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Aiken Standard (Newspaper) - March 14, 1989, Aiken, South Carolina Sports Page IB Aiken Trials Fast Approaching USC's Hinton Arrested Page 7 A A Quick Read Trade Deficit Dipped Last Year WASHINGTON (AP) - The deficit in the broadest measure of U.S. trade narrowed to $135.3 billion last year for the best showing since 1985, despite a steep deterioration in the balance on investment earnings, the government reported today. The Commerce Department said the deficit in the current account, also known as the balance of payments, shrank 12.1 percent from the record imbalance of $153.96 billion set in 1987. The current account is the most important trade statistic because it measures not only trade in merchandise but also transactions in investments and other services. The big improvement last year came entirely from merchandise trade, where the deficit shrank by 21.1 percent to $126.5 billion. This reflected a 28 percent surge in American export sales, which was enough to offset a 9 percent rise i merchandise imports. However, in an ominous sign for the future, the nation’s surplus in the investment category shrank by 76 percent last year to a slight $4.78 billion, down from $19.76 billion in 1987. This decline reflected the fact that foreign holdings in the United States have increased to such an extent that foreign investment earnings now rival and, economists say, will soon surpass American investment earnings overseas. As recently as 1981, the United States ran surpluses in its current account because the nation’s cushion in overseas investment earnings was enough to offset perennial deficits the country ran in merchandise trade. Weather Fair skies are forecast tonight with a low in the mid 50s. Partly cloudy skies are forecast Wednesday with a 20 percent chance of showers. The high will be near 80. Please see details on Page 11A. Deaths William C. Burch, Graniteville Rachel A. Cothram, Langley Mrs. Jessie Mae Easier, Augusta Ina T. Gunter, Gilbert Odus Kincaid, Wallace, W.Va. Andrew L. Murphy, Jackson Please see details on Page 11 A. Inside Today Bridge  ..................................5B Calendar ................................  7B Classifieds ,w ......    3B Comics  ...........    6A Crossword .....  6B Cryptoquote...................  4B Dear Abby..................................  6A Local Front.......................................1B Obituaries.......................................11A Opinions....................  4A Sports...............................................7A Television.........................................6A Weather..........................................11A Special Edition Coming The Aiken Standard will publish its 19th annual Triple Crown edition in Friday’s newspaper. The special section will include information on the three jewels of the Triple Crown — the Aiken Trials, Aiken Hunt Meet and Aiken Sulky Races — as well as other aspects of Aiken’s horse industry. . • '-tit? *    ‘    °    S*    ^ to '    1 %ikm Tuesday, March 14, 1989 25C Aiken, South Carolina Vol. 122 No. 63 Comprehensive Plan Returned For Changes Planning Commission To Make Revisions By JAMES PATRICK Staff Writer The Aiken City Council last night voted to return the draft Comprehensive Plan to the Planning Commission to recommend more changes. The Commission has already recommended approval of the plan, following a series of revisions. The $64,200 plan, written by Wilbur Smith and Associates, is designed as a long-term plan for the city’s growth, tak- Alcohol Controversy   Page 1B ing into account growth from the expansion at the Savannah River Plant. The city, which accepted delivery of the plan in 1988, still has not adopted it. Work to smooth out problems the Council had with the plan was to have been done at the Aiken’s Horizons meeting last month, but the group did not have enough time, City Manager Roland H. Windham said. At last night’s meeting, the city attorney suggested to council that it take some action on revising sections on land use which call for broad areas restricted to single-family residential use. Council voted to send it back to the Planning Commission for such suggestions. The Council also passed on second reading an ordinance increasing the requirements for sprinkler systems in new buildings. The new ordinance requires that new buildings over two stories tall, 20,000 square feet or with more than four dwelling units be equipped with a sprinkler system. It also provides that variances allowing excess heights of buildings not be granted unless the structure is fitted with a sprinkler system. The cost to new apartment buildings is estimated at $75 to $90 per sprinkler head, but will result in substantial insurance premium reductions. The law does not apply to existing structures. The ordinance came through a request from the Public Safety Depart ment, and has been endorsed by architects, developers and insurers. The Council also voted on second reading to annex and zone 72.15 acres located at the rear of Aiken Mall and north of Brookhaven Estates. The land is owned by D and W, a partnership. The Council also adopted an ordinance setting the schedule for the November council and mayoral elections. Deadline for nominations by parties would be the first Monday in August. The Council also passed an ordinance providing for minimum attendance standards for members of appointed boards and commissions, voted to annex 21.98 acres known as Woodside Plantation Section 17B and voted to add “East” to the name of the eastern portion of Pine Log Road, to facilitate 911 implementation. Busy Administrator Shuttle Mission May End Early Hydrogen Tank Causes Problem Staff Photo By Ginny Southworth ON THE JOB: Bamberg County Administrator Garry R. Smith has a full desk and a full schedule every week. Please see story on Page 1B. By The Associated Press CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A puzzling pressure reading on a hydrogen tank forced Discovery’s five astronauts to turn off computers and other systems to conserve power today and raised the possibility of an early return to Earth. Mission Control emphasized the trouble posed no threat to the crew or its mission but could cut the flight from five to four days, forcing a return on Friday. The crew members went about their scientific experiments as usual after the “powering-down,” taking pictures of environmentally damaged areas of the Earth such as the rain forests of Brazil and the Mexico coastline. The hydrogen tank, one of three, feeds the shuttle’s power-producing fuel cells. If the second