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US Officials Arrest Notorious Honduran Murderer In Migrant Caravan



US authorities arrested a notorious convicted murderer who was part of the Honduran migrant caravan, according to a Department of Homeland Security statement.

USA authorities collared a widely known started guilty awesome that came from the Honduran migrant campers, according to a Department of Homeland Security affirmation.

Authorities subjected the incredible was a Honduran across the country that was penalized to 16 years behind bars in his native country, before he was introduced in addition to travelled north in the migrant campers, before illegally crossing the U.S.A. border.

Limit Patrol reps collared a started guilty awesome from Honduras Saturday night after he illegally entered into the U.S.A. with numerous other individuals of the migrant campers,” according to a DHS statement.

San Diego Area Principal Patrol Agent Rodney Scott specified the started guilty incredible as “ dangerous” in addition to stated many thanks to the Honduran Consular workplace in Los Angeles for helping USA authorities acknowledge the widely known criminal.

” It was Limit Patrol reps’ campaign in addition to valued partnership with the Honduran Consular Workplace in Los Angeles that aided us acknowledge a hazardous started guilty wrongdoer transferring amongst the migrant campers.

The DHS affirmation earnings:

” Reps discovered documents recommending amongst the individuals, 46 year-old Miguel Angel Ramirez, was simply lately introduced from prison in Honduras. “Ramirez in the future admitted he was collared in addition to started guilty for murder in Honduras in addition to was introduced merely 4 months ago … “The San Diego Area Limit Patrol’s Foreign Operations Branch sustained the individual’s admission with the Honduran Consular Workplace in Los Angeles in addition to discovered that Ramirez supplied 16 years in a Honduran prison for his criminal task.”

The details is one of the most as much as day effect to the liberal tale that the migrant campers has great deals of ladies in addition to young people removing fascism in their house country.

President Trump in addition to the DHS have really been warning that the campers is actually packed with kids of managing age, a lot of whom have rap sheets, nonetheless conventional media has really chosen to handle the leftist positioning in addition to shoot down these truths.

According to the Daily Client, DHS similarly remembered that “ the numerous other 2 individuals collared, ages 22 in addition to 38 were Honduran nationals.

” Amongst those individuals was previously deported.

Numerous major Americans are currently making their methods to the U.S.A. within the campers with some presently in Tijuana waiting to cross the border.

The vacationers indicate to insist asylum by proclaiming “respectable stress and anxiety” in the U.S.A. to take advantage of a triviality which allows them to remain to remain in the country primarily unmolested for months in addition to sometimes years.

The expression of “respectable stress and anxiety” in addition to numerous other “magic words” by vacationers triggers treatments of UNITED STATE asylum guideline that require adjudication before a court.

The years-long treatment of adjudication placements an extra problem for authorities when it worries the concern of these vacationers, particularly those that turn up as part of a household.

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Mahesh is leading digital marketing initiatives at RecentlyHeard, a NewsFeed platform that covers news from all sectors. He develops, manages, and executes digital strategies to increase online visibility, better reach target audiences, and create engaging experience across channels. With 7+ years of experience, He is skilled in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and advertising, and analytics.

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Literary pick of the week: ‘Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod’



Literary pick of the week: ‘Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod’

If you are of Finnish descent — or interested in music — Minneapolis-based folk/rock singer/songwriter Jonathan Rundman has a treat for you in his self-published new book, “Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod,” which includes many “firsts.”

The Suomi Synod is a Lutheran denomination that Rundman says faded away in 1962 and the only people who still remember it in person are in their 80s and older. His book, 10 years in the making, is a musical and theological memoir of his Lutheran ancestors who immigrated to America from Finland in the early 1900s. It comprises arrangements and translations of 28 songs from the Nordic immigrant community who settled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Rundman includes songs appearing in English for the first time (“O God, We Love to Praise Your Name”), songs appearing with Finnish translations for the first time (“For Such a Time As This”), songs published in North America for the first time (“Psalm 100”) and new music composed for traditional texts (“Paavo the Peasant”). There are also pictures of people and places important to the synod’s traditions.

Rundman was born in Hancock, Mich., the historic headquarters of the Suomi Synod, which later merged into the Lutheran Church in America. As he traveled coast-to-coast as a touring musician, he searched for music in antique stores, church basements, Lutheran seminaries, and historical archives at Finlandia University.

“When word got out on Facebook that I was doing this research, Finnish-Americans around the country began to mail me old sheet music, school yearbooks, newspapers, and hymnals,” he recalls.

“Lost Songs” is praised by scholars of ethnomusicology, church history, and Scandinavian studies in Finland and the U.S.

Mark Sedio, cantor at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, writes: “Growing up in another Minnesota immigrant community with a strong tradition of hymnody, I longed for a resource like this. Jonathan has provided current and future generations of Finns, Finnish-Americans, and everyone else, a direct bridge to songs of a heritage that not only served worshipping communities but nurtured faith. Not, by any means, a collection of historical musical artifacts, he has crafted a book of usable texts and tunes for now.”

Rundman will launch his book with a free concert/lecture and book signing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, at Luther Seminary, 2481 Como Ave., St. Paul. For information go to:

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Ask Amy: Dating apps beget “situationship”



Ask Amy: Woman should leave abusive relationship

Dear Amy: I was in an exclusive monogamous relationship with a man for eight months and, unfortunately, I kept catching him using dating apps, even after I had drawn a hard boundary about it.

He also lied to me about substance abuse (he was in AA for years but kept falling off the wagon).

He told me he was a social drinker and was just taking a break from alcohol for health and fitness reasons.

He would go dark and fall out of communication and then deflect onto me when I would ask him why.

So finally, after a week of him being particularly inconsiderate and insensitive, I broke off our relationship.

I did so with honor and said goodbye to his friends and family and spoke not one unkind word about him to anybody.

Now he wants to go in for couples counseling, even though when I was with him, he refused to listen to me about even the simplest thing, like deleting his dating apps.

I don’t know why he wants to go to counseling now that he has completely repelled me.

I don’t even know how I feel about this anymore.

A part of me really loves him still, but a part of me doesn’t trust the relationship (or our “situationship”), since he kept a whole separate list of rules for himself than he did for me.

I’d really like your take on this.

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Angela Davis talks about her life, her shift from television to public radio, living in Highland Park and being known for being nice



Angela Davis talks about her life, her shift from television to public radio, living in Highland Park and being known for being nice

As I often do when I’m about to interview a public figure, I asked some friends for their impressions of that person. In this case, it was longtime local television anchor and current Minnesota Public Radio News host Angela Davis.

Each person I talked to said something along the lines of “she seems nice.” And despite the fact several were gay men, no one was being shady in the slightest. After decades in the Twin Cities media, Davis has a stellar reputation for being nice.

“I hear that a lot,” Davis said with a laugh. She proceeded to tell me a story from her time at the University of Maryland. Her then-boyfriend was in a fraternity that was sponsoring a Miss Black Unity pageant and he urged her to enter.

“In rehearsing and preparing, I wasn’t sure about the talent section,” she said. “I don’t sing, I’m not good at any arts. I ended up devoting a lot time to coaching other contestants. But when it came time for the pageant, I wanted to win. If I’m going to devote time to something, I want to win.

“I won Miss Congeniality. The prize that goes to the person who is nice. Who wants to be known for being nice? But that’s always been the impression I make on a lot of people. And I appreciate that and value that. It comes from the way I was raised.”

Davis, 53, grew up on a tobacco farm in Virginia. Her mother got pregnant while in college, moved back home and lived with her parents. Davis’ mother moved away when she was 9 and Davis stayed with her grandparents.

She went on to attend the University of Maryland on a full four-year scholarship and graduated with a journalism degree. After spending a few years at CNN and stations in Lexington, Ky., and Washington, D.C., Davis took a job at KSTP in 1994 and, beyond a brief stint living in Dallas, the Twin Cities has been her home ever since.

After decades at KSTP and WCCO, Davis made the decision to move to public radio and landed a hosting gig at the 11 a.m. hour in 2018. Davis lives in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood with her husband of 25 years, Duchesne Drew, who took the job as MPR president last summer after spending decades at the Star Tribune and nonprofits. They have two children currently attending historically Black colleges: Charlotte, a marketing major who just started her freshman year at North Carolina A&T State University; and Kevin, a software engineering major at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Earlier this month, Davis’ talk show moved to 9 a.m. at MPR. I spoke to Davis on the final day of her first week in the new time slot.

Angela Davis and Duchesne Drew at Lake Bde Maka Ska (then named Lake Calhoun) during the summer of 1995 when they were dating. Davis, a veteran local television anchor, joined Minnesota Public Radio News in 2018. Duchesne Drew was named president of Minnesota Public Radio in April 2020. (Courtesy of Angela Davis)

On growing up on a farm:

“There wasn’t a lot to do outside of work, church and school. I read a lot. I was the kid who had a subscription to Highlights. My grandparents were interested in history and politics and I watched the network news with them. And the Black church is a place of a lot of discussions about politics and business and life and survival.

“I developed an interest in how do people live outside the world I know. I watched ‘The Today Show’ and was fascinated by Bryant Gumbel. I loved being able to read the newspaper or watch network news and see other parts of the U.S. and the world.

“Early on in school, I was identified as someone with strong writing skills who was very chatty. Mr. Terry used to call me out in class. He called me by my last name. ‘Davis, I hope one day you’re able to get a job that pays for talking because you’re always running your mouth.’ Well, I’m getting paid for talking. I hope you’re proud of me.”

On choosing to pursue journalism:

“When I was growing up, I was deep into Home Ec and the Future Homemakers of America and that brought me into public speaking. I never had a fear of speaking in front of people, it always felt very natural. When I was deciding on a major, journalism seemed to fit. At the time, the Baltimore Sun was trying to diversify its staff, which was overwhelmingly white. They offered full four-year scholarships and four summer internships to train high school graduates. At the end, they had someone ready to hit the ground running.”

On her shift to television news:

“Having worked as an intern, I realized I didn’t want to work in newspapers. I love the power of strong writing and video. I turned down an offer to become a nightside police reporter and instead went to Atlanta to work at CNN, which paid half what the Sun would have paid me.

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Stillwater: Couple’s $1 million donation will jump-start Lumberjack Landing construction



Stillwater: Couple’s $1 million donation will jump-start Lumberjack Landing construction

The loves of Frank Freels’ life were his wife, Geri, their children and the St. Croix River — not necessarily in that order.

The Freelses spent decades boating on the St. Croix, docking their cruisers, which ranged from 36 feet to 53 feet, at Sunnyside Marina south of downtown Stillwater. Frank Freels, who died in 2012 at the age of 95, was a commodore of the St. Croix Yacht Club and two-time past president of Sunnyside Marina; Geri Freels served as president of the yacht club’s auxiliary.

Frank Freels fell in love with the St. Croix on the day he moved to Minnesota from Peoria, Ill., she said. “He always said he crossed the (Interstate 94) bridge and thought the river was so beautiful. It was the love of my husband’s life — I hope, second to me.”

The couple, who owned and operated a number of different businesses, including Distinction in Design in Plymouth, retired in 1994 and moved to Stillwater’s Oak Glen neighborhood.

“We feel we were very fortunate in life,” she said. “We came from nothing and worked for everything we have. It can be done in this country; it just can be. There were many times when our business could have gone belly up, but they didn’t. God blessed us so that we may bless others.”

The couple held fundraisers and donated to many causes, including the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Mayo Clinic and St. Vincent de Paul.

But it was an article in the Pioneer Press in November 2020 that led Geri Freels to think about a lasting legacy: a $1 million donation to the city of Stillwater to restore and rehabilitate the former Aiple house at Lumberjack Landing, the city’s newest park.

The former Aiple residence in Stillwater, seen Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, which overlooks the St. Croix River, will be remade into a canoe and kayak rental and storage building for the new Lumberjack Landing park. Stillwater’s newest park is located on 15 acres of land on nearly three-quarters of a mile of St. Croix River shoreline. Geri Freels is donating $1 million to the city to rehabilitate the buildings at Lumberjack Landing. Freel’s and her late husband, Frank Freels, the longtime commodore of the St. Croix Yacht Club, loved to be on the river. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Plans call for the 4,000-square-foot house, which belonged to the late Elayne Aiple, to be remodeled to include public restrooms, a community room, a scull-storage area, canoe/kayak rental vendor space and a picnic patio/pavilion.

“Not everybody can afford a boat,” Freels said. “When I found out there were going to be kayaks and picnic shelters and all of that, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s perfect for people who want to come to Stillwater, but can’t afford to live here.’ ”

Freels, 84, toured the future park for the first time on Tuesday afternoon with Mayor Ted Kozlowski and City Planner Abbi Wittman. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said, walking around the perimeter of the split-level house. “I had seen it from the river, but not from land. … I love the fact that you are planning a fishing pier.”


