Blair Garrett

The sun may not have been shining, but the smiles and laughter of 100 Little Leaguers surely brightened a cloudy day.

Opening day for Thurmont Little League (TLL) kicked off April 6, marking the organization’s 67th year providing kids with an athletic outlet in a supportive, team-oriented environment.

It was a day of fun, excitement, and giving thanks to everyone who makes Thurmont Little League baseball the great organization that it is today.

“We have a lot of people who are helping out to make this run smoothly,” TLL President Jeremy Johnson said. “I want to make sure we give all of our volunteers a round of applause.”

Above all, youth baseball is about teaching the future generation values and skills that they will remember for the rest of their lives. “We all have one goal here, and it’s for these kids to have fun,” said TLL President Jeremy Johnson.  

After opening statements, the area’s favorite Little League teams came storming onto the field, marching out with their coaches, managers, and team moms. The Majors were brought out first, sporting the league’s oldest players, followed by the Intermediate Division, the Minors, the Instructionals, and the Tee Ball teams. The day’s honorary MC was Brian Mo, afternoon DJ at 99.9 WFRE, who was responsible for pumping up the crowd for an exciting start to the TLL season.

Mo had each little leaguer recite the Little League pledge, confirming their dedication to playing hard and playing fair throughout the season.

The community support in Thurmont for youth baseball has been remarkable, particularly over the past few years, and that was recognizable multiple times during the Opening Day ceremony. 

“This community is amazing,” Mo said. “I’ve lived in many places in my life and my radio career, and I have never seen a community like Thurmont. You guys are amazing; keep doing what you’re doing, and keep being involved with these kids.”

The volunteer support, coaching, and effort put forth by everyone involved with Little League baseball has put Thurmont teams on the map during recent seasons. TLL teams have won multiple state and district championships across all age groups since 2015, largely in part to the attention and time dedicated by the volunteers that make Thurmont Little League possible.

Paul “PJ” Nicholson, stood out among the group, while TLL President Johnson read a few quotes from family and friends who know Nicholson. “PJ believes in playing hard, working harder, giving back to the community, and being a great friend to young and old alike,” Johnson said. “PJ’s love for family goes beyond blood. His extended family is Thurmont Little League.” After the passage of kind words,  praising Nicholson’s efforts for TLL, Johnson unveiled the real surprise.

“With that said, our minor league field is no longer called our minor league field. It is now called ‘Nicholson field.’” Nicholson’s response to the love from his closest friends was short and sweet, but there was no shortage of emotion in the crowd.

As the opening ceremony came to a close, there was only one more piece of business to address before the kids were ready to take the field. “The season can’t start without a first pitch, right?” Mo asked, adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Tony Testa, owner of Rocky’s Pizza and proud supporter of Thurmont Little League.” Testa’s pitch brought about hundreds of screaming little leaguers, and with that, TLL’s 2019 season commenced.

Opening Day not only signifies the beginning of a year of fun and competition for the kids of Northern Maryland, but it also offers fans, parents, and TLL supporters a chance to take a step back and appreciate the great opportunities that organized sports provide their children to learn and grow. The Little League season may have just begun, but the lessons and camaraderie young baseball players experience during their time with TLL will last a lifetime. 

James Rada, Jr.

The year 1899 marks the year that aspirin was created. It is the birth year for Al Capone, Duke Ellington, and August Anheuser Busch, Jr. Henry Bliss became the first person killed in a car accident in the United States. And, Woodsboro Savings Bank of Frederick County was chartered on May 1, 1899, with $25,000 in capital stock.

Today, 120 years later, the bank headquarters remains in Woodsboro, and six branch offices—Downtown Frederick, Monocacy, Thurmont, Rt. 40, Guilford Drive, and Homewood—are thriving.

“We have survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the great recession. That’s an achievement,” said Woodsboro Bank President and CEO Stephen K. Heine.

Although the three-story brick headquarters for Woodsboro Bank on North Main Street in Woodsboro looks aged and historic, when it was first opened in 1901, it was state-of-the-art.

“The building was equipped with every modern convenience and featured innovative fire and burglar proof vaults,” according to the bank history on the Woodsboro Bank website.  

“We were the bank that funded the vast majority of businesses here, as well as the families,” Heine said.

The building, which was the heart of the town, was also home to the post office, a grocery store, and the Woodsboro Opera House. Community gatherings were held in the opera house space. Later, the Washington Camp No. 44 Patriotic Order of America held its lodge meetings in the building, and a dentist had his offices.

