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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - December 25, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Altoona mirror © Copyright 2001TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2001 50$ newsstand■■■■■■■■I 0 COME EMMANUEL Coal patch holiday traditions survive Greensburg (ap)—Although few residents have seen a I “Bethlehem” carried around on Christmas Eve or a priest chalking an inscription above a home’s doorway 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 DI nicknamed a “Bethlehem” in a procession on the night before Christmas — a more important time in many households than Christmas Day. The chalked message marking this year’s Epiphany, if the custom was still followed, would be 20+G+M+B+01 — the year 2001 sandwiched around the initials of the Three Wise Men (Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar). 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 communities. For example, distribution of holy bread called Oplatek (in Polish) or Oplatky (Slovak) has moved from Slavic yuletide celebrations to multiethnic Catholic parishes such as St. John the Evangelist church in Uniontown. Please see Traditions/Page A7 WAR ON TERRORISM ► PAGES Cl. C4 Arabs trade gunfire inward Bv Christophkr TORCHIA 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 are 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 comrades before the surrender of the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar earlier this month, the official Nusrat Ullah said. “We have surrounded the place. Whenever we fire, they fire,” 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 Arabs/Page A3 HEALTH-CARE COSTS Poor economy amplifies jump MAKING IT SNOW By Craig Williams Staff Writer Large and small companies across the nation and their employees are facing an average increase of IO percent to 15 percent in health insurance premiums in 2002. Insurance experts and regulators say the increase can be traced to several factors: ■ an increase in hospital operating 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. DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 ^    22910    00050    4 \ * “It’s a risk business,” Geisinger Health Plan spokeswoman 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 IO percent to ll percent in 2001. That mirrors an increase in the cost of providing health care. “Hospital spending is back with a vengeance,” says Paul B. Ginsburg, co-author of a study for the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C, Please see Health/Page A5 LOTTERY Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec More than IOO 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 I to IO 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 Stiff Writer HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Lytle Group has had many successes in the past 20 years since it began offering consulting services in Hollidaysburg. Known regionally for its quality marketing program, the company is set to move into the national limelight as a new division to manage promotions and marketing for big-name recording artists has been created. Offering consulting, development and marketing services to businesses and nonprofits alike, professionals at the Lytle Group like to say they “help people solve their problems.” 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 managers 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 appearances of the group during its nationwide tour. “The value we add is personal attention,” 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 Hollidaysburg, a preservation committee devoted to improving the community. With the commission, Stuttard helped develop the concept of sponsorship marketing as a means to raise funds. Leaning heavily on the nuances of special events planning, packaging, mailing-list marketing and sponsorship outreach, Stuttard was able to attract donations and create enthusiasm for the commission’s programs. Please see Lytle/Page A7 ■ Because of an early presstime, Monday’s lottery numbers will be published in Wednesday’s Mirror. WEATHER Snow flurries, 34° ■ Forecast, A2 □ UWM. Business A9 Hospitals A11 Obituaries AH Opinion A8 SPORTS ii'*--' Local B4 Scoreboard B5 '1 Q NATION Classifieds Movies QJufe CCM 2 C5 Comics    D5 Community news D2 Puzzles    D4 Television    D4 INSIDE IN NATION Officials are trying to prevent another Gulf War Syndrome. PAGE CT Mirror photo by J D. Cavrich St. Francis University, Loretto, displayed a Nativity set at the chapel depicting the scene of the birth of Jesus Christ. More holiday scenes I Page A11 Chrysler - Jeep 1549 Pleasant Valley Blvd. Altoona, PA    943-6167 w w w. eland mc hrysler com ;

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