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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - June 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY KiDS MIRROR: Look to the skies for fun on those hot summer U.S. OPEN: Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks in 18-hole playoff Monday Bi__________ LIFE: Big-name acts on tour hoping for big bucks despite cool economy Dl Altonna iMtrror Copyright 2001 MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2001 newsstand Maglev battle boils in polities BY RODEHT lOOE Staff Writer The traditional Pennsylvania- Maryland rivalry has moved from the sports world into the political wars, with much more than a tro- phy at stake. After years of studies, tours, brief- ings and rhetoric, the Pittsburgh area is one of two finalists for almost a billion dollars in federal funds to construct a new magnctic- levitatipn rail system, the other competitor being the Washington D.C.-Baltimore region. What it comes down to is this: Can western Pennsylvania politi- cians give the U.S. Department of Transportation enough reason to award maglev funding to their region, rather than use the funding to upgrade rail transportation in Congress' own backyard? Many experts give the edge to the Washington plan, feeling that law- makers would be happier to build that system in an area that would connect them and a population base almost three times that of Pittsburgh to major ail-ports and sports stadiums than to give the funds to the Steel City to build a circuit that would connect the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport to the downtown area, as well as major suburbs such as Greensburg and Monroeville. "You almost have to believe that if the folks in Washington really want it, they can get said Terry Madonna, who chairs the political science department at Millersviile University. "It's crookish, but look at it: Pennsylvania doesn't have anyone.with.any real clout." But local officials, who someday hope to link the Altoona area to that system, promise that they are not giving up without a fight. "Tliis would be an excellent deal for said state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, chairman of the State House Transportation Committee. "It would create a corridor between Philadelphia and Chicago and open up this area to new financial markets. We are not giv- ing up fight for this Geist said. Please see A4 AUTO RACING arnhardt In wake of tragedy, racing seeks new niche BY COKY GIOEK Mirror Sports Staff LONG POND NASCAR lost a legend when Dale Earnhardt died, the sport's fans lost one of the world's greatest competitive rivalries and time will tell if auto racing lost its momentum toward mainstream popularity. Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, NASCAR's biggest stars, represented the sport's old and new guard, the bridge between traditional Southern fans and the current broad-based legion of followers. Earnhardt's death after a crash in the Daytona 500 Feb. 18 shocked his multitudes of fans and left the sport wondering what the future might hold. In the four months since the tragedy, atten- dance at races has remained high and the sport's ratings continue to blossom on the Fox network. Through the first nine races this season, Fox's average rating of 6.9, peaking with a 10.0 at the Daytona 500, outshines CliS' 4.9 mark in 2000. Many have attributed Fox's high-tech improve- ments with helping open up auto racing to new vievv- ei-s, but to keep those viewers, the sport will need to develop new stars with the same grit Earnhardt His death also left Gordon without his on-track nemesis and ended NASCAR's biggest fan feud. The dynamic could be witnessed at any NASCAR track in the late 1990s. Earnhardt's introduction drew roaring cheers from about half the crowd, as well as an equal number of boos. Gordon's name drew the same response, as each driver's fans reacted the same. "A lot of fans don't like Gordon, maybe because he was winning all the time and he was a young said Gordon fan John Santillo of Pomplon Plains, N.J. Santillo and his 8-year-old son, Justin, watched Sunday's Pocono 500 clad in Gordon attire, Justin a rainbow jacket, his dad a T-shirt and backpack. Please see A5 RACING OH THE TUBE A look al the TV popularity of NASCAR: Event..............2001 rating......2000 rating Daytona 500.........10.0 ..............8.4..... Rockingham.........8.2...............3.9..... Las Vegas ..........6.5 ...............4.0..... Atlanta.............6.7 ...............5.7..... Darlington ..........6.1 ...............3.5..... Bristol .............6.2 ...............4.9..... Minor, photo by J.D. Caviicli Father and son John Santillo and Justin of Pompton Plains, N.J., both Jeff Gordon fans, stop to look at