UVALDE — South Texas Press Association members gathered July 29-31 for the group’s 95th convention. Sessions were held at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center, where the group was welcomed by Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr. Speakers included Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer, columnist, reporter and editor Jeffrey Gerritt, former editor of the Palestine Herald-Press, and decorated news photographer Dean Smith, who provided two sessions. Activities resumed Saturday with the annual business meeting and awards presentations. The Chester Evans Distinguished Service Award was presented to the Lowe family of Lampasas, citing four generations of service in the newspaper industry. Ward Lowe and his father, E.C. Lowe, started The Lampasas Dispatch in 1947. In the 1950s, The Lampasas Record was purchased. Ward Lowe’s widow, Joyce Lowe, served as publisher from 1972 until 1985, when her sons Fred Lowe and Jim Lowe took over ownership of the newspaper. A longtime director and supporter, Fred Lowe served as president of STPA in 1986-87. He served as TPA president in 1988-89 and also served as Texas state chairman for NNA. Jim Lowe became publisher in 2005 after the death of his brother. He served in that capacity until his retirement in August 2020. Jim Lowe’s son David Lowe is the fourth generation of the family to continue the publishing legacy. Gail Lowe, Jim Lowe’s wife, is co-publisher. Awards in the 2021 STPA Better Newspaper Contest were also announced. Winners of the Judy and Bill Wilkerson Sweepstakes awards were the Frio-Nueces Current, Division 1; Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, Division 2; and The Fayette County Record, Division 3. Griff Singer General Excellence awards went to the Hays Free Press, Division 1; Fredericksburg Standard Radio-Post, Division 2; and The Fayette County Record, Division 3. STPA Photographer of the year awards went to Manuel Azocar III, Frio-Nueces Current, in Division 1; Sam Fowler, Pleasanton Express, in Division 2; and Jeff Lowe, Lampasas Dispatch Record, in Division 3. Willis Webb Journalist of the Year awards went to Marc Robertson, Frio-Nueces Current, in Division 1; Sam Fowler, Pleasanton Express, in Division 2; and Andy Behlen, The Fayette County Record, in Division 3. Click here to view full contest results on the TPA website.
New officers installed during the annual business meeting included Dan Parker, Port Aransas South Jetty, chairman; Manuel Azocar III, Frio-Nueces Current, Pearsall, president; Melissa Perner, Ozona Stockman, first vice president; Rhonda Chancellor, Pleasanton Express, second vice president; Jeff Berger, Hondo Anvil Herald, secretary-treasurer; Mary Judson, Port Aransas South Jetty, and Larry Jackson, Fayette County Record, La Grange (retired), assistants to the president; and Sue Brown, Texas Press Association, historian. Serving on the board of directors are Ken Esten Cooke, Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post; Moses Leos, Hays Free Press, Buda/Kyle; Sonya Timpone, Cuero Record; Terry Fitzwater, Kingsville Record; Meghann Garcia, Uvalde Leader-News; Paul Prause, Flatonia Argus; Brandi Chionsini, Fenice Community Media, Cedar Park; Shannon Crabtree, El Campo Leader-News, and Jeff Wick, The Fayette County Record, La Grange. Becky Weise, Fayette County Record, serves as site selection chairman; Cyndy Slovak-Barton, Hays Free Press, Buda/Kyle, as scholarship/internship chairman; Lisa Walter, Fredericksburg, as media services chairman; and Ken Esten Cooke, Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, as finance chairman. The STPA “family reunion” also included a visit to the Uvalde Grand Opera House for a special performance by the Sahawe Indian Dancers on Thursday and a presentation by representatives of the Briscoe Art and Antique Collection on Saturday. Members also had the opportunity to visit a number of attractions and museums in Uvalde.