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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - August 3, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Jour de 'Teem 2001 MORE IHSIDE ■ Map of Hoss's Circuit Road Race in Martinsburg PAGE A10 ■ Davidenko, Erlank win stages with help from teammates ■ Column on the man who finished last PAGE Bl ■ Race results ■ Tina Skelley’s race diary PAGE B3 By Phii, Ray Staff Writer The Altoona couple serving prison time for not seeking medical care for their ailing 16-year-old daughter has requested clemency from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Dennis and Lorie Nixon want to be set free so they can restart their lives — he as the owner of Signature Door Co., she as a mother with eight children — ages 17, 16,15,13, ll, 9,7 and 4 — to raise at home. The Nixons were jailed two months ago after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal on convictions for involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. Five years ago, the Nixons’ daughter Shannon became ill three days before her 17th birthday. The Nixons said Shannon asked them to take her to the pastor of Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Altoona to be anointed and pray. The religious sect encourages members to seek solace in God when illness strikes. After Shannon eventually died of diabetes, then-Blair County District Attorney William J. Haberstroh sought criminal charges against the Nixons for failing to seek medical help for their daughter. Haberstroh and his successor, Dave Gorman, won convictions for and fought appeals by the couple, who contend the state has violated their family’s religious freedom. The case was reviewed by the state Superior and Supreme courts. When all appeals were lost, the Nixons, facing 2 Vt to 5 years in prison, surrendered to authorities. The Nixons now have filed petitions requesting hearings before the state Board of Pardons. Blair County Judge Norman D. Callan already has prepared a response to the Nixons’ petitions. He is sending the board copies of all court opinions and orders in the case along with written comment. “There is no remorse and thus D. Nixon L. Nixon no rehabilitation,’’ Callan wrote, adding that the Nixons maintain they have committed no crime, not only regarding Shannon but also an earlier death of a son, Clayton, 8, who died from an ear infection when medical treatment was not sought. Gorman said Thursday that he will oppose pardons for the Nixons. He said the case never was about religion or religious freedom but about a parent’s responsibility to seek medical help for a sick child. According to the board, a pardon is an act of forgiveness from the state, which would free the Nixons from prison, although the board clarifies that a pardon does not expunge the record. The Nixons’ attorney, Steven P. Passarello of Altoona, said at least two members of the board must agree before a hearing for a pardon can be held. The board includes Lt. Gov. Mark S. Schweiker, Attorney General Mike Fisher, psychologist Dr. Gerald N. Massaro, victim representative Louise B. Williams and corrections’ expert Barbara Walrath. “There is an undercurrent of support [in the community!,” Passarello said. “A lot of people didn’t feel the sentence was appropriate.” The Nixons filed separate petitions asking for clemency. Dennis Nixon said his daughter asked to meet with her pastor. “Because we honored Shannon’s choice not to seek medical [care!, we were charged with involuntary manslaughter and neglecting the welfare of a child,” Dennis Nixon wrote in his petition. Please see Nlxons/Page A12INSIDE TODAY RELIGION: Children learn the fundamentals of life and basketball / FREE INSIDE SPORTS: Steelers open preseason against Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons /_ LIFE: Martial arts teaches how to be a better person, not just self-defense / DIAltana mirror© Copyright 2001    FRIDAY,    AUGUST    3,    2001    500    newsstand Shuster, Bush discuss issues ■ Railroad Retirement Act, defense and patients’ bill of rights topics of conversation. By Robert Igoe Stqff Writer After helping the Railroad Retirement Act pass the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, aimed higher in his effort to get the bill signed into law. Shuster met with President Bush Thursday to urge the president to support the bill, which passed the House 384-33 Tuesday. The bill was one of Shuster’s major focuses since taking office in May. “I thanked him for allowing the bill to be rescored in a way that allowed it to pass,” Shuster told the Mirror Thursday evening. "And I also told him that I hope that the state’s railroad workers will be thanking him in 2004 when he gets re-elected.” Shuster said the two discussed several other issues, including defense and the patients’ bill of rights. “I found President Bush to be very, very knowledgeable on the issues,” he said. "He has a great insight into the detail of a wide spectrum of legislation and issues. I was quite impressed.” Although Shuster found the president to be “a regular guy,” he admitted the meeting left him in awe. "It’s the most impressive thing that has happened to me as a congressman,” he said. Earlier in the day, Shuster sent a letter to Bush outlining his concern for the bill’s final passage. "This is a critical issue for thousands of families across the country and in Pennsylvania,” Shuster said in the