The newspaper competed in Division G, which includes weekly newspapers with circulation between 3,000 and 5,000. The division has 48 weekly newspapers throughout the state.
The contest has eight divisions, A through H. Division A has the largest circulation (more than 30,000), while Division H has the smallest (less than 3,000).
The newspaper this year won its third consecutive award in general excellence, taking the No. 2 spot in that category. General excellence is the top prize in each division.
Editor Kevin Cummings is thrilled with the performance of The Catoosa County News staff, including its columnists and part-time feature writers.
“The GPA awards give us a gauge as to how we stack up against our peers around the state, and year after year The Catoosa News staff prove they are among the elite,” he said. “While we are disappointed that we didn’t earn the top spot in the general excellence category, this lights a fire under us to try to reclaim that honor we earned for the last two years. I can’t heap enough praise on these guys, but I think a big factor in our success is our sincere interest in Catoosa County and our love for the jobs we do.”
Other awards include first place in education coverage, business coverage, feature photograph and serious column; second place in sports column, page one, and community service; and third place for editorial writing, layout and design, and editorial page.
“Big play for the first day of school,” judges said about education coverage. “Parents of school-age children probably like it, but I wonder about readers who don’t have kids in school. What did they think?”
This is the newspaper’s first win in the category, with articles by Kevin Cummings and Randall Franks focusing on the first two weeks of the 2004-05 school year.
For a third year the newspaper earned first place in business coverage as Randall Franks and Kevin Cummings delivered unique insights into Catoosa businesses with “Tiger Bank Opens” by Randall Franks, “New Life for an Old Mall” by Kevin Cummings and coverage provided in the Nov. 3 edition highlighting notable events at a variety of Catoosa businesses.
The awards, which recognize Georgia newspapers’ outstanding achievement during 2004, were announced June 17 during the annual GPA awards banquet in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“The Catoosa County News continues to be judged by the Press Association as one of the best weekly newspapers in Georgia.” publisher Don Stilwell said. “This designation is certainly an important distinction. But equally important is our place as a voice guiding the community and as a sounding board for everyone. As long as we continue to be that voice and that sounding board, we will remain first-place.”
Sports editor Misty Martin’s unique perspective in her weekly sports column helped the newspaper earn a consecutive second-place award.
“Misty has her own voice — a key essential to a good column,” judges said. “Yet she doesn’t hit you over the head with her own opinions, like many columnists do. She has opinions, but she knows how to mix in facts, stories and antidotes.”
The community service award focuses on a specific project by the newspaper for improving a need in the community.
The Catoosa County News staff landed it’s third consecutive award in this category, this time placing second by concentrating its efforts to raise the public awareness to community problems with economic growth and offer solutions through its editorial page to various aspects of the problem.
While more than 60 articles were dedicated to the effort in 2004, a collection of 11 articles by Randall Franks, Chris Zelk and Kevin Cummings and four editorials “School Board Approval,” “The impact of impact fees,” “Destined to be a bedroom community” by Stan Guess and “Smart growth now,” by Chris Zelk secured the award.
“Good job at stepping up the stem the growth of population and the things that go with it,” judges said. “It’s almost depressing to see the developers running roughshod over the countryside.”
Former feature writer Jodi Miller took first place in feature photograph for her photo accompanying her article “A lasting friendship” featuring Marie McMillen and Miss Senior Georgia Fiona Page.
“A picture’s worth 1,000 words, and this photograph sums up the relationship between these two women. Beautiful!,” judges said.
Former news editor Chris Zelk won third place in editorial writing for his opinion pieces “Critical mass,” about Fort Oglethorpe’s termination of Paul Page as city manager; “Defending indigent defense,” about Georgia’s implementation of the program to provide free defense for indigent defendants of murder and other felonies using court fees, therefore offering a savings to county budgets and better defense for poor defendants; “Our trouble with a great idea,” about heritage tourism and Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper’s plan to organize a driving route of notable Civil War sites throughout North Georgia.
“Well-reasoned and well-written on variety of important local issues,” judges said.
Editor Kevin Cummings received his second consecutive win in column writing this year for “Morning of the abortion” “The garden” and “The balm” adding the Otis A Brumby Trophy, a first place win in serious column, to last year’s second place in humorous column.
“A highly unusual column — handles with great sensitivity — a life experience that is well-written and although of a controversial nature, dealt with subtlety that makes it readable for all,” judges said.
Former editor Stan Guess helped the newspaper land three new awards with a third place for layout and design, second place for Page One, and third place for Editorial Page.
“Pages were a little busy but contained a wide variety of news,” judges said about layout and design. “This newspaper is fairly easy to navigate, but again a little too busy. Sometimes less is more!”
“I liked the design and style of this newspaper! Pages were a little too busy but there was definitely a balance of coverage,” judges said about page one. “I liked the cutouts and they way information was presented. This newspaper was appealing!”
“The editorials, on each of the pages, were thoughtful,” judges said about editorial page. “The opinions were well-placed. I liked the graphics on each page.”
These are the first awards earned in page one since 2000, and layout and design and editorial Page since 1995.
In 2004, The Catoosa County News editorial staff included publisher Don Stilwell, editor Stan Guess, news editor Chris Zelk, sports editor Misty Martin, staff writers Randall Franks, Kevin Cummings and Jodi Miller. Staff photographers Karen Phillips and April Hill, feature writers Naman Crowe, Jeff O’Bryant, Stephanie Chambers and Jodi Miller, and office manager Cindy Black.
The Catoosa County News, serving Catoosa County since 1949 as the county’s legal organ, is one of six News Publishing Co. newspapers. The 11 awards earned by The Catoosa County News add to 54 GPA awards presented to the newspaper since 1991.
News Publishing Co. is headquartered in Rome, Ga