Altoona Mirror, April 28, 2001

Altoona Mirror

April 28, 2001

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Issue date: Saturday, April 28, 2001

Pages available: 100

Previous edition: Friday, April 27, 2001

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Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - April 28, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Pens' Jagr questionable for Game 2 Ufe: Getting the garden ready for spring planting Dl Altoona iWirrur Copyright 2001 SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2001 500 newsstand Geist requests STB hearing on NS Geist BY KAY STEPHENS StaffWriter State Rep. Richard A. Geist, R- Altoona, has asked the federal Surface Transportation Board to schedule hearings in Altoona on Norfolk Southern Corp.'s decision to close the Hollidaysburg Car Shop. If the board grants his request, it would the first time the board has held a hearing outside Washington, D.C., said Nancy Beiter, STB staff attorney. The board will review Geist's request and is interested in the issue. "But this board has never held a hearing outside D.C., and there's real- ly no budget for Beiter said Friday. Geist, who chaired two hearings of the state House Transportation Committee this month, said he wants the STB to hear how Norfolk South- ern's broken commitments are affect- ing the lives ef car shop employees and their families. "We want the STB to hear firsthand what we've Geist said. In hearings in Altoona April 12 and in Harrisburg Thursday, Geist and his committee members heard rail work- ers and rail union leaders challenge Norfolk Southern's decision to shut down the Hollidaysburg Car Shop. Railroad union and state officials filed a petition last week with the STB, complaining that the railroad is not fulfilling its commitments to keep the Hollidaysburg and Juniata shops open for three years, to further invest in the shops and to service CSX Corp. cars. Norfolk Southern officials respond- ed by claiming they made projections, not commitments. They also said the Hollidaysburg closing is just one of many difficult decisions that econoni- ic conditions and serious financial challenges require. The STB is an independent regulato- ry agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The three-member board adjudicates disputes involving interstate surface transportation, pri- marily railroads. Its mission is to ensure that competi- tive, efficient and safe transportation services are provided to meet the needs of shippers, receivers and consumers. Please see AS Sather Stern Pa. can't help pay for B air security BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer Three lawmakers representing Blah- County said that state funds to improve security at the court- house in Hollidaysburg are not probably won't be in the future. State Reps. Jerry A. Stern, R- Martinsburg; Richard A. Geist, R- Altoona; and Larry 0. Sather, R- Huntingdon, have stated in a letter to county Controller Richard J. Peo that "courthouse security has traditionally been, and continues to be in almost every county in Pennsylvania, the province of the county sheriff. "In many cases, counties have increased staff and budget to the sheriff to provide for enhanced security measures. "With a staff trained to fulfill a law officer role, it would seem the sheriffs office is perfectly situated to assist with those efforts in Blair according to the letter. In March, Peo asked lawmakers if money was available to help pay for increased security at the Blair County Courthouse. The inquiry came after the office of District Justice Elizabeth Doyle almost was set on fire, and the courthouse was closed a week later for most of a day after a bomb threat. Some courthouse employees have complained about the lack of secu- rity. It was an issue in labor negoti- ations between county commis- sioners and the United Mine Workers of America, the union that represents court-related workers. Judge Thomas G. Peoples also became embroiled in the debate, contending he has been asking for improved security for years. County Commissioner John J. Ebersole said it would cost to improve courthouse security, and that expenditure wouldn't be enough to eliminate potential violence. Peo decided to ask about the availability of state funds. Stern, Geist and Sather said that in 1995, the General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting unau- thorized individuals from entering courthouses with firearms. Please see A12 DtUMERT Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 SPRING GOBBLER SEASON Turkey biologist aide Doug Little measures the beard length ofa bearded hen turkey in the Michaux State Forest near Fayetteville in 1999. State turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena and her colleagues have trapped 120 female turkeys in the South Mountain area and fitted each with a backpack- style radio transmitter that's about the size of a 9-volt battery. The Associated Press Feast or famine Biologists studying why wild turkeys are plentiful here while the numbers are paltry to the east From Mirror staff and wire reports On a gravel road inside the Michaux State Forest, state turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena is listening for signs of life. The beeping on her radio telemetry receiver tells Casalena the turkey she is looking for is probably half a mile away, roughly the same direction her antenna is pointing. The steady, unwavering signal tells her the turkey isn't moving. "It might be Casalena said. "It might just be cooling off in the shade. These hot afternoons can be hard on turkeys." As hunters geared up for today's start of spring turkey season, Casalena and her col- leagues hunted for clues that would