2015 ONG Column & Editorial Winners


  • 2015 Column Sweepstakes Winner

    Bubbles, soap and a close election
    James Beaty, McAlester News-Capital

    The question I’ve pondered following the failure of McAlester Public School’s Proposition 1 bond issue is not about how or why the measure lost by a single vote.
    Instead, I’m thinking of a different question: how many bubbles are in a bar of soap?
    By now, word of the McAlester Public School’s loss of Proposition 1 by a single vote has spread far beyond the city’s neighborhoods and reverberated across the state.
    Proponents of the proposition are no doubt gnashing their teeth at how close they came to winning, while those opposed are likely giving a thought or two to how they nearly lost.
    Then there are those who contend the real losers in the election are students at McAlester Public Schools, who would have benefited by technology and security upgrades in the school system if the measure passed.  Read More...

  • 2015 Editorial Sweepstakes Winner

    Public safety has to come first
    Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald

    It is becoming increasingly clear that we must choose soon between safety and cheaper energy.
    Last week, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission expanded its “areas of interest” for Class II injection wells and is requiring the companies owning those wells to demonstrate within a month that they are not injecting wastewater into the bedrock of the earth's surface, which is the Arbuckle layer in Oklahoma.
    As reported in this edition of the Herald, 16 of those wells are in Lincoln County and one is in Pottawatomie County.
    The Corporation Commission issued its initial area of concern in March. In April, the Oklahoma Geological Survey identified injection wells as the “suspected” cause behind the 600 percent increase in Oklahoma earthquakes since 2008.  Read More...

  • December 2015 Column Winner

    Presence or presents

    Kaylea Hutson-Miller, The Grove Sun

    Is there anyway you can come?
    With those words, life changed for me this weekend.
    On Friday morning, I received the call that my good friend Kim’s grandmother died.
    Its been a long process, but Nana, as she was known, was able to die at home in her own space, thanks to the efforts of Kim and her mother.
    On Friday evening, as the events of the day began to settle, Kim called.
    Her simple question put things into perspective.
    Trying desperately to hold things together for her family, her voice cracked as she asked, “I know it’s a deadline day, but is there anyway you can come Monday for the funeral?”  Read More...

  • December 2015 Editorial Winner

    Our town has never been silent

    Barb Walter, The Hennessey Clipper

    Hennessey isn’t what you’d call a quiet town.
    We’re loud at sporting events, we honk our horns a lot, and yell across the streets at friends.
    We’re also loud on the action peddle when we feel our children are being mistreated and hurt.
    We speak out. Loud!
    Our children speak out, too.
    That’s why our last three out of four high school girls basketball coaches are in deep fecal matter right now.
    The third and most recent coach could lose his teaching certification this week, just as the coach before him did. The coach before that pled guilty to two felony counts of second degree rape.  Read More...

  • November 2015 Editorial Winner

    Our heroes

    Wayne Trotter, Countywide & Sun

    Stand up, voters of Pottawatomie County, and take a bow. Now give yourself an encore.
    Bow again. The children will ultimately be the winners from the results of Tuesday’s sales tax referendum, but you are the heroes. You saw the need and you did what you had to do, what you knew was right. And you left no doubt at all. Hooray for you.
    When the smoke began to clear after the polls closed early Tuesday night, your determination became crystal clear. Given the disappointing results from the most recent school bond issues in the county (voters in Macomb and Pleasant Grove turned those down not once but twice), there was plenty of room for doubt about what could have happened Tuesday.  Read More...

  • November 2015 Column Winner

    The power of gratitude can be life-changing

    Haylie Smart, Owasso Reporter

    Being grateful has changed my life.
    This is the season for being grateful, but I learned the true benefits of it a few months ago when I needed it most.
    I was very unhappy with some aspects of my life and one day I was complaining about all of it to my mom. She was busying herself with wiping the kitchen counters when she stopped and looked at me.
    “What if you only had today what you thanked God for yesterday?” she asked.  Read More...

  • October 2015 Column Winner

    Battling the demon allergies

    Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald

    Can I see a show of hands from everyone who’s been suffering from allergies?
    Wow. That’s even more than I expected.
    I share your pain.
    Last week I thought I had picked up a new disease genetically engineered by terrorists. Off to the doc I went, only to find that it was just allergies, and I use 'just' in the same way that one might refer to Krakatoa as just a volcanic eruption.  Read More...

  • October 2015 Editorial Winner

    Are we biased? You bet!

    Faith Wylie, Oologah Lake Leader

    The Newseum Institute™’s latest State of the First Amendment national survey, published on July 4, showed that 70% of respondents disagreed with the statement that “overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias.”
    Is the Oologah Lake Leader biased?
    Of course, and that’s what you expect of us.
    We’re biased in favor of our community. We’re advocates for the students, adults and senior citizens who live in Oologah, Talala and northwest Rogers County.  Read More...

