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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 21, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                RELIGION ANGELS BRING MESSAGES FROM GOD FREE INSIDE IN LIFE: BEAUTIFUL ROUGE'TOP GOLDEN GLOBE LIST PAGE Dl Pittsburgh goes bowling against N.C. State iral'infections can rob people of hearing in days Altomta mirror FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2001 Copyright 2001 500 newsstand GETTING READY FOR WINTER Mirror pholo by Gary M. Baranec Tim Bartlesbaugh, city of Altoona maintenance worker, checks the hydraulics on a siiowplow. Plow drivers deal with more than bad roads By WILLIAM KIBLER Staff Writer Snowplow drivers have a lot on their minds dur- ing winter's worst, a PennDOT official says, and dealing with slip-sliding motorists who get too close to the plows shouldn't be one of them. Drivers in the region's higher elevations dealt with winter's first snowfall-Thursday morning. With win- ter dawning today, Tom Hofer, head of PennDOT maintenance in Hlair County, knows it won't be long until Blair Countians are in the same situation. The weather man agrees. "The pattern which gave us the warm air and the warm temperatures is undergoing a radical AccuWeather forecaster Brett Anderson says. "We'll be seeing colder-than-normal temperatures after Christmas and into January. It could be one of the coldest snaps we've seen in a while." When the snow flies, Hafer's crews will take to the i roads, maintaining about 500 miles of highway. Hafer laments that plow drivers' biggest obstacles i during storms are often overaggressive or fish-tail- ing drivers. "We can't look out and see it's snowing and stay says Hofer, implying that regular drivers should choose that option more often. Please see A5 PASSTHESAII White Christmas not likely this year PennDOT in Blair Goujity spDnds'abclJt million of its annual million budget ori overtime, equipment, mechanical work and materials to handle winter. It buys about 1 tons of crustier! limestone anti-skid and tons of rock salt. In most places, PennOOT spreads a mix 01 anti-skid and salt. On Interstate 99 for the past few years, it uses plain rock sail because anti-skid damages painted highway lines and recessed reflectors in the concrete. Altoona uses mostly sail rather than anti-skid. Anti-skid can damage cars .when tires kick it up, and crews need to clean it up in the spring, Public Works Director Dave Oiedrich says. From Mirror staff reports With higher elevations in the region receiving the first significant snowfall of the season Thursday, speculation about whether area residents will wake up to their first white Christinas in six years is beginning. But weather prognosticates say not to get hopes up. "I would give it about a 50 percent AccuWeather forecaster Brett Anderson says. "There are really a number of factors which deter- mine if it snows or not. Usually, it takes a storm sys- tem bringing in moisture to an area with cold air present, though sometimes we see a cold northwest flow off the Great Lakes which brings snow. It usual- ly results from a storm front, though." Anderson said the forecast for Monday Christmas Eve calls for mostly cloudy skies with a mix of rain and possible freezing rain, with little pos- sibility of snow. Christmas Day will see colder tem- peratures, mostly in the 30s, with some snowshowers possible, he says. The last time the area received a significant snow- fall on Christmas was in 1995, when 3 inches was measured on the ground. But Anderson says there was light snowfall on Christmas Day in 1996 and 1999. Attorneys: H Police continue to interview witnesses after a murder this week in Huntingdon County. BY MIA Ron ART Staff Wf Her HUNTINGDON While a woman accused of criminal homi- cide remains in Bedford County Jail, her two court-appointed defense lawyers say the affidavit of probable cause leads lo more ques- tions than answers. State police continued Thursday to interview witnesses and rela- tives about a homicide this week in Cromwell Township. Christina Ashton, ;n, of Mount Union has been charged with crim- inal homicide after the shooting death of her fiance, 31-year-old Darin Whitsel. "Basically what we have is the trooper's interpretation of what may or may not have been said lo co-counsel David Smith of Huntingdon said. "We're trying to obtain as much information as we possibly can to determine what the defense should be or whether there is even a crime here." The defense will ask the judge to appoint a private investigator to the case, lead counsel Jeff Stover of State College said. "There are facts alleged in the affidavit and criminal complaint which we