Low Resolution Image: Become a member to access this full resolution image at 375% higher quality.

OCR Text

Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 15, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY NATION: President Bush announces plan to reduce gun violence /Cl i: ■ * -RI Bishop Guilfoyle decides to start an ice hockey team / UFI High school graduation means one thing: time to party / DIAltoona ifltrror © Copyright 2001TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2001 50$ newsstand HH!Lacue pleads guilty to drug charges By MIA ROH ART Staff Writer EBENSBURG — Former Gallitzin dentist John Lacue, 58, who fled to the Dominican Republic in 1987 to avoid drug charges, entered a guilty plea Monday at the Cambria County Courthouse to six counts of drug delivery and was sentenced to house arrest. The wheelchair-bound Lacue returned to the United States last summer to receive medical treatment for a degenerative nerve disease. Lacue sold Percodan to an informant several times in the late 1980s. He also pleaded to having sold marijuana. All these charges could have resulted in a sentence of 95 years in jail and up to $1,515 million in fines. Cambria County Judge Gerard Long sentenced Lacue to six to 12 months of house arrest for the first charge and nine years of probation Charges could have resulted in a 95-year sentence. for the second charge. Other charges brought probation sentences to be served concurrently with the nine-year probation sentence. Lacue also had to pay $100,000 in fines, which he already has paid. “We’re happy that he pleaded guilty to the felonies. We’re not entirely satisfied with the sen tence, but we understand it,” assistant district attorney David Kaltenbaugh said. Defense attorney Thomas Dickey of Altoona said he knew Lacue would need a large sum of money to pay a large fine if he was to avoid jail time since a large fine usually means less jail time. Dickey said he wanted to raise at least $10,000 per count. “I wanted to make it so he would never have to go back inside jail,” Dickey said. Friends and relatives of Lacue have raised the money over the last few months, Dickey said. Lacue’s wife and sister were in the courtroom Monday as Lacue was sentenced. As he addressed the court, Dickey said Lacue already was in his own prison since he is confined to a wheelchair and no longer can write his own name. Kaltenbaugh said more than anything, the need for medical treatment is keeping Lacue here. During his probation, Lacue would have to seek permission to leave the commonwealth. Kaltenbaugh said he doubts that Lacue would be given permission to travel out of the United States. Mirror Staff Writer Mia Rohart can be reached at 949-7030. Pilot often flew for pleasure By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer JOHNSTOWN — Michael Benko of Johnstown loved flying and took every opportunity to get his plane into the air. Joe McKelvey, director of John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, knew Benko since he started storing his small plane in the airport’s hangar in 1997. “He flew almost every day. He was a good pilot,” McKelvey said. Benko, 50, and his passenger, Frederick Guercio, 49, Pittsburgh, were killed Sunday when Benko’s plane crashed into a field near an abandoned mine in Jackson Township, Cambria County. Benko took off from the airport between 7:30 and 8 a.m., planning a short ride to Ebensburg and a return to Johnstown. He was following visual flight rules as usual for the short, casual flight, McKelvey said. But his single-engine Cessna 150A never returned. The plane crashed 5.7 miles north of the airport, apparently after a brief nosedive. A preliminary investigation by an officer from the National Transportation Safety Board who examined the wreckage Monday said Benko’s plane may have hit overhead power wires near the old Mine 38, causing the plane to go down. Robert Gretz of the NTSB pointed out several frayed wires and said there were marks on the plane that could have been caused by striking the wires. Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said autopsies were performed on the men Monday and listed the cause of both deaths as blunt force trauma. When other local pilots realized Sunday that Benko didn’t return, they started searching for his plane, McKelvey said. After several hours in the air with the Civil Air Patrol, someone finally spotted the downed plane around 3:30 p.m. An emergency locator transmitter on the plane went off and prompted the Air Force to send out a search plane, Kwiatkowski said Sunday. Please see Flew/Page AIQ “It’s at the worst possible time this season because everybody’s trying to plant.” — Paul Fleming, Shady Brook farmer PRIMARY 2001 The Associated Press Paul Fleming of Shady Brook Farm points to a young cornstalk (also shown below) that is suffering from lack of rain at a farm in Newtown. Dry spell raises concern Election Day process long By Robert Igoe Staff Writer So you think that it’s a hassle to vote? One of these days, think of what effort goes into giving you the opportunity to vote. Not withstanding the veterans who have risked, and in many cases, lost their lives to defend that right, every Election Day brings a massive undertaking to make