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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - October 5, 2000, Altoona, Pennsylvania Page Alo ■ Altoona Mirror LOCAL Thursday, October 5, 2000 FROM ALTOONA City Council Briefs Blighted houses are falling The citys blighted property program has razed a total of 30 houses since 1997, and the pace is accelerating. Five were razed in 1997 and 1998, nine in 1999 and ll this year with seven more scheduled. Mayor Tom Martin credited new codes head Ed Cardy and planning office chief Larry Carter with quickening the pace. Businesses could be tax-exempt In keeping with the recently approved update of the city 's Comprehensive Plan, the planning office will investigate the possibility of renewing a tax-abatement program under the Local Economicic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act for business property, with a similar law for residential. The LERTA law can exempt owners from paying real estate taxes on improvements for up to IO years in deteriorated areas, spec ified by the taxing governments after public hearings. The residential law has different options. One is for full abatement the first year, then abatements reduced by IO percent per year for IO years. Another is for full abatement the first year, then abatements reduced by 20 percent per year for five years. A third option is full abatement for three years. The office will check where the city applied the program before, who took advantage of it. how much they benefited, whether they have made the improvements anyway and whether the city benefited. The office should have a proposed policy by mid-November. Snow removal sites picked Under terms of a snow-removal policy presented by City Manager Joe Weakland, the highway department will remove snow at intersections where it interferes with driver visibility and on lith Avenue downtown where traffic is heavy and the travel lane is narrow. The city doesn’t have the manpower to do other streets or sidewalks. Snow removal has become more of a problem because workers no longer can dump snow at Garfield Park because of runoff problems or Westfall Park because of a new ballfield created there. Besides, if the city extended removal to other sites, it would be hard to justify selecting some and rejecting others. In another business, City Council retained Attorney Adrian Herbst of Baller Herbst Law Group to represent the city in cable franchise negotiations with Charter Communications. Compiled by William Kibler PIAA / Sex discrimination (Continued from Page Al) “Finally, it looks as though we are nearing the point where the state can hold this organization accountable,” said state Sen. President Pro Tem Robert C. Jubelirer, R-Blair. “This has been long overdue and we see that this organization will not reform itself unless forced.”- PIAA officials said they believed the panel would choose not to remove the organization’s authority,    ...    _ “We feel confident that the panel will find that the PIAA operates with a great deal of fairness and has made the necessary reforms,” said PIAA president Walter J. Blucas, superintendent of Girard High School in Erie. “This was a fair compromise.” The Senate has been locked in a feud with the PIAA for two years after widespread complaints that the organization wielded its power unfairly, played favorites when selecting championship game sites and punished those who complained. The bill calls for the PIAA to make several reforms, including switching to a competitive process for selecting sites for championship games, adopting an evaluation system for officials and eliminating the association’s “restitution rule.” The rule, which requires school districts that lose court cases against the PIAA to pay the association’s legal fees, has been criti- low Price! V Fujifilm Endeavor 270ix Zoom MRC Outfit Advanced Photo System 23-50mm autofocus zoom Flash w/ red-eye reduction /■ Date. time. and title imprint Mid-roll change    ^    lt Outfit Includes: Battery, Case and film $14495: *20 Ritz Price Fujifilm Mail-in Rebate = $1249 Your Final Costl Free Double Bonus! „ . .JOJO L J00-25 A S25 Value! Ritz Price! Pentax ZX-30 w/Pentax 35-80 $31495 Compact and lightweight -35mm autofocus SLR camera Six picture modes Six-segment metering Built-in auto pop-up flash with red-eye reduction Canon Sure New Low Price! 