The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 19, 2013

Laurels and barbs

— Laurel: Shanks­ville-Stonycreek might be one of the smallest school districts in the state in terms of population, but the Somerset County school  is mighty in how it prepares its students for college. The high school’s average SAT score last year ranked in the top 10 percent among Pennsylvania schools. The 17 Shanks-ville students who took the college entrance exam averaged 1,571, with marks of 520 in verbal, 549 in math and 502 in the writing portion. Out of 652 high schools statewide, Shanksville’s average score was No. 58 and the best in Somerset County.

Laurel: What could have been a tragic story ended with honors for a pair of Good Samaritans and a state trooper. Alex Goodman of Johnstown, Scott McCully of the Brush Valley area and Trooper James Fry were honored for helping to save a hunter who was injured while trying to climb down from his tree stand, which caused him to break both ankles. While hanging upside down, the hunter began to yell for help. Indiana County Deputy Coroner Jerry Overman told police that the hunter would have perished without the quick actions of all involved.

Barb: Rep. Dem Costa, D-Allegheny, collected $55,495 in per diems over the past two years. We know of a lot of workers in our region who would like to make that much money in salary, let alone in expenses incurred in addition to a base salary of $83,802. Costa and his colleagues in the Legislature collected $3.9 million in per diems during that time. He’s not apologizing for it and we’re not going to say that he should. But we do think that lawmakers should have to provide receipts for expenses that they incur.

Laurel: Jodi Hillegass has worked tirelessly to turn the Westmont Hilltop girls’ basketball program into one of the best in area for the past 10 years, so it’s no surprise that the victories have piled up during that time. Hillegass won her 200th career game last week. Hillegass is just as dedicated to her students as her players, as evidenced by the large group of middle-school students who turned out for her milestone victory. Congratulations, Coach.

Laurel: Johnstown was there to support North American Hoganas when the Moxham plant needed it the most, and the manufacturer showed its appreciation. North American Hoganas presented the Johns­town Fire Department with a $10,000 donation. When accidents happen, it’s comforting to know that we have well-trained emergency responders in our region. It’s also great to see a company recognize those efforts.

Barb: Some new Pennsylvania parents likely got a big surprise when they looked at recently obtained birth certificates. The state Department of Vital Statistics acknowledged a computer glitch that caused about 500 of the certificates to feature the wrong name for the father. The state quickly sent a letter to those individuals that explained the error and requested that they return the incorrect birth certificates in enclosed, postage-paid envelopes. Still, we’re guessing that there were some awkward conversations between parents around the state.

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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