All posts by Britt Telshaw

Breaking the Cycle of Stolen Bikes

As warmer weather starts to hit the Winona State campus again, so do the bike thieves.

Scott Bestul, the assistant security director on campus, said that so far in 2016 there have been five reports of stolen bikes on WSU campus. He also disclosed that open investigations could not be counted as of yet.

Most of the thefts occurred at East Lake and around Kryszko Commons.

In addition to the five bike thefts, there have been two reports of missing bike parts.

According to Bestul, some thieves steal and stockpile front tires, and even the seats.

With seven recorded thefts before the peak bicycle season mid-spring, Bestul said that the theft numbers remain fairly consistent from year-to-year.

“I’ve been here five years, I haven’t seen a drastic change one way or the other,” he said.

Many of the investigations don’t end in a recovery. 2014 WSU graduate Joe Klehr is one of many students on campus that never got his stolen bike back.

“My bike was stolen [in 2012] and I never found it,” Klehr said. “I snooped around campus for my bike a few times and kept my eyes open until I graduated, but it never turned up.”

Klehr took matters into his own hands when his roommate’s bike was stolen, and later turned up at Winona State’s Integrated Wellness Complex.

“After sharing my story, I realized lots of people shared that same story,” Klehr said. “My roommate’s bike also got jacked [in 2014] and we found that baby locked up by the IWC. I ended up cutting the chain from the thieves lock, and stole it back. It didn’t get taken again.”

While unorthodox, Klehr felt that the options to get his roommate’s bike back otherwise were slim.

“I didn’t report the crime because I just assumed the police had bigger issues to resolve,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know how the police could find a stolen bike anyway. The option of cutting the lock just seemed like the quickest solution without involving unnecessary parties.”

2015 graduate Will Ahlberg had three bikes stolen from him during his time at Winona State.

“One of my bikes was stolen outside my house, one was stolen after I forgot to lock it up for 10 minutes during the day, and one was taken by someone with a cable cutter just snapping my lock off,” Ahlberg said. “The last bike that was stolen by the cable cutters I had actually built myself completely so that one stung quite a bit.”

Bestul said that some bikes that are recovered by the Winona Police Department are kept for up to six months at a place commonly known as the “bike barn.” After six months, the bikes are auctioned off. If nobody claims them before or during the auctions, the bikes are destroyed.

Ahlberg had no such luck at the bike barn.

“Never recovered any of them,” he said. “I reported the last two to the police and they said I had to go to the warehouse to try and find it, but it was only open one day a week for like two hours, and I always had class right over that time so I never had a chance to even go and try to find them again.”

Bestul says the best thing for students to do to avoid theft is to thoroughly document their bikes, including a serial number.

“When filing a report we like to have a detailed description of the bicycle, whether or not anyone else had access to the lock combination or key, the exact location from where it was stolen, and the date and time it was last seen,” Bestul said. “The students can file reports with WSU security and the Winona Police Department.  We encourage and prefer both.”

That said, Bestul also recommends that students ensure their bikes are correctly secured with the right equipment.


To register a bicycle with the City of Winona, click here.

To report a lost bicycle with the City of Winona, click here. 

To view recovered bicycles at the Bike Barn, viewings are on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. For more information, click here.


RunnerUp – The Improving Improvisers

For the local improv group on Winona State campus, being a member is a part of an exclusive club.

There are nine improvisers on the RunnerUp comedy troupe, a student manager, and a tech assistant, bringing the total to 11 members.

The Tuesday before Winona State’s spring break, 15 students showed up to try their luck in the troupe’s annual auditions.

“It’s more than we’ve ever gotten, RunnerUp facilitator and WSU junior Keagan Anderson said. “The largest audition that I’ve seen here is six.”

RunnerUp formed back in 2008 with a handful of members. They primarily do shows on Winona State campus, but have recently started to increase their reach.

Show locations around Winona include Blooming Grounds coffeehouse, Ed’s No-Name Bar, Bub’s, and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Additionally, the troupe has collaborated with La Crosse’s troupe, The Backwards Thinking Society, and plans to do a show with WSU’s A cappella group Hear and Now in April.

On a national scale, RunnerUp is growing too. For the first time in three years, RunnerUp competed in the Chicago Improvisational Tournment (CIT). Regionals were held in December at the Minneapolis HUGE Theater.

RunnerUp won the first round with their trademark sketch, called a “Mockumentary.” Members compare the sketch to the show “The Office,” where characters can have an aside to address the audience.

The group finished third in the Midwest at CIT, their best finish at a national tournament.

“I think the name we make for ourselves through our shows really ended up speaking for us,” Anderson said.

Megan Hayes (left) offers drinks to Brad Krieger (center) and Keagan Anderson during practice

While the number of students who turned up for auditions was surprising to the group, it’s evident RunnerUp’s plan is working.

“This year’s turnout really speaks to how much we got the word out, but also how much people appreciate our club and want to be a part of it,” Anderson said. “We’ve definitely been more present on social media. Beyond that, we were very good about publicizing events, and a lot more word of mouth than we have in the past.”

