First place: Kathie Ragsdale, The Concord Journal

About this entry: Kathie Ragsdale’s columns wonderfully celebrate the changing landscape of our country and the people in it without being overly sentimental or trite.

Read online: I never expected to see, After the ADA, the undone work, Lessons from a one-time stranger

Follow The Concord Journal on Twitter @concordjournal

Elegant, observant writing that informs and uplifts without pandering to readers.

Second place: Thomas Boni, Crestview News Bulletin

About this entry: “The Crestview News Bulletin doesn’t shy away from controversial issues on A1 or the Opinion page. In From the Editor’s Desk, I add fair-minded perspective to issues we cover. The column is fact-based, addresses the division and aims to find common ground, which should always be the goal in newspapers serving small communities.” — Thomas Boni

Follow Thomas on Twitter @cnbsrpg_editor

Boni writes in a calm, reasonable voice on hot-button issues — and they are no hotter than in a small town. His columns provide a sense of place and enlighten readers further by explaining how social media impacts public discourse and influences media coverage.

Third place: Kent Bush, The Shawnee News-Star

About this entry: Kent Bush’s columns are a great blend of commentary on American society, his thoughts on local issues and touching personal anecdotes and provide an entertaining and informative read for all types of audiences.

Read online: Don’t abuse your right not to be right, Appointments in Shawnee are always eventful, Some cute cartoon characters should come with warning labels

Follow Kent on Twitter @Kentbush

Written in a clear-headed, folksy style with a good dollop of humanity and common sense. Judge was especially moved by the personal column about going to the movie with his adopted son.