The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

September 15, 2013

Innocent lives are at risk | Vandalizing road a cowardly act

JOHNSTOWN — We understand that there are people who are unhappy with the coal industry. Whether they are environmentalists who are angry that coal continues to be an important energy source in this country ­– and, we’d like to point out, an important source of jobs in our area – or homeowners who are upset about the coal-truck traffic that is a source of frustration for some, anti-coal protesters have a right to their opinions.

They can speak out against coal mining and urge politicians to move away from the industry. We don’t agree with them, but they have the right to be heard.

What they don’t have is the right to do very real damage to a coal business and put lives at risk. That’s what Jonathan Jones believes led to damage to 15 to 25 tires on vehicles his Jones Brothers Trucking owns.

Jones, who is president of the Shade Township business, said the first incident happened a few weeks ago, when drivers noticed nails along the access road leading to the business.

“I didn’t think much of it, and we just cleaned it up,” Jones told our Kelly Urban.

But when it happened again last week on Ridge Road, Jones realized it might be more than just an accidental spill.

“Nails were scattered for a good two-mile stretch,” he said. “These were brand new roofing nails, and it looks like someone was in a car and just dumped them out the window.”

Jones estimated that about 300 nails were strewn about the area, and that it cost his business as much as $3,000, between the number of tires that were damaged and the lost productivity as employees stopped working to collect the

nails.

The actions, if they were indeed intentional, are unacceptable on two fronts. First off, to deliberately attack a business that is providing much-needed jobs in our area is unconscionable. We’ve seen far too many businesses struggle due to economic uncertainties and other factors that are affecting our region. They need support from our communities, not vandalism.

The second, and even more appalling aspect of the nail-dropping incident, is what could have happened. An out-of-control coal truck is an extremely dangerous vehicle. A blown tire could have put not only the coal truck driver’s life at risk, but anyone else on the road at the time.

And, as Shade Township police Chief Tom Holland pointed out, there are plenty of innocent lives at stake.

“Right now, safety is the No. 1 priority, especially because school buses travel this road,” he said.

To possibly put children in harm’s way because of grudge, whether it’s against the coal industry as a whole or the trucking company in particular, is despicable. We hope the police catch those responsible.

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