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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - March 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Altaona iJltrror Copyright 2001 SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2001 newsstand IN SPORTS Bishop Guilfoyle rolls into Western final IN LIFE Readers show it's possible to retire early A flood of memories: Altoona man remembers the deluge of 1936 Mirror file photo Water rushes down an Altoona street during the St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936. BY DANIEL D. CAREY For the Mirror Who among us can ever forget the afternoon of March when all area schools closed abruptly and early? Sixty-five years ago, I was an eighth-grader at Keith Junior High School. Miss Molly Detwiler dismissed us as quickly as we returned to her homeroom from other classes. We were to go home post haste, FIRST PERSON she said, adding that low-lying areas of Altoona were beginning to fill with water, and streams in and around the urban area were rising rapidly. Rain had been coming down unrelentingly all over the state for three days, also hastening the melting of the winter's heavy accumulation of snow and ice. It was the climax of what we remember as the St. Patrick's Day Flood, a disaster that affected most of Pennsylvania and, to a lesser degree, neighboring states. Many lives were lost and destruc- tion of property approached million in 1936 dollars. My sister Mary, who was one grade behind me at Keith, and I walked home together in the pour- ing rain, sometimes stepping into pools of water and slush that almost overflowed our galoshes. We shared an umbrella our moth- er had given us that morning. Another sister, Dolores, had been kept home from Fairview Elementary School because of a sore throat. The nine blocks from' Keith to our 25th Avenue home seemed more like 18 to us. The three of us, our mother, a brother, Wilfred, and a sister, Rosemarie, who were 3 and 5, respectively, sat tensely by the big Please see AID MATTERS OF FAITH New study creates a clearer picture of religion in the region and nation From Mirror staff and wire reports Strict churches are financial- ly healthy, world religions are outpacing many Christian groups in growth and congregations that use electric guitars likely are to attract new members. Those are among the findings of Faith Communities Today, the largest survey of American reli- gious congregations ever con- ducted. The study, released Tuesday in Connecticut by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, covers more than congrega- tions in 41 faiths and denomina- tions and deals with topics from clergy age to worship style. "This really afforded us the opportunity to sit down and take a look at ourselves and who we said Craig This, director of research for the 8.5 million-mem- ber United Methodist Church. "And the opportunity to com- pare ourselves with other denomi- nations and faith groups is a great benefit not so much in the sense of competition, but it helps some of our pastors to see they're not alone in their endeavors." The survey showed that although much attention is given to so-called megachurches, with thousands of members, half of the congregations in the country have fewer than 100 regularly partici- pating adults, most are in small towns or rural areas and a majori- ty were organized before 1945. Please see A7 At left: Members of a State College gospel group, (from left) Jon Heller, Mark Charran and David Spiro, sing during a sacred music festi- val at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona in 1998. Below: Rabbi Burt Schuman leads the Temple Beth Israel congregation in worship at its facility on Union Avenue. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Key results of a survey on church life in Ametica: Fifty-one percent of congregations, especially those on the West Coast, report growing fnemberships All faiths support outreach ministries, but .black Protestant groups appear to be. somewhat more active than others. Half of all American congregations have less than 100 regular worshippers. Fifty-two percent of congregations are in small towns. For complete report. Mirror photo by Kelly Bennett Mirror graphic by Tom Worthington II At Amish newspaper, bad news is no news BY FRANCIS X. CLINES New York Times News Service SUGARCREEK, Ohio One morn- ing, when the rest of the nation was being saturated with news of the latest school shooting, the national edition of the weekly Budget was being put to bed here as two editors proofread hundreds of reports from around the world that made not a mention of the mayhem being headlined elsewhere. The Budget's volunteer correspon- dents, called scribes, are members of widely scattered Amish and Mennonite communities, veteran witnesses who file dispatches every week on the ordi- nary sweet routine of life from cradle to grave, shunning the paraphernalia and media preoccupations of modern life. The 450 scribes of the 110-year-old Budget help knit avid sub- scribers in what outsiders whom the Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking Amish call English can only envy as the most serene escape imaginable from the news plied elsewhere. The Budget has been notable in car- rying not one word on presidential impeachment or the Florida ballot mess, focusing instead on the plum pox virus that is starting to worry the Amish fruit fanners in Mifflinburg, Pa. And the main news of heart trouble lately is not about Vice President Dick Cheney but about the bypass surgery Jesse E. Yoder had in Belleville, Pa., and now well he is recuperating at his farm. The news from Lake Wobegone is Hearstian by comparison as the dribs and drabs from the dedicated corre- spondents fill a 32-page edition like some soothing tidal flat. The result is worthy of Emily Dickinson for its quotidian commen- tary on a far less sensational way of life. "I haven't heard the coyotes howl once this reported David Mast from Mondovi, Wis. "I always loved to hear that lonesome eerie howl during the night." Please see AID STUDENT ASSESSMENT Broader testing may hurt scoring BY JAY YOUNG Staff Writer If the pressure on area schools to do well on state assessment tests wasn't great enough, this year's exams will include scores from students some of whom were exempted in the past who have learning disabilities or who may not be able to read the tests. The state Education Department is taking seri- ously a federal law that requires students with special needs, including those with learning dis- abilities or limited proficiency in English, to be tested with other students. So while a number of those students still may be exempted from the reading and math tests which begin across the state are expected to participate. The result: final test scores seen by the public likely are to show slower growth or even.a decrease in performance since a few poor per- formances will drive down average scores. "We might not show the gains we were hoping to Hollidaysburg Area School District Education Director Bill Padamonsky said. Many students who will start taking the test have independent education programs designed especially for them with additional time being spent on skills they lack. The Pennsylvania System for School Assessment won't allow for the extra staff efforts these students need to achieve, Padamonsky said. Please see A6 DEBUTING WEDNESDAY the Mirror's new quarterly magazine, makes its first appearance Wednesday. In the debut edition: Everything you ever wanted to know about Homer Simpson's favorite drink: Beer. We'll show you some area folks who take their hops, barley and malt very seriously. They say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but we'll talk to some area tolks who make pride in their Irish roots an everyday occurrence. Local columns on health, nutrition, stress and rela- tionships. Advice on dating, mating, work, play and lots more. All in the debut edition of Bravo! Included FREE in your Wednesday Mirror. Look for it. r: HEUWRY s Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 2874480 ft 97 6 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEMIOt Mix of sun, clouds, Forecast, A2 FINANCE CHARGES UNTIL MAR. 2002 7 PC. OAK DINING ROOM SUITE :FAMdus BRANoTHIGHQUAtlTVFURNITURE fo e0j4 OFF o Crime Hospitals Obituaries Opinion 7NMMN A11 i Outdoors A11 i Scoreboard A11 i AS i Astrograph i Movies Newsmakers B4 I Puzzle Travel C9 Stocks C8 j CDs, Mutuals E4 Q D3 j D4 i Couples D6 I Yesteryear t 02 Q3 ;