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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 31, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Central H.S. boys edge Tyrone, 45-44    Life:    America    puts    stamp    on    cheese    production    DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2001 50$ newsstand Boost in drug policy backed I ■ The Pa. House has approved expanding state’s prescription program for seniors. By Timothy D. May The Associated Press HARRISBURG - The House overwhelmingly approved a Republican plan that would expand a state program that helps seniors buy prescription drugs despite reservations from a handful of lawmakers that the plan could prove troublesome over time. The plan approved by the House Tuesday, identical to one that died in the Legislature late last year, would increase the income caps for PACENET, which subsidizes drugs for seniors who need help with their drug expenses but whose incomes are too large to qualify for more generous benefits in the PACE program. The measure would cost an estimated $191 million and is expected to expand the number of seniors eligible for benefits by more than 400,000, Republicans said. The plan aids about 21,000 seniors. I ^received bipartisan support in Republican-controlled House, passing 191-5. Its fate remains unclear in the Senate. The bill first was introduced by state Rep. Patricia Vance, R-Cumberland, in September, when both major presidential candidates were talking almost nonstop about the need to help seniors meet the rising costs of prescription drugs. That plan never reached the floor of the Senate. The bill would make funding for PACE, an acronym for Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly, and PACENET, a companion program, supplemental to any federal money for prescription benefits programs. Republican senators have expressed fears that putting up state funds for prescription benefits would result in Pennsylvania getting fewer federal dollars if Congress acts on its own assistance bill. Vance said Pennsylvania needs to act now to bolster its existing programs. *•1 think the Senate will realize the will of the House is very strong abd that the governor is appreciate of how strongly the members of the House feel about this,” Vance said after the vote. “We can”! wait any longer.” Democrats offered a series of failed amendments to the plan, including one that would have abolished the deductible for PACENET and dramatically lowered co-payments. ST. VALENTINE’S DAY PREPARATION Colleagues bid adieu to Shuster Special election could be costly By Kay Stephens HOLLIDAYSBURG — Unless Gov. Tom Ridge picks the May primary as the date of a special election to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District, Blair County taxpayers likely will spend about $35,000 to hold the election on another date. And they won’t be the only ones with such a bill. Clearfield County taxpayers will have to come up with about $59,000 and Bedford County taxpayers will care up with about $19,000 to mm special elections. Similar costs will be incurred by other counties in the 9th Congressional District, which includes Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin and Snyder and portions of Centre and Perry counties. “It would be a huge expense for the ll counties,” Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority said. Please see Special/Page A14 Above: Linda Al bar an o stocks hearts filled with candy at Gardners Candies in Plank Road Commons. At right: Don Beerbower of Beerbower Jewelers dis-plays a heart necklace.    Mirror    photo    illustration    by    J.D.    Cavrtch    and    Tom    Worthington    ll Lov&jnoney Local businesses hoping to cash in on holiday expressions from the heart By Mike Emery Staff Writer Valentine’s Day is the time to show you care enough to send the very best, and local retailers once again are giving customers plenty of ways to show it. You can say “I love you” with flowers or fine dining; jewelry or gift baskets; wine or chocolates; or, yes, you lovehounds, a Valentine’s Day card. And as always, local businesses are giving everyone ample opportunity to get sentimental on Valentine’s Day. Local businesses already have stocked their shelves for Valentine’s Day. After the Christmas season, the holiday marks the only sales surge in winter. February typically is considered one of the year’s slowest months for retail sales because it lies between January’s clearance sales and the arrival of spring in March. Last February, however, was atypical in that consumers spent heavily, particularly leading up to Valentine’s Day. Wal-Mart said its sales from stores open at least a year rose 6.1 percent in February compared with two years ago. Sales from stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales, are considered the most accurate measure of a retailer’s business. Selected figures on last February’s sales at leading retail chains include the following: ■ Sears, Roebuck and Co., same-store sales rose 3.1 percent, total sales up 2.4 percent; ■ Kmart, same-store sales up 2.7 percent, total sales up 4 percent; ■ J.C. Penney Co. Inc., same-store department store sales fell 2.4 percent; same-store sales at Eckerd drugstores up 4.7 percent; total sales up 5.7 percent; ■ Target, same-store sales up 3.8 percent, total sales up 8.7 percent. Most local retailers ranked Valentine’s Day as the