Reporter Pat Caldwell's in-depth look at a gold mine under development near Vale won two top honors in state journalism competition.

VALE - Reporting on a police standoff, a gold mine and foster children in Malheur County earned the Malheur Enterprise first-place awards in state newspaper competition in results announced last week.

The Enterprise was cited with 20 awards for journalism excellence by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, the most of any other newspaper east of the Cascades.

Reporter Pat Caldwell won three first-place awards. He was cited for both best business coverage and best writing for his story on the gold mine under development west of Vale, and best sports story for an account of a Nyssa High School football game.

He and Kristine de Leon won first place for their coverage of a police standoff in Ontario last year that ended when the gunman killed himself.

Editor Les Zaitz won first place in lifestyle reporting for his series in early 2018 on Malheur County’s foster children.

That series also was a finalist for the Baker Public Service Award. The other finalists were the Oregonian and the Grants Pass Daily Courier. The Courier won the award for its coverage of wildfires in southern Oregon.

The Enterprise won most of its awards in judging among Oregon’s small weekly newspapers.

“This terrific verification that the crew at The Enterprise is providing Malheur County some of the best journalism to be found anywhere in Oregon,” said Zaitz. “That our peers saw value in our work on everything from major fires to business tells the community we have built a deep and broad news organization focusing on local news.”

Besides the first-place showings, Caldwell was awarded a second-place citation for reporting on safety threats at local schools.

De Leon won second place in business coverage for her report on Huntington’s marijuana business, in enterprise for her report on out-of-state money influencing Ontario’s marijuana vote, and in lifestyle for her story about homeless.

The team of Caldwell, de Leon, and reporters Max Egener and Carolyn Agrimis won second place in spot news coverage for reporting on the Dentinger fire in Vale last year. Egener and Agrimis were reporting interns in summer 2018.

The Vale 4th of July Rodeo guide produced by the Enterprise also won second place for best special section.

Third-place awards went to de Leon for feature and lifestyles, to Zaitz in editorial and column, and Caldwell for spot news coverage.

The Enterprise swept the spot news and lifestyle categories in competition among small weeklies, taking first, second and third in each.

The newspaper also was award third place in general excellence.

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