Category Archives: Winona

Side Hustle- Sports Podcasting

Having the same conversation over and over can be tiresome, especially when you’re talking in circles.

One of the most common debates in sports is, “Moss is better than Rice,” or vice versa, and it usually gets nowhere.

That’s why in 2014, Garret Greenlee created a Twitter and YouTube channel where he could prove his sports-related thoughts through facts.

“I got sick of having the same conversation with people like, ‘man this guy’s good, or this guy’s good,’” Greenlee said.  “I just created an account and thought whatever happens, happens.”

The accounts grew rapidly.

After four years, Greenlee’s Best NFL Matchups had more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

Only problem was, he had no idea what email he used when he made the account.

“I was following people way too fast, so Twitter thought I was a spam account,” Greenlee said.  “They sent an email to the account I had with it, but I had no idea what that email was, and I lost the account forever.”

Greenlee had to start all over.

Lucky for him, he had a couple friends with similar accounts, and they gave him a shout out to help build his new channel, Football Analysis.

“I only have 1,500 subscribers on YouTube right now.  Not ‘only,’ like I’m grateful for them, but I want to get to the point where I’m at 30, 40, 50, 100 thousand subscribers and do a giveaway once a month of a signed whatever,” Greenlee said.  “I do appreciate the support, but I want to get to a point where I can use this as a side income just for talking about what I love, which is football.”

Greenlee’s set up.

How does Greenlee make money with these videos?

“You have to have 1,000 subscribers,” Greenlee said.  “But within the past year, you also have to have four thousand watch hours of your content. So that took a little bit to build up.”

Four thousand hours may seem like a lot, but with browse features, you can reach more people than just your subscribers, which happened to Greenlee a few times.

“I have a couple with 30 thousand, 20 thousand views and that really gets a lot of the hours at almost the snap of your fingers,” Greenlee said.  “So, in reality you could have one video that has 60 or 100 thousand views, and you get your four thousand hours, then the rest of your videos combined could have only 500 views.”

Since the interview, Greenlee has reached the 2,000-subscriber mark with his new account.

The content is starting to pay off.

He explains this in the video.

Andy Carlson, a Winona State graduate and creator of the Purple FTW! podcast, said a Vikings vs Ravens blizzard game in 2013 sparked his interest in talking sports.

Carlson looks at all the players on the Vikings roster and analyzes the national media coverage of the Vikings, while adding his own twist of humor for his 23,000 subscribers.

“There will always be a market for fan content,” Carlson said.  “People want niched down perspective over national media jabronis.”

Here is a clip from a recent video.

With this being his side job, Carlson said he always finds the motivation to release numerous videos a day.

“The viewers who continue to make us part of their day (motivates me),” Carlson said.  “If we can be a nice little five minute break from life and give some info and some entertainment. Worth it.”

Carlson offers monthly memberships for $4.99 and $24.99 on his YouTube channel that offers extra benefits such as one-on-one chats and free merchandise.

Teespring has teamed up with Carlson and Purple FTW! to sell this merchandise that includes t-shirts, mugs and stickers.

Purple FTW! merchandise for sale on Teespring.

“It’s a very decent side hustle,” Carlson said.  “Merch is fun, and everything helps keep the production lights on.”

With the quarantine giving people more free time than ever, podcasts and YouTube may be a good pass time to listen to, or maybe even try.

Football Analysis Link

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjoHPnySKcDbxzaF2R8YM2Q

Purple FTW! Link

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Xt29Fi1ES6C1fEtWFUFIw

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.

Super Bowl provides busiest time of year for Wincraft

For many in Winona, the Super Bowl may not mean as much as it did a few weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings still had a chance at winning the championship. For one Winona company, the Super Bowl proves to be the busiest time of the year.

Headquartered on 960 E Mark St. (pictured), Wincraft, a sports merchandising company that has license rights for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the NCAA; the Super Bowl is one of their biggest events of the year.

According to Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath, the company has been making 60 different products for each team in the big game such as decals, pennants, and a variety the sports memorabilia. The company also produces the signature Gatorade towels that are handed to the players at the conclusion of the big game.

Horvath confirmed the Super Bowl is the biggest money-making event for the company throughout the year.

“Playoffs are a great and a hot market for any sport,” Horvath said. “So, the Super Bowl is one of our best-performing events, and usually production picks up significantly from the second week of January through the balance of February.”

Horvath also noted this year’s game is especially marketable given the competitors in the game, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that have not been in the Super Bowl in more than five years.

