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Big Run trying to recover after rash of arsons

August 15, 2011

The demolition of Big Run Carpet located on Thompson Street in Big Run has begun by Hawk Construction. Police said the building was one of the buildings destroyed in the Big Run area due to an arson fire. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — Big Run Borough Council, at Monday's meeting, congratulated members of the Big Run Volunteer Fire Company on a job well done, despite the adverse circumstances of dealing with the many arson fires that occurred throughout the area over the past year.

Big Run Borough Council President Nick Lantz congratulated the members of the fire company for continuing to do a great job even though Anthony Overbeck — who police charged last week with arson and other offenses — had belonged to the Big Run Fire Company at the time of his alleged crimes.

Lantz said that the residents of Big Run should continue to be observant and keep watch in their neighborhoods and throughout the town.
"I hope that he's (Overbeck) the only person involved with the fires,"Lantz said.

Joe Buterbaugh, Big Run mayor, said he's hoping that Overbeck acted alone also.

"So far, we don't know if he acted alone; we have to wait and see what the official report says when it's released," Buterbaugh said.

Todd Peace, Big Run Fire Volunteer Fire Company chief and Kristina Anthony, fire company president,thanked council for their support during this trying time.

Anthony said the arrest of Overbeck was a large blow to the fire company.
Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police said at a press conference last Thursday that Overbeck, 18, Big Run, was charged with a number of crimes that include arson and related offenses in connection with the Aug. 9 fire at an unoccupied residence on Pennsylvania Avenue in Big Run.

Overbeck, who was identified as a member of the Big Run Fire Department, has been implicated by police in several other fires that have occurred back to 2010.

Overbeck had belonged to the fire department approximately six months and was not a firefighter when a majority of the suspicious fires were set.

At a press conference last week, Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett said more arson-related charges against Overbeck are likely forthcoming.

In other business:
• Peace and Anthony presented a proposal to the members of council regarding a new contract.

Peace said the millage for the borough would remain the same at 1.5 mills, but council would increase its donation to the fire company from $1,500 to $2,300 per year.

The fire company’s contract with Big Run is set to expire at the end of the year.

Lantz said council would discuss the contract proposal at its upcoming budget meetings and contact the fire company when it had an answer.

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