2014 ONG Column & Editorial Winners

  • December Column Winner

    Home is where the heart is, it really is

    Jamie Berry, The Norman Transcript

    Home is where the heart is, so the famous phrase says. I’ve never agreed with this phrase more, especially following my husband’s long stay at the Norman Regional Healthplex.
    It all started Oct. 4 when we made an ER visit to Norman Regional Hospital and my husband was diagnosed with pneumonia.
    A month later, he still wasn’t improving, and his general physician ordered that he get an echocardiogram done the next day at the Healthplex.

  • December Editorial Winner

    A great plan

    Wayne Trotter, Countywide & Sun

    Loss of institutional memory is one of the few downsides to term limits state legislators have to live with by an act of the people. But because of natural turnover and plain old forgetfulness, the same thing can occur in other areas.
    The reason the trees planted in 1995 on the Tecumseh Middle School campus as a memorial to the Murrah Building bombing were cut down in 2014 was a lack of institutional memory. That’s a fancy way of saying nobody remembered or nobody who remembers is still on the staff.

  • November Editorial Winner

    I vote God's way

    Paul Laubach, Hennessey Clipper

    Ten years ago I ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives as a Democrat. I was humbled to carry Seiling, Canton, and my hometown of
    Okeene. The majority of the district voted against me.
    Since that time I’ve been blessed with enough success in the oil and gas business to invest in newspapers. What a great investment. Now every night I pray that Maria doesn’t leave me. Apparently managing newspapers is even more fun than calving out heifers.
    One memory from my campaign experiences frequented my mind as I watched my good friend Joe Dorman lose his bid to become Oklahoma’s Governor last week.
    Ten years ago somebody sent me an anonymous, hand written letter that simply stated, “I vote God’s way.”
    Since I was running as a Democrat I was, of course, running on the devil’s platform.
    Are not all Democrats nonrepenting sinners and Republicans natural saints?

  • November Column Winner

    So, are we ready?

    David Christy, Enid News & Eagle

    It seems the latest on the 24-hour news cycle has yet more hand-wringing over our perceived lack of readiness to handle the latest disease epidemic — the Ebola crisis.
    While it certainly isn’t a crisis here on these shores, it is very much cause for concern a world-wide pandemic is but one uncontrolled outbreak away from causing havoc in any country in the world.
    Ebola has killed exactly one person in America, and everyone is in a lather.
    Influenza kills about 36,000 Americans — at a minimum — every single year.
    So, where is the lather?
    Where is the instant sound bite and concern?
    Mention Ebola and Americans quake. Say influenza, and you get a yawn and a rolling of the eyes. Ebola is difficult to contract. You can get influenza from a handshake or touching a door knob.

  • October Editorial Winner

    Congratulating the newlyweds

    Ted Strueli, The Journal Record

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would not hear any of the five same-sex marriage cases on appeal from lower courts. That means the decisions in those cases will stand.
    The five cases, including Oklahoma’s, stand in favor of same-sex marriage. More accurately, they stand in favor of equal treatment under the law.
    To many people, marriage is a religious union, and members of certain Christian denominations are particularly affronted by the judicial position.
    Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, on Monday issued a written statement condemning the court’s decision.

  • October Column Winner

    Hruby legacy touches many

    Ed Darling, The Duncan Banner

    An era in Oklahoma newspapering and community service has, sadly, come to a haunting, abrupt and unexpected end.
    What will now best be known as the Hruby legacy, cutshort by a senseless and bewildering series of events that snuffed out the unfinished lives of John, Tinker and Katherine Hruby, provided the people of Stephens County, of Duncan and of Marlow unquestionable support and involvement, sound leadership and a spirit of giving that led to improvements, progress and a quality of life envied often by other communities.
    The Hrubys were good newspaper people who understood the impact of a highly personal business, whose daily actions influenced and affected people’s lives, who worked tirelessly to personify the news and make it relative, who sought to create and maintain a conduit through which meaningful conversations occurred, who pushed to make good places better and who shared the pride of an area we all lovingly call home.
    They were good citizens.
    They were good people.

  • September Editorial Winner

    Moore tragedy makes case for gun education

    Adam Brooks, The Journal Record

    Some gun-rights advocates have, once again, taken the wrong lesson from a violent crime.
    Last week, the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore fired Alton Nolen. He returned moments later and grabbed a knife that was used in the facility. Within minutes he beheaded one woman, stabbed another repeatedly and was shot by Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer.
    A good guy with a gun stopped a tragedy from turning into a mass-casualty event. Examiner.com called it “prima facie evidence that Americans need and should have unfettered access to personal firearms.”

