Minnesota Now August 22, 2022

Today on Minnesota Now, we look at what happens when children view gun violence, a growing work force shortage for a rising industry across the state, a look at the biggest headlines in our Regional Reporter Roundtable and a local family’s connection to The Beatles and their 1965 visit to Minnesota.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] CATHY WURZER: It's coming your way. Don't worry. It's called Minnesota Now. I'm Cathy Wurzer. We have a lot to talk about, including a look at the Beatles concert, their one Minnesota stop. Hang around for that. Right now the news.

LAKSHMI SINGH: From NPR News in Washington, I'm Lakshmi Singh. Dr. Anthony Fauci, known to millions of people in the United States for his expertise through the coronavirus pandemic says he's leaving his job of more than 35 years as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci plans to step down at the end of the year.

The grandson of Italian immigrants first came into the public sphere during the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis as the nation's top infectious disease expert. During the AIDS and coronavirus outbreaks, he was revered by some, vilified by others. Though he is stepping down, Fauci notes he is not retiring altogether from government service.

New COVID-19 booster shots are a step closer to coming this fall, the drug company Pfizer announcing that it's asking the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the updated vaccine. NPR'S Pien Huang has details.

PIEN HUANG: Pfizer is the first company to submit data on booster shots that target the currently dominant COVID variants. Right now more than 90% of the current US cases are caused by BA.4 and BA.5. Those are sub-variants of the Omicron strain that took off this summer. If the updated shots are authorized by the FDA, they could be available in the fall.

Pfizer announced that it has submitted the vaccine data to FDA in a press release, though they did not share publicly what the data are. The FDA will be reviewing what's known about the safety and efficacy of the updated shots. Health officials have said an updated booster shot could better protect people against potential fall and winter surges. Pien Huang, NPR News.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Jurors are hearing closing arguments in the retrial of two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Prosecutors accuse the defendants of also plotting to kill Whitmer. At their first trial in April, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Political tensions are running high in Pakistan where the country's former prime Minister Imran Khan is facing terrorism charges. NPR'S Diaa Hadid says Khan was formally charged after a weekend rally where he made accusations against police and a judge.

DIAA HADID: Pakistan has been mired in crisis since Khan was ousted from government in April. He's been staging large rallies around the country, where he's been critical of the military, Pakistan's most powerful institution for not supporting his party. That has pushed Khan and his party into dangerous political territory.

It came to a head in mid-August when authorities arrested his chief aide and shut down pro-Khan TV stations. Then on Saturday, authorities blocked live transmission of his speech at a rally. They also blocked YouTube to prevent it from being carried there. Khan's lawyers have secured preemptive bail until Thursday. If he is arrested, it's likely to amplify his popularity. Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Islamabad.

LAKSHMI SINGH: The Dow Jones Industrial average is down more than 500 points or 1 and 1/2%. This is NPR News.

CREW: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations. Other contributors include Mattress Firm. Whether browsing online or in one of their stores, Mattress Firm is committed to providing personalized service and advice to help people choose the right mattress for their needs. Learn more at mattressfirm.com.

CATHY WURZER: Around Minnesota right now skies are sunny and it's pleasant. Temperatures today will be in the upper 70s to the mid 80s. At noon in St. Cloud, it's sunny and 75. It's 77 in the Twin Cities. And outside the Kebab Cafe in Princeton, it's sunny at 80. I'm Cathy Wurzer with the Minnesota News headlines. Nurses are picketing outside Hennepin Healthcare in downtown Minneapolis this afternoon. Tim Nelson has more.

TIM NELSON: The Union representing nurses say they're trying to draw attention to staffing issues, including difficulty retaining nurses and an overall shortage of staff. Union nurses attribute the problem in part to working conditions and violence against healthcare staff. The picket is not related to the strike vote among 15,000 other Minnesota Nurses Association nurses across the state earlier this month.

Hennepin Healthcare nurses have a contract in place but also have open wage talks with the hospital and healthcare provider. Nurses say they want wage increases to better fill staff positions and keep existing staff. There is no work stoppage associated with the picketing today or with the strike vote last week. I'm Tim Nelson.

CATHY WURZER: A committee of the Minneapolis City Council will hear public comment this week about the Police Department's plan to use drones. Police officials say they want to use drones in emergency situations and to collect information about suspected criminal activity. Some advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have warned that drones operated by law enforcement agencies could be used to invade people's privacy.

When the Minnesota State Fair starts later this week, fairgoers will have to go through metal detectors, something first seen last year. The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office has said it will also have active shooter response teams on hand in case there are problems. There will be about 40 Ramsey County deputies, Minnesota State Patrol troopers, and officers from other agencies that will join the reconstituted state fair police department this year. The fair's police chief Ron Knafla says he's reached his goal of having 200 officers for the fair, and he's confident that the event will be a safe one. The fair opens on Thursday.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

St. Paul's Hmong community is reeling from the brutal murder suicide that left five children orphans last week. According to family members, Yia Xiong shot and killed his partner Ka Lor before turning the gun on himself while the couple's five young children were playing inside the house. The eldest, a nine-year-old, reported the deaths to 911. The family says it will need help with funeral expenses and costs associated with raising the children.

