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An Army National Guard Unit is in Youngstown Demolishing 28 Vacant Houses - The Vindicator

Helping to tear down about 28 vacant houses in Youngstown as a member of the 1192nd Engineer Co. in Ravenna is a particular source of pride for Pfc. Thomas Pepe. Pepe, of Mineral Ridge, used to live in Youngstown. “I want to give something back, and it’s been a great experience,” Pepe said Monday. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to help Youngstown, but here we are doing our part. It means a lot to me because I used to live here. It helps Youngstown, and it allows us to operate equipment we don’t get to use very often.” About 40 members of the Army National Guard unit started demolishing houses July 10 on the city’s South Side and will be in the city until Saturday. The work being done will save the city $159,000 in demolition costs, said Abigail Beniston, Youngstown’s code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent. The city is spending about $5 million on demolition expenses this year, she said. The unit is doing the demolition work as part of a program for its members to meet training and readiness requirements.

Lt. Mike Huggins, who used to work in Girard, said, “It’s nice to partner with Youngstown and help to beautify the city. This work reduces violence because we’re removing houses that aren’t safe. There’s a lot of kids in these neighborhoods. It’s not a safe place to be with these vacant houses. We’re here to make sure we are taking care of the community.” The 1192nd Engineer Co. is using the former Sheridan School on Hudson Avenue as its base of operations. The unit, which specializes in the use of heavy machinery, is demolishing houses for the first time, Huggins said. “This has a different spin than what we normally do,” he said. “We’re here beautifying the city, and the city has been really great. People are waving hi to us and greeting us warmly.” Mayor John A. McNally said the city is pleased to have the 1192nd Co. in Youngstown demolishing vacant structures. “Anyway we can get 10, 20, 30 more houses down is something we’re happy to take advantage,” he said. “It’s a great project. We hope it will lead to larger projects in the city.” The city is demolishing about 520 vacant houses this year with about half of them already down, McNally said. To read the full story from The Vindicator, click here.