The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 20, 2013

Laurels and barbs

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: A “shelter trailer” containing enough cots, blankets, pillows and other necessities to aid 100 people during an emergency has been donated to Windber by the American Red Cross. “It’s just another part of disaster preparedness,” said Wilbert Bailey, Windber Emergency Management Coordinator. Colleen Sherman, executive director of the Johnstown-based Red Cross Keystone Chapter, said the unit could be put into use quickly if an emergency occurred in northern Somerset or southern Cambria counties. An excellent proactive approach.

Laurel: The consolidation of physicians’ offices at Windber Medical Center clears the way for a much-anticipated expansion of the emergency department on the center’s Fifth Street end. The 9,000-square-foot Windber Professional Building, located on the Seventh Street end, will provide office space for 12 doctors and include an area for physicians who will see patients there on a rotating basis. Exciting times.

Barb: Water infiltration is never good, but it’s especially annoying when it gets into 911 communications radio transmitters. That’s what Cambria County officials found was causing its communications network to malfunction during heavy storms. A design flaw in the 5-year-old microwave radios was allowing moisture to seep into the devices. Tel-Aviv-based Celadon, which services the county’s radios, will pick up the $120,000 tab to replace all 18 receivers in the system.

Laurel: It’s a familiar sight on back roads this time of year: A hulking tractor hauling a piece of farm equipment from one field to another. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau asks that you take that into consideration as it has designated this Rural Roads Safety Week. We urge you to keep in mind that farmers have a right to the road, too, and one could be around any bend, so slow down and be aware of your surroundings.

Laurel: The Orchard tavern and restaurant will note a milestone later this year. The Geistown Borough establishment will celebrate 100 years in business and has planned many special events designed to benefit the community. A food drive already has taken place that benefitted St. Vincent de Paul Society. This month, The Orchard will recognize Autism Awareness Month with more fundraisers. “Hopefully, the celebrations that we do will be aimed at giving back to the community that has enabled us to stay in business for this long,” said David Donate, co-owner. Happy birthday.

Barb: It seems as if a Somerset County man just can’t avoid trouble. William McTonic, 77, who once faced homicide charges in the 2009 death of his estranged wife, was charged earlier this week with assaulting a Conemaugh Township police officer. According to police, McTonic assaulted a female tenant who was trying to remove her belongings from an apartment he owns in Jerome. He also allegedly refused to allow EMS personnel on his property and threw water at the responding officer and kicked him in the shin. He was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment. He also was accused of bothering a woman in 2010.

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