City home still falling
SHAMOKIN - A contractor could mobilize heavy equipment as early as today to the site of a partially collapsed double home on West Spruce Street.
That the demolition process could begin shortly was good news to Elaine Kramer. The rear of the vacant 613-615 W. Spruce St. collapsed Monday and shifted further Tuesday morning against her home at 617 W. Spruce St.
"I just heard wood crackling and then another 'boom.' I'm like, 'Oh, I'm afraid to look!'" Kramer said of the shifting wreckage, which occurred about 10:30 a.m.
"That would be wonderful," she said of learning through the city that the contractor would soon be on site.
Councilman R. Craig Rhoades said the state will allow the city to order a contractor to proceed with the emergency demolition of 613-615 W. Spruce St. ahead of final approval of a contract. It may not be a long wait for the final approval because city council could vote on a contract tonight prior to its monthly workshop session at City Hall.
Three unsealed bids were submitted by contractors to the city. Officials were in touch with the lowest bidder, who indicated if manpower is available on Thursday, Independence Day, they would work the holiday to lessen the hazard, Rhoades said, adding that the contractor understood the emergency at hand.
He would not name the contractor who submitted the low bid because the bonding process was pending.
Rick Bozza, code officer, said the contractor guaranteed they'd be on site no later than the weekend. Bozza also did not disclose the contractor's name. However, he identified the three contractors that submitted bids: Eastern Industries, Knoeppel's Coal Deliveries and Demolition and Madonna Enterprises Inc.
The potential cost of the demolition project is not yet known. It will be paid with state Community Development Block Grant funding, a plan that Bozza said has also been approved by the state.
The second story at the rear of 613-615 W. Spruce St. collapsed into the first story shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, and the city declared a state of emergency at the site.
The double home had been owned by Katherine Hovenstine and the late James E. Hovenstine, who died in August 2011. It is now vacant and is in the steward of Northumberland County after property taxes went unpaid in full since 2008.
Kramer and another neighbor, Kelly Lynch, of 619 W. Spruce St., say complaints about the property's condition had been made to City Hall periodically over at least the past three years.
Kramer's home has sustained water damage which she believes is a direct result of being partially attached to 613-615 W. Spruce St. Her insurance company disagreed, she said, but she believes the collapse is overwhelming proof.
The roof that collapsed appeared to have much patchwork. Lynch said bricks were used to keep an exhaust pipe upright.
Kramer has refused officials' requests that she temporarily leave her home. She said she will leave, though, while contractors work to demolish the structure.