by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

After only four years as Publisher and Owner of your only local paper, The Gazebo Gazette, Hunter Dawkins and his team have done it again, as they’ve been recognized for excellence and awarded by the Mississippi Press Association.

Since becoming the new publisher a little more than 4 years ago; covering west Harrison County, The  Gazebo Gazette went from winning one certificate in 2017 to four plaques and 13 certificates in the 2021 annual Mississippi Press Association convention at the Golden Nugget Casino last weekend.

In total, the small town newspaper has won 11 plaques and earned 22 certificates for Mississippi Press Association awards from 2017 to present.

“Can’t really say that I didn’t think we deserved more,” said The Gazebo Gazette Publisher/Owner Hunter Dawkins.  “However, when you look back to where we began, I’m very happy that we were recognized among the top newspapers in the state of Mississippi with 13 awards in the largest division (of small towns).”

Dawkins relishes in the outstanding work that the staff of the newspaper has accomplished, as seven different people won awards in different subjects.

The 2020 Better Newspaper Contest was judged by volunteers from the Georgia Press Association. Thirty-four newspapers submitted a total of 1,623 entries into this year’s editorial contest.

“We congratulate all the winners in this year’s contest,” said MPA President Kevin Cooper, senior vice president of Boone Newspapers, Inc. “It demonstrates the very hard work they all accomplished in a year that was full of extraordinary challenges for everyone in every community.”

Awards for advertising excellence will be handed out in February during MPA’s Mid-Winter Conference.

Founded in 1866 and now in its 155th year, MPA is the trade association representing Mississippi newspaper media.

The Gazebo Gazette Awards were:

Sports Story (1st Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Coaching Changes for the Bearcats

Sports Feature Story (1st Place) – Hunter Dawkins & Joseph W. Gex II, Pirates Rally Helps Advance to Next Round

Sports Action Photo (1st Place) – Richard Gleber, Tigers Edge Pirates 45-43 in District Game

Feature Photo (1st Place) – Calvin Ishee, Going the Distance

Feature Story (2nd Place) – Joy Thornton, Bosarge Balances the Ball and the Books

Spot News Photo (2nd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Sally Lays Down for Mississippi Gulf Coast

Sports Feature Photo (2nd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Pirates Rally Helps Advance to Next Round

Photo Series (2nd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Fatal House Fire Destruction in Rural Pass Christian

Website (2nd Place) – Hunter Dawkins & Jeny Dowlin

Game Story (3rd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Jaguars Take Advantage of Southern Miss, Hopson Resigns

Commentary Column (3rd Place) – Brian Lamar

Spot News Photo (3rd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Fatal House Fire Destruction in Rural Pass Christian

Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award (3rd Place) – Hunter Dawkins, Chancery Court Rules for Long Beach Developer

The Gazebo Gazette is the only independently owned newspaper on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that focuses primarily on local news.

Whether it be the grand opening of a local business, covering local sports teams or reporting on key political and community events.

If it’s important to you, it’s important to The Gazebo Gazette.

New Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty had nothing but praise for The Gazebo Gazette, “We are very blessed to have a paper as good as The Gazebo Gazette. The quality of the paper is the best I’ve ever seen it! Having local ownership that lives and breathes all things Pass Christian is a blessing to our City. We are very lucky to have such a high quality paper covering  our great City.”

Ward 1 Alderwoman and Art In The Pass Chair Betty Sparkman commented, “I am delighted to hear The Gazebo Gazette has won a number of Mississippi Press Association publishing awards.   As a former journalist, I know the importance, and satisfaction, of peer recognition. The Gazebo Gazette is critical to our town. It is our best resource for news about Pass Christian and the ONLY consistent source on the workings of our city government. Congratulations on these well-deserved awards!.”

Furthermore the Associated Press has used countless photographs taken by The Gazebo Gazette Team. In fact some of the photos have been used in publications across the world.

Additionally, The Gazebo Gazette has been nominated for several national press awards but those won’t be announced until sometime in the fall.

As Hunter prepares for his fifth year of running The Gazebo Gazette, just remember that he’s working to keep our local paper going just for you, our readers.

Without our local newspaper, there would be nowhere to go to find out what’s happening in Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport and the rest of Harrison County.