The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 17, 2014

Laurels and barbs | May 17, 2014

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: “Intruder in my house! Send help!” By the end of the year, Cambria County’s 911 dispatch center could be able to respond to such a text message. An upgrade to the county’s equipment will be costly, but could be worth it if lives are saved by being able to get information via text message when making a phone call is impossible.

Laurel: Volunteers pitched in – and picked up – in an effort to improve Moxham. Members of Moxham Lutheran Church, Alternative Community Resource Program, Moxham Renaissance, Moxham Neighborhood Watch and County Work Group came together for the cleanup effort last week. We love seeing people and groups rally together to better their community.

Barb: The crime stories in the region are starting to become frightening. A

74-year-old woman was robbed at a Geistown cash machine at 12:30 in the afternoon last week. The woman pursued the suspect and even hit him with her purse before a good Samaritan tackled the man, identified by police as Jeffery O. Fox, and held him until authorities arrived.

Laurel: Spring is finally blooming in western Pennsylvania and farmers markets are sprouting up all over the region. The Downtown Johns-town Farmers Market opened for the first time this spring last week, and will be offering its bounty to local consumers each Friday through October. That’s just one of the local markets. We urge consumers to check them out. Not only can you find great deals on fresh items, but you can support a local business at the same time.

Barb: Hospital workers often see people at their worst – exhausted, often in physical and emotional distress – but, thankfully, most don’t have the negative experience that one one Memorial Medical Center employee had last week. The woman had $325 in cash as well as seven gift cards and two credit cards stolen from her purse, which was hidden under her desk, according to police. Nathan Kuzma was detained by hospital security and found in possession of the stolen goods. If and when Kuzma is in need of medical care he better hope that there is no such thing as karma.

Laurel: Local schools earned high marks from U.S. News & World Report. Central Cambria, Ferndale Area, Greater Johnstown, Portage Area and Penn Cambria were among the local districts to earn a “bronze” medal in the annual ranking of public schools. North Star, Rockwood Area, Turkeyfoot Valley and Windber Area were the Somerset County schools honored. Indiana County’s United and Westmoreland County’s Ligonier Valley made the list, as did Bedford County’s Chestnut Ridge, Everett Area and Northern Bedford.

Barb: Public-school educators can have it tough, there’s no doubt about that. But there’s also no excuse for what a Philadelphia principal and four teachers are accused of doing. Attorney General Kathleen Kane accused the defendants of “perpetuating a culture of cheating” by reviewing questions that would be on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests ahead of time and even changing answers in some cases. That’s a far cry from the example that educators should be setting for our young people and gives their colleagues

in the noble profession a black eye.

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