“Market-specific, demand changes a lot,” Horvath said. “Last year with the Rams and the Patriots was good, not great. This year with the 49ers and the Chiefs, it is going to set records. The fan support is all new. Fans that really want to capture the first time for them in their lifetime or, something that has not happened for a long time.”

Horvath also noted the teams’ lack of success compared to a dynasty like the New England Patriots, who have appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls, means that their fans are more likely to purchase products that a typical Patriots fan.

“If you think about it, the Patriots were dominant for a long time in the league, so often the market actually said ‘you know, AFC Champs, we don’t need as much AFC Champ product, we are just going to focus on the Super Bowl Champ,’” Horvath said. “While with these two markets, the Chiefs and the 49ers, AFC/NFC Champ product is in high demand. So, they want to prepare for this Super Bowl and then compound that with the Super Bowl.”

A team like the 49ers also creates the need for a new product that would not be made if any other team had been in their position, such as special edition seven-time NFC Championship apparel.

Despite this being the biggest event for the company, Horvath has said they have not had to rely on overtime for employees. Instead, shifting their focus ahead of time before the event.

AUDIO: Does Wincraft make Super Bowl Champion merchandise for teams before the big game? Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath address the longtime rumor.

Horvath dispelled the rumor that Wincraft makes a certain amount of Super Bowl Champion apparel ahead of time, saying the company waits until a champion is determined to “hit the presses.”

While the NFL’s biggest game proves to be the biggest event for Wincraft, the company is still constantly busy throughout the entire year.

“It is a really dynamic business because we hold so many licenses. Every month something is going on,” Horvath said. “You have the Super Bowl in February, you have March Madness, you have NBA/NHL playoffs when May and June hit, then in July and August you hit training camp and back to school.”

Horvath also noted how it is important for Wincraft to keep a local presence in Winona throughout the year, despite their sales being nationwide, citing their relationship with Winona State University.

“WSU is one of the great partners of Wincraft, we love to volunteer and talk to students, prepare them for the real world, tell them how a pro-sports license company works, and what to expect post-graduation,” Horvath said. “We have speaking events at WSU and St. Mary’s. We volunteer on boards around town and we try to help as much as we can with young professionals and help them understand what Winona has to offer.”

Some of the products Wincraft makes on display at the Winona Walmart. Products like these will be made for the Kansas City Chiefs to commemorate their Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Car-delivery service attempts to drive others out of business

For residents of Winona, Minnesota, a college city on the
Mississippi, the possibilities on how to get from Point A to Point B are plentiful.

The city offers a four-route shuttle bus system, a taxicab company and a recreation center equipped with canoes, rollerblades and bicycles.

If all else fails, a scenic stroll can get someone almost anywhere worth going in about 20 minutes.

One thing Winona didn’t have until 2018 was Lyft, a direct driver-to-rider, cashless car service controlled solely by cell phones.

As part of the Rochester Area radius, the service extends from Red Wing to Albert Lea.

The first step in the Lyft process is to create a rider or driver profile.

Once the profile is created, users input a debit or credit card which allows money to be withdrawn as a rider and deposited as a driver.

From there, riders can type in their point for pick-up and drop off.

What happens next?

The nearest driver will be on their way to the designated pick-up point.

Lyft driver sticker in front of vehicle window
All drivers who have made it through the company screening process of their driving record, license and insurance will be able to mark their vehicle as Lyft-certified with a sticker in the front and back.

While the idea of getting in a stranger’s vehicle may make some
uneasy, Lyft implemented the ability for riders and drivers alike to watch a digitized progression of the ride.

Lex Lea, a Winona State University junior (in the featured photo above), jumped at the chance to join Lyft this past summer and make money doing an enjoyable task for her: driving.

She’s been a driver with Lyft for six months.

Lyft ran a background check, driver’s record check and confirmation of her license and insurance.

Every element of the application is approved individually. Drivers cannot begin until all parts have passed Lyft’s driver screening.

Lea said Lyft periodically offers instructional videos to help prepare drivers to handle situations with riders.

While she likes Lyft for its flexible hours, Lea said she uses it for fast cash and not as her primary income.

It can take a considerable amount of drives with the minimum rate that starts at $3.64 and goes up per mile.

Part of the payment for her though is the entertaining riders.

A car ceiling full of collector buttons
Riders can tip and rate drivers on quality and efficiency of the rider’s trip. Lex Lea boosts her rating with a conversation-starting element to her car: a car ceiling decked out with her collectible-button collection.

