Throwback Thursday: Special Stories, Special Projects

RENO, NV - Some stories don't fit easily into a daily assignment or a single story in a newscast. They take extra time and effort, sometimes long journeys.

They fall into a category called "Special Projects."

In 60 years of broadcasting as northern Nevada's first television station, KOLO 8 News Now has seen a number of them.

When our community faces a big decision, like the fate of an historic landmark, you can expect to see coverage of the debate in our newscasts.

In the case of the Mapes Hotel, that debate lasted for years. The first high rise hotel built in the U-S after the war. It closed in 1982 and for nearly two decades the community pondered its fate..

Finally despite its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the city decided to take it down. When that moment came January 30, 2000, northern Nevadans watched a special KOLO 8 broadcast. It won awards and allowed northern Nevadans to witness a moment of history live.

In August of 1997, history of a different sort was being made at Lake Tahoe. A sitting President and Vice President headlined a first ever summit on efforts to protect the national treasure.

It was, as all presidential visits are, a major story which we covered from all angles including a unique underwater live shot demonstrating the lost clarity of the lake's waters.

History gives context to our present lives and there have been times when we've taken a fond, nostalgic backward look to tell those kind of stories.

In 2011, John Tyson took us for a ride on White Pine County's Nevada Northern Railway, sharing one of his personal loves and a living, breathing piece of Nevada history in an award winning documentary.

We relieve an era of our past every summer as Hot August Nights rolls into town. A celebration of America's twin loves of rock 'n roll and the car, it's our area's biggest special event and gets special attention, including in 2006, a half hour salute we called "endless Summer"
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It's one of the axioms of this business that the biggest stories are those closest to us, but that pursuit can take us across the country, as it did last year, when Pat Hambright was invited to the White House for a one-on-one sit down with the president.

We've also followed other Nevadans to major stories far from home. When Nevada National Guard members were called to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, we flew there and found them playing a crucial role in the recovery.

In 2004, we traveled all the way to the Middle East.

In Iraq roadside bombs were killing more of our soldiers than insurgents and kits to add armor to our military's Humvees were being assembled here in our area and shipped from the Sierra Army Depot at Herlong.

Some of the base's personnel volunteered to go there to install them. We followed to Kuwait, then to Iraq, LSA Anaconda and finally Baghdad, finding equipment produced here protecting soldiers, including some from our area, there.

Local issues can send us looking for answers elsewhere as it did in 2000 as Nevadans considered a ballot question legalizing medical marijuana, Terri Russell went to a state which had already faced that question, New Mexico, to guage it's impact.

Last year she followed a Nevada mustang, Hollywood, from the Nevada range to the Mexican bordedr as it was trained for a new career in the U-S Border Patrol

And in 2008, as Nevada was about to step on to the national political stage with its first ever early presidential caucus, we went to Iowa to talk with the real veterans of this very different process to see how it is done.

All too often our news includes stories of every day people caught in life threatening situations. We've also taken the time to tell our viewers how to protect themselves.

In 1999 that meant broadcasting from inside a burning building. We devoted much of our broadcast November 18th of that year to not only telling, but showing how fast a simple waste basket fire can turn a home into a dark, deadly trap and how to "Get Out Alive."

Getting out alive was also the aim of Terri Russell's special report Run, Retreat, Resist which showed our viewers how to respond to a workplace hostage or shooting. It aired last February, but today is being used by law enforcement agencies and others across the country.

These stories didn't fit easily into a nightly newscast. They needed extra time, extra effort, even long journeys, but often the biggest stories are thrust on us.

Next week as we conclude our series of reports, we'll look back on some of the biggest in all those 60 years.


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