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 Post subject: Huber Breaker owner objects to bankruptcy structure
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:43 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:16 pm
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
By Paul Golias (Correspondent)

Published: July 27, 2013
No. 1 Contracting Co., bankrupt owner of the Huber Breaker, Ashley, is objecting to a bankruptcy trustee's plan to auction off the historic structure.

Bankruptcy Judge John Thomas has set a hearing for 9:30 a.m. Aug. in Courtroom 2 of the Max Rosenn Federal Building, Wilkes-Barre. Trustee Michael Oleyar had hoped to hold the auction that day.

The movement toward sale and likely demolition of the breaker is the first indication in months that the breaker will come down. Parties to the bankruptcy have stipulated that it should be sold and its steel scrapped to gain value for creditors.

Over the last six months, groups of people have been seen on the 26-acre property off South Main Street, Ashley.

Attorney Oleyar, court-appointed trustee in the No. 1 Contracting case, has declined comment. Thomas does not comment on specific cases. No. 1 Contracting's counsel, attorney Ron Santora, did not respond to requests for comment.

No. 1 Contracting has been in bankruptcy since March 5, 2010. The case began as a Chapter 11 proceeding but then was changed to Chapter 7 which calls for liquidation of assets and payments to creditors. No. 1 filed its objection Thursday, according to court records.

Ironically, the Huber's fate is in the news again as The Hotel Sterling falls to the wrecker's ball. The Huber, the Sterling, Irem Temple and the former Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal have been consistently listed as the most endangered historic structures in Luzerne County. Now, two of the four may be gone by next year.

Huber Breaker Preservation Society, created more than 20 years ago in the hope of preserving the breaker, is in no financial position to bid for the breaker and land. The society has been hard-pressed to raise funds necessary for its miners' memorial park on 3.1 acres on South Main Street, Ashley, in front of the deteriorating breaker. A memorial to anthracite miners was unveiled there on Memorial Day.

Ray Clarke, Ashley, chairman of the board of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, said an auction would be "disappointing, but not unexpected."

"This is a tragedy for the community and the entire region," Clarke said. "Millions of visitors passing through the valley have seen the breaker (from Interstate 81). It should be a museum."

Clarke said the preservation society will move forward with construction of the memorial park. The Huber Breaker Preservation Society has been seeking a benefactor to make its $125,000 park plan work.

The Ashley site is padlocked pending outcome of court proceedings.

Santora previously set the value of the steel in the breaker at $400,000 and mineable coal under the property has additional value, he has said.

Thomas signed a stipulation between No. 1 and its creditors calling for sale of the property as soon as possible so as to reap its value before its deteriorates further.

Robert Hughes, executive director of Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR), said he has seen extensive pickup truck traffic on the site and people were seen inspecting the property. EPCAMR rents space in the Earth Conservancy Building that once was Blue Coal's office, just north of the miners' memorial site.

Demolition of the Huber Breaker would end decades of effort to save and preserve the structure, which is one of the few remaining breakers from an industry that employed millions of people over two centuries. The Huber Breaker Preservation Society and its supporters appear resigned to losing the breaker.

Opened in 1939, the breaker was named after Charles F. Huber, chairman of Glen Alden Coal Company, predecessor to Blue Coal. It replaced a breaker built in 1895. The Huber mine and breaker employed 1,700 people at its peak. The coal was sold throughout the eastern United States and most was hauled out by the Central Railroad of New Jersey which had a major yard adjacent to the colliery.

Luzerne County began eminent domain proceedings several years ago to acquire the property but the cash-strapped county was unable to move forward. The county also dropped out of the Ashley Planes Heritage Park project which too is in limbo.

Huber Breaker fast facts:

Location: South Main Street, Ashley, PA

Constructed: 1939

Height: 134 feet

Predecessor: Maxwell Breaker (1892-1938)

Function: Crushed coal from three mines

Last use: 1976

Owners over the years: Glen Alden Coal Co., Blue Coal Corp., Lucky Strike Coal Co., No. 1 Contracting Co.

Workers: Tens of thousands in the mines and colliery.

Also known as: Ashley Breaker

Primary hauler of coal: Central Railroad of New Jersey

Memorial donations:

Miners' memorial donations can be made to the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, % St. Nicholas Federal Credit Union, PO Box 1213, Wilkes-Barre PA 18703, or % The Luzerne Foundation, 140 Main St., Luzerne PA 18709. For more information, contact Ray Clarke at 570-824-3176

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 Post subject: Re: Huber Breaker owner objects to bankruptcy structure
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
Another chapter in the huber breaker saga. Although I'd say its days are numbered I don't see anything happening too soon, just an ownership change. The time it'll take to get the demo permits and the hazmat cleanup of all the asbestos on the site that I'm sure has to be done before it comes down will probably hold up demo for a few more years. Just a guess. I really don't think anyone is aware of the asbestos in the power plane and that the entire breaker is painted with it. One things for sure if they implode it I want to be far upwind watching from tv! When they imploded the Harry E breaker in Swoyersville in 1995, the entire town was covered in a layer of dust. Imagine how far that asbestos and coal dust cloud will go in Ashley and Sugarnotch!

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 Post subject: Re: Huber Breaker owner objects to bankruptcy structure
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
Speaking of the Harry E breaker, that's the one that should have been preserved. Nothing had been scrapped! The entire thing was intact. You could have oiled the darn thing and powered it up and it would have been fully functioning. 95 was a bad year. Over a dozen breakers torn down and OSM went on a mine sealing free for all.....

http://undergroundminers.com/harry.html

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 Post subject: Re: Huber Breaker owner objects to bankruptcy structure
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:05 am 
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maybe changing the subject, but do you have any idea when the wilburton breaker, north of mt. carmel, came down? i have pictures of me as a seven year old standing in front of large pieces of it around '89 or '90.

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