The tragedy has sparked a number of conversations about mental health and domestic violence. But the deaths also got us to thinking about the rising numbers of children who witnessed gun violence, especially involving their parents. Dr. Sherry Hamby is a Clinical Psychologist and Research Professor of Psychology at Sewanee University of the South. She studied the deep and lasting trauma children experience when they see a parent attacked. She specializes in violence and resilience in youth.

She was just quoted in a Washington Post article on the trauma kids who see their parents shot and killed endure. It's an article that will stop you in your tracks. She joins us right now. Dr. Hamby, welcome.

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Thank you. Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: I appreciate your time here today. Earlier this summer, another St. Paul family experienced a murder suicide. And I'm wondering just how common is it for kids to witness gun violence with a parent?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): It's actually an extremely common phenomenon. And unfortunately, our surveillance of homicides does not do a good job of assessing how often it happens. But our research suggests that it's much more widespread than it's been previously known.

CATHY WURZER: This is such a specific kind of trauma. I'm wondering how would you characterize this type of trauma from a psychological perspective?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Well, I think the important thing to understand about trauma is that it has a massive impact over all of the systems of our body. And so in the moment of threat, in the moment of danger, or even in the moment of just hearing about some kind of gun violence we'll respond with this big physiological response of adrenaline and cortisol and other hormones reacting. And that over time really takes a toll on many of the systems of our body, not just our psychological well-being but also our immune systems, our problems with chronic inflammation and things like that. And that's where a lot of the long-term impacts of trauma derive from.

CATHY WURZER: I'm wondering, is the trauma different if it was a murder suicide? Both caretakers are gone.

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Yes, absolutely. I think that that is a particularly overwhelming traumatic experience to lose a parent, one or both parents certainly because those are the people who most kids associate with keeping them safe in the world. And so on our research, surprisingly, we have found that kids often have much stronger responses in terms of fear or PTSD symptoms or things like that to attacks on their parents whether they're fatal or non-fatal attacks and even on some attacks to themselves directly.

And I think it's because of that lack of-- because if something bad happens to you as a child, your initial response is to run to your parent and have your parents fix things. But if something happens to your parent and that often leaves them with a sense that there's nobody to intervene against these bad things that are happening.

CATHY WURZER: Do kids feel guilt too that they should have done something?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Well, I think that can vary on the circumstances of it. But certainly, blaming oneself for bad things is a common reaction and something that can exacerbate a lot of the psychological consequences of it.

CATHY WURZER: I can't imagine these poor kids would ever feel safe again anywhere. Is that a common thread?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Well, I think that it is a devastating experience for any child. And the long-term outcome data on kids who've had this kind of experience certainly suggests that they're at heightened risk of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and a number of behavioral problems, and a number of other challenges.

But I also do research on resilience, and I also think it is important to realize that even for people who have experienced really overwhelming traumas that it is possible to build up a portfolio of strengths, not just their own strengths but support from their extended families, from their schools, from their communities, and that it is still possible to overcome even horrific experiences of trauma.

CATHY WURZER: But do these kids get the help they need generally speaking?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Unfortunately, no. That is probably one of the biggest gaps in our social welfare safety net is that most of the criminal justice focus is on the perpetrators. And on something like this was a murder suicide, from the law enforcement perspective, this might just seem like case closed in that there's nothing more that needs to be done about that.

And we don't even do a very good job of keeping track of how many collateral victims you might say there are from orphaned children to other witnesses who might have been at the scene to other family members who are going to be impacted by this as well.

And so unfortunately, in most places there's not any kind of systematic attempt to track these kids to make sure that they're getting their needs assessed and to make sure that they are getting everything that is important for them to help them cope with these events and the support that these families need too. I noticed you mentioned in your news story that this family is now going to need funds, and they've lost the income of the parents as well and that there's just not good systems in place to help restore these kids after an event like that.

CATHY WURZER: So because our system does not help these kids or these families, who usually steps forward?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Well, a lot of times it's done on a very ad hoc basis. In some cities there are good programs that are run by non-profits or have sometimes even state or local organizations that might help provide services to these kids. But it's very piecemeal and it's also something that depends a lot on the wealth of the community.

So for example, I live in a very rural area where there's just not access to that kind of help at all really, whereas in a big city there might be more. But a lot of times it's also a problem of trying to figure out where you can go for help and who has the ability to help you because there's not some kind of systematic response that's built into the initial criminal justice response to the incident.

CATHY WURZER: I'm curious, you personally here, what gives you hope when doing this kind of work?

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Well, I have been doing this kind of work for 30 years. And as I've said, as much as you can see the traumatic impacts of these horrible kinds of events, I have just also been every time impressed by the resilience of children and families. And some of them go on to become providers themselves or activists themselves.

And so I just am always inspired by everything that people do to help them overcome these kind of traumatic experiences. And I certainly wish that family and the children and their whole extended family the best in trying to put together the resources that they're going to need after this tragic incident.

