The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 16, 2013

County gives thanks for its first responders

JOHNSTOWN — The men and women charged with protecting the public from crimes, fires and other emergencies were honored Thursday at the Richland Township fire hall.

About 40 members of local police departments, fire companies and EMS units attended the Bless The Badge Breakfast.

The prayer breakfast has been held for several years to pay tribute to local police, firefighters and EMS personnel who risk their lives protecting the residents of Cambria County.

“So many times in law enforcement we get together under bad circumstances,” District Attorney Kelly Callihan said. “It’s nice to have an event where we come together in peace and to bless those of you who do such a hard job.”

Callihan acknowledged that the work of first responders is becoming more dangerous.

“Anyone who picks up the paper on a daily basis can see we are not exempt from what’s going on around the country,” she said. “This year alone we had a suicide car bomb (and) a direct calculated attack on a local police department by an individual who had been arrested.

“We have too many felons possessing guns,” Callihan said. “I do recognize the role of all first responders, fire, EMS, police. The spirt of working together spills through you.”

The battle for law enforcement is never ending, said state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont.

“Sometimes we have a tendency to forget there’s a battle every single day,” he said.

“The firefighters save lives and save property. For the police officers, every single time they get in the automobile or motorcycle or walk a beat, (they) are taking a calculated risk of (their) own life.”

State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Johns-­town, chairman of the Johnstown Drug and Violent Crimes Commission, said community involvement is needed to help law enforcement.

“We’re here to say thank you and to tell the community we need everybody pulling together with both oars in the water, rowing in the same direction,” he said.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Jackson, and Richland Supervisor Wayne Langerholc Jr. also expressed their gratitude. A representative of U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, also attended.

The prayer breakfast was welcome, state police Sgt. Joe Loughran said.

“This is an instance where we can get together and celebrate what we do,” Loughran said. “To get everybody together under a circumstance of brotherhood is very important.”

Geistown police Chief Nicholas Zakucia added: ”It’s sometimes odd we don’t get thanked very often, but we do we appreciate it.”

The Rev. John Brownlee of Westmont Baptist Church offered the blessing.

The breakfast was sponsored by Cambria County Crimestoppers, Wozniak and Burns.

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