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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - July 25, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAYNATION: Record deaths for work zones / Cl BUSINESS: Lobbying begins for maglev / A9Altoona mirror © Copyright 2001WEDNESDAY, JULY 25, 2001 500 newsstandSex abuse suspect found dead ■ Huntingdon deputy coroner calls Dr. Thomas Meloy’s death an apparent suicide by poisoning. By William Kibler and Kevin Ott Staff Writers HUNTINGDON — The retired doctor charged last week with sexually abusing an 11-year old boy for two years apparently killed himself with poison Tuesday in his borough home, a deputy coroner said. Thomas R. Meloy, 67, was lying on his side fully clothed on a daybed on the third floor of his house, said Don Brocht, Huntingdon County deputy coroner. Clotted blood was found on the pillow, and a residue of white powder was found in his mouth, Brocht said. His body was stiffened either by rigor mortis or a poison-induced seizure. The charges against him and the evidence at the scene led Brocht and police to conclude it was suicide. Lab tests and an autopsy today at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital should help confirm his suspicions, Brocht said. With Meloy dead, county District Attorney Robert Stewart said the sex abuse investigation is closed. “That’s it. It’s over. From our perspective, the case is over,” he said. “If someone wants to come forward and say they’re a victim, that’s fine. But if they’re a victim of Thomas Meloy, there’s no one to prosecute.” If other victims step forward, Stewart will recommend counseling. Brocht did not know what the white powder found at the scene was, but he said Meloy seems to have mixed a lethal potion in his kitchen sink, where there was a spoon and powder residue. A variety of medicines were on the kitchen table, Brocht said. Being a doctor, Meloy would have known how to kill himself quickly, and he seems to have died so fast that he couldn’t swallow all of the fatal compound, Brocht said. Please see Suspect /Page All Smaller schools boosted By Michael Emery Staff Writer Small school districts throughout Pennsylvania got a shot in the arm recently when legislators reinstalled Small District Assistance into the state budget. School boards from those same districts were concerned they would be shortchanged when Gov. Tom Ridge submitted his state budget proposal earlier this year. The proposal was without any SDA allocations, which many of the state’s small, rural school districts have come to rely on. Ridge first implemented SDA in the spring of 1995 to address the needs or small, rural schools. Overall, the state budget includes $10.2 million in SDA for 128 school districts. A qualifying school district will receive $75 multiplied by its average daily membership. To qualify, a school district’s average daily membership must be equal to or less than 1,500. While SDA accounts for just a small percentage of any district’s budget — in the case of Bellwood-Antis, about I percent — it is a valuable resource for small districts, which tend to have limited budgets and where every dollar counts. “This will be a nice, big plus for Bellwood-Antis,” Bellwood-Antis Superintendent Rod Kuhns said. Kuhns said the money will go to the general fund, primarily to fund increases in labor contracts and costs of operations. Please see Schools/Page AIQ KEEPING THEIR COOL GETTING HEU1 Local school districts that qualify for Small District Assistance and the estimated amount of money that each will receive as part of Pa. 's 2001-02 education budget: Bellwood-Antis Claysburg-Kimmel Glendale Juniata Valley Moshannon Valley N. Bedford County N. Cambria County Portage Area Tussey Mountain Williamsburg Comm. Assistance $105,375 $69,825 $69,750 $69,525 $94,050 $86,775 $100,200 $81,300 $97,500 $46,500 Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett ffobert Hartz, 15, Altoona, takes a running leap into the ‘Eight Foot' swimming hole in Bellwood Tuesday, when temperatures reached 94 degrees. Some relief from the heat may be in sight as forecasters predict a chance of showers and thunderstorms through Friday. Expect highs to be in the mid- to upper 80s and lows in the mid-to upper 60s. For more weather, please see I Page A2 CITY SHOOTING Accused’s surrender upcoming By Tiffany Shaw and Phil Ray Staff Writers A Mount Union man accused of a weekend shooting that killed a city woman is expected to surrender to police soon, his attorney said. George Newman of Philadelphia confirmed Tuesday that Lavelle Richardson retained Newman’s firm of criminal attorneys to represent him. Richardson is accused of firing shots early Saturday morning outside the Arandale Elks Club on Margaret Avenue, one of which struck and killed Patience Ferguson, 21. of Altoona. Altoona police have been searching for Richardson, who left the scene in a car moments after the shooting. Newman said Richardson contacted the firm Saturday after the shooting, and Newman said Richardson intended to surrender from the beginning. “At this point, it is our desire to surrender as promptly as humanly possible,” Newman said during a phone interview from his office. Blair County District Attorney David Gorman said he received a telephone call from Newman asking to discuss Richardson’s surrender. Gorman said if Richardson or his attorney wanted to discuss aspects of the shooting, the first step would be for Richardson to surrender to city police. “First and foremost is he must turn himself in,” Gorman said. Gorman said Richardson’s surrender must occur before anything else can be discussed, and efforts to find him will continue. City police have entered Richardson’s information into state and national crime computers. They speculate he may be in Mount Union — where he was living — or in the State College area — where his mother resides. Newman is trying to make arrangements before Richardson officially turns himself in, but he declined to reveal details. He said Richardson will have legal counsel present when he surrenders. “We want to make sure it {the surrender] is swift, safe and with a minimum of stress to everyone,” Newman said. Please see Surrender/Page AIQ Ferguson, the victim NS leads charge for railroad retirement bill By Robert Igoe Staff Writer While Norfolk Southern Corp. is in the midst of a fight over the fate of the Hollidaysburg Car Shop, the company is fighting for quick passage of a key railroad retirement bill. Norfolk Southern has joined other railroads in addressing on its Web site HR 1140, a bill being prepared for debate by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would aid retirees by reducing the service requirement for vesting pensions from IO years to five years, offering a greater eligibility for early retirement, expanding the surviving spouse industry pension benefit and repealing the limit on certain industry pension annuities for retirees and their spouses. For railroad companies such as Norfolk Southern, the bill repeals a supplementary annuity tax that they must pay to finance benefits for employees and adjusts pension tax rates for employers, employees and employee representatives. Labor and management would like to see this bill passed before Congress takes its August recess, and each is urging its members to petition lawmakers to have that happen. “The Railroad Retirement & Survivors Improvement Act of 2001 IHR 1140] has been discharged by the House Ways and Means Committee and is awaiting scheduling for action on the House floor,” according to Norfolk Southern’s Web release, dated July 20. “In order to get this vital legislation scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives before its early August recess, it is imperative that railroad employees and their families contact their respective congressman or congresswoman. “The bill, which modernizes the Railroad Retirement system and significantly improves benefits for employees and survivors, has strong bipartisan support with 369 co-sponsors. Please see Railroad/Page AIQ DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050    4 BIG FOUR| 9 fl I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Chance of showers, 87° ■ Forecast, A2 Mirror ooo.ooo oo Bucks □ local Business A9 Movies A6 Obituaries A13 Opinion A8 □ sports Local B4 Scoreboard B5 1 0 NATION Classifieds    C2*14 EJ life Comics    D5 Community news    D2 Puzzles    D4 Television    D4 INSIDEIN SPORTS Undefeated Martin Oil set for NABF Altoona regional Thursday. PAGE Bl ;

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