Since its opening in 2015, medical equipment retailer Winona Home Medical has risen to occupy the void left by Bourne Medical Service, a fellow equipment retailer which closed in July 2018.
Winona Home Medical sells equipment like CPAP machines, wheelchairs, physical therapy products and more, and has the added benefit of being across the street from its parent organization, Winona Health hospital and clinic.
The business’s website says its staff includes a respiratory therapist with “more than 30 years of experience in home respiratory care, along with other caring experts who will make choosing and using home health products easy and enjoyable.”
As the only home medical equipment provider in the city, director of retail services Bill Cota says the business has been increasing what it has to offer.
“Once Bourne Medical went out of business last July, we really saw the need to expand and offer more products,” Cota said.
The business’s current location was purchased two years ago by Winona Health, but Cota said the hospital didn’t have any plans for the property until the closing of Bourne Medical.
“As the home medical equipment sales had obviously risen on a very consistent basis, it made the most sense for us to take over this location and continue to expand,” Cota said.
Before taking over the location formerly used by Wells Fargo bank, Winona Home Medical was stationed in the hospital in what Cota described as an exam room.
In the six months since opening in their new location, Cota said the business has been finalizing what the product line is going to look like, as well as changing certain elements to ensure their services are the best for their patients and customers.
Cota said he expects business to keep growing and adapting to their customers’ needs.
“It’s going to continue to grow,” Cota said. “Because every month or two we’re adding new products, adding new services. Both of those have obviously continued to make us steadily grow.”
The late snowfall that struck and made a temporary home in Winona earlier this year, including a large chunk of the country, is now causing what the National Weather Service is deeming record-breaking flooding.
Since the beginning of April, the Winona Daily News, via their various social media accounts, has reported more than 40 river flood warnings and that number continues to grow.
One example of severe flooding is the Levee Road on the north side of town, which is home to Winona State University’s boat, the Cal Fremling, and the dock that tethers it, as well as the Boat House restaurant situated just above the flood waters.
While normally a road through which motorists can drive and pedestrians use to fish, the street is submerged underwater, with the only indication of something man-made existing underneath being light poles that rise above the water and submerged walkways.
Speaking at a flood briefing in mid-March, meteorologist Dan Luna said Minnesota is going through what is considered one of the wettest decades ever.
“We won’t be out of the woods for quite a while,” Luna said. “We have the potential for significant flooding all the way into May.”
Roughly a month later, Luna’s prediction appears to be becoming more true by the day.
Winona Director of Public Works Keith Nelson echoed Luna’s prediction and discussed how the city deals with flooding.
“It’s been up above 13 feet, which is the historic flood elevation, for a couple of weeks,” Nelson said. “And it’s anticipated that it will be up there for another three weeks or so.”
According to Nelson, the flooding is the worst at the Prairie Island campgrounds on the northwest edge of town.
“The whole campground is underwater,” Nelson said. “Beyond that, everything is protected by the levee, so we don’t really get any flooding in Winona itself. It all stays on the river-side of the levee …”
Nelson said there are various deterrents in place to keep the Mississippi from flooding into Winona.
“The Levee Road gets covered at nine feet,” Nelson said. “At 20 feet, there’s the concrete wall that is actually the flood-control structure.”
At 20 feet above from where the water normally sits, a wall is in place to protect the town from 24 feet of water-elevation.
Nelson said in 2001 the river elevated to 20.07 feet, suggesting the wall is more than capable of handling this type of flooding.
“The wall is designed for 22 feet of elevation and then we have two feet of free-board over and above that,” Nelson said. “Which is protection from waves, erosion, ‘oops’ factors, those kind of things … We’re right around 16 feet this year.”
Nelson said there are five flood pumps that siphon water from in town back into the river whenever it gets too high.
The levee system appears to be the main deterrent against flooding, though, which Nelson said has done well to keep the city safe from the Mississippi River.
“The levee system is 10 miles of either sand levee or concrete walls that (were) put in in the 60s and the 80s to protect the city,” Nelson said. “So the city is well-protected, but it’s by this massive flood-control project that we have to monitor and operate every year. Because of that, we don’t see any damage here.”
Nelson said without the levee system, with where the water is currently at, which is 13 feet, roughly a fourth of the community would be underwater.
With Winona free of the risk of flooding over, this doesn’t rule out occasional leakage into homes.
Nelson said a reason for this is because Winona is a sandbar.
“We’re basically in the river sitting on top of a sandbar,” Nelson said. “So the water is always creeping this direction, and it’s rising underneath us … Because of that, you’ll see water in homes.”
