Bluff Country Newspaper Group won six awards at the Minnesota Newspaper Association convention last week.

The state association holds a Better Newspaper Contest each year with judges from another state choosing the top entries in various categories among state newspapers that compete within circulation classes.

Bluff Country Newspaper Group won one first place, three second place and two third place awards in the contest. The community newspapers in the group are judged in the small weeklies division.

The first place award went to Publisher David Phillips in the category for best columnist.

"A column that stands out from the rest. Nicely written," noted the judges. "The columnist makes a point of writing about news that occurred in the community, elevating the discussion and sometimes giving readers a peak at the story behind the story. Excellent, thoughtful, well done."

The Spring Grove Herald won second place in general reporting. "The Spring Grove Herald offers its readers a good mix of well-reported stories," commented the judges about the award. "The paper does not shy away from hard news and provides a good mix of community news event coverage."

The Spring Grove Herald also won second place for headline writing. "Nice paper overall, and good use of headlines with some stories," commented the judges. "Nice job to covering the basics of this category in your paper."

Heather Gray was managing editor during the time the contest judged newspapers. She is no longer in that position at the Herald, but still does some graphic arts work for the newspaper.

Craig Moorhead, who primarily writes for the Spring Grove Herald, but also writes sports for the Republican-Leader and News-Record and has written stories for the Bluff Country Reader, won two awards for his writing.

He won second place in the category of business story for his article on "private disasters unfolding," which outlined the effects of the spring flood on farmers in Yucatan Valley in Houston County.

"Nice writing, thorough coverage," the judges commented about the story.

He also won third place in the category of sports story for his feature on ice angling on the Mississippi River.

"Very nice feature of high interest to Minnesota readers," said the judges. "Reporter did his homework by obtaining comment from several sources."

Marlene Deschler, who writes for the Spring Grove Herald, won third place for arts and entertainment story, which was about a comedy performance that showed audience the action on stage and backstage.

"The writer is very thorough in her discussion of the play and giving readers plenty of information to understand and to be enticed into attending the local performance," explained the judges. "Clean writing, very consistent."