Independent staff writer Heather Miller took home the Louisiana Press Association’s first, second and third place honors in investigative reporting at the trade association’s 132nd Annual Convention in Marksville over the weekend. Miller’s “CONVICTed,” a story that examined the federal justice system’s use of questionable and unreliable witnesses against Lafayette businessman Mike Wyatt — in this case accepting the testimony of a local drug kingpin — took top honors. “Busted: Busted In Acadiana,” which led to the arrest of Busted founder Christopher Hebert on one count each of stalking and cyberstalking, won second place, and Miller’s “Need for Speed,” about the speed trap in Washington, La., and how the city illegally kept $200,000 in speeding fines that should have been turned over to the state, was honored with third place.

   Ind staff writer Heather Miller

Miller also won first for her feature story “Come Back, Kid,” which chronicled Lafayette resident Brian Murphy’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury; Ind Managing Editor Walter Pierce won first for his news story “Out of Line,” about Broussard’s $800,000 bill for bypassing an LUS water meter over a five-year period; and Editorial Director Leslie Turk’s ongoing coverage of the Lafayette Housing Authority and low-income housing developments earned first place in continuing coverage of a single news event.

The paper won Best Front Page for its “Persons of the Year” cover about the school system’s Gang of Five; photographer Robin May won two firsts: Best Feature Photo and Best Photo Package for “The Business of Pleasure” and “Fresh Start,” respectively. The paper’s restaurant guide won Best Special Section.

Pierce won second place for Best Regular Column and for Best Feature Story. Turk and Miller placed second and third, respectively, for Best News Story.

In advertising honors, the paper’s A-Z summer guide won first, as did its annual Takin’ Care of Business ad feature. Ads for Coccolare Spa and Johnston Street Java won first place, as did the Acadiana Guitar Campaign; Ind graphic designer Nicole Manafi was the creative talent behind all three. The Ind’s Acadiana Center for the Arts ad by online development specialist Michael Lunsford won first in the online advertising category, animated. Lunsford also placed second in that category for an ad for Blue Moon Saloon. His and artist Francis Pavy’s design for the Acadiana365 calendar placed second in Best Web Project.

Graphic designer Hannah Herpin’s ad for Paul’s Jewelry won second for color ad, and graphic designer Jason Roy’s ad for Clerk of Court Louis Perret won second in the non-retail category.

The Independent competes in the Free Circulation and Special Interest Publication division. In all, the paper took home 30 edit and advertising honors, winning General Excellence for the “Busted” and “Hell to Pay” covers.

The Advocate, The Daily Advertiser, The Courier (Houma), Jennings Daily News, The Livingston Parish News (Denham Springs), the Tri-Parish Times (Houma), The West Side Journal, and the Zachary Plainsman News earned Newspaper of the Year honors in their respective divisions. Newspaper of the Year is not awarded in The Ind’s division.

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