The Blade won nine awards yesterday from the Associated Press Society of Ohio, including two first-place prizes and a second-place award for General Excellence among Ohio newspapers over 100,000 in circulation.
Blade investigative reporter Sam Roe won the top prize in investigative reporting for his six-part series on beryllium, titled "Deadly Alliance."
"This series is a model of investigative reporting," judges said.
Published in March and April, 1999, the series exposed how government and industry officials repeatedly put production of the strategic metal ahead of worker safety. The series, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, sparked major safety reforms, numerous lawsuits, and two congressional investigations.
Federal lawmakers have also referred to the series in an attempt to push through legislation to compensate victims of beryllium disease, an often-fatal lung illness caused by the metal's toxic dust. At least 75 current or former workers at Brush Wellman's Elmore plant, where beryllium is processed, have contracted the disease.
Mr. Roe joined The Blade in 1986.
Blade general assignment reporter George Tanber won the top prize in the lifestyles category for his eight-part series: "Life along the Mississippi."
Mr. Tanber trekked from the river's headwaters in Minnesota to its end in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way he filed articles from various points of the 2,552-mile journey filled with stories on the evolution of the river, the towns beside it, and the people who've relied on it.
The series was published in July and August, 1999. Mr. Tanber joined The Blade in 1996.
Editors from the Providence Journal in Rhode Island who judged the large newspaper categories called The Blade "an impressive daily newspaper."
"Local stories, long and short, show a thoroughness of reporting that is slipping away at newspapers elsewhere. It is very clear that the reporting staff works very hard at The Blade and that the assigning editors in all sections of the paper are strong managers. Beyond that, the reporting is impressive in its thoroughness and the writing is impressive in its clarity," wrote the Journal's editors.
Dayton Daily News placed first, the Columbus Dispatch was third, and the Plain Dealer of Cleveland received an honorable mention in General Excellence, competing with The Blade among six newspapers in the category.
Blade science writer Jenni Laidman won a second-place award in enterprise reporting for her three-part series "Sindiswa's story: The short, sad life of a very small great ape."
Ms. Laidman's series chronicled the yearlong struggle by the Toledo Zoo to save the life of a baby gorilla and examined the ethical question of how much a single animal's life is worth.
Ms. Laidman joined The Blade in 1998.
Blade editorial writers Marilou Johanek and Rose Russell Stewart won second-place honors for editorial writing. Ms. Johanek joined The Blade in 1998, and Ms. Stewart joined The Blade in 1974.
Reporters Dee Drummond and Michael Sallah won third-place honors in the category of breaking news for their coverage of the scandal at Hillsdale College last fall.
The pair helped uncover how Lissa Roche, the daughter-in-law of former Hillsdale College President George Roche III, killed herself just hours after publicly confronting Dr. Roche about an affair the two allegedly had for nearly 20 years.
Dr. Roche has denied the affair, but he retired in November after the board placed him on a leave of absence.
Ms. Drummond joined The Blade in 1998. Mr. Sallah joined The Blade in 1989.
Blade state desk reporter Kelly Lecker won a third-place prize in the community service category for her series "Mega farms: Is there room for them?"
The series, which ran in November, 1999, examined the trend in agriculture to set up larger farms, and the impact on small farmers. She pored through thousands of records about farming operations and attended heated town hall meetings, where many of the battles are played out.
Ms. Lecker joined The Blade in 1996.
Columnist Roberta de Boer won third-place honors for a collection of her columns. She joined The Blade in 1985.
Nara Schoenberg and Tahree Lane won third-place in lifestyles category for their story "Meet the American teenager, a field guide."
The stories helped to define who today's teenagers are: how they work and play and what they expect from the future. Ms. Schoenberg joined The Blade in 1990, Ms. Lane in 1984.
In addition, Blade Executive Editor Ron Royhab was installed as president of the organization at the annual meeting and awards luncheon, held yesterday in Columbus.
The state Associated Press Society is an organization of newspapers that belong to the Associated Press, a cooperative news-gathering organization.