In an effort to remove any doubt of the precautions the city has in place to keep Winona safe from flooding, Nelson is adamant the river won’t come into town.
“It’s not an option,” Nelson said. “If it ever comes into town, that means the levee is starting to erode and break, and we can’t afford that to happen. We’d have billions of dollars of damage and people would die.”
In the week leading up to and including Memorial Day weekend, Winona State University’s film studies department will be hosting a travel-study in which students are given an opportunity to visit Telluride, Colorado, and experience the annual Mountainfilm Film Festival.
Not to be confused with the town’s other film festival, the aptly-named Telluride Film Festival, Mountainfilm is documentary-based, curating nonfiction stories that explore topics like the environment, culture, recreation, political and social justice issues and more.
This will be the second year in a row for the travel-study.
English and film studies professor J Paul Johnson, who is co-leading the travel-study with former director of the Frozen River Film Festival Crystal Hegge, said he hopes students will learn from the festival and the course.
Johnson said a festival like Mountainfilm provides attendees with a chance to see a breadth of career opportunities.
“Novice-level understanding of film is typically predicated on people being aware of … somebody who’s hitting the headlines with big breakout blockbuster films …,” Johnson said. “What many people don’t understand … is that there are thousands and thousands of jobs in this industry at all levels …”
According to Johnson, Mountainfilm teaches people that film jobs burrow deeper than what is displayed on a teaser poster.
“There are people who are deeply invested in and working hard at the production of films,” Johnson said, listing grips, gaffers and sound technicians as examples, while also adding there are jobs in filmmaking that do not “necessarily involve being the director of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ or ‘Black Panther.’”
Another important concept students learn is even the best in the industry start at the bottom.
This concept was amplified during the 2018 travel-study to Mountainfilm when students had a chance-meeting with Barry Jenkins, director of the 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Picture “Moonlight.”
Johnson said Jenkins, like all students of film, started at the bottom and worked his way up.
“He remembered very well being at the start of his career,” Johnson said. “He remembered getting to go to a film festival for the first time, getting to meet a few directors, going up to a couple of others, tapping them on the shoulder, asking if he could have a minute of their time. He was superbly gracious with students and talking about that.”
Johnson said he believes those who attended the 2018 travel-study returned with a greater appreciation for filmmaking.
“I guarantee students came back awed … by that experience and really motivated by it,” Johnson said. “I think if you talk to any of them who went there last year, I’m pretty confident that that is what they’ll say.”
Film student Brynn Artley, a sophomore who took the travel-study in 2018, agreed with Johnson.
“I had a ton of fun, highly recommend the trip,” Artley said. “We saw a ton of different films in the span of three or four days. We wrote up reviews, we made blogs about it. It was just a lot of fun.”
While any student can register for the course, Johnson said film majors and minors are ultimately given precedence over others.
“We have a built-in selection system, in that it requires a 2.5 GPA,” Johnson said. “We do give priority to declared film studies majors and minors.”
Johnson added a vetting process would only take place if the course had more students than necessary.
Twelve are enrolled.
“We rank and evaluate applicants if we have more than 20,” Johnson said. “I would not at all be displeased if we had so many people wishing to go on this program that we had to make those kinds of decisions. That would be a good problem to have. But right now … I’m pretty comfortable with where we’re at.”
A caveat of the travel-study is the price.
Despite her taking the travel-study this year, Brittany Bluhm, a senior double majoring in English writing and film studies, discussed her past financial constraints and how they kept her from taking the course and attending the festival last year.
“I was hung up on rent and a lot of medical bills,” Bluhm said. “I was like, ‘There’s no way I can come up with $500 (the confirmation deposit) to stash toward the trip.’”
According to the brochure for 2020’s travel-study to Telluride, the cost fluctuates around $3,000, which includes tuition and student fees for the three credits linked to the program, as well as roundtrip airfare, transportation during the program, lodging, breakfasts and dinners, admission and event fees for all educational activities and the Study Abroad administrative fee.
The price is discounted, as well, as Bluhm said students taking the course will be volunteering with film screenings and other activities.
While she was unable to go last year, Bluhm said she understood the reasoning for the price.
“I think, because our film program is relatively new, I can understand why it’s maybe a little bit more expensive,” Bluhm said. “I anticipate the school will contribute more in the future as long as this trip keeps on going.”
According to Johnson, while more people would logically bring the price down, that would also mean jeopardizing the level of attention he is able to give in his instruction for the course.
“The price—the bottom line for the trip—would go down if we had 20 people instead of 12,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to having 16 students or even 20 as the cap … but it would be a different experience for me, a more complex one, and I don’t know if my students would get the individual attention that I know they will get with 12.”
