Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services has received a 24-month, $286,000 grant from the Washington-based Legal Services Corp. to improve access to legal services in rural areas.

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services provides legal assistance to low-income residents in rural areas of southern Minnesota. Growing immigrant and refugee populations present additional challenges to the organization.

It hopes to use the money to enlist attorneys to perform free “legal checkups” as part of its existing Lawyers Advancing Wellness medical-legal partnership with Open Door Health Center. The clinics will be located in and around Mankato, which has the one of the highest poverty rates in the state.

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services is one of 11 legal aid organizations nationwide to receive grants to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients.

Mark Brunswick @markabrunswick


Town gets recognition in National Geographic

Adventure-seekers looking for a cool spot on the globe to visit the great outdoors need look no further than Ely, according to National Geographic.

A gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the northern Minnesota city was recently listed among nine towns on the planet to use as a base camp for climbing, hiking, paddling and exploring. Ely was listed among far-flung places such as Niseko, Japan; Cairns, Australia, and Huaraz, Peru.

The magazine said Ely has “all the classic hallmarks of a quaint outdoor town: log cabins, small-town diners, and ample wildlife trophies.” After singing the praises of the isolation and silence found in the Boundary Waters, the magazine mentions a few local businesses, too.

The only other U.S. town to make the list was Moab, Utah.

Pam Louwagie • @pamlouwagie

St. Peter

State Security Hospital hosting an open house

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter is marking its 150th anniversary by throwing open its doors and inviting the public in for a tour.

The open house, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, is a chance for the facility to show off its new $56 million expansion.

“This is a rare occasion for the public to visit the campus and see firsthand the tremendous investment that’s been made to upgrade the facility’s therapeutic environment and enhance safety for patients and staff,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper said. “It’s also a chance to learn about the vital work that we do every day in St. Peter and the incredible people who do it.”

Founded in 1866 on 210 acres of farmland the city donated to the state, the secure psychiatric hospital today covers 520 acres and employs a workforce of some 1,100 people.

Jennifer Brooks • @stribrooks