One of Lea’s favorite interactions came from a group of drunken girls who “hyped her up” by persistently calling everyone in the car, Lea included, “on point and so pretty.”

“It’s interesting that drunk people always think that they’re found to be annoying by sober people. I don’t mind, though. It’s entertaining and much better than sitting at home.”

Kaitlyn Tenney, a Winona State senior, started with Lyft in October as she saw her dad go through the process, which she described as “super easy.”

When Tenney drives, she said she prefers Thursday to Saturday nights until bar close around 1 a.m.

Despite drunken antics, Tenney said the service makes sense for Winona.

“It’s a useful service for the bar scene and convenient because
almost everyone has a phone,” Tenney said.

According to Tenney, she’s had riders who use it if they’re unable to drive and need to get to work, pick up groceries and get to
treatment groups.

As more people learn of the service, Lyft may become the primary way to get around Winona.

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. 

Winona gets funky at the Levee

Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park. 

The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks. 

Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event. 

Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising. 

Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.” 

Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.  

Molly Breitlow (left) helps a couple with their salsa turns. Breitlow and her husband taught both of the lessons at Rhythm @ the River.

Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.

“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said. 

Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on. 

The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music. 

“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.” 

Golpe Tierra was the first band to perform during the night. They are from Madison Wis., and are an Afro Cuban Jazz and Salsa Band.

Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.

Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer. 

Pieces of Winona’s Past

By Zach Bailey

 

The stairs creak with each step as Pieces of the Past owner, Cheri Peterson, walks down the stairs toward the basement office.

With each step, the temperature drops by a fraction of a degree as the smell of cold, damp air begins to flood the senses.

Peterson reaches the office, walks to the far end, and opens the large metal door separating the office from the rest of the building’s cellar.

She fumbles for the switch, and as she finally finds the chain and pulls it, light floods the room of the storage center.

She rounds the corner and takes a left, so that she is standing directly below the front room of the store.

“This is where most of the activity happens,” Peterson says, glancing across the scattered Christmas decorations and shelving units.

She pauses for a moment, taking in the view, then turns around and begins walking deeper into the building’s underbelly.

She reaches a thick, metal, sliding door at the far end of the room, and, showing the effort it took to open the door, explains that she does not enter this room often.

A rush of cold air passes by as the door finally slides open and the temperature drops another half-dozen degrees.

She walks into the open space, which houses only two pillars and an old vinyl sign. She is now standing under the back room of the store, where most employees and customers say they have experienced something… abnormal.

“Customers quite frequently say there’s something strange going on in the back half of the store, like someone was standing behind them,” Peterson says. “[I have even] had a customer send photographs of faces reflected in glass. Usually it’s feel but every once in a while, [customers/employees] get a sight [of something strange].”

Peterson quickly walks out of the room, takes one last look at the cellar, then closes the inch-thick metal door, not to open it again until the next curious ghost hunter wants to take a look.

Peterson first opened Pieces of the Past in downtown Winona in January 1995. The store, which began as a wooden furniture shop, made the transition to the home-decor side of sales after moving to the Second and Lafayette streets location in 2000, where they have been since.

This was where the strange happenings began.

The building that now houses Pieces of the Past was built in 1852 and plays quite a role in the haunting’s dark history.

The front half of the store is the oldest building in downtown Winona. The only brick structure downtown, it was the only building to survive the fire of 1856, which destroyed nearly all of downtown Winona, and most of Winona as a whole.

But according to Peterson, there’s more to the building’s history than just its age.

“We’ve found evidence that the building itself was tied to five different deaths,” Peterson said. “Before we moved in, the building had been a bar and brothel in the red-light district.”

Peterson recounted how after moving to their Second Street location, two men who had worked as bartenders in the building came in one day and told her stories of strange things they had seen while working.

The men told of pool balls rolling across the table by themselves and noises being heard when there were no customers around, but they ended with one story that stuck in Peterson’s mind.

“The two were working one night and had to walk downstairs to change a keg or grab something. As they were walking down the steps, they both paused, looked at each other, and said, ‘When we get upstairs, let’s both write down what we saw,’” Peterson said. “They got back upstairs, wrote down what they saw, and showed each other. Both had seen a woman in a pink dress walk past them on the stairway.”

