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Celoron In Dispute With Insurance; Equipment Stolen After Fire

Pictured are the remnants of the Celoron Highway Department building on Gifford Avenue that was damaged by fire in August. In addition to the damage caused by the blaze, new equipment purchased by the village was recently stolen. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

CELORON — The village of Celoron remains in limbo regarding its highway department building.

The Gifford Avenue property was heavily damaged in a fire in August, and the village has been working with its insurance company. Village Mayor Scott Schrecengost said the insurance company believes a portion of the building is salvageable, while the village disagrees. The village is also having issues replacing the dump trucks that were lost due to the fire.

The village was able to replace one dump truck, but that truck was then stolen.

“Last weekend, a couple of kids from Westfield broke into our highway garage and stole everything plus the new truck and they were driving all over with it. So, we’ve lost everything we replaced in the fire so far,” Schrecengost said. “They took it on Sunday night and the Sheriff’s Department called us on Monday — because it was Columbus Day, our office facilities were closed. They called us late in the afternoon or evening Sunday and said they recovered our dump truck. We didn’t even know it was missing.”

He said those responsible allegedly loaded up various tools and equipment that were purchased by the town to replace those lost in the fire. He said the equipment was not located in the truck when the vehicle was recovered.

“The truck was fine — just needles and pot all over plus their personal stuff,” Schrecengost said. “I guess they were getting ready to head down south in a brand new dump truck. All it had on it was paper tags — it didn’t even have license plates on it yet. We just picked the truck up not even a week prior to them stealing it. We’ve had some really bad luck this year.”

Despite recent setbacks, officials are making plans to complete the services needed by village residents. Schrecengost said the village is planning on doing a leaf pick-up in the near future using a backhoe and its smaller dump truck. Likewise, village officials are looking for ways to maintain the roads during the winter and get plowing done.

“We’re starting to make some headway now,” he said. “We’re starting to actually move forward, so we’ll be able to start making some plans. I’m not ruling out the fact that we might have to do shared services with the county or the town or both or a couple of towns until we get some equipment and get back on our feet.”

Schrecengost said the previous highway department building had burnt down about 50 or 55 years ago and was located on the same property, albeit in a different location on the property.

“I don’t know if they lost all their equipment at that time,” he said. “It was the same property, but it sat up on the hill by the railroad tracks.”

Schrecengost said the village will most likely not have a replacement garage until the spring.

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