The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

October 20, 2013

Person of the Week: Burning desire: Richland firefighter reconstructs salute to Old Glory

JOHNSTOWN — A broken flagpole at the Richland Township Fire Department once again is proudly flying the American flag thanks to one of the department’s firefighters.

Dennis Rager, a 54-year-veteran of the department, completed a project this summer to reinstall the flagpole.

The flagpole, located beside the fire hall, was knocked down two years ago by a vehicle that was backing up.

The department has plans to build another bay at the site of the flagpole but the project is on hold until funding becomes available, he said.

The project also would include the installation of a flag plaza in front of the building, Rager said. The plaza would contain three flagpoles, one for the American flag, one for the state flag and one for the firefighter flag.

“If you go up and down the street (Scalp Avenue), you see numerous flags flying, and ours wasn’t there,” he said.

“So I took matters into my own hands, and there she flies.”

Rager said as soon as he started to dig a hole for the flagpole, a number of other firefighters came to help.

“We dug a hole, got the cement and put a pipe into the ground,” he said. “A couple of days later, we slid the flagpole into the pipe.”

Rager said they were able to use the broken flagpole by merely cutting off the damaged section.

A township resident then donated a new flag for the flagpole, he said.

The retired truck driver enjoys serving with the fire department.

“I just love helping people in need,” said Rager, who has been responding to emergencies for 54 years. “When people need help, we are there to serve them.”

All the men and women at the fire department are dedicated, he said.

For his efforts at the fire department, Rager is the Person of the Week.

Dave Barker, a former assistant chief of the department, is glad Old Glory is flying again at the fire station.

“I work near the fire station,” he said. “With the flag being gone for a couple of years, there was a hole.

“I’m just grateful and proud knowing that the man who stepped up to the plate saw the need to get the job done.”

Barker said he joined the department in 1969 and that Rager already had been there for several years.

“Back in those days, he was one of the men I admired, looked up to, and patterned myself after while learning to become a firefighter,” he said.

“I put in a number of years as a firefighter and then stepped aside. But Rager was there before me and is still going long after I left.

“You can’t say enough about a man who has put that many years into the fire department.”

Wes Meyers, Richland deputy fire chief, said Rager did a fine job on the project.

The American flag means a lot to the fire department, he said. The department had been wanting to reinstall the flagpole, but one thing or another always held up the project, he said.

“Denny decided to tackle the project and get the flag flying again,” he said.

He also said that Rager has always been a fine firefighter.

“He’s conscientious and always wants to help in any way that he can,” he said.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers. To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/17/2014

    April 16, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads