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Murphy rebukes Roddey for advice

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2003

Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey said Thursday he could help cash-strapped Pittsburgh save millions, prompting a rebuke from Mayor Tom Murphy for unsolicited advice.

Roddey held a news conference to invite Murphy to join the county in sharing some costs to save money. For example, the county and the city might share vehicle maintenance and records storage. The communities also could save money by purchasing some supplies together.

"I have spoken with the mayor from time to time on this," Roddey said. "He welcomed our efforts to help."

But Murphy's office said in a prepared statement that Roddey "never consulted with the mayor on any aspect of this proposal. These numbers, which we are seeing for the first time today, do not appear to be based on any factual understanding of the city's budget or its functions."

Roddey said the city could save $5 million by working with the county. He did not provide details about how the savings would occur.

CCAC hires firm to find new president

The Community College of Allegheny County has hired the New York search firm of Heidrick & Struggles to help find a new president.

"We'd like to see a new president named by the end of 16 weeks," George Fechter, chairman of the college's search committee said after Thursday's board of trustees meeting.

Nat Sutton, principal managing partner of the firm, and Charles B. Knapp, a partner, will be conducting the search. They have helped find administrators for the University of Notre Dame, Arizona State University and Temple University.

The firm is helping to find a replacement for Roy Flores, whose last day is today. He will become chancellor of Pima County Community College District in Tucson, Ariz.

The college has received $75,000 from the Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Pittsburgh Foundation. The grants will be used for hiring the search firm, evaluating candidates and relocating the new president.

Police have few leads in tavern shooting

Pittsburgh police said Thursday they have few leads and no suspects in a shooting inside an Oakland tavern that injured two people.

A 22-year-old Stanton Heights man, whom police did not identify, was shot three times inside the Dynasty Bar in the 4700 block of Centre Avenue about 1:30 a.m. yesterday. Paramedics took him to UPMC Presbyterian, Oakland. Police said they do not believe his wounds were life-threatening.

A 22-year-old Homewood woman also was wounded, and police said she went to UPMC Shadyside. No information was available on her condition.

Although as many as 40 people were inside the bar at the time, few customers saw anything more than a muzzle flash from a gun, Zone 5 Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said. Detectives had not determined how many shooters there were or whether the injured man was the intended target, he said.

As with all incidents inside alcohol-serving establishments, police will report the shooting to the nuisance bar task force, Stangrecki said. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Zone 5 police at (412) 665-3605.

Man held for court in fatal confrontation

A Whitaker man was held for court Thursday in the shooting death of another man following a confrontation at a West Mifflin home.

Deputy Coroner Timothy Uhrich ordered Jamal Rasheed, 23, of Arkansas Street, to await trial in the killing of Michael R. Schuffert, 18, of River Road, Whitaker.

Schuffert died Feb. 8 at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland about 15 hours after being shot in the head in an alley behind Greensprings Avenue in West Mifflin.

West Mifflin K-9 Officer Jeff Lukacs testified that Rasheed turned himself in at the West Mifflin police station, where he admitted to the shooting and surrendered a .38-caliber revolver.

"I shot him. I shot that boy ... I should go to prison for the rest of my life," Lukacs quoted the defendant as saying, describing him as "very distressed."

Officials investigate two-alarm store fire

Pittsburgh fire officials said a two-alarm blaze Thursday morning at a Lincoln-Lemington convenience store caused about $35,000 in damage.

The fire in the store at the corner of Lincoln and Lemington avenues was reported shortly after 9 a.m. The fire started in the roof and quickly consumed most of the building before firefighters brought the flames under control at about 9:25, Chief Peter Micheli said.

The building was not occupied, and there were no injuries, he said. The cause remained under investigation last night.

Duquesne Light finds school's outage cause

Duquesne Light Co. officials say the power outage Wednesday at Penn Hebron Elementary School in Penn Hills was the result of an excessive salt and moisture build-up in the transformer vault that caused a secondary electrical cable to burn up.

The transformer is being replaced as a precautionary measure, Duquesne Light spokesman John E. Laudenslager said Thursday.

"Since the (Penn Hills School District) had to get an electrician to repair or replace their cables -- which are their responsibility -- we decided prudently to replace the transformer, because it also was showing wear as a result of the same salt and water deterioration," he said.

Although a replacement transformer was available immediately, school had to be canceled for the remainder of the week to allow the district's electrical crews to complete the work on the cables, Laudenslager said.

Classes at Penn Hebron Elementary School are scheduled to resume Monday.

