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This past weekend in Denver was the annual conference of the Colorado Press Association.  It’s a time when publishers, editors and representatives of news organizations from across this state gather to discuss the issues that keep us up at night, as well as celebrate the successes.

This year’s Colorado Press Association First Amendment Award was presented to AVV Publisher and Managing Editor Jan Wondra.

Ark Valley Voice received two important awards for our journalism on Saturday night.

Senior Reporter and member of the AVV Editorial Board Dan Smith received a top award for his Our Voice editorial on gun violence.

Also this past weekend, the Colorado Press Association awarded Publisher and Managing Editor Jan Wondra with the Colorado First Amendment Award for her leadership efforts “to ensure the public’s right to know.”

9-News Anchor Kyle Clark speaking on the first morning of the conference about the reporting environment of the state, called out our work telling our fellow CPA members, “Take a look at what Ark Valley Voice is doing covering the issues up in the Arkansas River Valley — they’re doing everything right.”

Smith’s work exemplifies the passion that our reporters put into their journalism; he feels strongly about and has often written about senseless gun violence. Combined with our investigative reporting, in-depth reporting on local governments, and explanatory reporting on issues; these are examples of the watchdog role that we in the press play in democracy.

In just this past decade across the world, the percentage of people living under dictatorships has risen from 60 percent to 70 percent. Defending the democracy that guarantees our freedoms may never have been as important as it is right now.

At Ark Valley Voice, we take the Rule of Law, the Constitution, and journalistic ethics very seriously. That commitment to the Constitution means that it is also our role to protect this democracy from all enemies, foreign and domestic. This year perhaps as never before, those domestic threats mean that our mission to give truth a voice is more important than ever.

Thank you, readers, for your readership and your support.