dispute and which will need to be decided by a Stover said. The defense declined to state spe- cific questions brought up by the affidavit, which is the only piece of information they have to go on. The defense has not had an oppor- tunity to interview witnesses and family members yet, but they met with Ashton Thursday, "As you can imagine, she funds herself in jail; she's been accused of homicide. She's never been in jail before, so naturally she's very Stover said. The charge of criminal homicide is inclusive of all charges or mur- der and manslaughter, Huntingdon County District Attorney Robert Stewart HI said. The district attorney needs to prove there was a death and that Ashton was involved. The purpose of the preliminary hearing, scheduled for Dec. 28, is to decide if there is enough evidence to take the case to trial. Police said the shooting occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday at a residence owned by Thomas Whitsel on a private hunting camp m Cromwell Township. Thomas WhitseJ and Lisa Ashton were at the residence with Darin Whitsel and Christina Ashton. An argument started between Christina Ashton and Darin Whitsel concerning her hav- ing an affair, according to court documents. Thomas Whitsel and Darin Whitsel physically fought with each other, court documents state. The four then went outside. Lisa Ashton and Thomas Whitsel walked away from the residence. Christina Ashton went inside. She picked up the rifle Thomas Whitsel left on a table, and Darin Whitsel entered seconds later, according to court documents. Christina Ashton told police Darin Whitsel was yelling at her a; he walked closer and she feared foi her safety and the safety o: Thomas Whilsel and Lisa Ashton She said she was afraid of Darir Whitsel because she just told hirr she wanted to end the relationship Huntingdon County Coronal Daniel Quarry said Darin Whitse died of a single gunshot wound t( the chest. Quarry estimates Dark Whilsei was 3 feet or more from the muzzle of the gun when i was fired. Minor Staff Writer Mia Rohnrt can be reached at 9-19-7030 or mro- Developer hopes to bring restaurant to Lakemont site Bv KAY STEPHENS StqffWriter A Lakemont Park developer is exploring the idea of building a restaurant on part of the paved parking lot beside Blair County Ballpark. He first must convince County commissioners the idea is a good one. Ralph Albarano of Lakemont Partnership, which manages development of Lakemont Park grounds owned by the county, declined to name any restaurants that might be interested in the site. "I think it would be good for everybody, but we're still just in the beginning Albarano said. Hoss's Steak and Sea House President John Brown said his firm considered the stadium park- ing lot site and other locations where it could replace its aged Pleasant Valley Boulevard restau- rant, i "We haven't gotten anything going on any particular site, but we are looking at sites all over the Brown said. He also men- tioned constructing a new building on the same location as the Pleasant Valley restaurant is a possibility. Hoss's previously considered buying land from the county in front of Valley View Home for a replacement restaurant. Please see A10 Prison sentence unchanged for man who shot Into home BY KAY STEPHENS Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG A Jong prison sentence remained unchanged Thursday for the Martinsburg man who allegedly shot into a Roaring Spring-area house and nearly killed a child in .July 1999. Blair County Judge Norman Callan issued a lengthy order Thursday spelling out why Jacob A. Ritchey, 46, should remain in a Judge Norman Callan upheldthe 10-to20-year sentence for Jacob Ritchey. state prison for the rest of his in- to 20-year sentence, fn effect, the judge answered the stale Superior Court, which in July vacated the jail sentence after criticizing Callan for focusing too much on the crime and not enough on th man's character. Callan after reviewing detail of Ritchey's criminal record show ing an aggravated assault charg from a domestic incident in 198! followed in the next 10 years b four drunken driving weapons violation and repeatei probation violations offered n hint of interest in a lesser ser tonce. Please see A3 I Lottery numbers, A2 Subscription or home delivery questions: 346-7480 or (800) Chance of snow, Forecast, A2 3 LOCAL' Business Movies Objtuaries Opinion ,0 SPORTS Local Scoreboard A9 A6 All AS B4 B5 QJNATtON j War on terrorism C4 Classifieds C7-12 '0 LfflE Comics DS Community news D2 Puzzles D4 Television D4 IN NATION A mystery squill was discovered in photograph taken by deep-sea submeisibles. PAGEC   

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