Tag Archives: Winona

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.

New Content Coming Soon

The Winona360 web site is primarily a vehicle for publishing journalism content created by Winona State University Mass Communication students.

In Spring Semester 2019, seven students are involved in the senior journalism capstone class, “Publication Practicum,” and will research write and edit journalism articles including text, video, audio and photographs and post them here for public viewing and comment.

New To Winona: Raw Dog Supplements

In small towns, the nutrition supplement market is often dominated by one or two big chain stores.

The only place Winona citizens can buy pre-workout supplements is GNC or Walmart and the options are limited to what those chains wish to sell.

Winona State student Michael Bennett said he was dissatisfied with the lack of healthy options and decided to create his own supplement company.

Raw Dog Supplements LLC was created because Bennett said he was tired of paying a large mark-up for products containing artificial ingredients.

“Basically in here you got nine ingredients. All 100% pure,” Bennett said while holding a container of his pre-workout. “No additives, no fillers, no proprietary blends, no colors, no artificial flavors. Everything about it is natural.”

Reid Peters: Michael Bennett, owner of Raw Dog Supplements LLC, before an interview.


Bennett said many companies throw a wide range of ingredients in their products consumers don’t know about.

These ingredients are hidden behind names such as “proprietary blend.”

Bennett is concerned someone new to the gym will consume these products without knowing what it contains

“I just wasn’t having what other companies were throwing in their products,” Bennett said.

“There’s a better way to achieve those results than what other companies are providing. I think I’ve got down the most effective way”

Bennett’s personal trainer and long-time friend Sam Ziemke has been making pre-workout concoctions for years and said he’s happy to see Bennett make a business out of it.

Ziemke said he believes much of the supplement industry is detrimental to the health of consumers.

He said many of those artificial stimulants added to these products can hurt the adrenal glands, kidneys and heart.

“These bigger supplement companies like C-4 will spend most of their money on promoting the product with celebrities who don’t even take the stuff,” Ziemke said. “They could be putting that money into adding more and better ingredients into their product.”

On top of the health concerns, Ziemke criticized the mark-up pricing of popular supplements.

He said one scoop of C-4 is like paying $3 for one serving of pre-workout while Raw Dog is priced at $1 per serving.

Keith Jones, an employee at GNC in Winona, said while they don’t carry a lot of pre-workout supplements without additives or stimulants, there are options within the store.

“We do have one or two that I know of that are not only stimulant free – they have a lot less additives,” Jones said. “We don’t have a lot of those in store, though, which is unfortunate. We need to branch out a little bit.”

While there isn’t a lot of pure pre-workout options, Jones said they carry a line of vegan protein, organic green juice complexes and other supplements regarding holistic health.

Jones said he takes pride in educating customers about exactly what Is in products before he recommends anything for them to buy.

After, he said it’s up to the customer.

“The best I can do is tell them what we have in the store,” Jones said. “If they don’t like it or can’t accept it then I’m sure they’ll find what they want online.”

Bennett said this is why he believes Raw Dog is important – a clean product is available in Winona for local pickup or delivery.

Although Bennett is registered as a Limited Liability Company and said he would love to make money from his company, he is doing this because it’s a passion and he wants to be able to offer something he believes in to others.

“I’m not about trying to make a ton of money off of it,” Bennett said. “I’m trying to give the people what they want. I’m hearing a lot of feedback and I’m loving it.”

Bennett said he has invested between $5,500 and $6,000 total.

This includes the industrial mixer, the raw products, containers, silica packets, container seals, tee-shirts, LLC registration, scoops, labels, stickers and a website.

Bennett said after a few months he has made around $3,000.

“That is much better than I ever expected,” Bennett said. “I have all these supplements that don’t go bad for three years now and I’m already about half way to making my money back.”

Bennett said he would be fine not making all his money back.

What he has gained through experience and knowledge is more valuable to him than money.

This same mentality is why Bennett isn’t concerned with expanding past Winona.

For the time being, he said he wants to continue doing what he loves and master the market in Winona.

“When I’m not at one of my three jobs, this is what I’m doing,” Bennett said. “This is my heart and soul. As corny as it sounds, this is what I enjoy doing.”

From Three Countries To One University

by Allison Mueller & Taylor Nyman

As Winona State University’s spring commencement nears, graduating students are faced with the reality that they will be on their own. This thought is scary for most graduates, and for those who have traveled from other countries to pursue their degree as Warriors, it can be even scarier as they leave their four-year home.

Click the map to see where the four featured international students are from.
Click the map to see where the four featured international students are from.

According to WSU’s Director of International Services and Cultural Outreach Kemale Pinar, 300 international students attend Winona State representing 45 countries. Of these students, 39 are graduating this semester. Insight into four of these students’ backgrounds, Winona State involvement and post graduation plans, illustrates the process international students might endure as they remain thousands of miles from home following their time at college.

Jakiul Alam

Busy streets, hectic sidewalks and tall buildings was not the big city vibe Takiul Alam was looking for when exploring college options outside of his home country of Bangladesh. After living in the capital of Dhaka with a population of more than 18 million, he wanted the opposite.

According to Alam, he found what he was looking for in the city of Winona – beautiful surroundings, a much smaller population and snow.

Still, none of these features were a true selling point for Alam. For him, it was about the scholarships.

Although he was leaning towards attending college in the U.K., Alam made the decision to attend Winona State after receiving scholarships that covered 75 percent of his tuition. Now, after three and a half years of study, he will graduate with a degree in computer science.

Alam claimed he never felt homesick after leaving Dhaka, and the biggest thing he had to adjust to was the difference in food.

“The food is pretty bland,” Alam said. “Back home, we use a lot of spices to cook, so that was the biggest obstacle.”

For his first two years at Winona State, Alam served as president of the International Club. This gave him the opportunity to share his culture’s food in the annual International Dinner as well as enjoy dishes from other countries.

Alam’s lack of homesickness will benefit him after graduation, as he has no intention of leaving the U.S.

In March 2016, Alam enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He said his basic training date keeps getting postponed, but he hopes to begin training by the end of this year.

Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jakiul Alam, shows off his military ID during an interview on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Alam enlisted in the Army Reserves to eventually gain citizenship and is awaiting his basic training departure date.
Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jakiul Alam, shows off his military ID during an interview on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Alam enlisted in the Army Reserves to eventually gain citizenship and is awaiting his basic training departure date.

Money once again played a large factor in one of Alam’s life decisions, as he enlisted to receive money towards tuition as well as citizenship after passing basic training.

Since his enlistment, Alam said he is unsure what will come next for him after he graduates, but he does know he would like to live in Minnesota.

“My plans are up in the air until I know when I go to basic training,” Alam explained.

With his mom and two sisters supporting his decisions from back home, Alam said he will continue to enjoy the Minnesota snow and wait for the next phase of his life to unfold.

Rachel OuYong

A software developer position at Pearson VUE in Bloomington, Minnesota awaits Rachel OuYong after graduation. Instead of feeling first-day jitters when she arrives, OuYong will see familiar faces when walking into the corporate headquarters.

OuYong is a WSU computer science major and math minor from Hong Kong. She said she came to Winona State after she traveled to Minneapolis to visit her aunt, who is a WSU alumna. After then journeying to Winona and receiving a tour of campus, OuYong said she wanted to attend.

“The town is very different from where I grew up,” OuYong said. “As a city, Hong Kong is like New York. I wanted a big change and decided Winona was a good place to be.”

Throughout her four years at Winona State, OuYong has been involved on campus through the International Club, as a worker at WSU’s Tech Support Center and as a student researcher for the Computer Science Department.

Senior Rachel OuYong sits at her computer desk in Technical Support in Somsen Hall at Winona State and waits to help students with their malfunctioning devices on Monday, April 24, 2017.
Senior Rachel OuYong sits at her computer desk in Technical Support in Somsen Hall at Winona State and waits to help students with their malfunctioning devices on Monday, April 24, 2017.

During her junior year, OuYong attended a job fair in the Twin Cities through Career Services. This visit resulted in a summer internship for OuYong at Pearson VUE, and six months after her time in Bloomington she was offered a full-time position beginning after graduation.

While landing an internship and accepting a job offer is high on OuYong’s list of greatest accomplishments, she said attending the Grace Hopper Celebration twice ranks first.

“That conference is the world’s largest for women in computing,” OuYong said. “That was probably the highlight of my four years of college.”

Senior Rachel OuYong from Hong Kong, China, stands in front of her senior capstone research project on XML Data Storage of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Prediction Tool in computer science in collaboration with Mayo Clinic on Monday, April 24 in Watkins Hall. OuYong said her project explains software design, analysis and results for the benefits of the data storage program.
Senior Rachel OuYong from Hong Kong, China, stands in front of her senior capstone research project on XML Data Storage of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Prediction Tool in computer science in collaboration with Mayo Clinic on Monday, April 24 in Watkins Hall. OuYong said her project explains software design, analysis and results for the benefits of the data storage program.

OuYong’s undergraduate research with her advisor led her to present the project “Predicting Lung Cancer Outcomes” at the conference. This project carries over into her senior capstone, as she focuses on Data Storage Of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Predicting Tool in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Her research poster is on display in Watkins Hall on Winona State’s campus.

Wasil Chisti

Wasil Chisti’s journey to Winona State includes a series of missed deadlines.

Chisti said his father encouraged him to leave home in Dhaka, Bangladesh to “get a better education from a better country.” He looked to attend school in Canada, where a few of his family members and friends live. After missing the application deadline by a few days, he said his mother suggested he “try the country next door.”

In 2012, Chisti attended a college in Missouri to study engineering and two years later decided to transfer to Mankato State University.

“I just couldn’t see myself graduating from there,” Chisti said.

He had plans to apply to Mankato State, but missed the deadline. Chisti changed his major to business administration and attended Rochester Community and Technical College for one year before transferring to Winona State and changing his major to human resources. He said he changed his major after realizing how much he had worked in customer relations since the start of high school.

At RCTC, Chisti said he took a class because he thought it was transferrable to Winona State, but he learned too late this was not the case. This forced him to stay another year at Winona State to earn his degree.

“It worked out,” Chisti said. “Whatever happened, it happened for the best.”

At Winona State he was hired for a paid internship with the College of Business startup, which he also receives credit for. Chisti has served as human resource manager for the group since last October, which involves recruiting, screening and interviewing students on campus for jobs.

Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wasil Chisti (center), participates in a College of Business startup meeting as student resource manager on Friday, April 21, 2017 at Winona State’s College of Business Engagement Center. The College of Business startup is a student-run organization with approximately 8-10 students who collaborate to reach out to the student body of Winona State with job oppurtunities.
Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wasil Chisti (center), participates in a College of Business startup meeting as student resource manager on Friday, April 21, 2017 at Winona State’s College of Business Engagement Center. The College of Business startup is a student-run organization with approximately 8-10 students who collaborate to reach out to the student body of Winona State with job oppurtunities.

Chisti said after graduating he looks to secure a job, and it does not have to be “the most attractive.”

“I can go into a job five days a week and not be the happiest person there,” Chisti said. “But the paycheck can make me happy.”

Christian Kolby

Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway said he would have never considered himself a leader three years ago.

“Today, I am the most respected College of Business leaders,” Kolby said.

He said Winona State’s College of Business offers a lot of opportunities for students to expand their skills, which is what he did and will continue to do.

Kolby, an economic and political science major and global studies minor, said he served as a “normal” college student his first two years at Winona State, as he earned good grades but was not involved on campus. His junior year he joined the Economics Club and was pitched as VP of finance, allowing him to work alongside administrators for the College of Business and gain experience.

“The dean will ask me if he needs people, so that’s rewarding,” Kolby said.

After a liking for the Minnesota Vikings led Kolby to search for Midwest colleges that fit his budget, he considered Winona State as an option.

He said, “I applied, got accepted and never really looked back, and it worked out.”

