The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 17, 2012

Laurels and barbs

The Tribune-Democrat

— Laurel: We applaud the dozens of people who lined Luther Road in support of Samuel Lewis Stiles, the Richland Township sailor who died in Japan earlier this month. A religious hate group had posted on its website that it planned to protest at Stiles’ funeral service. Instead, veterans, family members and even complete strangers turned out to honor Stiles. The Richland police also deserve kudos for making sure that the situation could be contained if members of the hate group did show up at the service.

Laurel: The men and women who defend our country were honored on Veterans Day this week, but too often their sacrifices are forgotten. That’s why programs such as “Holiday Mail for Heroes” and “Christmas Stockings for Soldiers” are important. The American Red Cross program collects and distributes cards to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families. More information can be obtained about the program at or by calling (800) RED CROSS. The other program, in which Hindman Funeral Homes is participating, encourages residents to pick up a free stocking, decorate it and fill it with Christmas items. Hindman, which has two locations in Johnstown and one in Hastings, will then ship the stockings to troops abroad in time for Christmas.

Barb: There was nothing normal about the story out of Normalville, Fayette County, this week. That’s where police say 35-year-old Jeremy James Pritts fired a shotgun at a 17-year-old girl on the back of a pickup truck using a spotlight to look for deer. The blast hit Cortney Snyder in the arms, face, chest and abdomen. Police say Pritts admitted firing at the light, saying he was frustrated with spotters and poachers in the area. We can’t even begin to understand that kind of logic.

Laurel: The holiday season got off to its unofficial local start on Friday evening, with Johnstown’s annual Light-Up Night. The wonderful event, which was to include performances by the Johnstown Symphony Chorus, a parade through the city and a visit from Santa Claus, wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of a number of fine individuals and organizations, including Sharyn Spinelli, the Alternative Community Resource Program, Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership, Wings of Hope, WKYE-95 and FOX 8/ABC23.

Laurel: Two  dinners could help make sure that no local residents go hungry for the holidays. Shorty’s Italian Smokehouse, of Westwood, will sponsor a free community dinner on Thanksgiving Day from noon to 4 p.m. at The Grove, in Westmont. Donations are being sought for the dinner, which is for those in need as well as people who have no family in the area. More information is available by calling 255-1500. Meanwhile, donations are being sought for the annual Christmas Day dinner to be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at Christ Centered Community Church in Johnstown. More information is available by calling 244-2737 or 361-2393.

Barb: The theft of a truck loaded with aluminum concrete forms in Indiana County was no lightweight procedure. The stolen truck and the 250 forms it carried were valued at $420,00. The truck eventually was found in Blairsville, but it was missing 55 forms worth nearly $20,000. Police said a “heavy duty truck” would have been needed to move the stolen goods, which were believed to have been swiped to be sold as scrap.

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