10 awards for Sierra Star

The Sierra Star received 10 awards in its division in the California Newspaper Publisher’s Association’s 2015 Better Newspapers Contest. The awards were announced at the April 30 CNPA annual meeting in San Francisco.

The Star received five second place awards, and five ‘blue ribbon’ awards, signifying third or fourth place.

Reporter Morgan Voorhis won second place in the ‘profile feature story’ category for “Hope Reborn,” a feature on Eric Smrkovsky who is turning his life around after being homeless for eight years. The story was published Dec. 17, 2015.

Editor Brian Wilkinson won two second place awards - in ‘environmental reporting’ for a story about opposition to the proposed Austin Rock Quarry (Vulcan Materials) published Nov. 13, 2014, and for ‘photo story/essay’ following the Willow Fire that was published Aug. 6, 2015.

The Star won second place in ‘best sports page’ division. Sports stories from the April 16 and 23, 2015 editions included the story “National Splash” about Oakhurst Elementary School fifth-grader Claire Tuggle breaking age-division national swimming records by Wilkinson, The Yosemite High School girls track team placing third at the Mountain Invitational track meet by community correspondent Gregg Dodderidge, columnist (Mountain Secrets) Tony Krizan’s story on hiking to Slick Rock, and a pre-season story on the YHS tennis team by Alan Wileman.

Freelance photographer and frequent contributor to the Star, Steve Montalto, received a second place award in the ‘feature photo’ category for a photo of James Mierkey from the Golden Chain Theatre production “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Wilkinson also received the two blue ribbons for ‘artistic photo’ for his Aug. 27 photo of a girl running through the sprinklers at Oakhurst Elementary School, and his Oct. 22 photo of Yosemite High School water polo coach Vince Roeber and his two daughters taken during a water polo game at Yosemite High.

Wilkinson received two additional blue ribbons - one in the ‘sports photo’ category of Yosemite High basketball standout Kade Cross published Jan. 8, and for ‘education story’ for his Oct. 8, 2015, story on Yosemite High teacher Steve Browning being named Madera County Teacher of the Year.

Sierra Star graphic designer Lisa Baker won a blue ribbon in the ‘page layout’ category for the Jan. 15 story Simpli Charming, a feature story about Jessalyn Talley and her business of playing a variety of Disney princesses for children’s birthday parties.

The work judged was published between Nov. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2015, with the Star competing in the small weekly paper division.

Also a McClatchy paper, The Fresno Bee, competing in the daily paper division with a circulation of 35,000 to 150,000, came home with nine first place awards, 11 second place awards, and 20 Blue Ribbons.

Carmen George, former Sierra Star reporter now working at the Bee, won second place in the ‘best writing’ category for her story “With hands linked, elderly couple dies.”

“We are very proud of this well-deserved recognition,” said Sierra Star Publisher Betty Linn. “These awards once again reflect the quality of journalism being practiced at the Sierra Star and online at

Staff Report