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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - April 30, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY Test your smarts and win cash by picking the winner of next week's race. Rusty Wallace takes first place in NASCAR's NAPA Auto Parts 500 Sunday. Altnmta Copyright 2001 MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2001 newsstand Bucs pitching woes mean more starry nights here IN SPORTS Curve hold lead over host Akron Aeros until ninth inning at Canal Park. Pirates take tough loss on the road to San Diego. Pirates scored only run in eighth inning. PAGE B1 BY CORY GIOER Mirror Sports Staff The Pittsburgh Pirates' pitching woes have turned the Altoona Curve into rehab central. Pirates hurler Jason Schmidt will make his third rehabilitation start for the Curve at Blair County Ballpark tonight, just two days after Francisco Cordova pitched for the club in Akron, Ohio. There's also a possibility Bucs ace Kris Benson will make a rehab start in Altoona next week. If so, it would mean three of the five members of Pittsburgh's projected starting rotation will have pitched for the Curve before appearing with the Pirates this season. "It's good for the people in Altoona to be able to see [the major leaguers] once in a Curve manager Dale Sveum said. These aren't just typical major leaguers, either. The pitchers represent the most impres- sive wave of rehab players to don Curve uni- forms in the franchise's brief existence. The Pirates have assigned 11 players for rehab work with the Curve since 1999, none with better credentials than the current troupe of pitchers. Appearances by the likes of Schmidt or Benson give fans extra incentive to visit Blair County Ballpark. "We can always use the Curve general manager Jeff Parker said. "It always helps when people get a chance to see a major leaguer in here. It makes your own players look good, too." Schmidt, who's nursing a strained rib cage muscle, was scheduled to start for the Curve Friday at Akron. He needed more rest, so the Pirates pushed his start back to tonight. The right-hander struck out 10 Erie batters over four innings at Blair County Ballpark April 13. He felt stiffness for several days after that performance and left with shoulder dis- comfort after just one inning in a start six days later in Bowie, Md. Benson is working his way back from a sprained ligament in his right elbow. The No. 1 pick in the 19% draft is scheduled to throw two innings Friday in extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla. Please see AS Mirror file photo by Kelly Bennett Jason Schmidt is set for anoth- er start in Altoona tonight. NEWSMAKER: CHERYL Blair's conventional approach The monumental task of overseeing Blair's convention center project has rested squarely on the shoulders of a 5-foot-nothing bundle of nervous energy. BY WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer Like chasing your hat in the wind, it's hard to maintain your dignity when following Cheryl Ebersole around the new Blair County Convention Center as she gets ready for its first event this week. Forget opening doors for her like a practi- cally running to stay within 10 feet of her as she pushes through and pauses to hold it open for you. As executive director of the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau, which pro- moted the million project for a decade and will operate the center, Ebersole is the hub, clearinghouse and focal point for scores of compa- nies, groups and individuals furi- ously doing last-minute things that she needs to know are happening and who need her to make sure they stay out of on another's way. Contractors are paving and striping lots, sealing asphalt and hooking up lines; vendors are delivering equipment, uniforms and supplies; staffers are arrang- ing and matching furniture, assigning keys, moving boxes, working out to-do lists, recruiting events and confirming invitations for the first big dinner Thursday. "Totally says Al Laich, liaison for construction of the access road. But it's under control, with the building about ready, the access road to Old Route 220 drivable and a shuttle bus arranged for over- flow parking. Yes, it's under con- trol, even if the hotel next door, the parking garage and the con- nection to Logan Boulevard are stifl under construction. Ebersole has her staff, who take their cue from her and hustle. And Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Cheryl Ebersole stands outside the Blair County Convention Center. she makes priority lists and more lists every day, checks off items when they get done and keeps a master schedule to coordinate all the little lists to make sure they don't overlap and conflict. And she prays every day about the project, as she has for 10 years. all coming together. Ten years ago, Ebersole was the new bureau director. The idea of a local convention center was some- thing she had picked up from local businessmen who didn't like tak- ing their growing trade shows out of town for lack of room locally. Once just an idea, now the cen- ter is real. Now it's definitely going to happen. Ebersole is at the top of her game at 43. And she's having the time, of her life. It shouldn't be a surprise. We're at the morning staff meet- ing, exactly one week before the center opens. Eight women sit at an oblong table. Ebersole speaks quietly. Other people speak, too, telling what they've been doing in" their areas of responsibility. There are bolts of cloth on the table, probably skirting for tables in the ballroom. They can't be cut, they need to puff out to give depth. Vests are on the way, hats are embroidered. Fittings are planned for next week. There are 700 reservations for the kickoff dinner. Oak Spring Winery is donating bottles of wine. They need to figure out how to alphabetize the invitation list, as a letter needs sent to everyone who RSVP'd. Please see A4 FIRST WEEKEND THURSDAY p.m.: Ribbon Gutting. 