  • September Column Winner

    Noah West

    Brian Blansett, Shawnee News-Star

    A few days ago, my grandson, Noah, came to hang out with me.
    We had the house to ourselves, so we rocked for a couple of hours and had a bottle of milk and talked about really good things.
    We talked about the crappie we’d catch in a few years when we took my boat to Prague Lake.
    We talked about the guitar I would teach him to play and how we’d sit on the front porch some summer evening and play old-timey songs and watch the fireflies dance along the creek.

  • August Column Winner

    Signs our language is becoming drab

    Jeff Kaley, Waurika News-Democrat

    One of the interesting things about being a Gemini is that we never have a problem finding someone to talk to. Since it's the nature of Gemini to see both sides of issues, even if we're marooned on an uninhabited Pacific atoll we can have lively conversations — with ourselves.
    Psychiatric types might call this ability “schizophrenia,” but head shrinkers have to label everything; Gemini just call it normal.
    Why, just the other night, after arriving home late from putting out an edition of the News-Democrat I was having the following chat with myself:

  • August Editorial Winner

    Here we go again

    Mike McCormick, The Shawnee News-Star

    Here we go again. The county 911 board wants a 50 percent increase in the 911 landline tariff fee.
    This same issue failed miserably more than two years ago when voters overwhelmingly rejected the same proposal in February of 2012.
    The county 911 board asked the Pottawatomie County commissioners to call an election on the issue again. Voters will have a chance to decide during the Nov. 4 general election.

  • July Column Winner

    That little red house is turning pink

    Aaron McDonald, The Countywide & Sun

    The Little Red House is turning pink.
    Yep, we found out on June 27 that our newest arrival at the end of November will be another girl.
    I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my wife and I were a little disappointed ... for about two seconds. But we quickly realized that this was no time for selfish murmurings of what might have been if the pink had been blue. No time for thinking about how much fun it would be to have a son. No time for thinking about the realization of raising three girls. We were having another baby and that was reason enough to be joyful for what God has graciously given us.

  • July Editorial Winner

    Open arms from open minds

    Doug Vice, Drumright Gusher

    We find ourselves with a humanitarian crisis on our hands. Nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant children have unlawfully entered the country since October of last year, and Federal officials expect at least 150,000 more next year.
    We as a nation have seen problems with illegal immigration for a long time, but this presents a new and unique challenge in the form of a never-before-seen surge of unaccompanied minors.
    We have a small handful of options, or combination of options, all of which are simple in thought if complex in repercussion.

  • June Column Winner

    Threats on social media or elsewhere won’t change any minds

    KIM POINDEXTER, Tahlequah Daily Press

    TAHLEQUAH — Last week, when the 10th Circuit Court released its ruling on the gay marriage ban specific to Utah, I posted a link on my Facebook page. Anyone who clicked on the link could read the entire ruling – an admittedly dry piece of legalese that for less-than-literate sorts would require a shyster on standby to explain the verbiage.
    I try not to take political positions on my private Facebook timeline. I used to sometimes, in what I considered a polite way, but that offended friends left and right – literally. And sometimes I watched in horror as a thread degenerated into name-calling between people I respect, but who happen to be polar opposites on the political spectrum. A few years ago, a heated argument between two of my friends who have never met prompted one to withdraw from Facebook for several months. Later, he told me (via email) the exchange had freaked him out; he had never been publicly attacked for expressing an opinion before (and truthfully, it was moderate).

  • June Editorial Winner

    Legislature needs to grow up

    WAYNE TROTTER, The Countywide & Sun

    In reviewing the 2014 legislature, The Oklahoman called the session that ended a few weeks ago “one of the weirdest and most disappointing sessions in modern history.”
    Pretty strong stuff that, yet there’s little way to deny that this outing was a strange one.
    Some things were accomplished and those should be celebrated. But other major items were go-and-stop, as in stopping the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum after millions had already been spent, or stop-and-go-away as in halting the years-old conversion to Common Core education but doing it in a manner that left the real decision up to Gov. Mary Fallin.

  • May Editorial Winner

    The Right Call

    WAYNE TROTTER, The Countywide & Sun

    “If we promote a third-grader to the fourth grade because he or she is 10 years old and not because they are reading proficient, we’re setting that child up for failure. And we’re doing so not to make that child’s life easier but to make someone else’s life easier.” Gov. Mary Fallin After vetoing HB 2625
    As she must have expected, Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of HB 2625, the Reading Sufficiency Act, reaped an immediate firestorm of criticism.
    Joe Dorman, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge Fallin in November, said he was “outraged” and wrote “Shame on you, governor” on his Facebook page.

  • May Column Winner

    Defensive driving has taken on all-new meaning

    LINDA CRAUN, The Hennessey Clipper

    I had imagined myself weaving between yellow safety cones and coming to abrupt stops on command at the defensive driving class.
    Soon, I’d be an assured driver, I told myself.
    I was going to learn the secrets of defensive driving.
    As I pulled in at my destination, I was a tad concerned.
    Clean windows are surely necessary in any kind of driving and mine weren’t.
    I shouldn’t have worried.

