Laurel: The Bedford County Community Fund, an arm of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, announced $24,350 in grants this week for 10 nonprofits. CFA Bedford County Director Dina McGee said local fundraiser efforts will help support the Bedford County Agricultural Society’s restoration of the popular coffee pot attraction, and other local projects.

Barb: The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has admitted violating the Clean Water Act when workers illegally pumped sludge into the Allegheny River between 2010 and 2017, The Associated Press reported. The authority pleaded guilty to federal charges, including falsifying written reports made to the Environmental Protection Agency, and must pay a $500,000 fine.

Laurel: Ebensburg Borough’s water treatment plant was lauded this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for efforts to enhance water clarity, borough Manager Daniel Penatzer said. The Area-Wide Optimization Program award is also affiliated with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators.

Laurel: Organizers cut the ribbon on a new half-mile section of Somerset Lake Trail this week. The $227,000 effort was backed financially by The Somerset Lake Action Committee, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, the Riggs Family Foundation and the Fetterolf Family Foundation. The trail effort is connected to a larger project to enhance the lake bed by 2021. Parks and Trails Director Lindsay Pyle said: “It has been a huge community effort to get this far.”

Laurel: The Christmas Craft & Vendor Shop – a pop-up Christmas-themed craft and toy center featuring 16 local vendors – opened this week at 110 Franklin St., Johnstown, in Cambria County’s Central Park Commons. Among the vendors there: Country Touch, Soap Hollow Soap, Nana’s Sweet Soy, The Amish Store, Home Sew for You, Gary’s Craft Shack, Sarah’s Gourmet Pretzels, Sugar Daddy’s Fudge & Candy, Pelow Wood Crafts, Sechler Sugar Shack, The Home Spun Peddler, Deist’s Crafts, Country Peddles, DD’s Unique Boutique and D3 Surplus. “We’re trying to get people to shop local,” said Judy Cooper, who is in charge of the Christmas Craft & Vendor Shop.

Laurel: We say welcome to new Johnstown Mill Rats manager Parker Lynn, a former California University catcher who is the director of baseball operations at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Lynn hopes to make his Prospect League team “like a PSAC all-star team” – drawing on players from across the state education system. “I’m very fortunate to be able to be the first manager in Mill Rats’ history,” Lynn said.

Barb: Allegheny County Judge Mark Tranquilli, who was accused of making racially insensitive comments, stepped down from the bench a day before he was to face trial for six counts of alleged misconduct. The judge was accused of referring to a Black female juror as “Aunt Jemima.” He was placed on administrative leave in February and was suspended without pay in August.

Laurel: The town of Fox Chapel in western Pennsylvania has decided to remove “squaw” references from street and trail names. Citizens called for the action, saying the term is derogatory toward Native American women. By March, new names will be developed for Old Squaw Trail, Squaw Run Road and Squaw Run Road East, according to WTAE-TV. 

The Tribune-Democrat’s editorial page features this laurels and barbs column looking at positive and negative news from the past week. Readers are encouraged to send suggestions to

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