The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 17, 2013

Readers' Forum 3-17 | Innocent principal needs to be defended

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — I am writing in response to Judith Viveralli’s March 12 letter, “Victims, not administrator, need help.” I would kindly ask Viveralli, the Bishop McCort community and the Johnstown community to review the facts surrounding Ken Salem’s placement on leave.

Salem was not principal or an administrator at the school during Brother Stephen Baker’s tenure at Bishop McCort; he was not even the head football coach for the majority of Baker’s employment. It was not “his school.” He failed no students.

Salem is a man of the highest integrity. Had he been principal at the time, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would have properly protected students and never have ignored the situation.

Also, the suggestion that we care less about the victims of abuse is entirely wrong. Our prayers continue to go out to those harmed in this tragedy, and we hope they receive the justice they deserve and God’s healing. The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese has committed itself to supporting the victims.

However, an innocent man who has devoted his life to the success of Bishop McCort and its students has been removed in a political maneuver from our school when his leadership is needed most, and this injustice cannot be ignored.

Ryan Eckenrod

Bishop McCort Senior

National Honor Society President

McCort administrator a scapegoat

In regard to the letter written by Judith Viveralli concerning the sexual abuse at Bishop McCort (“Victims, not administrator, need help,” March 12), the abuse victims come first and foremost and will continue to always be in my prayers and that of the Bishop McCort family.

However, why punish the current administrator for something that happened 20-plus years ago? How about the administrator at the time of the abuse? Ken Salem did not fail anyone. The protection of the students was always first priority.

Brother Stephen Baker is no longer here to accept responsibility and blame for what he allegedly did, so place the blame where it should be placed. The current administration is being made a scapegoat by the board of trustees because of the incompetence of Altoona-Johnstown Diocese officials in their hiring process and the gross negligence of Baker’s province who, instead of taking action, decided to move him from place to place.

We no longer can pick up a newspaper or turn on local news broadcasts because they repeatedly report the same information about this terrible story. This has not happened when sexual abuse has occurred at area public schools.

It is wrong no matter where it happens or who is committing these crimes – Catholic or not.

Jeff Konieczny


Moxham a vibrant, beautiful neighborhood

Living in Moxham is also about community and connection. Pedestrian-friendly and centrally located, it is truly green living. Beautiful churches exist here that host community dinners, festivals, pancake breakfasts, a farmers market and indoor and outdoor concerts. These churches want to engage in service to address the many needs that exist in our community.

Moxham is a vibrant neighborhood that hosts a number of businesses, many of which have been here for years, including the beautiful row on Village Street where friends meet at the café for fellowship, food and fun.

On any given summer day or evening, you can hear the ice-cream truck, see kids selling lemonade, double-Dutch jump roping, people tubing down the river, hula hoopers hooping at the cafe, Bo Moore’s guitar students and hikers and bikers on the James Mayer Trail.

People from all walks of life live here in Moxham. Artists and urban homesteaders live here. Families live here. Natural biodiversity is here and collaborating with the Greater Johnstown School District with urban gardening projects.

Moxham Renaissance every year hosts a beautiful Christmas celebration and invites the whole region.

This is a beautiful neighborhood filled with caring neighbors who look out for each other and have a deep love for the unique character and flavor of this city neighborhood. I love living here.

Rachel Allen


Trivialized gas odor resulted in tragedy

On March 12, a knock at the door revealed the gas company letting everyone in the neighborhood know that our service was shut down due to water in the gas line.

A representative came into my home and shut off all gas-powered utilities that would be affected.

After a long, hard day of working overtime, the employees of the gas company returned to my door around 7 p.m. to turn my utilities back on. When they did so, we had a very strong odor of gas throughout my home. I was told not to be concerned about.

Approximately 30 minutes later, our family pet, a beautiful lovebird that we had for about three years, was lying dead in his cage.

Was this safe? Should we have left our home? I now know that I would have handled this situation differently. Anytime a harmful odor is present, keep yourself, your family and your pets safe until all is clear to return.

DeAnna Distefano


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