When Ben Verta purchased his sprawling building on West Bertsch Street, adjacent to the Panther Valley football stadium, the economy was better than it is now and he was optimistic it was ideal for his soap manufacturing business.

Not only did the economy hammer his business, but the building began to rapidly deteriorate. Yesterday, Verta appeared before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek to answer 14 citations he received from Lansford building inspector Kathy Labosky.

A hearing before Kosciolek was postponed when Verta told the local court he has a potential buyer for the structure.

He was given until mid-January to either sell the building or make improvements.

Attorney Robert Yurchak, solicitor for Lansford, agreed to the request by Verta for a little more time.

The structure has gaping holes in the roof. Labosky said there is also other major interior and exterior damage.

Attorney Yurchak said, "This puts a time limit on him," noting that failure to sell or repair the building could result in financial penalties to Verta.

Verta was cited last fall for building violations. He said at that time that the economy was taking its toll on his soap-making business and he couldn't afford to make the repairs.