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The Miami Herald

Laura Kerbyson - Writing sample from my portfolio.
My writer's notes appear for why I choose this sample beneath the article.

The Miami Herald

December 21, 1995

Juveniles face trials of adulthood at boot camp
No facility available for young criminals

Two years after his mother left him, and tired of bouncing to and from foster homes and shelters, 15-year-old Logan Landau found himself living on Fort Lauderdale beach.

"Messed up" and hungry, he committed a robbery and was arrested. Landau's life had been full of bad people and bad decisions. So he asked the judge to make his life a little harder — he asked for boot camp.

Landau was one of 12 juveniles in a class of 32 to graduate last week from the Broward County boot camp.

For juveniles to be candidates for the adult facility, they must convicted as adults. They then become ineligible for most rehabilitation programs designed for offenders their age. For the "cadets" in the program, boot camp is the last chance to change their lives.

Broward County has plans to create a boot camp for juveniles as well, but the start of construction is at least nine months away. It will be called Bootstrap, and will include a 100-bed camp for young adults 18 or older, with a separate, 30-bed camp for offenders between the ages of 14 and 17.

Sgt. Kim Columbus, the boot camp's senior drill instructor, said she believes the new facility will provide early intervention for troubled kids.

"The trick is to get to these kids before they really start getting in trouble, " she said.

But until the Bootstrap facility opens, juveniles still must be tried as adults to be eligible for a boot camp program.

"A lot of the judges now are adjudicating them as adults just so they can get into boot camp," Columbus said.

Even some parents are viewing adult adjudication as necessary to get help for their children, Columbus said.

"Some of the parents are calling here asking, "How can I get my son into boot camp? It's kind of a decision that the parent has to make — Do they want to try to push to get the son waived into the adult court so he can come to boot camp? Or do they want to try to keep his record clean?"

Broward Circuit Judge Melanie May said she has sent at least 12 juveniles to the adult court for boot camp. "It can serve different purposes for different kids," she said. "For some, it shows that there's some teeth in our system. For others, it's a step. For other, it's a cure."

Doesn't always work out

Sometimes the request for boot camp does not work out. "Last week, I had a mom in drug court asking, 'Please, please put him in boot camp,'" May said. "But he failed the physical."

Juvenile Division Administrative Judge Robert Collins said he tries to keep kids in the juvenile system. But there have been some offenders who would not have been helped by the current juvenile programs.

"It would have been a disaster," Collins said. "The boot camp has been a blessing, but the boot camp is not enough."

Collins said he has recommended the Bootstrap program include vocational and social skills training, as well as at least six months of support after the program is completed.

Several parents at Friday's graduation ceremony said they had other children who would benefit from the experience, even though they had not committed any crime.

The camp's popularity stems from its success rate. Since its inception 2 1/2 years ago, more than 500 people have graduated. Only 30 percent of them have been arrested again, Columbus said.

The military-style program teaches responsibility, respect and leadership. The cadets are awakened each day at 3:30 a.m. by a drill instructor. Every minute of their day is scheduled with exercises, drill routines, GED and career skills classes, individual and group counseling sessions.

Assigned to work details

Even time to go to the bathroom is scheduled, Columbus said. Cadets are assigned to work details that involve community projects, such as clearing lots for Habitat for Humanity. There is no TV and no phone time. Visitors are not allowed until a week before graduation. The camp is so strenuous that one of the graduates lost 50 pounds over the course of the 90-day program.

Now 16, Landau said his first impression of the boot camp was: "Hell.

"Now I kind of like it here because it's helped me," he said. "It helped me deal with decision-making, job interviews and patience. It taught me patience, " he said.

Most of Landau's problems began at age 13 when he climbed onto the roof of an elementary school to retrieve a football and fell through a skylight. He crushed his ankle and had multiple fractures in his leg and hip. He was arrested for breaking and entering. Three weeks after he got out of the hospital, his mother left him for good.

"Logan Landau is really not much different from any other kid," Columbus said, "He needs somebody to take his hand and say, 'I care about you and you're worth more than this.'"

