The Vermillion Plain Talk received several top awards in its circulation category in the 2019 South Dakota Newspaper Association Better Newspapers Contest.

The results were announced Thursday in conjunction with a video meeting featuring SDNA president Dave Bordewyk and several newspaper representatives.

Competing in the weeklies with circulations ranging from 901 to 1,300, the Plain Talk won second place in the General Excellence category. Gary Wood is publisher/owner of the Plain Talk and David Lias is the editor.

Lias won four first-place honors in the contest, two second place awards and one third place citation.

The Plain Talk won awards in the following categories:

• Best Feature Story/Non-profile: First place — David Lias for story headlined “It’s A God Thing’” about the Nora Store. Judge’s comment: “Amazing writing - very descriptive, personal, felt like I was in the store witnessing the events from when the organ arrived to the recent caroling events, thoroughly enjoyed reading.”

• Best Feature Photo: First place — David Lias for photo headlined “Freezin’ For A Reason” taken at Vermillion’s annual Polar Plunge. Judge’s comment: “Photographer captured great expressions as well as freezing the movement of the water.”

• Best News Series: First place — David Lias for series of stories about CAFO-related hearings and action by the Clay County Commission. Judge’s comment: “Impressive and undoubtedly accurate account of Animal Feeding Operation's attempt to expand. Readers could follow developing story and never leave their home, which is the goal of every news series. Outstanding reporting.”

• Best Local Column: First place — David Lias for Between The Lines column. Judge’s comment: “It's easy to tell this columnist is writing from the heart. The message can be a bit long, but is well thought out and flows very well.”

• Best Local Government Story: Second place — David Lias for article headlined “Ordinance Establishing Bid #2 Approved On First Reading Monday” about Vermillion City Council’s action on new law that would lead to improvements of Vermillion’s downtown.

• Best Sports Reporting: Second place — David Lias for story headlined “Let Me Be Brave” that covered last summer’s South Dakota Special Olympics competition held in Vermillion. Judge’s comment: “Enjoyed the father's perspective to begin the article. Nice work with several sources.”

• Best Feature Story/Profile: Third place — David Lias for story headlined “Bench Honors Beloved USD Educator.”

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