Group honors Amtran, officers

Operation Our Town handed out several awards Thursday during its annual presentation to the Blair County Chamber of Com­merce Breakfast Club.

The 2019 Operation Our Town Community Partner­ship Award, which is given to a community partner that supports and furthers the mission of OOT, was presented to Amtran.

“They have donated four bus wraps, they’ve given us buses that travel throughout Altoona and surrounding communities. They helped put our message out for the last 10 years,” said Michael A. Fiore, OOT president.

Josh Baker, director of staff and customer services, accepted the award.

“As a public bus authority, there are not many times you get positive recognition. Our values are exactly the same: Community and safety are the things we believe in and how we operate every single day. Protecting the people and serving the people is the mission of our organization every single day,” Baker said. “We appreciate the partnership we have with Operation Our Town.”

Blair County Law En­forcement Awards — presented annually to Blair County law enforcement individuals who have demonstrated their commitment through their efforts toward making the community a safe place to live and raise families — were presented to Officer Jeffrey Friday of the Hollidaysburg Police De­part­ment, Patrol­man Justin Hollern of Logan Township Police Depart­ment, Det. Sgt. Terry Merritts of Altoona Police Department, Patrol­man James Brantner of Blair Township Police Depart­ment, Blair County Assis­tant District Attor­neys Nichole Smith and Amanda Nehrkorn-Jacob­son, Troop­er Kathryn A. Kaminsky of the Pennsyl­vania State Police and Blair County Sheriff’s Deputies Trinitie Applas and Brandon Ross.

“These individuals em­body the spirit of Opera­tion Our Town,” said OOT board member Randy Feathers, who presented the awards.

Operation Our Town also presented a $10,000 check to Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico to support the newly created Altoona Land Bank.

“This was something we first talked about back in 2006. We are thankful Mayor Pacifico and his group put together a land bank. If it were done 25 to 30 years ago, our community would be different today. The money is to get the program up and running,” Fiore said.

“The land bank is something that has been important to me for over four years. It is something I looked to get started here. It is another tool for us to fight blight. With this money, we can use it to get some properties back into productive use,” Pacifico said.