Historical Mt. Pleasant images are sent to book publisher

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

From her office in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Abby Henry said she has enjoyed reviewing more than 200 photographs and related captions detailing the history of the town's counterpart north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

In October, Henry — Arcadia Publishing's senior acquisitions editor for the state of Pennsylvania — began working with the Friends of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library to complete “Images of America: Mt. Pleasant Borough — Westmoreland County,” a book which will serve as an expansive pictorial history of the borough and surrounding areas.

“In reviewing the images and captions they submitted, I admired the group's praise and admiration for the members of their community who served in United States Armed Forces,” Henry said.

Such images, along with roughly 200 others capturing vivid moments of some of the area's industrial and cultural milestones, were gathered by five volunteer members of the “Friends” group dedicated to providing support to the library on South Church Street.

“We're very happy that we did this,” said Theresa Benedict, a member of the “Friends” group and its past treasurer.

“It was a lot of hard work, but we think everyone is going to be happy with the result,” she said.

Joining Benedict in a tireless, months-long effort to collect content for the book were fellow “Friends” members Nancy Sebek; Bonnie Wilson, the group's treasurer; Gerri Spinella, a retired teacher; Mary Lou Shick, director of the library at 100 S. Church St.; and the late Bernadette Yancosky Kattera, for whom the book will be dedicated.

Kattera died April 21 at age 62 after a brief battle with cancer.

“She was a very intelligent young lady. She was a retired librarian out of the high school and elementary school,” Benedict said. “She had a photographic memory. We weren't going to put a dedication in, when that happened, we decided to dedicate it to Bernie.”

Community donations make project possible

Last fall, a friend of Benedict's reminded her that Arcadia Publishing had issued books from its “Images of America” series on other area communities, such as Norvelt and Scottdale, but not one on Mt. Pleasant.

“I was surprised no one had done one on Mt. Pleasant, since we have so much history here,” Benedict said.

That compelled Benedict and her fellow volunteers to contact the publisher, at which time she was directed to Henry.

The group soon made a plea to the public to contribute local photographs of life in the borough from its establishment in 1828 through present day.

“The community support we received through all the photos donated was really important,” Benedict said.

Meanwhile, Henry guided the group in its efforts, helping its volunteering members to adhere to Arcadia's strict standards for publishing a book in the “Images of America” series, she said.

“Theresa and the other group members were very thorough in their search for images and information for their title,” Henry said.

The “Friends” group chose to send the majority of the amassed images to Arcadia for scanning, an approach preferred by those at the publishing house to ensure clearness upon printing, she said.

“Image quality is of the utmost importance in our books. We want to honor the author's hard work, the community's history, and Arcadia's dedication to producing a high-quality product for consumers,” Henry said.

Benedict and her fellow volunteers included “a great deal of text” in conjunction with the images for the book, Henry added.

“It was very clear in my review of their materials that they are extremely knowledgeable about their community's history,” she said.

Work covers multiple eras

The cover of the 127-page book, which is scheduled for publication on Oct. 20, will most likely feature a vintage photograph of visitors to the Freeman Falls swimming pool.

Inside, there will be six chapters on various time periods and subject matter, including:

• “Honoring Our History,” which offers a narrative on the experiences of settlers locally in the 1700s and the populace's evolution through the mid-20th century;

• “Building a Community,” which focuses on the area's industries and businesses;

• “Celebrating Mt. Pleasant Pride,” which honors local police, military personnel, firemen, medical professionals and notable sports figures;

• “Acknowledging Our Culture,” which showcases many area churches and the many nationalities, which settled locally;

• “Progressing With Education,” which highlights the schools built in the area over time;

• “Living the Good Life,” which offers documentation of more modern-day local legacies like the construction of Veteran's Park and the creation of the Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival.

“There was a lot we did not know that we learned about Mt. Pleasant history through all of this,” Benedict said.

Group shares progress with society

Benedict and Sebek recently attended the monthly meeting of the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society to update its members on their efforts and progress.

Rick Meason, the society's president, lauded the group's efforts.

“I think it's great that we were able to have some individuals step up to the plate and take on this time-consuming and daunting task,” Meason said. “Mt. Pleasant owes these ladies a debt of gratitude. The other Arcadia books have been outstanding, and I'm very thankful they were willing to do this.”

Cindy Stevenson, a fellow society member and borough councilwoman, agreed.

“I think this is a wonderful accomplishment,” she said.

Work remains, library to benefit

Prior to the scheduled publication date in October, which would mark one year from the start of the effort, the “Friends” group will receive page proofs and will also work closely with Arcadia's production department to ensure the book is as accurate as possible prior to being sent to print, Henry said.

“Arcadia has several levels of review in order to make sure authors have every opportunity to fact check their information and layout,” she added.

Upon publication, Arcadia's marketing and sales team will provide support to promote the title, as well as a field sales representative who will place the title with area retailers.

The work will also be available at arcadiapublishing.com or by calling 1-888-313-2665.

The “Friends” group plans to order 200 books for $2,000 for sale locally, Benedict said. Royalties from the book sales will be turned over to the library, she added.

“Theresa and her colleagues worked very diligently to make sure their title was a wonderful representation of the community they serve,” Henry said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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