Ocracoke Observers publishers Connie Leinbach and Peter Vankevich with their first-place certificates in the editorial division from the North Carolina Press Association.

For Ocracoke news, click here.

RALEIGH–The Ocracoke Observer received six editorial awards, including two first places, last night during the North Carolina Press Association’s annual Winter Institute and Editorial Awards banquet here.

The Observer won awards in the Online newspaper category and was one of four online newspapers winning awards.  

The winning stories were published on http://ocracokeobserver.com  between October 2015 and September 2016. Because the Observer publishes monthly from March to December, its NCPA membership is in the Online newspaper division.

Co-publishers Connie Leinbach, also editor, and Peter Vankevich, each received one first-place award.

Vankevich’s “Heard on Ocracoke” column featuring musician Todd Hoke received first place for arts and entertainment writing.  These columns highlight musicians who have performed on Ocracoke and include audio of original songs.

Leinbach’s headline “The roller coaster ride called ferry tolls hits a corkscrew” won first place for headline writing.  This story detailed the continued tussle about whether or not to toll the Hatteras Ferry, which is now free.

The judge commented: “A creative way to infuse a light-hearted look at the issue.”

Leinbach received second-place honors for feature writing for the story “Mark Justice: On call for emergencies,” about which the judge said: “Nice inspirational story about volunteerism,” and in the arts and entertainment category for “Martin and Friends weave musical magic in Coyote Den.”

She also won third place in feature writing for the story “Someday soon Seymour suddenly will bloom,” about the visitor and community interest last June about Cindy Fiore’s century plant, which she had dubbed “Seymour.”NCPA awards

The judge noted, “An enjoyable read with a fun lede: “One of these days soon, Seymour will suddenly bloom, bask in a short glory, then die.”

Vankevich won third place for his profile feature “Brownie Futrell has strong Ocracoke roots.”

Islander Pat Garber, an Observer writer, won second place for a Profile Feature titled “Coastal Sketch: The Oyster Ladies of Ocracoke” published in the Coastal Review Online.

In addition to the Coastal Review Online, other online newspaper competitors were NC Health News, which won first place for general excellence and N.C. Policy Watch.

More than 109 news organizations submitted 3,892 entries in seven divisions in the yearly contest that encompasses the smallest to the largest newspapers across the state. More than 1,200 awards were given at the event.

To view “Heard on Ocracoke: Todd Hoke,” click here.

To view “The roller coast ride called ferry tolls hits a corkscrew,” click here.

To view “Mark Justice: On call for emergencies,” click here.

To view “Martin and Friends weave musical magic in Coyote Den,” click here.

To view “Someday soon Seymour suddenly will bloom,” click here.
To read about Seymour’s demise, click here.

To view “Brownie Futrell has strong Ocracoke roots,” click here.




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  1. There are so many other categories that were overlooked, e.g watching the raptors go by. I guess the judges have to spread things around. Congratulations

  2. Congratulations! This is exciting, and certainly well deserved. It is good to see that the island journalistic talent is recognized and honored in such a way.

  3. Congratulations! Well deserved awards. Ocracoke and those of us who love it are blessed to have such talented and hard-working people like you, Connie and Peter, to keep us informed of the happenings on and around Ocracoke. Thank you for all the time and energy you put into the Observer. We are very happy for you. Marie and Vic

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