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Sen. Frostman holds listening session

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – In his 12th listening session with constituents in the 1st Senate District of Wisconsin since July, Sen. Caleb Frostman, D-Sturgeon Bay, talked bridges, water quality, transportation and ballot safety.

Frostman visited the Kress Family Branch of the Brown County Library this week, drawing a small audience composed of retirees.

“People in this area are concerned about building a south bridge in De Pere, expanding Highway 41 from four to six lanes from De Pere to Appleton, and everything from Foxconn to cystic fibrosis research,” Frostman said.

Frostman has been in office since June, when he beat Andre Jacque in a special election to replace former Sen. Frank Lasee, who stepped down from his post to take a job with the Walker administration.

One attendee brought up water quality, especially for those who rely on well water and who reside near CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).

“It’s disturbing, the impact on water and just the overall quality of life,” she said. “People need water to survive.”
It’s a topic that tends to be dealt with more through politics than by science, Frostman said.

“Different parts of this district are (affected in differing degrees) between the smell and the impact on water quality,” Frostman said.

Kewaunee County, he said, has just 20,000 people but 100,000 cows that give off 700 million gallons of waste every year.

“Doing the math, it seems like it would be tough to spread all of that in a way that’s safe for the wells and for the water table,” Frostman said.

He said he’s watching a state code implemented revision that passed this summer, NR151, regulating where waste is spread in relation to wells and time of year.

“They (the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource) are going to monitor that to see if it improves things,” he said.

Transportation spending and road repairs are big issues on the mind of many constituents, Frostman said.

“It’s a bipartisan frustration,” he said.

He said he hears from companies that truck their goods via Wisconsin’s highway system and say rough road conditions lead to freight breakage.

“The trucks hit a bump and you’ve got a defective product,” he said.

He said he’s talked to many who feel that building a southern bridge over the Fox River in De Pere is a strong economic development opportunity that requires a sense of urgency because of congestion at the roundabout.

“Manufacturing and business concerns are frustrated with getting people and products across the Claude Allouez bridge during rush hour,” Frostman said. “There are a lot of manufacturers in this neck of woods that want get supplies in and product out and are hampered by the commute. Employers want their employees to show up on time but they have a 20- to 25-minute commute, despite living just a few miles away. These are people who want to see De Pere’s economy thrive with new investments that will happen with this bridge, and they’ve turned millions of dollars of projects away because there wasn’t a finite completion date or clarity on when it would start.”

A woman thanked Frostman for being polite and not divisive like some at the national level.

They’ve found not all politicians to be as accessible.

“To even see some of them we would need a personal invite,” said the woman, who declined to be identified.

The question of ballot safety came up, and whether ballots fed into machines are considered paper or electronic.

They’re considered paper ballots, as the physical items exist and could be recounted if needed, an aide to Frostman said.

Another person expressed concern over whether Brown County will have enough ballots to go around, because a good turnout is anticipated.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Frostman said, referring to enthusiasm toward the midterm elections Nov. 6 and a projected high voter participation level.

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