Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - June 5, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
INSIDE TODAYLIFE: Kids take to the streets for countywide youth celebration for fifth year / Pl_
BUSINESS: Economic growth rate for Pa. in 1990s was nation’s eighth slowest / AS NATION: Victims of on-the-job mistreatment could collect cash awards for back pay / ClAltoona mirror
© Copyright 2001TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2001
■■■■■■■■■■■■After coach’s death, band members play hearts out
By Kevin Ott Staff Writer
At Keith Junior High School, there are 200 musicians who just won handfuls of awards and who never expected their instructor to inspire them in the way he did.
On Saturday, bands from Keith went to Darien Lake Park near Buffalo, N.Y., to compete at Music in the Parks, an adjudicated festival
for junior high bands.
About 12 hours earlier, they learned that Jeff Osmolinski, their percussion coach, died in a car accident.
__They still went to the
Osmolinski festival. And they took home ll top honors, including the Esprit de Corps award, given to the school with the overall best display of spirit.
Band director Jon Yon always will remember finding out about Osmolinski’s death and how he dreaded telling the students. The volunteer coach died after an accident at a Cambria County roadwork site.
Yon called the student musicians, 200 strong, to an assembly Friday afternoon.
“It was devastating,” he said. ‘Tm guessing that over 80 percent of the kids had never lost someone
close to them.”
Osmolinski — the kids called him “Oz” — was 22 years old. Yon met him when he started as bandleader at Keith a decade ago, when Oz was in ninth grade, leading his fellow drummers in the percussion section.
Soon after his graduation from Keith, Osmolinski helped as a percussion director at Roosevelt Junior High. But his heart was still at Keith, and he eventually
made his way back.
A few days before he died, he spent an entire night making final adjustments to a arum set the students would be taking to Buffalo with them. It was the same drum set he spent months reconditioning from a dilapidated state so it could be used at all.
He always was doing that sort of thing, Yon said.
“He had to give everything for
the kids,” he said.
Learning of Osmolinski’s death was especially tough on the kids because he was so young. He held the place of the cool teacher, the one all the boys want to be like and all the girls harbor secret crushes on.
As a result, the students had a special bond with him that they didn’t have with many teachers.
Please see Top/Page A4
Dancer provides insight to a rrests
By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG - An exotic dancer at an Altoona strip bar testified Monday that she agreed to help state drug agents make undercover cocaine buys at local clubs after overdosing herself in July 1999.
The testimony by Tawmya Over — who helped investigators make about 30 to 35 drug buys around Altoona — provided an insight into the cocaine business that witnesses said is part of the local club scene.
Over appeared on the stand Monday in a drug case involving another dancer charged with being part of two cocaine sales to agents of the West Drug Task Force. Over also is a key figure in the case against alleged dealer Scott Smeltzer, who was extradited back to Blair County earlier this week.
She testified before a state grand jury in Harrisburg about the drug activities of Smeltzer, a disc jockey who entertained at the clubs, a man witnesses said was known for his wild parties at which he supplied drugs for free.
Because of testimony from Over and others — including Sandra Martz, the 34-year-old Fallentimber woman on trial this week in Blair County Court — Smeltzer has been charged with 16 counts of possession with intent to deliver or delivery of cocaine, conspiracy, two counts of operating a corrupt organization and one count of racketeering.
In Martz’s trial Monday, agent Albert Adams of the state attorney general’s office, said that Over introduced him to Martz while at The Palace night club Dec. 30,1999, and Martz, in turn, introduced him to Brett Davis.
Adams said a deal was struck under which Martz and Davis agreed to sell him 7 grams, or more than $400 worth, of cocaine. According to testimony, Davis left The Palace and returned with the drugs and Martz placed the cocaine in the right pocket of his coat.
A second alleged deal brokered by Martz came Feb. 18, 2000, when Over said she received a call from Martz who said the drugs were available at The Palace. The money for the cocaine, $160, again was paid to Davis, Over said.
