You Win Some, You Win Some MoreJul 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Teresa Capuzzo
One hundred and seventy-four. As near as we can tell—including that pile above, which represents this year’s haul—that’s the number of professional journalism awards Mountain Home has won since Mike and I started this publishing experiment in December 2005. This year we broke our own record, winning five IRMAs from the International Regional Magazine Association, competing against the big dogs across North America, fourteen Keystones (from the Pennsylvania News Media Association), and—new for us—two from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.
David O’Reilly, who retired to Wellsboro from an award-winning career at the Philadelphia Inquirer, won big for “Tommy Comes Home,” the tale of Tommy Hilfiger’s gift to Elmira College, winning both an IRMA gold for general feature and a first place Keystone for news feature story. Then he added a first place Keystone for business and consumer story for “The Butchers, the Bakers, the Legacy Makers,” about Hillstone Farms, the family farm that expanded their fresh wares into their own store in downtown Wellsboro. Local poet and writer Judith Sornberger had never written for us before, but her dear friend Lilace Mellin Guignard just happens to be our associate publisher, and when we heard about the Judy Bolton mysteries, Lilace knew who to tap. Judith’s “The Girl Detective Who Haunts Potter County” won an IRMA bronze for historic feature and a first place Keystone for feature story.
Speaking of Lilace, her achingly beautiful cover story on “Pine Creek Jon”—who won the hearts of everyone who knew him at Pine Creek Outfitters and lost his young life to cancer—was also a double winner, taking a second place Keystone as well as an IRMA merit award for personality profile. POWA gave Lilace second place in the Lantz Hoffman White-Tailed Deer Award for “The Quiet Hunter,” about a woman who has hunted these hills for decades, long before anyone thought up pink camo togs. Lilace and Gayle Morrow, our beloved managing editor and Mother Earth columnist, wrote the bulk of “Saving Santa Some Mileage,” tales of local artisans and purveyors, with Janet McCue and yours truly adding a story apiece for a second place Keystone for business or consumer story. Gayle also won an honorable mention Keystone for feature story writing for the fascinating “The Nose Knows,” about the smelly world of search and rescue dogs.
Terence Lane, a sommelier and tasting room guide at Lakewood Vineyards, had never written for us before last year, when we tapped him to write “Fragile Pleasures.” One of the judges who awarded him an IRMA merit award for art and culture writing said, “I never expected I could be entertained by a story about wineglasses, but that’s what good writing can do.” Terence followed that with a Keystone, an honorable mention for lifestyle/entertainment beat for covering the wine scene. Maggie Barnes, our own Erma Bombeck, put another notch on her crowded belt for her Glory Hill Diaries, winning a first place Keystone for columns. David Nowacoski, who you know better as the guy who owns Delivered Fresh and sometimes delivers your groceries, won his first Keystone, edging in right behind Maggie for his Field Notes column. Steve McCloskey fielded a first place Keystone for sports feature for “In a League of His Own,” the inspiring story of Dave Clark, stricken by polio, who played his entire professional baseball career on crutches.
Linda Stager’s Back of the Mountain photo, “Radiant Passage,” won two, too: a second place from POWA for best published art and a first place Keystone for feature photo (beating out: Linda Stager, who took home an honorable mention for “Nature’s View-Master.”) Gwen Button, our just-retired designer, won an IRMA award of merit for the cover design of “Marvel at Comic History in the Making.” Amy Packard—who runs the books and the show in the office—said, “We should do the masthead for that issue in comic font.” And the rest is history.
Many consider punning a psychological disorder, but we cultivate it in our headline writing. I won’t mention any names (like Lilace or Mike), but, as we toss ideas around, some are so good we howl. We won both a first place and an honorable mention, so the judges must have agreed. “Tom Foolery” headlined a story on tricking male turkeys, and an older runner racing up and down the hills of Potter County? “Over the Hill.”