Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

A report commissioned by one of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority Board members found a lack of proper internal controls and a deeper investigation is needed into the governance systems that allowed a former executive director to extort contractors for his personal gain.

“We cannot keep running this as it is,” said JRA board member Mark Pasquerilla following the release Tuesday of his report produced by the law firm of K&L Gates. “As Johnstown moves into the new century and tries to get things done, we have to represent a progressive attitude on governance.”

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The loss of residents in Johnstown has had an impact on the city’s churches resulting in some having to close their doors. Finding a new use for these buildings has become the mission of the Steeple’s Project. Dave Hurst, project manager for the Steeples Project and Teresa Stoughton Marafino, president of 1901 Church, Inc. a nonprofit formed to save the churches joined us for conversation recorded in the Grand Halle of Johnstown’s Cambria City Cultural District. 

Johnstown Is Hockeyville USA, Today, Tomorrow, Forever

Sep 29, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

When the Pittsburgh Penguins take the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening at the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA, the experience will be anything but ordinary.  The match, along with several other special events, represents the small town’s contest win and the designation as “Hockeyville, USA.”   

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen this town with this kind of buzz,” Johnstown Tomahawks play-by-play announcer Rick Hull told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.  “People are so happy and it’s just a celebration of Johnstown hockey in general. I don’t think anything could pull the plug on that.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Along with national bragging rights, winning the designation of Hockeyville USA brings with it $150,000 dollars to upgrade the local hockey venue, which in the case of the 65-year-old Cambria County War Memorial Arena was much needed.

“There have been probably been about 20 plus years or so since any real substantial upgrades have happened at this building,” said Johnstown Tomahawks Director of Media and Communications, Chad Mearns. “These improvements came at a very crucial time for this city, at a crucial time for this building. Pretty much any direction that you look, even if you don’t realize it, you see something that has some sort of change, some sort of improvement this summer.”

Triumph Books

After being named Kraft's first-ever Hockeyville USA, the Cambria Country War Memorial Arena will see the return of a decidedly different hockey legend. 

While Dave Hanson enjoyed a 10-year career as a professional hockey player, he is perhaps most well known for playing one of the Hanson brothers from the classic 1977 sports comedy Slap Shot.

Filmed in Johnstown, Slap Shot was based on the Johnstown Jets in an era where violence was a major selling point for many minor hockey leagues. Hanson fit nicely into the league.

Johnstown's Economic Forecast: Green And Growing

Sep 28, 2015
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 FM WESA

Following the devastating flood of 1889, Johnstown quickly rebounded and began to grow. The region has been bouncing back from a series of set backs ever since.  The city has seen more floods, the near-demise of the steel industry and the gutting of military contracts, just to name a few.

Bottleworks Celebrates And Supports Arts In Johnstown

Sep 28, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Like so many other industrial buildings in rust belt cities, the Tulip Bottling Company and Gainers Brewery buildings in Johnstown’s historic Cambria City neighborhood had fallen into disuse after the companies that once employed hundreds dried up and closed their doors.  But the buildings have been given new life as the blue color neighborhood is transformed into the city’s art and cultural district.

“Throughout the year we offer exhibits, classes, lectures, anything art-related,” said Bottleworks Executive Director Angela Rizzo of the buildings that now also house nine local artists in rented studio space.  “Our mission is to provide opportunities for artists and audiences to experience the arts.”

Remembering The Johnstown Flood

Sep 28, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

The residents of Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s were no strangers to floods.  Sitting at the confluence of the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh River, the booming city often went under water.

An eight-inch rain that passed through the region in May of 1889 had submerged much of downtown Johnstown under several feet of water but people were coping, however the South Fork Dam, some 14 miles miles up the Conemaugh Valley was about to let loose, releasing millions of gallons of water that would smash everything in its path.

jmd41280 / Flickr

Much needed improvements to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown will soon be underway, thanks to the town’s recently acquired title of Kraft Hockeyville USA.

Johnstown knocked out Decatur, Ill., in the final round in May to win the contest’s inaugural title. The prize includes the opportunity to host an NHL preseason hockey game at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, as well as $150,000 in rink updates.

You will be able to hear the sound of “thunder” from Johnstown this weekend, and it’s not from a storm.

