Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - March 22, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Nation: Sheep may be infected with mad cow CI Life: Broadway actor to perform with local Symphony Dl jUtoona Copyright 2001 THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2001 newsstand Rumors flood local schools BY JAY YOUNG StaffWriter Each time a school violence story makes national headlines, virtually every school district in the United States is inundated with rumors. It is slowly becoming another part of the school year. The weath- er shows signs of improvement, some child in America commits a violent crime and the switch- boards light up with concerned calls of rumors indicating more violence on the horizon. HOTLINE Family Soviets of Blair County ton hotline: Call if you know of anyone who has made a threat of school violence, Word on the Altoona streets gained enough attention this week that high school principal Sharon Fasenmyer appeared twice on high school tele- vision and also sent home a letter to parents in an effort to calm fears. While just about any Altoona High School student could ace a rumor test this week, the letter didn't detail for parents what inspired the notice. The mass mailing is one of numerous lines of communication being opened. Earlier this week, Family Services of Blair County announced their 10-year-old teen hot line will accept information about threats of school violence. Any information related to violent behavior or threats will be trans- mitted to the District Attorney's office and school officials to deter- mine a reasonable course of action. The number, (800) 227-TEEN, gives all Blair County students a line of communication if they see trouble, said Mahlon Fiscel, Family Services executive direc- tor. The Altoona district is the only district in the county to offer such a number, which is posted on the high school's walls. "We get lots of stuff on school district spokesman Tom Bradley said. "Most of it just needs to be checked out." The trend among school officials is recommending students take a safe, rather than sorry, approach. it makes your stomach start to turn, it probably has some valid- ity to it, and you probably should report he said. communication continues tonight when state Attorney General Mike Fisher discusses school violence with the public at Logan Elementary School. The hour long meeting at 7 p.m. is free and open to the public. Please see A6 HOOP DREAMS Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett Bishop Guilfoyle's Katie Milward (left) fights for possession of the ball with Kennedy Christian's Erin Frankovich (center) and Barbara Fabianova during the Class A girls' Western Final Wednesday. Mirror Sports Editor Jim Lane and girls' basketball guru Philip Cmor have complete coverage, Page Bl. YOU'RE COVERED As the Penn State men continue their historic march into the NCAA tournament, the Mirror continues to provide the region's best cover- age with stories from this week- end's South Regional in Atlanta. Our own PSU expert Neil Rudel and Illustrated's Mark Brennan will be courtside this weekend. Look for their coverage in Mirror Sports. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec nenn State men's basketball players Jon (left) and M Joe Crispin board the bus with the team for its trip to Atlanta, please see story on Page Bl. City sued over drug findings Right Turn rehab founder says 'flawed' report ruined his business. BY PHIL RAY StaffWriter JOHNSTOWN The former owner of a city drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation center has asked the U.S. District Court to order the destruction of a crime report pre- pared for Altoona City Council two years ago because the information and conclusions in it allegedly were flawed. The report was prepared by a special commission appointed by City Council to investigate the surge in crime, the spread of hero- in and crack cocaine and related drug deaths. The commission, headed by for- mer Altoona Mayor Daniel Muliron, spent eight months and conducted hundreds of interviews before con- cluding that one of the problems was that local rehabilitation centers, including Right Turn, were bring- ing in drug abusers from metropoli- tan areas like Philadelphia and Baltimore, and that many eventual- ly reverted to old habits such as abusing and selling drugs. Charles E. Powell, former owner of Right Turn, charges the city's Drug and Crime Commission lead- ers met with state Sen. President Pro Tern Robert C. Jubelirer, R- Blair, and Rep. Rick Geist, R- Altoona, to teU them about the problems that supposedly existed in the Right Turn program. Powell's lawsuit states the two powerful officials then used their influence to shut down a lucrative rehabilitation program operated by Right Turn In which the state Department of