Category Archives: News

Winona State international student talks personal experiences

The stress and fear associated with the choice of college is something that plagues almost every student.

Joel Odoom’s decision was more nerve-wracking than most as an international student in Minnesota.

Odoom was born in Ghana, Africa, and moved to Qatar in 2010 where his family still lives.

He had to adapt to a new environment and a new language, English, which he uses as his dominant language.

Leaving Ghana, his home country, proved difficult as his move would be permanent.

“Moving to Qatar was a real shocker for me,” Odoom said. “Leaving a place where I was comfortable with people with the same cultural background to going to a foreign place for me was very hard.”

A candid picture of Joel Odoom outside of Lourdes Hall at Winona State University West Campus.

Stepping outside of his comfort zone tested Odoom. He said it helped him experience life in a new way.

“It was a new opportunity and it helped me very, very much,” Odoom said.

Past obstacles moving to a “foreign” place early in life served as a factor in his decision to come to the US for college.

“I thought to myself, where’s the best place I would feel comfortable with?” Odoom said. “I thought the U.S. It seemed like the land of opportunities.”

He highlighted a few opportunities such as experiencing what the US will be like outside of what he sees in movies and television.

Why Minnesota?

Odoom said he wanted to stay near his aunt and uncle and his extended family who live in the twin cities and have a safety net if things don’t turn out the way he envisions them.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have family in Minnesota. My parents didn’t want me to struggle.” Odoom said.

Why Winona State University?

Odoom said that he wanted to find a college that was affordable, dense with diversity and international students to make him feel more accepted and supported in the path he wanted to take in school.

Odoom analyzing a book that’s located at the Darrel Krueger Library at Winona State University.

Odoom said he didn’t want to feel like an outcast.

He wanted to become his own person, branch out and discover new things.

“I told myself, let me find the friends who I truly believe are my friends. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the same country as me or if they’re international or not.” Odoom said. “I’ll just do whatever to make myself feel comfortable.”

After being at Winona State for two years, Odoom’s perspective and expectations changed for the better.

He explained that he gets along with everyone.

People don’t see him as an international student, and he doesn’t feel as if he is confined to a clique.

“I feel as if I am an anomaly,” Odoom said.

Odoom hinted at the reason may be because he doesn’t have a “stereotypical” accent that other international students have.

“I feel as if they would treat me differently if that was the case.”

Finding A Voice

I wake up, It’s Thursday.

The Winona State University women’s basketball team leaves today at 3:30 p.m. for games in Marshall, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I, being the radio guy, cannot miss the bus as the men’s team does not arrive before the start of the women’s game.

Time to pack my bag and prepare for the fourth weekend on the road this season.

I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never really got on talking terms with any of the players.

They all do their thing while I sit there quietly and mind my business.

I’ve covered the WSU basketball teams for three years while working at the campus radio station, 89.5 KQAL, so you’d think I’d have a better relationship than this.

It’s just not the case.

I get to the bus stop, say hello to Coach Scott Ballard, and take my seat.

I’ve debated sparking conversation, but I don’t feel like the team is interested in my small talk, plus I feel like they discuss basketball enough as it is already.

Hours later, we arrived in Marshall.

They eat their team meal together at Texas Roadhouse or Pizza Ranch, I usually eat off to the side, then we head to the hotel for the night.

I’ve said two words since the start of the trip.

Team meal at Pizza Ranch in Marshall, Minnesota.

Being secluded and keeping to myself isn’t what I’d like to be doing, it just happens.

The nerves of saying something stupid or sitting where someone else wants to sit triggers my anxiety.

My boss and longtime radio professional Doug Westerman explained that it’s not unusual for radio personal to be introverts off the air.

“They just want that high energy ‘Hey everyone! Blah blah blah we got a great day in store for you!’ then all of sudden you’re walking down the hallway and they give you a nervous ‘hi.’”

How could someone be an introvert and be on the radio where you talk for hours?