letter. "It is so important to many of my constituents that I made it the first bill I cosponsored as a member of Congress. Simply stated, railroad workers and their families rely exclusively on the railroad retirement fund after they retire. Please see Shuster/Page A7 BICYCLE BONANZA Clemency requested Nixons Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Kelly Yoder (281) and other pro women cyclists race down Allegheny Street past the Blair County Courthouse Wednesday during the Pontiac GMC Hollidaysburg Circuit Road Race of the Tour de ’Toona. BikeFest rolls into Altoona By Walt Frank Staff Writer A s Tour de ’Toona continues today, anoth-II or group of 800 or more cyclists will n arrive in the city for BikeFest 2001. BikeFest, the annual League of American Bicyclists national rally of cyclists, will be held today through Sunday at Penn State Altoona, where many cyclists will stay in campus housing. Others will camp on the campus grounds or stay in local motels. BikeFest attracts riders from several states and some from as far away as California and Arizona, league spokesman Patrick McCormick said. BikeFest will be in Altoona for at least the next three years, largely because of state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, Tour de ’Toona race promoter, who served as guest speaker at three previous BikeFests. Please see Fest/Page AIQPennsylvania colleges urge, but don’t require, meningitis vaccinations By REBECCA SlNDERBRAND The Associated Press HARRISBURG — In the two years that the federal government has urged meningitis vaccinations for college freshmen, Pennsylvania schools have been expanding campaigns to fight the disease — especially the promotion of vaccinations for incoming students. Most Pennsylvania universities and colleges, including Penn State and the 14 state-owned universities in the State System of Higher Education, have instituted meningitis prevention campaigns that encourage the vaccination of incoming students. Some of the state’s largest schools are exploring the cost of making the vaccina tions mandatory as legislation to make that state law is considered in the General Assembly. “There are a lot of risks that people face, and we do need to balance where there’s a true public health issue, where it’s justified to impose on everybody a [financial] burden for the benefit of society,” said Dr. Bene Moore, director of Temple University’s Student Health Services, who nevertheless encourages incoming students to pay the $65-$100 vaccination cost. None of the state’s major schools requires vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis, the most common and dangerous type of the disease, nor does the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recommend mandatory vaccinations. And the June Penn State and the 14 state-owned universities have instituted meningitis prevention campaigns. meningitis death of a Penn State student who had received the vaccine underscored the fact that it is only 70 percent effective. The latest statistics suggest that a handful of cases would be avoided each year in campus dormitories if all students were vaccinated — a fraction of the number of students affected by mental illness, drunken driving or sexually transmitted diseases. “The rationale for saying whether a vaccine should be required is to say whether it would be cost-effective,” said Dr. Evelyn Wiener, director of student health services at the University of Pennsylvania. “How much would it cost to vaccinate everybody? To cover any complications? Does that offset the cost of the disease itself?” Dr. James C. Turner of the University of Virginia, chairman of a committee on vaccine-preventable illnesses for the American College Health Association, makes the opposite argument. Virginia is one of three states that require students to be vaccinated or sign a waiver. “Seatbelts and airbags don’t work IOO percent of the time either, but we don’t stop using them, do we?” Turner said. DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 MMMM “My feeling is, even if it’s rare, we have a vaccine. In the context of a college education that can cost $10,000 or $20,000 a year, it’s really not that much money. Cost effectiveness shouldn’t be the issue.” Meningococcal meningitis is a contagious bacterial infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord that is spread through human saliva. It kills in roughly IO percent of cases and does serious harm, including brain damage, in another IO percent. A less serious viral form of meningitis also exists. Meningitis often is confused with the flu in its earliest stages because of similar symptoms that include fever, neck stiffness and headache. But it can become worse, even fatal, very quickly. ■■■■■■■■■ 7 '22910 00050    4 A BN FOUR I 18 0 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Scattered showers, 84° ■ Forecast, A2 2001 CLEARANCE SALE Wi/ll rn % £)&7h Going On Now! Chrysler - Plymouth - Jeep 'rn WW 1549 Pleasant Valley Blvd* TM £ Altoona, PA 943-6167 □ local Business A9 Movies A4 Obituaries AU Opinion A8 OI SPORTS Local B4 Scoreboard B5 Q NATION Classifieds    C4-12 Q] LIFE Comics    D5 Community news    D2 Puzzles    D4 Television    D4 INSIDE IN STATE Workers lifted a copper-and-steel Nittany Lion weather vane atop Beaver Stadium Thursday as the $93 million project neared completion. PAGE A4 ;

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