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Altoona Mirror: Friday, November 9, 2001 - Page 1

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - November 9, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                GAMEDAY CORNERS LEADERSHIP MARKET FREE INSIDE SPORTS: MIRROR SPECIAL OLYMPIAN OF THE MONTH PAGE- B5 Java enabled coffeehouses offer change" of pace Not-so-empty nest comedy that's kid stuff; Alt0mta Copyright 2001 HHHHHm Altoona to raid funding in trust Worker's comp money will balance the books for city's budget next year. BY WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer There's a new reason safety will be at a premium among Altoona city workers year. City Council balanced the 2002 budget Thursday by agreeing infor- mally to transfer from the worker's compensation trust fund to cover a shortfall caused by the sour economy. The council's move will cut the trust fund in half. In approving the action, the council rejected its other option of covering most of the deficit by rais- ing taxes 2.5 mills to the state limit of 30 mills, which would have gen- erated It would have been a dirty trick to raise taxes two days after the election, said council member Mark Geis, who with Wayne Hippo won a new term. The worker's compensation fund shift is a one-time windfall made possible with state approval after success iri the last couple of years iii reducing long-term compensa- tion costs by settling old claims. In addition to the trans- fer, balancing the budget depends on using all of the 2002 starting bal- ance of leaving a project- ed zero surplus for the end of next year. The council faces a challenge next .year to find ways to generate additional revenues for the 2003 budget. If it fails to find such revenues, the council would need a 5-mill tax hike for 2003, twice what the law permits, Mayor Tom Martin said. The council must attend immedi- ately to the 2003 issues, even as it puts the finishing touches on the 2002 spending plan, officials said. -The new budget reflects the sour economy, which has cost Blair County about jobs in the last 18 months. budget projects a loss in earned income tax because of the hefty number of Altoona res idents who lost jobs. 'Many of those lost j obs were high paying, and. most of the replace- ment jobs probably pay less, offi- cials said. Please see A3 FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2001 RED-LIGHT CAMERAS Enlarged view of the red-light 'Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec A red-light camera monitors traffic on East Chestnut Avenue at the traffic light for the Eighth Street Bridge. Bill takes slow course From Mirror staff and wire reports The state House Transportation Committee heard testimony Wednesday on legisla- tion that would allow municipalities to use passive cameras to catch drivers running red lights. But House leaders expect little immediate action on the idea. "There are many questions that have to be addressed before this bill conies to the said Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, committee chairman. "We need to take a serious look at this bill 'and make sure it is a safety measure, not a revenue enhancer." Altoona motorists, however, are well aware of the cameras, which the state has set up at intersections on Interstate Street and Plank Road to monitor traffic and congestion problems. Even with the cameras already in place, Geist said the use of those cameras to catcli red Please see Camera A3 500 newsstand Jury finds man guilty of murder: Elmer Westover stiil proclaims innocence in 1980 killing of an elderly Cambria man. BY PHIL RAY Staff Writer EBENSBURG Elmer Thomas Westover of Mentcle adamantly .proclaimed his innocence Thurs- day night, even after a jury found hhn guilty of third-degree murder for the 1980 kill-- ing of an elderly Cambria County man. "I had nothing to do with said. the 41-year-old Westover, whose face was .drawn and tired after four clays 'of trial. His statements came as sheriffs deputies trans- ported him to Cambria County Prison. Prosecutor Gary Jubas of the Cambria County District Attor: ney's office called 'the jury's ver- diet "a great victory for society" because it shows police never close the books on a homicide case. The jury repeatedly asked Judge Norman Krumeyiacker to re-read definitions of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter dur- ing three hours of delib erations. Defense attorneys Robert Davis Gleason and Thomas Finn also felt like they had a victory because the Jury found Westover, 41, innocent of murder in the first and second degrees and burglary. A conviction of first-degree mur- der would have placed Westover in prison for life. The third-degree conviction means he faces at least 10 to 20 years. The sentencing guidelines'used Westpver-case, according to the will be those in place in 1980, when the killing occurred. Jubas said that today, third- degree murder carries with it a 20- .'-to 40-year He. said he will research the question whether the 1980 stan- dards or today's standards apply to the Westover case. Krumenacker will sentence West- over in January. Please see A4 BRUSH BLAZE Courtesy photo by chip Clarice Firefighters work to contain a brush fire in Carson Valley Thursday evening. The cause is unknown. Fifteen volunteer fire companies from Blair and Cambria counties responded the blaze. No one was injured, but the Ore burned 24 acres of wood- ed land and 7 acres of grass land near Carson Valley Road and Lpngview Drive in Allegheny Township, a Blair County 911 dispatcher said. Two arrested in raid on alleged heroin house in Juniata liy MARK LEBERFINGER Straff Writer Agent Randy Feathers of the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation said Thursday that police were keeping an eye on a Jiuiiata home for more than a month as a suspected "extensive heroin house." The Blair County Drug Task Force made its move Wednesday and arrested two men in a raid on the home. Taken into custody were Richard E. "Dicky" Shannon Jr., N. Fifth Ave., and T. Nolan Hardeman m, 7449 Frank- stown Ave., Pittsburgh. The suspects were placed in Blair County Prison after failing to post bail. "We think this was an extensive heroin Feathers said. "We have had numerous complaints on th e [Push Out The Pusher] hot line and complaints frdm the neighbors." The arrests stem from confidential informants making heroin buys during the last month and an investigation by Altoona police and the drug task force, according to court documents. Police made three drug buys with Shannon and one buy with Hardeman. In facilitating his buys, Shannon took a cut of the heroin for himself, police said. According to court documents, Shannon made a drug sale Oct. 11 at his home to a confidential informant for Shannon took the marked and walked into the pantry of the kitchen with a man named "Boo." A few seconds later, Shannon and "Boo" walked out of the pantry, and Shannon was holding five bags of suspected heroin, police said. He chose to keep the one with the most content and gave the rest to the confiden- tial informant, police said. Please see A4 I Subscription or home I delivery questions: 9-16-7480 or (800) 287-4480 L I, I Lottery numbers, A2 Partly cloudy, Forecast, A2 2002 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 0.0% limited Term. Requires credit approval. Otter Ends Soon Chrysler -Plymouth Jeep 1549 Pleasant Valley Blvd. Altoona, PA 943-6167 Business Hospitals __ Objjuaries_ Opinion _A8 A13 AJ3 A12 Local_____ Scoreboard J Movies C4 Classifieds C7-14 Comics_______ D5 Community news D2 _ _ Television D4 IN NATION Tfte Supreme Court agreed Thursday to decide whether schools may give .drug tests tp nearly any student involved In' after-school activities. PAGEC1 t   

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