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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 29, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Sports: Curve drop to 12 games below .500Life: ‘Shrek’ creators lend little style to reality OI CE mm Dropping interest rates have fueled a refinancing boom. A person who took out a 30-year, $100,000 mortgage a year ago could save $104 per month by refinancing at today’s bargain rates.Altoona mirror © Copyright 2001TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2001 504 newsstand Source National Realtors Association , Laid-off workers retu rn to class By Craig Williams Staff Writer Ossie Parker typically offers open-house information sessions describing the opportunities at Penn State Altoona to nontraditional students three times per year. But this year is different. Because of the recent downturn in the economy—and with local workers losing their jobs — calls have been pouring into the adult education office asking for information. To Parker, who is charged with helping displaced workers wade through the red tape of college admissions, serving local people is what regional campuses are about. “There was obviously a need in the area for additional sessions,” Parker said. Earlier this month, displaced workers from across the region gathered at the campus, and in the spirit of a religious revival, potential converts to nursing, computer technology and engineering degrees heard testimonials from nontraditional learners. The message: Education can change your life. An adult or nontraditional student is defmed by the college as anyone who has been out of high school for four or more years. Today, colleges and universities across the nation have developed programs like the one at the campus to help such people with a change of careers. “Nearly one-third of the seats in classes at Penn State Altoona are v filled with adult learners,” Parker said. But the transition back into college rarely is easy. “I was intimidated,” said Joseph Miesko, who worked as a coal miner in Indiana County for 26 years. “I didn’t know what to expect.” But Miesko said after he was laid off, he knew that anything was better than his previous life, so he returned to school. “You will sit across from the kids,” he said. “It was 26 years since I had been in high school.... Being in the mines is not like being on a dean’s list.” In the audience, furrowed brows and clenched fists were mute evidence of fears of an uncertain future. But as Miesko spoke, grips relaxed, and — as if in college already — many started taking notes. Here was someone they could relate to, audience members thought. Please see Career/Page A4 Bush honors veterans ■ The president signed a bill to construct a World War ll monument in Washington, D.C. By Tiffany Shaw Staff Writer President Bush promised World War II veterans a Washington memorial that “will stand for the ages” and paid a Memorial Day tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. Although the battle for the memorial has raged on for several years, the war finally is won. Bush signed legislation Monday to construct a World War II monument on the National Mall, a setting criticized by some who said it would break up the vista. Standing in front of an American flag and a portrait of George Washington, the president said the monument between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial will stand for the ages. “I will make sure the monument gets built,” Bush told an audience of veterans in the yellow-curtained East Room, among them former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., who supported construction of the memorial. One local supporter is thrilled to know the monument will be built and spared more legal battles. “It’s about time,” said Victor T. Raia, state chairman of the World War II Memorial Committee and Altoona resident. “I’m just ecstatic.” Over the years, Raia helped fight for monuments to honor those who served in Vietnam and Korea but didn’t think about himself or his fellow World War II vets. Too many people overlooked those soldiers who fought and died in the war because those young men just wanted to return to life in the U.S. without ceremony or parades, he said. “I wanted to start my life,” Raia said. The men did return to life and jobs and families and went on to make the U.S. the country it is today but without feeling they need a pat on the back for the services they continued to offer, he said. Please see Memorial/Page A9 The Associated Press An artist’s rendering of the proposed World War II memorial planned for placement between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Contractors check plans for a complicated roof truss system for a house they’re remodeling in the Baker Mansion area. Low interest rates have fueled a wave of new borrowing and mortgage refinancing. Al I ■    ■ ■ I    ■ Deny A decline in interest n ji^pi levels points to a surge RATES 'n mortgage refinancing From Mirror staff and wire reports mericans are taking advantage of falling mortgage rates and refinancing their homes in droves — a boom that is likely to make 2001 the second-biggest year ever for refinancing. Mortgage rates are down more than a percentage point from a year ago, making it attractive for many homeowners to redo their loans. By refinancing, people swap higher-interest debt for lower-interest debt, allowing them to trim monthly payments. With the savings, people might opt to buy things, pay off bills, invest the money or deposit it in a savings account. Or some take out a bigger loan, using it to consolidate household debt, pay for home improvements or maybe buy a new car — and enjoy a tax deduction to boot. “Refinancing has really shot up dramatically because there are quite a few mortgages with interest rates of 7 percent or higher. Business is so good that we are hiring people,” said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo, a major provider of residential mort-gages. Local bank officials said they also are seeing a significant increase in those refinancing their mortgages. “We probably are about double our normal production,” said Steve DiPangrazio, loan production manager at M&T Bank, Altoona. “It started in late January and has been pretty much constant; rates have been dropping and have settled into the low 7s.” “Early in the year, about 65 to 70 percent of our loans were refinancing, but it’s dropped down to about 50 percent over the last couple of weeks,” said Lisa Michelone, senior vice president at Reliance Bank. Altoona. “A year ago, the figure was about 20 percent.” Bob Frederick, vice president for communications at Hollidaysburg Trust Co., said his bank has been doing a lot of refinancing. “It is a very busy market right now,” Frederick said. “Refinancing goes up and down. We haven’t been doing as much as two years ago when the rates really dropped dramatically.” Please see Rates/Page A3 Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll IN BUSINESS ■ U.S. Steel Co. plant plays a role in the new “Pearl Harbor” movie. ■ Airlines watch Comair pilots’ strike for its fallout. Page A7 WAR AND REMEMBRANCE Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Randy Santone (left) and Mike Nicodemus of the Altoona Fire Department prepare the flag before they begin marching in the Memorial Day Parade Monday morning. More photos. / Page A9 BIG FOUR I 8 16 8 ■ Lottery numbers, A2 • ■- --‘Sw DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7 '22910 00050 a 'n    I WEATHER Partly sunny, 67° ■ Forecast, A2Fugitive may be hiding in forest PITTSBURGH (AP) - An escaped convict who once said he was on a mission from God to kill abortion providers has eluded capture since his escape from an Illinois jail three months ago, and authorities believe he could be back in Pennsylvania. Officials said that Clayton Lee Waagner, 54, of Kennerdell could be hiding in the Allegheny National Forest, where he dodged police before his arrest two years ago. “Just based on his history I would imagine that’s where he’s most comfortable,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Bruce Harmening said. During his time on the run, Waagner is suspected of stealing vehicles in Illinois and Pennsylvania and robbing a bank in Lower Paxton Township, just outside of Harrisburg, authorities said. He also has been using cell phones and computers to talk with family members. So far, he has remained a step ahead of federal agents, who said they were a day behind Waagner when he stayed in motels in Chambersburg and Greencastle, Franklin County. Authorities had tracked Waagner to those locations through his phone calls. In February, while awaiting sentencing on federal weapons and vehicle theft convictions, Waagner escaped from the Dewitt County Jail in central Illinois through a hole in the roof. Jason Miller, his former accomplice, said he told the U.S. Marshals two months ago that Waagner may head to the Allegheny National Forest again. “If you’re gonna hide out, you’re gonna want an area you know,” Miller, 26, of Grove City said. He and Waagner robbed a convenience store near Lexington, Ky., in 1999 and planned to rob coin dealers for gold because Waagner expected computers to crash at the beginning of 2000, Miller said. Before his Sept. 12,1999, arrest in Illinois with his wife and eight children in a stolen Winnebago, authorities found a stolen truck near the Allegheny National Forest with ammunition and a list of abortion clinics and their addresses. During his two-day trial, Waagner used an insanity defense, saying he was getting messages from God to kill abortion providers. Waagner is on the U.S. Marshal’s Service 15 Most Wanted List and has been profiled four times on “America’s Most Wanted.” The FBI also has joined the investigation because of the alleged bank robbery. Altoona iHtrror THE GREAT COMBINATION Call us today...Make money today. 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