Did we get the golden ticket?

Have you ever purchased a lottery ticket and then not matched it up to the winning numbers until a day or two after the drawing — for the express purpose of prolonging the dream of what you’ll do with the money should you win?

I do it every time I plunk down a buck for a Super Lotto bet. The lottery ticket that my husband, a flesh-and-blood Willy Wonka if you’ve ever met one, always calls our “Golden Ticket” is slipped into an envelope and kept there until well after the winning numbers are drawn.

In order to learn whether or not we’re the big winners, Gil has to gently shake me out of my reverie, which usually takes me to exotic places such as the nearest kitchen designer’s showroom. Only after Gil has nudged me will I pull out the ticket, very slowly, and check the numbers over and over again until I’m certain the so-far elusive big prize has been deferred to another day.

There’s something about those moments of hopefulness that’s irresistible. So much so that I’ve been known to delay learning the results of other contests. When the Bruins, for example, are playing a game in which a good outcome is doubtful, I’d rather not watch and don’t want to open the sports pages until at least 24 hours later. Might as well keep the dream alive, right?

To that end, I’ve been pushing off making public the fact that our sweet little newspaper, the very product you’re (hopefully) enjoying right now, is in the running for a coveted prize. Will we win? All will be revealed Saturday. Following is the news brief I asked reporter Joe Piasecki to prepare a few weeks ago on the subject. Then I kept finding reasons to hold onto it. But I believe the time has finally come:

“The La Cañada Valley Sun will be honored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) for spot-on coverage of the February 2010 mudslides that damaged hillside homes in the wake of the 2009 Station fire.

“Not only is the Valley Sun nominated for a first- or second-place award in the Local Breaking News category of CNPA’s statewide Better Newspapers Contest, the paper also received several other nods for exceptional news and sports coverage last year among California weekly publications of 4,300 to 11,000 circulation.

“The paper’s mudslide coverage was led by reporter Megan O’Neil, who now works out of the Valley Sun’s sister publication, the Glendale News-Press.

“Certificates of Achievement — awarded to third- and fourth- place finishers in each category — honored sports coverage (including the work of staff writer Andrew Shortall), writing (for a story by O’Neil about mudslide cleanup efforts) and business or financial coverage (for O’Neil’s May 2010 of Allen Lund Co. employee Phillip Amador’s rise to success despite personal adversity).

“Final contest results will be announced April 16 at the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles hotel during CNPA’s annual Press Summit.”

So there you have it: There’s a 50-50 chance our humble weekly will win the top Local Breaking News award Saturday. I’ll be attending the awards luncheon with O’Neil and Editor Dan Evans. We’ll be very pleased, of course, to accept a second-place nod but ecstatic if we come home with the gold.

Either award will be, in a way, a bittersweet win. I’d much rather the mudslides had never occurred. But I am very proud of our team of professionals and delighted the paper will receive recognition for the efforts made to keep you well-informed. Perhaps you can think of the Valley Sun as your Golden Ticket to untold wealth — of local knowledge, that is.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. Email her at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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