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Mold-infested house might soon be cleaned

Published July 10. 2013 05:01PM

Coaldale council learned Tuesday that the borough may soon be able to take steps to resolve the problem of a mold-infested vacant house at 132 W. Ridge St.

Solicitor Michael Greek said a hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Schuylkill County court for a default status on the house, which is declared unfit for human habitation. That may allow the borough to clean up the interior of the home.

The borough has already cleaned up trash, toys and debris from the outside, and cut the grass and high weeds. Once the borough is allowed access to the interior, grant money would be needed to do the work.

Ruthanne and Ron Kehl, who live in the attached house at 134 W. Ridge St., urged council to start applying for grants now so that the money will be in place as soon as possible.

The Kehls have been pleading with council for years to do something about the house.

The owner, Lisa M. O'Brien of Lansford, was evicted from the house in 2010 because of an ongoing water leak.

She left the house as it was, with food in the kitchen, toys and clothes and household items where they were. The water leaks continued, and the mold soon began growing through to the Kehl's home, exacerbating Ron Kehl's lung problems and forcing the couple to curtail visits from their grandchild.

A May 2011 hail storm punched holes in the roof, causing even more water damage. The Coaldale fire company put a tarp over the roof to keep water from running down between the houses.

Ruthanne Kehl has said she's had water running through her light fixtures and down the insides of walls.

Meanwhile, the second floor of 132 W. Ridge has collapsed from heavy rains. The Kehls have sought advice from local legislators, and state agencies, to no avail.

According to Schuylkill County property records, O'Brien bought the house for $12,000 in 2003.

In other matters Tuesday, Mayor Richard Corkery was called in to the meeting to break a tie vote on whether council should buy a $5,400 rearview camera for a new police car. The camera would record what was happening both in front of the cruiser, and in the back seat.

Corkery cast his vote in favor of the purchase.

The vote had been split, with council members Joseph Hnat, Mike Doerr and President Sue Solt opposed to the purchase. Councilmen Thomas Keerans, John Sherbin and David Yelito voted in favor. Councilman Steve Tentylo was absent.

Corkery, 73, who has not attended public council meetings since his July 2011 arrest on charges of downloading images of child pornography, came to the meeting at about 8:30 p.m. after secretary Nancy Lorchak called him at home.

Corkery is awaiting trial on the charges in Carbon County court.

Also on Tuesday, council heard from residents on a variety of issues: Angela Krapf asked Yelito, whom the borough hired to do maintenance at the Coaldale complex, whether anyone could throw trash in a Dumpster, paid for by the borough, at the building. Yelito said no. Krapf then said Yelito was seen throwing trash bags in to the receptacle.

Linda Miller asked if there was public notice of a July 2 police committee meeting; Lorchak said a list of the meetings, times and dates is published in January.

A representative of St. Luke's Hospital Network asked council's approval of a 5K race to be held Sept. 28 in the borough. Council approved the event, pending police Chief Timothy Delaney's approval.

Council also approved the use of the Coaldale Complex field by the Tamaqua Soccer Association, pending a certificate of insurance.

Council also approved hiring Professional Services Inc. for engineering work on the East Phillips Street improvement project. The company will be paid $9,900.

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