INDIANAPOLIS — The Kankakee Valley Post-News and the Rensselaer Republican were honored last weekend with several awards during the 2019 Hoosier State Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were doled out at a luncheon at The Nest in Greenwood, south of Indianapolis.

“The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest recognizes the excellent journalism practiced in Indiana,” HSPA Executive Director Steve Key said. “At a time when journalism’s importance in our democracy is being challenged, the awards remind readers of the excellent role newspapers play in serving as the voice of a community.”

The Post-News and Republican competed in Division I non-dailies less than 2,500 circulation — the largest contingent of newspapers in Indiana.

In the editorial portion of the contest, Tom Sparks took first place in Spot News Photo category with his photograph of a small boy looking up to an older boy holding a cow during the fair. The photo was titled, “Show me how it’s done.”

“Even in what can be routine stories, I try to find an unusual or different aspect for the accompanying photo,’ Sparks said after receiving his award. “This young man pleading to be allowed to take control of a massive steer really caught my eye.”

It caught the eye of the judges, too.

Gregory Myers, editor of the Newton County Enterprise, won first place for Best Special Section with “Celebrating Fine Arts,” which also appeared in the Post-News, Republican and Remington Press.

In the advertising contest, the Post-News and Republican swept the “Best Digital Product” category, winning all three awards. Third place went to Group Publisher Greg Perrotto and Graphic Designer Misty Longstreth for the online Reader’s Choice campaign on the Republican and Post-News website. Second place was awarded to Sales Representative Sally Snow and Longstreth for a digital ad for Jordy & Jax BBQ Restaurant, now in Valparaiso, and first place went to Advertising Manager Anita Padgett and Longstreth for the Rensselaer Republican/Fountain Stone Theater’s digital ad.

“It is an honor to be recognized by your peers for doing something you love. There aren’t many jobs out there that you get to be creative and do something different every day,” said Longstreth, who has won multiple HSPA awards for her graphic designs each year.

For the Republican, Padgett and Longstreth also won first place for their ad in the fashion category for Jordan’s and third place in the “Senior Care” category for Parkview Haven. Longstreth won second place for her cover design for the Jasper County Fair in the Best Publication Cover.

“I am very proud of our advertising staff at the Rensselaer Republican and KV Post-News, and also our graphic artist Misty Longstreth,” Padgett said. “It’s so nice and exciting to see our hard work recognized by others in the industry. We’re looking forward to next year and have already earmarked some for entry.”

For the Post-News, Longstreth and Snow received a first- and second-place award in the “Home” category for two Hillside Ace Hardware of DeMotte ads. The pair also won first place for their ad, “The Pavilion and Bridal Suite at Sandy Pines” in the “Entertainment and Restaurant” category.

Sales Representative Pam Rhodes and Longstreth won third place for the Post-News in the “Special Topic Page” category for their “Holly Days” ad.

“I am excited to have two awards for first place and two awards for second place on behalf of the KV Post News. Without our advertisers’ trust and loyalty, this could not happen,” Snow said. “My partners in this journey are ACE Hardware in DeMotte, SP19 The Pavilion, Jordy n’ Jax and all of our advertisers for our World War I section. I am so pleased to share these awards with Misty Longstreth, who is our amazing graphic artist. It simply would not happen without her. Congratulations to my fellow sales team on their awards, Anita Padgett, Pam Rhodes and our publisher, Greg Perrotto.”

The staff at Kankakee Valley Publishing received a third-place award for the “Best Special Section” category for the World War I commemorative issue.

“We are so pleased to be recognized as some of the best local newspapers for our journalism and marketing options in Indiana. It really shows the hard work that everyone has put toward continuing to provide a high-quality community newspaper in print and online for our readers and business community. We certainly would not have been able to make this possible without the continued support of our local subscribers, readers and advertisers.

“These awards ultimately show that the Kankakee Valley Post-News, Action Plus, Hebron Advertiser, Rensselaer Republican, Shoppers News, Remington Press and The Guide are the best local resources for local news and local marketing options in Jasper County, Indiana and the surrounding communities, “ said Perrotto.

Also receiving awards in the Better Newspaper Contest was Michael Johnson, editor of the Herald Journal in Monticello and regional editor for Kankakee Valley Publishing.

“We have outstanding teams across Kankakee Valley Publishing and I congratulate them all on a job well done,” he said. “We’re not in journalism for the awards, but it’s nice to be noticed by your peers for the hard work you do, day in and day out. When you put forth your best effort, people will see it.”