The Oregon Observer has won seven awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.
Those awards are shared by community and business editor Emilie Heidemann, sports editor Mark Nesbitt, schools reporter Scott De Laruelle and government reporter Mackenzie Krumme. The honors include two second-place awards, three third-places and two honorable mentions.
The Observer along with its sister publications, the Verona Press and the Stoughton Courier Hub, are the recipients of a combined 24 awards from the Foundation.
The WNA announced the winners Friday, Feb. 19. Award submissions are accepted each year for work done from September to the following August, and judged by reporters, editors and advertising staff in other states across the county.
Nesbitt earned a second place award in the sports story category for his story, “Panthers a win short of state,” featuring the boys hockey team and its attempt at a state run that ended in a shutout defeat. Together, Nesbitt and former sports editor Adam Feiner swept the sports news category for weekly papers similar to the size of the Press, winning second place for the Oregon Observer and third place for the Stoughton Courier Hub.
“It reads like the kind of article I would expect of a reporter covering a pro team. It even includes good, smart quotes from the teenage athletes, and getting those can be a challenge all by itself,” the judge wrote.
Krumme also earned a second-place distinction for her profile feature story about a death midwife who teaches people how to lay out the bodies of the deceased in honor and prepare them for burial.
De Laruelle won two third-place awards for his education reporting – one for overall local education coverage about the new Forest Edge Elementary School, adapting to virtual learning and Oregon High School’s school-to-work program; the other for coronavirus coverage, of which his submission included stories focusing on how the Oregon School District adapted to the pandemic after schools were ordered to close in March 2020.
“The Oregon Observer’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic did a good job of combining hard facts with voices from the community,” the judge wrote.
Heidemann also earned a third-place award for her local government coverage, with stories detailing the Village of Oregon’s affordable housing crisis, ongoing stormwater issues that plague the northern side of the village and parts of the Town of Oregon and the Village Board’s concerns over the conduct of a then-police chief over an incident with a juvenile.
Both Heidemann and Krumme also won honorable mentions. Heidemann won for her series on the lack of reliable broadband internet in rural areas surrounding Oregon, and Krumme won for her feature on the high school’s Multicultural Student Union.
Krumme, who spent parts of 2019 and 2020 doing community coverage in Oregon, also won first place for Rookie Reporter of the year in the weekly division under the Stoughton Courier Hub. She is the fourth straight Rookie Reporter awardee, following past third-place winner Wethal in 2020, honorable mention winner Alexander Cramer in 2019 and third-place winner Amber Levenhagen in 2018.