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Wednesday May 1 2013

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wednesDAY, may 1, 2013

SCHOOL EVACUATED

about 11:30 yESTERday morning, students and staff were evacuated from Altoona Area High School A-Building when an unknown smell permeated the building.  The Altoona Fire Department was called and it was determined that a piece of equipment had malfunctioned forcing the odor through the air handler.  ABOUT 40 MINUTES LATER…Once Fire CREWS DETERMINED the building WAS safe…students returned to classes.

CONVICTED KILLER SUING

JOHN GERHOLT OF HUNTINGDON COUNTY IS SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO SHOOTING HIS ESTRANGED WIFE, KAREN, IN THE EVERETT MCDONALDS PARKING LOT BACK IN 2008. HE’S BEEN TRYING TO WITHDRAW HIS PLEA AND IS ALSO SUING FORMER BEDFORD COUNTY PRISON WARDEN DONALD ORR, 3 GUARDS, A TREATMENT SPECIALIST, AND THE JAIL’S MEDICAL SERVICES PROVIDER. GERHOLT CLAIMS HE WAS ATTACKED BY ORR AT THE DIRECTION OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY BILL HIGGINS. HIS SUIT IS SEEKING 4 MILLION DOLLARS.

involuntary manslaughter case moving forward

19 YEAR OLD DANIEL TUROUS OF VINTONDALE IS SERVING 3-AND-A-HALF TO 7 YEARS IN A STATE PRISON FOR THE 2010 POLICE CHASE AND DRUNK DRIVING CRASH THAT KILLED HIS PASSENGER, 16 YEAR OLD KELSEY LYNN MILLER OF NANTY GLO. DURING A PRELIMINARY HEARING YESTERDAY, HE TOLD A BLAIR COUNTY JUDGE THAT HIS FRIEND, 24 YEAR OLD PATRICK FYOCK OF VINTONDALE, SUPPLIED THE BEER. THE ALTOONA MIRROR REPORTS THAT THE JUDGE ORDERED FYOCK TO STAND TRIAL ON CHARGES OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER, CORRUPTION OF A MINOR, AND FURNISHING ALCOHOL TO A MINOR.

BOTH BROTHERS NOW JAILED

STEPHEN ESPENLAUB OF ALTOONA IS BEHIND BARS, CHARGED WITH POSING AS A D-E-A AGENT AND STEALING 6 POUNDS OF MARIJUANA AND 4-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CASH FROM ANOTHER MAN…NOW HIS BROTHER IS ALSO IN JAIL. POLICE SAY SHAWN ESPENLAUB WAS THE OTHER MAN INVOLVED…AND NOT ANGEL VASQUEZ WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CHARGED. THE ESPENLAUB’S PRELIMINARY HEARING IS SET FOR MONDAY.

Fire investigation

BACK IN JANUARY, A HUGE FIRE DESTROYED THE HISTORIC ALTOONA HOTEL…AND the FEDERAL Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms HAS JOINED THE investigatION INTO the cause. AN A-T-F SPOKESPERSON TELLS WTAJ that agents are frequently called in to assist local investigators especially when a fire does enough damage that determining the cause becomes extremely difficult. Federal agents can provide additional expertise and tools.

emergency drill

BLAIR COUNTY EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WILL SIT DOWN AT PENNDOT HEADQUARTERS IN HOLLIDAYSBURG TODAY for a TABLE-TOP DRILL. DURING THE EXERCISE, OFFICIALS WILL DEAL WITH A SHUT DOWN OF I-99 AND ROUTE 220 IN CASE OF A MAJOR EMERGENCY INVOLVING MASS CASUALTIES. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR DAN BOYLES SAYS IT’S A CHANCE TO HELP RESPONDERS BECOME MORE PREPARED AND TO UNCOVER ANY POTENTIAL SHORTCOMINGS.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS PLAN TAX HIKES

Each year, the State Department of Education sets an inflation index WHICH determines the maximum amount a district can raise tAxes. To go higher, a district needs approval from voters, or they can apply for an exception based on significant costs SUCH AS pensions, building construction, and special education. WTAJ REPORTS THAT SEVERAL districts in our region have already been approved for that exception and plan on RAISING taxES. They include: STATE COLLEGE, Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, BLackLick Valley, Windber, Everett, JUNIata Valley, Southern Huntingdon, PENNs Manor, Rockwood, Shanksville Stonycreek, Somerset Area, AND West branch. Other districts could still apply for the exception, BUT BLAIR COUNTY SCHOOLS HAVE SIGNED RESOLUTIONS NOT TO RAISE TAXES BEYOND THE STATE CAP.

GOOD NEWS ON THE JOB FRONT

BLAIR COUNTY’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPPED 3-TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT TO LAND AT 7-POINT-2 IN MARCH. THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY ALSO REPORTS SLIGHT DROPS IN ALL THE SURROUNDING COUNTIES. THE STATE JOBLESS NUMBER FELL FROM 8-POINT-1 TO 7-POINT-9. THE NATIONAL RATE IS DOWN ONE-TENTH TO 7-POINT-6.

LESS PENN STATE MERCHANDISE SOLD

the Collegiate Licensing Company SAYS Penn State is selling less merchandise across the country. From 2010 to 2011, THE NITTANY LIONS ranked 10th....BUT From 2011 to 2012 they were 12th. In the second quarter of this fiscal year, Penn State FELL to 20th in merchandise sales. SOME PEOPLE BLAME THE SANDUSKY SCANDAL, BUT OTHERS SAY IT’S THE ECONOMY. Penn State's applications for this FALL are down by around 5-THOUSAND.

PREPARE FOR TICK SEASON

CENTRE COUNTY veterinarIANS are PREDICTING THE NUMBER OF DEER TICK BITES AND LYME DISEASE WILL INCREASE AGAIN THIS year. Lyme disease can cause flu-like symptoms AND, If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and nervous system. ACCORDING TO THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES, RESIDENTS SHOULD BE EXTRA VIGILANT IN WARMER MONTHS AND CHECK PETS DAILY, ESPECIALLY AFTER THEY SPEND TIME OUTDOORS.

CHEAPER GAS

TRIPLE A FUEL GAUGE SAYS Western Pa gas prices fell 4 cents THIS WEEK to AVERAGE $3.52 per gallon. Today’s national average is $3.51, 1 cent less than one week ago…13 cents less than one month ago…and 31 cents less than one year ago.

ALTOONA LOTTERY WINNER

SOMEBODY IN ALTOONA WILL SOON BE A WHOLE LOT RICHER. THE PENNSYLVANIA LOTTERY SAYS ONE OF 3 WINNING TICKETS IN MONDAY’S 1-POINT-3 MILLION DOLLAR CASH 5 DRAWING WAS SOLD AT NIC’S TOBACCO OUTLET ON PLEASANT VALLEY BOULEVARD. 2 OTHER WINNING TICKETS WERE SOLD IN BUCKS AND SCHUYKILL COUNTIES. EACH IS WORTH 440-THOUSAND DOLLARS, BEFORE FEDERAL TAXES. THE STORE WILL RECEIVE A 500-DOLLAR BONUS.