Press wins first place in Ohio for investigative story
Press news staff Kelly J. Kaczala, news editor, J. Patrick Eaken, sports editor, and freelance reporter Melissa Burden won first place in the non-daily investigative category of the Press Club of Cleveland’s Ohio Excellence in Journalism awards at a banquet in June.
The winning entry, “Wollenbecker mum on time sheet `error’ at Sunoco,” investigated an Oregon paramedic, Don Wollenbecker, Jr., who left a second job at Sunoco Refinery on Dec. 26, 2007, three hours before he had signed out so he could start his shift at the Oregon Fire Department.
The article also questioned Wollenbecker’s use of a city owned vehicle to go to Sunoco Refinery, a private sector job that was unrelated to his employment at the Oregon Fire Department.
Wollenbecker was supposed to work 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26. But, The Press learned that Sunoco officials noticed him missing from his job at 2:37 p.m., though a timesheet obtained by The Press showed he had signed out at 5:30 p.m. Wollenbecker had left Sunoco to start his shift as training officer in Oregon from 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
A spokesman for Sunoco said in the article that Wollenbecker had made an “error” on his timesheet and it had been corrected.
Mayor Marge Brown, Administrator Ken Filipiak, and Fire Chief Bill Wilkins insisted in the article that the incident was a personnel matter with Sunoco and had nothing to do with the city.
Filipiak was not concerned that Wollenbecker used a city owned vehicle to go to a second job because, he said in the article, that Wollenbecker is on 24-7 call for the fire department.
The Press Club of Cleveland said this about winning entry:
“Here’s a story that hits the bulls eye. For all the furious attempts of officials to downplay this story, they can’t avoid the one central fact that this story nailed a public official who tried to get paid for moonlighting at the same time he was on the public dime. The tenacity of the reporters in refusing to overlook this basic falsehood is the strength of this story. Great work.”
At the clubs
The Ottawa County Improvement Corporation will host its 15th annual Experience Ottawa County on August 20. The event is billed as the premier marketing tool and showcases the quality of life available to those who relocate or expand a business in the county, according to a news release.
Jamie Beier Grant, director, is asking businesses in the county to submit leads of their customers or suppliers who may want to relocate or expand in the county or help sponsor the event. Call 1-866-734-6789 for more information.
The Oregon Economic Development Foundation will meet Friday, 7:15 am at Bay Park Community Hospital. Call 419-693-9999.