Fort Worth Weekly rocked in Houston last weekend –– even though none of us were able to be there in person to appreciate the vibe. At the statewide Lone Star Awards, presented by the Houston Press Club, the Weekly took firsts in five of the seven small-newspaper (circulation under 100,000) categories in which we were finalists.

I was particularly proud of the Business Story category, where the Weekly had all three finalist slots, with first place going to Kendall Anderson’s “Prophet of Boom (and Bust),” about groundbreaking economist Ravi Batra and his still-being-ignored predictions for the future of this country. The judges said the story “makes us very, very afraid.” Touché.

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Other firsts:

— Jimmy Fowler, in the Feature Story category, for his “Standing Tall for AIDS Victims” profile on Rhonda Mae, Cowtown’s beloved AIDS-activist drag queen.

— Peter Gorman, in Politics/Government, for “A Border Under Siege.” The judges called it “a terrifying look at the escalating drug cartel wars” along the Texas-Mexico border. (We seem to have made it a practice this year of scaring the judges … in a good way.)

— Betty Brink, in Investigative Reporting (her forte), for her Tarrant County College investigation. Let’s see, that would be the college where the high-dollar, high-controversy chancellor just resigned as a result of the uproar caused by the stories that Betty started writing more than a year ago.

— Dan McGraw, in Sports, for his “Princess of Pong,” about Texas Wesleyan University’s colorful and world-class table tennis star.

Peter also took second place in the Print Journalist of the Year competition. Joaquin Sapien and Ben Welsh, in a project on which the Weekly partnered with the Center for Public Integrity, took second in Investigative Reporting for the same look at TXU air pollution (and Texas’ failure to regulate it) that won a national investigative reporting award a couple of weeks ago. Associate editor Anthony Mariani took third place in General Commentary/Criticism for “The Enemy Within,” his review of an art exhibit at the Modern. In the Business Story category, Kendall’s Ravi Batra story beat out Dan’s profile of Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon (“Putting on the Green Suit”) also and Jeff Prince’s “Magical Misery Tour,” a look back at the highs and lows of Tarrant County’s bar scene.

Jeff took another second-place in the Features category for “His Last War,” a poignant look at a local man and his crusade for better treatment by the medical profession of those who, like him, suffered from chronic, debilitating pain. That story, one of my personal favorites of the year, also brought Jeff one of two second place awards in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national contest, whose results were also announced last Friday. His “Magical Misery Tour” won second in Arts Features in the AAN competition as well.

The Weekly staff is small, and the writers are always paddling hard just to keep their heads above the tide of stories that need reporting in this community, stories that no one else is doing or that we do better, from local music and arts coverage to watchdogging the Barnett Shale to investigations of local governments. We couldn’t do it without our readers, who cheer us on (well, mostly), send us news tips, and look to us for the kind of journalism we thrive on. Keep those cards and letters comin’.