Johnson said the price of the travel-study is lower than other travel-studies offered by the school.
“Any travel-study is an expense,” Johnson said. “Our travel-study to Mountainfilm is about half the expense or less than any of the international studies … Normally to travel abroad, earn three credits, over a period of one to two weeks, it is going to set a student back probably about $6,000. The price for our students, including the tuition, air travel, lodging, festival expenses, etcetera, is about $2,600.”
Johnson said he and co-leader Hegge do everything they can to keep the expenses as minimal as possible.
“That’s why, for instance, I cook,” Johnson said. “Because it’s a lot cheaper than having people eat-out in what is kind of a Tony-resort town where prices for that kind of thing are expensive.”
Cost aside, Johnson said he was satisfied with last year’s study and said he hopes this year’s is a repeat.
“There’s not really anything that we aim to do differently this coming year than we did last year,” Johnson said. “We just hope to replicate what we’ve done. It is a really nice experience for students to be able to do this … We have a really good partnership with Mountainfilm, and it’s a great destination for people to be at.”
In order to better understand what life is like for a veteran in a college setting, Army veteran and Winona State student Sara Manning discussed how she feels in an environment where she is surrounded by younger, and often non-military-affiliated, peers.
Manning offered her take to help other students understand the difficulty veterans face in putting themselves through college.
Off in the distance from where Manning sat during an interview, a car backfired. Her eyes darted to its place of origin and she disappeared into thought. She was overseas again.
“Muscle memory,” Manning said, pressing her fingers to her neck to check her pulse.
According to Britani Woodworth from Winona State’s Veterans Affairs office, around 200 members of the armed forces enroll at the school following deployment. For many of them, this is a bookend to life-changing circumstances, and sometimes their readjustment to private citizenship is more difficult than they originally imagined.
“I would say it changed me for the worst,” Manning, 33, said, speaking about her deployment in Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. “I’m still in transition. I’m not the person I once was. My interpersonal skills have narrowed and I don’t really trust groups of people.”
Manning’s deployment lasted 16 months, which saw her working as military police, traveling to U.S.-occupied countries and detaining soldiers deemed no longer fit to serve.
“I’ve always been comfortable with discipline,” Manning said.
Whether it is removing soldiers from active duty or doing school work, discipline is credited as one of her inspirations to go to college.
On if she is comfortable being in an environment where she is more world-weary than the young populace of a college campus, Manning said, “Deployment changed my mentality, and I think that affected my integration into the college community. My personal bubble is pretty small and it takes me awhile to trust people.”
According to Woodworth, who is also a student along with being a staff member in the Veterans Affairs office, it is common for veterans to have trouble integrating into a college community following deployment.
“There’s a hard adjustment for people in the military coming back from a deployment, (and) back into civilian life,” Woodworth said. “The normalcy of everything is really hard for some people.”
Manning also discussed how being a veteran influences her role as a college student.
“It is very… I don’t know if surreal describes it,” Manning said. “I definitely do not identify with anybody there, even the professors. So it’s very intimidating in a way that I just don’t know how to function …”
Along with the aforementioned difficulties, Manning referenced her son as an added obstacle in terms of her role as as a student.
“I also have a child,” Manning continued, “so that makes it even harder to (engage) people younger than me, because they assume that because I’m in a class with them, I’m able to freely able to use my time … and that’s just not something I can do.”
Similar to her earlier comments, Manning again discussed discipline and how it appears to be more instrumental to her than her classmates.
“The biggest challenge is having other people understand discipline,” Manning said. “Other students seem nonchalant with what they’re doing, and it’s kind of on a back-burner, whereas I’ve been trained that if (something) is going to get done and done right, it’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of effort and less procrastination.”
Manning elaborated her thoughts on procrastination and how it negatively impacts work that needs to be done.
“The more you procrastinate, the less chance you have to get it done,” Manning said. “Which should be obvious, but not to a lot of people I’ve seen so far at universities.”
Woodworth, too, discussed the difference in discipline she notices between veterans and non-military-affiliated students.
“When I got back from my basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training … and started into school, I noticed … people are on their phones, distracted,” Woodworth said. “ (They) would (also) start packing up their stuff before the teacher was done talking. Like you can’t wait for them to finish their words?”
Perhaps because of her level of discipline, Manning remarked she sometimes feels out of place in an educational setting.
“There’s times where I definitely feel out of place,” Manning said. “I resonate more with the teachers than I do with the students, so that might tell you something.”
Woodworth said many veterans find difficulty in finding a sense of purpose in civilian—and by extension, college—life.
