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Stratford Oaks Tales: Colorful Storytelling in the Blue Ridge

We are proud to announce Imaging Specialists’ association with The Stratford Oaks Tales. It is the first in a series of children’s books by local educator- and now author, Dr. Suzanne Mellow-Irwin about the life of the animals on her family’s mountain farm. Illustrated by Alleghany native, Zach Hamm, the first book, the “Tale of Gretchen,” tells about a pygmy goat, born at Stratford Oaks and her adventures there.

Just one of the happy animals at Stratford Oaks Farm
Just one of the many happy animals at Stratford Oaks Farm. (You can almost see Nya's tale wag!)

It is an honor to be allowed to help with the book. As we took Zach’s delicate, pencil and crayon drawings and placed them into story pages, laid out by his mother, Donna, our challenge was to showcase the artwork and story without interfering. We wanted to preserve the light, pastel colors without losing saturation.

We will let the reader be the judge, but we are very pleased with the result. Zach’s images are the perfect complement to Dr. Mellow-Irwin’s positive message and both are sure to appeal to children and parents.

The Tale of Gretchen will be available at The Sparta Store. Look for new installments, coming soon.

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New Alleghany Methodist Conference Records on Disk

We’ve just completed a great collection of Alleghany Methodist Episcopal Church Quarterly Conference Records. The records span the years from 1883 to 1940 and were originally compiled by Thelma Davis from Sparta United Methodist Church. Duane Davis brought the records to us to archive and format so that they could be easily accessed by researchers.

ISI's new data DVD of Alleghany Methodist Church Conference Records from 1883 through 1940
ISI's new disk of Alleghany Methodist Conference records from 1883 through 1940

ISI’s intern, Beth Triplett, scanned the pages, and saved each as a separate file. We then grouped the files by year, built “books” in Adobe InDesign and exported them as PDFs. The PDFs are named for each year, so a user can easily navigate the collection. We chose to make the files PDFs, (Portable Document Format) a format originally developed for the printing industry that embeds fonts and images so that the document will print consistently on any system or printer configuration.

At the beginning, the set includes data from Mt. Zion, Bethany, Coxes School House (crossed out) Coxes Chapel, Shilo (sic) Sparta and Antioch and by 1940: Sparta, Shiloh, Piney Creek, Cox’s Chapel, Potato Creek, Gentry Chapel, Edwards Crossroads, Mouth of Wilson and Stratford Churches.

We appreciate being able to help with this important resource. Thank you Thelma and Duane for a project that is sure to aid historians for years to come.

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Support Alleghany Community Television

If you’ve not yet watched Alleghany Community Television, don’t feel bad, a lot of local folks haven’t even heard of it, yet. But you should know our little school-system sponsored station is now in around 3000 homes in the region. ACTV is, at present, in 437 Surry County homes, 800 in Wilkes County and 1675 in the Skyline and Alleghany Cablevision viewing area. Those numbers are growing (daily) as Skyline and other systems bring customers online to new fiber-optic delivery systems in the mountain region.

Imaging Specialists has been working with ACTV by donating hosting and maintenance for the station’s web site (which was originally a Senior Project by a student that participated in the program.) Their live schedule is online now, and we hope to eventually stream station content, which will showcase Alleghany County in a way never before possible. After that happens, viewership will potentially include anyone in the world with a computer and an Internet connection.

ACTV is a relatively new organization that originated in the Alleghany County School System and the A. Anderson Huber Cyber Campus. Station Manager, Charlie Scott and Cyber Campus Manager, Travis Sturgill have been working with Alleghany High students for several years to build a modern, viable TV Station.

With their oversight, the students have been doing the lion’s share of the work, learning and performing jobs like videography, programming, announcing, sales, makeup and every other job associated with operating a TV station. Their newest project, soon to be broadcast, is an Alleghany News program. It will join the many locally produced shows including school academic and sports events, Senior projects, Sparta Town Council meetings and area church services.

Other counties all over North Carolina, have been watching ACTV closely, hoping to replicate our success. There are plans to bring in students from the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, to intern and help train Alleghany students.

ACTV is the best unknown resource in Alleghany County (and possibly Northwest North Carolina) and you should be a part of it.

If you don’t know much about the station and would like to learn more, contact Charlie Scott at 657-0825. Since it is a non-profit enterprise, overt advertising isn’t allowed, but sponsorship is welcome, either of individual shows, series or at station level. Gifts to the station will (very) soon be tax deductible after it achieves full 501(c)(3) status.

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Black Family History Coming Soon!

ISI’s latest project is a 280-page book titled Descendants of William Black & Nancy Allison. It is a family history of the Black family here in Alleghany County and our largest book-design project to date. The book features over 100 photographs, letters and information on William and Nancy’s family, gathered by Lorene Sturgill of Piney Creek, North Carolina.

The book is a marriage of experience and new technology. We input the entire family history, scanned and optimized the photographs, built an index of descendants, and, after the initial order, plan to print the casebound books on-demand.

Cover design by Imaging Specialists, Inc. for the Descendants of William Black and Nancy Allison
Cover design by Imaging Specialists, Inc. for Descendants of William Black and Nancy Allison

You may or may not know we’re not new to book printing. Imaging Specialists has a long history in books, from humble phone directories at R.R. Donnelley in Portland Oregon, to high-end, leather bound, Easton Books at Nicholstone in Nashville, Tennessee, we’ve shot more book pages than most shops our size.

Thousands of titles passed through our lenses during our years in Greensboro.

We’re not even new at family histories, either. For years we shot pages to imposition for Craftsman, Delmar, Edwards & Broughton, and other North Carolina printers on our projection step-and-repeat systems. Sometimes it was the only way to copy them.

It’s this experience that helps us to anticipate many problems before they arise. This is the first of several titles we will be publishing this year.

Interested in producing your own book? You don’t have to go to the Triangle or even the Triad. Give us a call to find out how easy it can be.

The Descendants of William Black & Nancy Allison will be available later this month.

Purchase your copy at The Sparta Store.