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:
After 20 years of writing columns for the Mirror - equal parts moving, equal parts humorous and all featuring her gifted touch - today is Christina Ferchalk's swan song (Page A9).
When Christina came to us over the summer expressing concerns over the future of her column in part because of more pressing family matters, we ran a series of past columns in hopes that things would get better and that she'd change her mind.
No such luck.
If, in the future, her desire to continue writing returns, our door, of course, will be open.
In the meantime, we thank Christina for contributing her extraordinary storytelling over the past two decades, and we wish her and her family well.
Look for our Saturday columnists - Kelly Valeri, John Kasun and Kim Smith - to begin alternating on Sundays.
Our paper has been full of Christmas stories over the past week or so, and I found the following snippet to be particularly cute.
It was written by budding journalist Katie Duffy, our school-to-work student. Katie strung together the special holiday memories of several area residents.
Linda McGarvey of Coalport related how her 5-year-old brother, seeing other family members wrapping gifts, started finding things to wrap.
"Everyone opened their gifts from him," Linda McGarvey said, "only to find their own belongings inside."
Classic. (I may try this tactic!)
On the mend
Reporter Bill Kibler has done an excellent job tracking the recovery of Steven Weidlich, the Altoona youngster who was critically injured while attempting to cross 17th Street in September.
The latest update was bannered across our Christmas Day edition.
We hope Steven gets well, and we particularly appreciate the cooperation of his mother, Lisa Clapper, who has willingly kept us - and you - updated on Steven's condition.
Every family is different in times of crisis, and we respect that: At the same time, if people aren't willing to talk to us, we can't tell you their stories.
We're grateful for Lisa Clapper's understanding.
Let me venture out of the newsroom and downstairs ...
After 45 years, veteran advertising salesman Rick Hainsey is calling it a career.
Rick, at 18, began here as a mailboy in 1963 at the Green Avenue offices before ascending to the ad department.
A true professional and good guy to boot, he's the second-longest tenured employee at the Mirror behind Jim Campbell, who started in 1960 and has worked in advertising and circulation.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.