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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 24, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Curve begin road trip on winning note Life: Connect with the past through folk music DIAltoona mirror © Copyright 2001 THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2001 500 newsstand ■MHH School violence drops instate From Mirror staff and wire reports While concern and rumors about school violence seem to increase, Gov. Tom Ridge said Wednesday that Pennsylvania public schools reported a dramatic drop in violence during the 1999-2000 school year. In Altoona, the number of reported incidents dropped from 223 in 1998-99 to 206 last school year. Hollidaysburg saw a major drop in reported incidents — 49 last year compared to 97 in 1998-99. The state Department of Education statistics showed that the number of violent incidents in the state decreased by nearly 21 percent from the previous school year, from 41,766 to 33,196. The total number of offenders also decreased by the same percentage, from 41,050 to 31,045. Altoona spokesman Tom Bradley credited the district’s proactive measures, such as security cameras and techniques such as peer mediation, for the drop. “I think many people have a perception of what is going on in the schools, and they would be pleasantly surprised to walk the halls in our schools,” Bradley said. The department has compiled statistics for five years under a state law that requires schools to report incidents of violence and weapons possession. “This report demonstrates that Pennsylvania is making significant progress in creating violence-free environments for our students to learn and our teachers to teach,” Ridge said. He released the report at a conference of probation, parole and corrections officials in Pittsburgh. Many local districts have taken advantage of state grants to upgrade security systems. Altoona used a Safe Schools grant last year to fund the installation of $49,765 in security cameras for Keith and Roosevelt junior highs and the high school. Spring Cove, which experienced a slight drop in incidents from 4 to 3, used a $39,500 grant in 2000 to hire a consultant to assist in prevention plans. Other area schools also have used state money for similar projects. The report released Wednesday made reference to double-digit percentage decreases in several categories, including arrests of students, weapons possession and assaults on students. Please see Violence/Page AIQ MEMORIAL DAY TRAVEL Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett Laurie Gunton, Altoona, fills up her sport utility vehicle Wednesday at BP gas station on Plank Road. PUMPING IT UP Vacationers unfazed by higher gas prices By Kevin OTT Staff Writer Michelle Lombardo really has no other choice. On Tuesday, she borrowed her brother’s Chevy Blazer to go to Pittsburgh and back for a business meeting. She paid $20 to gas up the sport utility vehicle for the round trip. Whether they drive SU Vs or sports coupes, vacationers are looking at an expensive Memorial Day weekend, with some local prices exceeding $1.60 per gallon and prices in cities such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., stretching toward the $2 mark. The amount Lombardo paid to fill the Blazer is standard for an SUV — low, even — but it’s considerably higher than the $10 to $15 it might take to fill a coupe or sedan these days. The Blazer actually is more gas-efficient than her Camaro Z-28, she said, which is why she borrowed it. But filling the tank is a drain on her wallet. “I gotta do what I gotta do,” she said as she pumped unleaded gas into the Blazer Wednesday evening at BP gas station on Plank Road. That’s the attitude most vacationers are taking this weekend. Having to pump a few dollars more into the tank than usual isn’t going to stop people from enjoying their time off, said Mary Lou Frank, auto travel manager for Blair County’s AAA office. “Nothing’s stopping them,” she said of her customers, who have ordered maps and guidebooks by the hundreds this year — no less than in recent years. “They work hard all year. They want their vacations.” A few vacationers might stay closer to home this year, Frank said, but many others are making trips to places such as Ocean City, Md., Six Flags amusement park in Ohio, Niagara Falls, Colonial Williamsburg, Va., and in Baltimore Inner Harbor. The rising cost of petroleum isn’t slowing them down a bit, and plenty of local AAA members are planning to drive to Disney World in Orlando this summer. Rising hotel rates aren’t making a difference either this season. Nationally, hotel room prices have gone up an average of $10 to $15 per room, Frank said. Darren Rightenour isn’t letting high gas prices stop him. He topped off the tank of his Ford Explorer at the Sheetz on Plank Road Wednesday afternoon. He paid $10 to put 6 gallons in the tank. Please see Gas/Page A4 Senate passes tax cut By Curt Anderson The Associated Press WASHINGTON — With a dozen Democrats joining in, the Senate passed an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax relief package Wednesday that represents the largest tax cut in two decades and matches the priorities President Bush has been pushing since his campaign for the White House. House and Senate negotiators immediately began meeting to work out a final compromise, which Republican leaders are scrambling to get on the president’s desk by the end of the week. “Now, we go to the final stage,” Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said. The