Good morning, St. Cloud area.

Minnesota journalism lost a champion and a good friend with the death of Dave Pyle, former Associated Press Minnesota and Wisconsin bureau chief. Pyle, 61, died Monday at his home in Apple Valley.

Pyle was one of my closest professional friends in Minnesota journalism.

We worked together for many years.

The state AP bureau provides Times readers with much of our state news report. As bureau chief, Dave was always working to help daily newspapers in the state. He would visit all the daily newspapers in Minnesota, and later Wisconsin, to talk with editors and other staffers. His goal was to provide better service to AP members and improve the state news report.

For several years, I served on the Minnesota AP board, including two years as president. My years on the board gave me even more opportunity to work with Pyle.

Both of us had a commitment to attracting talent to our newsrooms. Two projects came from those discussions in 2000-2001.

The Associated Press Journalism Jobs Fair. This event is each October in the Twin Cities. Journalism students from Minnesota and other Upper Midwest states interview with editors from daily and weekly newspapers for internships or full-time positions. Pyle worked on all the arrangements including getting the word out to the colleges and news organizations to send representatives. The connections made at the jobs fair during the past 15 years will be a testament to Pyle’s vision and dedication.

New Journalist of the Year Award: The Associated Press started this annual award to honor the accomplishment of journalists with less than two years of experience. Again, we were working to encourage talent to stay in journalism and receive recognition for outstanding work. We have had a few Times staffers win this award. The most recent was Jun-Kai Teoh, a St. Cloud State University graduate now on the staff at our Gannett news organization in Westchester, N.Y. Teoh was the first digital staffer to win the award. The award is part of the Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest.

Those two programs will be part of Pyle’s legacy to Minnesota journalism. I’m grateful for having had the chance to work with such a professional.

My deepest condolences to Dave’s family and the Associated Press staff in Minneapolis and beyond.

Contact our watchdogs

Have an idea for an investigation? Is there something you think should be checked out in our community, especially involving public money?

To contact us, onyourside@stcloudtimes.com is an email address for the Times watchdog team to field tips and help define the consumer/watchdog efforts to our audience.

Emails to the address flow to the three watchdog reporters and content strategist/audience analyst Lisa Schwarz. She leads the watchdog team of Kirsti Marohn, David Unze and Kevin Allenspach. In addition, all of our journalists do investigative reporting on their coverage areas.

Comic poll, Best of voting

Please take the time to vote in the Best of Central Minnesota readers’ survey at www.bestofcentralmn.com.

There are more than 70 categories for readers to cast their vote for the best in our area.

Best of Central Minnesota voting ends May 10.

“We are empowering the readers to help us define what CM culture is,” said Jake Laxen, our food, dining and beer reporter. “We want to get the most accurate representation of what area institutions are thriving.”

Winners are scheduled to be announced June 27.

We are also asking readers to cast their vote for the comic strip they want added to our Sunday section. Go to www.sctimes.com/comics. When you vote, you also can check the up-to-the-minute results on which strip is leading the field.

Voting ends Monday.

Do you have a question about the Times? You can ask St. Cloud Times Executive Editor John Bodette, P.O. Box 768, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0768; or call him at 255-8760; or email him at jbodette@stcloudtimes.com. Follow him on Google Plus under jlbodette; on Twitter @jlbodette and on Facebook, John Bodette — St. Cloud Times.