As the bank grew, its need for space increased. A two-story annex was built onto the rear of the building in 1984, and five years later, a one-story addition added drive-through banking to Woodsboro Bank’s services.

Then, in 1995, Woodsboro Bank took over the opera house space (which had closed in 1953). A floor was added in the opera house, giving the building a full third floor. However, the designers preserved the wooden proscenium, painted mural, and original opera house piano, which can still be seen today.

“We’re truly a modern bank, but you have to respect history,” Heine said.

The bank was growing outside of Woodsboro as well, particularly during the 1990s. It changed its name from Woodsboro Savings Bank to Woodsboro Bank in 1995, which seemed to reflect the bank’s growth.

“Up until the 90s, we were a traditional community bank,” Heine said.

Woodsboro Bank opened its first branch in Thurmont in 1993. Other branches soon followed.

The Monocacy Village branch opened in 1997. The Downtown Frederick and Rt. 40 branches opened in 1999. ATMs came along in 1995 and expanded the bank’s reach into Trout’s Market and Sheetz stores in Thurmont and Taneytown.

“As Frederick started to grow, the bank knew we needed to be part of the Frederick community,” Heine said.

Growth has continued into the 21st century. The Guilford and Homewood branch offices opened. A new Thurmont branch was built, and an art deco building in downtown Frederick was purchased to house Woodsboro Bank’s commercial operations.

Although Woodsboro Bank offers all of the services that larger banks offer, it remains focused on community banking.

“There’s a need and a want among businesses and individuals for a community bank,” Heine said. Heine explained that people want to be treated like individuals and to have bank employees work with them to find a solution to their banking needs.

While the bank’s customer base has grown throughout Frederick County, Woodsboro is still the bank’s home.

“This is our home. We are loyal to the community, and the community is loyal to us,” Heine said. He explained that the bank supports over 60 not-for-profit businesses and community organizations with money and volunteer hours.

Community banks like Woodsboro Bank are quickly disappearing, as they are absorbed into other larger banks, but Woodsboro Bank is thriving as an integral part of Frederick County.

The bank plans to celebrate its anniversary with a dinner at McClintock’s Distilling on May 14. There will also be a BBQ for colleagues and their families at Woodsboro Town Park in June.

The Woodsboro Bank building on Main Street in Woodsboro, was in the heart of the town. It was also the location of the Woodsoboro U.S. Post Office.

The building was also home to the Woodsboro Opera House, where community gatherings were held.

Woodsboro Bank, Frederick County Humane Society and K-9 Unsung Hero Fund joined together to provide the Thurmont Police Department with a new K-9, Majo. Steve Ott (VP/Branch Team Leader, Woodsboro Bank), Steve Heine (President & CEO, Woodsboro Bank), and Consie Meyers (VP/Business Development Officer, Woodsboro Bank), Connie Graff (Director, Frederick County Humane Society) and Martin Burall (VP/Technology, Woodsboro Bank and President, Frederick County Humane Society) visited with Corporal Duhan and Majo.

James Rada, Jr.

Over its history, Emmitsburg has been home to artisans and craftsmen whose pride of craftsmanship made their work collector’s items. One notorious artisan of Emmitsburg is John Armstrong. He is known for crafting Armstrong rifles.

John Armstrong was a first-generation American, born in Liberty Township, Pennsylvania on September 5, 1772. It is believed that he apprenticed with a riflemaker in Hanover, Pennsylvania, when he was just 14.

He moved to Emmitsburg in 1793 and began making rifles. He was already listed as a head of his own household in 1790, which is unusual since most apprentices serve until they are 21, which is how old he would have been when he moved to Emmitsburg.

It is worth noting that Emmitsburg had two other young riflemakers—George Nunemaker I and Peter White—working in town during Armstrong’s early years in town.

“All three of these men were underage to have been working as independent gunsmiths and at no other place in the state can one find three craftsmen of this caliber working together,” Daniel D. Hartzler wrote in his article, “The Armstrong Boys of Emmitsburg.”

Armstrong started crafting his variation of the Kentucky Long Rifle by 1808, although some historians believe he was making them soon after he arrived in Emmitsburg.

He worked in iron, maple, brass, and silver. Many of his designs and design elements were adopted by other riflemakers “from the dove tail iron inset in the heel of the brass butt plate to the long-nosed muzzle cap,” Hartzler wrote.

The Rock Island Auction Company website says Armstrong “is generally considered to be one of the very best of the era. His pieces often draw comparisons to Swiss watches and Rolls Royce automobiles—classics that defy time.” 

He taught a generation of gunsmiths, so much so he and his apprentices were known as the “Emmitsburg School of Gunsmiths.” He had three recorded apprentices and some that are known but not recorded.

