MAHOMET — Penny Weaver grew up dreaming of being a comedian, but now she finds herself as a journalist in a bustling newsroom.
Meet Penny Weaver, The Mahomet Citizen's new editor.
Weaver is a 1992 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing. She graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1988.
Weaver comes to Mahomet as the former editor of Mattoon's Journal Gazette & Times-Courier. Her career has also taken her to Effingham, St. Elmo, Atlanta, Ga., and even Houston, Texas.
But one thing — well really three — brought Weaver back to Illinois for good in 2003 — three sisters expecting little ones.
"Pure coincidence," she joked.
Weaver's latest gig at Mahomet is purely an effort to get back to "grass-roots" community journalism.
"I like to see communities just be a positive place where people pull together and are proud of their community, and they should be," she said. "I think this newspaper has a role to fill in reporting what's going on and reflecting the pride that we have in the community."
OK, but why journalism?
It's all thanks to her junior high school English teacher, Dee Dee Kull, who spotted her writing talent and encouraged her to make a career out of it.
"I really got into journalism for the writing, but I've loved it because I learn every day and I get to know different people and meet different people from all walks of life," Weaver said.
Another favorite aspect of journalism for Weaver is storytelling, especially her well-crafted Mattoon columns.
"I always like to tell a funny story," she said. "I love puns and bad jokes and dry humor. I'm corny and silly — very much so."
Her favorite one?
A comical take on getting over the stomach bug.
"A family friend and I got the flu at the same time," Weaver said. "I happened to be over at her house. She wasn't feeling too well and I was helping her out, and then all of a sudden I got the symptoms."
Like her comical roots, she decided to make light of an unfortunate situation, and she looked no further than her column to do so.
"I wrote about how I had to have an ice cream bucket and we both wore Depends," she said.
It ended up becoming one of her "best" and "worst" columns, Weaver said with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Weaver is beaming with excitement for her new role in reporting all things Mahomet.
"Mahomet seems like a growing town, and I'm very impressed with the schools already," she said. "All of the people I've met have just been super nice and open and asked how they can help."
Her first takeaway is that hometown pride.
"It seems like the town — and I can tell already — where people love their hometown," she said. "They may live there and work elsewhere, but your hometown is your hometown. I sense a lot of community pride and that's very exciting to me."
And Weaver is excited to report that sense of pride each and every week. And with that commitment comes a request.
"I would definitely encourage people to contact me with any story ideas," she said. "I would love to hear people's ideas for what they want for their newspaper — it's their newspaper. That's what The Mahomet Citizen is here for — the community of Mahomet."
Oh, and give her a wave if she ever comes rolling into town on her Honda Shadow Spirit 750cc.