This building sits on the property of the now-closed Youth Development Center in Shenango Township.

Hira Educational Services of North America has kept alive its bid to purchase the former Youth Development Center in Shenango Township.

State officials said Hira returned a signed agreement of sale to state offices in Harrisburg by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline, thereby keeping the process alive toward finalization of the sale by October.

The Newark, New Jersey bidder, which describes itself on its website as a consultant to Islamic schools, has not responded to local inquiries about its plans for the 145-acre former residential facility for delinquent youth on Frew Mill Road. State legislators, including Sen. Elder Vogel and Reps. Chris Sainato and Aaron Bernstine, have questioned the financial ability of Hira to buy the property based on research they have done. Shenango Township supervisors also have raised the possibility of collusion, pointing out in a letter to the state Department of General Services that Muhammad Asif Kunwar submitted an individual bid for the facility while also listed as president and CEO of Hira. County commissioners said this week they are preparing a letter supporting these concerns to send to Gov. Tom Wolf's office.

Troy Thompson, press secretary for the Department of General Services, said Thursday, "we received the agreement of sale in its proper form." Hira had 15 days from the bid opening to return the signed papers.

Thompson said the next step is for the document to go through the Commonwealth signature process, which will take 30 to 45 days. Once the signature is executed, the agreement will be returned to Hira, which will have five days to return it with a $32,000 deposit. Then it will have 60 days to close on the property, including coming up with the remainder of the $400,000 bid price.

Thompson would not divulge whether the state has been in contact with anyone from Hira since the bid was accepted several weeks ago. Calls from The News and reportedly from local officials and individuals to the phone number listed on Hira's website and emails to a listed email address have not been returned

(Email: m_grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)

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Mary was a full-time reporter for the News for four years and covered Mahoning, Union, Shenango, North Beaver and Pulaski townships and Wilmington Board of Education. Past experience: Vindicator, Lisbon Morning Journal, and several weekly newspapers.

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