CATHY WURZER: I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

SHERRY HAMBY (ON PHONE): Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Dr. Sherry Hamby is a psychology professor at Sewanee, the University of the South in Tennessee. If you or someone needs help with mental health or is at risk of suicide, you can call 988 or go to 988lifeline.org.

[MUSIC - CHASTITY BROWN, "WONDERMENT"]

(SINGING) I had a dream. I was caught in red.

This is our Minnesota Music Minute. This is the latest music from Chastity Brown. It's called Wonderment. Her new album Sing To The Walls is now out. Her next show is September 10 at the Grand Rapids River Fest in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

[MUSIC - CHASTITY BROWN, "WONDERMENT"]

(SINGING) I could not grasp. Take ahold of anything. Seemed like letting go was the only way, only way.

Oh, I love Chastity Brown. She sounds great. 12:16 here on Minnesota Now. I'm Cathy Wurzer. Now, you know that Minnesota is facing a labor shortage. Now, the whole country is. And there are few places where that's more apparent than the home healthcare industry.

Since January of 2020, 400,000 nursing home and assisted living staff have quit, citing pandemic exhaustion as well as low pay and lack of advancement opportunities, typical of the field, a field that's among the fastest growing industries in the nation. And why is that?

About 10,000 people a day turn 65 years old. The percentage of people over the age of 85, the group that most needs care, is predicted to double to 14 million by 2040, leading many to ask who will take care of this country's elderly? Here to talk more is Dr. Joseph Gaugler. He's a Professor and the Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair in Long-Term Care and Aging at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Doctor, welcome back.

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): Thank you so much. So great to talk to you again.

CATHY WURZER: Professor Kane, a noted researcher, was still alive. And gosh, he talked at length about this problem to anybody who'd listen. And the problem is here now. What are the factors that have led to this shortage of workers?

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): Well, Ms. Miller, time is short. Quite frankly, there's a litany of them. As some would argue, the reasons for the shortage overwhelm potential solutions. But really, when one considers the landscape of the home health workforce shortage, it comes down to several different factors. First are recruitment challenges.

Generally, those who provide home health care are more or less labeled as low wage workers and assigned a low value. There's a certain stigmatization that many in society policymakers providers accord to these individuals. And that clouds this whole discussion and certainly in trying to seek out solutions I think that's a critical factor.

You've already alluded to, and I think we all know about inadequate compensation. Pre-pandemic, the median hourly wage for at least a home care provider, that was a personal care aide, was only around $11.30. That may have come up a little bit since the statistic I have access to. But that being said, roughly half of home care worker households are dependent on some form of public assistance. And so again, it clearly makes it very challenging to recruit individuals when this is the pay level.

CATHY WURZER: Let me ask you a little bit more about the pay here because I've had the opportunity to be involved in home care with a parent. And we were paying $35, $40 an hour really. It was expensive, but the worker didn't get much of that at all. So where's this money going?

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): That's a great question. One would assume it is going into the various administrative costs associated with managing home healthcare workers. Now, I think for those of us that have a more critical eye to this arrangement, that is by no means sufficient. Are there ways to cut into the administrative overhead costs of this type of service so that in fact these home healthcare workers can get paid more?

And one thing that was interesting, I think, Ms. Miller when considering the pandemic and the huge stress test it placed on the long term care service and support system. And it was certainly a significant crisis was it did also offer the ability to flexibly deliver some types of home health services. For example, the use of telehealth services.

Now, one certainly probably would not argue that delivering a visit over telehealth for home health is not sufficient when trying to complete various types of personal care tasks. But many home health agencies were using telehealth services, for example, to obtain consent and reduce some of the other administrative burden of delivering these services. And so when we think about potential solutions, that is one. How do we flexibly administer home health services to cut down on costs so people can get paid more and get paid what they deserve?

CATHY WURZER: I'm wondering, when home healthcare is not available, folks have to make some tough decisions, right? And sometimes having unpaid family members fill the gaps. So let's talk about that. Do we see that happening more and more? And what's the long-term economic effect to that?

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): Certainly, at the very least, anecdotally. And again, I'm using COVID-19 as a reference point. We have heard many stories of families having to shoulder significant burdens throughout the pandemic and now endemic of COVID-19, where available, accessible, affordable community-based long-term services and supports were in short supply. In some cases, families simply couldn't use them because they were shut down. I'm thinking, for example, adult day services.

The long-term effects of this are significant. There is a large, large scientific literature, and I think many people who are involved in family care, such as yourself know that the long-term implications on one's health, one's need for services themselves goes up considerably when one is providing ongoing long-term support to a relative that often has complex chronic care needs.

So certainly, it is no solution to continually rely on family members to serve as the core long-term care support system in the US. That's what we've always done traditionally. There is certainly pretty compelling data to suggest that there won't be as many unpaid family members available in the future to provide this help. So how are we going to offset what I and others have called this family care gap for older people in the future?

CATHY WURZER: What's the best thinking about what's the answer? Because as I mentioned in the introduction, baby boomers are getting older, and it sounds like we are going to be in a big problem down here down the road.

