The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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August 24, 2013

Laurels and barbs

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel: The more, the merrier is an old adage, but it applies to the fledging Arts Coalition of the Alleghenies. Seventeen arts organizations in Cambria, Somerset and Bedford counties currently make up the coalition. Key to the organization’s success was a website with links to each member’s home page and a calendar of events that is filled in by member groups. “People have absolutely expressed surprise at the number of art groups, but more specifically, at the remarkable number of events and opportunities that are available, said Rosemary Pawlowski of Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center. We hope to read of more success by the coalition.

Laurel: Belated birthday wishes to supercentenarian Alda Collins of Somerset. Collins, a resident of The Patriot personal-care home, turned 111 years old last month. She has been verified as the 50th oldest person in the world, 17th in the United States and second in Pennsylvania. She was born when Teddy Roosevelt was president. She was employed as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Somerset County. She lived alone until she was 102, said her son, Jim Collins. Wow, quite a life.

Barb: “Thugs.” That’s how a prosecutor described three teenagers who senselessly gunned down a jogger in Duncan, Okla., because they were bored. The victim was a 22-year-old baseball player from Australia who was in the United States to attend school. The three juveniles, one who has had prior run-ins with the law, could face life in prison if convicted. The prosecutor said one of the teens “thinks it’s all a joke.” You’ll pardon us if we don’t laugh.

Laurel: Allow us to fracture a popular movie phrase: “If you supply it, they will come.” Organizers of the Back to School Bash, which is aimed at underserved youth in the area, anticipated as many as 250 participants. But four times that many showed up. “We hoped for a good turnout, said Melody Tisinger, of Johnstown Area Heritage Association, an event co-organizer with Greater Johnstown School District. “But there were probably 1,000 kids here today.” There was plenty of activities to keep everyone busy, and the giveaways included backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, hockey tickets and snacks. “This really showed us how much of a need there is for this type of thing in our community,” Tisinger said. We couldn’t agree more.

Laurel: Kudos to U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, for tabbing three area retired soldiers with extensive community service backgrounds to his Military and Veterans’ Advisory Board. Selected were Tom Caulfield and Tom Haberkorn of Johnstown and Robert Sembower of Somerset. The panel will work toward solving the VA disability claims backlog and will address veterans’ homelessness, suicide and mental illness issues, and unemployment. Well-deserved honors.

Barb: People hooked on drugs allegedly will do just anything to supplement their habit, including impersonating a public servant. Angela Silver of Johnstown is headed to court, charged with posing as a caseworker from Cambria County Children and Youth Services. Police allege that she entered a home in the Coopersdale section of Johnstown and asked the occupant to hand over her medication, which was a bottle of 10 mg doses of hydrocodone. Police said she admitted to her misdeed. A sad situation.

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