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James Rada, Jr.

Rain the night before gave way to sun and heat for the annual Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day on June 24, 2017. Events took place throughout the day, beginning with the Vigilant Hose Company’s breakfast that started at 6:00 a.m. and ending with the last boom of the fireworks around 9:45 p.m.

During the day, dozens of food and craft vendors were set up in Community Park. Visitors could browse the offerings in between participating in events like the horseshoe competition, greased pig chase, and bike rodeo.

Jill Long moved to Emmitsburg three years ago and has attended Heritage Day every year. She really looks forward to it. “It’s really nice to have this available for people. It shows community pride when businesses and people come out and support this.”

Outside of the park, visitors stocked up on books at the library book sale, voted for the best entries in the car show, and toured one of the local museums.

Entertainers performed at Community Park, singing to the visitors. The headline acts were “Mr. Charisma” and Elvis, who presented music in the styles of Dean Martin, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. There was even a dance at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, featuring the music of the Frederick Camerata. Other live entertainment that played at the Community Park bandstand was the Home Comfort Band, the CCC Praise Band, Commendable Effort, and the Harmony Cornet Band.

Ashley Hewitt attends Heritage Day every year with her family. They can find something for each member of the family to enjoy. In fact, there’s so much going on, they have to take a break in the middle of the day to let the kids rest before returning to the park for more.

“I think it was bigger this year than it has been in previous years,” Hewitt said.

Some new activities were offered this year, including a Civil War tea and carriage history tours of Emmitsburg. Community Heritage Day is coordinated each year by the Emmitsburg Lions Club, but would not be possible without generous community support. Platinum sponsors of this year’s event that donated at least $500 to Heritage Day are the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association, Emmitsburg Glass, Mount St. Mary’s University, William and Bonita Portier, Emmitsburg Ambulance Company, Melissa Wetzel, the Tommy West Foundation, Don and Libby Briggs, Emmitsburg Lions Club, the Town of Emmitsburg, American Legion Post 121, Knights of Columbus Brute Council 1860, Frederick Bicycle Coalition, and More Riding Bicycles and Building Trails.

Winners of this year’s games are: Greased Pig Chase — Malakai Andrews (ages 1-6), Lucien Ridenour (ages 7-11), John Lane (ages 12-16), and TJ Burns (ages 17 and older); Sack Race Singles — Phoenix Smith–1st place and Irene Trexler–2nd place (ages 1-4), Addison Welch–1st place and Thomas Love–2nd place (ages 5-8), Erin Gregg–1st place and Krystal Lane–2nd place (ages 9-12), Michael DiIulil–1st place and Jedn Pembroke–2nd place (ages 13-16), Logan Gregg–1st place and Jack McCarthy–2nd place (ages 17 and up); Sack Race Doubles — Madison Ott/Madelynn Myers–1st place and Savanna Phebus/Emma Annadale–2nd place (ages 5-8), Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place and Jazmyne Howar/Lucien Ridenour–2nd (ages 9-12), Thomas Lowe/Mathias Buchheister–1st place and Zoe Ridenour/Jean Pembroke–2nd place (ages 13-16), Dan Goetz/Nathan Goetz–1st place and Mary Fran Gregg/Logan Gregg–2nd place (17 and older); Egg Toss — Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place tie, Dan Goetz/Nathan Goetz–1st place tie; Water Balloon Toss — Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place and Abby McCarthy/David McCarthy– 2nd place; Pie Eating Contest —Jameson Ebaugh–1st place and Keane Burns and Cora From tie for 2nd place (ages up to 4 years), Thomas Love–1st place and Raphael DiIulio–2nd place (ages 5-8), Finnian Ridenour tied with Blake Cool–1st place (ages 9-12), Jean Pembroke– 1st place and Mathew Knox–2nd place (ages 13-16), Jack McCarthy– 1st place and Rose Samples–2nd place (17 years and older).

Kids give it their all, determined to break through the finishline during the much-anticipated Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day sack races.

On June 14, 2017, a Flag Day Ceremony at Thurmont’s Memorial Park was hosted by the communities of Emmitsburg and Thurmont, with the support of Thurmont American Legion Post 168, Emmitsburg American Legion Post 121, Thurmont Amvets Post 7, and Emmitsburg VFW Post 6658. Area Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, and Venture Crew helped with the Flag Retirement portion of the ceremony. Thanks to those representing our Veterans organizations and Scouts for helping celebrate the 240th Anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

James Rada, Jr.

While the cost of solar energy from Emmitsburg’s two solar farms cost more than power purchased from First Energy, the cost of using solar is so much less that it created a savings of $72,000 for the Town of Emmitsburg last year.

Questions have been raised in town meetings and in print as to whether switching much of the town’s power consumption to solar energy was worth it. Much of this seems based on the fact that a kilowatt hour of solar energy costs around .08092 cents, while only costing the town around .06481 cents from First Energy. This is true. The actual cost of solar power is more, although the actual difference varies as the cost of power purchased from First Energy changes multiple times in a year.

However, as Town Accountant Cole Tabler points out in an analysis of the town’s energy costs, “[T]he true savings from solar are in the consumption charges that are greatly reduced or eliminated.”

This conclusion is based on an examination of the town’s actual energy bills. The costs without solar power are estimated based on First Energy’s bills alone. When Emmitsburg switched to using solar energy for its power needs, six taxes and surcharges were eliminated from their bills. These are the: Administrative Credit, Cogeneration PURPA Surcharge, Franchise Tax, EmPower MD Surcharge, Demand Resource Surcharge, and MD Environmental Surcharge. Also, three other charges and taxes are minimized because the power being purchased from First Energy is minimized. These are the: Distribution Surcharge, Maryland Sales Tax, and Electric Universal Service Fee.

In FY2016—from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016—the Town of Emmitsburg consumed 1,657,216 kWh among its twenty accounts. This usage includes the higher consumption of the town’s new wastewater treatment plant.

The cost of power (including solar) for FY2016 was $134,100 (rounded to the nearest $100). In addition, the extra taxes and surcharges on the power bills amounted to $68,000 (rounded). So, the total amount that the town paid for its power last year was $202,100.

To get an estimate of what the town would have paid for its power if it had been entirely drawn from First Energy, the total usage was multiplied by the prevailing rate. This changed multiple times throughout the year, so an average cost of .06481 cents/kWh was used. Using this rate, the energy cost last year was $107,400 (rounded). This is $26,700 less than it cost for solar.

The taxes and surcharges on that amount of power purchased from First Energy would have been $167,300 (rounded) or $99,300 more than the town paid for solar.

