22June 2021

Will steamboats dock again? Yes

WINONA, Minn. – Even while wrapping up Steamboat days from last weekend, festival organizers are eyeing next year and the year after. Their dates fall on the calendar roughly the same as as recent years:

> 2022 June 16-20.

> 2023 June 14-18.

2022. 74th year.

21June 2021

Legislators agree on budget to avert shutdown

ST. PAUL, Minn. – After a week of Special Session wrangling, a state budget has taken form for the coming biennium. Lawmakers said the package includes $1 billion in tax cuts over four years. The biggest chunk is $650 million in business tax forgiveness on Paycheck Protection Program loans. The cuts also include $10,200 in unemployment benefits for people who lost jobs due to the pandemic. A bottom line for the budget was still in limbo, but the broad agreement means the Legislature is on the cusp of final approval before a July1 deadline that could have resulted in a government shutdown. Breakthroughs on the agreement came in closed meetings over the past week with Democrat Governor Tim Walz and Senate majority Republicans and House majority Democrats.

Earlier: Walz to Legislature: Time’s right to invest

21June 2021

WSU to urge, not require Covid shots

WINONA, Minn. – Winona State University decided against requiring students, faculty or staff to be vaccinated against the Covid but will encourage vaccinations this fall for freshmen and athletes through the Walmart pharmacy. The policy decision was made at the Minnesota State university system office in St. Paul. The system, as well as Winona State, has been under financial pressure from ongoing enrollment declines to reduce enrollment obstacles.

Earlier: WSU Covid semester total: Down 540

21June 2021

Sparta man accused of murder after axe attacks

SPARTA, Wis. – A Sparta man was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his step-grandfather after being told he wasn’t welcome to stay at the old man’s house any longer. Bond for Thomas Wayne Aspseter,36, was set at $1 million by Judge Todd Ziegler. The judge scheduled Aspseter’s next court date for July 2. Killed was 87-year-old Bernard Waite of Sparta. The death was June 6. Aspseter also was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and, in addition, two counts of aggravated battery with intent to cause bodily harm for attacks in the house on a 76-year-old man and 73-year-old woman. Both were attacked by an axe, according to the criminal complaint. The woman survived the attack. The man remains hospitalized. The couple are from Exeland, 140 miles away in northern Wisconsin. They had been out-of-town with the step-grandfather for a family event. This, according to the criminal complaint, is what happened:

> Aspseter had been staying at his step-grandfather’s house, on Icarus Road west of Sparta, but the old man didn’t want him there anymore and bought him a bus ticket to leave.

> The step-grandfather and two relatives left for a family event in Waukesha, 170 miles away.

> Aspseter used a crowbar get into the step-grandfather’s house.

> When the three returned from Waukesha the morning of June 6, they found Aspseter inside. The step-grandfather was upset and told Aspseter to gather his belongings and leave.

> Hearing a bang, the woman and man, who had been waiting outside, ran into the house.

> Aspseter emerged swinging an axe and struck the man. The woman screamed at Aspseter to stop. He swung the axe again and struck her in the arm. The woman ran across the road to a neighbor for help.

> Aspseter shot himself in the throat with a .22-caliber rifle.

> Although wounded, Aspseter made a brief 911 call, said he was  “crazy,” and admitted killing his step-grandfather.

> Police arrived and found Aspseter holding a rifle. He put the rifle down and surrendered.

The woman told police she had warned the step-grandfather that he wasn’t safe with Aspseter staying there.

Earlier: One dead, two wounded in household attack

Aspseter. Charged with intentional homicide,. Also two counts of aggravated battery with intent to cause bodily harm.

21June 2021

Beating the heat at the Olmsted County zoo

BYRON, Minn. – Zookeepers at Oxbow Park treated animals with custom popsicles during the June heat wave. Naturalist Clarissa Schrooten said she freezes in fruits for the bear – and a little honey too. Animals that aren’t inclined to fruits get meat frozen in. For the otters it’s fishsicles. Keeping animals cool during the early summer heat was critical, especially those still shedding their winter coats, Schrooten said. Zookeepers regularly hosed down the concrete floors and set high-power fans on animal pens. Many animals, she said, retreated to their dens to cool off but come out to get hosed down.

Staying cool. Honeysicles, meatsicles, fishcicles.

20June 2021

Weather delays Levee fireworks

WINONA, Minn. – Because a line of severe storms was forecast, Steamboat Days organizers called off the fireworks scheduled for 10 p.m. on the Levee. They hope for clearer skies Monday night.