Pat Broe, former KQAL Program Director and Sports Director, described the flipping of the switch from off-air to on-air as being trapped in a corner with no way out.

“There’s something about when that red light comes on that you have to start, you can’t do anything but be that person,” Broe said. “You’re trapped in a corner, you are live on air, there’s thousands of people listening to you, and you have to figure out a way to entertain them.”

Sounds pretty intense, but I found that to be accurate.

Waiting in the hotel lobby until the team leaves for their shoot around.

In the morning I checked out of my room at 11 a.m.

I sit in the hotel lobby until we leave for the game at 3 p.m.

5 o’clock rolled around and I plugged in the comrex, got my mics into position, and waited for my producer Ryan “Baby Shaq” Mandli to send the call my way.

“That’s going to do it for the Warrior Tip-Off Show as Buck Wallert is waiting in the R/A Facility in Marshall Minnesota, take it away Buck,” Baby Shaq said.

And I picked it right up with, “Welcome to the R/A Facility over here in Marshall Minnesota as we have a good match up in store for you tonight as your Winona State Warriors take on….”

Like that flip of a switch, I was in a zone.

Calling the Tip-Off Show before the women’s game in Marshall.

From saying two words in almost an entire day, to rattling off names, stats, and match up history, you would think I knew these players their whole lives.

Anything to paint the best picture possible for the listeners back home, as according to Doug Westerman, “radio is the theatre of the mind.”

Not talking at all, to saying thousands of words, then right back to not talking after the game bothered me.

It just didn’t make sense.

Mike Martin the original KQAL radio jock and now the guy who keeps the radio station going, met with me the next day and explained how radio gives you confidence.

“It makes you think on your feet, spontaneously, and being kind of a shy kid, you’re doing it in a room by yourself, so that kind of helps too,” Martin said. “You’re talking to people, but they aren’t right in front of you. You’re by yourself, but you’re not talking to yourself, there’s maybe hundreds of people.”

Thinking of the amount of people listening to me makes me even more nervous, do I sound okay? What if I say something I shouldn’t or panic?

And panic is just what I did the first time on air.

Pat Broe reflected on the first time we were thrown into the spotlight.

“It’s a day you and I will never forget.  I was producing and co-hosting, you were hosting, and neither of us knew what the heck we were doing.  TJ Leverentz and Tyler Jeffries kind of just gave us the keys and let us go and let us fail, and we did,” Broe said.  “I think we went to commercial 25 or more times; we didn’t turn our mics off one time, and there might have been a word that the FCC doesn’t like that got on the air.  Basically, anything that could have gone wrong went wrong.”

That was just over three years ago.

Now when I go on air, I have fun with it, take it and run.

Notes or no notes I was going to think of something.

“It’s so funny too, I thought I was prepared for that day, I thought I had enough information to put a show together, but I was not even remotely close,” Broe said.  “Now putting together a pregame show is easy.”

But it’s not always as easy as he says, when you’re having a bad day, you still have to be happy go lucky on air.

Martin explained this well when talking about his experience as a disc jockey.

“I had been just having a horrible bad day or something, and I was just grumpy…. Then I flip the mic on and immediately I’m cheering and I gotta play the role, I gotta play the radio guy,” Martin said. “Flipped the mic off again and went back into grumpy mode. This other guy in the control room with me said ‘how did you do that, how did you just change personality like that.’ And I’m just like ‘hey, that’s what they pay me to do.’”

I receive $20 for each game I call, as well as the free hotel rooms and couple of meals.

But, the radio has given me a voice, so I’d say I’m living the dream.

WAPS does not meet goals; no change for this year

The Winona Area Public Schools school board met on Thursday, Nov. 21, for a hearing about the Worlds Best WorkForce and regular business after.

Maurella Cunningham, director of learning and teaching at the district office explained the results from the 2018-19 WBWA plan and described the WBWA plan for 2019-20.

