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Idaho Press Club Honors Our Regional Reporters

A state representative admits he's not one of the cool kids and nobody wants to sit by him on an airplane full of lawmakers.

A rancher tells of a wildfire so out of control, flames jumped and reached across a highway.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are introduced to a room full of refugees in English and Arabic.

These stories and more from our reporters were awarded six honors Saturday from the Idaho Press Club, recognizing the best Idaho journalism in 2015.

Children Meet Santa…In Arabic

In December Rick Martin told our regional correspondent Tom Banse refugees were "trying to change America into a more Middle Eastern-style nation." Martin sponsored an initiative to ban refugee centers in Twin Falls County—targeting, specifically, the center overseen by the College of Southern Idaho.

Banse's reporting contrasted Martin's efforts with a church Christmas party scene in Twin Falls, where refugee children from Africa, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Burma got to meet Santa Claus. The story, which was honored with the Idaho Press Club's first place award in the serious radio feature category, was also broadcast nationally on the public radio program Here And Now.

In April Martin took responsibility for failing to submit enough signatures to get the initiative onto the ballot.

One Faded Yellow Ribbon

"Things have changed since last May," our correspondent Jessica Robinson reported from the streets of Hailey, Idaho the day Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion from the Army. Her photography also told the story: Only one faded yellow ribbon remained outside a café that had been festooned with hopeful posters and ribbons during Bergdahl's captivity.

Robinson's report from Bergdahl's hometown that day also aired nationally on Here And Now. It was honored Saturday with a first place Idaho Press Club Award in the spot news category.

Robinson's 2015 reporting was recognized with four Idaho Press Club honors Saturday. Her ongoing coverage of Idaho's gay rights shift in 2015 was awarded second place in the general news report category. Her feature on mothers of suicide victims and their activism was honored in the serious feature category, and her story on awkward in-flight politics of state lawmakers was second place, light feature.

After four award-winning years in public radio in the inland northwest, Robinson moved abroad in 2015 for graduate school in Oslo, Norway.

Reporter Olivia Weitz's sound-rich story on ranchers' objections to federal grazing policy in wildfire season was honored for its creative and effective use of sound. Weitz, a rising photographer and multi-platform journalist, is now a reporter for the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Public media swept the radio categories of the Idaho Press Club Awards, with a total of eighteen awards between the Northwest News Network and its member station Boise State Public Radio. Congratulations to our staff and to our BSPR colleagues as well.