W.O. Officials Eying Spring Projects

April 19, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

White Oak officials discussed a number of ongoing projects at their April 12 workshop meeting, chiefly concerning infrastructure and vehicle maintenance.

In his engineer’s report, Councilman Kenneth Hillman announced that funds have been secured for repairing the Center Street extension, and that the renovations to Lincoln Way will cost less than expected.

“The wall specs for the Center Street extension will be finalized on May 13. We’re also making sure that the crossings and road markings on Lincoln Way comply with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act),” Hillman said.

Hillman also announced plans to build a new walkway at Heritage Hill Park, along with eight new benches, ADA accessibility, and rubber mulch ground cover. Councilwoman Julie Opferman also supported the idea of adding pickleball, hockey or basketball courts.

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Marton Retires from W.O. Animal Shelter

April 05, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton enjoys the company of Luke and Chewie during a 2019 fundraiser for the White Oak Animal Safe Haven. Marton has retired as director of the shelter after 18 years. (Tube City Almanac file photo by Cami DiBattista)

After 18 years and 16,000 dogs and cats rescued, Ina Jean Marton has retired from her role as director of the White Oak Animal Safe Haven.

“I’d been planning it for six to eight months. After 18 years, I felt like it was time to enjoy my life,” said Marton, who also serves as White Oak borough mayor.

Shelter vice president Laura Massie has taken over as director. She expressed optimism about the shelter’s future.

“We’re building a catio (cat exercise area) and renovating our office,” she said. “We’re also bringing in new volunteers and brainstorming ideas for fundraisers. I just want to do whatever I can to make the shelter successful — especially with kitten season coming up.”

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W.O., City Slate Easter Events

March 24, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, White Oak News

White Oak borough will hold an Easter Egg Hunt on April 3 at Heritage Hill Park.

Councilwoman Julie Opferman, who chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee, said guests should bring their own Easter baskets.

Ages 3 and under will start at 10 a.m., ages 4 to 7 at 10:30 a.m., and 8 to 10 at 11 a.m., Opferman said.

In McKeesport, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Cherepko announced that the annual Easter egg hunt will return at 10 a.m. March 27 at Renziehausen Park. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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W.O. Council Limits Comments on Ordinance

March 24, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

People who came to White Oak’s council meeting this month to protest a controversial feral cat ordinance were sidelined.

Before the March 15 meeting, council instituted a rule restricting the public comment portion to White Oak residents only. None of the people in the audience were borough residents.

Council members said the rule was implemented to improve communication and focus during public meetings.

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Local Buses Kept Rolling During COVID-19

March 19, 2021 |

By Ann Belser | Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News, White Oak News

A Heritage Community Transportation bus pauses on Braddock Avenue in Braddock. The non-profit group connects residents of Mon Valley neighborhoods to main Port Authority bus routes and has provided 1.5 million rides. (Submitted photo courtesy Heritage Community Initiatives)

A year ago, when the state shut down all but essential services, a Braddock-based nonprofit found that one of its services could not stop and the others were more vital than ever.

Paula McWilliams, CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives, said the bus service her organization operates, Heritage Community Transportation, was needed to make sure that workers in eastern communities, including Braddock, Liberty, McKeesport, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue and White Oak, could get to their jobs at hospitals such as Forbes Regional, UPMC McKeesport and UPMC East.

The Heritage buses, which are 14-passenger vans, operate on three fixed routes. They had to be modified for transporting workers and senior citizens who needed to get groceries and to medical appointments while keeping passengers and drivers safe.

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W.O. Takes Tentative Steps to Reopening

March 11, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Pennsylvania, White Oak is preparing to reopen its municipal building to the public with limited hours.

At Monday’s council workshop, Borough Manager John Palyo announced that the office is getting ready to welcome the public again in the spring.

“I know we’re all eager to return to some sense of normalcy,” Palyo said. “We’ll have limited hours at the borough building. The Norwin Aqua Club also wants to use Heritage Hill Pool for a nominal fee, as they have in the past.”

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Activists Urge Humane Solutions to Cat Problem

March 09, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

Protestors lined Lincoln Way in front of the White Oak municipal building March 5 to draw attention to the borough’s feral cat ordinance. (Amanda Coats photo via Facebook)

After 20 years of rescuing dogs and cats, Amanda Coats’ passion for animals remains strong. Over the last 10 years, Coats has trapped, neutered and returned 1,000 cats in the Mon Valley.

As a trap, neuter, return volunteer, Coats, of Murrysville, works with community cats and their caretakers to keep the animals healthy, along with educating citizens and legislators on how to best care for homeless cats.

“Cats can be in suburbia, farms, on the streets … really anywhere humans are,” Coats said. “And they can have up to four litters a year. One colony can have anywhere from five to 50 cats.”

In December, White Oak council passed an ordinance making it unlawful to continue feeding feral cats if it causes a nuisance to neighbors, prompting a protest from 25 animal lovers outside the borough building on March 6.

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Crowd Questions W.O. Feral Cat Ordinance

February 23, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

A large crowd attended Monday’s White Oak borough council meeting to raise concerns over an recently enacted feral cat ordinance.

More than two dozen people, some of whom had to stand for lack of chairs, attended to discuss the impact of the ordinance, enacted by council in December.

The ordinance requires cat owners to vaccinate their own anials against rabies, as well as to have their cats neutered or spayed and tipped. The ordinance also makes it unlawful to continue feeding or keeping feral cats if it causes a nuisance to neighbors.

Several people on Monday questioned whether the ordinance was legal or could withstand a court challenge.

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WOAA Work Complete, Other Plans Move Forward

February 11, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

Improvements at White Oak Athletic Association are complete, pending the receipt of certain documents.

At Monday’s council work session, borough engineer Ken Hillman said White Oak’s next big project is tackling repairs to the municipal building on Lincoln Way.

“We’ve completed specification plans for the roof, electrical and HVAC systems at the borough building. Our street paving project has been sent out to bid, and those bids are due Feb. 23,” Hillman said.

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Furry Friends Essential During COVID Pandemic

January 31, 2021 |

By Sarah Turnbull | Posted in: White Oak News

Cici is a pitbull mix awaiting adoption at White Oak Animal Safe Haven.

When Laura Massie joined the White Oak Animal Safe Haven 10 years ago, she knew her love for animals could make a positive difference in the community.

“I came in as a board member, volunteering, and just loving animals,” said Massie, who now serves as vice president of the non-profit’s board. “I’ve been vice president for three years, and a board member and volunteer for 10.”

Created on Sept. 21, 2003 by Ina Jean Marton, the shelter was born out of a desire to help animals as well as the wider community.

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