2009.02.11 No award for the janitor

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I drove to Grand Rapids Saturday to receive a plaque. I have a few of them and I need to come up with a good display option, such as a large mobile hanging from the front office ceiling.

The Michigan Press Association awards were announced last October, but the plaque-passing takes place at the annual convention in Grand Rapids.

This year I didn’t really even go to the convention. I registered for a day just because it seemed proper and bought the dinner tickets for my wife and myself.

We didn’t leave until Saturday morning and arrived about a half hour before the dinner was scheduled to begin. Let’s just say that I’m not conventional. I don’t enjoy putting on the suit and tie to talk with my fellow publishers from around the state.

The dinner was rather sparsely attended this year. I don’t know if that’s an indication of the financial state of newspapers or if it’s just a change in the format of the convention. Saturday used to be a big day with a lot going on. Now it seems that most everything is scheduled on Friday—a working day for many of us. I had a wrestling tournament and a basketball game to cover Friday night.

Eight Newspaper of the Year awards are presented annually. It started Saturday with the largest of the dailies and it was a shocking opening. Ron Dzwonkowski, a Free Press editor, walked to the stage, got his plaque and stepped to the podium.

What? Nobody ever gives a speech during this process. What is he trying to do? His short talk was something along the lines of “I didn’t have much to do with winning this award. I want to thank my hard-working staff, etc.”

Next in line was the Jackson Citizen Patriot. No speech. Next came the Traverse City Record-Eagle. I don’t recall if anything was said, but then came another shocker. It was time for the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun and there was no one to pick up the award. The best small daily paper in the state and no one showed up to acknowledge it.

On to the weeklies. First was the Southgate News-Herald, with another hard-working staff acknowledgment. Next came the Detroit Jewish News. I don’t recall that they’ve ever won the award before, and oddly enough, no one showed up for that plaque, either.

The next size down was the Gaylord Herald Times. The award was retrieved by the publisher of another member of the chain that owns the Herald Times, so he felt it necessary to thank the staff of the other paper.

Finally, the smallest of the weeklies.

I went up for my award Saturday and gave no comments. I’m old school. No speeches.

But later on, I wished I would have said something. It would have sounded like the other guys: “I’d like to thank the Observer’s hard-working staff, including the news editor, the education editor, the sports writer, the photographer, the guy who addresses the papers on Tuesday nights, the janitor.…” I know I’m not the only member of the Observer staff, but at that point I would have been talking to myself. Somebody in the audience would have understood the joke.

I was back home in time to grab a hammer and chisel and break away the ice dam that had formed on the Observer roof. I was sure I cleaned out the eavestrough at the back last fall, but I was wrong.

Strike the janitor from that speech. No award for him this year.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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