Senate voted 62-38 to pass the bill — the biggest tax cut since President Reagan’s in 1981 — during a -tumultuous day ■ Vermont Sen. James Jeffords    on Capitol Hill as may leave GOP/ Page Cl    Republicans and -Democrats tried to calculate the political fallout of    the possible deci sion by Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., to become an independent. All 50 Senate Republicans and 12 Democrats voted in favor of the tax cut. Bush said at the White House that those 62 senators “deserve our country’s thanks and praise” and urged Congress to reach a rapid final accord. “Our economy cannot afford any further delays,” the president said. Senators of both parties agreed that the possible Jeffords switch, which will change the balance of power in an evenly divided Senate now run by Republicans, will have little bearing on the outcome of the tax debate. Sponsors intend to get the bill to Bush before the change takes effect. “I don’t think there’s much of a cloud over this tax bill,” said Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee and chief co-sponsor of the bill along with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Negotiations between the House and Senate on a compromise broke up Wednesday night with no agreement, but talks were to continue today. Please see Tax/Page All How much tax relet? How might the Senate tax relief plan affect individual taxpayers? Under the present law the wealthiest Americans pay a tax rate of 27.8 percent By 2006 that would increase to 28 3 percent. Under the plan adopted by the Senate, the 2006 tax rate for the wealthiest would be reduced to 27.3 percent Income Tax rate for 2006 Under proposal Under present law ■ I ^ 110.4% - J Less than $10,000 10,000 to 20,000 I 178 20,000 to 30,000 I I 13.7 30,000 to 40,000 I I 16 40,000 to 50,000 tm I. I175 50,000 to 75,000 I I 186 75,000 to 100.000 I.. i i n I21-3 100,000 to 200,000 ■■■■■Kl23'9 200,000 and over SOURCE Joint Committee on TaxationStern says should fix ■ The department claims it needs new headquarters. By William Kibler Staff Writer State Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg, said PennDOT should tinker with what it has in Hollidaysburg rather than contract for building and leasing of a new District 9 headquarters. PennDOT said it needs new headquarters in keeping with a departmentwide push for more efficient workplaces. The department spent $2.7 million to renovate the buildingPennDOT building across from Legion Park just five years ago, and additional renovations should suffice, Stern said. Building a 55,000-square-foot headquarters for the office’s 320 employees would waste taxpayer money, and if it’s greenfield development, valuable land — as the state tries to inhibit sprawl, Stem said. “An inclination to spend tax dollars on promoting pet programs [such as relocating the headquarters! through slick and costly publication, indicates the need to focus on the real mission of PennDOT ... to fill potholes, repair roads and bridges and upgrade safety for the motoring public,” Stem wrote to state Secretary of Transportation Brad Mallory. Please see PennDOT/Page A4 DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050    a BIG FOUR 9    5    (0    I I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Partly sunny, 69° ■ Forecast, A2 9 HIGH-FLYING CANIHE Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich Sky Dogg entertains the crowd Wednesday at Blair County Ballpark during the Altoona Curve game against the New Britain Rock Cats. hmhmhh Attorney: Ignition lock unconstitutional EASTON (AP) — An attorney for a man convicted of drunken driving and ordered to use an ignition lock is arguing that a state law mandating the device is unconstitutional. Gary Asteak of Easton said the device discriminates against people who are “less economically advantaged.” Michael McShane, 32, of Bethlehem pleaded guilty to drunken driving earlier this month and was ordered to install the device on all of his vehicles. The device requires the driver to blow into it before starting the car. If it detects a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 percent or higher, it prevents the vehicle from starting. In papers filed in Northampton County Court, Asteak requested that the condition be removed from McShane’s sentence. Arguments are scheduled for Friday. “I’m not opposed to the concept of the device as a valuable tool,” Asteak said. “But not the way it was imposed in this act.” Act 63 was passed in September to comply with a federal mandate so the state could qualify for highway improvement money. An offender with two or more drunken driving convictions loses his license for a year and may operate a vehicle the following year with the device attached. Those without cars must wait two years to drive because they cannot install the lock on rented or borrowed cars, Asteak said. Please see Lock/Page A6 MMU We 're white-hot! Attn min mirror THE GREAT COMBINATION! Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of MIRROR CLASSIFIEOS and    VI) Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_ T □ LOCAL Q NATION Business A11 Comics C3 Hospitals A13 Classifieds C4-14 Obituaries A13 Opinion A8 □ life [J SPORTS Movies D3 Dear Abby D5 Local B4 Puzzles D5 Scoreboard B5 Television D5 INSIDE IN STATE Inspectors conducted waste truck inspections at every landfill and municipal waste incinerator to check for safety and environmental violations. PAGE A3 \ ;

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