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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Altoona mirror © Copyright 2001 SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2001 $1.50 newsstand IN WORLD ^ Iraq vows to retaliate after allied attack IN LIFE ► Altoona native snowboarding his way through life Growing pains for NASCAR ■ Accelerated popularity has created a new set of challenges for auto racing. By Cory Giger Mirror Sports Staff NASCAR’s popularity surged in the United States faster than Dale Earnhardt drives at Daytona without restrictor plates. Almost as quickly, though, some of that growth has taken a pit stop. Hundreds of thousands of loyal fans will attend races this year, but one local business owner said the sale of race memorabilia has hit the brakes. “It’s reached its peak and started downhill,” said John Bollman, owner of J’s Sports Collectibles, a NASCAR store in Saxton. “They made too much stuff and changed paint schemes too often. It discourages a lot of people from buying.” Today’s Daytona 500 marks the opening of the 2001 Winston Cup season. It’s generally considered the most exciting time of the year for NASCAR followers, many of whom shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy items related to their favorite drivers. NASCAR’s growth since 1990, Fox Sports reported, measures at 59.6 percent, the most among the major sports. The NHL was second at 38.1 percent, followed by the NBA (21.5), NFL (7.8) and Mayor League Baseball (-7.9). NASCAR may have grown faster than the NFL since 1990, but a comparison of the two circuits’ television contracts shows a different trend. The NFL, like NASCAR, has an eight-year television rights deal, but football is worth $18 billion, compared to racing’s $400 million. “A few people come in to watch [races on Sundays], but it’s not like football season,” said Joe Merva, kitchen manager at Zach’s Sports & Spirits in Altoona. “We’re usually full [for football],” and people stay two or three hours to watch the games. Please see Pains/Page A5 9TH DISTRICT CONGRESS INSIDE: This year’s race looks to be more exciting than in 2000. Also, Daytona 500 driver capsules and how race officials have increased their focus on safety. See stories on Pages Cl, C6 Plus, USA Weekend features a pull-out 2001 poster/calendar. Find the area's best NASCAR coverage inside the Altoona Mirror. Shuster, the sequel Son wins GOP nomination in bid to succeed his father Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Retired U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster (right) wipes away tears as he is overcome with emotion moments after his son Bill (left) clinched the Republican nomination for the 9th Congressional District seat Bud Shuster recently vacated. Bill Shuster received 69 of 133 votes in the first round to win the nomination. Hallmark Republican issues on platform By Robert Igoe Staff Writer HUNTINGDON — Congressional candidate Bill Shuster’s platform includes many traditional GOP issues, including tax cuts and local control of education. Shuster also said that work must continue on improving health care, prescription drug reform and strengthening Social Security. “We must act now to strengthen Social Security,” he said. “The greatest risk today is not acting. Social Security is in real trouble. We need to do the things to correct it. “Health care is also a priority of ours. Public health should be reformed based on personal choice and on a competitive marketplace. We need to let patients and doctors make the choices on the care they need, not insurance companies.” Shuster said he favors individual investment accounts for Social Security. Such accounts could give those planning for retirement a better return on their money than the current Social Security program. He also said the federal employee health benefits plan is a good model for such reforms. Please see Platform/Page A9 MORI INSIDE ■ Most of the losing candidates say ifs time to get to work. ■ After a nasty battle, Republican rivals must find a way to work together to retain the 9th District seat. PAGE A9 COMING MONDRY ■ What lies ahead on the campaign trail for Bill Shuster and Democratic nominee Scott Conklin. By Robert Igoe Staff Writer HUNTINGDON — After being named Saturday the Republican nominee to fill the Pennsylvania 9th Congressional District seat formerly held by his father, Bud Shuster, Bill Shuster hugged his dad. He was no doubt hoping that some of the magic that helped his father hold the seat for 28 years will rub off. Maybe he was hoping it will help him defeat Democrat Scott Conklin in a special election May 15. After embracing his son, the elder Shuster, who was reduced to tears of joy by the news of his son’s win, said the new GOP standard-bearer in the 9th District will continue to help “build the future” for the district. “I’m thrilled,” Bud Shuster managed to say before collecting himself. Regaining his composure, he promised that “the delegates made a great choice. He’s going to be a builder. He’s going to keep building up this area. He’s a positive builder.” Bill Shuster did not address the entire delegation after his win, but he was eager to thank his supporters after the meeting. “I’m ecstatic also,” the younger Shuster said. “I think this proves that our democratic system is the strongest in the world. “There can be turmoil, there can be disagreements: but in the end, we can come together as Republicans, and we will go on to defeat the Democrats.” Party officials hope the nomination, which was awarded at the Republican miniconvention at Juniata College’s Brumbaugh Science Center, will be the end of the controversy surrounding the nomination process. The weeks leading up to the miniconvention featured allegations of abuse of power and attempted strong-arm tactics thrown at each other by Bill Shuster and Blair County Republican Party Chairman John H. Eichelberger Jr., as well as an 11th-hour threat that called into question the legitimacy of the appointed delegates in Huntingdon County. But in the end, Eichelberger said that he was willing to work to help elect Shuster. “We thought it could come out like this,” Eichelberger said. Please see Shuster/Page A9 INSIDE Pennsylvania, where coal long has reigned as king, could see broader use of solar, wind and similar ‘green’ sources of electricity under a new legislative proposal. PAGE A7 High fuel prices and lower fuel stockpiles helped create utility bills that hurt the pocketbooks of consumers this year. PAGE El Demand for fuel assistance heats up From Mirror staff and wire reports Nearly 5 million households, about a quarter more than last winter, are having serious enough problems meeting winter heating costs that they’ve asked for government help, according to a nationwide survey. “Prices soar, temperatures plummet and poor families are left out in the cold,” said Mark Wolfe, director of an association that represents state low-income energy assistance officials. Locally, the problem is just as intense. “We’re being inundated with requests for assistance,” said Allan Robinson of the Blair County NEED HEIPP For more information on assistance with heating bills: Blair County    946-7365 Bedford County    623-6127 Cambria County    533-2253 Huntingdon County    643-4098 Centre County    765-1551 Community Action Agency, which runs a number of programs to assist low-income families with home heating costs. “We’re astounded by the number of people.” Reports from state offices show that so far this year, the number of households nationwide seeking help has increased by 1.1 million, a 26 percent jump over last winter. In some states, the number of applicants nearly has doubled and is likely to go still higher, officials said. The federal government has distributed $2.26 billion to the states for heating assistance, and money is available, Wolfe said. But he expressed concern that the state assistance funds will run dry in the weeks ahead as families begin get ting their January and February heating bills. “We’re talking about elderly, or disabled people, or a family with young children, usually making less than $10,000 per year,” said Wolfe, director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. “We’re trying to encourage people to apply. We don’t want people not to buy medicine or food to pay for heat.” Residential prices for natural gas, home heating oil and propane have jumped anywhere from 40 percent to as much as double what they were last year. Please see Fuel/Page A7 r Statistics on those requesting help to pay high natural gas bills: Pennsylvania Households 280,750 % change from 2000 +31.8 Funds available $154,697 Households 4,860,155 % change from 2000 +26.0 Funds available $2,255,000 Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll na JSC I ■HHH I DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 111J HG Jj BIG FOUR §206 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 26° ■ Forecast, B2 ‘1-YEAR FREE FINANCING —-------- til    Feb. 2002 Pennsylvania HoukeFurniture • Dining Rooms • Bedrooms • Sofas • Love Seats at least 40% Off • Wall Systems • Chairs • Tables • Accents ant| up to 50 % Off EASY WMS! FREE FINANCING Until Fob. 2002 m ■  .A    _    __ ^--J „'«    Saturday 10-5:30 FAMOUS BRAND HIGH QUALITY FURNITURE TO 60% OFF rn ur# Today Noon • 4, Mon. 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