explain why throughout most of the rest of the state have struggled in south- central Pennsylvania. Over the last 40 years, wild turkey popula- tions have rebounded throughout much of the Northeast, with about of the birds liv- ing in Pennsylvania. When Pennsylvania first allowed spring turkey hunting in.1968, only birds were taken during the six- day season. Please see A14 Man avoids jail for attacks on partner, fetus BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG An Altoona man will not serve time in jail on charges that he assaulted his girlfriend and the couple's unborn child in July. Judge Jolene G. Kopriva said this week that 26-year-old Anthony Kofalt will be assigned to Blair County's Intermediate Punish- ment Program, which provides treatment rather than jail for cer- tain drug or alcohol abusers. Kofalt allegedly was intoxicated July 14 when he came home from a local tavern and argued with his girlfriend, who told Kofalt that they were about to be evicted from their apartment on the 1600 block of llth Street for not paying rent. Police said Kofalt slammed his girlfriend against, the wall, struck her and kicked her, stating that he never wanted their baby. The girlfriend, nine months preg- nant, escaped and went to a nearby home to call police. Later that night, she gave birth to their child. In January, Kofalt pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of an unborn child and simple assault of his girl- friend. Kofalt originally was charged with aggravated assault of the girlfriend, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge as part of a plea bargain. Kofalt's attorney, assistant pub- lic defender Mark Zearfaus, and assistant district attorney Wade Kagarise agreed that Kofalt should be enrolled in the IPP instead of serving time in jail., Kofalt was the second Blair County man prosecuted under a 3- year-old state law imposing crimi- nal sanctions for assaulting an unborn child. The U.S House passed a similar law Thursday. Kagarise said Friday that his office wanted to see a jail term imposed in the case, but Kofalt's girlfriend was hesitant to testify. The district attorney's office intended to pursue the prosecution with or without the victim's coop- eration, but prosecutors agreed to the IPP because it was recom- mended by the county's assess- ment team. AT A GLANCE Anthony Kofalt was the second Blair County man prosecuted under a 3-year-old state law imposing criminal sanctions for assaulting an unborn child. The U.S House passed a similar law Thursday. Under court sentencing guide- lines, aggravated assault of an unborn child carries with it a mini- mum 9- to 16-month sentence. Instead of jail time, Kofalt will be assigned to the county's Intermediate Punishment Program, which provides treatment rather than prison for certain drug or -alcohol abusers........ "We wanted to get a conviction under the new law because we believed in Kagarise said. "He's now under court supervi- sion. God forbid if he would assault her again." A criminal defendant is not auto- matically enrolled in the program even though the prosecution and defense agree he should be. His application is reviewed by an assess- ment team, which evaluates sus- pects and makes recommendations. Individuals charged with certain crimes, such as aggravated assault, are not eligible for the program, IPP Director Thomas Shea said. But a charge of aggravated assault of an unborn child is not one of the crimes that would bar IPP participation, Shea said. As part of the plea bargain, pros- ecuting attorneys agreed to drop the aggravated assault charge on the girlfriend, making Kofalt eligi- ble for IPP. Even under IPP, Kofalt could' have spent up to three months in jail, but the plea agreement indicat- ed that instead of spending time in jail, Kofalt would be placed on elec- tronic monitoring for 90 days. Under electronic monitoring, Kofalt will wear an anklet that enables authorities to confirm he is at home. Please see A6 Nuisance ordinance annoys residents INSIDE TODAY Cambria County Courthouse employees are saddened by the closing of the basement lunch counter. PAGEA10 State Attorney General Mike Fisher speaks as part of the county's Law Day Friday. PAGEA11 BY BETH N. GBAY For the Mirror SCHELLSBURG A proposed property maintenance and nui- sance ordinance intended to establish health and safety requirements for Napier Town- ship drew the ire of almost every- one in a crowd of 125 at a special supervisors meeting. The residents got their first chance to respond to the proposal at Shawnee Valley Fireball Thursday. With a show of hands, many more residents expressed con- cern for an ordinance designed to regulate motor vehicle nui- sances, storage of construction materials and building and prop- erty maintenance than to estab- lish restrictions on racetracks. But there also were residents present to voice concerns over an ordinance designed to regulate a motorcycle racetrack. Neighbors' objections to con- struction of a dirt motorcycle racetrack along Hoover Road pressured supervisors to com- plete the ordinance, which has been under study and in prepara- tion for some time. But residents were concerned mostly about property mainte- nance. "The issue is telling us how our ground should said resi- dent Dave Delozier, speaking for a sometimes noisy contingent of jeans-and-T-shirt-clad men in ball caps. "I think we're going in places the majority of people don't want to go. "Is my junk worse than your he asked. "Maybe it's none of your business. I could care less about your junk car or shrubbery." Please see A3 Mostly sunny, Forecast, A2 Altoona Utrror THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. 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