The Blue Mountain Eagle was recognized as one of the top weekly newspapers in Oregon, earning 22 awards in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest was judged by personnel from newspapers in Pennsylvania, and the Eagle competed against weeklies that distribute 2,001-3,000 copies.

The Eagle earned five first-place, eight second-place and nine third-place awards in the annual competition featuring work from 2016.

For the top honor — General Excellence — the Eagle earned second place. The entry is judged based on the overall product, from news and editorial content to photos and design to advertising and reproduction. The samples are taken from three editions from specific months throughout the year. The Sandy Post, a Pamplin Media Group publication, placed first.

“General Excellence award is the top award the Eagle can receive, and it’s an honor to be recognized by our peers for our efforts,” Editor Sean Hart said. “The staff at this newspaper works hard to deliver the news, and I cannot thank them enough for their dedication.”

The Eagle earned first place in the special section or issue category with its breast cancer awareness special edition. The Eagle also placed third in the category with its Journey special section.

Page designer Randy Wrighthouse defended his title, winning page one design again this year.

Angel Carpenter earned the top honor for lifestyle coverage with a story about Mary Weaver battling cancer a second time.

Carpenter and Rylan Boggs won the photo essay category with a series of shots from the Grant County Fair.

Former editorial assistant Cheryl Hoefler earned the top prize for sports photo with a shot of Buddy, the Easter elk, running in the Dayville Bunny Hop 5K. The story also placed third in the sports category.

Carpenter earned three second-place awards: business and economic issues for a story about eclipse accommodations, sports photo for a shot of the John Day Swim Team and writing for a collection of three stories.

Wrighthouse and graphics designer Alan Kenaga placed second in graphics for a map and photo package about county geographical features that formerly included “squaw” in the title, which were renamed.

The Eagle earned second place for web design.

Editor Sean Hart placed second in headline writing and enterprise reporting.

Boggs placed third in the feature photo category with a shot of Leo Dedmore hiding behind a pumpkin.

Carpenter earned third place in the personality feature category.

Hart placed third in writing and third in the general feature category for a story and photos about salmon being released into the landlocked Malheur River.

The Eagle’s website placed third overall. A slideshow with audio of the planned meeting in John Day featuring people occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge placed third in multimedia element, and election night coverage earned third place in the online breaking news category.