Altoona Mirror, November 14, 2001

Altoona Mirror

November 14, 2001

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Issue date: Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Pages available: 88 - Used by the World's Finest Libraries and Institutions
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Publication name: Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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Years available: 1876 - 2014

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - November 14, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania WORLD: NORTHERN ALLIANCE CEMENTS CONTROL OVER KABUL PAGE Cl pge On ice SUIT J'- J nockey program Thursday Bll 11 j f s Holiday feast carries a lot of traditions page Dl Altoona iHtrror Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2001 500 newsstand Blair to hold line on real-estate levy BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer County resi- dents can expect their county real-estate taxes to remain unchanged for 2002, com- missioners Chairman John J. Ebersole announced Tuesday. Commissioners plan to introduce the proposal at their Nov. 27 meeting and to adopt it Dec. 18. If the county budget goes through with- out a tax increase, property owners will continue paying 30.5 mills, with the coun- ty using 25 mills to cover general-fund expenses and 5.5 mills for debt payments. The county is heading toward the end of the fiscal year with about million to carry into 2002. Ebersole said the county has that money because the majority of department heads either held to or were under their budget allotments. Commissioner Donna Gority said an adopted budget reflects full employment. When county employees leave their jobs and are not replaced immediately, the county has money to carry into the next fiscal year. Another factor figuring into 2002 budget calculations is that most employees' salaries have been negotiated. The county settled two contracts in 2001, both reflect- ing raises of or about 3 percent. After the commissioners' meeting Tues- day, county Controller Richard J. Peo said he will review the 2001 budget to calculate the predicted year-end balance. Ho expects the county will have close to million left. "The directors did a good j ob in not over- spending tliis Peo said. Peo also credited commissioners fOY keeping an eye on spending throughput the year, something the controller's offipe encourages by generating a monthly Please see AS Tax deal will hurt Bedford budget Wal-Mart will save but schools and municipalities will lose revenue. BY BETH N. GRAY For the Mirror BEDFOHD The 'gest discount re tail chain got'a dis- count on its Bedford County real- estate taxes Tuesday. County commissioners approved a middle-ground tax assessment on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s distribution center in Bedford Township and its retail outlet in Snake Spring Township that will save the retail- .er; in county real-estate taxes next year. The county Tax Assessment Appeals Board last month denied the BentonvUle, Ark.-based firm's x appeals for reduced assessments ori its properties. .Wal-Mart sought a market value of million on the distribution center against the county-set value of million. Wal-Mart said the market value of its store was million when county assessors pegged it at million. The appeals board, comprised of county commissioners David Thompson, Dick Rice and Ira Claycomb, along with Chief Tax Assessor Melissa Roy, stood by the county's numbers, saying Wal- Mart had failed to prove its claims. Thompson said he couldn't shift Wal-tvlart's tax burden to other tax- payers. When Wal-Mart was advised of the denials, company representa- tives said they would appeal the decisions to Bedford County Common Pleas Court, but they were willing to negotiate, Roy said Tuesday. After several telephone negotiat- ing sessions between Wal-Mart officials and Roy, commissioners approved new assessments Tues- day: million market value for the center and million for the store. The county's projected revenue losses for next year are calculated at for the center and for the store. The biggest loser is the Bedford Area School District, which will see disappear from its expected income. The county will experience a shortfall of Bedford Town- ship, home to the distribution cen- ter, will not collect Please see HERITAGE PRESERVATION Mirror file photo by Jason Sipes A federal program that helps create tourist attractions from abandoned industrial sites could be in jeopardy under a proposed bill to cut the program's funding. The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum (shown above) used the program's funds while the museum was being built in the early 1990s. Lawmakers trying to cut funds for tourist program BY ROBERT IGOE Siqff Writer A federal program that helps turn aban- doned industrial sites into tourist attrac- tions, such as the Altoona Memorial Railroaders Museum, is in danger of being derailed by some members of Congress. But supporters of the National Heritage Area Program are rallying to preserve it because they say it is cost-efficient and beneficial to communities. The program, created in 1984, has provided million from Congress, including mil- lion last year, for local and state agencies to renovate abandoned mines, steel mills, silos and other discontinued industrial facilities and turn them into tourist and heritage sites. Please see A6 Bill proposes suspensions for speeders BY MARK SHADE HARRISBURG Pennsylvania has tried a lot of tilings to slow down motorists in construction zones. Now lawmakers are considering a bill that would suspend a driver's license for 30 days if the speed of the vehicle is just 5 muh faster than posted speed limits." However, it is unclear if the pro posal, which the House Transpor- tation Committee approved Tues- day, will survive the legislative process.: "Everyone knows we're working on a comprehensive piece of legisla- said Rep. Rick Geist, R- Altoona, chairman of the committee and one of the proposal's sponsors. "We made the commitment to move this bill out of committee, and that's as far as it's going to go. I'm going to honor that commitment." A handful'of committee members expressed doubt about the bill, HB 2033. One lawmaker said he wor- ried about "overzealous local policemen or state policemen" patrolling construction zones while another wondered if the bill would affect him. "Does that pertain to the turn- Under the measure, a motorist traveling 5 mph over the posted limit in a construction zone would lose his driver's license for 30 days? Kep. Frank Dermody, ;D- Allegheny, wondered aloud. said the commit- tee's executive director, Eric Bugaile, whose answer was fol- lowed by a burst of laughter in the cramped North Office hearing room from lawmakers who fre- quently travel on Interstate 76 to get to the Capitol, "How are we going to get.'.'tp Dermody asked. Although it was a lighthearted moment, construction zone speed- ing is an issue the state lias been bat- tling for years with legislation and with an increase in the number and tone of construction zone signs and PennDOT advertising campaigns. Please see A6. Lottery rolling out costliest game ever HARKISBURG (AP) Looking for ways to offset the spiraling costs of senior benefits, the Penn- sylvania Lottery is rolling out its most expensive instant game yet. Lottery officials hope that sales of the tickets, called "Yule Be A will find success by piggy- backing on the holiday season, when retailers make a hefty share of their annual sales. The tickets, which guarantee winnings of at least per ticket, appear this week. "We're hoping that people look- ing for unique and different gift ideas will think of the lottery tick- said Deb Snyder, press secre- tary for the Department of Rev- enue, which oversees lottery oper- ations. Pennsylvania is the third state to try the ticket game after Conn- ecticut and Michigan. Snyder said lottery officials found their retailers were successful in selling instant game tickets last year, and they wanted to see if they coujd increase their profits this year. Lottery officials have good rea- son to be optimistic: Through Nov. 5, lottery sales were lip 11 percent from last year, Snyder said. v Still, "Yule Be A Winner" will have a lower profile than other games. Because of its steeper price, the new game will be distributed only to retailers who specifically order it, Snyder said. So far, about retailers have signed up for a trial run, Snyder said. Of the "Yule Be A Winner" tickets already printed, five are winners, 495 are winners and tickets carry winnings of at least Subscription or home delivery questions: 046-7480 or (800) 287-4480 Lottery numbers, A2 Partly sunny, Fonrast, A2 HQT-ADS.Ctom We're white-hot! Altoonz llTHE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make, money today. Ask for TITE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax U8 at (814) 946-7S.47 Business__ Movies Obituaries A11 A4 A15 Opinion A10 Classifieds C6-16 Comics________OS Community news D2 Puzzles________D4 Television D4 IN BUSINESS Fleming Cos. officials are' planning layoffs at its I distribution plant !n Altoona to'compensate (or j work lost with the opening of the Sheet distribution: center. ;