Roane County News snags seven TPA awards

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The Roane County News received seven awards, including first place for Damon Lawrence’s investigative reporting, during the annual Tennessee Press Association awards ceremony on Friday.

“Damon wins out not just for story but his continued pursuit of news and insight,” judges wrote about Lawrence’s work.

“Great job getting after it.”

Lawrence received the state’s top investigative reporting award for articles about paving that ended at Roane County Commissioner Ron Berry’s driveway, Property Assessor Teresa Kirkham’s prank on a Knox County leader that caused a Florida police department to launch an investigation, and a county employee’s habitual texting that was footed by taxpayer money.

The newspaper also received two of the top three awards for best news reporting. Assistant editor Cheryl Duncan received second place, with Lawrence awarded third place.

“Clear, well written” was how judges described Duncan’s coverage of months-long controversies surrounding the Rockwood Water, Sewer and Natural Gas Board.

Lawrence’s coverage of another topic rife with controversy, the 2010 county property reappraisal, was called “concise and interesting” by the judges.

The appraisal and its affect on area residents garnered the Roane County News a third-place finish for the prestigious Edward J. Meeman Foundation’s award for public service.

“I’m always excited to see a newspaper be a watchdog for its community,” judges said about Lawrence’s articles and editor Terri Likens’ editorials. “You did an excellent job.”

Likens received third place for best single editorial, which addressed Kirkham’s prank and its fallout.

“So you wrote a short editorial,” the judges said. “It has great impact because of your carefully chosen words. It takes courage in a small community to call out a public figure, and you did it very well.”

Likens racked up another third-place honor in headline writing.

“It’s easier to be clever with feature headlines but you’ve done a good job pulling it off here with news headlines with ‘Official takes steps to fix stairs’,” the judges wrote.

Lawrence rounded out his awards with a fifth-place win in sports writing.

“Nice, in-depth look at the controversial world of MMA,” the judges commented about Lawrence’s three-part series on mixed martial arts. “Good job mixing colorful subjects with concerns from community.”

This year’s luncheon and ceremony was at the Embassy Suites Nashville Airport Hotel. Likens represented the Roane County News at the event.

The Roane County News is a tri-weekly publication of Landmark Community Newspapers, LLC. Based in Shelbyville, Ky. Landmark publishes 56 paid newspapers in 13 states.

Landmark Community Newspapers, LLC is a division of Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC, a Norfolk, Va.-based media company with coast-to-coast interests in newspapers, specialty publications and TV broadcasting.