The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breaking News

Latest News

March 27, 2014

Judge sets value of Flight 93 crash site

— A federal judge agreed with a federally appointed commission’s $1.5 million appraisal of Flight 93’s ground zero – a swath of Shanksville area strip mine land-turned sacred ground.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose’s ruling comes after years of legal debate over what is now the Flight 93 National Memorial land and its value.

The land’s former owner, Michael Svonavec, argued the 275-acre property was worth $23 million. He has maintained he had plans to establish a memorial and museum on the land before the government used eminent domain to take control of the site.

The decision sets the value of the land at nearly $1 million more than the $611,000 Svonavec was paid in 2009 after negotiations between the two sides failed. But it is also far below the $23 million he argued it was worth.

In agreeing with the commission, Ambrose rejected arguments by both parties that were filed in recent months, arguing different values, The Associated Press reported.

The three-person commission was appointed to determine the site’s fair market value at the time the government took it – before its development into a permanent memorial site. The commission used figures and estimates to determine the then-minimally developed site would draw about 136,000 people annually who were willing to pay a $3 admission fee.

Considering that revenue, minus development costs and operating expenses, the commission determined someone on the open market would have been willing to pay about $1,535,000 for it.

Ambrose agreed.

It is not known whether Svonavec will  appeal the ruling. The Somerset area man and his attorney, Vincent J. Barbera, did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The permanent memorial site remains a work in progress, but lured 317,926 visitors in 2012 alone, according to the National Park Service, which operates and maintains the site.

Its visitors center is scheduled for completion next year.

David Hurst is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him at www.twitter. com/tddavidhurst

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Smaller payout to seniors urged

    State Lottery officials say less means more for seniors.

    July 29, 2014

  • Portage ambulance aid will add portable CPR device, other tools

    Federal funding awarded to Portage Area Ambulance Association will soon put “a third man” alongside their two-person crews when emergencies occur, ambulance operations manager Edward Nelson said.

    July 29, 2014

  • paint_twp building Paint Township considers offering part of building for rent

    Four years after Paint Township built an addition at the Basin Drive building to house its growing police department, much of the new space likely will be offered for rent this fall because the township supervisors say it's no longer needed.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old Rockwood hotel will soon be history

    The historic – but dilapidated – Merchants Hotel in Rockwood is expected to be razed soon.
    On Tuesday, Somerset County’s three commissioners unanimously agreed to a demolition plan for the building, which was constructed in the 1880s. The arrangement calls for a private citizen, William Nair, to tear down the structure at 703 Main St. in exchange for being allowed to keep any salvageable materials.

    July 29, 2014

  • ATV blast ready to roll at Rock Run

    Organizers are keeping the spirit of the Fisher’s ATV Reunion at Rock Run Recreation Area alive despite losing the support of the award-winning Outdoor Channel TV show “Fisher’s ATV World.” Now called the Rock Run ATV Summer Blast, the event will continue to offer demonstration rides, motor competitions, product vendors, live music, camping and trail riding.

    July 29, 2014

  • Culvert 1 Preservationists use age-old method at historic site

    Preservation work on two historic culverts associated with the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site has been completed. The culverts were reconstructed using a variety of techniques, including dry stone masonry, which was used to build the culverts more than 180 years ago.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 7/30/2014

    July 29, 2014

  • Report: Local jobless rate up in June

    A report released Tuesday by the Department of Labor and Industry showed an increase in unemployment locally from 6.4 to 7.1 percent in June.

    July 29, 2014

  • Detroit dealer admits role in Johnstown heroin ring, could face life in prison

    For more than a year, Kenneth “Kane” Carter ran his drug ring like a fine-tuned business, federal prosecutors said following his 2012 indictment.

    July 29, 2014

  • Police: Women stole thousands from elderly sisters, used money to show St. Bernards

    Two western Pennsylvania women have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from two elderly sisters and using the money to attend dog shows.

    July 29, 2014


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.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads