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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 15, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Giants, Ravens earn trip to Super BowlLife: Inside or outside, snow days are fun for all DIAltoona mirror © Copyright 2001 ■ California is a net importer of energy; Pennsylvania expects to remain net exporter. HARRISBURG (AP) - Those who helped craft Pennsylvania’s electricity deregulation plan said the state should avoid the kind of power problems plaguing California. One major difference is that California is a net importer of energy, dependent on outside suppliers, while Pennsylvania expects to remain a net power exporter for years, Public Utility Comm ission Chairman John M. Quain said. California has been hit with fivefold wholesale power price increases since last summer, accompanied by a series of drops in power reserves. State, federal and utility company officials were unable to reach a solution in seven hours of negotiations Saturday and scheduled further talks over the next two days. Pennsylvanians should not fear that similar problems are brew ing, Quain said. “They have to be looking at California and thinking ‘Jeez, can that happen here?’ The answer is no,” he said. Pennsylvania has more restraints built into its 1996 electric-industry restructuring law, Quain and others said. Deregulation advocates at the time the program was devised said market forces would keep power prices reasonable. “But in the meantime, you need to have protections in place,” said Irwin Popowsky, the state consumer advocate, who pressed for several years of limits on the rates utilities may charge for generation and distribution of electricity. Pennsylvania has nearly 39,000 megawatts of new generation capacity planned in the next five years. Quain said it is possible that half of that planned capacity never will get built, but even if that were the case, the remainder would exceed estimates for future energy demand in the region. Please see Power/Page A3 PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATURE House members dive in to duties By Robert Igoe Staff Writer The opening of any session of the Pennsylvania Legislature is much like the first few rounds of a heavyweight boxing match. The action is often slow-paced with both sides feeling the other out, weighing their options and looking for the best opportunity to strike to their advantage. In Harrisburg, lawmakers are taking much the same approach as the Republican-majority House of Representatives opened its 2001-02 session, featuring 17 new members. When the action becomes heavier later this year, expect tobacco, transportation and teachers to be among the items in the mix. “While officeholders elsewhere content themselves with talking points, we in the House move boldly to initiate turning points,” said House Speaker Matthew J. Ryan, R-Delaware. “Some people are content to twiddle their thumbs. Those who work in this chamber prefer to roll up their sleeves.” For state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, the new session will be a chance to pick up where he and his Transportation Committee left off. “I am once again honored to serve as chairman of the House Transportation Committee,” said Geist, who was re-elected to the Please see House/Page A3MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2001 500 newsstand CALIFORNIA POWER CRISIS Problems not likely to hit Pa. TAMING TEEN DRIVERS Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Ryan Moncman, with his mother Eileen in the passenger seat, practices backing up Saturday afternoon in the family’s driveway. Accident rates drop after stricter laws imposed By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer Eileen Moncman would agree with state officials that new laws for teen-ager drivers really are working. She’s teaching her 16-year-old son Ryan to drive and never imagined she would be so nervous. “It’s very challenging,” she said while complimenting her son’s quick-learning abilities behind the wheel in the past month. Eileen Moncman of Hollidaysburg will spend the next five months driving with Ryan under Pennsylvania’s tougher laws for 16-year-olds working to get a driver’s license. Since December 1999, teens are required to spend 50 supervised hours driving, keep their learner’s permit for six months before taking the driving test and obey an ll p.m. curfew. “I love it — the six months,” Eileen Moncman said. “I have no problem with that.” While she thinks the extra time and practice will make her son a more experienced driver, it’s a bit of a rub for Ryan. “I kind of think it’s unfair,” Ryan said. His sister, now 18, didn’t face the same restrictions and got her license quickly. He doesn’t think putting in 50 hours of driving will be difficult, but waiting for six months to end feels like forever. “I think they have the right idea. But if you are ready for the