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Altoona Mirror: Saturday, February 3, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 3, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Sports: Altoona girls defeat Hollidaysburg, 47-39 Life: Consult the experts when giving home new look Altoona iWtmrr Copyright 2001 SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2001 newsstand Jobless rate sharply rises Strong job growth in construction and other areas may help to avoid full recession. BY JEANNINE AVERSA The Associated Press WASHINGTON The nation's unemployment rate jumped to 4.2 percent in January, the highest level in 16 months, as the sharp economic slowdown resulted in a loss of manufacturing jobs. The Labor Department's unem- ployment report Friday neverthe- less offered rays of hope that the country can avoid a full-blown recession, showing surprisingly strong job growth in construction and other areas. Economists viewed the report as depicting an economy weak but not in danger of toppling into free- fall. They were encouraged that overall payrolls increased last month at three times the expected amount, by new jobs, the strongest showing in nine months. "Most of the really alarming data has related to the manufacturing sector, which clearly is slumping, but since it only accounts for about 15 percent of total employment, it isn't dragging everything else said Bill Cheney, chief economist for John Hancock Financial Services. The percentage-point rise in January's unemployment rate from Dece'nioer's 4 percent rate marked the biggest one-month jump since April 1999. The last time the jobless rate stood at 4.2 percent was September 1999. Many analysts had expected a January rate of 4.1 percent. The red-hot economy during the first half of 2000 helped keep the nation's unemployment rate low, and during three months of last year it reached its lowest point in a generation, 3.9 percent. "The slowing economy is finally taking Its toll on the labor market. Conditions for workers are less stable than they were a quarter or a year said Jared Bernstein, economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank part- ly funded by labor. Economists are forecasting a job- less rate as high as 4.5 percent by the summer. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said the increase in the unemploy- ment rate underscores the need for President Bush's 10-year tril- lion across-the-board tax cut to help bolster economic growth. Please see A6 GROUNDHOG JOB SHADOW Off Students explore career options BY JAY YOUNG Staff Writer The large door to the real world was opened Friday for hun- dreds of area students. That meant spending the day like a mechanic would for Justin Davis. The 16-year-old was one of more than 200 Altoona students who par- ticipated in the national Groundhog Job Shadow Day. As Punxsutawney Phil braved the cold temperatures, the students braved a-day in the workplace to explore their chosen career fields. Davis spent the day watching workers at Luciano's Auto Body, 1600 Pleasant Valley Blvd. After a day of seeing the lessons he's being taught in the classroom put into practical use, Davis emerged from the experience even more interest- ed in entering the field. "I think they should give this opportunity to more he said. "A lot of people after they've been in auto body will look down on it. Ithink if they went out and realize how much effort these guys put in to make these cars look nice they'd appreciate it a lot more." Davis, an auto body student at the Greater Altoona Career Technology Center, watched as the amount of work completed was well beyond that found in a normal school day. In addition, workers were required to work more inde- pendently of those supervising the area than is found at school. Students experienced a day at occupations ranging from the Altoona Police Department to local hair salons. "The hope is that the students get a realistic view of what the world of work is really like, and also that they can see relevancy in what they're doing in the classroom as it relates to Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Paul Miller, foreman with Luciano's Auto Body, talks with Justin Davis, 18, a junior at the Greater Altoona Career Technology Center, about different grits of sandpaper used in the auto repair field. the said Donna Miller, school to work coordinator for the Career and Technology Center. It's also an opportunity for employ- ers who are hungry for good workers to sample the field and see what will be coming out of the area schools. Terra Wertz, co-owner of PC Works Plus in Bellwood, has a stack of resumes on her desk but very few from recent graduates with practi- cal experience: It'also'allows her- company to show students what is expected in the workplace. "I think it's a good thing for the kids to see what it would be like to be a computer she said. "It gives us a chance to look at the education and what kind of technician would be coming up through the vo-tech program." Please see A6 Judge ponders city rec millage city controller claims taxes are being diverted improperly. BY WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG Former city controller Stu Duncan brought his challenge of Altoona's recreation millage to Blair