A group of concerned Pennsylvania residents were furious to find out that an Islamic group had bought a local Youth Development Center and refused to answer any questions as to its purpose.
But that sale has now been reversed, thanks to hardworking State Representative Aaron Bernstine who had dug deep into the issue!
From my friend, Larry Wheeler, “Well it’s official, HIRA has had their winning bid revoked and the facility is being re-auctioned. “
It is always a great thing when citizens can affect change. This was a real bad deal. We may never know the true intent of the Islamic Group that bought the facility in secret, but anything done in such secrecy cannot be good.
There were more questions than answers about the future of the 143-acre, state-owned property that had been vacant for the past four years. People wanted to know what will be developed there and who the mysterious high bidder was.
The state just accepted the highest of three bids on the property. The bid came from an Islamic company called HIRA Education Services. But there were questions about the company’s plans for the land.
HIRA is headquartered in an apartment in Newark, New Jersey. It has one employee and generates $41 million in annual revenue. That is plenty to raise a HUGE amount of questions!
On its website, HIRA says it’s a consulting firm with “a mission to promote the ongoing success of Islamic schools,” adding, “We offer our services to Islamic schools that are not getting aid from the government.”
Concerned citizens expressed their fears over the state’s acceptance of a $400,000 bid at a local council meeting. It was the highest of three bids submitted to the state for the 143-acre complex that has set vacant for the last four years.
“No one knew it was even back on the market and then we hear someone got the bid for $400,000. Now, we don’t know a thing about this group,” said Shenango Township resident Shirley Sallmen.
“Maybe if the company actually returned our phone calls or answered our questions, we wouldn’t have as many questions,” said supervisor Al Burick.
State Representative Aaron Bernstine posted on Facebook:
When I was first informed that the Department of General Services had accepted a bid from Hira Educational Services of North America for the former New Castle Youth Development Center, we did our due diligence. We were alarmed to discover that the IRS filings for Hira showed that the organization had reported gross receipts of not greater than $50,000 for tax years 2012, 2014 and 2015. Further, at that time, there was no information available for tax year 2013. Additional concerns over revoked tax status, number of employees, and locations of “operations”. As a result of this research, we expressed serious reservations over Hira’s financial viability.
I did not have a copy of the actual letter from the Department of General Services on my announcement on Tuesday. Now I do. Since contractual obligations could not be met, “the Agreement of sale is now null and void.” The Department of General Services will “rebid the property under a new solicitation number in the near future.”
I am thankful for all of the groups and people who are committed on turning this property into a viable, job producing part of our community.
Big thank you to stand up State Representative Aaron Bernstine. Our country is lacking leaders of such caliber. It seems each state has just a few, and they are fighting challenges from both sides of the aisle. But they do not stop until they get the job done!
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