A Los Angeles County ground crew makes it's way the hillside

A Los Angeles County ground crew makes it's way the hillside of a small, but very fast moving brush fire behind JPL on Monday, May 16, 2011 as a Los Angeles County helicopter drops a load of water on a hot spot. The NASA fire department, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department battled the fire with water drops from helicopters, and ground crews. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer) (May 8, 2012)

The La Cañada Valley Sun collected two first-place and three second-place awards Saturday in the California Newspaper Publishers Assn.'s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The awards, presented in San Jose during a meeting of the nonprofit trade association, were among 16 collected on behalf of Times Community North by Editor Dan Evans.

Taking the first-place award for best columns in the weekly newspaper category was Managing Editor Carol Cormaci, who writes a column titled "Piece of Mind." Cormaci's columns range from commentary on civic affairs to more personal topics. One of the columns submitted for the contest was about the loss of her sister to cancer.

Collecting a second-place award for a news photo was Photographer Tim Berger. Berger was sent out on this assignment when a fast-moving brush fire broke out near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge on a spring day.

To accompany a story on spiders that were invading La Cañada in the summer of 2011, staff photographer Raul Roa shot this close-up. Roa's efforts were rewarded with a second-place prize in the art/nature photo category of the contest.

Also capturing a first-place prize was the Valley Sun's website. The entire Valley Sun staff shares in the award as all are responsible for helping to keep the site current.

The Valley Sun sports writers, under the leadership of Sports Editor Grant Gordon, share the second-place award the paper was given for overall sports coverage.