According to Peterson and Haunted Places, a website that documents haunted locations across the nation, Pieces of the Past is home to at least five spirits. Ghosts include the woman from the story, who was apparently shot to death on one of the staircases, and a young girl the ghost hunters identified as “Carol.”

“I’ve caught glimpses of a girl in a yellow dress before. I’ll see her out of the corner of my eye, then when I turn to look she’s gone,” Peterson said. “There was even one time where I was downstairs in the office and I felt a tug on my pant leg. I turned around and there was nothing there, so I went back to my business. A few minutes later it happened again.”

Peterson isn’t the only current employee who has experienced things in the building.

“Some staff members have said they have been tapped on the shoulder or hear things like someone calling their name, or hearing someone say hello, all when no one else is [in the building],” Peterson said. “Employees will come in during the morning to find pictures out of place or find that things had fallen down overnight.”

Trianna Douglas, one of the current employees at Pieces of the Past, recently experienced what she believes to be something paranormal.

“I was here later in the day. Business had been steady but slowed down in the afternoon,” Douglas said. “I was standing up front all alone when I heard it.”

Creak.

Creak.

Creak.

Off to her right, she began to hear footsteps walking toward her, moving down the stairs from the back section of the store, to the front section.

Creak.

Creak.

Creak.

The footsteps stopped at the bottom of the stairs, less than 10 feet from the front desk, then she heard them walk back up the wheelchair ramp next to the stairs.

Creak.

Creak.

Creak.

“For 20 minutes solid you could hear someone walking in circles,” Douglas said. “Up the ramp, then down the stairs.”

Though employees and customers alike have experienced things out of the ordinary, Peterson and staff do not believe there is any reason to be scared.

“Nothing has happened where it feels evil,” Peterson said. “There is no threatening feeling.”

 

 

Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.

2019 Warriors Season Preview

Coach Sawyer previews the 2019 Winona State Warriors Football Season.

The Winona State University Warriors football team started spring practice in preparation for their upcoming 2019 season.

The Warriors, who missed the playoffs in 2018, finished 8-3 and are returning 17 starters from last year’s team.

The 2019 team will have 15 practices including the spring game on April 27. The Warriors, who lost 14 starters to injury during the 2018 season, are looking to put an injury-plagued season behind them.

Senior linebacker Nick Pridgeon, who suffered a knee injury in the second game of the 2018 season, said his goal for 2019 is to stay healthy.

“Really just comeback strong,” Pridgeon said. “Just really finish out the season.”

Pridgeon said he should be cleared from his ACL injury by mid-summer.

Tom Sawyer, WSU’s head football coach, said the future is bright this year.

“The silver lining is a lot of other kids got experience,” Sawyer said. “We got all of those kids that were injured they’re all back, plus the experience our other kids got.”

For three years, the Warriors have been in a trend of getting speed up front. Now, with more scholarship money, they were able to put the money to get higher-profile, larger athletes for the offensive line.

Winona State Warriors offense huddles up after doing practice drills.

“Two years ago, we signed four kids, last year we signed five,” Sawyer said. This year, the Warriors have five additional guys coming, putting them over the 300 pound-average mark.

The Warriors, with their rebuilt offensive line, know they have a job to do, which is to be physical.

Joe Holtzclaw, offensive line coach, said his close-knit unit will be different.

“We want to protect the passer first and foremost,” Holtzclaw said.

When running the ball, Holtzclaw said the offensive line is physical by nature.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive assistant Lee Pronschinske, said he wants his group to continue flying around and cause turnovers.

“We always want to communicate, disrupt the ball and create turnovers,” Pronschinske said. “That’s big when the defense can get the offense the ball back on a short field.”

Pronschinske said he is already seeing the linebackers and defensive backs causing turnovers in practice.

“We haven’t been too handsy because we’re playing against our own teammates, so we don’t want to get too physical, maybe cause an injury,” Pronschinske said.  “We’ve been playing off a little bit that way, but it’s still been nice to see our guys fly around.”

Pridgeon said the defense has to focus on their technique and it all starts with attention to detail and accountability.

“We have a young group but a lot of talent,” Pridgeon said. “A lot of leadership in the young group as well. Really our main focus going into the season is trying to do the best as we can and reach our full potential.”

Sawyer said he wants the preparation and planning to be right, to give them their best chance at a win.

“We just have to make sure we’re planning right, preparing them right and give us the best chance to win,” Sawyer said.

The Warriors start their 2019 season at Maxwell Field Saturday, Sept. 7, against Wayne State College of Wayne, Nebraska.