“When you’re in a deployment setting for several months, you always have a purpose,” Woodworth said. “You always have strict things to do and then when you get back into civilian life, it’s more laid back, especially going to college.”
Woodworth suggested feelings of alienation may be created by the individual and not their environment.
“I feel like maybe we alienate ourselves and we tend to feel like we’re more different than we actually are,” Woodworth said. “Coming from a deployment aspect, there probably is some that exists, because you see things you know other people aren’t going to see unless they’re over there … But when it comes down to it, we’re not that different.”
Despite being 33, Manning said she doesn’t always feel different than her mostly younger peers, but she does notice she comes from a different generation.
“I don’t feel any older than … a lot of students, but there are some aspects where I feel older,” Manning said. “A lot of these students feel things need to be handed to them, whereas when I grew up things needed to be earned.”
Manning drew from her upbringing as the root of her discipline and how it continues to reflect the way she conducts her work.
“‘Earn your keep’ was a big phrase or saying when I grew up, “ Manning said. “A lot of attitudes from my age to these new kids have changed significantly, and there might be an influence with the whole military career, because that’s an added disciplinary area that a lot of these kids won’t ever have.”
Though there is a gap between a veteran like Manning and those who are not in the military, Manning said she is okay being different in that regard.
“I’m always trying to adapt and overcome,” Manning said.
With Black History Month underway, Winona State University’s Film Studies will be partnering with the Department of Inclusion and Diversity to sponsor a film series showcasing select films by filmmaker Spike Lee.
The series, titled “Resilience & Resistance: The Films of Spike Lee,” begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, with the Academy Award-nominated feature for Best Picture and Best Director “BlacKkKlansman”.
Winona State English and film professor J Paul Johnson, whose course “Directors/Stars: Spike Lee” will be curating the series, commented on the reasoning behind choosing specifically Lee for a film series.
“We want to celebrate Black History Month by looking at the career and accomplishments of one of the most celebrated, important and influential of all African American filmmakers across the 20th and 21st centuries,” Johnson said. “(Lee’s) work is especially timely given the success of ‘BlacKkKlansman.”
The films selected in addition to “BlacKkKlansman”—“Four Little Girls,” “Crooklyn,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Inside Man”—are, as Johnson describes, meant to showcase the range of Lee’s career, spanning from his political works like “BlacKkKlansman” and “Do the Right Thing,” to his exercise in mainstream thriller filmmaking with “Inside Man.”
“Lee really has a strong body of work,” Johnson said. “And that’s something that can hold up a whole film series.”
Talks for the series began shortly after the hiring of Inclusion and Diversity director Jonathan Locust, who Johnson was interested in partnering on programming for the school upon meeting him.
Regarding his thoughts on the series, Locust expressed excitement at the prospect of Lee being the subject matter of an entire film series.
“Spike Lee (is) one of my favorite directors, he’s also produced some of my favorite movies I grew up with,” Locust said.
Locust expressed excitement in regards to the partnership between Inclusion and Diversity and Film Studies.
“Finding out there was a class being taught (on Lee), and being asked to collaborate, it just made sense,” Locust said. “These are the types of things that Inclusion and Diversity wants to be involved in.”
Locust said the range of the films selected will help identify with a diverse audience.
“No matter who you are, you should be able to find something,” Locust said. “Even though the films are being shown during Black History Month, these aren’t necessarily Black History Month films.”
In regards to the purpose of the series, Johnson commented on the lack of showings for Spike Lee films in Winona.
“I think it would be great if our community could have the opportunity to take a look at once again and celebrate the incredible work he has done over his career,” Johnson said.
Locust himself voiced a lesson audiences should take away from the series as whole.
“I think there is a common perception that everybody in the industry is just white,” Locust said. “… it’s important for people to see that there are films being made by under-represented groups.”
Even though this series is the only planned partnership between the two groups, both Johnson and Locust expressed interest for Inclusion and Diversity and Film Studies to collaborate again in the future.
“I hope Film Studies can keep partnering with Inclusion and Diversity on either Black History Month programming or Women’s History Month programming in the future,” Johnson said. “That could be a pretty exciting avenue for us.”
As for Locust, he referred to one of the objectives of Inclusion and Diversity as the compass for a future partnership.
“The goal is you want to try to meet as many people and engulf yourself in different cultures,” Locust said. “We want to continue having the film series and working with Dr. Johnson and other faculty and asking, ‘Who are other directors we need to be looking at?”
In addition to “BlacKkKlansman,” the subsequent films in “Resilience & Resistance: The Films of Spike Lee” will be showing every Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m., respectively, until the end of February in the auditorium of Winona State’s Science Laboratory Center. All film admissions are free and open to the public.