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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - June 20, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania SPORTS: J.R. HOUSE TO ANNOUNCE DECISION TONIGHT IN ALTOONA BlAltoona mirror © Copyright 2001 WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2001 50( newsstandCity hospital on road to recoveryBACK IN THI BLACK Key factors in Altoona Hospital’s financial improvement: ■ Hospital officials project 15,500 admissions for the next fiscal year, 1 .OOO more than this year. ■ Expenses this year have risen 1.4 percent, less than the cost-of-living hike. ■ Investment earnings offset some of the $5.5 million altCXJflB 1k>S| )ital operating deficit this fiscal year to create an overall —c, .,yf „y™ Mf ;))f ,Nf deficit between $1 million and $2 million. By William Kibler Staff Writer Four months ago, Altoona Hospital was running an operating deficit projected to be as high as $10 million by the end of the fiscal year, and the union was warning workers to get ready for layoffs. This week, the hospital board approved a new budget based on a final operating deficit of $5.5 mil lion for this fiscal year and a full-time-equivalent increase of 40 workers for next year. Last quarter helped stabilize the hospital’s financial problems after a troubled first three quarters that officials said was an anomaly. “The first half of the fiscal year was totally unique,” said Charles Zorger, senior vice president for finance. “Now all of a sudden we’re going back to normal.” The hospital may be entering a favorable five-year business cycle, Senior Vice President Dave Duncan said. The new budget projections include a $515,000 operating deficit for the next fiscal year, plus investment earnings that will create an overall $6 million surplus. The hospital is recovering financially because it rebuilt its inpa tient base, cut unnecessary costs and emerged from its delayed sharing in the national trend for hospital financial problems, officials said. For the first eight months of the fiscal year ending June 30, the hospital was running 80 inpatients per month behind its pace for the previous year. Please see Hospital /Page AIQ “We need to get people out of denial. The problem is here. It is everywhere.” — Sandra Jablonski Impact of gangs, cults felt in region By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer It really does happen here. Gangs, cults, violence —■ kids are experiencing them every day in central Pennsylvania, said experts who visited Altoona Tuesday. • That’s the message officials wanted to get across in a one-day seminar hosted by the Southern Alleghenies Emergency Medical Services Council. The seminar at the Blair County Convention Center brought together law enforcement, paramedics, Firefighters, game commission officers, coroners and school administrators from six counties for education about violence that threatens area teens. “We need to get people out of denial. The problem is here,” said Sandra Jablonski, the council’s executive director. “It is every where.” The aim of the seminar is to teach professionals to recognize warning signs that most troubled teens exhibit — before it’s too late. John Michalec, director of Ritualistic Crime Specialists Inc., spent eight hours presenting information to professionals who are on the front line in the community and deal with children and teens. Surrounded by tables filled with confiscated gang flags, graffiti, cult literature and drug paraphernalia, Michalec introduced the group to some of the most common gangs and cults active in the United States. The information was not news to Richard Benzel, a police officer in Greenfield and North Woodbury townships. He has seen similar artifacts in the Claysburg area among practitioners of voodoo and witnessed enough to know problems in Blair County. “It’s humorous to see people who didn’t believe it is here, when he [Michalec] says it is,” Benzel said. “People don’t think it can happen without seeing it. It all goes on here.” The reaction from the group — especially from police — reinforced what Michalec was teaching to a more naive audience. “We want to heighten your sense of awareness of the issues and look at proactive responses to these crimes done by juveniles,” he told the crowd of nearly 250 people. One key to keeping kids away from cults and gangs is to set a positive example as a parent or role model, he said. Please see Impact/Page A7 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050    4 EXTREME SPORTS Mirror photo by Jason Sipes Tony Hawk, the Michael Jordan of skateboarding, performs on the half pipe for hundreds Tuesday in Woodward. Other skaters and bikers stopped to watch Hawk in action. Chairman aboard Skating guru becomes pied piper of half pipe By Kevin Ott Staff Writer WOODWARD — The skaters have the DNA of lemurs and butterflies in their boards, the bikers telekinetic control over the BMX frames that extend from their hindquarters. They might hover millimeters over the ground as they seem to skid along