REDMOND -- The Polk County Itemizer-Observer received 11 awards during the 2009 Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.
The awards were presented during the ONPA's annual Summer Publisher's Convention, held July 16-17 at Eagle Crest Resort near Redmond.
Competing in the large weekly division (for Oregon newspapers with a circulation of more than 3,501), the Itemizer-Observer won three first-place awards:
* Reporter Jillian Beaudry and photographer Adam Korst received first place in the "best lifestyle coverage" category for their feature package "A Night at the Drive-In," which profiled the Dallas Motor-Vu Drive-In.
* Korst placed first in the "best feature photo" category for a picture titled "Sweet Sounds of Music," which portrayed trombone player Norm Walters of the Reconstituted Monmouth-Independence Town Band.
* Kurt Holland earned first place in the "best writing" category for a collection of three stories written during the course of the year: "Polk wine production on rise," "His passion is preservation," and "Area's drivers lament $4-plus gas."
The Itemizer-Observer received four second-place awards: "Explore Polk County" was recognized in the "best special section or issue" category; Beaudry garnered a second for "best feature story: personality" for "Finding Her Voice," a profile of Dallas opera singer Rebecca Fromherz; Korst placed second in "best graphics" for the display headline "Saying Goodbye to 2008: A Year in Review," and Holland took second in the "best editorial page" category.
The I-O also earned four third-place awards: Sam Scott took third in "best sports story" for his profile headlined "Dallas native set for Olympics" about former Dallas weight-lifter Melanie Roach; Beaudry and Korst received third in the "best feature story: general" category for "A Night at the Drive-In;" Holland placed third in "best editorial writing," and Korst received third for "best feature photo" for a picture of an Independence kindergarten graduate titled "I'm Outta Here!"
The 11 awards is the most the Itemizer-Observer has received in one year from the Better Newspaper Contest since 2001.
"This recognition is a tribute to our staff and the hard work each member of the news department puts in every week," said Nancy Adams, publisher of the Itemizer-Observer. "The work they produce shows their commitment to the communities we serve and their desire to produce the best newspaper possible for our readers and advertisers."
Entries for the contest were published during the 2008 calendar year. Nearly every newspaper in Oregon participates in the annual competition.