The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 23, 2013

Laurels and barbs

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Better late than never is an old cliche. But, in some cases, it’s also appropriate. That’s how we feel about Windber Borough realizing that it has been paying an electric bill for Richland Township for a decade. A borough councilman noticed “Falls Run” on a list of bills and it eventually was discovered that Windber was footing the bill for nine street lamps in Richland Township. The township sent Windber an $11,000 check to cover the expenses.

Laurel: We’ve all got to play the hand we’re dealt, whether it’s concerning our health or a game of cards. But you can always try to improve upon that hand. That’s one of the lessons that bridge helps teach its enthusiasts. And when card players head to places like the Johnstown Senior Activity Center each week, they’re doing more than just taking their minds off their troubles for awhile. Bridge also can help improve mental acuity. A game that can be fun and healthy? Deal us in.

Barb: Not all seniors need card games to stay active. A 90-year-old East Wheatfield Township man punched a Pennsylvania State Trooper last week. Russell Stiffler faces aggravated assault charges. He allegedly threatened to shoot officers who showed up at his residence on Donelson Road on a domestic-related call, then ignored the commands to turn himself over to authorities. When he ignored a second round of commands, police said, troopers took him to the ground, prompting him to swing at Trooper Scott Mackanick.

Laurel: Pick up a book, pledge a few bucks and start turning pages. That’s the goal of the inaugural Ann Wilson Readathon, which will benefit the Ann Wilson Memorial Fund in tribute to the late Johnstown City Council member and chairwoman of the Cambria County Republican Party. The effort encourages fans to follow the lead of Wilson, who was an avid reader, and raise money through April 30. Those looking to participate can email Lisa Viggiano at

Laurel: Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins got it right this week when he said he’s not interested in talking about a plea deal in the case against Leanna Gottshall, who is accused of stealing more than $11,000 from the Chestnut Ridge Parent Teacher Organization. Higgins’ primary goal, as it should be, is seeing how much of that money he can get back for the PTO. But we don’t feel any sympathy for Gottshall, who allegedly admitted stealing the money, despite her tearful protest that she doesn’t want to go to jail because she has children. Maybe she should have thought about them when she was allegedly stealing from an organization designed to benefit others.

Barb: Think spring has gotten off to a rough start for us? Imagine what it’s like for Punxsutawney Phil. The weather-predicting groundhog has taken plenty of jabs after his call for an early spring has gone horribly wrong. No matter what the calendar – or a silly ceremony in Jefferson County – says, it still feels like winter out there.

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