Altoona and Mike Reid still have warm feelings for each other.
Reid, the Grammy-awarding winning songwriter and former football star, has performed a number of concerts here over the years, and Saturday night at the Mishler Theatre showed his drawing power remains strong.
Our grand old theater was packed as Reid played the piano, sang and interacted with the crowd at the 30th anniversary benefit for CONTACT Altoona, a local help-based phone service.
Reid's brother, Gary, is the CONTACT board's vice president, and their mother, Charlotte, still lives in Altoona.
Mike Reid is a distinguished alumnus of Penn State and one of the most successful people to ever come from Blair County, but it's nice to know that he never outgrew his hometown.
Thumbs-up to him.
Others worthy of thumbs-up, thumbs-down mention:
Thumbs-up to Steve and Nancy Sheetz on their $22,000 donation to help purchase a 16-by-24-foot walk-in cooler and freezer for Sister Paula DelGrosso's Food for Families program that feeds the underprivileged. The gift, matched by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank of Harrisburg, will enable DelGrosso's food bank to beef up its role as distributor of donated food from the Harrisburg bank to participating food pantries in this area. DelGrosso said the Sheetzes have contributed about $500,000 over the years to Food for Families.
Thumbs-down to those responsible for vandalizing the Penn State Veterans Plaza. The monument, which was dedicated Sept. 14 and was a gift from the Penn State Class of 2011, honors the university's veterans and is located near Old Main. Long tire tracks defaced sections of the wall. We deplore any act of vandalism but find the desecration of a monument recognizing military heroes particularly offensive. We hope the culprits are found and prosecuted.
Thumbs-up to a pair of local elementary schools, the former Allegheny No. 1 in Hollidaysburg (which closed after the 2011 school year) and Altoona Area School District's Juniata Elementary School, that received National Blue Ribbon Awards recently.
The award honors public and private elementary, middle schools and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' levels of achievement.
The two local schools were among eight in Pennsylvania and 267 nationally to be recognized.