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KBJR 6’s top 10 stories of 2019


2019 marked the beginning of two major expansion projects in downtown Duluth.

Essentia Health broke ground on an $800 million dollar expansion dubbed Vision Northland.

Over the next three years, Essentia plans to build a replacement hospital bed tower, clinic space, and surgical suites.

St. Luke's Hospital also broke ground on its own expansion project expected to last 15 months. The $37.5 million dollar project includes a new ER and helipad.


It was a year of milestones in the Iron Range mining industry.

In January, the US Army Corps of Engineers signed off on a final permit for the proposed PolyMet project.

Several months later Glencore announced it acquired more than 70 percent of Polymet's stock.

Twin Metals, meanwhile, officially entered the environmental review process in late December.

The company is proposing to open Minnesota's first underground precious metals mine.


It was homeward bound for the William A Irvin in October.

The 610-foot retired Iron ore freighter made its way back to the Duluth Slip after a year of repairs in Superior.

The laker had to be moved to allow for critical repair work on the slip.

Doors are expected to reopen to tourists in 2020.


An undercover drug bust in Duluth in November led to the largest fentanyl seizure in Minnesota in 2019.

During the operation, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents seized 80 grams of suspected pure fentanyl powder.

Experts said that was enough to kill 26,000 people.

Two men were charged in connection with the crime.


The University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team captured a second consecutive championship win in the frozen four in April.

The Bulldogs won 3 - 0over the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

UMD beat The University of Notre Dame in 2018.


Wisconsin's 7th District is gearing up for a special election following the resignation of four-term congressman Sean Duffy in September.

The Republican announced he was stepping down in order to spend more time with family.

In a Facebook post, Duffy said he and his wife, learned that their baby, who was due in late October, needed attention due to health complications.

Three republicans and three democrats are seeking the vacant seat.

They'll face off in a primary in February.


A Duluth K9 was shot and killed while responding to a domestic assault at a home along West Skyline Parkway in January.

His human partner, 4-year-veteran Officer Aaron Haller was injured in the incident.
At three-years-old, Haas was relatively young for being a K9.

Over the summer community members celebrated the renaming of the Gary New Duluth dog park to "The K9 Haas Memorial Dog Park."


Thanksgiving 2019 is a holiday we won't soon forget.

Back to back snow storms delivered nearly two feet of snow to parts of the Northland.

The snow made travel difficult, in one case shutting down a section of I-35 near Duluth.

It also took more than a week for plows to clear city streets across the Twin Ports.


An overnight fire in September destroyed an historic synagogue in downtown Duluth and left a firefighter with minor injuries.

It took firefighters several hours to knock out flames inside the 119-year-old Adas Isreal Congregation.

Police arrested Matthew Amiot in connection with the fire.

The 36-year-old old homeless man told police he lit a fire in a small space behind the synagogue and was unable to put it out.


In January, after 88 days, 13-year old Jayme Closs managed to escape captivity inside a rural Douglas County, Wisconsin home.

In October 2018, Jake Patterson abducted the teen from her family's home in Barron.

He fatally shot her parents before kidnapping her.

Patterson is serving two consecutive life sentences for two counts of first degree intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping.

Hundreds of volunteers spread across the area in the days after the kidnapping in search of the teen.

Authorities also reviewed more than 2,000 tips in the case.


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