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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Person: Pot and Wind


Let me tell you about my Monday.

The day started with a preview of a new medical marijuana dispensary opening in Scranton, the first in the city.
For me, the jury is still out.  Some, but not all, think marijuana works in pain management and seizure control, and pot is better than opioids.

The skeptic in me sees this is the first step toward legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  I'm sure it will be a very nice cash cow for the marijuana industry-- and the state, which is running out of things to tax.

It's like alcohol.  If you can safely use it in the privacy of your own home, fine.  But, the last thing we need is more impaired people behind the wheel.  Some experts view marijuana as a gateway drug.  There is conflicting research in that area.  Check the states with legal marijuana.  They had to hire more police officers to deal with marijuana related crimes.

We were lucky.  It was breezy and misty during our stay at Keyser Oak Plaza.  The big rain was holding off, and I was very relieved when we finished our last report at 6:30.

Photographer Erich and I were on our way to another story when my phone rang.  Assignment editor Mary was sending us to Lutherwood apartments, off Lake Scranton Road in Scranton.  There was a problem with the roof.  We were about ten minutes away.  The building looked okay from the road.
The view from the parking lot was a different story.  The wind peeled the rubber membrane off the roof.  The parking lot was littered with particle board and insulation.  Amazing.  Erich maneuvered through the minefield and found a place to put the truck.  He shot video.  I sent photos back to the station and did a little social media.

Crisis management tip:  An assistant Scranton fire chief got to us right away, and made sure we knew no one was hurt.  I can imagine the panic of friends and relatives of residents here.  In a story like this, seconds count.  It was smart to get to the media fast.

Our luck rain out.  Heavy rain arrived.  A cold rain.  The wind was sending it sideways, so an umbrella would have been useless.  We got soaked, but our discomfort was nothing compared to what the building's residents were experiencing.  It took about two hours, but we got everything we needed for a noon story.  Assignment editor Mary granted us permission to do our editing at the station rather than in the truck.  We needed the chance to dry ourselves and our equipment.  Thank you, Mary.

I'm going to tell you something strange.  I've been writing news since college in 1979.  I started receiving a paycheck as a professional broadcaster in 1981.  When there is a big story, and this was big, I still have a twinge of self doubt.  I wonder if I have the skill to do the story justice.  After looking at the video and picking out the best parts of the interviews, I sat down at a computer and started banging away on the keyboard.  It didn't take long.  The video was outstanding.  Several of the building's residents gladly told us about their experiences.  The story came together nicely.  As always, I worry far too much.

News director Carl and I discussed the script.  I recorded the audio and handed it back to photographer Erich.  He matched audio and video.  Great job, and it was back in the truck to go back to the scene.  There were peeks and breaks of sunshine over Scranton.  It didn't last long.  the rain returned.  The wind kicked up, the rain returned, and our noon live report was quite a challenge.

By the way, Carl, thank you for the new and dry cap.

It was then back to the office to tie up some loose ends before leaving for the day, and handing the story off to the daytime Scranton crew.  I hit the office door at 2:30 am.  It was out at 12:30 pm.  No complaints.  I was heading out to a warm home, not an evacuation shelter like the Lutherwood residents.

So much could have gone wrong.  I am thankful we got the job done.

One other note by hitting the "publish" button for the day.  Harry Anderson died yesterday.  65.  Judge Harry Stone on "Night Court."  Great character.  I'm really not in to magic, but he made it interesting with some really cool "Tonight" show appearances during the Carson days.  This makes me very sad.