The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 14, 2013

Readers' Forum 5-14 | Conemaugh Valley musicals incomparable

Submitted by Readers

— On May 9 and 10, I watched my children as they participated in the Conemaugh Valley Elementary spring concerts. In a day and age when the arts are being drastically cut by school boards, I am pleased with the school board, administration, teachers and staff at Conemaugh Valley and how they continue year after year to support music in our district.

It gives me great joy to watch as my children play in the band and sing and dance on stage, sharing with the audience songs that demonstrate not only their music abilities but also the academics they have been learning all year.

We are blessed to have great music teachers in Allen Bixel and Lauren Morus who willingly share their love of music every day.

Kudos Conemaugh Valley music department for, yet again, another wonderful set of elementary spring concerts.

Dawn Lybarger

East Conemaugh

Seventy-four ‘heroes’ deserve recognition

June 3 will mark the 44th anniversary of a disastrous collision in the South China Sea just miles off the coast of Vietnam.

At 3:15 a.m., the USS Frank E. Evans DD-754, a destroyer-class warship, was completely cut in half by the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. The forward section sunk in less than three minutes. Seventy-four young men honorably serving the United States of America payed the ultimate price. Five victims were from Pennsylvania: Patrick Corcoran of Philadelphia; Raymond Earley of Shenandoah, Schuylkill County; Stephen Fagan of Huntingdon; Donald Gearhart of Lewistown, Mifflin County; and Victor Rikal of Butler.

The names of these 74 heroes have not been inscribed upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall because the circumstances of their death appear to not meet the Department of Defense’s criteria. The DOD has made exceptions and waived its own criteria from time to time to add others. The USS Frank E. Evans Association, with many supporters nationwide, believes an exception should be made in this case as well.

The USS Frank E. Evans Association and the families of the 74 are asking all Americans who support our position to  please contact your government representatives and senators by telephone, electronically, letters, etc. Let them know you want those 74 heroes’ names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.

Make that black wall their last port of call. Give them the glory they deserve and the honor and dignity they’ve earned.

Ed Holsopple


Hilltop group has had impact

In response to Frank Desimone’s Readers’ Forum letter on April 12, “Financial sacrifices, reform go hand in hand,” attacking CEASE.

Quality education to CEASE (Cost Effective Approaches Supporting Education) means high quality, as shown below.

At the initial CEASE meeting, these guiding principles were adopted:

-- CEASE supports/defends quality education.

-- CEASE will not endorse any action detrimental to a quality education.

-- CEASE will offer cost effective alternatives to tax increases.

-- CEASE will convince the board to approach education as a business.

Five CEASE members serve on the Westmont Hilltop School District’s comprehensive planning committee. Did Desimone offer to serve? The technology subcommittee unanimously endorsed a major technology upgrade that ensures students “get the best.” It isn’t cheap, but is overall the most cost-effective approach to providing a technologically high-quality education while preparing students for the technological future they face.

Because of CEASE pressure, the board now obtains request for proposals/quotations for projects. In the past, only contracts legally required to be bid were bid. Two pre-CEASE examples: An eight-year, no-bid busing contract was awarded with a value, after a state “refund,” in excess of $3 million. Eight no-bid contracts (valued at $80,000) were awarded for education-related services. The recent round was bid, and the successful bid was slightly lower than that of the previous contract holder. Importantly, all companies were given an opportunity to bid. Competitive bidding is good business. It is not us or them.

Education is a business. The product (students) determines America’s future. Desimone should obtain some facts and attend a few board meetings before attacking a community group dedicated to cost-effective, high-quality education.

James Greco


If you see voter fraud, report it

I am a longtime resident of Cambria County and have heard rumors that absentee ballots have been misused in local elections. To vote by absentee ballot, a voter must apply to the county board of elections. In Cambria County, the board of elections is located at 200 S. Center St., Ebensburg, Pa. 15931 (472-1464). Shirley Crowl is the director of elections for Cambria County.

As a general principle, if a voter is able to vote in person on Election Day, he or she must go to his or her  polling place and vote. In fact, that is what the official absentee ballot application says.

As we enter another election season, we must not permit a credible fear to exist that the democratic process is rigged. As the guardians of democracy, we must remain forever vigilant and protect our right to self-governance. As Thomas Jefferson exclaimed: “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

This election season, reject apathy and exercise your right to vote. If you observe voter fraud, whether through the misuse of absentee ballots or otherwise, notify your party representatives or the director of elections. May the best candidates win.

Charles W. Grigg

South Fork


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