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): I think what you're pretty much doing to me now is if you had to pin me down and try to identify the one solution, ideally, this would be a solution coming from the federal level. I'm not certain that that's going to be happening.

But when we look at some states who have been at the cutting edge of innovation of how they approach long-term services and support in a variety of different ways, I look at the state of Washington, in particular how they chose, I believe this was right before the pandemic in the fall of 2019 to basically enact a law to refinance community-based long term services and supports for their state citizens. It received broad support by the electorate in the state of Washington, which basically allows residents to accumulate a voucher of sorts, basically, up to $36,000, I believe, to purchase community-based long-term services and supports. And so why is this helpful? It's either 36,000 or $56,000. I don't remember off the top of my head.

But in any event, what that allows people to do, families to do is to have resources available to purchase important services like home health, like adult day services, maybe home modifications, et cetera to allow older people to live at home as long as possible, which by and large they wish to do and also to offset some of the stresses and challenges to this very large and vast unpaid long-term care support system.

I really have wished and hoped that the state of Minnesota would be pivoting in this direction. And my hope continues that will happen to our state as well, which is known also as an incubator of innovation and long-term services and supports.

CATHY WURZER: So in a sense, it's like an HSA for long-term care?

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): I think that's the best way to think about it. And we all know even $56,000 is not a lot of money when we're talking about residential long-term care. Assisted living or nursing home often costs in five figures per month. But when we're talking about an adult day program, using an adult day program several times a week, which roughly costs, I'd say, around $75 out of pocket or so for a full day, those funds can be very helpful for at least several years when an older person could utilize these services and maximize them the most. So I think that's a step in the right direction.

Again, I do see this type of policy innovation as one that has the potential for bipartisan appeal. And one would hope that other states would adopt similar types of approaches.

CATHY WURZER: Interesting. It's an interesting situation. It's a scary situation, especially if you've got older parents. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

JOSEPH GAUGLER (ON PHONE): Thank you so much for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Dr. Gaugler, Joseph Gaugler is a Professor and the Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair in Long-Term Care and Aging at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

CREW: Programming is supported by CenterPoint Energy's Home Service Plus, whose team of professionals repair replace and maintain home appliances for thousands of Minnesotans every day. Learn more about HSP's everyday expertise at centerpointenergy.com/hsp.

Support comes from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, improving oral health while advancing social equities by expanding access to dental care and investing in the communities across Minnesota. deltadentalmn.org/MPR.

CATHY WURZER: What a pleasant day today. It is so nice out there, sunny skies, maybe a little bit of humidity in the air, which is not such a bad thing. Temperatures are in the 70s, for the most part 78 degrees in Brainerd, 79 in Fargo-Moorhead. It's 79 here in downtown St. Paul. Red Wing checks in with a 79-degree reading, and Winona is also at 79 degrees. Duluth Harbor is at 79, 75 in Fergus Falls. It's 77 in International Falls.

Highs around the region today, upper 70s, mid-80s. Ditto for tomorrow Tuesday. Wednesday we have a chance for some rain, and then the highs by the way Wednesday will be in the lower 70s and lower 80s. Thursday is the start of the state fair, partly cloudy skies with highs in the 70s, practically perfect. And I mentioned the state fair because, of course, we will be at the fair corner of Judson and Nelson.

Just saw a photograph from Jeff Jones, who was out at the fair doing what he needs to do to make sure we can actually get on the air, and the fair, our booth looks fantastic. I love that backdrop of it looks like a river and woods. Looks lovely.

We will be there Thursday at noon, yours truly along with Dr. Mark Seeley to hold the State Fair Weather Quiz. You're invited to join us at the fair or tune in and listen. Listen right now to the news with John Wanamaker. How are you doing, John?

JOHN WANAMAKER: I'm good, Cathy. Russia's top counterintelligence agency is blaming Ukrainian spy agencies in the killing of the daughter of a Russian nationalist ideologue. Russia's federal security agency says that the killing of Darya Dugina has been prepared and perpetrated by the Ukrainian special services. Dugina was the daughter of Alexander Dugin. It charged that the killing was perpetrated by a Ukrainian citizen who left Russia for Estonia. After the killing, Ukraine has previously denied any involvement in that killing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, who became a household name during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced today that he'll depart the federal government in December. That's after more than five decades of service. Fauci, who serves as President Biden's chief medical advisor, has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases among other duties. He was a leader in the federal response to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases even before coronavirus hit.

Three Arkansas law enforcement officers were suspended and state police launched an investigation after a video posted on social media showed two of them beating a suspect while a third officer held him on the ground. Authorities said the officers were responding to a report of a man making threats outside a convenience store in the small town of Mulberry. That's about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock near the border with Oklahoma. The video shows one officer punching the suspect with a clenched fist while another can be seen hitting the man with his knee, and a third holds him against the pavement.

Kansas's decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights has been affirmed through a partial hand recount that it's a move forced by two Republican activists. Voters earlier this month rejected a proposed amendment to the Kansas constitution that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to further restrict abortion or ban it. The measure failed by 18 percentage points or 165,000 votes statewide but state law allowed any registered voter to ask for a recount on a statewide ballot question and a couple of activists ponied up. After the recount, the side that supported the measure gained six votes. This is MPR News.

