NATICK, Mass. — The Forecaster was one of six weekly newspapers in the region honored with a Publick Occurrences award for Outstanding Journalism by the New England Newspaper & Press Association at its annual fall conference on Oct. 21.

The Forecaster’s award was for coverage of Oxford Aviation’s ultimately failed attempt to establish an aircraft refurbishing business at Brunswick Naval Air Station.

In a series of stories published from September 2009 through February 2010, staff writer Steve Mistler examined the company’s past performance, its political connections and the failure of Brunswick base redevelopment officials to thoroughly investigate the company’s background and qualifications.

Mistler is now the Statehouse reporter for the daily Sun Journal of Lewiston. Both papers are owned by Sun Media Group.

“Steve’s work was highly deserving of this award,” Mo Mehlsak, editor of The Forecaster, said. “His tenacious reporting, unmatched by any other news organization in Maine, provided vital information that too often is buried by back-room deal-makers and rarely, if ever, revealed to the public until it’s too late. He raised so many questions about the company and its proposal for BNAS that base redevelopers repeatedly delayed voting on the project and Oxford eventually withdrew its plan.”

The Forecaster previously received a Publick Occurrences award in 2008 for coverage of South Portland city government by staff writer Randy Billings.

NENPA presented Publick Occurrences awards to 14 daily and weekly newspapers this year. The award is named for Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first multi-page newspaper published in the Americas. The paper was printed by Richard Pierce and published by Benjamin Harris in Boston, and shut down by the government after one edition in 1690.

The Portland Phoenix received a Publick Occurrences award for its series on Maine prisons. Other weekly recipients were Providence (R.I.) Business News; South County Independent of Wakefield, R.I.; The Register of Yarmouth Port, Mass., and Vineyard Gazette of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Daily recipients were The Advocate of Stamford, Conn.; Greenwich (Conn.) Time; The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass.; The Salem (Mass.) News; The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press; Valley News of White River Junction, Vt.; The Day of New London, Conn., and Connecticut Post of Bridgeport, Conn.

NENPA also presented its annual Newspaper of the Year awards. The Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor received the award for weekly newspapers with circulation less than 5,000.

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Steve Mistler

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