Times wins 18 awards in MO Press statewide competition

The Ozark County Times won 18 awards in the Missouri Press Better Newspaper Contest for news stories and other items published in 2020. Above: Times staff members include, from left, advertising manager / publisher Jenny Yarger, editor Sue Ann Jones, owner Norene Prososki, ad designer/office manager Regina Mozingo and reporter/graphic designer Jessi Dreckman.

former Times staffer Amelia LaMair

Freelance sports photographer Karla Smith

Ozark Journey columnist Wayne Sayles

The Ozark County Times was honored with four first place awards, four second place awards, seven third place awards and three honorable mentions in the Missouri Press Association’s 2021 Better Newspaper Contest Better Newspaper Contest.

Participating newspapers were notified of the award winners in June; however, MPA  asked that the awards not be publicly announced until its Better Newspaper Contest Awards luncheon, which was held Sept. 25 in Excelsior Springs. 

The Times competed against newspapers of similar size across the state. The awards are listed below:


First place awards

• Best special section: The 2020 Hootin an Hollarin scrapbook, a special section that was produced by the Times staff in September 2020, was chosen as the top special section in the statewide contest. The publication replaced the Times’ usual Hootin an Hollarin guide after organizers announced that the 2020 festival was canceled due to covid concerns. The scrapbook featured photos and informational tidbits from the 59 years of previous Hootin an Hollarin festivals.

• Best sports feature photograph: Karla Smith, who often shares her sports photos for publication in the Times, won first place for the best sports feature photograph for her photo titled “Dora Falcons ‘Super Fan’ Damon Emery,” published in the Feb. 19, 2020, edition. The photo featured the boy, who has Down syndrome and was 8 at the time, being cheered on by the Dora Falcons basketball team during their homecoming game. 

• Tilghman Cloud Memorial Weeklies Editorial Award: Times editor Sue Ann Jones won first place in the editorials division for her piece titled, “A different kind of grandma,” published July 8, 2020, to describe Pontiac/Price Place Volunteer Fire Department chief Khristie Jacquin’s response to a serious, two-vehicle crash when she was returning home from a house-cleaning job with her visiting 10-year-old granddaughter.  

• Best feature obituary: Jones was also awarded first place in the feature obituary category for her article “Young widow mourns a dad and husband who was ‘all about family,’” published June 17, 2020.  The story focused on the life of Boyd “Bo” Hill, who was killed in a vehicle crash while traveling with his three young children. Jones also took home the second and third place awards in this category (see below). 


Second place awards

• Best health story: Times owner Norene Prososki won second place in the best health story category for her article “Ozark County man gets unexpected life-saving results from heart screening,” published Feb. 19, 2020. The article described how Gainesville resident Jeff Nash was alerted to five blockages in his heart, including two that were over 90 percent blocked, after his wife, Kim, urged him to get a routine cardiac calcium screening. 

• Best news or featured obituary: Jones was awarded second place in the best news or feature obituary category for her article “Two lives lived close to the land – and to each other,” published June 24, 2020. The article focused on Theodosia resident Kermit Schofield and his widow, Sandy, after his June 16, 2020, death. 

• Best story about history: Jones won second place in the best story about history category for her article “From the ‘old black phone’ to enhanced 911,” published Dec. 16, 2020. The article featured Ken Burnett, who worked for the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department as a dispatcher off and on from the mid-1980s until his retirement last year.  

• Best news photograph: Dreckman won second place in the best news photograph category with her photo that accompanied a Jan. 1, 2020, article titled, “A Christmas Day tragedy.” The photo showed Bakersfield Volunteer Fire Chief Greg Watts standing next to a burned Christmas tree and gifts after a Dec. 25, 2019, fire at the home of Tom Turner on County Road 588 near Bakersfield.


Third place awards

• Community service: The Times article series “Giving Local,” which ran throughout December 2020, won the third place award in the community service category. The series profiled Ozark County charities that local residents could choose to donate to during the holiday season. 

• Best news story: Jones won third place for her article “‘Perfect strangers came together’ in intrepid response to fiery crash,” published July 8, 2020. The article detailed the many emergency responders and passing motorists who stopped to help during a June 30, 2020, crash involving Gainesville residents Gregory McGee and Josh Randolph.  

• Best story about education: Dreckman won third place for her  article “Welding like a girl,” published Jan. 15, 2020, which profiled Ciara Watts, who was 11 at the time, and her business selling welded home decor items. 

• Best news or feature obituary: Dreckman also took home the third place award in the best news or feature obituary category with her story “Remembering Harley Collins: A country boy with an ornery streak,” published Jan. 22, 2020. Collins, 19, of Dora, died Jan. 14, 2020, in a car crash on Highway 160 in South Fork.  

• Best story about history: Gainesville resident Wayne Sayles, who writes the Ozark Journey column, won third place in the best story about history category with his article “Billy Buster and the Lick Creek Crossing,” published Jan. 22, 2020. 

• Best story about the outdoors: Former Times employee Amelia LaMair won third place in the best story about the outdoors category with her article “Trans-Ozark Trail: Two existing trails will connect in Ozark County to form 700-mile trail,” published Feb. 19, 2020. The article included information on the effort to join Missouri’s Ozark Trail to Arkansas’s Ozark Highland’s Trail. The two trails will converge in Ozark County at what is known locally as “The Forks,” an area where the North Fork of the White River and Bryant Creek meet, just above the Tecumseh access of Norfork Lake. 

• Best military story: Jones won third place in best military story with the article “What gratitude we owe them,” published as part of our salute to veterans in the Nov. 11, 2020 edition. 


Honorable mentions

• Best news or feature obituary: Jones took home the honorable mention for best feature obituary with a piece titled, “Remembering Linnie,” published Sept. 30, 2020. The story was about longtime Times correspondent Linnie Ingram, who died Sept. 25, 2020, at the age of 98. 

• Best news or feature series: Jones’ news series on Local residents’ covid stories, which told the stories of how covid-19 affected Brenda Miller, Rhonda Suter, Melanie DeWeese, the late Donnie Miller, Jerry Crownover, Brenda Warren, Carl Kruger, Bonnie Peter, Jenny and Jasper James, and Pam and Eddie Ogden, won honorable mention in best news or feature series. The series was published in the Oct. 21 and Oct. 28, 2020, editions.

• Best covid-19 coverage: The Times’ coverage of how covid-19 affected Ozark County and the residents here, which spanned several editions last year, won honorable mention in that category.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423