The Woodburn Independent was awarded five Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association awards at the Summer Publishers Convention July 17-19 in Bend.

The newspaper received three plaques for first-place awards and two certificates for second-place awards in the 2013 Better Newspaper Contest for Group E, which is for weeklies with a 3,001 or more circulation. Winning entries are from 2012.

Among the awards, the Independent received first place in the “Best Page 1 Design” category. The front page of three different editions in 2012 — Feb. 22, May 16 and Nov. 7 — were submitted for the award.

The Feb. 22 edition featured articles and photos covering Wurstfest in Mount Angel and an ordinance in Hubbard that prevents beekeeping.

The May 16 edition had three articles and a large photo surrounding the May 11 Woodburn High School fire.

Nov. 7 includes a photo of a special education student hugging a therapeutic llama visiting Heritage Elementary School, a Highway 99E car and bicycle crash and a story on a hearing update for Father Angel Perez’s sex abuse trial.

Editor Lindsay Keefer was named first in the “Best Writing” category. Keefer will receive a plaque for three collective pieces in this category. The articles submitted for this category were “Bouncing Back,” a feature published June 6, 2012, on North Marion High School student Jaime De Jardin who battled abuse from her mother and a brain tumor; “Helping a Nation,” a piece published April 4, 2012, about Woodburn United Methodist minister Jim Monroe retiring and moving to Kenya to work in conjunction with a hospital; and “An old fashioned love story,” published Feb. 15, 2012, about a local couple married 68 years.

Keefer also received a second place award in the “Education Coverage” category for a feature piece “On her own at 16” published May 2, 2012. The piece chronicled the challenges Beatriz Guerrero overcame when she moved to the U.S. alone to pursue her education and eventually received the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

The Independent also received first and second place awards in the “Best Editorial” category. “Playing with Fire,” published May 23, 2012, won first place. It defended the Independent’s decision to temporarily withhold the names of the students who started the Woodburn High School fire and described the paper’s view that the Measure 11 penalty being pursued by the district attorney’s office was too harsh.

The second place award went to “Free the bees,” an editorial published Feb. 22, 2012. It criticized a law in Hubbard that classified bees as “exotic animals,” therefore preventing beekeeping in the city limits.

Both editorials were penned by the Independent’s former general assignment reporter, Doug Burkhardt.

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