Friday, March 2, 2001

Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - March 2, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Altoona boys rally past Central Mountain Life: Antibiotics may not be best for ear infections JUtomra Copyright 2001 FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 2001 500 newsstand Water billing gripes boiling Customers in Duncansville say they're paying too much for service. BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer DUNCANSVILLE About 60 borough water customers crowded into the borough building Thursday night' to tell the water and sewer authority their latest bills were too high and to ask for a change in rates. While promises were made to check questionable meters and to give credit for last month's bills, the authority showed no interest in lowering its new rates or back- ing away from a billing system based on usage. "You raised our bills 265 percent Kenneth Koronowski, 822 Eighth Ave., told the authority. "If y6u did that to a auto- mobile, you'd never buy a car." For years, Duncansville residents and residents in Maple Hollow who get water from Duncansville's sys- tem paid a monthly fee of regardless of water usage. After two engineering reviews showed the monthly fee wasn't bringing enough money to pay the bills and to provide money for future capital expenses, the authority imposed a rate schedule based on metered usage. The new charge is for up to gallons and for every gallons beyond that. Authority solicitor Shawn Sullivan told residents" that because of miscommunication, the new rate structure was billed a month earlier than it should have been. Residents will get credit for the amounts billed in February and instead will be charged the old rate. But the new rate will be in effect for the next billing cycle. Koronowski, who went from pay- ing per month for water to almost based on using gallons, asked the authority to con- sider a gradual increase over three years. "It lets us get adjusted to finding the he said. But Sullivan said he would not advise that because the rates were based on current expenses. "So that's Koronowski said. "You've levying us with cri- sis management." Please see A4 READ ACROSS AMERICA Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec Penn Lincoln Elementary School teacher Jill Kutz reads "No Jumping on the Bed" to an audience of children Thursday afternoon at the Altoona Area Public Library. Kutz was one of several Pehn Lincoln teachers who spent time at the library this week to celebrate Read Across America. A case for books try to pique children's interest in reading BY MIA ROHART AND JAY YOUNG Mirror Staff Writers Library patron Bill Bowser's parents implored him to look out the car window at the beautiful scenery, but he was deeply absorbed in a book. Bowser recalls bringing a whole bag of books on that Oregon trip between third and fourth grade. "A day is not complete without at least some time spent with a Bowser said while at the Altoona Area Public Library. That is certainly true today. Gov. Tom Ridge asks Congress for money to fund student testing PAGE A3 Nearly every elementary school in the area will spend at least some time today reading in celebration of Read Across America, which coincides with the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel. It's a day to celebrate the fun and learning of reading, and it's also a reminder to parents that there is no bet- ter time to start reading to children than now. As in the case of Bowser, adults who read regularly often were read to as children. Bowser first discovered he was learning to read the words when he corrected a mistake his mother made. She continued to slip in more mistakes to see how much he knew. Then she had him read a whole page to her, then two pages, until he was reading the whole book on his own. Bowser enjoyed reading on his subway commute while working in Washington, D.C., and he often has several books started at a time. "A book is like virtual Bowser said. Wilma I. Fleck of Altoona picks up a bag full of romance novels at the Altoona library Thursday. Reading together can be a powerful bonding experi- ence between parent and child said Kitty Wilson, who teaches day-care professionals how to read to children. Reading to children helps them expand their memo- ries and make new associations between things. When reading to very young children, an adult can point to pictures and ask questions about what is going on in the story. Please see A6 FAITH-HEALING CASE High court to hear appeal If the U.S. Supreme Court hears Nixons' arguments, Blair's legal fees could prove to be hefty. BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer The prison sentence given to an Altoona couple who turned to prayer and not a doctor when their 16- year-old daughter became gravely ill with diabetes may be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. A Pittsburgh-based attorney this week filed an appeal with the nation's highest court on behalf of Dennis and Lorie Nixon of Altoona, who were convict- ed of involuntary manslaughter and child endanger- ment after their daughter, Shannon, died in 1996. Blair County Judge Norman D. I Callan sentenced the Nixons to I prison terms of 2 Vz to 5 years I because it was their second offense. 1 Their 8-year-old son, Clayton, died I previously as the result of an ear infection. In November, the Pennsylvania] Supreme Court upheld, the convic- tions. The Nixons remain free pend- ing their final appeal. Now, attorney Sally A. Frick has I asked the U.S. Supreme Court toj intervene, contending that the con-1 stitutional rights of the Nixons and I their daughter to enjoy religious free-1 dom and. privacy have been violated. I Frick said Thursday that she never I has argued before the nation's high-1 est court, but she has prepared peti- tions for presentation to the court. Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman dis- putes the idea that Shannon Nixon, who was almost 17 when she died, had the maturity to make a deci- sion about medical care in such a life-and-death situ- ation. He has argued from the beginning that the Nixons had the responsibility to seek medical care for their daughter. Gorman said arguing such an important case before the U.S. Supreme Court would be a once-in-a- lifetime experience, but the cost is extraordinary. Prick's legal brief is in booklet form and cost per page to print. Gorman said 40 copies of the brief must be printed. At those costs, his answer to the brief could cost the county "If I am not obligated to respond, I won't; is a lot of Gorman said. Please see AS L. Nixon Our Lady of Lourdes school to close doors BY WILLIAM KJBLER StaffWriter At the shrine of Lourdes in France, people throw down their crutches and walk on their own. But Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Altoona is doing the opposite. It's closing its elementary school in June after 75 years of walking alone. Next fall, it will join the con- solidated Altoona Central Catholic School system. Three years ago, the parish planned to close, then several months later it worked out a reprieve. But there won't be a reprieve this time, said the Rev. Dennis Kurdziel, the parish's pastor. It's gotten too difficult for the parish to subsidize the school and still pay its share of the diocese's costs for administration, ministries and insurance on parish buildings and employees, plus pensions. As the diocese's smallest parish supporting its own school, Lourdes has fallen behind in Please see A6 Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec After 75 years of educating students, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, 2700 Broad Ave., is closing its doors. Former local residents all shook up in Seattle BY ROBERT IGOE StaffWriter As far as earthquakes go, the people of Seattle are feeling rather fortunate that only one death and no critical injuries were attributed to Wednesday's tremor. But those living in the Jet City and surrounding areas are in no hurry for the next one to arrive. Included in that group are for- mer area residents Chris Cordek and Tom Harshbarger, who relo- Quake damage estimated at billion PAGE C1 cated to the area for professional reasons and wound up experienc- ing a the 6.8-magnitude quake, which resulted in billion in damage and minor to moderate injuries to more than 200. "It was definitely an incredible said Cordek, who works for the communication ser- vice provider Illuminate. Please see AID Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 i V 2355 Lottery numbers, A2 Cloudy, snow possible, Forecast, A2 Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion Comics D5 Community news D2 Movies D3 Television D4