Lawmakers Say Company Has Lack Of Credentials, Financial WherewithalBy Andy Sheehan

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The proposed sale of the former New Castle Youth Development Center has raised alarms in Shenango Township, Lawrence County.

Little is known about the highest bidder, HIRA Educational Services, and that’s the problem. Townspeople are suspicious.

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“I would hope the governor would say this is all null and void. We’re going to open this up to bidding again,” said Shirley Sallmen, a resident and critic of the state’s bidding process.

Now, three state lawmakers – Sen. Elder Vogel, Rep. Chris Sainato and Rep. Aaron Bernstine – are asking the same. They have sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to void the sale.

HIRA is a consultant group and their stated mission is to help Muslim schools in the U.S.

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While some on social media have raised ethnic distrust and used racial epithets, the lawmakers have focused on the company’s lack of credentials and financial wherewithal.

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The company bid $400,000 to purchase the 143-acre site with 13 buildings, but KDKA’s 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. KDKA’s Andy Sheehan called the company phone number, but got only answer machine. And no one from HIRA returned the calls.

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On Thursday, the Shenango Township supervisors will be holding the monthly meeting and a large crowd is expected.