20June 2021

Houston royalty float tops in Winona parade

WINONA, Minn. – The float carrying the Huston Hoedown royalty won the Steamboat Day parades best out-of-town unit award. Goodview Days was second place, La Crescent Applefest third, and Arcadia Broiler Days in fourth. Other Grand Parade winners:

> Non-high school band. Little Warriors of Winona, first, and the First Brigade Band second.

> Motorized, horse and animal units. Daddy O’s Wheelers, first, and DW Koss Stage Coach, second.

> Novelty units.  Sam and the Giant Wheel, first place; La Hacienda Dancers, second place; Warriors Baton Corp, third place; and Pumpkin Cannon, fourth.

> Commercial units.  Little Caesars Pizza, first, and Borkowski Towing and Salvage, second.

For the Kiddie Parade, with the theme “Games of the XXXII Olympiad,” Merchants Bank was first, and the Mollie Brink family second.

Houston float. With Hoedown Days royalty.

Little Warriors. SK Dance drum line.

Sam and the Giant Wheel. Novelty award.

20June 2021

Safety checks block bridge lane, sidewalk

WINONA, Minn. – A lane will closed beginning Monday on the newer main-channel bridge over the Mississippi River for three days of routine inspections.  Closed will be right lane on the eastbound bridge, the state Transportation Department said.  The sidewalk on the westbound lanes will also be closed.

Slowdowns. At commute times on Wisconsin-bound lanes.

20June 2021

Digital art exhibit at Laird Norton gallery

Denson. A Polish-born artist’s whose works include her pelican ensemble.

California Brown Pelican.” Denson:  “My art interrogates the shifting boundaries between physical, digital and mixed materialities — and the ways that such materialities shape and reshape the temporal unfolding of our perceptions.”

Dig-art exhibit  include sculptures, paintings  rugs

WINONA Minn. – A digital art exhibit with videos, interactive virtual reality, and still-media, and also sculptures, photos, paintings and rugs, opens Thursday at the Laird Norton gallery downtown. The exhibit is in conjunction with an International Digital Media and Arts Association’s conference, which has the theme is “Broken Media.”  Winona State University art prof Rger Boulay called the exhibit a premiere digital event. Only about a third of the submissions are accepted, he said.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Laird Norton gallery, 125 West Fifth Street. 

Earlier: Digital artist Amerika opens WSU exhibit

Earlier: Donor includes WSU gallery in $5.2 million gift

20June 2021

Recent storms intense but hardly soakers

LA CROSSE, Wis. – A succession of quick heavy storms eased the drought in southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin, according to the National Weather service. As much as three inches fell from Winona into parched cropland in Buffalo, Trempealeau and Jackson counties on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River. The storms, however, were short of soakers to address wide swaths of drought. Although precipitation was intense, it was sucked up right away by thirsty surface soil.

Earlier: Lightning strikes Garvin Heights house

19June 2021

Week’s summary: June 19, 2021

19June 2021

Toxic blue-green algae here with June heat

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A hot June has accelerated the arrival of potentially toxic blue-green algae on lakes and ponds, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said. It’s like August already. Blue-green algae “blooms” have a thick, cloudy appearance like green paint, pea soup, or floating mats of scum. “Most blue-green algae are not toxic, but there is no way to visually identify whether a particular bloom contains toxins,” the agency said. “The best option is to stay away from the water until rainfall, wind shifts, or cooler temperatures disrupt the algae’s growth.” Every summer the agency receives reports of dogs dying soon after playing near lakes or slow-flowing streams. What to do? Hose the dog off right away, before it has a chance to lick itself clean. The toxins can also sicken humans. The message: Avoid contact. The odor and appearance tend to keep people out of the water, but the effects are nausea and skin, eye, nose and throat irritation.

Boller’s Lake. The Goodview lake is vulnerable to excess nutrients that spawn algae, which already is forming along the shore. Boller’s Lake feeds Lake Winona through Gilmore Creek. Image: Steve Lunde

19June 2021

Johnson shouted down by unhappy crowd

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Senator Ron Johnson, who voted last year against a Juneteenth being national holiday, showed up for a Juneteenth Day celebration. It was a mistake. A crowd recognized Johnson at a Republican Party booth and booed. The crowd grew, the boos too. The chant: “We don’t want you here.” As the heckling crescendoed, Johnson, his voice drowned out, walked away. Last week Johnson indeed voted for Juneteenth but only under pressure from fellow Republicans to make it a unanimous vote to make the GOP look good. Why had Johnson been reluctant? Johnson later explained to a reporter: “Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate. While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter.”

