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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: August 3, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - August 3, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                INSIDE TODAY RELIGION; Children learn the fundamentals of life and basketball SPORTS: Steelers open preseason against Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons Bl LIFE: Martial arts teaches how to be a better person, not just self-defense Di JUtoona iMtrror Copyright 2001 FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2001 newsstand Shuster, Bush discuss issues Railroad Retirement Act, defense and patients' bill of rights topics of conversation. BY ROBERT IOOE Staff Writer After helping the Railroad Retirement Act pass the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, aimed higher in his effort to get the bill signed into law. Shuster wet with President Bush Thursday to urge the president to support the bill, which passed the House 384-33 Tuesday. The bill was one of Shuster's major focuses since taking office in May. "I thanked him for allowing the bill to be rescored in a way that allowed It to Shuster told the Mirror Thursday evening. "And I also told him that I hope that the state's railroad workers will be thanking him in 2004 when he gets re-elected." Shuster said the two discussed several other issues, including defense and the patients' bill of rights. "I found President Bush to be very, very knowledgeable on the he said. "He has a great insight into the detail of a wide spectrum of legislation and issues. I was quite impressed." Although Shuster found the president to be "a regular he admitted the meeting left him in awe, "It's the most impressive tiling that has happened to me as a con- he said. Earlier in the day, Shuster sent a letter to Bush outlining his con- cern for the bill's filial passage. "This is a critical issue for thou- sands of families across the coun- try and in Shuster said in the letter. "It is so impor- tant to many of my constituents that I made it the first bill 1 co- sponsored as a member ol Congress. Simply stated, railroad workers and their families rely exclusively on the railroad retire merit fund after they retire. Please see A7 BICYCLE BONANZA Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Kelly Yoder (281) and other pro women cyclists race down Allegheny Street past the Blair County Courthouse Wednesday during the Pontiac GMC Hollidaysburg Circuit Road Race of the Tour do 'Toona. BikeFest rolls into Altoona Tew de 'T06 MORE INSIDE Map of Moss's Circuit Road Race In Martinsburg PAGEA10 Davidenko, Erlank win stages wilfi help ffom teammates Column on the man who finished last PAGE B1 Race results Tina Skeliey's race diary PAGE B3 BY WALT FRANK Staff Writer As Tour de 'Toona continues today, anoth- er group of 800 or more cyclists will arrive hi the city for BikeFest 2001. BikeFest, the annual League of American Bicyclists national rally of cyclists, will be held today through Sunday at Penn Slate Altoona, where many cyclists will stay in campus hous- ing. Others will camp on the campus grounds or stay in local motels. BikeFest attracts riders from several states and some from as far away as California and Arizona, league spokesman Patrick McCormick said. BikeFest will be in Altoona for at least the next three years, largely because of slate Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, Tour de 'Toona race pro- moter, who served as guest speaker at three previous BikeFests. Please see AID Clemency requested by Nixons BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer The Altoona couple serving prison time for not seeking med- ical care for their ailing 16-year-old daughter has requested clemency from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Dennis and Lorie Nixon want to be set free so they can restart their lives he as the owner of Signature Door Co., she as a moth- er with eight children ages 17, and 4 to raise at home. The Nixons were jailed two months ago after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal on convictions for involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. Five years ago, the Nixons' daughter Shannon became ill three days before her 17th birth- day. The Nixons said Shannon asked them to take her to the pas- tor of Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Altoona to be anointed and pray. The religious sect encourages members to seek solace in God when illness strikes. After Shannon eventually died of diabetes, then-Blair County District Attorney William J. Haberstroh sought criminal charges against the Nixons for fail- ing to seek medical help for their daughter. Haberstroh and his successor, Daye Gorman, won convictions for and fought appeals by the couple, who contend the state has violated their family's religious freedom. The case was reviewed by the state Superior and Supreme courts. When all appeals were lost, the Nixons, facing ZYi to 5 years in prison, surrendered to authorities. The Nixons now have filed peti- tions requesting hearings before the state Board of Pardons. Blair County Judge Norman D. Callan already has prepared a response to the Nixons' petitions. He is sending the hoard copies of all court opinions and orders in the case along with written comment. "There