His three recorded apprentices were Marine Tyler Wickham, George Piper, and John Blackburn. After their apprenticeships, they continued their work in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; York, Pennsylvania; and Hagerstown, Maryland respectively. Nathaniel Rowe is also known to have apprenticed with Armstrong.

“The point is that John developed a style early in his career, in the late 18th century, that pleased him and pleased his customers; he did not change that basic design with the passage of time,” Albert Manley Sullivan wrote in Emmitsburg: History and Society.

Armstrong was a perfectionist who crafted all of the parts for his rifles, even though it took more time. “But none of these suited Armstrong. Not John Armstrong, the perfectionist! The store-bought locks were not good enough to go on his excellent products, so he made his own locks. Locks of a quality compatible with the high quality of everything else on his truly excellent rifles,” Sullivan wrote.

The result of making them himself was worth it. Sullivan described the locks as “slender, graceful and beautifully proportioned. They blend perfectly into the architectural balance of the gun.”

Like any artist, Armstrong signed his locks. An Armstrong rifle without a signed lock is not worth nearly as much.

His rifles, as you can see from the pictures included with this article, could be considered works of art. They have sold at auction from $40,000 to $90,000.

Armstrong’s four sons—William, Robert, Samuel, and James—were all trained as gunsmiths, although little information is available about them. It is known that William became the Master Armorer at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. A rifle made by Samuel and another by Robert have also been found.

Given the time that Armstrong lived in Emmitsburg, and the size of the town, it shouldn’t be surprising that he knew Mother Elizabeth Seton. Armstrong did work for her, but not as a riflemaker. His name appears in her receipt book, showing that he did work for her and the Sisters of Charity, making locks, mending keys, repairing guitar screws, and repairing piano keys.

Current Emmitsburg Town staff members have talked about developing Emmitsburg’s cultural heritage in the past; recently, the town commissioners approved the creation and placement of three waysides in town that highlight different historical aspects of the town. Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm designed the waysides, and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations wrote the copy. The three waysides will be at the Emmit House, doughboy statue, and town square. The Maryland Heritage Area Authority funded the project with a $9,000 grant.

Carolyn Shields

On Saturday, March 30, 2019, Helen Reaver hosted another “Granddaughter’s Day” at her house at the end of a long, dirt road. Eleven of her granddaughters traveled from across the region to attend this special meal with the matriarch of the Reaver Family.

Helen prepared a bountiful meal of homemade chili, chicken noodle soup, fruit salad, salad, biscuits, rice crispies, and her famous iced tea, and she pulled out her wedding china for the lunch. The young women, ranging from age 18 to early 30’s, caught up with one another around the table where their parents gathered each night years ago. Out the window, some of their children ran around, prompting the women to recall memories of hot summer days on the farm, playing in that same field.

They were a motley ragtag group back then, particularly on Grandkids Day, which was every Wednesday during the summer when all the cousins flocked to the farm to play kickball. “Do you remember the automatic home runs when we kicked it to the cornfield?” one of the granddaughter’s laughed.

“What about the time Kathy and Liz jumped in front of the cop car, thinking it was Gina and wanted to scare her?” another recalled.

“Why did we ever think jumping in front of cars to scare our aunts was a good idea?” another mused.

After lunch, Grandma pulled out a few items for her infamous Grocery Game, a beloved classic that is usually reserved for the married aunts and uncles and “older cousins” in the family at Easter and Christmas; but because it was a special occasion, she made an exception. Afterwards, the girls huddled around one end of the table and indubitably broke out the cards for a rapid game of Uno, filled with shouts and guffaws.

Meanwhile, Pappy walked one of his great-granddaughters down the long country lane while the “big girls” helped Grandma do dishes.

The girls left, already looking forward to the next lunch with Grandma.

Pictured from left are: (back row) Carolyn Shields, Emily Bencie, Priscilla Reaver, Brittany Johnson, Kathy Calis, Sydney Reaver; (front row) Amber Reaver, Helen Reaver, Kimberly Shields, and Jessica Buitrago.

Courtesy Photo

by James Rada, Jr.


April 2019 Meeting

Town Approved Mandated Cross-Connection Control Program

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the state-mandated cross-connection control program that will help protect the water supply from pollutants. The program requires all properties to have a backflow prevention device installed on the waterline leading into the property. Each device will cost an estimated $150.

Residential properties will need to be re-evaluated every 10 years. The inspection permit will cost about $100. Businesses will need to be inspected every two years, the permit will cost $25 for a new installation and $15 for each renewal.

