The Madison Courier took home three awards Saturday from the annual Hoosier State Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

Staff photographer Ken Ritchie and staff writer Evan Shields won second place for best still photo story with audio or video for their coverage of the March tornado that tore through the southern portion of Jefferson County.

The video, which can be found in the multimedia section of, featured footage during the tornado and during the hours immediately following the storm as officials assessed the damage of the area and residents began cleaning up.

The contest judge said, "Talk about being in the right place at the right time. The video was long but had good firsthand coverage of the tornado. And the interview with the bus driver was great. Great job on the breaking-news coverage."

Shields also won second place for best news coverage without deadline pressure. The story, called "This stuff is killing our kids," focused on the death of Hanover resident Ryan Moreland, who died as a result of an overdose of synthetic drugs. The story gave an in-depth look at synthetic drugs and the problems they pose to our community.

Retired Madison Courier reporter Peggy Vlerebome won second place for best business or economic news coverage. Vlerebome's story was titled "Madison Chemical has developed the formula" and ran in February.

Her story gave a detailed look at the work performed by Madison Chemical, including the sanitizing of items in the food industry and their work with the wastewater treatment plant. About the story the judge said, "Great story. Even though I don't live there I was really interested."

Pat Lanman of Vevay Newspapers was awarded the Charlie Biggs Commitment to Community Award for his involvement in a variety of Switzerland County organizations. Lanman was nominated for the award by community members who gathered letters of support from individuals who know and work with Lanman in his many activities.

The Indianapolis Star won the Blue Ribbon Award for daily papers, and the Corydon Democrat won for weeklies.