The bottom line is: Without using solar energy, the town would have paid $274,700 for its power last year, compared to what it actually paid ($202,100).

By converting to solar power, the town saved $72,600.

Looked at in a different way, the town would have had to been paying .02099 cents/kWh or less for switching to solar power to have been a loss.


JUNE 2017


FY2018 Budget Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a $3.3 million budget for Fiscal Year 2018, with no increase in the property tax rate.

The new budget includes $1,743,959 in the general fund, which is about a $55,000 increase over FY2017. Property tax rates have not increased since 2005.

The water fund has decreased from $555,510 last year to $510,000 this year. This is due to people using less water.

The sewer fund has increased from $987,900 last year to $1,000,500 this year.

You can view the budget in detail at the town office.


Farmer’s Market Every Friday

The Emmitsburg Farmer’s Market is now ongoing every Friday evening, from 3:00-6:00 p.m., at 302 South Seton Avenue. Items offered may include: fruits, vegetables, dried and cut flowers, container plants, berries, nuts, eggs, honey, milk, cheese cider, preserves, meats, fish, and baked goods. The market will continue until late September. For more information, call 301-600-6303 or e-mail


Use the Footbridge

Due to the ongoing work on Route 140 at Flat Run, there is now a footbridge over Flat Run and a paved asphalt path leading to it, for pedestrian use. All pedestrians must use this footbridge. The sidewalk on the north side is closed.


Town Block Party

Although the Emmitsburg pool is closed this season, the town is still sponsoring pool parties, which have been renamed block parties. The next one is on July 21, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Community Park.


FY2018 Budget Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved a $12.6 million budget for Fiscal Year 2018, with no increase in the property tax rate. The real property tax rate has been set at $0.2849 per $100 of assessed value, and the personal property tax rate has been set at $0.62 per $100 of assessed value.

The new budget includes general fund expenditures of $3,445,855, with a capital budget of $301,000. The water fund has $830,791 in expenditures and $82,500 in the capital budget. The wastewater fund has $1,406,379 in expenditures and $186,825 in the capital budget. The electric fund has $6,122,787 in expenditures and $269,700 in the capital fund.

You can view the budget in detail at the town office.


Abuse Commission Formed

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted unanimously in June to establish a new town commission to help the town better deal with the problems associated with drug abuse.

“We have multiple people that have been impacted and want to make a difference; they need a place to go and have a formalized support by their local government,” Burns said. The commission is now seeking members. Anyone interested should contact Commissioner Marty Burns at


Commissioners Seek Sidewalk to Library

As part of the Thurmont Community Development Block Gap (CDBG) fund, the commissioners are seeking an ADA compliant sidewalk, adjacent to Moser Road. The area currently has no sidewalk, yet the area is heavily traveled by pedestrians going to and from the Thurmont Regional Library. The sidewalk would also connect the library to a 55+ community and the Thurmont Trolley Trail along Moser Road.

The town is not seeking funds for the sidewalks. They are requesting that CDBG fund the ADA curb ramps and crossing warning devices. Funding for the rest of the project is being requested from Frederick County and the town’s highway user revenues.

The entire sidewalk project is estimated to cost $180,000.


Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from the Maryland Municipal League Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City. This is my eighth time at the summer conference, and it looks like this trip will be as exciting and informative as all the others. The four days are filled with meetings, discussion groups, and classes, all of which help our elected officials better understand the responsibilities and mechanics of serving our communities. One of the best things I have found is that we get the chance to speak with others and see how they address issues in their communities; but more importantly, we see firsthand that other communities generally have much bigger issues than we have to contend with. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of our elected state officials and the heads of State agencies is another advantage of attending these conferences. This gives us a direct line of contact with those that can have a positive impact on how Thurmont fares when dealing on the state level, as well as with the many grants and funding opportunities of which we take advantage. My thanks to Commissioner Hamrick, CAO Jim Humerick, Kelly Duty, and Vickie Grinder for attending this year’s conference and expanding their knowledge of governmental issues and for increasing their networking contacts.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with representatives of seven Frederick County municipalities to help assign Project Open Space (POS) funding to our communities. POS funds are monies granted to counties by the State of Maryland to be used to enhance open space or park lands. Typically the money is split 50-50 between Frederick County and the municipalities. This year, a little over $507,922 in funding was available to municipalities in Frederick County. Of that amount, $126,981 was available for the acquisition of park land and $380,941 was available for improvements to existing parks.  I am happy to announce that Thurmont was able to garner a total of $107,000 for two projects we applied for: $89,000 will be used to help complete the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park (more about that later), and $18,900 will fund the installation of an ADA-compliant restroom facility at the East End Park. It is always an interesting evening when we get together to discuss the POS funds. As you can imagine, there is never enough funds to satisfy everyone’s requests. This year, there was almost $800,000 in requests from the seven municipalities, so it was obvious to the seven of us that we could only fund 50 percent of the proposals. Given this, it would seem to be a real problem. But as I have seen repeatedly, the municipalities are always willing to take less so that others can get funding for their special projects. This year, the Town of Thurmont benefited from this practice and was awarded almost 30 percent of the money available! In past years, we have cut back on our request during the discussions to assist others, and this year we benefited from that courtesy.

Earlier, I mentioned the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park. This project is a joint venture between the Town and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club. The Civitans made a proposal to establish an All Inclusive Playground last year, and I am happy to say that with funding from both the town and the Civitans, the project is moving forward. The town portion of the initial funding came from Project Open Space; and now with the recently awarded POS funds, we will be able to move the project closer to completion. The first phase of this amazing park has been dedicated and is now open. Be sure to stop for a look and remember that this playground is designed to be used by children with all levels of physical and emotional capabilities. All the equipment can be accessed by children in wheelchairs and walkers, so they can enjoy the thrill of outdoor fun with their friends and family. I want to thank the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for their vision and help in establishing this playground right here in Thurmont.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival, and I hope you have a great time watching the Annual Fireman’s Parade!

As always, I can be reached by email at, by phone at 301-606-9458, or on Facebook.


 Mayor Don Briggs

In June, the Town of Emmitsburg received the Maryland Green Registry 2017 Leadership Award. Due to a lot of “sweat equity” from lots of people in a body of work, we are very proud of receiving the reward. “Green” is shorthand for living in a more natural way, with a determination to reduce waste, use renewable energy, and enhance walkability through community connectivity. A simple, workable definition of Green is: “use what you need today and save what you don’t need for future generations.” Green is shorthand for sustainability. Sustainability, boiled down, is to keep, hold, or maintain for an extended period of time. Sustainability is nothing new to the crop farmers working the land around us, who plant, grow, reap, and replenish, to then plant again, all the while taking care of their soil. These farmers, like farmers for thousands of years, are renewable energy reliant on the seasons, sun, and water—surface, ground, or rain, and do everything they can to reduce waste. Now is the time to bring that consciousness to our uses.