The commissioners voted to require all properties to have the backflow prevention device installed within five years, but if a property is sold, it will first need to have a device installed.

Some commissioners worried that the costs would harm low-income residents and wondered if something could be done to mitigate the costs for them. However, some of their proposed solutions could prove to be costly as well. It may be something they will consider in the future.

The commissioners also approved three contracts for other state-mandated programs. These were a baseline impervious surface assessment, a standard-operating procedures manual for those doing stormwater management work, and annual inspections for three years.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring these actions for stormwater management improvement. The total cost of the three contracts is $22,900.

Firewood for Low-income Families

The Emmitsburg Commissioners are pursuing a program to help some low-income families in town heat their homes during the winter. The program, if approved, would allow low-income families in Emmitsburg, who use firewood, to harvest downed trees on town-owned property in certain areas.

“This would be of real value and serve our community,” said Commissioner Tim O’Donnell.

Town staff is working to formulate a policy and permitting process by consulting the town attorney, Maryland Forest Service, and other municipalities with similar programs.

New Dump Truck Purchase

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the purchase of a new dump truck to replace the 23-year-old dump truck the town currently uses, which will no longer pass inspection and is not safe to haul material in. They approved a bid of $154,460 from MJR Equipment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

New Wastewater Treatment Plant Building Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the construction of a storage garage at the wastewater treatment plant. It will be used to keep equipment from having to sit outside, where it is exposed to the elements. It should also lower the maintenance costs for those pieces of equipment. The commissioners approved a $35,870 bid from Hanover Building Systems. Although the bid was the higher of the two bids received, the roof can hold a heavier load, it is made from better material, and it comes with a 35-year fade warranty.


April 2019 Meeting

Commissioners Reviewing Changes to Town Subdivision Regulations

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are reviewing proposed revisions to the town’s subdivision regulations. Town Planner Chris Jakubiak said the current regulations, many of which date back to the 1970s, are a “bit outdated,” with some gray areas that needed to be defined.

“In my opinion, the code lacks real guidance to good neighborhood design,” Jakubiak said.

Commissioners Approve New Vehicle Purchases

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved the purchase of a new service bucket truck and transferred $14,466 to the capital reserve fund to have the full purchase amount. The commissioners have been setting aside money for years in the capital reserve fund to be able to purchase the vehicle. The new vehicle will replace a 2002 Chevrolet bucket truck.

The commissioners also approved the purchase of a new police vehicle for the Thurmont Police Department. The new vehicle is needed to replace one totaled in an accident in January. The 2020 Ford Explorer costs $34,034, but the commissioners only needed to set aside $20,984 for the vehicle because the insurance settlement for the wrecked vehicle was $13,050. The electronics from the totaled vehicle can also be reinstalled in the new vehicle.

Trash Collection Contract Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a new trash collection contract with a new hauler recently. The contract is for two years, with a third-year extension option. The new hauler will be Ecology Services Refuse and Recycling in Columbia. Their bid of $134,580 for the first year and $137,945 for the second year was a significantly lower amount than the other bid. The same company currently handles the town’s recycling collection. The switch to a new hauler for trash will not affect the current trash collection days in town.

Commissioners Correct Planning and Zoning Mistake

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners corrected a mistake made when the town’s master plan was updated in 2010. At that time, the Planning and Zoning Commission and Mayor and Commissioners approved a rezoning of the 3.2-acre Hauver property on Eyler Road, from R-1 zoning to R-2 zoning. However, the change never made it onto the zoning maps, which was discovered years later. The change allows 8,000-square-foot lots versus 12,000-square-foot lots. In the case of the Hauver property, it might allow for another lot or two with little additional impervious surface. This would depend on how a subdivision plan is drawn.

The commissioners also reappointed Planning and Zoning Commission members Randy Cubbedge and Bryant Despeaux to the commission for new terms.

Richard Lee was also reappointed to the Thurmont Board of Appeals for a new term.


 Mayor Don Briggs

As always, May brings a lot with it, both in the expected and the unexpected. None more touching, as expected, than the many graduations: pre-K to kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. The passage of time, a child one day, a youth another, then on to an adult and out to the world that awaits. With each step comes the unexpected sinking feeling that they all happen so quickly. This year, we will see our fourth grandchild off to college.  

On May 1, youwill find me participating as a forum panel member at Hood’s (College) Green Neighborhood Festival. On May 7-8, to the same subject, I will be attending a second two-day State of Maryland-sponsored program on climate change. This program was supposed to have been held in February, but there was the homage that had to be paid to the weather. Here is a catchy phrase for you: “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” The program consists of three, two-day sets. The third set will be held in June on a very interesting topical subject presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers. Our town concentration has been on reducing waste and lowering costs, one of mitigation and re-adaption. We have done so primarily through shifting over 94 percent of town account energy needs to renewable energy. On May 6, at the town’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the town council will deliberate on the Mayor’s 2020 budget.

May 21 is the wrap-up session at St. John’s College Annapolis — Santa Fe Classics program. This year’s topic was: “Tyranny and Democracy.” The readings were from Plato, Chaucer, Hamilton, Shakespeare, Shelley, Kafka, DeTocqueville, and Ursula LeGuin. It’s my fifth year attending. From Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville’s observations of the new American form of democracy in the 1830s, I was captured by one sentence in particular: “There exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart of man to the place where man is born” (My translation).

In April, I attended the spring Mount Athletic Advisory Committee wrap-up meeting for the school year, where members reviewed data on the student athlete academic performance. Competition and winning are important for a Division I School. The Mount has to be commended on its commitment to academics. It’s a delicate emphasis that many institutions lose. Well done.

The town celebrated Arbor Day in Community Park, on Saturday, April 13.  Eight—not just any type, but native-adaptive—trees were planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses in front of the elementary school. Thank you to the town staff, Lion’s Club, the EBPA, and other individual volunteers.

The town was honored by the visit of a dozen University of Maryland grad students, who toured the town’s innovative water systems.

Once but a “unicorn,” our historic area 50-50 grant program genesis 2013, now has grown into over $880,000 of façade improvements in our downtown. Every year, we apply for grant money and our allotment seems to always be $50,000. Please contact our planning department if you have an interest.

Looking forward in the not too distant future for another spectacular Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29; a full slate of summer concerts; and, on August 6, National Night Out, sponsored by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. From the official narrative, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement, while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.” The K-9 team, the SWAT team, and vehicles. Please plan to join us.

The town was recently awarded two grants. One, a $5,000 “Keep Maryland Beautiful” grant to be used for nine recycling bins for our parks, and another for $3,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to be applied to a storm water management project. Thank you to our planner, Zach Gulden.

I hope all had a wonderful Easter. 


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont recently appointed Harold Lawson to the position of Director of Public Works. Harold has been with the Town of Thurmont for 29 years and has served as Superintendent of the Water Department for the last 6 years. Harold is well acquainted with our infrastructure and will serve our residents well in this new position. I congratulate Harold on his appointment and look forward to working with him.

The months of April and May are always busy for our staff and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) as we craft the Town budget for the upcoming year. Our department heads have already submitted their preliminary budgets, and the BOC is in the process of reviewing the budget for each department. There are actually four budgets to be reviewed: the general fund budget covers streets, parks, police, Economic Development, Planning and Zoning, and office staff. The revenue for the General Fund Budget is received through property taxes, permit fees, tax equity refunds from Frederick County, and other user fees. The other three budgets being reviewed are for the Water, Electric and Wastewater Departments. These departments function as Enterprise Funds and are self-sustained by the fees paid for the services each provides our residents. Currently, the BOC has completed a first review of each budget and has recommended several changes in each. The next step will be the official introduction of the budget, at which time addition recommendations can be made by the BOC and public comment will be received during a public hearing on the final budget. Currently, the budgets all show a positive balance of revenue over expenditures. As of today, April 24, 2019, we have based the General Fund budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. This rate is calculated to generate the same amount of Property Tax revenue we received during the current (2018-2019) budget year. If we hold to the Constant Yield Tax Rate, our residents will actually pay a slightly lower Property Tax Rate this coming year. The Tax Rate for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year was 30.41 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value. If the BOC decides to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate, the Property Tax Rate for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will drop to 29.92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This change is due in part to increased property values and the construction of several new residences. Generally speaking, we try to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate as often as we can, but increases in costs for materials and labor will sometimes require an increase in the tax rate, as we experienced last year. I invite you to watch or attend the upcoming budget discussions and public hearing; you will be surprised by the amount of effort that is put into the Thurmont Budget process.

This summer, we will be hosting two Summer Concert in the Park events. The first will be on June 9 and will feature the Spires Brass Band; the second will be on August 25 with our own Gateway Brass Ensemble. The concerts are held at Memorial Park and begin at 6:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and join us for this great small-town tradition!

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at I hope everyone has a great spring!

James Rada, Jr.

Rutter’s opened its first Maryland convenience store/gasoline station in Walkersville in February, and now work has started on an Emmitsburg location.

