Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Bomb scare investigation continues

by Regional News staff

February 03, 2011

The unexpected occurred Monday morning.

School administrators, staff and law enforcement organized the evacuation of students from Badger High, Lake Geneva Middle and Eastview, Central-Denison and Star Center schools.

As of Tuesday, Lake Geneva police were continuing the investigation of the bomb threat with help from the FBI.

The Walworth County Sheriff's Department and town of Bloomfield police assisted in the evacuations.

On Monday, Lake Geneva Police Assistant Chief Michael Reuss said it's being treated as a serious bomb threat.

However, he said he didn't believe there was a public safety concern.

"I think everything is OK," he said. "I think, as we complete our methodical search (of the schools), more information will become available."

On Tuesday, Jim Gottinger, superintendent of the Badger High and Joint 1 school districts, said about 4,000 in total were evacuated from the schools.

The e-mails were sent to Badger High School administrators and the school's police liaison officer Monday at 9:03 a.m., according to a press release from Lake Geneva police. Reuss and Gottinger would not release the contents of the e-mails because of the ongoing investigation.

At around 10:30 a.m., when student dismissals began, an automated message went out to parents from Gottinger. Students were rousted from their classrooms and either awaiting their parents, boarding school buses or were taken to certain locations.

"We did receive a bomb scare at our school district and we felt this was the best response we should make to this particular event," he said in the message.

Lake Geneva Middle and Badger High school students who didn't have rides were transported to the Destination Imagination building across from the middle school on Bloomfield Road. Eastview students were taken to Lake Geneva City Hall. Central-Denison students were evacuated to Lake Geneva United Methodist Church. Star Center students went to Miss Vicky's Day Care in the former St. Mary's Church building in Pell Lake.

Gottinger said the school buildings were cleared and most students were home by 1 p.m.

Police Liaison Officer Ralph Braden organized the building searches, which involved K-9 units. According to Gottinger, nothing was found. Classes in all five schools resumed Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Reuss said he hoped the investigation would be resolved "as soon as possible."

How authorities handled the situation pleased at least one local parent.

Tim Walsh, the father of 4-year-old kindergarten student at Eastview, said he received the instant alert message from the school's superintendent, which stated there was a bomb scare. Walsh said he picked up his child at City Hall.

"It was handled very beautifully," he said. "It was very quickly done. It was like clockwork."