Senior international student Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway, takes a headcount of kids as a camp counselor for his Entrepreneurs in the American Economy class event to mentor young adults for entrepreneurship opportunities on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Kolby used this opportunity to gain experience in his field of study by working with economic and political science.
Senior international student Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway, takes a headcount of kids as a camp counselor for his Entrepreneurs in the American Economy class event to mentor young adults for entrepreneurship opportunities on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Kolby used this opportunity to gain experience in his field of study by working with economic and political science.

Kolby explained how a scholarship program for international students allowed him to pay in-state tuition, saving him thousands of dollars per semester. He said this, combined with Winona’s small-town feel, moved him to choose Winona State over other colleges that accepted him, such as the University of Minnesota.

Using his club involvement with the College of Business to build his resumé, Kolby is interviewing with companies including WinCraft and Fastenal, as the semester concludes. His ultimate goal is to permanently live in the U.S., staying in Minnesota for now.

“If opportunities arise elsewhere, I’ll pack up my bag and go,” Kolby said. “But, Winona will always be my second home.”

Ban battle: two lawsuits filed against Winona County for frac sand mining ban

“We love the beauty of this area, a lot of things about it,” Jim Gurley, a Winona County anti-frac sand mining activist, said. “I couldn’t sit back and let it be ruined.”

By Samantha Stetzer

In the bluffs that surround and cut through Winona County, some of the most useful silica sand can be found, according to Johanna Rupprecht, policy program organizer with the Land Stewardship Project.

The sand is at the center of an on-going conflict between mining companies looking to utilize the perfect form of the sand for hydraulic fracking and the activists trying to preserve it and keep it in the ground.

Miners target the driftless area, of which Winona County is part, for sand crystals ice glaciers left behind as they split around southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa during the Ice Age.

With a push from local activism and the Land Stewardship Project, a non-profit supporting agriculture and farmland, Winona County commissioners passed a frac sand mining ban on all county land after debate and action by community members for and against the mining by a vote of 3-2 in November 2016.

Two joggers run past an anti-frac sand mining sign from the Land Stewardship Project on East Lake Boulevard in Winona, Minnesota The Land Stewardship Project gave out more than 450 signs across Winona County while it was working on creating a countywide ban against frac sand mining. The ban has sparked two lawsuits against it since it was passed in November 2016.

The ordinance only protects county land, which means local governments in Winona County can still approve the mines on city or town land, according to anti-frac sand mining activist Jim Gurley. If commissioners of a city or town in Winona County agreed to install a frac sand mine, they can still annex county land with a “ball-and-string” annexation, where towns and cities annex a small strip of land out to a “ball” of land, the main point of annexation.

Gurley added Minnesota’s government system also gives local governments more say over county and state governments on what happens on its land.

Following the ban, two lawsuits have been filed against Winona County claiming infringement on the rights of people and business owners to own and use the land as owners see fit, much to the expectation of the project, Rupprecht said.

Two parties, Richard Dablestein, owner of land in Winona County, and the Southeastern Property Owners of Minnesota organization, filed a lawsuit in March 2017. The lawsuit claims the ban violates the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions and inhibits their ability to work on valuable land.

According to Rupprecht, the attorney’s office representing the plaintiffs in the first case, Larkin Hoffman, is commonly pro-frac sand mining and sent a lawyer to speak against the ban when it was being discussed.

A second suit was filed nearly a month later on Tuesday, April 18, by Minnesota Sands and claims nearly the same infringement on rights as the first suit. Minnesota Sands was founded in 2012 by Richard Frick and the company claimed on its website to have 10 leases for mining sites.

According to Rupprecht, Frick and his company were in the mining movement years before the ban was put in motion.

All mines, Rupprecht said, are required to produce an environmental impact statement about the impacts of their business on the land. The statement can cost millions of dollars, and in February 2015 Minnesota Sands paid $130,450 to begin the statement.

Since then, the company had produced no money or intention of continuing the statement and was virtually unheard of until the ban was enacted, Rupprecht said.

The saga of frac sand mining in Winona County for Gurley began in 2011. According to Gurley, prior to him getting involved, local farmers were being approached by sand companies offering to take their sandy land from them, since it was harder to farm on the land.

Gurley said there were no necessary conversations happening around the community, and public knowledge of the companies reaching out to residents was slim.

After investigating and researching, Gurley said he and his wife, whose home was located near a proposed mine, decided to devote time to advocating against the mine. He and fellow activists created Citizens Against Silica Mining in response.

“We love the beauty of this area, a lot of things about it,” Gurley said. “I couldn’t sit back and let it be ruined.”

While Gurley and other activists continued to fight, members with the Land Stewardship Project were asking for a ban to be placed, Rupprecht said. Gurley said two years ago he stepped out of his lead role anti-frac sand mining activism because the Land Stewardship Project had become more involved.

A house on East Lake Boulevard in Winona, Minnesota features a protest against frac sand mining in the county. Residents across Winona still have the signs in their yard, despite a ban on the mining in November 2016 being approved by the county. Lawsuits have been filed for repealing the ban due to claims of unconstitutional limits the ban proposes.

The project worked closely with Chicago-based attorney Ed Walsh, from the advice of anti-frac sand mining activist Joe Morse, to draft a version of the ban to present to the county.

Walsh, who has experience representing municipalities, said he primarily offered advice to the project for how to go about making the most constitutionally friendly ban possible, but he said the best piece of advice he thinks he gave was not legal.

“It was advice of making sure they felt they had county board members that were understanding and perhaps and philosophically in agreement with the concept of a ban on frac sand mining,” Walsh said.

According to Walsh, he advised the planning commission and the county board. He also reviewed the final wording and process by Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman.

In Walsh’s legal opinion, the ban is constitutionally sound and the process that led to it was legal as well.

“I believe the ordinance will withstand the legal attacks in the court,” Walsh said.

Despite the recent court filings, Morse and Gurley said when the ban was enacted, they were thrilled to see their activism coming to a conclusion point.

Morse, who has been a self-proclaimed environmental activist for 30 years, said he does not believe cities and towns in Winona will allow more frac sand mines in their limits because of commitments made by the local governments and lack of space within city and town limits.

Having the ban laid out in a court setting could be beneficial, Morse added, because it could either give the ban firm legal permission to continue or it will allow the county to re-visit the issue as soon as possible, if it is found unconstitutional. With elections and turnover on the county commission, Morse said the court decision could be crucial for the movement.