CATHY WURZER: Thank you, John. On Minnesota Now we want you to know what's going on in your part of the state. And in one way we do that is the check in with journalists around Minnesota to find out what their communities are talking about. Today we're going to do a little report roundtable. I'm joined by Jim Boyle, an Editor with the Star News that serves the communities of Elk River, Otsego, and Rodgers Northwest of the cities. Jim, how are you?

JIM BOYLE (ON PHONE): I'm doing wonderful. Thanks for having me, Cathy. I appreciate it.

CATHY WURZER: Welcome, Jim. Jeff Kiger is also with us. Jeff's a Columnist and Business Reporter at the Post Bulletin in Rochester, of course, home of the Mayo Clinic in Southeastern Minnesota. Hey, Jeff. How are you?

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Hello. I'm doing well.

CATHY WURZER: Nice to have you here. And representing the Arrowhead region is Brian Larsen, Editor of the Cook County News Herald based in Grand Marais. Brian, good to hear your voice.

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): Yeah, good to hear yours too, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: Thanks for being with us. Brian, I'm going to start with you. I know you're working on a story that's coming out, I believe this week on J-1 workers. Now, folks who don't understand, this is a big deal. These are folks who fill some pretty important jobs in towns like Grand Marais that see just these huge influxes of tourists every summer. Talk a little bit about what they do and why is it important?

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): Well, first of all, we don't have enough employees in our area to fill all the jobs that need to be filled. And so during the two years of COVID when these kids couldn't come over, it was a pretty stark time here. Businesses had to close for a day or two, a week or shut their hours down to minimal stances. And so with these kids back now, we can operate much more efficiently and serve all these fine guests we have in our area.

CATHY WURZER: So Jeff, you're down-- Go ahead.

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): What these kids do is they work in hotels, they make beds, they clean rooms, they work in restaurants, they wait tables, they do dishes. Some cook. They work at resorts doing similar things, working cabin cleaning, canoe maintenance. They do a lot of jobs that maybe aren't highly skilled but very necessary to do. And they're hard workers. They often work two jobs.

CATHY WURZER: I'm curious, Jeff Kiger down there in Rochester, are you seeing something, a similar situation when you have worker shortages in Rochester? This is a little bit different in Grand Marais. It's a tourist-based situation with the J-1 workers. But are you seeing worker shortages?

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): We've seen some mostly in some of those more like the fast food restaurants. But the hotels have struggled a little bit. But for the most part, they've kept staff here at least there most recently.

CATHY WURZER: So Brian, some of the problem, of course, too is you have a housing shortage, an affordable housing shortage on the North Shore.

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): Traffic.

CATHY WURZER: Yes, exactly. Where do these J-1 workers end up staying?

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): Well, they stay in bunkhouses. And so a lot of kids will stay in one house. And they work so much. 16-hour days for these kids is just not uncommon at all, tremendous workers. But it is hard to find them housing, I will say that. It's a conundrum up here. We have very good paying jobs that we can't fill because there's no housing for those workers to come and live in either. So it's very tough right now.

CATHY WURZER: By the way, how old are these J-1 workers, generally speaking?

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): So they're 21, 22, 23 years old. They're not-- I call them kids. And they majorly often speak three or four languages, and they major in like physics or chemistry, architecture. They are very smart kids. They adapt fast. They don't seem to mind working jobs far beneath their skill level, and they also bring a lot of personality.

We're an old County. We're the second oldest county by age out of Minnesota's 87 counties. And so they bring a lot of personality too, and it's really great that they're back on a lot of levels. So it just adds to people's enjoyment when they come and visit our area.

CATHY WURZER: That sounds like it's going to be a good story. So Jim Boyle, I didn't want to leave you out of the fun here. Let's talk a little bit about what's happening in your neck of the woods. I know we're going to switch gears here and talk about a new dock installed in Elk River, a dock?

JIM BOYLE (ON PHONE): Yeah, it's creating quite a bit of excitement. It's something that's been on the radar for a very long time. It was talked about way back in 2015, and it was after a park. And downtown Elk River was built in 2006 and they began having a concert series there in 2007, and that's been going strong ever since.

And the thing about it is that when Hoisington Kugler, the group that put it together for the city, they came back in 2015 with ideas. OK, what's the next step now that the park needs to be expanded and bigger? What are some other ideas? And one of them was to include a dock at the base of the park.

And while that didn't transpire quickly, the park was expanded in 2017. And then from there people in the background continued to push for this dock, including folks like the representatives of the Downtown Elk River Business Association, Fred McCoy, a downtown business owner and owner of McCoy's Pub.

And they just kept pressing including Chris Carlson, who had a successful business in Elk River called Sport Tech. And he has a foundation that he has since created. And then he put some money on the table to the tune of about $57,000, and that just continued the discussion even well after the park was expanded.

