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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: February 20, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 20, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Sports: District 6 basketball playoffs kick off Hi Life: Who will win this year's Grammy Awards? Dl Atama dUtmir Copyright 2001 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2001 504 newsstand AGRICULTURE Government officials say farm income could tumble dramatically over the next two years. Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich John Black of Blackcret Farms in the Sinking Valley area of Blair County cuts a field of alfalfa last summer. Fuel woes planting farmers Financial pressures grow, Congress ponders action Seeds of doubt Total cash receipts for Pennsylvania farms: 1998 billion 1.19 billion 2.88 billion Number of farms in area counties: 545 685 440 760 Blair Bedford Cambria Centre CfearSeld Huntingdon Source: Pa Agriculture Department Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington i BY MIA ROHART StaffWriter Blair County fanner Harry Albright, who spent about on a tractor last year, says the only way he can afford to farm is because he has other invest- ments. "I pity any fanner that's got a lot of he says. As if low crop prices weren't tough enough, the nation's farm economy now is being battered by soaring costs for energy and fertilizer, Congress was told recently. Net farm income likely is to drop 20 per- cent, or billion, over the next two years unless there is a fresh outpouring of federal aid, according to the congressionally funded Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, based at the University of Missouri. The cost of fuel that farmers need for trac- tors, combines and irrigation equipment jumped 31 percent last year. Prices may drop slightly in coming months, but growers are expected to be hit this year with a 33 percent increase in fertilizer costs, the report says. Nitrogen fertilizer is made from natural gas. "It's not only low prices, it's high produc- tion costs that are squeezing says Bruce Babcock, an Iowa State University economist. Farms in the region are not immune to the national crisis facing farmers with the increase of fuel and fertilizer prices. Albright says he's probably not as affected as those with livestock because he only crop farms, although he could be hurting in the spring-when he has to buy fertilizer. He bought some in December, and it was much higher than last year. Albright rotates his oat and soybean crops over his ISO-acre farm. He is guaranteed about per bushel for the soybeans with the government making up the difference in market price. Please see A3 NASCAR fans deal with loss BY ROBERT IGOE StaffWriter He was the man you either loved or loved to hate. But now, Dale Earnhardt is the man that all of NASCAR is mourn- ting both locally and nationwide after his death in an accident in the closing quarter-lap of Sunday's Daytona 500. "I have always been a real big fan of said Earnhardt fan Dennis Young of Bellwood. "He was the reason I watched NASCAR, just to see where the black car was. I -don't know what I'm going to do now when it comes to watching racing." Earnhardt was pronounced dead shortly after his Chevrolet Monte Carlo slammed into a cement wall and was struck by a car driven by Ken Schrader. Earnhardt's acci- dent appeared to have been caused when the rear of his vehicle clipped the front end of a car dri- ven by Sterling Marlin. To many watching at home, the accident did not appear to be seri- ous enough to cause the fatal injuries. "I never dreamed he was hurt that Young said. NASCAR dealers say that Earnhardt merchandise is flying off of the shelves, and they expect a simflar run on memorial merchan- dise, which should hit the stores in the upcoming months. "The sales have been IN SPORTS Reactions from residents of Dale Earnhardt's hometown PAGE B1 Autopsy shows blunt force injuries to the head as cause of death PAGE B2 Recent driver deaths in NASCAR, CART, Formula One and IRL PACE 82 said Dave Gingerich of Ye Olde Hobby Shoppe in. Duncansville. "We had quite a bit of his mer- chandise in stock, and we have a store full of people in here now. Dale Earnhardt was always a top seller. "It puts me in a precarious situa- tion. You don't like to have a sales increase because of something like this. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it." Gingerich says that Earnhardt was one of his favorite drivers since the two "almost perfectly share a birthday, so I understand his aches and pains. I was really shocked to hear about the acci- dent. Everyone here is still in shock." Please see AID Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Dale Earnhardt Items were flying off the shelves Monday at Ye Olde Hobby Shoppe in DuncansviHe in wake of the racing star's death in an accident in the closing quarter-lap of Daytona 500. Drug task force arrests 1 on crack-sale charges BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer A. Detroit native who boasted he was going to shoot police officers arid drug informants was arrested Monday by members of the West DJug Task Force within minutes of making a crack cocaine sale. Police called it a buy-bust opera- tion that showed the type of dan- ger officers face when they con- front drug dealers. police Patrolman Ryan Yoder said when 24-year-old Milton Lavale Williams, who gave an Altoona address of 811 Seventh Aye., was taken into custody, he found an apparently stolen, 34- shbt Mac 11 handgun fully loaded Williams Schmidt between Williams and the driver of the 1988 Dodge Caravan in which the pair was riding. The driver, who also was arrest- ed, was identified by police as 24- year-old Dustie Schmidt of 105 E. Beech Ave., an native of Altoona. Please see AS Special Olympians to compete at area venues BY MIA ROHART StaffWriter Opening ceremonies for the Special Olympic winter games will take place tonight at the War Memorial in Johnstown. About 650 athletes, 230 coaches and between and volun- teers will participate. Skiing is the largest event, said John Krysinsky, associate compe- tition director for the Special Olympics in Pennsylvania. Floor hockey is a close second in size, he said. Blue Knob Four Season Resort is hosting the skiing events of the Special Olympics for the first time this year, General Manager Andy Himes said. "It's a good thing to host. It means a lot to them. They really Area event schedule for the Special Olympics Winter games: Alpine and cross country skiing, Blue Knob ski area, Wednesday and Thursday. Floor hockey, St. Francis University, Wednesday and Thursday. To volunteer: Call 472-3899, ask for Maria Coimer. enjoy he said. About 350 skiers will compete in alpine and cross-country skiing and are grouped by ability, from entry level to advanced, Himes said. "Some ski as well as, if not bet- ter, than people who come up here on a regular he said. Blue Knob will host the next two Special Olympic winter games as well, Himes said. Operations Coordinator for St. Francis University for the Special Olympics, Maria Colmer, expects about 200 athletes to participate in floor hockey and individual exer- cises at the DeGol Arena, she said. When not competing, the ath- letes can enjoy "Olympic where they can do activities and win prizes donated by local stores by playing will include making autograph books. Athletes can have the books signed by the two players from the Johnstown Chiefs who will be pre- sent during the awards ceremony, Colmer said. Steve Parker and his wife, Becky, are co-Venue Coordinators for the Special Olympics this year. Becky Parker has been involved for the last 10 years, said Steve Parker, who became involved two years ago. Please see AS Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 Lottery numbers, A2 Cloudy with showers, Forecast, C2 Make Reservations Early Njgtti NATION teen-age suspects arrested in murders professors   

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