(VIDEOS) A Small Town Debates Silica Frac Sand Mining

 

Glenwood Area residents in western Wisconsin pack the house at the August 12, 2013 city council meeting.  The overflow crowd presented a referendum petition urging the city council to allow people to be "part of the process" when considering frac sand mining issues in their community.

Glenwood Area residents in western Wisconsin pack the house at the August 12, 2013 city council meeting. The overflow crowd presented a referendum petition urging the city council to allow people to be “part of the process” when considering frac sand mining issues in their community.

With over 130 frac sand mine and processing sites in Wisconsin, we have made it a priority to report about the process of one in our area.

Glenwood City may annex the Teigen/Crosby land in order to allow TX company Vista Sand to operate a silica frac sand mine in that location.  The potential “Vista” mine would be located within 1/2 mile from the public school with 650 children and hundreds of staff.

The Glenwood area is unique in its landscape and character.  However, dynamics surrounding frac sand mining in this community are far from rare.  These videos give you the inside feel of the sand story playing out in communities all around the state of Wisconsin.

In this video, more than 40 people packed into a small room in order to voice concerns about frac sand mining within the city limits.  More than half of the registered voters in Glenwood City presented the city council with a petition on Monday, August 12 requesting a referendum vote before the council moves to annex 400 acres of farmland into city limits.

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“Mine? Let us Vote!” Glenwood Area Residents Want Referendum on Frac Sand

 

Glenwood City, WI - On August 12, locals submitted a petition requesting that the western-Wisconsin city hold a referendum before annexing land next to their public school which is intended for a frac sand mine.

Glenwood City, WI – On August 12, locals submitted a petition requesting that the western-Wisconsin city hold a referendum before annexing land next to their public school which is intended for a frac sand mine.

 

Residents claim a right to vote on issues concerning frac sand mining in their community. But will they get it?

That’s the billion-dollar question facing the Glenwood area residents in the western Wisconsin community.  “Screws are coming loose,” says one local who claims people are desperately fighting for their way life against a frac sand payout that may be worth a staggering $1.5 billion.

People wondered if they would be heard as they presented the Glenwood City Council with a petition Monday night requesting a referendum vote before the council moves to annex 400 acres of farmland into city limits.

A referendum would allow residents to vote on whether their city should annex the Teigen/Crosby land next to the public school in order to allow TX company Vista Sand to operate a silica frac sand mine in that location.

Julian Bender, former high school principal, presents a referendum petition to the city council.  The petition was signed by a majority of registered voters in Glenwood City, along with numerous citizens just outside the city who would also be affected by a potential frac sand mine.

Julian Bender, former high school principal, presents a referendum petition to the city council. The petition was signed by a majority of registered voters in Glenwood City, along with numerous citizens just outside the city who would also be affected by a potential frac sand mine.

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Mother Fears for Daughter’s Job If County Privatizes Program for the Adult Disabled

 

Croix Industries, a New Richmond-based program, has provided care and work opportunities to adult residents with disabilities since 1974.  Many citizens are alarmed as the county considers the program's uncertain future

St. Croix Industries, a New Richmond-based program, has provided care and work opportunities to adult residents with disabilities since 1974. Many citizens are now alarmed, as the western Wisconsin county considers the program’s uncertain future.

UPDATE 8/7/13:

The St. Croix County board voted to privatize St. Croix Industries yesterday, by a margin of 13-3.  Although a Twincities.com article suggests collaborative approach between the county and parents by describing a “softening” view of guardians, Ross claims that view is not entirely accurate.  In fact, some parents were so frustrated with local leaders abruptly changing their position to now support privatization that many recently walked out of meeting and have stopped contributing to the conversation altogether.

An apparent bright spot in the vote for all parties comes with the inclusion of an amendment that creates a parent advisory group.  However, this may raise additional concerns about how the advisory group is chosen what impact their inclusion will really have in the decision-making process.  Many parents feel that their voices have not been heard by either the county board or the local media reporting on this issue.

WIvoices.org called May Ross for her response.

Q.  What is your reaction to the St. Croix County Board’s vote to privatize St. Croix Industries?

A. I was disappointed.  And many parents were so disappointed that they left early.  For [Kristen] Ainsworth (a leader for a group of guardians) to present herself as a spokesperson for all parents is a misnomer.  If there was a vote among all parents about privatizing, there would not have been a change (away from the county-run program).

But we will look forward.

Hopefully, they’ll find a compatible company that will look out for all the clients.  The problem is only the most capable of clients will probably have a job and have a place.  We’ll see.”

 

Original article 7/30/13

The St. Croix County Board will decide the fate of St. Croix Industries (SCI), a program for approximately 150 adults with disabilities in western Wisconsin, at the Aug 6, 2013 county board meeting.  Due to State budget cuts, the St Croix Health and Human Services Board is recommending a resolution to the St Croix County Board that it take steps to transition SCI to a private provider.

Some fears about the closure of SCI or its transfer of ownership to a private provider include: the impact on clients if supervisors have their jobs or wages cut, the loss of control when a private entity assumes responsibility for a publicly run program, or the fear that the most vulnerable adult, disabled clients – including those with multiple disabilities and associated behaviors – may find themselves left behind.

We wanted to interview a local woman for a personal perspective that the public should consider in this policy debate.  May Ross and her daughter, Jamie, spoke to us about Jamie’s work at SCI.  Jamie is not only a client, but also deems SCI one of her favorite places and considers members of the staff her close friends.

