Sierra Star reporter Morgan Voorhis and editor Brian Wilkinson were recognized Feb. 25 for their work during a reception at the 28th Annual George F. Gruner Awards at the Fresno Art Museum last week.
The competition recognized meritorious public service in addition to best news story, best sports story, best feature, best photo and best column or editorial, attracting a total of 79 entries from 19 San Joaquin Valley newspapers.
Voorhis won in the category of Best News Story for a report on homelessness in Oakhurst, and received an honorable mention for a feature story on Eric Smrkovsky, an ex-homeless and ex-meth user, who now works, attends college classes, is drug-free, and resides in an Oakhurst apartment.
Wilkinson won in the Best Sports Story category for his story about a 7-year-old autistic child, Aiden Rubio of North Fork, who was able to participate in the My Tri youth triathlon at Bass Lake.
Fresno Bee reporter Andrea Castillo was honored for her public-service coverage of the drought’s effects on health, a series of stories that focused on East Porterville, an unincorporated community where many of the wells ran dry, causing a crisis with lasting effects.
The prizes honor George F. Gruner, whose 46-year career included 33 years at The Bee, retiring in 1988 as executive editor. The awards are sponsored by The Bee and the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Fresno State and are open to newspapers from Merced to Bakersfield.
The judging is done by a group of professional journalists outside the Valley, and the awards are funded by the Central Valley Foundation and the Central Valley Community Foundation.