As a strong impetus to and validation for our sustainability goals, the town was honored to host on separate days the 4th-grade classes of Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School. Our special guests moved in small groups throughout the office to meet with staff in four stations: accounting, receptionist–office manager, the town clerk, and mayor’s office, before moving on to the council meeting room. Every student sat in the mayor’s and/or council member’s seats and introduced themselves over the microphones. A mock hearing was conducted before a visit to the Frederick County Fire Museum and Fire Heritage Center, where they climbed aboard.

Coming up are several town-sponsored events in the park. Please check the town website and Facebook page for descriptions, dates, times, and specific locations. Please note on your calendar Tuesday, August 1, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for National Night Out (NNO) at the field behind the town office. NNO is an annual event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. This is a new event to Emmitsburg, “but across the nation, different communities host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events, with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and much more.”

What is the Impact Club? And what is Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick?

Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was started by educator Hermine Bernstein, who literally stumbled on the problem in Frederick County of over 11,000 children that are on FARM (Free And Reduced Meals). Hermine saw a greater calling in helping these kids, so she started Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick for children in strained family situations.

The Impact Club is a group of people wanting to contribute to the good of the community. Every quarter, Lib and I, along with 230-plus other residents in Frederick County, donate $100. Every quarter, members nominate community causes from which one is selected by membership vote. For this quarter, Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was selected and received a $23,600 check.

Community Heritage Day 2017: Thank you to the Lions Club, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and many businesses and civic organizations in Emmitsburg, for working together to provide a day full of fun and activities, ending with Independence Day Fireworks. Please go to for details on a great day of fun.

Finally, the Square revitalization and sidewalk project has begun on the west end of Main Street.


Members of both the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company (EVAC) and the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) have begun to discuss how their respective emergency services roles might be improved by merging personnel, resources and facilities.

This initiative is early in its consideration and will require research, on-going discussions and coordination among all stakeholders including the public, area businesses and institutions as well as local and county public policy officials and regional emergency services agencies.

EVAC President Mary Lou Little and VHC President Frank Davis jointly stress that this is an open and positive step that both organizations have long discussed. The community and surrounding area are the driving force to continue to work to improve and enhance service.

Senior administrative and operational leaders of both groups have recently been discussing possible ways to potentially combine personnel and resources to better meet growing service demands while also developing strategies ultimately determined to be in the best interests of those served.

Members of both organizations met together on Sunday evening, May 21, 2017, at the EVAC Station 26 to begin a process for positive outcomes. And, such interactions will continue. Community input is encouraged and will be used in designing a comprehensive approach and structure to move forward. Frequent updates will be issued so all interested can be kept apprised of developments.

Questions can be made through contact with Spokesperson Tim Clarke at 301-748-4161 or at

MAY 2017


No Changes in Tax Rate Expected

Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs gave the town commissioners their first look at his proposed FY18 budget. The constant-yield rate as calculated by the State of Maryland will be 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is the rate that will bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year.

He also noted that the preliminary budget does not include a cost-of-living adjustment for employees, but they will receive any step increases that they are due.

Revenue in the general fund is expected to increase $56,571 or 3.35 percent.

The water fund will decrease, in part, due to conservation efforts. The capital fund is expected to increase from $121,812 to $218,341.

The commissioners will now begin their review of the budget. It must be approved by June 30.


Algae Control Working Well

The preliminary data for Emmitsburg’s new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake looks good, according to Town Manager Cathy Willets. The new system, which cost the town $38,650 for setup and $13,000 a year for calibration, was installed in April. The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. Willets said that once data is available to present, she will do so, but she is pleased with the preliminary data so far.


Emmitsburg Extends Reciprocity to Waynesboro

Because of the Borough of Waynesboro’s generosity in allowing Emmitsburg residents to pay the Waynesboro resident rate to use their town pool this summer, the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners have returned the favor. Should Waynesboro need to close its pool for renovations in the future, residents will be able to swim in Emmitsburg’s new pool and pay the Emmitsburg resident admission.


Meeting the State’s Recycling Goal

The State of Maryland has set a 90 percent recycling goal by 2040. Frederick County has a group that is looking into how the county will be able to meet this goal.

“It’s going to take until 2030 to even intersect with the goals that the state has set for everybody,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick. “Luckily, we’re way ahead in actual recycling of plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and those sorts of items, but this organic is going to be the big issue.”

To meet the state goal, Humerick said that it seems that single-stream organic collection is going to be the answer. He expects the county to institute a pilot program next year in Frederick City and the public schools to move toward this.

It also seems like a countywide program would involve fourteen local composting sites. The part of the county between Emmitsburg and Thurmont would have at least one, maybe two, sites. Each site would need five to six acres and would be able to compost up to 10,000 tons a year.

Humerick said that while he believes this is going to happen, cost will be an issue. Projections right now are that it would cost between $6 and $10 a month per household, and $500 to $700 per month for restaurants to pay for pickup and processing of organic material.

While the program would be voluntary at first, most likely it would become mandatory in the future.

Mayor John Kinnaird said that if the county doesn’t hit its 2040 target, the county could start withholding building permits.

While nothing has happened yet, Kinnaird said that he wanted to make the commissioners aware of what was in the works. “It’s going to impact every one of us, so it’s in our best interest to keep an eye on what’s going on with that,” he said.


Asphalt Overlays Approved

East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue will be getting new asphalt overlays. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently awarded the project to L. W. Wolfe of Myersville. The project costs $95,453.75 and should be complete by the end of the month.


Commissioners Get Draft Budget

With the budget workshops complete, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners got to see the proposed FY18 budget that will go into effect on July 1. It is based on a $3,547,982 operating fund and a $425,000 capital budget. This represents a 3.1 percent increase to the general fund.

The commissioners still need to review and approve this latest draft by June 30.


Tree Saving Efforts Recognized

The Town of Thurmont is in the midst of replacing the dying ash trees in Community Park. With roughly 40 percent of the trees needing to be replaced, it is a labor intensive and expensive project.

The town recently recognized volunteers who have helped plant seventy-five new trees in the park. Thurmont’s Green Team, Venture Crew 270, Girl Scout Troop 81200, Boy Scout Troop 270, Cub Scout Pack 270 Den 1, the Catoctin High Leo Club, and the Frederick County Forestry Board received a Certificate of Appreciation from the town.

