Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 29, 2002 · Page 3
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 3

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Indiana, Pennsylvania
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
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Page 3
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STATE Tuesday, October 29, 2002 — Page 3 By The Associated Press Autopsies planned in couple's deaths WHITE OAK — The bodies of an elderly couple who died a week apart have been exhumed to re-examine the ( cause of their deaths. Frederick Gessner, 77, died on Sept. 29 and his wife, Vivian, 76, died a week later, both in the couple's bedroom. Their family physician ruled the Gessners had died of natural causes. Investigators became suspicious when a housekeeper collapsed in the same bedroom days after the death of Vivian Gessner. The deaths were never reported to the Allegheny County Coroner because they were ruled natural. County police have since found a faulty vent on the couple's furnace and hot water heater. The bodies were exhumed Monday. Investigators have spoken to a furnace repairman who did work at the house, but said no criminal charges are being considered. "Basically, this is to have a confirmation of the cause of death," said county homicide Sgt. Jeffrey Korczyk. "The coroner's office decided to do this, and the family concurred." Murphy, Masloff headed for China PITTSBURGH — Mayor Tom Murphy and ex-mayor Sophie Masloff will visit Wuhan, China, next month to mark the 20th anniversary of a sister city relationship and build business ties. Wuhan Mayor Zhou Ji and a dozen other government and business officials visited Pittsburgh in March. A second delegation visited last month as part of the city's Autumn Moon Festival, which celebrated the relationship between the two cities and Chinese culture in Pittsburgh. About 25 people, mostly business leaders, will also make the trip, said Mulugetta Birru, the executive director of the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority. It is hoped the trip will increase financial ties between the two cities, Birru said. Brownsville board, teachers OK contract BROWNSVILLE — The teachers and school board of the Brownsville Area School District approved a contract to end a two-week strike. The 2,200 students in the district were expected to return to class today. "We're just glad to get back to the business of education," union spokeswoman Diana Michael said Monday. The five-year contract includes a 3 percent retroactive raise for the 2001-02 school year, 3 percent for the current year, and 4 percent in each of the next three years, negotiators said. Teachers in past weeks said they were the lowest paid in the county. They had been working without a contract for more than a year. Board member Stella Broadwater said the teachers agreed to switch from Blue Cross medical coverage to a Select Blue plan, which was "a substantial savings to the district." She said that action enabled the district to grant the salary increases. Six critical after wreck By MARC LEVY Associated Press Writer HOLTWOOD — A van plowed into a horse and buggy on an unlit, two- lane bridge over the Susquehanna River, critically injuring six members of an Amish family, including five children, and seriously injuring a seventh. The impact from the Sunday night collision in Lancaster County threw Ben and Annie Ebersol of Airville and the five children from the buggy and also killed the horse, state police said. "It {the van) actually drove the whole way over them and the horse," said Corey Eberly, deputy chief of the Rawlinsville Volunteer Fire Company, who was on the scene. Between 1996 and 2000, there were 371 traffic accidents in Pennsylvania involving horse-drawn buggies, 16 of them fatal, according to state Department of Transportation records. The crashes claimed 18 lives and left 442 people injured. Despite the seeming danger, Amish community members Monday said they weren't overly concerned about the coexistence of high-speed cars and buggies. "For the amount of automobiles on the road, with carriages, there's surprisingly few (accidents)," said a 40- year-old man who lives near the Ebersols, in a cluster of Old Order Amish families in York County. In keeping with Amish custom, he did not want his name published. Authorities identified the injured Ebersol children as Andrew, 11, Daniel, 9, John, 7, Sarah, 4, and Ben Jr., 3. Each remained in critical condition Monday afternoon at Hershey Medical Center, a spokeswoman said. Ben Ebersol Sr., whose age was not available, was in critical condition and Annie Ebersol in serious condition at Lancaster General Hospital, a hospital spokesman said. Amish neighbors said the 8 p.m. crash involved five of the couple's six children. A 13-year-old daughter was not with them at the time, they said. The driver of the van, Dale Eugene Baughman, 40, of Fayetteville, was not injured. Police have not filed any charges. The speed limit on the half-mile- long. Route 372 bridge, where the crash occurred, is 55 miles per hour. Most Amish buggy operators in the Lancaster area use flashers and reflective tape, although police could not immediately say if that was the case Sunday. Emergency personnel at the scene of Sunday's collision between a van and an Amish buggy. (AP photo) PennDOT questioned on use of PR firms Sign on turnpike at Somerset: 'Happiness is never having to see your airbag/ (AP photo) PITTSBURGH (AP) — A watchdog group is questioning the millions of dollars worth of contracts that state transportation agencies have with outside public relations firms, despite the fact that they have internal PR departments. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the state Department of Transportation have $11.1 million worth of contracts with public relations firms that design billboards, radio advertisements and other marketing projects for the agencies. PennDOT and the commission work with up to six firms, despite the fact that both groups have internal PR departments. The turnpike commission spends about $2.8 million every year on its own communica- Counties set to trim registration rolls First time under 'motor voter' law By MARTHA RAFFAELE Associated Press Writer HARRISBURG — For the first time since Pennsylvania's "motor voter" law took effect in 1995, many county election boards are preparing to pare thousands of inactive voters from their registration rolls if they don't vote in the Nov. 5 election. The transition has taken time because under the law, which enables people to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver's licenses, election officials must wait longer before initially notifying registrants who haven't voted and giving them a chance to verify their addresses. Under the old election laws, people who didn't vote could be summarily removed from county voter registration lists every two years. But the 1995 law requires counties to wait until registrants have failed to vote for five years before even mailing address-confirmation notices to them. Counties can mail the notices to all voters, or just to those who have reported an address change to the U.S. Postal Service. If voters don't respond, they can be removed from the rolls if they fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections. "What's happening now if they move and don't tell us is that they end up staying on the rolls for a much longer period of time," said Elizabeth Hillwig, chief clerk of Lehigh County's voter registration and election bureau. Hillwig said her office has identified 12,000 to 13,000 inactive voters among more than 197,000 who are registered. She estimates the bureau has spent about $4,500 on postage for notices mailed to those voters, and around the end of the year it will delete the names of those who fail to cast ballots on Nov. 5. Allegheny County's list of 932,385 registered voters should be reduced by anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000 names after next week's election, Mark Wolosik, director of the county's elections division, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in a story published Monday. In Philadelphia, election officials have identified 231,000 inactive voters this year out of more than 1 million who are registered, county voter registration administrator Bob Lee said. Of those 231,000, Lee expects that 120,000 voters will be removed from .the rolls in December. Not all counties will clean up their registration lists this year. Lackawanna County made its first mailing of notices this year to 12,000 voters who risk being placed on "inactive" status, said election bureau director Marion Medalis. County officials will wait until after the 2004 presidential election to cancel the registrations of people who do not respond. "This first mailing was very massive. Other election directors have told me that your first mailing is the worst, but with each year after that, it should decrease," she said. Voter registration for the May 21 primary was about 7.8 million, according to the Department of State. The department did not have statewide registration figures for the general election. (On the Net: Department of State: www.dos.state.pa. us) ^You 7 re Feeling Healthier and Looking Younger It Shows In Your Smile Regardless of age, yoirwanj to look and feel your best. Butifyourteethare discolored, chipped or uneven, they can add years to your appearance. • t - - , -. • ,';'?'•'•.• °X r <' " ' Lin onfy a few visits fo DenWBnrmlssu!^DMD, ^ybucairlo^^^^erandfe^jbe^h^r! - : A; grauate o Vej^jN&titute far 5 D* Brumbaugh offejs 9f&^ •* -t untuui< lion department while PennDOT spends $1 million every year on its department. A Washington D.C.-based watchdog group believes the agencies are needlessly spending millions of dollars to build their image. Citizens Against Government Waste Vice President David Williams calls the contracts with public relations firms "silly" because the groups aren't in a competitive market like a private company. "I often use the example of the Postal Service. They have a monopoly on the mail, yet they spend millions of dollars on their image," Williams said. "They should realiy spend the money to improve their service and efficiency." The external communication firms are promoting highway safety, distributing information about the Mon-Fayette Expressway and updating the turnpike's image — projects that internal communication departments don't have the time or the expertise to do, spokesmen for Pen- nDOT and the commission said. A large chunk of the $11.1 million is going to Lancaster-based Kelly Michener Inc., which is receiving $5 million to create signs and commercials dial warn of the dangers of driving drunk and advocate seat belt use. "People look to PennDOT, as the custodian of the highway transportation system, to do something about that," said PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick. Happy 45* Birthday RUBY KARLINSEY IT yon see this little sweetheart today, ten her to look alive. You're Forty Fiwll Gotcha Again! Love, your YOUNGERBrother Jake 4.48 PennDOT outsourced the project because the majority of its public relations staff has a background in media relations and not marketing, Kirkpatrick said. "Obviously, the things we go outside for would be categorized as specialized services that are beyond the capabilities of in-house resources and staff," said turnpike commission spokesman Bill Capone. It's not unusual for transportation departments to hire external public relations firms to take on advertising campaigns, especially when the projects highlight road safety issues, said Jennifer Gavin, a spokeswoman for American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. STRONG CD RATE. WITH AN EVEN STRONGER GUARANTEE. Get a guaranteed yield ivilh a Certificate of Deposit from Stnte Farm Hank*. It's u secure place to grow your money. Call me today. And talk with someone you know you ran counl on. WE LIVE WHERE YOU LIVE™. 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