third or fourth most lucrative holiday in regard to sales, trailing Christmas, Mother’s Day and, in some cases, Easter. Jewelry sales, tied mostly to the Valentine’s Day holiday, do tend to increase in February. “Valentine’s Day is one of the more important holidays for us,” said Don Beerbower of Beerbower Jewelers in Hollidaysburg and Greenwood Center, Altoona. “We get a bit of a surge in sales from the winter doldrums. “Diamond earrings, heart pendants and engagement rings are always popular items for Valentine’s Day,” he said. Another hot seller for Valentine’s Day, Beerbower said, are 24-karat gold roses. Live roses are dipped and preserved in 24-karat gold. “Our most popular Valentine’s Day items are engagement rings and a variety of heart-shaped jewelry, like diamond heart pendants, rings and earrings,” said Charles Kranich of Kranich’s Jewelers in the Logan Valley Mall. “Our average sales at Valentine’s Day are generally less in terms of the average dollar amounts, but in terms of units sold, it is one of our better sales days in the year.” Please see Money/Page A13 By Robert Igoe Staff Writer This week Bud Shuster will answer roll call for the final time as he officially retires as the Pennsylvania 9th District’s representative to the U.S. Congress, a seat he has held since the district was created in 1972. In those 28 years, Shuster, a six-year chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has endured investigations, critical press and his share of controversy. But he worked to put his vision of economic strength through transportation and infrastructure improvement into action on projects such as Interstate 99 in Blair and Bedford counties and on legislation such as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, bills which greatly expanded transportation funding. Besides seeing his ideas come to life, Shuster’s reward for his years of service has been the praise of his colleagues in Congress, particularly in the Pennsylvania delegation, where Shuster is considered a role model and a symbol of progress. State Rep. John Peterson, R-5th District, said Shuster has been a catalyst for improving transportation in areas that long had been ignored. “He will go down in history as having put in place funding for both highways and airports that will serve this country well,” Peterson said. “I think that those efforts are unparalleled. I don’t know of any member of Congress who has done as much. “In rural America, we rely heavily upon the roads, so they’re a huge need for us. And airports have been undervalued. I think he changed that.” Please see Adieu/Page A14 Mirror file photo U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster (left), R-9th District, talks with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., on the subway from their offices to the Capitol Building.Williamsburg man sentenced to jail for fatal car accident By Phil Ray Skywriter HOLLIDAYSBURG - Michael W. Rifer of Williamsburg stood before a Blair County judge for several minutes Tuesday, fighting back the emotions of the moment and gathering the strength to apologize to the family of a man he had killed in a traffic accident in March. Dressed in a Blair County orange prison suit, his ankles bound by chains, Rifer, 28, finally spoke. “I didn’t know I was going to have the chance to speak today. To the [Jay] Yerty family, I can’t apologize enough.” Rifer said he will live with the March 19 accident on Piney Creek Road for the rest of his days on Earth. Following Kifer’s statement, Blair County Judge Hiram A. Carpenter sentenced him to serve 21 & to 43 months in the Blair County Prison for leaving the scene of an accident in which a death occurred and for hit-and-run while not having a license. Rifer, a tree-cutter by trade, also must pay more than $7,000 in fines and costs. He will be on probation for two years after his prison sentence because at the time of the head-on crash, Rifer had no license and was undergoing treatment under the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program on drug charges. As Rifer was being sentenced, the wife of the man who was killed in the accident, Tina Yerty, fought to hold back her tears. She was so distraught that she could not deliver her statement in Carpenter’s emotion-laden courtroom Tuesday afternoon. Blair County Assistant District Attorney Doug Keating delivered it for her. Tina Yerty said Jay Yerty, 38, was her best friend for the 18 years of their marriage. She said the two Yerty daughters also are very distraught over their father’s death, and she concluded she has no one to share “my pain, my sadness, my grief.” Please see Fatal/Page Al2 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050"    , 4 BIG FOUR ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Chance of snow or rain, 38° ■ Forecast, C3 HOT-ADS.com We're white-hot! in miming THE GREAT COMBINATION! Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CI*ASSIEIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 f- Q LOCAL J Business A13 Hospitals A15 Obituaries AIS Opinion AIO {J SPORTS Movies B2 Scoreboard B6 Q NATION Classifieds    C7-16 □ LIFE Comics    D5 Community news    D2 Puzzles    D4 Television    D4 INSIDE IN WUU Doctors at a prominent hospital removed hearts, brains, eyes and heads from thousands of dead children without the consent of their parents. ;

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