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Johnstown Receives Municipal Excellence Award

The City of Johnstown was presented with an inaugural award from the state Thursday afternoon.

Dozens of community leaders gathered at the Holiday Inn along Market Street in Downtown Johnstown where the Secretary’s Award for Municipal Excellence was presented.

It’s the first award of it’s kind, which will be given out once a year to a community in Pennsylvania that is “driving momentum for change.”

“It’s just amazing just to see us receiving this award, and being acknowledged for all of the work of not only myself and city council but the entire community has done to move Johnstown forward,”

DCED Secretary Rick Siger says Johnstown was “a clear winner” for the award.

He cites the city’s implementation of impactful projects, improvement of municipal finances, and development of strong leadership for their decision to choose Johnstown.

Siger also noted the city’s departure from Act 47 this past April, meaning that the city is no longer considered to be “financially distressed,” in their consideration.

“Pennsylvania has 2,560 municipalities across our 67 counties. We talked about a number of them, and determined that Johnstown was really a deserving winner this year for the inaugural award,”

While city officials call it “a great day for Johnstown,” others say the award is “premature.”

That’s what State Representative Frank Burns wrote in a letter to Secretary Siger, saying that his definition of municipal excellence must be based on “far different criteria.”

In the letter, Burns addresses city’s public housing problem, poverty rate, community violence, student transient population, and loss of Downtown’s only grocery store and pharmacy.

“Unless there is real, documentable progress on these and many other issues, a “feel-good” award from your office amounts to nothing more than a participation trophy, as Johnstown needs way more than a plaque on the wall to fix its deep-rooted problems,”

We asked state and local officials about their response to this.

They said this award does not mean that Johnstown is finished.

“We also have plans to move forward. It’s not like we’re happy and we’re content where we’re at. We plan on doing lots of things and continuing with the grants that we receive,”

“This award is not designed to be the end of the process, but rather a recognition of folks coming together to really build a strategy to get Johnstown to the next level,”

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