Autumn’s chill has arrived in Greater Johnstown.

Many lament summer’s passing. Even more pine for a summer that never was. But autumn’s glorious hues offer numerous outdoor adventures.

Autumn’s sights, smells and sounds are incredible. The daily run is ecstatic pleasure.

An autumn run is a colorful thrill.

And then we open the newspaper or watch the news.

The world’s stark realities strike home. We can run but never hide from our rapidly changing world.

-- The news from the Middle East is disturbing. What did the average American do to any of these hellish, diabolic terrorists? We have a small army of terrorists attempting to outdo each other with their murderous acts. Most Americans never heard of these fundamentalist groups who torture and kill without regret.

Local columnist Jim Scofield offered an interesting perspective. Scofield’s Sept. 24 column in The Tribune-Democrat, “Proliferating threats of terrorism, war,” is an interesting read. One wonders, after finishing Scofield’s column, why our government is not examining global epidemics, the drug trade, dwindling food supplies and our bleak weather patterns. These issues also threaten our national security.

-- Pennsylvania is engaged in a contentious gubernatorial election. Candidates Gov. Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf are forging a heated, expensive campaign. Both sides are spending tidy sums. Mud is flowing freely across Pennsylvania.

The daily news reinforces an interesting concept. All politics is local. This truism has sound political clout. Voters tend to vote for candidates or support issues that directly impact their lives.

-- So why the silence when school districts announce plans to renovate or build new schools or athletic facilities?

Folks, the numbers are against us. Time after time we read about Greater Johnstown’s declining population.

The population peaked for most local communities in the 1930s. Yet, our school districts continue to build beautiful facilities for a dwindling population base.

We need a new requirement before these projects get underway. Consolidating school districts or even establishing a countywide school system must be thoroughly studied, explored and evaluated.

Public input is crucial.

Well-publicized town-hall meetings are a necessary factor in this decision-making process. Why build a new structure when a similar facility exists several miles away?

It’s time to shed our parochial interests. Consolidating school districts is a wise move. Duplication of buildings and athletic facilities is a waste of our limited resources.

-- What can one say about the National Football League?

The NFL is all about the money. The extended football season, overpriced tickets, pricey stadium food and beverages and expensive team merchandise are rampant across the league. Football fans are expected to pay this price and support their team.

The boorish NFL player’s behavior has frequently dripped to the sewer level.

Domestic violence, drug use and various other criminal activities are common. The NFL, until recently, was very good at protecting, absolving or hiding their player’s errant behavior.

The Ray Rice incident finally sparked fan outrage.

The NFL must correct these dire situations. The solution is simple. An accused player facing charges is immediately suspended without pay. Once convicted, that player receives a lifetime ban. Or, if legal charges are not pursued, the NFL can institute that lifetime ban.

-- My final autumn thought deals with local road racing.

Race directors and race committees, please take note.

Road racing is an athletic event. The sole purpose of road racing is to run quickly from start to finish.

Road racing was hijacked by the charity crowd. Nonprofits and numerous others hold road races with the sole intent of raising funds for their causes.

Entry fees for many local road races have escalated to the $25-to-$50 range. Individuals are holding road races without adequate running knowledge. Race-course volunteers are poorly trained and race participants are at risk.

I no longer compete in the Greater Johnstown YMCA October road races. My YMCA racing involvement dates from 1976 to 2013. I completed 5 marathons, 29 10Ks and three 5Ks.

However, outrageous entry fees and questionable courses will keep me home.

Autumn’s delightful vista beckons. The autumn road offers miles of spectacular fun and runners can run anywhere for free.

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

Trending Video

Recommended for you