Thursday, May 31, 2001

Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 31, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Copyright 2001 INSIDE TODAY SPORTS: Altoona baseball team claims District 6 crown, advances to state playoffs Bl NATION: Wealthy Americans see big drop in tax cuts; checks may be in mail by fall Cl LIFE: Two novices to the theater breathe life into one of Neil Simon's comedies Dl THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2001 504 newsstand RENAMING RAYSTOWN LAKE Officials hope Shuster declines BY KEVIN Orr Staff Writer HUNTINGDON Thanks, but no thanks. That's what tourism officials in Huntingdon County are hoping for- mer Congressman Bud Shuster will say to efforts to name Raystown Lake after him. The Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, the agency in charge of marketing the artificial lake Pennsylvania's largest and the focus of the tourism in the county has asked Shuster to stem the tide of support coming from Alaska Representative Don Young. Young has introduced a bill in the House that, if passed, would turn Raystown Lake into Shuster Lake. "On behalf of the tourism busi- ness community, the visitors and potential visitors, we respectfully ask you to decline the honor of changing the name of Raystown Lake to Shuster wrote Pam Prosser, executive director of the HCVB, in a letter to Shuster. She sent the letter in care of Shuster's son and successor, Bill Shuster. "In the long run, we believe that you will gain more respect from the communities that you have served by acknowledging but declining the Prosser wrote. Please see A8 SPEAKING OUT To voice ah opinion, e-mai! or call: George Gekas: Don Young: Bill Shuster: (202) 225-2431 U.S. Rep. John Peterson: (202) 225-5121 Toll free: (888) 844-1776 HOLLIDAYSBURG CAR SHOP FUTURE Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich Mike Giansante latches on to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to make a point Wednesday before the press conference about the Hollidaysburg Car Shop. Politicians enter picture Shuster, Specter advise not to close BY WILLIAM KIBLER StaffWriter HOLLIDAYSBURG Kids coming to Kelly Park Wednesday afternoon to climb aboard the tubes, coils and cylinders of playground equipment reminiscent of a steam engine probably wondered what the adults were doing there in suits in front of TV cameras. Answer: It was All Aboard for the politicians, a train that seems to be gathering momentum day-by-day. In front of about 30 rail workers, across the tracks from the Hollidaysburg Car Shop, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, freshman U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, and state Reps. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, and Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg, took turns telling Norfolk Southern Corp. it will need to honor its prior commitments and cancel plans to close those shops in September. The big momentum came from a petition to the Surface Transportation Board, which recently indicat- ed it could rule against closure. Please see A12 Discussions begin behind closed doors BY CRAIG WILLIAMS StaffWriter The public statements made at the Wednesday press conference by U.S. Sen. Arlen Spector, R- Pa., and newly elected U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R- 9th District, objecting to Norfolk Southern's plans to close the Hollidaysburg Car Shop are a portion of the political maneuverings of the 6-month-old dispute. Now the discussions have left the arena of public hearings and entered back rooms, political offices and legal chambers from Harrisburg to Washington. On Wednesday morning> Gov. Tom Ridge enter- tained David Goode, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern and Henry Wolf, vice chairman and chief financial officer of NS, in his offices in the state capital. And according to the gover- nor's press secretary, the three exchanged anything but pleasantries. Please see A12 Lawyer requests reverse In a six-page petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, attorney asks Nixons be granted hearing. BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer The attorney for Dennis and Lorie Nixon is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse itself and grant the Altoona couple a new hearing on the freedom of religion issues raised by the death of their 16-year-old daughter almost five years ago. The Nixons are scheduled to report to jail today or Friday to begin serving 2V4- to 5-year sentences. The couple was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and endan- gering the welfare of a child in connec- tion with the 1996 death of their daugh- ter, Shannon, from complications caused by diabetes. In a six-page petition filed this week with the nation's highest court, attorney Sally A. asks, "How can any court hold these peti- tioners criminally liable for putting their faith in God in accordance with the beliefs of their established reli- I gion and for allowing a devout 16- I year-old woman to follow the beliefs to which she has always held When Shannon became ill, her par- ents, instead of referring her to a doc- tor for medical care, allowed her to seek the blessing of the Rev. Charles Nixon, her grandfather and the leader of the Faith Tabernacle Congregation at 439 Fifth Ave. The Nixons were convicted of similar charges in the early 1990s when their son, Clayton, 8, died from an ear infection. At that time, they were placed on probation. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear further appeals from the Nixons' 1997 convic- tions and jail sentences. Prick in the latest petition, argued that Shannon Nixon upon becoming Ul clearly wanted to be anointed. "The evidence also is clear that she [Shannon] knew the availability of medical treatment and chose to forgo that treatment and to be true to her faith and to her strongly held according to Prick's peti- tion. "To require that her parents infringe on her exer- cise of those strongly held beliefs or that they be required, by a duty of care as parents to an adult child, to supplant those beliefs by governmental require- ments, unconstitutionally infringes on her right and Please see All Lorle Financial status of hospitals in area worse than appears Summer time's a comin' but not yet BY MICHAEL EMERY StaffWriter Hospitals in the southcentral region of Pennsylvania had nega- tive operating margins in fiscal year 2000 but positive total mar- gins, according to an annual report from one organization that moni- tors health-care costs. Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council reported that hospitals in Region 3, which includes Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Indiana and Somerset counties, had an average operating margin of -1.36 percent, but a total margin on the positive side at 4.85 percent. According to another organiza- tion, those positive total margins BY THE NUMBERS Altoona Hospital Net Paiiei it Revenue Total Operating 1999 i j 1998 1997 i i I i i Bon Socours-Holy Family Hospital Net Patient Revenue Total Operating i I NA i i NA Source: PHC4 deceptively Ignore the total pic- ture, and the financial status of hospitals is worse than what is reported by PHC4. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania has voiced strong reservations about the accuracy of the PHC4 report, primarily because it fails to take into account the loss of Medicaid funding. Please see A3 BY KEVIN OTT Staff Writer Call it the summer that wasn't. Last summer was hardly sum- merlike with temperatures that dipped well below normal and nighttimes that felt more like fall or early spring. And with temper- atures as low as they've been for the past week, it looks like it might be happening again. Meteorologists called for frost Wednesday night as the mercury plunged below 56, disguising late May as early October. The forecast for the next week looks much the same, with daytime highs barely breaking the 70-degree mark and nighttime lows hovering near a blanket-clutching 50. The low temperatures come from a glitch in the upper atmosphere, said meteorologist Kerry Schwin- At this time last year, temperatures were lower than normal. denhammer of Accu-Weather of State College. "Really, it's been a stubborn upper-level low [pressure he said. Cool air is being blown into the higher levels of the atmosphere over Pennsylvania from Canada. Normally at this time of year, our air is imported from points south and west. A cold front expanding east- ward from the Great Lakes isn't helping matters much, Schwin- denhammer said. For meteorological reasons many and myriad, the Jet Stream the band of wind that delivers weather is blowing further to the north than usual, bringing in air that's just a bit colder and wetter. Those reasons are hard to dis- cern and predict. "That's a subject of Scnwindenhammer said. "The jury's not out." As for the rest of the summer, he said, it's anyone's guess. "You never really know what it's going to he said. At this time last year, tempera- tures were averaging 2.4 degrees lower than normal. By August, they had dropped to 2.6 degrees lower than normal. Mirror Staff Writer Kevin Ott can be reached at 946-7457 or MUVCTY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 P 2 78 Lottery numbers, A2 Mostly sunny, Forecast, A2 Altoona Mirror THE GREAT COIMB8NAT8ON 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) 946-754? Business Hospitals _ Obituaries Opinion QNMWN Classifieds Comics Local Scoreboard A13 A1S A15 A10 Dear Abby Movies B4 Puzzles B5y i Television C6-1S C4 D5 D3 DS D5 BUSINESS Major market indexes slip into negative territory. PAGE A13