The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

News

January 16, 2013

Cresson faces reality of closing

SANKERTOWN — SCI-Cresson corrections officer Chris Sweet is preparing to take a transfer to SCI-Benner, meaning he’ll pay $900 a month for gas and be on the road four hours a day.

But Sweet, a 15-year veteran at Cresson, and his wife, Beth, said the inconvenience will be only until they can sell their Johnstown home and move to Centre County.

“I’ll be driving 190 miles a day,” Chris Sweet said at Wednesday’s standing-room-only meeting called by the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association.

The mostly male, 250 employees were told by union officials to face the hard reality that Cresson is closing and it’s time to look at all of their options.

Despite a state Senate hearing set for next week and a public hearing in Cresson at the end of the month, the Cresson Township facility and all of its 1,500 inmates and 500 employees will be out by June 30, said PSCOA President Roy Pinto said.

“There are only two people in the state that can stop this, and they are (Department of Corrections) Secretary John Wetzel and Gov. (Tom) Corbett,” he said. “History shows we won’t be able to stop the closings, but we’re trying to delay it.”

Along with Cresson, SCI-Greensburg will be closed by the middle of the year, impacting 1,000 inmates and 370 employees

Corrections officials said the moves will save the state $23 million this fiscal year.

The inmates will be sent to SCI-Benner, a recently completed 2,000-bed prison. Some likely will go to SCI-Pine Grove in Indiana County.

Joe Fox of Portage, president of Cresson PSCOA, urged the employees to stick together.

“We’re going to have to work together to get through this. Bad things are happening to everybody,” Fox said.

Despite the hardships at Cresson, things are even worse at Greensburg, Pinto told the group. There are few openings at the two state prisons in Somerset County, and Pine Grove has only about one-third the openings needed to absorb the displaced Greensburg workers.

“I’m going to lose some of those officers and I don’t want to lose any jobs here,” he said.

A grievance has been filed because, Pinto said, DOC did not give timely notice of the closings. But the facilities are closing, he said.

State Rep. Gary Haluska,

D-Patton, announced a “Keep SCI-Cresson Open” campaign on Wednesday.

He is urging the public to let Corbett know what they think of the decision.

Information is available at www.pahouse.com/Haluska.

To read stories in their entirety, visit one of these links:

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

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

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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

  • Denne, Williams & Stanton Records hearing scheduled

    A Cambria County judge will consider complaints filed by two Johnstown residents seeking documents related to the city’s municipal waste water operation at hearing at the end of this month.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Poll

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

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide