Cheers to athletes, Zemaitis; jeers to feds, 'funny' pol
Cheers to the folks who, for 19 years, have "celebrated" the region's special athletes. On a hot June Saturday morning, hundreds gathered again at the Silver Bowl in Mount Carmel for the annual Celebration of Special Athletes, an event as much symbolic as sporting, but one that touches the lives of not only the athletes, but their families, friends and the community at-large. We know of no other similar event anywhere nearby that pays tribute in such a grand and fun manner to athletes who, no matter how their performance is measured, are deserving of our praise.
Jeers to the federal government for its continued shortchanging of one of the key projects that would mitigate the impact of flooding: flood maps. They determine not only whether a property needs flood insurance, but the degree of risk. They also are used to steer away new development from high-risk areas. Now, even as the technology to make accurate maps improves, and scientists predict rising sea levels that ensure more flooding, the administration and Congress have short-changed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's compilation of accurate flood maps, some of which have not been updated for 40 years. The entire federal budget is under pressure, but it makes little sense to shortchange an area in which full funding could help save billions down the road.
Cheers to Alan Zemaitis, the Penn State football All-American and former professional football player who took the time to honor the request of former PSU teammate Yaacov Yisrael and come to Shamokin Area's Kemp Memorial Stadium Saturday for the Indians' inaugural Football Frenzy. Zemaitis took part in a day of activities designed to engage the community with the football players and their coaches. It was another example where Yisrael, the Indians' new head coach, has asked his team to think beyond just the game. Speaking of cheers, Yisrael is building a positive vibe around Indians' football - and he's yet to call one play in a real game.
Jeers to state Rep. Jesse White, an Allegheny County Democrat who clearly has a career in comedy ahead of him when he leaves the Legislature, which might be sooner than he thinks. White was put off when a gas-drilling company rejected his request, made by e-mail, to fly him to the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Green Bay Packers. He said later he was joking. Then last week, KDKA in Pittsburgh reported that White - who last year was the only House member to vote against a bill making it a criminal offense to impersonate someone online - had assumed several online aliases to attack a Pittsburgh-area woman who has advocated for the natural gas industry. He evaded responsibility until Thursday, when he admitted, "On occasion I have exercised my First Amendment rights and responded in kind, which was an error in judgment that I regret." Well, actually, he used the First Amendment rights of some figments of his imagination, which really isn't the commentary folks are looking for from state representatives.