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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 3, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY LIP Prepping for his Jaffa show, Humperdink says touring’s all in the game / DI _Adelphia    Communications    grabs    northern Blair cable customers / Buffalo Sabres even playoff series with Penguins with 5-2 victory /Altoona Mirror © Copyright 2001THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2001 50( newsstand ON TAP Tonight’s schedule at the Blair County Convention Center: ■ 5:30 p.m. — Ribbon cutting at main entrance ■ 6 p.m. — Reception with entertainment provided by the Altoona Symphony Orchestra ■ 7 p.m. — Allegheny * Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau annual award presentation and Blair County Convention Center grand opening celebrations f /j Blair County's lim miywri s*    Cfm*e4 7 Convention center opens today Ulan Counts Convention Celite! <> By Ray Stephens Staff Writer A few months ago, the Blair County Convention Center ballroom was a big empty room with bare floors and unfinished walls. Today, the ballroom is carpeted and finished, dressed up by 101 tables with blue and white tablecloths, ready for its first banquet after a 5:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. More than 800 dinner reservations have been made for tonight’s Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau’s annual membership recognition awards dinner, the opening event in Blair County’s convention center. Activities at the convention center continue Friday and Saturday, when the center’s lower floor becomes the hub of Mid-State Tool and Supply Co. Inc.’s annual trade show. A few weeks ago, workers at the convention center were washing glass and wiping up construction dust. Wednesday morning, the Blair County Convention Center logo welcome mats were down, and the countdown was on for the opening banquet. Kitchen staffers were working on dinner for 800-plus people, more food was being delivered at one of the loading docks and three bouquets of congratulatory flowers were being delivered to the office of Cheryl Ebersole, executive director for the bureau. Ebersole, meanwhile, was running around the convention center, taking care of loose ends leading up to tonight’s banquet, which will climax a project the bureau started pushing in May 1993. That’s when a study wrapped up, concluding that if Blair Please see Center/Page A5 40KKL IPAS Bill • • raising limits AL ROKER GETS EDUCATED DAV 'Hilt. passes By Curt Anderson The Associated Press WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed legislation Wednesday to increase the amount of money Americans can put in IRAs and 401(k) plans and to give companies greater incentive to offer traditional pensions to workers. The lopsided 407-24 vote—a rarity on a tax bill in a Congress narrowly divided between Republicans and Democrats — should send a strong message to the Senate, where a nearly identical bill died last year, sponsors said. President Bush has expressed support for the approach but did not include retirement measures in his package of tax cuts. At an estimated cost of $52 billion over IO years, the bill gradually would raise contribution limits for tax-preferred traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts from $2,000 to $5,000 by 2004 and for tax-deferred 401(k)-type plans from $10,500 to $15,000 by 2006. People age 50 and older would get special provisions raising their contribution limits more quickly. The legislation would not, however, change Hie income limits that prevent some middle- to upper-income people from participating. Supporters said the bill would boost a U.S. savings rate now at the lowest level in 67 years and supplement Social Security, which faces an uncertain financial future just as 76 million baby boomers begin to retire. “Social Security isn’t enough. It’s hard to live on,” said Rep. Rob Please see Limits/Page AIQ Problems at Panda’s Bar Curve’s Steamer receives Harrisburg game at Blair County Ballpark. Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich a diploma from preschool Wednesday at the Altoona- Steamer receives diploma, redemption for insults By Robert Igoe Staff Writer The Altoona Curve must wait 48 hours for another chance at victory, but their mascot finally received the satisfaction he has been seeking since Groundhog Day. Steamer, the Curve’s green steam engine mascot, was recognized by fans at Wednesday’s game, ending a vendetta that began Feb. 2 when NBC weatherman Al Roker referred to Steamer as “stupid” during a live broadcast of “The Today Show.” The backlash against Roker was immediate with the Curve scheduling Wednesday’s event as “Al Roker Is Stupid Day,” later softening the name to “Al Roker Gets Educated Day.” Roker was nowhere to be found, despite his apology to Curve fans and invitations from the Curve to attend, but an overflow crowd of 6,258 fans, including students from dozens of local schools, packed Blair County Ballpark to give their support for Steamer. “I think he’s sexy,” said Bedford High School student Jess Tozer. “He has a nice butt.” Please see Steamer/Page A12 hurt Altoona By Phil Ray Staff Writer The image of Panda’s Bar in downtown Altoona as a place of violence and crime has hurt the image of the city of Altoona, Mayor Tom