Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - November 20, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
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© Copyright 2001
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2001
Altoona plans to open cyber school
By Jay Young Staff Writer
The Altoona Area School District wants to lead area schools in forming its own Internet-based private school, redefining the battle of public versus private education.
The district unveiled a plan Monday to
ask the state Department of Education to approve the Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation.
The 69-page application includes superintendents listed as founding members from the Altoona, Bellwood-Antis, Tyrone and Penn Cambria school districts.
The cyber school could serve any Pennsylvania resident and would compete
as a private business with other private businesses already taking students away from public schools.
Administrators shared the information with Altoona school board members Monday to set up a public hearing on the matter, as required by state law, within 45 days.
Two cyber schools already have enrolled
about IO Altoona school district students, Superintendent Dennis Murray said.
The district is billed by those cyber schools, Einstein Academy and Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter, for educating those students, which costs Altoona about $60,000 annually.
“Initially what sparked it was to have a competitive situation to Einstein and
Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter. After we got going, the creativity all began to surface,” Murray said.
“This isn’t just a competition, this is a real state-of the-art, 21st century delivery system that we can use for our alternative program or home-schoolers or anybody.” Please see School/Page A4
Christmas tree firms anticipate a busy season
By Linda Hijdkins For the Mirror
rowing Christmas trees is hard work,
I * but Susan Bloom wouldn’t trade it for IM any other occupation.
"I work every day at it, just like my grandfather did,” said Bloom, one of the third-generation owners of the 62-acre Ritchey’s Christmas Tree Farm in Carson Valley, off Interstate 99 and Route 764.
“It’s hard, but I keep teaching my children this work is good for the soul,” she said. “You have to love it.”
At the 350-acre JB Tree Farm in Alexandria, Evelyn Bookhammer, with other family members, works “many days a week, many hours a day.”
They spend their hours planting, fertilizing and shearing trees, mowing between rows, spraying for pests and attending classes and association meetings.
Please see Branch/Page A7
Christmas tree trivia
Number harvested annually: 34 million to 36 million
Number of trees harvested In Indiana County, Pa.:
Number of acres in the U.S.: 1 million
1997 earnings for U.S. tree growers:
Time to grow a 6-foot tree: up to 10 years
Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll
Mirror photo by Jason Sipes
Susan Bloom, co-owner of Ritchey’s Christmas Tree Farm in Duncansville, checks a tag on a tree to be cut down closer to Christmas.
WAR ON TERRORISM ► Pages Cl, 2
U.S. seeking Afghans’ help for bin Laden
$25 million offered for information
By James Risen
New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — The United States stepped up its efforts to persuade the people of Afghanistan to turn over Osama bin Laden, as U.S. military aircraft began broadcasting a new radio message into the country announcing a $25 million cash reward for information leading to his location or capture.
The radio broadcasts, which also identified other leaders of bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization thought to be hiding in Afghanistan, are the latest elements of a U.S. strategy to rely heavily on anti-Taliban rebels and other Afghans to help reveal the whereabouts of bin Laden, a Saudi exile.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made it clear Monday that U.S. special forces soldiers were not planning to mount a cave-by-cave hunt for bin Laden, but they would continue to apply pressure by setting up roadblocks and gathering intelligence.
Please see Search/Page A4
Shuster says terrorism war far from over
By Robert Igoe Staff Writer Despite what appears to be the imminent collapse of the Taliban after a week of U.S. military and northern alliance conquests of strongholds in Afghanistan, U.S.
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, said the war on terrorism is far from over.
Shuster, who was in Altoona Monday, said more needs to be done for the United States to defeat terrorism.
“It is not nearing an end,” he said. “It’s going to be a long process.”
Shuster said some positive things have happened: The Tali ban have almost been eradicated and their leaders are trying to negotiate a surrender of Kunduz, their last stronghold in Afghanistan.
However, there are more terrorists operating outside Afghanistan.
“There are 40 or 50 al-Qaida cells around the world that need to be dealt with,” he said.
Please see Shuster/Page A4
Cold medicines may prompt warning labels about driving
By LAURAN NEERGAARD The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Some common medications for colds, allergies or anxiety can impair driving ability as much as alcohol does — but in ways so subtle that people may not know they’re zonked behind the wheel.
Tile government is debating how to warn people about medicating before driving cars, boats, trains or airplanes.
It’s also considering whether it’s time to test crash victims’ blood for legal medications.
It’s a sticky issue. Today, fine-print warnings on dozens of over-the-counter medications indicate they can cause sedation.
But new research using driving simulators and other sophisticated tests suggests sedation is the wrong word: You may not feel sleepy even as the drug slows your reaction time or
leaves you weaving across the road.
Consequently, people who aren’t yawning may falsely assume it’s OK to drive, critics told a joint meeting of the nation’s top drug regulators and driving safety experts last week.
As for prescription drugs, experts say doctors rarely warn against driving, although some anxiety remedies in particular double the risk of a crash.
Please see Cold/Page A4
VALLEY VIEW HOME
New behavioral control wing expected to generate 18 jobs
By Ray Stephens Staff Writer
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County plans to gradually hire IO full-time and eight part-time employees to work in Valley View Home’s latest renovated area, slated to open in January.
The home is awaiting furnishings for its behavioral management wing. Valley View Director Jack Spayd said Tuesday.
Once the furnishings arrive, the county will ask the state Department of Health to examine
the wing and issue an operating license for the unit, where staff will focus on behavior control.
Spayd said the furnishings may take three more weeks to arrive, so if the license is not issued until December, the wing probably will start accepting admissions in January.
Those who will be admitted include patients who have medical or mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia whose behavior likely can change or improve.
Please see Wlng/Page A4
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