The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 30, 2013

George Hancock | Dealing with seasonal lighting issues

JOHNSTOWN — Darkness is a daily running companion. I tour the local streets in the pre-dawn hours. Nine months out of the year finds this me toiling in the early morning hours. My only daylight hours occur in May, June and July.

Sometimes a bright moon illuminates the quiet streets. Winter’s fresh snow also provides decent running light.

Thank goodness for those evenly spaced streetlights. Streetlights cast a steady glow on the Greater Johnstown roadways.

Streetlights do pose issues when they malfunction or burn out. Who maintains these lights? Who pays that light bill?

Municipalities pay for streetlights just as homeowners pay for the electricity they use. Local governments are responsible for the streetlight bill.

But, who changes the bulbs when those lights dim, flicker or burn out?

The local energy provider repairs our streetlights. Penelec, part of the FirstEnergy network, handles streetlight issues in our region.

My community, Scalp Level, does not have an interactive website, Facebook page or any other user-friendly means of contacting elected officials. Scalp Level prints and distributes an old fashioned pamphlet with basic information.

The 2013-14 newsletter states, “If you have a streetlight near your property that has burned out or is flickering, please jot down the pole number (located on a plate attached to each pole) as well as the nearest street where the pole is located, and then call the office. Penelec typically repairs such streetlights within 5-10 days.”

The year is 2013. We are well into the 21st century. There is a much faster method for reporting streetlight issues. In fact, Penelec provides information on just how to report these dark issues.

Every month, homeowners receive their electric bill. Accompanying that bill are various fliers describing an important service that Penelec provides its customers. One pamphlet is titled “Tell Us When A Streetlight Is Out. We’ll Fix It.”

The quickest way to get a streetlight repaired is using FirstEnergy’s online repair site. The site is easily found at Just follow those links. Click on customer care, online service requests and look for report streetlight outage.

Complete the repair order, providing detailed information about the problem light and its location. Penelec acknowledges receipt via email plus provides updated information about the light issue.

I find most repairs are completed within one to two days.

I routinely report streetlight issues to FirstEnergy’s online repair site. Streetlight issues are very evident when you are running in the dark morning hours. It seemed that no one was reporting those flickering or burned-out lights. So, I began reporting them.

Several communities have numerous streets with streetlight issues. Main Street in Scalp Level Borough, Jefferson Avenue in Paint and Windber boroughs, Highfield Avenue near Pitt-Johnstown and Graham Avenue in Windber all had significant streetlight problems. I provided FirstEnergy’s online site with detailed information concerning each streetlight concern. One by one those streetlights were repaired. Light again illuminates our local streets.

Of course, a related issue is the local streets without adequate lighting. One such street is Richland Township’s Berwick Road. Once upon a time, this road was a quaint farm lane. Today, this road is very busy due to numerous nearby housing develop-ments.

Streetlights exist where Berwick Road intersects state routes 56 and 160, plus there is one light in the middle. Otherwise, Berwick Road is a dark commute. There are also several hillside drop offs that are not protected by guard rails. Streetlights could alert motorists to these potential dangerous spots.

The Christmas season is upon us. Many decry the commercial aspects associated with the Christmas season. Some rail against the nonstop Christmas sales that assault our senses.

Others relish this season and decorate with seasonal abandon.

Christmas is the loving spirit that lives within each of us. I really appreciate those colorful Christmas displays. These seasonal lights brighten my sojourn.

Windber’s Graham Avenue is my favorite running place during Christmas. The borough, homeowners and businesses decorate and brighten winter’s dark nights. Graham Avenue is transformed into a cheerful, festive thoroughfare. A delightful spirit permeates winter’s air. Christmas lights are a welcome repast before resuming the dark journey toward spring.

George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.


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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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