In the 2018-19 school year, the district met two of their seven goals detailed in the 2018-19 WBWA plan.

Those two goals were to decrease the reading proficiency score gap between white students and students of color and American-Indian students and the district was able to raise enrollment in preschool.

The five goals not met included the four-year graduation rates from Winona Senior High School and the Winona Learning Center.

The goal for Winona Senior High School was to increase graduation rates from 93% to 94%. The rate ended up decreasing from 93% to 91.9%.

Another goal was to close the gap between white students, students of color and American-Indian students on the math proficiency part of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.

“In Math, the difference in percent proficient on the MCA assessment between white students & students of color and American Indian students will decrease from 26.7% to 20%, for all grade levels tested,” the 2018-19 WBWF plan read.

Other goals not met included kindergarten letter sounds, third-grade reading level increase, and average ACT scores increase.

Cunningham described WBWF goals for the 2019-20 school year.

The basis of most of the goals did not change from the 2018-19 WBWF plan to the 2019-20 WBWF plan.

For example, the goal to close the gap in math proficiency MCA scores between white, colored and American-Indian students stayed the same. The only part that changed was the starting point to reflect the increased gap from the previous year.

“In Math, the difference in percent proficient on the MCA assessment between white students & students of color and American Indian students will decrease from 25.3% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, for all grade levels tested,” the 2019-20 WBWF plan states as the goal.

The only goal that changed was the four-year graduation rates.

For the 2019-20 WBWF plan, the goal is to have an increase in four-year graduation rates at the Winona Senior Highschool from 93% to 94% and an increase from 13.2% to 14% at the Winona Area Learning Center.

One goal was added to the 2019-20 WBWF plan.

The new goal is to have high school juniors who take a college or career readiness assessment to have scores no lower than 85%.

The board will hear a revised version of the 2019-20 WBWF plan on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Superintendent, Annette Freiheit reads through various changes to different school policies. These changes were mostly grammatical or were not what the school was doing.

School Board Chair, Nancy Denzer said she looks forward to seeing the plan written in a meaningful way.

“I really want to see some SMART goals and things that we can achieve and I really want to see the whole Worlds Best Workforce written in a way that is meaningful,” Denzer said.

SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

In the regular meeting, the school board heard from speakers on a variety of topics.

“We want staff members to present not necessarily administrators,” Denzer said.

Teachers from each school in the district came to speak about the progress of the new Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. They reported that students and faculty and staff have been receiving the program well.

One presentation Denzer said she enjoyed was a report from staff members about the progress of a new program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.

Each school in the district has at least one teacher heading the program in that school. Each is seeing tremendous results in the beginning stages of implementation.

The school board also discussed the process of adding a student chair to the board.

School Board Clerk Michael Hanratty brought the idea to the board after attending the annual conference last year and meeting other district’s student representatives.

“He got excited about it and wanted to do it,” Denzer said. “So we are going to shepherd it in and see what happens.”

The next school board meeting will be Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at Winona City Hall.

Parking causes issues for Friendship Center

The Friendship Center in Downtown Winona needs more parking as it is the number one complaint from members.  

The issue comes mostly because the Friendship Center serves the senior citizens of the area, many of whom have a harder time walking long distances or making it across the street in the time allowed. 

Roxy Kohner has been a member of the center for almost 11 years. She said sometimes she will come to the center an hour before an event to wait out a close enough parking spot. 

“I have driven by and without a place to park I had to turn around and go back because there wasn’t anything within the walking distance that I can do,” Kohner said. “I have also staked out parking. So I have come an hour ahead of time and I will park and do something in my car till I can watch and see someone pull out.” 

Malia Fox, director of the Friendship Center, said this is the most frequent complaint the center gets. 

A report from 2018 state there is adequate parking for the City of Winona. 

The report titled “Parking Study: Downtown Winona” was created by Walker Consultants. They studied an area of 42 blocks between the Mississippi River, Winona Street, Broadway Street and Kanas Street. 