Once that was known, the city was saying, let's see if we can fundraise the rest. And those efforts were not truly successful because they were not able to raise more funds, but the interest was still there. And Downtown Elk River gets a lot of discussion at the city level and at the community level about what could make it better. And eventually, the city said, hey, even though we can't raise this money, the interest is there. Let's go ahead and fund it. And they did that.

And so about $110,000 is what it took to get it funded. It's a dock that will go in the spring and come out at the end of the year and then go back in for the following year. And so people are really catching on to this and creating a lot of excitement.

CATHY WURZER: So if I decide to moor my boat on this dock next year, I can go then walk up to Downtown Elk River and maybe have a burger and a beer?

JIM BOYLE (ON PHONE): You absolutely can. And you got several choices. You can walk right up. It's a beautiful park overlooking the river, and there's McCoy's Pub, there's Sunshine Depot. There's a new place coming called The Edge Bar and Boutique this fall, I think part of the excitement of everything that's going on downtown. There's also a really good pizza place called Pompey Pizzeria and then a 1950s type restaurant and Daddy O's that's down there as well. So the Old Main eatery is another one if you want to go for a good breakfast or lunch.

CATHY WURZER: Thank you.

JIM BOYLE (ON PHONE): Yeah, so just lots of opportunities.

CATHY WURZER: I'm wondering, of course, Jeff in Rochester, you're no stranger to-- this was a big project for Elk River, obviously, but you all have been just building, building, building in Rochester. That's another whole story, obviously. But I want to focus in on a story that you had that you broke August 11. And when I saw it, I thought, really? I had no idea that this person lived in Rochester. We're talking about a very popular 41-year-old Scottish pop star who was found dead.

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Well, I wouldn't say he was living here too. The confusion has been he was in the Berkman apartment complex, but there's also a hotel within that complex, and he was in a hotel room [AUDIO OUT].

CATHY WURZER: Ah, I see. Tell me about this person. Who was he?

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Well, he was, like you said, a popular Scottish singer, much more popular than I had any idea. But he was on a couple of singing competitions and gained a lot of popularity in the very early 2000s and then went on to record an album and had a number one hit and had a popular album and then also performed a lot in the West End stage doing musicals too. So he was very well known actually, and this has generated a lot of interest.

CATHY WURZER: I should say his name is Darius Campbell Danesh. What do we know about his death so far?

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Very little, to be honest. He was found-- the police got a call of a deceased person. They arrived, it was late Thursday on August 11. They came into the hotel room, found him deceased, unresponsive. And they've been doing a toxicology and looking into this. We do not have a cause of death. That's the big question that's not been answered yet.

CATHY WURZER: Well, another question I guess I have is, what the heck was he doing in Rochester?

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Well, I'd say that is a good one too and it's also not as clear. The Berkman is right next to St. Mary's, so a lot of people do stay there when they're undergoing the outpatient treatment. So they're staying there possibly, but we don't know that. The Mayo Clinic hasn't confirmed anything along that length. But that is obviously the typical reason that people come to Rochester.

CATHY WURZER: And obviously, this was front page news.

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): It was. And also, [AUDIO OUT] sideline to this. All summer long we've been seeing and we always see many fairly well known faces pop up in Rochester on occasion. But the actor Gerard Butler has been showing up at a lot of public events here throughout the summer at the county fair and our [AUDIO OUT]. He was a close friend of Darius. And they had been traveling together at least some earlier in the summer. So that seems to make that connection, but we don't know much more about that either.

CATHY WURZER: I'm sure you'll find out more, though. I appreciate the time for all three that you had took some time out of your lunch hour here to join us. I appreciate it. I also appreciate your work. Thank you all for doing what you're doing.

JEFF KIGER (ON PHONE): Thank you.

BRIAN LARSEN (ON PHONE): Thank you, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: Talk to you all later. Brian Larsen has been with us. Brian, of course, is in the Grand Marais area, Cook County News Herald in Grand Marais. Jeff Kiger is in Rochester, Rochester Post Bulletin. Jim Boyle has joined us too, of course. Jim is with the Star News of Elk River, Otsego, and Rodgers. It's 12:41 here in Minnesota Now.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Well, in case you missed it, Olympic gold medalist, Minnesota's own Suni Lee paid a special visit last week to her great school Alma mater in St. Paul. She was met with a welcome fit for a hero as we hear from Elizabeth Shockman.

ELIZABETH SHOCKMAN: Battle Creek Elementary leaders invited students to the school's gymnasium for a back to school donation event. Principal Kristen Longway said there would be a special guest. But it wasn't until the kids were sitting on the floor that they revealed who it was.

KRISTEN LONGWAY: Suni Lee.

[APPLAUSE]

ELIZABETH SHOCKMAN: The winner of the women's gymnastics all around title at the Tokyo Olympics thrilled the surprise students. Lee, who is currently studying business marketing at Auburn University, took time to talk to students and pose afterwards with them for photos.

SUNI LEE: Hi, everyone.

AUDIENCE: Hi.

SUNI LEE: It's so great to be back here, oh my gosh. I loved my time as a student here. The community has really helped me realize my passion as an athlete and a gymnast and has supported me as I followed my dreams and competed in the Olympics. Winning a gold medal I'm especially proud to be a part of the Hmong community.