failed, the shuttle would have to come back as soon as possible because the spacecraft would no longer have any backup. Pierre Thuot, capsule communicator in the control center, told Discovery commander Mike Coats to shut down several systems to assure the crew could complete a four-day mission and still have capacity to spend two extra days in orbit in case bad (See SHUTTLE, Pagel2A) Retail Sales Decline 0.4 Percent In February By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Retail sales dropped 0.4 percent in February, the biggest decline in almost a year, as business slowed at car dealerships, the government reported today. The Commerce Department said sales fell to a seasonally adjusted $138.2 billion last month after rising a strong 0.7 percent in January, when business was aided by unusually mild winter weather. The overall rate was held back by a 1.7 percent drop in automotive sales last month, the second straight decline in that category. Car sales had dropped 1.7 percent in January and been virtually unchanged in December. Excluding autos, which account for almost one-fourth of the retail total, sales edged down 0.1 percent last month after rising a robust 1.4 percent in January. The size of February’s overall drop in sales last was matched by a 0.4 percent drop in April 1988. The last time there was a bigger drop was in October 1987, when sales plunged 0.9 percent. Retail spending, which accounts for about one-third of the gross national product, is closely watched as a barometer of economic health. Many analysts expect a slowdown in consumer spending this year as rising interest rates start to take their toll, although few economists had anticipated a drop in sales for February. The Federal Reserve Board for a year has been nudging interest rates upward in an effort to dampen economic growth and thus restrain inflation. In the key category of department and other general merchandise stores, sales fell 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted (See RETAIL, Page 12A) Retail Sales Seasonally adjusted, billions of dollars M A M J J AS ON D J F Feb. ’88 Jan. ’89 Feb. '89 $130.1 $138.9 $138.2 California Bill Would Ban Assault Weapons By The Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A bill that would make California the first state to ban assault weapons was approved by the Assembly, but backers say they face a hurdle in reconciling the measure with one that passed the Senate. “California has demonstrated that the political power of the National Rifle Association can be resisted,” state Attorney General John Van de Ramp said after Monday’s Assembly vote. The measure, approved by 41-38, would virtually ban the possession, sale and manufacture of more than 40 weapons, including the type of semiautomatic rifle used to kill five Stockton elementary school children on Jan. 17. Last Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a broader proposal. “This is the first step in bringing some sort of sanity back to our communities,” said Assemblyman Mike Roos, who wrote the bill. \ But the Democratic lawmaker cautioned that supporters still face problems in getting a compromise bill to Gov. George Deukmejian. The conservative Republican governor has indicated support for Roos’ proposal but not the Senate’s “It’s not down hill,” Roos said. “It’s going to be vote by vote. Every time I change a line (in the bill’s language) it’s a reason for people to drop off.” Roos said he had lost some support for the bill during the weekend because of last-minute pressure from gun groups. Pam Pryor, a spokeswoman for the NRA, acknowledged the bill’s backers “cleared a pretty big hurdle today,” but she said her group would still fight the measures. “Both of these things have a long path to travel.” The two bills were introduced in January after a deranged drifter, Patrick Purdy, opened fire at a crowded Stockton schoolyard, killing five young pupils and wounding 29 and a teacher. \ Purdy sprayed more than IOO rounds with a semiautomatic version of the AK-47, an assault rifle police say is becoming increasingly popular with gangs, before killing himself. Roos’ bill started off identical to the one sponsored by Senate leader David Roberti, which includes a general definition of assault weapons. But Roos’ bill was restricted in committee to cover about 36 models of rifles, eight types of pistols and three types of shotguns. The measure, with few exceptions, would bar the manufacture, import, sale, giving or lending of assault weapons after Jan. I. Violations could bring up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Use of the weapons in a felony could lead to an additional five-year prison term. “The problem is that Patrick Purdy was allowed on the streets at all,” said Assemblyman Tom- McClintock, referring to Purdy’s history of crime and mental problems. S.C. House To Debate Tax Cuts By The Associated Press COLUMBIA — Some state House members are pushing an alternative to Gov. Carroll Campbell’s tax cut plan which they say will help lower- and middle-in-come groups by offering property and income tax breaks. Rep. Tim Rogers, D-Columbia, discussed the proposal Monday as the full House began debating the proposed 1989-90 state budget. During the five-hour debate, the House gave local school districts more authority to choose their own textbooks for sex education courses, and rejected a move to prevent premium or deductible increases in the troubled health insurance program for state employees. But the biggest issue facing the House is yet to come, when the Republican governor’s plan for tax cuts may face competition from Democrats trying to spend surplus money. That debate could begin as early as today. Campbell has proposed across-the-board tax reductions. And the House Ways and Means Committee proposes using surplus money to fund building needs rather than income tax reductions. The alternative being pushed by Rogers, Rep. Jack Rogers, D-Bennettsville, and Rep. Harriet Keyserling, D-Beau-fort, and others would use $7.4 million to increase th current Homestead Exemption for the blind, disabled, and elderly; use $10 million to establish an earned income tax credit that would peak at $75 for a taxpayer with child earning $19,500 annually; fund other programs totalling about $4.2 million; and use any additional money to fund a rollback in property taxes and school millage rates. It would not attempt to lower the capital gains ta rate, as the other two plans would. “It’s a good proposal,” Rep. Jack Rogers said. “It touches more people in a very substantial way.” (See S.C. HOUSE, Page 12A) ;