The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 16, 2013

Local and state briefs 10/17/2013

Windber man pleads to conspiracy count

A Windber man pleaded guilty in federal court in Johns­town to a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said.

Peter Donato, 30, of the 300 block of Basin Drive, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson.

Donato is accused of conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine from November 2011 through July 2012.

He faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine when he is sentenced on

Feb. 13. Donato remains on bond pending sentencing.

The FBI, state attorney general’s office and drug task force units from Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties conducted the investigation along with police from Roaring Spring and Paint Township.

Woman charged with federal drug violations

A Johnstown woman was indicted by a federal grand jury in Johnstown on charges of violating federal narcotics laws, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said.

The two-count indictment named Rukiya R. Smith, 34, of Fairfield Avenue.

Smith is accused of distributing less than 28 grams of crack cocaine and less than 100 grams of heroin on March 5, and possessing less than 100 grams of heroin on April 24.

If convicted, Smith would face up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Valkovci Jr. is prosecuting the case.

The Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the FBI and the Cambria County Drug Task Force conducted the investigation.

City resident fined $300 for threats

A Johnstown woman was ordered Wednesday to pay a $300 fine after pleading guilty to a summary charge of harassment for making threats at East Side Elementary School, 220 Messenger St.

City police had charged Lisa Ellen Golden, 40, of the 600 block of Menoher Boulevard, with misdemeanor counts of harassment and terroristic threats, but those charges were dropped.

In a criminal complaint, police alleged that Golden had sent a threatening message to the school.

Police said Golden was upset because school officials were threatening to suspend her child.

She appeared before District Judge Leonard Grecek of Roxbury.

Hollsopple driver injured in wreck

A Hollsopple man was injured Tuesday when his sedan apparently struck an International Harvester commercial truck from behind on Route 22 in West Wheatfield Township, state police said.

David Johnson, 56, who was wearing a seatbelt, received minor injuries in the crash but did not need treatment, police said.

Johnson was cited for careless driving, police said.

Workers accused of equipment thefts

Three employees of a construction company have been charged by state police with stealing a piece of equipment and supplies from a construction site on Valley Road in Green Township, Indiana County.

Charged with theft and criminal trespass were Jedry Noble, 29, and Jay Smith Jr., 48, both of Hanover, York County, and Kendall Keith, 26, of Satellite Beach, Fla.

Police said the three took a skid loader and steel pipes from a site where a barn was being built.

Vampire 5K to raise funds for Red Cross

The American Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region will host the seventh annual Vampire 5K to benefit the local Red Cross Keystone Chapter on Saturday at the John P. Murtha Donor Pavilion at 250 Jari Drive in Richland Township.

Registration will begin at 8:15 a.m., and the shotgun start will be at 9.

The event will feature games, activities and costume contests for the entire family.

All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of the Keystone Chapter, which offers disaster relief, preparedness programs, military services and resiliency training in the local community.

Registration is $25 per person.

For more information or to register, visit

Blood screenings set in Hollsopple

The Pentecostals of Greater Johnstown Area, in conjunction with Windber Medical Center, will hold a community blood screening from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Pentecostal church, 184 Veterans St., Hollsopple.

Cost for the screening is $30. PSA and hemoglobin A1C tests also will be offered for $20 each. A 12- to 14-hour fast is recommended.

Free blood pressure and pulmonary lung screening will be available.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 467-3961. Walk-ins are welcome.

Christmas aid applications due

The Salvation Army will take applications for Christmas assistance from 10 a.m. to

2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at the center, 576 Vine St., Johnstown.

Applications will be taken from ZIP codes 15901 through 15909 only.

Proof of all household income and bills will be required, along with Social Security cards and proof of residency.

Information: 539-3110.

Troopers plan bus safety patrols

State police at Ebensburg will be working next week to make sure motorists know the dangers of passing stopped school buses.

During National School Bus Safety Week, troopers will patrol roadways, look for violations by riding on school buses, escort school buses and conduct stationary patrols near school bus stops.

Motorists are reminded that passing a stopped school bus with the red signal lights activated and the side stop-signal arm extended will result in five points being assessed to their driver’s license, a $250 fine and a 60-day suspension of driving privileges.

Researcher to speak on brain injury advances

St. Francis University will present “Win Just One for the Gipper: Advances Toward Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the DiSepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness on the Loretto campus.

A Notre Dame University researcher and professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department, Mayland Chang, will present information on emerging approaches, including technology being developed at Notre Dame, detailing how additional cellular damage can be avoided following traumatic brain injuries.

The event is free and open to the public and will be presented by the Notre Dame Club of Central Pennsylvania in conjunction with St. Francis.

For more information, contact Rita Trofino by emailing or calling 472-3027.

Asperger-autism skills class forming

A social skills group, St. Francis CARES (Children with Autism Receiving Emotional and Social Training), will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays beginning next week through Nov. 19 at St. Francis University in Loretto.

The class is open to children ages 9 to 11 who have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism, or those with similar characteristics who are having difficulty interacting with friends, understanding emotions or communicating effectively with others.

The class will focus on conversation skills and will be instructed by St. Francis students in the education program who will be supervised by an education department faculty member.

The class is free, and space is limited to eight students.

Students must be preregistered to participate.

Registration: 472-2875.

Penn Highlands offers open house events

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College has scheduled a series of fall open houses for prospective students.

They include:

• 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 24 and Nov. 21 at the Ebensburg Center, 881 Hills Plaza Drive, Suite 450; 471-0010.

• 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 28 and Dec. 9 at the Somerset Center, 315 Georgian Place; 443-2500.

• 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Blair Center, lower level next to Macy’s in the Logan Valley Mall, Altoona; 201-2700.

• 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Huntingdon Center, 6311 Margy Drive; 643-6200.

Information will be provided about the educational possibilities offered, including degree programs, transfer options and opportunities for continuing education. Information on student life, including clubs and activities, also will be presented.

Pa. leads nation in deer-vehicle crashes

Drivers are navigating into the peak season for deer-vehicle crashes, a category in which Pennsylvania leads the nation.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday that a study by State Farm put the state’s total at about 120,000 for the 12 months that ended in June 2012.

The study says the average claim was about $3,400, which means the antlered ruminants do hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Michigan has the second-most such crashes, at 87,000, the study says.

Drivers in West Virginia are most likely to hit a deer, a 1 in 38 chance. The odds in Pennsylvania are 1 in 73.

The peak season runs from now into mid-December.

Drivers are advised to slow down, use high beams when possible and be careful around dawn and dusk.

Fayette County OKs new $31 million jail

The Fayette County commissioners have voted 2-1 to build a $31 million, 480-bed jail to replace an overcrowded, 124-year-old facility.

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink opposed the plan Tuesday, saying she doubts a new jail is the most cost-effective way to address the county’s problems.

But commissioners Al Ambrosini and Vincent Zapotosky say a feasibility study shows a new jail is cheaper than expanding or renovating the current jail or continuing to pay other counties to house Fayette’s overflowing inmate population.

The jail had 246 inmates at the end of September and was paying to board 77 others outside the county.

County Controller Sean Lally has warned that could cost the county more than $1 million this year, though Zimmerlink said such costs have been well under $700,000 annually in recent years.


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