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Briefs: Panel on board for cultural center plan

| Thursday, July 17, 2003

A key Pittsburgh City Council committee signed off Wednesday on a plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority to build an African-American Cultural Center on Liberty Avenue, even if the authority must use eminent domain to seize the remaining six properties it needs.

An adult bookstore and an adult cabaret are among the properties that the URA is trying to purchase and is threatening to seize if the owners refuse to sell at a reasonable price. The cultural center would replace 10 businesses -- four of which the URA already has acquired -- in a one-acre area in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue.

The center would house permanent exhibits, a music cafe, a parking garage and possibly an upscale restaurant. Its proximity to Downtown hotels, public transportation and regional highways will help draw tourists and other visitors to the area, according to supporters of the project.

Reward offered for shooting info

Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers is seeking the public's help in the shooting death of a 26-year-old Hazelwood man.

Darnell "Anthony" Green's body was found June 23 on a sidewalk in the 300 block of Camp Avenue in Braddock.

Anyone with information is asked to call Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers at (412) 255-8477.

A reward of up to $1,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of people accused of the crime.

Meeting to tackle threats to freedom

The Bill of Rights Defense Campaign will sponsor a town hall meeting at 7 tonight at the University of Pittsburgh to discuss threats to personal freedom.

The meeting will focus on efforts to convince Pittsburgh City Council to adopt a resolution urging protection against possible infringements on individual freedom in the USA Patriot Act and federal orders issued since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The session will take place in Room 101 of David Lawrence Hall.

Speakers include Jeanne E. Herrick-Stare, senior analyst on civil liberties for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Matt T. Bowles, an organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The campaign was established last spring by local groups and activists concerned about what they consider encroachments by the federal government on civil liberties.

Mercer County Ohio truck driver killed in I-80 pileup

An Ohio truck driver was killed in a pileup involving four tractor-trailers shortly after noon Wednesday along Interstate 80 in Mercer County, about 14 miles east of the Ohio border, state police said.

Troopers said Paul Moore, 42, of Alliance, was traveling alone when his rig plowed into the back of two other tractor-trailers that were stopped and waiting to merge into single-lane traffic in a construction zone. The impact forced one of the rigs into the rear of the fourth truck.

Moore was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no other serious injuries. The roadway was blocked for about 5 1/2 hours, police said.

Pittsburgh Martinez waives right to hearing

Gil Martinez, a former manager in the city Controller's office, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges relating to his nearly six-month flight to avoid trial on charges he sold drugs from his office.

Martinez, 59, of Brookline, went into hiding in January the weekend before his scheduled trial on six drug-related charges. He was found hiding in a Crawford County motel on June 24 and was charged with fleeing to avoid apprehension and missing court appearances.

Martinez's lawyer, Patrick Thomassey, explained that his client is more worried about the drug case right now.

"We're focusing on the substantive drug charges at this point," Thomassey said.

Upper St. Clair Death penalty sought in slaying of widow

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Washington County landscaper awaiting trial on charges of killing an elderly Upper St. Clair widow, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Patrick Stollar, 25, of Washington, is accused of strangling and stabbing Jean Heck, 78, on June 4 in the back yard at her Berkshire Drive home. He also is charged with stealing two checkbooks from her wallet and forging her signature on a check.

Stollar told detectives he visited Heck's home with the intent to kill her, county police said.

Stollar killed Heck while committing a felony, which is grounds for seeking the death penalty, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said.

East Hills 17-year-old shot in home invasion

Police are searching for two young men who pistol-whipped and shot a teenage boy early Wednesday in a home invasion in East Hills.

The men, estimated to be between 18 and 20, entered the home in the 2200 block of Wilmer Drive through a patio door at about 1:15 a.m., authorities said.

They pistol-whipped a sleeping 17-year-old boy and demanded cash, though it is unclear whether they got any, Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.

The attackers shot the 17-year-old in the leg as he ran to a neighbor's house for help, police said. Three other teens -- a girl, 15, and two boys, 13 and 16 -- fled the home without injury, police said.

Troy Hill Man charged in bar assault

A Spring Garden man was charged with aggravated assault after witnesses said he beat a patron of a Troy Hill tavern until he was unconscious, Pittsburgh police said Wednesday.

Herman Garvin, 28, is accused of punching and elbowing Steve Jackson, 40, no address available, outside the Boulpen Bar in the 1300 block of Goettman Street. Garvin had been in the bar fighting with and terrorizing patrons, police said.

