The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 18, 2013

Readers' Forum 1-18 | Entities ensure state’s disabled represented

Submitted by Readers

— Today we commemorate Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Day.

As we prepare to honor disabled Pennsylvanians, I want to offer a reminder of services available to them through the state.

It has been nearly 22 years since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a nation, and as a state, we have come a long way since then to help the disabled achieve employment and live as independently as possible.

In Pennsylvania, three entities are working to ensure that the state’s disabled population is represented:

* The Governor’s Cabinet for People with Disabilities makes recommendations to the governor on policies, procedure regulations and legislation that assist people with disabilities.

* The state Department of Public Welfare ( supports programs for people with disabilities including assisted living and personal care homes, community services and medical assistance.

* Finally, the state Department of Labor and Industry ( provides comprehensive services to assist the disabled with finding a job, determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and much more.

My staff and I are always available to help constituents navigate through the myriad services available to them – and we are happy to do so. Please know that you have an advocate for you here at home and in Harrisburg.

Frank Burns

Jackson Township

State Representative, 72nd District

Statements don’t support Cresson facts

Statements made by the state Department of Corrections concerning the closing of SCI-Cresson are puzzling and factually incorrect.

Officials claim the jail is old and inefficient. But taxpayers have spent more than $60 million to upgrade the prison to as high a standard as most of the prisons across the state.

They claim that the prison’s operational costs are too high. They are using their own figures. There are many prisons in Pennsylvania more expensive to operate.

They claim the prison takes more officers to operate due to age. However, like most modern prisons, Cresson has a bank of cameras to assist the officers watching the inmates. One cell block (less than 8 years old) is computerized to enhance security. Does that sound old to anyone?

They claim that inmate populations are dropping. But the trends over the past 40 years say differently – a fact that the secretary of corrections admitted in a report he issued in 2011. Why the change?

They claim they are paroling inmates faster, but more than 50 percent of paroled inmates return to prison.

They claim that Cresson isn’t a “specialized” prison, but inmates from all over the state are shipped here because of Cresson’s special-needs programs.

Why would you shut down any prison when 17 of the 20 prisons in the state are overcrowded?

Why would you keep calling it old when you know that most of the buildings are less than 35 years old and all have been upgraded to meet and surpass standards?

Dennis Dignan


Sci-Cresson retiree

SCI-Cresson rehab going to waste

Taxpayers of Pennsylvania, wake up. Don’t let the Department of Corrections pull the wool over our eyes.

As a retired corrections officer of SCI-Cresson and a taxpayer, I feel compelled to enlighten you on some facts.

The people of Pennsylvania need to know that in the past 10 years or so at Cresson, the following projects were completed:

* A new housing unit.

* A complete electrical overhaul from stem to stern.

* All new steam lines.

* A new steam boiler.

* A new 16-cylinder diesel generator and building to house it.

These renovations cost millions of taxpayers’ dollars. How can the department justify the closing of Cresson? There are  more than 400 acres of land for expansion, if need be.

Where does common sense come into play? Nearly every prison in the state is overcrowded by 10 percent or more. Why not alleviate this problem first? Cresson is in better shape than a lot of other prisons. There are a lot of older prisons that are not mentioned for closure.

This is why our state is in the financial situation it’s in. The Department of Corrections can try to justify what it’s doing, but it never gives us all the facts. The savings stated by the department are very misleading.

I guess if you say it enough times, people will start to believe it, but it’s still a lie. The department also believes it.

I’m glad the department is not handling my finances.

Joseph Partsch

Mineral Point

Guns necessary to save America

We are all concerned for children or adults killed by guns, but it is the person, not the gun, who kills. Those trying to take our guns should first take out of business the abortion organizations, doctors and assistants who cruelly kill children by the millions.

All through history – especially in Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan – all guns were taken from the citizens except for shotguns that could be used only for hunting. Unions organized groups as a form of homeland security to control the population by arresting or killing anyone who opposed them. They infiltrated the armed services and took control of their country.

They were called gestapo, fascist, communists or samurai. Citizens didn’t have a chance to fight the evil they faced. Most liberals who don’t believe in God or religion would like to do this again.

The Constitution’s guarantee of our right to own guns is so we can fight any organization that tries to overthrow the government or force us to do unconstitutional things. This guarantee must stay at all costs. Liberals are already trying to do away with the Constitution to prevent citizens from owning guns so they can control us. We must never give up our guns.

Freedom must be protected by all, just as the Revolutionary War heroes did at Concord, Lexington and Bunker Hill. Tell your representatives to protect America by keeping guns legal, cutting spending and providing a budget within our means.

Jesus, and that is my final answer.

Ken Mesko Sr.



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