Emmitsburg Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners during their April meeting that Rutter’s plans to build an 8,380-square-foot store at the southeast corner of MD 140 and US 15. It will be the opposite side of US 15 from Emmitsburg on a portion of the town-owned land there. The proposed location will include 7 gasoline stations, 5 diesel fuel stations, a truck scale, 28 short-term tractor-trailer parking spots, and 59 passenger vehicle spots.

The store will also include some green techniques Mayor Don Briggs suggested. These include electric-vehicle stations and tree islands.

“They’re getting ready. I’m sure they’re out there surveying,” Gulden replied when asked about the trailer on the site.

The Emmitsburg Rutter’s is one of seven that the Pennsylvania-based company has planned for Maryland so far. The state marks the third where the 73-store chain is located. (The other two states are Pennsylvania and West Virginia.)

“Maryland is a natural progression for us in our growth plans. Actually, the Pennsylvania Maryland line is a mere 19 miles from our corporate office,” said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s, when speaking about the opening of the Walkersville location.

With truck facilities planned, the proposed location will be convenient to traffic traveling along US 15.  Rutter’s also serves food, such as chicken pot pie and BBQ beef short ribs, and the stores are open 24/7.

Based on the size and employment at the Walkersville location, the new Emmitsburg store should bring at least 50 new jobs to the area.

The store is still in the planning stage, and the planning commission and town commissioners have not yet approved the plans.

Blair Garrett

Tucked away on a quaint 38-acre property in Thurmont lies a little-known winery full of rich experiences, friendly faces, and, of course, plenty of wine.

Links Bridge Vineyards, off Old Links Bridge Road, provides local residents a refreshing getaway from life’s stresses, with a variety of red and white wines sure to please even the pickiest wine connoisseurs.

The small-scale winery is run by Bob and Joan Cartier, a couple who has been creating wine for a decade. While the pair normally focus on dry wines, a rainy 2018 forced the Cartiers to improvise, beginning to make a few sparkling wines for the future.

“We started selling the grapes to Old Westminster, and we’d go over there and help process them, and it was just so interesting what they were doing,” Joan said. “So we decided that maybe we could try making wine ourselves.”

The area is perfectly fit for an intimate setting with friends and family, without the commotion and traffic of a big facility. “We’re right on the Monocacy River, and we have a picnic area and a patio down by the river,” Joan said. “People can bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine, and go down to the river.”

The science of wine making is far from exact, and recipes are often hard to recreate. Many things can affect the taste of a wine from batch to batch, including weather, temperatures, different grape harvests, and many other often unknown factors.

The Cartiers are relatively new to the scene of wine making, with both having previous careers far outside their current field. Robert was an assistant dean at a university, and Joan still does work in Washington D.C. Wine making is a much more relaxing profession than the stresses of running a university. “It’s a nice change,” they both said in unison.

With a small winery, keeping customers aware and interested in events can be a challenge. Links Bridge offers wine tastings on weekends, where you can try numerous different reds and whites with cheese and crackers. But there is more on the horizon for Links Bridge winery. The vineyard plans to host goat yoga, a hot new fad, connecting goats with the relaxation and zen of yoga. Miniature goats will climb onto the backs of participants, who balance the goats in a series of poses and stretches. The vineyard even has plans to have a wine stop for people tubing down the Monocacy River.

The growth of the wine industry has taken off since the rise of social media. Today, people can find something they enjoy and share it with the world; so, naturally, wine fits perfectly into that idea. The exposure of good wines and great food have opened wineries up all over Maryland.

“When we first started growing grapes, there were 15 or 20 wineries in Maryland,” Bob said. “Now there are 90-some wineries in Maryland, and that’s happened in the space of a dozen years.”

With the couple’s passion for making great wines, it’s no surprise that Links Bridge Vineyards has exceeded expectations for a small Thurmont winery. Whether it’s a bottle of wine by the river, or a wine tasting among close friends, Links Bridge has something to offer everyone, and that’s something worth getting excited about.

Links Bridge Vineyards is located at 8830 Old Links Bridge Road in Thurmont. Visit the website at

Bob and Joan Cartier, proprietors of Links Bridge Vineyards in Thurmont.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Deb Abraham Spalding

Charla Acker (pictured right) is a professional in dress, demeanor, and presentation. She works out of her home office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and often ventures out to appear at community events. She defines her profession as, “Service work. It’s hard work, but it’s very fulfilling.” She is committed to her profession and finds great joy in “seeing clients transform.”

Her clients’ transformation is often an emotional relief from grief or the reassurance that we are not alone in life, nor do our souls cease to exist after our physical bodies die. You see, Charla Acker is a psychic medium by profession. She admits, “We don’t choose this work, it chooses us. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s a life-long education.”