One of his boot camp teachers, Siobhan Pitters, agrees.

"What he really wants is a family."

Options narrowed

The absence of a stable family and being tried as an adult narrowed Landau's options after boot camp. Monday he was transferred to Broward's Probation Restitution Center, an adult facility, where he will serve two years on probation. He will pay $42 a week to the center and be allowed to leave only for work and school.

If Landau is able to complete his probation, he may finally get what he really wants. On Friday, Mario Houck, a friend's grandmother, came to his graduation. She told him that he has a home to come to when his probation is done.

Houck feels that she can offer Landau stability and discipline. She and her husband Jimmy, a former Marine, have been married for 41 years.

Landau knows it is time to focus on finding a job and going back to school. But his two main goals are even more basic.

"Stay alive. And stay out of anything bad I ever got into."


Writer's Notes: I choose this article to include in my portfolio because it embodies the reasons why I was originally a writer. Getting a story like this is not as simple as saying, "Tell me your story." You have to ask a lot of questions and ask them in the right way. I made many visits to the detention center and sat across the table from Logan. As a writer and an interviewer, I had to exercise great patience - in not rushing the story - in not pushing too hard. This was a kid who had some real genuine hurt under the surface for all that he had lived through. He didn't tell me all of the story in the first visit. So I kept coming back and continuing the conversation because I thought the story was worth it. It took a while before he realized that he could trust me to tell me his story in a way that would make a difference.

Then I had to do the legwork of nailing down all  the other pieces of the story. This was human interest that was based in news. And the end result is that it was an article that generated some impact and how these cases were handled. Readers no longer thought of this as just a line item in the budget to where their tax dollars are going to go.

The line that cuts you to the core shows up about 3/4 of the way through the story when you realized that his mother left him for good and what had actually happened transpired. That wasn't something that he divulged in the first interview. What I learned from my editor was not to give that away too soon in the story. The story has more impact if it's delivered later. This is an example where human behavior is a good indicator of how to write. Logan didn't want to divulge that to me in the initial interviews, he held it back. He knew it was powerful and it was hurtful. So as a writer, I need to hold that back for the reader until later in the story..

It's also the kind of story that you can't fundamentally cover without being impacted. So I too, was there to see his graduation. And hand him a copy of the story and the photographs taken by the Herald photographer in an album. And for the story the reader never sees but the writer lives, watching him read the article was as powerful a moment as when he told me about his mother. - Laura

The Columbus Dispatch

Laura Kerbyson - Writing sample from my portfolio.
My writer's notes appear for why I choose this sample beneath the article.

Writing Sample 2 - This is the kind of bread-and-butter technology article that filled my writing career.

The Columbus Dispatch
February 27, 1996

Huntington says data backup system is out of this world

Huntington Bancshares Inc. has successfully tested a new technology to transfer financial data by satellite.

The system could serve banks as a backup for transferring information from braches that have lost phone access, said John Voss, Huntington Service Co. senior vice president and chief technology officer.

Conducted with NASA's Lewis Research Center and Ohio University, the tests used NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite, known as ACTS.

The $363 million satellite is part of a $500 million project approved by Congress in 1984 to develop communications systems that could be used during disasters or to serve remove areas. No commercial vendors have committed to use the technology.

ACTS was deployed from the space shuttle Discovery in September 1993, and Huntington's experiments began three months later.

Don Flournoy, Ohio University telecommunications professor and ACTS project manager, released the final report of the trial yesterday.

The satellite has advanced switching technology and is the first to use the Ka band, an especially wide portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists previously thought the Ka band wasn't practical because it is prone to weather interference.

Banks currently lease additional special high-capacity telephone lines, known as T-1 lines, to transmit financial data in case of disaster. The new satellite can prove to be invaluable for financial institutions like Huntington, which has 338 offices in 17 states.

"Florida is a prime example of where ACTS may come into play," Voss said. Hurricanes can knock out backup lines and render a bank off-line for extended periods.

ACTS has a powerful switching system that enables it to transmit data at high speeds and to simultaneously transmit concentrated beams of data to multiple locations. Flournoy said the satellite can transmit the digital equivalent of a set of encyclopedias in three seconds.

