Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Bank robbery, CNN crews all in a week’s work

by Lisa Seiser

October 27, 2011

What a few days it was at the Regional News last week.

Last Monday, the excitement started in the afternoon when a man and his dog walked into the office and told us PNC Bank, less than a block from the Regional News office, had just been robbed.

He said, “Do you want a good story?”

In a newsroom, that question gets everyone’s attention.

He told us police were in the area holding their rifles and the bank had just been robbed. Some members of the staff headed out quickly, toting a camera to capture the moment, while others took a quick look, but stayed in the office to monitor chatter on the scanner.

I don’t recall in the recent past seeing officers carrying their rifles and blocking off streets in the downtown Lake Geneva area. I had both a slightly uneasy feeling, but at the same time believed local police were ensuring the safety of everyone in the area.

We stayed on top of what was happening regarding the search for the suspect, posting updates and whatever information we could get on our website and Facebook. Later in the evening, after the police had searched the area and were unable to locate the suspect, further information was provided by detectives as well as a surveillance photo from the bank.

We posted that on our Facebook page as well, with hopes to help police find the man who robbed the bank.

On Tuesday, there was a different kind of excitement in and around the building.

The Regional News was the center for a CNN crew filming Time Is Now To Help founder Sal Dimiceli. Sal is one of 10 CNN Heroes Finalists for 2011 and is in the running for $250,000. CNN crews are filming all 10 and the short videos will be shown on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

Because Sal’s efforts to get more people involved and get the word out to help those in need basically started at the Regional News many years ago, the idea was to film some footage at the newspaper office.

That was our first meeting with the CNN crew. They first started in general manager John Halverson’s office, where they recorded an interview. I wanted to say it was quick, but nothing with television apparently is quick.

Anyway, after filming a few minutes of Sal in action on the phone, it was my turn for the big CNN interview. Minutes earlier, I had a chance to talk to Tim, who would be asking me questions. He told me in general what he was going to ask and that I needed to repeat parts of his question before answering. We were just talking, no camera, no one else around, and after a couple minutes he said, “we just have to stop, this is too good.”

He wanted me to save it all for the camera. Guess what? It didn’t work. I couldn’t quite recapture the earlier brilliance as I stared into the lens of the camera just a few feet away. After about 20 minutes of filming, the very nice CNN crew told me they had enough. They said there were some very good soundbites, especially the last one and that I gave them what they were looking for. I have my doubts. I think they were just being nice. Then, they were gone onto their next location. We didn’t expect to see them again.

But, on Wednesday, they had returned, setting up in our back shop room. Apparently, one of the cameramen really liked it back there. That’s interesting, because I’ve never heard anyone say anything nice about the back shop area at the Regional News.

They were here for more than three hours. They prepared and then filmed what appeared to be somewhat of a final interview with Sal, even though they were going to be in the area with Sal until the end of the day Thursday.

It was quite interesting to watch them work and I am going to be tuning in on Dec. 11 to see how they put all that filming together to create a 5-minute video about Sal.

With all that excitement, I would be remiss to mention Grand Geneva concierge Sandra Farwell. She stopped to drop off some old pictures of her during her Playboy Bunny times and happened to be in the office just as Sal and the CNN crews were leaving.

She could just be one of the nicest people in Lake Geneva. She also knew the Regional News’ late sales rep Bill Clark quite well and made sure to relay her feelings for him and how she was going to miss being a concierge at the Grand. I wish her well in her retirement. I know she will be missed.

Wow. What a week.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.