Laurel: What a great idea to hire a regional coordinator for communities along the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail. Somerset County officials have filed an application for funding that emulates the success of the Main Street manager program. A regional coordinator could help communities and businesses along the trail coordinate promotions and communications, and could offer consistent marketing messages and strategies. About 42 miles of the trail, which runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., cut through southern Somerset County, and hundreds of thousands of hikers and bikers use the trail on an annual basis. Any opportunity to capitalize on that number of tourists should be seized.

Laurel: Hats off to the Johnstown Police Department for its persistence in eliminating an after-hours club in Coopersdale. The club did not have a liquor license and thus was not subject to PLCB laws. Patrons at times were unruly, disruptive and disorderly. Police were called repeatedly because of excessive noise and occasional fights. The club was open from 2:30 a.m. until daybreak, much to the dismay of neighbors. But the city police many times hit the club’s owner with fines and costs for violating the city cabaret law, and finally the owner gave up and closed Chocolate City for good.

Barb: The costs for Point Stadium renovations have gone up again – to more than $11 million. High construction bids and unexpected foundation deterioration cost taxpayers $1.8 million and no one even blinked an eye. City officials said the work has to be done and intend to use proceeds from the sale of the sewage-treatment plant to pay for the overage. Artificial turf won’t be installed until at least 2007, and council members still say the stadium will be ready for August’s AAABA Tournament – but with grass. Let’s hope officials can keep their promise to the AAABA, but it is probably wise to have a backup plan.

Laurel: To his credit, Acting City Manager Curt Davis has proposed an excellent solution to the unpopular licensing fee imposed by the city on transient businesses, such as crafters. So many people objected to a $25-per-show fee on craft vendors, that the fee was changed to an annual charge. But Davis has proposed charging craft-show hosts a $500 fee per event for gatherings of 60 or fewer crafters. Larger shows or individual sellers would still pay the $25-per-year fee.

Laurel: Three cheers for new Berlin mayor, Rusty Ebersole. Ebersole lifted the police gag rule that prohibited the police from releasing information to the public without an OK from the mayor. Last week, the police asked the public for help in finding store burglars. Community involvement helps enormously in apprehending criminals and keeping neighborhoods safe, and open communication is the foundation for community involvement.

Laurel: A new program in Cambria County Juvenile Court allows offenders to work off their fines on community-service projects. The goal of the Accountability Enhancement effort is to teach juvenile offenders how their crimes affect victims and the communities, and to help financially struggling families pay restitution in service hours, not dollars. Juveniles have been supervised at projects that benefited the Salvation Army, YWCA and Adopt-A-Highway, and this summer, juveniles will work at community gardens in Kernville and Ebensburg. The harvests will go to aid the Salvation Army.

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