The Independent’s editor and publisher was elected president of the New Mexico Press Association at its annual convention, and the newspaper brought home nine journalism awards.

Leota Harriman has served on the board of the Press Association since 2011, and has been part of its executive board for the past two years. She was elected president at the group’s annual membership meeting, part of its annual convention, this year held at the Marriott Hotel in Albuquerque.

“Serving on this board gives a seat at the table to a small newspaper like The Independent,” Harriman said. “It’s important that the needs of a paper like this one are heard on a board that represents all newspapers in the state.”

The Independent also brought home nine awards for journalism, four of them first-place.

Competing against other weekly newspapers with comparable circulation in the Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest, The Independent was part of a contest that brought 1,126 entries from 29 newspapers around the state.

The Press Association handed out 261 awards in about three dozen categories.

The Independent’s award winners were first place to Harriman for the Classified Ad Section; along with first place for Obituary News; and first place for Editorials; first place for Best Review went to Wally Gordon.

Ger Demarest won second place for Sports Coverage; Harriman won second place for Supplements & Special Sections for Cowboy Days; Harriman also won second place for Design & Typography; second place for News Writing; and second place for Series or Continuing Coverage.