Some of her happiest memories include spending time on the river with Frank and friends, she said. The St. Croix Yacht Club owns two beaches on the Wisconsin side of the river, and the couple would pull their cruiser up on the sand and dock overnight.

“We would spend all weekend gunwale-to-gunwale,” she said. “Sometimes we’d be only a foot apart from the next boat on the beach. We all got to know each other very well. It was my way of camping.”

The couple started out with a 36-foot cruiser, then bought a 42-foot houseboat. From there, they graduated to a 53-foot cruiser and ended up with a 51-foot Coastal Cruiser. All were christened the Geri-Anne, she said.

“Our business was in the city, so we were weekends on the river,” she said.

Almost every Friday night during boating season, the couple would walk with friends from Sunnyside Marina through the Aiple barge property and eat in a downtown Stillwater restaurant. “Eventually, we felt so much like part-time Stillwater residents that when Frank finally retired, we built a home at Oak Glen,” she said.


Freels will present an $800,000 check to the Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night; the other $200,000 has been placed in a trust account that will be given to the city after she dies.

Under the terms of the donation, the money can be used only to improve the building. Prior to moving to Stillwater, the couple lived in Plymouth and Frank Freels served on the Plymouth City Council, she said. “We saw that many times, funds were used for other things other than what they were given for,” she said.

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Mike Lynch’s Skywatch: The King and his orbiting court



Mike Lynch’s Skywatch: The King and his orbiting court
Diagram courtesy of Mike Lynch

While you’re enjoying the full harvest moon this week, check out the King and Queen of the planets in our September skies. As darkness sets in, look for them side by side in the low southeast skies. They’re the brightest star-like objects in that part of the heavens. Jupiter, the king of the observable planets from Earth, is to the left of Saturn and is brighter than the queen. Both reached their closest approaches to Earth last month, but they’re still pretty close, at least relatively. This weekend Jupiter is 386 million miles away, while the tape measure to Saturn would be 861 million miles and change.

Jupiter is by far the largest planet in our solar system, and is mainly a big ball of hydrogen and helium gas. Its polar diameter is around 83,000 miles, and the diameter at the equator is a little over 88,000 miles. Jupiter is fatter in the middle because of its rapid rotation. It only takes 10 hours to make one complete rotation. The resulting centrifugal force works against gravity to cause Jupiter to bulge along its equator. Through a small telescope, it’s possible to see at least some of Jupiter’s darker cloud bands made up of methane, ammonia, and sulfur compounds. You can especially pick up on at least two darker cloud bands on either side of Jupiter’s equator. You may even see some subtle color to them.

You’ll see more bands and detail with larger scopes, and you might even see the Great Red Spot, a giant storm raging on Jupiter. It’s called the red spot, but in reality it will show up in a larger scope with a pale pink hue. The red spot isn’t always available, however, because of Jupiter’s speedy 10-hour rotation. Half of the time, the red spot is turned away from Earth. As I’ve told you before, the longer you gaze at Jupiter through the eyepiece of your scope, the more detail you’ll see. Try to look at it for at least 10-minute shots.

No matter how big or small your telescope is, you’ll get a kick out of watching Jupiter’s four brightest moons; Io, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede. They orbit around the Jovian giant in periods of two to 16 days. Because of their continual movement, they change positions relative to the disk of Jupiter. You may see two on one side and two on the other, or three on one side and one on the other, or all four on one side. On some nights, one or more moons may be either behind Jupiter or camouflaged in front of it. If your telescope is powerful enough, you may see the shadow of a moon crossing in front of Jupiter. It’ll appear as a tiny dot against the backdrop of Jupiter’s clouds. With Jupiter so close to Earth right now, there’s a chance of seeing a moon shadow on Jupiter even with a smaller scope. It’s worth a try.

You can keep up on the position of Jupiter’s four brightest moons by checking out monthly magazines like “Astronomy” or “Sky and Telescope.” There are also websites to help you keep up with the moons. My favorite site is from Sky and Telescope magazine at

A great app from Sky and Telescope Magazine is simply called Jupiter Moons. I have it on my phone. In the diagram, you can see the positions of Jupiter’s moons during the coming week.

Jupiter has more than 80 known moons circling it, and there are probably many more that haven’t been confirmed yet. The four moons available through backyard telescopes are certainly the largest. They’re also referred to as the Galilean moons because the great astronomer and scientist Galileo used these moons to help prove that the sun, and not the Earth, was the center of what was then seen as the universe.

Io is the closest moon to Jupiter, and is a little over 2,200 miles in diameter. A little larger than our moon, it’s the most geologically active body in our solar system. Since it’s only about a quarter of a million miles from the very massive Jupiter, there’s a colossal gravitational wallop on Io from the mothership. The tidal forces are tremendous, and because of the constant stretching, heat builds up in Io’s interior to the point of melting. This, in turn, produces numerous and frequent volcanic eruptions.

The next moon out from Jupiter, Europa, is maybe the best candidate for life in our solar system. A sheet of ice covers Europa, and there may be an ocean of liquid water beneath it, or at least a slushy ocean. Once again, because it’s so close to Jupiter the tidal forces are strong enough to heat Europa’s interior, possibly allowing for liquid water below the ice. Where there is liquid water, there’s a chance of life as we know it.

Callisto and Ganymede are the largest and farthest away from Jupiter, and are both larger than our moon. In fact, Ganymede is even a little larger than Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. Both Ganymede and Callisto are heavily cratered bodies, not nearly as dynamic as Io and Europa.

Enjoy the never-ending dance of Jupiter’s moons!

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Charley Walters: Season’s first four games could determine futures for Vikings’ Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman



Charley Walters: Season’s first four games could determine futures for Vikings’ Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman

Should the Minnesota Vikings lose to the favored Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday, and on the ensuing two Sundays to superior Seahawks and Browns in Minneapolis, it would be hard to imagine owners Zygi and Mark Wilf retaining coach Mike Zimmer.

The betting here is that Zimmer could be gone before Columbus Day (Oct. 11). Presumably, assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson would replace him on an interim basis.

If Zimmer, 65, is dismissed, the Vikings would be expected to bring in a young, dynamic, offensive-minded coach. And then, in the first round of next year’s draft, even if they’re still stuck with Kirk Cousins’ $35 million contract, it would seem the Vikings need to draft a quarterback. Kellen Mond, drafted in the third round last spring, doesn’t appear the answer to succeed Cousins.

