Winona horticultural society

Winona horticultural society president says they plan to keep planting

WINONA -- The new president of Winona’s horticultural society says members plan to keep planting trees and shrubs. However, he also has two goals -- one for this year’s garden, and the other for the future.

Jim Wiesman, president of Winona's Horticultural Society, says part of the project involves the addition of flower gardens to the park on East State Street.

“It’s really the heart of the society and what we want to do with it,” Wiesman said. “In the center of the park is where we want to plant things so that everyone can enjoy.”

The first step toward planting the flower garden was taken in March when a $3,000 grant was received.

Wiesman said he wanted to keep the park clean as much as possible. He thought it would be good to plant some flowers, so he talked to some gardeners.

“We’ve got several guys that we’re working with to get all the things prepared and ready to go in,” Wiesman said. “There’s not a lot of rain in town, so they have some ground that needs to be broken and some dirt that needs to be moved around.”

Wiesman said a lot of the work has been done this summer, and he hopes the flowers will be ready for next spring. He said a lot of work went into raising the money.

“We’re a non-profit, so a lot of the volunteers came out of their own pocket,” he said.

As part of the work, the society plans to make it more handicap-accessible. Currently, the sidewalk is not accessible.

Wiesman said he has also talked about making the center a little more attractive and building a monument.

“They’ve done a lot of work getting to where they’re at,” he said. “They’re an hour from downtown, so they’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Wiesman said the group’s next step will be to find a way to get more help.

“We’re trying to find people who can come in and lend a hand,” he said. “There’s a lot of gardening and other projects going on.”

At the community center, the idea of volunteering sounds great.

“It would be nice to have help, but we have to be careful,” said community center member Sharon Varnen.

“You have to go in and get your hands dirty and work,” said community center member David Varnen. “It takes a lot of work to build a friendship.”

“We would like to make it more friendly and approachable,” said John Varnen.

The plan is to work on beautifying the building by getting new chairs and more tables, and to clean the rooms inside.

The center has been around for over 20 years.

“We do a lot of fundraising,” said David Varnen, the center’s assistant director. “We hold an Easter egg hunt. We have an ongoing food drive. We put out a food drive at the end of the year for Thanksgiving. We’ve also raised $4,000 for Habitat for Humanity. We have all kinds of local donations. We get contributions through the community center.”

In return, the center brings the community together.

“We work together,” David Varnen said. “This is the social time.”

“When you’re in here at 2 in the morning, you know you have a friend,” John Varnen said. “It’s almost like going to church.”

“People feel safe,” David Varnen said. “There’s a sense of community. We also provide a place for the elderly.”

“This is good,” John Varnen said. “We love the community center.”

“It’s been good for our families,” said Mary Jo Davis, of the St. Mary’s Home. “This is the place that everybody knows. It’s like a neighborhood place.”

“There’s always things going on, ” said John Varnen. “At the park we have movies, we have plays. This is great. ”

“It brings everybody together. Everyone knows each other here, ” said Mary Jo Davis. “This is where you meet your neighbors.”

“We’re a nice part of town, ” John Varnen said. “It’s in the midst of some neighborhoods that are older. ”

“These people were here a long time, ” said Mary Jo Davis.

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