The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 6, 2013

Laurels and barbs

The Tribune-Democrat

— Laurel: When is a home office not at home?  When it’s part of the VOMA Launch program. The Venue of Merging Arts in Cambria City is offering local professionals an interesting opportunity: An interactive and engaging work environment at an inexpensive cost. For a $50-per-month fee and a two-month deposit, participants can get a workspace available to them from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays – or the very time that the performance venue at 305 Chestnut St. normally goes unused. We love the idea and hope that creative thinkers can come together to work in the space during the week.

Laurel: The Kiwanis Club of Johnstown is spreading its message about the importance of community projects by attempting to involve every segment of the community, from elementary children up to adults. The group has formed the K-Kids and was scheduled to honor 25 elementary pupils on Friday night at Greater Johnstown High School. Johnstown Middle School pupils, who are members of the Kiwanis Builders Club, and members of Pitt-Johnstown’s Circle K Club were also to be on hand at the event, which was to include the induction of 13 Key Club teacher advisers into the Kiwanis Club. It’s encouraging to see such a diverse group of volunteers coming together.

Barb: All individuals deserve proper representation in the criminal courts, no matter their economic situation. Our justice system demands it. But one local defense attorney didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, according to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. John M. Kasaback of Lilly, who often served as a court-appointed attorney for defendants who posed conflicts for the public defender’s office, has been suspended from the practice of law for three years. The 53-year-old allegedly neglected legal matters, failed to communicate properly with clients, failed to return an unearned fee and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. If true, he not only failed his clients, but the entire justice system.

Laurel: Portage Township has made quite the financial turnaround. A year after the township faced a $100,000 deficit, an audit by accounting firm Wessel & Co. of Johnstown found a net profit of $182,000 for 2012. Supervisor Rick Olshavsky said the township has always tried to be frugal but that “we’re getting better at budgeting.” If only Olshavsky and the rest of the township’s leaders could teach other local, state and federal government entities how to do that.

Laurel: Two upcoming events will recognize the efforts of some of the outstanding women in our area. The Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania’s Awards of Distinction dinner on April 22 will honor Christine Cox, regional sales director and community affairs liaison with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, with its Community Service Award. And Ligonier Valley High School senior Catherine Clements will be presented the Prudential Spirit of Community Award during the dinner, which is the premier fundraising event for the organization. A month later, the YWCA of Greater Johnstown will honor seven women who demonstrate leadership qualities in their chosen fields, during the 27th annual Tribute to Women. The honorees are: Sally Stewart (arts and letters), Renee Carthew (business); Amanda Artim (community service volunteer); Laura Perry-Thompson (education); Edith Scaletta (nonprofit/government); Dr. Jeanne Spencer (professions); and Diane Lopez (Yellow Rose Award). Congratulations to all. They are fine examples not just for young girls, but for all of our young people, of how hard work can pay off.

Barb: A 21-year-old Pitt student has been charged with vandalism to the university’s Cathedral of Learning that could cost $100,000 to remove. Campus police say that Daniel Mohammad Khan Yousufzai painted “WRC” in 12-foot-high letters inside a hallway of the sandstone structure in support of Worker’s Rights Consortium, a group that works with universities to ensure that factories which make university apparel don’t mistreat workers. While the group’s cause may be just, Yousufzai’s alleged actions were horribly misguided and won’t help the organization’s efforts.

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