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Trial for WCVI building manager slated for next month

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A summary trial for a Connellsville property manager over the deteriorating condition of the WCVI building will be held next month.

Last year, local firefighters expressed concerns with the condition of the building, which is located at 131 E. Crawford Ave. Firefighters said they feared for their safety if they would have to enter the structure.

On March 2, 2010, K2 Engineering released an engineering report and deemed the building to be a disaster and not structurally adequate or safe for occupancy.

The report stated that the roof and attic had started to collapse under their own weight.

Repairs needed to the structure included repairing or replacing the entire roof system and fascia; replacing the decaying attic floor; the ceiling joists must be thoroughly inspected by a qualified individual before they can be incorporated into the repairs; electrical service to the building should be disconnected except where approved by an electrician; all stairways that have shifted or sagged must be replaced or repaired, and building systems such as air conditioning, heating and "life safety" systems must be inspected before any occupancy can be allowed anywhere in the building.

"They recommended it be demolished immediately," said Tom Currey, Connellsville health and code officer, adding that the Connellsville Board of Health deemed the building unfit for human habitation.

Currey said that Josh Dewitt, 25, of Connellsville, a representative of the building's owner, was trying to sell the building to a third party. While he made some minor repairs to the building, the board of health gave him 30 days at the end of January to demolish the building.

On Feb. 25, Currey issued Dewitt a citation. Dewitt has pleaded not guilty.

The summary trial has been scheduled for 11:15 a.m. April 5 at District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr.'s office.

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