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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: January 23, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 23, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Sports: Herb Werner remembers Bob DiVentura Life: A preview of upcoming motion pictures Copyright 2001 IBtrair TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2001 newsstand Police step up patrols in city Law enforcement targets convenience stores to curb recent rash of robberies. BY TIFFANY SHAW StaffWrlter Becky Fogal feels a little better about going to work now that Altoona police and state police are teaming up to keep a closer watch over city convenience stores. Fogal, assistant manager of Fe- Fi's, 320 Howard Ave., was working one of the nights the store was tar- geted by an armed robber. Even after 13 years in the retail business, nothing prepared her for the feeling and aftereffects of being threatened. "I took the weekend off. I stayed inside, just Fogal said. "You wouldn't believe how much it changed my life in a split second." Fogal and some other employees still get a nervous twinge when the front doorbell rings, indicating a customer entered the store. "It's like 'Oh Lord, not she breathes in a whisper. The word of beefed up patrols has eased Fogal a bit. "I do feel she said. "They said they're watching stores like this. They're keeping a-special eye on us." Convenience stores in and around the city have been targets of repeated armed robberies since the beginning of 2000. There were 70 robberies in 2000, including armed robberies and other incidents such as strong-arm robberies, Altoona police Chief John Treese said. That's a signifi- cant increase over 46 robberies in 1999. Although city police have solved many robberies with arrests, now they want to stop the crimes before they start. "This operation we have going on is more or less to observe the store, to catch them in the act or to be in a position to move in quickly and make an Treese said. The patrols paid off last week when police arrested a man min- utes after they said he tried to rob the 17th Street Sunoco station. Even though police are keeping the details quiet, the patrols are concentrating on areas of conve- nience stores at night. "We're not announcing the par- ticulars of the patrols for obvious Treese said. "We want to keep them [criminals] off their toes." State police are loaning crime and patrol officers to the city to ride along for extra manpower. "We give them some extra eyes, ears and feet any tools they need to catch these state police trooper David White said. Please see A7 Local educators wary of Bush plan to increase testing, accountability Most states will miss the federal deadline for creating assessments. BY ANDREW MOLLISON Cox News Service WASHINGTON President Bush is set to outline today his plan to hold schools accountable for student achievement. But the final report issued by the Education Department during the Clinton administration suggests it may be hard to convince states to comply. Bush said during his campaign that all states should be required to measure their own progress by establishing accountability systems that test their stu- dents in reading and math. But a 1994 law with the same goal has fallen short, according to the Education Department report. Under the law, all states were to create and administer such tests no later than this school year. But the report said that only 17 states, including Pennsylvania, had created statewide math and reading tests that meet federal standards, and only 11 have submitted plans for adminis- tering such tests this year. The report was published late Friday by the department's Planning and Evaluation Service without fanfare or any comment by departing Education Secretary Richard Riley. Congress put the testing requirement in the 1994 law, called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in order to find out whether Title I educational aid is improving student achievement. Title I aid, aimed at school districts serving children who are poor or other- wise at risk of educational failure, this year totals than one- third of the federal funds for elementary and secondary education. Please see A3 BY JAY YOUNG Staff Writer Education will grab the national spotlight today as President George W. Bush unveils his aggressive reform proposals. At a White House ceremony, Bush will announce plans to increase student testing and hold schools responsible for how much pupils learn. Bush has promised he also would punish and reward states depending on pupil performance and expand public charter schools. While all of the talk about vouchers and nationwide testing is popular with some voters, local educators generally are skeptical when it comes to federal interven- tion in local classrooms. Already swamped with state testing and internal assessment, educators are less than enthusiastic about education Bush's promise to increase student testing. In Altoona, students in grades 5-11 already are quizzed annually with numerous different assessment tests. They provide the district with Information that directs curriculum adjust- ments, Curriculum Director Mary Lou Ray said. A nationwide test doesn't provide that kind of information, Ray said. With no feedback specific to local students, a federal test won't improve local districts. "Assessment should drive what you're she said. "When you evaluate, you're able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in a pro- gram, your curriculum and maybe your instruc- tional practices. If you have no data back, it's just taking your time." The call for federal testing comes after years of public demand to make public education accountable. That call has been answered across the coun- try by numerous states implementing standards and testing. Please see A3 Overseas funding dropped BY SANDRA SOBIERAJ The Associated Press WASHINGTON On Monday's anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, President Bush signed a memoran- dum reinstating full abortion restrictions on U.S. overseas aid that