the polling process run smoothly. The process begins in the early morning as election workers arrive to prepare the polls to open at 7 a.m. but often doesn’t end for the local election workers until well after the polls close. “Oh, it gets very hectic,” Blair County Director of Elections Janice Blair said. “So much goes into the typical election night. Please see Day/Page A6 Project: Vote EDITOR’S NOTE: Ifs one of the basic freedoms that our country was founded upon, yet it’s taken for granted to the point that many people don’t participate in this rite of democracy or fully understand the process. It’s voting. This series is intended to help educate all of us about the workings of our democracy. INSIDE ■ Altoona School board candidates respond to Mirror questionnaire. PAGE A3 Mirror staff and wire reports Three weeks of dry weather and a 3-inch drop in annual rainfall do not a drought make. But the spring dry spell across Pennsylvania is coming at a bad time as farmers and home gardeners alike try to get their crops off to a good start. “It’s at the worst possible time this season because everybody’s trying to plant their tomatoes, their broccoli, their lettuce, their cantaloupe,” said Paul Fleming, 30, of Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, Bucks County. “You have to postpone planting some things because you can only irrigate so much at a time,” Fleming said Friday as he planted tomatoes — five days behind schedule — at his family’s 250-acre farm in the Philadelphia suburbs. The dry weather already is causing problems for local farmers. Alfalfa is not growing like it usually does, said Raymond Diebold, a Sinking Valley dairy farmer. “It is usually above your knee by now, but it is nowhere near that. I don’t think it is growing. We need moisture to make it grow,” Diebold said. Please see Dry/Page AIQ Elections director Blair calling it quits Phil Ray Staff Writer Janice Blair is a textbook of information about elections. She trained the 500 or so election workers who will staff the polls today during the primary and special U.S. Congressional election. She prepared the ballots, concluding that this was her toughest election ever. And from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, for the last time, she will answer hundreds of telephone inquiries from voters, poll workers and party officials who need immediate help — lest an election be lost because somebody was not able to vote. Blair is retiring, and today’s election is her last as elections director. She has worked for the better part of 40 years and said it’s time to enjoy her hobbies, such as creating stained glass and painting. She also wants to spend time visiting her relatives and son, Vance, in Florida. Please see Blair/Page A6 PennDOT: Extra! Extra! Bid on a historic Pennsylvania bridge By REBECCA SlNDERBRANI) The Associated Press HARRISBURG—Got some extra room and a few dollars to throw around? PennDOT’s got a bridge they want to sell you. Historic Pennsylvania bridges are being sold at discount prices. The 19th century wrought iron arch bridges are selling for the bargain price of $22, to name just one recent successful bid. The goal isn’t to fill state coffers, PennDOT officials said — it’s to preserve an important part of the state’s past. “Obviously preserving our heritage for future generations is something PennDOT takes much pride in,” PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said. “If we can preserve these structures, we’re just doing our job.” The department has kept a running list of aging bridges up for sale, usually around nine or IO at a time, for several years. Most of them are “truss” bridges, a style popular in the mid- to late 19th century. The bridges, found mostly in western and northwestern Pennsylvania, can be moved in one piece. The bridges up for sale are outdated by modem standards — many are around a century old — and have to be replaced to meet current structural requirements. Federal historic preservation rules require the state to try to sell the structures before it demolishes them. Local governments get first crack at own ing the bridges, but if they decide not to bid, other agencies, nonprofit groups or schools get the chance to take them home. Members of the public also have a chance to buy the bridges, PennDOT officials said. Structures that were built in the era before bridge-abusing heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles took to the roads then can get a new lease on life supporting light traffic and pedestrians. Please see Bridge/Page A5 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 0005 ,    4 BMI FOUR | 4 1 I I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Partly sunny, 66° ■ Forecast, A2 i HOT ADS.Cl ' ” We 're white-hot! Altoona mirror I THE GREAT COMBINATION I Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEDS and KOT-ADS Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547 □ LOCAL Q NATION INSIDE Business Hospitals Obituaries Opinion 0 SPORTS Local A7 A9 A9 A8 B4 Classifieds Qure Comics Dear Abby Puzzles C4-10 D3 D2 D2 BUSINESS Cracker Barrel Old Country Store building restaurant and gift shop behind Hampton Inn. PAGE A7 Scoreboard B5 Television D2 ;

Clippings and Obituaries for the Altoona Mirror