The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

December 11, 2013

‘A great project’: Workshop nonprofit opens shredding business

SOMERSET — When a local manufacturer closed its doors a few years back, it also cut work for dozens of people employed by a Somerset nonprofit that trains and finds jobs for folks serviced by Bedford-Somerset Mental Health/Mental Retardation.

On Wednesday, some of them were hard at work once again in the former Gilmour location on Industrial Park Road. But this time, they were working on a brand new task: shredding stacks of documents that are packaged for shipment to an Ohio paper mill that recycles them into new products.

“This is a celebration,” workshop director Jackie O’Conner said during a ribbon-cutting at Somerset County Workshop’s new Shred Express facility at the county industrial park.

The nonprofit has spent nearly two years working to get to this point, planning the shredding business, obtaining document-shredding certification and more recently, training those qualified within their workforce of “consumers” to handle paper packaging, weighing and shredding tasks.

“We have about 15 to 20 disabled individuals working here regularly now – some once a week, some five days a week,” O’Conner said, noting they pay staff minimum wage or per bin of paper processed, depending on their job.

Behind her, five workers loaded thin stacks of documents through oversized electronic shredders. The shredded remains travel up a conveyor belt and then drop into a machine that compresses and binds the paper into up to 1,200-pound bales.

The documents are coming to Shred Express from a growing number of companies that need paper shredded, O’Conner said, noting medical and legal paperwork must then have notarized documentation that they were destroyed.

Companies contracting with it to shred and ship the documents pay per pound or per-container rates that enable Somerset Workshop to keep the plant running, she added.

“Our consumers are still learning, but some of them are shredding 150 pounds an hour,” she said.

Commissioner John Vatavuk said he was impressed with the new operation.

“The workshop nonprofit has been through some tough times, by their own admission,” he said. “The fact this is providing new work for people, provides a way to get rid of documents locally and it means recycling – it makes this a great project.”

Somerset County Workshop secured a $140,000 Department of Environmental Protection recycling grant and received a 10 percent match through Somerset MH/MR to get the project off the ground, O’Conner said.

Shred Express is just one of a handful of projects workers handle. Others include doing packaging, labeling and other work for companies like Slinky and Wheeler Bros.

Approximately 90 workers – many referred by Somerset County MH/MR – are employed by the nonprofit, O’Conner said.

“We feel really good about how things are going,” she said.

“Orders keep coming in.  We think we’re going to be a lot busier next year.”

David Hurst is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • amd 31 New filtration system targets mine water

    Orange stones surround a black plastic discharge pipe at the Rock Tunnel abandoned mine drainage site.
    There is a rusty tint to some nearby water and mud, too.
    Soon, though, a new filtration system, consisting of shallow vegetative wetlands, a settling basin, concrete trough, buried limestone and aeration component, is expected to help return those elements back to their natural appearances.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland to weigh speed study

    A group of Theatre Drive residents has convinced Richland Township’s supervisors to look into the costs of a special traffic study weighing whether their residential neighborhood’s current 35 mph speed limit should be reduced.

    July 30, 2014

  • Border battle lingers: Adams Twp. wants court to become involved

    Adams Township officials are asking the Cambria County court to once again become involved in its long-running boundary line dispute with Richland Township.

    July 30, 2014

  • FRANK BURNS 31 Officials urge creation of crime watch groups

    State Rep. Frank Burns told the crowd about the night his life changed forever.
    After leaving a AAABA game, the then-16-year-old Burns was surrounded by three males, “dancing” around him like boxers and taunting him.
    They attacked and he was on the ground. He took a powerful kick to the face.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Injured officer back on duty

    Two people were injured in a three-car accident Tuesday evening when a truck failed to yield to a Johnstown police officer who was rushing to assist another patrol car, police said.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimm, Michael Child rapist to report to jail Monday; medical concern cited

    A Johnstown man set to pick a jury today on charges he sexually abused two boys, entered a guilty plea in Cambria County court Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIFT JOHNSTOWN ‘They got it done’: Lift Johnstown recognizes pair for trailhead work

    Rob McCombie and Steve Coy showed up Wednesday at a Path of the Flood Trail spur in East Conemaugh dressed like they were ready to get to work.
    Instead, a group of community advocates were waiting there to thank them for the hard work they’ve already put in.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local News in Brief | Philly man arrested for selling heroin

    July 30, 2014

  • Conemaugh Valley board tackles security, pupils’ instruction time

    The Conemaugh Valley school board on Wednesday agreed to improve security at the high school and increase instructional time and add art classes at the elementary school.

    July 30, 2014

  • Wine tasting, picnic will aid animals

    Briar Valley Winery and Bedford County Humane Society are hosting Yappy Hour 2014 at the vineyard grounds on Stein Road in Everett.

    July 30, 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