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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - April 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Nation: Bush upholds EPA lead-reporting requirements Life: Ninth annual dining experience being held DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2001 500 newsstand Report: Wright penalty wrong & By Phil Ray Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Pittsburgh psychologist has submitted a report to the new defense team representing convicted killer William L. Wright III, saying the death penalty imposed on a him a year ago “may be excessive and unwarranted.” Herbert I. Levit characterized Wright’s childhood as “sordid and abusive,” stating Wright’s young life was filled with rejec-j tion and physical, verbal and emotional abuse from Wright his stepfather. The psychological expert said based on Wright’s past, the depression that he often experiences and the suicidal thoughts he has had over the years, the death penalty could be the wrong sentence. The psychologist is expected to testify in two weeks, when Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter holds four days of hearings on defense arguments challenging Wright’s first-degree murder conviction and death sentence imposed by a jury from Lebanon County a year ago. Wright, through his Altoona attorneys R. Thomas Forr Jr. and Brian Grabill, has submitted almost 60 pages of arguments challenging the way his trial attorneys — Thomas Hooper, Steven P. Passarello and J. Kirk Kling — handled his case, rulings by Carpenter and violations of his constitutional right to due process or a fair trial. “It [the hearings] will be long,” said Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman, who will represent the prosecution, along with assistant district attorney Richard Consiglio. Gorman said Tuesday that the hearings will begin May I and are to continue over the next three days. Grabill said Tuesday that one of the key defense issues is that Wright’s lawyers were ineffective. Please see Wright/Page A8 Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec/illustration by Tom Worthington ll Home security systems becoming more popular By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer The family heard a crash downstairs in the middle of the night. Their dog didn’t awaken, but Mary Jo did. Before she walked down the steps, she called out and realized the noise wasn’t coming from her five children. When she heard the second crash, she sent her boxer dog down first. Then her husband spotted someone running out their back door. The burglars had entered through a door accidentally left unlocked when the dogs were put out that night. The crash was the television the burglars dropped and left behind. Missing were a camera, the family’s car keys and remote garage door opener. The family had returned home to the Ebensburg area just one day before from vacation. “They must have thought we were still away,” said Mary Jo, who asked her last name not be revealed for safety. The family always felt safe in the house because they thought their dogs would scare off intruders or awaken them if there was danger. “My big thing was I always felt safe because of the dog,” Mary Jo said. “But I woke up first. The dog didn’t wake up or go down. Don’t count on them to alert you.” Although the family recovered from the shock of their home being violated, they don’t want it to happen again. So they decided what millions of Americans have chosen over the past few years and installed a home security system just days after the burglary. “It makes you feel much more secure. The kids feel better now,” Mary Jo said. “When you are in the house with the alarm on, no one can come in like that again.” Please see Security/Page A6 ALTOONA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT No tax hike in budget By Jay Young Staff Writer There will be no increase in property taxes under the $72.37 million Altoona Area School District budget presented Tuesday to the school board. But if there is a fine line between raising taxes for the first time in 16 years and holding the line at 57 mills, the school district is walking it right now. The recent announcement of local layoffs and downturn in the economy forced the district to cut into some programs and slash noninstructional services by 17 percent. The proposed 2001-02 general fund budget is balanced at $72,377,241. “I would say this is the toughest year that we’ve had to do this,” Superintendent Dennis Murray said of the challenge not to raise property taxes. "I would say that when you look at it, it makes me nervous. I think it may be too close. We’re just not growing the local real estate tax.” A key to the hold on taxes is the estimated local revenue of about $21.7 million in the proposed budget, about a 6 percent increase over this year’s projected revenue. The concern is the recent announcement of job cuts at places such as Huck Jacobson, C-COR.net and Butterick Co. will lower the money collected from area incomes. Murray that estimated those job losses alone will cost the district about $175,000. In addition, the district is taking an