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Clairton officials await report on roach-infested home

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 4:07 a.m.
Cockroaches from this white house at 745 Waddell Ave. in Clairton spread to neighboring homes in September, causing serious concern for the city and its residents. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Clairton officials condemned a house at 745 Waddell Ave. in September after hundreds of cockroaches were found inside living with a family of six people. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Clairton officials are awaiting verification from the Allegheny County Health Department that an insect-infested property along Waddell Avenue now is bug free.

Code enforcement officer George Glagola said he contacted the department in December regarding 745 Waddell Ave., a building condemned by the city because of a cockroach crises in early September.

“I didn't get any response,” Glagola said on Tuesday. “I hope (to), so that we can put it in our file and zip everything up.”

Cindy Nehila, 32, and David Nehila, 24, and their four children were removed from what authorities described as a garbage-filled, roach-infested residence.

City manager Howard Bednar and an exterminator from Budget Pest Control visited the property on Sept. 2. The family was ordered to remove everything from the house. A Dumpster was placed outside the home on Sept. 4, and the building was condemned on Sept. 5.

Bednar said he contacted ACHD that month.

“They were slow to act on this,” Bednar said of ACHD.

Clairton police charged the Nehilas with four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families became involved, and the Nehilas were ordered to attend parenting classes in October.

Attorney William James Helzlouer said his clients pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, and other charges were withdrawn.

The Nehilas also were ordered to pay court costs.

Helzlouer said they cooperated with CYF, and are continuing their parenting classes.

“Everything worked out. Everyone was happy,” Helzlouer said.

Budget Pest Control sprayed the house at least twice.

Glagola said the property owner, Guido Benack, was notified about the infestation, but was not officially cited because of his family's cooperation in addressing the problem.

Guy Benack, Guido's son, said at council's September meeting that “I'll do anything it takes to resolve this problem.”

The owner contracted Allegheny Pest Control to treat the house, with the last reported treatment in December, Councilwoman Kathy Tachoir said.

Neighbors' homes were sprayed for cockroaches when the bugs began to spread along Waddell Avenue.

Maria Campano of 741 Waddell Ave. and Marie Robinson of 734 Waddell Ave. used Budget Pest Control. They said they spent hundreds of dollars for chemicals and treatments, and believe they will have to spray again in the warmer months.

“We're just praying we don't see (cockroaches) again,” Robinson said. “We will get Budget back just for our peace of mind.”

“It's cold. It's very common that these types of insects will go dormant,” Campano said. “I have 20 roach traps outside my house. We still want the house torn down, but I think it's up to the owner to do.”

In September, Council unanimously authorizeD city solicitor J. Deron Gabriel to investigate all legal remedies available to the city for its actions in dealing with the infestation. The city has yet to take any other legal actions regarding the house.

“We'll wait till it's all done to make sure (there are no more problems),” Bednar said. “It's ultimately the landlord's responsibility to deal with it.”

Glagola said the building will remain condemned until he does a through inspection and the landlord applies for an occupancy permit.

Neither action is expected without health department reports.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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