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What Pantagraph staff are thankful for

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In addition to our readers, we're thankful for COVID-19 protection.

It's that time of year to take stock in what we're thankful.

We asked our Pantagraph staffers about what they appreciate as we head into the Thanksgiving season. 

Tell us what you're thankful for. Join our conversation at

David Proeber, photographer 

It’s been a rough year. For journalists, work never stopped for the pandemic. Every assignment through the first 12 months of the pandemic could potentially have been my last.

So, this is what I’m thankful for …

I’m thankful for all the “kids” who helped run Reditus Laboratories’ COVID testing site at the McLean County Fairgrounds. They were amazing.

I’m thankful for the Chinese workers who manufactured KN-95 respirators that kept me healthy until there was a vaccine.

I’m thankful for the more than 95,000 McLean County citizens who got vaccinated. Everyone of you who got “the shot” lowered my chance of contracting this deadly disease as I went about documenting life under this “plague.”

And finally, I’m thankful for the work of the McLean County Health Department who put together a public vaccination program at Grossinger Motors Arena that finally helped me get vaccinated.

Brendan Denison, reporter 

First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family.

I give thanks to my younger brother, who helped me move my belongings to Bloomington from Urbana. And for my mother, for loaning us her new SUV for that move, as well as all of her endless love and support. I’m thankful she always checks in on me, and how she shows me that she cares.

I’m thankful for my father, who offers constant appreciation of my writing efforts and consistently encouraged me to complete my journalism degree. He’s always known what’s best for me, and I’m forever thankful for his guidance.

I’m thankful for my older brother and the home-away-from-home he’s welcomed me into out in colorful Colorado.

Lastly, I’m thankful for past and present colleagues, who’ve been instrumental in shaping my reporting skills and opening the doors of future career opportunities.

Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor 

I'm thankful for my wife, three daughters, two dogs, three guinea pigs and one hamster. 

I'm thankful for my co-workers, who are committed to what we do. 

And I'm especially thankful for our readers. 

Sierra Henry, reporter 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Getting to see my family and friends come together to share a meal or catch up on our lives is one of the things I look forward to the most. Since moving to Bloomington-Normal, I have been lucky to surround myself with an amazing group of people and I couldn’t feel any luckier. 

This year I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life. I am thankful for all the laughs and tears, every goofy joke, piece of advice, or words of encouragement. The times spent in the newsroom, getting dinner on the weekend, or hanging out and watching movies are ones that I will cherish forever. If I could skip forward to Christmas, I would say that all I want this year is to continue making memories with the people I love the most! 

Robyn Skaggs, assistant editor 

This year I am doubly thankful for my friends and family. My husband and I got married last spring as the pandemic had just hit the U.S. full force. In our first year of marriage we made it through lockdown, a back surgery, a road trip, a job search, a move, not to mention the stress of having a wedding in limbo and rescheduling it twice. Finally, this spring, we got to celebrate with a wedding and reception. Afterward, what really stuck with me was how much love I felt from those who drove one, two, even five hours to a tiny chapel in western Illinois just to be with us for one afternoon. The guest list was smaller than planned, but the day was filled with love, laughter and joy for all. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have the friends, family and husband that I do, but I’m grateful for them every day, and even more so after the past year and a half.

Olivia Jacobs, newsroom assistant 

This year I’m thankful for the health of my friends, family, my significant other and I. This pandemic has been stressful to say the least, but I’m beyond grateful that all my loved ones are safe and healthy. I’m thankful to those who got vaccinated, wear their masks, and continue to follow CDC guidelines for the sake of others, and everyone in the medical and scientific fields that have continued to help fight the virus.

I’m thankful for graduating college this year and finding a job at The Pantagraph. I’m thankful for those who support local journalism. I’ve really enjoyed writing my Eats of the Week column and exploring local restaurants and bars. The support I have received from coworkers, family, friends and local community members has been amazing and very rewarding. 

I’m really looking forward to the holidays this year and I’m hopeful for the year ahead.

Connor Wood, reporter 

I moved to Bloomington-Normal in August, so this Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of everyone who helped me in that process.

At the top of that list is my significant other, who helped me with every step. Far more important has been her patience, even when we had to make a second round trip to southern Illinois because I mixed up the keys. I am also thankful for my friends in southern Illinois who helped me with that process.

My family, of course, also deserves much more thanks than I could give them. My parents were not able to be there to help me move (a trip to Costa Rica apparently beats moving furniture), but their advice was, as always, much appreciated. My grandparents also came out to help me clean my new apartment.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has welcomed me to Bloomington-Normal, especially my coworkers. 

Kelsey Watznauer, reporter 

I am thankful to be standing where I am. After uprooting my life and moving and then moving again, I am grateful to have found my place in the Bloomington-Normal community and to be looking forward. 

I am ever thankful for my family. Even walking through the darkest days, we find light and love when we are together, and I am so grateful.  

And finally I am thankful for my colleagues, past and present. We have faced down the most stressful and seemingly endless days yet we found ways to share so many laughs along the way, too. You make me better every day and I would not be the journalist I am today without you all. 


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