The Ouray County Plaindealer earned the top award for newspapers in its class from the Colorado Press Association for its work in 2019, along with recognition for general excellence, editorial excellence and public service. While the association’s convention was canceled due to coronavirus concerns, the awards were presented to newspapers virtually.
The Plaindealer competed against newspapers in its circulation class from across the state, including the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the Rio Blanco Herald Times, the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor, the Leadville Herald Democrat, the Lake City Silver World and the Holyoke Enterprise.
The Plaindealer received a total of 10 first-place awards and three second-place awards.
The Plaindealer’s first place awards were:
- Public Service to Erin McIntyre and Carolina Brown for reporting on former Undersheriff Richard Herman’s indictment, his continued employment with the county and his court case. “Good job exposing who knew what about the undersheriff,” judges commented.
- Best Breaking News/Deadline Reporting to Mike Wiggins for “Sewer trouble bubbles in Ouray.”
- Best Environmental reporting to Erin McIntyre for "Casting about for a solution,” a story about wildlife biologists using flashing lights to control fish movement in Crystal Reservoir to improve fishing conditions.
- Best Humorous Column Writing to Erin Stadelman for her columns focused on ranch life. Judges said, “A witty look by a good storyteller who paints beautiful pictures with words.”
- Best Investigative Story Package to Erin McIntyre for her reporting on former Undersheriff Richard Herman, who was indicted on alleged sex crimes. “Excellent local reporting and finding ways to use public records to piece the story together,” judges said.
- Best News Story to Erin McIntyre for “These views, they don’t feed you,” a story about a family that had to leave Ouray County because they couldn’t afford to stay. “Very nice example of applying a human interest touch to a serious topic,” judges said.
- Best Series to Erin McIntyre for reporting on affordable housing in Ouray County, which judges called, “a very accessible piece of journalism. This series explained the issue of affordable housing through the eyes of a homeowner and an employer Excellent work.”
- Best Business News/feature Story to Erin McIntyre for a story on Ridgway’s plastic bag ordinance.
- Best Design and white ad Design
- Best Classified Page Design
-The Plaindealer’s second place awards were:
- Best Feature Story to Mike Wiggins for “Breathing new life into a relic,” a story about the return of a refurbished iron lung to Ridgway resident Joan Chismire, whose mother survived polio with its help. “Very well done, from start to finish,” judges wrote.
- Best Breaking News/ Deadline Reporting to Erin McIntyre for “Pooch survives lion attack,” about a mountain lion incident involving a dog.
- Best Investigative Story Package to Erin McIntyre for a story about the sale of the Little Papoose Ranch in Ridgway to the Trinity Broadcast Network.
The paper also received the top sweepstakes awards for general excellence and editorial excellence in the circulation class.
The Plaindealer is owned by Mike Wiggins and Erin McIntyre, who are the paper’s only full-time employees. They purchased the paper in April 2019 and believe in supporting community journalism.