unanticipated hit in the cost of salaries in order to comply with a pair of union grievances hearings in other districts that apply across the state. One of those grievances cost the district about $300,000 to make the necessary adjustments. THE NUMBERS Proposed 2001-02 Altoona Area School District Budget Revenues: Local: $21.7 million State: $39 million Other: $779,361 Federal/state grants: $8.6 million Total: $72.37 million Expenditures: Instruction: $38.2 million Supporting services: $19 million Noninstructional: $1.59 million Property: $70,000 Other: $4.8 million Federal/state grants: $8 64 million Total: $72.37 million Please see Budget/Page A5 9th district candidates all claim win in debateIN SPORTS By Robert Igoe Staff Writer Much of life is a matter of perception, and the world of politics is no different. President Bush is at the same time a beloved and hated president. The Republican tax cut plan is both a brilliant and terrible idea. It depends on who you ask. That’s how all three candidates in Monday’s 9th Congressional District debate—in front of a crowd of 150 at Wilson College in Chambersburg — are claiming a victory going into tonight’s debate at the WPSX-TV studios in State College. “I was pleased with my plans for the future of the 9th District,” Democratic candidate Scott Conklin said. “And I look forward to Wednesday’s debate on Channel 3.” In his statement to the media,WHATS NEXT What: Second debate between three candidates for 9th Congressional District seat When: Tonight Time: 8 p.m. Where: State College TV: WPSX-TV will broadcast debate Panelists: Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler will represent the Altoona Mirror. The panel also will include representatives from the Chambersburg Public-Opinion and WTAJ-TV. Conklin claimed victory in the debate over Republican Bill Shuster and Green Party candidate Alanna Hartzok, keying on his debate platform of job retention, family strength and senior citizen issues. Please see Debate/Page A8 Teammates and fans pack Pittsburgh church to honor Willie Stargell, the late Pirate slugger and practical joker. PAGE Bl Curve plays second of four-game series against Bowie. Sports Writer Cory Giger has complete coverage. PAGE Bl Huntingdon bed tax proposed By Kevin OTT Staff Writer HUNTINGDON - Even though he sees the logic in it, Frank Desueza doesn’t want to charge his customers an extra few dollars to spend the night at his hotel. His customers at Motel 22, midway between Huntingdon and Mount Union, won’t like paying the extra charge that would come with a countywide tax on hotel rooms, he said. But that’s just what county commissioners are considering at the request of the local tourism promotion agency. Commissioners met with representatives of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau Tuesday to hear a pitch for enacting a bed tax, which would account for 3 percent of the price of a normal hotel room. The cost would be tacked onto regular hotel bills, then collected from hotels by theINSIDE Blair County commissioners voted to double bed tax to 3 percent and may continue the tax indefinitely. PAGE A7 county tax collector. Revenue from the tax would go directly to tourism promotion and development. The state legislature voted last year to approve a measure that would allow counties to enact the tax. Desueza agreed that the tax will provide much-needed revenue for tourism in Huntingdon County, but he’s worried his customers won’t appreciate that idea when it comes time to pay the bill. “They’re going to say, ‘wait a minute — why is it higher?”’ he said. “Instead of paying $63 or 61 or 65, it’s going to be 70.” But tourism and county officials said benefits of the tax would balance out the initial sticker shock. The new revenue will be used to fund the HCVB, executive director Pam Prosser said, and a portion of it will be used for new tourism promotion projects. Prosser said the majority of the hotel, resort and bed-and-break-fast owners she’s spoken to support the tax. Bruce Lane, the president of the HCVB board of directors, owns a group of resort cottages and said he supports the tax. County commissioners hope revenues from the tax would enable the agency to become self-sufficient within a few years. Less than 2 years old, the HCVB now is supported by money allot ted from county commissioners.", Please see Tax/Page A7 Z MBiKiMSS89Mi MMI BONN V DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 00050 BM FOUR I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Cloudy; rain or snow, 37° ■ Forecast, A2 J HC^ADS^om We 're white-hot! Altoona mirror I THE GREAT COMBINATION I Call us today...Make money today. Agk for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADH Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 □ local Business A9 Hospitals A13 Obituaries A13 Opinion AU □ sports High schools B4 Scoreboard B5 I 0 NATION Classifieds C5-14 □un mm Comics    D5 Community news D2 Movies    D3 Television    D4 INSIDE SSBUSINESS ■ State prison guards to vote on union switch. ■ Computer glitch brings reprieve to some Pennsylvania taxpayers. PAGE AQ H    I    * ;

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