On Thursday, March 23, Bill Weir (right) and the CNN crew met at the Harvey West farm on Hwy 22 North of Wautoma to film a Happ’s  Fraser Fir Christmas tree field and talk to Antonio Servantis  known as “Chuka” (left), who has been working for Happ’s Trees for 15 years.

Bill Weir returns to Wautoma to film segments for CNN’s “Wonder List...American Homecoming”

Bill Weir, a former Wautoma High School student who had spent precious time with his grandparents here, made friends, played sports, trimmed trees, and enjoyed living on Lake Irogami, came back last week to trace his roots, see old friends and make new ones, while filming for CNN’s “The Wonderlist with Bill Weir”.

Now living in New York, Weir began broadcasting the CNN “The Wonder List with Bill Weir” in 2015. Over the past two years, he has traveled to over 26 countries reporting on living within remote countries and experiencing different cultures. Weir is remarkable as wherever he visits – he feels at home and can relate to those he meets as though it was a family reunion.

When Weir returned to Wautoma with his CNN crew, including Conor Hanna, co-executive producer, Cassius Kim, senior producer, and Joe Simon, director of photography, he was looking to the film people and places he fondly remembers from spending time with his grandparents, Frank and Mary Miller, and attending Wautoma High School from 1983-84.

Weir and his mother moved to Lake Irogami in 1983 where he enrolled for his junior year at his first public high school, Wautoma High School; up until then, he had been only educated in Christian Schools. The impact Wautoma made on Weir was one he fondly remembers, and the fact he wanted to include his memories of the area in “The Wonder List: American Homecoming” is what brought him to trace his steps back to Wautoma.

He recalls watching friends shear Christmas trees for Kirk Company when Wautoma was considered the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” as well as Camp Waushara, Lake Irogami, football and basketball at WHS, his junior prom, strolling the streets of Wautoma, the migrant workers coming to assist with harvest of pickles and so much more.

Weir was at home talking to the locals, visiting a tree farm, filming at the Silvercryst where his classmate, James Heck, co-owns and operates, chatting with Don Nelson while overlooking Lake Irogami, and strolling the halls of Wautoma High School.

His three days of filming in Wautoma were jam packed, but wherever he went and whomever he interviewed, he did it with grace and a smile that lights up the world. The ease in which Weir interviews it is more like a friendly chat over coffee. He has a quick wit, with rapid response questions that have you talking about anything from farming to politics. He is wise beyond his years and the job he has for CNN is a perfect fit in the world, in which he believes, we are all one people.

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