Gilroy Dispatch, Billing error or embezzlement?

First Place, Best Investigative Reporting, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2011

Gilroy Unified School Board trustee Francisco Dominguez, who owns his own consulting firm, says he has resolved a billing dispute with a leading social service organization in South County, but the agency’s former treasurer, longtime Gilroy accountant John Blaettler, says it’s a case of “systematic” embezzlement. Click here to read more.

Gilroy Dispatch, Sensational sonics

Second Place, Best Feature Story, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2011

It’s been 36 years since KFAT vanished into thin air. Yet utter these two syllables and locals who spent their youthful heydays in the Bay Area will tilt their heads in thought, squint their eyes as they tap into the good vibrations of a fading libertine subculture, then grin at the memory of a radio station with rockabilly roots and anti-establishment moxie that still resonates with the listeners who relished its airwaves. Click here to read more.

Gilroy Dispatch, Coe-lition to save the park

Blue Ribbon Finalist, Best Coverage of Environment, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2011

After 70 state parks were threatened with unprecedented mass closure in 2012, the fate of 87,00 acres of majestic South County backcountry is in the hands of advocates who said, “Enough. Let’s do something.” Click here to read more.


Gilroy Dispatch, Amazing Andrew

Second Place, Coverage of Education, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2012

Holding out his ring finger with the mechanical nonchalance of someone who gets pricked by a needle five times a day, Andrew Cabatingan’s eyes widen at the momentary nip of pain. It’s 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, which means it’s time for the diabetic Christopher High School senior to stop sifting through possible essay topics on carbon capture technologies or high volume water fracking. Andrew’s teaching aid, Ray Miranda, needs to check Andrew’s insulin levels.

“I’ve been taking your blood so many times, you should consider me a vampire, man,” jokes Miranda, leaning forward in his chair and fiddling with Andrew’s insulin pump.

The 44-year-old para-educator is Andrew’s constant companion during school hours, save for the daily half-hour breaks Miranda takes from 10:30 to 11 a.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Or, as Andrew puts it, “he ditches.”

Irish Restaraunt

Second Place, Coverage of business, financial or economic news, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2012

As a certain anonymous adage goes, “there are only two kinds of people in the world: The Irish, and those who wish they were.”

Wherever the origins of that axiom hail, it panders to the reverence Americans hold for a certain holiday in March – the one that involves copious consumption of corned beef and cabbage, inordinate imbibing of Guinness beer and throngs of merrymakers stumbling about in green T-shirts that read, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”

Gunnery Sgt. Ralph Earl "EJ" Pate Jr.Gilroy DispatchA letter to remember

Blue Ribbon Finalist, Best Writing, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2012

Dust settled everywhere as Company Commander Greg Wrubluski rose from the ground, sprinted toward a gaping dirt crater and screamed the name of his comrade. The force of a crude bomb had torn through a rock wall in a post-9/11 war zone of the southwest province of Helmand, Afghanistan, flooring Wrubluski and instantly killing his 29-year-old comrade, Gunnery Sgt. Ralph Earl “EJ” Pate Jr. As team leader of the 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company with the United States Marine Corps, Pate and his 12-man squad were disarming improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by terrorists.

“He leaned over the wall and said, ‘hey, I got a secondary,'” said Wrubluski, recalling the fateful moment June 26, 2011 when Pate – a married father of two – discovered an additional IED hidden behind a waist-high wall. As soon as Pate leaned down, the device went off.

Blue Ribbon Finalist, Best Feature Story, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2012

Perhaps you’ve witnessed it zipping around town – the psychedelic hubcaps; the groovy flash of chartreuse green, sky blue and tangelo orange; a driver who resembles a certain animated brainiac named Velma Dinkley. Did someone hijack an elaborate prop from a Hollywood movie set?

Is it a phantasm from a hallowed cartoon of flower power yore? Are eccentric ghost hunters hot on the trail for the elusive specter of late cattle baron Henry Miller’s daughter, Sarah, who allegedly haunts Mount Madonna? Wonder no more. The mystery of the Mystery Machine has been solved. Zoinks!

4efb3dd8a56ab.imageGilroy Dispatch, Pooling good energy for future of Hot Springs

Blue Ribbon Finalist, Coverage of Environment, CNPA Better Newspapers Contest 2012

The Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs lies out of sight amid steep, earthy embankments and lush wilderness hillsides, but plans are afoot for this ghostly shell of an aging 18th century jewel tucked away off Roop Road in the mountainous sanctuary of Henry W. Coe State Park, roughly 17 miles southeast of downtown Morgan Hill. “We have some wonderful new energy behind a lot of good things happening,” said Laura Dominguez-Yon, whose family resided at the Gilroy Hot Springs resort from 1945 to 1955.


The Whitworthian, awarded “Wittiest Writer” and “Most Entertaining Writer” junior and senior years.

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