Charla explained that we all have some psychic ability; intuition at its least-developed level and psychic mediumship at a professionally trained level. About being a psychic medium, she added, “You’re already starting at a disadvantage in this profession because there are so many people out there claiming to be a psychic medium when they’re not. In this work, you’re called crazy and a fraud. As professionals, we need to bridge that perception.”

How to bridge the negative perception is through education. Professional psychic mediums don’t “fish” for facts. They present specific information. It’s called evidential information, and it leaves no doubt. “People should be at this professional level before calling themselves a medium. Those who don’t do more damage than good.”

Charla is skeptical and tough on spirit. For example, “Last week a father came through during a client’s reading, and I saw the strangest thing. I saw cases of creepy clowns. I looked at the client and said, ‘I have to tell it like I see it.’ I told her what I saw. Her face turned white and she started to cry. She said there were three people in the whole world who knew that her father was in a circus as a kid and collected creepy clowns. They are still in her parent’s attic.”

I first saw Charla when she presented a psychic gallery for charity at the Totem Pole Playhouse near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, last August. A friend offered me one of her tickets and I accepted, not because I wanted a reading nor did I expect one in an audience of 350 people. I told my friend that I would video when she got her reading. And, that’s what I did! I started to video as quickly as I could when Charla said, “I have ‘Tom’ here bringing through his daughter, ‘Ash.’” Charla named their names, no questions asked. She did that with every reading she gave that evening. I’d never seen a psychic who was so accurate with names, not even big-name celebrity psychics.

The second time I saw Charla was in March of this year. This time it was just me and Charla. The first thing Charla said during my reading, after explaining how it works and her role, was, “Who’s Diane?” After conveying the message that, “Diane has transitioned and wants everyone to know that she’s happy,” Charla went on to mention several other names throughout my reading that were significant to me.

Charla feels that she’s “just the radio” who brings through the message from the spirit realm frequency. She explained, “It’s the love that bridges the gap.” She describes her energy as being like a balloon. It starts out full of energy and with every reading, it deflates a little until it’s all gone.

Her advice to a client is to not have expectations about who will come through during a reading, stating, “It’s not 1-800-Dial-the-Dead! Whoever chooses to come through, comes through!” The spirit who comes through could be an uncle who’s been dead longer than you’ve been alive or a family friend who steps forward instead of your deceased mother. This can leave you scratching your head about things. Be assured that if the facts presented don’t make sense in the moment, they’ll usually make sense later.

Charla was raised in a church-going Protestant family in Ohio. In kindergarten, she remembers playing with spirit children on a memorial playground located on a former school site that was destroyed by fire in 1908: 172 children, 2 teachers, and 1 firefighter perished in that fire. She said, “As a child, you really don’t know what to do with that energy. It’s a lot to take on.”

As she grew older, Charla dabbled in the topic of energy as a hobby and furthered her knowledge. She got married and lived in Pittsburgh with her husband who was a criminal attorney. Then, at age 30, she had a stroke. “That’s when my ability exploded.” She had become spiritually heightened. The adage, “When the student is ready, the teachers will come,” was evident.

At a book signing for John Edward (he did the television show Crossing Over) he said to Charla, “Wow, you’re going to be doing this work. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!” After that, she met people with like interests, and she attended workshops and group development sessions. She couldn’t get enough learning about energy. Yet, although she was fascinated by the whole process, it was still just a hobby. She said, “You don’t grow up wanting to be a psychic!” She used to be like everybody else and battled with the perception of being different.

Regardless of her internal excuses, her talents expanded, and she started giving tarot card readings to her friends and then started to take on paying clients. One day, while giving a reading for a client, she started seeing visions and hearing voices (hearing comments in her head). This was the beginning of her mediumship development. She took every class she could to understand the process. It had become her mission, her purpose in life.

Charla and her husband moved to Gettysburg from Pittsburgh when her husband started a new career. Her business continued to expand. Her clients are doctors, lawyers, garbage men, and people from all walks of life. Today, Charla has a full schedule. She is accessible and affordable. She is reaching to impact many people because she feels that’s her calling.

For Charla, it’s about healing, clarity, and transformation. She assures us, “There is life after death. This isn’t all there is.”

Charla is certified through the Tarot Certification Board of America and is a member of The American Tarot Association & Forever Family Foundation. Charla is also an Ordained Minister with the Universal Life Church Ministries. She is certified in Usui Reiki Levels 1, 2 & 3 Master/Teacher. The wait time for a reading (in-person or on the phone) with Charla is currently one year.

