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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - June 13, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania LIFE: Make Dad a sweet treat to show how much you care / DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2001 500 newsstand Trooper may be cited in death By William Kibler Staff Writer A state trooper may face a citation in the death of a bicyclist who died after crashing into the trooper’s pickup truck, which was parked partly on Juniata Gap Road after dark Saturday. Richard J. McEldowney, 31, of Altoona could receive a citation for illegal stopping, standing and parking because his truck occupied 3 feet of the southbound roadway north of Avalon Road, where 14-year-old Charles Ehredt crashed and died about 9:40 p.m. But Logan Township police need to consult with legal experts on issues and precedent cases connected with that law first, Chief Steven Jackson said. A citation is no sure thing. “At this point we think it’s doubtful there’s a violation," Jackson said. Ehredt and his friend Colt Cloutier, 16, rode their 20-inch BMX bikes from their homes around the ‘S’ Curve about one-third of a mile down a gradual slope toward the crash site, intending to go to Penn State Altoona, where they could do tricks and ride, family members said. At the crash site, they went off their bikes. Ehredt, who was in the lead, suffered blunt force trauma to the head. Cloutier suffered a concussion and scrapes. Under the law, a motorist may not park a vehicle on the roadway outside a business or residential district when it is practicable to stop, park or stand the vehicle off the roadway. The motorist must allow for an ‘‘unobstructed width of the highway opposite the vehicle" if parking is necessary and make sure the vehicle is visible for a distance of 500 feet in both directions. One issue Logan Township police would like to clarify is what the law means by a motorist must not stop in the road if there is a practicable alternative, Jackson said. McEldowney, who was off duty, stopped at the house of Carrie Seidel, where a birthday party was being held. He parked out front against the curb in the 4-foot-wide gutter because there was no room to get into the driveway and because the less busy Park Drive intersecting Juniata Gap Road across the street was full of cars as far as she could see, Seidel said. McEldowney stopped to meet his father, Dick McEldowney, the elder McEldowney said. Please see Death/Page A14 RECREATION IN BLAIR COUNTY Mirror photo illustration by Jason Sipes/Tom Worthington ii Haying the field Rec officials still trying to find niche for Valley View County Park By Ray Stephens Staff Writer A n a late spring afternoon. 11 Valley View County W Park is quiet but alive. Birds fly from tree to tree, and the sound of Valley View Boulevard traffic is muffled by the distance. A woman and child take two dogs for a walk on a recently mowed hillside of thick green grass. At a picnic pavilion, Blair County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board members look over a map of the park’s grounds and listen to landscape architect Steve Parks tell them there’s not enough space for another ballfield. The advisory board to the Blair County commissioners has talked for several months about building another ballfield at the park. And they’ve talked about building another picnic pavilion. About two months ago, the county hired Parks to update the park’s master plan, hoping he could pinpoint a place for a picnic pavilion and offer some guidance on enhancing the park and help find its niche in the county’s recreation picture. Last week, the board that Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich A mother and daughter enjoy a walk at Valley View County Park. normally meets at the Blair County Courthouse was warmed by a late afternoon sun while gathering around a picnic table in one of the park’s three pavilions. Members attending included Frank Long, Bill Wilson, Diane Meling, Joe Very, Kellie Goodman and Shawn Hicks. Trying to find space for a ballfield turned out to be a problem. It would require about 3 Vi acres, and there appeared to be little flat ground of that size. At a proposal to carve a ballfield out of what is a hilly area. Parks grimaced and said it would involve a lot of earth moving and a lot of expense. But with new ballfields planned for Westfall Park in Altoona and at Greenwood Park in Logan Township, the advisory board members questioned if the area needs another ballpark. Please see Park/Page A14 GPU deal to freeze rate hikes ■ Proposed accord with utility commission will keep costs down until at least 2006. By REBECCA SlNDERBRAND The Associated Press HARRISBURG - GPU Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp. filed a proposed settlement with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that would eliminate the threat of rate hikes for GPU’s Pennsylvania customers while helping the utility solve some of its financial woes. The settlement, reviewed and approved by both state consumer advocate Irwin Popowsky and John Hanger, head of the public interest group PennFuture, gives the two utilities a boost as they seek final approval for a planned merger. The PUC is scheduled to vote on the proposal at a special meeting Thursday. Hanger and Popowsky were critical of GPU’s previous request for a $316 million rate increase