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Judge positions Westmoreland to acquire former Monsour Medical Center

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By Richard Gazarik
Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County has cleared another hurdle in the effort to acquire the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette.

Judge Anthony Marsili will allow the Tax Claims Bureau to post notice in a newspaper that the property will be sold rather than require personal service. The county has been unable to personally notify members of the board of directors who were in office when the facility closed in March 2006 for failing a series of state inspections.

County attorney Tim Andrews said a search of civil court dockets, tax records, the Internet and the Postal Service has failed to turn up any addresses for former directors, some of whom resigned before Monsour closed or have since died or moved.

The last remaining member of the four founding Monsour brothers, Dr. Howard Monsour, moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., and reportedly lives in California. The last person in control of the facility was Howard's son, Michael Monsour, who was CEO.

“The city is excited,” said city attorney Scott Avolio. “We're on one of the final steps. This process began four years ago and could come to fruition within the next 60 to 90 days.”

A judge will hold a hearing within 30 days after the ad is published and will schedule a sale date.

The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. wants to acquire the property on Route 30 and redevelop it. It must notify creditors of the sale and give them time to object.

By allowing the alternative method of serving notice, the county will be able to schedule a free-and-clear sale later this year unless creditors oppose the move. Andrews said the largest creditors, the IRS and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have filed no objections to the sale.

“It's a good thing,” said Jason Rigone, head of the development group. “It's a positive action. My hope is that a sale will be no later than the third quarter of this year.”

The county is posting the property for sale because the former hospital owes more than $63,000 in taxes for 2013. It initially was posted for sale in December, but no one placed a bid.

A 2013 study by the county estimated it will cost $650,000 to demolish the structure and another $275,000 to remove 38,000 square feet of asbestos.

Some demolition work already has been completed. Two buildings adjoining the hospital were razed earlier this year.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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