Earlier: How they voted: Juneteenth holiday /1

Johnson. What was he thinking with audacious Juneteenth appearance.


Johnson to a reporter later: “Most people in Wisconsin say, ‘You are in our prayers. We are praying for you.’ But you got some people here that are just sort of nasty at some points.”

18June 2021

High school scores

Baseball: Hayfield Vikings 7, Lake Mills L-Cats  (A state championship)

Baseball: Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers 10, Belle Plaine Tigers 0 (AA state championship)

Baseball: Mahtomedi Zephyrs 20, Grand Rapids  Thunderhawks 3(AAA state championship)

Baseball: Farmington Siberian Tigers 12, Cottage Grove Park Wolfpack 10 (AAAA state championship)

Softball: Centennial Chiefs 6, Chanhassen Storm (AAA third place)

Softball: Mankato West Scarlets 9, Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights 2 (AAA third place)

Softball: Annandale Cardinals 11, Pipestone Arrows 7 (AA third place)

Softball: Edgerton Southwest Minnesota Christian Eagles 4, Badger / Greenbush-Middle River Gators 2 (A third place)

Softball: Rosemount Irish 5, Forest Lake Rangers 1 (AAAA state championship)

Softball: Becker Bulldogs 4, Winona Winhawks 0 (AAA state championship)

Softball: LeSeuer-Henderson Jolly Green Giants 7, St. Charles Fighting Saints 4 (AA state championship)

Softball: Randolph Rockets 11, Browerville Tigers 1 (A state championship)

18June 2021

Whitewater route closed to install new bridge

ELBA, Minn. – Construction continues along the Whitewater River from Elba downstream to Weaver with a new closure to replace a bridge between County Road 26 and County Road 3 . Traffic is bei20 miles ng detoured south to Highway 14. The bridge is expected to be taking traffic again in mid-September.

18June 2021

Disability group to Senator Miller: Thanks

ST,PAUL, Minn. – State Senator Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, a champion in the Legislature for disabled people since he was first elected in 2010, was presented a certificate of appreciation by the Minnesota Council on Disability.  The Council lobbies for legally required barrier-free access. Miller’s work includes establishing the Rare Disease Advisory Council housed at the University of Minnesota.


Miller: “From my first day in office, supporting people with disabilities has been one of my most important and humbling efforts. I am proud to play whatever role I can to help these individuals have opportunities to be successful and engaged members of their communities.”

Miller. Recognized for barrier-free access progress for people with disabilities.

18June 2021

Truck driver arrested for July fatality

TREMPEALEAU, Wis. –  A Trempealeau man, Micah Harris, 39, was arrested for drunken-driving and vehicular homicide in a July collision. The criminal complaint alleges restricted controlled substance in Harris’ blood. The. accident, about 4:30 a.m., killed Monica Knepper, 57, of Trempealeau, on Highway35 east of town.

Earlier: Collision drivers’ names released

18June 2021

Probe begins for Eau Claire County attorney

MADISON, Wis. — Governor Tony Evers appointed a commissioner to investigate charges against Eau Claire County’s district attorney, Gary King, for allegations of drunkenness and sexually harassing language. This means hearings. In charge, Evers said, will be William Ramsey, who is deputy chief legal counsel at the state Department of Administration. This all is unusual. Only once recent memory have there been proceedings to remove a county’s district attorney from office. In 2010, Calumet County’s district attorney in Chilton, Ken Kratz, was investigated but resigned before process got very far.

Earlier: Troubles deepen for Eau Claire prosecutor

18June 2021

Catholic bishop: Time to return to Mass

WINONA, Minn. – Catholics in the Winona-Rochester Diocese, which stretches border to border across southern Minnesota, are again obligated to attend Mass, said Bishop John Quinn. The Covid pandemic is sufficiently in retreat that dispensation for non-participation will no longer be issued, he said.  Skipping weekend services has been allowed since March 2020 with some parishes offering live-streamed services. In the southwest Wisconsin diocese of LaCrosse, Bishop William Patrick Callahan issued a similar announcement.

Quinn. Ending Covid dispensation.