Martin testified Wednesday during an injunction hearing. The mayor said he has received telephone calls, letters and resident complaints about Panda’s Bar, 1211 lith St., and he has met with the police to determine what can be done to stop the crime and violence at the bar. He said potential residents of the city pay attention to the shootings, fights and drug deals that are publicized when police make arrests at Panda’s. “It is a poor reflection on our city,” Martin said. In his nearly four years in office, Panda’s is the only bar that he has received complaints. Martin wasn’t on the stand long, but his message was unmistakable: Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva should continue a temporary injunction imposed Monday that closed the bar. He doesn’t want to see anyone lose their livelihood, but he doesn’t want to see Panda’s continue as it is. In a perfect world, he would like to see Panda’s made into a good eating establishment, where people could go and feel safe. The mayor’s testimony complemented that given by Sgt. Charles Strobert, the commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement office in Duncansville. He claimed Panda’s was the worst bar in his eight-county district of Blair, Cambria, Centre, Panda’s Bar continues to be a flashpoint for controversy in downtown Altoona. ■ Blair County DA says bar’s closing is not political / Page AS Bedford, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Fultoi and Somerset counties. Panda’s owner and manager Franklin West, and his attorney Arthur Cohen, said they will presen witnesses to counter the image pro jected by city officials. Their witness es will include many businessmen. West said after the 3 lA hour hear ing that he believes he has fallen vie tim to an attempt by someone to taki over his business. Please see Panda/Page A5 Agricultural imports are being tracked ■ Pennsylvania veterinarian says efforts have increased to keep foot-and-mouth disease away from U.S. livestock. sheep and hogs have been slaughtered to contain the outbreak, said Dr. Karen Martin of the Agriculture Department’s Altoona regional office.    . The tractor was washed properly, disinfect- By Beth N. Gray For the Mirror NEW ENTERPRISE — Agriculture and customs officials are tracingimports    ^e    tractor    was    washed    properly,    disinfect certain meat products and farm machinery to    minted    she    said.    The    system    worked. increased efforts to keep foot-and-mouth dis- ________,____u„„    „    imnnrtoH    new ease from spreading to U.S. livestock, a state gathering at High School veterinarian told a farm Northern Bedford County Wednesday. One of those traces turned up on a tractor rn the Morrisons Cove area brought from England, where more than 250,000 cattle, Pennsylvania has a ban on imported used farm equipment, said state Agriculture Secretary Samuel E. Hayes, who organized 17 symposiums across rural areas of the state to warn of the easily transmissible, highly contagious virus “that moves like white lightning through susceptible species.” Hayes He said he brought a sym posium here because Morrisons Cove and northern Bedford County are wall-to-wall dairy farms and susceptible to oilier species. The virus infects clovenfooted —two-toed—animals, including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer and rats, but it can be carried by other animals as well. Tracebacks, scrutiny of international travelers, testing of animals with suspicious disease symptoms, education of livestock producers and dissemination of biosecurity Please see Disease/Page A7 With agreement, PSU students end occupation STATE COLLEGE (AP) - After a weeklong standoff that had students occupying Penn State University’s student union building, activists and admin istrators celebrated an agreement Wednesday addressing issues of race on campus. “It’s definitely a feeling of rejoicing," said Joe Dawkins, former president of the Penn State Black Caucus. "We said we would stay here until our needs were met. We think the university has taken that step and is meeting our needs.” The agreement kept the key provisions of a plan the university announced Apri 26 but added details about the nev Africana Studies Research Center ani changed some wording in the duties c the vice provost for educational equity. The Black Caucus wanted the vie provost to have the power to withhold percent of each college’s budget if the co lege did not meet its diversity plan. Th university did not agree to that prov sion, but it gave the vice provost mor authority in overseeing diversity issues Please see PSU/Page AIQ delivery Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 -'22910 00050    4 !    M BIG FOUR 0    6    8    3 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER ✓ f Sunny and warm, 85° ■ Forecast, A2 i Altoona iMtrrur THE GREAT COMBINATION.] Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and HOI -ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_ Q LOCAL Business A9 Comics A4 Obituaries A11 Opinion A8 □ sports High schools B4 Scoreboard A B5 I 0 NATION Classified C4-12 QJ LIFE Movies D3 Dear Abby D5 Puzzles D5 Television D5 INSIDE IN WORLD Pope John Paul Ifs scheduled visit to Greece has faced a host of troubles, including whether t will kiss the soil. 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