Early Tuesday morning, a bright yellow excavator bit into the mounds of debris from the partially demolished red brick industrial building at 401 W. Bertsch Street in Lansford, neatly depositing the rubble into the four-foot-deep hole beneath the remaining structure.
The Panther Valley School District, which bought the massive building for about $800 at a June 2010 Carbon County tax sale, is tearing it down. The debris is being put into the excavated foundation of the building as fill, said school district maintenance supervisor George Krajnak.
The work is expected to finish by Aug. 1, he said.
Krajnak, who lives across the street, watched as a worker from Ritter & Paratore, Utica, New York, sprayed water on the debris to keep the dust down.
The school board in June hired Ritter & Paratore for $89,000 to demolish the building, which is adjacent to the Panther Valley football stadium. The company was among eight vying for the work.
School officials said the dilapidated building, whose roof was fallen in and sides were bowed, posed a hazard to those using the stadium and walking on the sidewalk next to the structure.
The building was last owned by Bennett Verta Jr., who had planned to use it to house his Everbrite Industries, and industrial soap factory. However, Verta fell on hard times, and eventually lost the building to back taxes.
The borough had repeatedly cited Verta for the building's condition. Verta had told authorities that he had lost his job, and could not afford to fix the building. He had tried to sell the building, but there were no takers.
In December, a hazardous materials contractor for the state Department of Environmental Protection began to clear industrial chemicals, including various acids and hydrogen peroxide and other materials that Verta had left there, from the building so that it could safely be demolished.