Borough's pioneer councilwoman ends 20-year tenure
Dolores Weinstein had promised a friend she wouldn't cry.
But when Council President David Pasternak gave her a plaque and a bouquet of carnations and kissed her at this month's council meeting, she broke that promise.
The 20-year tenure of White Oak's first elected councilwoman was over.
"It was difficult," she said of the meeting that ended with cake and other treats in her honor. "I had five four-year terms, and it was my choice not to run again. I discussed it with my husband and family, and they thought it was time to give that part of my life up and have more time to devote to family."
Pasternak, who has been on council for six years, called Weinstein "a very good colleague to work with. Her seniority on council helped out quite a bit. She knew what happened in the past, whereas new council members don't have that knowledge.
"She will be missed. Her expertise and knowledge of the community were helpful for the rest of council."
Weinstein's service to White Oak had begun 12 years earlier than her first term on council when she won the first of two six-year terms as a borough auditor.
"I was approached by the Republican Party to run, and I guess they thought I was smart enough to be an auditor," she said. "I learned a lot about my local government because you examine every part of it. It kind of showed me how little the average person knows about local government."
When the council president declined another term, Weinstein asked the party if it would like a woman to run for the seat, "and I got a resounding, 'yes.'"
She ran for re-election four times "because I loved it. I always tried to answer individual complaints. When I was on water, streets and lights (committee), I would go out once a week on the truck with the foreman and knock on people's doors. A lot of times, there wasn't anything the borough could do about their situation, but they appreciated the fact that we knocked on their doors and tried to help.
"I'm a Republican, and I am often the only Republican on boards" in the Mon Valley, she said.
For example, last year she chaired the former Mon Valley Emergency Dispatch Center, and she is the current president and first elected woman president of the Twin Rivers Council of Governments.
Among the council accomplishments of which she is most proud are enlarging the usable area of Heritage Hill Park, purchasing the McAllister Lodge there, creating the transitional zone that enabled Lincoln Way development to begin, reducing real estate taxes seven times and being able to pay $380,000 in cash for an addition to the borough building for office and storage space.
"We worked with developers to create Oak Park Mall. It was needed because everybody had to go elsewhere to shop, and we had an ugly piece of fallow land there. The land was an eyesore," she said.
Her only regret is not having been able "to enlarge the McAllister Lodge for it to be used as more of a meeting place and a place to have lots of winter activities. We just didn't have the money to do it, but there is a branch of Carnegie Library in the lodge."
In retirement, Weinstein, a past president of the Pennsylvania Council of Governments, will be on the advisory board of the Twin Rivers Council of Governments and a volunteer for its fund-raising projects, and will remain on the board of the White Oak Chamber of Commerce.
She recently joined the White Oak Lions Club in October, was named by Gov. Mark Schweiker to the Pennsylvania Local Government Advisory Committee and plans to be more active at St. Angela Merici Roman Catholic Church in the borough.
As important as her seven children and 16 grandchildren are to her, absenting herself from community activities is out of the question.
"I grew up in Duquesne and had a very happy childhood," Weinstein said. "When I moved to White Oak (in 1958), I found the same kind of people and I liked to interact with them. And as a stay-at-home mom, I had more time available.
"I've always been a joiner. I belong to a lot of church organizations, and I usually wound up being president of those. I'm a real people person. I love working with people. I wouldn't be happy just sitting home."