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Mixed doubles curling team out of Duluth captures world title




Cory Thiesse and Korey Dropkin, both from the Duluth Curling Club, teamed up to win the first world mixed doubles in late April.

DULUTH, Minn. — Duluth continues to make its mark in the curling world, the latest example at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in South Korea.

Cory Thiesse and Korey Dropkin, both from the Duluth Curling Club, teamed up to win the world title in mixed doubles in late April. It’s the first time the United States has ever captured gold in the event.

“I can’t even believe it, I’m definitely still speechless right now,” said Thiesse, a Duluth native, following the victory. “It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s incredible. I’m just so proud of my partner, we had a great week and it’s just incredible.” 

It’s just another chapter in what’s becoming a rather extensive success story for the city that began as far back as the 2006 Winter Olympics when John Shuster, a member of the Duluth Curling Club, helped the United States capture a bronze medal. 

It was only the beginning for Shuster, who would go on to win several U.S. Championships and led the U.S. to its first Olympic gold medal in curling at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. That gold medal squad was based out of Duluth and included three Duluth Curling Club members in Shuster, Tyler George and John Landsteiner.

There’s very little Shuster hasn’t accomplished in curling, but he’s yet to do what Thiesse and Dropkin did – win a world title. Last month’s mixed doubles victory is the nation’s first gold medal since Debbie McCormick led the women’s team to victory in 2003.

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State election directors fear the Postal Service can’t handle expected crush of mail-in ballots




State election directors stressed that they’re worried that too many ballots won’t be delivered in time to be counted.

MINNEAPOLIS — State election directors from across the country voiced serious concerns to a top U.S. Postal Service official Tuesday that the system won’t be able to handle an expected crush of mail-in ballots in the November election.

Steven Carter, manager of election and government programs for the postal service, attempted to reassure the directors at a meeting in Minneapolis that the system’s Office of Inspector General will publish an election mail report next week containing “encouraging” performance numbers for this year so far.

“The data that that we’re seeing showing improvements in the right direction,” Carter told a conference of the National Association of State Election Directors. “And I think the OIG report is especially complimentary of how we’re handling the election now.”

But state election directors stressed to Carter that they’re still worried that too many ballots won’t be delivered in time to be counted in November. They based their fears on past problems and a disruptive consolidation of postal facilities across the country that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has put on hold until after the elections.

Monica Evans, executive director of the District of Columbia Board of Elections, recounted how she never received her mail ballot for her own June primary. She ended up voting in person.

“We had, at last count, over 80 ballots that were timely mailed as early as May for our June 4 primary election,” Evans said, noting that her office could have accepted them as late as June 14, but they still arrived too late. “We followed up and we just kept getting, ‘We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what happened.'”

While former President Donald Trump has complained without foundation that fraudulent mailed ballots cost him a second term in 2020, mail-in voting has become a key component of each party’s strategy to maximize the turnout of their voters in 2024. Now Republicans, sometimes including Trump, see it as necessary for an election that is likely to be decided by razor-thin margins in a handful of swing states. Republicans once were at least as likely as Democrats to vote by mail, but Trump changed the dynamics in 2020 when he began to argue against it months before voting began.

Bryan Caskey, the elections director for Kansas who’s also the association’s incoming president, asked Carter to consider a hypothetical jurisdiction that has a 95% on-time rate for mail deliveries, which he said is better than what almost all states are getting.

“That still means that in the state that sends out 100,000 ballots, that’s 5,000 pissed-off, angry voters that are mad about the mail service,” Caskey said, adding, “Actual elections are being determined by these delays, and I just want to make sure that you’re hearing why we’re so upset.”

“It’s totally understandable,” Carter said. “The frustration is understandable.”

The association’s current president, Mandy Vigil, the elections director for New Mexico, said in an interview afterward that she appreciated that the service was at least willing to engage with the state officials, but that she’s concerned that there isn’t enough time before the general election.

“I think that we are at a place where we really need them to pay attention,” Vigil said. “You know, we’ve been voicing our concerns since last November. But we just aren’t seeing the changes as we’re working through our primary elections. And when it comes to November, like, we need to see a difference.”

