The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 26, 2014

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Say what you want about social media, but it helped to nab an alleged bank robber last week. After Johnstown police circulated a photo of Charles Wise to the media and posted it to their website, the phone lines lit up with tips. Wise, who lived on Barron Avenue about two blocks from the bank, was taken into custody about seven hours after the daring 10 a.m. robbery Tuesday at the West End branch of AmeriServ Financial. If you’re going to rob a bank, maybe it shouldn’t be your neighborhood office.

Laurel: In another case involving social media, a law enforcement officer in Lawrence County posted on his department’s Facebook page how he dressed as an Amish woman for several months in an attempt to catch the man suspected of exposing himself to Amish children. Pulaski Township Sgt. Chad Adams said he posted his undercover assignment in hopes of detering future flashers.

Barb: There’s no crying in heroin dealing. James Farrish, a hulking figure at 6 feet tall and 350 pounds, broke into tears after being stopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for allegedly ignoring those large warning signs to turn on headlights before entering a tunnel. During a search of Farrish’s vehicle, police discovered about $120,000 in suspected heroin. Police said when Farrish climbed out of his vehicle, he began “shaking, looking toward the ground and mumbling.” He then walked to the side of the road, “started to stare into the woods and began crying,” the police complaint said. Perhaps his tears were because of a life wasted.

Laurel: There’s good news for area swimmers. Windber Recreation Park’s pool will be back in business shortly because the pool’s liner pulled through better than feared. It seems that the oft-patched liner survived the winter after a valve broke and all the water drained from the pool, exposing the liner to freezing temperatures. The revelation will save the borough from having to seek a $125,000 line of credit to purchase a new liner.

Laurel: In art circles, Katey Ladika’s name is being mentioned along with Truman Capote, Andy Warhol and Stephen King. The junior at Forest Hills High School brought home a fistful of medals – three golds, two silvers and six honorable mentions – in the photography category of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards’ northeast region competition. “As a photographer, Katey excels in an eye for the unusual,” Deborah Gdula, her adviser, told reporter Frank Sojak. Congratulations, Katey.

Barb: A threat of contaminated needles hidden throughout the Paul Fuller Playground postponed a festive Easter egg hunt in Meyersdale last week. The grounds were searched after a concerned citizen told authorities of a text message she received warning of the objects. No needles were found, but police planned a second search of the playground. Someone has a very morbid sense of humor.

Laurel: Best wishes to Alternative Community Resource Program as it enters its 25th year of service. But the Johns-town-based social service agency is not planning any big bashes to mark its milestone. “Our celebration is geared back at the kids and family, the purpose we have the agency,” executive director Frank Janakovic told our Dave Sutor. Congratulations, ACRP.

Barb: You have trouble finding a baby sitter and instead of calling your boss to request a personal day off, you call your place of employment with a bomb threat. That’s what John Paul Perkins of Fairmont, W.Va., allegedly pulled against his employer, Emerald Mine. The shutdown cost the company almost $100,000. Perkins was identified as a person of interest after police traced the bomb threat to a pay phone at a convenience store. Video surveillance showed Jones near the phone at the time of the call.

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