In one Huntington experiment, researchers simulated a failure of the banks' primary data center on Morse Road, forcing the T-1 communications equipment to switch to the satellite link.

Another experiment involved establishing ACTS as an operation part of the bank's network on a 24-hour basis. Bank branch terminals and ATM machines were included in the experiments.

"For an operation perspective, we found the ACTS system to be very similar to terrestrial on-demand T-1 services, " Flournoy said.


Writer's Notes: I choose this piece for writing sample 2 because it is the kind of story that I was ideally suited to cover. I spent a large part of my writing career on technology articles. My technology background allows me to able to explain complex technologies to people in an easy to understand format. It also enables me to decipher what is news in the technology world. - Laura

Analysis and Briefing

Analysis and writing sample from my portfolio.
My writer's notes appear for why I choose this sample beneath the article.

Power Perspective - The First in PowerPC™ News (1994) - Analysis Sample. This was a trade publication for computer scientists and engineers. Articles serve as briefs for the engineering community and are inherently different than newspaper or magazine articles. This article is from the first publication where I served as Editor of the publication.

Apple, IBM and Motorola continue developing four versions of the PowerPC™

A PowerPC™ microprocessor is a RISC microprocessor written to standards formalized for an alliance between Apple, Motorola, and IBM. These standards will allow multiple manufacturers to release their own versions of PowerPC™ chips that will run the same source code.

Apple, Motorola and IBM are in the process of developing four versions of the PowerPC™ chip. These four models of PowerPC™ chips are: 601, 603, 604, and 620. Each version is designed to meet the needs of a different segment of the marketplace.

The 601 is the first processor available, and is designed to assist in the transition to Power PC™. IBM is doing the actual manufacturing on the PowerPC™ 601. The 603, 604 and 620 will be manufactured by Motorola. IBM started shipping the 601 chips in quantity in September 1993. The 601 will be used in their initial mid-range and high-end systems. The performance of the PowerPC™ 601 exceeded original goals and plans to ship models based at the high speeds. The minimum speed of the 601 Macintosh systems has been increased from 50Mhz to 60Mhz. (FAQ) (White) (Apple)

The 603 is a power miser as compared to the 601. It will be the lowest power consumer and smallest chip of the PowerPC™ line. However, it will rival the 601 in performance. These chips will probably be very popular in portables, and PDA's. The chips first reached silicon in October 1993.

The lower cost design will make the chip available for high-volume machines. By delivering the 603 one year after introducing the 601, demonstrates the ability of the three companies to stay on schedule.

The 604 is due out in mid 1994. This processor is designed to be the processor for high end desktop computing.

The PowerPC™ 620 will handle data and addresses as 64 bit quantities. Motorola is claiming that the 620 will run at 200 to 400 SPECmarks. The expectation is that this chip will serve in the high-performance workstations and servers. The processor probably will not be available until the end of 1994. (FAQ) (WHITE)


RISC processors streamline the internal workings of computers. Traditional processors are known as complex instruction-set computing or CISC. These CISC processors contain a wide variety of instructions to handle many different tasks. RISC processors contain only those instructions that are used most often.

When a complex instruction is needed, a RISC processor builds it from a combination of basic instructors. RISC processors are designed to execute these basic instructions extremely quickly. The performance gains achieved by speeding up the most-used instructions more than compensate for the time spent creating the less-used instructions.

To date, RISC technology has been used only in systems designed for raw computational power. Most engineering workstations and commercial database servers use RISC technology. These computers have been based on the UNIX operating system and therefore have been more difficult to install, learn, use and maintain that what personal computer users expect.

PowerPC™ RISC based machines are seen as the next generation technology by several vendors. The performance improvement of successive generations of CISC processor is leveling off. RISC performance, however, is continuing to grow. (WHITE)


PowerPC™ vs. Pentium

Speed Benchmarks Released by  Motorola

The Intel Corporation has released a new CISC microprocessors called the Pentium. Intel maintains that RISC technology is not necessary to provide the power required for tomorrow's desktop applications. (WHITE).

