Newsmakers, December 18, 2014

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers

La Crosse Warming Center; The Real Cost Of Fracking

Featured in this Show

  • La Crosse Warming Center

    A new location that opened in November to serve as a place where homeless people in La Crosse can escape the cold weather has been at capacity most nights.

    The La Crosse Warming Center moved from the First Baptist Church on West Ave. where it had been the past four winters to a newly-remodeled former warehouse at 413 S. Third St. The capacity more than doubled from 15 at the old site, to room for 35 people each night. People can stay at the warming center from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. A meal is provided, and they are allowed to sleep in recliners. The new location has air conditioning, which will allow it to be open as needed year round.

    Warming Center Coordinator Mary Fitzpatrick says the Third St. location has new amenities for guests, including showers and a laundry.

    “It’s really a dignity thing for the guests to be able to wash their clothes and take a shower, and just feel better about themselves,“ she said.

    The new warming center is still being operated mostly with volunteer help by Catholic Charities, and a much broader vision is being offered for the facility to help the homeless.

    Sr. Karen Neuser with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration says they hope it can be used as a daytime drop-in center that could benefit the homeless by providing a wide-range of services to improve their lives.

    “The goal will be that this is a place where people can come whether you’re homeless or not, and sit down and chat,” she said. “People begin to tell their stories, and that’s where the heart comes in and the truth comes out. When you begin to talk, people express what their deepest needs are.”

    Sr. Karen says at that point, they will be able to refer people to the area resources that can best help them.

    She says they are hoping the ideas for best ways to provide resources at the warming center will come from the community.

    In addition to the warming center and potential daytime drop-in center, organizers are also hoping a third level of services will eventually materialize that would include a job training center and a place to help with transitional housing.

  • The Real Cost Of Fracking

    The co-author of a book that examines the impact of fracking on people and the environment says there are a lot of parallel concerns with mining for frac sand in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Frac sand is used in fracking for natural gas, which is happening in different parts of the country. The sand is combined with chemicals and water as part of a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing.

    The book, The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets and Food, examines what’s happening to humans, pets and farm animals and the environment, primarily in Pennsylvania.

    There’s been a major expansion of frac sand mining operations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. More than 150 sand mines have started working in recent years.

    Michelle Bamberger is co-author of The Real Cost of Fracking and is also a veterinarian. She says both fracking and frac sand mining create an industrialization of the landscape.

    “You’ve got these operations next to farms, next to homes, next to schools, next to churches,” she said. “They’re right there in the community, they operate 24-7, so there’s noise, there’s truck traffic and there’s light pollution.

    Bamberger says fresh groundwater is also used heavily in both forms of mining and water contamination is a concern, as is health problems related to air quality.

    She says proper monitoring of the environment is the key to a safe operation.

    “I know there is some monitoring being done already in Wisconsin and Minnesota,” said Bamberger. “But the monitoring has to be continuous, it’s not the sort of thing where we do a study over a certain period of time, everything looks ok and then we stop. I think it has to be continuous because the industry is becoming more intensive, because weather and wind change over time and we should be able to detect at the proper levels.”

    Bamberger and co-author Robert Oswald visited UW-La Crosse in late October.

Episode Credits

  • Maureen McCollum Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Mary Fitzpatrick Guest
  • Sr. Karen Neuser Guest
  • Michelle Bamberger Guest
  • Robert Oswald Guest