Regardless of the outcome, Rupprecht said she believes the ban sends a strong message to a currently stagnant frac sand mining industry.

“It’s disappointing that the industry would be that desperate,” Rupprecht said about the lawsuit. “You don’t have a right to destroy the land.”

Attempts to talk with Minnesota Sands, Dablestein, the Southeastern Property Owners of Minnesota and lawyers for the first lawsuit were never returned.

Re-cap the frac sand mining ban here.

Art Day supports sustainability, local efforts

By Sara Tiradossi

For many locals in Winona, creating a sustainable environment plays an important role in combating climate change.

Members of Winona Women for Healthy Communities have been active in addressing this contemporary concern.

On Saturday, April 15, members of the group held an art workshop at the Winona Arts Center, where attendees made art for a local version of the national People’s Climate March.

The march will occur Saturday, April 29, in downtown Winona and will bring attention to changes in climate.

Organizer of Arts Day and Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Kaye Perrin said sustainability was the main theme of the art workshop.

Paint, brushes and watercolors were available for attendees to make posters, and decorate umbrellas as a way to show the abundance of rain that has occurred this year.

“People need to pay attention to the recent downpours of rain and flooding,” Perrin said.

According to Perrin, the march aims to make people more aware of the effects of global warming and reflect people’s concerns on the current regulations. This issue, she said, affects a community like Winona with flooding, loss of apple crops and loss of natural resources.

Through the march, the group will also support the Minnesota renewable energy goals and the progress being done toward them, Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Emilie Falc said.

In Winona, Falc said the group is trying to help locals continue to work on issues related to clean air, clean water and offer good jobs to encourage healthier communities.

“We don’t want to lose momentum toward those sustainability goals and legislation that would reduce them,” Falc said. “ We would like for people in the community to come forward and to talk about what their needs are.”

The event at the Winona Arts Center gave attendees, both children and adults, a chance to show sustainable efforts while expressing their creativity.

Attendee Julian Kohner was painting a butterfly with yellow and green colors, and his mom was holding the brush with him.

The canvas, paints and umbrellas were supplied from donations, and most of them were recycled items, Falc said. The art center contributed to the initiative by providing the space for the workshop.

Falc said the expenses for the march are low and volunteers will provide the music and PA system.

Nancy Bachler, one of the art workshop attendees, was outlining the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now” with Lynette Powers, another organizer and member of Winona Women for Healthy Communities.

Bachler said about 98 percent of all scientists agree climate change is a real threat to the world, and that is why people need to be concerned about such issues.

Sometimes people can show individual efforts by simply recycling and being aware of the changes in the environment that affect health, Bachler said. Water is being polluted, she said, and the air quality is not as clean as it used to be.

“There really is an important connection to health, wellbeing, and the earth,” Bachler said. “We are trying to help people make their own part, while having fun.”

Besides sustainability, Falc said another important theme is local effort.

“We want to celebrate what we are already doing in Winona,” Falc said.

According to Falc, Winona is involved in making sustainable choices and Winona County has recently shown its contribution by purchasing energy from the solar garden, a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household.

She added people will come together at the march to support not only solar energy and solar gardens, but also geothermal, and wind energy in the community as sustainable energy sources.

In terms of sustaining local foods, Falc said the group is involved with supporting community gardens, local and organic family farms, orchards and farmworkers.

“We want to make it easier for local growers to sell their foods,” Falc said.

Because the march will start next to the Mississippi River, participants were making fish kites to symbolize the creatures people share the river with. Other posters displayed pollinators and apple trees that are under threat because they cannot evolve quickly to adapt to changes in climate.

“We need to use our creative energies to come together as a community,” Falc said. “And inspire people to choose the resources we already have.”

Another attendee, Marv Camp, was bending over a table and coloring the letters for an “Earth Day” poster in red and green. Camp said he hopes to be part of the April 29 march.

“Seeing our current political scene, it’s great that we can make an impact in our small community and hopefully on a bigger level, too,” Camp said.

With a vision for a better and sustainable future in mind, Perrin said she encourages making better choices every day by choosing to bike, and walking for clearer air instead of driving.

To promote walking, she added the group will work to make safer streets and crossings and improve public transportation including evening and weekend busing and more routes.

On Saturday, April 29, Perrin said she hopes for a great attendance from the community and invites people to bring giant apples or suns, and decorate umbrellas, skateboards, bikes and posters to express their commitment to climate justice.

Perrin said, “This is our vision for a better future and a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.”

Julian Kohner paints a butterfly with red and yellow colors to be used for People’s Climate March. Kohner attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.
Nelson Calabrese paints a butterfly with blue, red and yellow colors to be used for People’s Climate March. Calabrese attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15, at the Winona Arts Center.
Marv Camp colors the letters for the poster “Earth Day” to be used for People’s Climate March. Camp attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.
Nelson Calabrese decorates an umbrella with Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Perrin. The art workshop provided paints, colors and decorations to make posters for People’s Climate March.
Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Lynette Powers outlines the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now.” Powers attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.

Henry Perrin and Jenna Perrin paint a butterfly to be used for People’s Climate March. They attended Art Day on Saturday, April 15 at the Winona Arts Center.

Island City Brewing Company has plenty of personality

By Sara Tiradossi

Simplicity and uniqueness are at the core of the new Island City Brewing Company’s philosophy.

Simple in design and original in beer choices, the brewery has been a venue for Winona residents, since it opened on 65 E. Front Street on Friday, March 17.

I was able to attend the brewery on a Thursday afternoon; at a time people decide to buy a beer after work, as a study break or to just relax.

Colton Altobell, owner of the brewery, welcomed me and offered me a beer of my choice. With his short but right to-the-point description of each beer, I picked the one I thought I would enjoy the most, called the ‘High Forest.’

While we were chatting, I also noticed four posters hanging by the taproom that characterized each beer. It definitely helped me to make my choice.

The beers at the brewery are full of personality – whether it is a light or dark ale.

Altobell said the original idea was to offer a range of flavors that would allow both beer lovers and beginners to find their own favorite drink.

