Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - March 30, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
Sports: Curve pitcher on fast track to big leagues
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© Copyright 2001
Broken concrete plagues garage
■ The Blair County Convention Center structure likely won’t be ready for opening.
By Ray Stephens Staff Writer
A subcontractor building the parking garage at the Blair County Convention Center has to replace about IO pieces of broken concrete, increasing chances the garage won’t be available in May, the first month the center is open.
The concrete pieces were broken Thursday when a floor slab being moved by a crane struck an inside wall on the fourth level, construction supervisor Blaise Michaels said. The impact caused the wall to fall onto the third level, where it hit and broke another floor slab, allowing pieces of concrete to fall through to the second level.
No one was hurt during the chain of events, Michaels said.
Equipment damage was limited to two tires flattened on a small loader when a piece of concrete struck a protected area of the loader.
The accident was the second in two months at the parking garage. In January, a crane dropped a 40-foot precast concrete column, causing it to knock down a second pillar, which knocked down a third pillar.
Cheryl Ebersole, director of the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will oversee management of the convention center, said Thursday that she is moving forward with plans to use shuttle buses and limousine services, starting with the center’s May 3 opening banquet.
“We were just making tentative plans. Now we’re definitely making plans,” Ebersole said.
While the convention center and the neighboring Courtyard by Marriott have surface parking areas, they won’t be sufficient for larger events booked at the convention center during the first month.
The bill for the shuttle and limousine service is expected to be turned over to the general contractor, Lawruk Builder Inc.
Michaels said the subcontractor building the parking garage, Sidley Concrete of Thompson, Ohio, could fall about IO days behind because of the broken concrete.
Please see Garage/Page A5FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2001
Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett
Altoona firefighters Dan Drumm (left) and Mike Tofano prepare to install a smoke detector in a home on Fifth Avenue.
Common-sense tips can ward off home blazes
By Tiffany Shaw
Holly Miller of Altoona decided to call for help when a friend noticed the smell of natural gas in her new apartment.
Although Miller couldn’t find the cause of the problem, she worried that she was feeling weak and tired.
She contacted the Altoona Fire Department and its Get Out Alive program. Firefighters made an appointment Wednesday to install at no charge two smoke detectors, a carbon monoxide monitor and a fire extinguisher in her apartment.
“It makes me feel a little bit safer,” Miller said. “Now maybe we can get on our feet.”
Most fire safety tips are common sense, such as changing smoke detector batteries when setting clocks ahead for daylight-savings time. What Miller did takes little time but could save a life or property.
Please see Safe/Page A5
Here are some tips to help prevent home fires.
• Families must practice fire (frills. Work out an ascape plan and set a meeting place outside the house
• Try to plan an escape route for the second floor ' through a window onto a roof or porch lf that s not possible, store an emergency escape ladder near the window that hooks onto the sill.
• Test smoke detectors monthly and vacuum regularly to remove dust Change the batteries twice a year Replace detectors every 10 years.
■Sore a multipurpose tire extinguisher in the kitchen with others in the laundry room, workshop, garage, furnace room, second-floor bedrooms and any room where someone smokes.
■Check ctothes-dryer vents and range hoods or vents for buildup and overheating
■All gasoline and propane containers must be stored in well-ventilated areas, away from fertilizer and other lawn-care products Never store or use gasoline inside the house.
■Dram gasoline from lawn or snow equipment before storing inside for the season lf possible store the equipment outdoors or in a separate stied
■ Turn off lawn equipment before filling with gasoline
Information provided by the Phoenix Volunteer hire Company National fire Protection * Association and Cox News Service
Proposed bill would control telemarketing
By Kevin Ott Staff Writer
Jeffrey Way has tried again and again to get his telephone company to block calls from telemarketers. He can block any other call, the company tells him, but ifs impossible to block telemarketing calls if the number isn’t available.
One state senator is trying to change that.
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, has introduced a bill to the General Assembly that would create a list of phone numbers across Pennsylvania that are off-limits to telemarketers.
Ten states have such lists.
Telemarketers — salespeople who call people at home to pitch a product — make their calls from long lists of names and phone num hers provided by a number of sources.
Homeowners and credit card users particularly are susceptible to phone sales pitches, as is anyone who purchases a product or service from a telemarketer.
