BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Kitty Rhoades will be remembered as a UW-River Falls grad, educator, small business owner, chamber executive, state representative, and state cabinet secretary. She is also credited with coining the term, Winnesota.
Kitty used the term Winnesota in the 1990s to describe St. Croix and Pierce counties in her Assembly District. Both counties are located along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border and are included in the federal definition of the 16-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, making them among the fastest-growing in Wisconsin. Rhoades told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I still call my area Winnesota. We are in Wisconsin, but it sure is hard to remember it.”
The origin of Winnesota grew out of frustration. It’s a short 20-minute drive to Minnesota’s capitol in St. Paul versus nearly four hours to Madison. Even in the age of instant electronic messaging, residents of Winnesota rely on the Twin Cities media – print, radio, and TV – as primary sources for news. Be prepared to dig a deeper for Wisconsin current events, including tidbits on Packers, Brewers, and Badgers.
Even as new bridges are built, a survey marker serves as a reminder of relative location, whether it’s Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Winnesota. Walkers, runners, and bicyclists are encouraged to find the Wisconsin-Minnesota marker along the sidewalk on the new St. Croix Crossing. Hint: In the middle of the three scenic overlooks, first enjoy the upstream views of the St. Croix Valley. Then glace at your feet. The marker is in plain sight. Fight the urge to place a foot in either state. OK, just once.