The town also received a national award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the work it has been doing to preserve and replace the trees in Community Park. Becky Wilson with the Maryland Forest Service presented the Tree City USA Award.

A town has to meet four criteria to receive the award: (1) Celebrate Arbor Day; (2) Have a team dedicated to tree care; (3) Have at least $2.00 per tree dedicated to tree care in the budget; (4) Have a law to protect trees.

According to Wilson, only about 37 communities out of 147 eligible Maryland towns receive this award annually. This was Thurmont’s first year to receive the award.


Town Helps in Creeger House Restoration

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to donate $15,000 from the town’s unreserved fund balance to the Thurmont Historical Society “to use that funding solely for the purpose of restoring damage to the building that was uncovered to make it whole.”


Food Bank Update

Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, who manages the Thurmont Food Bank for the Thurmont Ministerium, recently updated the mayor and commissioners on the work that the food bank is doing in the area.

In 2016, the food bank filled 3,691 requests for food from 528 households. During this year, from January through April, the food bank filled 1,065 requests for food.

Because of refrigerators and freezers that the food bank was able to purchase with Community Development Block Grants, families can receive fresh and frozen foods, as well as packaged goods and canned items.

“To be able to give out fresh food has been a real gift to us,” Joyner-Giffin said.

The food bank gives out an average of 5,080 lbs. of frozen food and 3,000 lbs. of fresh food a month.


Mayor John Kinnaird

With summer just around the corner, you should be thinking about visiting the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, beginning June 3. There is always a great selection of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, hand-crafted items, and other treats! Live entertainment will be returning this year, with local talent providing background music for the market. The market is located in the Municipal Parking lot on South Center Street and is open each Saturday morning, 9:00 a.m.-noon. If you want to grow your own vegetables and fruit, why not sign up for a spot at the Community Garden! The Thurmont Green Team sponsors the Community Garden, and spaces are still available. Just stop at the Town office and pick up an application. The sites are already tilled and are awaiting your green thumb.

School will be out soon, and our kids will out and about walking, bicycling, skate boarding, and playing. As you drive on our streets, be aware of children and watch out for them. Kids do not always look both ways before crossing the street, and they can run out in front of vehicles while playing. Be sure to drive with extra caution and help insure our children’s safety.

I have had some residents contact me about scam phone calls from people claiming to be with the Town of Thurmont. If you get one of these calls after regular business hours (8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) or on a Saturday or Sunday, please be aware that it is most likely a scam. If you are not sure, just ask the person for their name and tell them you will call them back at the Town office at 301-271-7313. We are also seeing an increase in the number of door-to-door sales people with the nice weather. Anyone going door-to-door, selling or soliciting, are required to register with the Thurmont Police Department and should have an identification badge showing they are registered. If you are approached by someone and they cannot provide proof of registration, ask them to move on.

Residents may have noticed recent street work, with the paving of Lombard Street, East Street, and Shipley Avenue. These projects are part of our ongoing efforts to improve our streets. There are many more projects in the works that will be moving forward this year and in the future. As part of our improvement plans, we are currently bidding paving for the Eyler Road Park and the Trolley Trail, both of these projects will improve access to these well-used areas. Frederick County has committed to help us in a joint sidewalk project for Moser Road. This will add improved pedestrian access to both the Frederick County Regional Library and the Trolley Trail.

The Board of Commissioners has just finished work on the 2017-2018 Budget, and I am happy to report that we have based the coming budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. As in the past several years, the Constant Yield Tax Rate will ensure that our residents will not see an increase in the property tax rate. I want to thank the residents that provided input in the budget process, our financial staff, department heads, and the Board of Commissioners, for working together in the budget writing process.

As always I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at


 Mayor Don Briggs

It has been written that “Hope springs eternal.” For our family, this spring is full of realization of hope. We have a grandson graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University; a granddaughter from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut; a granddaughter moving on to Catoctin High School from Mother Seton; and a grandson in Colorado graduating from Bishop Mullen High School in Denver, on his way to Colorado State University to study and play football. The two college graduating “grand-students” are graduates of Catoctin High School. It’s more than a nudge, this passing of the baton, and we love it.

On June 1, I will be attending the Catoctin High School Commencement exercise at Mount St. Mary’s. Congratulations to the graduating students, their families, and the faculty.

Recently, I attended the “Every day is Earth Day” chorus and band performances directed by Cheryl Carney and Allison Smetana, respectively. One of the songs was a direct hit to the heart: “Don’t Forget the Little Children.” Let’s not. Everything the town does is focused on our children and grandchildren: revitalization, water preservation, recycling, solar, LED lights, and grants for redoing downtown properties. “Use what we need, but save something for future generations” is more than a request, it is a plea from our children.

Before the close of schools for the summer, fourth graders from Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School will be visiting the town office. Very exciting!

In May, the town, in conjunction with the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA), hosted a breakfast for town businesses and other community partners as a simple thank you for what they do in service to the community. A rollout of a family drug-awareness program was also part of the breakfast. The program is tied in with the “Pool Party in the Park” in the Community Park, on Friday, June 16, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.—lots of fun, with a DJ, dancing, free hot dogs, tea, and more (for at least the first 150 people).

Make Saturday, June 24, a day to visit Emmitsburg, with the Community Heritage Day Festival 2017, starting with the traditional breakfast at Vigilant Hose fire hall at 6:30 a.m. and followed later that morning with the Lions Club BBQ chicken dinners (served in the hub of the festivities in Community Park). IMPORTANT: This year, the parade along West Main Street and down South Seton Avenue will start at 5:00 p.m. and the Memorial Program at 6:00 p.m. New this year is the evening horse-drawn carriage tour of Emmitsburg, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Michael Pryor Productions and Stewart Chapman, who will provide a musical review of music through the decades, beginning with the 40s; entertainment begins at 7:00 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. There will be crafters and vendors, plenty of children’s activities, bicycling activities (off-road and on-road), exercise path fun, and fireworks. The Lions Club, EBPA, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and other civic organizations, all work together to provide a day full of fun and activities. The day will end with Independence Day fireworks. Please go to for details on this great day of fun.

June 14 is Flag Day, always a wonderful tribute by our Veterans. This year, the northern County Flag Day observance will be held in Thurmont Memorial Park. The location of the observance is held on an annually rotating basis with Emmitsburg.

In September, Mount St. Mary’s University will hold a Constitution Day celebration, at which I have been invited to read the Preamble of the Constitution at the observance. With the 4th of July coming up, I submit the Preamble for those who may have forgotten, including me: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Amen. From that, we must pull together in common defense against the insidious attack of drugs.

