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.

Town of Thurmont commissioners Wayne Hooper and Marty Burnes (far left), and Wes Hamrick and Bill Buehrer (far right) are pictured with Mayor John Kinnaird and Taylor Huffman (center) during the grand opening of her Long & Foster office at 3 W. Main Street in Thurmont.

Photo by Grace Eyler

Long & Foster Real Estate is pleased to announce that it opened a new office in Thurmont on May 20, 2017. Located at 3 W. Main Street, the office is led by Taylor Huffman and will be managed by Jackie Sellers, branch manager of the Frederick office.

“Long & Foster is committed to growing our presence in Maryland, and the opening of the Thurmont office allows us to increase our footprint and better serve home buyers and sellers throughout the area,” said Cindy Ariosa, senior regional vice president of Long & Foster Real Estate. “Additionally, having a leader like Taylor, who was raised in Thurmont, provides us with a unique understanding of the local market and the needs of its residents.”

Huffman, who has been a real estate agent for six years, will be joined at the office by three additional Long & Foster agents. She is a top-producing agent, a member of the Long & Foster Gold Team, and sold more than $8 million in real estate volume in 2016. In 2012, she was named Long & Foster Rookie of the Year. Huffman is a member of the Frederick County Association of Realtors.

“I’m thrilled to be launching this new Long & Foster office and leading a team of agents who will be supported with the best training, tools, and technology available,” Huffman said. “Long & Foster is a company that puts its agents and clients first, and I saw a need to bring the services the company offers to Thurmont and the surrounding area. We’re excited and ready to put our skills to work in the local community.”

The Thurmont office is a direct result of Long & Foster’s Elite Entrepreneur Platform, which allows agents to build their own business while aligning with the No. 1 private residential real estate company in the United States.

“Opening this new office aligns with Long & Foster’s plan to expand our ability to provide unparalleled customer service to our buyers and sellers,” said Gary Scott, president of Long & Foster Real Estate. “We have no doubt that the new Thurmont office will be the go-to resource when consumers in this area of Maryland are looking to make confident, well-informed buying and selling decisions.”

Huffman grew up on a 350-acre farm in Thurmont, which helped her cultivate a hard-work ethic from a young age. She has experience in all types of real estate, especially in the sale of land and farms, and she is a member of the Maryland Agricultural Commission, helping the state connect with farmers. In her spare time, Huffman works alongside her husband, Brandon, on their family farm, Lawyer’s Winterbrook Farm. For more information, visit

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg now has a new place to visit where you can watch a magic show or buy a book. Magician Michael Cantori has opened Cantori’s Theatre of Magic at 24 West Main Street in Emmitsburg.

“We’re going to have a performing space for parlor magic shows, which are smaller shows for groups smaller than thirty people. People used to hold small shows in their parlors for their friends and acquaintances,” Cantori said. He believes that these smaller shows are more interactive.

Cantori envisions the store being an after-dinner destination for people eating at one of Emmitsburg’s restaurants, and also hopes to attract visitors from Gettysburg and Ski Liberty.

Cantori will also have a used bookstore sharing the space with the performance area. “It is a general-use bookstore with material that focuses on magic, philosophy, mythology, literature, and local interest,” he said.

In addition, Cantori will also offer instruction in magic and illusion, although the store will not be selling magic tricks. “We’ll have more of a focus on the art of magic and develop the needed skills sets to perform tricks.” He explained that he could do an hour show with just card tricks, and it is those sleight-of-hand skills that new magicians need to develop first as they learn to perform tricks.

The combination of magic theatre and used bookstore may seem unusual, but it is a combination that Cantori embodies. Not only is he a master illusionist, but he has owned used bookstores in the past. He sees the store as something that will anchor him more in the community so that he won’t have to travel as much for his performances.

“It is fulfilling to become an active part of the community,” expressed Cantori.

Store hours are limited right now. As the store finds its audience and the need for shows grow, so will the store hours.

