The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 7, 2012

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

Submitted by Readers

— 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

Political callers invading my privacy

OK, that is it. My second political phone call and it is only 10:30 a.m. We have been receiving up to eight calls a day. Republicans, Democrats, special-interest groups, and this morning, it was a Pat Boone recording: “Hi, Friend.” I hung up. I am not his friend and I don’t want to hear him pitch his political views to me.

I believe these calls should be in the same class as telemarketers. Why should these callers be able to invade the privacy of my home?

Perhaps this is something that should be explored before the next election.

Carol Edwards


‘Star-Spangled Banner’ has never been better

You’ve never heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed as it was at the premiere recital at Cambria City’s Grand Halle, formerly Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, re-incarnated by the Save Our Steeples project.

Organist Bryan Lohr, after demonstrating the voices of the historic Adam Stein Organ, proceeded to engage them all in an extensive introduction to our national anthem.

Voices responding to full organ in the acoustically magnificent hall would have thrilled even symphony Maestro Istvan Jaray. Some in the audience-chorus were moved to tears.

The program was selected not only to recognize holidays ranging from Halloween to All Souls to Veterans Day, but also to show the sense of saving the early-1900s organ. The response was a long, emotional standing ovation and anticipation of more first Friday recitals.

George Fattman


Letters exposing voters’ history ‘a little creepy’

Recently, I received letters from “Americans for Limited Government” in Fairfax, Va.

The letters show a vote history audit of people in my neighborhood – name, address and whether or not they voted in 2004 and 2008.

The letter promises an updated vote history audit after the election.

I know some of these neighbors but not all of them. Now, however, I not only know their names but precise street addresses and information about their voting habits.

I find this a little creepy.

Jane Oleksak


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