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Officials answer questions about Campbell house

Published: Tue, December 8, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Jeanne Starmack

Neighbors questioned why there was more action in a similar situation in Canfield.

CAMPBELL — Neighbors met Monday with city and Mahoning County officials about a homeowner who’s been ordered to clean her house to stop the stench of animal waste.

Animal Charity removed about 20 cats and two dogs from the house at 600 Porter Ave. in October. Now, homeowner Barbara Muscolo is under orders to have the home free of animal feces and trash by Dec. 29.

Neighbors say they are skeptical that she will be able to clean the house by herself without equipment. They want assurances that if she does clean it, county board of health officials will make sure it stays clean.

Neighbor Pat Wilush said the neighborhood has been dealing with the odor coming from the house for five years.

Mahoning County Health Commissioner Matthew Stefanak and Mary Helen Smith, director of environmental health, said that Muscolo is making progress.

Stefanak said it was a “challenge” for sanitarian Angelo Italiano to get into the house. But now that he has, Stefanak said, he is able to work with Muscolo.

Italiano got into the house during the October raid by Animal Charity.

He notified Muscolo afterward that she was under a deadline to clean the house. The deadline was Nov. 17, then Dec. 2, and now the 29th.

Italiano told The Vindicator last week that as long as a property owner makes progress, the health department’s policy is to grant extensions. Smith said the same during Monday’s meeting.

Italiano also has said that during an inspection Dec. 2, the first floor of the house was livable. Large items in the basement, such as a pool table, still have to be removed, he said. That will happen when an acquaintance with a truck can help Muscolo get them out, he said.

Health officials said the animal waste was primarily in the basement, which is where the cats lived.

Muscolo’s 12-year-old daughter is living in the house. Stefanak pointed out that county Children Services found no cause to remove her.

Wilush said it was “a big help” when Animal Charity came. He said that previously, Italiano would come, knock on the door and not get in.

“I felt bad for the man. He’s doing his job,” said Wilush, who went on to describe what occurred the day of the raid.

“They had masks on; they were scraping their feet on the curb,” he said.

He questioned why there was “immediate progress” at a house in Canfield where two children and nine animals were removed from filthy conditions in October. In that situation, police discovered a house that was filled with animal and human waste and garbage. Police took the children and turned them over to Children Services, and the health department tagged the house as unfit for habitation.

Stefanak said sanitarians have been in both houses and say the Campbell house is not as bad.

Wilush said he doesn’t want the cleanup on Porter to take five years.

Stefanak said that if Muscolo doesn’t make progress, steps will be taken that could ultimately result in the house being condemned.

The city also has the authority through the fire chief to condemn the property, he said.

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