The Kokomo Tribune brought home 15 awards at this year’s Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest.

The results were announced at the 49th annual awards luncheon Saturday at the Indianapolis Marriott North. Work submitted to the contest was published between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.

The Tribune’s staff as a whole won first place in the Best Special Section category for the entry, “One Year Later.” “The staff left no story unturned in documenting the year-after recovery from a devastating tornado,” wrote the judges. “Powerful personal stories and gripping photos, plus extensive digital content.”

The Tribune received a second place nod for General Excellence. “The General Excellence Award is given to one paper in each of the six circulation divisions based on a point system,” wrote the judges. “Winners in this category should exemplify excellence in all aspects of newspaper publication, including mechanical excellence, editorial content and appearance.”

The Tribune also won second place in the Best Online Site/Web Page category for the homepage, “The top module on the homepage gives the user a good quick scan of stories and the ability to quickly find something that interests you,” wrote the judges. “The mobile experience is good. The photos used for the thumbnails were well chosen to help draw you into the posts.”

Several individual Tribune staffers were awarded top honors for their work.

First place for Best Editorial Cartoonist in the daily category went to Gene Herndon. First place in the Best Editorial Writer category went to Jeff Kovaleski. First place in the Best Use of Graphics category went to Rodney Ogle.

First place in the Best Community Service category went to Carson Gerber for his entry, “Mental health.” “The breadth and depth of this project on the lack of mental health resources makes it a top winner in the community service category,” wrote the judges. “The stories were thorough, informative and well-written.”

Josh Sigler won first place for Best Sports News or Feature Coverage for his story, “Concussions: Scary situations.” “Very informative,” the judges wrote. “Good use of pullouts and online extras. Also very well written on top of all of that.” Sigler also won second place in the Best Sports Feature Photo for photo accompanying this story. “The timely, national issue gives gravitas to this,” wrote the judges.

Martin Slagter won third place in the Best Feature Section or Pages category. “Good localizing features,” wrote the judges. “Some pages were a little busy.”

The Tribune’s photography staff was also decorated for their work.

Tim Bath won second place in the Best General News Photo category for his photo, “Dad.” “Emotion and excitement was captured best in the frame before the hug,” wrote the judges.

Kelly Lafferty Gerber won a total of four awards at the ceremony. She took first place in the Best General News Photo category for her photo, “Reunion.” “Two touching moments captured simultaneously,” wrote the judges. She won third place in the Best Feature Photo category for her photo, “Adopt.” “You have photographed love, which isn’t easy,” wrote the judges. She won first place in the Best Picture Story with Audio or Video Story category for her entry, “The Girl Who Didn’t Quit.” “I loved the beginning of this video,” wrote the judges. “It showed her ‘girliness’ and really drew me into the story. I liked the inclusion of her practicing and other team activities, especially the photographer taking her portrait. The only thing that was missing for me was game action and her reacting after a play or being tired after the game. Nice job.” She also won third place in the same category for her entry, “Beauty.” "It was a nice human interest story,” wrote the judges. “I liked the addition of photos in the video. The hairdresser was cute, and she had a nice story that was told well.”

The Kokomo Tribune competes in Division 5, which covers daily newspapers with circulations between 14,000 and 34,999.

The HSPA, founded in 1933, is a trade association representing 167 daily and weekly paid-circulation newspapers in Indiana, according to its website. HSPA provides legal information, training and other services to its members.

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