Gazette editor, writer honoured with Harris Fellowship awards

FELLOWSHIP (Centre) Rotarian Joanne Coker presents Gazette Editor Jason Parks and former staff writer Desirée Decoste with Paul Harris Fellow awards at a recent meeting. (Submitted Photo)


The editor of the Prince Edward County’s newspaper of record and a former staffwriter were honoured by the Rotary Club of Picton last week with Paul Harris Fellowship awards.

Jason Parks and Desirée Decoste were presented with fancy pins and certificates at Rotary’s weekly meeting for their work covering and reporting on the local club’s fundraising activities.

Named in honour of Rotary founder Paul Harris, a Fellow is recognized as having done something significant for others or for having made an outstanding contribution to the community.

Rotarian Joanne Coker noted the generosity of community members in Prince Edward County is especially meaningful.

“When you donate your time, resources and talents you improve the quality of life of the people in the community. We truly appreciate our friends who embody this spirit and recognize these efforts,” Ms. Coker said.

“Jason Parks and Desiree Decoste have done so much for the Rotary Club of Picton in coverage of our weekly speakers and showing up to take photos of the club’s numerous cheque presentations to various charities in our community,” said Rotarian Rick Jones.

“If not for them, the Club would not have received this tremendous exposure in the community through the Picton Gazette and that’s why I have nominated Jason and Desiree to receive the Paul Harris Fellow award, one of the highest honours Rotary can bestow.”

Mr. Parks joins predecessor Adam Bramburger as Gazette editors who have received Harris Fellowship honours. Mr. Parks thanked the club for the recognition.

He noted that when starting his career in community journalism in 2005 he had an idea about the service clubs stationed in Prince Edward County. Nearly two decades of reporting work, however, has allowed him to appreciate all the effort, time and organization that goes into making this island a much better place.

What I had no concept of when I started at the Gazette was the length and breadth of service these organizations contributed to the people of Prince Edward County. Covering the great variety of their activities was an eye-opening experience. Service clubs make our community a much better place. The fruits of their tireless efforts are all around to see and enjoy.”

“And it’s not just the pleasurable things in Prince Edward County,” he continued. “Services and gifts unseen ensure people and families in our community are not falling through the gaps in our social safety net.” He noted it has been “a highlight of my career to be able to report on the good works this team has accomplished dating back to 2005 and I thank you for this recognition.”

Ms. Decoste was presented the Harris Fellowship in part for her regular coverage of the club’s weekly lunch meetings with guest speakers, from 2019-2023.

“I know Desirée enjoyed attending the regular meetings and writing a report on what that week’s speaker had to say. That passion and enjoyment really showed up in the coverage,” Mr. Parks added.

From information on the war in Ukraine to clean water projects around the world to presentations about matters concerning healthcare in Prince Edward County, frequent reporting on this conduit of information was appreciated by readers and Rotarians alike.

“Thank you very much for this honour,” Ms. Decoste said.