The way it looks now, the Vikings will have a high pick in April’s NFL draft. Quarterbacks expected to be among the top dozen or so picks in the draft are Carson Strong of Nevada, Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma, Sam Howell of North Carolina and Malik Willis of Liberty.

The Wilfs might not have a choice with Zimmer who, incidentally, is signed through 2023. They couldn’t bring back this operation next year and expect fans to buy expensive tickets.

The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 2. There are only a half-dozen or so Vikings considered untradable — Justin Jefferson (age 22), Dalvin Cook (26), Danielle Hunter (26), Brian O’Neill (26), Eric Kendricks (29), Adam Thielen (31) and Harrison Smith (32).

Rebuilding the Vikings would also seem to include dismissal of GM Rick Spielman, perhaps temporarily replacing him with VP of football operations Rob Brzezinski, and unloading player payroll for the rest of the year.

It would be hard to trust Spielman with hiring the next coach.

The guess here is that Vikings rooters might be accepting of a rebuild if it included a new coach, a new GM and a QB drafted in the first round next April.

Darrell Thompson, the Gophers record-setting running back who went on to play five seasons for the Green Bay Packers, feels that had Mohamed Ibrahim finished this season the way he started, he could have been a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

“Absolutely!” Thompson said. “Maybe not the beginning of the first round, but a first- or second-round draft choice. With his vision, his balance, his strength. We saw his yardage (163) against Ohio State, a national championship-level team. Auburn (140 yards in Outback Bowl in 2020). He’s not had a bad game.”

The 5-10, 210-pound Ibrahim is out for the season after surgery, presumably for a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered late against Ohio State.

Thompson, 53, played with assorted injuries and now has a hip replacement.

“Ibrahim can definitely come back; it’s probably going to take almost a year,” Thompson said. “Obviously I’m not a doctor, just a guy who’s watches football. There’s a blessing to being young — the body’s going to heal. He’s going to have all the wonderful modern things that we do now — the water, the treatment, the nutrition, the stretching, making sure that all the muscles are at the same level in strength.

“One thing we never had is that they (trainers) can actually measure and say what percentage you’re at, so we’re going to work at getting everything up to the same percentage. Which is why things typically fall apart again because something’s too strong, something’s too weak. So they train you back in balance. He will come back and I think he’ll have a great NFL career if he chooses.”

In his first two games for Houston, transferred former Gophers tight end and wildcat quarterback Seth Green from Woodbury caught one pass — a nine-yarder for a TD in a 38-21 loss to Texas Tech — and had no rushes.

Ex-Gopher Chris Streveler is the No. 3 QB for the Arizona Cardinals.

QB Aiden Bouman, son of ex-Vikings QB Todd Bouman, is a 6-6, 250-pound redshirt freshman for Iowa State.

Former Gophers star Bob Stein, who will be inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, next Saturday will be honored at Minnesota’s homecoming against Bowling Green.

Tickets for the game against Bowling Green were available for as little as $10 on

That was Jim Dutcher and his former Gophers basketball players Tommy Davis, Jim Petersen and Kelly Scott lunching at McCormick & Schmick’s in Edina last week.

Cretin grad Joe Gallagher, 57, who produced the highly successful opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National for NBC, on Tuesday was to make the 5-hour, 30-minute drive to Whistling Straits (Wis.) to work his ninth Ryder Cup next weekend. Gallagher took a St. Paul contingent of employees from his Doodle Productions company to assist in assorted capacities, including celebrity movement (Michael Jordan is expected to attend) and corporate parties.

Gallagher’s Ryder Cup schedule includes the 2023 competition in Rome.

“That one will mean it’s closer to my last Ryder Cup, in 2029, at Hazeltine,” said Gallagher, who worked his first Ryder Cup in 1995 at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.

Kalen Anderson, who coached nationally ranked South Carolina to victory in the big Annika Intercollegiate women’s golf tournament at the Royal Club last week, is from Edina.

Hall of Fame former Twin Dave Winfield from St. Paul turns 70 on Oct. 3.

Hall of Fame former Twin Rod Carew, who turns 75 on Oct. 1, has begun a monthly newsletter.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch is featured speaker at the Twin Cities Dunkers breakfast on Tuesday at the Minneapolis Club.

Will Steinke from Little Falls was the officiating umpire at host Michigan’s 47-14 victory over Western Michigan.

Family reunion: Those were three of the noted St. Paul Mauer brothersTom, Mark and Jim — officiating the Minneapolis South-Roosevelt football game last week. The trio, with other brothers Ken and Brian, worked a high school game at Hastings two years ago. Tom, 61, by the way, has decided to retire after 22 years as a WNBA official.

Mike Lauren, Mike Sullivan, Scott Sanderson, Jeff Sorem, Betsy Massopust, Corrine Buie, Steve Dove and Dick Gaughran will be inducted into the Edina Hall of Fame on Thursday at Interlachen Country Club.

Hill-Murray Athletic Hall of Fame electees for induction next Sunday at the school: Greg Langevin, Vince Conway, Rod Romanchuk, Paul Thurmes, Bethany Doolittle and Tessa Cichy.

Johnson High 2021 Football Hall of Fame electees for induction Oct. 2 at White Eagle Golf Club in Hudson, Wis.: Gary Ales, Jim Gabriel, Jeff Plaschko, Tommy Reynolds, Doug Van Meter and 1989 football team.

The 50th anniversary reunion of St. Thomas Academy’s 1971 state football champions will be Oct. 8 at the game against Mahtomedi at Gerry Brown Stadium.

Former Mahtomedi pitcher Michael Baumann, 25, made his major league debut for the Orioles in relief the other day and was credited with the 7-3 victory over the Royals. Baumann was drafted by the Twins in the 34th round in 2014, declined to sign, then was chosen by Baltimore in the third round three years later after pitching for Jacksonville University, receiving a $500,000 bonus.

Former Gopher Amir Coffey of the L.A. Clippers remains a restricted free agent.

Dedication of the David R. Metzen Scholarship Hall in honor of the former South St. Paul schools superintendent will be at South St. Paul High on Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Don’t print that

With two more strikeouts entering Saturday’s game in Toronto, the Twins’ Miguel Sano will reach 1,000 for his seven major league seasons. This season, Sano has hit 29 home runs while fanning 163 times. He has 159 career homers.

Babe Ruth struck out just 1,330 times in 8,399 at-bats. Former Twins: Harmon Killebrew struck out 1,629 times in 8,147 at-bats during 22 seasons; Bob Allison 1,333 times in 5,032 at-bats in 13 seasons. Joe Mauer struck out 1,034 times in 6,930 at-bats in 15 years.

Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, who has major challenges rebuilding the Twins, is getting mentioned among candidates to oversee the Mets baseball operations.

Probable destination for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers next season is Denver, which would upset Teddy Bridgewater, who connected on 28 of 36 passes — with two drops — in a 27-13 victory over the Giants in the season opener.

People who know say Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell is the clear favorite for the USC football coaching job, for which the Gophers’ P.J. Fleck has been mentioned.

The Twins are 15-58 at Yankee Stadium the last 20 seasons, equivalent to a 33-129 record over a 162-game season, Stanzel’s Sports Takeout mentions.

The Vikings have only one decent offensive lineman: Brian O’Neill.

Chatted with Hall of Fame former Bears linebacker Dick Butkus years ago while in New York to cover filming of those memorable Miller Lite TV commercials. Butkus asked where I was from. Told Minnesota, he asked if I knew Mick Tingelhoff, the Hall of Fame former Vikings center who died last week at age 81.

“After every game I played against Tingelhoff,” Butkus said, “my jersey had fingernail holes in it from him poking me.”

Season ticket courtside seats for University of St. Thomas men’s basketball, as the school goes from Division III to Division I this season, will cost $520, reserved seat backs $325, club level $260 and reserved bench seats $156. Last season, reserved back season ticket seats cost $50.

With its move to Division I, St. Thomas’ athletic budget increases from $6 million a year to $18 million annually, and will continue to grow. Meanwhile, St. Thomas the other day lost a top financial administrator and assistant.

This really happened last week: Former Wild captains Mikko Koivu and Wes Walz and former Wild player Eric Staal were golfing with sports marketing whiz Murray Rudisill at his North Oaks Country Club. Walz and Rudisill won $25 apiece from Koivu and Staal in a match.

Sitting outside afterward enjoying a beer, Koivu placed a $50 bill on the table and said he would cover Staal’s bet, too. Two minutes later, a big wind lifted the $50 bill off the table and up over the clubhouse roof.

Rudisill quickly informed enterprising club GM Phil Anderson, who rushed up to the roof through an inside staircase to search for the $50 bill, hoping to find it because the roof is flat. The bill wasn’t found.

For $10 million this season, Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons has 390 at-bats and 15 extra-base hits. That’s still better, though, than shortstop Jackie Hernandez’s five extra base hits in 199 at-bats for the 1968 Twins.

Pssst: Not long ago, the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov told a prominent teammate he wouldn’t re-sign for a penny less than $10 million a year.

Third baseman Jose Miranda, 23, who would cost the Twins $138,454 per game less than the $141,975 they are paying Josh Danielson, 35, through 2023, has 27 home runs and 86 RBIs while hitting .339 this season between Triple-A St. Paul and Double-A Wichita.

Minnesota’s Mark Coyle, 52, with total compensation of $1.4 million (including retirement bonuses), is the 13th highest-paid athletics director in the country, according to new analysis by in conjunction with USA Today and Syracuse University. Coyle, whose contract ends on June 30, 2026, is the fifth-highest paid AD in the Big Ten behind Northwestern’s Jim Phillips ($2.3 million), Ohio State’s Gene Smith ($1.85 million), Penn State’s Sandy Barbour ($1.5 million) and Michigan’s Warde Manuel ($1.45 million).

The Vikings are now worth $3.2 billion, the 18th most valuable NFL franchise, according to Sportico. The Packers are 15th at $3.5 billion. The Vikings, and every other NFL team, are projected to receive $400 million in 2023 “before selling one ticket, beer or hot dog,” Sportico reports.

The Vikings are 26th in the 32-team NFL, the Packers 11th, in Axios Sports’ power rankings.

Former first-team Gophers All-Big Ten golfer Angus Flanagan has missed seven of eight cuts during his first season on the PGA’s Forme Tour.

For his tie for 22nd in the recent PGA Tour Championship, ex-Gopher Erik Van Rooyen received a check for $466,667.

There’s a bar in Hibbing (Minn.) named the “Homer Tavern” owned by relatives of former Yankees home run slugger Roger Maris, who was born in Hibbing, but the “Homer” title has nothing to do with Maris’ home run proclivity.

Several parking lots near the Gophers football stadium are charging $20 on game days.


Paul Holmgren, 65, the former Harding, Gopher, Saint and North Star who is senior adviser for the Philadelphia Flyers, on being announced last week that he’s been elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame: “I’ve known since June when I was back in St. Paul for a family reunion — they told me not to tell anybody — and it hasn’t sunk in even yet. It’s a tremendous honor.”

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Field hockey Notebook: Southeastern gets historic first win



Field hockey Notebook: Southeastern gets historic first win

It was a dream come true for Southeastern to get a club field hockey team up and running into a varsity program two years ago.

Now, under the constant positivity, encouragement and motivation from the two seniors who were on the Hawks when they were just a club team their freshman year, Southeastern has added to that dream — reaching the win column.

After a two-year winless stretch, the Hawks started its season on Sept. 8 with a 3-1 win over Brockton for the program’s first varsity win. It’s an iconic moment for any young program, and it was especially rewarding for senior co-captains Nilianna Gomes and Caleigh DeMartino.

“I think it was a really great experience for us, especially knowing that we started off as just a club,” said Gomes.

“I think it’s cool that we were kind of like the first two that was the first team at Southeastern for field hockey,” added DeMartino. “Just seeing everyone, how far they’ve come along.”

Of course, this wasn’t just any old program first.

If you ask the two of them if going winless their first two years was burdensome, they’re the special kind of competitors to say that it wasn’t. It’s not for a lack of caring, nor is it setting the bar low. Brand-new coach Morgan Richardson attests to the amount of work put in at practices. She also points out the impressive showing of leadership from Gomes and DeMartino to simply inspire growth.

That growth led to a win against Brockton. Brockton just so happens to be where most of the team is from — including Gomes. And it’s no secret how competitive sports are in that city.

“Beating Brockton High for our first game, I think it was pretty amazing,” Gomes said. “Sometimes, even though we’re not in the same division in all sports, sometimes there’s a competition between Brockton and Southeastern. And they’re a really good sports school, so for us to beat them was super exciting.”

To Richardson, Gomes and DeMartino are exactly the leaders a young program needs. Finding the fun in what you’re doing is just as important as the work put in. That, among other things, is what builds a program.

“Our leadership team has done a really amazing job with bringing the girls together,” Richardson said. “That’s what makes a team.”

That also led to what the Hawks hope to be just one of many iconic moments in their history.

