Northwest Observer | Northwest Guilford County, NC
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About Us

While the mass media offers many windows into our regional, state, national and global world, there will always be a separate need for windows into the everyday lives of the "ordinary" and extraordinary people and communities within them.

That's why we started this community newspaper in 1996, and that's why, 20 years later, we still dedicate ourselves to covering community news that is "totally local" and personally relevant to the residents and businesses of northwest Guilford County.

Since we began, we've grown from a once-a-month, 8-page community newsletter for Oak Ridge to a once-a-week community newspaper and 7-day-a-week website that focuses exclusively on the communities of Oak Ridge, Summerfield, Stokesdale and northwest Greensboro.

Our staff is particularly honored when we hear someone say, "I've never been much of a newspaper reader, but I read the Northwest Observer because it provides information that is personally relevant and connects me to my community."

If you're new to our area, our newspaper or our website, we extend a warm welcome and hope you enjoy getting to know us and the communities we cover, and that we in turn have the opportunity of getting to know you. We are very appreciative of feedback, whether glowing praises or constructive suggestions for improvement, and encourage you to let us know what you think about our newspaper coverage, website and special-focus publications.

The Northwest Observer is independently and locally owned by PS Communications. For more information about our company and other publications, please visit

Patti Stokes, editor/publisher

Patti Stokes, editor/publisher

I'm blessed to have a job that I thoroughly enjoy, complete with infinite challenges as well as opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally. I'm ultimately responsible for every aspect of the business, from accounting to customer service to marketing to editing to human resources.

My husband and I have two children, both of whom graduated from Northwest High School before attending college and venturing out into the world, leaving us with a house that now has way too much empty space.

In my spare time I love to work in the yard, read, surf the Internet, and be as close to the water as possible. I don't have any grandkids yet to dote on, but I have two very sweet dogs who eagerly lap up any attention I give them and pay me back with unlimited love and affection. "My boys," a beagle mix and a Cavalier King Charles, accompany me to the office every day, sleep underneath my desk, and remind me that the joys of life are most often found in the simplest of things.

Laura Reneer, associate publisher

I'm a mid-west country girl from southern Illinois, although after moving to North Carolina in 2005, I'm perfectly at home now. I still root for my beloved St. Louis Cardinals every chance I get!

My husband Dave and I live in Stokesdale and seize every opportunity to explore this beautiful state in our camper or on the Harley (often both in the same trip). I have two children, now in their early 20s, and it's rewarding to watch them learn to navigate the world on their own. At home, I enjoy playing in the dirt in my ever-expanding gardens, often resulting in new projects for Dave to tackle. We are also active members at Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church.

I have been part of the PS Communications family since January 2008. I enjoy the variety and unpredictability of my position - truly a little bit of everything - as well as the chance to meet and talk to new people in the community every day. I also value the privilege of working with an awesome staff to create a respected and well-read community newspaper.

Joe Gamm, associate editor

I studied photojournalism and later received a degree in journalism and political science from the University of Washington. That education allowed me to travel across the country, practicing this craft, and I have received recognition for reporting and photography.

I have written for large, medium and small daily newspapers and for community weeklies. Each newspaper had its own personality.

The place I chose to stay was here in the Piedmont Triad.

And, it's part personality, part reporting, but I really enjoy wandering about back roads, snapping photos and meeting folks who live there. Somehow, I find that relaxing.

If you see me around, feel free to say, 'Hi.'

Kim Frenchak, marketing manager

I joined PS Communications in March 2017 with over 16 years of marketing consulting and sales experience.

My marketing philosophy comes from advice I once received - to remember that a marketing consultant ultimately works for the client. I find out what my clients' needs are, give them options to help grow their business, then follow up to ensure their marketing campaign is meeting their goals.

Born and bred in the Piedmont Triad, I am the daughter of an Army veteran and the mother of a U.S. Marine.

Family life is important to me - when my two sons, Christopher and Ben were growing up, I never missed a single one of their sports events. And though they're now adults, I'm still their biggest cheerleader.

I enjoy playing piano in my spare time (I was trained as a classical pianist), as well as Zumba workouts, spending time by the pool and watching UNC Tarheel basketball and Carolina Panthers football.

Sean Gentile, art director

What makes me tick? It is somewhere among my love of all things design, minimalism, contemporary architecture, photography, bonsai, creating music, coin collecting, repairing antique clocks, and struggling to keep my car unrealistically clean.

I am indebted to my family, friends, and teachers for nurturing my passion for design. As a graduate from the College of Design at NC State University, I find PS Communications to be an excellent creative environment for me. I work alongside great people, and am in a place where my passion is truly valued.

Yvonne Truhon, page layout

I grew up in Rochester, NY and have lived in Winston-Salem for over 25 years. My husband and I have two cats that are adopted rescues. I enjoy gardening, reading, cooking and theatre. I volunteer backstage at Twin City Stage and Theatre Alliance of Winston-Salem. I've even "trod the boards" myself, once playing a sailor in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore because I was tall for my age!

I've been a graphic artist at PS Communications since 2003, and am primarily responsible for laying out our publications and working directly with our printer. I hold a degree in Greek and Latin from Valparaiso University with a minor in drama. I've worked in a variety of places: a doughnut shop, a bakery/restaurant, a printshop and of course the publishing industry, thus proving a college professor's saying: "If you can learn Greek, you can learn anything."

Linda Schatz, distribution manager

Twenty years ago I would have been that girl on a bike throwing a paper in your driveway, but modern day delivery girls like me ride little red Honda Elements with "Totally Local" etched in the back window! I'm not sure if it should be considered work, because I have fun doing what I do! I get to meet people along my delivery route, drive around with the radio on, and get "free" exercise from delivering thousands of newspapers every week.

My husband Ken and I have twins, Scott and Ashley. We enjoy living in Oak Ridge with our two poodles, a bunny and bearded dragon. Other fun things for me are being outside, exercising and listening to music.

Lucy Smith, finance manager

I am a first-generation American of Greek decent, and my real name is Vassilia Emanuela Sapounas-Smith. I love to cook and garden when I have the time, and I always find the time to exercise. I have a BS in Accounting from UF.

I work part-time at PS Communications, and have a full-time job as a controller elsewhere. Here at PS Communications, I am who our customers go to for questions on their billing information, and insure all the little details are fulfilled. My favorite things about my position here are the people and how we work together. Every one of my co-workers is good at what they do, dependable and a delight to work with!

Northwest Observer PO Box 268 Oak Ridge, North Carolina 27310
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