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Jeannette receives lone bid for securing Monsour building

| Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Money to build a barrier around the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette will come from the Neighborhood Partnership Program, run by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

The city of Jeannette received only one bid from a contractor to secure the former Monsour Medical Center from vandals and trespassers until the property is sold for unpaid taxes.

Cavcon Construction Inc. of South Greensburg submitted a price of more than $22,000 for the work, said Community Development Director Diana Reitz. She said on Monday that 13 contractors were invited to attend a meeting on the project, but Cavcon was the only firm to send a representative.

Reitz said Cavcon will not surround the property with a perimeter fence as originally planned. Instead, the company will secure the windows and main entrance doors with plywood and dump two piles of dirt on a driveway in the back of the building to prevent vehicles from entering the site. The loading dock in the rear of the structure will be covered with plywood.

“We tried to cut corners in cost because we know the building is coming down,” she said.

The money to pay for the work will come from a $65,000 state grant the city received seven years ago to pay for the construction of a recreation center that never was built. The state allowed Jeannette to keep the grant money and use it on the Monsour property.

Monsour, which has been condemned by the city's health board, has been a favorite target for vandals. The building was systematically stripped of valuable items such as copper pipes, electrical conduit and computer parts that can be recycled or sold as scrap. The structure was the target of two arsons last year. An adjoining stone building was destroyed by fire and is scheduled for demolition before the main structure is razed.

The former hospital, founded by the Monsour family in the 1950s, is the subject of legal action in Westmoreland County.

The county Tax Claims Bureau is putting up the property for a free and clear sale, and the Westmoreland Industrial Development Corp. hopes to purchase the site for redevelopment.

The bureau has been notifying creditors about the pending sale, according to court records. Once a judge approves the sale, a date will be set for it.

Dr. Howard Monsour, credited with the idea of establishing the medical center, is the last surviving member of the four brothers. Creditors include Monsour; his brothers, William, Roy and Robert; the IRS; the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.; a bank; several individuals; and Westmoreland Priority LLC, which is controlled by Howard Monsour and his son, Michael.

County attorney Tim Andrews said the owners of the former hospital are either dead or no longer in the area and can't be served notice of the pending sale.

“The owner of record is an entity, and nobody is handling the entity,” Andrews said.

A second former hospital in the city, Jeannette District Memorial, is scheduled for demolition later this year by its owner, Excela Health of Greensburg.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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