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The Transportation Department’s Surface Transportation Board said it was voiding the sale by Railroad Ventures Inc. of the line’s subsurface and air rights and of other railroad property to a subsidiary and other companies. At the same time, the board, which regulates railroads, said it was ordering Railroad Ventures to transfer to the Columbiana County (Ohio) Port Authority all of the interests in the railroad right of way. Railroad Ventures, which uses Altoona attorney Richard R. Wilson, bought the line from Youngstown, Ohio, to Darlington with a connecting one-mile line segment near Negley, Ohio, in 1996 and halted service. Except for a brief period, efforts to get service restored since then have been unsuccessful. The board set the sale price of the line at $1,117,868 and, “in view of RVTs misconduct,” ordered $375,000 of that to be placed into an escrow account that CCPA may use to pay for repairs of damage to the line. Wilson did not immediately return calls seeking reaction to the order. Railroad Ventures purchased the line from the Youngstown and Southern Railway in 1996 and canceled its operating lease with the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Company, which had been running the line under contract. The sale had not received required federal approval and the board intervened. Service briefly was restored but it was then suspended after a flood that washed out portions of the track. According to the board, several groups, including the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad Co., the Columbiana County Port Authority and the Ohio Rail Development Commission offered to provide funding to reconstruct the line. But in January 1997, RVI refused to allow a contractor to make the repairs. In April 1997, after promising to restore service, Railroad Ventures was granted retroactive board approval for its purchase. But service never was resumed. Finally in 1999, RVI was granted permission to abandon the line and the county port authority filed to purchase it. “RVI then undertook a series of transactions that frustrated the line’s transfer,” the board charged. FROM FRANKSTOWN TW. Supervisors wrap up financing Funkstown Township supervisors are wrapping up the financing of a project to extend sewage service into Kline’s Acres. The township has received a $490,500 state Pennvest loan to cover the project’s construction and related costs. The township will repay the loan at 1.619 annually for the first five years and at 3.237 percent annually for the next 15 years. The closing on the loan is slated for later this month. Construction on the sewer extension project started in the summer and is 91 percent finished, according to information provided by contractor Joe Bizzi & Sons Inc. of Export. The township received permission to initiate the project before closing on the finances because, otherwise, construction would have had to wait until next year. Residents want street name changed A group of residents from Seven D Drive in Frankstown Township have petitioned the township for assistance in changing the name of their street. Resident Rita Murphy of 15 Seven D Drive said the name is very confusing. She said she has had mail addressed to 1570 Drive with no street name. “You can imagine the variations,” she told the supervisors. Murphy also told the supervisors she has spoken to and explained the problem to members of the Donald DeGol family, which planned and named the streets in the development. Frankstown Township Solicitor Frederick Gieg said he would contact the DeGols and detemine what needs to be done to make the change. jCompiled by Kay Stephens Carpet Cleaning Ltvg rooms, hall steps 4 traffic lanes in |2bdrms S99 with I Scotch Garb Sofa & Chair cized as a deterrent to dissent. The bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Nick Colafella, D-Beaver, predicted the House will pass the bill next week. “This has been one of the ugliest situations we’ve dealt with, and I think we all want to get this wrapped up as soon as possible,” said Colafella, who sits on the Education Committee. The most recent controversy involving the PIAA involved a settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by a Delaware County basketball referee. The official, Noreen Kemether, sued because her local chapter would not permit her to officiate boys’ basketball games. A U.S. District Court jury in 1998 awarded Kemether $314,000 in damages and the right to officiate boys’ games. The PIAA appealed but recently dropped the appeal and settled out of court. Although Kemether’s exact award has been sealed, the PIAA’s bill including legal fees and expenses came to $920,619, and the organization asked its ll regional districts to pay a third of the amount. The 87-year-old PIAA, based near Mechanicsburg, sets and enforces eligibility rules, registers and provides training for 13,000 officials and organizes playoffs and championships. Philadelphia schools do not participate in the PIAA; the Public League and Catholic League oversee interscholastic athletics in the city. j$i'm off] A Dozen Donuts ( Limit 2 Dozen ONE COUPON PER CUSTOMER NOT VALID WITH ANY OTHER COUPON • EXPIRES 12/31/00 DONUT. 27 Logan Blvd., Altoona J HISTORICA PLUS ANTIQUE CENTER & FURNITURE GALLERY 3 Floors Of Antiques! OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK 10:00 A M. TO 5:00 P M 234 E. 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