The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on March 18, 1999 · 69
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 69

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Atlanta, Georgia
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Thursday, March 18, 1999
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69
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EC FINAL! THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1999 Local News ) A green parade i Senator indicted j The Vent, D2 Savannah's St Patrick's Day celebration the city's 175th draws more than 300,000 people. D2 Where You Live, D5 State Sen. Diana Harvey Johnson is being indicted on five counts of fraud involving , 0 Obituaries, three companies. C8 J o ' ? io- Scott Carl Rechsteiner, 36, a.k.a. Big Poppa Pump and Scott Steiner, will be spending 10 days in the county jail. Cherokee udge has iola on wrestler By Mark Bixler STAFF WRITER "A pro wrestler known as Big Poppa Pump dodged the big house Wednesday but will have to spend 10 days in the Cherokee County Jail. : A judge also ordered Scott Carl Rechsteiner to pay $25,000 in fines, fees and restitution and to stay on probation for seven years after Rechsteiner pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, felonies with a maximum sentence of 30 years. The charges allege that Rechsteiner, 36, threatened a Department of Transportation worker and hit him with his Ford F-2S0 pickup in April 1998. ' Rechsteiner has biceps the size of watermelons and a blond Fu Manchu mustache. His lawyer, Alan C. Manheim, told Judge C. Michael Roach that Rechsteiner is gentle and well-educated. "I have seen a man very different than his public persona," he said. ; Big Poppa Pump is one of the bad guys on the TV wrestling shows, wrestling with the World Championship Wrestling federation as part of the New World Order team. Last April 21, investigators said, Rechsteiner drove down a closed exit ramp off I-S75 in south Cherokee and threatened and twice hit DOT road worker Paul Kaspereen after Kaspereen told him the ramp was closed. Kaspereen was not seriously hurt. ."I just apologize that this happened," said the wrestler, who also goes by the name Scott Steiner. ; The judge sentenced Rechsteiner under the state's first-offender rules. That means a court will find him not guilty if he avoids trouble while on probation. - Rechsteiner also must perform 200 hours of community service. 1 1 ' - " r 1 V. T 2i 2i 30 31 323J J4 35. ?3. S7 3a 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 i? 111 . 1 1 IHwk M .1- ITT -t mr y MARLENE KARAS Staff Boning up: Jessica Williams, a third-grader at Ruth Hill Elementary School in Newnan, studies for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The tests are given to Georgia's third-, fifth- and eighth-graders. Itate may pass on exams Pressure, cheating cause review of 5-hour ITBS By Doug Cumming and Rochelle Carter STAFF WRITERS Something didn't look right to at least one parent when third-graders at Haven Elementary School in Savannah brought home study sheets to practice math and reading for the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. The parent reported the incident last year as possible cheating by the students' two teachers. Chatham County school officials claimed the two teachers had hand-copied the questions and multiple-choice answers directly out of the ITBS before the students took the tests. Facing termination, the two teachers resigned. An upsurge in such cheating cases from one to 25 during the past three years is only one symptom of the high pressure that students, parents, teachers and schools feel coming from the ITBS, being given to Georgia students this week through April 9. A company in Circle Pines, Minn., which advertised nationally that it raised an inner-city Atlanta school's scores 300 percent with its ITBS prep program, said Georgia is its best market. The ITBS five hours of tests administered to all third-, fifth- and eighth-graders now affects everything from property values in Buckhead to educators' self-esteem. "I had an experienced teacher, her scores were not that high, and she was ... just heartbroken she came in my office in tears," said Lee Friedman, principal of Sarah Smith Elementary in north Buckhead, the highest-scoring elementary school in the state last year. He said he assured her that she had done everything she could, and had nothing to be ashamed of. Some real estate agents spout test scores along with kitchen amenities because home buyers demand it, said Kathy Conner, an executive Please see ITBS, D4 ON THE WEB: The newspaper's Web site today features this report, plus related articles from all of our community editions on www.ajc.com Yl i 4t$wm r w m v . - 1 !. MimA iM 11 - - iVm Ml 1 -ft 1 ANDY SHARP Staff A pep rally at Brown Elementary School in Smyrna tries to get kids in the mood for the test. Leading cheers are teacher Ruthann Nelson (left) and para-professional Cheryl Orson. Orady fee hike under o review Fulton commissioners, legislators consider ways to avoid cutbacb in charity hospital's services. By David Pendered STAFF WRITER Two days after Grady Health System boosted the fees it charges poor patients for medicine and clinic visits, Fulton County commissioners and several state lawmakers started trying Wednesday to figure out how to prevent the cutbacks. "If people are going to die in Fulton County because they don't have money to buy medicine, we have got to get serious," said Fulton Commissioner