  • April Editorial Winner

    Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    KIM POINDEXTER, Tahlequah Daily Press

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

  • April Column Winner

    Understanding the choice for peace

    PATTI MARSHALL, The Countywide & Sun

    My mother died in a hospital bed in her and my father’s Florida living room. At 69 years old, she had decided to accept a natural death rather than a second operation less than five months after the first surgery to remove an aggressive brain tumor. Her decision not to live confused me. We all loved her, so why wasn’t she fighting for her life? For a few months, I flew back and forth to visit my parents and witnessed the deterioration of my mother’s mind and body, and my father’s spirit as he cared for her. My mother knew what was coming and tried to comfort us. She told us she was dying and we didn’t listen. Even though she told us it would come fast, we insisted she would be well again. She had accepted her own mortality even though her family could not. Finally, the tumor stopped her words altogether and she couldn’t help us understand. Her heart beat on.

  • 2013 Sweepstakes Editorial Winner

    Compromise: It works if we let it

    Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah Daily Press

    America's love affair with the gun is partly rooted in our "wild west" heritage, and it's going to take more than escalating abuse by criminals and mentally disturbed individuals to change the culture. And despite the tragedy in Connecticut, it's not likely to happen in our lifetime.
    A look at the Daily Press Facebook forum over the past few days reveals the emotional impact of this topic. Though most of the comments on a thread seeking input for a story were civil, a few aimed sharp barbs at other participants. And while only two or three folks got out of hand, we learned later a couple of participants had launched vicious attacks in private messages to people with opposing views.

  • 2013 Sweepstakes Column Winner

    Getting smashed with the girls

    FAITH WYLIE, Oologah Lake Leader

    Be careful what you put on Facebook.
    I posted last week that the Leader office would close early so the office ladies could attend a mammogram party.
    I got a phone call. From a reporter. KJRH-TV Channel 2 wanted to come to our mammogram party.
    But it’s just three journalists getting smashed, I explained.
    No problem. Erin Christy still wanted to come.

  • March Editorial Winner

    This is serious

    WAYNE TROTTER, The Countywide & Sun

    Whether you’re on the side of the city or the four local tribes, you need to be aware of how serious this disagreement between the City of Shawnee and the Native Americans really is. If the tribes prevail, things will go on as usual. But if the city comes out on top, it will result in a sea change in the way things are done in Oklahoma. It’s that simple … and that serious.

  • March Column Winner

    Losing Diana

    BRIAN BLANSETT, Shawnee News-Star

    I was working in the garden a week ago Saturday when I got a strong sense that I should go in the house and spend time with Dianna.
    She hadn’t been feeling well and her breathing was even more difficult than usual. So I went to the store and bought a pretty card and wrote a few lines telling her how much she meant to me.

  • February Column Winner

    Americans speak the language of diversity

    JEFF MULLIN, Enid News & Eagle

    It was the beginning of a cruise through the Mediterranean, departing from Barcelona, Spain.
    My bride and I had just flown overnight, we were tired, we were cranky (well, I was cranky), and we were standing in line to check in and board the ship.
    Ahead of us in line were five older people, three men and two women, all bearing the dark complexion of those from south Asia. They were holding up the line wrestling with several pieces of luggage, all the while talking loudly among themselves in some language I didn’t understand.

  • February Editorial Winner

    A price too high

    TED STREULI, The Journal Record

    Gov. Mary Fallin, in Monday’s State of the State address, reminded Oklaho mans of the many positive things happening in the state. Our unemployment rate is low. Personal income is up. Net migration, the people moving in, is a plus.
    She also reminded Oklahomans of the challenges. Graduation rates are too low. The Capitol is crumbling. Public pensions aren’t funded.

  • January Column Winner

    The state of the union can be fixed

    JEFF MULLIN, Enid News & Eagle

    President Obama gave us his take on it Tuesday night, speaking to a joint session of Congress, his political friends and foes, as well as the nation as a whole.
    He talked about economic opportunity, a higher minimum wage, immigration reform and expanded preschool education. He talked about the economic recovery that seems to have left so many Americans behind.
    The president is optimistic about the state of the union. He has to be, it’s part of the job description.

  • January Editorial Winner

    Teachers shouldn't be measured by grades

    MARIA LAUBACH, The Hennessey Clipper

    For two centuries the majority of people choosing the teaching profession have done it for the love of education and children.
    When women first started teaching, their wages were minimal and often times not enough to survive. Today, teacher salaries are the lowest among other professions with comparable college education, according to the National Education Organization.

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