The 18th annual Thunder in the Valley Motorcycle Rally kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday, welcoming bikers nationwide.

Johnstown Area Heritage Association

On May 31, 1889 the South Fork dam in Cambria County failed, sending a flood wave through Johnstown that killed 2,209 people.

After a month of rain, a particularly heavy storm hit Johnstown on May 30, filling the streets with a couple feet of water by noon the next day. Flooding was nothing new, though: The city was built on a floodplain, at the base of mountains denuded by industry, at the confluence of three rivers. So people moved to their upper floors to wait.

John Marino / Wikipedia

The end of a three-year agreement between the Port Authority and the Steelers and Rivers Casino corporations that enabled T riders to reach Allegheny Station free of charge may upset the transit system's free fare zone. Without funds from either organization, the Port Authority must either pick up the tab itself or start charging riders who use the T stop to attend sporting events. Alex Zimmerman has been covering the story for the City Paper and joins us to discuss the issues surrounding the suspension of the deal. 

Zimmerman says the change is due, in part, to the Port Authority's desire to separate subsidies from advertising rights for the two stations on the North Shore:

"Port Authority went to [the subsidizing entities] and said 'We're happy to continue our agreement with you, but we want to retain ad rights.' ... The Steelers and casino aren't saying much about what their negotiating position is." -- Alex Zimmerman

Also in the program, local entrepreneur Mont Handley describes the peat moss substitute that he invented, Margaret J. Krauss tells an untold story about Pittsburgh during WWII, and Johnstown Tomahawks representative Chad Mearns talks about Johnstown's recent recognition as "Hockeyville USA."

Jon Dawson / Flickr

Detroit is known as "Hockeytown USA," but could Johnstown claim the title of “Hockeyville USA?”

That depends on if it receives enough votes, according to Chad Mearns, director of marketing and communications for the Johnstown Tomahawks.

Andrew-M-Whitman / Flickr

The National Guard can say goodbye to its Apache attack helicopters.

By this fall, the Army will take control of all National Guard Apache aircrafts as part of its Aviation Restructuring Initiative, starting with 24 from the Johnstown Military Aviation Complex and another 24 from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Johnstown’s Tribune-Democrat, in Western Pennsylvania, recently conducted an online survey to evaluate progress on local issues. Johnstown is a shrinking industrial city with a nearly 9-percent unemployment rate, and one of the worst-funded pension systems in the state.

On a recent summer day, Bob Bridges inflated a boat called the shredder, loaded it on a trailer, took it to an inconspicuous pull off, and launched it into the Stonycreek River.

A western Pennsylvania judge has approved the sale of the Johnstown-based Conemaugh Health System to a for-profit Tennessee network, Duke LifePoint Healthcare.

Under the deal approved Wednesday by Cambria County Judge Timothy Creany, Duke LifePoint will pay $111 million for Conemaugh, and agree to invest $425 million more on capital improvements, including new facilities in Richland Township, near Johnstown, and Ebensburg, over the next decade.

Additionally, the properties in the system will now be taxable.

Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY


When the lush, green curves of Route 403 give way to the expansive brick buildings of Johnstown's steel mills, innovative economic development is not the first thing that comes to mind. The city's landscape is industrial, full of cement, and accented generously with blight. Its population sits at about 20,000, down from a high of around 70,000. The last time it was this low was in 1890, and people continue to leave.

Johnstown Motorcycle Rally Expected to Draw Crowds

Jun 27, 2014

Southwestern PA has experienced its fair share of thunderstorms recently, but Johnstown is expecting a very different type of thunder this weekend.

More than 200,000 motorcyclists and spectators are anticipated at the annual Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday.

The rally includes four performance stages featuring country, blues, and rock musicians, with headliner band Foghat.

“Lift Johnstown” is throwing a community-wide party Thursday -- a “Project Party.”

The goal of the “party” is to connect Johnstown residents with a local non-profit to help improve the community.

“Lift Johnstown is a collaborative effort to reinvent our community as a vibrant, small city,” Brad Clemenson, coordinator, said. “And one of the many ways we do that is we try to engage people in coming out, making a difference, getting involved, getting their hands dirty, working with people, whatever they like to do, you can help, you can make a difference.”