The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 7, 2012

Readers' Forum 11-7 | Legislators went to bat for Route 219

— The completion of Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale would not have been possible had it not been for the hard work of the area legislators.

In 2008, when the toll-credit debacle was discovered, a meeting was set up in Harrisburg with then-Gov. Ed Rendell to request the state match of 20 percent, which in dollars amounted to $70 million.

At that meeting, the governor tasked Sen. John Wozniak, Sen. Richard Kasunic and then-Rep. Bob Bastian to have the Legislature include the money in a proposed bond issue. Although not completely successful, these three gentlemen were able to secure $35 million to keep the project moving forward.  

Our federal legislators deserve credit as well. The Senate’s toll-credit bill was authored and introduced by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin. It was co-sponsored by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. As a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Casey championed our efforts in the Senate, even setting up a meeting with the N/S Coalition after hours in the Capitol.

Casey went a step further, introducing legislation allowing the remaining Appalachian Development Highway System highways to be 100 percent federally funded. Toomey worked with his colleagues to be sure the language change was included.

In the U.S. House, no one worked harder to get this bill passed than congressmen Mark Critz and Bill Shuster. Both worked tirelessly to have the toll-credit language reversed.

Without the help of these individuals, Route 219 from Meyersdale to Somerset may never have been completed. They all deserve our thanks and continued support.

David Moe

Coordinator, N/S Appalachia Highway Coalition

John Vatavuk

Member, N/S Appalachia Highway Coalition

For Mom, nursing award well-earned

I had the privilege to accompany my mom, Judy Dembowski, to an award ceremony in Pittsburgh this past weekend.

The award is the Cameo of Caring, given to a nursing professional who has been nominated and selected by his or her peers.

In my eyes, my mom has always been the best at everything, especially a nurse. They say children learn what they live and I agree wholeheartedly.

From Mom, I learned caring, compassion, kindness, and her specialty, unconditional love.

Mom has always been the go-to person when family, a friend or even a stranger was given medical news – good or bad. She always makes sure they understand each issue, sometimes explaining horrible news in the softest way, clears up any misconceptions, provides a view of the bigger picture and somehow always finds a way to make you feel a little better even if the news is crappy.

Growing up, I witnessed the respect other nurses and doctors had for her and the award festivities acknowledged and showcased her and 68 others’ commitment to a wonderful profession.

I’ll never forget how excited she was when I came home from school with a gold star on my forehead. So, Mom, here’s one more “award” – a gold star from my heart to yours.

I’m so very proud of your professional accomplishments – even more proud of whom you are as my mom, a wife, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend.

I love you, Mom.

Michelle (Figura) Jefferson

Westminster, Md., formerly of Johnstown

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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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