Going above and beyond is a daily journey for Lufkin Daily News reporter Jess Huff.
Jess has become our go-to reporter for in-depth stories. She cares deeply about the people in our community and wants nothing more than to be able to help the community through her reporting, whether it’s a story on flooding problems in the city limits of Lufkin or reporting on the Angelina County Commissioner’s legal troubles and jail time or covering events that benefit local nonprofits. She immerses herself in each story to provide our community the most information./p>
This spring Jess spent nearly six weeks as the sole reporter after a coworker left for another job. Jess didn’t miss a beat on any front as we searched for a new reporter. She made sure we had news stories to publish every day.
She covered all school board, city and county meetings and a contentious Lufkin mayoral election. Camps for both candidates pushed for stories about the other, on topics that needed to be researched and published prior to Election Day.
While covering the must-do stories, Jess found time to complete an enterprise story on the Texas Railroad Commission as it decides whether to approve PA Prospect, an oil and gas waste facility, a permit to place a facility at the headwaters of Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Earlier this year, Jess won first place at the North and East Texas Press Association convention for news writing and community service. She also won six awards at Texas APME, bringing back first place in the Star Investigative Report of the Year category with news editor Stacy Faison, first place in business reporting and second place for Star Online Report of the Year.
Among the award winning entries were stories on Pilgrim’s employees speaking out about working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic and law enforcement officials injured in the line of duty facing obstacles outside of physical recovery.
In community service, Carla Hight, executive director for the Angelina County United Way, credits the newspaper’s efforts with helping the local agency meet its $290,000 campaign goal. The local campaign generated more than the goal of $315,000 in the midst of the pandemic. Jess’ stories helped the community learn where United Way funds go and what these nonprofits provide in our community.
Her service to the community extends beyond writing about the United Way. Following Winter Storm Uri, she connected a Utah-based plumber who came to Lufkin to offer services to various local organizations. For her efforts she was formally recognized by one of the agencies and the city of Lufkin.