, will be happy to hear about the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions inc

Minnesotans rejoice that daily routines are about to return

An indoor mask-wearing mandate will end no later than July 1 and COVID-19 restrictions on business and social gatherings will end May 28 under a plan that Gov. Tim Walz hailed Thursday as a path to a "great summer" for Minnesota.
Sen. Dave Senjem’s amendment, attached to an omnibus bill, would temporarily halt state permits for goose eggs to be oiled to prevent them from hatc

Minnesota state senator wants moratorium on 'egg oiling' that keeps goslings from hatching

Senjem says Rochester's oiling of eggs to cut off oxygen 'offensive'
Dr. Priya Sampathkumar outside Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She has been immersing herself in efforts to assist, “but the need is so enormous.”

Minnesotans answer call to fight COVID-19 surge in India

The number of Minnesota residents with Asian Indian ancestry has increased from 30,500 in 2010 to 40,500 in 2019. For many, what's playing out in India is taking a personal toll.
A private company hired by the city of Rochester and a group of volunteers roamed local parks this week searching for goose eggs to slather in corn oi

Rochester's bid to control its goose population sparks controversy

Reducing the number of goslings that hatch ruffles feathers on Facebook.
Erna Zahn, right, visiting Mount Rushmore with a friend in July 1934. George Washington’s head was the only completed portion of the monument.

Who is the oldest living person in Minnesota?

The oldest Minnesotan, a supercentenarian, is also one of the oldest living people in the United States.
“I couldn’t have felt any better than if I had won the lottery. It’s total relief.” Dwanda Waltower, who now sees grandson Kinzo Ross

A shot in the arm gives Minnesotans needed relief, joy

Dwanda Waltower's face mask couldn't hide the joy in her eyes.For too many months, the 62-year-old grandmother sat in self-imposed exile from her family, friends…
Robert Kelling of Waseca said he doesn’t mind Twin Cities residents coming down: “Everyone wants to get the shot.”

Vaccine quest for some ends in small Minnesota towns

Many scour the internet for the first available appointment wherever it may be.
A sign marking the Northwest Angle Ice Road sat on the side of the road on Lake of the Woods on February 9, 2021.

It's the end of the road for Northwest Angle ice lifeline

The folks who built the road across frozen Big Traverse Bay from Warroad to the Angle's south shore announced Friday on Facebook that it's closed for the season.
A George Floyd memorial created by Peyton Scott Russell at 38th St. and Chicago Av. on June 5, 2020, in Minneapolis.

Star Tribune honored with prestigious George Polk Award for Floyd coverage

The newspaper's work in the 'local reporting' category spanned seven months.
Cole Wandersee loaded the Bombardier, which had been one of the few ways to travel to the Northwest Angle.

Ice road becomes a lifeline to Minnesota's Northwest Angle

Canada's COVID closures left the Northwest Angle inaccessible. Residents engineered a solution.
A group of regulars, mostly from Robbinsdale, drank and ate dinner at the bar at Tony Jaros River Garden in the summer.

Minneapolis lifts bar service restrictions as COVID-19 cases fall

The move brings Minneapolis establishments in line with state restrictions.
A security camera in the town of Goodhue captured video evidence of two people breaking into vehicles last fall, according to police.

Goodhue County wants extra 'eyes' to crack crime

Folks asked to register security cameras to accelerate investigations.
Sabrina, a 21-year-old female Sumatran/Bengal tiger living at the Wildcat Sanctuary in Pine County, tested positive for the novel coronavirus that cau

Minnesota sanctuary tiger tested positive for COVID-19

The tiger, which has since recovered, is the second confirmed case in a Minnesota animal.
Darryl Knappen, pastor at Cornerstone Church in Alexandria, Minn.

Minnesota pastor says on video to be ready to 'arm up' as a citizen militia force

Alexandria's Darryl Knappen is drawing praise and condemnation.
Amid a pandemic that has kept people at a distance, Dave Cary finally was able to hug his mother, Carolyn Miller, who lives in a St. Louis Park assist

'Nothing like a real hug.' Minnesota mom, son reunited after months apart in quarantine

A captured hug between a mother and her son resonates with all those who can't.
An angler fished inside a portable ice fishing shelter on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis.   ]  JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

Ice fishing contests melting away because of Minnesota's pandemic restrictions

Some events have been canceled and others have gone virtual, where participants can fish numerous lakes. Still others are hoping to host modified events that meet social distancing guidelines
Mel and Sue Awes of Edina died of COVID-19 on Dec. 10 after 60 years of marriage. Mel was known to call every friend and relative on their birthdays

Together in life and death: Couples battle coronavirus

As COVID-19 has ravaged the elderly, couples who have spent nearly a lifetime together are dying together — days, sometimes hours apart. For some families, the losses are even more painful because a vaccine was almost within reach.
Nearly half of Minnesota students say they consume sugary drinks at least once a day.

Survey: Nearly half of Minnesota youth drink a sugary beverage daily, especially students of color

Health officials warn that sugar consumption increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Young cannabis plants in a growing room Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at Leafline Labs in Cottage Grove.

