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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 27, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Steve Park wins NASCAR’s Dura Lube 400 life: Sewing brings sense of accomplishment DIAltona mirror © Copyright 2001 Biz tax break decision pending By Craig Williams Staff Writer Blair County Commissioners are due to vote today on the more than 550 acres put up for a tax incentive program designed to attract business to depressed regions. Unfortunately, the vote only comes one day before the application deadline. If the commissioners vote down the tax abatement proposals, it would be too late for the municipalities and school boards to call emergency meetings and amend their applications. Created by legislature late last year, the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone program officially began accepting applications Jan. I with strict requirements to get all paper work in by the end of February. This gave local officials less than 60 days to draw up plans and approve the potential loss of tax revenue as the program forgives income, property and real estate tax, as well as many others. The school district’s approval also is necessary because effectively no school taxes will be collected on the earmarked property for up to 13 years, and commissioners from ail the counties involved need to cast assenting votes, essentially recognizing and agreeihg to a potential lose of tax revenue if the property were developed. The benefit is that developers would in many cases be responsible for putting in sewer and electricity on the property. This year’s KOEZ is based on the state’s first Keystone Opportunity Zone program, which started in January 1999 and is to eliminate taxes for IO years from its inception. This year’s tax abatement program will eliminate property and state income taxes, both for industry and residential developers until 2013. Please see Break/Page A5NOT TOO TAXING Taxes that will be waived in KOEZs: State ■ Corporate Net Income Tax ■ Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax ■ Personal Income Tax ■ Sales and Use Tax Local ■ Earned Income / Net Profits Tax ■ Business Gross Receipts, Business Occupancy, Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax ■ Local Real Property Tax ■ Sales and Use Tax (county/city) TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2001 LOCALS IN NEW ORLEANS 50$ newsstand The Associated Press The lingo One of the floats in the Bacchus Mardi Gras parade works its way Sunday through the streets of New Orleans. A front-row seat for Mardi Gras madness By Kevin OTT Staff Writer On Sunday morning, Katie Padamonsky and Will Dickey woke up at 8 a.m., earlier than they usually get out of bed on a Sunday. They had a party to go to. And nobody parties like they party in New Orleans. Padamonsky and Dickey have only lived in The City That Care Forgot for about six months. But in that six months — and especially over the past week or so — the two Hollidaysburg natives have become intimate with every trinket, every bead, every parade and every float that’ll be coming down their street this Mardi Gras. “It’s something that everybody celebrates. And everybody does it together,” Padamonsky said. “Everybody I know goes to the Mardi Gras parades. Everybody.” In the French Quarter today is pandemonium. On Bourbon Street is jubilant chaos. Even in the deepest, most remote swamps of lower Acadia, the bacchalanian revel reigns supreme. New Orleans got its reputation as a party town in the 18th Century, when wealthy Louisiana families would leave their plantations spend the winter months there and hold lavish parties where revelers wore masks. After the Spanish took control of the city later that century, state officials were concerned that masked balls might give slaves opportunities to escape, and when the U.S. government took over Louisiana in the early 1800s, the parties were banned outright. But by the 1820s the festivals had returned, and the first documented Mardi Gras parade was recorded in 1837. After that it just got bigger. Rick Bills moved to New Orleans from the Cambria Heights area a few years ago. During most of February, he doesn’t sleep all that well. He lives in the middle of the town’s central business district with 30-foot windows in his apartment. During the weeks before and after Mardi Gras, the parades are almost nonstop. Since New Orleans was featured on MTV’s “The Real World” last season, the crowds have only gotten bigger, he said. “There’s always a reason for people to party,” he said. “If there’s not a reason, the city will find one.” Last weekend, he already had seven friends at his home. They had pulled up in an RV a few days earlier asking for a floor to sleep on and a wine glass to drink from. But despite the city’s reputation as the nation’s frathouse, it’s actually quite sedate preceding Fat Tuesday, Padamonsky said. During the rest of the year, it’s classic Old South and southern dandies and debutante balls abound, like something out a Tennessee Williams play, she said. “It’s just amazing how laid back and sedate they can be — except when it comes to Mardi Gras,” she said. Much of the revelry seems to get its reputation from tourists who visit the city from all over the world, Padamonsky said — partiers from points north and west expect debauchery and drunkenness of epic proportions, so they bring the craziness with them. Please see Mardi/Page A8 Some terminology: Mardi frat — French for “Fat Tuesday," the last chance for revelry and excess before the penitential season of Lent begins. Bowlfrat — A fatted bull or ox that symbolizes the last meat eaten before the Lenten season of fasting. It is one of the most photographed sights at Mardi Gras. Bal — A masked party featuring, as entertainment, the performance of scenes representing a specific theme. Krewe — The generic term for all carnival organizations and clubs in New Orleans that sponsor balls or parades. Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology are the sources for nearly half the krewe names Most Mardi Gras krewes also are involved in charity work. DouMoom — Aluminum coinlike objects bearing the krewe’s insignia on one side and the parade's theme on the reverse side Throws — Inexpensive souvenirs tossed from floats by costumed and masked krewe members in response to traditional calls of, “Throw me something, mister!” These “throws" include doubloons, plastic cups and necklaces Kau Cake — An oval, sugared cake with a plastic baby doll hidden inside The person who finds the doll is crowned “king” and buys the next colorful cake Source New Orleans Metropolitan Convention ana Visitors BureauCourt snarl eases ■ After flirting with a backlog, Blair County’s court schedule is just about back on track. By Phil Ray Staff Writer The number of cases in the Blair County criminal court has dropped dramatically just a year after county judges announced they no longer would accept plea bargains after juries had been selected to hear charges. The new system has had a ripple effect, forcing lawyers and prosecutors to begin thinking how to resolve cases much earlier than before. Blair County Judge Norman D. Callan in January 2000 announced the new policy but said it had the support of his colleagues, including judges Thomas G. Peoples, Jolene G. Kopriva and Hiram A. Carpenter. While there have been some exceptions, all die judges have basically adhered to the new policies. Callan each trial term also introduced two rounds in which cases ready for jury trial were brought before the court during the weeks just prior to selecting juries for criminal cases. During these “calls of the list,” as it is known throughout the Blair County courthouse, the status of each of the 300 to 350 cases is examined monthly. Callan asks attorneys if there are outstanding pretrial motions or if there are any potential snafus that could potentially delay a case. During these court sessions, which in the beginning lasted up to 12 hours, the judge would learn about details such as missing witnesses, suspects without lawyers, pending motions or possible plea agreements — those court-related situations that can lead to delays. Callan would urge lawyers to resolve case problems before coming back to court. In some cases where lawyers either failed to appear or appeared in his courtroom unprepared, Callan issued “attachments” on the attorneys, meaning they had to be present and up-to-date with their cases every time a call of the list was held or they would be fined for contempt. The crackdown on dilatory attorneys has bom fruit. Entering 2000, the number of criminal cases pending in the Blair County court was 1,014. This was an increase over the 871 cases pending that began 1999. That figure plummeted to 652 starting in 2001. Callan and the other judges were concerned a year ago because cases coming before the court for trial tended to be between eight months and a year old. Pennsylvania court rules mandate that suspects who are in prison be tried within six months and those on bail be tried within a year. In looking at the problem — more than 1,000 cases — and the slow speed with which they were being dispensed, the judges decided something needed to be done. One of the problems, as Callan defined, was that attorneys were waiting until cases were called for jury trial before becoming involved in plea bargains. Please see Court/Page A4PSU reps defend sexfest decision Euthanasia speaker brings debate By Martha Raffele The Associated Press HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Ridge weighed in on the controversy over a sex-education fair at Penn State University for the first time Monday, telling university officials they should have considered community standards, as well as students’ First Amendment rights, when they decided to allow the event. “I believe it is a false choice that Penn State must defend either free speech or community standards,”ON THI NET: Penn State University: http://www.psu.edu Ridge said in a two-page letter to university President Graham B. Spanier. “Instead, the University must develop systems and procedures that respect both.” Ridge’s letter was released while he was in Washington, D.C., meeting with his fellow governors, as state lawmakers in Harrisburg opened hearings on Ridge’s budget proposal to give Penn State $250 million in state funds next year — $111 million less than the university said it needs to serve its 81,270 students. This year, the perennial debate over how much taxpayer support is enough is being overshadowed by fallout from the Feb. 3 “Sex Faire” at Penn State, which featured a risque bingo game, explicit literature and anatomically correct gingerbread cookies. Please see Sexfest/Page A3 By Jay Young Staff Writer A Princeton professor and proponent of euthanasia for elderly and infants with birth defects will ignite a heated debate tonight when he speaks at Penn State Altoona. Peter Singer is a controversial proponent of euthanasia, and not just for the terminally ill but also in some cases for the very young. Singer wrote in a book he authored that “killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.” Singer will bring his ideas and philosophy to the campus tonight as part of the campus’ Distinguished Speaker Series. The philosopher’s visit already has resulted in some letters and calls from an area resident complaining about the opportunity the campus is giving Singer. Anticipating the opposition, campus Dean William Cale wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in Monday’s Mirror. Please see Speaker/Page A3IF YOU GO What: “Making Decisions About Life and Death.” Who: Presented by Dr. Peter Singer, a controversial bioethicist. When: 7:30 p.m. today Where: Adler Athletic Complex at Penn State Altoona Admission: The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available at the Penn State Altoona Bookstore from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 | 22910 0005^ 4 BIG FOUR 5    13    1 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER ■jjj Partly sunny, 37° ■ Forecast, A2 Altoona ifltrror THE GREAT COMBINATION We're white-hot! Call us today...Make money today. 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