The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 17, 2014

Readers' Forum 1-17 | Check carbon monoxide, fire detectors

JOHNSTOWN — My thanks to the Westwood Volunteer Fire Company for its prompt action after I called 911 to report that my carbon monoxide detector began to beep.

Despite the bitter cold of that Jan. 7 evening, these volunteers left the comfort of their homes to suit up and come to my house to determine if there was an emergency.

They checked the house thoroughly and, after inspecting the alarm, informed me that it was either too old or malfunctioned.

May I suggest that you check your carbon monoxide or fire detectors to determine how old they are. I believe they do have a shelf life of less than 10 years.

If you are served by a volunteer fire company, you might consider volunteering your services if you are physically able. Otherwise, please don’t hesitate to give whatever financial support you can provide. These volunteer fire companies need your help, and you never know when you may need their help.

Owen L. Hines


District embraces proactive measures

Greater Johnstown School District Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak wrote an opinion column concerning the power of lifeskills training for students identified as high risk due to a lack of protective factors, e.g., tutoring, music, sports, etc. Our community has recently highlighted the pitfalls of drug abuse and other addictive behaviors with lifeskills training touted as a preventive strategy.

Often during transitions between schools, living conditions and interactions among older teens, a child’s tendency to explore the unfamiliar is a normal aspect of their development, including a curiosity to new, risky behaviors. Teens’ evolving decision-making skills can limit their ability to assess risks accurately.

Science is being utilized to better comprehend, interpret and prevent addictive behaviors. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), writes: “Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of addiction, enabling us to respond effectively (to prevent) the problem.”

NIDA recognizes addiction as a disease affecting the brain and behavior.

With this knowledge, the district’s executive team has reviewed NIDA’s research and chosen to integrate proactive measures as described by Zahorchak. The middle school is incorporating Botvin Lifeskills Training. East Side and West Side elementary schools have established Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies.

The NIDA recognizes both programs as science-validated prevention programs that positively alter the balance between risk and protective factors for drug abuse and poor behavior choices in families, schools and communities.

All are encouraged to review NIDA’s research-based guide at


Douglas T. Henry

Operational principal,

Greater Johnstown Middle School


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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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