18June 2021

Minnesota Guard on stand-by for protests

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Governor Tim Walz put the National Guard on alert in response to protesters who have shut down Lake Street in Minneapolis after a fatal officer-involved shooting in a parking ramp. About 100 members of the 257th Military Police Company went on stand-by, although not at the scene, to support police if civil unrest intensifies. Earlier in the week, heavily armed Minneapolis officers cleared away the barricades to reopen the busy roadway. Protesters restored their barricades the next night and every night since. The site is where a woman was killed  when a speeding vehicle smashed into a car parked that served as a protestors’ barricade. The driver was arrested at the scene.

Earlier: Driver held in fatal protest ramming

Trash bin fires. llluminating Uptown protests for more than a week.

18June 2021

Lightning strikes Garvin Heights house

WINONA, Minn. – Lightning from a quick-moving rain and hail storm struck a blufftop house in the first block of Buck Road. There were no injuries. Police and firefighters cleared debris from the street. Less than two miles away  Homer Road was littered with giant culverts that that washed off a street construction site. The storm felled trees and tore off branches at scattered points. Upwards of three inches of rain was reported. Hail stones the size of tennis balls were also reported. So were 60 mph winds. Elsewhere there was barely any rain. Some streams ran high but receded quickly without overflowing.

Scattered damage. Battered, splintered and fallen in Stockton. Image: Steve Lunde

Summer ice

Two super-intense storm cells swept northeastward out of Iowa in a 120-mile line from LeSeuer, Minnesota to the Mississippi River and east into Wisconsin. Hailstones as large as 2-1/2 inches ranged from nicely rounded white pellets to hefty chucks of crystallized ice. The largest were south of Arcadia, Wisconsin. Viewers of Eau Claire television station WEAU submitted these images.

18June 2021

Digital artist Amerika opens WSU exhibit

WINONA, Minn.— Art theorist Mark Amerika will keynote a digital art conference and exhibition at Winona State University this week.  Amerika’s works include “Immobilité,” which is considered the first feature-length art film shot on a mobile phone. Among his books: “The Kafka Chronicles,” “Sexual Blood” and “Meta/Data: A Digital Poetics.” His work has been exhibited internationally. His  net art work “Grammatron” was selected for the Whitney Biennial of American Art. Keynote: 5 p.m., Thursday, at Stark 103 on main campus.

Earlier: Digital arts group makes Winona home

Amerika. His academic home is the University of Colorado.

Self-portrait. In digital dimension.

17June 2021

Owatonna woman: Nude pictures of me online

WINONA, Minn. – Police received a complaint from Owatonna that a man whom a woman had1met in Winona had recorded explicit videos of her and uploaded them online. A police investigator was assigned to the case.

17June 2021

Bye to new dog after kid bitten

WINONA, Minn. — A juvenile was bitten by a neighbor’s newly adopted dog in the 950 residential block of West Fifth Street. By the police arrived, about 6:15 p.m., the dog’s owners had returned it to the kennel from which they had adopted it. Officers turned the incident over to the city animal control officer.

17June 2021

How they voted: Iraq war powers /1

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House voted 296-133 to repeal the war powers given to President in 2001 to invade Iraq. Proponents argued the open-ended authorization was passed hastily in the heat of emotions after the of 9/11 attacks in 2001 and that, 20 years later, had outlived its usefulness. Authorizations for war need to be subject to Congressional review, proponents said. The issue goes next to the U.S> Senate.

In favor

Angie Craig, D-Mn2 (south suburbs)

Betty McCollum, D-Mn4 (St. Paul)

Ilhan Omar, D-Mn5 (Minneapolis)

Dean Phillips, D-Mn3 (west suburbs)

Mike Gallagher R-Wi8 (Green Bay)

Ron Kind, D-Wi3 (LaCrosse)

Gwen Moore, D-Wi4 (Milwaukee)

Mark Pocan, D-Wi2 (Madison)

Tom Tiffany R-Wi7 (Hazelhurst)


Tom Emmer, R-Mn6 (north suburbs)

Michelle Fischbach, R-Mn7 (rural west)

James Hagedorn, R-Mn1 (southern Minnesota)

Pete Stauber, R-Mn8 (Iron Range)

Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wi5 (Juneau)

Glenn Grothman R-Wi6 (Campbellsport)

Bryan Steil, R-Wi1 (Janesville)


The worthiest goal of journalism is to promote intelligent citizen involvement. Such is our goal with Winona Journal. We focus on local issues so you can go about your daily activities with confidence that you can be a genuine and valued part of informed public dialogue on the kind of community we’re building.

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John Vivian, editor