Nineteen senators wrote to DeJoy last month asking the postmaster general about the service’s policies and plans to prepare for the 2024 election cycle. They pointed out how the first regional consolidation, in Virginia last year, led to delivery delays that led some local election officials there to direct residents to bypass the mail and place their primary election ballots in designated drop boxes. They noted that Virginia’s on-time delivery rate fell below 72% for fiscal 2024, or over 15% below the national average.

Other consolidations have been blamed for degraded service in Oregon, Virginia, Texas and Missouri. The consolidation has also created concern among lawmakers in Utah, where state law requires that ballots be mailed from within Utah, but the postal service now processes mail from some counties in Nevada after moving some operations from Provo to Las Vegas. The entire Minnesota and North Dakota congressional delegations wrote to DeLoy last month after an inspector general’s audit documented nearly 131,000 missing or delayed pieces of mail at six post offices over the course of just two days.

DeJoy paused the cost-cutting consolidations until January 2025 in the wake of bipartisan criticism, but lawmakers want a commitment that the resumption won’t lead to further delivery delays.

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3-year-old recovering after hit-and-run in Minneapolis




The girl is expected to survive, but she suffered a broken tibia, bruises to her lungs, lacerations to her face and bleeding in her liver.

MINNEAPOLIS — A 3-year-old girl is recovering after being struck by a vehicle while walking with her family Sunday afternoon in northeast Minneapolis.

The girl, Elise, is expected to survive, according to a social media post from her mother, but she suffered a broken tibia, bruises to her lungs, lacerations to her face and bleeding in her liver.

“Recovery will be hard but she is alive and doing well,” Elise’s mother, Melody Strong, posted on Facebook. “We could have very well lost our daughter and I am so grateful and blessed that she will eventually walk away from this.”

According to the Minneapolis Police Department, the child was struck at around 12:45 p.m. near Third Street Northeast and Northeast Lowry Avenue. Elise was transported by ambulance to HCMC, where she continues to recover.

Police said the vehicle left the area after striking the child while exiting an alley. On Monday, officials said they arrested a man in connection to the hit-and-run.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with medical expenses.

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Study shows delays in mental health care




Patients going through mental health crises can sometimes experience delays more than a day in Minnesota’s emergency rooms.

MINNESOTA, USA — Health experts say a new study confirmed what they already know: Some folks don’t get the care they need when they need it.

Delays in mental health services not only impact patients, but the systems that care for them, according to a study from the Minnesota Department of Health and Wilder Research

Kristin Dillon, an associate director of research with Wilder, co-authored the study. Her team looked at 33 emergency departments around the state for two weeks last fall. 

“The most common delays for discharge delays is lack of available bed space in a safe setting,” she said. 

They found 18% of behavioral health patients who experienced transfer or discharge delays during the study, stayed on average 25 hours longer than necessary. 

The top reason for those delays? About 60% of the time, an inpatient psychiatric bed wasn’t available. 

“Those delays in the inpatient units are also causing a backlog in the emergency departments,” said Dillon. 

“It’s a long term challenge that we are aware of the behavioral health system doesn’t always serve patients well,” Stefan Gildemeister, the State Health Economist with MDH. “Ultimately we want to help inform policy and funding changes.” 

M Health Fairview’s Southdale Hospital in Edina was one of the hospitals who participated in the study. 

Their emergency room is set up differently than most. Their EmPATH unit serves as an extension of the ER, and is built specifically for people going through mental health crises. 

“It’s calm, it’s quiet,” said Dr. Rich Levine, the outpatient adult medical director for mental health and addiction services. “The lighting is just right to help de-escalate and allows people to come in and not have the pressures of the emergency room. On top of that there’s therapists, mental health nurses, mental health associates psychiatrists.”

Levine and his colleagues say their unique model could be part of the solution.

“We’re able to discharge 90% of our patience to less restrictive levels of care,” said Michelle Snyder, the system director triage and transition.

Snyder said that means they’re able to keep people out of those backlogged and expensive inpatient beds. 

They say investment in those inpatient services is only part of the solution.

“Early intervention is key for people’s long-term stability,” said Snyder. 

“I think the study shows there are multiple reasons why the system is starting to, well, I shouldn’t say starting to, has been failing for some time,” said Levine.

If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, there is help available from the following resources:

Crisis Text Line – text “MN” to 741741 (standard data and text rates apply)
Crisis Phone Number in your Minnesota county
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, Talk to Someone Now
Throughout Minnesota call **CRISIS (**274747)
The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386

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