Herald staffers earn awards, praise for last year’s work

A five-story series about violence at the Wyoming State Hospital, written by Herald reporter Kayne Pyatt, earned the newspaper a blue ribbon after judges ranked the package the best in-depth reporting for large weeklies in Wyoming. Herald sports editor Don Cogger was also recognized for his work.

EVANSTON — Two Uinta County Herald employees — reporter Kayne Pyatt and sports editor Don Cogger — have been awarded for their work that spanned from Nov. 1, 2019, through Oct. 31, 2020, earning top spots in the Wyoming Press Association Pacemaker Contest.

Pyatt received first-place honors in the In-Depth Reporting category among the state’s large weekly newspapers. Pyatt’s winning submission focused on problems with violence at the Wyoming State Hospital. The five-part series, which took over a year to complete, began after then-EPD Sgt. Don Shillcox contacted the Herald because he’d seen EPD respond to the State Hospital more and more for similar issues.

Pyatt picked up where former reporter Bradie Jill Jones left after spending many hours interviewing community members who said they’d been seriously injured while on the job. Jones left the Herald while the project was in its early phases. Pyatt took the lead and made the series hers, sifting through hours of interviews and conducting many more of her own. What began as a story using anonymous sources because current employees asked not to use their names for fear of repercusions, drew many victims out of the woodwork, building on an already much-needed story about workplaces safety at a local facility that employs hundreds of local community members.

“Kayne truly is a workhorse as a reporter,” Herald publisher Mark Tesoro said. “Her energy level impresses me all of the time. She’s dedicated, passionate and willing to tackle any assignment. We’re so lucky to have her covering what’s happening in our community each week.”

Pyatt’s in-depth reporting beat the Jackson Hole News&Guide and Powell Tribune, which earned second place and honorable mention, respectively, in the category.

Pyatt also picked up a second-place award for her work that fit into the Agricultural Reporting category. Her entries included stories about hemp farming in Wyoming and the toll the pandemic has taken on local ranchers.

Cogger was also recognized over the weekend, during the Wyoming Press Association’s annual convention, which was held virtually because of the pandemic.

Cogger earned a second-place award in the Sports News category for his article about former Red Devils basketball coach Lex Cornia leaving the program to teach and coach at Rich High School, just over the border in Randolph, Utah.

Comments from the judge included “great tribute” and “enjoyable read.”

Cogger, who came to Evanston from Powell, earned a first-place award for one of his final reports for the Powell Tribune. Cogger earned that blue ribbon for “A long journey back,” in the Sports Feature Story category. The judge said the story was “very in-depth and poignant.”

“Don’s been at our paper just over a year. I could not have found a better sports guy in the state,” Tesoro said, “and he’s exceptional at covering sports in our communities. He’s built a great rapport with coaches and kids and I’m grateful to have him on our team.”

Cogger also earned accolades for his work behind the camera. He took second place in the Sports Feature category for his front-page photo of Kasen Landry and Carson Wall with the headline “Catching some air” from the April 24, 2020, edtion of the Herald. Cogger also received an honorable mention for his photo of Evanston Outlaws catcher Walker Wilson diving at home plate to tag out a member of the Jackson baseball squad. That award was earned in the Sports Action category.

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