Quick Spotlights

• It’s always dangerous when a perennial power is loaded with 15 senior returners, but King Philip is off to a hot start in the tough Hockomock League behind the early success of a few young scorers, too. Sophomore Mara Boldy already has a hat trick in the books, freshman Makenzie McDevitt scored in a big 2-0 win over Foxboro and added another against Taunton, and sophomore Kelly Holmes paced a 5-1 win over Stoughton with a pair of goals herself.

Head coach Lisa Cropper was a little unsure about how the start of the season would go after graduating her front line and losing her starting goalie to transfer just two days before the start of the year. But throw in a vaunted defense of seniors Lily Brown, Molly Piller, Haley Izydorczak, Morgan Cunningham and Jen Daniels in front of a promising but brand-new goalie in Haley Bright, and the Warriors have grinded their way to a 4-0 start.

“(The forwards) are a little young but they’re doing great so far,” Cropper said. “It’s very good so far. (But) we still have a lot of work to do.”

• It was a special week in Andover for All-Scholastic junior midfielder Emma Reilly, and not just because she picked up four assists despite only playing the first quarter of a 7-0 win over Dracut on Wednesday. Just two days before, the star player verbally committed to Columbia — her first choice.

“She is very excited,” said head coach Maureen Noone. “Good things happening to great kids.”

• Those who haven’t played field hockey wouldn’t realize the magnitude of a difference between playing on grass versus turf, but rest-assured — it’s not an easy change. Despite the end of a 15-year stretch of renting out a turf field suddenly ending for Pentucket, though, the Sachems have cruised to win both of their first two home games — on a grassy field — for a 3-1 start.

“We’re not focused on (the field change),” said longtime Pentucket head coach Ruth Beaton. “It has been an adjustment, but we are just making this our home away from home.”

• First-year Monomoy head coach Kathryn Andreoli adopted a team rich with senior talent, and her squad is rolling with flying colors. A 7-1 win over Martha’s Vineyard to open the season was followed on Thursday with a convincing 5-0 win over Plymouth North. It helps to have All-Scholastic senior Caroline DiGiovanni bury four goals in the big game against the Eagles, and Andreoli is confident in the group to keep this stretch rolling.

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Long-awaited fishing trip to Manitoba does not disappoint



Long-awaited fishing trip to Manitoba does not disappoint

LOCKPORT, Manitoba — Two years had passed since I had last wet a line in Canadian water, and I was looking forward to changing that last Saturday morning, Sept. 11, when I pulled up to a Manitoba border crossing with a mix of anticipation and apprehension.

Anticipation, because one of my favorite fishing holes — the Red River below St. Andrews Lock and Dam in Lockport, Manitoba, known for its trophy catfish — once again was within reach.

Apprehension, because I was attempting to cross the border during a pandemic on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Crossing the border is stressful during the best of times, but there’d been more anxiety than usual as the day of the trip approached. Canada requires fully vaccinated Americans to provide results of a negative COVID-19 PCR (short for polymerase chain reaction) test taken no more than 72 hours before crossing the border, and the clock on my test was ticking.

I took my test Sept. 8 and the 48-hour mark came and went Sept. 10 without any results. Morning turned to afternoon, which turned to evening.

Still no results; the 72-hour time limit was ticking ever closer.

Knowing my best bet for crossing the border in time would be to spend the night at the family getaway in northern Minnesota, less than a mile from the Manitoba border, I headed north last Friday evening, fully expecting my anticipated Canadian fishing trip wouldn’t be happening.

I support the testing requirement, and I had a solid Plan B in place if my results didn’t arrive on time.

My visions of monster Canadian catfish had all but faded late last Friday night when my phone beeped, first alerting me to a text message and then seconds later to an email message.

That could only be one thing, I knew, and sure enough, I was right: my test results. If all went according to plan, I’d make it to the border with 14 minutes to spare in the required 72-hour testing window.

Whew. Back to Plan A.

I had crossed the border Aug. 9 — the first day Canada allowed nonessential American travelers to enter the country — as part of the Grand Fork Herald’s coverage of the border reopening, so I was familiar with the Canadian government’s ArriveCAN app and the information that must be submitted before attempting to cross.

Seeing I had my ducks in a row — including passport, proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR test and a quarantine plan in case I was flagged for random testing and tested positive — the Canada Border Services Agency officer cleared me for entry into Manitoba, and I was on my way north within minutes.

Apprehension had given way to full-blown anticipation.

My original plan had been to drive to Canada last Friday to spend the weekend with friends who live near Lockport. That would give us two full days of catfishing on the Red River before I headed back south to Grand Forks on Sept. 13.

Waiting for test results delayed my departure until the next morning, but the impact was minimal.

Fishing in my Canadian friend’s new boat, we launched at Selkirk, Manitoba, early Saturday afternoon and landed 31 catfish up to 29½ pounds in four hours on the water. Sunday, we fished six hours and released 40 catfish, a tally that would have been even higher if we’d landed every fish we hooked.

There’s something about the pull of a Red River catfish at the end of the line that never gets old. With access to massive Lake Winnipeg, catfish on the downstream side of Lockport Dam grow larger than their counterparts upstream.

Anyone who says fishing isn’t exercise has never tangled with a big Red River catfish, especially a Lockport catfish. As per usual, several of the catfish we landed last weekend weighed 20 pounds or more.

I’ve fished the Lockport stretch of the Red River numerous times in the past 20 years, and while I’ve had tough days, the good ones have far outnumbered the bad. In catfishing circles, the Lockport stretch of the Red River is called the “channel catfish mecca” for good reason, and on this trip, the fishing definitely didn’t disappoint.

This trip was about more than fishing, though — much more. The leaves were beginning to turn, there was a fall bite in the air and a glorious Saturday evening by the fire with good Canadian friends included plenty of laughs and conversation as geese noisily flew overhead somewhere in the darkness.

It almost felt normal.

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NFL Notes: Patriots defense must play better in clutch situations



NFL Notes: Patriots defense must play better in clutch situations

Wanted: A big-play defense.

For the longest time, the Patriots were the poster boys for having a defense that made big stops at the most critical times in games.

It was the calling card of their bend-but-don’t break unit.

In recent times, the clutch element has been missing in action, even going back to Tom Brady’s final year.

With all the money spent in free agency to land reinforcements, with top guns like Matt Judon brought in to make plays, the expectation was for that game-changing defense to return to Foxboro.

One game into the 2021 season, however, and the big stops are so far MIA for the Patriots.

