Tri-City Herald reporters won seven awards in the 2012 Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Among the awards received are two first-place awards, four second-place awards and a third-place award, all for reporting.
Reporter Annette Cary won top honors in the environment and science reporting category for "Selling a legacy: State prepares bid for pristine land," a story about McWhorter Ranch on the southern slopes of Rattlesnake Mountain and the state's plans to negotiate for the property.
Judges said it was a "well done story on a crucial topic, land preservation. Great multimedia to explain the story. This does a public service by explaining a chance to preserve increasingly rare open land."
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Sports reporter Annie Fowler placed first in sports reporting for "Celebrating 25 years: The Tri-City Americans have had their ups and downs," a story chronicling the anniversary of the hockey team. Judges said the story was a "comprehensive, well-organized and well-written piece. Long read keeps reader's interest. Clear winner in the category."
Second-place awards went to:
-- Reporter Kristi Pihl and former Herald reporter Paula Horton in the investigative reporting category for a series of stories about Dennis Huston, a Franklin County public works manager who pocketed more than $2.8 million in what ended up being the largest public embezzlement case in Washington state history.
-- Horton in the crime and justice reporting category for "A Twisted Trail of Deceit," a story about Huston's FBI investigation.
-- Reporter Dori O'Neal in lifestyles reporting for "Art of the Game," a feature about a Pasco man's tattoos which depict a love of baseball across his back, shoulders and arms.
-- Reporter Ty Beaver in education reporting for a series of stories about Richland School District's fired superintendent Jim Busey.
Horton also earned a third-place in crime and justice reporting for "Evaluation ordered for accused killer; Man spent 5 years at Eastern State Hospital," a story about a West Richland man who told police God wanted him to brutally kill his grandmother.
The Herald staff competed with newspapers of general circulation from 25,001 to 65,000 in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The awards were announced in Saturday at a banquet in Seattle.