“We create a variation of styles, unique to our brewery,” he said.

Their choice of flavors tries to meet seasonal demands too. At this time of the year, Altobell said it is more appropriate to offer lighter beer, compared to a fall season that will see darker color in prevalence. To him, it feels instinctual to make these considerations.

Since the opening, the IPA style beer, the current most popular style of beer, has been the most consumed at the Island City, Altobell said.

I thought the detailed menu guided customers through their decision. The beers are divided into styles, alcohol by volume content, availability, malt and hops and there is also a description for each kind, with suggested food pairings.

The menu referred to Latsch Local as a California Common style of beer, with firm, grainy maltiness and caramel flavors that give it a fruity taste. Altobell said Latsch Local is a light ale with a cold press coffee flavor in it.

Typically, coffee beer is darker but the one at the brewery is lighter. I could taste the coffee right away, and the beer afterwards. It was an unusual experience for me, and I through the two flavors did not go well together.

The Lost Compass beer is an IPA style, with an alcohol by volume content of 5.2 percent, a northwest pale malt and different kinds of hops. The beer is described as balanced, layered with depth and character, releasing something new with each sip. I liked it more than the first one, and thought it left a strong sour flavor in my mouth.

The third choice, and the one I picked, is the High Forest, a red ale style beer, light in alcohol and calories, with an alcohol by volume content of 3.5 percent and pilgrim hops. The description said the beer emerged on the idea of the color red, and the red ale delivers “supreme refreshment in the simplest way possible.”

Sometimes, I find myself having a hard time finishing a whole beer, but the red ale was definitely simple in flavor and easy to drink.

For the last choice, the Moonlight White, Altobell warned me I would taste a bitterness flavor.

Traditionally, Altobell said this beer is served with fruit or herbal syrups for added sweetness and complementary flavors. The bitter flavor, he added, comes from the hops, which give aroma to the beer.

The beer is a Berliner Weisse style, with an alcohol by volume content of 5.6 percent, pilgrim hops and wheat malt. It is described as a northern variation of the white beer style enhanced with complex flavors of stone, fruit and citrus.

Half of beer drinkers like the Moonlight White and half do not, Altobell said.

I had a chance to try the last beer with an additional cranberry juice flavor, and I thought it was too sweet with the extra flavor.

“It just depends on how you’re feeling. This is supposed to be a fun experience,” Altobell said.

When someone comes in the brewery, Altobell said he talks to the customers and tries to recommend a kind they would enjoy. Sometimes, people change their minds on a specific flavor, as they explore their options.

After sampling the beers, I was glad I chose the smooth, simply flavored red ale.

Half way through my beer, I watched Beertender Jovy Rockey serving customers at the counter and cleaning up the empty beers on the tables. Beer glasses of all sizes were set on the back shelves of the taproom, which Rockey kept filling as customers were coming and leaving.

When Altobell was thinking about a name for his brewery, he wanted to conjure a positive connotation and said Island City connected with the history of Winona, which used to be referred to as the Island City.

In the past, Winona was home to a brewery called Bub’s Brewing Company, Altobell said. It closed in 1969, and later the building was turned into an antique store.

“Breweries have always provided a product local people can enjoy,” Altobell said. “It’s deep rooted in Winona’s history.”

Growing up in town, Altobell was aware of the needs of the population, and thought Winona would be a perfect place to open a brewery because beer is a well-consumed product in the area.

He said a varied population of students, locals and tourists who pass through town would enjoy local products. By talking to a few residents in Winona, he saw the opportunity to do something different and create a place for gatherings and events.

Before starting the brewery, Altobell ran a youth summer camp for 10 years in Northern Minnesota, where he connected with his partner Tommy Rodengen, who had been involved in the brewery business for a while. After camp, Altobell worked in the Twin Cities in a few breweries.

While he was defining his business plan with Rodengen, Altobell said they had a complementary skill set that would work well if they started a business together. The two spent six months doing market research and finding the equipment they needed.

“Where Tommy had learned the brewing process, I picked up more on the operations side and the tail end of the brewing process, packaging and carbonating,” Altobell said.

One of the biggest issues was finding a place that was spacious enough to fit all the tanks where beer is produced and a taproom. The building itself, he said, has a lot of character on its own. His team tried to expose the building back to its roots and make it a warm and welcoming environment.

With the renovation, Altobell said he was able to put together with his partner a space that conveyed both a sense of antique with the wooden tables and the use of bricks, but also a sense of strong place in Winona.

“I wanted to feel connected to the history of beer and brewery of the town,” Altobell said.

The wood and the soft light are additional details to make the space feel more comfortable. Some people play cards while others study or spend time with friends.

“We didn’t have a specific mindset,” Altobell said. “We wanted to create something that would fit.”

When I first walked in, almost every table was full. The light was filtering through big square windows that afternoon, warming up the room. Soft music playing in the background was a lovely addition that allowed guests to talk while enjoying their beers.

An hour later, the tables were all taken, requiring some guests to stand by the taproom. A couple of young men were playing cards while a group of five people sat down the longest wood table in the center of the room. An older man who was part of the group said they had just left a funeral, to explain why they were wearing black.

The design of the room was balanced and logical: the owner made all of the uses of a brewery fit in one space. While workers produce the beer at the end of the room, guests in the taproom taste the final product of that work.

The space gave me a sense of order and cleanliness. There were a few small vases on the windowsills and the right amount of tables for both customers and workers to easily move through the room.

I was also caught by the well-thought proximity of the bricks with the adjacent wall that showed a hand painted map of Winona. It made the entryway look more inviting. The contrasting vibrant red tones of the bricks and the warm tones of the wall seemed like a perfect combination of colors to convey that sense of antique, and relaxation.

It seemed to me as if I was brought back in time.

When I went back to the brewery on a Friday night, the atmosphere was different. More than 50 people were talking. Some were standing and others were sitting in groups. In the back of the room, I noticed a buffet and some cupcakes and later found out most of the people were celebrating a birthday.

Customer Irina Holahan said it was her second time visiting the brewery and she had already tried all the beers. On Friday, she was with her husband and a group of friends from work, who had not been to the brewery before.

