Tag Archives: Winona

Mississippi Thunder Speedway Prepares For A Season Of Unknowns

Friday, April 24 was supposed to be the season-opening race for Mississippi Thunder Speedway.

Wisconsin’s state-at-home-order extended to May 26, there is the uncertainty of when racing at the track will return.

Fans in the stands watch as cars race around Mississippi Thunder Speedway. When those fans will be able to return to the track remains a mystery, as stay-home-orders stay in effect. Photo was contributed by Tyrone Lingenfelter/Mississippi Thunder Speedway.

According to the track’s promoter, Tyrone Lingenfelter, Mississippi Thunder Speedway officials have been in constant contact with state and health officials to figure out a possible return date.

“We’ve been in contact with the State Of Wisconsin trying to see if there’s alternative ways that we can still have events, probably with no fans, just drivers and pit crews, and try to broadcast our races on Pay-Per-View for our fans at home who’ll still be watching until the stay at home order’s been completely lifted and we can get back to normal,” Lingenfelter said. “It’s definitely, I guess the craziest start to a year, or most unknown start to a year we’ve ever had.”

The positive for Mississippi Thunder Sunday according to Lingenfelter is the track is not in full desperation mode.

“I would say on a scale of one to 10, right now, we’re on a six of trying to really push things to get going,” Lingenfelter said. “We’re not pushing it too because we’re trying rebel against stuff. We’re just more so pushing because we’re trying to just get our business going and make sure that the people that do sponsor our racetracks, the fans that do have rental stuff with us, rental booths and different things like that; they can be able to enjoy that stuff, and safely enjoy that stuff.”

The track has been sure to keep their fans informed as possible. continued

This has been done through Facebook, where Lingenfelter will go on and live stream himself giving the latest update and answering questions during the recording coming in from fans of the track.

“I feel like when you can go out there and you can do question and answer and stuff like that where they feel, I guess like they’re more involved, it’s more personal,” Lingenfelter said. “Especially when you do the videos. When you actually see the physical reaction, I feel like you see the emotion maybe of a response, it makes it feel more personal.”

While the track continues to try to get racing back, local drivers have been finding different ways of hitting the tracks.

Winona native, Jake Timm has gone virtual, competing in races on iRacing, an online racing simulator.

This has become a popular service with racecar drivers across the world. Professional racing leagues such as NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula One, have started running sanctioned races on the service while their seasons have been suspended.

This has caused a debate between many in the community arguing if the simulation is a video game or a good platform to gain experience for real-life situations.

“I think there’s definitely some positive things that come out of it that you can maybe learn from it,” Timm said. “More so, it’s just fun and helps with the itch a little bit. And it’s just a way to kind of get together and still keep racing in a way.”

Timm has not spent all of his time staring at screen. He is still working to make sure when the season starts, he will be ready. continued

“We’ve been spending a lot of hours in the shop,” Timm said. “Getting the cars ready and we’re making sure the truck and trailers clean and organized and ready to go, and then watching racing videos. Just doing as much as I can to stay focused and learn.”

The sooner racing returns, the better for Timm and others in the sport, especially when dealing with sponsorships.

Timm noted the less races run, the less money for teams, that desperately rely on sponsorship funds to compete, will make. A longer delay, could be detrimental to racing organizations.

“That’s definitely something that I think we all need to think about is if we don’t race, or if maybe we only get half the season in,” Timm said. “How’s that going to work with the sponsors, not only for race cars, but racetracks and everyone involved? This sport is very dependent on sponsorship. Hopefully we can get started soon.”

New Winona apartments to upstage other housing options

The residential scene in Winona caters to different groups of people, predominantly college students from August to May.

A new downtown apartment complex called Main Square Winona is aiming to be the updated hub for business professionals and the wealthy in town.

From a third-floor balcony, a view of Winona’s downtown amenities can be seen.

According to Tom Hoseck, Main Square Winona’s lead property manager, the complex will have two primary buildings: the Landmark on Main and 5th Streets and the Cornerstone, which is on Main and 4th.

While Landmark is housing with one, two- and three-bedroom units, Cornerstone also has space for retail offices.

Amenities like a fitness center, rooftop terraces and meeting room will be shared between residents, Hoseck said.

