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The Connection Wins 57 Press Awards

The Loudoun Connection won awards from the Virginia Press Association for work during 2005 in investigative reporting, business and financial writing, public safety writing, photography and sports.

All Northern Virginia editions of the Connection Newspapers combined to win 57 awards, announced at the press associationÕs annual conference and awards banquet, March 25, in Roanoke.

Andrea Zentz won first place for investigative reporting for a series of more than a dozen stories about the contamination of some wells in Loudoun and resulting reports of illness and efforts to provide safe drinking water to the affected homes.

ÒThe stories unveiled a serious health problem and persisted in records searches to expose a major failure by local governments,Ó judges wrote about ZentzÕs series.

Zentz also won second place for public safety writing.

Suzannah Evans won first place for business and financial writing, and third place for a series on the Loudoun SheriffÕs Office.

Pam Brooks swept the category of picture story or essay, winning first place for her photo story about Black soldiers in the Civil War in the McLean Connection; second place for her photo story about FACETS feeding the homeless in the Burke Connection and third place for her photo story about prom night at Broad Run in the Loudoun Connection.

Brooks also won first place for sports photo, and won six VPA awards in all.

Jeff Graham, Loudoun Connection sports editor, won third place for sports feature writing. Graham also won awards for page design and sports news writing in the Centre View, another Connection newspaper.

Brynn Grimley won first place for her project on the day-labor controversy in Herndon, and second place for feature story writing about the lives and aspirations of day laborers. Grimley also took second place for her writing on health topics, and third place for feature writing portfolio.

Jason Hartke, who covers Reston and real estate, won the PresidentÕs Newspaper Award for excellence in real estate reporting for his story on the growing role of Òtown centers,Ó from the Virginia Association of Realtors and the Virginia Press Association.

Political reporter Brian McNeill won six first place awards in the several editions of the Connection, including for education writing, government writing and for feature writing portfolio. McNeill won first place for investigative reporting for his work on developer contributions to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Meredith Billman-Mani won first place for continuing feature story for her first-person account of the tsunami; Billman-Mani was in India to pick up her adopted daughter at the time.

Ken Moore won first place for public safety writing for coverage including stories about the trial of pain doctor William Hurwitz.

Ari Cetron and Laurence Foong took first for informational graphics for an explanation of toll lane proposals. Cetron also won first place for headline writing.

Find a complete list of Connection award winners along with judgesÕ comments at www.connectionnewspapers.com.