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From Roatan to Appleton — it's been an exciting few weeks



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February 16, 2011 | 07:57 AM
Just 14 days ago, while the Lake Geneva area and state was digging out of one of the worst snowstorms in recent memory, I was basking in the sun on a beach in Roatan, Honduras.

The water was that surreal aqua blue color and lush greenery on hilly terrain surrounded the beach. The sun felt like fire, but the water was warm, clear and soothing. Sadly, we knew we had to venture back north, hitting Cozumel and then cruising through the Gulf of Mexico on the way back to America.

It was just days later on the night we headed home from our splendid Caribbean cruise, the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. It had been 14 years since the Packers last won the biggest professional football game of the year.

Because it was the day we returned from our trip — the kickoff occurred at about the time we landed in Milwaukee — it was a game I won't ever forget. Much of it we listened to while driving from Milwaukee. By the time we left the airport and got on the road, the Packers were up 14-0. That was quite a surprise to us. As we cheered in the car, the Packers took a 21-3 lead.

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Eventually, after blowing the engine on the car and being towed back to Lake Geneva, we got home just in time to watch the fourth quarter and victory celebration. Quite a day, which started on the ship in New Orleans while wearing my Packers NFC Championship T-shirt.

Since the Super Bowl win, members of the Packers, specifically Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews have been basking in their newfound fame, appearing on David Letterman and with Ellen DeGeneres just to name a couple. All of us fans have been watching throughout enjoying every moment, every newspaper story and every magazine photo. In a way, it feels as though we have been basking in the glory a little bit, too.

This past weekend, it was time to bask in a different type of light. This one as the representative of the Regional News at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Convention and awards dinner.

The last time I attended the WNA Convention, Reggie White, Robert Brooks, Edgar Bennett and LeRoy Butler played for the Packers and it was around the time Green Bay was about to make their Super Bowl runs in the late 1990s.

Just like the Packers win on Feb. 6, this trip to Appleton and the 157th Annual Wisconsin Newspaper Association Convention was much more memorable and exciting.

Newspapers and journalists don't seek out awards. We don't do our jobs or write what we write with a goal to receive an award — but that doesn't mean it isn't nice to be recognized by your peers. On Friday night, some of our hard work was rewarded. We received five awards, including two first-place plaques, from the oldest newspaper association in the world.

The first-place awards were in the highest circulation weekly division of the Better Newspaper Contest. One was for the Sept. 2009 Andrew Zimmern feature story where he spent the morning making mail deliveries off the Gage Marine U.S. Mailboat. The other top finish was for our local government reporting of the 2009 City Council chaos involving suspensions and later a recall. We also received third-place awards for editorials, Freedom of Information efforts and advertising.

We were recognized on stage and on an overhead projection screen with some of the biggest and best newspapers in the state. That's something to be proud of.

Five awards in a variety of categories and we received an award for all but two of our entries. There were a total of more than 2,700 entries in the contest as many newspapers enter dozens of categories. It was the first time in several years that we entered the Better Newspaper Contest with editorial content and we hope this is just the start of a long line of awards that come back to Lake Geneva on an annual basis.

There's always more work to do to continue making the Regional News the best it can be. For me, Friday was encouraging and also proves we are definitely on the right path to bask in more limelight in the future.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.

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