Cherokee County residents have every reason to hope that we've turned the corner on the pandemic that wreaked so much havoc with economies around the world. And although this community was somewhat insulated from the worst of the job loss, we've still had our share of dilemmas - and we've lost many of our friends and loved ones to this disease.

But vaccinations are now available, and most folks are getting them. Appointments are sometimes hard to come by, but the Cherokee Nation has stepped up to the plate and is offering vaccinations to everyone 16 and older in its 14-county reservation. By the time the Tahlequah Daily Press Progress Edition 2021 is published at the end of April, that program may have expanded.

Other precautions taken by local officials, despite rude pushback from a certain element of the population, have helped slow the spread. The mask ordinance remains in place, and for the most part, area residents and businesses are cooperating. Students are beginning to return to school, with most districts offering several options. Area businesses have found innovative ways to continue operating while maintaining safety protocols for both customers and employees.

The way businesses, institutions and organizations rose admirably to face this unprecedented challenge is a story of heroism, creativity, determination and grit. And it's one TDP is eager to share with readers. Every year, we ask area businesses, institutions and organizations to update their individual success stories, but this year, sharing their personal triumphs is more important than ever.

Our theme this year, "Open for Business," is in keeping with a social media project we undertook to remind area residents how critical it was that they continue supporting this community, whether it be through online shopping, curbside pickup, or in-person contact. We want everyone to let us know how they have "weathered the COVID-19 storm." We'd also like a little peek into what the future holds. It's an opportunity to share individual visions with everyone else, and shine a spotlight on the extraordinary efforts everyone has made to keep Cherokee County alive and thriving.

The publication date for our annual Progress edition is Thursday, April 29. Various sections will have different deadlines, and account executives can supply these to all participants, as well as explain the best way to tell the stories. Our news team will cobble together those stories based on the information given by the clients - which should include photographs and highlights of employees who have gone above and beyond. We'll be looking at education, businesses, health care, community leaders, and the Cherokee Nation.

Everyone in Cherokee County knows Progress is one of TDP's most anticipated special supplements, with in-depth analysis "cover" pieces from our staff, plus ads and profiles from the businesses, organizations and institutions that make us what we are today. To take advantage of this opportunity to let everyone know how you and yours have persevered, and what you plan for the future, contact one of our ad reps weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and they'll get you started. They're Heather Ruotolo or Joe Mack, and the number is 918-456-8833 - extensions 16 and 14 respectively. If they don't answer, leave a message and they'll return your call.

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