ST. PAUL — Minnesotans lost a beloved pop star, mourned the loss of loved ones killed in police-involved shootings and learned the tragic end of a mystery that had shocked the state decades earlier.

But they also celebrated a set of new sports stadiums and welcomed a new titleholder for the most dominant local team in a decade.

Political debates over same-sex marriage, sexual harassment and crude oil pipelines sparked divisions in the state and led to political turnover in their aftermath.

And farmers felt the strain of an influenza outbreak that killed millions of turkeys and chickens in the state.

The 2010s brought happiness, heartbreak, political change and debates that carried over or promise to continue into the 2020s. As the decade comes to a close, here's a look at 10 of Minnesota's biggest news stories of the 2010s.

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A heartbreaking end in the search for Jacob Wetterling

Tuesday, Oct. 22, marks the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. In 2016, his remains were uncovered on a farm in Paynesville and an arrest made. Submitted photo.
Tuesday, Oct. 22, marks the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. In 2016, his remains were uncovered on a farm in Paynesville and an arrest made. Submitted photo.

Twenty-six years after Jacob Wetterling, then 11, went missing near his house in St. Joseph, Wetterling's killer Denny Heinrich was sentenced to federal prison and the boy's remains were recovered in 2016. Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years under a plea deal, which required that he lead authorities to Wetterling's grave and detail what he'd done to the boy. Heinrich also had to plead guilty to one child-pornography charge and admit that he’d also abducted and assaulted another boy.

Heinrich abducted Wetterling on Oct. 22, 1989, sexually assaulted him and fatally shot him twice in the head before burying his body in rural Paynesville.

The kidnap shocked the state and the nation and changed the way Minnesota parents watched their kids. For years, people marked the anniversary of Wetterling's disappearance by turning on their porch lights in hopes that Jacob would return home.

A failed fight to ban same-sex marriage and legalization

A rainbow flag flew in front of the Minnesota Capitol building Tuesday night, May 14 as 6,000 people celebrated a new gay marriage law. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)
A rainbow flag flew in front of the Minnesota Capitol building Tuesday night, May 14 as 6,000 people celebrated a new gay marriage law. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)

In 2012, Republicans who controlled the Legislature bypassed then-Gov. Mark Dayton to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Campaigns on both sides made their case in the state ahead of Election Day and voters appeared deadlocked, but ultimately the measure was defeated.

Democrats took control in the state Legislature in the 2012 election and in 2013, they enacted legislation legalizing same-sex marriage and making the state the 12th in the nation to do so. Same-sex couples were able to marry in the state beginning Aug. 1, 2013.

High-profile police shootings shake the state

Undated courtesy photo, circa Aug. 2017, of Louis Hunter. Courtesy of Michelle Gross)
Undated courtesy photo, circa Aug. 2017, of Louis Hunter. Courtesy of Michelle Gross)

A series of high-profile police-involved shootings shocked the state and spurred protests, political movements, and calls for additional training and transparency from peace officers.

On Nov. 15, 2015, two white police officers fatally shot Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old African American man, after they believed he was interfering with paramedics who were treating his girlfriend in north Minneapolis. The shooting and the Hennepin County Attorney's decision not to charge the two officers involved prompted days-long encampment outside the police precinct and months of protests that followed.

Less than a year later on July 6, 2016, a St. Anthony police shot and killed 32-year-old school cafeteria worker Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Castile's girlfriend live-streamed the shooting and Castile's death from the passenger seat. Her young daughter was in the backseat of the vehicle. Viral video and photo from the incident prompted protests in the Twin Cities and four months later, the Ramsey County attorney made history by charging officer Jeronimo Yanez with three felonies in connection with the shooting. Yanez was acquitted of the charges and was fired from his position.

And on July 15, 2017, Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk after she reported to police a possible assault in the alley behind her home. Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter following the shooting and was sentenced to 12.5 years imprisonment. It was the first time a Minnesota law enforcement officer was convicted of an on-duty fatal shooting. Ruszczyk's family brought a civil lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and was awarded $20 million.

Al Franken steps down amid #MeToo movement

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., stands in front of journalists outside his office commenting on the sexual harassment allegations against him in November 2017. Washington Post photo by Melina Mara
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., stands in front of journalists outside his office commenting on the sexual harassment allegations against him in November 2017. Washington Post photo by Melina Mara

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken in December 2017 resigned his seat following pressure from his colleagues to do so. Franken faced allegations from several women of unwanted touching and forced kissing stemming from the #MeToo movement.

Women and men came forward to share their stories of being harassed or assaulted by prominent figures in the media, business and politics. The movement was spurred by dozens of allegations of sexual assault lodged against film producer Harvey Weinstein and spread internationally.

Following Franken's resignation, Gov. Mark Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to his seat. And then-Senate President Michelle Fischbach became lieutenant governor, precipitating tension between the Democrat and Republican at the state's helm.

A historically blue state shifts purple

Republicans made strides in picking up support in traditionally-blue Minnesota in the last decade but have come up short of winning a statewide office. GOP candidates haven't been able to overcome that hurdle since Tim Pawlenty was re-elected governor in 2006.

The 2010 Tea Party wave helped Republican candidates pick up seats in the state Legislature and win control of both chambers there for the first time in decades, though voters also elected Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

The wave was short-lived as voters returned control of the Legislature to DFLers in 2012, setting up Democratic control over state government. But Republicans and Democrats wrestled control of the Statehouse back and forth over much of the decade. The governor's office, meanwhile, remained in DFL hands as Dayton was re-elected and Gov. Tim Walz won the seat in 2018.

