The Press Club of Southeast Texas has named a Jefferson County judge as one of its Newsmaker of the Year finalists to be honored at the annual fund-raising dinner on June 5.

Bob Wortham, judge of the Jefferson County 58th District Court, was nominated for his key role in organizing citizens' response to damage on the Bolivar Peninsula by Hurricane Ike.

The dinner and awards program will be held at the University Reception Center on the eighth floor of the Mary and John Gray Library at Lamar University in Beaumont.

The beach community where Wortham had a vacation home was nearly flattened by storm surge from the Category 2 hurricane that struck near Galveston last September.

Although it was severely damaged inside, Wortham's beachfront house was still standing, and was seen in hundreds of photographs and aerial shots of the peninsula's devestation.

Only weeks after the storm, Wortham began to hold public meetings at the Jefferson County Courthouse for the bewildered Bolivar Peninsula property-owners, disseminating information and organizing committees to expedite the recovery process.

Other finalists for Newsmaker of the Year are internationally recognized photographer Keith Carter; the Bridge City team of Jamey Harrison, Kirk Roccaforte and Carl Thibodeaux, who led the city's recovery from Hurricane Ike; Beaumont Fire Chief Anne Huff, the city's first female chief; and the team of Joe Worley and David Deslatte, who through their church organized "Mid County Kidness" to aid the Bridge City hurricane victims.

Press Club members select the five finalists (or teams of finalists) and the top recipient of the Newsmaker of the Year award, which recognizes the Southeast Texan who had the most significant positive impact on issues and events during the year 2008.

The program also will feature presentation of the club's 2009 Excellence in the Media Awards, selected from almost 600 entries submitted by area professionals in the fields of newspapers, television, radio, magazines and public relations.

Now in its 18th year, the banquet is the major fund-raiser for the Press Club Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to a communication student at Lamar.

Banquet reservations are $35 per person. Additional information is available from Louise Wood, vice president for public relations, at (409) 880-8415.

More News