Man charged with ex-girlfriend's death

A Blair County man faces a preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges of killing his ex-girlfriend and severely beating her fiance in Bedford County.

Cordell Paul Ebersole, 26, of Martinsburg, is charged with homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault and burglary in the death of Dana Louise Gates and the beating of Lorin Ray Burket on Nov. 30, 2001.

Bedford County District Attorney Dwight Diehl said he and police went over some of the more than 400 pieces of evidence last week before deciding to file charges.

Ebersole, Gates' former boyfriend who ended their relationship in February 2001, was an initial suspect, but so were others, Diehl said.

Woman fair after being hit by bus

A 38-year-old woman was in fair condition in Mercy Hospital, Uptown, after being struck by a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus as she walked across a Downtown intersection Thursday afternoon, transit spokesman Bob Grove said.

The pedestrian was crossing Ross Street at the intersection with Fourth Avenue when the accident occurred at 4:20 p.m., Grove said. Port Authority police are trying to determine how the accident occurred, he said.

Anti-abortion foe indicted for firearms

A Venango County who once said he was on a mission from God to kill abortion providers was indicted Thursday on federal firearms charges in Tennessee, authorities said.

A grand jury charged Clayton Lee Waagner, 46, of Kennerdell, with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm by a fugitive. Authorities said the crimes occurred May 19, 2001, in Knoxville while he was a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

Waagner was captured in Ohio in December 2001 after escaping 10 months earlier from an Illinois jail. Authorities previously said he spent part of his time as a fugitive in Tennessee and identified him as the suspect who abandoned a vehicle containing a pipe bomb and anti-abortion literature in Memphis in September 2001.

He is in federal prison after being convicted last year of separate firearms and thefts charges from his time as a fugitive. Waagner pleaded innocent last fall to federal charges that he mailed at least 550 anthrax hoax letters to women's clinics in 24 states and posting threats on an anti-abortion Web site.

Man gets 7-to-14 for shooting death

A Jefferson County man who told authorities he thought his rifle was unloaded but that he couldn't remember why he pointed the gun at another man was sentenced to 7 to 14 years in prison for fatally shooting him.

David D. Hetrick, 45, of Brookville, was convicted in November on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the Dec. 21, 2001, shooting death of Matthew Geer, 21.

The jury could not decide whether to convict Hetrick of third-degree murder and aggravated assault. As a part of a plea agreement to finalize the case, Hetrick pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

Hetrick told authorities he had been in his garage working on cars, drinking beer and talking with the victim, but that he couldn't remember why he got a rifle from a camper in the garage and pointed it at Geer. He told police he thought the gun was unloaded.

Judge: Amusement park is community's

A Crawford County judge ruled that an amusement park that is home to the nation's sixth-oldest wooden roller coaster belongs to the community, despite the former owner's claim that he had a 99-year lease to much of the property.

Judge Gordon Miller dismissed ownership and operator claims by Gary Harris, who transferred the century-old Conneaut Lake Park to the community in 1997 while facing a potential forfeiture.

The park, home to the historic Blue Streak roller coaster, has been run as a nonprofit since Harris reportedly gave the park to the community as a gift. Harris, who had been convicted of racketeering and evading $115,000 in taxes in an unrelated venture in Ohio, is said to have transferred the park to avoid a potential forfeiture.

In his suit, Harris maintained that he didn't give the park to the community; rather, the community took it over while he served 27 months in federal prison.

State joins review of nursing home sale

The state attorney general's office has joined the review of the proposed sale of a historic county-owned nursing home in western Pennsylvania.

Lawyers with the attorney general's charitable trust division are checking to see whether the $6.3 million sale of the Laurel Crest Rehabilitation and Special Care Center can go through because part of it was once a "poor house."

County officials said that while the land the 150-year-old nursing home sits on was once deeded to an alms house, the property went into regular county ownership after 1963.

The review by state attorneys is the latest obstacle for Cambria County officials who have tried to sell the 552-bed nursing home for more than a year. Residents of the home have filed a lawsuit to block the county from selling it to Conemaugh Health System.

Committee studies minority recruitment

Erie Mayor Rick Filippi has formed a committee to study how the state's fourth largest city can increase the number of minority police officers.

Twelve of the city's 206 officers -- or 6 percent -- are minorities. Whites account for 80 percent of the city's 104,000 residents.

The city's most recent civil service list for police officers includes at least 36 minority candidates, the most since 1974, when a federal judge ordered the city to hire 10 black officers.

The new committee will study ways to help recruit and hire more minority officers, including adding an interview to the hiring process.

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