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Altoona Mirror: Sunday, February 25, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 25, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                 ^ Private eye tells you how to find someone (J]  IN BUSINESS  ^ Restaurants, groups to cash in on Lent  9TH DISTRICT CONGRESS PROFILE  DEMOCRATIC DEBATE  Altoona Mirror  © Copyright 2001  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2001  $1.50 newsstand  Texans  weary  of gun  Staff Writer  It’s the Scott Conklin campaign and the candidate is ON.  He’s hustling.  He’s with a reporter in the West Chestnut Avenue area of Altoona, and it’s hard to keep up.  The pace is forced. He’s walking briskly house-to-house, peering at the voter registration list he carries, veering back and forth across the street to save time, knocking on doors, turning residents’ blank looks of inquiry and even outright mistrust into recognition, approval and promises to vote for him.  They offer a glad hand, a smile, even once an “OK, dear one, you’re persuading me,’’ from an older woman.  There’s no talk of lunch. It’s just 80 days to the May 15 special election, and this is the opportunity of a lifetime for Conklin.  Bud Shuster’s retirement took nearly everyone by surprise. If his son Bill, the Republican candidate, wins, the power of the incumbency in this 58 percent Republican district is so strong it would make no sense for Conklin even to run again, he says.  So he’s going door-to-door.  Door-to-door campaigning may be ideal for township supervisor races and fine for county commissioner races, but experts say it’s a marginal tactic for something as big as a congressional race with a district of 600,000 people, especially when it’s compressed into 80 days.  But door-to-door is a staple of Conklin’s campaign style.  He’s already in his fourth county of the campaign so far. Before it’s all over, he’ll be door-to-door not only in all ll counties, but in all of them repeatedly, especially Blair, Bill Shuster’s home and one of the keys to victory, Conklin believes.  ★ ★ ★  As a congressman, Conklin says he’d concentrate on education, creating jobs, strengthening Social Security and bringing money for projects back home.  When asked why he wants to become a congressman, he cites the octopus theory of government and says he wants to go where the brain is — the federal government, where lots of the control originates.  Please see Door/Page A6  Mirror photo by Jason Sipes  Scott Conklin gets campaign material from his Volkswagen Beetle during a recent stumping session in Altoona.  Campaign finance answers due this week  By William Kibler  Staff Writer  Scott Conklin will find out this week if high-powered Democrats are willing to put their money where his mouth is in the race for the 9th District congressional seat.  Conklin will meet with officials from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Wednesday to discuss his campaign budget and how the committee could support him.  Published reports have speculated that the committee won’t be willing to invest much in the heavily Republican area, but Conklin isn’t buying that theory.  “It would be a total shock if they’re not supporting me,’’ he said.  Conklin expects it might cost a total of $400,000 to run the kind of campaign he’d like. But he can’t say now what he’ll ask the Democratic Committee to contribute.  “We look forward to talking with him and w r ill do whatever we can to help him,” said Erik Smith, a committee spokesman.  Smith wouldn’t discuss how much the organization could afford or would be willing to give or what factors would come into play in the decision — including the question of whether it’s a winnable seat for a Democrat.  “It’s not my place to say if it’s winnable,” Smith said.  The committee probably will contribute to the campaign but won’t target it as a primary objective, predicted Terry Madonna, political science professor at Millersville University. “If they don’t think they can win, they’re not going to put in a lot of money,” Madonna said.  Smith wouldn’t comment on reports the committee is short of ftrnds.  Conklin is pro-life, pro-gun and pro-business, which doesn’t endear him to some mainstream Democratic groups. But he doesn’t plan to modify any of those positions as a condition ol getting money from the committee.  “Money won’t buy how I feel about things,” Conklin said.  Please see Finance/Page A6  stance  By Eunice Moscoso  Cox News Service  WASHINGTON — Some conservative Democrats have three words of advice for their party leaders: drop gun control.  “This is not an issue that helps the Democratic Party, particularly in rural America,” said Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas.  “Those of us who believe in the Second Amendment and the right of gun ownership have been pretty outspoken in telling our friends [that] this is an issue they need to leave alone.”  Turner and other House Democrats, including Texans Max Sandlin and Ralph Hall, are concerned about renewed efforts to push gun control in Congress.  Two powerful senators — Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz. — are working on a bill that would increase background checks at gun shows and provide additional money to enforce existing laws.  In addition, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., is planning to introduce a measure that would mandate background checks for all buyers at gun shows and expand the definition of a gun show to include events such as flea markets and swap meets where firearms are not the main product sold.  The Texas lawmakers said gun control efforts have hurt Democrats, including former Vice President Al Gore.  “If the Democrats and the Gore campaign had not been so strident in opposition to gun rights ... there’s absolutely no doubt that Vice President Gore would be president,” Sandlin said.  Please see Gun/Page A4  ACCESS^ I • DENIEDJ I  STARTING NIXT SUNDAY  A six-month Mirror investigation finds that many area police departments, schools and municipalities routinely stretch, bend or flat out ignore the state’s public records laws.  One door at a time  Energetic Conklin fights uphill battle, house by house  EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of profiles on the candidates for the 9th District seat in the U.S. Congress.  By William Kibler  No suitors in sight for car shop facility  By Craig Williams Staff Writer  Despite the potential that 155 acres of industrial property offers, Norfolk Southern Corp. said Friday that no suitors have been found to move into the car shop in Hollidaysburg.  “We have provided tours to several rail car repair and manufacturers,” said Rudy Husband, Norfolk Southern spokesman.  “We are not going to release the names, but since Nov. 2 we have had no proposals whatsoever.” The shop offers a complete and trained labor force of more than 300 skilled workers.  As late as Monday, the Altoona Blair County Develop-ment Corp. said it was preparing to help the railroad find buyers or at least tenants by helping to create an industrial tax-free zone covering Please see Suitors/Page A9  aarnn.  DELIVERY  Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480  z-22910 001 50 1  BIG FOUR  8    0    (2    7  I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER  Rain  likely, 58°  ■ Forecast, B2  SONG AND DANCE  Sandy Duncan performs in the musical “Together: A Celebration of  Broadway’s  Best”  Saturday at the  Roosevelt Junior High School Auditorium in Altoona.  Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec  Bus firm stresses safety, amenities  By William Kibler  Staff Writer  The owner of a Duncansville trucking firm has revived the phone number and the careers of a few former Blue and White Lines executives.  The new company, which has set its sights on high standards for safety and luxury, will get rolling in April.  Baxter Caldwell, owner of truck  ing company Blair America, doesn’t want his Fantasy Land Cruises tainted with Blue and White’s now black-and-blue image.  But he bought the old phone number because agents and customers all over the country had it in their Rolodexes, he said.  He sought out Dwayne Borden and Dennis Long of the old Blue and White management team Please see Bus/Page A9  m—i-I i  Altoona iMirror  H QT-AOS.com  We're white-hot!  I THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for  THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSI El I‘OS and HOT-Al IS  Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547     □ local    H SPORTS    Q BUSINESS      Accidents    A7    Outdoors    C9    Stocks    E2,3      Hospitals  Obituaries    AH A11    Scoreboard    C8    CDs, Mutuals    E4      Opinion    A8    □ life        Q CLASSIFIED      Q NATION    Astrograph_  Movies  Puzzles    D4    □ COMMUNITY NEWS      Newsmakers    B5    D3  04    Couples    Q2      Strange Brew    B3    Travel    D6    Yesteryear    G3      

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