Sierra Star receives 13 statewide awards

Reporters George and Tuell recognized with five first place awards from publishers association

-- Staff reportMay 1, 2013 

The Sierra Star won 13 awards in the California Newspaper Publisher's Association's 2012 Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were announced at the association's annual luncheon April 27 in Universal City at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.

The Star won five first and three second place awards, along with five Blue Ribbon awards in the weekly newspaper division against papers with similar circulation. Only six papers out of nearly 200 daily and weekly papers in the contest won more awards than the Star.

Reporters Carmen George and Tiffany Tuell won three and two first place awards, respectively.

George won first for Best Writing, Best Feature Story and Best News Photo. Tuell won first for Best Sports Story and Best Feature Photo.

George won in the Best Writing category for her story, "Chukchansi tribal members disenrolled," published Nov. 17, 2011 about tribal disenrollments at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians in Coarsegold.

George won Best Feature Story for "The Warrior's Dance," published Oct. 25 about Marty Upton of Oakhurst and his journey out of homelessness and personal tragedies through faith.

George's first place in the News Photo category was for her photo of Chukchansi woman Debbie Berry holding a sign that read "Cultural preservation is why we are here" on the corner of Lucky Lane and Highway 41 in Coarsegold. Berry was pictured after she and others were barred from a tribal general council meeting and not allowed to vote at the rancheria in a tribal council election last year.

Tuell's first place award in the Best Sports Story category was for her story, "Life in the Fast Lane," about drag racer Kim Lawson. The story, telling of the young ladies dream to drive a dragster down a quarter mile track at more than 200 m.p.h. was published April 5, 2012.

Tuell's first place in the Feature Photo category was for a photo taken of a cowboy taken for the feature story "Old fashioned Cattle Drive" about the Topping family, who has been herding cattle from O'Neals into the high Sierra since the late 1880s.

Editor Brian Wilkinson won second place in Best Breaking News for a story about Shanin Path, a 42-year-old Oakhurst woman found unconscious last May on the side of the road near Bass Lake, apparently beat and dumped out of her Jeep according to a spokesman for the CHP. The story was published in the May 24 edition of the Star. The case, to date, has not been solved, and Path continues to recover from the assault.

In addition to the individual honors, the Star won second place awards for Best Sports Coverage and Best Page Layout & Design. Staff responsible for layout and design are Tuell, George and Lisa Baker.

The Star won five additional Blue Ribbon awards for Best Front Page, Breaking News, Artistic Photo, Business Coverage and Sports Writing.

The Breaking News story award went to Tuell for her "Feds raid North Fork Mono Rancheria offices" story about a federal search warrant served to the Mono tribe on Dec. 6, 2011, resulting in the seizure of many tribal documents. No legal actions came from the incident.

The Artistic Photo award went to George for her shot of the Little Church on the Hill in Oakhill Cemetery surrounded by American flags on Nov. 11, 2011, during a non-denominational service at the church for Veterans Day.

The Business Coverage award was for a story by Wilkinson titled "Governor approves Highway 99 Mono casino" published Sept. 6.

Wilkinson also received a Blue Ribbon award for sports writing for the Feb. 16, 2012 story "Honoring Dad's Dream," about Yosemite High School wrestler Clint Kelley, who's father died from heart surgery complications just two weeks before Clint won the North Sequoia League 113-pound title.

The Star's 13 awards follows the 12 awards it won in the 2011 contest.

"Our staff works hard to provide our Mountain Area with a quality newspaper, providing informative and entertaining news about our readers' friends, neighbors and their children," Wilkinson said.

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