Thursday February 23 2012

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2012

ALTOONA DISTRESSED?

AFTER YEARS OF MONEY SHORTFALLS…AND WITH A  CURRENT 1-POINT-6 MILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT, ALTOONA CITY COUNCIL VOTED UNANIMOUSLY LAST NIGHT TO TAKE THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD BECOMING A DISTRESSED MUNICIPALITY. COUNCIL WILL SEND A PETITION TO THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TO APPLY FOR DISTRESSED CITY STATUS UNDER THE FINANCIAL RECOVERY ACT 47. SEVERAL RESIDENTS SPOKE AGAINST BECOMING DISTRESSED AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS UNION OFFERED TO TRY AND FIND OTHER WAYS TO RAISE MONEY. IF STATE OFFICIALS DECIDE ALTOONA IS ELIGIBLE, COUNCIL WILL HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS BEFORE VOTING TO OFFICIALLY BECOME DISTRESSED.

PENN STATE BEGS FOR MONEY

PENN STATE PRESIDENT RODNEY ERICKSON WENT TO HARRISBURG YESTERDAY TO ASK LAWMAKERS NOT TO APPROVE GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT’S PROPOSAL TO CUT FUNDING TO PENN STATE, PITT, AND TEMPLE BY 30-PERCENT. LAST YEAR, CORBETT PROPOSED REDUCING STATE FUNDING BY 50-PERCENT, BUT THE FINAL BUDGET ENDED UP SLASHING SUPPORT 20 PERCENT. ERICKSON SAYS THE IMPACT OF STATE FUNDING CUTS WOULD HIT LOWER-INCOME STUDENTS AND THOSE AT REGIONAL CAMPUSES PARTICULARLY HARD. STATE REPRESENTATIVE JEFF PYLE BROUGHT UP WHAT HE CALLED THE “ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM” AND ASKED ERICKSON IF HE COULD LOOK THE LAWMAKER IN THE EYE AND SAY THAT NO STATE FUNDING IS PAYING LEGAL BILLS FOR THE JERRY SANDUSKY CASE. ERICKSON ASSURED HIM THAT NO STATE SUPPORT, TUITION OR GIFTS ARE PAYING THOSE BILLS.

STATE PATTY’S DAY

MORE STATE COLLEGE BUSINESSES ARE PULLING THE PLUG ON STATE PATTY’S DAY THIS SATURDAY. SHARKIES BAR AND THRIFTY BOTTLESHOP WILL BE CLOSED ALL DAY DURING THE STUDENT-CREATED DRINKING HOLIDAY AND THE ATHERTON HOTEL WILL SERVE FOOD, BUT NO ALCOHOL ALL WEEKEND. STATE COLLEGE POLICE CHIEF TOM KING SAYS A BEER DISTRIBUTOR WILL ALSO REMAIN CLOSED. THE LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD PREVIOUSLY DECIDED TO CLOSE 4 LIQUOR STORES IN CENTRE COUNTY AT 6PM SATURDAY, 3 HOURS EARLY.

MCQUEARY MOVING?

THE COLLEGE HEIGHTS HOME OWNED BY FORMER PENN STATE ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH MIKE MCQUEARY AND HIS WIFE IS NOW FOR SALE. THEY JUST BOUGHT THE NORTH BURROWES STREET PROPERTY LAST YEAR FOR 555-THOUSAND DOLLARS. MCQUEARY…A WIDE RECEIVERS COACH AND RECRUITER SINCE 2004…WAS PLACED ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE IN NOVEMBER. IN DECEMBER, HE TESTIFIED IN HARRISBURG THAT HE WITNESSED JERRY SANDUSKY SHOWERING WITH A BOY IN A PENN STATE LOCKER ROOM IN 2002 AND HE BELIEVED THE BOY WAS BEING MOLESTED.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

STATE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER DOMINIC PILEGGI SAYS THIS YEAR’S APRIL 24TH PRIMARY WILL LIKELY BE CONDUCTED USING THE EXISTING GENERAL ASSEMBLY DISTRICT LINES BECAUSE OFFICIALS ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WAYS TO GET BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD ON THE RE-DISTRICTING PROCESS. LAST MONTH, THE STATE SUPREME COURT THREW OUT PROPOSED MAPS THAT WERE BASED ON THE 2010 CENSUS BECAUSE THEY SPLIT TOO MANY MUNICIPALITIES AND INCLUDED DISTRICTS THAT WERE NOT SUFFICIENTLY COMPACT TO MEET CONSTITUTIONAL STANDARDS.

