The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


May 18, 2013

Laurels and barbs

— Laurel: Andrew Hawkins has played in many important football games, both scholastically and professionally. Now, he is preparing for another – a flag-football tournament to support the Wounded Warrior Project. The Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver will speak about the importance of the project and supporting military veterans. The Warrior Charity Football Tournament, the brainchild of Domenic Mash, Ron Mash and Matthew Rancort, will kick off at 9 this morning at Scalp Level Trinity United Methodist Church, 751 Horn Road. A worthy project for an excellent cause.

Laurel: With the recent addition of a $174,000 grant in their pocket, Loretto Borough and St. Francis University broke ground recently for the Captain Michael McGuire Memorial Park. “It’s going to be a significant size and it’s going to be very nice,” Father Gabriel Zeis, St. Francis president, told our Kathy Mellott. In the planning stages for years, the five-acre park, named for the founder of the settlement known as Loretto, will be located near the community ballfields in Allegheny Township, on land owned by the university. The park is envisioned as a multiuse community facility that will promote health and fitness while also including play equipment and grills.

Barb: Two murders in the region continue to go unsolved. On July 19, police said, Vincent Bloom was struck on the head with a handgun and then was tied up, doused with gasoline and set on fire. On Jan. 3, Robert T. Williams Jr. was gunned down inside his Richland Township home, police said. Investigators in both cases say they continue to conduct interviews. Their killers are still on the loose. How unfortunate that no one has come forward with information leading to their arrests. We hope that someone’s conscience will lead him or her to do the right thing and provide valuable tips to law-enforcement authorities.

Laurel: Cambria County Historical Society’s Town to Town Tour is a wonderful way for history buffs to learn little-known details about areas in the county. Did you know that Spangler was home to a six-story brewery? Or that Emeigh’s white oak trees were coveted by the clipper ship industry? The most recent tour, conducted by Jack and Sharon Bartock of Nicktown, started in Ebensburg then proceeded to Carrolltown and Northern Cambria. The mission of the tours is to make people aware of points of interest that most history books don’t reveal, Jack Bartock said. Don’t miss the next tour.

Laurel: Johnstown Drug and Crime Commission is studying the perception that local halfway houses have an impact on crime and drug use in the city. “We need to find the best way that we can co-exist together,” the Rev. Sylvia King told our Dave Sutor. King, Bill McKinney and state Rep. Bryan Barbin make up the commission’s rehabilitation subcommittee that is examining the public’s perception of halfway houses. The subcommittee has met with representatives of Community Corrections Center, a halfway house for convicted criminals on Washington Street, and New Directions of Cove Forge and Renewal Center of Cove Forge, two substance rehabilitation centers in the city. The more information the subcommittee gathers the better job it can do in informing the public about halfway houses.

Barb: April showers bring May flowers, but what do May snowflakes bring? A lot of grumbling. Flurries in the region Monday coupled with frost and freeze warnings for much of the state Tuesday and possible record low temperatures make us wonder about global warming. Crops, gardens and orchards were at risk, said Tom Ford, a commercial horticulture educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension in Cambria County. Most vulnerable were strawberry plants. The good news was that temperatures rebounded rather quickly.

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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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