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Town & Country News recognized for excellence

September 28, 2023

By: Rebecca Dika, Publisher

Your own community weekly earned some hardware recognizing our content last Friday. 

Town & Country News reporters Jesse Boily and Austin Payeur won awards at the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association’s (AWNA) Better Newspapers Competition (BNC) Awards of Excellence as well as photography honours.

Photojournalist Jesse Boily's winning Spot News photo at the AWNA awards. Chad Marthaller took action when he realized that smoke was coming from the road and found a car on fire near TWP 734 and Rge RD 32 near Bezanson, Alta. on Thursday, July 28, 2022. A fire crew from Bezanson responded to the fire but much of the flames were gone due to a neighbour bring a water truck and Marthaller spraying the car with water. Local residents said the car had been sitting on the highway with yellow tape on the doors for the past couple of days. . (Photo by Jesse Boily)

Boily’s photo Smoker fights fire earned first place in the Spot News category. Boily captured the image on July 28, 2022. After hearing a loud bang and seeing smoke, Boily tracked it down near Bezanson and when he arrived at the scene many locals had already gathered around a car fire. The fire department was on its way but with a water truck nearby, Chad Marthaller took action and got to work. 

Inti Burnham, 13, stops for a photo outside his school, Roy Bickel Public School, in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Burnham stood up to his teachers saying he no longer wanted to learn the French language but rather he wanted to learn his own Cree language. He influenced his last school to offer a Cree language course and is hoping his new school will do the same. (Photo by Jesse Boily)

Payeur’s story Cree offered in the Peace Wapiti School Division (published October 20, 2022) was recognized with a first-place award for Education Writing. The story detailed a Peace Wapiti Public School Division student who advocated for his right to learn Cree in the classroom which resulted in the division offering Cree as a course. Photography for the piece was done by Boily.

Rex Coupland, a retired veterinarian, has been looking after an injured snowy owl who has a broken wing in the County of Grande Prairie, Alta. on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. The owl which is unable to fly due to its injury will most likely not be able to return the wild as it will not be able to hunt. (Photo by Jesse Boily)

Payeur’s centre page feature on Rex Coupland entitled The flight doctor (published Feb. 3, 2022) captured a second place award for Best Feature Column. Coupland is a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator who gives wild birds a place to recover from injuries just outside of Wembley.

Elaine Mills, owner and operator of Elaine's Unique Plants and Designs, stops for a photo in her shop in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. Mills has faced many incidents of people entering her shop and threatening her. Her Partner Marc Tyler has gone to city council, saying more needs to be done for downtown businesses and their patrons. (Photo by Jesse Boily)

Meanwhile, Boily ’s piece Downtown biz owners face multiple abuses snagged third place for Best Local News Story for 2023. The story outlined many challenges faced by business owners in downtown Grande Prairie, and was published Aug. 18, 2022.

The AWNA is a trade association with more than 85 member newspapers throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories. They boast a combined verified circulation of over 450,000.

The annual general meeting and convention honours member newspapers achieving excellence in content. This year marked the 103rd iteration of the convention, and it was hosted at the Chateau Lacombe on Sept. 22. 

The AWNA was founded  in 1920, with a mandate to provide a cohesive link for industry members.