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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
           Wednesday, May 14 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterNews roundup

Since David Caldwell has discontinued his weekend news reports and personal reflection pieces as part of the Postcard Forum lineup, pending finding a replacement or replacements for his slots I will look out for news of interest to valley residents and relay such items in one of my three weekday postcards, also known as Jonal entries. My reports will probably be sporadic (not regular). Being in California, I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of the Valley or the region, so if you learn of something of interest, please send it, or a link to a report about it, along.

Laurel Crest again

The Tribune-Democrat reported on Tuesday that in a "bureaucratic shuffle" Cambria County is now proceeding to sell Laurel Crest, formerly known as the County Home and a generation or two before that, "the poorhouse," to "Upper Yoder Township Authority, an independent board whose members are appointed by the township," and that although not technically the owners any longer, the County will guarantee its budget and continue to oversee its management. A County Commissioner, Kathy Holtzman, was quoted as saying "keeping Laurel Crest under county control 'brings stability back.'...By going through the authority, the county avoids seeking court permission to borrow money for unfunded debts." It will avoid the risk of lowering the county’s bond rating for future bond issues, the paper said, in a paraphrase of Mike Gelles, the Commissioners' (?) chief clerk and finance director.

Other than "an independent board appointed by Upper Yoder Township," there was no indication of what the Authority is or why it would be interested in owning the facility. Upper Yoder, for those of you rusty on your local geography, is one of the lowest townships in Cambria County, actually south and west of Johnstown, Westmont, and below Lower Yoder, remote from the Cambria Township location of Laurel Crest on the Ebensburg-Loretto road. Reportedly, the County will receive $12 million for the facility from the Authority, and spend it improving the nursing home. It will reimburse the Authority at about $700,000 per year over the next 30 years, which commissioners say will put the whole operation back in the black and even profitability.

Meanwhile, Conemaugh Health System, which contracted to buy Laurel Crest from the County, along with its contracted management company, Grane Healthcare, continue to press a suit against the County for allegedly reneging on the deal.

Local First Amendment case

A teacher's aide in Penns Manor Area Elementary School in Clymer, Brenda Nichol, 43, of Glen Campbell, has made national news for a suit she's bringing against the Armstrong-Indiana Counties school system, ARIN, over being suspended for wearing a cross on a chain around her neck, outside her clothing. Her practice violates, in the words of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the state's prohibition of religious garb under the Pennsylvania Public School Code." She is being represented in the two-pronged First Amendment case (involving both its guarantee of freedom of expression and freedom to practice religion) by Vincent McCarthy of the Virginia-based American Center for Law and Justice, a religious rights public interest law firm founded by Pat Robertson.

"As a Christian," McCarthy says, "Brenda Nichol desires to express her identity as a Christian (belonging and wed to Christ) through wearing a cross on her necklace, as a symbol of her faith, and believes to remove or hide that cross beneath her clothing is an act of denying Christ as her Lord and Savior, which she cannot do without violating her religious convictions."

The Pittsburgh paper, which depicts Nichol in a highly unflattering photograph, paraphrases a representative of ARIN as saying, "The problem with not enforcing the ban is that children see the symbol and ask questions about it. That's fine for most people in a case involving a cross in a predominantly Christian community. But what if someone wears a symbol that offends Christians, such as a pendant related to witchcraft."

Though such an interpretation has been upheld in state courts, it is now likely to be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will be asked to consider whether all religions are protected and facilitated by the First Amendment, or only—or mainly—secularism and its practitioners.

Tragic death

The 17-year-old son of a Nanty Glo couple now residents of Senoia, Ga., died May 2 as the result of an automobile accident. Blake Raymond Divido, son of Brett and Cindy Divido, is survived by his parents and three grandparents, Florene "Gussy" Taylor and Robert and Patricia Divido, all of Nanty Glo. His maternal grandfather, Gerald Taylor, and an uncle, Jerry Lunn Taylor, preceded him in death. Other survivors are aunts and uncles, Candyce McMullen, Nanty Glo; Robin and Dan Hoover, Mundys Corner; Trysh and Jim Sutton, Ebensburg, and Christine and Steve DiRienzo, Connecticut. Surviving cousins include Taylor McMullen; Madison, Hayden, Paige and Peyton Sutton; Jordan, Danica and Jenna Hoover; Sarah and Michael Ingalls, and Alec DiRienzo.

Blake was a junior at East Coweta High School in Georgia and he enjoyed hunting, fishing, boating, paint ball, playing the saxophone, and loved extreme skating with friends. More than 600 family and friends gathered for a memorial service honoring him at Crossroads Church near his Georgia home, with Pastors John Hobbs and John Orr officiating. Burial was at Senoia City Cemetery, Georgia.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 From the mouths of kids

On the first day of school, a first grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, "The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents."

— Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
Free your heart from hatred.
Free your mind from worries.
Live Simply.
Give more.
Expect less.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
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