Altoona Mirror, December 17, 2001

Altoona Mirror

December 17, 2001

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Issue date: Monday, December 17, 2001

Pages available: 78

Previous edition: Sunday, December 16, 2001

Next edition: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 17, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania KIDS MIRROR THE START OF HOLIDAY TRADITIONS FREE INSIDE IN NATION: ASTRONAUT RETURNS TO ALTERED WORLD AFTER 4 MONTHS PAGE Cl Steelers battle 2001 Super Bowl champs Copyright 2001 MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2001 EicI mubarak and season's greetings Mirror photos by Kcily Bennett Tabassun Syed (left) of Fishertown, Fatima Dowlut (center) of Holiidaysburg and Samcena Ahmad of Altooua enjoy a meal at the Islamic Center, 703 Logan Blvd., Sunday to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Local Muslims end Ramadan with interfaith celebration BY LINDA HUDKINS for the Mirror Did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi and the minister breaking bread with Muslims at the local Islamic center? It sounds like the opening line of an old joke, but on Sunday, no one was kidding around when Christians, Jews and Muslims gathered to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Sohail Anwar, a Muslim, welcomed one and all, saying, "Eid which is like say- ing "season's greetings." Eid is the day of cele- bration that follows Ramadan, a month during which Muslims abstain from food and water for religious purposes from sunrise to sunset. Traditionally, members of the Islamic com- munity celebrate among themselves. But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 prompted discus- sions between non-Muslims and Muslims who want the world to know that Islam and terror- ism are not synonymous. HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS The Claysburg-Kimmel Christmas parade PAGEA8 Afghans celebrate holiday PAGEC1 "Interfaith dialogue is very said the Rev. Mark Begley, pastor of St. John's Roman Catholic Church, LakemonL "We arc all trying to make sense of the human experience." The Rev. Carol Custead, Zion Lutheran Ctnu'ch, Holiidaysburg, said, "It's been very interesting." The Eid celebration, she said, seemed simi- lar to "the celebration of spiritual renewal or growth" that follows the Christian Lenten season. Please see A3 500 newsstand Yazid Ecklund of Irvona and his son Iimiq-Noah, 10, get some food. school forum today BY JAY YOUNG Stuff Writer There is no doubt in Superintendent Domenic lonta's mind that students belong in a building with teachers, not in their living rooms in front of computer. Giving Blair County and surrounding area students (lie latter option is the sub- ject of a public hearing at 6 tonight at Alto on a Area High School. lonta's point of view is unexpected con- sidering the superintendent of the Union Area School District also is president of the Board ofTrustees for the Midwestern Regional Virtual Charter School. The Internet- based school is sup- ported by most of the 27 Intermediate Unit 4 school dis- tricts in Western Pennsylvania. Not because it's-want ed, but because sim- ilar private-based cyber schools were stealing their stu- dents and billing them at a higher rate than what it cost to educate them in a public school. "Many of us would like to see this go lonta said. "I don't think it's right. You don't know who is on the other end of the computer." The Western Pennsylvania schools decided to enter the world of Internet education for many of the same reasons Altoona is asking other schools to join in it's cyber charter venture. The public schools feel they can deliver a better product for less money. While some of the cyber schools are billing local schools districts up to annually, lonta said it's costing about a year for his students. Altoona Business Manager David Piper said the Altoona proposal started as a defensive position to private cyber charters but has taken a new course in recent weeks. The list of schools interest- ed in participating has grown from the original four founding school districts to at least 15 who plan to participate in the public hearing tonight. Please see A8 TO VOICE OPINION A public hearing for Altoona's proposed cyber-'. ctiarter.is scheduled at 6 tonight in the- Kimmel Board Room at the Altoona Area High School. Community Action Agency among homeless grants recipients BY WILLIAM KIULER Staff Writer Allan Robison helps the homeless, and now he's getting money to do it better. Robison's Blair County Community Action Agency has assisted people for a couple of years with a "supportive hous- ing" program that provides a month's rent and........theoretically ongoing help with job skills, job searches, transportation, day care, parenting, counseling, money management, hygiene and household eco- nomics. The aim is fqr clients to become self-sufficient. So far with the basic supportive pro- gram, six of 65 clients have achieved self- sufficiency, he said. But too many drift from the program because they lack a permanent home, said Robison, the agency executive director. The agency recently received a 3-year- grant of to start a transitional pro- gram to pay clients rent for up to two years so they have a permanent home. Blair Community Action is one of four area agencies to receive million from from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for new programs to help the homeless, victims of domestic vio- lence and the mentally ill. Community Action and a fifth agency received to continue housing programs. The allocations to area agencies are among million in homeless grants this y ear for Pennsylvan i a. The more than bil- lion nationally is the most homeless assis- tance ever for a single year. For long-term housing, clients generally pay 30 percent of their income, according to HUD guidelines. By giving clients the stability of a real home, the long-term rent money will help Community Action keep clients on the books long enough to see them through difficult times, Robison said. The new pro- gram should more than double the overall homeless-intervention caseload to 150 dur- ing the next year and a half. Please see A5 Subscription or home delivei-y questions: or (800) 2B7-44BO BKIFOUR 3 5 I Lottery numbers, A2 Cloudy with rain, Forecast, A2 Accidents Police reports Obituaries Opinion NFL roundup Scoreboard A7 A7 A7 A4 B2 B5 Classifieds C3-8 War on terrorism C2 lira' Comics D5 Community news D2 Puzzles D4 Television D4 ;

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