The Colchester Sun and fellow Champlain Valley News Group publications took home numerous editorial and advertising awards last weekend at an annual convention celebrating newspapers across New England, including a top reporting prize for Sun reporter Michaela Halnon.
The New England Newspaper and Press Association honored journalists and papers around the region in Boston last weekend. This year’s competition drew over 3,000 entries judged by a panel of industry experts.
Halnon’s coverage of the mass evictions in Malletts Bay earned first place in general news reporting among small weekly newspapers. Judges called the long-form piece a “well-written in-depth account of a complicated and important local issue.”
It’s been nearly a year since the more than two-dozen homeowners were forced to leave their Colchester cottages after the Vermont Supreme Court ruled Mongeon Bay Properties LLC could void a land lease set to expire in 2036.
Since the Sun’s original story ran, Mongeon has advertised several of the camps on the short-term rental site Airbnb. Meanwhile, the former homeowners have waged an unusual legal battle in Vermont Superior Court: suing their own association and seeking a $4.5 million payout from their insurance company.
Further north, the Sun’s sister paper also impressed judges. Reporter Kaylee Sullivan earned second place in the sports feature category for her Milton Independent story on Milton Little League’s field dedication to founder Bill Black.
Black, now 82, founded the league in 1954 at age 19. He soon became a local baseball legend, inspiring kids to play ball around town. On opening day last year, little league organizers invited Black to join the day’s festivities.
In a surprise dedication and reunion, members of his 1954 team spanned the diamond as the field’s new namesake was revealed.
“Sullivan makes it easy to feel like one of ‘Bill’s Boys,’” judges wrote. “Milton is lucky to have such a Little League icon, and that this great feature story was written while he is still alive.”
The St. Albans Messenger, the Sun’s parent publication, also nabbed one second-place and three third-place editorial finishes.
The Addison County Independent, Mountain Times, Brandon Reporter and Vermont Ski & Ride also collected awards for the CVNG papers, a family-owned newspaper group headed by brothers Emerson and Angelo Lynn.