The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 1, 2014

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Radio communications during an emergency is vital to first responders. It can help direct them to the scene or aid in the treatment of a victim. But sometimes the region’s mountainous terrain makes communications impossible. Residents in Ashville, Gallitzin and Dean Township can breathe a sigh of relief now that Cambria County commissioners are considering putting a new 911 antenna on Buckhorn Mountain to help alleviate spotty radio reception in those areas. The $81,000 project will be partially funded by a grant and a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service. The county will make up the difference.

Laurel: Tooth fairies visited Greater Johnstown School District’s East Side Elementary School recently. A dentist and dental hygienist with Smile Pennsylvania mobile dentistry performed examinations, cleanings, X-rays and applied sealants to the teeth of 46 pupils. Also, several pupils had cavities filled. The visitors instructed the youngsters on proper teeth brushing and handed out toothbrushes. A grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided funds for the teeth cleaning of children with no insurance. We’re pleased that these pupils had the opportunity to learn about better oral health, and we hope more pupils can take advantage of this worthy program in the future.

Barb: Boredom is no excuse for making dumb decisions. The FBI, Altoona police and Pennsylvania State Police are investigating why Penn State Altoona student Vladislav Miftakhov allegedly had a suitcase holding two containers with exposed fuses and other explosives-related materials in an Altoona apartment he shared with a roommate. Miftakhov insisted that he was going to set off the devices in a remote field and did not intend on “blowing anything up.” His roommate purportedly called Miftakhov “dumb” and “crazy,” but also said he was impulsive but not dangerous. We can think of many ways to relieve boredom, and none of them involve explosives.

Laurel: CamTran officials have installed a new computer program that will help it identify the most efficient routes and schedules for one of its programs. Ecolane allows CamTran dispatchers to more precisely schedule trips for people who rely on Reserve-A-Ride vans, a door-to-door service offered throughout Cambria County. “We believe that our customers will be very happy with the new efficiencies that the software program brings,” said executive director Rose Lucey-Noll. CamTran is a vital commodity for our region and anything that enhances its operations is welcomed.

Laurel: Pitt-Johnstown has been recognized for adding to the aesthetics of the community. The Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce awarded its beautification award to the university during a recent board of directors’ meeting. The $11.8 million Nursing and Health Sciences Building is the latest addition to UPJ’s growing campus. It also is the first academic building constructed on campus since 1995. In the past several years, UPJ has invested

$50 million in facility upgrades, which have made a positive impact on the region’s economy.

Barb: A city woman who police allege “seemed to have little concern” about her

5-year-old son’s welfare also apparently has little concern for animals. Two puppies were found dead inside a West End home previously occupied by Samantha A. Meyers, who said she moved because the structure had no heat. Police said the pups were extremely thin and appeared to have died from exposure. Meyers also was charged with child endangerment in July after police found her son sitting alone on a bike in the middle of North Sheridan Street in the Oakhurst Homes housing complex. She’s certainly not a candidate for mother of the year.

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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