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RN-T's Doug Walker, Severo Avila and Jeremy Stewart win state awards

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JEKYLL ISLAND —The Georgia Press Associations Better Newspaper Contest yielded four awards for Rome News-Tribune staffers this year. The awards were announced Friday evening in Jekyll Island.

Rome News-Tribune’s Associate Editor Doug Walker was awarded first place in business writing for Division B, which is for daily papers with a circulation between 8,000 and 24,999.

Other Rome News-Tribune awards include:

Severo Avila, Rome Life Magazine editor and Rome News-Tribune features editor, won second place for lifestyle coverage.

Jeremy Stewart, sports editor, won third place for sports feature photo.

Avila brought in a third place award for humorous column.

The Valdosta Daily Times won the Freedom of Information Award for doing the most in 2016 to protect the public’s right to know with its coverage of a hospital authority’s alleged violations of state open meetings laws.

“The Daily Times was honored specifically for its work getting its local hospital authority to comply with Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, even in the face of the hospital pulling its advertising and canceling subscriptions for its patients — a financial loss of more than $80,000 in a year,” the press association said in a statement.

Georgia’s attorney general fined the hospital authority and ordered board members to undergo open government training.

There were 559 awards presented in 37 categories to 73 newspapers.