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School building demolition is underway near Mt. Pleasant

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
The former Hecla School building along Hecla Road in Mt. Pleasant Township as it appeared prior to its recent demolition. According to residents and township supervisors, the building was in extreme disrepair and a safety hazard.
Linda Harkcom | For Trib Total Media
Apollo-based Eveready Contracting recently began demolition of the former Hecla School building along Hecla Road in Mt. Pleasant Township.

A piece of Hecla history will soon be nothing but a memory.

Demolition of the old Hecla School building located along Hecla Road in Mt. Pleasant Township began recently.

“We are trying to clean up Mt. Pleasant Township and take care of it as much as we can,” said Jack Rutkowski, chairman of the township's board of supervisors.

“A lot of people in the township take care of their property and take a lot of pride in it, and it's a shame to have a broken down piece of property take value out of a neighboring properties,” he said.

The township-owned building has been in disrepair for years.

Supervisor Frank Puskar said he has worked toward having the building torn down since he took office more than 10 years ago.

He said in addition to the blighted appearance of the property, there was a major safety concern with the deteriorating structure.

“The whole back wall was falling in,” Puskar said.

Township secretary Caprice Mills said contractor Nick Eremic of Eveready Contracting of Apollo estimated it would take about 60 days to clear the property.

The building was built in 1910, and it served as the Hecla School until 1978, according to Hecla resident William Grabiak.

Grabiak, 78, attended the school until eighth grade, when he moved to what is now Norvelt Elementary School, he said.

“I have a lot of good memories of that school,” Grabiak said.

Since the school closed, it has had a couple of owners.

Grabiak said it had been used as a church for a short time in the late 1990s, and Puskar said there had also been apartments in the building at one time.

“When it closed, it was a beautiful building. As the years went by, it really went downhill,” Grabiak said. “The roof caved in, and it was dangerous because kids were playing in it. It's going to be missed, but it's a good thing that it's being torn down for safety.”

Puskar said the municipality took ownership of the building to apply for state Community Development Block Grant funding for demolition. Rutkowski said the municipality received just more than $50,000.

“This is being done at no cost to the taxpayers,” Puskar said.

Rutkowski said supervisors will consider razing other properties, including a house near the former school building.

He said officials will pursue other funding to cover demolition expenses for the additional properties supervisors.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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