Speaking about the draw for living at Main Square, Hoseck mentioned proximity.

“Living here gives people everything they could need within walking distance,” Hoseck said. “Plus, we’ll be adding conveniences for residents like an orthodontist, hair salon and a walk-in clinic. We want people who live here to feel like they never have to leave.”

A complex marketed as luxury must live up to that in rental prices.

An average one-bedroom rental in the Landmark building runs $1,300 per month For the Cornerstone building, a one-bedroom suite begins at $875 a month.

In a city that’s predominantly college students, how do these rates stack up to dorms?

And would the apartments appeal to college students?

According to Paula Scheevel, Winona State University’s director of housing and residence life, the dorms are a better price.

Unlike the price of the new apartment complexes, the rates of dorms were decided by the original cost to build and maintain the dorm.

In WSU’s Quad, which is a building made up of four separate other dorms, an average room is $2,800 for the academic year.

While college students pay off all charges in chunks, the average rent would come out to $350, per the housing and residence life yearly budget.

They also have stipulations through the MinnState system that all dorms must be built to withstand 100 years of residents and be paid off in 20 years.

Because Scheevel has been in her position for 16 years, she also has data on retention rate in the dorms.

“Thirty percent of people who live in res halls are returners, and that adds up to about one third of the overall student population,” Scheevel said.

She expounded on why she thought the university had those numbers.

“It’s ultimately about the value of the dollar. Our convenient location, dining plan and community in res life makes it a top choice.”

In terms of how the dorms stack up to the new apartments, Scheevel said she didn’t think Main Square Winona aimed to be for college living.

Paula Scheevel posing in her office space for housing and residence life
Paula Scheevel, director of housing and residence life, stands in her domain in Kryzsko Commons where students can apply to live on campus and inquire about other aspects of campus life.

“To my knowledge, the complexes are geared toward those who are well-off and looking for housing not directed at college students,” Scheevel said.

To live in the Cornerstone, which is the cheaper of the two luxury complexes, for one school year, it would be a 150 percent increase over residence halls at the university.

And that’s just an average dorm room cost.

By comparing the cost of Main Square Winona to the most upscale dorms on campus, Kirkland-Haake, an average room in the four-person complex is $3,650.

Calculated out, monthly rent from a dorm to this luxury complex would increase by 91 percent.

Depending on where you live, you get what you pay for.

Question is, who’s willing to pay that much?

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.”

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.

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. 

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.”

Winona Ice Park brings climbers from across the midwest

For a region plagued by negative temperatures for nearly half the year, rock climbers in the Minnesota area needed to find some way to scratch the adrenaline-filled itch.

After multiple years on the west side of Winona, the ice park relocated next to Sugarloaf on the east side of town.

After multiple years on the west end of town, the Winona Ice Park begins its first year off the Sugarloaf Trailhead on the east end of town.

About 1.5 miles up the Sugarloaf Trailhead is a man-made wall of solid ice, spanning nearly 70 feet high and three times as wide.

Caleb Hammel, a recent Winona State University Mass Communication graduate, first climbed his way into the world of ice climbing two years ago.

Having been a rock climber for the past four years, when the city created their ice park during its first year, Hammel decided it might be fun to try.

Hammel heard of the ice wall through his work with Winona State’s Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (OERC) while he was still a student. With help from Eric Barnard, director of OERC, Hammel was introduced to the ice wall.

Though Barnard is not employed by the city, Hammel said Barnard has tried to promote things through the city.

“With him being an expert in the past, he wanted to bring students up (to the ice park),” Hammel said. “Winona State was starting to run trips up there to use a sweet resource of the city, so, as an employee, I was able to go up a lot with students and with (Barnard).”

The wall is free and open to the public for use, but visitors are on their own as far as gear needed. People scaling the wall can be seen wearing everything from the bare minimum of a belay device, helmet, ice picks and crampons (shoe spikes to dig into the ice), all the way to assorted pick cleaning gear, ice stakes and extra rope.

One climber begins his way up the ice at the Winona Ice Park.

Though the ice park may be newer to the Winona area, it is getting recognition throughout the region.

Hammel, who moved to Aspen, Colorado, after graduation, said he has heard people talking about the Winona Ice Park in his new hometown.

