Altoona Mirror

Featured Articles

Explore a featured selection of my writing work below.

Cellular networks ending 3G service

Local residents may need to upgrade cellphones, as well as medical alert, security and safety systems, as 3G cellular networks are being phased out to make way for improved 4G and 5G services.

The Federal Communication Commission announced earlier this year the plan for a phase out of 3G cellular service to prepare for more advanced network services. The loss of 3G networks may impact those with older cellphones and those who use out-of-service cellphones only for emergency calls to 911.

B-A board hears public’s frustrations

BELLWOOD — During a virtual meeting Tuesday, members of the public civilly expressed their frustrations with the Bellwood-Antis School Board, including one person who apologized for what happened at a previous meeting.

District officials moved the meeting to a virtual format following behavior that resulted in legal charges at the board’s Feb. 1 meeting. Members of the public questioned the district’s actions with frustrations bubbling over concerning the Ryan Blazier sexual abuse case.

Freezin’ for a reason: Polar plunge raises $100,000 for Special Olympics

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Nine inches of ice on Canoe Creek Lake made for perfect conditions as penguins, unicorns, chickens and even an arctic mermaid plunged into the icy water Saturday to raise money for Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

With partly sunny skies, flurries and temperatures in the upper teens, more than 250 people descended on Canoe Creek State Park for the 11th annual Winter Games Polar Plunge.

Anime paradise: Setsucon returns to Blair County Convention Center

Nearly 2,000 visitors — many dressed in costumes — are expected to descend on the Blair County Convention Center this weekend for a festival celebrating Japanese animation.

Setsucon, a yearly convention run by the Penn State Anime Organization, brings anime, manga, gaming and Japanese pop culture to the region, organizers said.

Billed as “winter’s warmest anime paradise,” Setsucon comes from the Ja­p­­­anese word setsu, meaning “snow.”

ESL classes break barriers, make connections

Moving to a new place can be intimidating, but adding in a language barrier makes the situation all the more difficult. Day-to-day tasks can become frustrating and difficult when people are immersed in a country where they do not speak the language, local leaders said.

But help is available in schools and through church outreach programs, such as the Altoona English and Culture Club, an English as a Second Language program offered weekly at the Altoona Alliance Church.

Soup programs strive to nourish bodies and souls

As the saying goes, chicken soup is good for the soul, and the Hollidaysburg Soup Program is continuing to nourish the community with a hot meal and a time of fellowship during the winter months.

The Hollidaysburg Soup Program has served countless varieties of soup to the community since 1999, when the First Presbyterian Church started the initiative. Since then, the program grew into a community favorite with the help of more churches and volunteers.

Racing into 2022

For 4-year-old Trenton Franks, it was all about the lights.

“I love the lights,” he said after finishing the 2-mile run through Lakemont Park’s Holiday Lights on the Lake with his grandmother, Susan Franks. The Blair Regional YMCA Twilight Race was the Altoona pair’s first race together, with Trenton’s brother and grandfather also participating.

“It was awesome,” Susan said. “He loved running through all the lights and the light tunnels.”

The Franks were among more than 750 participants in th

Changing traditions: Christmas services continue to adapt to realities of living in pandemic era

From shaking hands and giving hugs to elbow bumps and social distancing, COVID-19 has changed daily life for everyone, but the pandemic has been doubly felt by area churchgoers, for whom gathering together, especially at the holidays, is the backbone of their faith.

Pastor Gary Dull said Faith Baptist Church of Altoona has lost a number of members to the virus, but at the same time, the congregation is able to recognize God’s blessings.

Nurturing by nature: Myers Elementary teacher leads first graders in litter cleanup effort

BELLWOOD — A group of first graders, donning gloves and “trash grabbers,” spent a recent Friday afternoon in a wooded area near their school helping the environment — and having some fun along the way.

Fifteen students from Bellwood-Antis’ Myers Elementary School joined their teacher and a classroom aide in an effort to clean up the area that David Plummer hopes to turn into an outdoor classroom.