Allowing 17 points against Miami might seem like a good effort, but that game was a microcosm of the issue currently plaguing Bill Belichick’s defense.

Key third-down stops weren’t there. The Patriots defense didn’t deliver in those got-to-have-it moments.

The Dolphins marched down the field on their very first possession. They engineered a 10-play scoring drive with little resistance from the Patriots. That gave the Fins a 7-0 lead right out of the gate. They also scored right before the half, moving the ball into field goal range to tie the score at intermission. Then they doubled down, using a familiar Patriots tactic, scoring on the first series after halftime, using nine plays to get into the end zone and regain the lead.

But then the true dagger was delivered: the Dolphins ran out the clock, killing the final 3:24, moving the chains for two more first downs. And that was after a penalty had them starting 1st-and-14 from their own 5-yard-line.

“Honestly, that’s kind of what the league is. I mean it’s the situations that you have to play your best ball in,” Patriots defensive coach Jerod Mayo said during a video conference Tuesday. “It’s not the long stretches. It’s those critical situations that can really tilt the game one way or another, and we just didn’t play well in those situations on Sunday.’’

In that light, the Patriots defense flopped Week 1. Situationally, they didn’t deliver.

The good news is it’s only one game, and an incredibly small sample size. The Patriots 2021 defense might still right the ship, regain its clutchness, and get to the point where they specialize in making timely stops.

But given what transpired last Sunday, it’s also something to monitor.

“We practice those situations all the time. We talk about those situations all the time,” said Mayo, “but at the end of the day, you have to go out there, and perform, and get it done.’’

If this is going to be a great defense, one that rises in the big moments, we’ll know soon enough which way it’s headed with the Saints and Bucs on tap.

Sunday’s game with the Jets will also provide a few more clues.

As the saying goes, there’s no time like the present to start establishing that kind of reputation and dominance during the pivotal points in games. The Jets could provide opportunities for the defense to make big plays that can swing a game.

Mayo maintains that it’s a process. He said the goal is for the Patriots to have constant improvement over the next few months and be clicking on all cylinders down the stretch.

If Stephon Gilmore comes off the PUP list and returns Week 7 in October, his addition will help with those key situations and push the ceiling for the defense even higher.

“I would definitely say the team’s going to look a lot different in October and November than we do in September,” said Mayo. “We’re definitely still trying to find our way, still trying to figure out what we are as a defense, who fits where best. We’re still in that process now, and like I said, we’ll look a lot different in November than we do now.”

While it’s true, Belichick typically uses September as an extension of training camp to see what he has, figuring out roles and where everyone fits best. He might not have the luxury of a slow build this time around.

The defense might have to get better quicker, or else the hole might be too big for them to crawl out of.

Bottom line: The Patriots are going to need a defense that rises up during crucial situations in order to truly contend. It needs to be a collective difference-maker.

That’s always been part of their success.

Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle, with Malcolm Butler’s pick in the end zone, and Dont’a Hightower stopping Marshawn Lynch just short of the goal line with a one-armed grab, is a prime example. So were all the defensive plays made in Super Bowl LI  to come back from 28-3 against Atlanta, with Hightower’s strip-sack of Matt Ryan chief among them.

Patriots Hall of Famer Rodney Harrison, an analyst with NBC sports, thought the front seven looked slow, and not very energetic against the Dolphins. He didn’t see guys flying around and making plays.

But he’s not ready to bury them after one game. Speaking with Harrison Friday, he agreed with Mayo’s assessment, and thinks it might take a bit of time for all the new pieces to gel, and feel comfortable.

“I just think as they become more comfortable in the defense, as they continue to get to know one another, they’re going to trust each other. They’re going to trust that whoever’s holding the edge, is going to hold the edge,” said Harrison. “Right now, you just don’t see a lot of great chemistry on the defensive side of the ball, and that’s what I was looking at.”

He saw a team that lacked the type of aggressiveness needed to make big plays, or just plays in general.

If guys are worried about being in the right place, and doing the right thing, they lose some of that aggressiveness. And that seemed to be the case Sunday against the Dolphins.

“You can do your job, but you still have to have that reckless abandon out there,” said Harrison. “That’s when you see the excitement of defenders doing their job, celebrating, making plays, celebrating their teammates making plays … that’s what you want to see on a consistent basis.”

Several members of the defense also didn’t seem too concerned they wouldn’t be able to get on course, and become the type of defense everyone forecast at the outset.

Hightower said last month he thought the Patriots had the “right pieces” in place and makings for a special defense. But he also acknowledged it would take time to develop a comfort level and camaraderie given all the new players.

We’ll know more after the Jets game, the first road tilt this season.

“I feel like we learn about ourselves every game, home or away, win or loss,” defensive end Deatrich Wise said Thursday. “Everything that we face or encounter, we definitely learn about our character, how we handle every situation,” said Wise. “This is just another opportunity to learn who we are, with a road game, in a hostile environment.”

One that got away

Belichick has a pretty good record when it comes to letting players go he believes would no longer be of use in New England.

Darrelle Revis, Butler, Dion Lewis, Logan Mankins all fall into that category, just to name a few.

But, there have been some misreads along the way as well.

Brady is the most glaring one, of course. But there have been others.

Arizona defensive end Chandler Jones certainly fits in the category. He’s enjoyed a very good career after leaving New England.

Jones has been a sack machine for the Cardinals, as he leads the NFL in sacks (102) since entering the league in 2012. Since leaving the Patriots, he’s had four straight years with double-digit sacks. He didn’t achieve that pinnacle last year as he suffered a season-ending biceps injury in Week 5.

Against Tennessee last week, Jones added 5 more sacks to his resume en route to earning the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Interestingly, Jones, who is set to earn $15.5 million this season, had requested a trade from the Cardinals earlier in the year, and did not attend any offseason work.

Jones told reporters that he has turned his full attention to football while letting any negotiations on a new deal go on without his direct involvement behind the scenes.

“I think I play best when I don’t go in thinking about the deal … I’m just playing football, honestly,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “I’m letting my agent take care of all of that. It is the last year of my contract and I let that take care of itself.”

Jimmy G’s conundrum

How does Jimmy Garoppolo feel about rookie Trey Lance taking snaps away from him during the team’s Week 1 win?

Outwardly, he’s saying all the right things, but he can’t be happy with that development.

Jimmy G was removed on one first-quarter drive against the Lions, and Lance immediately threw a touchdown pass.

