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Sale may mean end for Huber

Bankruptcy Court


August 23. 2013 8:37AM

By - elewis@civitasmedia.com






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WILKES-BARRE — A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday permitted the sale of the Huber Breaker that will likely be demolished for scrap, ending efforts to restore the mammoth structure in Ashley.


U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John J. Thomas awarded a $1.25 million bid by Paselo Logistics LLC, with an address listed on court records as 221 12th St., Philadelphia, during an auction in the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.


The property had been owned by No. 1 Contracting of South Main Street, Ashley, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2010 and was converted to Chapter 7 in November of that year, requiring the business to liquidate its assets, equipment and property. The Huber Breaker has an estimated 900 tons of steel.


The property also consists of one office, three garages/warehouses and a second, smaller breaker.


The Huber Breaker Preservation Society was created with the intent of saving the structure, but it has all but abandoned that goal.


Instead, it is building a Miners Memorial Park on 3.1 acres along Main Street, within the shadow of the breaker. The park already has a monument that was dedicated on July 4, and there are plans for walking trails and kiosks explaining the Huber’s history.


Ray Clarke, society board chairman, said the outcome was “very disturbing. After 22 years of trying to save something, and all of a sudden, it’s gone. … We don’t have deep pockets, so there was no way we could save it.”


Clarke lamented the area is known for losing buildings of historical significance, citing the losses of the Old Fell House tavern and the Hotel Sterling and the deterioration of Irem Temple and the Central Railroad of New Jersey station at the Market Street Square complex, all in Wilkes-Barre.


“We’re losing our culture. We’ll have nothing for our kids to remind them of what the past was like. It’s sad,” Clarke said.


During its heyday, the Huber produced 1,000 tons of coal an hour and 7,000 tons a day, Clarke has noted.


According to the preservation society’s website, www.huberbreaker.org, the breaker was constructed in 1938 and ended operations in 1976.


Attorney Ronald Santora, representing No. 1 Contracting, and attorney Michael G. Oleyar, bankruptcy trustee, could not be reached for comment.


Court records indicate Al Roman, proprietor of No. 1 Contracting, objected to the auction and sale of the property.


Paselo Logistics describes itself as a trucking company with two trucks and two drivers.


Attorney Jonathan Comitz, representing Paselo Logistics, said he wants to wait until the judge signs an order making the sale official before commenting.


A motion objecting to the auction and sale filed by Santora last week claims the breaker is contaminated with asbestos that will cost several hundred thousand dollars to remove, and the property is contaminated with environmental and soil hazards with a removal cost of $840,000.




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