The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 7, 2013

Laurels and barbs | Dec. 7

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Maybe some of our elected officials at the state and federal levels should take a trip to Hooversville. The Somerset County borough’s council said that it will not raise taxes for its 2014 budget, continuing its decades-long streak. The budget is actually down a bit from 2013. That sounds like smart government to us.

Laurel: Some of the most important features in Johns-town are now 70 years old. The city’s flood walls, which received a final inspection on Nov. 27, 1943, have done an outstanding of protecting it from the floods that ravaged it on a regular basis prior to the construction. Aside from the 1977 flood, which was the result of a historic storm, the walls have stood the test of time.

Barb: We all seem to know someone whose life has been affected by cancer. That’s why we’re so willing to give when someone seeks help fighting the dreaded disease. Sadly, that also makes it easy to score some quick cash for those without scruples. That’s what 32-year-old Mandy Lee Klinkner of Somerset is accused of doing. Police say she obtained and sold fundraising booklets from Sheetz under the guise of helping a child with cancer but that she failed to reimburse the company and did not give any money to the child. Klinkner skipped her preliminary hearing last week and was ordered to stand trial.

Barb: Another Somerset woman was just paroled for a similarly disturbing scam. Faith Ann Robertson of Meyersdale was sentenced to 89 days to 12 months in jail, then given credit for time served. Meyersdale police said Robertson sought donations by telling people that she was buying a headstone for murder victim Justin Jackson. Robertson  received two $25 donations and was turned down by three others, although she wasn’t authorized to solicit the donations.

Laurel: Much has been written about Johnstown’s love of ice hockey. And now the passion for the sport and the written word have helped a Johnstown native find a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Jay Greenberg, a Westmont Hilltop High School graduate, was recently honored by the hall as the 55th recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Award, which is given “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalism and to hockey.”  It’s a well-deserved honor for Greenberg, who co-authored a new book, “Gordie Howe’s Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey.”

Laurel: Mike Tomlin did something that seems to be completely out of character for him on Thanksgiving night. The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach ventured too far from the sideline and had an impact on the game, as Baltimore Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones had to alter his path to what might have been a touchdown. Instead, Jones was tackled from behind. We believe Tomlin when he says that it was an accident. Not only that, we applaud him for the acknowledging his mistake and accepting his punishment, which was a $100,000 fine from the National Football League. In the face of such an embarrassing mistake, Tomlin showed leadership in how he handled the aftermath.

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