The website-less Vermont Press Association finally held its 2004 awards luncheon today at the DoubleTree Inn on Williston Road. I guess they waited because they wanted to give Patrick Leahy an award, so they planned it around his schedule. St. Patrick did indeed come, and gave a rousing address about the importance of a free press. He's pushing legislation to expand FOIA, to give reporters access to the increasing mountains of classified government stuff. Reporters eat that up. They love the guy. We had to get up and give him a standing ovation when he approached the podium. I say "had to" because you can't exactly stay seated when everybody else around you is pushing back their chairs and rising to the occasion.
Anyhow, after Leahy's speech, when lunch was over, they handed out awards. I got 2 — 1st place for "Best Local Story" (non-daily), for my cover story in July 04 about the Montpelier workers union; and I shared a 2nd place with Ken Picard for a cover story about Vermont companies that profit from the war in Iraq. Actually, it was Ken's story, and I wrote a chunk of the sidebar, but we got to share it anyway. That was cool. Even cooler was that the award was for "Best State Story" (daily and non-daily). Ken also got a 2nd place for "Best Feature Story," (non-daily) and 2nd place for "Best Local Story" (non-daily). Sarah Tuff, our outdoors/health writer, won 1st place for "Best Sports Reporting" (non-daily). And Seven Days won 1st place in the "General Excellence" category (non-daily). There were, sadly, no web categories.
I took pictures of us with our awards, but they look cheesy, and I can't bring myself to post them. Instead, I leave you with photos of this van, parked in front of the hotel as we entered. No idea who owns it. And because this is Vermont, the van was parked next to a truck from an alpaca farm.