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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 23, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Devils beat Penguins, advance to finals Bl Lite What to look for when you buy a gas grill Dl JUtomra Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2001 newsstand Rail shop battle could chug into court There's no other argument left to make. The rest is rhetoric. Bob Banks, R.L. Banks and Associates JJ BY WILLIAM KIBLER StoffWriter A Washington consultant who is no fan of the merger that put Norfolk Southern Corp. in command of the Hollidaysburg Car Shop doesn't have an optimistic view of potential outcomes for a union-state petition to stop the planned shop closing. "It's kind of a situation from which no winners can said Bob Banks of R.L. Banks and Associates, despite a ruling Monday by the Surface Transportation Board that put the burden on Norfolk Southern to prove it really needs to close the shop. "It's going to be very painful no matter which way." On one track, there is the financially hurting railroad that wants to trim what it said is an operation that is losing mil- lion per year. On the other track, there are the 375 jobs at Hollidaysburg and the financial well- being of this area. It's a highly complicated issue in the con- text of a highly complicated industry, and Norfolk Southern already laid out its argu- ments to the board which has found them unconvincing because of the compa- ny's premerger assurances it would keep open and expand the shop. But in simplest terms, Norfolk Southern ultimately must argue that maintaining a viable railroad system in the Northeast is more important than maintaining a couple hundred jobs in Hollidaysburg, Banks said. "There's no other argument left to Banks said. "The rest is rhetoric." If the railroad loses and the board rules it must keep open the shop, it would be precedent-setting, he said. And that no doubt would send the case on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Norfolk Southern probably would challenge that new precedent as an uncompensated taking of private proper- ty, Banks said. He doesn't know how that would turn out, but it would be sure to arouse pas- sions on both sides. Norfolk Southern isn't letting the chance of an unfavorable ruling sidetrack its plans. "We will develop information we hope the STB is looking company spokes- man Rudy Husband said. "There shouldn't be any doubt whatso- ever; we fully intend at this point to close the Hollidaysburg Car Shop on or about Sept. 1." Please see A6 TOUGH-ON-CRIME POLICY Legislators rethinking strategy BY PETER DURANTINE capitolwire.com legislators and Ridge administra- tion officials are starting to question the state's long-stand- ing tough-on-crime policy that has resulted in seemingly endless new laws and stiffer penalties. Pennsylvania's rising prison population and a ballooning Corrections Department budget largely has prompted the rethinking. In 1994, Tom Ridge won the governorship on a successful campaign that touched on the public's concern about crime and safety. One of Ridge's first acts as governor was to call the Legislature into a "special session on during which about 40 pieces of legislation were signed into law. The Legislature's actions were seen as the appropriate re- sponse and occurred at a politically fortuitous time the crime rate was drop- ping and continues Than fc nn nmrpce fnr to do so today, i Here is no process tor since then, the determining whether an Legislature has gone _ a- MltH., on to consider nearly a WlOny, measures that mietlemaannr nr made changes to misdemeanor or rstalts summary offense grading. crimes code. In the g same period, 870 bills making changes to the public school code were considered. Although only a relative handful of the bills have become law, the long-held tough-on-crime stance is starting to be by some of the very legislators who intro- duced one bill after another that increased penalties that have put so many in state prison. None other than Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where most of the Title 18 bills originate, made the startling state- ment that lawmakers may be too tough on crime when it comes to grading offenses. "We're Just arbitrarily picking whether they are felonies or Greenleaf said during a recent commit- tee hearing. "I'm the greatest offender of all." There is no process for determining whether an offense merits a felony, misdemeanor or summary offense grading. Greenleaf said he made the determination on his bills based on his experience as a district attorney. Other committee members some of whom frequently question Title 18 bills that come before them with the refrain, "Is this really that some assess- ment needed to be done, particularly on the impact these laws had on the prison system. Please see All DRUG BUST Mirror photo by Phil Ray State police photograph Angelique Lynch, Altoona, Tuesday after arresting her on one count each of delivery and possession of heroin. Those arrested were photographed and fingerprinted at the Frankstown Armory. After processing, they were transported to Altoona's Central Court; where they were arraigned before district justices Ken Carman and Todd Kelly. For a list of those arrested, please see Page All. Sweep nets 37 warrants THE POLICE issued warrants Tuesday for individuals charged with the sale of heroin, powdered cocaine, crack and pills such as Loritab and OxyContin. One person was charged with sell- ing an OxyContin look-aHike: began their sweep at a.m. and contin- ued to round up suspects throughout the day. When state Attorney General Fisher discussed the drug sweep at a.m., he said about v 24 individuals had been taken into custody with warrants out for another 13 people. Two of those to be arrested included juve- niles. Drug arrests included two leaders of a loosely knit street gang. i BY PHIL RAY AND TIFFANY SHAW f StaffWriters .j j' A drug sweep that began last week in Saraspta, Fla., ended Tuesday when police issued 37 rants for suspected dealers in Blair County. The drug arrests included two leaders of a loosely knit drug gang: Scott Smelteer, 30, of 508 Lloyd St. and Steven Lee Hamilton, 38, of 123117th Ave., second floor. The others arrested in Tuesday's sweep included street-level drug dealers unrelated to the Smeltzer- Hamilton operation, but some who, law enforcement hopes, will provide information that will allow inves- tigators to make more arrests. In the past five years, the state attorney general's office and the West Drug Task Force have brought down drug organizations from Baltimore, Camden, N J., Philadelphia, Buffalo, N.Y., and New York City, as well as Altoona. The arrests of Smeltzer and Hamilton provide a classic example of how investigators move up the lad- der, state Attorney General Mike Fisher said. The arrest of street dealers last summer led to indictments against Smeltzer and Hamilton. Fisher said Smeltzer was responsible for selling more than 18 kilograms of cocaine worth million in Altoona between mid4997 and May 2000. Hamilton was Smeltzer's right-hand man. A statewide grand jury recently recommended that Smeltzer be charged with 16 counts of delivery of crack cocaine, one count of conspiracy and two counts of Please see All Second site eyed for Cambria transit facility BY MIA ROHART Staff Writer CARROLLTOWN Plans for construc- tion of a million rural transit facility are in limbo as Cambria County's transit authority ponders a less expensive option that would call for taking over an existing facility near Ebensburg instead. The Carrolltown project appeared to be a go in April when Borough Council agreed to sell a 13-acre parcel of borough-owned land appraised at and once tar- geted for a community CamTran, and the authority's executive director said he would recommend his board approve the transaction. But now Irving Cure said CamTran is looking at moving its rural operations into a site outside Ebensburg on Old Route 219, Please see A6 Slippin' and siidin' Curve pitcher Mike Ayers dives on the tarp at Blair County Ballpark Tuesday night as the game against the New Britain Rock Cats was post- poned because of the rain. Please see story, Page Bl. Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 6 m I Lottery numbers, A2 Partly sunny, 72" Forecast, A2 HQT-ADS.jom We're white-hot! Altoona mirror I THE GREAT Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) Business Obituaries_ Movies Opinion Local Scoreboard AS A13 A4 AS B4 Classifieds C4-14 Comics D5 Community News D2 Puzzles 04 Television D4 IN NATION Dissatisfied Democrats forced vote after vote on amendments Tuesday to delay the final passage of President Bush's tax bill. PAGEC1
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