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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - June 24, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Copyright 2001 iKtrrnr SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2001 newsstand Curve give up 12 runs in loss to Norwich INUFE A roundup of the region's county fairs R! NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORP. BY CRAIG WILLIAMS Staff Writer Norfolk Southern Corp. officials are telling investors that a triimned-down version of the railroad is rebounding from its post- Conrail-merger blues and rounding the bend toward business success. Economists and railroad experts agree that the southern rail giant's performance has begun to improve. But there still are numerous obstacles to overcome, some warn. "The company has clearly turned the said Roy IManchard, pub- lisher of Railroad Week in Review, an optimistic market analyst. "I'm seeing much better results in terms of earnings, revenues and cus- tomer service getting back to the standards of Norfolk Southern we knew before this whole business began." But other analysts still are con- cerned about the amount of debt Norfolk Southern is carrying and how well it will rebound from the service woes that plagued it after the Conrail takeover. Unfortunately for Blair County, nearly all analysts agree that rail car building and repair will continue to dimmish under current business con- ditions. Blanchard said the exodus from rail car building and repair is inevitable. Tom Murray, author of Rail Stock Watch, said railroads are moving toward leasing their rail cars. "It gives the railroads more flexibil- he said. "Most of the industry is going this way." Norfolk Southern is expected this week to plead economic hardship in trying to convince federal regulators it should he allowed to close the HolJiclaysburg Car Shop, a key part of a recent cost-cutting plan. The closing would cost Blair County's economy more than 3QO jobs and about million in annual pay- roll. The company says it would result in annual savings of millions of dol- lars at the corporate level. State and union officials have peti- tioned the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency that over- sees rail mergers, to cancel the Hollidaysburg closing, saying it would violate promises Norfolk Southern made when it was trying to win approval for the merger. The STB has indicated it is leaning toward ordering that the shop remain open for a few more years to measure profitability better, unless Norfolk Southern can make a compelling new argument to support the closing. Many industry analysts said the eastern rail industry's troubles began when Norfolk Southern and CSX Corp. paid too much when they agreed to carve up the former Conrail system in 1999. The price they paid left both companies dangerously low on cash. Service troubles immediately fol- lowed the rail merger. Now a cooling economy, rising fuel prices and per- sistent competition from the trucking industry have left the once-mighty Norfolk Southern struggling mightily. Please see A7 Mirror lite pholo by J.D. Workers at Norfolk Southern's Hollidaysburg Car Shop sandblast a rail car before painting it in this Nov. 29 file photo. Back on track? Many analysts noting railroad's Experts say long-term prospects improved financial performance. for car building and repair appear dim. quick look a Norfolk Southern's .financial picture Trimming operations Tlie market picture How the railroad's stock has fared over Ihe past year: Symbol: NSC Exchange: NYSE Friday close: 19.62 Change: -.30 52-week high: 52-week low: Last dividend payment: 6 cents on June 11 July Aug Sepl. Ocl. to. OK. Jan, March April May Jure Key points of a massive restructuring plan the railroad began this year: cut 2000 jobs; reduce ils car fleet by cars or 10 percent of its fleet; remove 4.000 miles of track throughout the system; close 10 underused shops, including the Hollidaysburg Car Shop (pictured al rail yards and administration support facilities. First quarter report_______________ Rom Ihe railroad's last quarterly report on March 31: Revenues: Increased 2 percent to billion Net Income: million vs. a loss of million in same quarter of 2000 Factors: Revenues reflect higher rates. longer length of haul and improved loading efficiency in the coal segment. Met income reflects work force reductions. Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington II CONGRESSIONAL REDISTR1CTING Redraw could affect Shuster BY WILLIAM KIHLKH Staff Writer When politicians carve out new representation districts this year, newly elected U.S. Rep. Bill Shusler might feel a squeeze because of state poli- tics. State Rep. Rick Geist, R-AUoona, said that Shuster, a Republican in the strongly Repuhlicah 9th Congressional District, "is going to need a lot of help." Geist is a state House veteran and a key player in the onee-a-decade realignment of districts, which this time will strip Pennsylvania of two of ils ?1 congressional seats. Pennsylvania is losing seats! because its population growth I has been slower than that of[ other states. Despite his prediction of trou-1 bled waters, Geist said he will help Shuster as much as he can. Others say that Sinister likely I will conic out OK. After all, he! has big hitters such as state! Senate President Pro Tern" Robert C. Jubelirer, R Blair, in his corner. Geist said there's a potential for damage to the 9th District's 5S percent Republican voter edge. If state party leaders in control of redrawing the boundaries oust two or three Democrats elsewhere in the state, that could set off a series of changes that could affect Shuster's ease in getting re-elected. The 9th District will need to expand geographi- cally to include about more people. That increases its share of the state population from the two districts that are being abolished, plus Pennsylvania's population growth since 1990. But the core of the 9th District will remain intact, said Dave Atkinson, a Jubelirer aide. As president pro tern, Jubelirer has an even larger role in vedistricting than Geist. "You're not going to have any wholesale Atkinson said. Shuster doesn't seem worried. "I should do all Shuster said. "I feel pret- ty good, seeing as though Bob Jubelirer is one of the key players." Bill Shuster won a special election in May to suc- ceed his father, Bud, a 28-year veteran of Congress who retired in January after his re-election. Jubelirer will work to ensure that the integrity of the 9th District, where there are many common issues and interests allowing a congressman to focus his efforts, Atkinson said. Please see A4 Shuster Officials question need for PFA law BY PHIL RAY 'Stuff Writer HARRISBURG The state General Assembly is considering :a bill that would take guns away from residents who are under protection-from-abuse. orders. But some local officials ques- tion the need for such legislation. State Rep. Ronald Waters, D- iPhiladelphia, has introduced leg- islation that would require any- ;one under a protective court 'order to hand in his or her guns to the county sheriff. The bill also would prohibit the person from purchasing or bor- rowing new weapons while the PFA order was in effect. But state Rep. Jerry Stern, R- Martinsburg, said there is "no real inclination to move the bill [through the The Waters bill, now before the House Judiciary Committee, would impose restrictions that already are in effect, Stern said. Please see A9 Import hike puts Pa. at top of trash heap The Associated Press A tractor is shown Thursday on a landfill in Cumberland County near State Rep. Bud George, D-Houtzdale, wants a three-year freeze on landfill permit approvals. BY TIMOTHY D. MAY The Associated Press HARRISBURG Cementing its status as the nation's most trash- hungry state, Pennsylvania im- ported 12.2 million tons of refuse from other states last year near- ly a ton of trash per resident. The figures, released by the state Department of Environmental Protection, represented a 20 per- cent increase in trash imports over 1999 and accounted for nearly half of the 26.5 million tons of garbage buried in state landfills or torched in incinerators last year. What's more, the figures blew away the nation's next biggest importer of rubbish Virginia by nearly 8 million tons. "When people in other states throw their trash away, the 'away' is said state Rep. Camilla "Bud" George of Houtz- dale, the ranking Democrat on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. 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