The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 15, 2013

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Our region often does a wonderful job of saluting military veterans. That was evident again last week as Lt. Col. B.D. “Buzz” Wagner and Sgt. Derek Shanfield were honored in Cambria County. A portion of Airport Road in Richland and Conemaugh townships was renamed to honor Wagner, which is a fitting tribute for the county’s best-known aviation hero. Wagner was credited with shooting down eight Japanese planes in World War II. Meanwhile, a Hastings ballfield and highway bridge were named after Shanfield, who was killed in Afghanistan while in support of combat operations at Helmand Province. The honors will make sure their sacrifices will not be forgotten.

Laurel: So many volunteers in our area give selflessly and get little recognition for their efforts. That’s about to change, at least to some extent. Lift Johnstown has created its Volunteer Spot-light Award, which will be handed out four times per year with a Volunteer of the Year chosen from those winners. We know there are many local volunteers deserving of this award. If you feel the same way,

nominate one at

Barb: There was a disturbing story out of Westmoreland County last week, as someone shot a pony owned by Lisa Adams of Bolivar. The Shetland pony was hit with a bullet from a high-powered rifle and had to be put down by a veterinarian. We’ll never understand such acts of animal cruelty.

Laurel: Local baseball players have shined like diamonds over the past week. Somerset senior Ian Stiffler, a right-handed pitcher, was taken in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Atlanta Braves. A day later, Forest Hills graduate George Roberts, who has been starring as a first baseman for Kent State, was selected in the 26th round. Then, on Monday, North Star’s Max Strasiser announced that he will be playing NCAA Division I baseball at West Virginia University under coach Randy Mazey, a United grad.

Laurel: We often hear about how video games are leading children to sedentary – and unhealthy – lives, but a local school is getting nearly $5,000 in grant money to develop a fitness program that will focus on encouraging pupils to play video games. Cambria Elementary School is purchasing two large TVs along with video game systems and copies of “Dance Dance Revolution.” Instead of hand-held controllers, pupils will use their feet to compete. Considering what winter (and spring and fall) weather can be like in our area, this gives the pupils a great way to exercise even when it is not possible to have outdoor recess.

Barb: Sly like a Fox? Not according to state police. Anthony Joseph Fox of Smicksburg was arrested last week after he allegedly stole a trooper’s car while handcuffed. Fox was originally arrested in Jackson Township for being in possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. But when he was placed in the cruiser, he was somehow able to free his arms from behind his back, jump into the front seat and drive away. The Fox hunt didn’t end even after the suspect crashed into a vehicle. Police said he forced his way into a nearby residence before they were able to track him down.

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