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NCPA honors Lightning for news, editorials, website

CHAPEL HILL — The North Carolina Press Association honored the Hendersonville Lightning with six awards in the 2013 News, Editorial & Photojournalism Contest, including first place awards for investigative reporting and for its website,

The weekly newspaper covering Henderson County also won awards for editorial writing, news enterprise and news coverage. Bill Humleker, who writes the weekly "Stuck in the Late Middle" column, won for humorous columns.
The Lightning, which turns two years old on April 24, received the awards during the during the 2014 Winter Institute and Annual Meeting on Thursday in Chapel Hill. The Lightning competed in the weekly newspaper division of newspapers under 3,500 circulation. The awards were:


  • General Excellence for Web Sites, first place,, a 24/7 website that delivers news in Henderson County.
  • Investigative reporting, first place, Bill Moss, "Legal fights imperil restitution promises," a story that brought into question claims by the disbarred attorney Sam Neill that property he had deeded to victims of fraud would actually produce a payment to the victims. "In-depth research was needed for this article that accurately portrayed a man embroiled in a series of legal battles. The pull-outs of the various restitution offers helped break up the article and made the story easy to follow," the judges said.
  • News enterprise reporting, second place, Bill Moss, "County, towns make parks a high priority," a story published in January 2013 that reported on a trend in park acquisition and parks and recreation spending in Henderson County, Flat Rock, Hendersonville, Mills River and Fletcher.
  • Editorials, second place, Bill Moss, "McCrory to farmers: Drop dead," "Solutions hunts for a problem," "Board should heed caution." The editorials were about Gov. Pat McCrory's decision to veto a bill that farmers supported to ease a strict and costly immigration hiring law (a veto that the General Assembly overrode), the Henderson County Regulation Review Committee's that searched in vain for big problems with the county's land-use and building rules, and the county ABC board, which heard from state ABC officials and three city ABC boards that investing $1.5 million in a county-run liquor store would likely be a bust.
  • Lighter columns, second place, Bill Humleker, "Always better to do the easy things right," "Bellowing for the repairman," "Break out the bubbly for Joe-Boy." The columns were about Humleker's advice to a young man at a wedding party to "never ad lib on the grocery list;" waiting for a repairman to fix the "thingummy" in his washing machine; and an appearance by local foreign car repairman Joe Crowell on the Speed Channel's "R U Faster than a Redneck" show.
  • News coverage, third place, Bill Moss, "Building on the Rise," a story published in March 2013 reporting on an increase in commercial and multi-family construction in Henderson County.
  • "We were grateful that the contest judges recognized the breadth and depth of our local news report and our website as well as good writing on our opinion pages," Moss said. "We've said all along that our goal was to bring quality in-depth news coverage to the community, cover lots of things daily and hourly on the website and have fun doing it."

The Lightning also received five awards in the NCPA's 2013 Advertising Contest Awards, including firsts for the 2013 Apple Festival guide, "Harvest of Fun," and "The Darn Cat," an advertisement piece for Toby's Mattress Outlet.
The awards were:

  • Best Special Section, first, advertising director Paula Roberts and design director Denise Ward, Apple Festival guide.
  • Best Use of Humor, first, "The Darn Cat," Paula Roberts and Denise Ward.
  • Best Color Retail Ad, second, "Looking for Adventure, Denise Ward.
  • Best Color Home Furnishings/Appliances Ad, second, "Year End Clearance Sale," Paula Roberts and Denise Ward.
  • Best Color Home Furnishings/Appliances Ad, third, "4th of July Sale," Paula Roberts and Denise Ward.