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Paul Schollmeier

Photo, Paul Schollmeier

How long have you been in public service?

I am in my 5th year of public service as an elected official. From 2012 through the end of 2016 I served as Supervisor for the Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District, including two years as chair. I am in my first year as councilor at-large.

Why did you choose to be in public service?

For my entire adult life I have worked behind the scenes as an activist and volunteer for numerous organizations that promote education, natural resources and the environment, and water quality issues.

What is your favorite thing about your city, county or area?

As I have frequented many of Minnesota's natural areas, parks and landscapes, the Driftless region and in particular the Winona area, still strikes me as one of the most dynamic and picturesque areas of the entire state. Despite having bias from growing up in Winona many people I have met from throughout the Midwest would confirm my opinion. As I am a former educator and artist, no other small town in Minnesota can offer educational opportunities or provide the vast array of cultural activities like Winona does.

What is your city or area most known for? What is unique, or special about it?

We are one of the oldest communities in Minnesota, nestled alongside the Mississippi River. Winona has transformed itself from a railroad shipping hub to a lumber town to a center for manufacturing, education and the arts. We are a destination arts center and will soon be a destination education center. As a Mississippi River town we are trapped between the bluffs on either side of the valley and the city proper has expanded to fill the available space. Much of the old city still remains in the form of 120 year old brick and limestone facade buildings in our downtown district. The diversification of industrial, manufacturing, educational, and cultural institutions provides ample opportunities for employment, while our natural resources and proximity to the Mississippi and surrounding bluffs and state parks enable Winona to be a destination for recreation as well as arts and education.

How do people in your community feel a Second Train could benefit them? Or, How do you feel that your community could benefit from a Second Train?

Trains are used by students, business people, and tourists.

A significant percentage of college students coming to Winona use Amtrak. A second train provides additional time slots for students to travel to and from their home communities in the Twin Cities, Chicago, and stops in between. Our community is home to many arts and cultural events that are frequented by travelers and destination arts attendees.

A second train makes possible timely arrivals and departures that allow travelers to disembark and settle into lodging comfortably prior to attending one of Winona's "Original 8" events.

Business people have told me that a second train to Chicago or St. Paul provides them a chance to travel and work, options not available when commuting via car. Not to mention avoiding the construction and traffic headaches often encountered in the Twin Cities or Chicago.

Why are you interested in expanding passenger rail in Minnesota? Or, What is your long-term vision for passenger rail in Minnesota?

The ability to reach the Twin Cities or other points in Minnesota without the trappings of a car that needs to be parked and secured while traveling. I would like to see four trains a day to the Twin Cities and Chicago. When I reach St. Paul, I want to be able to travel via train to Duluth, St. Cloud, or Des Moines/Kansas City/Albuquerque.

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Fact Sheets

Have more questions about Great River Rail? Check out these helpful fact sheets to learn more.

2019-2020 Second Train Fact Packet

Second Train FAQ

Member Spotlights

View spotlights of Great River Rail Commission members.

Sandi Dingle

Peter Fletcher

Wayne Getz

Cheryl Key

Trista MatasCastillo

Jane Prince

Paul Schollmeier

Mark Vaughan

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