The nominations are in for the 2004 Clay County Focus Awards. The winners will be announced in a ceremony taking place at 6:30 p.m. June 7 at North Clay Middle School. Mitch Chalos, Financial Center Manager of First National Bank and Trust, will serve as emcee, while Kathy Dash, news director of WTWO News Channel 2, is the evening's featured speaker.
A 1993 graduate of Indiana University, Dash first began working at WTWO in 1992 as a weekend newswriter. Her degree was in journalism and although her first job at the station wasn't the most "prestigious", she said, "it got my foot in the door."
And it wasn't long until she found her "true love", reporting. While still a reporter for News Channel 2, Dash also found another love, Tony Kassissieh, the photographer with whom she "got paired up on a daily basis."
"It was either love him or hate him," she said, "and we chose the love route."
The two have been married for seven years and still work together each day. He is now the chief photographer at the station.
Dash ultimately ad-vanced from reporting to anchoring.
From there, she explained, the only way she could move up was to go to a larger market or take the position she now holds as news director at WTWO. Her promotion still allows her the freedom to anchor and report.
Originally from Portage, Ind., Dash has made the Wabash Valley her home. Her family has also moved to the area in order to be close to her.
Family seems to be quite important to Dash, as is her community. However, it wasn't until after a car accident in December, 1999, that she realized how much being part of a community really means. While recovering, she was bombarded with letters and calls from people she didn't even know.
"That's when I finally understood my job and my role in the community," Dash stated. The support she received from local viewers was a big part of what helped her get back on her feet.
There is a lot of negative news, such as crime, which Dash admitted is necessary to cover, but it is not what she finds fulfilling about her job. "It's the people who do things every day they don't have to do," she said.
Although sometimes positive stories can be "a little harder to find," Dash keeps trying to find them. "Those are the stories I love to do and love to see and the communities are full of them."
At the Focus Awards, she plans to show highlights of news stories that Channel 2 has covered in Clay County in the past year. Some of these events may not have been recognized by many as "highlights" at the time, according to Dash.
One example she gave involved the damaging storms that swept through Clay County last year. The real story there, in her opinion, was "how the neighbors you may not have ever spoken to before came together to help."
Dash also plans to speak about everyone's role in creating a community and how to get involved, whether is be by volunteering at a local organization or just visiting a sick neighbor. "People say they don't have time," she said. "They're wrong."
Tickets to the Focus Awards are $17.50 and can be purchased at First State Bank, First National Bank and Trust, Riddell National Bank, The Brazil Times and the Chamber of Commerce. Seat reservations can be made by calling the Chamber of Commerce.