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Kirby, Tonya Puckett’s children carry on charitable legacy

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Catherine and Kirby Jr. sat down with KARE 11 to remember their mother, Tonya Puckett-Miller, and discuss their plans to build on their parents’ giving spirit.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Large photo boards took up much of the counter space on the Catherine Puckett’s kitchen island Friday morning.

“We’ve spent a lot of time just reminiscing,” Catherine said, as she stood shoulder to shoulder with her brother, Kirby Puckett Jr. “We’ve been remembering the good times.”

After a few minutes sharing fond memories, it’s clear Catherine and Kirby Jr. remember a lot of good times.

“This is my favorite photo of all time,” Kirby Jr. said, pointing to a photo of the family in their living room during an annual Christmas photo shoot. “It’s the whole family. I really like that one. We’re matching, Mom and Dad are matching, so it’s nice.” 

The siblings spoke to KARE11 for the first time since losing their mother, Tonya Puckett-Miller earlier this month after a 20-month battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. 

“When she first found out, it was shocking because she wasn’t a sick person. She had a headache,” Catherine said.

Despite the difficulty she faced through her final months, the Pucketts say they leaned on a strong support network provided by family, and were comforted by their mother’s steadfast faith.

“Even before she got sick she would tell me, ‘Get right with God because in the end, I know where I’m going because I want you and Catherine to be here with me,'” Kirby Jr. said. “That gave us peace going through this, knowing her faith was so strong and she was never scared throughout her whole 20-month battle. Even when she was battling, she was still giving. I remember, I came over one night, and it was a couple days after her surgery and they had gotten some food and there wasn’t enough for everybody and my mom’s like, ‘Here, take my plate.’ I’m like, ‘No, Mom, but thank you.’ It just shows that even when she’s at her lowest point, she’s always giving.”

They say the same was true throughout their mother’s life. Despite their parents’ divorce in the 2000s, they say their family remained close and their mother continued to build on her legacy of giving. After she and Kirby started the Puckett Scholarship in 1994 to provide more opportunities for students of color, Tonya remained committed to the effort and also went on to raise millions for local nonprofits like Safe Families for Children and Children’s HeartLink. 

Through it all, the Pucketts say their mom never lost sight of her priorities.

“It was always family,” Catherine said. 

“Family, God and just doing the right thing,” Kirby Jr. said. “Just be nice to people, always. Be kind and be generous.” 

And though their parents are now both gone far too soon, that giving spirit will live on.

“The Puckett Scholars is something near and dear to our heart, it’s something the Twins help us with, sending people through college through the U of M, so we want to continue on that legacy,” Kirby Jr. said.

“We’ve had so many people reach out and just share stories of our mom and tell us stories of our dad, and to say how much they both have helped,” Catherine said. “We want to be able to carry that on. We really want to make them proud and do as much as possible for the community and continue their legacy.”

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Flooded roads slow St. Paul drivers

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A Flash Flood Watch was issued for parts of the metro through early afternoon.

MINNEAPOLIS — A cloudburst over the Twin Cities reminded drivers to slow down on Sunday morning. 

Flooding was reported on several roads in St. Paul and West St. Paul. MnDOT traffic cameras showed water over the road on I-35E near the 7th Street Exit. 

In West St. Paul, KARE 11’s cameras caught water flowing over Oakdale Avenue between Wentworth Avenue and Mendota Road. Public Works officials said construction in the area led to storm drain blockages. 

Two vehicles were towed. 


Other posters on social media shared videos of flooded roads around West St. Paul. 

Just before 11 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for parts of Dakota and Ramsey Counties, including St. Paul, Maplewood, Eagan and other neighboring communities until 12:45 p.m. 

The storms dumping rain on the metro are forecasted to clear out by Sunday afternoon. Wet weather will stay in the forecast through Tuesday. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation warns drivers to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” on flooded roads. Six inches of water will reach the undercarriage of most vehicles and can cause stalling. As little as a foot of water will float many cars and trucks. 

Driving on a closed road can cost you up to $1,000 in fines or 90 days in jail in Minnesota. 





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Local reactions to Biden dropping out of the 2024 race

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Lawmakers posted their well-wishes to the President on Sunday after he announced he would not seek reelection, endorsing VP Kamala Harris.

ST PAUL, Minn — On Sunday, President Joe Biden announced on social media that he would not seek reelection in the 2024 election. Across social media and across the state, reactions poured in. 

Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz called President Biden a hero. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar shared a picture of herself and the president. 

In a statement shared with the press, Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin said in part:

“As we thank President Biden for his service and for everything he has done for our country, we must also look ahead to the existential stakes in November. Our party must now rally behind Vice-President Harris and emerge as a united front ready to defeat Donald Trump.”

RELATED: Reactions to Joe Biden dropping out of the presidential race pour in

Minnesota Attorney General Keither Ellison noted that Biden put his country over his personal ambition: 

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy released the following statement on Sunday: 

“Joe Biden is an extraordinary president. I’m grateful for his investments in our freedom and prosperity. America is strong for his leadership. With a full heart, thank you Mr. President.

Our future rests in our hands, the people of this country. Our fight for our families, communities, our freedom and America’s democracy are the work of this election. I have faith in what we will accomplish when we work together.”

RELATED: No, Kamala Harris will not automatically replace Biden as presidential nominee





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Crews cleaning up after train derails in Big Lake

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On Saturday, 15 cars piled up on the tracks near Big Lake, slowing drivers and canceling trains to Minneapolis.

SHERBURNE COUNTY, Minn. — After a train carrying consumer goods went off the track in Sherburne County, railroad officials said crews are getting closer to clearing away the resulting mess. 

On Sunday, officials with BNSF said Main Track 2 returned to service Sunday morning. They anticipate Main Track 1 will open later on Sunday night. 

For a second day, Metro Transit said the Northstar service to the Twins game at 12: 05 p.m. is canceled. No replacement bus service is available. 

Early on Saturday morning, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office said a BNSF train derailed near 197th Avenue and County Road 14 around 3:15. No injuries were reported and officials said there was no threat to the public. 

Near Big Lake, 172nd Street Northwest was blocked between 197th Avenue and County Road 14. 

RELATED: Train derails in Sherburne County





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