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Community honored at 2017 KY AP awards

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During ceremonies Saturday, WNIN received awards in two categories for news stories we did in Kentucky in 2016. The Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters event took place at the Hilton hotel in downtown Lexington.

WNIN's Mareea Thomas was awarded first place in the Best Long Serious News Feature category for her story "A Disturbing Ending to a Life Well-Lived" about the life and death of Owensboro activist Ron Holmes in February of last year.

We had covered Reverend Holmes' community activism for several years in Owensboro. As pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, Rev. Holmes was an influential voice for equality. 

When we received word that Rev. Holmes had died, it seemed like a good, easy retrospective for the recently graduated University of Evansville alum to cover in her first assignment as a professional journalist. That soon changed when we learned that he had committed suicide, his body found in his car at a rest stop along Interstate 64 in Spencer County, Indiana.

A controversial subject handled with grace and care. I thought the revelation of suicide came as a shock, and I thought it was handled perfectly. -AP contest judge's comments

Mareea took up the new challenge, interviewing those who knew Holmes intimately, checking to ensure we didn't miss anything in our search for why he might have chosen to end his life.

What she came up with won the award in a highly competitive field and prompted these comments from the judges,  "A controversial subject handled with grace and care. I thought the revelation of suicide came as a shock, and I thought it was handled perfectly."

WNIN also took third place in the breaking news category for our story that happened at the ROMP festival in June. Song Show host Brick Briscoe, Samantha Horton and Steve Burger were on hand when International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame inductee Larry Sparks announced during our live broadcast that bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley had died a few minutes earlier. 

Horton filed the announcement with NPR, while Briscoe and Burger went to work talking with festival-goers and gathering sound of all the tributes various performers made from the stage throughout the weekend.

Because of the distance back to the studio and extreme, wet weather conditions that made it almost impossible to get out of the festival's Yellow Creek Park location, Briscoe and Burger funneled files to Horton at WNIN to get on the air.

We want to thank the IBBM for help in getting this important story on the air for local and national audiences. We also want to thank the community for the support that allows us to continue this kind of high quality journalism.

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