MUGGING/GUNSHOT IN ALTOONA

ALTOONA POLICE ARRESTED A JUVENILE FOLLOWING AN ARMED ROBBERY LAST EVENING NEAR THE 21-HUNDRED BLOCK OF 6TH AVENUE. WITNESSES SAY A COUPLE OF KIDS GOT MUGGED AND SOMEONE FIRED A GUN, BUT THERE WERE NO INJURIES. POLICE HAVEN’T RELEASED ANY MORE DETAILS YET.

THIEF COMES CLEAN

AN UPDATE ON A STOLEN COPPER CASE. STATE POLICE AT HOLLIDAYSBURG SAY 2 MEN WERE CAUGHT ON VIDEO TAKING COPPER FROM SEVERAL CELL AND RADIO TOWER SITES ON BRUSH MOUNTAIN OVER THE WEEKEND. ONE OF THE MEN TURNED HIMSELF IN YESTERDAY AFTER SEEING HIS JEEP ON THE NEWS.
HE AND THE OTHER SUSPECT WILL BE CHARGED WITH CAUSING OR RISKING A CATASTROPHE BECAUSE ONE OF THE TOWER SITES BELONGED TO THE BLAIR COUNTY 911 COMMUNICATIONS CENTER.

SCHOOL BUS CRASHES

44 YEAR OLD STEVEN HEUSER OF GRAMPIAN WAS LIFE-FLIGHTED TO ALTOONA REGIONAL TRAUMA CENTER AFTER A 3-VEHICLE CRASH YESTERDAY MORNING IN CLEARFIELD COUNTY. STATE POLICE SAY 21 YEAR OLD MICHAEL KRITZER OF OLANTA SLID ON AN ICY ROUTE 453 IN CURWENSVILLE BORO AND HIS PICKUP STRUCK HEUSER’S MINI-VAN NEARLY HEAD-ON. THE VAN…WHICH WAS CARRYING 5 SCHOOL STUDENTS…THEN DRIFTED BACKWARDS AND HIT A SCHOOL BUS. THE KIDS IN HEUSER’S VAN SUFFERED VARIOUS INJURIES AND WERE ALSO TAKEN TO ALTOONA HOSPITAL. THE OTHER 2 DRIVERS AND THE STUDENTS ON THE BUS ESCAPED INJURY.

PEDESTRIAN CRITICAL

THE 35 YEAR OLD MAN STRUCK BY A CAR IN ALTOONA TUESDAY NIGHT REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT ALTOONA REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM. POLICE SAY IT HAPPENED AT 7TH AVENUE AND 29TH STREET AND THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION SHOWS THAT SPEED WAS NOT A FACTOR AND THE DRIVER WAS NOT UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

MAJOR GAS PRICE HIKES?

WE’RE ALREADY PAYING $3.69 FOR GAS AND EXPERTS AT GAS-BUDDY-DOT-COM PREDICT PRICES COULD JUMP BY AS MUCH AS 20-CENTS BY THE WEEKEND.
THE HIKE…BLAMED ON HIGH CRUDE OIL PRICES, LOST REFINERY CAPACITY AND THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST…WOULD AFFECT ALL STATES ALONG THE EASTERN SEABOARD. RIGHT NOW 2 PENNSYLVANIA REFINERIES ARE CLOSED AND THE 3RD IS SET TO SHUT DOWN NEXT MONTH. PUT TOGETHER, THAT MEANS A LOSS OF MORE THAN 700-THOUSAND BARRELS A DAY OF REFINERY CAPACITY.