Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Lily Merritt

There’s something new on Milwaukee’s food scene. A vending machine that doesn’t spew out candy bars, instead it serves up from-scratch meals.

Farmer’s Fridge is the brainchild of Chicago-based entrepreneur Luke Saunders. Within the sleek machine is a collection of colorful salads and snacks. Selections shift with the seasons.

Saunders says the fridge customers see today looks nothing like his initial prototype.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Update, November 20: The Public Safety and Health Committee approved the resolution without debate at its Monday morning meeting.

Update: After this story aired, the City of Milwaukee Health Department contacted WUWM to share this information about the department's lead education efforts:

Tom Farence

From roughly 1944 until 1954, steam locomotive Number 265 carried load upon load of freight and later folks for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St.Paul & Pacific Railroad. 

However, the locomotive's career bumped up against progress when steam engines were out and diesel was in.

In 1956, the retired locomotive jumped the tracks and the City of Milwaukee replanted it off East Conway Street. And, that's when Number 265 became known as Old Smoky.

Katie Gardiner

The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a plan to stop silver and bighead carp moving from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes.

Cheryl Nenn with Milwaukee Riverkeeper calls the proposal a starting point, not a solution, because multiple aquatic invasive species are threatening both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.

Courtesy of Componex

Cal Couillard has been intrigued with solar energy since the 1970s. But, it wasn't until this year that he took the plunge, and had solar panels installed at his Edgerton-based business.  He also created a fund to help others "go solar."

Solar energy used to be expensive, Coulliard explains, and therefore, only people who wanted to be green jumped aboard. Now, he says, prices have dropped dramatically and it makes sense financially.

SunVest Solar, Inc.

Pewaukee-based developer Matt Neumann admits he might appear to be an unlikely advocate for solar energy. His political roots are deep, and conservative.

“When I got into solar, I found myself in the extreme minority of Republicans or conservatives who thought solar was a good idea. As a matter of fact, a lot of people thought I was crazy," Neumann explains. "Now we’re cost-competitive, and Republicans and Democrats agree that they want to do the right thing for the environment.”

Elvis Kennedy, flickr

Wisconsin's Senate took up key pieces of legislation Tuesday. Two of the most controversial bills are now headed for Gov. Walker's signature. One bill eases sulfide mining regulations, and the other opens up hunting to kids of any age.

Susan Bence

Update, November 3:

Although Democrats rallied against the bill designed to lift the nearly-20 year restrictions on sulfide mining, the Republican-dominated State Assembly prevailed with a 53-38 vote. Bill sponsor Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield folded in amendments that include halting mining if it is legally challenged; another to help ensure mining companies pay taxes.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Oak Creek had been on tap sell Waukesha Lake Michigan water to replace its contaminated well water. But Monday Waukesha announced that instead, it will purchase the supply from Milwaukee.

Before he toasted over glasses of water with Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly on Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett acknowledged the road to their agreement had been a bumpy one.

Quasimondo Physical Theatre

Writer Jeff Grygny has long been interested in how philosophy, culture, science, and spirituality intersect. His latest work, The Performance Ecology Project, factors in the natural world. The production is a collaboration of Quasimondo Physical Theatre and Cooperative Performance.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The parking lot outside Veterans Terrace in downtown Burlington was packed as the informational session started at 5 pm sharp. This was the third public information meeting for area residents and business owners hosted by Racine County.

I chatted with people who turned out, and heard mostly these sorts of comments:

“I’m excited for the Village of Mount Pleasant and for the whole region. This will be a big shot in the arm for this whole 5-county region here. A lot of people needs jobs,” Paul Maccari said.

“I think it’s huge feather in our cap,” Sharon Smolensy said.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

I first met Cole Compton four years ago, when he was a high school freshman. He had just started interning with a program called Teens Grow Greens, and was sharing his vision to sell terrariums with plants with fellow students.

“I loved the idea of having this living thing that I can almost make a home for. I can make this little environment of my own,” Compton says.

Milwaukee County Parks

Milwaukee County is home to 15,325 acres of parkland. There are 158 unique parks are rooted across the region – from Joseph Lichter Park in the north to Oakwood in the south; from tiny Pompeii Square nestled beneath a tangle of downtown freeway spurs to 626-acre Whitnall Park.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The TV show “Bill Nye: The Science Guy” was a staple for countless kids raised in the 90s. He turned on a generation to science, demonstrating the way the natural world works in a way that kids young and old could understand.

Now Nye - both his science guy persona, and the man himself - is the subject of documentary being featured in the 2017 Milwaukee Film Festival. Bill Nye: Science Guy is directed by Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Many people have not ventured into the harbor district, just south of downtown in the Walker's Point neighborhood.  The City of Milwaukee wants to change that. 

UWM’S School of Freshwater Sciences’ expanded facility where Greenfield Ave. meets the harbor was a first step.  Next came Freshwater Plaza at 1st and Greenfield with apartments and a grocery store. Now artist Nova Czarnecki’s mural is transforming the face of the old railroad bridge between the two.

Harbor District Inc. commissioned the project.

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