Officers arrested Garvin after spotting his vehicle in the parking lot of North Catholic High School in Troy Hill.

A vehicle fitting the same description was involved in incidents in the Strip early yesterday in which the driver tried to run down pedestrians and a motorcyclist, police said.

Washington County Teens waive hearing in vandalism case

Eight of the nine Peters Township High School graduates accused of vandalizing the high school parking lot have waived their right to a preliminary hearing.

Phillip Sierzega, Randall Jones, Mark Rawlings, Randolph Stepusin, Brian Woerner, David Forbrich, Mike Masilunas and Michael Fritz -- all 18 -- are charged with criminal mischief. The ninth graduate is 17 and faces juvenile charges.

The young men are accused of painting images and slogans on the high school parking lot on June 6, causing $5,000 to $6,000 in damage, according to police and school district officials.

Allegheny County Union backs judge for Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council has endorsed Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Max Baer in his race for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In a statement issued by Baer's campaign, Baer said he welcomed the support of organized labor and assured its members, "I will continue to be fair and offer common sense in administering justice in this great Commonwealth."

Baer was the only Supreme Court candidate to gain the council's support, according to the statement.

Baer has served on the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County since 1989.

Scott Narcotics official to face DUI charge

Victor Joseph Sr., the regional director of the state Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, will be charged with driving under the influence, Scott police said Wednesday.

Joseph, 57, of Scott, already has been charged with a hit-and-run accident that happened Sunday morning along Greentree Road in Scott. Joseph is accused of hitting another car that was pulling out of Arla Drive and leaving the scene.

When Joseph was stopped about a mile from the crash, he refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test, township police said. He did take a Breathalyzer, which produced inconclusive results.

Beaver County Man who fell from tower identified

The Kentucky man who fell to his death Tuesday while repairing an antenna on a radio tower in Beaver County has been identified as Clifford T. Williams, of Paducah, a spokesman for the coroner's office said.

Williams, a subcontractor for World Tower Co. Inc., of Mayfield, Ky., was working on a 490-feet-tall radio tower in Greene Township, near the Ohio border, when the accident occurred.

McKeesport Three hospitalized in pair of shootings

Three McKeesport residents who were injured in two unrelated shootings early Wednesday are recovering in Pittsburgh hospitals and expected to survive their wounds, Allegheny County police said.

Raymon Mack, 22, of Soles Street, was shot several times around 2 a.m. outside a bar in the 1600 block of Evans Street, county police Lt. John Brennan said. Donald D. "Cookie Man" Singleton, 31, of Grandview Avenue, surrendered yesterday afternoon and was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and firearms violations, Brennan said.

Paul Alexander, 32, of Union Street, and EvevoneBrown, 36, of Sixth Street, were shot shortly before 2:30 a.m. when they were approached by a gunman as they stood outside a car in a parking lot along CoursinStreet, Brennan said. Brown was shot in the chest; Alexander in the hip, buttocks and scalp.

Brennan said police have not established a motive for either shooting.

Washington County Woman killed in a.m. crash with tree

A 57-year-old woman was killed Wednesday when the truck she was driving crashed into a tree along Scenic Drive in North Franklin, Washington County Coroner S. Timothy Warco said.

Kathleen Ethel Desch, of Amwell, near Washington, who was wearing a seat belt, was traveling alone when the accident occurred at about 8:30 a.m., Warco said.

Region Coal company won't halt water treatment

A bankrupt coal company has informed state regulators that it will continue to treat mine water discharge at two sites where severe environmental damage was anticipated if treatment was stopped.

The state Department of Environmental Protection threatened legal action against Clarion-based C&K Coal Co. when the company said earlier this month it was shutting down treatment facilities at more than six dozen mine drainage sites.

Two sites that concerned state environmental officials are at the headwaters of Mill Creek in upper Jefferson County and the so-called Rascic site where Butler, Clarion and Venango counties meet. Fish kills and other environmental damage would be likely if those sites went without treatment, the DEP said.

C&K Coal filed for bankruptcy in March. The company and the DEP have been negotiating since May on the continuation of treatment at 75 sites in Butler, Clarion, Cambria, Jefferson and Venango counties.

Blair County Admitted drug dealer enters guilty plea

A Blair County man who bragged he was the biggest drug dealer in town and often carried thousands of dollars in his pockets pleaded guilty to charges that he led a drug ring that smuggled $1.5 million worth of heroin and crack cocaine into the region since 1999.

Rasheed Myers, 24, of Altoona, was arrested last year as part of the investigation into the ring that transported drugs from New York City to Blair County.

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