The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 23, 2013

Windber adding police: Borough opts out of regional force

WINDBER — Windber Borough has brought back its police force – at least on paper.

With Paint Township, its current police provider, still dealing with uncertain financial times and a state-led regional police study still unfinished, borough officials voted Tuesday to reinstate their police department, effective Jan. 1 – and then took steps to get officers back on the streets next year.

Borough officials, noting budget time is approaching, described it as a “must-make” move to ensure residents will continue to have 24-7 police protection next year.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Councilman Jim Spinos said. “But we had to have a plan in place for our residents’ sake.”

A half-dozen Paint Township officers watched in silence as council made the unanimous vote. Council followed with a second vote permitting Borough Manager Fred Oliveros to fast-track steps needed to get the department rolling by seeking patrol cars, office supplies and other equipment, as well as a police station to house it all.

Through an agreement that put Windber under Paint Township’s watch more than three years ago, police equipment, including police cars the borough contributed, would return to Windber next year.

But Oliveros noted much of the equipment is worn. And Windber’s old cruisers are well past their prime, he added.

“We know we’re going to need a couple of police cars. Uniforms, probably – stuff like that,” Oliveros said.

He said the borough is negotiating on a lease for a property in a centrally located part of town near the 12th Street exit. He said the borough started planning for the possibility of reforming its force last year when Paint Township nearly shut down its own because of a cash shortfall.

“Tonight,” Oliveros said, “was just taking the next step.”

Borough officials quickly noted that they aren’t backing out of the ongoing police study that involves all the communities Paint Township now covers, plus Shade Township.

And both Oliveros and Spinos noted they still see a regional force as “the way to go” but said Windber simply couldn’t wait for study results any longer.

Paint Township Supervisor Joe Huff said he was glad to hear Windber council members say they were still on board with the study.  

He said that he understood Windber has a tough decision to make.

“I’m not surprised. We’re doing our own number-crunching, too,” said Huff, noting the township is still not sure if it will provide coverage to communities outside its borders next year. “This lets us know which direction they are headed, and now we can start making our own decisions.”

Until Dec. 31, the Paint Township force will continue patrolling Windber and neighboring communities as it has, Huff and Chief Rick Skiles said.

Skiles said he understood and respected Windber’s decision, however difficult, noting “we all have the taxpayers in mind.”

He said he has concern for his department’s officers, noting a smaller Paint Township force next year and a newly-formed Windber would offer no guarantees they’d all find work.

“It’s a lot of unknowns,” Skiles said. “Unfortunately, for Paint and Windber ... this is a change we had to make right now.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads