Niagara Gazette —
Overall, his work is appreciated and his honor is well deserved.
In the photography category, our longtime staff photographer Jim Neiss earned first place accolades as well.
His award, unfortunately, resulted from his on-the-spot coverage of a tragedy.
It was a chilly afternoon in February when a man walking with his dogs in Hyde Park attempted to coral one of his dogs who had wandered onto the ice-covered Hyde Park Lake. The ice didn't hold and the man fell in.
Jim happened to be just around the corner when he heard the rescue call come over the police scanner.
He arrived on the scene as a group of Niagara Falls firefighters — led by Battalion Chief Dan Boland and fire Capt. Jason Zona — were attempting to pull the victim, 70-year-old Pascal Scrufari, to safety.
As is the case with any outstanding photo, Jim's front-page shot captured the full range of emotions surrounding the dramatic scene.
To be clear: In acknowledging Jim's accomplishment we in no way mean to diminish the loss of Scrufari's life or its impact on his family.
Jim had no idea of knowing as he took the pictures whether or not the rescue effort would be successful.
He did what he's paid to do: Capture the event as it unfolded.
In this case, he was acknowledged by his peers in the state for doing so in a memorable way.
With mugs of Rick Pfeiffer and James Niess - no explainers
Mark Scheer is the city editor at the Niagara Gazette. Contact him at 282-2311, ext. 2250.