The Coastal Star earned five first-place awards, three seconds and two thirds in the Florida Press Association’s Better Weekly Newspapers competition.
    First place-honors went to Scott Simmons, Jerry Lower, Tracy Allerton and Steve Plunkett for overall graphic design; to Hiram Henriquez for a two-page informational graphic on lionfish; and to Steve Plunkett in the local government reporting category for a story about the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District’s longtime lawyer also working as its executive director and construction administrator.
    Mary Hladky’s story about four friends at Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach who invented a biodegradable alternative to plastic rings, won first place in business reporting; and Ron Hayes took first in education reporting for a feature about Gulf Stream School students learning geometry and statistics via a field trip to a Miami Marlins baseball game.
    Taking second-place awards were Executive Editor Mary Kate Leming in the editorial category for columns on the sober home crisis; Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley in agricultural and environmental reporting for a column about efforts to repopulate Delray Beach with native plants; and Lona O’Connor in health, medical and science reporting for a story about a Boca Raton woman’s fight against cancer.
    Third-place prizes went to Janis Fontaine in faith and family reporting for a story about a Boca Raton congregation turning $8,000 into $30,000 in donations; and ArtsPaper Editor Greg Stepanich in arts, entertainment and review reporting for an interview with the former director of Arts Garage.
    The annual contest received 1,154 entries from 56 newspapers. The Coastal Star competed in the nondaily over-15,000 circulation category, for the largest newspapers.

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