 

Here are their stories:

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PREVIEW: Mother Fears Disabled Daughter May Lose Job at St. Croix Industries

July 22, 2013: Jamie and May Ross discuss Jamie’s job at St. Croix Industries, a program for disabled adults in New Richmond, WI.

On August 6, 2013, the St. Croix County board will decide if they will continue supporting SCI as they have for nearly 40 years, or if they move toward privatization. Many parents, workers, and clients are concerned that if SCI is no longer publicly funded then serious problems may result, including the potential that some adults with severe disabilities, such as Jamie, will be out of the program.

Stay tuned for the full interview coming soon.

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WI Voices 2013 Biannual Recap!

These stories are possible because of the support from people like you!  Here are some of the things you have helped WI Voices accomplish in the last 6 months:

Your support has enabled us to continue our coverage of the people who are affected by frac sand mining policies in WI.  As a result, journalist Lynne Peeples of the Huffington Post picked up the story! HuffPost-TitleCapture1SM

BadRiver-Web-siteSMThank-you for your continued support of our interview with Tribal Chairman Wiggins.  This interview continues to utilized on the Bad River Tribal website, helping to educate people around the world.

Your support enabled us to showcase videos in tri-state film festival! Film-Festival-Poste-SM-1r
 WIV-PatchBlogSM  WI Voices is among the “most read” on local Hudson Patch!

Your willingness to share your stories has improved the quality of life for other citizens in the community!  The St. Croix Valley Foundation has agreed to become our fiscal sponsor.  The WI Voices fund committee is now raising funds on behalf of the SCVF; your donations are tax exempt!

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We are entirely supported by donations from the public! Your donations go a long way in making sure these stories reach a wider audience.  Your support helps tell the story of Wisconsin, one voice at a time.

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Funds are being raised by the WI Voices Fund committee on behalf of the St. Croix Valley Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity.  Your donations are tax exempt.

 

“We’re Not Going Anywhere,” Says Planned Parenthood Rep, Clinic Closes Behind Her

Wisconsin is back in the national spotlight with numerous public policy choices enacted that affect healthcare for women and girls in the Badger State. 

One of the most controversial – SB 206/Act 37 – was signed into law a few days ago on July 5, 2013 making Wisconsin is the 9th state in the nation to require a woman to receive an ultrasound prior to receiving an abortion.  However U.S. District Judge William M. Conley citing a “troubling lack of justification” has issued a “stay” until July 18 for the “admission provision”  of Act 37 which is likely to cause at least two clinic closures in the state. 

 Budget cuts are also affecting healthcare for women and girls.  We were on hand in May as the Chippewa Falls Planned Parenthood closed its health care center after serving thousands of patients since 1984.  Over 400 patients will be displaced, explained a small group of women. We interviewed Nicole Safar and supporter Carol Gahl about the 4 clinic closures around Wisconsin, including Beaver Dam, Shawano and Johnson Creek.  Collectively, these clinics serve 2700 patients, 2/3 of whom are below the poverty line.  Safar tells us that none of the closing clinics provide abortion services, a reason often used to justify funding cuts.  Rather, each of the 4 closing clinics provide care to mostly low-income women, including cervical and breast cancer screenings, birth control, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, and pregnancy and HIV testing.  

Gahl explained, “The fact is, to most women Planned Parenthood means birth control, not abortion…and it is sad that some people have to go to such extremes to close clinics.”

 Here’s their story.

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More on the WI Frac Sand Mine Featured in Huffington Post Article

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On June 18, 2013, Mark Oberhelman ( left ) chaired the Glenwood City Mining Ordinance Committee as it continued drafting a non-metallic mining ordinance for the western Wisconsin city.  The ordinance would likely be used to regulate the “Vista” frac sand mine being proposed 1/2 mile from the school, which employs approximately 100 staff and educates 650 students.

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As reported last week by Lynne Peeples of the Huffington Post, several points of controversy surround mining in Glenwood City, WI, including the proximity to the school and the village of 1200 people.  (more…)

Amid a New Study, Questions Surround the Ongoing Mining Issue in Glenwood City

Glenwood City Yard

Glenwood City Yard

UPDATE 6/1/13: Huffington Post picked up this story HERE.

Original Post 5/17/13:
A new and comprehensive study on frac sand mining was released Wednsesday featuring input from a local man.  Tom Quinn is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, a statewide membership organization working to support family farms and rural communities.

Quinn is also an advisor for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy which generated the reportThe Economic Benefits and Costs of Frac-sand Mining in West Central Wisconsin”. 

Quinn explains that the “frac mining industry will have a significant impact on rural communities – both positive and negative, and too often economic studies focus only on the positive impacts. Citizens need better data and better tools for evaluating all impacts and understanding how they balance with community needs. The history of mining as a source of long-term economic stability is generally very poor. It is argued that frac mining will be different, but communities need to evaluate this promise with open eyes.”

The new study suggests that communities considering frac sand mining should ask questions such as “What will be the costs to other economic activities?” and “What will be the environmental impact of these activities?”

The fear of many people in Glenwood City is that in the rush to pass a new mining ordinance these types of common sense questions are not being considered by the City Council.  Residents also ask the council to visit New Auburn, only 40 minute east of Glenwood City, to witness a frac sand district first hand.

[WI Voices followed that advice and captured this video of  Brenda Tabor-Adams in 2012, who lives in a New Auburn frac sand district with her family.] (more…)

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