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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 26, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Mike Holtz signs deal with Anaheim AngelsLife: Protective gear helps keep scooter riders safe DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 2001 50( newsstandCITY SHOOTOUT Site tied to drug dealing suspect By Phil Ray Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG - An Altoona woman went on trial Thursday for selling crack cocaine to a police informant at 2103 Washington Ave., the same location of a shootout Sunday night. Police haven’t said much about last weekend’s incident. No arrests have been made, but police are searching for two men who tried to force their way into the dwelling. An occupant of the building obtained a gun, and several shots — possibly as many as nine — were exchanged as the two intruders made their getaway. Nobody was injured in the fray, even though the homes in the neighborhood are close together. On Thursday, Lisa Piner, 32, went on trial in the Blair County Court of Common Pleas for allegedly selling two rocks of crack cocaine for $250 to a police informant. The informant said Piner arranged a crack buy on the afternoon of May 3 with Piner’s stepdaughter, Renita Emeigh, 23, who lived at 2103 Washington Ave. The informant was greeted that night by Piner and not Emeigh. When the informant identified herself, Piner invited her into an upstairs apartment. The informant told Piner she had an arrangement to purchase $250 worth of crack. According to testimony, Piner reached into a couch and pulled out a plastic bag of crack, but she determined it wasn’t worth $250. Piner then turned to an unidentified male in the apartment, who gave Piner two “rocks.” Piner placed them in plastic bags for the informant, according to testimony. The suspect then took the informant’s money. Blair County Assistant District Attorney Ilissa Zimmerman said the informant was a college graduate who became addicted to crack and stole items from local stores to support her habit. Blair County Assistant Public Defender Michael Carbanaro told the jury that the informant cooperated with the West Drug Task Force by making drug buys for police because she faced a lengthy prison term for violating her probation. Please see Site/Page A7 PennDOT hopes signage will promote safety Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec PennDOT has been putting signs along Route 22, such as this one coming down Cresson Mountain, as a warning to motorists. WRITTEN WARNINGS By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer Professional truck driver Mike Berry just rolls his eyes when asked his opinion of other drivers on the road around him. “They just don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s not just cars. Trucks do it, too,” he said. Traffic professionals see the same problems when passenger vehicles share the road with large trucks. “I don’t think it’s motorists being irresponsible,” PennDOT spokeswoman Kelly Whitaker said. “They just are not putting their attention on the road and other vehicles.” As part of an awareness campaign to alert drivers about large trucks, PennDOT installed 20 new reflective orange signs on heavily traveled Route 22 from Pittsburgh through Cambria County. The signs are just part of educating drivers about the dangers of other vehicles and trucks. Many times, trac-tor-trailer drivers are concentrating on driving because they do it all the time for a living, Whitaker said. But other vehicle drivers aren’t that focused. “I think motorists take it for granted. They get in and drive, and there are so many distractions,” she said. “People just don’t know what they are doing and . don’t pay attention,” Berry said. “They are off in la-la land 90 percent of the time.” According to national statistics provided by PennDOT, in more than 60 percent of all fatal crashes involving automobiles and big trucks, the automobile driver, not the truck driver, contributed to the cause of the crash. Most of those crashes occurred during daylight hours on straight and dry pavement, PennDOT reported. Other PennDOT numbers show that more than 36,000 people were killed or injured in crashes involving trac-tor-trailers in the past five years in Pennsylvania. Route 22 was chosen for the new sign program because it is a heavily traveled east-west corridor for truck traffic, PennDOT traffic engineer Roger Dodson said. PennDOT analysts also noticed a substantial number SAFE DRIVING TIPS ii linger in 'lick and /IX PennDOT offers some simple safety tips for drivers around tractor-trailers. ■ Pass a truck quickly and safely. Don’t linger in its blind spot. Don’t pull in front of a truck slow down. ■ Obey the “No Zone.” This is the danger area around trucks where crashes often occur, lf you can’t see the driver or his side mirrors, the driver can’t see you. ■ Trucks have limited stopping ability. 