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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - November 19, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania KIDS MIRROR BEA GOOD SCOUT FREE INSIDE % NASCAR: JEFF GORDON WRAPS UP FOURTH WINSTON CUP POINTS TITLE ► PAGE Bl antique aoli exhibit Stewart, defense helps Steelers avenge lossAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2001 500 newsstandSTARRY NIGHT T Mirror photo by Jason Sipeswo Leonids streak across the sky as they compete with light pollution from Cresson. Dust particles enter the atmosphere and burn, creating a meteor shower known as Leonids. The small group of stars in the left corner is the Pleiades star cluster. For story and more national news, see Page C3. Taliban offer Kunduz ■ Seeking safety for bin Laden loyalists, last northern city stronghold to be surrendered. BANGI, Afghanistan — The Taliban offered Sunday to surrender their last northern stronghold if Arab and other foreign fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden in the city are spared, an anti-Taliban commander said. The northern alliance, meanwhile, agreed to a conference on neutral ground to plan a multiethnic government. The offer to surrender Kunduz came after U.S. bombers unleashed their heaviest strikes so far on the city. Warplanes also were reported in action near the Taliban southern stronghold of Kandahar and areas of eastern Afghanistan where bin Laden is believed to maintain camps and hide-outs. In Washington, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the advances on the ground were reducing bin Laden’s room to maneuver. “We think that the more that we are stripping away his protection ... that we’re beginning to narrow his possibilities for hid ing,” Rice told CNN’s “Iiate Edition.” Secretary of State Colin Powell said the northern alliance had agreed to take part in U.N.-brokered talks with other Afghan factions about forming a new power sharing govern ment in Afghanistan. Please see Tallban/Page AS talking turkey Officials expect decline in travel ■ The number of Americans taking trips during Thanksgiving is to be down by 6 percent. By Walt Frank Staff Writer The number of Americans traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday is expected to drop 6 percent from last year, partially as a result of the Sept. ll terrorist attacks, travel officials say. A 6 percent drop isn’t aft that bad considering the circumstances, AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes said. “With all the recent doom and gloom in the travel industry, a 6 percent drop is a definite improvement from the double-digit declines of the last two months,” Hughes said. Amtracs Northeast Corridor is gearing up for an expected record-setting Thanksgiving ridership. For the first time, Amtrak is requiring reservations for most of its trains to better accommodate demand. Amtrak will add more than 40 trains in the Northeast Corridor this week. Locally, Amtrak isn’t adding trains, but is adding passenger cars to the two eastbound and two westbound trains that stop in Altoona to provide 130 extra seats per trip, said Mike Tsikalas, Amtrak station manager. Please see Travel/Page AIQ TRANSPORTATION STATUS ■ Amtrak prepares for record-setting ridership and is requiring reservations after a surge in rail travel. ■ 40 additional Amtrak trains will run in the Northeast Corridor this week. ■ The Amtrak station in Altoona will see additional passenger cars on two eastbound and two. westbound trains, providing 130 extra seats per trip. ■ AAA estimates 34.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home: 30 million will go by motor vehicle and 4.6 million plan to go by airplane, train or bus. Mirror photo by Jason Sipes A giant turkey takes flight above Allegheny JLI Street Sunday during Hollidaysburg*s annual Winterfest Parade. The parade featured nine balloons. Williamsburg in need Suit filed by state of recreational facilities for 50 homeowners By Michael Emery Staff Writer WILLIAMSBURG - If you’re looking for recreation in Williamsburg, you might have to hit the road — literally. According to Mayor Dennis Hammel, youth are taking to borough streets and alleys to hang out and going to tennis courts to ride their skateboards and in-line skates because of a lack of recreational facilities. The consensus among borough officials is that there’s a need for recreational facilities in Williamsburg. But two proposed recreational facility projects are in limbo because community support is lacking, Hammel said. Funding difficulties have delayed the Burg Side Skate Park project for 14 months. Renovations at Veterans Memorial Community Center in Catharine Township has been stalled because of residents’ lack of response to a survey designed to help focus the scope of the project. Please see Facilities/Page AS By Mark Leberfinger . Staff Writer Some area homeowners hoping to improve the value of their homes or trying to make needed repairs with the help of a Pittsburgh-based contractor wound up with shoddy work or nothing done at all, the state says. Their complaints led to the state filing a lawsuit to stop what state Attorney General Mike Fisher called a home improvement and finance scheme by the contractor and three finance companies. The lawsuit contends the defen dants primarily targeted lower-income consumers in 14 central and western Pennsylvania counties, including Bedford, Huntingdon, Cambria and Clearfield. The defendants allegedly conspired to defraud consumers by illegally obtaining home improvement contracts, financing and/or debt consolidation loans for more than 50 homeowners. Fisher said the homeowners otherwise would not have been considered qualified borrowers. Please see Homeowners/Page A7 HMMHMM HHH! 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