The Verona Press has won nine awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
Those awards are shared by news editor Kimberly Wethal, community reporter Neal Patten, sports editor Mark Nesbitt, former sports editor Adam Feiner and former advertising representative Donna Larson. Those awards include two first-place awards, two third-places and five honorable mentions.
The Press along with its sister publications, the Oregon Observer 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.
Wethal won first place in the feature profile category for her story on Verona Area School District educators who had to learn how to transition to virtual learning in less than a week after schools were ordered to close by the state in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Compelling lede and a great job humanizing a pandemic story by offering insight through strong quotes and clean transitions into an element readers otherwise might not appreciate,” the judge wrote.
Nesbitt and Feiner also won a first place for their collaboration in reporting on the Verona Area High School boys hockey team’s win at the state tournament. Together, Nesbitt and 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.
“This is how it’s done, folks. This article made me feel a little of the excitement of being there while relating the key moments of the game. It had good color, without overdoing it, and brought in some personality, without turning it into more of a feature than a game report,” the judge wrote.
Larson was the recipient of the two third place awards, one for third place Best Large Ad celebrating Verona Area High School’s graduating Corre la Voz students, who do invaluable translating work for the Press’ Spanish-language education reporting publication. She also won a third-place award for Best Small Ad, for a Hughes Flooring Santa ad, and an honorable mention for Best Large Ad congratulating the entire VAHS Class of 2020.
Community reporter Neal Patten won an honorable mention for his business coverage in the Verona area, specifically for stories on North and South Seafood and Smokehouse, El Charro Mexican Grill and Natural Path Sanctuary, which is one of the few places across the country that offers natural burials.
Wethal also won two honorable mention awards, one for General News Story covering how the Verona Area School District created its in-person summer school program during the pandemic, and for Reporting on Local Education.
Press staff won a fifth honorable mention in the All-Around Photography category.
Mackenzie Krumme, who covers the City of Verona government beat, 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.