The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 29, 2013

Laurels and barbs

— Laurel: Matthew and Rachel Litzinger might have just started their married life together, but they’re concerned about more than themselves. The Litzingers have traveled to Thailand to help combat sex trafficking, according to Pastor Carl Wolfe of Buckhorn Bible Church in Ashville. The Litzingers’ trip was bolstered by members of the church, who helped raise nearly $2,700 – more than five times their original goal. What an inspiring story.

Laurel: July will be the dog days of summer – at least at Cambria County Library. The children’s department there is set to host Tales with Tails, a literacy initiative that encourages children of all ages and abilities to read stories to AKC Canine Good Citizen dogs. The program, which features a launch party at 4 p.m. Monday at David A. Glosser Memorial Library in Johnstown and will be held regularly from 4 to 6 p.m. on the other Mondays in July, is designed to help children practice oral reading skills and become more confident about reading. It eventually could spread to the 14 other libraries in Cambria County. That’s what we call a paws-itive program.

Barb: Thursday’s arrest at the Incline Plane restaurant was the latest chapter in the increasingly sad and bizarre tale of Andy Lasky. The former owner of the City View Bar and Grill was taken out in handcuffs after he refused to leave the facility following a dispute with the new owner. We’re not sure how things have spiralled out of control so much for Lasky, who was evicted from the restaurant that he put his heart and soul into, but it’s a shame that things have gotten to this point for the once-prominent local businessman.

Laurel: Steve Smear has been a football legend in these parts for years. Now, the former Bishop McCort and Penn State star’s accomplishments are being recognized statewide with his induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, which will take place on Oct. 19 in Harrisburg. Smear, who was an All-American defensive tackle at Penn State, was quick to credit his mother as well as his coaches and teammates in Johnstown and State College for his success. It’s great to see someone who has achieved such a lofty status hasn’t forgotten his roots and those who helped him along the way.

Laurel: Thunder in the Valley is over, but that doesn’t mean that motorcycle safety is no longer important. PennDOT’s Live Free Ride Alive program, which had a booth at the motorcycle rally in Johnstown, also has an interactive website designed specifically for motorcycles. offers education and interaction among riders. It’s an initiative that all bikers should support.

Barb: Kenny Chesney famously sang “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem,” but for his fans, it’s become “No discipline, no manners, big problems.” We were disgusted by the scenes we saw after the country superstar performed in Pittsburgh last weekend. Pictures posted online showed trash strewn over the parking lots surrounding Heinz Field. Worse yet, there were 73 arrests or citations in and around the stadium, and “at least 10 large fights,” according to police.

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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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