The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 24, 2013

Funds sought for USS Somerset celebration

JOHNSTOWN — It will require a lot of money to hold a grand celebration in conjunction with the USS Somerset’s commissioning.

So, a committee recently started a fundraising drive.

The U.S. Navy will cover costs associated with the formal shipboard ceremony that is scheduled to take place on March 1 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. But paying for receptions, plaques for crew members and tokens of appreciation for sponsors is the responsibility of the USS Somerset Commissioning Committee. The organization, consisting of representatives from the Navy League of the United States and Somerset County, wants to collect between $325,000 and $500,000 to cover the expenses.

General plans and goals have been set, but as the committee’s chairman, Thomas R. Metzger, said, “It all depends on how much money we raise.”

Committee members hope to directly get $50,000 from residents, businesses and organizations within Somerset County.

Bob Kirst, president of Somerset-based Global/SFC Valve Corp., has pledged to match the county’s gift, up to the first $10,000.

“It comes from the heart,” said Kirst. “It’s the least we can do.”

Somerset has already been deeply involved in development of the ship that is named in honor of the county where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The bow stem includes steel from a dragline from which an American flag hung near the crash site. Sugar maple trees from along U.S. Route 219 were harvested to be made into flooring. Rooms and hallways will be named after locations in the county and identified with road signs. Global/SFC constructed many of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock’s valves. Valencia McClatchey donated a copy of her photo, “The End of Serenity,” that depicts a smoke plume rising into a clear blue sky minutes after the crash.

“We’ll have some ownership in the ship itself,” said Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk.

The committee expects a large group of Somerset residents will travel to Philadelphia for the ceremony.

“I think it will be special,” said Vatavuk. “It will show that the county is really interested in this and that the people support what the Navy has done for them here. It’s a tribute. It shows that we have a connection to the people that died out there.”

Anybody interested in attending can contact committee member Janet Vatavuk by Nov. 23 at 467-5137 or for more details. Tickets are free, but require a reservation.

Contributions to the fund drive can be made through

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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