George Hancock

Our year 2019 continues on. Time maintains its steady pace. A wise person respects time’s force. The reason is simple. Time waits for no one.

July 1 dawned on a Monday this year. We reached day 182. 

There were a mere 183 days left in 2019. Please schedule your activities carefully.

Several recent roadside sights were perplexing. Maybe I should rephrase that comment. 

My sight was blocked by all that fast-growing roadside grass. The high grass along the Berwick Road is unreal. 

This grass has created dangerous driving conditions. 

Motorists are driving in the middle of this road to avoid this grass. Pedestrians and animals are hidden by this vegetation.

The Berwick Road/Wissinger Road intersection is a dangerous spot at this writing. The grass was not cut here this year. A motorist cannot safely see left or right at the stop sign. One has to pull his or her entire car into the intersection for full visibility.

State Route 160 from Windber Rec Park to Elton also sports high roadside grass. This is a very unusual sight for state-maintained highways.

Once again, I’ll ask why local municipalities or the state are tasked with cutting this high grass without remuneration. Richland Township does an excellent job cutting grass, but the township is not the property owner. The young Scalp Level Borough crew faces a daunting roadside grass cut. The grass is growing high and fast. Many work hours are spent cutting that thriving grass. It’s time for local municipalities to bill the landowners for these grass-cutting chores.

Our unusual warm, wet weather has created superb grass-growing conditions. My hedges love this weather. They flourish well these days. However, this excessive roadside growth needs addressed.

A recent WJAC news report highlighted Greater Johnstown’s June rain totals. This rainfall was measured at the official airport weather station. Our June rainfall totals are impressive.

June 2015 had the highest monthly rain total at 12 inches. June 2017 had 7.8 inches, while 2018 totaled 7.5 inches of rain. Our 2019 June rainfall could be the lowest amount at 4.2 inches. Yet, even that lower total is above the monthly average.

• • •

Dorothy in that classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” uttered some famous words. 

Dorothy said, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” 

These days, we can change Dorothy’s line to gators and snakes, oh my!

I can honestly say I never encountered an alligator on my daily run. I do run near the Little Paint Creek. But so far, gator encounters are missing from my running resume. 

Hmm, and that is an OK omission, too.

However, others in the region are experiencing gator adventures. Some decent-sized gators were captured recently. I checked, alligators are not native to western Pennsylvania.

Did you hear about the 73-year old lady from Falls, Wyoming County who killed a 5-foot cobra on her patio? 

Cobras also are not native to Pennsylvania. Seriously, what valid reason do individuals have for owning these dangerous creatures?

I occasionally encounter snakes on my running journeys. The copperheads were all road kills. But, I have trotted near some decent-sized black snakes and barn snakes. 

I yield the right of way to these slithering critters.

• • •

Our region recently received outstanding news. My old second home, Pitt-Johnstown, became the first Pennsylvania campus to be designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International. 

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is only the eighth overall university to receive this designation.

I’m very cognizant of the scenic beauty found on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. My entire 46 road-running years trekked near campus grounds. 

I graduated from here in 1975. I also worked on campus for 23 years, retiring in 2016.

Dave Finney, the campus supervisor of grounds, spearheaded the effort to obtain this well-deserved Audubon designation. Finney was quick to state the Audubon status was a team effort by the campus faculty, staff and administration. 

Dr. Jem Spectar and the entire Pitt-Johnstown community earned this historic Audubon designation.

A run across campus grounds during the four seasons is eye pleasing. Now we all smile during our sojourns realizing Pitt-Johnstown’s seasonal beauty is recognized by Audubon International. 

Well done, all!


George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.