Hoping you enjoy a wonderful June in Northern Frederick County.

Anita DiGregory

On Sunday, May 7, 2017—despite the chilly temperatures, windy conditions, and occasional rain—approximately 1,800 people were in attendance to witness the third annual crowning of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg.

The ceremony, which was preceded by Mass in the glass chapel, included prayers, hymns, and a procession. Mount Saint Mary’s Interim President Timothy Trainor and his wife, Donna, were in attendance, welcomed everyone, and initiated the procession. Several seminarians from the Mount processed carrying the 12-foot long silk flower crown from the chapel to the crane, which was donated for use during the ceremony by Steve and Cecilia Gregory (Mount alum).

Owners of Big Hook and Crane Rigging, the Gregorys have donated the services of the crane and its operators for each of the three years that the statue of Mary has been crowned. In fact, according to National Shrine Grotto Director Lori Stewart, the Gregory’s generous donation helped make the idea of crowning the Mary statue a reality.  Due to space limitations around the tower, a fire-truck ladder could not be used. Additionally, the high cost of renting a crane made the idea seem almost impossible. However, the Gregorys just happened to be visiting the shrine one day when the topic was being discussed. They offered then to donate their services.

This year, their son, Brock, assisted Mount Rector of the Seminary Rev. Msgr. Andrew Baker with the crowning. Adorned with hard hats and crane rigging belts, both men were hoisted over 100 feet in the air to crown the 25-foot-tall gold-leafed bronze statue of the Blessed Mother. “We do it all for our Mother, Mary. Some people think it is extravagant, but we think she is that special.”

The crown will remain atop Mary’s head for the entire month of May. This Catholic tradition, which originated in Italy during the Middle Ages, with the institution of “The Thirty Day Devotion to Mary,” is often referred to as a May crowning. The ceremony honors Mary as the Queen of May and the Blessed Mother. Although the statue of Mary is crowned, Catholics recognize that it is not the statue which is celebrated but that which the statue represents: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Clearly visible to all travelers along that area of Route 15, the 25-foot statue of Mary sits above much of the Mount Saint Mary’s University campus, atop the Pangborn Campanile (bell tower) and measures 95 feet tall all together.  With Mary overlooking the shrine and picturesque countryside, the Grotto continues to be a beautiful and peaceful retreat for the local community, pilgrims, and visitors, averaging about 280,000 guests a year. Stewart added,”It is beautiful being around the people and seeing how they react to Mary. It is the best part.”

James Rada, Jr.

When Luther Powell and his brothers attended the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, they saw a presentation about raising goldfish. Upon returning home, they realized that their farm had a good water supply, so they dug ponds and began a new business venture.

The idea caught on with other farmers who saw it as a way to make money from their ponds, and within a few years, nearly all of the goldfish in America were coming from Frederick County.

“At one point, 83 percent of the goldfish in the country were from Frederick County,” said Bill Powell, Luther’s grandson.

Bred in China for their color, goldfish were the first non-indigenous fish brought into the United States.  The historical record does not confirm an arrival date, but stories with references to goldfish put their arrival as early as 1826. They were being sold as pets by the 1850s, and interest in them spiked after P. T. Barnum opened the first public aquarium in 1856.

One suggestion for the popularity of goldfish in the county is that the German families that settled in the county enjoyed a fish-rich diet, which had led to a depletion of fish in the local streams. They purchased carp from the government to supplement the natural fish population. The carp were shipped in cans, and some goldfish, which are cousins to carp, also stowed away in the cans.

Ernest Tresselt wrote in his book Autobiography of a Goldfish Farmer, “That’s how goldfish found its way to the Maryland countryside, on the tails of edible carp. It is easy to speculate that one or more farms in Frederick County got goldfish along with their carp during the period when the carp culture in farm fish ponds was advocated as a supplementary food supply.”

Charles J. Ramsburg of Lewistown is believed to be the first goldfish farmer in Frederick County.  By the early 1900s, Ramsberg was shipping about a million fish a year around the country, according to History of Frederick County.

Another pioneer in goldfish farming was Ernest R. Powell of Lewistown. In 1892, at the age of twelve, Powell began to breed goldfish. By 1910, when his biography appeared in History of Frederick County, Powell had become successful enough in his enterprise to be identified as “one of the largest dealers of goldfish in Frederick County.”

More farmers began entering the business, using existing farm ponds or new ponds dug by hand with shovels, wheelbarrows, and horse-drawn scoops. “In the early part of the century, I think people in the county, especially farmers, saw goldfish as a way of making extra money,” Tresselt said in a 2006 interview.

Tresselt believed that goldfish farming flourished in the county in part due to “the availability of water on many farms because of the mountain streams and springs. The temperate climate, with its distinct seasonal changes, is ideal for the propagation of goldfish.”

George Leicester Thomas, who founded Three Springs Fisheries in 1917 in Buckeystown, believed that the success of goldfish farming in Frederick County was largely due to the fact that the mineral content of the water was well-suited for goldfish. Thomas’ grandson, Charles, agreed, saying that the rich color of the goldfish resulted from good breeding stock and water rich in nutrients from truckloads of manure dumped in the ponds. “The manure has nutrients that fish thrive on and actually all they have to do is open their mouths in order to eat,” he told the Frederick Post in 1981. It was these nutrients in the water, according to Thomas, that gave Frederick County goldfish the reputation of being the best-colored goldfish in the country.

George Thomas started his business as a roadside stand in Buckeystown that sold the vegetables and goldfish that he grew on his farm. “He had a keen eye for finding some type of venture where he might be successful,” Charles Thomas said of his grandfather in a 2006 interview. While customers may have bought his vegetables, they tended to show more interest in the goldfish bred in his goldfish hatchery, Three Springs Fisheries. When the U.S. postal authorities agreed to establish a branch office near the fishery to assist in the shipping of the goldfish, they asked George Thomas to select a name; in 1932, the Lilypons post office branch was created. By the end of World War II, Thomas’ fish hatchery, now known as Lilypons, had become the world’s largest producer of goldfish.

Hunting Creek Fisheries near Thurmont was started by Frederick Tresselt, a graduate of Cornell University, who had worked at the state trout hatchery in Hackettstown, New Jersey. “In driving around the county with a friend in 1922, Dad was amazed to see all the goldfish ponds in the area,” his son, Ernest, said in 2006. “Every farm that could, had fish ponds. It was a cash crop for them [the farmers].”  Hunting Creek Fisheries opened in 1923 and is still in operation today as a family-run business, raising ornamental fish and aquatic plants.