road, you should be able to take the test,” he said. State lawmakers knew teens and parents might struggle with the new laws but made the changes to save the lives of teen drivers who are statistically more likely to be involved in a crash. And the recent numbers show the plan is working. Fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers are down more than 70 percent, from 55 in January to September 1999 to 16 during the same period last year. Crashes involving teen drivers were down 25 percent, meaning about 1,000 fewer crashes compared to 1999. That’s the kind of news mothers such as Eileen Moncman want to hear, even if her son disagrees. “The perception at 16 is very different when they’re a mother or father,” she said. PennDOT spokeswoman Joan Zlogar said the reformed laws have surpassed expectations. “We can show by the numbers alone, ifs been outstanding,” she said. “We set out to save lives, and we did.” As the number of crashes falls, along with the number of teen drivers killed or injured, the state’s roads are becoming safer, she said. “Our first responsibility to the citizens of Pennsylvania is to have safe drivers on the road,” Zlogar said. “We’re making younger drivers better drivers and safer drivers.” Gov. Tom Ridge praised the positive statistics in a written statement. “For too long, it was too easy for teen-agers to get a driver’s license in Pennsylvania. And the results too often were tragic,” Ridge said. While overall fatalities on the state’s highways declined in 1998, the number of young driver fatalities shot up 13 percent. For 15- to 20-year-olds, the number one cause of death was traffic accidents. Please see Driving/Page A3 Sc A look at how changing teens’ driving restrictions has helped reduce accidents: 16-year-old driver crashes 1999 2000 4,502 3,391 Fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers Injuries involving 16-year-old drivers 1999 2000 4,615 3,290 -28.8% Note: Figures are from January to September of each year. Source: PA Accident Record System Airport’s financial state improves By Ray Stephens Staff Writer MARTINSBURG — Blair County has budgeted $30,000 in 2001 for expenses at the Altoona Blair County Airport, an amount some say is evidence that the airport is becoming less of a financial drain on the county. “We’re asking the county for less and less money every year, and I think that’s good,” said Joseph Merilli, who took over as authority chairman this month, succeeding Don Ruggery, who stepped into the vice chairman position. Merilli, who has been on the airport authority since January 1998, said he is pleased with the airport’s improving financial picture and DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 "'22910 00050    4 4 the cooperation among the authority members. When Merilli first joined the airport authority board, the airport was piling up debt and the authority members were at odds over the reasons for the debt and how it could be resolved The airport’s debt started growing after its aged terminal was enlarged in 1996. The larger facility generated higher bills but not the revenue to pay those bills, and the airport authority looked to the county for financial help. While Blair County commissioners agreed to pay some of the debt, commissioners also started to explore turning the operation over to a private operator and began replacing long-time authority members. Merilli, among those appointed to the authority during that time of change, praised Blair County commissioner John H. Eichelberger Jr. for the foresight in selection of board members. Eichelberger is the commissioners’ liaison to the airport authority and attends the monthly authority meetings. Eichelberger told the authority that the commissioners set aside $30,000 for the airport in their 2001 budget, the amount the authority requested. Merilli said that the 2000 request was $53,000, and in the preceding years, the authority’s requests for financial help was higher and more frequent. Please see Airport/Page A5 BH CELEBRATING THE SPIRIT gSMflMBMBMNMifii BIG FOUR § 8 $ 3 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Cloudy, rain showers, 45 ■ Forecast, C2 Alumna iMtrrur THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of and HO I YI)s Phone (814) 946-7422 ._or fax us at (814) 946-7547 rhe Penn State Gospel Choir leads an acappella rendition of “Swing low, Sweet Chariot”Sunday at the Edith Davis Eve Chapel at Penn State Altoona. A worship service was held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. A reading from MLR was done by youth of Twenty-eighth Street Church of the Brethren. Mirror photo by Jason Sipes 0 LOC At Q nation Business A5 Classifieds C2-8 Hospitals/ObituariesA7 Movies A5 EJ LIFE Opinion A6 R SPORTS Comics D5 College basketball B4 Community news D2 Puzzles D4 Scoreboard B5 Television D4 INSIDE An uninsulated took at Antarctica ;

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