Bill Eggert

I know a lot of people talk about the “brain drain” in Johnstown. People graduate from colleges here or elsewhere, and leave town for opportunities and jobs in other towns.

Some people say there is nothing to do here in Johnstown, so they move to warmer regions.

I think people who say things like that are not looking at the big picture of the Johnstown situation. True, the climate could be much better here in Johnstown.

But to say there is nothing to do is an insult to people who are bringing interesting events to Johnstown, venues such as Venue of Merging Arts and Bottle Works, and organizations such as the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

It’s going to take a while to bring Johnstown back to its former glory years and that will involve thinking outside the box. We have a world-class symphony here in Johnstown and other organizations that are helping to bring Johnstown back. We need to celebrate those venues and groups that we have – and create more.

Hopefully, we will get some new political voices in our government to help bring out city back to where it was many years ago. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Johnstown has been a distressed municipality for way too long. We need new voices to help carry it into the future. People of Johnstown are good people; they deserve better that they have gotten in the past. People of Johnstown are good decent people who deserve more than they are getting.

I want to mention Joe and Chris Carpenter, Blair Murphy, Tom and Diane Venet, the Caldwell family from Young American, Father Pelles and the parishioners of St. Benedict’s, and Deacon Bruce Becker. I also want to mention friends Jim and Patty, Tommy K. and Ronnie K., Rick T., Dave and Barb C., Dave and Sue V., Bernie R., Diane and Diane from the Vault, Bob N., Natalie, Angie, and Dave and Karen.

I also want to thank the doctors and medical staff at Arbutus Park Manor and also the therapists and professionals taking care of me: Brenda, Nicole, Kathy, Susan, Colleen, Rianna, Jane, Lexy, Tammy and Michelle and Mel. So many people to thank. I know I probably missed some folks. For those I’ve missed or forgotten, I apologize.

I have received many letters and inquiries from readers asking how my medical condition is going, so I want to thank everybody for their concern and encouragement these past couple months. Unfortunately, I am not able to write back to folks to thank them individually and can only do so in the newspaper here. I try to keep my stroke-themed columns to a minimum.

My right hand is coming back slowly, but surely. My fine motor skills in my right hand are much better than they were. My right side is still not back yet and it’s hard to walk.

My short-term memory has been poor since the stroke. I can remember things from first grade, but ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I couldn’t tell you. I also have trouble searching for words – which is difficult, being a writer – but eventually they do return to me.

I am walking a little bit with the aid of a walker and the therapists who work with me. I’m not a very patient person. Patience is not one of my virtues.

A lot of people are affected by depression because of the weather outside. Cold, snowy, rainy – and a lot of people suffer what they call Seasonal Affective Disorder or SADs – not getting enough sunlight, which can give people depression.

In one of Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” movies, he made the famous quote: “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

I’m still getting used to my wheelchair, navigating through doorways and other such things. You have to be careful with wheelchairs, especially motorized ones like mine.

About three weeks ago, I fell out of my wheelchair. I dropped my cell phone and I was trying to bend over and pick it up and I lost my balance and I hit the joystick as I tried to grab onto the left arm of the chair and fell out of the wheelchair. Fortunately, I didn’t sustain any injuries. The worst was some bruises and a sore hip.

I wasn’t close to the call bell so I had to yell out for some help. Fortunately, within a minute’s time, there were about 12 people in my room tending to me. It was an embarrassing situation, and even worse it was scary because of what could have happened. But God was on my side and I was able to survive with just a bit of a scare.

Johnstown has a nickname of “The Friendly City,” which it’s had for several decades. I used to think it was kind of a lame nickname, but I really do believe in it now. I have come to appreciate all the friendly people here in Johnstown, even complete strangers.

Hopefully I will be someday be able to thank everyone in person.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident and regular community columnist for The Tribune-Democrat.​ He can be reached at

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