George Hancock

December arrived on a Sunday morning. 

We found a mere 31 days left in 2019.

December traditionally is filled with numerous holiday events. We motor through the bustling Christmas season to uttering goodbye to year 2019 on Dec. 31.

Dec. 1 began meteorological winter. This weather record keeping timespan runs through Feb. 29. Yet, wintry weather has already hammered huge sections of our country.

Traditionalist mark winter’s beginning on Dec. 21. 

This date is the winter solstice. I appreciate this day for a different reason. Daylight gradually begins to lengthen after the winter solstice. Our dark winter hours shrink. The increased daylight is readily evident during our mid- to late-January days. The winter season is more tolerable with increased light.

December road runs provide ample time to dissect various news stories. And, one can reflect back on those stories that shaped our 2019 days. Sometimes it takes a whole run to analyze current topics. Frequently, news stories defy reasonable analysis. 

One must place them on a shelf and return later for diagnosis.

My intention is to update points raised in previous 2019 columns. Our 24/7 nonstop world provides information faster than most can assimilate. Sadly, a few points raised here still lack answers.

Several months ago, I wrote about a missing Pitt-Johns-

town history book. Two campus professors, James Sheep and Dorathy Pavian, co-authored a book titled either “The History of UPJ” or “The Illustrated History of UPJ.” 

This history book was published by Benshoff Printing for the 50th Pitt-Johnstown anniversary celebration in 1977.

The Advocate student newspaper printed a detailed Sept. 28, 1977, interview with Sheep. He discussed this book in detail. 

The story ends there. 

This book disappeared. 

Extensive research was conducted, seeking more information about this book. That research proved futile. I asked numerous individuals for information. Those avenues proved fruitless.

I was given contact information for Pavian’s daughters. I contacted them. Both checked their records but to no avail. This book remains a mystery.

Weather is another frequent topic in my columns. Weather is a huge factor in our lives. 

Running every day demands one be cognizant of weather trends. No matter how one stands on the current climate change debate, folks must remain weather aware. 

Ignoring weather forecasts is a recipe for disaster.

A recent Associate Press news account about the Paradise, California, wildfire one year later is mind boggling. Eighty-five people died in that fire. Nineteen thousand buildings were destroyed. So far, only 12 homes were rebuilt, with about 500 building permits pending.

The article also states, “In the year since the fire, crews have removed more than 3.66 million tons of debris – twice the amount that was removed from the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” Incredible!

I also speculated about local and state governments, plus insurance companies hesitating when individuals decide to rebuild after a disastrous weather event. Well, another recent AP article detailed flood recovery efforts in Mosby, Missouri. This community suffered through 40 flood events during the past two decades.

There is a volunteer federal buyout program aimed at removing structures in flood-prone regions. The article stated, “When the voluntary buyouts are complete, nearly half of Mosby will be gone, leaving a patchwork of holdout homes and bare lots.” 

This buyout trend is growing across our country.

 Recently Tribune-Democrat reporter Mark Pesto provided us a great overview of proposed road projects in the East Hills region. These projects are in my running corridor. 

I’ve witnessed the issues at ground level. Hopefully, the research into these road issues leads to sensible solutions for all residents.

Richland Township recently announced plans to address storm water issues. Neighborhood flooding is an expensive concern.

Running along or near Richland waterways is surreal during and after rain events. 

These unnamed waterways are raging torrents. Many local streets exhibit those same characteristics.

There is a bright side to these perplexing issues. 

The Christmas season is here. Twinkling festive display lights illuminate our dark December nights. Central Park’s majestic tree is a holiday beacon.

The holiday season from Christmas through New Year’s Day helps reduce Mother Nature’s wintry sting. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


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

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