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The ides of March

Saturday, March 15 2003


Old News: the great floods of 1936
Nanty Glo's mystery fighter, Johnny Paycheck
Most of the former Heisley miners in photo identified
Cambria steel titan Charles M. Schwab 
Someone Looking for You? | Births | Deaths

David Caldwell's weekly roundup
of news affecting Blacklick Valley

Closing final

Apparently, the last down in a roller coaster ride filled with emotional ups and downs for local Kmart employees and loyal customers came yesterday when the store announced from its Troy, Michigan headquarters that in spite of thousands of petition signatures and telephone calls the Kmart store located in the former Richland Mall will close on May 11 as previously announced. Store officials noted that a court ruling against their petition to be part of the new developers' plan for the site was thrown out. Customers loyal to Kmart will now have to travel to Altoona or Indiana to shop. The company told the 95 employees that they could apply for jobs at other Kmart stores. Not many employees see that as an option since the two closest stores have only part-time positions available.

Hospital competition

With Lee Regional Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center available to local residents, the medical care available to Cambria and surrounding counties is equivalent to that of many large cities. Although, these two institutions offer patients choices of doctors, according to a series of articles in the Tribune-Democrat this week, the competition isn't necessarily a good thing for the patients or the region. Duplication of services and the high cost of medical machines and procedures drive up the cost of health care and insurance. To make the machines pay for themselves they have to be used so there is always the temptation for doctors to order unnecessary tests, especially since many doctors now are actually employees of the hospitals. Until 1996, Pennsylvania had a policy called Certificate of Need whereby a local hospital would have to prove a need before expanding or purchasing costly medical equipment. The policy was abandoned in 1996 because it was fraught with too many political pitfalls. Since then, the two hospitals in Johnstown have been engaged in a desperate competition to out-do one another. This has brought excellent medical facilities and care to the region but the thrust of the articles is that this excellent care has come at a much higher cost than would have been incurred had the hospitals cooperated and eliminated duplicate services.

This week

The weather for the Blacklick Valley began this week with cold mornings with single digit temperatures that rose into the 40s on Wednesday and promises of even higher temperatures for the weekend. Sunday may get up to 60 degrees or higher. Another positive note this week was a drop in the price of gas at Sheetz from a mid week high of $1.65 to $1.59 yesterday. High gas prices are a concern to everyone who travels any distance but is of special concern to those whose mileage reimbursement when they use their vehicle for employment is a fixed figure. Each price increase in the cost of gas becomes a decrease in pay.

The Irish tarpits

Barty was trapped in a bog and seemed a goner when Big Mick O'Reilly wandered by. "Help!" Barty shouted, "Oi'm sinkin'!" Don't worry," assured Mick. "Next to the Strong Muldoon, Oi'm the strongest man in Erin, and Oi'll pull ye right out o' there." Mick leaned out and grabbed Barty's hand and pulled and pulled to no avail. After two more unsuccessful attempts, Mick said to Barty, "Shure, an' Oi can't do it. The Strong Muldoon could do it alone, mebbe, but Oi'll have to get some help." As Mick was leaving, Barty called "Mick! Mick! D'ye think it will help if Oi pull me feet out of the stirrups?

Lenten Thought for today

God's call (an account of how Patrick was called to return to Ireland as a missionary after having been a slave there in his youth)

I was in Britain with my people.... And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were, "The voice of the Irish," and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice—they were those beside the Wood of Foclut, which is near the Western Sea—and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: "We ask you, boy, come and walk among us once more." And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up.

Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry. And another night—whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God knoweth—they called me most unmistakably with words that I heard but could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke thus: "He who has laid down His life for you, is He who speaks in you." And so I awoke full of joy. And again I saw Him praying in me, and I was as it were within my body, and I heard Him above me, that is, over the inward man, and there He prayed mightily with groanings. And all the time I was astonished, and wondered, and thought with myself who it could be that prayed in me.

But at the end of the prayer He spoke, saying that He was the Spirit; and so I awoke, and remembered the Apostle's saying: "The Spirit helps the infirmities of our prayer. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asks for us with unspeakable groanings, which cannot be expressed in words," and again: "The Lord our advocate asks for us."

—St. Patrick, c. 385-461, Confession

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