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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 20, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: District 6 basketball playoffs kick off    Life:    Who    will    win    this    year’s    Grammy    Awards?    DIAltoona mirror © Copyright 2001 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2001 500 newsstand AGRICULTURE Government officials say farm income could tumble dramatically over the next two years.fife •4^%'’ {WW**, K'-” -A Ti. .dp 'tart 5 v'ifc ki Hmm I ,* < ■ ' mm * f ■■•"*. TM? ..    ■•■'    ••yn-    -" v«§r v frttfftfri ■    2.    '“'W ■!■-■ -st'. • rat' P HW ;" |    J-- llroAAfeJii XLa-.^ ah Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich John Black of Blackcret Farms in the Sinking Valley area of Blair County cuts a field of alfalfa last summer. Fuel woes planting farmers Financial pressures grow, Congress ponders action3iMs DI Bi Total cas farms: Year h receipts for Pe Crops insylvania Livestock 1998 1999 Number 1.25 billion 1.19 billion jf farms in area c 2.91 billion 2.88 billion counties: 1,225 ^ 545 1,025 685 760 440 Blair Bedford Cambria Centre Clearfield Huntingdon Source Pa Agriculture Department Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll By MLA KOHART Staff Writer Blair County farmer Harry Albright, who spent about $40,000 on a tractor last year, says the only way he can afford to farm is because he has other investments. “I pity any farmer that’s got a lot of debt,” he says. As if low crop prices weren’t tough enough, the nation’s farm economy now is being battered by soaring costs for energy and fertilizer, Congress was told recently. Net farm income likely is to drop 20 percent, or $9 billion, over the next two years unless there is a fresh outpouring of federal aid, according to the congressionally funded Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, based at the University of Missouri. The cost of fuel that farmers need for tractors, combines and irrigation equipment jumped 31 percent last year. Prices may drop slightly in coming months, but growers are expected to be hit this year with a 33 percent increase in fertilizer costs, the report says. Nitrogen fertilizer is made from natural gas. “It’s not only low prices, it’s high production costs that are squeezing farmers,” says Bruce Babcock, an Iowa State University economist. Farms in the region are not immune to the national crisis facing farmers with the increase of fuel and fertilizer prices. Albright says he’s probably not as affected as those with livestock because he only crop farms, although he could be hurting in the spring when he has to buy fertilizer. He bought some in December, and it was much higher than last year. Albright rotates his oat and soybean crops over his 150-acre farm. He is guaranteed about $5.30 per bushel for the soybeans with the government making up the difference in market price. Please see Fuel/Page A3NASCAR fans deal with loss By Robert Igoe Staff Writer He was the man you either loved or loved to hate. But now, Dale Earnhardt is the man that all of NASCAR is mourning both locally and nationwide after his death in an accident in the closing quarter-lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500. “I have always been a real big fan of his,” said Earnhardt fan Dennis Young of Bellwood. “He was the reason I watched NASCAR, just to see where the black car was. I don’t know what I’m going to do now when it comes to watching racing.” Earnhardt was pronounced dead shortly after his Chevrolet Monte Carlo slammed into a cement wall and was struck by a car driven by Ken Schrader. Earnhardt’s accident appeared to have been caused when the rear of his vehicle clipped the front end of a car driven by Sterling Marlin. To many watching at home, the accident did not appear to be serious enough to cause the fatal injuries. “I never dreamed he was hurt that bad,” Young said. NASCAR dealers say that Earnhardt merchandise is flying off of the shelves, and they expect a similar run on memorial merchandise, which should hit the stores in the upcoming months. “The sales have been steady,” IN SPORTS ■ Reactions from residents of Dale Earnhardt’s hometown Page Bl ■ Autopsy shows blunt force injuries to the head as cause of death Page B2 ■ Recent driver deaths in NASCAR, CART, Formula One and IRL Page B2 said Dave Gingerich of Ye Olde Hobby Shoppe in Duncansville. “We had quite a bit of his merchandise in stock, and we have a store full of people in here now. Dale Earnhardt was always a top seller. “It puts me in a precarious situation. You don’t like to have a sales increase because of something like this. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.” Gingerich says that Earnhardt was one of his favorite drivers since the two “almost perfectly share a birthday, so I understand his aches and pains. I was really shocked to hear about the accident. Everyone here is still in shock.” Please see Fans/Page AIQ Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Dale Earnhardt items were flying off the shelves Monday at Ye Olde Hobby Shoppe in Duncansville in wake of the racing star’s death in an accident in the closing quarter-lap of Daytona 500. Drug task force arrests 2 on crack-sale charges By Phil Ray Staff Writer A Detroit native who boasted he was going to shoot police officers and drug informants was arrested Monday by members of the West Drug Task Force within minutes of making a crack cocaine sale. Police called it a buy-bust operation that showed the type of danger officers face when they confront drug dealers. Altoona police Patrolman Ryan Yoder said when 24-year-old Milton La vale Williams, who gave an Altoona address of 811 Seventh Ave., was taken into custody, he found an apparently stolen, 34-shot Mac ll handgun fully loaded Williams Schmidt between Williams and the driver of the 1988 Dodge Caravan in which the pair was riding. The driver, who also was arrested, was identified by police as 24-year-old Dustie Schmidt of 105 E. Beech Ave., an native of Altoona. Please see Drug/Page A5 SHB I DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 0005 * BIG FOUR 2    7    Of I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Cloudy with showers, 47° ■ Forecast, C2 4 Special Olympians to compete at area venues By Mia Rohart Staff Writer Opening ceremonies for the Special Olympic winter games will take place tonight at the War Memorial in Johnstown. About 650 athletes, 230 coaches and between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers will participate. Skiing is the largest event, said John Krysinsky, associate competition director for the Special Olympics in Pennsylvania. Floor hockey is a close second in size, he said. Blue Knob Four Season Resort is hosting the skiing events of the Special Olympics for the first time this year, General Manager Andy Himes said. “It’s a good thing to host. It means a lot to them. They really/if lh, Fife*AT A GLANCE Area event schedule for the Special Olympics Winter games: ■ Alpine and cross country skiing, Blue Knob ski area, Wednesday and Thursday. ■ Floor hockey, St. Francis University, Wednesday and Thursday. To volunteer: Call 472-3899, ask for Maria Colmer. enjoy it,” he said. About 350 skiers will compete in alpine and cross-country skiing and are grouped by ability, from entry level to advanced, Himes said. “Some ski as well as, if not better, than people who come up here on a regular basis,” he said. Blue Knob will host the next two Special Olympic winter games as well, Himes said. Operations Coordinator for St. Francis University for the Special Olympics, Maria Colmer, expects about 200 athletes to participate in floor hockey and individual exei cises at the DeGol Arena, she said When not competing, the att letes can enjoy “Olympic Town, where they can do activities am win prizes donated by local store by playing games. Activities wil include making autograph books Athletes can have the books signei by the two players from th Johnstown Chiefs who will be pre sent during the awards ceremony Colmer said. Steve Parker and his wife Becky, are co-Venue Coordinator for the Special Olympics this yeai Becky Parker has been involve! for the last IO years, said Stev Parker, who became involved tw< years ago. Please see Compete/Page A5 □ local Q NATION Business A7 Classifieds C3-10 Hospitals A9 Obituaries A9 Opinion A8 EJ LIFE O SPORTS Comics D3 High schools B4 Dear Abby Puzzles D2 D2 Scoreboard B5 Television D2 INSIDE IN NATION Two teen-age suspects arrested in murders of professors army ;

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