IBM has released an 80 Mhz PPC 601, and Apple has demonstrations using PowerPC™ chips at 80Mhz. but no test results are available yet. (FAQ)

These specs show that the PowerPC™ microprocessor has performance comparable to the Pentium in integer calculations and exceeds the Pentium in floating-point calculations. Floating point calculations are needed for sophisticated graphics, communications and video applications. (WHITE)

The PowerPC™ is smaller and produces less heat than the Pentium. Size affects the cost of the microprocessor. The smaller chips cost less. Heat output affects how the processor can be used. Hotter processors need more space and electrical power (for fans), which makes them difficult to use in a notebook computer.

The following speed benchmarks released by Motorola for the PowerPC™ 601 running at 55MHz versus the Pentium.

Speed Benchmarks Released by Motorola
Test PowerPC™ 601@66Mhz Pentium@66Mhz
SPECint92 >60 64.5
SPECfp92 >80 56.9
Power(worst case) 8.5 watts 16watts
Die Size(mm^2) 120 262

(SPECint92 and SPECfp92 are trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Council, a non-profit organization whose mission is to establishing, maintain and endorse a standardized set of relevant application-oriented benchmarks.


The Power Perspective: The First PPC Publication

The Power Perspective is the first newsletter designed to inform readers on what is happening with the PowerPC™ family of microprocessors being jointly developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola.

The IBM PowerPC™ RS/6000 models are now starting to ship. Apple will be shipping versions of their first PowerPC™ release in a few months. Over the course of that time new models based on the PowerPC™ 601 will be released by other manufacturers. Later this year, the power priced, lower powered, PowerPC™ 603 will be making its debut. Soon the PowerPC™ 604, and eventually the PowerPC™ 620, (which holds the power of a mainframe on a microprocessor) will be making their impacts. Each chip provides new opportunity for growth and potential new areas of development.

The late John Anderson once wrote, "The ultimate goal of computer technology is, in a sense, to make the computer disappear, that the technology should be so transparent, so invisible to the user that for practical purposes the computer does not exist." MacUser, March 1989.

The PowerPC™ platform has the potential for computers to actually meet this goal. It provides the opportunity for growth into the next decade. We want to help you understand this market so you can exploit its power and potential. The real promise of the PowerPC™ is in the standardization it potentially offers to the developer and end user alike. To teach the goal, of transparency, inter-operability is a key component. MIS managers are wary of transferring mission critical applications to an unproven platform. You need to know if the platform is reliable. We will monitor the PowerPC™ development and see if these goals are being met.

What is our Perspective? We aim to give you insight on the current events as they happen in the "world" created by the PowerPC™. We will document those events in a way so you understand how it will impact you and your business. We will strive to provide knowledge that you can use. We want to always answer the question, "What does this mean to me?"

We plan on focusing on all aspects of the PowerPC™ family, from the development of the chip, to the manufacturer, to developer, to end user.


Editor's Notes: This was work from an exciting period in time for the history of microprocessors. It was a lot of fun to gather and synthesize all the information that centered around the chips. I choose this piece because sometimes people forget that I have the capacity to write about technical matters and that I do understand quite a bit about hardware. I supervised a staff of editors in this role.

I think it also shows my ability to have some vision in this field. I was writing about RISC microprocessors in 1995. Now your ipod, ipad, Blackberry, Gameboy and Walkman all contain RISC chips. So although this work is from 1994, I think it was valuable.


Recent Press Release Sample

PR Contact:
Laura Kerbyson

Ellen Payne, Owner of, Daisy Mountain Naturals
(304) 482-1353


Daisy Mountain Naturals Offers Natural Solutions to Life’s Common Problems


For consumers looking for products that are chemical free and lead to a healthier lifestyle, Ellen Payne has announced the opening of Daisy Mountain Naturals - a new West Virginia company specializing in all natural soaps and body care products. The company officially went online this month at

Made from organic extracts and fresh products, Daisy Mountain Naturals sells soaps, lotions, oils, creams and salves. “Our products are perfect for people with allergies to preservatives, dyes or who are sensitive to the many chemicals that commercial soaps contain, “ said Payne. “If you read the label for the bar of soap that you are using, it probably contains things that you can’t pronounce and that don’t occur naturally.”

