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Oh — ow — Christmas tree ...

January 13, 2008
By Neil Rudel
Some notes from around and about the Mirror newsroom to help keep you abreast of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do:

You may have noticed a photo of a lonely Christmas tree along Juniata Gap Road in Altoona that we ran on Page A2 Saturday.

If so, you’re not alone.

The caption of the picture, taken by J.D. Cavrich, said the tree had been abandoned.

Well, excuse us.

The tree, several callers and letter writers pointed out, was not abandoned. It grows along the berm of the road and is decorated by families in the Cricket Knoll area.

Cavrich thought the placement of the tree, with its decorations falling off, was unusual so he snapped it. No, he did not examine its roots. Nor, though, was he attempting to make light of it.

“I noticed it [while] driving to another assignment, and I didn’t think it was a living tree because of its close proximity to the road,” he said. “I didn’t walk right up to it, but it looked like somebody stopped and just put it there.

“It definitely was not an intention to offend,” he said. “I’ve been around that area a lot, and I had never seen it before.”

Probably because when he saw it before, it wasn’t decorated.

According to Charleen Thompson, whose family participates in dressing up the tree not only for Christmas but for Valentine’s Day and Easter, high winds damaged the decorations.

“You were absolutely right when you said it looked abandoned,” she said.

The tradition, Thompson said, has gone on for nearly 10 years.

Sounds like a nice story ... for Christmas 2008.

Pair of aces?

There’s some irony involved in the race of two Democrats seeking to replace retiring state Rep. Tom Yewcic.

Wednesday’s Mirror reported that the race pits candidates Dave Gehlman of Johnstown and David Kuhar of Ebensburg.

Both have deep roots in golf.

Kuhar is the club professional at Sinking Valley Country Club in Tyrone while Gehlman is the operator and business manager of the Johnstown Municipal Golf Course (Berkley Hills).

Maybe the traditional public vote can be put aside this time, and the men could just play a 36-hole match, 18 holes at each other’s course.

The winner advances to Harrisburg.

Your feedback ...

On your renewal forms, there is a place for comments, which we appreciate and pass around to appropriate places at the Mirror. Some of the more interesting:

n Mary Ann of Duncansville wrote that bomb threats on Page 1 about schools are troubling. No question, and it’s a subject we take seriously. Factors include where a particular school may fall in our core readership, and the severity of the threat. We played Tyrone’s threat on Page 1 because it closed school, and we did a trend followup on how schools treat such terrible challenges.

n Donald of Roaring Spring would like more national news on Page 1. This is something we’ve tried to shy away from, unless the story is of huge national scope (9/11, God forbid, or Virginia Tech or a presidential election). Our posture: We’re a local paper — that’s our brand — and most national news can fit nicely into our Nation & World section. As with any paper, we have to make choices and face space challenges, but our focus is local. Has to be, but thanks, Donald.

Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or His blog, “once a sports guy,” can be found on

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