The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 16, 2013

Community in mind

We applaud city man’s safety initiative

— We don’t know Paul Rinker personally, but we know his heart is in the right place.

We know, too, that he gets it: Waiting for government funding to do a public-service project probably isn’t the smartest or fastest way to achieve your goal.

Rinker is on a mission to help protect his neighbors in downtown Johnstown. A Vine Street Towers resident, he aims to form a nonprofit organization to get traffic signs, with flashing lights, installed in front of the Townhouse and Vine Street towers, homes to many elderly and disabled individuals.

Called Signs-4-Life, the group’s purpose is to slow down traffic on Vine Street, Rinker said. 

He hopes to raise more than $10,000 to cover the expenses of forming the organization and acquiring the signs.

Rinker’s effort hasn’t gone unnoticed at City Hall, either.

“I love it,” Councilwoman Marie Mock said of Rinker’s community involvement.

“With government getting smaller and smaller, I think more people should step up and do something.”

We continually urge just that.

Talking with Rinker, we learned that he moved back to the city on Sept. 1 after residing for many years at the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Lilly, a personal-care home.

Now on disability, he formerly worked in several plants of Bethlehem Steel Corp., was a trackman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and did a short stint in a coal mine.

“I found out quickly that wasn’t for me,” Rinker said with a laugh.

He also, while residing in Lilly, was an occasional writer to our Readers’ Forum. He presented ideas such as tolling as a way to get funding to complete Route 219 north from Carrolltown to the New York state line; gambling casinos as an answer for financially distressed communities such as Johnstown, and a state job-saving commission to develop tax proposals that would be equitable and fair for all taxpayers.

Rinker’s community undertaking reminds us of the wonderful work of Johnstown activist Anthony Gergely, who mounted an unbelievable and highly successful effort to light bridges throughout the city. He did the project totally with donated funding, refusing government-alloted taxpayer dollars.

As noted by Mock, the process of getting street signs could involve traffic studies, PennDOT participation and a lot of time-consuming paperwork.

“It’s like a big ordeal,” Mock told our Dave Sutor.

It certainly is. And we commend people such as Paul Rinker and Anthony Gergely for having the vision and fortitude to step up and take on such challenges.

Helping out

Individuals and businesses interested in contributing can contact Paul Rinker at 420 Vine St., Johnstown, Pa. 15901. Checks can be made payable to Signs-4-Life.

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Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
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