Minn. officials approve cannabis use for sickle cell disease, tic disorders

However, they again rejected use of medical marijuana for those with anxiety.
Amid a raging global pandemic, Erin Durga, a third-grade teacher in Kimball, MN, gave up one of her kidneys for the school custodian, Pat Mertens.

Minnesota school custodian gets the gift of life from teacher

Erin Durga's gift amid the global health threat brought hope.
Patrons inside Blarney Pub & Grill in Dinkytown partied until the 10 p.m. closing on Friday, Nov. 13, mandated by Gov. Tim Walz in an effort to stem t

Earlier last call, but new COVID rules mostly on honor system

While some states are toughening their rhetoric and enforcement in response to a pandemic surge, Minnesota leaders said they are optimistic that a heavy-handed approach won't be necessary.
Alycia Howard, 22, of north Minneapolis, held her yawning 3-month old daughter, Alivia, as she filled out her ballot in North High School’s gymnasiu

Minnesota voters stream to the polls despite the coronavirus threat

Voters wearing masks streamed into the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in the midst of the pandemic — unlike a record number of Minnesotans…
Greg Pehl, a UW-Eau Claire senior from New Brighton, joined other antigen testers on campus Monday, Nov. 2, in Eau Claire. The test is for those who a

With surge in cases, Wisconsin has become a cautionary tale

Mayo Clinic last week suspended nonessential procedures at its hospitals in and around Eau Claire and brought in nurses from Rochester to cover shifts.
David Trompeter

David Trompeter, avid outdoorsman and former Ranier mayor, dies of COVID-19 at 88

In the small northern border town of Ranier, Minn., David Trompeter was among the last of the old-timers. The former high school English and industrial…
Khloe Cox, 11, with parents Lloyd and LaWanda Cox, were heading back to Maryland on Thursday after her two-month recovery from the first known dual li

'Hail Mary' surgery gives girl with rare cancer a second chance at life

After two months in the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, the 11-year-old got the OK to return to home in Baltimore.
Scott Bodin administered a drive-through COVID-19 test at the Min No Aya Win clinic in Cloquet, Minn., earlier this year.

Minn. reports highest one-day COVID-19 death count since June

Twenty-nine COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday along with a new category of probable infections based on antigen diagnostic testing.
Daniel Hull, second from left, met with his managers at the Nutty Squirrel Sports Saloon on Wednesday to discuss how they would adapt to Wisconsin's n

Wisconsin struggles with new surge in COVID-19 cases

New restrictions are enacted after the state becomes a hot spot.
Mail-in ballot packages were prepared in July in Minneapolis. More than 1 million Minnesota voters have requested absentee ballots.

Minnesotans across the state overwhelmingly are voting absentee

A heated presidential election and COVID-19 are driving people to vote from home.
Veena Iyer, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

White House now aims to slash refugee numbers to an all-time low

The Trump administration wants to further slash admissions; Minnesota advocates for refugees say plan betrays U.S. values.
Kyndell Harkness is the new AME of Diversity and Community.

Star Tribune names first editor for diversity and community

The new position reflects a push to diversify newsrooms.
The federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind., show in August. In response to inquiries about COVID-19 cases at two federal prisons in Minnesota, th

COVID-19 cases spike at two federal prisons in Minnesota

The outbreaks raise concerns that virus will spread beyond prison walls.
Finn Marube, a clinical scientist with North Memorial, administered a COVID-19 test to Sandra Lynn White, of Minneapolis, in July behind the North Mem

High numbers of new COVID cases concern Minn. health officials

They suspect that social gatherings over Labor Day and the start of school may have contributed to those numbers.
Jonathan Ceplecha, 59, was cutting down oak trees on his Redwood Falls property with a chain saw when a tree fell on him.

Family, rescuers praise Minnesota man pinned under tree for 4 days

"He was prepared for both but resolved to live," a daughter said after listening to him recount his ordeal.
Hien Bui, an EMT with M Health Fairview and registered nurse, administered a COVID-19 test during a free testing event at New Salem Baptist Church in

Hundreds turn out for free tests as state reaches more diverse groups

The free screening was one of dozens that have been held this summer as health officials partner with churches and community groups to make tests more accessible to racially diverse communities.
Hassanen Mohamed hosted a meeting of the support group Somali COVID-19 Families from his home in Brooklyn Center on July 18.

Somali group pushes to end state's health care disparities

COVID-19 has hit elders in Minnesota's Somali community especially hard — and racial inequities have led to mistreatment and inadequate care, a local group says.
Crystal Gail Welcome put on a face mask before entering the Gooseberry Falls Visitor Center near Two Harbors, Minn. A statewide mask mandate is now in

Minnesota mask mandate goes into effect with a helping hand

The 4 million masks sent out to chambers of commerce and other groups for distribution should make it easier for businesses around the state.
Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria, Minn.

Alexandria makes veterans memorial a town centerpiece

A group of local vets decided three years ago that Alexandria needed its own veterans memorial and wanted to do things differently.
Shoppers entered the Walmart in Apple Valley on Friday. Minnesota health officials are urging people to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Rise in unknown COVID-19 sources amplifies call for masks

It comes as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is debating whether to mandate mask-wearing in the state.