Altoona Mirror, December 25, 2001

Altoona Mirror

December 25, 2001

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Issue date: Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Pages available: 72

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Publication name: Altoona Mirror

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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 25, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Altoona iWtrrar Copyright 2001 TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2001 50 newsstand 0 COME EMMANUEL Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich St. Francis University, Loretto, displayed a Nativity set at the chapel depicting the scene of the hirth of Jesus Christ. More holiday scenes PAGE A11 Coal patch holiday traditions survive GRKENSBURG (AF) Although few residents have seen a "Bethlehem" carried around on Christmas Eve or a priest chalking an inscription above a home's door- way after a blessing, some coal patch holiday traditions survive. Many southwestern Pennsylvania residents remember the older customs, such as carrying the Nativity scene Nativities help people remember the Christmas meaning PAGE D1 nicknamed a "Bethlehem" in a proces- sion on the night before Christmas a more important time in many house- holds than Christinas Day. The chalked message marking this year's Epiphany, if the custom was still folio wed, would be the year- 2001 sand- wiched around the initials of the Three Wise Men (Caspar, Melchior and Those Eastern European immigrant customs have faded with the sound of carolers singing in Slovak or Polish languages. Other immigrant customs have survived the decline of coal com- munities and spread to other commu- nities. For example, distribution ofholy bread called Oplatek (in Polish) or Oplatky (Slovak) has moved from Slavic yuMide celebrations to multieth- nic Catholic parishes such as St John the Evangelist church inUniontown. Please see A7 WAR ON TERRORISM PAGES C1.C4 Arabs unfire in ward BY CHRISTOPHER TOHCHIA The Associated Press ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Afghan tribal forces traded fire with armed al-Qaida fighters convalescing in a hospital in the Afghan city of Kandahar in a bid to subdue the Arab gunmen, who have been holding out in their ward for weeks, an official said Monday. The fighters, who arc believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, had said they would kill themselves if anyone tried to take them from Mirwais Hospital, where they were held in a second-floor jail section once used by the Taliban for political prisoners. Hospital officials had said the men were armed with grenades and pistols and had threatened to blow themselves up if anyone other than the medical staff approached them. Sporadic fire was reported inside the hospital during the operation late Sunday and Monday. One of the Arabs was captured Sunday night, and the other eight remained holed up in the hospital, where they were brought by com- rades before the surrender of the farmer Taliban stronghold of Kandahar earlier this month, the official Nusrat Ullah said. "We have surrounded the place. Whenever we fire, they said Ullah, an aide to Haji Gulalai, intelligence chief in the post-Taliban administration of the southern city. He said by telephone that U.S. soldiers, who have set up a base at the Kandahar airport, were not involved in the attempt to capture the pro-Taliban Arabs. Please see A3 HEALTH-CARE COSTS Poor economy amplifies jump BY CRAIG WILLIAMS St'qffWriter Large and small companies across the nation and their employees are facing an aver- age increase of 10 percent to 15 percent in health insurance pre- miums in 2002. Insurance experts and regula- tors say the increase can he traced to several factors: an increase in hospital oper- ating expenses; rising costs of prescription drugs; higher administrative costs associated with consumer demands for more services; all exacerbated by a slowing economy. Insurers say they need to cover their costs well into the future in the form of higher rates. "It's a risk Geisinger Health Plan spokes- woman Lisa Hartman says. "We look at trending in costs. And as providers, we are looking for higher reimbursement. So a company tries to look at where the trends are going and you set your premiums to cover the costs for the coming year." The projected increases for 2002 follow average industry increases for health insurance of 8 percent to 9 percent in 2000 and 10 percent to 1 percent in 2001. That mirrors an increase in the cost of providing health care. "Hospital spending is back with a says Paul B. Ginsburg, co-author of a study for the Center for Studying Health System Change in Wash- ington, D.C. Please see A5 Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec More than 100 snow- producing guns are making snow for today's opening of Blue Knob All Seasons Resort. Blue Knob General Manager Andy Himes said five slopes and the tubing park will open with a 6- to 20-inch base. Blue Knob is open from 1 to to p.m. today. Joe Hite moves hoses connected to snow-making machines at Blue Knob Monday. Lytle Group moves into national limelight BY CRAIG WILLIAMS Stuff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG The Lytle Group has had many successes in the past 20 years since it began offer- ing consulting services in Hollidays- burg. Known regionally for its quality marketing program, the company is set to move into the national limelight as a new division to man- age promotions and marketing for big-name recording artists has been created. Offering consulting, development and marketing services to business- es and nonprofits alike, profession- als at the Lytle Group like to say they "help people solve their prob- lems." And one of the problems musicians face is interacting with their fans, Development Director Scott Stuttard said. With prior experience managing a local university's concert series, the Lytle Group proved to the man- agers of The Winans Family, an award-winning gospel group, that they have the expertise to bring the artists to the people. Next year, Stuttard and his staff will manage the personal appear- ances of the group during its nationwide tour. "The value we add is personal Stuttard said. It was Stuttard's background in fund raising that attracted the attention of national promoters in their drive to get the most value out of their artists. He came to the Lytle Group from the Heritage Commission of Hol- lidaysburg, a preservation commit- tee devoted to improving the com- munity. With the commission, Stuttard helped develop the concept of sponsorship marketing as a means to raise fluids. Leaning heavily on the nuances of special events planning, packag- ing, mailing-list marketing ahd sponsorship outreach, Stuttard was able to attract donations arid create enthusiasm for the commis- sion's programs. Please see A7 fcj DBUIflsRl __J Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 2874480 "22910U0005D V .LOTTERY _ Because of an early presstlme, Monday's lottery numbers will be published in Wednesday's Mirror. WEATHER Snow flurries, Forecast, A2 Q LOCAL NATION Classifieds Hospitals Local news Puzzles D4 D4 IN NATIOH Officials are trying to prevent another Gulf War Syndrome. PAGE C1 ;

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