All three NPW Sweepstakes Award recipients in the Nebraska Press Women Communications Contest this year are from central Nebraska. 

The three and their placements include: Mary Jane Skala, Kearney Hub lifestyle writer and columnist, first; Lori Potter, Kearney-based freelance writer and columnist, second; and Barb Batie, Lexington-based freelance writer, third. 

Sweepstakes awards are based on the number of awards and points accumulated. Categories with five or more entrants earn more points than categories with fewer than five entries. The 109 entries were judged by professionals in California, Colorado, Oio and Maine. 

NPW Sweepstakes Award Winners: Lori Potter, Mary Jane Skala, Barb Batie. Mary Jane Skala placed also second in the NFPW Sweepstakes Contest.

“The judges said the photography was particularly impressive,” said Mary Jane Skala, NPW contest chair. “Of the 109 entries, 33 placed first in their respective categories and were forwarded on to national competition.” National competition is hosted by the National Federation of Press Women. 

Winners in the NPW Communications Contest are listed below, alphabetically by Nebraska community:

Ayr–Carla Post, freelance columnist. 

SECOND PLACE: 5-A. Feature story, “Nebraska artist finds her place on the farm.” Midwest Messenger, April 15; 8-A. Columns, general, “Now and Then: Tales of a Windmill,” Blue Hill Leader, March 24; B. Columns, humorous, “Juxtaposition: can you spell it?” Blue Hill Leader, Jan. 27.

THIRD PLACE: 7-I. history, “Massive steam engine could be dangerous,” Midwest Messenger, Oct. 7

Grand Island/Osceola–Terri Hahn, features editor at the Grand Island Independent

FIRST PLACE: 18. Editing for print, single page, print or online publications: Ag & Business, Grand Island Independent, April 3; 19-A. Editing for print and online publications/newspapers, regularly edited by entrant. Grand Island Independent, March 8; 25. Page design, Grand Island Independent, A1, July 11.

SECOND PLACE: 19-A. Editing for print & online publications/newspapers, regularly edited by entrant. Grand Island Independent, Feb. 7;  18, Editing for print or online, single page, Ag & Business section, Grand Island Independent, May 29; 7-E, food, “Eating healthy doesn’t have to break budget,” Grand Island Independent, June 29.

THIRD PLACE: 7-E, Food, “Celebrating peanut butter year ‘round,” Grand Island Independent, March 10;  7-M, Physical health, “Resolving to Eat,” Grand Island Independent, Jan. 6.

HONORABLE MENTION: (tie) 7-B, Arts & entertainment, “Osceola gears up to celebrate sesquicentennial,” July 1.

Grand Island–Jessica Votipka, reporter, Grand Island Independent.

FIRST PLACE: 1-A. News story, newspaper/ print: “Misconceptions mar mural,” Grand Island Independent, Oct. 15; 2. Continuing coverage: “Local & Grand Island public schools,” Grand Island Independent, April 17;  9. Headlines. Grand Island Independent. 

SECOND PLACE: 3. In-depth reporting, “Nurseries of democracy,” Grand Island Independent, Aug. 24. 

THIRD PLACE: 7-C. business, “Grand Island Riddle jewelry transforms a Ruby Tuesday,” Grand Island Independent, Aug. 15.

HONORABLE MENTION: 3. In-depth reporting, “Making paper the hall pass,” Grand Island Independent, Dec. 31.

Kearney–Lori Potter, freelance writer. 

FIRST PLACE: 21A. News or feature photo, single photo, “Cranes painted on Kearney water towers,” Kearney Hub, Aug. 26;  22. Photo Essay, “Eagle covered, released, ready to make friends,” Kearney Hub, Jan. 19; 23. Photographer/writer, “Tiny Heartthrob,” Flatwater Free Press, July 22.

