(08/10/2006)
Spencer's two weekly newspapers may be among the most award-winning in the WV Press Association's annual contest.

The Times Record and Roane County Reporter have won first place in General Excellence for 10 of the past 12 years, placing second the other two years.

The Times Record and Roane County Reporter received several awards in the annual Better Newspapers Contest sponsored by the WV Press Association.

The awards were announced Saturday at the organization's annual meeting, held at Stonewall Resort near Weston this year.

The newspapers received more first place awards than any other newspaper in the division for the state's largest circulation weekly newspapers, including the top prize for best lifestyle section, as well as second place for best editorial page and for best special section for the annual WV Black Walnut Festival preview and third place for best front page.

Individual staffers also won several awards. Editor Jim Cooper received first place for government coverage for stories about the Clay-Roane Public Service District.

Cooper also won first in crime and courts coverage for a story about a young Spencer couple found murdered in Wirt County. Judges said the story was "very touching without being maudlin."

Cooper won two of the three awards, first and third places, in the competition for lifestyle feature writing. Regarding a story about a World War II veteran titled "Still fighting" the judges remarked, "Jim Cooper tells a good story in his writing style. Good reading."

Cooper also won first place for sports feature writing.

Publisher David Hedges won first place for the best editorial. The judges called an editorial regarding legislation allowing coal trucks to carry higher weight limits "a real public service." Judges also said the editorial was "nicely written, clearly argued and well backed by the facts."

Hedges also won first in competition for the best-written news story for a story about a bear that roamed through downtown Spencer one evening.

Columnist Orton Jones won first place for best lifestyles column. Regarding a series of his "Reflections" columns the judges wrote "Touching and heartfelt. Accessible prose; written with emotion and clarity."

Photographer Sidney Boggs won first for best feature photo for a picture of a child counting candy in a jar, which the judges called a "good moment."

In a competition that put daily and weekly newspapers in the same division, Neil Grahame received 2nd place for best cartoon or drawing for a series of editorial cartoons. First and third place in the category went to artists with daily newspapers in Martinsburg and Huntington.

Boggs also won second place for photo essay for a series of photos about the Cub Scouts' annual Pinewood Derby.

Hedges won second in government reporting for stories about controversy surrounding the hiring of a principal at Arnoldsburg School and third for business/labor coverage for a story about the closing of the Spencer Foodland.

Hedges also won third place for best columnist for his "Between the Lines" column.

The newspapers also received one of three General Excellence awards given to newspapers in each of the circulation divisions, three for dailies and three for weeklies. General Excellence awards are given to the newspapers that win the most awards in individual categories.

For the largest circulation weeklies, The Hampshire Review in Romney took first place in General Excellence, followed by The Times Record and Roane County Reporter in second place. Third place in General Excellence went to Jackson Publishing for The Jackson Herald and The Jackson Star-News.

The contest was for material published in 2005, with judging done by members of the North Carolina Press Association.


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