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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: January 1, 2001 - Page 1

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Publication: Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 1, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Happy New Year from the management and staff of the Altoona Mirror Copyright 2000 iJKrror NEW YEAR'S DAY 2001 500 newsstand Amtrak addition possible Philly-to-Chicago train, the Skyline Connection, would offer third daily option through the region. From Mirror staff and wire reports A third passenger train route may be rolling through the region, Amtrak and state transportation officials said. The new Chicago-to-Philadelphia train, called the Skyline Connection, has been in the works for about a year, officials said. Two other round-trip trains, the Pennsylvanian and the Three Rivers, already come through Altoona. The Pennsylvanian runs from New York, through Philadelphia, to Pittsburgh; the Three Rivers runs from New York, through Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, to Chicago. Christopher Gleason, a Johnstown insur- ance executive who belongs to Amtrak's Reform Council, said he expects the new train to begin running in the first quarter of 2001. The ll-member council was created by Congress to oversee Amtrak's finances and other operations. Amtrak officials are not committing to a start date, however, because they are still negotiating with Norfolk Southern, which owns the tracks on which the train would travel. "It has been totally tied up in discussions between Amtrak and Norfolk said Andrew Galloway, Amtrak's director of transportation planning policy for the region. "I have nothing concrete about [a start Amtrak liras created by the federal gov- ernment in 1970 and is subsidized by Congress, although it has by the reform council to become self-suf- ficient by 2002. Amtrak owns some of its own tracks, but its trains often travel on tracks owned by other railroads. Rick Peltz, a deputy secretary in the state Department of Transportation, said Norfolk Southern, a Norfolk, Va.-based freight line, wants to use some Amtrak-owned tracks in return for letting Amtrak run another train on its tracks. Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband said, "We've been talking with Amtrak for months now about possible additions to service. Part 'of all the discus- sion is in regard to how Norfolk Southern can support Amtrak and how Amtrak can support Norfolk Southern." But Husband said the spring start date for Amtrak's third passenger train route through Altoona "is news to me." "I haven't heard any specific dates men- Husband said. Amtrak has not asked the state for money to help subsidize the new line and that may be a sign that Amtrak figures the new line will pay for itself, Peltz said. Amtrak officials did not say if that will change. "It's different in every circumstance, but in most cases, states subsidize the Amtrak spokeswoman Karen Dunn said. (Mirror Staff Writer Michael Emery con- tributed to this story.) 2000 IN REVIEW LABOR INTENSIVE Rail woes, two tense strikes top stories of past year Mirror file photos Top: About 400 workers at the Hollidaysburg Car Shop got a reprieve in 2000 after Norfolk Squthern reversed an earlier decision to close the massive plant. At right: Strikers at Boyer Candy settled an eight-month-long dispute last summer and returned to work. Below: Altoona Hospital saw its first strike in history, which was shorter than the Boyer dis- pute, but just as contentious. BY WALT FRANK StaffWriter List year at this time, we yvere all breathing a collec- tive sigh of relief as fears surrounding Y2K computer problems proved to be unfounded. But when Blair Countians look back on 2000, it's unlikely they'll even remember the fuss surround- ing Y2K. Instead, they'll remember a year when the region's continued growth was checked by an eco- nomic wakeup call and two con- tentious labor disputes in the form of Norfolk Southern's deci- sion to grant a reprieve on plans to close the Hollidaysburg Car Shop and strikes at Altoona Hospital and Boyer Candy. The saga of the Hollidaysburg Car Shop and its implication for the county's railroad economy was voted the top local story of 2000 by members of the Mirror editorial staff. Here's a look at the top 10 stories: flfe Workers at the Hollidaysburg Car Shop were upset and confused in November when Norfolk Southern officials announced plans to close the shop permanent- ly, effective March 1. Many of the 385 employees have 25 or more years of experience, and the only work they know is 1. Hollidaysburg Car Shop closing and reprieve 2. Bitter strike at Altoona Hospital 3. Boyer workers end long walkout 4 OxyContin-related crime 5. Shyster reproved 6. Curve contend In second year 7. Blue and White bankruptcy 8. John Gardner Black case settled 9. Logan Towne Center plans 10.10 Commandments on display, in Altoona schools the railroad. Company officials said as an effort to reign in costs, the rail giant would no longer send its. freight cars here for maintenance work. Mark Manion, vice president of the mechanical division for Norfolk Southern, said the cost Of. running the plant just got too high. The shops only were operat- ing at 30 percent capacity, with 15 percent of that coming from out- sourced, or contractual work. Please see Top COMING TUESDAY Seniors magazine Because of the New Year's holiday, the January edition of Seniors Mirror will appear in Tuesday's paper instead of today's. This month's cover story deals with seniors who reap the rewards of volunteerism. Look for it included free in Tuesday's Mirror. Session set on Ashville ambulance woes By MIA ROHART StaffWriter Ashville yolunteer Fire Company's ambulance service loses its license today to dispense advanced life support, according to Fire Chief Ron Beck. Sandy Jablonski, executive director of Southern Alleghenies EMS council, said the service has been under a provisional license for a year now. It expired at midnight Sunday. Jablonski said she expects the service will be grant- ed an extended provisional license, which will allow it to provide basic life support. "The service now is failing to provide ALS [advanced life support] service on 60 percent of their calls. They fail to provide BLS service on 48 percent of their Jablonski said. Jablonski attributes the problem to understafiing. Beck said there will be a public meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ashville Fire Department Recreational Hall to try to come up with ideas to save the service. Everyone is trying to get this to work, said Jablonski. "I think the borough cares. I think the fire company she said. In attendance will be representatives of the fire company, ambulance service, Southern Alleghenies EMS council, the Cambria County 911 Center and the county commissioners. Mirror Staff Writer Mia Rohart can be reached at 949-7030 or IF YOU 60 Wtat Public meeting on problems with Ashville ambulance service. fire had. 7 p.m. Date Friday In MMdanM: representatives of the fire company, ambulance service, Southern Alleghenies EMS council, the Cambria County 911 Center m) the county commissioners. Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 5 OT 4 4 4 IS 2 fip 4 Lottery numbers, A2 WEiunu Cloudy, windy, cold, Fonrast, C2 We're white-hot1 Altoona THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. 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