Inspiration for the company came from Payne’s own family. “My sister is allergic to everything. We found ourselves formulating products over the years just so that she could use things that people take for granted – like soap,” Payne said.  “What came out of our years of tweaking recipes were some products that really, genuinely work and that are made from natural ingredients.”

Daisy Mountain Naturals was formulated to be a healthy alternative to life’s most common skin problems. Made from all natural ingredients like goat’s milk, honey, oatmeal, buttermilk, French clay and naturally occurring antiseptics, the company offers a wide variety of products.

Poison Ivy Soap and Poison Ivy Drying Paste have been top sellers for the company. The unique product is designed to kill and dry plant poisons by using jewelweed and other essential oils. Payne started selling the product by attending regional fairs and festivals. “What I found was that customers would buy it and then come back the next day and tell me how great it worked,” Payne said. “I knew we had a winning formula when you get that kind of feedback.”

Other formulas were also family tested like the Camping soap. It combines citronella and eucalyptus bug repelling benefits. “We can also make custom versions of our products for our customers who are looking to avoid a particular ingredient. There aren’t many companies who are willing to customize a product for the customer’s need,” Payne said. “Customers who camp also like the Natural Bug Oil.”

For sunburns, the company formulated a Goats Milk and Honey soap that is mild and gentle for skin damaged by windburn and sunburn. With a light vanilla scent, the soap draws in moisture and promotes the healing process. For sun protection, the company manufactures All Natural Sunblock, a blend of zinc oxide and organic oils.

Other soaps like the French Clay are formulated to balance the facial PH level with natural geranium oil. Honey soap is used as a light, daily, moisturizing soap.

Daisy Mountain Naturals also manufactures a boutique line of fun soaps. Summer Sunshine combines a light lemon and sweet orange scent. Other scents available the glycerin based soap include: Lime & Orange, Peppermint, Autumn Festival, Apple, and Cinnamon. The fun soap line molds are shaped with a daisy on top.

Payne said it was the original soap mold that caught people’s attention at the fairs. “We originally started manufacturing the soaps in cupcake pans,” she said. “Using the paper liners, the soaps had a distinctive look with the ridges around the edges, which made them easy to grip. The look really showed our hand-crafted, family tested philosophy.”

Another product that was developed out of need is the Creamy Natural Deodorant. “We developed this product because it does not contain aluminum like most commercial deodorants so it is safe for women with a risk of breast cancer or who are currently in treatment.”

The company’s products are available in gift baskets and samplers as well as full sized products.

Every detail has been thought out including the products packaging. “We sell our product in dark green containers because all natural products should not be exposed to sunlight. Sunlight damage’s the product’s effectiveness.”

The company has planned to sell and display in a busy lineup of local fairs and festivals. Currently Daisy Mountain Naturals is scheduled to appear at:

March 26-27, 2011 - Pittsburg, PA – Farm to Table Show

April 15-17, 2011 - Huntington, WV – Dogwood Arts & Crafts Festival

May 20-21, 2011 – Bluegrass Festival, Richville, PA

May 20-21, 2011 - Buckhannon, WV – WV Strawberry Festival

June 17-18, 2011 – West Virginia Folk Festival at Glenville, WV

August 13-14, 2011 - Elkins, WV – Augusta Arts & Crafts Festival

August 27-28, 2011 – Parkersburg, WV – Honey Festival

September 17-18, 2011 – Parkersburg, WV – Harvest Moon Festival

September 24-25, 2011 -Seven Springs Resort, PA – Mother Earth News Festival

May – October, 2011 – Parkersburg, WV, Farmers’ Market

Customers can also order online at

“We really enjoy working the fairs and festivals because we get to interact with our customers in a one on one setting. The customers get to ask questions and smell the product samples,” Payne said.

    - 30  -





Three articles from my clip book appear below.