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.

Althouse

Dozens of people packed into a room at the State Capitol on Thursday for a public hearing on Foxconn’s plans to build a huge plant in southeastern Wisconsin. An Assembly committee heard testimony on a bill that would provide $3 billion in tax incentives for the Taiwanese company.

Susan Bence

As the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Wednesday announced it would not pursue a lawsuit to stop the City of Waukesha from drawing drinking water from Lake Michigan, other Great Lakes challenges are on the horizon.

The consortium of Great Lakes mayors – representing the U.S. and Canada - believes a balance must to struck to create thriving communities while protecting the Great Lakes.

Karlos Lomsky / fotolia

The Tuesday U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruling protects wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The ruling comes after years of debate, as well as decades of disagreements over the size and management of the wolf population.

In the early 1900s, Wisconsin instituted a bounty to keep the number of wolves down, in hopes of bolstering a dwindling deer population. By 1960, wolves were declared extirpated from Wisconsin.

Rachel Morello

Governor Scott Walker is floating a bill crafted to speed up the construction of Foxconn's facility in Wisconsin. Critics say the proposal puts environmental protections in a tailspin.

Susan Bence

Dogs are extremely good at sniffing things out. Mequon Nature Preserve decided to take advantage of  the canine skill and brought on Tilia, the first on-staff conservation dog in Wisconsin.

One of her trainers is Kathy Hatch. The day I visited, she had been busy hiding several plants amidst tall grasses outside the preserve.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Police Chief Edward Flynn said during the first four years of the current pursuit policy both accidents and stolen car incidents steadily declined. He told commissioners at their Thursday evening meeting, he’d like more time to study what turned that decline upside down.

Last Saturday, two dozen people gathered under the sizzling summer sun to play Water Story MKE.

It is the brainchild of Michael Timm, who teamed up with Reflo, a nonprofit dedicated to water sustainability to create the app.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Bees first began to creep into Charlie Koenen’s life in 2002. Today his previous careers in computer programming and consulting might as well belong to someone else altogether.

Koenen is a beevangelist through and through. “I never would have predicted the path, but the importance is really astonishing - a beehive when it’s operating. That’s the amazement I want to give everybody,” he says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Milwaukee County’s green space - some 15,000 acres of parks – is in varied states of decay. A 2009 audit found Milwaukee County Parks facing $200 million in deferred maintenance and the backlog of capital and maintenance needs now total $246 million.

Virginia Small and Tom Tolan teamed up to write about what might be done to bring the luster back to the park system in this month's issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Alderman Tony Zielinski is concerned residents don’t fully understand both the risks and how they can protect themselves from lead exposure. His says his proposal would direct the Milwaukee Health Department to communicate more effectively – starting with the importance of water filters. Zielinski introduced the resolution at the Public Health and Safety Committee meeting Thursday.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Update, July 19: Tuesday's common council meeting did not result in a step toward resolution of the Sturgeon Bay waterfront debate.  The proposed compromise  was being discussed, when the mayor announced he had to leave.  The council voted to adjourn.

The DNR is expected to hold a public hearing next month. City leaders may wait for that process to play out before considering its next step.   Original post, July 18:

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Molecular biologist Michael Schläppi experimented with rice varieties from around the globe for five years - testing how they stood up to Wisconsin weather in miniature paddies he built on his rooftop lab on campus.

He settled on a short-grain variety from Russia.

Two years ago, he took the experiment to a farm field outside Port Washington.

CITY AS LIVING LABORATORY

The City of Milwaukee is putting the finishing touches on a water and land use plan to help guide the future of the harbor’s 1,000 water-edged acres. The idea is to combine a robust working function while also breathing vitality into areas where there currently is none.

Lots of ideas are floating around.

Enter a New-York based artist by the name of Mary Miss. She uses the environment in unexpected and artful ways to draw people to outdoor spaces.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The City of West Allis has been providing curbside recycling pickup for over two decades, but this week residents will find gleaming blue carts at their doorsteps. Up until, the city has used 30-gallon plastic bags.

West Allis is one of a handful of municipalities using the"bag" method.

Melissa Oberdorf remembers the days before West Allis trucks started hauling away recyclables. Her family members were early adopters.

Courtesy of Mandela Barnes

Update, June 16: 

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department has released dash-cam video from a deputy squad car, showing a longer version of what led up to Sunday's fatal shooting near Bradford Beach. A deputy fired shots into a vehicle that appeared to have been ignoring officers' warnings and attempting to flee along the crowded lakefront. The Waukesha sheriff's office continues investigating the incident.

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