The Sun Prairie Star won top honors in the 2019 Wisconsin Newspaper Better Newspaper Contest for telling the story of local veterans and the recovery of the Sun Prairie community from the 2018 downtown gas explosion.
The “We Shall Not Forget” special marketing section published on Veterans Day 2019 earned first place for Best Special Section (Division E). Judges called it exceptional work.
“A salute to our veterans is of the highest level of attention,” the judge said. “After reading (this section), you will know these heroes well.”
Sun Prairie veterans Andrew Diaz, Roger Grant, Jim Farmer, Lynn Plageman, Joshua Scott, and married couple Lisa and Thomas Hay were all profiled in the 2019 We Shall Not Forget section.
The Sun Prairie Star took Best Special Section second place for Sun Prairie Stronger, a look at the first anniversary of the July 10, 2018 downtown gas explosion that killed Sun Prairie firefighter Capt. Cory Barr and destroyed businesses, homes, and apartments.
Sun Prairie Stronger included an emotional essay by Barr’s wife, Abby Barr, telling of her experiences as she raised the couple’s two daughters on her own after her husband’s death.
It also told stories of resilience of residents who lost their homes, and business owners who survived the downtown explosion and once again opened their doors to customers.
“An amazing look back on the natural gas explosion and how the community at large responded to the immediate and subsequent needs. A true follow-up in every sense,” a judge wrote of the Star staff’s work.
Star sports editor Jeff Seisser earned an honorable mention for his sports feature on 1989 Sun Prairie grad Scott Nelson’s magical 1993 season that included Wisconsin’s Big Ten Conference and Rose Bowl Championship team wins.
Star Associate Editor Jennifer Fetterly won the second place Feature honor for her profile on Sun Prairie resident Fallon Mullen’s efforts to help retire research monkeys. Mullen, is the Animal Care Manager at Primates Incorporated. “Doing more for the monkey” was called a “great story, well told” by judges.
Fetterly also received an honorable mention for her reporting on the opposition to the O’Keeffe Metro transit bus route, the city’s costs of the 2018 gas explosion, and the push for affordable housing in Sun Prairie and Dane County.
The Star received the awards in Division E of the WNA Better Newspaper Contest.
The Adams Publishing/HomeTown News Wisconsin group division picked up 41 awards, including eight first-place honors. The Daily Jefferson Union, Watertown Daily Union, Lake Mills Leader, Milton Courier, Cambridge News and Deerfield Independent were all award winners.
The 2019 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation announced the Better Contest Awards last week. The March 20 award ceremony was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was not rescheduled.