News-Bulletin file photo

News-Bulletin Editor Clara Garcia won second place in the Feature Photo category for this picture she took at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Rallye in March 2022.

The Valencia County News-Bulletin received numerous awards Saturday night in the New Mexico Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were presented at the NMPA’s 113th annual convention held at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe over the weekend. More than 1,100 entries were submitted for consideration in this year’s contest.

The staff at the VCNB brought home first place in the Special Section category with it’s 2021 Locals section, which included the Citizen of the Year and Unsung Heroes and a second section focusing on the upcoming legalization of cannabis.

“… impressive in-depth reporting looking at a lot of angles of issues impacting the community,” the judge wrote on the entry.

The staff also brought home second place in the Best News Coverage category.

VCNB Editor and Publisher Clara Garcia and Assistant Editor Julia M. Dendinger took first place in the News Writing category with their story about the Big Hole fire this past spring.

Clara Garcia, Editor/Publisher

Julia M. Dendinger, Assistant Editor

Makayla Grijalva, Staff Writer

“Excellent story, very well written and capturing the danger and devastation of wildfire,” the judge wrote about the story. “Kudos to doing the legwork that good reporters do and letting the people most affected tell the story.”

Garcia also won first place in the Breaking News category with her story on the flood in Belen in July 2021.

“Well written. Story takes you to what city officials and others were dealing with at the time of the flooding and how they managed it,” the judge wrote.

Garcia, who is a member of the board of directors of the NMPA and has worked at the newspaper for 24 years, brought home three second-place plaques in the Feature Photo, Design and Typography and Obituary Page categories.

Dendinger, who has worked at the VCNB for 15 years, won second place in the Feature Writing category for a January 2022 story she wrote about Matteo Martinez, a then 1-year-old boy who was battling COVID-19 in the hospital.

VCNB staff writer Makayla Grijalva won first place in the Best Headline Writing category for a story she wrote with Dendinger in May 2022. “Certified Good Boys: Dogs Behind the Badge” was a feature story about the local K-9 officers in Valencia County.

“Cute, but still nails the point of the story!” the judge wrote about the entry.

“We are proud of the awards we received this weekend, and enjoy attending the annual convention each year to attend workshops and seminars, and network with others in newspaper industry around the state,” Garcia said.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.