Tresselt believed that Frederick County might not have had the oldest goldfish farms in the country, but the county did have the most goldfish farmers. At the peak of goldfish farming in the county (1920s and 1930s), he estimates that as many as thirty or more farms were raising millions of goldfish.  The 1925 News-Post Yearbook and Almanac listed the county’s production at three-and-a-half to four million goldfish on 400-500 acres.

The Powells eventually had 45 acres of ponds on their properties, and would ship out 120,000 goldfish a week from September through November.

“In the early days, we would get the fish out of the ponds and ship them around the country to five and dime stores,” Powell said.

These goldfish were sold for $10 to $50 per thousand, and the value of the yearly production was approximately $75,000. By 1932, production increased to seven million goldfish on 500-600 acres, with goldfish selling for $35 to $70 per thousand (retail price five-ten cents each). Reports estimated Frederick County goldfish farmers had brought $1.5 million into the county.

In 1920, county farmers organized the Gold Fish Breeders Association of Frederick County, in part to fight against the high cost of shipping, property assessments on goldfish ponds, and other issues of importance to Frederick County goldfish farmers. The organization ended once many of the county goldfish farmers left the business.

Early goldfish farming was relatively simple. In the spring, farmers stocked their ponds with breeder goldfish. The goldfish reproduced, and the young grew through the summer. Feeding the fish was kept at a minimum. Generally, some form of ground grain, like wheat middlings or ground corn, was the food of choice. The breeders were kept in the deepest ponds since these ponds provided a good water supply over the winter.

Powell said that his family looked for fish with long fins and thick bodies. They would spread Spanish moss in the ponds where the goldfish could lay their eggs. The moss was then moved to empty ponds so that the goldfish wouldn’t eat the newly hatched fish.

In the fall, the goldfish were harvested and sorted by size. Buyers would come driving trucks full of fish cans in which to carry the fish, or farmers would ship the fish to the buyers. A single farmer might ship thousands of fish each day during the harvest.

“At first, we were shipping dark fish to bait shops for fishermen, but later they began to say that the colored fish caught more fish, and they wanted them,” Powell said.

Goldfish production in Frederick County soared. By 1920, eighty percent of goldfish produced in the United States originated in Frederick County. By 1931, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the goldfish industry was a $945,000 business in the United States.  Throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, the publications of the News- Post Year Book and Almanac note that Frederick County had “more goldfish produced than in any part of the United States.” Interestingly, the yearbooks list goldfish as “selected crops harvested” rather than “livestock on farms.”

Competition was inevitable, however, and by the late 1930s, the appearance of larger, more diversified, growers across the country reduced the demand from Frederick County farms.

Modern technology also worked against county goldfish farmers. Advances in shipping techniques, and the increased variety and quality of goldfish available from growers around the world, gradually changed the goldfish market. By the 1950s, fish could be shipped in plastic bags by air freight. The plastic reduced shipping costs and the planes extended the distance the goldfish could be shipped. This further increased the competition in the market. Air transportation allowed areas that had not previously engaged in goldfish farming—such as Arkansas—to become competitive or even better locations than Frederick. “By going south, you had a longer growing season,” said Charles Thomas. “In a place like Arkansas, instead of having only one crop each season, you could have two.”

The result was that farms producing only common goldfish seasonally, such as those in Frederick County, could not compete. By the 1940s, only a few farms in Frederick County were still cultivating goldfish. “Everything changed,” Tresselt said. “We have to supply fish year round. The competition made it unprofitable for most farmers, and they went out of business.”

Powell’s family got out of the goldfish business in the 1960s. “People didn’t want them. They were starting to ban them from being in lakes. The county had a severe drought that made it hard to keep the ponds full. Fishermen were using spinning lures more than live bait, and kids didn’t want goldfish as pets. They wanted tropical fish that were harder to care for,” Powell said.

By 1980, Lilypons, once the world’s largest producer of goldfish, had diversified so that it now specialized in water garden supplies and plants more than in fish. Hunting Creek Fisheries and Eaton Fisheries also survived by diversifying their offerings into plants, game fish, and/or other types of ornamental fish, such as koi.

Today, there are still fish ponds in Frederick County. Lilypons devotes some of its nearly 500 ponds to goldfish. Hunting Creek Fisheries still has ponds in Thurmont and Lewistown, as does Eaton Fisheries in Lewistown.

Other goldfish ponds have disappeared, however. The Claybaugh fish ponds in Thurmont are now covered over by Mountain Gate Restaurant, Exxon, and McDonald’s. Fish ponds belonging to Ernest Powell and Maurice Albaugh, along Moser Road, no longer exist. The area east of the Maple Run Golf Course used to have Ross Firor’s ponds, but does no more. The ponds on William Powell’s Arrowhead Farms on Apples Church Road north of Thurmont and Frank Rice’s goldfish ponds alongside Route 15 south of Thurmont have been filled in and turned back to pasture.

Frederick County no longer is the biggest producer of goldfish in the country, but there was a time when the county led the country in growing the fish of emperors and kings.

Deb Spalding

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is a coveted link to our local history in Northern Frederick County. It is one of three historic covered bridges in the area, along with Loy’s Station and Utica bridges. The forty-foot-long single-lane structure was originally built in the mid-1800s.

Last June, it was struck and partially carried away by a box truck. The resulting damage made the bridge unsafe, so it had to be closed. Repairs to the bridge began in October and were completed by Dean Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., in cooperation with the Frederick County Department of Public Works and Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation.

While the bridge was closed, Frederick County took the opportunity to re-route Roddy Creek Road away from Roddy Creek in order to open space for a new park that includes a playground, walking trail, bathroom, parking area, and a (future) bridge-like pavilion. They also took action to prevent future damage to the bridge by installing a passive over-height warning system that a too-large-to-pass-through-the-bridge vehicle will hit before getting to the bridge.

Several Frederick County officials and staff came out to celebrate the reopening of the bridge and park on Monday, April 17, 2017. Frederick County Public Works Director Chuck Nipe welcomed guests. He extended sincere appreciation to the residents who attended public meetings and provided recommendations about how to avoid future bridge damage incidents. He also thanked several entities, including Jeff Yokum, the bridge neighbor who provided land for the turnaround at the bridge; Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Inc. employees who rebuilt the bridge; HMF Paving employees who were instrumental in the apprehension of the individual who damaged the bridge; Frederick County Highway Bridge Construction Crew, District 1 Crew, and the sign crew who fabricated and installed the signage and protective devices; Frederick County maintenance personnel who completed the electrical work; and the Transportation Engineering staff who coordinated the project and the reconstruction efforts.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said, “In Frederick County, we are passionate about our historic covered bridges.” She talked about the historic significance of the bridge, and thanked all parties involved in its reconstruction and the formation of the surrounding park.

