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‘Valley News’ Wins Top Honor in N.H. Contest

Manchester — The Valley News was named New Hampshire’s best daily newspaper and won a number of other honors in the New Hampshire Press Association contest results announced Friday.

The paper, based in West Lebanon, won the “General Excellence” award for daily newspapers, and took first place in eight other categories as well.

Chief photographer Jennifer Hauck was named photographer of the year, with judges deeming her photograph showing a little girl raking leaves to be “a moment of joy captured in a beautiful photo.”

James M. Patterson won both first and third place for general news photos, along with third place for feature photo.

Sarah Priestap won first place for spot news photo, with Patterson taking third there, and Patterson and Hauck landed second place and third place, respectively, in the picture story category. Priestap also took home third place for sports photo.

Reporters Mark Davis and Maggie Cassidy won first place for crime/court reporting for their coverage of the slaying of Lebanon High School teacher Natalie Perriello.

“In a very competitive category this series stood out for its comprehensive reporting and compelling story-telling. Davis and Cassidy displayed all elements of crime-reporting skill: timeliness, detail, effect on the community, background checking of suspect and victim, investigation of the story told by the former student involved in the fatal love triangle, use of social media sources,” a judge wrote. “I looked for holes or missing info and couldn’t find any. This story will stay with me.”

Davis and Cassidy also took third place, along with fellow reporter Tris Wykes, for coverage of a spot news story.

Sports Editor Donald Mahler was named sports columnist of the year, and also took first and second place for sports news, and first place for a game story.

“A balanced look at an important issue for youth hockey players, parents, and fans of the sport,” a judge wrote about Mahler’s story on checking in youth hockey. “Good writing throughout augmented with informative statistics from Canadian studies. Mahler isn’t afraid to take on big subjects.”

Night sports editor David Bailey won first place for his lively, first-person tour of New England college football stadiums.

Health care reporter Chris Fleisher took third place in health reporting for his story on fluoridation in the Upper Valley.

“A fine balance in what has become a hot debate. Interviews, stats and graphs made this a compelling read,” a judge wrote.

The Concord Monitor, the sister paper of the Valley News, won first place for general excellence in the Sunday paper category, and landed several other top honors as well.