The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 20, 2014

Readers' Forum 2-20 | Conservation funding not tied to ranking

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — If there is a bright spot in all the recent articles over Cambria County’s state classification going from fourth to fifth it is this: Conservation district funding is not based on county class. Funding is program-based.

County classes are established by population census, but that does not weigh in for conservation district funding from the State Conservation Commission. There is parity.

Why would this matter? What is the significance? Conservation district programming is locally led and all are water-quality related. Some are state-regulation based. Two of those programs based in the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law are the soil erosion control and water encroachment programs. This is tied directly to economic development.

All earth-disturbance activities of one acre or more, with just a few exceptions like farming and timber harvesting, need a state permit that conservation districts are delegated by state Department of Environmental Protection to process. This is a critical link in the economic development sequence of new site construction that leads to job development and population increases.

The conservation district is a legal subdivision of state government, formed as a county department in 1950 and supported by the county commissioners. There has always been a strong partnership with the board of directors and commissioners to fulfill the mission of educating and assisting the public through programs, projects and leadership in the stewardship of natural resources to sustain and enhance quality of life. This sustained funding allows the conservation district to continue providing local services critical to economic development.

Clair J. Dumm

Cambria County Conservation District Board Chairman

Alley is missed by city road crews

It’s a real shame that the city can’t get the roads cleared of snow. I know there isn’t a lot of money here, but I see city workers a lot of the time at convenience stores drinking coffee instead of working.

I made several calls about getting my alley cleared because there are a lot of elderly people on it. I get a response that they will get to it, or they already did.

I have lived here for 40 years and have seen them a total of two times in my alley, and when they did plow they didn’t do a very good job.

I live on the bottom half of the alley where a former mayor lived, and his alley is clear.

I pay my taxes like everybody else. My money must have gone into the sewer system that nobody wanted.

Heaven forbid something happens to one of my neighbors; an emergency vehicle won’t be able to get up the alley to help them.

I fell twice trying to shovel my alley. This is city property. If we have to have the sidewalks shoveled, the city should have to have the alleys cleared as well.

Daniel Vavrek Jr.


Easier to rig election via computer fraud

Voter identification will eventually become a reality. It seems, however, that those who are so passionate in their efforts to make it happen are overlooking a much larger threat to the reliability of elections.

Presidential elections are the nation’s most important. For the sake of the winner, as well as the loser, everything should be done to ensure that they are conducted honestly.

It is unlikely that the outcome in a presidential election can be affected by voter fraud. Thousands of fraudulent voters would be required. And they would need to keep their plan a secret; something that seems highly improbable. On the other hand, a political party, foreign government or one person could covertly manipulate its outcome by computer fraud.

Many precincts, in order to speed up the tabulation of votes, have begun using electronic voting machines to cast votes and computers to count them. To alter an election’s outcome, only computers in critical states would need to be hacked.

During the 2004 presidential election, the outcome of the voting in Ohio came into question. Following an investigation, many allegations were made, including that thousands of votes cast electronically were changed (

Presidential elections only occur 25 times in 100 years. Arguably, the reliably of votes cast should be the No. 1 priority, not how quickly they were counted.

Regardless of the method used to cast or count a vote, a paper ballot should be generated.

Stephen J. Verotsky