From the publisher:

See story on Page A1

Thursday,The Sampson Independent’s managing editor, Chris Berendt, along with the newspaper’s advertising staff — advertising director Shannon Best, advertising consultant Gary Pate, and former consultant Clay Boney, along with classified manager Brenda McCullen — earned state awards for writing and design.

The honors, given by the North Carolina Press Association each year, aren’t easy to win and, because of that fact, are coveted by those of us in the newspaper business. This year, for example, in both news and advertising, we were (in our circulation category) recognized along with the likes of state newspapers like The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer and others like The Wilson Daily Times and sisters papers like The Robesonian.

Honored this year were Brenda McCullen for a Memorial Day signature page; the advertising staff for ads designed for our magazine Home Grown; Boney for an ad designed for Hinton Buildings in Princeton; and Berendt for stories he wrote on long-time College Street School custodian Sally Hardison, four state awards that can now be added to a growing number of placards that represent our commitment to providing quality service to our advertisers, our readers and our community.

That we have earned state awards for three consecutive years is humbling. It is a feat that we take pride in, yet we accept with gratitude and as a challenge to maintain quality work year after year after year.

As publisher of The Independent, seeing my hard-working staff honored for their dedication to their craft and to the readers and advertisers they serve is an even bigger honor than the NC Press certificates they brought home. The awards they earned, however, are testaments to the positive changes you see in the newspaper daily.

Having been at The Independent for nearly 25 years, I can attest to the growth in our paper, much of which can be credited to the current group of dedicated individuals you see around town representing us. It was true of those who were working with us when the awards were submitted in October 2016 and it is true of the newest members of our staff, who came aboard after the judging was done.

I am honored to work shoulder to shoulder with them. They make my job far easier because of their integrity, attention to detail and determination to get things right.

So I offer my congratulations to them all, especially Berendt for running a great newsroom, Best for her dedication to providing the highest quality of advertising service and Circulation Manager Alexus Dudley and her fine staff of carriers who deliver the finished product all the others provide each and every day.

And I offer thanks to the NC Press Association for recognizing the talents I’ve always known we have here.

Awards testament to dedicated group of SI staffers