Playwright offers tales from the heart

July 1, 2011

“I went to a vocational school that was me and like 2,500 guys,” Elena Hartwell remembered with a laugh. It was there the high school dropout from San Diego learned to become an auto mechanic.

Elena Hartwell speaks talks about

By Dave Hastings Elena Hartwell talks about writing her first play as an auto mechanic without a high school diploma.

She was 17, and although working on cars was not her lifelong dream, it was work. The days were filled with grease, oil and motors, but after work — and wiping the grease from her fingers — Hartwell became an artist.


It was during these years that she completed her first full-length script for the stage: “Fast Ducks.” The story followed several people in a diner, exploring their relationships with one another. The play took place in a town in which residents raced ducks.

“Inspiration strikes in strange ways,” Hartwell said with a laugh, adding that she wrote the script not knowing anything about theater.

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Columnists Pat Detmer wins national newspaper award

July 1, 2011

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists in May recognized Newcastle News columnist Pat Detmer for her monthly column “Laughing All the Way,” awarding her an honorable mention for best humorous columnist in a newspaper with a distribution of less than 50,000 copies.

Pat Detmer

The honor was given as part of the organization’s annual awards. Three columnists from across the country were nominated for the top prize; Detmer was the only honorable mention named in the category.

“It made me feel good,” she said, adding that she was very pleased when she heard the news. “My heart skipped a little beat.”
She sent the organization three columns that appeared in Newcastle News in 2010, and she said cartoonist Dana Sullivan — whose sketches accompany her columns — helped her get noticed on the national scale.
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