SECOND PLACE: 7-A. Agriculture, “Summers from farm kid to farmer,” Kearney Hub, May 4: 7-C. Business, “Cranes are returning after three years: will tourists follow?” Flatwater Free Press, March 4; 7-G, Government, “Powerful question: DPPD & CNPPD ponder whether to merge,” Kearney Hub, Feb. 4; 7-L. Personal Essay, “Alone in a blind, watching the cranes,” Kearney Hub, April 1;  7-P. Science & technology, “How Nebraska light experiment is saving cranes’ lives,” Kearney Hub, March 4; 8-D. Column, personal, “Despair over journalism,” Kearney Hub, May 6.

THIRD PLACE: 8-A. Column, general, “Potter’s Wheel,” Minden Courier, Nov. 9; 21-A. News or feature photo, single photo, “Sumner Rodeo: Horse in the chute,” July 5;  21-C. single photo, general, “Sandhill cranes at sunrise,” Kearney Hub, April 1;  3. In-depth, “Ag experts watching,” Kearney Hub, March 7.

HONORABLE MENTION:  7-I. history, “Sandhills stewards” and “Passion for beef production on 121-year-old ranch.” Successful Farming, Nov. 1;  8-A. Column, general, “Brimming with memories,” Kearney Hub, Jan. 7.

Kearney–Erika Pritchard, digital content creator, University of Nebraska at Kearney; freelance photographer.

FIRST PLACE: 5C. Online feature, “UNK senior Grace McDonald uses journalism to make an impact,” UNK News, Aug. 8; 21-C. Single photograph, general, “Nose-picking mutton buster,” Kearney Hub, Sept. 4; 21-B. Sports photo, “Kearney Runza pitcher Scott Simmons,” Kearney Hub, June 17.

SECOND PLACE:  21-A. News or feature photo, “National Night Out Little Firefighter,” Kearney Hub, Aug. 3;  21-B. Single photo, sports, “Amherst basketball player dives for ball,” Kearney Hub, Jan. 14; 7-D. Education, “Giovanni Flores fights for his education,” UNK News, May 24.

HONORABLE MENTION: 6-B. Personality profile, “Victoria Nimneh connects African heritage with love of performance,” UNK News, Feb. 15.

Kearney–Mary Jane Skala, reporter and columnist, Kearney Hub.

FIRST PLACE: 5-A. Feature: “From kicking tires to embracing philosophy, Tom Martin teaches essentials,” Kearney Hub, May 14; 6-B. Personality profile, over 750 words: “Gibbon man finds blessings in blindness,” Kearney Hub, April 16;  8-D. Column, personal, “Kindness of a stranger on a cold winter night,” Kearney Hub, Feb. 8; 7-C. business, “Popcorn snacks 100 flavors of popcorn,” Kearney Hub, Nov. 5; 7-E. food, “Hot Meals goes to Cambridge to feed firefighters,” Kearney Hub, April 30; 7-I. history, “Kearney man is 21st century mountain man,” Kearney Hub, April 9; 7-L. Personal essay, “Voting for freedom from COVID-19,” Kearney Hub, Nov. 12; 7-P. Science & technology, “Get more quality sleep, educator says benefits will abound,” Kearney Hub, April 2; 7-S. Style, “Corvettes, Cadillacs and classic clothing,” Kearney Hub, Sept. 3; 7-T. Travel, “A rejuvenating 40-day, 700-mile trek,” Kearney Hub, Sept. 17.

SECOND PLACE: 7-R, Sports, “Svoboda loves to clown around,” Kearney Hub, July 9;  6-B. Personality profile, 750+ words: “Ken Tracy has been playing Santa for 25 years,” Kearney Hub, Dec. 24.

HONORABLE MENTION:  8-D. Column, personal, “A frosty night with bugling elk,” Kearney Hub, Oct. 15.

