The Philadelphia Press Association announced Sunday that five works published by the TIMES NEWS in 2011 have won "Best of the Best" awards, recognition of outstanding writing in the Tri-State metropolitan region.

The articles were written by Donald R. Serfass, managing editor, features, and were judged against other nominated work from the newspapers of Greater Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey.

Serfass won awards in five major categories, including first place for 'Tragedy at Hometown Hill,' an investigative story that explored the poisoning deaths of several local men during Prohibition. A panel of judges selected the work as tops in special subject writing among all papers. Second place went to a series of entries by the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, N.J.

Serfass took second place in business writing for 'Blast from the past,' a two-part retrospective about the rise and fall of Tamaqua's Weldy Powder Works, a force in explosives production and forerunner to Atlas Powder Company. First place was won by a hotel industry examination by The Press of Atlantic City, N. J.

Philadelphia judges awarded Serfass third place in enterprise reporting for 'Death of Officer Morgans.' For the investigative series, Serfass worked with the Lansford police department to examine the mystery surrounding the fatal shooting of the only Lansford cop to die in the line of duty.

In another area, Serfass's 'Under my hat' column, entitled 'Unthinkable shame in Pennsylvania,' was awarded third place in column writing. The piece examined circumstances of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and aura of suspicion about an alleged Penn State cover-up.

Finally, judges selected Serfass's two-part investigative feature, 'Little boy lost,' for honorable mention in the all- encompassing category of newspaper writing among all Delaware Valley dailies. The TIMES NEWS stories explored the unsolved disappearance of Tamaqua toddler Jerome Coonon, a mystery that stumped the FBI and sparked the largest search in the history of the Schuylkill County town.

Serfass, of Tamaqua, has been employed by the TIMES NEWS for the past 14 years and became features editor in 2006. All of the work is viewable at the newspaper's website at

The Philadelphia Press Association is comprised of editorial staffs of daily newspapers, wire services and radio and television stations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Serfass will receive the awards June 29 at the PPA's 67th Anniversary Dinner at the Bala Golf Club, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.