The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 27, 2012

Laurels and barbs

The Tribune-Democrat

— Laurel: The road ahead likely won’t be smooth for business owners opposed to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s plans to improve the safety of Goucher Street. But the decision to have PennDOT officials sit down with those affected most by the plan is a smart one. Four such sessions were held last week and another round is planned for early 2013. Business owners may never agree with the project, but at least they have the chance to see the options being considered and to make their concerns known.

Laurel: There will be something to cheer about next month at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex in Indiana. The Pennsylvania State Cheerleading Championship will hold its 25th annual event. The championships, which previously were held in Johnstown, are now seeing the second and, in some cases, third generations of cheerleaders come through the competition. Over the years, some great athletes and great people have been a part of the event.

Barb: This is one rap that Pittsburgh hip-hop artist S. Money couldn’t beat. The rapper, whose real name is Khalid-Ibn Abdullah Kareem, was convicted this week by a Somerset County jury on drug delivery charges. He was stopped by state police four years ago on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with heroin that had an estimated street value of $80,000. Kareem, who often raps about drugs, faces a minimum of four years in prison.

Laurel: The Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center Artists’ Hall of Fame will honor three women next week. Claudia Jones of East Taylor Township, Winnie Voytko of Westmont and her daughter Kathy Voytko, who resides in New Jersey, will be honored for their achievements. Jones is being recognized for preserving and promoting African-American history, particularly to young people. Winnie Voytko is an expert seamstress who has worked with the Johnstown Concert Ballet, while her daughter is being recognized for her achievements in the performing arts. Congratulations to all.

Laurel: LaRod Stephens-Howling has always faced doubters who said the 5-foot-7 Greater Johnstown High School graduate was too small to play in the National Football League. The fourth-year pro has already proven those skeptics wrong, but many more wondered if the former Pitt Panther could ever be a featured back in the league. Stephens-Howling did his best to answer those critics in the Arizona Cardinals’ 21-14 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, as he carried 20 times for a career-high 104 yards and a touchdown.

Barb: Penn State is ranked first nationally in a new report by the College Board, but it’s not anything the school will be bragging about. The University Park campus is the country’s most expensive four-year public university for in-state students, according to the report. Tuition and fees for Penn State’s current students cost $17,200, which is part of the reason that the state fared poorly as a whole. Pennsylvania had the fourth-highest in-state tuition in the nation.

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