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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 20, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania NATION: MOM WHO DRUGGED, SMOTHERED KIDS CONVICTED OF MURDER ► PAGE Cl I It Legendary Tussey Mountain coach 0 J eager for Hollidaysburg tourney to Ute im / First Night celebration planned in State CollegeAltana Mirror © Copyright 2001THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2001 SOC newsstandFiancee charged in man’s death By Mia Rohart Staff Writer HUNTINGDON - A lover’s quarrel took a fatal turn early Wednesday when police say a Huntingdon man was shot and killed by his live in fiancee, Darin Wayne Whitsel, 31, of Path Valley was declared dead at 2:35 a.m. by Hunting don County assistant coroner Ronald Murder. Whitsel was shot once in the chest with a 7-30 caliber rifle, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Christina Joan Ashton, 37, of Mount Union was arrested at the scene and charged with criminal homicide. Ashton is being held at Bedford County Jail and is awaiting a preliminary hearing. Whitsel and his fiancee were with Usa Ashton and Thomas Whitsel at a residence on a privately owned hunting camp in Cromwell Township Tuesday night, according to court documents. Thomas Whitsel owned the residence. Christina Ashton and Darin Whitsel began arguing about her having an affair. At some (Miint. Usa Ashton attempted to use the phone, and Darin Whitsel grabbed her, according to court documents. Christina Ashton told Darin Whitsel to stop. Darin Whitsel and Thomas Whitsel then began to fight physically with each other. Thomas Whitsel went to his vehicle and brought the rifle into the residence, accord ing to court documents. All four then left the residence. Usa Ashton began to walk away, and Thomas Whitsel followed her. Please see Death/Page A12 Survey finds U.S.teens smoking less Bv Randolph E. Schmid The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Smoking is declining sharply among American teens, a finding that health experts are hailing as good news for the public's future health. A report also disclosed that the recent sharp increases in the use of the drug Ecstasy are slowing, hero in use decreased, notably among 10th* and 12th graders, and a gradual decline in use of inhalants continued in 2001. Decreases in cigarette smoking were observed for the eighth-, 10th-and I2th-graders surveyed. ■ For eighth-graders: About 12.2 percent reported smoking in the 30 days before they were surveyed, down from 14.6 percent the year before. The peak in the 1990s was 21 percent in 1996. ■ For lOth-graders: The survey found 21.3 percent had smoked in the last 30 days, down from 23.9 percent the year before; and the peak was 30.4 percent, also in 1996. ■ For 12th-graders: 29.5 percent had smoked in the month before being asked. That was down from 31.4 percent in 2000. Their peak in the 1990s came in 1997 at 36.5 percent. “These important declines in teen smoking did not just happen by chance,” Lloyd D. Johnston of the University of Michigan said. "A lot of individuals and organizations have been making concerted efforts to bring down the unacceptably high rates of smoking among our youth.” The findings were reported Wednesday in the annual Monitoring the Future survey conduct- ■ Ex-cigarette model addresses area youth / Page A7 ed for the government by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The report surveyed 44,300 students nationwide in grades eight, IO and 12. “Because the teen years are critical in the initiation of nearly all lifetime smoking habits, what hap pens during that developmental period is vital to the eventual health and longevity of each generation,” Johnston said. The decline in drug use also was lauded by public health officials. "Overall, drug use among America’s teen-agers has remained level or declined for the fifth year in a row, and that’s good news,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a statement. “But we must remain vigilant to the threats that heroin, Ecstasy, marijuana, alcohol and other dangerous drugs pose to our youth . " Thompson added "the finding that fewer teen-agers are smoking is very encouraging as more teens are making smart choices that will help them avoid tobacco-related health threats.” Glen Hanson, acting director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said: “We hope that our concerted effort to give adolescents science-based information about the health risks of Ecstasy and other drugs will contribute to a further reduction in the use of these drugs.” Please see Smoking/Page A7 PICKING UP THE ‘BALL’ Louise McNelly (right) of Blandburg stops at McAbee’s Corner Grocery at First Avenue and Eighth Street in Altoona to buy lottery tickets on her way home from work. Cashier Melinda Robenolt rings up the sale. Powerball fever, which had many residents flocking to West Virginia to buy tickets in August, will come to the Keystone State this summer. Mirror file photo by Jason Sipes Pa. to join multistate lottery game From Mirror staff and wire reports Pennsylvania will join the Powerball multistate lottery this summer, and the idea is winning over local players. “You might as well go for the big money,” Tony DeStadio of Altoona said as he waited in line to buy his daily tickets at McAbee’s Corner Grocery on First Avenue. “Oh yeah — there’s a lot more money paid out, IO times as much,” Steve St. John said before he left the store. Game The state is joining Powerball to boost lottery revenues to meet the mounting costs of the senior citizen programs they help subsidize. “Residents who fancy the lottery want the option,” Gov. Mark Sehweiker said, standing in front of a newsstand that sells lottery tickets at a suburban Harrisburg mall Tuesday during the official announcement to expand players’ choices. “There isn’t a week that goes by that lottery players don’t encourage me and those at the Department of Revenue to bring in the game.” Please see Lottery/Page A5 State’s new welfare reform plan covers most nearing 5-year limit BY JEANETTE KREBS capitolwire.com Virtually every’ family receiving a welfare check will have the chance to stay on public assistance for an undefined amount of time if they meet certain requirements. According to new public welfare regulations unveiled Tuesday, the state could include all 7,726 adults who will reach their five-year lifetime limit on welfare between March and June in an exemption program. More time will be offered to recipients who are victims of domestic violence, are caring for a disabled family member or who have mental or physical limitations. Others will be required to work 30 hours per week to continue to receive benefits. Right now, 60 percent of the people needing to work are not. Pennsylvania, like every state, has the option of placing 20 percent of its welfare caseload into a federally funded, open-ended DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 P2910 00050 BIG FOUR 0    9    2    8 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Chance of snow, 38° ■ Forecast, A2 I exemption program. State officials say families reaching the five-year mark would be only about 9 percent of that caseload, and they predict the 20 percent mark won’t be reached for three years. What that means is the real hard choices in welfare reform, which could be made worse by the potential of federal funding cuts next fall, will be made by the next governor, who will be elected in November. Please see Welfare/Page A5 NB&* - -•* ■ 'Jill Murtha CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING Murtha silent on future as speculation continues Mascara By Robert Igoe Staff Writer While U.S. Rep. John Murtha has not spoken directly about his future in Congress, there has been no shortage of rumors concerning his plans. Talk exploded this week as the state Legislature prepares to work out a compromise between two radically different plans for redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. QI LOCAL 0 NATIOH Business A9 Classifieds C6»12 Hospitals A11 Obituaries A11 Comics C4 Opinion A8 SPORTS 0 LIFE Movies D3 Local B4 Night Life D2 Planner D2 Scoreboard B5 Television D5 Under the Senate plan, Murtha’s 12th District would be redrawn to include two corridors reaching across the southwestern part of the state to the West Virginia border. The plan also would pit Murtha against fellow Democrat Frank Mascara, 20th District, for the new district in 2002. The House plan would leave both districts separate on the map and have them more geographically compact. Please see Rumors/Page A4 INSIDE IN BUSINESS A federal panel sent recommendations for tariffs of up to 40 percent on imported steel to the Bush administration Wednesday. PAGE A9 Christmas Buffet Luncheon Friday Dec. 21' 11:30-2:30 Reservations Required lb ITALIAN VILLA 1808 4TH AVE., ALTOONA 943-8510 ;

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