to cover its losses in the wholesale power market, saying the company created its problems by selling off generating plants and not signing long-term contracts at fixed prices. Pennsylvania’s electric competition law requires GPU to offer power at previously capped prices to customers who do not shop around for competitive electricity rates. Breaking those caps, Popowsky and Hanger argued, would defeat the purpose of electric deregulation. GPU has about I million customers spread across Pennsylvania, many in the southeastern and central parts of the state. The proposed merger between Ohio-based FirstEnergy and GPU, with headquarters in New Jersey, was approved by the PUC last month. It still must be reviewed by regulators in New Jersey and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. The plan presented Tuesday comes days before a Friday deadline imposed by GPU’s bankers requiring the company to detail how it would stabilize its cash flow and debt level. If GPU was unable to meet the deadline, it could have been forced to suspend its dividend and forfeit around $720 million in collateral.CcpuAT A GLANCE Highlights of the proposed agreement between GPU Inc./FirstEnergy Corp. and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission: ■ The utilities would not be able to seek a rate increase for Pennsylvania customers until 2006 at the earliest, and only under certain special circumstances. ■ Electricity rates would remain frozen at 1997 levels until the end of 2010, slightly longer than called for in the current agreement. ■ The companies will commit new resources to conservation efforts. ■ GPU will place its wholesale power losses in a deferral account through 2005 and keep those losses on the books until 2010. ■ Future wholesale power profits would be credited against the losses, and GPU would write off any remaining losses in 2010. Hanger said he approved of the new proposal because the utilities agreed to increase investments in renewable energy and conservation programs. “We got everything we wanted when we first entered these discussions,” Hanger said. “The rate cap has been preserved, and GPU has made some important commitments to developing energy sources that don’t depend on fuel costs that have more stable prices.” Under the proposed agreement, the combined utilities would not be able to seek a rate increase for Pennsylvania customers until 2006 at the earliest, and only under certain special circumstances. Electricity rates would remain frozen at 1997 levels until the end of 2010, slightly longer than called for in the current agreement. The proposal also states that the combined companies will commit new resources to conservation efforts. The settlement would allow GPU to place its wholesale power losses in a deferral account through 2005 and keep those losses on the books until 2010. Please see GPU/Page AIQ High court could hear records case By Phil Ray Staff Writer The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been asked to review a Blair County judge’s order allowing the release of mental health records of a woman convicted of killing a Penn State University student and injuring another in 1996. Jillian P. Robbins, then 19, stepped onto Penn State’s main campus with a rifle and opened fire on several students. She wounded Nicholas Mensah, then 22, of PhUadelphia, and then killed 21-year-old Melanie Spalla Please see Records/Page A14 Robbins A___I |„    ,    _    J____ Game lands at a glance There are 300 separate parcels of game land statewide in 65 of 67 counties that total 14 million acres. Here's a look at local tracts: W / * Jr Milesburg tpOige Pa. ponders game lands ban on horses, bicycles Note; Green area indicates game lands. Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll From Mirror staff and wire reports Pennsylvanians heading to game lands in the future may be limited to enjoying the great outdoors on two feet rather than on two wheels or four hooves. The state Game Commission is considering whether to close the state’s 1.4 million acres of game lands to bicyclists and horse riders, amid complaints they cut trails wherever they roam and spook wUdlife. “Obviously, this would ruffle some feathers,” said Jerry Feaser, a game commission spokesman. “But we have an obligation to preserve and protect wUdlife and what our license holders have paid for.” An advisory group that suggested limiting bikes and horses to maintenance roads and designated traUs will consider the ban Thursday. The commission will vote on the idea after a series of hearings across the state next month. State game lands have no trad systems nor any history of them, so it would be up to the commission to add them, Feaser said. Please see Ban/Page A12 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 BIG FOUR 0    4    9>    I 1 Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 87° ■ Forecast, A2 i HdlT-ADS.QomAltoona Mirror I UHE GREAT COMBINATION ] We’re white-hot! Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR (TASSIFIEDS and lOT Ali Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 EJ LOCAL Q NATION Business A9,10 Classifieds C3-14 Hospitals Obituaries Opinion A13 A13 A8 0 LIFE 0 SPORTS Comics D5 Movies D3 Local B4 Puzzles D4 Scoreboard B5 Television D4 INSIDEIN NATION The teen pregnancy rate hit a record low in 1997 with births falling fast and abortions falling even faster. PAGE Cl ;