Austin Weekly News photographer William Camargo's July 15, 2015 photo series covering Sandra Bland's funeral won rst place at the Illinois Press Association awards in Spring- eld on June 10.| File

The Austin Weekly News was honored as the best large circulation weekly newspaper in Illinois last week by the Illinois Press Association. In a luncheon ceremony Friday in Springfield, the Weekly took General Excellence in the annual editorial contest sponsored by the press association.

The judges wrote, “Excellent coverage of key issues in the community with effective writing and design. Outstanding use of photos.”

Michael Romain, editor of the Weekly for the past 18 months, was on hand to accept the award. “This is a great honor for the Weekly and all the people who work with me to build this paper every week. We really appreciate our readers across the West Side for their support,” he said.

General excellence was one of 17 editorial awards garnered by the Weekly this year.

The Weekly placed well with first and second place recognition in news reporting. LaRisa Lynch, long-time freelance reporter, took first for her coverage of the death of a toddler at the lagoon in Garfield Park. And Romain was recognized for his coverage of West Siders joining protests on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

Staff photographer William Camargo single-handedly brought home 10 awards for his compelling work for the Weekly. Covering stories ranging from the burial of Sandra Bland and late night vigils for crime victims to portraits and candids of families celebrating Father’s Day, judges were moved by the breadth of his images.

“William’s work reflects the Weekly’s every day determination to capture the joy and the dismay of life in Austin. Clearly the judges saw that, too,” said Dawn Ferencak, associate publisher of the Weekly.  “Michael has provided great leadership for the Weekly,” she said.

Arlene Jones, longtime columnist for the Weekly, took third place for her columns. Said the judges, “Avoid pedestrian writing: ‘very much.'”

The paper was also recognized for its special sections produced in collaboration with Austin Coming Together.

Austin Weekly came in a close second for overall newspaper design.

In the advertising and marketing contest, the Weekly was singled out for having the best classified section in a large circulation weekly and for its classified marketing efforts..

The Austin Weekly News is in its 30th year of service on the West Side. For about a quarter century, the Weekly has been published by Wednesday Journal, Inc., an Oak Park-based company.