Anderson said going into auditions, RunnerUp was expected to bring on three new members. With the overwhelming amount of talent to choose from this year, they doubled the total to six. Over half of the 15 students who auditioned were freshmen.

Emma Tomb, a sophomore, was eager to compete for a spot in the group.

“All through high school I was on a [sic] improv troupe, and it was quite a community,” Tomb said. “Through seeing what [RunnerUp] has created, it seems like they have a nice little community here, and it seems like something that I’d want to be a part of.”

Freshman Will Diedrich said the group could also help build real world skills.

“I want to be in RunnerUp because I want to learn to do improv,” Diedrich said. “Improv has a lot of real world use. It pretty much applies to anything you want to do, and it uses a lot of communication skills, which I could work on as a person.”

Tomb and Diedrich were part of the six people notified they had made the troupe, shortly before Winona State’s spring break last week.

“I think it was overwhelming,” Diedrich said of the audition process. “I didn’t expect that many people to be there. But it worked out well in the end.”

Now, the new members will practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-10 P.M. in Winona State’s Performing Arts Center − preparing for upcoming shows and learning new improve skills.

“The first practice was alright, the big thing was that you have to perform with everyone else now that’s in RunnerUp,” Diedrich said. “It was a little difficult to step up to their level. They’re all really encouraging and everything, but it’s still a little bit nervous when you’re dealing with all the people that are experts in the field.”

Keagan Anderson (right) performs with Elladee Zak on Thursday, March 17th.
Keagan Anderson (right) performs with Elladee Zak on Thursday, March 17th.

Anderson said that the new members will be put to work right away.

“We’re really looking to push them,” he said. “During the audition process you only see two or three different sides of a person, and maybe we see a lot of potential, but you want to push them and open up that potential and show us what they got.”

Even with a new mass of members, the group dynamic is still the same.

“We’re definitely a group that fits together,” Anderson concluded.

Runner Up’s next show is currently scheduled for April 30th, in Winona State’s Student Activity Center. The cost is free. For more event updates, follow RunnerUp on their Facebook page.

To view clips of RunnerUp’s shows − including their winning CIT performance − visit their YouTube page.



The Art of Relaxation

With life, there’s bound to be a multitude of stresses. Thankfully, there’s a new club at the Winona Public Library that residents can pencil into their schedule.

Starting this past Tuesday and continuing every month at the library’s Liberty Bell art room, there’s a coloring club to bring out an inner child.

“I had the idea for the coloring club, it’s kind of the fad in libraries right now,” said Samantha TerBeest, who founded the club. “It’s super popular to do them.”

Supplies and art are provided by TerBeest, and there are dozens of coloring options. Anybody is free to walk in and join − there’s no signup needed.

As an adult services librarian, TerBeest received suggestions for the club and decided to test the trend on the locals.

“The response has been surprisingly overwhelming,” TerBeest said. “I put it out as a Facebook event and I shared it through the library’s webpage as well as the parks and recs page. Within two hours I got 20 people interested in it.”

The club is designed to be a way for Winona County adults to meet people and relax. Winona State University psychology professor Liz Russell says activities like the coloring club can also relieve stress and anxiety.

“The attention to adult coloring books and things like that is actually really great, because it means that people are doing something to worry about theirmental health,” Russell said.

“Art therapy can be helpful,” she said. ”A big part of how coloring books are effective is the mindfulness − things to get you out of the cyclical thinking pattern,” It’s really hard to [color] when you’re not in the given moment.”

Trisha Karr, another psychology professor at Winona State, says that in addition to getting out of the cyclical pattern, certain parts of the brain are quieted and as a result de-stresses the brain.

“In coloring, what’s taking place is if somebody is stressed out, we can connect that to the amygdala,” Karr said. “The thought is that we can reduce the activation the amgydala. In that case, the emotion center is quieted.”

Karr said that as a culture, people are becoming more used to multitasking, which invokes more stress.

“Coloring is thought to be a task that gets us to focus on one stimulus,” Karr said. “In that case, it has a calming influence on the brain. What we want to do is color to quiet those thoughts and in turn, shut down the [stress] process that’s occurring in the brain and nervous system.”

For the adult population that is targeted for the library’s audience, Samantha TerBeest said the coloring club could especially calm, relax and de-stress those who come in.

“It also kind of helps the elderly population that may be experiencing symptoms in Alzheimer’s and dementia, ‘cause it helps them bring back memories of their childhood,” TerBeest said.

Once people find their relaxing niche, they can become less stressed and more comfortable.

“Finding the strategy that works best and using that is really important,” Professor Russell said. “Ongoing mindfulness tends to have ongoing effects. The more you relax and the more you practice that, the easier it is to bring that relaxation back.”

As the coloring trend continues to grow, TerBeest said she will continue welcoming Winona County residents to see if coloring is indeed their niche. She said the coloring club program is here to stay.

“It is going to be a monthly thing,” TerBeest said. “I like to do a monthly testing period of about six months to get a feel if this is a program that I should have for a while or not.”