his father and former President Reagan had instituted before him. "It is my conviction that taxpay- er funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or active- ly promote abortion either here or Bush wrote in his execu- tive memorandum to the U.S. Agency for International Devel- opment, which oversees family- planning aid to foreign countries. It was Bush's first major policy action since becoming president. It reverses the Clinton adminis- tration's position on unrestricted family-planning aid and bars U.S. money to international groups that use their own money to support abortion either through per- forming the surgery, counseling on abjortion as a family-planning option or lobbying foreign govern- ments on abortion policy. On his first workday in the White House, Bush also gave a written statement to marchers on the 28th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. "The promises of our Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the inde- pendent or the healthy. "They are for everyone, includ- ing unborn chil- his state- Imentsaid. "We share a great goal, to work toward a day when every child is weir corned in life and protected in law to build a culture of life, affirm- ing that every person at every stage and season of life is created equal in God's image." Abortion-rights supporter Kate Michelman saw it as Bush's latest act of war on women's reproduc- tive rights, following on his nomi- nation of staunch abortion oppo- nents to key Cabinet posts for- mer Sen. John Ashcroft for attor- ney general and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson as secre- tary of health and human services. Bush "is using his presidential powers quite aggressively already to undermine a woman's right to choose and clear a pathway to the overturning of Roe v. Michelman said. Please see A3 Pa. pro-lifers march in D.C. From Mirror staff and wire reports WASHINGTON About 800 urged the federal government Monday to do more to reduce or eliminate abortions. Several marchers said the inau- gurafon of President Bush and the continued existence of a GOP-con- trolled Congress made them more optimistic than before. Members of the congressional delegation met with their con- stituents after the rally and predict- ed that progress will be made toward further reducing abortion but said change would come slowly. "We are going to undo the dam- age that [former President] Clinton has said Anita Blawas of Jeannette, who left at a.m. to participate in her third March for Life. The Westmoreland County resi- dent added that "life is the most important thing; I have to work to preserve life." Blawas was one of several thou- sand people from throughout the country who participated in the march and rally, which has been held annually since 1974 to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 deci, sion in Roe v. Wade, which legat ized abortion. Though the marchers want to ban abortion, many said that out' lawing a late-term procedure that opponents call "partial-birth abor-j tion" would be a good start. Three times during his presiden- cy, Clinton vetoed legislation that would have banned the procedure; Though Bush has said he favors a ban, the bill passed by Congress is similar to the Nebraska law that the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last year. Please see A3 Attorney general sues firm raising money for police PITTSBURGH (AP) The state attorney general's office has sued a telemarketing firm that raises money for law enforcement groups, saying it implied the telemarketers were police and the money would be used for training. Attorney General Mike Fisher filed the lawsuit in Commonwealth Court in Pittsburgh against Liberty Publishing Co. and its president, George W. Lee, alleging violations of state law. Lee did not immediately return a tele- phone call made to the Pittsburgh company Monday morning. According to the attorney general, Liberty Publishing solicits donations for law enforcement groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police, Central Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the County and State Detectives Association of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, alleges donors may have wrongly been led to believe telemarketers were police offi- cers. The suit also claims donors were mis- led to believe the money would be used to train police or that police need financial help in fighting crime. Fisher's office said the donations benefit only the clients of the telemarketing firm not police departments. "The money does go to the civic organiza- tions, but not to fight said Sean Connolly, Fisher's spokesman. "Your tax dollar pays for crime fighting, not your donation to he added. The lawsuit alleged that Liberty Publishing employed convicted felons as telemarketers in violation of the Charities Act. It also claimed mat the company offered stickers, decals and membership cards, implying they would result in special treat- ment by law enforcement officers. It also said the company sent donors invoices without their agreement or wrote invoices for amounts higher than thpsji agreed upon. Finally, the lawsuit said: the company failed to register with the Bureau of Charitable Organizations and Fisher's office. Fisher is asking the court to order restitu-: tion to donors. He also is asking the ny be fined for each alleged violation and for each alleged violation affect- ing anyone over age 60. Dtuvwr Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 5 305 I Lottery numbers, A2 Partly cloudy, Forecast, C3 I j. We Pride Ourselves I on Being the il< Area's Very Best Because We Feel Our Customers ITALIAN VILLA Deserve Nothing Less. Business AS j Classifieds C3-8 Hospitals A7 I Obituaries A7 j Opinion A6 I WOdTt j Comics D5 I Community news D2 Local B4 I Puzzles D4 Scoreboard 85 j Television D4 IN NATION Acting on a tip, authorities Monday captured four ot seven convicts who broke out of a Texas prison nearly six weeks ago and allegedly gunned down a policeman on Christmas Eve. PAGE C1   

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