By Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON July 28, 2000 On Wednesday nights, Kathy Werner sits in her upstairs computer room, looking out into the night sky of Hurley as she works on writing her column for the Friday edition of the Sullivan County Democrat.
For added inspiration, Werner has hung some mementos on the wall above her computer from her 22 years as author of Lifelines.
There are letters from readers, two New York Press Association awards and a third place award from the National Newspaper Association, which she won last year.
Now Werner will have to make some more room on her wall of fame because the National Newspaper Association recently announced its Better Newspaper Contest 2000 winners and Werner will be carrying home two first place awards.
In what may be an unprecedented accomplishment, Werner swept the field by winning a first place in Best Column, Serious Subjects and a first place in Best Column, Humorous Subjects.
Werner competed against more than 60 other writers in the 5,000-9,999 daily and non-daily division in both the humorous and serious column writing divisions.
Gini Nelson, director of communications for the National Newspaper Association (NNA), said, I can remember one writer winning two awards, but not two firsts.
In fact, last year Larry Rottmann of The Republic Monitor in Republic, Mo. won a second place in humorous writing and honorable mention in serious subjects for his column writing prowess.
Its pretty darn unusual, Nelson said, referring to one writer winning firsts in both humorous and serious categories.
The NNA, based in Arlington, Va., is comprised of 3,300 daily and weekly newspapers representing all 50 states. This year there were 2,800 entries in the NNA Better Newspaper Contest representing 46 states.
New York State will be well represented at the awards ceremony in Louisville this October.
There are many newspapers in the New York City and Long Island area which won awards, Nelson said. Also the Springville Journal (in Erie County) is an award winner.
Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III, brother of Werner, said, Its really a great accomplishment. Kathy has always been funny at least to all our family members and we are truly delighted by her great honors. Her column has tried to provide a glimpse into the real circle of life from growing up, going to school, raising a family, to losing our loved ones. Ive always enjoyed her column and Im very glad the judges agreed.
The Winners Are
In the Best Humorous Column division, Werner won first place for January 29, 1999 column entitled, Hi There, Hopeless.
The judges said, Wonderful use of satire. Very subtle, not forced or contrived. Natural and so real world. Excellent job.
The column is a tongue-in-cheek look at growing up and begins with the sentence, The following is a public service announcement for the mothers of girls ages 10 and older:
The column goes on to poke fun at clueless mothers and how they fail to make any sense to their daughters until their daughters get out of their teenage years.
The column surmises, All is not lost. But you must be ready for your own increasingly helpless stupidity during her teenage years. Sorry. Nothing I can do about it. Just try to sit in the corner quietly and dont make scenes.
In the Serious Subjects division, Werners winning column was entitled, One Size Does Not Fit All.
The judges wrote, Writer takes a fresh look at an age-old debate, bringing it squarely into the modern world. The issue may be unique to New York, but the debate is probably applicable anywhere. Solid thinking and writing.
The column deals with the New York State Department of Educations Regents requirements and how educators could think outside the box to better educate students.
Werners column appears on page 6A of this issue.