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The Tidings earned first place in General Excellence for circulation group E - the largest for weekly newspapers

Longtime Tidings photographer Vern Uyetake was awarded first place in News Photography for this image of local high school students holding a rally on the school steps. The West Linn Tidings took home the top prize of "General Excellence" in its circulation category when the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association announced the winners of its Better Newspaper Contest July 14.

The Elmo Smith Award for General Excellence, considered the top prize in the contest, reflects the high quality of the overall product, not just the news and feature stories. In addition to writing and reporting, the awards also consider page design, photo quality, printing quality, opinion-page content, special sections and the presentation of display advertisements.

The Tidings earned first place in General Excellence for circulation group E — the largest for weekly newspapers.

"Overall everyone should be exceptionally proud to be honored by our peers with these awards," Tidings Publisher J. Brian Monihan said in a note of congratulations to the paper's staff. "You are all incredible people performing at a very high level. Our communities are lucky to have you serving them to the extent you do."

The Tidings — which this summer celebrates 37 years as news leader for the community — was honored with 11 awards for writing, editing, photography and design in the ONPA contest.

The following are this year's awards for the Tidings:

First place

General Excellence: Staff

Best Writing: Patrick Malee

Best Local Column: Leslie Pugmire Hole, "Hither & Yon"

Best News Photo: Vern Uyetake

Best Feature Photo: Vern Uyetake

Second place

Best Sports Story: Miles Vance

Best Page One Design: Lance Ogden

Third place

Best Special Section or Issue

Best enterprise reporting: Patrick Malee

Best government coverage: Patrick Malee

Best sports story: Matt Sherman

Pamplin Media Group, which owns and operates 25 community newspapers in the metro area, won more than 80 ONPA awards, including General Excellence nods for the Gresham Outlook, Sandy Post, South County Spotlight, and The Lake Oswego Review.

This year's contest was judged by the Pennsylvania Press Association.

The awards were announced at last week's ONPA conference in Bend. For more information on the award winners and the contest, visit orenews.com.

— The Tidings

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