The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


March 9, 2013

Laurels and barbs

— Laurel: People associated with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra are the artsy type, right? So it should come as no surprise that they’re hooking up with Johnstown’s Allied Artists to offer what is expected to be an unusual but exciting evening of culture. “Music in Pictures” will be presented this evening at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township. “To have a venue to fuse the visual arts and the performing arts is a unique opportunity for our community,” Maestro Istvan Jaray said. Beautiful music will be accompanied by images of original works of art created by the talented Allied Artists members. Tickets are still available at the box office or by calling 269-7200, 800-846-2787 or visiting

Barb: Berlin police Officer Michelle Piscitella was dispatched on a domestic-dispute call last Sunday and by the time peace was restored, a woman was injured, two people were arrested and the officer was subjected to a dangerous vehicle ride. Charged with a total of 10 counts were Craig Foy of Berlin and Tammy Berkey of Washington County. According to the police, Berkey, whose blood-alcohol level was 0.28, had to be pulled from a vehicle as she was attempting to drive from the scene. The officer then jumped inside, stopping the vehicle from crashing into a house. Berkey sustained a broken arm and head gash, and apparently, along with Foy, faces serious repercussions with the courts. The only good news was that the officer was uninjured.

Laurel: Unfortunately, there are area families living at poverty levels and need help with their food requirements. Fortunately, there are volunteer groups such as Somerset County Mobile Food Bank coming to their aid. Started in April 2012 as a single truck with a trailer hooked to the back, the mobile effort is becoming much more, organizer and volunteer coordinator Tom Shaffer has learned. This month, the program is branching out into two new communities in the county. “It grows every month,” Shaffer said. “Every time we go to a town now, we’re getting more and more people signing up.” A staff of about 20 full-time volunteers serve roughly 1,050 households a week. Heartwarming.

Laurel: Johnstown fire Chief Anthony Kovacic isn’t letting the high-tech world pass him by. Last week, he presented council members with both a small stack of CDs and a fat, three-ring binder filled with hundreds of pages. He was visually explaining how the department has modernized its emergency operations plan. In the past, copies of the in-depth plan were on printed pages. “We were just killing trees, left and right,” he said. No more. Now he’s burning the report onto CDs, which will provide council members the ability to easily search through the voluminous amount of information on their home computers. “We’re very fortunate to have such a highly professional and educated chief,” Councilman Pete Vizza said. That’s been obvious for a long time.

Barb: Somerset Borough police are investigating an act of vandalism that damaged a Cin D Lane home late last month. According to the report released last week, someone egged the home, smeared marshmallow on it in the shape of a swastika, put a “666” marking on the rear and tossed toilet paper on it. Can anyone make sense out of this type of moron activity?

Laurel: Working at any business for 30 years is a long time. But for the Labarkos, DJ Jack Labarko Inc is a family business allowing members to share a love of music and dancing and a love for each other. Along with mom, Barbara, the sons are carrying on a Johns-town tradition started by their late father, Jack, who died in 1993. “We’ve kept the ball rolling and are following in our father’s footsteps,” Derek Labarko said. “We’ve now taken it to the next level and really have become event producers.” They put on a show for 50 weddings a year as well as DJ at numerous proms, school formals, private parties and corporate events locally and in surrounding counties and states. As music artist Shannon puts it: “Let the Music Play.”

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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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