Thursday, May 3, 2001

Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 3, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY L8FE: Preppingfor his Jaffa show, Humperdink says touring's all in the game Dl l.lljSgigSa Adelphia Communications grabs northern Blair cable customers A3 SPCHTS: Buffalo Sabres even playoff series with Penguins with 5-2 victory Hi Alt00na iMtrror Copyright 2001 THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2001 newsstand ON TAP Tonight's schedule at the 'Blair County Convention Center: p.m. Ribbon cutting at main entrance 6 p.m. Reception with entertainment provided by the .Altoona Symphony Orchestra 7 p.m. Allegheny' Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau annual award .presentation and Blair County Convention Center grand open- ing celebrations Blair County's Convention center opens today BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer A few months ago, the Blair County Convention Center ballroom was a big empty room with bare floors and unfinished walls. Today, the ballroom is carpeted and finished, dressed up by 101 tables with blue and white ready for its first banquet after a p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. More than 800 dinner reservations have been made for tonight's Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau's annual mem- bership recognition awards dinner, the opening event in Blair County's convention center. Activities at the convention center continue Friday and Saturday, when the center's lower floor becomes the hub of Mid-State Tool and Supply Co. Inc.'s annual trade show. A few weeks ago, workers at the con- vention center were washing glass and wiping up construction dust. Wednes- day morning, the Blair County Convention Center logo welcome mats were down, and the countdown was on for the opening banquet. Kitchen staffers were working on dinner for 800-plus people, more food was being delivered at one of the loading docks and three bouquets of congratulatory flowers were being delivered to the office of Cheryl Ebersole, executive director for the bureau. Ebersole, meanwhile, was running around the convention center, taking care of loose ends leading up to tonight's banquet, which will climax a project the bureau started pushing in May 1993. That's when a study wrapped up, concluding that if Blair Please see AS IRAs Bill raising limits passes BY CURT ANDERSON The Associated Press WASHINGTON The House overwhelmingly passed legislation Wednesday to increase the amount of money Americans can put in IRAs and plans and to give companies greater incentive to offer traditional pensions to workers. The lopsided 407-24 rarity on a tax. bill in a Congress narrowly divided between Republicans and Democrats should send a strong message to the Senate, where a near- ly identical bill died last year, spon- sors said. President Bush has expressed support for the approach but did not include retirement mea- sures in his package of tax cuts. At an estimated cost of billion over 10 years, the bill gradually would raise contribution limits for tax-preferred traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts from to by 2004 and for tax-deferred plans from to by 2006. People age 50 and older would get special provisions raising their con- tribution limits more quickly. The legislation would not, however, change the income limits that pre- vent some middle- to upper-income people from participating. Supporters said the bill would boost a U.S. savings rate now at the lowest level in 67 years and supple- ment Social Security, which faces an uncertain financial future just as 76 million baby boomers begin to retire. "Social Security isn't enough. It's hard to live said Rep. Rob Please see A10 AL ROKER GETS EDUCATED DAY Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich Curve's Steamer receives a diploma from preschool Wednesday at the Altoona- Harrisburg game at Blair County Ballpark. Steamer receives diploma, redemption for insults BY ROBERT IOOE Staff Writer The Altoona Curve must wait 48 hours for I another chance at victory, but their mas- I cot finally received the satisfaction he has been seeking since Groundhog Day. Steamer, the Curve's green steam engine mascot, was recognized by fans at Wednesday's game, ending a vendetta that began Feb. 2 when NBC weatherman Al Roker referred to Steamer as "stupid" during a live broadcast of "The Today Show." The backlash against Roker was immediate with the Curve scheduling Wednesday's event as "Al Roker Is Stupid later softening the name to "Al Roker Gets Educated Day." Roker was nowhere to be found, despite his apology to Curve fans and invitations from the Curve to attend, but an overflow crowd of fans, including students from dozens of local schools, packed Blair County Ballpark to give their support for Steamer. "I think he's said Bedford High School student Jess Tozer. "He has a nice butt." Please see A12 Problems at Panda's Bar hurt Altoona BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer The image of Panda's Bar in down- town Altoona as a place of violence and crime has hurt the image of the city of Altoona, Mayor Tom Martin testified Wednesday during an injunction hearing. The mayor said he has received telephone calls, letters and resident complaints about Panda's Bar, 1211 llth St, and he has met with the police to determine what can be done to stop the crime and violence at the bar. He said potential residents of the city pay attention to the shootings, fights and drug deals that are publi- cized when police make arrests at Panda's. "It is a poor reflection on our Martin said. In his nearly four years in office, Panda's is the only bar that he has received complaints. Martin wasn't on the stand long, but his message was unmistakable: Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva should continue a tempo- rary injunction imposed Monday that closed the bar. He doesn't want to see anyone lose their livelihood, but he doesn't want to see Panda's continue as it is. In a perfect world, he would like to see Panda's made into a good eating establishment, where people could go and feel safe. The mayor's testimony comple- mented that given by Sgt Charles Strobert, the commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement office in Duncansville. He claimed Panda's was the worst bar in his eight-county district of Blair, Cambria, Centre, Bar ;ontinues o be a lashpoint or contro- versy in downtown Altoona. Blair County DA says bar's closing is not political PAGE AS Bedford, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Fulton and Somerset counties. Panda's owner and manager, Franklin West, and his attorney, Arthur Cohen, said they will present witnesses to counter the image prcr jected by city officials. Their witness; es will include many West said after the 3 hour heat ing that he believes he has fallen vic- tim to an attempt by someone to take over his business. Please see AS Agricultural imports are being tracked Pennsylvania veterinarian says efforts have increased to keep foot-and-mouth disease away from U.S. livestock. BY BETH N. GRAY For the Minor NEW and cus- toms officials are tracing imports of animals, certain meat products and farm machinery to increased efforts to keep foot-and-mouth dis- ease from spreading to U.S. livestock, a state veterinarian told a farm gathering at Northern Bedford County High School Wednesday. One of those traces turned up on a tractor in the Morrisons Cove area brought from England, where more than cattle, sheep and hogs have been slaughtered to con- tain the outbreak, said Dr. Karen Martin of the Agriculture Department's Altoona region- al office. The tractor was washed properly, disinfect- ed and painted, she said. The system worked. Pennsylvania has a ban on imported used farm equipment, said state Agriculture Secretary Samuel E. Hayes, who organized 17 symposiums across rural areas of the state to warn of the easily transmissible, highly conta- gious virus "that moves like white lightning through susceptible species." Hayes He said he brought a sym- posium here because Morri- sons Cove and northern Bed- ford County are wall-to-wall daily farms and susceptible to other species. The virus infects cloven- footed including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer and rats, but it can be carried by other ani- mals as well. Tracebacks, scrutiny of international trav- elers, testing of animals with suspicious dis- ease symptoms, education of livestock pro- ducers and dissemination of biosecurity Please see A7 With agreement, PSU students end occupation STATE COLLEGE (AP) After a weeklong standoff that had students occupying Perm State University's stu- dent union building, activists and admin- istrators celebrated an agreement Wednesday addressing issues of race on campus. "It's definitely a feeling of said Joe Dawkins, former president of the Penn State Black Caucus. "We said we would stay here until our needs were met We think the university has taken that step and is meeting our needs." The agreement kept the key provisions of a plan the university announced April 26 but added details about the new Africana Studies Research Center and changed some wording in the duties of the vice provost for educational equity. The Black Caucus wanted the vice provost to have the power to withhold 12 percent of each college's budget if the cot lege did not meet its diversity plan. The university did not agree to that provi- sion, but it gave the vice provost more authority in overseeing diversity issuer Please see AID ,f MUVHY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 BMFOUR 0 6 8 3 Lottery numbers, A2 WEAIMtH Sunny and warm, Forecast, A2 Altiwna Ultrror [THE CIREAT Call us today...Make money today. Ask for TOE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 Q High schools Abby Puzzles DS D5 IN WORLD Pope John Paul ll's scheduled visit to Greece: has faced a host of trou- bles, including whether he will kiss the soil. PAGEC1