6 p.m.: Reception, entertainment by Altoona Symphony. 7 p.m.: Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau annual award presentation. Convention cen- ter grand open- ing celebrations. FRIDAY First convention: Mid-State Tool trade show. Hosting: Bureau lunch, tours and dinner at the Ramada Hotel for about 30 event planners. 7 p.m.: Blair County commis- sioners will cut the ribbon to patio ot bricks. p.m.: Tours. SATURDAY Mid-State Tool trade show. 10a.m. to 2 p.m.: Mystery Tour forms avail- able at gift shop. SUNDAY a.m. to p.m.: Lunch buffet, adult tick- ets chil- dren under two free. 2 and 3 p.m.: John Jacobs and the Power Team. to p.m. Dinner buffet. 7p.m.: Recording artist Alvin Slaughter and the Blair County Chorus. More troopers hit road after centers combine BY TIFFANY SHAW StoffWriter More state troopers will be hitting the road over the next few years as police dis- patch centers are changed across the state. Instead of each barracks having its own dispatch center, the state police plan to con- solidate into five central dispatch centers to handle calls over the next two years. Although that could mean a call from Antis Township would be routed to Dojverr Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 Harrisburg, state police officials believe the system will help residents get better service. Through upgraded computers, the dis- patch centers will pinpoint where each police car is located and direct the near- est car to the problem, state police spokesman Jack Lewis said, "When the call conies in, we'll know where you are calling from, and we'll determine where the closest vehicle is and dispatch that Lewis said. More than 80 dispatch centers in the local barracks will be moved to the five centers, planned near Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, Philadelphia and Scranton. The state police station in Hollidaysburg receives about calls each month of all types, Trooper David White said. Lewis said further study is needed to tell which center will receive calls from which region but said that Blair County calls probably would go to Pittsburgh or Harrisburg. "At this point, there's been no deci- sions made. There's a lot of studying to he said. Part of the plan will involve studying available phone lines and transmitters. Callers will use the same local telephone number to call state police, but the calls will be routed to the regional center, Lewis said. When callers dial 911, those calls also will be transferred automati- cally to the center, he said. Please see A6 At 30, Amtrak on track to trouble BY LAURENCE ARNOLD The Associated Press turns 30 Tuesday, but it still carries the burden of a troubled infancy. Formed in 1971 to relieve freight railroads from the cash-draining responsibility of pas- senger service, the national railway never resolved its core challenge: maintaining a national passenger system while functioning as a bottom-line business, The struggle continues with new urgency. Congress has ordered Amtrak to right itself financially by 2003 or face dissolution. Amtrak supporters and critics alike said it's time to decide whether the nation wants long-distance train service and at what cost. Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Congress is ready to put its foot down, finally, if Amtrak does not make major improvements to its bot- tom line. "I won't let this slide said Young, R- Alaska. But Amtrak President George Warrington peers into the future with confidence, saying the railway is ready as more Americans turn to rail as an alternative to crowded highways and airports. "We have made extraordinary progress in shedding a lot of the negative baggage about Amtrak the he said. Please see A7 DOWN THE TRACKS Began'ServiM May trains serv.- ing 314 stations. Today, an average of 260 trains serve 512 stations daily. Took over passenger operations of all but three railroads: the Rock Island Railroad, Southern Railway and Denver Rio Grande Western Railroad. All three ceased passenger service by 1984. Serves 45 states. Those without service: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota and Wyoming. Plans are being developed to serve Maine. Operates more than route miles. Most are owned by freight railroads; Amtrak owns 730 miles of track, mostly between Boston and Washington, and in Michigan. Corporate name is National Railroad Passenger Corp. Popular name Amtrak is blending of words "American" and "track." Trenton, N.J., is the state capital receiving the most Amtrak service. Five busiest train stations: New York, 8.4 billion boardings in one year; Philadelphia, 3.8 billion; Washington, D.C., 3.4 billion; Chicago, 2.2 billion; Newark, billion. Amtrak carried a record riders in 2000. The previous record was set in 1990. Federal spending on Amtrak, including operating and capital grants, as well as payments for unemployment., insurance and retirement benefits, have ranged from million in 1971 to more than billion in 1984. Sources: Amtrak, Congressional Research Service f- 4 9 5 8 6 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEJQHEM Mostly sunny, Forecast, A2 Altoona DHtrrnr T-A0S.aom We're white-hot! i THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIPIFDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 QUCM. Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion Classifieds C4-10 Local Scoreboard A7 A9 A9 AB Comics D5 1 Community news D2 B4 j Puzzles 04 BS j Television D4
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