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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY RELIGION: The final installment of the Married to the Church series /_ SPORT! Altoona boys dominate District 6 AAA track and field championships / LIFE: Now is the time to guard against the effects of Lyme disease / DI © Copyright 2001    FRIDAY,    MAY    18,    2001    500    newsstand Chem-First employees stand at the gates to the facility as the cleanup crew removes decontamination suits Thursday evening. Tyrone plant leaks acid Mirror photo by Jason Sipes■ Crews responded quickly enough to prevent any serious injuries, problems. By Michael Emery and Tiffany Shaw Staff Writers TYRONE — A chemical leak Thursday afternoon at the Chem-First Fine Chemicals plant led to a major emergency response that effectively quelled the situation without serious injuries or consequences. Hydrochloric acid leaked from a safety-release device in the plant when it overpressurized about 2:47 p.m. The company’s emergency response team immediately evacuated the building and quarantined the leak area. About 80 employees were in the building at the time of the accident, said Ivan Riggle, site compliance manager at Chem-First. Two employees suffered minor burns and were treated at Tyrone Hospital. Two others complained of minor respiratory problems and also were treated at the hospital, Riggle said. Emergency crews from several area fire departments, including the Altoona Fire Department’s hazardous materials team, responded to the accident. The emergency response also included a road block of a half-mile radius surrounding the plant and a warning to all residents in the Tyrone area to remain inside, turn off air conditioning and close windows and doors until the chemical leak was contained. “There is a hazard when dealing with hydrochloric acid,” Riggle said. Please see Leak/Page A4 IN POLITICS Bill Shuster takes his oath of office Bush will not be at tribute dinner By William Kibler Staff Writer The president isn’t coming to Monday’s tribute for former Congressman Bud Shuster. He sent his regrets Wednesday, citing a conflict with a commencement address he’s delivering at Yale University. But Vice President Dick Cheney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich still are possibilities for the dinner and reception at Blair County Convention Center. The organizations planning the tribute aimed for high-placed guests, set high ticket prices and took the high road by not publiciz- ■ President seeks long-term solutions for energy/ Page Cl ing mere possibilities prematurely, Blair County Chamber Executive Director Joe Hurd said. But they knew all along that the vagaries of VIP schedules could mean uncertainty, late confirmations, last-minute cancellations and little ammunition for marketing the event. With four days left and little publicity so far about a potential heavyweight speaker, the chamber has taken 360 reservations for either dinner-only $100 tickets or Please see Dinner/Page A6 ALSO INSIDE ■ A list of planned ' CAUTIO?** PennDOT projects. / coNft»ucTio>H PAGE ATV A8tA ■ Bids for Chestnut    . Avenue and Plank Road \jjr _ widening projects come in higher than expected. ■ Convention Center Boulevard won’t be completed until July. PAGE A12 PennDOT commits millions to Blair projects By Phil Ray Staff Writer ■PennDOT planners said Wednesday that Mthey will spend millions of dollars this I year and in the future to improve Blair County’s highways. In the past, PennDOT was consumed with construction of Interstate 99 and Route 22 through the county, but now that those roads have been completed, the department has turned its attention toward improvements to existing roads. Those roads include Park Avenue in Lakemont, Plank Road, Chestnut Avenue, improved access to north Altoona, a bridge and highway in downtown Bellwood and a resurfaced Cross Cove Road near Martinsburg, which provides access to Altoona-Blair County Airport. PennDOT District 9 Engineer Earl L. Neiderhiser and assistant district engineer in charge of design Ronald L. Samuel discussed PennDOT’s plans during a Transportation Please see Roadwork/Page A7 By Robert Igoe Staff Writer Unlike most people’s first day on the job, Bill Shuster didn’t get an employee handbook, an easy workload and a few Ii*’UT' "I! lit, r Ii'1 was sworn in as a member of the W l()7th Congress in rn, -Washington, D.C. Shuster didn’t 1/    ;    :m want it. either. “Now    to get down to busi-ness,” Shuster Shuster said in anticipation of the event. “We discussed the important issues during the campaign, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in Washington to find solutions. My priorities remain the ■ Cambria County election results/ Page A5 same now as during the campaign.” Shuster was presented for induction Thursday morning by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and sworn in by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. “It is my honor and privilege to introduce the newest member of the 107th Congress, Bill Shuster,” said U.S. Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa. “He is ready to get down to business, and he has talked of nothing except service to the country and the community, and he is ready to serve with us. And I know that we will hear him and be there to help him be an effective servant of the people.” Please see Oath/Page A6 TRANSPORTATION ROADWORK AHEAD Richard Cox Jr. (left) of Bedford and Dave Donaldson of Yellow Creek, employees of New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc., install an expansion dam as part of renovation work being done on the Tyrone interchange of Interstate 99. PennDOT will spend millions of dollars on future road projects in Blair County, the agency said this week. Mirror photo by Gary M BaranecSocial worker sentenced for assaulting police officer By Phil Ray Staff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG — The former director of a program to help violent men was sentenced in Blair County Court Thursday for punching a police officer. Judge Thomas G. Peoples ordered James Lewis Lastort, 53, of 3034 Broad Ave. to serve ll Vs to 23 months of home detention, but he will spend weekends during the first three months of his sentence in Blair County Prison. Lastort, former director of Men Helping Men, will be on probation for two years after completion of his detention. The sentence will allow Lastort to continue therapy at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center and to work. He will pay more than $20,000 in medical bills and lost wages suffered by Altoona Hospital police officer Charles Hockenberry. Lastort was charged after barging out of the hospital’s mental health center Aug. 24 and hitting Hockenberry with a roundhouse right. Peoples faced a tough decision as Hockenberry sat on one side of the courtroom with a left eye that suffered severe and permanent damage from the incident. On the other side was Lastort, supported DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 00050 BIG FOURf I ti 0 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Cloudy, showers, 67° ■ Forecast, A2 1.9% by fellow social workers, a minister and his former wife and three daughters. They told of Lastort’s problems with alcohol and mental illness. “I’ve done my best as a human being to balance both sides,” Peoples said after issuing the sentence. Lastort won’t have to begin his sentence immediately. He and his attorney, Steven Passarello of Altoona, have 30 days to decide if they want to appeal the March verdict returned by the Blair County jury that found Lastort guilty of aggravated assault of an officer, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct. Hockenberry was off work for several months, but he has returned to his job at the hospital. Please see Assault/Page A4For 60 Months 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2001 Jeep Cherokee leu of rebate, and approved credit. Offer Ends Soon. Chrysler - Plymouth - Jeep 1549 Pleasant Valley,Bled* Altoona, PA 945-6147 □ local Q NATION Business A8 Classifieds C4-12 Movies A3 Obituaries All Opinion A10 QI SPORTS Comics D5 Community news D2 Local Puzzles D4 Scoreboard BS Television D4 INSIDEIN WORLD Candidates in the national election campaign routinely talk of fighting for Britain’s people, but one politician is in hot vyater for taking the battle Meetly to a voter’s japv. PAGE Cl ;

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