Independent photographer wins award

Independent photographer Scott Smeltzer has been named a finalist in the California Newspaper Publishers Assn.'s Better Newspapers Contest for his photo of ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo being arrested at his home in Huntington Beach.

Smeltzer captured the image Sept. 21 as Rizzo, who is charged with misappropriating $5.5 million in city funds from Bell, was led away from his Surf City home by police.

The association named Smeltzer's image a finalist in the Breaking News Photo category, meaning it will place either first or second when the winners are announced April 16.

Smeltzer, a photographer for Times Community News since 2009, previously worked for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach and the Daily Press in Victorville.

"I was excited about it," he said about the CNPA honor. "I think it was a strong news moment and certainly one that a lot of people followed, so it's nice to be recognized."

The Independent also won a Certificate of Achievement in General Excellence and Local Breaking News, the latter for former Independent reporter Britney Barnes' story "Tornado hits Huntington." The paper was not a finalist but ranked in the top 10% statewide in each category for weekly newspapers with a circulation of more than 25,001 readers.

The contest accepted entries published between Nov. 1, 2009, and Oct. 31, 2010.

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