Creating a community magazine from scratch and fostering its success for 15 years wasn’t easy, but Pat Jennette said it was worth it.
“When I put an issue to press, it wasn’t just my job,” she said. “I felt like I provided a service to my neighborhood, and that was fulfilling to me.”
Mrs. Jennette, 59, of North Fayette founded Allegheny West Magazine to focus on positive local news, first in the West Allegheny School District and later in the Montour and Moon districts.
In January, she sold the business to West Allegheny alumnus Doug Hughey, who had been her assistant editor for two years.
“It was a good time for Doug, and it was a good time for me,” Mrs. Jennette said. “It really was an opportunity for everyone.”
She looked forward to traveling and doing more freelance writing and graphic design.
After growing up in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carrick, Mrs. Jennette moved to the West suburbs in 1975, and she has lived in North Fayette for 33 years.
While working as a freelance reporter for several newspapers and later as West Allegheny’s public relations coordinator for 12 years, Mrs. Jennette realized her strengths lay in connecting readers with good news in the community.
“I was a communicator, I was a storyteller,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable when I had to cover something that was negative or controversial, or that wasn’t going to be popular with the community. I really feel better when I tell good news.”
When the Record-Outlook newspaper in McDonald closed in 1999, Mrs. Jennette decided to launch her own publication focusing on positive local news.
Within four months, she had mailed the first issue of Allegheny West Magazine.
Two months later, her husband, John, lost his welding job due to a life-threatening lung disease, and she considered abandoning her startup for a more traditional job with benefits.
But the couple decided to stay the course, and they were able to support their family with income from the home-based magazine business.
Over the years, the magazine — largely funded by local business advertisements — gave lots of ink to community groups, churches, schools, local governments and interesting individuals.
The publication also followed the major expansion of retail centers, business parks and housing developments in the Pittsburgh International Airport region.
Sometimes, articles served as a call to action.
In 2005, after rains from Hurricane Ivan damaged homes in Oakdale and other towns, the magazine successfully launched a holiday decoration drive for flood victims.
“That will always stand out as a highlight of the years because it showed how something bad can make something good,” Mrs. Jennette said. “We as a magazine made a difference.”
As publisher and editor for nearly 15 years, Mrs. Jennette printed 200 issues of Allegheny West, beginning with the August 1999 debut of the West Allegheny edition, which covers the school district and the towns of Findlay, North Fayette, Oakdale and McDonald.
She later added the Moon and Montour versions, which cover the schools and the communities of Moon, Crescent, Robinson, Kennedy, Ingram, Thornburg and Pennsbury Village.
Every two months, about 45,000 copies of Allegheny West are delivered free to homes and businesses in the three school districts.
Mr. Hughey now publishes the magazine with his wife, Sarah, a Montour graduate.
His father, Charles Hughey, is a former superintendent of West Allegheny.
Mrs. Jennette said she will stay active in her hometown, including as a volunteer ambassador for the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce and as a deacon at Valley Presbyterian Church in Imperial.
Today, her husband’s health has stabilized, although he remains on a lung transplant list.
She has two daughters — Joyce, of North Fayette, and Andrea, who lives in Los Angeles with husband, Tony, and two-year-old son, Dylan.
Mrs. Jennette and her husband plan to do more traveling, with the goal of visiting all the national parks.
Indulging her wanderlust could inspire Mrs. Jennette to write about topics beyond her hometown.
“There’s stories everywhere, and I’ve learned that from my experience in West Allegheny and the airport area,” she said. “Somebody always has a story to tell.”
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.