“I can really find myself here. I like that it’s different from the typical bars downtown,” she said. “Winona needed a change.”

Customer Bradley Larson was at the brewery on a weekend and said he wanted to play some games but the room was busy and he was not able to use them.

Larson added the brewery could have offered food options, and he thought there were not enough choices of beers.

“They only have four as of now, but I would expect that to change as they gain a better footing, especially during fall and winter, at a time different types of beers are brewed,” he said.

That brought me to thinking small food options could accompany the beers and make the experience even more pleasing.

Because it was more crowded than Thursday, waiters were collecting empty glasses and washing them non-stop through the night. Some customers were placing their empty glasses with a pile that had accumulated on the end corner of the counter of the taproom.

As Altobell was going over the brewing process, he said beer is made with four basic ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. From those four ingredients, it is possible to produce an endless variety of products, he said.

Altobell said beer making requires a lot of treatment and his team is careful with all steps of the process, such as water treatment, boiling and fermentation. When the grain has been milled, mixed with hot water and the sweet wort has been separated from the grains, fermentation begins. During this step, the yeast will convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Carbonation will then naturally occur from fermentation.

Island City Brewing Company Cellarman James Scudamore is in charge of parts of the brewing process, such as the monitoring of the yeast and fermentation. He has helped Altobell since October, when they were renovating the place.

“I enjoy working with the guys. I’m always open to new ideas and experimentation,” Scudamore said. “It’s nice to be able to work in this environment.”

Four people work on the production site, he said, and six on the taproom.

The taproom is Winona’s space to use for meetings, artists and music events, Altobell said.

Without a TV in the room, Altobell wants his brewery to become a place where people can commune with each other, talk, study and relax. The music is quite low, similar to a coffee house in a way, he said.

Through April, the brewery will be a venue for Mid West Music Fest and have more music on the weekends during daytime.

During the following months, Altobell plans to expand his choices of beers to eight and create an established landmark place in Winona. His hope is to be able to distribute the beer in liquor stores, bars and restaurants and expand his mark out from Winona in nearby areas as well.

Altobell said, “We have the capacity to brew a big volume of beer, more than we can consume.”

The Island City Brewing Company is an ideal place for a town that welcomes a great beer culture.

Beertender Jovy Rockey pours beer from a tap at Island City Brewing Company on Thursday afternoon, while customers order their beers.
Customers at Island City Brewing Company drink a glass of beer on Thursday afternoon in downtown Winona. The brewery opened on Friday, March, 17 on 65 E. Front Street.
At Island City Brewing Company, the beer that customers enjoy is produced from the tanks in the back of the room.


Immunization requirements: preventing for one’s safety

By Sara Tiradossi

Michael Krug has never received the flu vaccination because he is skeptical about the efficacy of the drug itself.

For Johnna Miller, vaccinating against the flu is one of her priorities when flu season begins.

Krug and Miller, graduate students at Winona State University, have contrasting ideas about vaccinations. No matter if they decided to vaccinate against the flu this year, they both had to show proof of certain vaccinations in order to be enrolled at the university.

According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, vaccination requirements changed over time and continued to be updated as new vaccines were developed for more diseases. Since the 1940s, some vaccines have been added while others have been removed or replaced.

Polio immunization was recommended in the 1950s, and tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella appeared in the 1970s. A vaccine for hepatitis B was added in the mid-1990s.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia also stated by the 1990s, all 50 states required students to receive certain immunizations in order to attend classes.

Mitzi Girtler, a licensed school nurse and the coordinator of health services at Winona Public Schools, said vaccination recommendations are not the same in every country.

In the U.S., she said, school immunizations laws are not imposed by the federal government, but by the individual states. For instance, the state of Minnesota has different requirements than the state of Wisconsin.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the law requires all children seven years of age and older to show proof of vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella), hepatitis B, varicella and meningococcal.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, children entering kindergarten through fifth grade, and sixth through 12 must have received a specific amount of doses of polio, hepatitis B, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella vaccines depending on the age group.

Students who enroll in college have to show proof they have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and diphteria, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Any student who fails to show proof of vaccinations within the first 45 days after first enrollment cannot remain enrolled.

Despite the requirements, not every individual is in favor of vaccinations.

Girtler said some people and communities object to school immunizations because they disagree with the mandates and have religious or personal beliefs that are in disagreement with vaccinations.

Other factors imply a lack of confidence, uncertainty toward the effectiveness of the vaccine and increased perceived risk of side effects of the vaccine, Girtler said.

Individuals who do not want to immunize their children, she said, can request an exemption to address their concerns.

In Minnesota, the Department of Health may allow exemptions from immunizations if a statement signed by a physician is submitted to the administrator, or in case of conscientiously held beliefs of the parents.

Depending on each state, some communities of people, she said, will not follow the state requirements. For instance, she said home school families typically are against vaccinations.

Vaccine hesitancy refers to those parents who show concerns about the decision to vaccinate one’s self or one’s children, according to Daniel Salmon, author of an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The article specifies the number of parents who claim non-medical exemptions to school immunization requirements has been increasing over the past decade. Other causes of vaccine hesitancy may include the fear of allergic reactions, the inability of parents to control the risks of adverse reactions, and the possibility the child’s immune system might be weakened.

The influenza vaccination is one of the immunizations parents are skeptical about, Girtler said.

In terms of influenza vaccination, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported on the national early-season flu vaccination coverage with findings showing approximately 40 percent of all persons and 37 percent of children were vaccinated by early November 2016.

The graph shows vaccinations among children were higher at the end of the season compared to all persons.

The late flu season vaccination report from 2013 to 2016 showed 45 percent of all persons and almost 60 percent of children were vaccinated against the flu.

The CDC noted efforts are needed to increase the percentage of the population vaccinated during the next few months in order to reduce the burden of flu.

The CDC showed the percentage of vaccinations in Minnesota is higher compared to other states, with a coverage in 2010-11 through 2015-2016 of 49.7 percent of all persons that is compared to a 42.7 percentage in Wisconsin.

