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KVUE's Tony Plohetski, Brian Bell win first-place National Headliner Award for 'Left in the Dust' series

The three-part KVUE series dug into the Texas Hill Country’s booming rock-mining industry and found in many cases growth is outpacing state regulation.

AUSTIN, Texas — KVUE is proud to announce Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski and Chief Photographer Brian Bell have won a National Headliner Award, taking first place in the environmental category for their “Left in the Dust” series.

The three-part KVUE series dug into the Texas Hill Country’s booming rock-mining industry and found, in many cases, growth is outpacing state regulation.

The six-month Defenders investigation looked at how the industry is changing the cherished landscape, how communities are fighting back and what lawmakers could do to help.

For six months, the KVUE Defenders – in partnership with the Austin American-Statesman and as part of the Boomtown 2040 series – investigated the industry and hosted a town hall that drew a huge response from the community.

The Texas Legislature has appointed a special committee to address issues KVUE’s reporting raised.


Left in the Dust: Digging into the Texas Hill Country's growing rock mining industry

Left in the Dust: Will Texas put more rock mining oversight in place?

Left in the Dust: Communities push for more rock mining regulation

Left in the Dust: Texas Hill Country transforming from once-pristine cattle ranches into industrial zones

Judges for the National Headliner Awards called the series “a well-balanced, thorough investigative report.”

“The reporters do a wonderful job of presenting both sides of the argument, exploring the pros and cons of regulation and the tradeoff between quarries’ contribution to jobs and economic development versus environmental degradation,” the judges said. “The report covers the many legal and political conflicts being carried out in state courts and the legislature. This was also an excellent example of journalists enacting change as the station brought together all the major stakeholders – state regulators, business interests, environmentalists and citizens, to a community deliberation on the issue.”

RELATED: KVUE takes home 5 Lone Star Emmy Awards

On Wednesday, Plohetski said he was proud of the reporting and honored to receive the recognition.

"When we aired our series, we hoped to raise awareness about the growth of the rock mining industry and highlight oversight gaps that lawmakers could potentially address," he said. "We do this work to make our communities better and safer, but it is always nice to be recognized by journalism colleagues across the nation."

Congratulations to our KVUE colleagues for their excellent work!


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