You can find out more about the store at and you can call the store at 301-447-3400 to find out the current store hours.








Michael Cantori, owner of Cantori’s Theatre of Magic in Emmitsburg.

Photo by Deb Spalding

It’s been a while since Terry Miller visited his hometown, but Thurmont is never far from his thoughts. He will be in town at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, 2017, to sign copies of his book The Mountain Beyond and to take a walk down memory lane, at the Thurmont Visitors Center on Water Street.

“It’s a memoir of a young boy growing up in small-town America in the 40s and 50s,” Miller said.

He lives in Texas now, but he grew up in Thurmont until he joined the Air Force in 1958. He used to live where the old Creeger Flower Shop used to be located on Old Frederick Road.

“I grew up with a lot of adversity,” Miller said. “I wanted to turn it into something positive. The book has a lot of ponders and life’s lessons learned and humor.”

His purpose in writing this book was to leave something of value that may touch other people, so they, too, can grow through times of trials. Miller’s sense of humor shines throughout the book, as he finds life can be fun in the midst of the troubling times.

It has been six years since Miller visited Thurmont, and he is returning for his 60th class reunion, a member of the Thurmont High School Class of 1957.

“I have a lot of fond memories of Thurmont,” Miller recalled. “I grew up during a time when doors were never locked, one signal light guided traffic, and the one-man police force went to bed at 8:00 p.m.”

Terry’s goal in conducting a book signing while in town for his high school reunion is to not only talk about recapturing life when times were simpler, but to be a part of the Creeger House preservation. He will be donating $5.00 from every book sale to the “Save the Creeger House Fund.”

During his presentation, Miller will be discussing three ways to learn from the past, so you can leave something of value as part of your legacy.

Following his talk, a tour of the Creeger house will be conducted to show the deteriorating condition of the house. People will be able to see first-hand why the historical society is seeking donations to help pay for the needed repairs.

If $30,000 is raised, the Maryland Historical Trust will provide a matching $30,000 grant. The original portion of the house is a log cabin built in the 1920s by Col. John Rouzer, a state senator and Civil War soldier.

As Miller said, “Preservation is a key part of our heritage. Each of us needs to learn from our past, so we can see the value of making our contribution.”

Deb Spalding

Johnny S. Hollinger of Emmitsburg purchased a raffle ticket a few months ago from Lauri Harley at the Ott House Pub to support the Catoctin Safe and Sane Class of 2017. The Ott House often sells raffle tickets to help out various community groups, and Johnny often buys one or two to show his community support. He never dreamed he’d win a new car, especially not a Chevy!

You see, Johnny is a former Ford dealer. His family owned the Sperry Ford Sales dealership in Emmitsburg for about sixty-five years. The business was located at 130 South Seton Avenue, which is now owned by W.S. Drywall.

Johnny’s Aunt Ada (Hollinger) Sperry owned the dealership with her husband, Ralph. Johnny’s father, John J. Hollinger, worked at the dealership. Formerly from Hagerstown, John visited Emmitsburg while representing a Studebaker company in Hagerstown to help Sperry introduce the Model A Ford in 1927. He was supposed to be in town for just three days, but stayed for the rest of his life. He met his future wife, Pauline Havner, who was in Emmitsburg working for her uncle, M.G. Keilholtz, owner of the Palm Lunch Restaurant. Pauline was from the Woodsboro, Maryland, area.

Starting in 1950 selling parts, Johnny sold Fords at Sperry’s. He also sold Ford chassis, used for fire trucks, to local fire departments. Both Johnny and his father served Emmitsburg’s Vigilant Hose Company in the roles of chief and president at different times. Both achieved life membership in the department. Johnny has been involved now for seventy years at Vigilant.

The Sperry Ford Sales dealership was closed in 1988, when it was sold to a former Redskin football player named George Starke. Starke moved the Ford business to Thurmont after running it in Emmitsburg for two years.

