Citizen newspaper earns 15 awards in annual MPA state contest

The Platte County Citizen received 15 awards — six first place — in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, according to results released this weekend.

Ross Martin, publisher, took home eight individual awards while sharing two with former sports reporter Bryce Mereness, who won individual honors for best story about rural life or agriculture, best news photo and best sports photo. The Citizen staff also placed second in its division for overall newspaper design.

The awards were given out this past weekend during the MPA’s 150th annual convention held in Branson, Mo.

“My favorite thing about your paper is the use of a photo on the masthead,” the judge wrote about The Citizen in comments of the judging for best overall design. “Great photo choices, definitely draw in the eye. Like the large bold headlines throughout and nice big photos. Tough choice between first and second place. I think you put out a well laid out paper.”

The Citizen was entered in Class 1 Weeklies for newspapers with circulation of 3,000 or less. Martin received first place awards for best breaking news story, best news story, best feature story and best sports feature story in addition to second place for best humorous columnist, best coverage of government, third place for best military story and honorable mention for best sports news story or package.

Martin and Mereness shared second-place honors for best photo package (2015 Platte County Fair) and best sports pages.

Mereness’ first-place rural life story focused on North Platte High School principal Michelle Johnson and her additional duties as a volunteer member of the Dearborn Area Fire Protection District. The Citizen’s sixth first-place award went to Cory MacNeil, an intern during the latter part of 2015. His best business story focused on Hearth Bread Co. in Weston, Mo.

Martin’s breaking news story told of a fire that destroyed Short Creek Baptist Church, built in 1895 in rural northwest Platte County. The news story which one first place told of the City of Platte City’s effort to purchase a U.S. Naval anchor from the scrapped USS Platte, a Cimarron class fleet oiler named after the Platte River. The story was also part of a package of stories that resulted in the second-place coverage of government award for Martin, telling of the anchor’s purchase, arrival and dedication.

In news feature, Martin’s story of local resident Bill Collins and his efforts to annually put up holiday lighting along Platte City’s historic Main Street. The top sports feature story focused on the career and retirement of longtime Platte County R-3 School District teacher and coach Jan Patterson.

Mereness’ award-winning photos were of a concert at Worth Harley-Davidson in Kansas City, Mo. (second, news) and West Platte pitcher McKaulley Stephenson (third, sports). Martin’s third-place military story featured Platte City resident Marlin LeGault’s credentials for receiving a spot on last year’s Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. and the honorable mention sports story reported on Park Hill’s Chris Nilsen and his record setting effort in the pole vault during the 2015 Class 5 Missouri State Track and Field Championships.

All awards are given out by a panel of judges working in newspapers from other states. Judges review individual categories and give out placements.