Members of the TIMES NEWS editorial department earned awards in Pennsylvania's major writing and photography competitions for work produced in 2011.

Associated Press

The Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) announced April 24 that the TIMES NEWS has been awarded three state honors in APME News Excellence Competition.

The feature package 'Down Syndrome: A family's journey,' scored two wins.

Staff photographer Bob Ford earned first place in photo story for images of the Mahoning Valley family whose twin boys were diagnosed with the chromosomal condition.

The story by the team of Karen Cimms, lifestyle editor, and reporter Amy Miller took second place in feature writing. The work explored how the parents supported each other through the roughest period in their lives and how important it is for couples raising a special-needs child to take time for themselves and work toward preserving their relationship.

The TIMES NEWS also captured AP second place in public service for 'Rare blood disease hits home.' The news stories by Donald R. Serfass, managing editor, features, examined the alarming incidence of polycythemia vera in Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties and the search for answers.

The winning works were singled out for recognition by a panel of editors from AP member newspapers in North Carolina. The paper competes among statewide dailies with a circulation of 15,000 and under.

PennsylvaniaNewspaper Association

The TIMES NEWS earned seven Professional Keystone Press Awards of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, including first place finishes in writing and photography.

Bob Ford swept the photo/illustration category, taking first place for an image of 2011 TN swimmer of the year Madison Burns and second for a composite of TN golfer of the year Cole Miller. Both athletes represented Northwestern Lehigh High School. Ford also received honorable mention in photography for 'Faceoff,' a photo of wrestler Colin Hedash of Northern Lehigh High School.

In writing competition, the TIMES NEWS took first place in feature beat reporting for 'Pennsylvania heritage,' a package of stories by Donald R. Serfass. The work included 'Blast from the past,' the rise and fall of Tamaqua's Weldy Powder Works; 'A call to arms,' the 150th anniversary of the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment; 'Tamaqua's treasure trove,' a new genealogical center; '200th anniversary of Schuylkill County,' and 'Where time stands still,' the story of Eckley Miners Village.

In addition, Serfass earned honorable mention for 'Tragedy at Hometown Hill,' recounting how several local men lost their lives during Prohibition by drinking the equivalent of antifreeze.

Reporter Chris Parker grabbed second place in feature writing for 'A chance reunion.' The story featured compelling dialogue between two former Philadelphia cops who, later in life, meet by coincidence and revisit the circumstances of an armed robbery, ensuing fatal gunfight and a dramatic, life-saving act of heroism.

Brandon Taylor, TN columnist who works as a language consultant in Beijing, China, took honorable mention in feature beat reporting for a package of entries on travel and foreign culture, an interpretive look into China and its customs.

More than 4,200 entries from 145 newspapers were judged by an editorial panel in Kentucky. The TIMES NEWS competes in Division IV, daily newspapers with circulation under 20,000.

The Keystones are sponsored by the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. The awards 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. Results were announced April 13.

PennsylvaniaPress Club

Competing against statewide newspapers of all sizes, two TIMES NEWS writers combined for 24 awards as determined by a panel of out-of-state judges in competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Press Club (PPC), an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women.

Donald Serfass won 14 awards, including first place in five categories: feature story, business, travel, history, and creative verse. Serfass won second place in health, hobby/crafts and informational columns; and third place in opinion columns, humorous columns, feature photography, photo/writer and creative verse; plus honorable mention in history.

Linda Koehler, Palmerton reporter/columnist, took 10 PPC awards, including three firsts: arts/entertainment, religion and hobby/crafts. Koehler won second place in agriculture, history and social issues; third in features, hobby/crafts and general columns, and honorable mention in humorous columns.

Multiple story entries are required for most categories. All stories winning first place awards automatically are entered into national competition and results will be announced later this year.

Pa. Women's Press Association

The Pennsylvania Women's Press Association (PWPA) 'Excellence in Journalism' contest provides open competition among newspapers of all sizes.

Two TIMES NEWS writers scored four wins. Linda Koehler captured second place in feature writing for 'Ticked off at Lyme Disease.' Koehler also took honorable mention in religion writing for her story 'Finding God isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack.'

Donald Serfass earned third place for in-depth reporting with 'Tragedy at Hometown Hill,' and honorable mention in the sports category for 'Great white hunter.'

PWPA results were announced April 22.

Lehigh Valley PRESS

Keystone awards were won by writers from the group of eight weekly newspapers of Lehigh Valley PRESS, a division of TIMES NEWS, LLC, a Pencor Services, Inc., company.

In Division VI, non-daily papers of 5,000 to 9,999 circulation, Brandon Taylor of Bethlehem Press took first place in column writing and feature beat reporting with a package of entries.

George Taylor of Bethlehem Press earned second place in front page design.

In Division VII, non-daily papers under 5,000 circulation, several Lehigh Valley PRESS writers came up winners.

For Parkland Press, Lou Rusnock grabbed first in sports beat reporting and second in special project. Bonnie Lee Strunk earned first in column writing; and Deb Palmieri took second in headline writing.

For Salisbury Press, Jim Marsh was awarded first in feature story. Debbie Galbraith earned second in editorial writing.

For Northampton Press, Linda Rothrock took second in feature photo. Johanna Billings earned honorable mention in personality profile. Billings also took honorable mention in column writing for Whitehall-Coplay Press.

Several Lehigh Valley PRESS writers also scored Pennsylvania Press Club wins in the category of non-daily newspapers.

Johanna Billings of Northampton Press and Whitehall-Coplay Press took PPC firsts in agricultural, enterprise and editing; second in feature, opinion column, editing, headline writing and photo essay; third in enterprise reporting, feature photo, and health; and honorable mention in photo/writer, feature photo, opinion column and social issues.

Donnalee LaRose won first in feature and photographer/writer and second in photo.

Sean Billings took second in enterprise reporting and honorable mention in news photo.

Dave Skolnik earned second in enterprise reporting.

Kathy Rembisz grabbed third in feature writing.

For the Parkland Press, Bonnie Lee Strunk took ten PPC awards, including first in continuing coverage, personality profile, social issues, informational column and photo essay. Strunk won second in photographer/writer, green/environment and general column; and honorable mention in social issues and opinion column.

In PWPA competition against daily papers of all sizes, Johanna Billings won third place in general news and headline writing, along with honorable mention in series.

Linda Anthony of Bethlehem Press was awarded a PWPA honorable mention in education and photography.

All state writing awards will be presented during the weekend of June 1-2 at the Pennsylvania Press Conference, Gettysburg.