During the game, which was televised by FOX, commentator Mark Sanchez suggested it wasn’t easy for Garoppolo to go over and embrace Lance on the sideline.

“He’s not wrong,” Garoppolo said of Sanchez’s comment, via Jake Montero of KNBR. “Nah, it is what it is type of situation. It’s one of those we had a good drive, marched down there. Kyle (Shanahan) called the package and he’s the head coach. Whatever he calls, goes. Just one of those things that you can only control what you can control. And I’m out there with my boys, making the best of it, having a good time. At the end of the day we’re playing football, trying to get a win. Whatever it takes. It is what it is, you know?”

Faulk dealing with tragedy

Sending heartfelt condolences to former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk and his family.

Faulk’s 19-year-old daughter Kevione passed away early last week. That kind of news is devastating for any parent.

Kevione was a student at LSU where she was also a student worker with the football team, working closely with her father.

The Patriots Hall of Famer, a member of three Super Bowl winning teams, is currently LSU’s running backs coach. He had played at LSU in the mid-1990s, becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher.

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Quirky art on the prairie, and more: Franconia Sculpture Park celebrates 25 years



Quirky art on the prairie, and more: Franconia Sculpture Park celebrates 25 years
A sculpture called “Saudade” by artist Kendra Elyse Douglas sits on display in Franconia Sculpture Park on Thursday, Sept. 9. Franconia Sculpture Park is celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Emily Urfer / Pioneer Press)

Amid clumps of milkweed, prairie grass and pine trees, there’s a massive, turquoise Lorraine Motel sign, a copper-clad asteroid being catapulted back to space and a cedar hunting blind awaiting curious visitors.

Just off Highway 8 in Shafer, near Taylors Falls, Franconia Sculpture Park has been a part of the surrounding community and the greater Minnesota and Wisconsin area for 25 years as an educational and recreational space for public art, as well as a day trip destination. It’s not only a gateway to contemporary art for visitors, but also a place where art lives without barriers or borders.

Spanning 50 acres with more than 100 sculptures on display, Franconia draws thousands of visitors each year — and that number rose from 180,000 during 2020 to 200,000 in 2021, one of Franconia’s highest attendance years yet.

Unlike the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Franconia isn’t smack dab in the middle of a metropolitan area. Its clientele skews more rural than urban and the park was founded eight years after Minneapolis’ Sculpture Garden put a giant spoon and cherry near the Loring greenway.

1632043198 584 Quirky art on the prairie and more Franconia Sculpture Park
A sculpture called “Freighted” by artist Emily Stover sits on display in Franconia Sculpture Park on Thursday, Sept. 9. Franconia Sculpture Park is celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Emily Urfer / Pioneer Press)

When Franconia was founded in 1996, Fuller Cowles and John Hock had a mission to create a space where interactions between artists and arts viewers could flourish, and large-scale sculptures could come to life.

“The fun part of being at Franconia is the accessibility of a community. You have Susie and Bob walking down the trail being able to interact with Marcos from Portugal who is there doing a project,” Cowles said. “That random intersection on a Tuesday afternoon is what really sets us apart.”

The space isn’t just a haven for art viewers; it’s also the temporary home of more than 30 artists each year who spend a few months living on the grounds of the park, creating their work on site and leaving Franconia with a sculpture — or a written work, or a piece of performance or video art — along the prairie pathway. Both Cowles and Hock had done work for Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, and they were jazzed by the idea of bringing a public sculpture park to rural Minnesota.

Unlike a traditional white-walled gallery space, Franconia’s tree-and-prairie landscape encourages artists to tap into a new side of their creative processing and configure their sculpture within a wild space. When mixed media artist Julie Schenkelberg arrived at the site this summer, before she even began building her “Aurora” installation, she’d spent a few weeks in Franconia’s field, lying in the grass, taking note of where the moon rose and the sun set, all to inform where her work would be positioned.

“It’s such a great opportunity to show something that is wild — and my work is wild,” Schenkelberg said. “Even though I do get exhibited in galleries, I like the rawness of my work being outside. And also, I can’t control how people will see it necessarily, like they’ll be walking around it, or they can go in and out of it.”

And other artists create their work to cater to the space itself. Take local artist Tom Bierlein’s “Variations on Becoming,” a cedar hunting blind that allows the viewer to see the nature of the park through a shielded, yet open, space. “​​From the beginning, I was really interested in integrating the work physically within the prairie, and within the ecosystem of Franconia,” Bierlein said.

1632043198 630 Quirky art on the prairie and more Franconia Sculpture Park
Executive Director and Chief Curator Ginger Shulick Porcella poses for a portrait in Franconia Sculpture Park on Thursday, Sept. 9. Franconia Sculpture Park is celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Emily Urfer / Pioneer Press)

The residency program naturally invigorates artists to go beyond their everyday practice and explore different approaches to creating art, according to Ginger Shulick Porcella, Franconia’s executive director and chief curator. But Franconia isn’t zeroed in on the art it produces; since Shulick Porcella has taken the reins of the park, Franconia has worked to create relationships with the folks they welcome in.

“Our focus has really shifted away from large-scale sculpture, to more audience engagement and community engagement in the space and using the landscape and the space as an entry point for people to experience art in nature,” Shulick Porcella said.

The sculpture park has definitely shifted. Staff have ushered in movie nights, farmers markets, film series and special events. And with the 2020 opening of Franconia’s visitor center, there’s an indoor gallery and opportunities for weddings and other celebrations.

Franconia’s rural setting creates a unique opportunity for the artists and curators of Franconia, Shulick Porcella said.

“We get folks from the Twin Cities, but we also get really conservative folks from Wisconsin who are not going to go to a museum, but they’re going to come here,” she said. “So our social responsibility as an educational art space is to tell these people about the work of these global artists, the global ideas and, you know, maybe that’ll get people to think differently about the world.

“We literally physically and mentally eliminate the barriers from participation with contemporary art, which, if you put a lot of this art in a museum space, would be very intimidating,” Shulick Porcella explained. “But people are able to come right up to the art, they’re able to read about the art and the artist’s motivations and, at times, even meet the artist if they see them making their work on site. So it’s just a totally different environment for demystifying the creative process for both artists and audiences.”

On Sept. 25, Franconia will celebrate its 25th year with a bundle of activities, from an examination of Franconia’s biodiversity with University of Minnesota professors, to a performance by Twin Cities-based hip-hop artist Nur-D.

“My heart swells with pride and joy, watching the new young artists come and make work at the sculpture park and how excited little kids get, that stuff just makes my heart sing,” Cowles said.

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