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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: February 27, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 27, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Sports: Steve Park wins NASCAR's Dura Lube 400 Ufe: Sewing brings sense of accomplishment Dl Copyright 2001 UKrror TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2001 500 newsstand Biz tax break decision pending BY CRAIG WILLIAMS Staff Writer Blair County Commissioners are due to vote today on the more than 550 acres put up for a tax incentive program designed to attract busi- ness to depressed regions. Unfortunately, the vote only comes one day before the applica- tion deadline. If the commissioners vote down the tax abatement proposals, it would be too late for the munici- palities and school boards to call emergency meetings and amend their applications. Created by legislature late last year, the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone program official- ly began accepting applications Jan. 1 with strict requirements to get all paper work in by the end of February. This gave local officials less than 60 days to draw up plans and approve the of tax revenue as the program for- gives income, property and real estate tax, as well as many others. The school district's approval also is necessary because effective- ly no school taxes will be collected on the earmarked properly for up to 13 years, and commissioners from all the counties involved need to cast assenting votes, essentially recognizing and agreeing to a potential lose of tax revenue if the property were developed. The ben- efit is that developers would in many cases be responsible for putting in sewer and electricity on the property. This year's KOEZ is based on the state's first Keystone Oppor- tunity Zone program, which start- ed in January 1999 and is to elimi- nate taxes for 10 years from its inception. This year's tax abate- ment program will eliminate prop- erty and state income taxes, both for industry and residential devel- opers until 2013. Please see AS' NOT TOO TAXING Taxes that will be waived in KOEZs: State Corporate Net Income Tax Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax Personal Income Tax Sales and Use Tax Local Earned Income Net Profits Tax Business Gross Receipts, Business Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax Local Real Property Tax Sales and Use Tax LOCALS IN NEW ORLEANS The Associated Press One of the floats in the Bacchus Mardl Gras parade works its way Sunday through the streets of New Orleans. A front-row seat for Mardi Gras madness BY KEVIN OTT StaffWriter On Sunday morning, Katie Padamonsky and Will Dickey woke up at 8a.m., earlier than they usual- ly get out of bed on a Sunday. They had a party to go to. And nobody parties like they party in New Orleans. Padamonsky and Dickey have only lived in The City That Care Forgot for about six months. But in that six months and especially over the past week or so ths two Hollidaysburg natives have become intimate with every trinket, every bead, every parade and every float that'll be coming down their street this Mardi Gras. "It's something that everybody cele- brates. And everybody does it Padamonsky said. "Everybody I know goes to the Mardi Gras parades. Everybody." In the French Quarter today is pandemo- nium. On Bourbon Street is jubilant chaos. Even in the deepest, most remote swamps of lower Acadia, the bacchalanian revel reigns supreme. New Orleans got its reputation as a party town in the 18th Century, when wealthy Louisiana families would leave their plantations spend the winter months there and hold lavish parties where revel- ers wore masks. After the Spanish took control of the city later that century, state officials were con- cerned that masked balls might give slaves opportunities to escape, and when the U.S. government took over Louisiana in the early 1800s, the parties were banned out- right. But by the 1820s the festivals had returned, and the first documented Mardi Gras parade was recorded in 1837. After that it just got bigger. Rick Bills moved to New Orleans from the Cambria Heights area a few years ago. During most of February, he doesn't sleep all that well. He lives in the middle of the town's cen- tral business district with 30-foot windows in his apartment. During the weeks before and after Mardi Gras, the parades are almost nonstop. Since New Orleans was featured on MTV's "The Real World" last season, the crowds have only gotten big- ger, he said. "There's always a reason for people to he said. "If there's not a reason, the city will find one." Last weekend, he already had seven friends at his home. They had pulled up in an RV a few days earlier asking for a floor to sleep on and a wine glass to drink from. But despite the city's reputation as the nation's frathouse, it's actually quite sedate preceding Fat Tuesday, Padamonsky said. During the rest of the year, it's classic Old South and southern dandies and debu- tante balls abound, like something out a Tennessee Williams play, she said. "It's just amazing how laid back and sedate they can when it comes to Mardi she said. Much of the revelry seems to get its rep- utation from tourists who visit the city from all over the world, Padamonsky said from points north and west expect debauchery and drunkenness of epic proportions, so they bring the crazi- ness with them. Please see AS Some cbniiWri tvlarai Gras terminology: Miri GDI French for "Fat the last chance for revelry and excess before the penitential season of Lent begins. A fatted bull or'cx that symbolizes the -last meat eaten before the Lenten season of fasting. It is one of the most photographed sights at Mardi Gras. DwR A masked party featuring, as entertainment, the performance of scenes representing a specific theme. IUW6 The generic term for all carnival organizations and clubs in New Orleans IhaJ sponsor balls or parades. Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology are the sources for nearly half the krewe names. Most Mardi Gras krewes also are involved in charity work. Aluminum coinlike objects bearing the krewe's insignia on one side and the parade's theme on the reverse side. Inexpensive souvenirs tossed from floats by costurned and masked krewe members in response to traditional calls of, "Throw me something, These "throws" include plastic cups and necklaces. An oval, sugared cake with a plastic baby doil hidden inside. The'perspn who finds the doll is crowned "king'Vand buys the next colorful cake.' Source: New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau Court snarl eases After flirting with a backlog, Blair County's court schedule is just about back on track. BY PHIL RAY StaffWriter The number of cases in the Blair County criminal court has dropped dramatically just a year after county judges announced they no longer would accept plea bargains after juries had been selected to hear charges.' The new system has had a ripple effect, forc- ing lawyers and prosecutors to begin thinking how to resolve cases much earlier than before. Blair County Judge Norman D. Callan in January 2000 announced the new policy but said it had the support of his colleagues, includ- ing judges Thomas G. Peoples, Jolene G. Kopriva and Hiram A. Carpenter. While there have been some exceptions, all the judges have basically adhered to the new policies. Callan each trial term also introduced two rounds in which cases ready for jury trial were brought before the court during the weeks just prior to selecting juries for criminal cases. During these "calls of the as it is known throughout the Blair County courthouse, the status of each of the 300 to 350 cases is examined monthly. Callan asks attorneys if there are out- standing pretrial motions or if there dre any potential snafus that could potentially delay a case. During these court sessions, which in the beginning lasted up to 12 hours, the judge would learn about details such as missing wit- nesses, suspects without lawyers, pending motions or possible plea agreements those court-related situations that can lead to delays. Callan would urge lawyers to resolve case problems before coming back to court. In some cases where lawyers either failed to appear or appeared in his courtroom unpre- pared, Callan issued "attachments" on the attor- neys, meaning they had to be present and up-to- date with their cases every time a call of the list was held or they would be fined for contempt: The crackdown on dilatory attorneys has born fruit. Entering 2000, the number of criminal cases' pending in the Blair County court was This was an increase over the 871 cases pending that began 1999. That figure plummeted to 652 starting in 2001; Callan and the other judges were concerned a year ago because cases coming before the court for trial tended to be between eight months and a year old. Pennsylvania court rules mandate that sus- pects who are in prison be tried within six months and those on bail be tried within a year. In looking at the problem more than cases and the slow speed with which they were being dispensed, the judges decided some- thing needed to be done. One of the problems, as Callan defined, was that attorneys were waiting until cases were called for jury trial before becoming involved in plea bargains. Please see A4 PSU reps defend sexfest decision BY MARTHA RAFFELE The Associated Press HARRISBURG Gov. Tom Ridge weighed in on the contro- versy over a sex-education fair at Penn State University for the first time Monday, telling university officials they should have consid- ered community standards, as well as students' First Amendment rights, when they decided to allow the event. "I believe it is a false choice that Penn State must defend either free speech or community ON THE NET: Penn State University: Ridge said in a two-page letter to university President Graham B. Spanier. "Instead, the University must develop systems and proce- dures that respect both." Ridge's letter was released while he was in Washington, D.C., meet- ing with his fellow governors, as state lawmakers in Harrisburg opened hearings on Ridge's budget proposal to give Penn State mil- lion in state funds next year million less than the university said it needs to serve its students. This year, the perennial debate over how much taxpayer support is enough is being overshadowed by fallout from the Feb. 3 "Sex Faire" at Penn State, which fea- tured-a risque bingo game, explic- it literature and anatomically cor- rect gingerbread cookies. Please see A3 Euthanasia speaker brings debate BY JAY YOUNG StaffWriter A Princeton professor and propo- nent of euthanasia for elderly and infants with birth defects will ignite a heated debate tonight when he speaks at Perm State Altoona. Peter Singer is a controversial proponent of euthanasia, and not just for the terminally ill but also in some cases for the very young. Singer wrote in a book he authored that "killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all." Singer will bring his ideas and philosophy to the campus tonight as part of the campus' Distinguished Speaker Series. The philosopher's visit already has resulted in some letters and calls from an area resident com- plaining about the opportunity the campus is giving Singer. Anticipating the opposition, cam- pus Dean William Cale wrote a let- ter to the editor that appeared in Monday's Mirror. Please see A3 IF YOU 60 What: "Making Decisions About Life and Death." Who: Presented by Dr. Peter Singer, a controversial bioethicist. When: p.m. today Where: Adler Athletic Complex at Penn State Altoona Admission: The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available at the Penn State Altoona Bookstore from 8 a.m. to p.m. Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 5131 Lottery numbers, A2 wumn Partly sunny, Forecast, A2 Altoona iHtrror THE GREAT Call us today.. .Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASS1K1 KOS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 Q LOCAL Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion High schools Scoreboard H NATION AS I Classifieds A7 A7 AS i 13 UFE i Comics I Dear Abby B4 Puzzles 85 i Television C2-8 D3 D2 D2 D2 IN NATION New law will make about adoptees U.S. citizens   

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