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Winona joins Welcoming America

Winona is working to be more welcoming, with the addition of a new organization to the city's list of connections.

The Winona City Council on Monday approved a membership with Welcoming America, an international organization that works with communities to create inclusive and welcoming environments for immigrants and others, culturally and economically.

Fatima Said, executive director of Project FINE, worked with city staff exploring the possibility of joining the group.

She said Winona is one of the first cities in Minnesota to join the group, which connects a network of nonprofits and local governments and assists in developing plans, programs and policies.

"Welcoming America is the only kind of organization that does this work, sharing resources," she said. "They really do build a nation of immigrants and refugees and welcoming neighbors."


Other advantages cited in the staff report include the potential for promoting jobs in this area and throughout Minnesota, which is seeing a shortage of workers to fill positions.

Said said the membership will amplify efforts already going on in the Winona area.

"It is just a recognition of what is already in place," she said.

The dues for the city will be $200 annually.

The resolution to join Welcoming America was approved with five votes of support, with council member Gerry Krage abstaining, saying he had a lack of information about the organization, and council member Pam Eyden absent.

Council member Al Thurley said the membership could help Winona grow, and while there had been instances of not being welcoming to different cultures in the past, this would be a good first step.

"We need to be as proactive as possible to make sure that kind of welcoming is going forward," Thurley said.

Treating ash trees


Tree inoculation will move forward this summer, with a bid approved to re-treat the city-owned ash trees against the emerald ash borer.

Keith Nelson, the city's assistant manager for public works, said the bid for treatment had come in considerably lower than the budgeted $54,000, so the company will be doing more of the trees while the city workers concentrate on cutting down previously infested ones.

Originally, the company and the city both were going to inoculate about 500 trees; now it will be split 750 trees to the city's 250.

The company, Rainbow Treecare, doesn't have a specific start date yet, Nelson said.

"They're very accomplished," Nelson said. "They're all certified arborists, as well as certified to do the chemical treatment."

The council unanimously approved the addition of extra trees to the bid, despite initial concern about the low cost of the bid and the timeframe for the amount of trees to be inoculated.

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