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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - September 7, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAYSPORTS: Curve coach among Pirates firings / BlBUSINESS: Chamber hands out awards / A9Altoona mirror © Copyright 2001FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2001 500 newsstand PLEASANT VILLAGE DISPUTE J BATTLING DRUG ABUSE Opiates Blair faces methadone Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich A family moves into Pleasant Village housing project Thursday. Under a proposed agreement, the Altoona Housing Authority will maintain ownership of the project if it pays the city $1.5 million over IO years. Ownership settlement could mean higher rent for project’s residents By William Kibler Surf? Writer Settling the Pleasant Village ownership dispute between the city and the Altoona Housing Authority likely will come at a cost for the housing project’s residents. As part of the proposed agreement, the authority will pay the city $1.5 million over IO years to retain the title to the 120-unit facility, and it will almost certainly make raising rent necessary. Housing officials say rent rates for the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are below market prices. But Todd and Melissa Mountain pay $290 per month for three bedrooms. Even now, they don’t have enough _ for a down payment on a home. And while finances aren’t really tight, they don’t know how much more they can afford. Gimme shelter Housing Authority and city officials struck a deal this week that ended the legal battle over ownership of the Pleasant Village housing complex. Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington ll 20 years, with the Carol Love has been at Pleasant Village for died and She, her husband and son came intention of staying. Her husband her son moved away, and now she makes do on $507 per month — she’s on disability — to help cover the $240-per-month rent for her one-bedroom flat. Heat and garbage is included, but phone, lights, cable and water are not. She can’t afford any more. “Any more than that and I’m done,” she said. She likes living at Pleasant Village. Everybody knows everybody else’s business, but she likes having her own washer and dryer, close proximity to the commercial district and the bus stop to take her along it. The city recently proposed the $1.5 million payment to end a 2 Va-year dispute over whether a clause triggered by Please see Rent/Page A4 access issue ■ State: Residents must have treatment available within an hour's drive by 2004. By Ray Stephens Staff Writer Officials have about two years to find a way for Blair County’s Medicaid recipients to have access to methadone treatment within an hour's drive. A Blair County group could wrestle with that issue later this month when it meets with representatives from two state agencies to hear what others have done to address a similar demand. State Department of Public Welfare regulations dictate that starting in January 2004, Blair County’s Medicaid recipients will participate in a managed healthcare service called HealthChoices. Under that program, access to methadone treatment is required to be available within a hour’s drive to residents of rural counties, including Blair. “lf there isn’t treatment available by then, the department would probably issue a waiver for up to a year,” state welfare department spokeswoman Stephanie Suran said. "But they couldn’t just expect waiver after waiver. They’d have to come up with a plan. They have to work with another county or find another way to make it available.” Methadone is a treatment for people with dependency on opiates such as heroin or painkillers. Please see Access/Page AIQ OxyContin Legislators seek to toughen laws By Robert Igoe Staff Writer A bipartisan group of state lawmakers unveiled proposed legislation Thursday that would impose stiffer penalties for people who illegally sell the powerful painkiller OxyContin, which has been blamed for more than IOO deaths natior-wide, including several in Blair County. House Majority Leader John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, joined several state lawmakers and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham at a press conference outside a Philadelphia pharmacy to announce the new OxyContin legisla tion, which Perzel will introduci when the House reconvenes Sept. 24 Under the proposed legislation prison time for those convicted o dealing or trafficking in Oxy Contin would be increased by fiv< years and stronger penalties woulc be issued for theft, illegal use 01 possession of prescription pad! and for druggists involved in ille gal OxyContin sales. “Used properly, OxyContin is i blessing,” Perzel said. “Obtainec illegally and used improperly OxyContin is as deadly as a billie between the eyes.” Please see Laws/Page AIQ Sex act during police probe won’t result in any charges By William Kibler and Jay Young Staff Writers HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman said Thursday that he will not press charges against a pair of state troopers who allowed a woman to perform a sexual act on them during an investigation this summer. Charges never were brought against Garden Health Spa, 2062 Old Route 220 North, Duncansville. Instead, Joung Lonnie Cho, 44, of Dale City, Calif., was charged with two counts of prostitution in the incident. She later was convicted on one of the charges and fined $458; the other was withdrawn. Gorman said he does not plan to recommend any disciplinary action against the troopers. “I have absolutely no authority,” Gorman said. “That’s a Pennsylvania State Police matter.” State police Lt. Michael Hample declined Thursday to name the two investigators involved, but he said the two allowed the physical contact hoping to bring charges against the spa. According to the criminal complaint, on July 19, the investigators each paid $50 for massages and were receiving them when Cho entered one of the two massage rooms. Please see Act/Page A6 FROM HARRISBURG Cellular phone fee considered to improve county 911 service HARRISBURG (AP) - Pennsylvania cellular telephone users could be charged an extra 50 cents to $1.25 per month to help them obtain the same level of 911 service provided to users of fixed telephones, under proposals being considered in the legislature. The new surcharge would help counties make technical improvements to their 911 services — including automatic location checks — which some counties Upgrades must be done to help dispatchers better locate sources of cell phone calls, officials say. already provide to wire-line telephone callers. Deborah Palmieri, state presi dent of the National Emergency Number Association, told mem hers of the House Veterans’ Affair! and Emergency Preparednes! Committee this week that dis patching services for cellular user! are “not as good as the wire lines a this point, and we need to make i the same.” The main difference Is in the abd ity of dispatchers to track the loca tion of callers using cellular phones Please see Fee/Page A3 mum mmmmm DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 7    22910    00050    4 r BM FOUR 7    2    3    5 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 82° ■ Forecast, A2 O LOCAL Q NATION Business A9 Classifieds C5-12 Movies A4 Obituaries AU Qufe Opinion A8 □ sports Comics D5 Local B4 Community news Puzzles D2 D4 Scoreboard BS i Television D4 INSIDE IN NATION In a dramatic shift, the Bush administration Thursday abandoned the Clinton-era effort to break up Microsoft. PAGE Cl ;

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