“All the way out here people are talking about it,” Hammel said. “People from Chicago who have heard about it travel to climb it, I can only imagine it will bring more people to town. There’s not a lot of places you can go and safely climb; it will put Winona on the map.”

Michael Sullivan, who has spent his free time for the last four years traveling across the region to different ice parks, is one of many who has made the near 3-hour drive from Madison, Wisconsin, to climb at the Winona Ice Park.

Sullivan first heard of the Winona Ice Park through a rock climbing podcast titled, “The Enormocast,” where Barnard was a guest on the show speaking about the park. As word of the park got around, a group of fellow climbers decided to make the trek to Winona.

“This park has a lot of potential,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely taller and wider as a single ice wall than anything in Wisconsin that I’ve seen.”

Sullivan said the design of the wall was one of the main drawing points of the Winona Ice Park.

“Usually you’ll see an overhanging sandstone cliff and then a frozen waterfall will come off, so it’s mostly just big columns,” Sullivan said. “They’re really cool and fun to climb on, but it’s just the one so people have to compete for it, where this is just a big sheet where people can go wherever.”

Michael Sullivan, Madison, Wisconsin, nears the top of the ice as he climbs his way up the Winona Ice Wall.

For those that have enjoyed rock climbing in the past, Hammel said it’s a great activity to try, but is not exactly like the warm-weather alternative.

“The similarities between rock and ice climbing end at belay devices, harnesses and helmets,” Hammel said. “The ice is always changing. Rock climbing routes are similar, the rock won’t fall or melt, but with ice climbing it’s different every day. Conditions change, weather makes muscles more stiff and not able to do things.”

Though it is different than the more well-known sport of rock climbing, Hammel said he would recommend ice climbing to anyone that might be interested.

“It’s a great way to both mentally and physically push yourself,” Hammel said. “If you calm down and focus its unlike any other activity out there.”

Winter Activities in Winona

Written and photographed by Charlie Egberg

With the winter storm that dumped approximately six inches this past weekend, many people stay indoors, especially with the frigid drop in temperature.

Middle schools, high schools, and universities closed due to the weather.

Now, when it gets to be 30 below, it is not the smartest to be outside as skin can get frostbite in a matter of minutes.

While some cover themselves with blankets when winter hits, others thrive in these winter storms and colder temperatures.

With the surrounding bluffs and trails, there are all sorts of things to do.

There are public skiing and snowshoeing trails behind St. Mary’s University and ice climbing up the bluffs, near sugar loaf rock

According to Tia Fields, president of the rock climbing club at Winona State University, even the climbers get outdoors.

“It’s actually a really fun time climbing outside,” Fields said. “Everyone expects you to have to really break up the ice with the ice axe. You’re really holding your body up on like half an inch of the blade.”

There are safety concerns when using ice climbing equipment.

“The ice axes also have to get sharpened and they become really freaky to just be holding your body up on such a sharp, basically, weapon,” Fields said.

If climbing up a wall of ice might be a little out of comfort range, ice skating, cross country skiing or even snow shoeing might be a better option.

The city of Winona has built a public ice rink in Levee Park in downtown Winona. It is a low maintenance rink, so it has been covered in snow.

There are a few ice rinks made out front of the Lake Lodge Recreation Center.

The Lake Lodge, which is open from 4-7 pm on weekdays and on weekends from 1-7 pm, is host for many winter activity needs.

For winter activities, the lodge rents ice skates, hockey sticks and snow shoes.

According to Paul Merten, a front desk worker at the lodge, this year has been “pretty consistent” with people renting out equipment.

Matthew Lenett, another desk worker at the lodge, said as long as the weather is pretty consistent, people show up. Lenett said the lodge tends to be most popular on the weekends.

Visitors can rent snow shoes for 24 hours, Lenett said, “A lot of people go to holzinger (Holzinger Lodge)” and use the trails that are behind the lodge.

Even if there is a storm every so often

There is always something to do in Winona.

Lake Park sign near lake lodge

Hockey nets on lake lodge ice rinks

“Resilience & Resistance: The Films of Spike Lee”

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.

Professor J Paul Johnson helped jumpstart and will be overseeing the series throughout its duration.

“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.