NASHVILLE — The Independent Herald brought home three first place awards at the annual state press contests here Friday.

Sponsored by the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Press Association, the annual press contests awarded newspaper writers, editors, designers and publishers from a total of nearly 1,600 entries from 80 of Tennessee’s daily or non-daily newspapers.

The Independent Herald captured first place awards among Group I newspapers — non-dailies with weekly circulation up to 5,000 — for editorial writing, best single editorial and news coverage.

In all, the Independent Herald won nine awards in eight categories.

“We’re proud to be able to continue to say that we are an award-winning newspaper,” Independent Herald Publisher Paul Roy said. “Every edition of our newspaper is focused on Scott County and the people who call her home, while our dedication to that does not revolve around the awards we receive, it’s always an honor when our peers in the newspaper industry recognize the quality of our work.”

The first place award for editorial writing covered editorials throughout the course of the 2013 calendar year. Other newspapers placing in the category included the Erwin Record, the Memphis Business Journal, the Herald & Tribune, and the Chester County Independent.

The best single editorial award was for a Dec. 3, 2013 editorial about the necessity of community support for Scott County Hospital (see page B3). Other newspapers placing in the category included The McKenzie Banner, the Cannon Courier and the Herald & Tribune.

Both awards were Meeman Award winners. As part of the press contest, UT’s Edward J. Meeman Foundation honors newspapers with cash awards in the categories of editorials, best single editorial and public service. The Meeman Foundation was established in 1968 to fund the contests and provide professional critiques of journalists’ work and to support journalism students and faculty.

The Independent Herald’s first place award in the category of news reporting was for a March 28, 2013 story highlighting Scott County’s war on methamphetamine. The Independent Herald also received a fifth-place award in the same category for its coverage of the untimely death of Sheriff Mike Cross in December.

The Independent Herald also earned award certificates in five other categories, including: sports coverage; best website, for; Neighbors, the weekly community lifestyles section focusing on the accomplishments of Scott Countians; local feature stories; and best personal column, for Paul Roy’s remembrance of Oneida’s Freeman Walker.

“The Independent Herald’s tradition as an award-winning newspaper dates all the way back to 1976, when Paul Roy and a group of his business friends started the newspaper, and it feels good to say that the Independent Herald is still winning awards nearly 40 years later,” Independent Herald Editor Ben Garrett said.

“The awards we won were for stories that included the accomplishments of our sports teams, community triumphs, tragedies, issues that deeply impact the community, and looking ahead towards a brighter future — encompassing everything that we strive to cover week-in and week-out,” Garrett added.

“The neat thing about these awards is that some folks who work in the newspaper industry judged the quality of our work in good news and bad news alike, and that’s a balance that every healthy community newspaper must strike.”