BOSTON — The Sun Journal accepted four first-place honors and four additional top awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for writing and illustration Saturday, signifying the best writing among all newspapers in New England.

Staff Writer Lindsay Tice accepted the awards for the newspaper, including a first-place award for government reporting for the newspaper’s yearlong investigation into allegations that top officials at Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention had ordered financial documents to be destroyed.

The award specifically named Tice, Politics Editor Scott Thistle and Judith Meyer, managing editor/days, for their work.

That body of work received two other awards, in the categories of investigative reporting and right-to-know.

“We are extremely proud of our reporters, columnists, photographers and editors who won awards in this contest, which is open to newspapers from across New England,” Executive Editor Rex Rhoades said. “The competition in this contest is intense, but the many awards won show that our journalists are among the best in the industry.”

Tice, who was named Maine’s Journalist of the Year in 2013, also was the first-place winner for a human interest feature story among newspapers in the Sun Journal’s circulation size for her story on Auburn mother Hallie Twomey and her efforts to honor her son’s memory.

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C.J. Twomey committed suicide in 2010 within sight of his parents after a disagreement with his mother. He had always wanted to travel but never got the chance, so Hallie Twomey came up with the idea of asking friends to carry a bit of her son’s ashes with them on their travels around the world.

That idea blossomed on Facebook, and soon hundreds of people were taking his ashes and scattering C.J. on tops of mountains, in oceans and in gardens.

Last October, a small container of ashes was launched into space on a SpaceLoft XL rocket by Houston-based Celestis.

Twomey’s message of hope and healing — conveyed so convincingly by Tice — prompted the Sun Journal’s readers to action, not only in scattering C.J., but in raising awareness of the need for organ donation.

Sun Journal staff photographer Amber Waterman and former page designer Susan Broadbent won a first-place award for their illustration for a feature story about proper etiquette. The illustration depicted two sides of Waterman: her naturally wild side and how she might appear if she bowed to the conventions of proper etiquette, complete with a delicate string of pearls.

Sports Writer Kevin Mills won a first-place award for his report on coaches with handicaps and their ability to overcome obstacles.

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According to Sports Editor Justin Pelletier, many basketball gyms still have inadequate accessibility for those in wheelchairs, travel to and from games is a challenge and football coaches with handicaps have to get creative on the natural-grass sidelines.

“Kevin’s piece showed, through several, personal examples, how much of a struggle it really is for these individuals who continue to pursue their passion,” Pelletier said.

The New England Better Newspaper Contest awards were given out during NENPA’s annual New England Newspaper and Press Association Convention held at the Seaport Boston Hotel.

In addition to its four first-place awards and the two other awards given for its CDC coverage, the Sun Journal earned honors in two more categories.

Waterman’s photo of 87-year-old violin maker Leo Beaule of Lewiston won in the personality photo category.

Sports Writer Kalle Oakes received honors for his column writing.

According to Pelletier, “Kalle Oakes is consistently one of the best column writers in the region, and he is again recognized for his ability to analyze a situation, report the facts and then break them down, step by step.

“Kalle’s continued ability to weave fact and analysis, and at the same time engage, entertain and inform readers, is what places him among the best,” Pelletier said.

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