Ledger nets nine AP awards

The Ledger-Enquirer won three first-place awards, including the prestigious Freedom of Information award, in the annual Georgia Associated Press Association’s newspaper competition.

In all, the newspaper netted nine awards in categories ranging from public service to sports photography.The paper won the Freedom of Information award for two investigative series by Chuck Williams and Alan Riquelmy.

Williams' stories dug into the case of former Columbus firefighter Zachary Allen — the son of a Columbus councilor — who resigned in late 2006 after hitting a female motorist while responding to a call in a city vehicle. Williams requested Allen's complete drug test results and discovered the firefighter had tested positive for cocaine. Williams also got a copy of the accident report, which had no mention of the drug test, and a departmental report that stated the test was negative.

Riquelmy's stories revealed Columbus Municipal Court Judge Haywood Turner had been accused in August 2006 of pointing a gun at another driver. The Columbus Police Department's initial reports contained little information and didn't include the judge's name while its supplemental reports had a full narrative by an officer. Police and city officials initially declined to release the supplemental report, though it was ultimately released by the special prosecutor after Riquelmy's requests that it be revealed.

Other first-place winners include Senior Editor Dimon Kendrick-Holmes for his feature story "Santa's Son," and Photographer Robin Trimarchi for a sports feature photo, "Proposes," in which a football player gets down on one knee in the midst of a game.

The group of daily newspapers in Georgia that are members of the news cooperative, which includes the Ledger-Enquirer, honored winners of the 2007 Georgia AP Association photo and news writing contest Saturday at the The Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta. AP member newspaper editors in Illinois judged the Georgia newspapers’ entries in four classes based on circulation.

Other Ledger-Enquirer winners include: