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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 1, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Altoona girls defeat BG for second timeLife: ASO to present ‘Midwinter Serenade’ Saturday DIAltnoua mirror © Copyright 2001THURSDAY, FEBRUARY I, 2001 500 newsstand . ‘‘You Ye got to stay away from this stuff It's killer stuff ” — U.S. Attorney David M. Barasch Heroin purity proves deadly By George Strawley The Associated Press HARRISBURG — Pockets of rural communities in central Pennsylvania have seen a rash of heroin-related deaths over the past three years because young people are buying the drug in unprecedented purity, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday. The deaths are a byproduct of an international drug cartel’s “concerted marketing decision” to increase the purity of heroin smuggled into Philadelphia to 90 percent or more, said David M. Barasch, the U.S. attorney for the region. Heroin funneled from Philadelphia to smaller Pennsylvania cities is being cut with other substances by local dealers, but rural teen-agers and young adults are driving directly to Philadelphia and obtaining the purer drug on the streets, Barasch said. “You’ve got to stay away from this stuff. It’s killer stuff,” Barasch said during a news conference to announce the indictments of three people in connection with two heroin-related deaths. Barasch said the drug has found its way into isolated locations throughout the region, making its use in rural areas “one of these silent issues that no one seems to be getting a grasp on.” Mifflin County has seen eight heroin-related deaths among its 47,000 residents since 1998, District Attorney Stephen S. Snook said. He said the problem has been well-known for years in the county seat of Lewistown, 46 miles northwest of Harrisburg. Law-enforcement officials said experimenting teen-agers are more likely to try injecting the drug after snorting the more potent form than after using the cut down version. “Ninety percent pure heroin is a different animal than 40 percent pure heroin,” Barasch said. Authorities have warned since at least 1999 of young people getting hooked on heroin in central Pennsylvania. State and federal law enforcement officials said they have responded by placing undercover officers in rural communities and taking other actions. Charged this week in connection with drug-related deaths were Joseph Shalata, 41, of Exeter; Nancy Masher, 44, of West Wyoming; and John Geovani Davila, 31, of Philadelphia. Shalata and Masher were indicted this week in connection with the 1999 overdose death of Andrew Tanner, 21, of Exeter, near Wilkes-Barre. Davila was arrested Tuesday and charged with distributing the heroin that led to the death of 20-year-old Joshua Woods in Milroy, Mifflin County. Police summoned to a home Nov. 24 said they found Woods dead and a girlfriend comatose, with heroin among their belongings. Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich Outgoing U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District, speaks with family members in his office Wednesday while his grandson Garrett Shuster. 9 hams it up at his grandfather’s desk.    * Congressional conclusion Shuster fixes himself a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit for lunch inside the kitchen of his office. After a 28-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Shuster has called it quits. By William Kibler Staff Writer WASHINGTON — Richard Nixon ate cold cereal while in Communist China during the high point of his presidency. Bud Shuster ate hot oatmeal and fruit Wednesday, his last as a congressman with the House in session, like he’s done almost every lunchtime during his 28-year career in Washington, D.C. Leaving a crowd of family, friends and supporters in his comfortable office, he went to a tiny kitchenette among the suite of staff rooms. There he measured the oatmeal, added skim milk, heated it in a microwave, peeled and sliced a banana and added raspberries and blueberries, staining the milk purple. He tucked his tie in his shirt, shielded it with his hand as an extra precaution and ate with gusto. He was planning to go to a luncheon in his honor in the meeting room of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee he chaired since 1995, but didn’t want to have to eat there so he could “work the crowd," thanking supporters and well-wishers. There was a posh spread at the luncheon. The spartan meals reflect his self-disciplined way of life, said Shuster, 69, raised near Pittsburgh during the Great Depression. Up at 6 a.m., he runs 3 miles every other day, and on the days in between, he runs 2 miles, lifts weights and takes a sauna, he said. While the House is in session IO months per year, he works as late as IO p.m., and to 5 or 6 p.m. when it’s not. While eating his humble repast in lieu of the delicacies and sweetmeats the caterers were preparing, Shuster’s pre-teen grandson Bobby Statler came by the kitchenette — Shuster usually ate in his office, but it was too crowded today. Please see Shuster/Page A4 New signs installed for students’ safety By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer PennDOT took another step this week toward making a heavily traveled city street a little safer for walking students. Nine new school-crossing signs in fluorescent yellow-green were installed Tuesday along 17th Street around Altoona Area High School and Roosevelt Junior High School. Fourteen signs are planned for Sixth and Seventh avenues, PennDOT’s District 9 traffic engineer Roger Dodson said. The new color was approved by PennDOT two years ago for specific signs, including student-crossing zones. “The idea is the signs bring a higher level of awareness to drivers,” Dodson said. Using the standard school-crossing symbol with the eye-grabbing new color should catch drivers’ attention. Please see Signs/Page A6 Mirro. photo by Kelly Bennett Altoona Area High School students cross 17th Street at Fourth Avenue near a new school-crossing sign. Bedford tax hike decision pending By Beth N. Gray For the Mirror BEDFORD — After two hours of testimony in a special court session Wednesday evening, Bedford County President Judge Daniel Lee Howsare announced he will render a decision on a county tax increase request early next week. In closing remarks, Howsare asked county solicitor Kristin Banasick and attorney Thomas Crawford, who is representing tm protesters, whether die court’s rul ing should be “an all or none thing.’ Commissioners have asked foi the “all” decision, a real-estate tm levy of 12.9 mills — representing an increase of 3.45 mills over £ rn id-2000 assessment adjustment t( 9.45 mills and a change in assess ment ratio from 35 percent to IOC percent. Please see Tax/Page A6 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 00050    4 BIG FOUR10    4    3 I Lottery numbers. A2 WEATHER Cloudy, chance of snow, 37° ■ Forecast, C3 J I» . We Pride Ourselves I YI • dll l|.»y on Being the .....Ow i /rtju I Area’s Very Best .1I'1 Because We Feel Our Customers ITALIAN VILLA Deserve Nothing Less. <4 I.. □ local Q NATION Business A7 Classifieds Hospitals A9 Comics Obituaries A9 □ UFI Opinion A8 O SPORTS Movies Local B4 Night Life Planner Scoreboard B) Television C4-10 C2 D3 D4 D2 D5 INSIDEIN NATION At least 12 Michigan school districts are trying to determine if they will have to pay millions in a fraud case involving a Tyrone investment adviser. PAGE Cl LAST DAYS ON CAPITOL HILL ;

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