After she was done with her dancing for the evening, Martz walked up to her and gave Over five $1 bills wrapped around a package of cocaine, Over testified.
Please see Insight/Page A8
HUNGRY FOR HELP
Mirror photos by Kelly Bennett
Sgt. Penny Basom of the American Rescue Workers Food Bank in Hollidaysburg puts bags of food together.
Despite decreased demand, food banks still fight uphill battle
By Robert Igoe Staff Writer
For many families, the local food bank is the last defense to keep hunger from the front door.
While the the number of people across the state and nation who use food banks is declining, the people who operate the facilities still fight to make sure that safety net will be there for those who need it.
A study by the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center indicates the number of people who receive distributions from food banks has declined in every area except Philadelphia, with the 13 mixed urban/rural counties, including Blair County, showing a
drop of more than 13 percent.
throughout the state, the number has dropped 9 percent.
At the Cresson Food Pantry, manager Kenneth Ketenheim says things are going well despite unpredictable demand.
“I think we do very well,” he says. “It is pretty up and down, usually around 60 families per month, sometimes more. We’ll have our regular customers, then new ones will move into the community.” Ketenheim says the pantry is funded by donations including an $8,000 federal grant that pays for the Cresson Food Pantry and the St. Vincent dePaul pantry in Johnstown.
Please see Food/Page A4
The basement is stocked with food.
Fugitive sea rch widens
■ Hunt for one of America's most wanted men expands.
By Charles Sheehan
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — Fugitive Clayton Lee Waagner’s improbable escapes, uncanny timing and luck have set tp him apart. *
Add to that Waagner’s stated pursuit that he believes he is on a mis- L sion from God to kill abortion providers, and federal agents searching for Waagner worry he soon could be a folk hero to fringe groups.
After a one-in-a-miUion prison break from an Illinois facility in February, Waagner, who has gone by many aliases, successfully has avoided police, even though some believe he may have returned to his old stomping grounds in western Pennsylvania and the Allegheny National Forest.
No matter where he has gone, abortion providers may have reason to fear a man found in the past to be carrying weapons and explosives, a fugitive already atop the U.S. Marshals’ and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ wanted lists.
The National Abortion Federation is telling health clinics and abortion providers to be on their guard.
“Waagner doesn’t have anything to lose at this point. He could go into hiding or he could finish what he’s planned to do all along,” said Vicki Saporta, the federation’s executive director. “We can only be vigilant and hope he is apprehended before he attacks.”
To that end, the U.S Marshals Service is devoting several agents to tracking Waagner full time. That is not always the case with fugitives, but with Waagner, Deputy U.S. Marshal Bruce Harmening admits the situation is different.
Not only is Waagner armed and dangerous, Harmening said, “he is probably one of the smartest fugitives we have ever tracked and undoubtedly the
Waagner, Sept. 15, 1999
Waagner, Dec. 15. 1999
Please see Hunt/Page A3
National veterans cemetery urged
By Bill Bergstrom The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - A need for burial space for veterans of World War II and other conflicts reopened a dispute over whether to set aside part of Valley Forge National Historic Park as a national cemetery.
With the backing of veterans’ groups, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel, D-Pa., have introduced bills, now in
Senate and House committees, to designate up to 200 acres of the 3,600-acre park 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia as such a burial ground.
“There is a very strong feeling among veterans that they haven’t gotten their due. It would be helpful if they were laid to rest where their family members could visit them,” Specter said Monday during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing he conducted
at Philadelphia’s William Greene Federal Building.
Park officials, however, question whether a cemetery can be established without interfering with the park’s value as a historic site.
More than 2,000 soldiers died as Gen. George Washington and 11,000 members of his Continental Army camped at Valley Forge from December 1777 to June 1778,
Please see Urged/Page A3
Four of five area teams win PIAA baseball, softball playoffs.
PAGE Bl New Jersey, Colorado battle for Stanley Cup.
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