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Donora Public Library basement project adds valuable space to site

| Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Heather Hart | For The Valley Independent
Emma Lorenzo, 8, left, and her sister, Madison Lorenzo, 10, of Donora select a book to look at during the library dedication.
Heather Hart | For The Valley Independent
Emma Lorenzo, 8, left, and her sister, Madison, 10, of Donora select a book to look at during the Donora Public Library renovation project dedication.

When the Donora Public Library recently honored donors, it celebrated the first major project at the facility since it opened nearly 20 years ago.

The improvements will aid in the library's mission of serving the community, as it has for 83 years.

The project converted the library basement into usable space, library board President Camilla Ferrara said.

“We had been using the basement for story time, but just had carpeting on the floor,” Ferrara said of the Meldon Avenue facility. “We realized the heating and lighting had to be improved.”

The library raised roughly $25,000 through a variety of private donations.

The library added rest rooms, a kitchen, office space and a multi-purpose area. The space is now air conditioned and has a separate entrance in the back of the building.

The project was completed earlier this year, Ferrara said.

“We wanted to make that basement more versatile,” Ferrara said.

The multi-purpose room is equipped with tables and chairs for meetings, dinners and such special events as Rotary and church business meetings and receptions.

“We sent out notices to companies in industrial park that the space is available if they want to hold seminars there,” library board Vice President Art Fronzaglio said.

Recently, retired educator Dr. David Lonich conducted a book-signing event there.

“It just looks real inviting,” Ferrara said of the space.

Donations were made in memory of Abe Nasim, Anthony D'Emidio, Kelly Ghinassi, Manuel “Pete” Lorenzo and Beth Vaccaro.

Other donations were made by Fronzaglio, Nadine Bognar and the Donora High School Fabulous '50s group.

During the dedication ceremony, the Ringgold High Harpist Ensemble, led by teacher Melanie Sandrock, performed.

Donora Councilman Jason Menendez unveiled plaques and recognized family members of the donors honored on the plaques.

Improvements to the library building will continue.

The library board is applying for Local Share Account dollars – money generated through gaming at the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane Township.

That money would go toward replacement of both the library roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

The library was founded Jan. 30, 1930, during a Donora Women's Club meeting at the Tri-Plant Club.

The Donora Library Association was formed, and book donations were solicited from the community. April 22, 1930, was set aside as Library Day and hundreds of books were donated.

The library was housed at the Tri-Plant Club until 1946, when the collection was moved to the Community Center Building – the former Donora Hotel.

“It was a hotel and (the library) was in the back of first floor,” Fronzaglio said. “We were in three rooms.”

In 1995, ground was broken for a new library at 510 Meldon Ave.

The project was supported by a state grant and the Donora Public Library Board of Directors, the Borough of Donora, the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, Polycom-Huntsman Corp., Friends of the Donora Community and the local Donora Book published in 2008. The facility was dedicated Oct. 26, 1996.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or