Wallowa County Chieftain editor and publisher Rick Swart (second from left) accepts the second-place Elmo Smith Award for General Excellence during the annual convention of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association (ONPA) July 19 in Tigard. Swart is pictured above with Brian Monihan (left), publisher of the first place West Linn Tidings, Bill Cassel (second from right), president of ONPA, and Scotta Callister, publisher of the third place Keizertimes. (Photo by Alex Paul/The New Era)

Chieftain wins general excellence award

The Wallowa County Chieftain was named as one of Oregon's best weekly newspapers Friday during the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association (ONPA) annual convention in Tigard.

The Chieftain received the second place Elmo Smith Award for General Excellence among weeklies with a circulation of between 2,501 and 4,000. The Wallowa County newspaper was joined in the winner's circle by the West Linn Tidings, which received the first place award, and Keizertimes, winner of the third place award.

The General Excellence award was one of 13 awards presented to the Chieftain during the annual awards ceremony. The Chieftain staff also received a second place award in the Best Special Section category for its 2001 Visitor's Guide to Wallowa County.

Chieftain editor and publisher Rick Swart received a total of six individual awards, including a first place award for Best Editorial Page during the ceremony conducted at the Washington Square Embassy Suites Hotel. Swart also received a second place award in the Best Writing category with an investigative piece about the Children's Community Foundation and an investigative piece about a land swap proposed by hotel magnate Mark Hemstreet. He received three other second place awards in ONPA's "Better Newspaper Contest," including one for business and economics reporting with an article entitled, "Farming the Government," which delved into subsidies received by Wallowa County farmers. The other award winners included a second place "Silk Purse" award for an article about hobo spiders, a second place award for a news photo of a fire, and a third place award for best front page design. Swart also received a special commendation for his work as chairman of the association's Technology Committee for the past three years.

Chieftain photographer/sports editor Kim Lamb won three individual awards. He received a second place in the feature photography division with a picture of two buck deer sparring at Wallowa Lake State Park. He received second place award in the sports photography competition with a picture of Jo-Hi center fielder Dustin Gibbs sliding into second base during a high school baseball game. Lamb also received a third place award for a photo illustration that he produced for Swart's "Farming the Government" article. That composite showed a combine owned by Jim Stonebrink working a field that appeared to be made of money.

Chieftain reporter Rocky Wilson received a third place award in the feature writing category with an article about ALS patient Sheri Stein.

Former Chieftain employees Cheryl Swart and Jennifer Hobbs received an honorable mention in the Best Special Section category for their work in the history piece, "That was then, this is now," which profiled Wallowa County businesses.

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