Closed Ringgold schools sold at auction

August 20, 2014
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
The former Donora Elementary Center Order a Print
Image description
Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
The former Monongahela Elementary Center has been vandalized and broken into several times in the years since it closed. Order a Print

Donora Borough was the highest bidder at an auction Tuesday to sell an aging, closed school in that borough, while a contractor in Allegheny County won the bidding on the sale that day of a similar building in nearby Monongahela.

The former Donora Elementary Center, part of the Ringgold School District, sold for $22,000 at 3 p.m., and the district’s former Monongahela Elementary Center went for $71,500 at 5 p.m., according to Hostetter Auctioneers, the Beaver Falls company that conducted the sales.

Donora decided to purchase the school at 401 Waddell Ave., “so the borough will control the destiny of that building,” said borough manager Dennis Fisher.

Fisher said districts often sell old schools to people who remove valuables from the buildings and then abandon them, leaving municipalities to pay the demolition costs.

Carmen Paliotta Contracting of South Park won the bid for the Monongahela building at 1200 Chess St.

Ringgold board President Mariann Bulko said Paliotta indicated at the auction the company would reuse MEC as its headquarters or convert the building into apartments.

“MEC will be back on the tax rolls. That’s a big plus,” Bulko said Wednesday during a school board meeting.

Company spokeswoman Antoinette Paliotta could not be reached Wednesday.

Ringgold closed the buildings in 2011, moving elementary students to a school in Gastonville and a renovated building in Carroll Township. Directors considered using the Donora and Monongahela buildings as middle schools, a plan that met with much opposition from parents.

Directors now are advancing plans for a new middle school beside the high school along Route 136 in Carroll Township.

Board Vice President William C. Stein Jr. said he wished Donora well as the new owner of the school in that borough.

“It saves us the cost of potentially having to demolish those buildings,”

Stein said prior to Wednesday’s meeting. “We were concerned about them becoming blight.”

Stein said he expected Donora to ask for a refund on the sale price, as state law permits school districts to donate vacant schools to municipalities. He said the district would have to research the legality of making a refund to Donora if such a request would be made.

The auction house has a month to verify the sales, its spokeswoman said.

In an unrelated matter Wednesday, Bulko said the district’s 215 teachers postponed a vote that afternoon on a new contract.

Diana Kristobek, president of the Ringgold Education Association, said there were a few details that needed to be worked out, that both sides have reached a tentative agreement on the contract. Votes by the union will take place Monday and Tuesday, she said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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