The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 19, 2013

JOHN FINNERTY | Lottery plan getting resistance from Dems


HARRISBURG — Coming up: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony about the proposed closing of two state prisons – SCI Cresson and Greensburg on Tuesday.

State officials have argued that the move will save the state $23 million a year and indicated little reason to believe that the plan can be stopped. That has not stopped lawmakers from trying to mobilize community opposition – with Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Patton, urging residents to turn out for a Jan. 31 forum in Johnstown and use a link on his website to protest the closing.

Sen. John Gordner, R-Berwick, is on the judiciary committee and he said there is some precedent to suggest that an announced closing is not always final.

“I remember when Gov. (Robert) Casey announced that the Shamokin Hospital was going to close and (now-retired Rep.) Bob Belfanti said ‘Over my dead body,’ ” Gordner said last week.

The state relinquished control of the hospital, but it remained open and is now operated as part of Geisinger Health System, based in Danville.



Also on Tuesday, there will be a joint hearing of the House Judiciary and Children and Youth committees to examine the report following up on the child protection task force formed in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

John Finnerty works in the CNHI Harrisburg Bureau. He can be reached by email at

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