Walker Consultants found that in the study area there were about 4,030 spaces available of which about 3,205 spaces were for public use. 

Parking continues to be a problem for the Friendship Center despite the findings in the Walker report.  

Across Fifth Street from the Friendship Center is the Main Street Square Development. The construction workers and equipment take up many spots that are closest to the center, which has caused more lack of parking.

Winona Major, Mark Peterson, said parking has been an issue for the center since it started 40 years ago. 

“The complaints are very real which is why the city has been looking at a solution to solving the problem,” Peterson said. “The past couple of years the city has seriously been considering moving the center.”

There will be a meeting on Nov. 13 to discuss parking further. 

There was talk from the city about knocking down the old middle school auditorium and creating a parking lot there. 

According to Kohner, that would not fix the problem.

“That is a band-aid because many of us have limited mobility. So even if we do have parking you’re talking two blocks away,” Kohner said. “I won’t be able to go two blocks either. I can go a block if a stretch it, half a block is perfect.” 

One quasi-solution the center had was making a deal with Wesely United Methodist Church which is next door to them. The Friendship Center can use the church’s parking area as long as the church does not have an event going on. 

The parking the church said the center can use is not reserved for the Friendship Center. It is public parking. 

The center has a membership of 1,000 people with an average daily attendance of 125. They also have staff coming in and out of the building every day. 

According to Fox, the Main Street Square Development across the street has hindered their membership. 

“In the last 6-8 months that this development has been occurring, we are watching our numbers drop for the first time in 25 years,” Fox said. 

On-campus food shelf aids students

A food shelf at Winona State University has become increasingly successful with the help of numerous university and community resources.

The Warrior Cupboard, located in the university’s Integrated Wellness Complex, began operations in fall 2017.

Kim Zeiher, academic advisor and student leadership coordinator for Winona State’s TRIO program and one of the minds behind the Warrior Cupboard, talked about the initial reason for starting the food shelf.

“There were people on campus who were reporting that they saw the challenges students were facing with regard to food insecurity and then how that, in turn, caused challenges to academic success,” Zeiher said.

Zeiher added students within the TRIO program, as well as across campus, were choosing to buy textbooks over food.

Before the Warrior Cupboard came to Winona State, Zeiher said she had already created a “mini” food shelf for students within the TRIO program.

“They see food as you make choices about and so it had to do with either eliminating meals out of the day or eating low-quality food with poor nutrition,” Zeiher said. “We were talking about, ‘Well, how do we solve that problem?’”

The TRIO food shelf became a temporary solution for students, so creators of the Warrior Cupboard could rally faculty and staff for a larger, long-term food shelf.

Director of Integrated Wellness and another mind behind the Warrior Cupboard, Kate Noelke, explained how the university got a better idea of how many students were in need of food.

“We did a survey in the spring of 2015 asking the Winona State student body who would utilize this service if we had it on campus, how would you utilize, what is the current situation of your financial needs, your security or insecurity with regards to food,” Noelke said. “What we got was up to 40 percent of our population of students have experienced food insecurity in the last month.”

Kate Noelke, director of integrated wellness at Winona State University, oversees the Warrior Cupboard student food shelf.

After the survey, Noelke, Zeiher and other faculty and staff members started campaigning for an on-campus food shelf.

Grant money was given by the WSU Foundation to create a space on campus for the Warrior Cupboard and with the help of the Vice President of Student Life and Development, Denise McDowell.

Noelke said it is important to note the Warrior Cupboard is only meant to “fill in the gaps” for students who are hungry. She said, however, she can help students who use the cupboard access services within the Winona community if they are in need of additional support.

The Warrior Cupboard’s primary partner outside the university is Winona Volunteer Services.

“We worked with Sandra Burke, who is the executive director at Winona Volunteer Services, to come up with the strategic plan and to identify the need and make sure that we still have that permanent connection for students who are coming and needing food here to get to Winona Volunteer Services if their needs are more severe than what the Warrior Cupboard can do,” Noelke said.

Noelke said Winona Volunteer Services is not the only resource that helps keep the Warrior Cupboard at Winona State.

She said through a social media, grassroots-style fundraiser close to $1,000 was raised and split between the Warrior Cupboard and Winona State’s on-campus garden, SEED Garden.

Noelke added Winona State students, faculty and staff, have contributed money and food to the shelf.

“We also have individual student clubs and organizations that will go and do a tabling event and say, ‘We’re collecting donations for the Warrior Cupboard.’ We might get $5 or we might get $50, but quite frankly, every dollar counts,” Noelke said.

Creators of the Warrior Cupboard have also worked with the WSU Foundation, so faculty and staff can contribute a percentage of their paycheck to the food shelf.

“There are several faculty emeritus and some staff and faculty on campus now that donate their actual earned income to this service every two weeks, which is pretty awesome,” Noelke said.

As of this month, Noelke added she is now able to purchase food for the Warrior Cupboard at a discounted price through Winona Volunteer Services. She said the WSU Foundation’s non-profit status helped make this possible for the Cupboard.

Noelke emphasized the Warrior Cupboard is not designed to provide students three meals a day, week after week. The goal is to “fill in the gaps” for hungry students and connect them with off-campus resources if they need further help.

The Warrior Cupboard still has some minor issues to work out, according to Noelke. She said she is certain the Cupboard’s team will figure these things out.

“We’re still getting our hands around what the actual need is because it may be that we continue as we have been,” Noelke said.

She said a small number of Winona State’s nearly 8,000 students use the service.

“Right now, we have 80 students who have access to this space,” Noelke said. “It may be within a year we have 1,000 students that need access to this space and then our fundraising efforts will have to reflect sort of how we support the amount of students that are taking advantage of the actual service.”

Noelke said despite having a few things to work out with the Warrior Cupboard, she is excited to watch it continue to grow.

“We have distributed 3,500 pounds of food and have donated, I think, close to $2,000 and this is individual donations,” Noelke said. “It’s been incredibly humbling, I think, to see this thing get up and running.”

Student Senate comments on election data and process

Student Senate Elections are a tradition on most campuses.

The Spring 2019 election for the Winona State University Student Senate was no different.

Ben Ellgen, newly elected Student Senate president said the Senate considers 10 percent of the student body voting to be a success, which is about 800 students out of about 8,000 students.

According to the Spring 2019 election data 904 Winona State students voted.

Of those who voted in the 2019 election a total of 796 students voted for the treasurer tickets and 804 voted for the president and vice president tickets.

The graph above illustrates the total number of voters over the past four elections. The two Spring elections are when the executive board and the constitution revisions are voted on.

Ellgen commented on the voter turnout for the Spring 2019 election.

“I frankly was a little disappointed. I love Senate and I know the good work it can do,” Ellgen said. “I would have liked to see more people participate. Especially in a contested election.”

In the Spring 2018, election the candidates for the executive positions ran unopposed.

For treasurer in Spring 2018, 916 people voted for the position, 120 more people than the most recent election.

The president and vice president ticket in the Spring of 2018 had 923 people who voted, 119 more people than the most recent election.

This graph illustrates the number of total votes versus the number of votes for each executive position during the executive election years. In both of those elections the total number of votes is more than the votes for the executive positions.

The lowest voter turnout was for the Fall of 2018. 466 Winona State Students voted in the election.

The elections are not only used to elect student leaders but also to have the student body vote for changes to the constitution.

Christina Melecio, current Student Senate president said in order to approve any constitution changes Senate, needs 10 percent of the student body to vote and the majority to approve it.

The Spring of 2018 vote was close to not passing with 811 votes.

Melecio said there are two rules for candidates that are talked about more because they are the rules most often broken.

