LA GRANDE — The Observer was recognized with 11 awards in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Better Newspapers Contest, including third place for overall general excellence in its category.

The Observer finished behind The Astorian, an EO Media Group sister newspaper, and the Gresham Outlook for the top award in its category.

Karrine Brogoitti, the publisher of The Observer, said being recognized with other papers for the top award is “quite an achievement.”

“The newsroom works tirelessly to bring Union County accurate and timely information,” she said. “The Oregon Newspapers Publishers Association allows our reporters the opportunity to compete for the top awards in the state. They’ve done phenomenal work over the last 12 months. I couldn’t be more proud of our institution.”

The awards, which were for the 2020 calendar year, were released during a virtual announcement on Friday, Sept. 10. The contest was judged by the Arizona Newspaper Association.

Former editor Phil Wright earned a first-place award for best general feature for the April 21, 2020, story “Team digs into local mystery.” Wright, along with former reporter Sabrina Thompson, earned a third place for best enterprise reporting. Wright also earned a second place for best editorial.

Reporter Dick Mason earned a pair of second-place awards for best general feature story and best personality feature story.

Former reporter Kaleb Lay earned a second place for best coverage of a business or economic issue. Former sports editor Ronald Bond was awarded a second-place nod for best sports story.

Staff awards included a first place for best graphic, second place for best special section and second place for best page one design.

The Observer is owned by EO Media Group, an Oregon-based family-run business. A total of 100 awards were given to EO Media Group papers. In addition to general excellence awards for The Observer and The Astorian, also earning general excellence honors were the Bend Bulletin (first), Capital Press (second) and East Oregonian (third).