1 Even on dry roads, it takes the length of a football field to stop an average loaded tractor-trailer going 55 mph. ■ Keep your cool — don’t be an aggressive driver. ■ lf you turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights. Use your headlights to be seen. ■ Stay in the right side of your lane when a truck is passing you. ■ Stay calm if you’re being tailgated. Keep your vehicle speed constant. Most trucks will speed up to help maintain their speed on an approaching hill. ■ Keep a cushion of safety between you and the vehicle in front of you. Don’t tailgate. ■ Don’t be fooled by speed. Because of its large size, a truck driving toward a car from a distance can appear to be moving a lot slower than it really is. of crashes involving trucks on that highway. The signs with such messages as “Be Alert of Heavy Truck Traffic” and “.Slow Down, Save Life,” are a new orange color that Dodson said is bright enough to draw attention. Similar signs appear on other area roads targeted with specific problems. Signs on Route 220 between Bald Eagle and Milesburg have messages for aggressive drivers, while Route 22 in Huntingdon County has signs against drinking and driving. Please see Warnings/Page A4 SeekingWeb site lobbying for Geisf ■ But the state representative says he’ll run only as compromise candidate for Shuster’s seat. By William Kibler Staff Writer State Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, has a campaign Web site, but don’t assume he’s wading into the fray to snag the Republican nomination for the seat of | retiring U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District. The Web site is unauthorized, and the only way he’ll run is as a compromise candidate to help ensure that the Republicans won’t lose the seat or maybe to help Blair County get its first congressman in about 40 years. Geist said a couple of young guys who worked on some of Geist’s campaigns put together the Web site (www.geistfor-congress.org), Geist said. Please see Geist/Page A5Dem hopeful won’t give up By William Kibler Staff Writer Scott Conklin won seven of ll counties for the recommendation of 9th District Democrats to be the party’s nominee for a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District. But candidate Stacey Brumbaugh’s three counties have 55 percent of the Democratic votes in the participating counties. Based on her claim to a big chunk of the popular vote and the encouragement of supporters, she hasn’t conceded yet to Conklin. “She said she was going to hang in there, and I said I thought she could,” said William Butts, Democratic RrllmhaiM,u chairman of Franklin County, which    ® along with Blair and Juniata counties went for Brumbaugh. “This is another Al Gore situation.” The bylaws called for one county, one vote without weighing those votes based on the number of registered Democrats they reflect. Please see Hopeful/Page A5 Geist CITY HALL RENOVATIONS Contractor may not be fined for delays By William Kibler Staff Writer Altoona City Hall renovations are at least two months behind schedule as the original March 7 completion date nears. But the general contractor may have justification for an extension of up to 45 days, officials said. W.C. Murray hasn’t asked for an extension yet, but the company might be able to justify one of 30 days or more by citing delays caused by unforeseen circumstances and changes ordered by the city, architect Dave Albright said. Those changes include: ■ the need to remove and replace leveling compound discovered on concrete floors; ■ bad concrete slabs that needed to be cut out and replaced on the fourth floor; ■ the need for drywall to cover deteriorated walls; Please see Delays/Page A7 Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Renovations to Altoona’s City Hall, shown in this Dec. 28 photo, won’t be completed on time. But numerous problems could mean the contractor won’t be responsible. More Interstate 99 construction begins By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer Construction will begin next week on two more sections of Interstate 99 between Bald Eagle and State College. One portion is 4.5 miles of road from the area north of Port Matilda over Skytop Mountain. The other is at the interchange at Port Matilda. Drivers on Route 220 won’t see many changes at first except for some road signs, said Enzo Cerceo of the Dick Corp., PennDOT’s construction manager for the project. No traffic problems or delays are anticipated, he said. The construction area is off to the side of Route 220, but contractors will install entrances from the main road to get back to the construction site. Neither of the projects moving ahead is affected by environmental protesters who are seeking to stop another phase of the proposed road. The sections are expected to take up to three years to complete. Please see 1-99/Page A4 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 -    22910    00050    4 V.    *> BIG FOUR | 5 ll I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 36° ■ Forecast, C3 ft 2001 PT CRUISER IN STOCK NOW! Ready For Delivery ! 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