Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - November 12, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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© Copyright 2001MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2001
By Kay Stephens and Mark Leberfinger
Logan Township supervisors expect a consultant to take several weeks to finish a report on the township’s police department after conducting interviews last week.
The evaluation is expected to address the department’s size and efficiency and provide supervisors with the basis for handling police Chief Steve Jackson’s request to hire five police officers over five years.
Supervisors Frank Meloy, Diane Meling and Jim Patterson were interviewed by representatives of Police Executive Research Forum of Washington, D.C.
The firm’s researchers, two former police chiefs, also interviewed township police officers and civilian employees individually and as a group.
Supervisors did not indicate when the firm would finish its assessment.
The consultant is looking at scheduling, work environment, morale, leadership, training and other factors that affect the department.
More officers would allow the department to keep up with the township’s growth and development. The township’s crime rate also justified the increased police presence, Jackson said in August.
“The supervisors’ direction is key,” township Manager Bonnie Lewis said Thursday at the township office. “Do we have adequate police officers, and are we using the ones we have sufficiently?” Lewis said she is eager to see the final report.
“My belief is that we do a lot of things right. We’re looking at this as a positive tool for the police,” she said.
Lewis also liked the idea of employee input.
“This gives them a chance to say, ‘This is what we think,’” she said.
Jackson declined comment about the study, saying he would comment after the report is finished.
VETERANS DAY PARADE
Maval Sea Cadets march in the Veterans Day parade bearing arms and the Iw American flag Sunday on 17th Street in Altoona. The parade was sponsored by the Blair County War Veterans Council and Associates.
Lottery report to outline problems; program attracts customers to stores
By Craig Williams Staff Writer
A report from the state Department of Aging is expected to be released this week outlining problems in the Pennsylvania Lottery, including the rising costs of the prescription drug program, part of the seniors’ funding package supported by proceeds from the lottery.
But to many of the thousands of ticket buyers and small businesses that ring up sales, the lottery has
become more than just a means to help pay for elderly care programs.
“Most of our regular customers come for the lottery or for our sandwiches,” said Melinda Robenolt, who, with her parents Doug and Laura McAbee, runs McAbee’s Corner Grocery at First Avenue and Eighth Street.
Last year in Blair County, businesses earned more than $1 million in the 5 percent commission they receive for selling tickets. For some small businesses, just the draw of the
lottery helps fill shops and attracts customers to sandwiches, cigarettes and newspapers in addition to a chance at becoming a millionaire.
The Pennsylvania Lottery premiered March 7, 1972, with a 50-cent ticket featuring a weekly drawing and a $1 million grand prize. Since its inception, the state lottery has been the only one in the nation exclusively dedicated to paying for senior’s programs.
Please see Lottery /Page A3
Man angered by tria I delays
■ Mount Union resident upset the 2000 murder of an Altoona native has not gone to court.
By Mark Leberfinger
HUNTINGDON — The Huntingdon County man who found an Altoona native dead near Mount Union in April 2000 is upset over the delays in bringing the murder trial to court.
Allen P. Branthafer is charged with first-, second-and third-degree murder in the death of Roy E. Ryen, 57, of Lewisberry, formerly of Altoona.
Ryen was shot to death April 17,2000, as three men attempted to steal his truck from a family cabin, police said. About 12 hours after the shooting, Ryen’s body was found under a canoe by Rodney W. Heist of Mount Union RD I.
Charges against Branthafer; Christopher D. Muckle, 25, of Water Street, Mount Union; and Thomas J. Duvall, 21, also of Mount Union, were bound over for Huntingdon County Court in May 2000.
Heist sent a letter last week to Huntingdon County Judge Stewart Kurtz complaining about the delay in moving the case forward.
“The state police confiscated Roy’s pickup truck as evidence, because of bullet holes found in the truck,” Heist wrote.
Since then, Ryen’s wife has made monthly payments for a truck that is in compound because of evidence, Heist wrote. The truck has been in the elements and has not been operated for 19 months.
“What disturbs me most is, how many delays does the defense attorney have to have in order to be ready for a trial? Meanwhile, Mrs. Ryen has to continue to make monthly car payments on a vehicle she has not seen for 19 months.”
Heist’s letter was referred to Huntingdon County District Attorney Robert B. Stewart III, who wrote to Heist Wednesday. Stewart said he understands Heist being upset about the delays.
However, the state appellate courts would reverse a conviction if attorneys forced a person charged with capital murder into court before his counsel was ready, Stewart said in his letter. He said he has seen that happen in other cases and doesn’t want it to happen in this case.
Please see Delays/Page A3
Housing Authority needs funds for Drug Elimination services
Mirror photo by Jason Sipes
By William Kibler
The Altoona Housing Authority is looking for new ways to pay for its Drug Elimination services at Fairview Housing Project because Congress plans to eliminate the $300-million-a-year funding that supports it.
The authority has two more years of funding locked up to pay for an extra policeman at Fairview, afterschool activities, parenting classes and martial arts instruction.
Congress is cutting the program because it's uncomfortable using HUD money to fight crime.
But after that, it will need to find replacement money, perhaps through grants obtained in partnership with a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
Congress is cutting the program because it’s uncomfortable using Housing and Urban Development money to fight crime and because abuses have been rampant in big cities — including Pittsburgh, which had to return thousands of dollars, authority Executive Director Dan Farrell said.
Congress is not taking the money back from the housing sector, just distributing it so widely that it won’t do much good for Altoona.
Please see Housing/Page AIQ
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