ELIZABETH SHOCKMAN: Kaylah Morris, 11 years old, says she admires Lee.

KAYLAH MORRIS: I'm in gymnastics, and so I really want to go to the Olympics or at least college gymnastics.

ELIZABETH SHOCKMAN: Lee reconnected with old teachers and coaches at the school.

SUNI LEE: Mr. Richards, he always pushed me. We were just talking about it. I was like, yeah, I used to always make them climb the rope even when I was in at practice or he used to make me do more pull ups than everybody else. He just always knew, and I would always tell him like, I'm going to go in the gold medal. And he was like, if anybody could do it, it's you.

ELIZABETH SHOCKMAN: Lee is starting her sophomore year at Auburn University this fall, and she's continuing her gymnastics training. She hasn't yet decided on whether she'll aim for the Olympics in 2024. Lee is the first among American to win an Olympic gold medal and the fifth straight American woman to claim the Olympic all around. Elizabeth Shockman, NPR News, St. Paul.

[MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "I'VE JUST SEEN A FACE"]

(SINGING) I've just seen a face. I can't forget the time or place where we just met. She's just the girl for me, and I want all the world to see we've met mm-mm mm-mm, mm. Had it been another day, I might have looked the other way. And I'd have never been aware. But as it is, I'll dream of her tonight, da-da da-da tonight.

Falling, yes, I'm falling. And she keeps calling me back again.

CATHY WURZER: It's been more than 58 years since The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and Beatlemania hit American shores. At the time, critics believed the lads from Liverpool, John, Paul, George, and Ringo would be a flash in the pan. But we're still talking about them and their music. The Beatles toured the US from 1964 to 1966 but only appeared once in Minnesota, August 21, 1965. That was yesterday. And their management swore they would never come back.

As part of our history segment, Then And Now, we're going to talk about that famed concert. Lori Lundstrom's dad owned a Minneapolis ambulance company and provided limos to The Beatles during their stay. Lori's here with us to talk about the only time The Beatles visited Minnesota. Hey, Lori. Welcome.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Hey, Cathy. Thanks for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Absolutely. I'm dying to find out more here. How did your dad get connected to The Beatles?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Well, since he had the limousine service, he knew Omri Cole Hann, who went by the name Big Reggie, who ran the Excelsior amusement park and had Danceland. I think he may have owned it also. But back in those days, you didn't have jam productions and the like, so you had to go with local promoters. And he knew my dad and called him up and said, you want to take this contract?

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, but your dad had an ambulance company.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yeah, so it was actually when he acquired James Ambulance, a very young age. He was just out of college. And as part of James Ambulance, he also had a livery. They called it livery, which was actually a limousine and hearses. So it's all a massive enterprise.

CATHY WURZER: OK, so he agrees to do this, and I presume he arrives at MSP in time to get to the plane. Did your dad have any interactions with The Beatles while he was driving them around?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): There was a lot of last minute change-ups with The Beatles. So as far as I know, my father only drove them from the airport-- or from the hotel back to the airport the day that they left. When they arrived here, there was four limousines waiting. At the last minute they decided to not put each individual in the limousines and just put them into a Cadillac because there was just so much pandemonium at the airport.

And then when the concert was over with, they actually snuck them out in a laundry vehicle. So there was a lot of last minute changes. So as far as I know, my father only drove them when they left town the next day.

CATHY WURZER: OK, did your dad point out any of the lovely landmarks that we have here at all or no?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): He did. My father loved telling stories about the Foshay Tower. And I'm sure he was looking to regale them with all these stories, and I think they were just really tired at that point. If you have read up about the events leading up to when they left, it was pretty crazy.

So he didn't really get much conversation out of them. He pointed out the tower and he said that they just had this British twitter or cockney twitter. They'd say, ha-ha-ha. That was about all he got from them.

CATHY WURZER: So you mentioned that he drove them from-- did they spend the night? Which hotel would it have been in downtown?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): The Leamington. It was called the Leamington Motor Lodge.

CATHY WURZER: Right, exactly. Of course, long gone. So it was pretty chaotic.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yes. Originally, I think they were supposed to be taken from the airport to Leamington and chill out. And there was so much pandemonium they were taken directly to Met Stadium and just hung out in the locker room, and then they didn't take them to the hotel till the concert was over with.

And when they got down there, they did ask my father to help them with crowd control because it was so crazy. I think they put them on the fifth floor because that was where the freight elevator went up to, and they decided that they can't have them using the regular elevators. So obviously, there's other people staying in the hotel. They had their entourage with them and they had to control these crowds.

So my father talked about they had-- he called it sawed off broom handles. They would use it to push the crowds back trying to get up the regular elevators and they'd push them back into the hallways, yeah.

CATHY WURZER: Oh my gosh, that's a mess.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yeah.