Other speakers included Frederick County Council President Bud Otis, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Mary Ann Brodie-Ennis, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Kortright, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission members, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, and several other guests and staff.

Dean Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., the contractors for the project, shared his memories of playing in the creek and on the bridge as a youngster. He said that at a young age he never imagined he would have a part in its reconstruction. He reminded us that we must continue to be vigilant about our covered bridges and our community. “These are blessings we don’t even realize we have.”

Dean remembered Shaeffer Bailey. Bailey was the bridge neighbor who lived in the brick house nearby, and the man who gave the land to Frederick County for Roddy Road Park. He was vigilant in protecting the bridge, taking Dean to task [and surely others] when he was caught throwing mudballs at the bridge. Bailey rallied the community to put the bridge back together in 1992, after it received damage. At the time, it took two days work for community volunteers to repair the bridge.

Dean announced that his company is partnering with Frederick County Parks and Recreation to construct a pavilion. “We want it to be similar to the covered bridge and potentially use some of the timber that was salvaged from the original bridge. The community is invited.”

Jeremy Kortright coordinated the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon. “This is an exciting day for the community,” he expressed, and thanked the parties involved in the restoration of the bridge.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, reminded us that the bridge opening is eight feet, six inches tall and not every vehicle is going to fit through that opening.

Once the ribbon was cut for the bridge’s official opening, the first to pass through it were people on foot, followed by bicyclists. The first vehicle through was a Chrysler minivan driven by Thurmont resident, Joe Eyler.

Dean Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., the contractor for the bridge repair project, is shown as the sun shines on the beautifully completed bridge.

Honored guests and elected officials cut the ribbon to open the reconstructed Roddy Road Historic Covered Bridge.

James Rada, Jr.
November 29, 2004, was Army Specialist Erik Hayes last day alive. He didn’t know it. The decorated soldier had just turned twenty-four a couple of weeks earlier, and was a young man with dreams. He wanted to attend college and become a veterinarian; but most of all, he wanted to return home to his family.

As he sat on the roof of an Iraqi police station with Sgt. Daniel Hopson, watching the streets, Hopson posed a question. If Erik could go anywhere for a vacation, and money was no object, where would he go?

Hayes turned to his friend and said, “All I want to do is go home and work three jobs and get my brother home healthcare and get him taken care of.”

Bradley Hayes had been injured in a car accident two years earlier when he was only eighteen, and was being cared for in a Hagerstown facility.

Hopson, who has six sisters, was moved by how much Hayes loved his brother. “I need a brother like you,” he told Hayes.

Hayes looked at him with a bit of surprise and confusion in his expression. “Hopson, we are brothers, brothers in arms.”

Later that night, Hopson was with Hayes on the mortar tank that hit an improvised explosive device. Hayes died far from his home and became the sixth Marylander to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On Saturday, April 15, 2017, Hopson, Hayes’ family, friends, politicians, and Veterans gathered near the Monocacy River to celebrate Hayes’ life, remember his service, and honor his sacrifice.

More than one hundred people were at the State Highway Administration building, where Maryland 140 crosses the Monocacy, to take part in the dedication of the bridge sign for the nearby bridge in honor of Hayes. The sign that would be installed at the beginning of the bridge was unveiled, and Hayes’ parents were given miniature versions that they could keep with them.

Maryland State Delegate William Folden, who is also a Veteran, said getting the bill passed that allowed the bridge to be named in Hayes’ honor was the first bill he had ever introduced in the legislature. More than a “feel good” bill, he expressed that acts such as this mean something to servicemen and their families. He said the idea for the bill had been inspired by a trip that he and his son had taken to West Virginia, where many bridges and other structures have been named in honor of fallen West Virginians. His son had asked about the people named, which had led to him looking up information about the serviceman.

“I hope that every time someone crosses that bridge, they will keep in mind the sacrifice he [Hayes] made, and other young men and women are making for the freedom we have,” said Frederick County Commission President Bud Otis.

To date, 145 Marylanders have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter was the emcee at the event. Also in attendance were Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; Carroll County Commissioners Stephen Wantz, Richard Weaver, and Dennis Frazier; Taneytown Mayor James McCarron; and members of the local VFWs and American Legions. Patriot Guard Riders and Desert Knights also escorted a procession of cars to the ceremony.

Hayes was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but he grew up in Thurmont and Harney. He graduated in 1998 from the Living Word Academy in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. Before he had joined the military, he had worked at a dairy farm and trained to be an electrician.

He had enlisted in the army in 2001 to be able to use the GI Bill to get a college education when his duty was complete. He had trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, and served in Germany, Bosnia, and Kosovo before being trained in Iraq.

Hayes’ father, Daniel, said of his son, “He was a good boy. He loved people. He loved animals.”

Hayes was also an artist, drawing whenever inspiration hit him. His father remembers a drawing on the cover of one his son’s army notebooks that showed a camel smoking a cigarette out in the dessert.

His fellow soldiers also remember him with love and respect.

SSgt. Erik Pisauro of Charlotte, North Carolina, first met Hayes when he was eighteen and said that Hayes watched out for him and kept him from getting in too much trouble. “He was a big brother to a lot of us younger guys,” Pisauro said.

Sgt. Tim Grossman of Lexington, Kentucky, said, “Even though I outranked him, I learned to listen to what he said. He had a lot of wisdom for someone his age. When he spoke, you had to respect his answers; he wasn’t rash in his thinking.”

Grossman and others also noted that Hayes was generous to a fault. “He would give you the last five dollars he had until the next pay,” Grossman said.

SSgt. Andre Topaum of Raleigh, North Carolina, first met Hayes when he was eighteen. One memory that continued to shape his career in the military was something that Hayes said to him early on. “Dang it, Topaum, pay attention and take notes.” Topaum said it is something that he still continues to try and do.

Hopson, who is from Oklahoma, arrived in Iraq as a sergeant and didn’t have experience on mortar tanks where he was assigned. One of the first things Hayes said to him was, “I won’t ever let you get embarrassed, Sergeant; if you don’t know the answer to something, I’ll tell you.”

Hayes has touched the lives of these men so deeply that they were willing to travel hundreds of miles sixteen years after his death just to pay him one final honor.

“Just remember Erik’s name, and he will become a legend forever,” Hopson said.

(above) Army Spec. Erik Hayes’ parents, Debora Reckley and Douglas Hayes, stand next to the bridge sign for the MD 140 bridge over the Monocacy River that was named in honor of their son.

