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Cooper Review Acquires TPA Prizes

It is that time of year again. The announcement of the winners of the 2017 Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest recently came.

The Cooper Review competes annually with other publications of the similar circulation and delivery. The Review distributes 1,350 copies each Thursday all across East Texas, the State of Texas and to the far reaches of the United States – essentially a “letter from home” for many subscribers.

According to the TPA this year 143 newspapers submitted 1,410 entries. There were 90 weekly newspapers competing in divisions 6-10.

The awards, judged this year by the Louisiana Press Association, are published in the Winners’ Circle. Next year the contest will be judged by the Nebraska Press Association.

In Division 9, Cooper Review Editor Cindy Roller was awarded a second place accolade in Feature Writing for her submissions of “Lost and Found” published on June 23, 2016 and “Iconic Pharmacy closes Doors” published on Aug. 11, 2016.

The judges commented on Roller’s work, “Just an enjoyable read. Good storytelling.”

“Lost and Found” featured The Girl Graduate, a diary belonging to Ms. Faye Kenyon Darter. Darter’s memoirs of growing up in Delta County and her school days at Cooper High School dating back to May 30, 1921. The diary was located in a trunk by Sam Newton of Tulsa, Oklahoma and returned to the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, who in turn donated back to Cooper High School – following a search for family members by the Cooper Review.

The brittle yellow pages spell out her fondest memories handwritten in cursive with notes from classmates like autographs in a yearbook.

An excerpt from the feature article:

“Despite the vivid description of the Wisteria blossoms and piano tunes, Kenyon hand writes her own notes below the article, ‘But of course we’ve done things the teacher didn’t know.’ Admitting she might not have been quite the straight line student she portrayed. However, she was a fairly ‘B’ average pupil according to her report card, pasted near the back of the book,” told Roller.

There was even a special “oath” taken by her and three friends. “We, the undersigned, do solemnly swear not to marry any man, (no matter how good looking and sweet) until Oct. 7, 1922. If any member dares to break this oath let him be a deserted wife and die with old age.”

In the “Iconic Pharmacy closes Doors,” Roller takes readers back in time for a moment when the Miller’s Drugs neon sign illuminated the corner of the Square in Cooper and milkshakes flowed frequently by the hand of the famous Mabel Wheat.

“I never had a customer, I had family members,” said Pharmacist Yogi Patel on Miller’s, who operated the business since October 2010. The pharmacy closed its doors on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. He stayed open as long as he could for the community.

Marion Miller said his uncle moved Miller’s Pharmacy to this location in 1930. Miller reminisced on memories like on Valentine’s Day how they would sell 200-300 heart-shaped candy boxes in one day.

From midnight show in the 1950s when the cotton farmers came to town the Square was a busy place to Miller watching his dad compound medicines and making pill powders. Times have changed on the Square in Cooper.

“Our entire family worked here. The whole community would be on the Square on Saturdays. These memories are irreplaceable,” said Miller, sadden by the change. Many also still mourn the loss of famed milkshake maker Mabel Wheat, who passed away April 2015.

Taking first was the Springtown Epigraph with their feature on “Mr. Springtown.” Third went to San Patricio County News, and fourth to Tri County Leader.

In Division 9, Cooper Review Owner/Publisher Jim Butler and Editor Cindy Roller earned a third place certificate in honor for their exchange of Editorials. In Butler’s opinion piece published on July 14, 2016, “Hurry back Cindy,” he wrote about the absence of the editor. She spent one week in the hospital suffering from congestive heart failure. The duo had spent the last 10 years working together with the last five she spent as the editor of the Review.

Cooper Review Owner/Publisher Jim Butler and Editor Cindy Roller
Credit Cooper Review
Cooper Review Owner/Publisher Jim Butler and Editor Cindy Roller

“I have always known how much Cindy does and how she has always made my job easy. And, let me say. I don’t think anyone can fill her high heels,” said Jim Butler in his 2016 article. “…she spends a considerable amount of time in the heart of Delta County helping provide news, sports, and being an essential part of the community.”

In response, Roller gave her insight on July 28, 2016 in “Time: Recovering, Recuperating, Rollering along…”

“Time. This has an entirely new meaning for this red headed editor, who has never missed a deadline or a beat…I commend boss man Jim Butler and our staff writer Kalynn McKee for picking up the pieces of the puzzle…There truly are not enough words to express my gratitude for all of you,” said Roller in her editorial.

Taking first in the division was the Springtown Epigraph, and second went to the Gladewater Mirror.

In recent history of the Cooper Review, this newspaper has garnered several TPA awards among other community honors. Those from TPA are:

  • Second Place News Photo/Third Place Advertising 2016
  • Third Place News Photo/Fourth Place Advertising 2015
  • Second Place News Photo/Third Place Headline Writing 2014
  • First Place Weekly Division Community Service/Second Place Page Design 2013
  • Third Place Editorial/Routine Special Section/Fourth Place Feature Writing 2013
  • First Place Feature Story Division 9 2012

“2016 was a particularly difficult year for us at the Cooper Review. So many changes and struggles on top of medical problems, we were all ready to see that year end,” said Cooper Review Editor Cindy Roller. “It is very refreshing to see something positive come from all of the difficulties. We appreciate the TPA for hosting this annual contest and to the Louisiana Press Association judges for their dedication to this line of work.”

Roller plans to spend this year’s Independence Day Celebration back on her feet and is looking forward to enjoying the fireworks again.

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