Laurel Plaza mug

Laurel Plaza staff are hoping to create partnerships to secure additional streams of revenue. As of right now, federal funding is its only source.

The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors handed out its biggest awards Friday afternoon and the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung collected three first place Star Awards — including a repeat for photographer Mikala Compton.

Compton, who had already collected two first-place awards in photojournalism and photo gallery on Wednesday, was named the Class A Star Photojournalist of the Year. It was Compton’s second straight win, after earning the honor last year.

“I told her last year that we had a reputation to uphold because former photographer Laura McKenzie won it twice in a row,” executive editor Chris Lykins said. “She kept up her end of the bargain.”

The newspaper’s coverage of the housing situation at Laurel Plaza was named the Class A Star Investigative Report of the Year. The coverage also collected second place in the community service competition on Wednesday.

The reporting was spurred by residents of the complex, primarily low-income or handicapped, who reached out to the newspaper saying there were rats in the walls, the stench of death in the air and a culture of fear. Under new management, follow-up stories have found improved living conditions and a better life for those who call Laurel Plaza home.

Former reporter Dalondo Moultrie, now assistant managing editor at the Seguin Gazette; former reporter Lindsey Carnett, now tech writer for San Antonio’s Rivard Report, Lykins and Compton contributed to the entry.

“From the very first story, we knew the Laurel Plaza coverage was the type of journalism that mattered — and that our community valued,” Lykins said. “We’re pleased that judges saw the same thing.”

Lykins was also honored as the Class A Star Opinion Writer of the Year for his editorials and columns.

“We were so pleased to welcome Chris back to the Herald-Zeitung in 2019, and it has made a tremendous difference in how the community views the newspaper,” Publisher Neice Bell said. “That’s true throughout the newspaper, but it’s particularly true on our opinion page.”

The newspaper also placed third in Star Breaking Report of the Year for its coverage of the Wurstfest Fire. The Seguin Gazette’s coverage of the dam failure at Lake Dunlap took top honors.

Carnett won second place in the Star Reporter of the Year competition and Moultrie received an honorable mention for his work at the Gazette.

The Herald-Zeitung also got an honorable mention for Newspaper of the Year.

On Wednesday, the paper collected second place as online newspaper of the year, second in community service, second in team effort and third place in online live coverage.

New Braunfels Monthly editor Lauren Corbell, who also serves as second in command of the Herald-Zeitung newsroom, took home third place in short features and second place in headline writing.

Compton won honorable mention in news photography, second in feature photography, first, second and third in photojournalism and first and third in photo gallery.

Lykins also won first place in headline writing.

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