“The first one would be no campaigning within 25 feet of the Senate office,” Melecio said. “Then there is no spending more than $250 per ticket.”

For example, the president and vice president run as a ticket, meaning they run together. They have $250 to spend together.

The $250 is for posters, buttons, stickers or anything else the person running feels they need for their campaign.

Nicole Ruhland and Ben Ellgen described their experience with the process when they ran for president against each other in the Spring 2019 election.

Ellgen said the process of the election was long but rewarding.

“It was a lot of time, lot of late nights, a lot of going out to clubs, a lot of interactions,” Ellgen said. “It is definitely an intensive process. But, at the same time, it’s really rewarding.”

Ellgen said it was a humbling process.

“Honestly, it is not fun that week or two. But, again, it is so rewarding to get out into the Winona Community and it is such humbling process,” Ellgen said.

Ruhland said the process was interesting and she learned a lot about herself.

Ruhland has never campaigned like this before. She said she was not used to talking about herself and what she wanted to do.

She did learn she can public speak and said she appreciated meeting so many people.

“I got to meet a lot of people and that was exciting,” Ruhland said. “It also made me realize that I can do public speaking. It’s scary but it is possible.”

For more information on the Winona State Student Senate:

https://www.winona.edu/studentsenate/Media/WSUSA-Constitution.pdf

https://www.winona.edu/studentsenate/Media/Bylaws.pdf

https://www.winona.edu/studentsenate/default.asp

“Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center” dedication gathers community

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Winona State University’s campus on Monday, April 29, for the unveiling of the newly named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center.”

Dufresne, who passed away in 2015, was president of Winona State from 1967-78, and was president during the construction of seven buildings on campus, including the PAC.

The dedication event began with various speakers, and was followed by refreshments in the PAC lobby.

University President Scott Olson spoke on the impact DuFresne had on the university as a whole, and on himself.

“He was a friend and mentor to me, and he was also a hero to me,” Olson said. “It’s entirely fitting that we gather here to remember Bob DuFresne and everything he meant to this university, and at last recognize what he meant to us.”

President Scott Olson speaks about the impact Robert DuFresne had on Winona State University at an unveiling event on Monday, April 29. The event was the official renaming ceremony of the building as the newly-named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center.”

DuFresne’s wife and son, Barbara and Jeff DuFresne, also shared comments at the event.

Barbara DuFresne spoke mostly about her husband’s time as president of the university, as well as his time with Winona State after his presidency.

Jeff DuFresne focused on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after his father, stating that he “was always a great supporter of the performing arts.”

Barb DuFresne, wife of Robert DuFresne, speaks about Robert DuFresne’s time as university president during the renaming ceremony of the “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center” on Monday, April 29.

The proposal for the name change, which had initially been brought up in December of 2017, was written by three former Winona State faculty members: Jim Reynolds, a retired sociology professor, Gary Evans, retired Vice President of University Advancement and George Bolon, a retired physics professor.

“This is a long overdue recognition, and entirely fitting honor,” Reynolds said. “This is a legacy that I think should be honored and celebrated.”

Bolon also spoke on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after DuFresne, not only for his love of the performing arts, but also because the PAC was the first building to be constructed during DuFresne’s tenure as university president.

Bolon concluded his speech with thoughts about DuFresne.

“We are all better persons for having known Robert A. DuFresne,” Bolon said.

Following the speeches, the building was dedicated with the unveiling of a new sign by Olson, Reynolds and Barb DuFresne.

A crowd of more than 50 students, faculty and community members gather at the newly-named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center” at the renaming ceremony on Monday, April 29.

Levee System Protects Winona from Flooding

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.

The raised-dock to Winona State University’s boat, the Cal Fremling, sits in the flooded Levee Road

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.”

Courtesy of the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the water elevation in Winona is expected to stay consistent through late April

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.”

