Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wild day ... cops unsure of robber's story .. while city hall gets even more proactive with foreclosures.

In a span of five hours today, I:
  • sang like Elvis in front of 250 people
  • responded to a robbery-in-progress that may have included a kidnapped child
  • spoke with a local teen recovering slowly after being nearly killed by a suspected drunk driver
  • got exclusive details to break a story that Akron is requesting millions in new monies as part of a pilot program to save families in foreclosure

Now that I write all of that out .. it's no wonder I feel spent.

The first show at Weathervane went great. The cast was fired up to have a real audience, and I think we all brought that excitement to the stage. Channel 3 sent a camera so I'll link the video shortly once it's on-line.

I actually forgot a key piece of my Elvis costume because I was rushing to the stage after one of the teen girls in the program fell and hit her head during intermission. While I was tending to her, I ran out of time and forgot. Oh well .. no one corrects a "king" after all.

Just moments after getting myself out of this morning's production and on my way to work, I got the call of a robbery in progress in Bath Township. Seems a bad guy held up the credit union on Cleveland Massillon Road and may have a kidnapped a child. Racing to the scene, I chatted with Bath Police Chief Michael McNeely who told me that the bad guy handed the teller a note. The letter claimed that his child was being held captive by someone at the VA hospital in Brecksville and that someone was "watching" him .. as if he was being forced to rob the credit union.

It was a wild story ... and I could tell that McNeely and others were skeptical .. but after the pizza delivery saga in Erie, PA from a few years ago, no wild story can ever be discounted. As of this writing, there's still no sign of the guy .. nor any indication that there was actually a kidnapped child.

The robbery made me late for a scheduled interview with Mindy Cooper -- a 17-year-old junior from Southeast High School who was nearly killed after being struck by a suspected drunk driver on Halloween.

Considering Cooper suffered serious brain injury and a broken back just three-plus weeks ago, I was amazed at how far she has progressed. She's learning to walk again, and while she doesn't remember the accident, she can speak softly and recognizes her family and friends. I can't imagine how tough this must be for Mindy and her family, but her struggle really touched me. Her brother, Jon, tells me that classmates have been in to visit Mindy every day, and that the support she's receiving has been fabulous. I really wish we had more time to visit the other "Mindys" in our community, for I know there are others struggling to come back.

Stories like this just make me speechless to find the words when it comes to drunk drivers.

So back in the newsroom .. trying to put all of these stories together .. I finally break through on something I was bird dogging last week. The City of Akron is putting together a plan to use $8 million in HUD money to improve inner-city housing, but the additional piece is a request for another $23 million in federal bucks for a pilot program to help families nearly foreclosure.

I got my hands on the request letter that city leaders sent to Washington last week, and I reached Mayor Plusquellic who tells me that he'll discuss details of the proposal tomorrow.

In a nutshell, the city will now get directly involved with lenders that are moving forward to foreclose, and where possible, the city will help renegotiate the terms to help keep families in their homes instead of having to help them after they're out on the street. With Akron coping with 1,400 foreclosures in 2007 and another 1,200 so far this year, many will hope that this program is not only successful but also a model for other cities facing crisis.

I haven't had a bit of time to return phone calls or emails today .. and I have to shoot a story tomorrow morning to hold for the holidays .. plus turn a story Wednesday afternoon on the new foreclosure prevention initiative.

Of course, those are the knowns for Wednesday. As today proved, its the unknowns that make this job such a joy and a challenge.

No comments: