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Altoona Mirror: Monday, May 21, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 21, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                INSIDE TODAY CCfflEST; Test your smarts and win cash by picking the winner of next week's race SPOUTS; Jeff Gordon returns after crash to win The Winston all-star race Bl Copyright 2001 Life in the Secret Service: Agents do more than one expects BY ROBERT IGOE Staff Writer While many people remember where they were and what they were doing when President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley, Joseph E. Trainor Sr. has a story that will top most. "I was working at the White House the day President Reagan was recalls Trainor, the Special Agent in Charge of the Pittsburgh office of the United States Secret Service. "I was the agent who observed the surgeries on the president and the agent and the other man who was shot, and I was the agent who retrieved the bullets that the surgeons removed." Reagan would recover quickly from his injuries, as did Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy. But the incident was a great reminder of the challenge of protecting the highest-ranking political leader in the world. "A Secret Service agent reacts differently than anyone else at the scene of an Trainor says. "Everyone else will hit the ground and run for cover, but we stand a little taller to make our- selves a better target. That comes from years of repetitive crisis training, which helps you react completely contrary to the usual human reaction to danger." The Secret Service's low-profile presence has been noticed quite a bit in our region over the past year, starting with visits to State College last year by then-President Clinton and then-vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney and .a visit to Greencasfle this month by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who requires a higher level of protection than most congressmen because he's second in line after the vice presi- dent in presidential succession. "'The Secret Service's job of pro- tecting presidents and politicians began in 1905 after the assassination of President William McKinley, the third president killed since 1865. Up to that point, the Secret Service, the only federal law enforcement agency in operation at that time, had been charged primarily with the detection of counterfeit curren- cy, a job that still falls under their jurisdiction. Please see A4 MONDAY, MAY 21, 2001 RETURN OF THE GYPSY MOTHS The Associated Press A plane sprays pesticide over the treetops of Appleton, Wis., in an effort to help con- trol gypsy moth caterpillars. Fueled by weather conditions, the caterpillars make comeback From Mirror staff and wire reports On quiet days, you can almost hear them munching. The much-despised gypsy moth cater- pillars are in the middle of a comeback, fueled by a dry, mild spring and their own natural population cycle. Weather over the past year has been nearly perfect for the critters, helping launch a comeback for a pest that had been declining over the last decade. To combat the leaf munchers, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is aerial-spraying more than acres in 23 Pennsylvania more acres than the department sprayed last year. In 1998, the department did not have to spray the gypsy moth insecticide at all. In Blair County this year, gypsy moths have mowed through forests near Martinsburg and Williamsburg. And even after DCNR forces sprayed acres of the county, the bugs still are chowing down. "We're still seeing a lot of calls from the east- ern part of the said Donna Fisher, director of the Blair County Conservation District. "That area's going to be hot again this year." Last year, the pests made their homes in Sinking Valley. The gypsy moth, which was introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1860s. does most of its damage in the caterpillar stage. The hairy caterpillar hatches from an egg mass con- taining up to 300 insects. It then spins a para- chute of silk-like material that allows the cater- pillar to travel on the wind for up to 10 miles. When the caterpillar lands, it becomes an eat- ing machine, consuming leaves until it reaches a maximum length of 2 Vi inches. The caterpil- HE COUNTIES flu DtptrtRiMl of CernemtkHi and Nititnl JteotTCM will ipray more than acres In a Ptwwytvwla Araai incMe: Blair County, including Martinsburg, WMUpsburg, Sinking Valley, along with Cambria, Huntingdon and Bedford counties. lar's food of choice is oak leaves, and a popula- tion of the larvae can defoliate acres of oak trees by early July when the caterpillars go into a cocoon. Dry, mild weather during the spring made con- ditions ideal for gypsy moths, said Jim Smith, district forester at Ebensburg's Bureau of Forestry office. The caterpillar's natural enemy is a fungus that destroys it from the inside but fungi thrive in cool, wet conditions. A tree sometimes can survive after gypsy moth caterpillars strip it of leaves, Smith said. But after three seasons of caterpillar attacks, a tree likely will die. "There's a general mortality rate for trees that are struck by the gypsy said Jim Stimmel, a state Department of Agriculture ento- mologist. "They strip the leaves from a group of trees one year and 40 percent die. Next year, 80 percent die. The next year, nothing survives." Gypsy moth caterpillars' effect on the coun- tryside can be widespread, said Nate Bacon, an aerial photographer who is also the former president of the Entomological Society of Pennsylvania. Please see A6 newsstand Airport fixup eyed cautiously BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer MARTINSBURG A consulting firm hired to map out plans for the Altoona-Blair County Airport has come up with four packages of improvements, with the most expen- sive estimated at million. At an airport that's always been strapped for cash, the plans might do little more than gather dust. But local airport officials said the con- sultant's ideas are meant to be written into a long-range plan that will be important when seeking federal or state funding. The numerous suggestions from the consultants include buying up to 239 acres surrounding the air- port, extending or relocating run- ways, building a new Civil Air Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration storage building, reorganizing the passenger termi- nal and demolishing old T-hangars and constructing 25 new ones. "That's a wish list for the next 20 years at the Blair County Commissioner John H. Eichelberger Jr. said. "There's stuff on those plans that's been talked about for years, and some of it will never get done." Eichelberger said that if the air- port pursues federal or state fund- ing for a particular project, the project must be in the long-range plan or it won't stand a chance of being funded. David W. Diehl of Delta Airport Consultants Inc., with headquar- ters in Charlotte, N.C., said his firm came up with proposals based on the size of airplanes using the airport and the possible demand for use of the local airport. One of the reasons why the con- sultants suggested demolishing old T-hangars and constructing new ones is that the current ones are deteriorating, yet the airport has a waiting list for T-hangar space. It is in the midst of an effort to build a five-bay T-hangar to provide additional space that will be rented to airplane owners. Altoona-Blair County Airport Manager Charles Pillar said the con- sultants have more work to do. Once they've completed their research and recommendations, then the authori- ty will take time to review the sug- gestions and draw up a 12-year plan. Diehl said the plan is about 70 percent complete. He estimated that it will take about four or five months, including finding infor- mation on possible financing. ATAGUNCE WlMt: Altoona-Blair County Airport Locatioit: Airport Road off Route North Woodbury Township Sin: 320 acres FacilHIm dictate: passenger terminal, airplane storage hangars, flight service station for gasoline and repairs. ContncUon tkh yttf: S-bay T-hangar, Sheetz corporate hangar Airport Chairman Joe Merilli said the plan will give the authority some direction. Airport Authority Vice Chairman Donald Ruggery, after hearing that the plans suggest purchasing as much as 239 addi- tional acres, asked how many acres the airport currently owns. The answer was 320 acres. "This is a big Ruggery said. In September, when Ruggery was chairman of the authority, consul- tants made a preliminary report sug- gesting the purchase of acreage sur- rounding the airport Ruggery asked the authority's property committee to study the idea. The consultants said that buying additional acreage protects the airport's future because it allows the authority to retain con- trol over how the land is used. The consultants noted that in other areas, people have built hous- es close to airports, then asked local municipal officials to impose restrictions because of noise or other concerns. "We believe the airport should control [surrounding acreage] so people don't build towers or resi- dences right up to the fence Diehlsaid. Included in the alternatives the consultants offered to the authori- ty to consider are: Alternative 1 Airport pur- chases 161 acres, which allows it to control surrounding areas but offers no improvements for cur- rent or future activities. Alternative 2 Airport pur- chases 188 acres, expands the east- west runway on the western end; expands the airport's main apron by square yards, constructs a general aviation center, T-hangars, a de-icing chemical storage build- ing and additional buildings. The cost was estimated at million; not including the cost of land. Please see A3 Doctors, lawyers fighting over settlements in malpractice cases BY CRAIG WILLIAMS Staff Writer The doctors and the lawyers are at it again. In one corner, the medical pro- fession is reeling from what it sees as unreasonably high costs in med- ical malpractice insurance. The root of the evil, doctors said, is the unlimited amount of money lawyers can collect for their clients. Doctors want to limit that amount. They want to, in essence, put a cap on the amount that can be paid out for both deliberate and accidental wrongdoing on the part of the doctor. In the other corner are the lawyers, who on average, keep 40 percent of the damage awards in cases they win. Lawyers don't want the state Legislature to start telling judges how much they should award a patient, whether the doctor purposely or accidental- ly did harm. According to lawyers, regulating or capping damage awards takes away the right of a citizen to seek appropriate com- pensation for suffering. This year, the prime lobbying group for doctors, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, made its way across the state explaining its position to the press. This month, the society called for doctors to organize on selected days and petition their lawmakers for a law in Harrisburg. The House Insurance Committee recently held a hearing in Pittsburgh on the matter. Before the hearing, the main lobbying group for the legal profession, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, took its show on the road. This time, however, the lawyers have a leg up on the doctors. House Bill 1423 calls for accountability by releasing to the public all cases brought against doctors and lost. When a doctor settles a malpractice case, the doctor's name appears on a list available to the public. On May 10, the Pennsylvania Medical Society presented its case to the House Insurance Committee. "hi recent months, liability pre- miums have said Dr. Carol E. Rose, MD, and president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. "Major liability insurance carriers in Pennsylvania implemented over- all rate increases ranging from 21 to 60 percent. "Research conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society indi- cates that the sudden and sharp increase in premiums is deteriorat- ing patient care. Limited access may be occurring as a significant number of practices have deferred the pur- chase of new equipment In addition, a high percentage of doctors who have attempted to recruitnewphysi- cians to Pennsylvania have had problems filling Rose told the House committee this week. In response, the lawyers point to California, which often is willing to experiment with legal and social issues, has placed caps on medical damage awards. The resulting lim- itations are some of the most strin- gent in the nation. Lawyers said the result is that doctors are leav- ing their practices. Please see AS Subscription or home delivery questions: 945-7480 or (800) 287-4480 H ram Lottery numbers, A2 Rain showers likely, Forecast, A2 HOfrADS.com We're white-hot! Altoona I THE Call us today...Make money today. Ask for rme GKEAT couimNATTON of MlliUOU CV.A3riM'HCDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_____ i Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion Local Scoreboard A7 A9 A9 A8 B5 Classifieds C4-10 Comics D5 Community news D2 Puzzles D4 television D4   

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