County Court Friday. At the annual hearing in which the city petitions to exceed the state's standard 25-mill property tax limit for general purposes, Duncan charged that Altoona has diverted taxes earmarked for recreation to exceed even the 30-mill absolute limit on general funding, overtaxing residents by million since 1997. The city justifies the diversion of recreation by charging it off to a variety of departments as a percentage of administrative and operational costs, based on play- ground and open space as a percentage of the city's total acreage. City Manager Joe Weakland said he's not worried about Duncan's charge. Judge Hiram Carpenter will consider Duncan's allega- tion but needs to determine whether he should do it in a separate hearing. In 1996, the recreation assessment was 2.4 mills, gener- ating for direct rec funding and some additional money for other purposes but no more than 30 mills total for the general fund, according to a chart recently provid- ed by Duncan. .But the next year.-recreation millage jumped to direct recreation funding was the same, but 'Went to other purposes, jumping the city over the 30-miil limit, Duncan said. The excess was 4.5 mills or Duncan said. With rec millage A and 5.65 the next three years, the city continued to break the and respectively. "We're here before you sort of like Erin Duncan told the court. "We have no big group here, we have no high-price lawyer." City solicitor Bob Alexander laughed at that. Please see A6 Another local police chief decides to step down Blair Township head, Richard Clapper, to retire after 29 years of service. BY KAY STEPHENS StaffWrtter DUNCANSVILLE Blair Township Police Chief Richard Clapper this month will become the area's fifth municipal police chief who in 13 months has decided to turn in his badge. Clapper, 52, who has worked 29 years as a town- ship police chief and offi- cer, said he is in a position to retire from police work and believes it is time to do I so. "I think you reach a point I where you know it's he said. Clapper's last day will be Feb. 20, coinciding with his first day on the job in 1977 as the first full-time police chief for the township. He had been a part-time Clapper officer since 1972. Besides Clapper, four .other municipal police chiefs in the area have either quit, retired or announced plans to do so since January 2000. They are: Duncansville Police Chief Denny White, who retired from police work in January 2000, after 20 years of service, to take a job in security. Duncansville Borough Council promoted Lt. James Ott to replace him. Allegheny Township Police Chief Donald Fowkes, who in April, after 31 years of service, retired from his position after having been at odds for at least three years with township supervisors. He was suc- ceeded by Christopher Conn, an Altoona Police Department sergeant who the super- visors hired in August. Tyrone Police Chief Dale Frye, who resigned in January to take another job. Frye, who returned to Tyrone in August 1999 for the .police chief job, got into dis- agreements with the council over staffing and related matters. The council has its borf ough manager searching for a new chief. Please see A6 MUVEHY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 NEW LISTINGS Inside today, the new expanded listings of television programming for the upcoming week, featuring new basic channels added by Charter Communications. 'i- o 9 3 I Lottery numbers, A2 Mostly sunny, Forecast, C2 Roker vs. Steamer: The gloves are off BY KEVIN Orr Staff'Writer Every town has its nemesis. Metropolis has its Lex Luthor, Gotham its Joker, New York its John Rocker. This week, Altoona acquired its own archenemy: Jovial "Today" show weatherman Al Roker. Let it sink in. Roker stained his reputation as America's most beloved predictor of precipitation Friday morning when he unleashed his fury upon that most innocent of Altoona personalities: Steamer. Steamer, mascot for the Altoona Curve. Steamer, who turns but 3 years old this year. Steamer, who can't help it if he's sometimes mis- taken for a slightly lumpier version of Gumby. Roker called him "stupid." On nation- al television. In front of millions of people. It happened outside the NBC stu- dios at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Roker was working the crowd in typical weatherman fash- ion to celebrate Groundhog Day and happened upon a Pennsylvania Roker tourism spokesman. In the spokesman's company were several Pennsylvania-related mascots, including a guy dressed as a Hershey's Kiss, a guy dressed as win- ter-predicting groundhog and Roker rival Punxsutawney Phil and Steamer. "And who's Roker asked regarding Steamer. "That's Altoona's said the tourism spokesman. said Roker, looking past the man in the giant rodent suit and the man dressed as a foil-wrapped confection, "That's just stupid. No offense." Please see AS Alionna iUtrror THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 fj LOCAL Business Movies Obituaries Opinion A7 A6 A9 A4 [NATION Classifieds C2-10 lure High schools Scoreboard Comics D5 I Community news D2 B4 j Puzzles D4 B5 i Television D4 Steamer IN NATION Man with machete, baseball bat terrorizes York County school, injures nine PAGE C1   

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