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Lighthouse Ministries' soup kitchen in Arnold forced to close

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Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010

Lighthouse Ministries' soup kitchen temporarily closed Wednesday — one day after it opened — because it didn't have the required final inspection and occupancy permit from the City of Arnold.

The same thing happened in October 2007. But this time, the problem is supposed to be short-lived, and simply a technicality.

Thousands of dollars already has been spent to replace the roof and ceilings, electrical services and exit lights that previously were not up to building code standards in the building at 1611 Fifth Ave.

Arnold Zoning Officer Rick Rayburg said a final inspection must be completed before an occupancy permit can be issued.

He doesn't expect a problem, but said the kitchen should not have opened without the permit in hand.

The permit is needed to protect Lighthouse Ministries and the people it serves, Rayburg said.

"I have told them before they had to have all the ducks lined up," Rayburg said. "I know their hearts are in the right place, but they need a permit."

To get one, a final inspection must be made by the commercial building inspector employed by the city.

Rayburg said it could take as long as a few weeks for the inspection to occur.

The next scheduled time for the soup kitchen is Saturday.

Lighthouse Ministries founder, the Rev. Steve Gabor, said he wants to reopen the building as soon as possible. He said the ministry and its general contractor, Beaver County-based Hosanna Ministries, will cooperate.

Gabor and his wife, Rebecca, have been certified by the Westmoreland County Food Bank to operate a free soup kitchen three days a week as well as a food pantry.

Past attendance shows there has been considerable need for both.

Gabor said he thought a green document posted on the window of the building was the permit.

"I didn't read it," Gabor said. Upon closer inspection, he noted that the notice "was for electrical work only."

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