And Congressional seat remained fairly consistent until later in the decade.

Then-candidate Donald Trump helped push the state toward the GOP in 2016, as he came within 44,000 votes of snapping the state's longest-in-the-nation streak of supporting Democratic presidential candidates and helped down-ballot candidates get elected to state legislative seats. And the 2018 Election saw Republicans Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber flip districts that had previously been held by Democrats. Two Democrats, Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, also flipped seats previously held by Republicans in 2018.

Trump has promised to pour money into Minnesota in 2020 in his effort to win re-election and that could help him edge out a Democratic opponent and boost GOP contenders down the ticket. DFL Chair Ken Martin has said the party takes the challenge seriously and preparing for a fight to keep the state blue.

If you build it, they will come

A Minnesota Vikings logo is embossed on each padded seat right behind the east end zone at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)
A Minnesota Vikings logo is embossed on each padded seat right behind the east end zone at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)

Minnesota saw a boom of new athletic stadiums this decade, with the Twins opening up at Target Field in 2010, the Vikings moving from the deflated Metrodome to the U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016 and new soccer club Minnesota United breaking in Allianz Field earlier this year. The Target Center also got a pair of facelifts in 2014 and 2017.

These projects, at a combined cost an estimated $2.111 billion and they brought the Twin Cities sporting venue potential to the national forefront so much so that the area became a top contender for hosting high-profile national and international events like the Super Bowl, NCAA March Madness tournament, X Games and CONCACAF Gold Cup. Each project except for Allianz Field used public funding.

Minnesota legend Prince dies

U.S. musician Prince performs at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, southern England in this filew photo dated July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo
U.S. musician Prince performs at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, southern England in this filew photo dated July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

Prince Rogers Nelson, popularly known as pop star Prince, in 2016 died of an accidental overdose after he used fentanyl. His death broke the hearts of his fans around the world and raised awareness about the dangers of opioid painkillers. In Minneapolis, fans filled the streets to remember the artist.

Minnesota Lynx dominate

Posing for a group team photo were back row, from left, forward Maya Moore (23), forward Rebekkah Brunson (32) forward Seimone Augustus (33) and in front, from left, center Sylvia Fowles (34), guard Lindsay Whalen (13) at the Minnesota Lynx Media Day at Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)
Posing for a group team photo were back row, from left, forward Maya Moore (23), forward Rebekkah Brunson (32) forward Seimone Augustus (33) and in front, from left, center Sylvia Fowles (34), guard Lindsay Whalen (13) at the Minnesota Lynx Media Day at Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Sorry, 2000s Twins and 1970s Vikings, but the 2010s welcomed a new titleholder for the most dominant decade of Minnesota professional sports: the Minnesota Lynx. Cheryl Reeve's tenure as head coach of the Lynx technically started 22 days before the beginning of the decade, but under her guidance, Minnesota became the gold standard in pro basketball. The Lynx won a record six Western Conference titles in the decade, and the four WNBA titles moved the franchise into a tie for first place all-time. Throw in 27 all-star selections, eight Olympic selections and MVP awards for Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles, and it's clear who reigned supreme on the hardwood.

Bird flu strikes chicken, turkey farms

Carolyn Lange / Tribune file photo

This 2016 file photo from the Minnesota State Fair shows the return of poultry exhibits after a one-year absence due to avian influenza. One of the best ways to protect commercial and backyard flocks against infectious diseases is to follow good biosecurity practices at all times, and USDA has launched a new  “Defend the Flock” campaign.
Carolyn Lange / Tribune file photo This 2016 file photo from the Minnesota State Fair shows the return of poultry exhibits after a one-year absence due to avian influenza. One of the best ways to protect commercial and backyard flocks against infectious diseases is to follow good biosecurity practices at all times, and USDA has launched a new “Defend the Flock” campaign.

Millions of chickens and turkeys perished in Minnesota after the avian flu, more commonly referred to as bird flu, struck the state in 2014. After the disease was first detected at a farm in Pope County, birds at more than a hundred other Minnesota farms tested positive. More than 4.9 million chickens and turkeys died from the disease or had to be killed to prevent its spread, costing farmers more than $950 million.

Minnesota's the nation's top turkey producing state, was hit hard by the illness and to prevent its spread, the Minnesota State Fair canceled poultry exhibitions. Cages where birds typically were shown instead contained photos of chickens and turkeys.

The fight over Line 3 oil pipeline continues

Forum News Service file photo
Forum News Service file photo

The ongoing effort to replace the aging Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, along with other pipeline projects, carried on over the past 10 years, with Enbridge and labor groups supporting the project in northern Minnesota and tribal and environmental advocates opposing it.

Enbridge has worked for years to secure proper permitting to replace the decades-old pipeline with a new line set to extend from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis., crossing 350 miles in Minnesota. And they've faced hurdles as permitting agencies and courts required additional information about the proposal and as opponents aimed to challenge the plan in hopes of delaying or preventing its completion.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce earlier this month released an addition to the proposed $2.9 billion pipeline project's environmental impact statement after a Minnesota appellate court said the company's proposal was inadequate without it. The model shows that "even in an unmitigated release, it is unlikely that any measurable amount of oil would reach Lake Superior."

Sections of the pipeline have already been permitted or completed in Canada and Wisconsin. And permit applications in North Dakota have been submitted and are under review. Enbridge officials said they hope to break ground in 2020 but opponents said they'll do what they can to ensure the project stalls.

Robb Jeffries of Forum News Service contributed to this report.