(below) The VFW Color Guard prepares to retire the colors during the April 15 ceremony that dedicated the MD 140 Monocacy River Bridge in honor of fallen Spec. Erik Hayes.


Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont celebrated Arbor Day on April 22 by planting more trees in the Community Park.  This planting was undertaken by the Thurmont Green Team, as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure a clean environment for our current and future residents. The damages inflicted on our Ash trees by the emerald borer resulted in many of the mature trees having to be removed from the Community Park. The planting of new trees will, over time, replace the cooling canopy we enjoy in the park. The Green Team also sponsored a Hunting Creek Clean Up Day and managed to remove 690 pounds of trash from the steam and its banks. The Green Team also wants to remind everyone that garden spots are still available in the Community Garden. Many thanks to Thurmont’s Green Team for their hard work!

The Board of Commissioner (BOC) recently approved a bid for street improvements within town. The work includes blacktop overlays of East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue. This work will be completed during the summer months; please be aware of these projects and, as with all of our street repairs, please be careful when driving through the construction areas.

The BOC is currently working on the 2017-2018 Budget. I am hopeful that we will use the Constant Yield Tax Rate for the upcoming year.  This means that we will be collecting the same amount of taxes as during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With recent increases in property values, everyone should realize a very small decrease in property taxes. We hope to adopt the final budget in May.

In recent weeks, you may have noticed underground work being completed at the intersection of Rouzer Lane and Rt. 550. This work is part of the ongoing effort to ensure dependable electric service for Catoctin High School and the Catoctin Heights subdivision.  Currently, Catoctin Heights is at the end of a service line that starts on the Emmitsburg Road and crosses Rt. 15. The improvements will include new underground service lines, as well as a new loop connected to Sandy Spring Lane, to provide a backup circuit should there be a problem with the current feed line.

I was recently appointed to serve on the Frederick County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC). SWAC is charged with reviewing the County Solid Waste Plan, and we have been following closely the What’s Next initiative, established by County Executive Gardner to investigate improved recycling options for our residents. The State of Maryland has mandated a recycling level of 90 percent for organic waste, including food waste and grass clippings, by the year 2040. This goal will require a massive undertaking within Frederick County to start a program of collection and composting to realize these levels of recycling. The current recommended plan calls for as many as 10-14 small composting facilities across the County and new methods of collection. Ultimately, all residences, businesses, schools, and other facilities will be included in this plan. I encourage all of our residents to pay attention as this plan moves forward and to get involved! For more information about What’s Next, visit

Please take the time to enjoy the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, as well as the improvements to Roddy Road Park and Loy’s Station Park!

I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at


 Mayor Don Briggs

In April, I was given the opportunity to speak at three events.

On April 8, at the Doughboy statue, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the town commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. Commissioner Blanchard and I spoke. Thank you, Commissioner Blanchard, for putting this event together.

In addition to a quote of General Douglas MacArthur, I referenced, in a humble tribute to the soldiers who fought in WWI: “There, for those soldiers, in the prime of their lives, it was a hope for a tomorrow and a prayer for their – now. For us, because of them and what they did and gave, we have a tomorrow of tomorrows and prayers for our now and those nows to come.”

Also on April 8, I joined the  more than two hundred people who attended the dedication of the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue, sharing in awe of the live-burn demo, which used a “Side-by-Side Burn Trailer.”

“Welcome. They say every story has a protagonist, a leading character. The good person, the good people. In our town, there are many protagonists for the many stories that form our community story. And what a story it is, with a rich history that includes both an emphasis on education and spiritualty… Today, we gather for one such story to recognize the collaborative efforts of suppliers, installers, fire service personnel, and all levels of government, to bring about the installation of the sprinkler system in the Fire Museum and National Fire Heritage Center…But underlying this effort has been the quiet efforts of a group of amazing people, lifelong fireman, rooted here in Frederick County and from all over the country… To these founders, it is an honor and pleasure to know and work with you,” I said during my remarks.

On April 10, Libby and I dined with Korey Shorb and Conrad Weaver. Korey is doing great things for the county to educate and understand addiction through his “Up & Out” Foundation. Our Emmy-Award-winner Conrad is producing a documentary on drug addiction, with a focus on Frederick County. More to come on the town’s collaboration with these gentlemen.

On April 12, Libby and I, along with Commissioner Buckman, attended the presentation on addiction at Catoctin High School, sponsored principally by the Schildt family: “CHRIS for Family Support in Recovery.” It was a moving program that touched all the sensibilities of those in attendance, in the nearly packed-full auditorium. I am blessed to have coached young men, in either football or rugby, over a span of five decades, during which I attended funerals for five of my players. Recently, I have been blessed to be mayor of Emmitsburg for the past five years, and during this time, I have already attended five funerals for drug-related deaths.

It is written, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure is our families. In the face of this insidious onslaught, put away petty distractions, and, yes, everything is petty when it comes to our families, as well as our friends and community.

They say that our grandparents—and for some, great-grandparents—were the greatest generation in what they did during WWI. We need another greatest generation in this fight for our children. We can be the next greatest generation—we have to be the next greatest generation.

I am so blessed to live in Northern Frederick County.

The Mount St. Mary’s University men’s basketball team took on the defending National Champion Villanova Wildcats in Buffalo, New York on March 16, 2017, during a nationally televised broadcast on CBS. The Mount trailed by just one at the half, but Villanova took over in the second session and won 76-56. The Mount’s Miles Wilson, C’20, led all scorers with 22. Although they came up short in their effort, the Mount showed the nation how they can play with the best in the country.

The Mount opened the NCAA Tournament with a 67-66 victory over the University of New Orleans on Tuesday, March 14. A combined 40 points from Junior Robinson, C’18, and Miles Wilson, C’20, was enough to allow the Mount to advance.

The team earned its automatic berth by capturing the NEC Championship with a win over Saint Francis University (Pennsylvania). It was the Mount’s fifth NEC title and first time it has clinched in front of its home fans. Junior Robinson, C’18, and Elijah Long, C’19, were named to the NEC All-Tournament Team, with Long also being named the Tournament MVP.

Last month, the Mount won the NEC regular season conference title for the first time in twenty-one years, defeating St. Francis Brooklyn 77-62.

As a result of the team’s success, the Northeast Conference named head coach Jamion Christian the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year. The award is Christian’s first, and he becomes only the second coach in the program’s history to take home the honors, behind the local legendary coach Jim Phelan, for whom the award is named.

Three players also received accolades, including guard Elijah Long, C’19 (All-NEC first team); guard Junior Robinson, C’18 (All-NEC second team); and guard Miles Wilson, C’20 (NEC All-Rookie team).