The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 13, 2013

Local and state briefs 9/14/2013

Vehicle damages REA substation

Officials of REA Energy Cooperative Inc. are investigating a vehicle crash that damaged the co-op’s Belsano substation on Thursday.

REA released a statement Friday saying consumers may have noticed a momentary service interruption.

Consumers served by the substation are receiving power supplied by the Strongstown substation until further notice, the statement said.

REA Energy is a full-service distribution electric cooperative serving more than 22,000 members in Cambria, Blair, Indiana, Westmoreland, Clearfield, Jefferson and Armstrong counties.

An REA spokesperson was unavailable Friday night.

Police: Woman stole from soccer boosters

A Blair County woman is accused of stealing $1,934.32 from a soccer club.

State police in Hollidaysburg charged Joanna Lynn Bartek, 38, of Roaring Spring, with two counts of forgery and one count of theft.

Troopers said Bartek forged someone’s name on two checks for the Dragons Soccer Club Boosters of Roaring Spring.

She will appear in court at a later date.

Blood drive supports cancer awareness

The American Red Cross and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are partnering on a blood drive in support of Blood Cancer Awareness Month and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The drive will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Richland Township fire hall on Scalp Avenue.

For each person who donates at the drive, the Red Cross will contribute $1 in support of the organization’s team in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s local Light the Night Walk that will be held Oct. 5 at Pitt-Johnstown.

For more information, call (800) 733-2767 or visit

Man who shot girlfriend released

An Indiana County man who admitted shooting his former girlfriend with a 12-gauge shotgun has been released from jail after a judge accepted his insanity plea.

John Reome, 43, of Commodore, was found not guilty by reason of insanity during a nonjury trial Thursday before Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco. Psychiatrists agreed the defendant was insane at the time of the January 2012 shooting.

Reome told the judge that his parents intend to take him to Florida for mental health treatment.

District Attorney Pat Dougherty said legislators need to revisit the mental health laws that allowed Reome’s release.

Reome admitted he shot 40-year-old Billie Jo Varner as she walked into the home she had shared with him. She recovered, but says she still suffers chronic pain.

Black airmen honored at Pittsburgh airport

Western Pennsylvania men who served in an all-black World War II unit have been honored with the Tuskegee Airmen Recognition Exhibit at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The Pittsburgh region is believed to be home to roughly 100 men who served in the 332nd Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The group of more than 900 pilots trained at Tuskegee institute in Alabama, and about a third of those pilots escorted bombers in the war’s European theater, disproving the notion that black pilots were inferior to whites.

Thursday’s ceremony marked a week of celebrations that will also include the play “Black Angels Over Tuskegee,” which debuts today at Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater, and a memorial dedication to Tuskegee Airmen in the city’s Sewickley Cemetery on Sunday.

Suburb nixes law on keeping chickens

The commissioners of a Westmoreland County bedroom community have rejected a push by some residents to allow them to raise small flocks of chickens in the backyards of their suburban lots.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the North Huntingdon commissioners nixed the idea 5-1 Thursday night.

Gayleen Fisher argued against the measure, saying having “backyard chickens is regression. This is a progressive community with average-sized suburban lots.”

But supporters say raising chickens in urban and suburban areas is a trendy, smart and progressive idea that’s becoming increasingly popular.

Tiffany Alchof supported the ordinance and said, “Chickens are much quieter than dogs, kids, lawnmowers, motorcycles and the Norwin Band” – the local high school’s marching unit.

The commissioners voted against the ordinance largely due to constituent complaints and concerns about enforcing the measure.

Mom gets 14-50 years for abusing twins

A Washington County mother accused of locking up her 6-year-old twins and nearly starv­ing them has been sentenced to 14 to 50 years in prison.

Judge Katherine Emery said Friday that the case of 26-year-old Roxanne Taylor of New Eagle is one of the worst that she’s presided over.

Prosecutors charged Taylor with aggravated assault, child endangerment and other crimes after one of the malnourished children was found wandering outside wearing only a shirt and a filthy diaper on a cold morning in February 2012.

Taylor said she has worked on her GED classes in jail and hopes one day to contribute to society and get a job.

The children’s father, Edward Buckholz, is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Decision expected on fate of ferry

Local officials are expected to decide next week whether to sell a Monongahela River ferryboat following suspension of service two weeks ago due to financial concerns.

The ferryboat Frederick was propelled along a steel cable between Fredericktown in Washington County and East Fredericktown in Fayette County. Service was suspended due to dwindling ridership and increased operational costs.