Way works third shift and usually catches up on sleep during the day. That’s also when his phone starts’ ringing.
“I just tell them I’m not interested and hang up,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”
If Greenleaf s bill becomes law, a
ON THI WEB
Junkbusters is dedicated to reducing the amount of junk mail, e-mail spam and telemarketing.
www.ftc.gov - The Federal Trade Commission regulates phone sales.
www.the-dma.org - The Direct Marketing Association provides lists of names and phone numbers to telemarketing companies.
“do-not-call” list will be created and updated quarterly. State law then will prevent telemarketers from contacting anyone on the list.
Under the bill, local telephone companies would be required to notify customers once a year that they can be placed on such a list.
The Office of the Attorney General would maintain a master list composed of all the names of telephone customers who asked their phone companies to be placed on the do-not-call list.
Telemarketing groups would have to pay $100 per year for the list. Charitable organizations and political candidates are exempt under the bill.
Please see Bill/Page A12
Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll
Judge’s reprieve fails to save dog
By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Blair County judge took the unusual step Thursday of issuing an injunction against the demise of a black Labrador retriever.
The dog’s owner protested the canine was not guilty of chasing and trying to bite several children in a Martinsburg neighborhood.
But in the end, the dog named Bud was put back on death row after its owner, Alphonse Delle-Curti of 306 S. Market St., told his attorney to withdraw the lawsuit.
The attorney, Robert VV. Lape Jr. of Roaring Spring, refused any further comment on the case, saying
only that both sides had come to an agreement.
Asked if that meant life or death for the dog, Lape replied the dog was to be destroyed.
Callan said he never had been asked to grant a reprieve to a dog before, but he issued the injunction barring the dog’s demise after court papers revealed there was a sharp difference of opinion as to what the dog did, if anything, in the March 13 incident.
The dog was picked up and placed at the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society by state dog law officer Mark Miller of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Please see Dog/Page A12
House OKs tax cut for married couples
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to cut income taxes for most married couples and gradually to double the $500-per-child tax credit, endorsing two major pieces of President Bush’s $1.6 trillion tax relief plan.
A few hours after the 282-144 vote, which included 64 Democrats in favor, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a third component of the Bush plan: a measure that would eliminate the estate tax by 2011 at a cost of almost $193 billion. That bill is expected to reach the House floor next week.
Before the votes, Bush told a news conference that Congress
was well on the way to enacting “meaningful, real, long-lasting tax relief,” even though the legislation that is speeding through the House faces almost certain change in the Senate, which is divided evenly between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. The House already has passed Bush’s package of $958 billion in across-the-board income tax cuts.
Bush repeated that he would not back away from his $1.6 trillion figure over IO years and that any short-term economic stimulus tax relief — such as a $300 individual tax rebate suggested by Senate Democrats — must be part of a broader plan.
Please see Cut/Page A8
Female inmate pleads guilty after scamming men by mail
WILLIAMSPORT (AP) — Although only one Pennsylvania prison inmate has been prosecuted for ripping off people through the mail, authorities said the problem is more widespread, and a solution is hard to find.
Cheryl Koniewicz, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and mail fraud for scamming $57,000 from more than IOO men.
She told them in letters that she loved them, would live with them when she got out of prison and would fulfill their sexual fantasies.
Koniewicz told a federal judge during her hearing that 80 percent of women in the Muncy
prison run scams, and she learned it from other inmates. But prison officials said they don’t know how widespread it is.
“Sure it goes on,” said Mike Lukens, a Department of Corrections spokesman. “It’s something we try to keep an eye on.”
Patti Stover, a spokeswoman for the women’s prison at Muncy, said there is no way of knowing how many inmates are involved because these schemes are so difficult to detect unless a victim complains.
Koniewicz agreed she participated in a scam that involved duping men into believing she needed money to pay outstanding
fines so she could get out of prison.
She disputes the number of men and the amount of money authorities contend she received.
She would break off the relationship with a Dear John letter when she got as much money as she thought she could from a man, authorities said. Some of those who got letters would call the prison only to be told it was a scam, Stover said.
“It’s so sad,” Stover said. “You feel so bad for them.”
She said she got the sense many of the men were elderly and could not afford what they paid Koniewicz.
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