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Stacey Wittig, a freelance travel writer and Flagstaff resident, is the grand prize winner of the 2009 North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) Cleveland Plus Writing Award. Wittig's was named the winner at the 2010 NATJA Conference and Marketplace in Reno, Nevada earlier this May.

Wittig, whose winning travel article appeared in Lake Erie Lifestyle Magazine, was a part of the more than 100 writers, photographers, editors and tourism professionals that visited Northeast Ohio as part of the NATJA annual conference (June 2-5, 2009) hosted by Positively Cleveland, the Ohio Tourism Division and regional partners.

Following the conference, attendees were asked to submit their Cleveland-based travel stories for a chance to win a grand prize vacation package valued at more than $2,000. The competition reeled in more than 30 article entries, touching on everything from the region's diverse culinary scene to the excitement of vacationing on a Lake Erie island.

Wittig wrote about the wineries in Northeast Ohio and how they appeal as a travel destination to both women and men in her article: "Take the Guys on this Girls Getaway."

"I found it was really interesting how the wineries were incorporating beer gardens and car shows into their offerings," Wittig said. "I thought, hey, the girls could take the guys on this typically girls' getaway!"

Wittig also highlighted three major winegrowing families in the area including Ferrante Winery, Debonne Vineyards and Grand River Cellars, all boasting nationally-recognized wines

Art and astronomy exhibit at Lowell

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An art exhibiby Greg Mort at Lowell Observatory, "Nightwatch - Inspirations of Art and Astronomy," will be on display through August 30, during visiting (hours 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) in the Steele Visitor Center, 1400 W. Mars Hill Road.

Mort is widely regarded as a leading American contemporary artist and has been combining his passions for art and astronomy throughout his career. His art work has been exhibited and acquired by museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The White House Art Collection and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Nightwatch includes some of Mort's works created for the NASA art collection

Mort's fascination with astronomy began at an early age as he watched the space race culminate in the manned-lunar missions. After becoming intrigued with Percival Lowell's studies and drawings of Mars, Greg visited Lowell in the 1980s. Thus began a lasting friendship that continues to this day as Greg currently serves on Lowell Observatory's Advisory Board - a position he has held since 1999.

Nightwatch will include 11 original works of art, and six reproductions. The original pieces include watercolor, charcoal, oil and pastel.

All are welcome; regular admission rates apply.

Proceeds from the sale of selected artwork and from Mort's book "Voyages" will benefit Lowell Observatory's First Light Challenge.

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