By Andy Sheehan

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — It has raised many concerns and suspicions.

However, the state’s proposed sale of the former New Castle Youth Development Center property in Shenango Township to an organization promoting Muslim education appears to be moving forward, even though the township says they know little about the group.

“To be clear, Shenango Township’s concerns have nothing to do with religion, race, or national origin. Our concern is that the state has provided us with little information about the proposed sale,” Frank Augustine, the chairman of the Shenango Township Board of Supervisors, said earlier this month.

The company, called Hira Educational Services, is a consultant group whose stated mission is to help Muslim schools in the U.S.

It bid $400,000 to purchase the 143-acre site and its 13 buildings.

But KDKA’s Andy Sheehan’s own research finds that the company claims only one employee in an apartment in Newark, New Jersey, and has not reported income of more than $50,000 in each of the past three years.

In addition, the state of New Jersey has revoked Hira’s non-profit status for failing to submit required financial reports for two consecutive years.

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They haven’t returned any of KDKA’s phone calls, and state Rep. Chris Sainato says they haven’t returned his calls either.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve never dealt with a business like this. Usually, a business when they come into a community wants to talk to the legislators, the senators, the county commissioners, the township supervisors about all the great stuff they want to do, but they won’t talk to anybody,” Rep. Sainato said.

But, despite his calls to void the transaction, Rep. Sainato says the sale has just received all the necessary approvals from the governor’s General Counsel’s Office and the state attorney general.

Hira will still need to come up with a down payment on the property, and then make payment in full. But, for now, they’ve cleared all the necessary hurdles, and all efforts, so far, to stop the sale of the property have failed.

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