Six members of the TIMES NEWS editorial department earned honors in Pennsylvania's major writing and photography competitions for work produced last year.

Pa. Associated Press

The Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) announced Wednesday that the TIMES NEWS captured eight state writing awards in APME News Excellence Competition.

A panel of judges comprised of editors of AP member newspapers in Colorado singled out work by Donald R. Serfass, managing editor – features; Karen Cimms, lifestyle editor; Amy Miller, reporter; and Bob Ford, staff photographer.

Serfass claimed five AP awards, including first place in public service for 'Fighting for a healthy environment,' a collection of stories about the implications of toxic dumping. He also took first place in column writing for 'No more BS for Pennsylvania,' which discussed the danger of biosolids. Serfass swept the column writing category by also winning second place for 'The unbelievable story of Jean Stevens,' commentary about a 91-year-old woman who lived with the disinterred bodies of her deceased loved ones.

Serfass also earned second place finishes in investigative reporting and in feature writing for 'The Amber Lantern Massacre,' recounting the 1938 unsolved gang-related murders in Hometown.

Serfass' showing represents the best finish of any writer in all divisions of AP state competition. His five AP honors match a state AP record he set in 2004 for the most awards earned by any individual writer in one year.

Cimms and Miller share top honors in two categories - enterprise reporting and feature writing - for their work in the special series 'Down Syndrome - a family's journey.' The project explored the life-changing implications of a Mahoning Township couple and daily challenges associated with caring for Shane and Wyatt, newly born, special needs twin sons.

That body of work captured a third award when Ford won an AP second place in the photo story category for a collection of images used in illustrating the Down Syndrome series.

The AP competition annually draws several thousand entries. The TIMES NEWS competes among AP member daily newspapers with a circulation of 15,000 or less.

Keystone Press Awards

The TIMES NEWS also claimed five Professional Keystone Press Awards of the Pa. Society of Newspaper Editors (PSNE), competing in Class IV, daily newspapers with a circulation of 20,000 or less. The PSNE announcement was made Friday.

In that competition, Serfass earned four awards, including first place in news feature writing for 'Buried alive,' the story of Tamaqua plumber Dan Reigel, who escaped death after a trench collapsed and buried him eight feet down.

Serfass also took first place in business writing for 'Baked to perfection,' the story of Mickey Padora, an 83-year-old Tamaqua man who bakes Old World style bread in what may be the country's only remaining, anthracite-fired, brick bake oven.

He also took two honorable mentions in investigative reporting and feature beat writing for 'The Amber Lantern Massacre' and other stories with heritage-related themes.

Ford was awarded a second place Keystone in graphic/photo illustration for 'An impressive performance,' a portrait of Lehighton Area High School field hockey star Echo Bretz. The photo honored Bretz's designation as TIMES NEWS 2010 Field Hockey Player of the Year.

The Keystones reinforce excellence by individuals in the newspaper profession by recognizing journalism that consistently provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and furthers First Amendment values.

Pennsylvania Women's Press

Association

In open competition among all size newspapers, the TIMES NEWS scored seven honors in the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association's (PWPA) Excellence in Journalism competition, announced Monday.

There, Serfass earned first place in editorial/commentary for 'No more BS for Pennsylvania,' and honorable mention in column writing for 'Thoughts on a decorated tree.'

Cimms was awarded second place in series writing for the Down Syndrome project; reporter Elsa Kerschner took third place in sports writing for 'Skydiving,' and honorable mention for her story 'Danger to birds,' an entry in the outdoors category. Reporter Linda Koehler earned honorable mention in religion writing for 'To tithe or not to tithe,' and in travel/arts for 'The fields of Harrison Smith's dreams.'

The PWPA's mission, in part, is to promote high standards in journalism.

The AP, Keystone, and PWPA awards will be presented at the Pennsylvania Press Conference to be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center, State College, on May 20-21. The event is the state's largest journalism recognition ceremony.

Pennsylvania

Press Club

Competing among newspapers of all sizes, the TIMES NEWS grabbed 29 awards as judged by a panel of journalists from Connecticut in competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Press Club (PPC), an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women. Multiple story entries are required for most categories.

There, Koehler took 14 honors, including a first place finish in business writing; two second place awards in home and religion writing; third place in social issues, columns humorous, columns general, personality profile and features; and honorable mention in features, education, history, columns humorous and columns general.

Serfass earned 11 awards, including first place in five categories: feature, health and fitness, history, columns general and feature photography; two second place awards in hobbies and columns opinion; third place in columns informational; and honorable mention in education, personality profile and columns humorous.

The PPC awards will be presented at a luncheon to be held later this year. In addition, entries winning first place awards will be entered into national competition.

Pencor weeklies

earn awards

Pencor weekly publications also received state recognition competing in Keystone nondaily divisions, and in competing against daily and nondaily newspapers of all sizes in the PWPA and PPC contests.

Bonnie Lee Strunk of the Parkland Press won a Keystone first place in photo story; along with four PPC awards, including first in photography/writer; second place in feature and columns informational; and honorable mention in columns humorous.

Linda Anthony of the Bethlehem Press was awarded a first place Keystone in photo story; and a third place PWPA award in photography.

Other Bethlehem Press Keystone winners include: George Taylor, second place, front page design; Robert Kertise, second place, business/consumer writing; Dana Grubb, honorable mention, feature photo; Brandon Taylor, honorable mention, feature beat; and Ed Courrier, honorable mention, graphic/photo illustration.

Johanna S. Billings of the Northampton Press won a Keystone second place in business/consumer writing, along with honorable mention in ongoing news coverage and feature story. Billings also earned a Keystone honorable mention in column writing for the Whitehall-Coplay Press.