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Teens accused of church arson have cases continued until August due to conflict

While progress continues on work to restore a downtown Tyrone Church, two teens accused of setting it on fire will have to wait until at least Aug. 10 to find out if they will be tried as adults or juveniles.
John Dively, deputy director of the Blair County Juvenile Probation office, told The Daily Herald this morning that the case was continued until the August date because attorney Steven Passarello, who represents one of the teens, had a scheduling conflict yesterday.
The two male teenagers accused of setting fire to the Christ United Methodist Church on June 5 had been released back to their parents last month and were to appear before Judge Elizabeth Doyle yesterday for a certification hearing to determine if they will tried as adults or in the juvenile system.
One of the teens was 17 when several fires were set in the church located at the intersection of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman previously said the Tyrone teen turned 18 just days after the fire. The other suspect is a 16-year-old boy. The names of the defendants have not been released since they were both juveniles at the time of the incident.
Gorman has been seeking to have their cases moved to adult court to face charges that include arson, burglary, reckless endangering another person, institutional vandalism and failure to prevent a catastrophe.
When the teens were released last month, Dively said the courts were required to release them since they had appeared before the judge without having the case move to trial at that point. Under the juvenile system the courts are required to hold a number of hearings once a suspect has been detained. The process includes a 72-hour hearing after detention.
After that hearing, the teens went before the court on June 15 and the case was continued. Another 10-day hearing was held in late June. Dively explained since the cases were not heard at time and prosecutors weren’t waiting on any new evidence, the teens had to be released.
He said the teens would remain in the custody of their parents provided they avoid anything that would cause them new problems with the legal system.
The pastor at the Christ United Methodist Church, Dennis Reedy, told The Daily Herald this morning, cleanup and restoration of the church’s educational unit is progressing “exceptionally well.”
He said the church is using Belfor, a company he described as the world’s largest firm involved in cleanups after a disaster. Church officials had previously decided to isolate its educational unit from the main sanctuary by putting a wall between the two to seal one off from the other. The church decided to refurbish the educational unit first and the more-heavily damaged sanctuary later.
Reedy said cleaning in the educational unit was finished late last week. He said work is under way to seal the walls in the unit by applying a special surface to overcome the effects of heat and smoke damage.
A repainting of the educational unit still needs to be completed as well as some additional cleaning, according to Reedy. A retreatment of the floors is scheduled to happen by the end of July.
Pastor Reedy said the current plan calls for the educational unit to be reopened by mid to late August. Once it opens, church officials have decided to hold services there while further decisions and actual work are done on the sanctuary.
The Pastor said just last night church trustees met with insurance adjusters to work on restoration plans for the sanctuary. He did not elaborate on what those efforts will involve or how long they will take to be completed.
Reedy said the initial response to the disaster by the community has included offers of space and additional help from other congregations. He noted the church was not able to take advantage of some of the help due to restrictions on who can enter the church building. The church has also received a love offering and many notes and supportive emails.
The Christ United Methodist Church is currently holding services on Sunday at the old chapel at Epworth Manor.