Times-Recorder wins three GPA awards

Published 3:00 pm Monday, June 20, 2016

JEKYLL ISLAND — The Georgia Press Association honored the winners of the 2016 Freedom of Information Award and the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest June at the Jekyll Island Club during the group’s 130th annual convention.
The Americus Times-Recorder brought home three awards this year.
Stick Miller, local columnist for the Times-Recorder, won a 3rd place award for Humorous Column in Division G. Miller’s entries were “An Heir and a Spare,” about the impending birth of his first granddaughter; “Bah, bah, humbug,” a curmudgeonly take on Christmas; and “Casino Night is for the Dogs,” a preview of the annual fundraiser for the Sumter Humane Society.
Beth Alston, editor and publisher of the Times-Recorder, won a 3rd place award for Lifestyle/Feature Column in Division G. Alston’s three entries for this category were her book reviews.
Alston also brought home the 3rd place award for Feature Writing in Division G. Her entries included a story about Jim Auchmutey’s book, The Class of ‘65: A Student, A Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness, which follows Greg Wittkamper, a white student who lived at Koinonia, a Christian community in rural Sumter County. Wittkapmer refused to denigrate the black students who attended desegregated AHS in 1964. Consequently, he, too, was also ostracized. Many of the black students were his friends. The book also chronicles the amazing occurrences over 40 years later when some of his fellow students  wrote to ask Wittkamper for forgiveness for the way they had treated him or stood by mutely while others were openly hateful to him. They also invited him to the AHS class reunion in 2006. The true story is one of forgiveness and redemption.
Alston’s other entries in this category were a feature about a local man, Bruce Hall, whose Labrador Retriever, Gizmo, won the National Championship in November 2015; and a story about the April 2015 reunion of the Leesburg Stockade Girls. In 1963, the 15 girls, ranging in age from 11-15, were standing in front of the Martin Theater in Americus when they were taken away to the Lee County Stockade where they remained for two months during the sweltering months of July and August. The girls’ families did not know where they were. The reunion was planned by one of the girls, Shirley Green-Reese, Ph.D., a member of the Americus City Council.
The Valdosta Daily Times won the prestigious Freedom of Information Award for doing the most during 2015 to uphold the principles of the First Amendment and to protect the public’s right to know. The Daily Times was honored specifically for a yearlong campaign that educated its readers and government officials about open government laws and requirements and advocated for stronger policies encouraging more openness.
Winners in the Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest were honored for their outstanding achievements in newspaper journalism. Entries were judged in eight divisions based on circulation. The daily divisions are Division A (circulation of 25,000 or more), Division B (8,000 to 24,999) and Division C (less than 8,000). Weekly divisions are Division D (all tri-weekly and bi-weekly papers), Division E (weeklies with circulation of 4,000 to 14,999), Division F (3,000 to 3,999), Division G (less than 3,000) and Division H (all weekly newspapers of 15,000 or more and all associate media members).
The only other newspaper in Georgia owned by Boone Newspapers Inc., The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge, brought home 18 GPA awards.