The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 2, 2013

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: Cambria County Transit Authority will offer free rides on its buses and the Inclined Plane for veterans and active military personnel. The recently enacted initiative will begin Nov. 11, and it stipulates that anyone in uniform or who presents military ID will not have to pay a fee on any of CamTran’s 21 fixed bus routes within Cambria County. CamTran officials said the program is a gesture of thanks for the men and women who help to keep the country safe. What a fantastic show of support for our military.

Laurel: The Accelerated College Education Program at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College just got a shot in the arm with the infusion of $20,000 from Somerset Trust Co. The  ACE Program allows high school students to earn college credits while enrolled in classes at their local high schools. In the 2012-13 academic year, the program served more than 1,600 students in 45 school districts in a 10-county radius. Somerset Trust Co. certainly knows the value of higher education.

Barb: Double-dipping is when state employees retire but return to work on a part-time basis, collecting their pension and a part-time wage. Now enter triple-dipping, when said retirees file for unemployment after they are required to quit their part-time jobs after reaching the 95-day-a-year government-mandated threshold. Staffers for state Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, provided data that claims that triple-dipping cost the state $2.77 million from 2010-12 and some of the worst offenders are in the Department of Labor and Industry, which oversees unemployment compensation rules. Another instance of taxpayers being fleeced.

Laurel: The Salvation Army is relying on the kindness of others to help it get through a daunting holiday season. The organization has sent out pleas for donations of either money or food to help the less fortunate in the region. “If anyone has a turkey or the boss gives them a ham they don’t want, we’ll be glad to take it off their hands,” said Maj. Joseph Pawlowski of the local Salvation Army. A $20 donation will feed five people, and $200 will feed 50, the organization said. Please remember the less fortunate when counting your blessings.

Laurel: Slowly but surely, blighted properties are being eliminated from Johnstown’s landscape. In the past three years, complaints to the city’s Community and Economic Development office have shrunk steadily, from 1,111 in 2011 to about 500 so far this year. Credit code enforcement officers Sam Barber and Leroy Palov for the decline. “(Residents) see that there’s enforcement and realize that something’s going to happen,” said their supervisor, Renee Daly, economic development director. When they learn there’s a bite behind the bark, people seem more inclined to cooperate.

Barb: A Johnstown woman’s bragging about starting a blaze has landed her in hot water. Police allege that Jessica Rene Montgomery of William Penn Avenue drove Jeremy Dick of Parkview Drive and an unidentified juvenile to an old cabin in Lower Yoder Township, where they consumed alcohol and started a fire. Police said they were tipped off to the arson by confidential sources. We’re pleased that there are still some people who know right from wrong.

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