Johnny is still a devout Ford ambassador, having sold them for thirty-eight years. The irony of a Ford man winning a Chevy is legend.

Johnny admitted, “I knew I’d take a lot of flack from friends and family about winning a Chevy.” He did drive the Chevy home.

Johnny (John S.) Hollinger is pictured next to his Frederick County Fire & Rescue Hall of Fame Certificate and a photo of his father, John J. Hollinger, at the Vigilant Hose Company.

This year, the fireworks at Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day are in honor of Robert “Reds” Hance, who passed away unexpectedly early this year. “Bob was such a proponent for Heritage Day and was such a leader in the community that the Lions, Heritage Day Committee, and community, felt it would be fitting to dedicate the fireworks to him,” said Jennifer Joy of the Heritage Day Committee.

Bob was tireless in his support of many organizations and charities in Emmitsburg. It is hoped that many in Emmitsburg will come out in force to show their appreciation for him at the fireworks. Of course, the fireworks are the final event that finish off a day full of fun, sun, and family activities that begin early in the morning on June 24, 2017, beginning with the annual Vigilant Hose breakfast, followed by the Lions Club field games. Also planned this year: lots of delicious homemade food, including the Lions Club Famous Chicken BBQ; fun sports and activities for all ages; great live music from local artists; special vendor/craft exhibits, kid’s games, and rides; the Lions Club Memorial Event and Art Contest awards; Art Contest Exhibit; Library book sale; K-9 dog and emergency service demonstrations; horse-drawn carriage rides; historical tours, featuring author James Rada, Jr.; Grotto and Seton Shrine tours; car, truck, and motorcycle show (dash plaques also dedicated to “Reds”); annual parade (starts earlier this year at 5:00 p.m.); and evening entertainment with music from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, with Stewart Chapman and Michael Pryor Productions.

To keep abreast of all the news and schedule of activities on Heritage Day, please visit and check out its Facebook page: Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day.

The Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day Planning Committee would like to issue a special thanks to all who have contributed to the success of the Heritage Day festival including: the Sons of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, VFW, EBPA, local churches, businesses, and all the residents, for their hard work and dedication to the community.

If you have not already donated to support the Fireworks display, and you would like to, there is still time to contribute. All donations received will support the Fireworks and the Heritage Day Festival. Send check payable to: Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day c/o P.O. Box 1182, Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

James Rada, Jr.

Kim Andrew of Emmitsburg was awakened one morning because the smell in her house was so foul. The smell wasn’t coming from anything in her house, though. It was coming from the wastewater treatment plant lagoon that the town rents to Enviro-Organic Technologies (EOT) during the winter.

The lagoon had not been used since the new wastewater plant went into operation. EOT currently hauls the town’s sludge, but it was in need of a place to store food process residuals from mid-November until the beginning of March. An agreement was reached, and EOT paid the town $80,000 to use the lagoon, which was to be used towards some of the operating costs of the new wastewater treatment plant, at least for the first year.

The problem is that the material stored in the lagoon has been creating a hydrogen sulfide type of smell.

Mary Ann Wivell of Emmitsburg told the commissioners that she is afraid to hang up her clothes to dry outside for fear that they will pick up the smell. She and other residents attended the May town meeting to ask the commissioners to do something about the smell, which has been noticed in the east end of Emmitsburg since March.

“We have a beautiful town, and I’m concerned that you have people that come here, and that’s all they smell,” Wivell said.

Andrew said that she fears she goes to work some days smelling of rotten eggs. The material in the lagoon is a nutrient replacement that is spread on fields, but new state regulations don’t allow this to happen in the winter, so the material must be stored.

Residents also wondered if there were health hazards associated with the smell. In particular, could it affect people with asthma?

Phil Snader, EOT vice president, said that Maryland Department of Agriculture regulates the material and that it is a wash water product from processing poultry.