it, but they’re moving too fast for anyone to tell. The art they practice is delicate. Like a praying mantis or one of Homer’s sirens, it is both beautiful and deadly. It still struggles for respect. When the BMX bikers, in-line skaters and skateboarders gathered Tuesday at Camp Woodward to watch Tony Hawk’s Gigantic Skatepark Tour, they forgot for a few hours the times people called the police on them, the times they were shooed out of parking lots, the times they were told to go back to the skate parks where they belonged. They forgot how hard it is to practice a sport that, for all the video games and B-movies and ESPN2 specials, has yet to be accepted by the mainstream, and instead watched the masters at their best. Hawk was there, sliding up ramps and stairway railings in defiance of everything Newton has led us to believe about gravity. At 33, Hawk is the world’s premier skateboarder, the first ever to perform a 900-degree spin in midair — two-and-a-half turns from a starting position. Please see Board/Page A7 An extreme empire Fast facts about Rte business acumen of skateboard legend Tony Hawk: Went pro at age 12. invented nearly 80 tricks and won 73 contests ■ Started own company (now multimillion dollar) in 1992 ■ Endorsement contracts with several video game makers ■ Annual income of more than $1 million from endorsements (The Gap, Mountain Dew, “Got Milk?") I Published first book, "Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder," in 2000 Fast facts about the bodily toll of skateboard legendry Knocked unconscious 10 times One broken elbow Several fractured ribs Compressed vertebrae Hundreds of stitches Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll New turnpike service plaza model shown PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike has unveiled a prototype of ll controversial new service plazas it intends to build over the next decade, and that will include an expanded food court and family restrooms for people traveling with small children. The service plazas are being touted as bigger, brighter and better equipped than the existing 19 facilities, some of which are 60 years old. But some business owners along the central region of the toll road have organized to oppose the superplazas, which they said will detract from their businesses. Officials proposed building the first of these megaservice stations, called the Westgate Plaza, in New Sewickley Township in Beaver County, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, by purchasing 90 acres of farmland. Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions at a public meeting Thursday. “The plans are preliminary and Proposed western Pennsylvania sites set to be built between2002 and 2010 include those at New Stanton, Somerset and Bedford. for discussion and study purposes only,” said Bill Capone, the turnpike’s marketing director. “They don’t necessarily reflect what we would build [in New Sewickley] or anywhere else. But they give a pretty good idea of what we’re looking at.” Other proposed western Pennsylvania sites set to be built between 2002 and 2010 include those at New Stanton, Somerset and Bedford. Officials are evaluating other, newer service plazas on toll roads in Ohio and New York for suggestions. Please see Plaza/Page AB Governor attends ground breaking for youth center By Mia Rohart Staff Writer EBENSBURG — Gov. Tom Ridge didn’t need to don sneakers and a T-shirt to get down and dirty with area children at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new youth center in the borough. Wearing a suit and tie, Ridge played basketball with the children. "My best times and my best days are spent with young Pennsylvanians,” Ridge said. After speeches from Ridge and members of the community who helped to bring shape to the Young People’s Community Center, a group of about 20 children grabbed shovels to help Ridge in the ground breaking. Afterward, Matthew Cornetti and his friend Chad Millward, both IO, fought their way through a crowd of adults to give Ridge a cold soda, for which Ridge seemed grateful in the afternoon heat. Both boys enjoy sports such as baseball and basketball, which Mirror photo by Mia Rohqtt Gov. Tom Ridge gets help moving dirt from local youngsters during Ebensburg^ youth center groundbreaking ceremony. they will be able to play at th*; youth center. They took turns with a shovel at the groundbreaking ceremony. Please see Center/Page A5 BIG FOUR 4 # 3 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Partly sunny, 86° ■ Forecast, A2 AU mum mirror H(j(7VUDS^om We're white-hot! "■SBI133391 I THE GREAT COMBINATION I Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 Q LOC Al 0 NATION Business A10,11 Classifieds C4-14 Hospitals Obituaries Ala A13 0 LIFE Opinion A8 HI SPORTS HIPP Comics D5 Movies D3 Local B4 Puzzles D4 Scoreboard B5 Television D4 INSIDEIN NATION The House unanimously endorsed one of the biggest increases ever for a program that has helped millions of veterans get \, college educations since the end of World War ll. PAGE Cl I    i ;