  • September 2015 Column Winner

    Sometimes changes are for the best

    Tracie Macy, The Hennessey Clipper

    I remember sitting on the porch steps waiting on my husband, James, to come home.
    I had news to tell him.
    News that would change our lives forever.
    I had just taken a pregnancy test, and the results were positive.  Read More...

  • September 2015 Editorial Winner

    On school class sizes

    Ed J. Lebeau III, Drumright Gusher

    There was big news in Tulsa last week as parents at Elliot Elementary School were able to use the internet to raise enough money to pay the salary of a teacher who was to be moved to another school. It seems there were only 55 students in that grade level, not enough to warrant three teachers.
    This comes at a time when we struggle to understand the problems associated with our failing school systems. To say that they are not failing is to be in denial. They are failing.  Read More...

  • August 2015 Column Winner

    Big fish, small pond

    Suzy Thurman Oberholtz, Drumright Gusher

    I have often had to report on stories I did not want to cover, from something as horrible as sudden deaths of people I know due to car accidents or illness, to political game playing. Trust me; it goes on in small towns just as much or maybe more than in the big city.
    Actually politics doesn’t have to involve actual politicians or party lines. Sadly people play politics in the office, schools, even churches every single day. And those types of political maneuvers hit closer to home, and on a very personal level.  Read More...

  • August 2015 Editorial Winner

    And the president will be...

    Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald

    You’d think a nation of 350 million people could come up with better candidates for president.
    Among the hopefuls for 2016 are a Clinton, a Bush and a millionaire running as an iconic outsider. Sounds very much like 1992, when Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot were the candidates. This time around, it’s Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, who at least has the most interesting political hair since Abraham Lincoln.  Read More...

  • July 2015 Editorial Winner

    Public safety has to come first

    Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald

    It is becoming increasingly clear that we must choose soon between safety and cheaper energy.
    Last week, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission expanded its "areas of interest" for Class II injection wells and is requiring the companies owning those wells to demonstrate within a month that they are not injecting wastewater into the bedrock of the earth's surface, which is the Arbuckle layer in Oklahoma.  Read More...

  • July 2015 Column Winner

    Consider the lilies of the field

    Faith Wylie, Oologah Lake Leader

    White lilies bloomed in the office garden this week.
    All the rain made the Asiatic lily plant grow. And grow. The more rain beat down the stems, the more they grew.
    Two gangly stems drooped to the dirt and weeds. Another was tangled in the bush behind it.
    On Friday, I took pity on the poor plant. The overeager bush behind was brought back to size. A metal stake provided support, while awkward loops of newspaper twine lifted the flower stalks into the sun.  Read More...

  • June 2015 Column Winner

    Progress toward digitized newspapers is bittersweet

    Maria Laubach, The Hennessey Clipper

    A state press convention this month left me with a bittersweet taste.
    I enjoy conferences and other professional development events but I was overwhelmed by the success stories with the digital news media. It may be because I’m in my mid-thirties and outdated, but I can’t let go of a feeling that if digital information completely replaces print, we will be out of touch, more disconnected from the real world than we’ve ever been. The age of social media and digital news forced us to worship the false god. But unlike a stone idol we can’t touch it. The digital world connects with us through the sterile, invisible and unreal web and can be blocked, ignored or tricked. You don’t have to look into the eye of your listener, smell them or hear their responses when processing information.  Read More...

  • June 2015 Editorial Winner

    Flip a coin?

    Wayne Trotter, The Countywide & Sun

    It ought to be apparent to most people bynow that the impasse at Shawnee City Hall over selecting a new commissioner to represent Ward 1 is unlikely to be settled by the people who currently sit on that city’s governing body.
    This issue has come up for a vote seven times over three meetings and despite a strong field of applicants, not once has the magic goal of four votes been reached. Alas, most of the attempts have ended in a 3-3 tie.
    To make things a little worse, both sides are now resorting to hyperbole ... no, make that balderdash. On the one hand, there is a consistent suggestion that an appointment is somehow preferable to an election, mostly because an election would cost money, perhaps as much as $12,000. That’s probably true but so what?  Read More...

  • May 2015 Editorial Winner

    Handling teen miscreants

    John Wylie II, Oologah Lake Leader

    When felony charges were filed Friday against two ex-Oologah High School students involving massive vandalism at the school, our Facebook page drew almost 7, 700 readers and dozens of comments.
    It produced a vigorous but civil debate over how to handle two teens who, at ages 18 and 19, are being treated as adults by the criminal justice system, and the more general question of how those accused of adult crimes at that age should be handled.  Read More...

  • May 2015 Column Winner

    What would you tell your younger self?

    Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle

    If you could, what would you say to your younger self?
    The professional networking site Linkedin.com recently asked their users just that, in regards to both work and life.
    Among their responses were: Being qualified is good, but it doesn’t entitle you to success; none of us are as clever as all of us; and, body language speaks volumes.  Read More...