He said that he believed the smell started when the material in the lagoon was stirred. This broke the crust on the surface and allowed the smell to escape.

Snader suggested some things that could be done to reduce and hopefully eliminate the smell: (1) A biological odor-control agent can be added to the lagoon once it is drained of material; (2) Mixing can be reduced so as to not compromise the crust; (3) Material can be removed through PVC pipe under the crust to keep it intact; and (4) Straw can be placed on top of the material that will help a crust form more quickly.

However, Snader cautioned, “I can’t guarantee there will never be an odor.”

The commissioners are willing to give Snader’s solutions a try. Also, EOT stopped using the lagoon in early May.

Based on how well the implemented solutions work, the commissioners may not want to rent the lagoon for the same use this winter.

The view out of Rachel Mohler’s kitchen window is so picturesque that it should be a painting—in fact, it is a painting. Or, should we say, it is many paintings. Rachel has painted that ever-changing view nearly a hundred times since her resolution to complete a painting-a-day started on January 1, 2017.

Her New Year’s Resolution had no real rules, so Rachel kept it seemingly simple, painting the view from the picture window in her new home on the mountain in Sabillasville. Each day she paints a unique rendition of the scene on a new 2×3 inch piece of gesso board.

The goal of a resolution is often measured in quantity, like counting calories or losing weight, or an absence of quantity, like stopping a bad habit or abstaining from eating a certain food. Rachel’s resolution seemed to be of the first variety, simple arithmetic—a painting a day.

In fact, Rachel’s resolution took on a life of its own, complete with the emotion of changing moods in the weather; the changing perceptions of the scene by Rachel, her children, and her husband; and the lessons of attention to detail: appreciation of nature, awe of the grand order of the world, rhythm and changing palette of the seasons, ebb and flow of life, happiness about being part of something grand, and peace in new inspiration.

Rachel has captured the scene at the birth of sunrise, the rest of sunset, the blanketing of snow, the cloak of fog, the bathing of sun, the cleansing of rain, and amidst the demand of storm. She said, “Sometimes the fog goes on for days, but then you realize, the color of the fog is changing depending on what’s going on above the fog.”

In the first two weeks, she painted with her usual watercolor but couldn’t quite capture the beauty of the images as well as she wanted, so she switched to oil paint. Feeling somewhat intimidated by oils, Rachel told herself, “Just do it. That’s how you’re going to learn.” So, she completed her first-ever oil paintings.

As the days progressed, Rachel noticed involvement by her children. “They’re seeing when the clouds are pink, the sky is green, there’s a rainbow.” At one point, her daughter Saige (turning five in June), joined the project and completed her own watercolor paintings on small pieces of hand-torn paper.

With a five-year-old (Saige), a three-year-old (Atlas), and a one-year-old (Wren), the mom artist was bound to battle the demands for her time, and family comes first—as it should. This winter, one family member after another battled sickness, as strep, flu, pink eye, and fever swept through the family. Because of this, Rachel was not able to meet the painting-a-day demand.

Reconciling what could be construed as a failure, Rachel was able to give herself a break after talking to her husband, Brian, and her mother, Linda Faulkner, who are very supportive of her. Her mother, who is also an artist, told Rachel, “If you had a friend who went on a diet and fell off the wagon a bit but still was making progress, would you call her a failure?”

Rachel surmised, ”If I can just give myself some grace, it’ll be okay.” So, she paints when she can.

Having never done a daily or a long-term goal project, Rachel quickly streamlined her painting processes. She takes photos of the view with her phone. Her choice of 2×3 inch gesso boards was really a matter of convenience. With three youngsters, she needed her studio to be at-the-ready when the opportunity to paint presented itself. Therefore, she owns a small travel portfolio case that, when unzipped, has all supplies handy, including pens, pre-cut boards, her brushes, and a small old tobacco tin that she purchased from the Emmitsburg Antique Mall, used as her paint box so her paints don’t dry out.

