The new jail and community pride


From: Margaret Shaw Johnson

“I want the ugliest jail in Minnesota”…the headline shocked and disgusted me. And the suggestion of a Quonset hut, serious or not, is shameful.

Winona County is a jewel … a beautiful combination of rolling hills, gorgeous productive farmlands and stunning towns and cities. It is beautiful because we, the proud people who live here and our ancestors, made it that way. Even the most modest homes in our county show the pride of ownership, with carefully tended lawns and gardens, fresh paint and welcoming walkways. We should show no less pride in our public buildings … they are ours and we are responsible for them. They say a lot about who we are as a people. Our forefathers who built such fabulous buildings as our courthouse knew that. They were not all wealthy people but they were proud, of themselves and their community and their pride and their confidence in the future showed in the buildings they left behind as their legacy.

Of course fiscal responsibility is important. But saving money for its own sake is being used as a clarion cry … an exclusive goal to be accomplished beyond everything else. I lived in Marcia Ward’s district for 36 years. My friends and neighbors there were surely careful with their money but they were willing to spend money on things that were important, and that included their homes and community. Our Winona County homes, be they modest or grand, in the cities and in the country, are among the most beautiful in the state.

Winona County is our home. Whether we live in the country or the towns, we are one community. I do not believe that people here feel aligned against each other … the rural versus the urban, nor should we. We, Winona County citizens, should strive to build the most beautiful public buildings that we can afford. Aesthetics do matter, as does community pride.


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