The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

February 21, 2013

Moxham residents ready to reclaim neighborhood

Groups, individuals focused on crime

— Is Moxham subject to more violent crime than other sections of the city?

We don’t know. We don’t have statistics to deny or confirm that, but several individuals and groups are aware such a perception exists and are vowing to focus on the matter.

Even those offended by unwanted media attention on crime reports should welcome a probe and any action to address those reports. Everyone should agree that any amount of crime is too much.

City Councilwoman Rose Howarth, a former Moxham resident, is considering bringing together police representatives, Cambria County Drug Task Force members and others for a meeting.

“I wish I could snap my fingers and make it all go away,” Howarth told our Dave Sutor. “I’d like to get information out to people about things that they can do when they see things.”

Others also greatly interested are the city’s recently formed Drug and Crime Commission, Moxham Renaissance, Moxham Crime Watch, and even the Johnstown Housing Authority, which oversees Section 8 housing.

We applaud their interest and efforts. Whether a problem indeed exists, it is fact that many residents are on edge.

This is not the first time the spotlight has been on Moxham crime. The latest attention surrounds an arson, murder and an afternoon shootout between two groups of males – all within the past 2 1⁄2 months.

Still, some caution residents to avoid panicking or jumping to conclusions.

“I think one of the things we’re really trying to do is get folks to look at what is good in the community and try to work through those things,” said the Rev. Robert Wagner of Moxham Lutheran Church.

“So, for instance, what are the relationships that are positive in our community, and how can those positive relationships encourage one another to stand firm against the things that are less positive in our community?”

We agree that Moxham has much to offer, in part, because of people such as Wagner and organizations such as Moxham Renaissance, but moreso because a vast majority of residents are proud of their neighborhood.

And many of those same people aren’t willing to surrender their streets to a very small minority, whether locals or outsiders, hell-bent on causing trouble.

“People have to stop being afraid to call the police,” crime watch president Dan Schofield said.

Added the organization’s treasurer, Theresa Subich, “If (criminals) know you’re afraid, then they win.”

To this point, “we’ve had excellent help from residents,” police Chief Craig Foust said, noting that many community members have stepped forward.

Action and reaction are important.

When criminals realize their shenanigans won’t be tolerated, they move on.

Moxham residents are fed up, angry and focused. Our money is on them to win this battle.

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