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West Newton Library reopens

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas reads a story to children at the West Newton Public Library reopening celebration on Saturday. The library will hold monthly children's storytime events on the third Saturday of every month with the next scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday. Stacey Federoff | The Times-Sun
Library volunteers and board members, local politicians -- including County Commissioners Ted Kopas and Chuck Anderson; Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen; and West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich -- along with community members cut a ribbon outside the West Newton Public Library signifying its official reopening. Closed since the end of May, the library has been housed in the 1890s-vintage building at 124 N. Water St. since 1980. Stacey Federoff | The Times-Sun

With a full schedule of new volunteers, fresh paint and rearranged furniture, the West Newton Public Library reopened Saturday.

Library board members painted, tidied and hung curtains at the 1890s-vintage building at 124 N. Water St., which has housed the borough's 11,000-item library since 1980.

“We've had an extreme outpouring from people in the community,” said board member Aaron Nelson, expressing his gratitude while showing off the multi-purpose activity room upstairs, meant for groups like knitting clubs, birthday parties or card clubs to use.

The children's room also got a little bit of paint and organizing, as did the main library downstairs.

“Now you come in the door and you visually can see all the books,” he said.

The library closed in May after the West Newton Woman's Club decided it no longer had volunteers or the financial means to run it as it had since 1939.

Westmoreland Library Network did not accept the West Newton facility back under its wing after the closing, so it will function as its own lending library with wireless internet, donated subscription magazines and newspapers. A new phone number, 724-972-3229, and a Facebook page as well as new hours are also in place.

“I'm thrilled,” said West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich. “I think we have such a nice, diverse group and everybody has so much to contribute, and it's people who are vested in West Newton.”

Council members Chris Luikart and Mike Ulish visited the event as did Rep. Ted Harhai, D- Monessen, and Westmoreland County Commissioners Ted Kopas and Chuck Anderson.

“It's a labor of love for the people of West Newton,” Anderson said, adding that despite severed ties with the library network, the library should continue if the community supports it. “The government can't do everything; it has to be a partnership. … and that's what makes it special.”

Lacie Parker, who recently moved to a farm in the West Newton area, attended the opening to see what the community resource was like. She said she hopes the library will continue for many years as her family grows.

“I think libraries are good for the community,” she said.

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