The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

August 17, 2013

Laurels and barbs

— Laurel: Sometimes when government can’t or won’t do the work, it’s up to residents to step in and get the job done. That’s what’s happened with Alex Barron’s fight against blight in Dale Borough. Barron said he has nearly 200 volunteers ready to tackle the problem. That’s great news, especially since the Dale Borough Council is limited in what it can do in that regard. It’s rare that the council can force a property to be sold or transferred, and placing a lien on a property is usually not cost-effective, according to a council statement. And while the council could not help the volunteers led by Barron and Nelson Lowes, Mayor Ray Howard said members were happy with the effort. So are we.

Barb: Somerset County Commissioner Joe Betta has a penchant for making headlines. Unfortunately for the people of America’s County, it rarely has anything to do with how he is helping his constituents. Betta seems more intent on fighting his fellow commissioners than in working with them for the betterment of the county. Betta’s latest stunt came Tuesday, when the Republican told his Democratic counterparts, John Vatavuk and Pamela Tokar-Ickes, that he was going to start recording any meetings with them. When told that conversations cannot be secretly taped nor would a single broad declaration made ahead of time solve the problem, Betta said “I’ll carry a sign around my neck: ‘You’re being taped.’ ” We’re sure his fellow commissioners can think of a few things they’d like to write on a sign and hang around his neck.

Laurel: Have you marked your calendar yet? The Johns-town Symphony Orchestra and the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center have each announced their schedules for the 2013-14 season, and it certainly looks like there’s something for everyone. The Pasquerilla center, which is located on the Pitt-Johnstown campus, features everything from a Broadway musical to ballet to improv theater. Meanwhile, the JSO, which performs at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, also has a varied schedule. In addition to “A Night with Amadeus,” which showcases the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the orchestra will get into the holiday spirit with a “Halloween Spooktacular” and a “Joyful Holiday Celebration.” To cap things off, JSO will celebrate Johnstown’s 125th anniversary as a city.

Barb: Larry Stiles will face an uphill battle in his bid to unseat Rep. Keith Rothfus,   R-Sewickly, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Johnstown Republican did manage to gain some attention this week with his call for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We’re not sure if it was a publicity stunt or Stiles generally does believe that a boycott would somehow help relations with Russia, but we disagree with him either way. A boycott would only hurt the U.S. athletes who have trained for years for what might be their only opportunity at Olympic glory and the sponsors that have spent billions in support of the Olympics. Saying “I don’t like you so I’m going to take my ball and go home” is a completely inappropriate response in this situation.

Laurel: The sports world has finally come to the realization that athletics can be more than fun and games – it can be downright dangerous. No longer is it acceptable to withhold water from the football team because of poor execution. Nor is it OK to tell a player with a head injury to shake it off and get back into the game. Thankfully, those practices began disappearing years ago. Still, we applaud the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association for taking another important step by issuing guidelines to help players get accustomed to the heat that so often accompanies August practices. The new rule allows coaches to get in what they see as much-needed practice time while also making sure the players aren’t doing too much too soon.

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