Winona Senior High School, Girtler said, is an example of schools in Minnesota where vaccination trends are high.

Girtler said the school claims a high percentage of the required vaccinations needed to be registered, with over 96 percent of the students being fully vaccinated.

The school does not provide the vaccine but encourages students and families to go to their health care provider.

Because immunizations are a state law requirement, Girtler said the high school acts as a gatekeeper, and keeps track of them through school attendance.

The district’s immunization plan includes three groups of students: incoming kindergarteners, seventh graders, and new students coming in from another state or district.

With kindergarteners and seventh-graders, the district makes sure to contact the families months before the beginning of school, letting them know about the state requirements. Parents of the incoming students will individually meet with school officials.

The school officials send alerts to parents of sixth graders, similar to a phone system of advertising, she said. Girtler said the school encourages vaccinations in an effort to protect students who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons or allergies.

Students who do not have the proper vaccinations at the beginning of the school year will usually get the shot right after they have been notified. The district, she said, occasionally has to turn away a student or two due to a lack of immunization.

“We provide them resources and try to find funding or transportation if needed,” she said.

In the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school district in Wisconsin, Registered Nurse Barbara Hogden said almost every student in the school is vaccinated. Only 37 out of 1,392 students have personal waivers, exempting them to immunize, she said.

Hogden said 103 students decided to get the influenza vaccination at the school, and the other children had the choice to get it through their health care provider.

This year, Hogden said there were only three cases of influenza at the school because most of the students are vaccinated. The few who decide not to vaccinate usually do not believe in the vaccines, or they do not have enough information about them, she said.

For those parents who are in contradiction with the vaccines, Hogden said she encourages them to gather information from reliable online sources and to talk to their health care provider.

“Parents should always weigh both sides and do their research,” Hogden said. “There is a lot of information out there; they just need to look for it.”

While parents determine children’s necessity of receiving a flu vaccination, college students like Krug and Miller, can decide whether to vaccinate on their own.

Krug said he is skeptical about flu shots because he read online the vaccine protects against three types of the virus only, though there are more; and the virus constantly changes.

“I have always trusted that with good hygiene and proper nourishment, I can stay healthy for the most part,” Krug said.

On the other side of the spectrum, Miller takes advantage of the flu shot every year.

Miller said she is glad the flu vaccine is so easily accessible for students, especially in a college environment where germs are passed easily. The flu, she said, can spread quickly, and have a large impact on a population.

Vaccination requirements, Miller said, should be recommended but not mandatory because people need to have a say in what they receive in their bodies. She said she thought it is important to get vaccinated not only for a person’s health, but for the health of a whole community.

“When different things are forced or required, they can have negative connotations associated with them,” Miller said.

Winona State University Registered Nurse Joyce Peckover said the Health and Wellness Services on campus administered about 350 flu shot vaccinations this academic year.

The Health and Wellness Services is able to administer immunizations for several diseases, and the flu shots are available at the clinic for $25 billed to a student’s insurance. Peckover said the shot is covered by most students’ health insurance under preventable care.

According to Peckover, the amount of flu shots the university administers depends on whether there has been a bad outbreak of influenza across the U.S. In that case, she said, the following year people are more willing to vaccinate against the flu because they are afraid they might get sick again. This year, influenza started later than usual, with a peak in January, she said.

When students walk into the Health and Wellness Services for an appointment, Peckover said the registered nurses try to encourage the flu shots. Sometimes, students decide not to be vaccinated because they do not believe in the vaccine, or they have never taken it before.

Peckover is in charge of the Ask-A-Nurse line, and said she often receives calls from parents who want to keep track of their son’s or daughter’s health and ask if they have received the shot. Other times, the students purposely will not get vaccinated because of their parents’ decision.

Until the flu shots expire in June, Peckover said she will keep administering flu shots. Health and Wellness Services collaborate with the health promotion center to encourage flu shots via online and across the university through informative posters.

“We are always looking for new ways to encourage it,” Peckover said. “As much as we market the flu shot, it’s never enough.”

Peckover said the registered nurses work together with nursing students every fall, and set up a flu shot clinic to make it more convenient for students to stop by the booth during their lunch break.

Peckover said it is important to educate on flu shots because they can prevent serious illnesses and doctors’ visits. At the academic level, she said students who get influenza might be absent from classes for a few days, and lower their performance.

According to the CDC, an annual seasonal flu vaccine can keep people from getting sick with influenza, reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, and protect people with chronic health conditions who are more vulnerable to flu illnesses.

No matter if individuals have had a flu shot or not, in order to prevent influenza and the spread of germs, Peckover said getting good nutrition and resting helps to keep the immune system built up.

The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people, covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu and others.

“Everything comes down to prevention,” Peckover said. “Our goal is to provide education and prevent diseases to stay healthy.”

Despite the high percentages of student vaccinations in the Winona area public schools, in some cases, Girtler said students could be sent home from school because they do not have the proper vaccinations, or proof of exemptions from them. Kindergarten is the time they can first be blocked from schools, she said.

Rochester public schools recently did not allow 80 students to attend classes in the school building because they did not submit the paperwork before the deadline on March 1.

The district notified the families whose children did not have all the required vaccinations from Jan. 27 through Feb. 20, but they were not successful in providing the documents.

Both Girtler and Hogden said diseases, which used to be common in the U.S., including polio, measles, diphtheria and rubella, can now be prevented with vaccination.

Those parents who are against vaccinations were not alive when polio spread all over the country and are not aware of the number of people who died from it, Hogden said.

Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, author of an article on vaccine refusals, said parents think vaccine-preventable diseases are rare these days, and their memory of these diseases may be fading.

Some of the recent measles outbreaks prove those beliefs wrong. Girtler said California experienced a large, multi-state measles outbreak at    Disneyland in 2015 from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles. Other measles cases occured quickly afterwards.

Girtler said in order to encourage more vaccinations in the future, interventions are needed on the individual level. She said health care providers are the best source of information for individuals who are hesitant to immunize their children.

One-on-one conversations usually work best because parents are able to listen closely to an expert’s opinion on the matter, she said.

“We are encouraging vaccinations to protect not only children, but the whole community,” Girtler said. “This is a public concern.”

