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Village News wins nine more awards


Last updated 7/9/2007 at Noon

Nine stories and photographs published in the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News in 2006 won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) San Diego region at the organization’s annual awards dinner, held June 28 at the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island in San Diego.

“It is a real honor for us to be recognized in this way,” said Village News Publisher Julie Reeder. “It is not only a real tribute to our staff but confirmation that we continue to do our best in covering local issues and events in a worthy fashion.”

First place awards were taken in three different story categories: Non-Deadline News, Sports and Arts and Entertainment.

The top award for Non-Deadline News for a non-daily newspaper was won by Lisa Harpole for “Rainbow water employees reject ‘last, best offer,’” published September 21, 2006, on the front page of the Village News.

Harpole’s story detailed an impasse in the bargaining process between Rainbow Municipal Water District and the two unions that comprise their workforce. The article includes discussion questioning of district expenditures and recruitment of new employees. Harpole’s ability to gain insight from the parties involved, thereby punctuating the story with their emotion, made it a compelling read.

Joe Naiman took first place in the Non-Daily Sports story category for “Pensayres brothers to compete in Race Across America” (6/1/06). In the award-winning story, Naiman gave readers insight into the bicycle adventure upon which two Fallbrook brothers were embarking from Bonsall to Atlantic City. One of the journalism organization’s judges said of the story, “The brothers’ personalities, interspersed with the details about their upcoming ride in Race Across America, really came through.”

Nathalie Taylor claimed first place in the Non-Daily Arts and Entertainment category for her “Rich Minga – Stuntman to the Stars” (12/21/06). Taylor’s colorful story about the Fallbrook business owner/Hollywood stuntman was peppered with impressive movie industry details and anecdotes.

The writer’s lead for the story, highly praised by judges, began, “‘I make a living dying – I get shot, burned, blown up, drowned and smashed by dinosaurs,’ said 45-year-old Rich Minga of Fallbrook, who works as a Hollywood stuntman.”

Notable photography awards were also won by Taylor that evening in the highly competitive combined daily and non-daily photography categories. She collected a respected second place in both Feature Photo and Photo Essay.

Taylor’s winning Feature Photo, entitled “Catalina in the fall” (10/26/06), was published with a travel piece highlighting Catalina Island. The photo is a beautifully shadowed study of a man reading while sitting by the window of an upscale hotel. Her Photo Essay, entitled “Empty boots of fallen heroes” (8/31/06), was heart-wrenching coverage of a memorial service for eight soldiers from Camp Pendleton. The images captured by Taylor included the soldiers’ family members, comrades, boots, helmets, dog tags and more as they were remembered in an emotional tribute.

Sarah Bates was awarded both second place and honorable mention (third place) in the non-daily Education story category for her pieces “Bonsall teachers battle district” and “Multi-age classroom bridges learning.”

In the Bonsall Union School District story (4/13/06), Bates reviews the tension between teachers and the governing board relating to salary and benefits issues. Because teachers said the district didn’t offer competitive pay, Bates included a study of comparable school districts to illustrate the situation.

In her multi-age classroom story (5/11/06), Bates tells the interesting story of a combined class at Fallbrook Street School that contains children in kindergarten through second grade and how the multi-level class benefits them. It discusses the initiative, independence and responsibility that is inherent with the program.

Bates was also presented with honorable mention (third place) in non-daily Investigative/Enterprise story or series (single subject) for her story “Warrior Band tries to regain momentum” (6/22/06) and in the James Julian Memorial Award category for her three-part community service-oriented series entitled “How prepared is Fallbrook for a disaster?” (3/2, 3/9 and 3/16/06).

Bates’ story on the Fallbrook High School Marching Band told of the challenges the program was facing, including declining student enrollment and budget constraints. The writer’s disaster preparedness series discussed the role of various agencies and how they operate when disaster strikes as well as insight into resources and the need for preparedness by individuals, agencies and the community as a whole.

The nine awards garnered for work published in 2006 brings the Village News total journalism award count to 46 since the paper’s inception in 1997.

“As we celebrate the paper’s ten-year anniversary,” Reeder said, “these awards underscore the fact that we continue our commitment to bring quality stories and photographs to the readers of our community newspaper.”

To review these award-winning stories and photographs, please visit


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