Winners were announced Friday for the Second Quarter Essence Awards for Gannett Central New York Media, which includes the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, the Star-Gazette in Elmira and The Ithaca Journal.

Winners were honored during a staff ceremony. Awards were given in four categories: Inspire, Innovate, Leadership and Unsung Hero.

“It shows that individuals can really stand out by going above their normal everyday jobs, whether it is being innovative in video, making sure the paper gets out, or award-winning journalism,” said Robb Scott, regional advertising director of Gannett CNY Media.

Winners, who were nominated by their peers, will receive a monetary award.

Here are the award winners:

•Inspire: Katie Sullivan, Press & Sun-Bulletin reporter. Sullivan joined the reporting staff of the Press & Sun-Bulletin after working in the obituary department and displaying a talent for writing. Her recent feature article on the owner of Animal Adventure, his wife and their infant daughter, who has faced numerous health challenges, was honored by the USA TODAY Network as a first-place winner for writing in the organization’s quarterly journalism awards. “Katie’s strong writing and reporting helped touch the community in a way that has been nearly unprecedented,” according to her nomination.

•Innovate: Kelly Gampel, Star-Gazette photographer/reporter. Gampel produced a video of police mug shots of suspects who were charged following a meth lab raid in Schuyler County, a suggestion she made after being asked to produce a photo gallery. “It was a better idea and a great idea, and it resonated with readers,” the nomination states.


•Leadership: Charles Bilbrey, Central New York Media maintenance supervisor. Bilbrey searched for a new compressor after one failed in April — without it, papers cannot be printed or inserted. “Charlie had to be nimble, forceful and creative to put this project together and be sure we had a backup to a vital piece of equipment,” his nomination states.

•Unsung Hero: Rita Castillo, Central New York Media distribution services assistant. A longtime employee, Castillo trains staff members and helps customers feel heard. “Most of the customers that come into our office are disgruntled and are very frustrated for one reason or another. Rita steps up to the plate with a wonderful patient and professional demeanor and not only fully resolves the issue completely but the customers leave our office feeling listened to and fully cared about,” the nomination states.

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