The next color club meeting will be on May 9th, and is open to the public.

A visual look at the first color club meeting back in February.


Campaigning for the Real World

Even in his campaigns logo crested T-Shirt, amidst the throng of trade show masses, Winona State University public relations student Phil Robin started to sweat.

“It’s nerve-racking, and I want to go to sleep,” he said exhaustedly.

For many public relations and advertising students in Winona State’s senior campaigns class, Thursday’s trade show in Kryszko’s Student Activity Center was their first real world experience.

At the start of the semester, Mass Communication professors Tanya Ryan and Muriel Scott had each student fill out a skill survey and submit a resume. From there, students were sorted randomly into five different groups, so that students with similar skillsets weren’t together.

Each group had to develop their own company name, logo, and identity. From there, they decided on the roles they would have for the duration of the semester.

“The first day we sat in a circle and all said what our strengths and weaknesses are,”public relations major Megan Hayes said. “I said I was good at social media.”

Since the class mixes public relations and advertising majors, only a small portion of the students knew each other. In a real-life atmosphere, groups have to manage with what they have, just as they would with coworkers they don’t know anything about after getting hired.

“We all just clicked right away…  we’re all in the same boat, so we might as well like each other,” Hayes said.

For the students, there are no textbooks needed for this class. Everything that goes into the class involves time and resources.

“We meet five days a week for about two hours,” Hayes said. “We went over our budget first, then what we wanted to give out for ‘swag.'”

Hayes’ group named themselves Origin Communications, as “success originates with us,” as their mission statement says. Other groups include Avantive, Radiance, Meraki and Acai Eleven.

Origin’s booth at the trade show, which was manned by Hayes among others.

For the next two months, these five groups will be duking it out over a span of four events, vying for the coveted top spot. Each group was given two and a half weeks to prepare a booth for the first trade show, along with other handouts and information for a professional client. This year’s client is the Director of Communication at the Mall of America, Dan Jasper.

The students have to sign confidentiality forms and intellectual property forms in order to take the class. While the winning campaign isn’t used by the client, the winning group does receive some perks.

“Last year a client gave the mass communications department a donation, and it was used for [an end-of-the-year] banquet,” professor Tanya Ryan said.

She added that one time, “Best Buy gave everyone a gold membership.”

Professor Ryan said there is little teaching involved, other than feedback on how a group is doing after each event. The feedback and consequent rankings makes the groups strive to be better by the culmination of the class.

“You can’t ask your boss questions – they expect you to know what to do,” Ryan said. “The class is to empower students to make their own decisions, and teach them to become more confident in their knowledge and skills.”

Luckily for the group Avantive, advertising major Elizabeth Clark was able to offer some advice from her past experiences.

“I’ve done trade shows before at Mayo Center similar to this one for a gym [business],” Clark said.

That said, nothing could ever completely prepare students for what lay ahead – the trade show.

Students were cast into the fire as friends and strangers alike crowded the space around the booths, rifling off fast-paced questions and bumping into each other to fill out contest forms for the groups’ raffles.

“No matter how prepared you are, there are things where you wish ‘oh, I wish I would’ve done that,'” Clark said. “That and you always tell yourself to speak in a more professional manner.”

Amongst the photo booths, caricaturist and mini golf competition that groups brought, students kept piling in. Some WSU students had no vested interests in the trade show, and came to support friends. For Nicole Cullinan, a photographer at Winona State, she came to help her friends and help herself.

“One of my roommates is in Origin, and the other is in Avantive,” Cullinan said.

Like the groups, Cullinan was given a shortened deadline comparable to the real world.

“I shot for one team Wednesday, the other on Thursday, and then I sat down Friday night and did them all – I did it all in three days.”

Cullinan’s work was featured in slideshows playing at the booths during the trade show, and was also featured on social media.

“It was a good experience for me to do more studio work, and take more headshots,” Cullinan added. “It gives me a sense of pride, to see my work printed at the trade show.”

Hannah Ingebrand echoed Cullinan’s thoughts.

“This was the most real world thing I’ve ever done. I was really impressed by the whole thing. Everybody was on the same page,” Ingebrand said.

Winona State senior Phil Robin looks on during the Campaigns trade show, eager to answer questions the patrons might have.

On the far end of the SAC closest to the stage, Phil Robin and Meraki waited patiently to talk to the client. Jasper’s first question when he arrived – why the group wasn’t dressed like the rest.

“When people asked us why we were wearing T-Shirts, we said we want our work to speak for us, yet remain approachable and comfortable,” Robin said coolly.

Jasper told Robin he was impressed with Meraki’s overall message and mission statement.

“[Jasper] was more forward than anyone… nice guy, but a straight talker who was actually pretty intimidating,” Robin said. “Based on feedback from my teammates, we thought we’ll rank pretty well.”

An hour and a half later, it was all over. The groups were able to relax and consume some of their leftover cupcakes they had brought for the show.

Their first glimpse of the real world was just beginning.