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Holiday story time delights children

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 9:20 p.m.
Patty Medsger (back) reads 'Frosty the Snowman' as (from left) Selena Sherbondy, 12, her brother, Vincenzo Tuscano, 3, and Gavin Flowers, 7, all of West Newton, make snow angels while attending the free children's holiday story time held at the West Newton Library on Saturday morning, December 15, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Times-Sun

Patty Medsger read “Frosty the Snowman” to about 10 children who attended the first event Saturday at the West Newton Library since it was closed in May.

Christmas music played while some tottered from the craft table where shiny blue bulbs were painted with snowmen handprints to Santa sitting in a rocking chair in another corner of the room.

Chatter from parents and children alike filled the spaces between the bookshelves on Water Street, home to the library since 1980.

“Just listen to all this in here,” said Medsger, a library board member. “This is the way it's supposed to be.”

Parents appreciated the Saturday activity at the library, not only a place to borrow books, but also a community haven for family time.

Bonnie Flowers of West Newton, who brought her 3-year-old daughter Giana and 7-year-old son Gavyn to the library, said she appreciates having the library only a few blocks from their home.

“We used to come to the library when we were little,” she said. “We don't want to drive all the way to Rostraver.”

Flowers said the children enjoyed Medsger's reading style.

“I think they're going to want to come back over and over to listen to her stories,” Flowers said.

Roxann Felter's 7-year-old daughter Sierra asked if she and her 3-year-old brother could come back next time as their mother was bundling them up for the weather outside.

“It was really nice for the kids,” said Felter of West Newton.

Board President Cheryl Russell said that once the library is reopened on a regular basis, the group hopes to host a children's activity at least once per month.

“We're pleased and the kids seem to be having fun,” she said.

A grand reopening with the theme “We Love Books” is planned for Feb. 9, Medsger said.

The library is looking for volunteers to work regular three- and four-hour shifts after the opening in January, she said.

A training session for those interested is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 19.

Tentative hours are noon to 6 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, for a total of 24 hours per week, Medsger said.

She estimates the board is in need of 10 volunteers with seven regulars and three back-ups. Volunteers are also asked to help clean the building at 10 a.m. Jan. 12.

“I just don't want to lose anything in our community and it feels so good to build it back up instead of tearing down,” Medsger said in an earlier interview.

Mayor Mary Popovich addressed West Newton Council on behalf of the board at its meeting on Dec. 10.

She asked if any consideration was given for the library in the 2013 budget, but council members said they prefer to see it up and running before committing to anything regularly.

“We can't spend tax dollars just to store books,” he said.

Grant money is not available for operating expenses, like utilities, which are main source of expenses at the library, Popovich said.

Council will review bills that are already being mailed to the borough, since it owns the building.

Zoning officer Mike Stack reviewed the structure before it was closed and mentioned repairs that may be needed to the wooden fire escape and handicapped-accessible ramp in a verbal report to borough officials.

Popovich said she and the board members will look into the legalities concerning the library's compliance with the Americans with Diabilities Act before the reopening.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-836-6660.

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