CATHY WURZER: Oy, oh my gosh. And, of course, for folks who are not familiar, they played at the old Met Stadium, which was the home of the Twins in Bloomington there. And that seemed like that was also just a messy situation.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yes, my father was at Met Stadium, and he remembers, and I don't recall anybody else ever telling the story in all the articles I've read about it. He swears that at the end, it may have been Dave Clark Five because he drove them also. But he swears that they turned the lights on really bright at the end of the concert just to blind everybody so they could have an opportunity to whisk them out.

CATHY WURZER: So they leave, they go to the Leamington. That was chaotic. By the way, we're going to play-- we have to play the song Help! That's about the chaos of Beatlemania, getting to The Beatles. And I know they played it in their Minneapolis set that night.

[MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "'HELP!"]

(SINGING) Help. I need somebody, help. Not just anybody, help. You know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody's help in any way.

Oh yeah, actually, they needed a lot of help when they were in Minneapolis. Beatles management said they were never coming back to the city. What happened?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): I think what they were angered about was the police chief at the time Dwyer was just talking about them being a traveling three-ring circus, and it was his obligation to protect the underage girls of Minneapolis and accused Paul of having a girl in his room. And it turns out she wasn't a local girl. She was 21 when they finally got her out. So they weren't whisking underage girls in the room like they were being accused of doing.

CATHY WURZER: Oh my gosh, and then, of course, that whole hotel experience was obviously out of control.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Right. So the aftermath of it was pretty crazy. My father had to actually have one of his limos repainted because they had scrawled with a knife or whatever they had scrawled their initials or I love Paul. So yeah, he had to have the limousine repainted.

And The Beatles, as you know, they smoked quite a bit. So the limousine was the ashtrays were overflowing and my father had to vacuum them out. And the girls, these girls would show up the next day saying, oh, can we buy their cigarette butts? And my dad said, no, I've already vacuumed those. Get out of here. They're not for sale.

CATHY WURZER: Get out of here. They wanted to be given the cigarette butts? Oh.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yes.

CATHY WURZER: So not attractive. How did you, by the way, find out? Did your dad talk a lot about this? The whole story, was that something that he regaled the family with this story?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Well, my father talked a lot about the ambulance business. But he had never actually brought up The Beatles as I recalled. And when I was about 12, I was babysitting. There was two couples that live near us and both of them we're like '60s people. And I think the husbands in both families had substantial Beatles collections. So between the two of them, I think they had every Beatles collection.

So when I would put the kids to bed at night, I listened to the Beatles and really became a huge fan. And back in those days, KQRS and KDWB were playing them all the time as well. And I went, I sat at the dinner table and started telling my dad about how much I love The Beatles, and he said, well, did you know I drove them? I was, kind of, shocked.

CATHY WURZER: I'm sure you were. And these are the stories that he told, obviously. Do you remember-- did he talk at all about, it's a pretty famous news conference in Minnesota history. They had reporters from, of course, all the different news organizations there and Bill Diehl, who I think was with-- oh, shoot, was it WDGY Radio?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): I think so.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, I think it was Bill Diehl had some great audio of The Beatles at this news conference. It also seemed like a strange news conference, given that they weren't very talkative.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Yeah, my father was not at the news conference, unfortunately. So he didn't have any stories about that.

CATHY WURZER: By the way, did you have a favorite Beatle?

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): I did, and it was George.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, I see. Yeah, he's one of my favorites too.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): I loved his guitar style, and I think when they all put out solo albums, that was my favorite.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah, well, Lori, you told a good story. I think your dad would be proud of you, interesting.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): I'd like to think.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah. Thank you for sharing.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): There's more, believe me.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, I'm sure there is a lot more. I'm sure. Lori, thanks for joining us.

LORI LUNDSTROM (ON PHONE): Have a good day.

CATHY WURZER: You too. Lori Lundstrom is the daughter of David Lundstrom, whose limo company chauffeured The Beatles at the music group's one and only Minnesota concert. It was August 21, just yesterday for goodness sakes, 1965.

[MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "HELP!"]

(SINGING) self assured. Now I find I changed mind and opened up the doors.

CREW: Support comes from the Walker Art Center presenting Paj Quam Ntuj, Flowers in the Sky, a new exhibition by Pao Houa Her featuring photography that centers Hmong American experiences. More at walkerart.org.

[MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "HELP!"]

(SINGING) Won't you please, please help me. I know my life has changed--

CATHY WURZER: Oh, thank you for listening to Minnesota Now here on MPR News. Support for Minnesota Now comes from True Stone Financial Credit Union dedicated to giving back to the community since 1939. Full service banking is available at 23 locations and online at truestone.org. True Stone is an equal housing opportunity lender insured by NCUA.

Sunny skies 77 degrees right now at MPR News 91.1 KNOW Minneapolis, St. Paul. It's going to be a lovely day. It really is quite nice out there. The high should top out, well, actually, we're pretty close to topping out where we should be here for the day, maybe a couple degrees more. Overnight, low will be around 60, lower 80s for a high tomorrow.

And we do have some rain in the forecast Tuesday night-- excuse me, that's Wednesday we have rain. Tuesday night will be dry. Wednesday, a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon on Wednesday with a high of 82 and then a chance for more rain Wednesday night into Thursday. It's 1 o'clock.

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