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The California News Publishers Association has recognized The Weekly Calistogan with six awards in its 2018 Better Newspapers contest.

Former editor Anne Ward Ernst took first place in Agricultural Reporting for her story on Calistoga’s volcanic past and its influence on grapegrowing.

Honors announced late Saturday included five awards, first through fifth for writing for both Ernst and current editor Cynthia Sweeney and one fifth-place award for a photograph, by Sweeney for the Pioneer Christ at Bale Grist Mill.

Sweeney won a second-place award for her story titled, “23andMe” which united a Calistogan with biological mother, and a fourth-place award for a story about Calistogans being “startled” by PG&E tree work. Of the former, a judge said, “Just loved this story and totally teared up at one point. I think the secret here is you let the story tell itself with quotes and anecdotes and good organization, and kept your prose out of the way.”

Ernst won a third- and fifth-place award for her profile stories of Peter Lang, owner of Safari West, who received a 2018 Animal Rescue Hero award from the American Red Cross and for a story detailing the struggles faced by the owners of Mountain Home Ranch as they tried to rebuild from the October 2017 wildfires.

The awards recognize reporting done during the 2018 calendar year. First- and second-place honors were announced Saturday at a CNPA gala in Long Beach.

The St. Helena Star received four of the prizes, with reporter Jesse Duarte recognized for best business story for his coverage of the closure of Montelli Construction; best profile for covering a St. Helena resident who walked from Selma to Montgomery in honor of the 1960s Alabama civil rights march; and best feature for his story on a group of St. Helena women who have walked together daily for 31 years. The Star’s editorial board also won a first-place award for its editorial about the election results are worth the wait.

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