Friday, May 18, 2001

Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY RELIGION: The final installment of the Married to the Church series SPORTS: Altoona boys dominate District 6 AAA track and field championships 31 LIFE: Now is the time to guard against the effects of Lyme disease 01 Altoona Copyright 2001 FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2001 newsstand Chem-First employees stand at the gates to the facility as the cleanup crew removes decontamin- ation suits Thursday evening. Tyrone plant leaks acid Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Crews responded quickly enough to prevent any serious injuries, problems. BY MICHAEL EMERY AND TIFFANY SHAW Staff Writers TYRONE A chemical leak Thursday afternoon at the Chem-First -Fine Chemicals plant led to a major emergency response that effectively quelled the situa- tion without serious injuries or conse- quences. Hydrochloric acid leaked from a safety- release device in the plant when it over- pressurized about p.m. The company's emergency response team immediately evacuated the building and quarantined the leak area. About 80 employees were in the building at the time of the accident, said Ivan Riggle, site com- pliance manager at Chem-First. Two employees suffered minor burns and were treated at Tyrone Hospital. Two others complained of minor respiratory problems and also were treated at the hos- pital, Riggle said. Emergency crews from several area fire departments, including the Altoona Fire Department's hazardous materials team, responded to the accident. The emergency response also included a road block of a half-mile radius surround- ing the plant and a warning to all residents in the Tyrone area to remain inside, turn off air conditioning and close windows and doors until the chemical leak was con- tained. "There is a hazard when dealing with hydrochloric Riggle said. Please see A4 IN roimcs Bill Shuster takes his oath of office BY ROBERT IGOE Staff Writer Unlike most people's first day on the job, Bill Shuster didn't get an employee handbook, an easy work- load and a fewi hours off after he I was sworn in as a member of the 107th Congress in Washington, D.C. Shuster didn't 1 want it, either. "Now it's time to j get down to .busi- Shuster said in anticipa- tion of the event. "We discussed the important issues during the campaign, and I'm looking for- ward to working with my col- leagues in Washington to find solu- tions. My priorities remain the Shuster Cambria County election PAQE AS same now as during the cam- paign." Shuster was presented for induc- tion Thursday morning by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R- Texas, and sworn in by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-H1. "It is my honor and privilege to introduce the newest member of the 107th Congress, Bill said U.S. Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa. "He is ready to get down to busi- ness, and he has talked of nothing except service to the country and the community, and he is ready to serve with. us. And I know that we will hear him and be there to help him be an effective servant of the people." Please see A6 Bush will not be at tribute dinner BY WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer The president isn't coming to Monday's tribute for former Congressman Bud Shuster. He sent his regrets Wednesday, citing a conflict with a commence- ment address he's delivering at Yale University. But Vice President Dick Cheney arid former House Speaker Newt Gingrich still are possibilities for the dinner and reception at Blair County Convention Center. The organizations planning the tribute aimed for high-placed guests, set high ticket prices and took the high road by not publiciz- President seeks long-term solutions for PAGE C1 ing mere possibilities premature- ly, Blair County Chamber Executive Director Joe Kurd said. But they knew all along that the vagaries of VIP schedules could mean uncertainty, late confirma- tions, last-minute cancellations and little ammunition for market- ing the event. With four days left and little pub- licity so far about a potential heavyweight speaker, the chamber has taken 360 reservations for either dinner-only tickets or Please see A6 TRANSPORTATION Richard Cox Jr. (left) of Bedford and Dave Donaldson of Yellow Creek, employees of New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc., install an expansion dam as part of renovation work being done on the Tyrone interchange of Interstate 99. PennDOT will spend millions of dollars on future road projects In Blair County, the agency said this week. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec ROADWORK AHEAD ALSO INSIDE A list of planned PennDOT projects. PAGEA7 Bids-lor Chestnut Avenue, and Plank Road widening projects come in higher than expected. Convention Center Boulevard won't be completed until July. PAGEA12 PennDOT commits millions to Blair projects BY PHIL RAY StaffWriter planners said Wednesday that will spend millions of dollars this I year and in the future to improve Blair County's highways. In the past, PennDOT was consumed with construction of Interstate 99 and Route 22 through the county, but now that those roads have been completed, the department has turned its attention toward Improvements to existing roads. Those roads include Park Avenue in Lakemont, Plank Road, Chestnut Avenue, improved access to north Altoona, a bridge and highway in downtown Bellwood and a resurfaced Cross Cove Road near Martinsburg, which provides access to Altoona-Blair County Airport. PennDOT District 9 Engineer Earl L. Neiderhiser and assistant district engineer in charge of design Ronald L. Samuel discussed PennDOT's plans during a Transportation Please see A7 Social worker sentenced for assaulting police officer BY PHIL RAY StaffWriter former direc- tor of a program to help violent men was sentenced in Blair County Court Thursday for punching a police officer. Judge Thomas G. Peoples ordered James Lewis Lastort, 53, of 3034 Broad Ave. to serve 11 Vs to 23 months of home detention, but he will spend weekends during the first three months of his sen- tence in Blair County Prison. Lastort, former director of Men Helping Men, will be on probation for two years after completion of his detention. The sentence will allow Lastort to con- tinue therapy at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center and to work. He will pay more than in medical bills and lost wages suffered by Altoona Hospital police officer Charles Hockenberry. Lastort was charged after barging out of the hospital's mental health center Aug. 24 and hitting Hockenberry with a round- house right. Peoples faced a tough decision as Hockenberry sat on one side of the court- room with a left eye that suffered severe and permanent damage from the incident. On the other side was Lastort, supported by fellow social workers, a minister and his former wife and three daughters. They told of Lastort's problems with alcohol and mental illness. "I've done my best as a human being to balance both Peoples said after issuing the sentence. Lastort won't have to begin his sentence immediately. He and his attorney, Steven Passarello of Altoona, have 30 days to decide if they want to appeal the March verdict returned by the Blair County jury that- found Lastort guilty of aggravated assault of an officer, simple assault, reck- lessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct. Hockenberry was off work for several months, but he has returned to his job at the hospital. Please see A4 DBJVtMY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 8 0 I Lottery numbers, A2 Cloudy, Forecast, AS For 60 Months 2OO1 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2OO1 Jeep Cherokee proved credit. Offer Soon. Chrysler Plymouth Jeep 154t Pleasant VaUcyJHvd. AHoona, PA M1-4U7 QLOCAL Business Movies Obituaries Opinion Local Scoreboard A8 A3 WORLD "All in the national AID campaign talk of fighting Britain's people, but news Puzzles D4 politician is in hot for taking the battle flfrectly to a voter's PA6EC1