The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


April 5, 2014

Readers' Forum 4-5 | City needs transfusion of leadership

JOHNSTOWN — Another house came tumbling down beneath the wrecking ball. It was an insignificant house, plain in appearance and worn by time. Yet, as uninspiring as this home was, it was a mansion in comparison to the inevitable slab of asphalt that will undoubtedly take it’s place.

Stand on the observation deck of the Inclined Plane and look out over the desert of private parking lots that is now the city of Johnstown. Where once there were homes filled with families, where once there were shops, restaurants and theaters, we are now left with barren, empty parking lots – parking for what?

What demand is there for so much parking in a city that is little more than empty storefronts and a virtually abandoned medical complex?

This city needs a transfusion, not of money but of leadership. This city needs civic leaders who are willing to pull their heads out of the sands of petty disputes and corruptions and to turn their energies toward marketing all that this region has to offer in an effort to attract new businesses that provide jobs.

The time has come to disband JARI, considering the lack of success in its mission, as well as to contract with a firm that understands urban planning and to develop a plan for the future of Johnstown.

Something has to be done, and fast, before there is nothing left but a gray slab where once a city stood.

James B. Lisankis


Rotary grateful to all who helped

On Rotary International’s calendar, March is Literacy Month, a fitting time to bring Books on Wheels, a program of FirstBook, to Johnstown.

Rotarian Donna Christopher encouraged her office staff – Greer Koeller, Summer Huffman and Maggie Huffman – to assist with the sorting. Rotarians Owen Standley, Dick Torp, Pat Petrell, Dan March, Jim Neely and Mary Grattan Neely also pitched in, as did Julie Lehman, Camette Standley and Gail March.

Greater Johnstown High School interactors Noah Eckenrod and Ariel Severns volunteered, as did their advisers, Devin Carosi, Alyssa Arcurio and Dan Tomak.

Thank you to Danielle Varner and Kelsey Suppes who volunteered from Pitt-Johnstown, as well as Kiersten Sczcur.

Kelly Rozich, a teacher at East Side Elementary School, recruited her parents, Eileen and Jim, to participate, and she, too, spent two evenings sorting the books.

Eileen Hanners assisted with the sort and read to children on Saturday morning. Loretta Ciupak and Sue Minchau also provided help.

In an event of this type, there are also many other unnamed heroes, such as the people at a major supermarket who provided boxes and the retailers who supplied coffee and doughnuts.

To all of you, our most humble appreciation and thanks in helping bring this wonderful gift to the children in our community.

Karen Azer

President, Rotary Club of Johnstown

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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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