The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


March 8, 2014

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has earned high honors for its patient simulator training facility. The simulator lab has been accredited by the American College of Surgeons. Doctors in training learn critical thinking and decision-making skills when training on the simulators, which can talk, cry, bleed, sweat and replicate real-life medical scenarios.

Laurel: Property owners, potential home buyers, Realtors and the public in Somerset County can figure out their taxes just by logging on to an online calculator. The tax calculator, created after numerous residents bombarded the county’s assessment office with questions after a recent millage hike, can be found at “We thought this would be a good tool to have not only for today, but into the future,” said Jane Rizzo, the county’s chief assessor.

Barb: We’ve lost count of how many times we have criticized Somerset County Commissioner Joe Betta, but here we go again. Betta, apparently without anything constructive to add to a conversation regarding the resignation of a corrections officer, took to verbally sparring with county Solicitor Dan Rullo. And then he accused fellow commissioners John Vatavuk and Pamela Tokar-Ickes of playing politics with the resignation issue. How long until Betta’s term expires?

Laurel: The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop in New Florence soon will move into new digs. Currently located in the basement of an elementary school, the resale outlet will occupy a former apartment build-ing along Route 56 in St. Clair Township. It is hoped that the move will help attract more shoppers. Along with buying gently used items, customers also will be able to receive food vouchers aid with their utility bills.

Laurel: Washington Township has been approved for a $237,000 grant to improve its outdoor recreation options. The funds will be used to develop a dog park, playground, walking trail and picnic pavilions on a 12-acre tract along the township/Lilly Borough line. “It’s nice to see the state come through with this money,” John Dubnansky, Cambria County grants facilitator, said. And, if money allows, community leaders would like to construct a football/soccer field in the area.

Barb: Just when we thought no one could be lower than a bottom-feeder, someone proves us wrong. An 82-year-old Johnstown woman was burned in a fire that started in her kitchen as she was preparing breakfast. While she recovers from her burns in a Pittsburgh hospital, police said thieves allegedly forced their way into her unoccupied home and took electronics and jewelry. How heartless can you be?

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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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