Deep Fakes

Until recently, photographs, video, and audio were considered a trusted form of communication and storytelling.

Then, photo editing technology and software was developed and photos were no longer considered to be fully trusted.

Some photographs have been altered so well it’s almost impossible to tell.

But videos can’t be faked, right? Wrong.

New technology is proving that to be false.

Deep fake technology has been developed to superimpose someone’s face onto another’s.

According to the computer science department chair at Winona State University, Mingrui Zhang, the idea behind the technology has been around for more than ten years.

It’s mostly been used for entertainment purposes such as the popular children’s movie Toy Story.

“It uses generative adversarial network (GAN) which is based on neural network algorithms,” Zhang said. “It is like any unsupervised neural network it learns from the subjects.”

According to a research paper by Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and Danielle Citron, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, “Harmful lies are nothing new. But the ability to distort reality has taken an exponential leap forward with ‘deep fake’ technology. This capability makes it possible to create audio and video of real people saying and doing things they never said or did.”

This technology could pose as a threat to privacy and security, according to Zhang.

“It may bring up legal and ethical concerns,” Zhang said. “Those are also what computing education society is facing. The social implication of technology,”

Much like on the social media app, Snapchat, there is a feature that maps out a user’s face and can put photos of friends faces or other filters onto a user’s face.

Snapchat is similar to deep fake technology. Flaws can be detected rather quickly and the users can tell it isn’t someone else.

With deep fake technology, it is more complex but the results are better.

“For example, you want actor B to behave like actor A,” Zhang said. “You take video of actor A, the software will analyze the video and construct the skeleton of A, and A’s motion. In filming, wrapping the skeleton of A with the skin of actor B will make the audience think that B is in action. That’s how AVATAR was made, but the process is too expensive for average person. But with help of a machine learning algorithm like GAN, faking is possible for everyone.”

An issue where deep fake technology arose was in the porn industry. Users of the technology were placing celebrities faces onto others in porn videos.

This is an issue of consent and the well-being of those celebrities. They did not give permission to have their faces in those videos.

“Deep fakes make them available to average person. It started for entertainment, could be used to fake someone’s action who has never committed,” Zhang said.

Chesney and Citron wrote more on the effects of deep fakes.

“Deep fakes have characteristics that ensure their spread beyond corporate or academic circles. For better or worse, deep-fake technology will diffuse and democratize rapidly,” wrote Chesney and Citron. “. . . technologies—even dangerous ones—tend to diffuse over time.”

With that in mind, the porn industry may not be the only industry that is affected as it is hard to contain this type of technology.

Chesney and Citron also wrote about how deep fake technology could affect journalism.

“Media entities may grow less willing to take risks in that environment, or at least less willing to do so in timely fashion,” wrote Chesney and Citron. “Without a quick and reliable way to authenticate video and audio, the press may find it difficult to fulfill its ethical and moral obligation to spread truth.”

Video posted on YouTube by: Bloomberg

Lake City restaurant to open doors in Winona

Traveling from one river city to another, Lake City’s Nosh Restaurant will move to downtown Winona in three months.

Nosh first opened its doors in June 2004 in Wabasha, Minnesota. Greg Jaworski, owner of Nosh Restaurant, moved to their current Lake City, Minnesota location in April 2007.

With almost a dozen years experience in Lake City, the Jaworski family initially looked at the lot formerly occupied by Godfather’s Pizza in Winona, but finalized their plans to open their restaurant on the corner of Walnut and Second streets.

Construction continues on the soon-to-be Nosh location on the corner of Second and Walnut streets in Winona.

“We were approached by people from the city of Winona who had private investors behind them,” Jaworski said. “We loved the community in Lake City, but winters were too long, and when we were contacted we ended up deciding to make the move.”

Pat Mutter, executive director of Visit Winona, was one of the people involved in the process of bringing Nosh to Winona.

