The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 4, 2014

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Rachel Kwisnek could be considered a Christmas angel. The Bishop Carroll Catholic High School senior, inspired by her late aunt, created Christmas baskets from used holiday greeting cards. She and members of the student council gave the baskets, filled with candy canes, to residents of Rebekah Manor and visitors to the Ebensburg Senior Activities Center. “I really like Christmas because it is based on giving back to others, and that’s what I really wanted to do with this project,” Rachel said.

Laurel: Another Christmas gift was being served up in Greater Johnstown when the Christ Centered Community Church opened its doors to feed about 100 people. “Our assignment that God has given us is to give love and hope to those who are hurting and to those who may feel left out,” said the church’s Brandon King. This year marked the fourth year for the church’s annual Community Christmas Dinner.

Barb: And the grinch allegedly got into the act when a recently released inmate tried to make off with a Salvation Army Red Kettle. Police say when a bell ringer in The Galleria turned her attention elsewhere, James Thomas Smith Jr. lifted the kettle and stuffed it into a shopping bag. The alleged robber didn’t go too far with his booty, as the bell ringer caught up to him as he waited outside the mall for a bus.

Laurel: Many thanks to all who played a part in the city’s annual Celebration Johnstown event. Musicians, dancers, puppeteers, clowns and carriage drivers, as well as civic groups, all had a hand in making the alcohol-free, family-friendly New Year’s Eve treat special. Also deserving a pat on the back are the many downtown venues that opened their doors to visitors and performers alike. “It’s a great family night for celebrating the new year with the little ones,” Lindsey Raco of Johnstown told our Frank Sojak. We couldn’t agree more.

Laurel: Portage Township supervisors have listened to complaints from residents and have taken action. The leaders adopted an ordinance that hopefully will rein in cowboy coal-truck drivers who allegedly were speeding through a “Y” intersection and blowing through a stop sign. A new stop sign will be placed on Lumber Road, and the ordinance calls for drivers to be cited for not stopping at the intersection. If that action doesn’t work, the supervisors are prepared to call in the state police to set up a traffic trap.

Barb: Volunteer firefighters are long known to put in their own time and money to receive proper training. They get up at all hours of the day and night to respond to emergencies. What they don’t figure on is being assaulted when they respond to an emergency. But that is exactly what happened to Hyndman fire Chief Ronald Spiker Jr., when he allegedly was confronted by an angry man at the scene of a vehicle crash in Fairhope Township. Spiker had his nose and a finger broken when he allegedly became involved in an argument with Michael Anthony Sutphin. Why lash out at someone only there to help?

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