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Meridian Star's outdoors editor wins writing awards

By Staff
special to The Star
Oct. 29, 2003
Otha Barham, outdoors editor of The Meridian Star, won two Excellence-in-Craft writing awards at a recent annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA).
His article, "Partners to a Dream," won third place in the "Best Site Story" category. It appeared in The Star in April of last year.
The award is given for stories about experiences at the annual SEOPA conference site. Barham's story chronicled his taking an Osceola wild turkey while attending the conference in Deland, Fla. The gobbler completed Barham's quest to bag the "Grand Slam" of wild turkeys all four species common to the United States.
Barham also placed third in the coveted "Best Magazine Story" category.
His winning story, titled "Gabriel of South Ridge," was published in the international magazine "Turkey Call." It is the story of Barham's finest turkey gobbler, which he bagged in Maryland's western mountains.
Unlike another large writing competition sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, which gives several magazine story awards based on subject matter, the SEOPA lumps all subjects into one category.
Barham received plaques and cash awards at SEOPA's 2003 Conference Awards Banquet, which held October 11 in Fayetteville, N.C.
Judges for the writing competition were: Thom Gabruiewiez of the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif.; Tom Stienstra, outdoors columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle; Bill Sunderland, a book author who lives in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains; Rick Martin, a photojournalist for the Pulitzer Prize-winning San Jose Mercury News; Craig Hanson, a fishing show host on San Francisco's KRON-TV; Jay Kumar, founder of BassFan, daily tournament news; and George Cooper, an associate producer for CNN.
Renee Wente-Talevast, tourism marketing director from Deland, Fla., judged the site story entries.
The Southeastern Outdoor Press Association is recognized nationwide by outdoor writers and the outdoor industry as a leader among the few regional outdoor writer organizations.
Its membership consists primarily of writers from 13 states and product manufacturers from across the nation. Its purpose is to promote excellence in outdoor communications and foster interaction between industry and member writers.