Corrections sent prerelease inmates to Right Turn for counseling and treatment. The lawsuit filed by attorneys Steven B. Larchuk of Wexford and Steven G. Polin of Washington requests money, damages in excess of and asks U.S. District Judge D. Brooks Smith to order the city and the city's crime commission not to interfere with the operation of present rehabilitation programs. It also requests the judge to direct the city to destroy the com- mission's 1999 report and place under seal the information used in the preparation of the report. A year ago, Powell sued a Massachusetts-based management firm called CiviGenics Inc., which he said began directing Right Turn's operations in 1996. Instead of improving the rehabil- itation program, the company cut staff, did not provide experienced leadership and failed to maintain Right's Turn's facilities, Powell charged. This lack of leadership by CiviGenics, Powell charged, helped attract the attention of the city's Crime and Drug Commission. The Powell suit against CiviGenics is to be resolved through a federal arbitration program. Altoona city solicitor Robert Alexander said Wednesday that he had no comment on the charges in the lawsuit but said the request to have the crime report destroyed and the information used to pre- pare the report sealed by court order was unusual. When asked if such a court-ordered remedy was feasible, Alexander said a judge has many options he can order. "Wearegoingto defend it [thelaw- suit] Alexander said. The lawsuit names MUliron, tiie chairman; and Mel Ellis, a retired insurance executive who was vice chairman of the crime commis- sion; the crime commission as a whole; and the city as defendants. It charges 'that the commission, through its investigation, violated several federal laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the federal Fair Housing Act, the federal Rehabilitation Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the U.S. Constitution. The result of the investigation into crime was that it interfered with disabled individuals drug- and-alcohol abusers to move to Altoona and to obtain treatment. Powell's lawsuit stated the infor- mation gathered by the commis- sion was "intentionally false and inaccurate." It criticized the commission for not interviewing former Right Turn Executive Director Diane Arnold. "The commission admitted in its report that the bulk of its informa- tion came from a small group of former staff and clients, and that it failed to yerify the accuracy of this it was charged. Please see A6 More locals keeping an eye on the Fed, markets BY TIFFANY SHAW Staff Writer A generation ago, keeping an eye on the actions of the Federal Reserve and the machinations on Wall Street weren't high on the list of priorities of the average Altoonan. Boy, have times changed. Market watchers no longer are just the well-to-do with prosperous stocks in big business. Now financial planning is the topic of many residents' dinner table con- versations. The percentage of adults who own stocks directly or through mutual funds climbed steadily and dramatically through the 1990s, from 35.6 percent in 1989 to 51.8 per- cent in 1998. The percentage probably is higher still today. The details about Main Street's shift to Wall Street are not surprising. The most educated people have the highest percent- age of stock ownership. The more wealth or income a family enjoys, the greater the odds it owns stocks. Stock investing is more popular among people in then- prime earning years, aged 35 to 54. Please see A6 Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange work the Eurodollar Futures pit as the Federal Reserve announced a half-point cut in a key interest rate, hoping to encourage Americans to spend and invest to revive a sluggish economy. The Associated Press 9TH DISTRICT RACE First debate set for May 1 BY ROBERT IGOE StaffWriter As talk of campaigns and debates are taking center stage in the race for the 9th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Represen- tatives, the biggest debate so far seems to be over the question of whether the candidates have agreed to debate. Richard Shinier, a member of the Congressional District Team of the Altoona AARP, said they have con- finned at least some of the four major candidates to square off at a.m. May 1 at the Jaffa Mosque. IF YOU 60.. 9th District debate a.m.' May 1 at Jaffa Mosque Debate rules: first statement decided by ran- dom drawing; candidate giving second state- ment will answer first question, alternating order each question; two minutes for each answer with 30 seconds for rebuttle; five minutes for a closing; Please see A6 Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEAIHU Cloudy with snow, 39" iHtrror THE GREAT COMBINATION I Call us today...Make money today. 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