Emma Darnell. On Monday, Grady enacted several cost-cutting measures to offset a projected $26.4 million shortfall. The reductions, the most severe in a decade, were approved in February by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority. Patients now are paying at least $10 for each prescription filled at a Grady pharmacy, up from 50 cents, with payments based on a formula that weighs income against federal poverty guidelines. Patients are charged $5 each time they visit a clinic. And Grady virtually closed a shuttle service for nonemergency trips to the hospital or a clinic, except for patients facing extreme hardships. Fulton commissioners voted to have the acting county manager review the fee structure. Cecelia Corbin-Hunter is to complete the study within 30 days and recommend "appropriate action" for commissioners to take. The vote followed a working luncheon commissioners had with their appointees to the hospital board. Two commissioners, Michael Hightower and Nancy Boxill, sought unsuccessfully to have the public excluded from the meeting. Hospital board member Charles Glenn said the new prescription co-payments are expected to raise $14.7 million for Grady. Glenn said that if the fees are to be stopped, commissioners could embrace a proposal created Wednesday morning by Grady administrators, under fire for the cutbacks, that would raise an equal sum. Central components of the plan include additional payments from Fulton and DeKalb counties to provide health care for their poor residents. Fulton would pay an extra $3.1 million, on top of $70 million already approved, and DeKalb would pay an extra $1 million, atop an approved $21.6 million. In addition, Grady would raise a one-time sum of more than $5 million by refinancing money borrowed earlier this decade to renovate the state's largest charity hospital. The state would be asked to contribute $5 million by raising the rates it pays Grady to treat poor patients. Two ranking lawmakers from Fulton County also have intervened. Rep. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) urged Grady to maintain the services. She also called a meeting for today at the Capitol, at 3 p.m., so the Fulton House delegation could talk about the cutbacks with Fulton commissioners and Grady officials. Sen. David Scott (D-Atlanta) said the drug fees should be stopped and vowed his support to find alternatives. Scott is chairman of the Senate committee that helps control the fate of bills that remain pending in the waning days of the Legislature. New study: SUVs' popularity in state makes air cleanup difficult By David Goldberg STAFF WRITER Sport-utility vehicles, which emit up to three times the pollution and burn a third more gas than smaller cars, are so popular Sport-utility vehicles emit much more pollution than smaller cars, a report says. in Georgia that the state will have a hard time achieving clean air without tighter standards on the vehicles, a report concludes. The report, issued Wednesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, analyzed the likely effects of the U.S. Envi ronmental r- fa- T 1 ! L-f. v Protection Agency's proposal to adopt standards for SUVs, vans and pickups. The study looked ahead 20 years and found, apart from California, only New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Michigan would have greater reductions than Georgia in nitrogen oxides, the pollutants that trigger ozone smog formation, if stricter controls are implemented. Georgians could avoid 3 hrpnthino 41 -flC .s tons of nitrogen "C " f- oxides, accord-J ing to the .il II La., report, dubbed ' ii n i n - Dirty Air." With more people driving more of the heavier, higher-polluting vehicles more miles each year, metro Atlanta and other areas might never be able to meet federal clean-air standards without tighter strictures, said Robert Pregulman, Southern field director for U.S.PIRG. "It is time automakers clean up SUVs and make them follow the same pollution rules as cars," Pregulman said. For many years, SUVs and light trucks were considered work vehicles, and their heavier engines were allowed to meet less stringent emissions levels than passenger cars. "While Gov. Roy Barnes' plan to rethink development is great, this is something that can happen quickly," he added. The EPA's proposed rules, now under evaluation by the White House, envision making automakers meet the same, tighter standards being imposed on smaller cars. But the EPA has indicated manufacturers would have until 2007 to meet them for SUVs and trucks under 6,000 pounds, and an additional two years for larger vehicles, such as Ford's new Excursion. The EPA also is expected to call for cleaner-burning, low-sulfur gasoline like that required in California to be sold nationwide. About a third of the vehicles in metro Atlanta are SUVs, pickups or vans, but the share is growing rapidly. In 1998, five of the 10 best-selling vehicles in the nation were in that category. EPA's proposed rules have been developed in consultation with automakers, said Helen Petrauskas, vice president for environmental engineering at Ford Motor Co. "Not only does Ford share a desire to improve the nation's air quality," she said in a statement, the company "is making every one of its sport utilities and its highest-volume minivan low-emission vehicles." ON THE WEB: For more on "Big Cars, Dirty Air: Report of the U.S. Public Inter est Research Qoup," go to: http:www.pirg.org reportsenvirosuv

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