  • April 2015 Editorial Winner

    A good thing

    Wayne Trotter, Countywide & Sun

    The agreement between the Pottawatomie County Enhanced 9-1-1 Trust Authority and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation on dispatching service is positive for the county, the tribe, agencies currently served by the trust and a majority of county residents. To the extent that Pottawatomie County will still have two taxpayer-funded organizations doing essentially the same job on similar expensive equipment, it is not so positive.
    But as good public servants often have to remind themselves, you can’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. In this case, the perfect would have been merging the 9-1-1 centers in Shawnee and Tecumseh. But talks between the county trust and Shawnee had been going on for years and some of the issues — especially the question of control — were almost as old as the county itself. It was becoming apparent that those talks were on a slow track to nowhere.  Read More...

  • April 2015 Column Winner

    Witnessing the Savagery of Evil

    Jim Powell, Yukon Review

    At 9 a.m. the morning of April 19, 1995, I was leaning over my light table in the pre-press department on the ground floor of the Journal Record Building at the corner of 6th
    Street and Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City. I had worked in the production department of the company 15 years and that day was just like any other until 9:02, when all hell broke loose.
    Something hit me on the shoulder and I looked up to see pieces of ceiling tile mixed with dust cascading down from above. My gut instinct told m e something was very wrong and I immediately bolted toward our fire escape route.  Read More...

  • 2014 Sweepstakes 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.  Read More...

  • 2014 Sweepstakes 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.  Read More...

  • March 2015 Editorial Winner

    Welcome to a journalist's world

    Barb Walter, The Hennessey Clipper

    The Hennessey Board of Education wants a copy of an Okla. State Bureau of Investigation report about alleged sexual conduct of a male coach with a female student athlete that was reported to police then turned over to the OSBI Dec. 22.
    Three months ago.
    Welcome to the world of journalists and the waiting game.
    The OSBI handed over its findings to the district attorney Jan. 27.
    DA Mike Fields issued a news release March 6 that “there is not sufficient evidence to file criminal charges related to these matters.”  Read More...

  • March 2015 Column Winner

    Bubbles, soap and a close election

    James Beaty, McAlester News-Capital

    The question I’ve pondered following the failure of McAlester Public School’s Proposition 1 bond issue is not about how or why the measure lost by a single vote.
    Instead, I’m thinking of a different question: how many bubbles are in a bar of soap?
    By now, word of the McAlester Public School’s loss of Proposition 1 by a single vote has spread far beyond the city’s neighborhoods and reverberated across the state.
    Proponents of the proposition are no doubt gnashing their teeth at how close they came to winning, while those opposed are likely giving a thought or two to how they nearly lost.  Read More...

  • February 2015 Column Winner

    The view from here

    Brian Blansett, Countywide & Sun

    Dear Diary,
    It’s Tuesday morning and Winter and I are having an ugly breakup.
    Warm and affectionate one day, cold as crushed ice the next … I just don’t know how much longer I can take her teasing and mood swings.
    Take last week. Out of nowhere, Winter shows up at my house with – you’re not going to believe this – 79 degrees. Seventy-nine degrees. Where did she get that? Know what I mean?
    I’m thinking: This is really thoughtful. Maybe those talks we had are paying off, so let’s take a deep breath and see where things go. We’re in a good spot right now; maybe we can make this thing work out.  Read More...

  • February 2015 Editorial Winner

    A wrinkle in time

    Wayne Trotter, Countywide & Sun

    We were just as surprised as everyone else when John A. “Rocky” Barrett, the longtime chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, showed up at a joint meeting of the Pottawatomie County Commissioners and the county’s E9-1-1 Trust Board this week with a new proposal on how to provide people who live in the county but outside the Shawnee city limits emergency 9-1-1 service.
    Interesting. Perhaps even more than that.  Read More...

  • January 2015 Column Winner

    A look ahead to 2015: In one year and out the other

    Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle

    Somewhere, at this very moment, sits a person no one has ever heard of.
    It may be a man, woman or child. This person could live in this country or anywhere in the world, in the heart of a large city or in the middle of nowhere.
    By this time next year, this person’s name will be known all over the world.
    They may be known for doing something wonderful, or terrible. They may find a cure for some terrible disease, release a song that sticks in everyone’s minds, perform some unbelievable athletic feat, start a new business that takes the world by storm. Or they might murder multiple people, get caught stealing copious amounts of cash, blow up some well-known landlord or rise to prominence in one of the world’s myriad terrorist organizations.  Read More...

  • January 2015 Editorial Winner

    Barresi’s A is for arrogance

    Ted Streuli, The Journal Record

    What’s lawful and what’s right are not always the same.
    That truth was apparent Monday when the Tulsa World reported that outgoing Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi made 11th-hour personnel changes. Newly sworn schools chief Joy Hofmeister will have to live with those, and Oklahoma taxpayers will have to live with the $653,000 added to the state’s payroll. Barresi hired five and promoted three in her last week on the job.
    Barresi’s attitude was laid bare in the opening few words of her written response to the World, which began, “It is my right as superintendent of public instruction...” But having the right doesn’t make it right.  Read More...

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