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Nine North County writers recognized for work

New Hampshire Press Association gives awards for Courier, Democrat and Reporter stories

November 02, 2011
LITTLETON — Despite reservations of spending ink and paper on self-congratulations, three North Country weeklies are proud to announce that nine of their employees were recently recognized by the New Hampshire Press Association for work they did from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011.

Newsrooms nationwide have been stretched thin in recent years as publishers struggle to make ends meet, yet the Oct. 13 awards ceremony showed that writers are still dedicated to keeping their readers informed through quality reporting.

All awards were in the non-daily category.

The Littleton Courier's Charlie Lentz, who has been with the paper for two years, stole the show by receiving three awards for the work he does as editor, writer and photographer for the sports section.

He won first place for his sports feature story "An Old Fashioned Adventure Story," which followed a group of vintage snowmobile enthusiasts who make an annual attempt at reaching the top of Mount Washington. Last winter marked the second time they reached the top after planning the trip 12 times and only making an attempt nine times — the capricious mountain isn't always game for the sport.

Lentz, who has worked in the newspaper industry for about 15 years after getting a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Alaska-Anchorage, also was named sports columnist of the year for his "Northern Sights" column and won second place for sports photography.

He has worked for the Anchorage Daily News, Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record, Aiken (S.C.) Standard, The Record (Hackensack, N.J.), Sunbury (Pa.) Daily Item and the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times-Leader. Before coming to Littleton he was sports editor of the Eagle-Times in Claremont.

His coverage area includes Littleton High School, Profile High School, Lisbon Regional High School, Lin-Wood High School and Woodsville High School. In the summer, he covers running events, the Top Notch Triathlon, Bethlehem Senior Softball League, and youth softball and baseball in the area. Lentz lives in Littleton.

Also, winning an award for the Courier was Jeff Woodburn, who has freelanced with all three papers for several years and recently became the Reporter's full-time writer, covering Jefferson to Shelburne to Erroll.

He won first place in the new freelance category for his story on Omni Mount Washington Resort's efforts to trademark the name of Mount Washington.

Woodburn has worked on and off as a writer since starting work at the Vermont-based Caledonian-Record in 1989. He also has freelanced for the NH Business Review, Parenting NH Magazine and New Hampshire Magazine. He has been involved in state politics, served as his town's moderator and is now his school district's moderator and serves as the chairman on the state Historical Resources Board.

Woodburn lives in Dalton with his wife and four children and is a third-generation resident of the North Country, having grown up in Whitefield. He has a degree in history from Franklin Pierce University.

For his editorial, "Doing the people's business in public", Courier Editor Art McGrath won second place. The editorial took the Littleton Board of selectmen to task for a March 2011 non-public meeting, most of the topics of which should have been discussed in a public session.

McGrath has been with the weekly for five and a half years, starting out as reporter before replacing former editor Krystin St. George a year ago. He also worked for the Vermont-based Caledonian-Record for three years. As an undergrad, he double majored in English and social science at Lyndon State University, then went on to the University of Vermont for a master's degree in history.

McGrath grew up for the most part in Springfield, Mass., though he graduated White Mountain High School before serving four years in the United States Marine Corps. He currently lives in Guildhall, Vt., with his wife and two sons.

The Democrat's Jonathan Benton won third place in "Spot News" for his story that had the headline "Police Standoff Ends with an Apparent Suicide."

Benton wears many hats and juggles being the sports editor, writer and photographer as well as covering general news. He has been with the Democrat since the fall of 2009 after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor's degree in English/journalism earlier that year. While a student, he interned at the Portsmouth Herald for five months.

He grew up in Alexandria and currently lives in Lancaster.

Edith Tucker is justly famous for the wealth of stories she produces every week, and she was recognized for her story in the best government-reporting category. She won first place for her piece on a campground tax for the Coos County Democrat.

Tucker started at the Democrat in April 1996 as a part-time reporter and photographer, but soon became full-time. She worked for about five months starting in September 1995 at the Berlin Reporter when it was "a daily with four small issues plus a Wednesday edition that, in essence, served as a weekly paper for mail subscribers," Tucker explained.

Before that, she was an editor of United Retirement Bulletin, a 12-page monthly publication, for eight years in Boston and Wellesley, Mass.

Tucker graduated in 1994 summa cum laude as a nontraditional-age student — a Davis Scholar — from Wellesley College with a bachelor's degree in political science.

She lives with her husband in Randolph.

Marcy Stanek works out of the company's Meredith offices as a production manager, and she won third place in the advertising supplement cover category for her "Coos County Neighbors" design.

The other award-winning employees are no longer with Salmon Press.

Kayti Burt won second place in the investigative news category for her piece in the Courier on homelessness in the region. She grew up in Whitefield and wrote for the Courier for nine months before leaving for Boston at the end of June.

Berlin Reporter writers Matilda Brown and Melissa Grima won first place for their investigative story on low-income rentals being tricky in Berlin. Grima also won second place for her spot news story headlined "No Cause Identified in Fatal Colebrook Explosions" and second place for spot photography. She left in early June, and Brown left last fall.

The Littleton Courier, Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter are owned by Salmon Press Newspapers, which also owns eight other New Hampshire weeklies.

All three papers were well established before being bought out in the early 2000s. The Courier was launched in 1889, the Democrat in 1838 and the Reporter in 1893.

The New Hampshire Press Association has eight non-daily members, including Salmon Press, and eight daily members. Awards are given out annually in a number of categories including general news, education, business/economic writing, rookie of the year, news feature, general excellence, advertising and new media.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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