The county's $1.25 million dollar land deal:
where 2 teens died, eight others were injured,
in a 1942 mine subsidence cave in
At last week's special meeting called to vote to buy land for a county jail, Mount Braddock businessman, Steve
Laskey, poignantly relayed his story of business disaster located at the industrial park there.
County Commission Chairman Al Ambrosini, quite frankly, blew Laskey off when he tried to show him photos of his
business under water from flooding. Ambrosini didn't seem to mind too much, either, when Laskey relayed how raw
sewage shoots up from toilets and cripples his business and profits from high flood insurance premiums and
nightmares that already sent four other businesses there packing.
Ambrosini didn't even seem to flinch or even seem at all interested in hearing more when Laskey asked him whether
he was aware of a dance hall collapsing on the site where the county leader wants to put a new jail. Laskey clearly
stated at that meeting that people died there, although Ambrosini continued to want to stifle public comments and
rush through the meeting and get to the vote.
Did Ambrosini not believe Laskey? Did he not care? The video of the meeting doesn't give the impression whatsoever
that he cared. He just kept right on going with the plan to build a state of the art $60 Million jail there to save us
Laskey, however, was right on target with his assessment of the land, though it's so doubtful whether the $28-30
million dollars that Ambrosini quoted at that meeting will cover getting the land ready for building, solving the flooding
and sewage problems and building the jail.
Laskey, also, was painfully truthful when he said that people died on the land that Ambrosini and Commissioner Vince
Zapotosky selected for the jail.
Two teens were killed and three others were injured when "like a house of cards, the Community Recreation Center in
Mount Braddock, Fayette County coal town midway between here and Uniontown, collapsed late yesterday," the
Pittsburgh Press reported on January 3, 1942.
"The collapse, which came without warning, was caused by a cave in of an abandoned coal mine tunnel, directly
under the frame structure," the tragic story continued.
The Connellsville Courier, that same day, reported that two died and eight were injured when the building "dropped
like an elevator." The young victims were just 15 and 20 years old. The younger of the two died trying to shield the
dance instructor from harm.
At last week's meeting, however, none of these startling facts seemed to impress Ambrosini or Zapotosky or even
cause to phase them to ask for more information. They wanted the land and, by God, they voted to start the process
of buying it.
Lets hope in this 90-day window of time that they have to re-think it all, that they actually do begin to conduct their
so-called "due diligence" mission thoroughly and determine, realistically, what it will cost to stabilize that wasteland
enough to put lives in jeopardy again on it.
with thanks to Natalie and Steve Laskey
10 Mar 14