Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 19, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Hoops: Altoona girls defeat Bishop Guilfoyle, 50-43 Nation: Officials dismantle heroin smuggling rings Cl Altoona iMtrror Copyright 2001 FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 2001 500 newsstand HUNTINGDON COUNTY Merchants prepare for chain store BY KEVIN OTT StaffWriter HUNTINGDON After looking at the toy selection in Grant's department store a few weeks before Christmas in 1972, Bob Geissinger immediately walked back to his own store and ordered 75 cases of Tonka one toy Grant's was in short supply of. When a Wal-Mart or a Kmart moves into town over the coming year, he'll follow the same strategy. After years of speculation and preparation, Huntingdon finally is becoming home to one of the popu- lar nationwide department stores, said developer Dan Lawruk of Altoona's Lawruk Builders Inc. Lawruk and partner Terry Astleford are in final negotiations with local officials and representa- tives of both chains to open a new store between routes 22 and 26 just outside of town. And despite fears of what hap- pens to small-town economies when such stores move in, Huntingdon business owners don't have much to worry about if they play their cards right, said Geissinger, owner of Huntingdon's combination Radio Auto and head of the Huntingdon Area Merchants Association. "Downtown Huntingdon has sur- vived for 100 he said. "I don't really think it's going to change all that much." The secret, he said, is for down- town businesses to keep their spe- cialties intact. Where Wal-Mart and Kmart excel at providing consumers with a wide range of goods, downtown businesses should focus their strengths in their specifics. Huntingdon businesses have been moving toward specialization during the past few years, with department stores such as J.C. Penney Co. and Poser's closing their doors over the past decade, and a backpacking outfitter and comic book store opening in recent months. Lawruk will purchase 72 acres of land from Smithfield Township, a small municipality just southwest ofHuntingdon. After completing negotiations on a price with the Smithfield Township Economic Development Corp., which controls business growth in the township, Lawruk plans to finalize a deal with either Wal-Mart or Kmart. Smithfield Township obtained the land in a deal wife the state Department of Corrections. Since obtaining it, township and STEDCO officials have been contacted by sev- eral developers. Rumors about the land's future abounded in Huntingdon County through the latter half of the '90s, ranging from hotels to factories to warehouses to Wai-Marts. Wal-Mart is the more probable deal, he said, since the corporation has a distribution center in Bedford, an hour from Huntingdon. The big store is likely to attract several smaller stores, banks, restaurants and other businesses, Lawruk said. Please see AS Here is the proposed site for a major department store in Huntingdon, located in Smithfield Township near routes 22 and 26. Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington It CHANGING OF THE GUARD CLINTON FAREWELL 'America has done commander in chief says in final address to nation The Associated Press President Bill Clinton sits in the Oval Office of the White House Thursday after address- ing the nation in a televised speech to bid farewell to the nation. Clinton will leave office Saturday when George W. Bush will be sworn in as the next U.S. president. Pennsylvanians give to inauguration WASHINGTON Pennsylvanians didn't just open their wallets to elect a GOP presi- dent. After George W. Bush won, they came through again with to help put on Saturday's inaugural parade and parties. Contributions from six individu- als and one company from Pennsylvania are part of the million raised by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, according to data released by the panel this week. Contributions are not tax- deductible, but donors get other benefits, including invitations to candlelight dinners Thursday, spe- cial seats at Saturday's swearing in and tickets to the inaugural balls. Please see A3 President- -elect George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, wave as they arrive in Midland, Texas, for a sendoff rally Wednesday. The Associated Press INAUGURAL COVERAGE INSIDE President-elect George W. Bush opened his inaugural festivities Thursday proclaiming "a fresh start" for America. PAGE C1 Americans are greeting the presidential power shift with grumbles, guarded hopes, Clinton nostalgia and all sorts of advice for President-elect Bush. PAGE C1 A look at the soon-to-be first lady Laura Bush. PAGED1 BY BOB DEANS Cox News Service WASHINGTON-President Clinton bid a tightly direct- ed farewell to the country Thursday night, thanking Americans for their support dur- ing his tumultuous eight-year term and asking to be remem- bered for helping to invigorate the economy, renew the national spir- it and strengthen U.S. influence abroad. In a bid for the history books, Clinton labeled his presidency "an era of great American touching on the benefits of the decadelong economic boom and asserting that "America has done on his watch. Clinton shed no light on his plans after he leaves the White House just before noon Saturday, but he said, "I will never hold a position higher or a covenant more sacred than president of the United States." In his 15th and final address to the nation from the Oval Office, Clinton asked the country to set aside the divisions at the heart of one of the most contentious presi- dential elections in history and support the incoming administra- tion of George W. Bush. "Hillary, Chelsea and I join all Americans in wishing our very best to the next president, George W. Clinton said. He devoted much of his nearly eight-minute address, though, to warning that Bush should neither pursue policies that put the health of the federal budget at risk nor retreat from the expanding global responsibilities he Inherits as leader of the world's last super- power. "America has been a force for peace and prosperity in every cor- ner of the said Clinton, who has deployed troops to Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo in pursuit of those objectives and his devoted enormous effort to trying to bro- ker peace in the fractious Middle East. "America's security and prosperity require us to continue to lead." And, turning to one of the cen- tral themes of his presidency, Clinton cautioned Bush not to turn away from a domestic agen- da that has focused on ways to advance the interests of African- Americans, Hispanics, women, the disabled and other minorities. The goal, Clinton said, must be policies that help to "weave the threads of our coat of many colors into the fabric of one America." Please see A3 Gun owners challenge police records of buys BY PETER JACKSON The Associated Press HARRISBURG Gun owners arid sportsmen from southwestern and east- ern Pennsylvania asked a Common- wealth Court judge Thursday to order state police to stop what they said is an illegal registry of the handgun purchases made each year in the state. State police said their critics are mis- reading the law and defended their record-keeping as a tradition that dates back more than a half-century and con- tinues to be a valuable tool in solving crimes. Judge James R. Kelley, who presided over a four-hour hearing, said he would issue a ruling as soon as possible. The Allegheny County Sportsmen's League and the Lehigh Valley Firearms Coalition, which together claim to speak for more than sportsmen and gun owners, and several individuals are seek- ing a court order to bar authorities from recording any information from the forms that gun buyers must fill out. "However I resolve it, it's not going to be the judge warned at the end of Thursday's hearing, noting the likelihood of an appeal if the petition is denied and, if it is granted, legislation to permit the practice. Please see AT JESSE'S GIRL The Rev. Jesse Jackson meets with reporters in this June 3, 1998, file photo. The civil rights activist revealed Thursday.that he had an extramarital affair that resulted in the birth of his 20-month- old daughter. Please see story, Page Cl. The Associated Press Education board OKs changes in class sizes BY JAY YOUNG StaffWriter The Altoona Area School District will not have to seek a waiver renewal now that the Pennsylvania Board of Education has decided to lift special educa- tion class size limits. Altoona was granted a tempo- rary waiver in December as part of a new state program, but Thurs- day's decision makes the waiver obsolete. The change was welcomed by many public school administra- tors but opposed by advocacy groups and parents of special edu- cation students. The regulations must be reviewed by the House and Senate education committees, Attorney General Mike Fisher and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission before taking effect. The current state regulations set class sizes as low as eight students; but the revisions would make them "recommendations" rather than absolute limits. It's an approach opposed by teacher unions. 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