Laurel: In the days and weeks since the August blaze that destroyed 31 apartments at Laurel View Village near Davidsville, there has been an outpouring in the community of financial and other support. That assistance received a giant boost this week when Lee Foundation, a subsidiary of Lee Initiatives Inc., donated $20,000 to the rebuilding effort. Our hats are off to foundation Executive Director Larry Olek and the entire Lee Initiatives, which continues to do many wonderful things in our community, including aiding local health- and wellness-related projects.

Barb: What’s with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno? He’s a living legend in college football who has been touted for orchestrating victories on the field while guiding players off the field in making good academic and moral decisions. But lately, player misconduct at Happy Valley has been more frequent. When peppered about off-field concerns this week, the feisty Paterno snapped at sports writers, refusing to fully address the issues. “Can we talk about Wisconsin?” he retorted. Come on, Joe, you’ve done too many things right to stop now. Answer the questions.

Laurel: Area Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have done some pretty amazing things over the years as they’ve completed requirements toward earning the highest awards their respective organizations offer. Add Elizabeth Bausher to the growing list. The junior at Richland Senior High School is working hard on her Gold Award, and the homeless seeking shelter at the Salvation Army facility in downtown Johnstown are benefiting. Elizabeth, with the help of area churches and businesses, is putting together personal-care kits of such things as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, brushes and combs. Her goal is to make a couple hundred basic toiletry packages and possibly set the wheels in motion for an ongoing collection program. Good luck, Elizabeth. We think you’re already an award-winner.

Barb: Former Beaver County Rep. Frank LaGrotta raised eyebrows the other day when he told investigators in Harrisburg that the House Democratic caucus commonly used legislative staffers to perform partisan political work. Under questioning in a separate ethics probe, the Democrat told Attorney General’s Office personnel that at least two caucus employees spent nearly all their time on political campaign duties and performed little or no legislative work – while being paid taxpayer dollars. It sounds as if the investigators have aother probe ahead of them.

Laurel: The Meyersdale Area High School marching band is bowl-bound. The band has been invited to participate in half-time activities at the New Year’s Day Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. The 68 band members will also perform at Disney World while on their week-long trip. Pretty impressive. The bowl game will be televised nationally. We’ll be watching.

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