Lexington – Barb Batie, freelance writer, Tri-City Tribune in Cozad and the Midland Messenger 

FIRST PLACE: 7-A, Agriculture, “Proposed beef processing facility a daunting task, founders say,” Midland Messenger, March 4; 8-A, Columns, general, “Farewell to our faithful furry friend,” Midwest Messenger, Sept. 2; 8-C, Columns, humorous, “The winter opossum wars are on,” Midwest Messenger, Feb. 4.

SECOND PLACE: 1 -B, News story, “Wildfire ravages southwest Nebraska,” Midwest Messenger, April 22;  6-B, Personality profile, over 750 words: “Miyoshi celebrates 100 years,” North Platte Telegraph, Dec. 10; 7-M, Physical health/diet/clean lifestyle, “New treatments no cure,” Tri-City Tribune, May 20.

THIRD PLACE: 1-A, News story, “Elwood-Arapahoe fire,” Tri-City Tribune, April 14; 5-B, Feature story, magazine or newsletter, “December workshop to address farm transaction,” Midwest Messenger, Dec. 25; 8-A, Columns, general, “Can We Truly Stand with Ukraine?” Midwest Messenger, March 18.

HONORABLE MENTION: 5-A, Feature story, newspaper, “Yields inconsistent in drought- impacted year,” Midwest Messenger, Oct. 5;  21, Single photograph, “Wurst Tag Kinder Dancers,” Tri-City Tribune, June 16.

Lincoln–Erin Wirth, director of Communications and Outreach, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

SECOND PLACE: 5C, online feature, “Formula for Fitness,” UNMC Today, Nov. 20.

THIRD PLACE: 5C, online feature, “Donor spotlight,” UNMC Today, Nov. 4.

Nebraska City/Elmwood/Syracuse—Phyllis Buell, columnist for the Syracuse Journal-Democrat and Nebraska City News Press. She lives in Elmwood.

HONORABLE MENTION:  8-A. humorous column: “Age: It’s just a number, isn’t it?” Nebraska City News Press, April 1.

Norfolk/Madison – Diane Becker, communications director, League Association of Risk Management. She lives in Madison.

FIRST PLACE:  24-A. Graphics and design, “Three Points of Contact to be Safe,” July 12.;  40. Website and social media/Electronic Newsletter, non-profit: LARM risk management newsletter, April; 48. Public service program or campaign, “Turn on the Right Faucet – be mentally healthy,” January; 42.  Advertising, Single Advertisement, “LARM ad for directories and magazines,” November; 51. Public relations materials, LARM 2020-21 Annual Report.

SECOND PLACE: 34. Web and social media, website edited or managed by entrant, LARM website, January 2022; 44. Advertising poster, “Promotion of LARM to conference participants,” Sept. 14;

HONORABLE MENTION: 21C. Single photograph, general, “Future Firefighters,” LARM calendar photo, August

North Platte–Heather Johnson, area public information specialist, Mid-Plains Community College.

SECOND PLACE: 21 C. Single photo, general, “The Dance,” Mid-Plains Community College Facebook page, Sept. 19.

THIRD PLACE: 21-B. single photo, sports, “Take Down,” Mid-Plains Community College Facebook page, Sept. 19.

HONORABLE MENTION:  21-C. Single photo, general, “Fit to be tied,” Mid-Plains Community College Facebook page, Sept 28; 21-B. single sports photo, “Racing the Inevitable,” Mid-Plains Community College Facebook page, Sept. 19.

West Point–Delores Meister, freelance writer

SECOND PLACE: 1-A. News story, “Cuming County Fair celebrates 100 years,” Norfolk Daily News, Aug. 5.

THIRD PLACE: 7-B. Business, “Busy year for business in the town once known as New Philadelphia,” Norfolk Daily News, March 10;  5-A. feature, “Snyder Over-60 Center celebrates fond four decades under director Gerry Haywood,” West Point News, Oct. 13.

HONORABLE MENTION: 7-C. business, “Danko Building sending six emergency vehicles to South America,” West Point News, March 9.