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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Start with the people (06/10/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
It's amazing! People in Winona County are so friendly and approachable! Anyone might come up to you in a store and begin to chat as if you were long lost friends! I recently spent half an hour in a store helping a lady I didn't know select accent pillows for her motor home.

There's no shortage of kindness here. At least twice in the past year I had misplaced my billfold, and there went all my ID cards as well as my peace of mind. I backtracked and found that honest individuals had found and kept my property in safe keeping until I inquired about it.

If this article sounds boring - skip to the second half! I want to get past the warm and fuzzy stuff first.

I was giving my late Aunt Ellen Wollin a wheelchair ride near her HCO home on Winona's East Eighth. I felt so good that we were both enjoying the beautiful spring day together! Whoops! Spoke too soon!

I was maneuvering a curb when the footrest hit the blacktop. Ellen's small, frail body slid down, her hollering prompting me to hang onto her for dear life. As luck, or heavenly intervention would have it, two young gentlemen came to a stop and flew out of their vehicle to help retrieve Ellen back to her chair. I will be forever grateful!

Ellen began playfully chanting, "Janet dumped me in the street!" After convincing myself that she wasn't hurt, we both laughed all the way home - and no more curbs! Sheepishly, I suggested to Home & Community Options staff that they might want to consider offering wheelchair manipulation instructions.

Massage therapist Geri Naal, of Body Sense in Winona, has been a blessing to me in my struggle with Parkinson's. With each visit she makes sure that every muscle is freed and each ache is soothed.

Geri's optimistic attitude and compassion have given me hope. As we share our insights and beliefs, we've both grown in spirit, through the strength and healing force compassionate individuals can impart to each other.

Now that all of my gushy commentary is out of the way, I can't refrain from commenting on inflamed issues making local headlines of late. No, I absolutely don't have my head buried in the sand! I follow it all.

Issues complicate peaceful living! As far as the Wilkie is concerned, the real shame lies in all the Winona residents who aren't voicing their opinions, who sit back and complain and gossip after the fact, which is only counterproductive. Lewiston has a similar situation. Where is the sensible, constructive input and support?

Our town councils are struggling to make the most prudent decisions for communities as a whole, to distinguish what is motivated by self-indulgence and what is truly beneficial to the common good of all the taxpayers - now and for the future.

If my family and I were in desperate need of a helping hand, financial support, or rescue from abuse and weren't being helped, I would be more than a little bitter that a so-called "spiritual center of the Diocese of Winona" just spent $5.1 million on superficial renovation.

Newspaper articles make mention that this and that is all about "the people." Residents aren't all on the same playing field. It is the people that are a community's most valued assets. Relics and replicas are merely props.

A headline in the Winona Daily News' June 4th edition read, "14 U.S. troops killed - weekend toll raises total to nearly 3,500." That seems to trivialize everything else. Are those who mean well actually squandering too much energy, emotion, talent, peace of mind, and cold cash on too many hollow pursuits?

Start with "the people," and maybe decisions will come more harmoniously in the future. Peace and goodwill.

Janet Burns has been a lifelong resident of Lewiston, in Winona County. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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