is no remorse and thus D. Nixon L. Nixon no Callan wrote, adding that the Nixons maintain they have committed no crime, not only regarding Shannon but also an earlier death of a son, Clayton, 8, who died from an ear infection when medical treatment was not sought. Gorman said Thursday that he will oppose pardons for the Nixons. He said the case never was about religion or religious freedom but about a parent's responsibility to seek medical help for a sick child. According lo the board, a pardon is an act of forgiveness from the state, which would free the Nixons from prison, although the board clarifies "that a pardon does not expunge the record. The Nixons' attorney, Steven P. Passarello of Altoona, said at least two members of the board must agree before a hearing for a pardon can be held. The board includes LI. Gov. Mark S. Schvyeiker, Attorney General Mike Fisher, psychologist Dr. Gerald N. Massaro, victim rep- resentative Louise B. Williams and corrections' expert Barbara Walrath. "There is an undercurrent of support [in the Passarello said. "A lot of people didn't feel the sentence was appro- priate." The Nixons filed separate peti- tions asking for clemency. Dennis Nixon said his daughter asked to meet with her pastor. "Because we honored Shannon's choice not to seek medical we were charged with involuntary manslaughter and neglecting the welfare of a Dennis Nixon wrote in his petition. Please see A12 Pennsylvania colleges urge, but don't require, meningitis vaccinations BY REBECCA SINDKRBRAND The Associated Press HARR1SBURG In the two years that the federal government has urged menin- gitis vaccinations for college freshmen, Pennsylvania schools have been expand- ing campaigns to fight the disease espe- cially the promotion of vaccinations for incoming students. Most Pennsylvania universities and col- leges, including Penn Stale and the U state- owned universities in the Slate System of Higher Education, have instituted menin- gitis prevention campaigns that encourage the vaccination of incoming students. Some of the state's largest schools are exploring the cost of making the vaccina- DEUVERV J Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 tions mandatory as legislation to make that state law is considered in the General Assembly. "There are alot of risks that people face, and we do need to balance where there's a true public health issue, where it's justi- fied to impose on everybody a [financial] burden for the benefit of said Dr. llene Moore, director of Temple University's Student Health Services, who nevertheless encourages incoming stu- dents to pay the vaccination cost. None of Ihe stale's major schools requires vaccinations against meningococcal menin- gitis, the most common and dangerous type of the disease, nor does the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recommend mandatory vaccinations. And the June Penn State and the 14 state-owned universities have instituted meningitis prevention campaigns. meningitis death of a Penn State student who had received the vaccine underscored the fact that it is only 70 percent effective. The latest statistics suggest that a handful of cases would be avoided each year in cam- pus dormitories if all students were vacci- nated a fraction of the number of stu- dents affected by mental illness, drunken driving or sexually transmitted diseases. "The rationale for saying whether a vac- cine should be required is to say whether it would be said Dr. Evelyn Wiener, director of student health services at the University of Pennsylvania. "How much would it cost to vaccinate every- body? To cover any complications? Does that offset the cost of the disease Dr. James C. Turner of the University of Virginia, chairman of a committee on vac- cine-preventable illnesses for the American College Health Association, makes the opposite argument. Virginia is one of three states that require students to be vaccinated or sign a waiver. "Seatbelts and airbags don't work 100 percent of the time either, but we don't stop using them, do Turner said. "My feeling is, even if it's rare, we have a vaccine. In Ihe context of a college edu- cation that can cost or a year, it's really not that much money. Cost-effectiveness shouldn't be the issue." Meningococcal meningitis is a conta- gious bacterial infection of the mem- branes around the brain and spinal cord that is spread through human saliva. It kills in roughly 10 percent of cases and does serious harm, including brain dam- age, in another 10 percent. A less serious viral form of meningitis also exists. Meningitis often is confused with the flu in its earliest stages because of similar symptoms that include fever, neck stiff- ness and headache. But it can become worse, even fatal, very quickly. BMFOUR (i) i VjU'' '-V Lottery numbers, A 2 WEATHER Scattered showers, Forecast, A2 2001 CLEARANCE SALE Going On Now! Chrysler Plymouth Jeep 1549 Pleasant Valley Blvd. Altoona, PA 943-6167 Business Movies Obituaries__ Opinion [3 SPORTS Local Scoreboard' A9 All AS B4 B5 ;E] NATION Classifieds C4-12 UFE Comics _____ D5 Community news D2 Puzzles ______ D4 Television D4 INStK -J IN STATE Workers lifted a copper- and-steel Nittany Lion weather vane atop Beaver Stadium Thursday as the million project reared completion. PAGEA4   

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