EASLEY — The editorial staff of The Sentinel-Progress was presented with three awards from the South Carolina Press Association at a banquet in Spartanburg on Saturday.
Managing editor Kasie Strickland won first place in the category of Investigative Journalism for her coverage of the Pickens County Recreation Funds in a series of articles starting with “Rec funds use under fire” published in April of 2017.
The articles, sourced heavily from interviews with county officials and documents obtained under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), chronicled allegations of personal gain and the questionable spending practices of recreation funds concerning the then-named Liberty Civic Auditorium.
“This is a perfect example of why good journalism matters,” wrote the judges.
Strickland said although this wasn’t her first time dealing with FOIA, it was certainly the most extensive use of it she had ever employed.
In the months following, the newly elected County Council took extensive steps revamping their recreation fund policies, implementing a board of directors and inserting a series of checks and balances to ensure proper spending and transparency practices in the future.
Strickland also won first place in Humor Columns for “Passover decoded, explained,” “You’re gonna love this law. Not.” and “This was no boating accident!”
Judge’s comments read: “Entertaining from start to finish with a quick wit and a great sense of humor.”
Strickland had placed second and third in previous years in the Humor Columns category but this was her first win.
She also took home second place for Columns for “Oh sister, where art thou,” “What’s in a name?” and “Autism is not a TV punchline.”
“Everyone who works with Kasie knows she’s funny, but now it’s ‘official,’” joked Sentinel-Progress General Manager Christine Wyatt. “But in all seriousness, she’s a great writer and we’re lucky to have her. We’re a small office so we’re more like a family here — we’re all very proud of her and the quality of work she brings to our paper.”
Originally hired in 2008, Strickland returned to the paper in 2014 and has since won 16 South Carolina Press Association Awards including first places in Reporting in Depth, Photo Series, Column Writing (twice) and News Feature Writing. She was awarded Best of the Best for Columns in 2016.
Strickland lives in Easley with her husband, John, and their two sons, Ben and Sam.