CHEERS - To a job well done. For a decade, Vanessa Sheppard, retired second- grade teacher at Pleasant Avenue School in Johnstown, spearheaded the backpack program for students in the Johnstown school district. Using private donations and grants, working with the PTA and getting assistance from Walmart, Vanessa purchased backpacks and school supplies for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The parents in the district would sign up in the spring for the program. In August, they could pick up the back-to-school backpacks filled with school supplies. Sheppard wrote and received grants for the program, bought supplies, received donations and, with her daughter Jennifer Caputo, filled the backpacks. She would notify the parents of the day the backpacks were to be picked up, and would distribute the backpacks at each of the elementary schools. This last school year, Vanessa met with each elementary school's PTA and turned the program over to those PTAs. The program provided between 450 and 500 backpacks for students. The best thank you Vanessa could receive is to see that this gift back to the students continues for decades to come.
JEERS - To a poor choice of words. On Wednesday in New York's Court of Appeals, arguments were presented in the case pitting the state Department of Taxation and Finance against an Albany strip club. The issue is whether the club's $11 cover charge and $20 three-minute lap dances are subject to an 8 percent sales tax. The club is contesting a tax bill of more than $124,000. The decision could have a major effect on some 200 adult nightclubs in the state. During Wednesday's arguments, what appears to be a skeptical Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. made the statement that "the women are hired untrained and simply do what they do." We're not sure that was the best choice of words. Exotic dancing does not qualify for a tax exemption, according to state law, because the dances are not firmly choreographed. The decision will be reached in about a month.
CHEERS - To the soaring Eagle. From all reports, it appears the plan for constructing a new Eagle Chevrolet Cadillac dealership in Johnstown is ready to fly. City of Johnstown Planning Board member Lori Salamack summed it up best: "I'm appreciative of the investment the business is making in the community." We all should be appreciative of that.