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A close call in Lansford

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Berk's Custom Carpentry owner BJ Berk, left, and assistant Brent Kunkel, hand down a heavy piece of decorative iron work to Noreen Hine (in the orange shirt) and Hank Borger.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Berk's Custom Carpentry owner BJ Berk, left, and assistant Brent Kunkel, hand down a heavy piece of decorative iron work to Noreen Hine (in the orange shirt) and Hank Borger.
Published June 12. 2013 05:03PM

As hundreds of people descended on downtown Lansford Saturday for a merchant's sidewalk sale, a piece of heavy cast iron trim, eaten away by rust, fell from the overhang of the Panther Valley Mini Mall on Ridge Street.

One man told a Blue Ridge Cable TV 13 reporter that he had been sitting under the overhang, and had just gotten up when the decorative piece fell.

"Some of the decorative elements of the marquee separated from the structure and fell," said building owner David Benevy. "Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident."

The deterioration exposed the manner in which the marquee was built, he said.

"Following the incident, parts of the structure which were never visible before were exposed. The marquee was constructed by screwing and bolting the decorative metal items to a solid steel beam. This was a serious error in the design of the structure, because there was no way to paint the inside of the steel/iron pieces that were joined together. Over the years, water entered between these pieces and rust set in. Eventually, the steel that the decorative pieces were attached to deteriorated, and the bolts no longer held," Benevy said.

The marquee, a piece of Lansford history, cannot be fixed.

"There is no way this structure can be repaired that will guarantee that it will stand for another hundred years or more," he said. "Consequently, we have decided to remove the marquee in its entirety. Demolition began today (Tuesday) and will continue until the structure is entirely removed. There is no plan to replace it. Only by doing this can we assure there will never be another incident of this nature."

On Tuesday, workers from Berk's Custom Carpentry were dismantling the overhang, carefully lowering pieces of the trim via canvas straps to helpers.

Berk said the old iron pieces would be repurposed, with one piece going to the Lansford Historical Society.

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