The staff of the Press Argus-Courier placed first in general excellence and received six first-place awards at the 2017 Arkansas Press Association’s Better Newspaper contest.

Awards were presented in Little Rock as part of APA’s 2017 SuperConvention on July 8. Press Argus-Courier staff placed in 14 categories overall and received two honorable mentions in the newspaper contest.

The Press Argus-Courier received first place in overall general excellence out of a total 16 papers with 440 entries competing in the smaller weeklies category.

Second place for general excellence was awarded to the North Little Rock Times and third place was a tie between the Dumas Clarion and the Washington County Enterprise Leader in Lincoln.

Three first place awards went to the Press Argus-Courier sports section. Buck Ringgold and sports editor George “Clay” Mitchell won first place in sports news story for “Warner adds to coaching ranks”; Mitchell won in sports column for “Maybe I’m using ‘tolerate’ wrong in a sentence”; and Aaron Shaffer won in single sports feature photograph for “Alma volleyball team celebrates.”

Editor Kenneth Fry and reporter Taniah Tudor together took home three first place awards for their coverage in the categories of business/agriculture, health/medical and education.

Contest judges had comments for many of the winning entries, including Mitchell’s story on the mascot change at Southside High School in Fort Smith.

“Now that’s a sports column,” one contest judge said. “Well written. Solid argument. It both infuriated me and made me chuckle. Nice job.”

Coverage provided by Fry and Tudor was said to be “varied” with “crisp photos, concise writing,” and “nice storytelling.”

Other awards for Press Argus-Courier newsroom staff members include:Freelance writer Brittany Ransom received second and third place in freelance writing.

Tudor received third place (of all newspapers competing) in investigative reporting.

Fry took third place for best beat reporter.

Editorial assistant Jenny McClure and Mitchell took third place for best website.

Kevin Taylor received third place for sports feature story.

Mitchell received third place for best sports page.

Fry and Tudor received honorable mention for in-depth series reporting.

Leland Barclay received honorable mention for sports news story.

Members of the Oklahoma Press Association selected winners out of 982 entries from 33 weekly newspapers and 672 entries from 17 daily newspapers.

The Arkansas Press Association was founded in 1873 to serve Arkansas and its weekly and daily newspapers.