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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 4, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania JUtnnna 0 Copyright 2001 SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2001 newsstand IN SPORTS BG boys defeat Altoona by 28 points IN LIFE Six area canines set for national dog show fij HUNTINGDON COUNTY Tourism bureau expands its focus One year after its formation, visitors group looks to regionalize promotion efforts with Bedford and Fulton county organizations. BY PAM KANE For the Mirror a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau is ready to fly one year after its predecessor, the Raystown Country Visitors Bureau, declared bank- ruptcy. "The first priority of the visitors bureau over the last year was to build Executive Director Pam Prosser said. After the RCVB declared bankruptcy in 1999, the HCVB was organized in February 2000. "We have seen a great amount of growth over the last year, and we are hoping to continue that kind of growth as we look forward to merging with Fulton and Bedford Prosser said. During conversations, with the Pennsylvania Center for Travel, Tourism and Film, the RCVB was led to consider merging with the two smaller bureaus. "We [the HCVB] want to go to the bargaining table from a position of Prosser said. "Many of the mergers throughout the state have been because-one of the agencies was in financial distress or had some other issue plaguing them. We didn't want to be told that we had to merge with the other counties. As it stands now, all three of us want to get together to make the region more tourism-friendly. "Tourists do not recognize county Prosser said. "So our challenge is to make sure that the- three-county region is marketed to the fullest extent." Bedford, Fulton and Huntingdon counties have seen other agencies work successfully in this tri- county structure, such as the Area Agency on Aging. "We have really been talking about the merger since Prosser said. "We just didn't make it public until now. "It actually makes sense for these three counties to merge. We are three counties that are rural, we each have a share of state parks and we already have a governmental system in place that is used to working together. "The county commissioners in the three counties are very aware of how to make a merger such as this work." Working together will be nothing new for the counties' visitors bureaus. Please see A6 )mmm: AUOONffS GROCERY GURU Ernie Wissinger, a man whose legacy, influence and outgoing personality could earn him the title Mr. Altoona, exemplifies the area's entrepreneurial spirit in the last half of the 20th century. For more than 40 years, the Wissinger family fortune grew and with it, the fortunes of Altoona, for Wissinger's philanthropy and generosity went hand-in-hand. In addition to hiring and helping local youth, many social and community programs in Altoona owe their start to funding from Wissinger's company. And the homespun charm of Ernie Wissinger was real. From 1950 to the early 1990s, Wissinger's supermarkets were a part of Altoona, and Altoona was a part of Wissinger's. Super marketer Stories by Craig Williams Mirror file photo 'Ernie Wissinger poses with the bronze plaque erected in his honor at the Altoona Area Public Library in May 1997. The theater at the library also was renamed the Ernest E. Wissinger Theatre. The grocery chain founder pledged to the library each year from 1997-2001. Ernie's friends recall the man, the businessman "I'm an Ernie Wissinger state Rep. Richard Geist, R-Altoona, said unabashedly. "And he has been a good friend." Geist knows Wissinger from their many lunchtime conversations. Geist said Wissinger's strong personality came through no matter whom he was talking to. "He would chew on me for the same things for the past 25 Geist said. "And he would lecture you on diet." Of course, who I would know diet bet- ter than a man who spent nearly 50 years a grocer? But as the founder [of the Wissinger's IGA supermarkets in the area, Wissinger's impact went welt beyond the dinner in Geist's lunchtime lecture. Geist "He was a strong personality and touched a lot of people's lives. It seemed that everything he did, he would do with a community bent. Ernie was passionate about the cause he believed Geist said. "I've known Ernie since the early said Gwen PattUlo, who came to Altoona in 1951 as a social worker. Back then, she worked for the Booker T. Washington Community Center at 13th Avenue and 18th Street. Please see A4 Don Wissinger reflects on father's story? Ernie Wissinger, the man who would build a local chain of; supermarkets and one of the most well-known people in Altoona, had a cold start in the grocery business, said his son, Donald Wissinger. "My father was born in Altoona in Donald said. "His father, Clarence Wissinger, built homes'- on property in the 12th Ward, from 27th Street to 31st Street There were 30 or 40 homes built: there." Ernie Wissinger, 94, started working for Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., commonly called the grocery store, in the late 1920s. "Dad worked for the store on Eighth Avenue and 29th Street as checker or selector in the pro- duce section for 17 years. would come in there from over 120 stores from as far away as DuBpfe to Chambersburg, :S "There he worked with a variety of goods and always had his hands in ice." v Donald remembers his father> coming home with his hands red- dened and raw from the ice. Ernie-kept at to his chilling work every th> money was a blessing during the; Great Depression, when many people didn't have a job. Then World War n came along! Ernie was too young to serve in: World War I, but now in his 30s, he wanted to sign up. With botfri the father and the son (Donald X was born in the 1920s) going offifo war, the family was in breakingup. '.-x "My mother was crying at thet; time saying, 'I can't lose both off Donald said. 'K. Please see A4 Congressmen laud Shuster's longevity BY ROBERT IGOE StaffWriter WASHINGTON One of the longest running shows on Capitol Hill came to a close last week, and many longtime viewers are calling the show a hit. This week is the first since the Nixon administration that Bud Shuster will not occupy the seat in tiie U.S. House of Representatives reserved for Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District. Many of Shuster's comrades said his absence will be noticed, both in person and in terms of transporta- tion improvement. Shuster, who officially retired from his position Saturday, served as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which provided for many major transportation and airport improvement projects in Pennsylvania, such as Interstate 99 and the Altoona-Blair County Airport. Please see Shuster AS Area students with Philly dancers j Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Huntingdon Area High School students Drew Patterson 15, and Rick Kane 16, were among students who were asked to participate in a dance workshop Friday. BY MIA ROHART StaffVfriter HUNTINGDON The audience went wild when director Nin Hiles got up on stage with, a group of male student vol- unteers. "As a teacher, you're always ask- ing students to step out of their comfort zone and try new he said. So after saying no several times, Hiles reluctantly went up on stage. Philadanco, a Philadelphia dance troupe, involved students least one teacher during their pfcr- formance at Huntingdon Area High School Friday. X Founder Joan Myers Brown encouraged students to partifci- pate in isolation exercises the dancers used during their warm- up, such, as head rolls and defep breathing. S She spoke briefly before routine to give background infor- mation to students. 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