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.

Courtesy of Andy Gorzalski

Years ago, if you stood on the corner of Fourth and Mitchell Streets on Milwaukee’s near south side, you would have been greeted by images of dolphins. The purpose of the porpoises was to mark the entrance of one of Milwaukee’s most unique dining experiences.

The Public Natatorium featured Wild Boar Chasseur and Porterhouse Steak on its menu -- and five daily dolphins shows in its pool.

unclepodger, fotolia

Update:

Thursday morning, the Public Safety and Health Committee rejected naming Paul Nannis as Milwaukee's interim Commissioner of Health. The vote was 3 against, 1 abstention and 1 in favor.

Mayor Tom Barrett proposed Nannis for a 120-day interim position as Milwaukee carries out a national search for former health commissioner Bevan Baker's replacement.

The health department is due to provide a status report on its lead program to the Mayor and Common Council next Monday, January 29.

Original story: 

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

As Steering & Rules Committee chair Ashanti Hamilton opened Wednesday's special meeting, he described the moment as pivotal to Milwaukee.  He called for thoughtfulness and urgency.

“The more we learn about the consequences of lead exposure, the clearer it is that the highest degree of care and caution must be given, especially to our most vulnerable communities,” Hamilton said.

Members of the public and media in the room expected to be ushered out. The word around town was the committee would move to a closed session.

Susan Bence

Update: During Tuesday's press event, Freshwater for Life Action Coalition, or FLAC, spokesperson Robert Miranda called for action.

Dr. Miha Krofel

A bill making its way through committee would end the Wisconsin DNR’s monitoring of wolves. The legislation would also prohibit law enforcement officers from taking action if a wolf is poached or harmed by things like traps.

At a heated public hearing Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage, Senator Tom Tiffany (R) of Minocqua said the bill is designed to force Congress to remove wolves from the federal endangered species list.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A military veteran in Philadelphia started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling seven years ago. Business boomed so he decided to offer franchises to fellow veterans and their families. That’s where Wisconsin native Andrew Weins enters the picture. 

“This business allows me to take care of the environment,” he says.

Weins served in both Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Susan Bence

Greenfield resident Anah Radatz has been religiously recycling for years, and has wondered what happens to her empty milk jugs and newspapers. So, she reached out to Beats Me.

s / Milwaukee Public Radio

Milwaukee native Will Radler’s life mission has been to share the beauty of flowers.

Growing up on city’s north side, he poured over his grandmother’s rose catalogs. “I think I became a garden critic when I was in my single digit years,” Radler says.

His mom was an avid flower gardener. Even before he can remember she took Radler to Boerner Botanical Gardens. “My mother has a picture of me in a buggy. Do you remember buggies?” he adds with a laugh, “Yeah, I’m that old.”

David Hedquist

As 2017 comes to an end, WUWM’s environmental reporter Susan Bence reviews some of this year’s major environmental issues, from Waukesha's water deal to the Foxconn bill.

Waukesha started 2017 on a high note. After years of study and applications, the Compact Council approved the city’s request to tap into Lake Michigan to replace its radium-tainted well water.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A bill floating through the Legislature would eliminate protection of some wetlands in Wisconsin. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steinecke, who authored the bill, says the measure would free developers from unnecessary regulations, when parcels have no environmental value.

Others are concerned Wisconsin stands to lose natural pockets of marshy earth that soak up storm water as well as provide habitat.

Zoological Society of Milwaukee

Dr. Gay Reinartz has been studying bonobos for two decades. She says the primate and the African forest it lives in are under threat.

The scientist, who works with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, helped create and leads the Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative.

Today Reinartz is celebrated as an international crusader, but 37 years ago, when she first came to Milwaukee fresh out of Duke University, Reinartz knew nothing about bonobos.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

One point twenty-seven million tons. That’s how much garbage was added to Orchard Ridge last year alone. The landfill is located in the Village of Menomonee Falls. Of the 85 licensed operations in Wisconsin, Orchard Ridge is the largest.

On an average day 400 to 600 trucks haul in garbage from four counties – Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Milwaukee.

But, how much more waste can the 23-year-old landfill hold? And what will become of the site once it is full?

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Pleasant Valley Park is nestled along the Milwaukee River’s western shore in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. Long ago, the 23-acre parcel was home to one of Milwaukee’s most popular beer gardens with restaurants, a band shell, steamboat docks and “extravagant” landscaping. Today, Pleasant Valley falls within the Milwaukee River Greenway.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The Kohler Company wants to create a world-class golf course adjacent to Wisconsin's Kohler-Andrae State Park. The proposed golf course along Lake Michigan would butt up against the northern edge of the park the Kohler family helped create in the 1960s.

If all goes as planned for Kohler, the 18-hole golf course would occupy 247 wooded acres already owned by the company. However, some neighbors aren't happy about the plan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A special commission representing Canada and the United States released a report Tuesday morning about efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

The group, called the International Joint Commission or IJC, has been around for over a century and is tasked with preventing conflicts between the two countries over shared waters.

The Great Lakes swallows up a lot of the commission’s attention.

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