The many paintings that Rachel has completed so far are displayed on the wall next to the family’s dining room table. Some look like photographs. Each painting is different.

There is one painting that Rachel does not like. She has repainted it several times. The image was from Valentine’s Day morning. Rachel explained, “It was the most beautiful sunrise ever. The sun shone like a spotlight into the sky on the clouds. I just cannot capture the light of the clouds. I can’t even count how many times I’ve started that one over. I just don’t have the skill to capture it yet.” Undeterred, Rachel aspired, “It will make me feel better once I’ve conquered it.”

Read more about Rachel’s story and her painting-a-day resolution results at the end of this year in The Catoctin Banner Newspaper. To see postings of Rachel’s paintings visit and

Allison Rostad

If you’ve ever been a part of a volunteer fire company, you’ve probably already experienced a banquet that seems more like a family get together. For the members of Graceham Volunteer Fire Company, this is nothing short of the truth.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Graceham Volunteer Fire Company members gathered in their decorated engine bay, with apparatus neatly displayed out front, for their annual ceremony and awards banquet. Emcee of the evening, President Louis Powell Jr., welcomed guests and members for a meal provided by Mountain Gate, preceded by an opening invocation and blessing from Pastor Sue Koenig.

The awards program began shortly after 7:30 p.m., with a brief memorial service remembering the three members who passed away in the previous year.

“A bell symbolizes a start of the day for the fire department. It would symbolize a response, ringing the bell to call the firefighters in—on scene, on the apparatus, on the steamers; they would ring the bell that the incident was over and the fire fighters could go home. These three firefighters have gone to their heavenly home. As such, we will ring the bell in their honor,” Chip Jewell, director and chief of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, explained for the remembrance of Eugene “Sonny” Grimes, George “Junebug” Morningstar, and Anthony “Tony” Weddle.

Members took a moment to say a prayer for their lost loved ones, and a prayer for their safety in the coming year.

Chief James Kilby shared an overview of the previous year, announcing the company’s less than eight percent fail rate on answering their 230 calls for the year. “We did extremely well getting everything out.”

President Louis Powell Jr. then added to the list of company successes with the announcement of their first year being debt-free after the final vehicle payment on Engine Tanker 184.

A President’s Award was given to Brian Boller and Bill Morgan for their assistance in guiding Louis in his new role as president.

Julie Durgan received the Chief’s Award for her consistent efforts in keeping the apparatus up to standard.

Top Five Responders were: Hilary Blake (141 calls); Michelle Powell (113 calls); Josh Hillman (62 calls); Katie Miller (61 calls); and Eugene “Sonny” Grimes, who was represented by his wife and daughter to accept the award. Captain Valaria Kilby shared a slideshow entitled “Reflection of Past,” with images of members active on a call, at training sessions, and taking part in community events.

The banquet came to an end with a final installation of officers for the upcoming year by Gary Keller, Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Associations Board of Trustees member.

Administrative Officers for 2017: Louis Powell Jr.—President; Bill Morgan—Vice President; Hilary Blake—Secretary; Julie Durgan—Assistant Secretary; Sterling Seiss—Treasure; Brian Boller—Assistant Treasurer.

Board of Directors for 2017: Katie Miller, Brian Boller, Lara Gosbee, Hilary Blake, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers Sr., and Sterling Seiss.

Line Officers for 2017: Chief James Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., Captain Valaria Kilby, and Lieutenant Julie Durgan.

Pictured from left are: (back row): Bill Morgan, Brian Boller, Louis Powell, Hilary Blake, Julie Durgan, Katie Miller, Lara Gosbee; (front row) Kenneth “Doc” Simmers and Sterling Seiss.

Pictured from left are Michelle Powell, Brian Boller, Josh Hillman, Hilary Blake, and Katie Miller.

Pictured from left are Jim Kilby, Louis Powell, Val Kilby, and Julie Durgan.