a Dale Earnhardt Sr. souvenir trailer. increase Texas..............6.2 Martinsville .........5.4 Talladega ...............5.3............. Average Source: Fox Network INSIDE THE RACE: Gordon widens point lead over Jarrett, but who lock the checkered flag? Sports writer Cory Giger has the results. PAGE B1 CONTEST: Test your smarts and win cash by picking the winner of next week's race. PAGE B3 Bomb threats remain a problem This year's total equal to last year's; few received locally. BY JEANETTE KREBS capitolwire.coin HARRISBURG Most schools may be reporting fewer violent incidents to the state; but bomb threats are still a problem. Prom rural Warren, suburban Indiana and urban Chester, officials around the state werg closing or delaying school days and calling in costly emergenc3r response teams because of bomb threats. This school year, through the end of May) officials reported 112 bomb threats at schools across the state. While bomb threat cases involving local school closings this spring were very rare, threats caused disruptions at some area schools. After a bomb threat was received at Will lam P. Kimmel Alternative School this year, police charged a 15- year-oM boy with making a bomb threat. The boy later was cleared of the charge when a judge said the boy's voice could not clearly be identified on a 911 tape. A tip about threatened violence at the Huntingdon Area High School led school offi- cials to keep students in classrooms in March. Police later arrested and charged Andrew T. Scott, 19, with misdemeanor counts of terroris- tic threats. Shortly after that arrest, a girl also was charged with making bomb threats at that the same high school. With the academic year not yet finished for some students, that is the same number as last school year's 112 reported total, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The numbers are even higher because they do not reflect the Philadelphia schools. The city does not report incidents to PEMA, said Marko Bourne, the agency spokesman. They are not required to dp so under state law. Bourne said before the school shooting at Columbine High School April the state received an average of one or two bomb threats per week. "Usually, you knew it was around finals, midterms or it was a very sunny Bourne said. That is no longer the case. The threats are indiscriminate, private schools, elementaries, vo-techs and school administration buildings all are targeted. While Bourne said the numbers are definitely higher than they were a few years ago, they are lower when compared to the weeks after Columbine in 1999. Please see A3 A dispute over who will develop a prime piece of real eslate in Smithfield Township near routes 22 and 26 has delayed plans lor a major retailer lo move into the Huntingdon area. Smithfield may be back to drawing board Court challenge of building shopping centers on former prison grounds may change direction of development Mirror map by Tom IE By KEVIN Orr Staff Writer HUNTINGDON For a while there, it seemed as if the future of the Smithfield Township prison land was certain. Now plans for a shopping center are on shaky ground, and a pend- ing court decision may mean town- ship officials have to start looking for a developer all over again. Smithfield Township obtained the land, which consists of three parcels totaling 116 acres, from the stale Department of Corrections. Township officials plan to give the land to the Smithfield Township Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group formed to oversee new development. STEDC planned to sell parts of the land to two Altoona developers, who would have huilt a shopping plaza centered around a Wal-Mart, as well as a home-improvement store, such as Lowe's or Home Depot, and a hotel. But STEDC's process has been challenged in court hy the H.L. Libby Corp. of Wexford, which already has constructed the town- ship's two main shopping plazas, both on Route 22. Libby claims that STEDC is bypassing standard bidding proce- dures and met with STEDC attor- neys in Huntingdon County court earlier this week. "It may allow the township to totally bypass ever having to pub- licly bid another piece of land spokesman Robert Libby said. "I think it's a pretty undemo- cratic way of doing things there's no due process." If Libby has its way, STEDC may have to accept bids on the land instead of choosing a developer ilself. Pennsylvania's township code allows townships to give land to any one of a number of organiza- tions such as local ambulance com- panies and other emergency ser- vices. Please see A10 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 94G-74SO or (800) 287-4480 t THE GREAT COMBIMATIjOHl Call us today...Make money today. 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