“I am part of a group that has been working on trying to talk to people about what kind of restaurant they want in town or what is missing and what’s needed,” Mutter said. “Nosh came about from checking with certain chefs and passing word along that we’re trying to get restaurants in town. It was great that it turned out that (Jaworski) was interested, and we were very happy to go along that path.”

Though Jaworski was initially approached to bring Nosh Restaurant to Winona, Mutter said Visit Winona does not always approach companies to relocate to Winona. Mutter continued by saying the mission of Visit Winona is to market and promote Winona as a destination.

“When we talk about great things in Winona, one thing we hear about is having more restaurants. We have a very good selection of casual restaurants in town, but we’re working with corporate businesses who are looking for places to bring their clients and more places you could actually sit down and have a different experience,” Mutter said.

Mutter said even though they are working on bringing more businesses to town, this does not mean they no longer care about current Winona businesses.

“We want to support restaurants in town, we just want to make and give value to customers to have as many choices and variety as possible,” Mutter said. “We don’t usually go out, but when we travel the question is always there, what kind of restaurants do they have? People are always looking for something local, and more variety is better for residents and people who come to town. The more choices we have, the more hope we have of them staying in town to eat.”

Mutter said one of the main reasons they approached Nosh was due to their current brand.

“Nosh has a great reputation, and it will be great to have them here as a destination restaurant,” Mutter said. “They are a known and popular product. They will bring loyal customers with them.”

With construction underway, Jaworski said they plan to open their Winona location in June, while keeping the Lake City location open until a few weeks before the Winona location opens.

In between closing the Wabasha location and opening the Lake City location, Jaworski said there was about a week when neither location was open. Jaworski said this time the transition might take a bit longer.

“We expect to be in Lake City until May, then shut down and take two or three weeks to prepare for Winona and do it correctly from day one,” Jaworski said. “The trip from Lake City to Winona is much longer than Wabasha to Lake City, so it will take us longer to move everything to this location than it did for the last move.”

With construction a few months from completion, Jaworski said not much will be changed, but certain aspects will be improved.

“It would be foolish to try to tweak what has been successful, changing wasn’t the aim of bringing Nosh here,” Jaworski said. “Continuity of our existing reputation will just shift to Winona. There will be slight tweaks, a larger grill, and focusing more on what’s trending, woodfire, smoke, fresh breads. There will be improvements, but I don’t like the word ‘changes.’”

An improvement to the bar area is one other aspect Jaworski is planning.

“We will be trying to take a more modern approach to the bar program,” Jaworski said. “We will be redesigning the bar, and hope to focus more on that and trends. Status quo is the goal.”

Along with slight changes to the restaurant itself, Jaworski described how the change in location will affect the environment of the business.

“It’s kind of interesting, Lake City is right on top of the Mississippi and the sailboat arena, all with a stunning view of the midwest,” Jaworski said. “The new location is more focused inward in Winona, there’s not a whole lot to look at, which will make what’s on the plate or in the glass more important. It will be challenging to be focused solely on what we’re providing as opposed to the benefit of the view.”

Tom Wynn, the business manager of Nosh, spoke about another one of the challenges Nosh might face when transitioning to Winona.

“I think one thing that’s going to be a challenge is workforce,” Wynn said. “Although we have a much broader pool here in Winona than Lake City, it’s still a challenge to find qualified servers and workers.”

It will not all be challenges, as Wynn also talked about aspects he is excited for during the move.

“There’s so much going on in downtown Winona, I think our timing is going to be excellent to take advantage of the new apartment buildings, Fastenal coming down, and I think we’re going to give Winona something that they’ve needed for years and years,” Wynn said.

Though the company will face challenges, Jaworski said he is excited for the new location.

“There’s more people to appeal to in Winona, there is a niche that isn’t quite being hit on,” Jaworski said. “We’re not fine dining, not trying to compete with Signatures, but we have a nicer feel than some of the existing restaurants, with an emphasis on locally-sourced food.”