Better Newspaper Contest

2013 Award Winners

Hoosier State Press Association - The Indiana Publisher - Better Newspaper Contest

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Page 21 of 67

Division 2 Best News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure/Category 1 First place State shuts Acapulco restaurants Erika Schmidt Russell The Journal-Press (Aurora) Comments: Thorough coverage of a developing story against a tight deadline. The best example in the category of working under deadline pressure. Second place Blizzard of 2012 Sara Clifford, Suzannah Couch & Kevin Lilly Brown County Democrat (Nashville) Comments: Excellent use of all platforms available to tell a story impacting the entire community. The multiple stories captured the plight of all citizens affected and the editor's blog brought a much needed sense of levity and a peek behind the curtain at how it all came together. Third place Parishes closing, merging Denise Freitag Burdette, Erika Schmidt Russell & Chris McHenry The Journal-Press (Aurora) Comments: Nuanced coverage of a decision that obviously deeply affects the community. Multiple angles provide depth to the coverage and show a commitment to quality while dealing with deadline pressure. Best News Coverage With No Deadline Pressure/Category 2 First place Remembering the March 2, 2012, tornado Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Marcia Walker & Kate Wehlann The Salem Leader Comments: Excellent writing, captured the emotions of what the families went through and where they are today. Second place Standing strong against bullying Stephanie Taylor Ferriell The Salem Democrat Comments: A tough subject – handled well. The lead graph analogy is one anyone should be able to understand. Third place Oh, deer Alan Stewart The Corydon Democrat Comments: Just the right mixture for this story – great lede to keep you going through entire story. Best Ongoing News Coverage/Category 3 First place Brown County Courthouse renovation Kevin Lilly Brown County Democrat (Nashville) Comments: Long-term, well-written and researched investigative reporting bringing to light an issue vital to the taxpayers of the community that could easily have been swept under the rug. The definition of a newspaper serving its community. Second place Court overturns coal-to-gas facility contract Stuart Cassidy The Spencer County Journal-Democrat (Rockport) Comments: Clear and easily understood reporting on an extremely complex ongoing issue. Third place EDC account inquiries Brown County Democrat (Nashville) Comments: Excellent coverage of an issue important to the community. Reporting makes a complicated topic clear to all readers. State shuts Acapulco restaurants By Erika Schmidt Russell The Journal-Press (Aurora) In June 2011 Acapulco restaurant in Lawrenceburg was making plans to expand, and the building owner had received a grant from the City of Lawrenceburg for $200,000. The grant would be used to buy a house behind the restaurant on Margaret Street so it could expand its offstreet parking, expand the dining room by 60 additional seats and add six full-time employees. In November 2011, the Acapulco owners were honored by the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce with Business of the Year honors. Now, not only is the remodeled Lawrenceburg restaurant closed, but other area locations in Aurora, Rising Sun, Versailles and Batesville are closed after investigator Timothy Sutton, Department of Revenue Agent Rick Albrecht began the investigation following an audit of Acapulco' restaurants. There was a discrepancy between the cost of goods sold and the purchase price listed. Typically, according to the affidavit, there is a 4 to 7 percent mark up at Mexican restaurants. The Acapulco records show a 2.15 percent mark up. In 2009 the Batesville restaurant listed gross sales of $789,729 with a cost of goods listed at $367,137 on state income tax forms. Albrecht also found, by visiting all the Acapulco restaurants, at each restaurant the cash register drawer was For complete story, see Click on "Contests." Remembering the March 2, 2012, tornado their granddaughter, Jenessa Lewellyn, then 7, and Jenessa's dad (their son), Kendall Lewellyn. Jeanie One year. Twelve months. called to tell him the weather Fifty-two weeks. Three was getting bad. After hundred and sixty five days. turning on the TV to check A lot changes over the course the forecast, Gene went back of a year. And a lot doesn't. to the computer. "Something As she sits in the sunroom told me to check the TV," he recalled. As he walked filled with new furniture in her brand-new house, Jeanie toward it, something outside Lewellyn, Pekin, doesn't feel caught his eye; the wind was blowing wildly. at home. "People say, 'Do you like your new house?'" The trio ran to the she says. "It's nice, but it's basement. Jenessa was put like a rental; I'm ready to go in a corner, covered with home now. …It's been a hard a piece of carpet. Her dad year." lay over the top of her and On March 2, 2012, Jeanie Gene on top of him. "I thought, if something goes had taken a friend to get her wrong, the little girl's got hair styled. Her husband, Gene, was at home with a chance." The last time he By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Marcia Walker & Kate Wehlann The Salem Leader looked outside, Gene saw the tornado. As it came over the hill toward State Road 60 "it fanned out and just exploded." The storm passed in "what seemed like the snap of your fingers," said Gene, estimating the tornado passed through in about a minute's time. Then, "it was deathly quiet." When the three emerged and looked around they could hardly believe their eyes. Their house was destroyed, but it was in the best shape by far of the surrounding residences. All For complete story, see Click on "Contests." Brown County Courthouse renovation By Kevin Lilly Brown County Democrat (Nashville) With records dating back to the 1850s piling up, a lack of handicap accessibility, and inmates using the same entrances as the public, the historic Brown County Courthouse could use renovation and an addition. More space is atop Brown County Clerk Beth Mulry's wish list. Bound records from the 19th century to the present reach the ceiling in stacks along the outer wall of the first floor office. "You shouldn't be lifting those books over your head on a ladder," Mulry said. Page 22 a two-year investigation by Indiana Department of Revenue and Indiana State Excise Police in conjunction with local law enforcement. The investigation ended with a long list of charges and people charged in relation to the restaurants' owners not documenting and paying the proper amount of sales tax and having more than 80 employees at the various restaurants using social security numbers that either belonged to deceased people, minors, issued to another person or just did not exist. Federal Immigration and Customs Agents were seen going in and out of the Lawrenceburg location as well as various other law enforcement officers. According to the affidavit, filed by Excise Police Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart also needs additional space. Jurors must gather to deliberate in a room that barely fits a 14-person jury. "Imagine trying to make difficult decisions, and you can't get everybody at the table so you have two rows of folks just crammed in there," she said. The current jury room also lacks a handicap entrance, an entrance separate from the public and a restroom. Many closed records under the clerk's care fill a basement room in the Law Enforcement Center. "We go over there at least a couple of times a day to get files," Mulry said. Come election time, the clerk's office must move computers and other equipment into a meeting room in the separate County Office Building for absentee voting. Layout of the circuit court is awkward, with people crossing through the courtroom to visit the court office. Sometimes, closed hearings prevent access to the court office entirely. The court lacks a separate entrance for adult and juvenile inmates, who now use the same hallways as the general public. Attorneys and guardians ad litem need a For complete story, see Click on "Contests."

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