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The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting was recognized Aug. 17 by George Smith, a columnist for the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, for its contributions to journalism in the state.

Smith, while acknowledging his own initial skepticism at the Center’s chances for survival when it launched in 2009, used his column to praise the success that Center reporters have had in writing more than 230 in-depth, nonpartisan stories about topics and issues that might have otherwise gone unscrutinized. He cited in particular Dave Sherwood’s recent series on the Maine Lottery and Naomi Schalit’s story package about the state’s problem with lead poisoning as examples of the high-quality investigative journalism that the Center has created and delivered for no charge to subscribers and media outlets over the past six years.

Founded by veteran journalists John Christie, a former publisher of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, and Schalit, the Center operates as a nonprofit, non-partisan investigative news service, with a focus on state government and institutions.

“From health to energy, the environment to veterans’ issues to ethics to public safety and politics, the breadth of their reporting is impressive,” Smith wrote. “We are very lucky to have these folks working here in Maine.”

Smith’s column is available on the website of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.