The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 1, 2011

Top 10 New Year’s predictions for 2011

Zachary Hubbard

— Wow! I barely got the fall leaves raked up this year before our beautiful region was covered with a deep blanket of snow.

Winter is upon us, and so is a new year. So, in keeping with my perfect record as the pre-eminent, prescient prognosticator of Pennsylvania, I give you my Top 10 New Year’s predictions for 2011.

10. The Johnstown City Council meetings go national on cable TV. The “smackdowns” top the viewer ratings and draw an Emmy nomination for best reality show.

9. A local politician succeeds in obtaining a gambling casino license

for Johnstown. Only a few days before the scheduled opening, the whole thing vanishes in a giant sinkhole. Taxpayers get soaked because the builder failed to purchase mine subsidence insurance.

8. The national ethanol craze winds down and corn prices plummet as the market becomes glutted with the grain. An entrepreneur from Kentucky saves the day for the area’s corn farmers by opening a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Cambria City. Even though the economy remains weak, most Cambria City folks don’t seem to mind anymore.

7. In a move to reduce American obesity under ObamaCare, the president issues an executive order outlawing potato chips. The same Kentucky entrepreneur (see No. 8) bails out local potato farmers by building a vodka distillery in Ebensburg. Folks in Ebensburg seem even happier than those in Cambria City.

6. All Point Stadium events are canceled for the year. The turf is plowed under to plant corn and potatoes.

5. In a sly legal maneuver, Richland Township annexes the city of Johnstown. Two days later they give it back after realizing they can’t afford to pay for the sewer upgrades.

4. Over a series of several nights, most of the vacant, blighted buildings in Johnstown mysteriously blow up. A radical group calling itself the Blight Elimination Bureau of Pennsylvania (BEBOP) claims responsibility. The blasts are music to the ears of local citizens. The city police don’t investigate.

3. In a local referendum, Cambria County voters overwhelmingly approve creating their own time zone, exactly one hour behind the rest

of the state. The new zone will make it easier to stay awake for those late night Steelers and Penguins games. Nobody stays awake for the Pirates!

2. In an effort to clean up his soiled image, Ben Roethlisberger moves into a small house on a quiet street in Johnstown. Neighbors run Big Ben out of town after he endorses a plan to hold the national pole dancing championships at the War Memorial Arena.

... and my No. 1 prediction is:

1. Economic troubles may linger on, but living in America will still top living anywhere else on Earth!

May God bless our beautiful region and its wonderful people in the coming year!

Zachary Hubbard is a freelance writer residing in Upper Yoder Township. He is a member of The Tribune-Democrat Reader Advisory Committee.