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Schuylkill County News

Publisher Calls for Action as Buildings Collapse in Shenandoah

united wiping cloth shenandoah pa drone
(Drone Image: Kaylee Lindenmuth, The Shenandoah Sentinel)

united wiping cloth shenandoah pa drone

(Drone Image: Kaylee Lindenmuth, The Shenandoah Sentinel)

Kaylee Lindenmuth holds back when it comes to editorializing the news.

She’s publisher of The Shenandoah Sentinel and does a fantastic job at bringing folks north of the mountain their news. It’s hyper-local and easily one of the best sites you may not have heard about until now.

Kaylee’s actually out there covering the news whenever and wherever it happens.

Lately, she’s seeing a disturbing trend in her hometown that couldn’t be ignored or just covered with some photos and quotes from a few talking heads.

Shenandoah Blight Seen from Above

A few months ago, she got herself a drone and has been putting it in the air a lot to capture plenty of images of northern Schuylkill County from some truly unique angles.

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But recently, she started focusing on some of the blight that plagues that part of the coal region. Actually, the discovery started on the ground level in the last few days.

She noticed that a property at the corner of Centre and White streets in Shenandoah was bowing. Honestly, it looks like it has about a week of standing on its own before it comes crashing down.

The former barroom has seen better days and likely doesn’t have many more as a freestanding structure.

So, Kaylee sent up the drone to get a view from above. And then she started doing a little more flying to uncover more problematic properties around Shenandoah.

What she’s uncovered is a mess. And it’s just one mess in a county of messes. Kaylee took to Twitter recently and said it’s time for someone to finally step up and do something meaningful about the problem of blighted communities.

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Check out her tweet thread below that we had unraveled courtesy of a Twitter-bot.

The former Blind Bob’s Bar at Centre and White in #ShenandoahPA suffered a major collapse recently. It looks rough from the road, and even worse from the air, revealing the extent of the damage.Image
This property is yet another owned by an out-of-state individual — in this case, Mohammad Raza, of Mannasas, Va. — left to fall into backyards of those living here.

Pennsylvania needs stiffer property and code laws, to keep people like Missassauga, Ontario’s @Socrates2612 from letting this happen to Shenandoah’s housing stock.

This property on E. Laurel collapsed at least seven years after he purchased the home.


This property burned in a massive fire last Jan. and has sat untouched since.

It’s owned by Brooklyn, NY’s Semyon Klimov, who attempted to renovate the ex-garment factory before the fire.

Now, his work van is abandoned on the property, and we’re left with the eyesore.Image


Two of these three are also owned by out-of-staters, the Gayet Family Trust of McLean, Va. (Center), and Manuel Romero of Nanuet, NY (right). The left home is owned by Maria Cruz, of town.

We, the taxpayers of Shenandoah, are the ones left to pick up the pieces from their mess.Image

While the folks who own these properties continue their lives without a single care or thought given to Shenandoah or their properties, we’re the ones who have to worry about them falling into the roadway — like this triplex — potentially onto our neighbors, friends, kids.

That triplex was owned by folks from Klingerstown, Harrisburg, and Brooklyn, and was left to rot after an arson fire in 2008, collapsing 11 years later.

Why is this allowed to happen? Why are our laws loose enough to allow this? What happens when the worst case scenario occurs? 

I don’t want to see that day, but I’m afraid it’s inevitable. I’m afraid nothing will change until someone gets hurt or killed because of the negligence displayed by these properties.

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Our borough doesn’t have the resources or, quite frankly, power to step up and combat this. 

This is where our state and federal legislators need to step in and step up to bat for Shenandoah, and the greater Anthracite Region, where these problems are not uncommon. Girardville, Ashland, Mahanoy City, Mount Carmel, Pottsville, Minersville, they all face similar issues. 

So, now is time for action, @SenatorArgall@SenBobCasey@SenToomey@RepNealGoodman@GovernorTomWolf@JohnFetterman@RepMeuser@RepCartwright.

I don’t want to see my town further deteriorate beyond our control. Above all, I don’t want to see anyone hurt or worse … 

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  1. Anon E. Mouse

    August 25, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Look around Schuylkill County, easily 50% of the housing stock is 100 years old or older. In another 20 years (or less) these will be uninhabitable. The Lincolns and William Penns and Mabels and Joliettes and Buck Runs of Schuylkill County will look like Centralia, while the Shenandoahs, Mahanoy City’s, Girardvilles, and Cumbola’s, will be near Ghost Towns. You can’t put enough money into these structures to bring them up to code. Houses, like everything else, have an expiration date!

    • Geralynn matta

      August 25, 2020 at 10:40 pm

      I disagree. My parents took great care of their home that took 30 years to pay off??! It took one Dominican to purchase the home next to it and he decided to get messed up fall asleep while cooking and cause a horrendous fire. To top it off he had NO FIRE INSURANCE!!!! Don’t even get me started on what certain people are allowed to do and get away with. I wish the coal companies would give us something at least for our homes and mine those mammoth veins underneath Shenandoah.

  2. Anon E. Mouse

    August 26, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    My comments were directed at the age of the housing stock, not the ownership. But, besides that you bring up an interesting point about mining the mammoth vein.
    I predict that in the next 25 years coal will be a viable energy resource (again) due to improved methods of filtering of the pollutants. Schuylkill County has 70% of the world’s known Anthracite Coal reserves, and should begin planning now, for what could be a resurgence in coal mining. Instead of having haphazard mining towns and miles and miles of little traveled roads, start developing a plan now developed around where the coal mining will occur. Because it will occur!

    • Canary Commenter

      August 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      Pottsville, at last check, had the oldest housing stock in the country. But there are other buildings around the world that have stood the test of time, a lot longer time, than most old homes in the US.

      And anthracite’s best bet for a big renewal is in Rare Earth Elements, not as a heat producer. Cutting off our dependence on foreign markets – some far worse than China – for REEs by processing anthracite to get them would be a game-changer. However, it’ll only bring back mining and transportation jobs (not that there is anything wrong with those jobs) if we don’t get the processing facilities to make that happen here in Pennsylvania.

      They’ve even found ways to get REEs from acid mine drainage and culm:

  3. Anon E. Mouse

    August 27, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Sure there are alot of structures world wide older than the housing stock in Schuylkill. However, the 100 year old housing stock here in Schuylkill is all wood frame, poorly insulated, roofs failing, and electrical and plumbing systems far outdated.
    Your comments about Anthracite, whatever its use, are correct. What we should be doing NOW is working on a development plan for Schuylkill County so that we are prepared for a resurgence in the extraction and refinement of Anthracite. The coal is here. It’s going to be extracted.
    Let’s be proactive and not reactive. Start now before you come to the crossroads like Pottsville has.

  4. Jackie Smith

    December 18, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    My 2x great-grandparents James and Annie Smith and family lived in that first house, Centre and White in the 1890s into early 1900s. He was the Chief Burgess in 1892-93. It’s very sad what has happened in town. I wish I could fix it. If I ever win the lottery….

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