Local News

Fire damages Highland Hall

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Orange flames licked skyward behind plumes of dark smoke Wednesday afternoon in Hollidaysburg Borough, where firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze atop historic Highland Hall. The fire on the 500 block of Walnut Street began after 4 p.m. on the roof of a portion of ...

State budget proposal includes severance tax

HARRISBURG — Republicans who control the Pennsylvania Senate agreed on Wednesday on a plan to close a $2 billion hole in the state budget with a mix of taxes and borrowing, including a new severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and higher taxes on consumers’ utility ...

Homicide hearing postponed

The preliminary hearing for three people charged in the 2013 killing of Steven Hackney has been moved to September. Kashif Ellis, 31; Taylor Griffith, 27; and Qasim L. Sharif Green, 23; were brought to Central Court on Fourth Street on Wednesday for their scheduled preliminary hearing. ...

GOP loses big chance to repeal ‘Obamacare’

WASHINGTON — After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated they didn’t have the stomach to repeal “Obamacare” on Wednesday when it actually counted. The Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation to throw out major portions of Barack Obama’s law ...

DCNR launching new study for state parks

HARRISBURG — Offi­cials are launching a public review of the basic mission of the Pennsylvania state parks for the first time in 25 years. The study of the 121-park system by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources comes with a number of parks in urban areas drawing record ...

City planning to borrow $2 million for firetrucks

City Council has introduced an ordinance to borrow $2 million for the lease-purchase of a pumper truck and a ladder truck for the Altoona Fire Department. The lease-purchase, with a five-year payback, represents a strategic change for the city, which previously has borrowed long-term for such ...

Hollidaysburg Area approves Pennsylvania Youth Survey

The Pennsylvania Youth Survey — also known as PAYS — is given to youth in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades in public and private schools statewide to assess their behaviors, attitudes and knowledge about drug use. But as the decision to approve the survey for this fall came to the ...

Ex-service contractor president’s wife charged

The executive charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his Altoona-Blair County Airport service contractor is in Blair County Prison, while his wife awaits similar charges for taking thousands of dollars herself, police said. Benjamin F. Gottshall, 42, was jailed last week by ...

Loan gets approved for restaurant

The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission board recently approved a $200,000 loan to help Mama Randazzo’s restaurant complete a renovation project. Total cost for the project at 1600 Broadway is estimated at $937,500. The project calls for increasing the seating capacity ...

Area briefs

APD officer waives prelim hearing An Altoona police officer charged last month with driving under the influence has waived his preliminary hearing. Erik Stirk, 40, appeared Tuesday at Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker’s office with his attorney Thomas Forr for his arraignment on a ...

Free tickets offered for Liberty Medal ceremony

PHILADELPHIA — The National Constitution Center says it will offer a limited number of complimentary tickets for the 29th annual Liberty Medal ceremony honoring U.S. Sen. John McCain. Requests can be made on the center’s website beginning at noon Aug. 15. Complimentary tickets will be ...

Cambria seeks ‘bridge to Pittsburgh’

EBENSBURG — The local Ghost Town Trail may have served as a venue Wednesday afternoon for officials from Cambria and Allegheny counties as they pedaled bikes in a shared ride, but the scope of their meeting was to discuss another pathway — a metaphorical “bridge to Pittsburgh.” Prior ...

Road project to cause closures at Trough Creek

JAMES CREEK — Trough Creek State Park officials have announced that a road repair project on Trough Creek Drive in the park will begin in mid-August. The road work will necessitate the closure of the Trough Creek Campground during the same weekday period because of access and safety ...

Court uphold’s Maurizio’s conviction

The conviction and 200-month prison sentence of a Somerset County priest for the sexual abuse of children who were living at an orphanage in El Progresso, Honduras, have been upheld by a federal appeals court. Sixteen months ago, U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson sentenced the priest, Joseph ...

State judge halts drilling

Sunoco pipeline workers must temporarily halt all horizontal directional drilling associated with the Pennsylvania construction of the controversial Mariner East 2, which will pass through local communities. The halt — ordered Tuesday by state Environmental Hearing Board Judge Bernard A. ...

Voting machine choice depends on certification

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County leaders said Tuesday that a decision on their anticipated purchase of new voting machines will hinge on which become certified by state and federal election officials. While commissioners showed interest in a touch-screen voting machine demonstrated Tuesday by ...

Deadline approaches for property value appeals

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County residents who believe their properties are valued too high for real estate taxes only have another week to appeal their assessments for their 2018 tax bills. Those interested in lower property assessment or an exemption from real estate taxes must secure and ...

City man faces charges in three separate cases

A city man faces charges in three separate cases after his weekend arrest for allegedly driving while under the influence of marijuana. Trenton Dean Biddle, 2138 18th St., was arrested just before 1 a.m. Sunday after he was pulled over by state police in Antis Township. Along with facing DUI ...

Court upholds arrest, search in drug bust

A Pennsylvania Superior Court panel late last week found no problems with the way Altoona police handled a surprise ending to a drug bust that occurred in Logan Town Centre 21 months ago. A team of officers led by Sgt. Christopher Moser, in charge of the city’s Narcotics and Vice Unit, ...