The Union earns 15 CNPA Better Newspaper Contest awards |

The Union earns 15 CNPA Better Newspaper Contest awards

The Union staff

The Union newspaper, currently celebrating its 150th anniversary of service to the western Nevada County community, has garnered 15 awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

This week the CNPA notified newspapers across the state that have won awards in their respective circulation division for their work in the organization's annual Better Newspapers Contest, in which journalists are recognized for excellence in categories such as local breaking news, editorial commentary, best writing and photography. Five of The Union's 15 honors are either a first- or second-place award.

Among those earning such honors in The Union newsroom is photographer John Hart, who is celebrating his own 50th anniversary as a member of newspaper's team.

Hart has won either first or second place — to be announced at the CNPA's BNC Awards Show May 3 in San Jose — in the Best News Photo category for his photograph of a Cal Fire helicopter dousing a 55-acre vegetation fire in the Smartsville area last June.

R.L. Crabb, longtime cartoonist for The Union, took first or second place in the Best Editorial Cartoon category for his "Burma-Shave" signs depiction of Caltrans' cost overrun on the LaBarr Meadows Road project.

Crabb, a member of The Union Editorial Board, also contributes to the newspaper's opinion pages twice weekly with his "It takes a village idiot" creations, published on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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Matthew Renda, who formerly covered county government and the environment for The Union, earned two first or second place awards. Renda's writing on future development in southern Nevada County — along with photography by John Hart and page design by Copy Desk Chief Kim Midboe — earned the newspaper first or second place in the Best Coverage of Business News with the multi-story special report "The Road Ahead: What's in store for South County."

Renda also won either first or second place in Environmental Reporting for The Union's multi-story report "To restore and protect: SYRCL celebrates three decades of Yuba River stewardship," which revisited the origins of the local nonprofit organization while sharing its current environmental efforts in western Nevada County and throughout the Yuba River watershed.

The Union also took first or second place for "Best Website" for, which was redesigned in September of 2012. Web Editor Tom Harbert and members of the newsroom staff operate the website for The Union.

Ten of the awards earned by The Union were Blue Ribbon Finalist honors, among the top four entries in each respective category, including Best Page Layout & Design by Midboe, Features Editor Brett Bentley, Sports Editor Walter Ford and copy editors Anthony Barstow and Cynthia Robertson.

Midboe earned The Union a Blue Ribbon Finalist honor for Best Front Page design of The Union’s Aug. 17 and Sept. 21 editions. She also earned Blue Ribbon honors for Graphic Illustration with her design for a story “Homeless: looking for a place to camp.”

Bentley and Midboe were Blue Ribbon Finalists for best Lifestyle Coverage for producing The Union's Pets, Spotlight and Home & Garden sections of the newspaper.

Ford, Barstow and Sports Writer Brian Shepard were finalists for Best Sports Page or Section.

Bentley, Barstow and Midboe earned the Arts & Entertainment Coverage honor for Prospector, The Union's weekly entertainment magazine.

Renda and City Editor Liz Kellar collaborated for a Blue Ribbon award for Environmental Reporting with their coverage of marijuana cartel grows "Under siege;" "Cartel grows devastate watersheds."

Jennifer Terman, Hart and Midboe took Blue Ribbon honors for Coverage of Education with their special report "Charting a new course?" on the growth in area charter schools.

Christopher Rosacker earned finalist recognition for Coverage of Local Government in his multi-story coverage, led off with breaking news of the resignation of Grass Valley City Administrator Dan Holler in "Grass Valley city manager to 'resign'."

Finally, Editor Brian Hamilton was a Blue Ribbon Finalist in Best Writing for his column "So many stories to share" on the life and death of 99-year-old Manuel "Chick" Cicogni, a stellar storyteller and lifelong Nevada County resident who died a month shy of 100th birthday.

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