Winona liquor stores, congress people welcome new Minnesota Sunday sale law

By Samantha Stetzer

“Stores in Winona will be somewhat disappointed in Sunday sales,” Wisconsin Liquor storeowner Dave Pirkl said. “Careful what you wish for over there.”

There’s no resting on Sundays for the employees of Wine House, a liquor store nestled partially up the bluffs along Bluff Siding, Wisconsin, since 1951.

Sundays are their busiest day of the week, according to seven-year owner Dave Pirkl. The main pull for its Sunday sales stemmed from a law in Minnesota barring alcohol sales on Sunday, Pirkl said.

That is about to change.

Wine House liquor storeowner Dave Pirkl helps a distributor and early customer on Wednesday morning. A new law in Minnesota allowing their liquor store owners to sell on Sundays is something Pirkl said he is a bit nervous for as a Wisconsin liquor storeowner, but he is not too concerned due to the benefits he still has by selling in Wisconsin.

With an 88-39 vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives, a 38-28 vote in the Senate and a signature by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota liquor stores will now be able to sell their product on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The law goes into effect on July 1, with liquor stores opening their doors on a Sunday for the first time the following day.

Minnesota Rep. Gene Pelowski, who serves Winona County, said he supported the bill largely because of the competition across the border in Wisconsin and the public support it was gaining.

“It certainly does have an impact,” Pelowski said, adding there was not much debate within the house about ridding the state of its more than 150-year-old law barring the Sunday sales.

Minnesota Senator Jeremy Miller, who also represents Winona, helped co-author the new law because of the same public support.

“They feel it’s ridiculous that stores don’t have the option to be open on Sundays,” Miller said. “This was the strongest grassroots effort by the people that I’ve seen on any issue during my time in the Senate.”

Since entering the senate in 2011, Miller worked on flipping the law to allow Sunday liquor sales because he said he believes publically and politically Sunday should be viewed as the same as every other day of the week.

Miller he did not get the exact bill he said he originally wanted.

The original bill did not have any time restrictions on the Sunday sales. Working with religious leaders and compromising with other members of the Minnesota legislature, the bill was able to pass with the 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. time limit, according to Miller.

“To me it really comes down to, the people wanted to be able to buy their beer, wine and liquor on Sundays in Minnesota,” Miller said. “They should have the option.”

Darin Egeland, storeowner of Warehouse Liquor in Winona, said the new option for consumers is an opportunity for business owners to have another day for revenue.

Egeland said he will open on Sundays because he said stores on border towns in Minnesota “almost have to” to cash in on the money that could stay in Minnesota.


“I would say we’d lost money across the border,” Egeland said.

Stacks of beer line the aisles of Warehouse Liquor in Winona. Owner Darin Egeland, who wished to not be pictured, said he is looking forward to having another day to make a profit with the passing of a new Minnesota liquor law allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Egeland said he is not sure he can get his employees to agree to work another day during the week, and opening on a day he has designated as a day off is not something he is excited about.

Still, he added the possibility of increased revenue is hopeful for him and his little store at the intersection of Market and Third streets in Winona.

As for his competition across the border, Egeland said he believes the Wine House will struggle with the new change.

“He’ll probably be crying,” Egeland said about Pirkl. “For him it’s going to be a kick in the ass.”

While he supported opening his store on Sunday, Egeland is most worried about the possibilities of the legislature lifting restrictions on grocery stores and gas stations selling alcohol in Minnesota. Currently, Minnesota statutes state liquor establishments must be used to sell primarily alcohol, according to state statute 340A.412

Other stores can get around this law by having their own liquor store building next to their establishment or selling malt liquor with an alcohol content of 3.2 or less, according to state statute 340A.403.

If the law changes to allow establishments like convenience stores, grocery stories and drugstores to sell liquor inside the store—such as what is currently allowed in Wisconsin, according to Chapter 125 of the Wisconsin Statutes—Egeland said he fears it will put him and his local competitors out of business.

His distributor, Chris Schafer from Schott Distributing in Rochester,

Minnesota, said their company is also against cutting the restriction on convenience and grocery stores because of the added work without proper compensation it would cause.

According to Schafer, the company would not necessarily gain massive amounts of money or accounts, but rather, they would have to increase the flow of alcohol across the areas they distribute to, causing a mass overhaul in the company dynamic.

“It’s going to kill us,” Schafer said.

Schafer said he supported the Sunday sales bill in Minnesota.

Despite  fears by local owners and distributors, Pelowksi and Miller said they do not foresee more changes to the Minnesota laws in the near future.

“I think this is the biggest change you’re going to see for a long time,” Pelowski said.

Miller added, “I don’t think the appetite is there in the Senate to do more than what we already did. Allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays was a big step forward for the legislature, and I don’t anticipate any further progress.”

Pirkl, who has only owned a store in a state where grocery stores can sell booze and Sunday sales are not restricted, admitted the initial change to the Minnesota law may impact his business negatively.  He added he cannot know until a year after the law is in effect what that change will be.

While Wisconsin laws allow grocery stores and convenience stores in Wisconsin to sell alcohol of all kinds, Pirkl said he does not have to compete much against the bigger box stores since there is a minimum mark-up law in Wisconsin.

This law, under the Wisconsin Unfair Sales Act, essentially restricts the large retail stores from selling at a cheaper price than what smaller businesses can. As a small business, this means Pirkl can compete with larger chains that can sell alcohol in Wisconsin, such as Kwik Trip or Festival Foods.

For the last seven years, Sundays have always been a bonus day for the Wine House, Pirkl said, but even with the new Minnesota law, he said he is confident his “loyal customers,” legal ability to sell Wisconsin beers and wines, such New Glarus beers and Elmaro wines, and Wisconsin’s lack of restrictions on his open hours on Sunday are what will keep his Sunday sales up.

He added his location along the Wisconsin border will also benefit him, since community members in small towns along the river do not have many options to buy alcohol.

Pirkl said he does not have much confidence for his added border competition.

“Stores in Winona will be somewhat disappointed in Sunday sales,” Pirkl said. “Careful what you wish for over there.”