The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 25, 2014

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Johnstown native LaRod Stevens-Howling had high expectations when he signed a one-year contract with his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, prior to the 2013 season. Then a torn ACL in his first game put him on the sidelines for the year. Stevens-Howling, who at 5-foot-7-inches, 185 pounds, does not fit the typical mold of a running back, has been a competitor his whole life. “You have to deal with it and make sure you bounce back stronger,” he said. “That’s been my focus.” And now that he’s almost healed, he may not be a Steeler next season because he becomes a free agent. Nothing would please us more than having Stevens-Howling and the Steelers come to an agreement to keep the Greater Johnstown graduate in black and gold.

Laurel: Stormtroopers and Galactic Empire officers stormed the Cambria County Public Library in downtown Johnstown recently – all in the name of promoting literacy. Members of the 501st Legion’s Garrison Carida, a “Star Wars” costume group, raised awareness about reading, imagination and library services to more than 300 people at the recent event. “We never usually get such a huge turnout for our events,” said Rebecca Pollino, youth services coordinator at the library. “So this was more than we expected.” Added Bobby Linn of the carida: “Reading is important.” We couldn’t agree more.

Barb: Taunting police, especially on social media, is never a good idea, as a Luzerne County man found out. Anthony Lescowitch was arrested by Freeland police less than two hours after he allegedly posted a wanted photo of himself and teased police for their inability to find him. And then Lescowitch reportedly fell to the charm of an attractive woman, portrayed by a Freeland officer, during a pre-arranged meeting. He was jailed on assault-related charges.

Laurel: Local food pantries and kitchens got a big boost from the Rotary Club of Johnstown. The group handed out three $600 checks, one each to the Salvation Army, West End Food Pantry and Christ Centered Community Church, to help fight hunger. “We know that their shelves have become empty during the holiday season,” said club President Karen Azer. “We want to help them to restock and serve our area residents.” The organization also is finalizing plans for a food drive in March. It’s a worthy endeavor and one that everyone who is able should support.

Laurel: We congratulate Sheree Speicher and Mark Yonko for putting community ahead of self and agreeing to fill vacant posts in Southmont Borough. Speicher will fill an empty seat on council, and Yonko will step into the mayor’s office. “I always told my students to participate in their community,” said Yonko, a teacher in the Westmont Hilltop School District. “When the opportunity arrived, I ran for mayor.”

Barb: A problem with his “pot” led to the arrest of a Nanty Glo man for growing pot. Richard Scott Wiedenhoeft allegedly was overcome by chemical fumes while trying to unclog a toilet. But when firefighters and emergency medical technicians arrived at Wiedenhoeft’s home, they found more than a malfunctioning toilet. They allegedly uncovered a marijuana growing operation, according to Jackson Township police Chief Phil Vaught. After being treated for inhaling fumes, Wiedenhoeft was charged with a variety of drug charges.

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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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