L’Observateur gets five first place honors in state LPA contest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LAPLACE – L’Observateur was honored at the annual Louisiana Press Association awards banquet this weekend, with five first place honors in the annual Better Newspaper awards competition.

L’Observateur received a first place in the state for its Teacher Appreciation Program, as one of only three papers in all classes of the state honored with a first place award for contributing to the community in a positive way.

L’Observateur won the Community Service Award for its program each year that honors local teachers, and also gives them cash awards after the community nominates teachers for the award.

Additionally, Editor and Publisher Kevin Chiri won two first-place awards for writing or photography, and other first place awards went to Gail Chiri for Best Feature Photo, and Ben Lundin for Best Feature Story.

“It’s nice for our staff to be recognized for some of the individual work we do,” Chiri said. “But I couldn’t be happier about the recognition we received for our Teacher Appreciation Program. This is something we do every year to honor teachers, and even give them cash awards, and it is close to my heart ever since we started the program.”

Chiri won first place honors for Best News Photo and for Best Continuing Coverage of a Governmental Issue.

The writing award for Best Continuing Coverage of a Governmental Issue was for his work covering last year’s sheriff’s race, which was very controversial from the beginning as challengers to Sheriff Wayne Jones took on some questionable tactics trying to unseat the four time previous winner.

Gail Chiri won three awards for the newspaper with her photography. Not only did she win Best Feature Photo for her shot of a heron taking off into the air from a spot in Reserve Canal, but she won third place in the state for her photo package covering the closing of the longtime hunting camps on Reserve Canal. She also added an honorable mention for a photo of a raccoon stealing bird food from a local feeder late at night.

Lundin took first in the state for his feature story on a little girl with Hodgkins Disease, and also got an honorable mention for another feature story he wrote.

Reporter Kyle Barnett took a second place in the state for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on the FEMA trailer park that was closing.

L’Observateur was also given an Honorable Mention for Best News Coverage.