Find out more about Charla or see some of the videos of her in action online at

The 2nd Annual Gateway To The Cure Zumbathon was held on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at the Thurmont American Legion.

Zumba lovers of all ages came out to show their support for Gateway To The Cure, the Town of Thurmont’s annual fundraiser. Thurmont Zumba Instructor Kellie Bevard organized the entire event, with the assistance of four other Frederick County Zumba instructors.

The Zumbathon raised $900 in just two hours! Proceeds for Gateway To The Cure are donated to the FMH Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Thurmont’s 6th Annual Gateway To The Cure will be held the entire month of October. Proceeds from the Zumbathohn will be included in the October month-long fundraiser.

The 2nd Annual Gateway To The Cure Zumbathon fundraiser, held April 7, 2019, raises $900 in two hours.

James Rada, Jr.

When Bob Black of Thurmont heard that he had been named the Maryland Economic Development Association’s (MEDA) Volunteer of the Year, he asked the woman who nominated him, “What did you tell them?”

Katie Albaugh with the Frederick County Office of Development told him, “You don’t realize how much you volunteer.”

Among the organizations that Black volunteers with are: Maryland Horticultural Society; Agricultural Business Council; Frederick County Farm Bureau; Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention; International Fruit Tree Association; Guardian Hose Company; Guardian Hose Company Fire Police; Thurmont Ambulance Company; Frederick County Tourism Council; Catoctin Tourism Council.

“I don’t think about the number,” Black said. “I volunteer out of habit.”

MEDA is a nonprofit organization of economic development professionals. Established in 1961, MEDA members promote the economic well-being of Maryland by working to improve the state’s business climate and the professionalism of those in the field of economic development.

The Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) recently announced the recipients of the 2019 MEDA Awards, which celebrates the people, programs, and projects that are transforming lives across the State of Maryland.

MEDA Awards showcase efforts to attract new businesses, assist existing businesses, redevelop business districts, market communities, and support economic development throughout the state.

“We are pleased to recognize all of the MEDA Award winners,” said Pam Ruff, MEDA executive director. “We applaud these exceptional projects, programs, and campaigns— as well as the people behind them—that show how dedicated our members are to economic growth across the State of Maryland.”

The MEDA chose Black because: “As president and co-owner of Catoctin Mountain Orchard, Black has supported economic development throughout Maryland. Black’s volunteerism reaches back to the late 1970s: member and past president of the Agricultural Business Council; served on the Visit Frederick Board of Directors; member of Thurmont Economic Development Committee; longtime member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Black was involved in the creation of Frederick Farm Guide. He has been at the forefront of pest research, and devotes his time to developing new apple varieties.

Black is the second generation farmer, with two more generations following behind him. His father bought the Kelbaugh Farm in 1961, and the Blacks have been working it since.

Black said he wouldn’t have been able to volunteer so much if his family hadn’t been there to support him. He knew he could depend on them to do the work that he should be doing but can’t because he’s volunteering or attending organization meetings.

To learn more about the awards and these outstanding projects, visit

Bob Black is shown in Catoctin Mountain Orchard.

Putting into action the organization’s motto of “We Serve,” members representing several Frederick County Lions Clubs recently came together on a county-wide service project when approximately 220 students at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg received vision screenings performed by Lions members on two dates in March.  Over 42 Lions service hours were spent on this effort.  This was the fourth consecutive year for the joint screening effort.

The children were brought to a non-invasive testing station utilizing PlusoptiX S12C eye-vision technology to capture an image of the children’s eyes and automatically determine whether a vision impairment, such as near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism, was present.  The tester holds the unit approximately one meter from the child and asks the child to focus on the smiling face on the front of the camera.  At the completion of the testing, younger children received a Lion sticker to indicate they had completed the screening process.

The parents/guardians of all children tested received written test results to indicate whether their child was recommended to see a vision professional for a potential problem or was unable to be screened.  While the vast majority of children passed, readings obtained by trained Lions indicated that some of the children needed to be seen by vision professionals for potential vision anomalies.  The advanced technology of the PluxoptiX camera provides readings that are printed out either on a label which is attached to the letter for use by the vision professional of the parents’ choice. Lions members participating in the screenings included:  Sharon Hane, Clifford Sweeney, and Bill and Rachel Wivell from the Emmitsburg Lions Club; and John Aulls and Lynn Stimmel from Francis Scott Key Lions Club.

Child care centers or organizations that want to learn more about the Lions pre-school vision screening program or to schedule a screening should contact Region III Lions Saving Kids Sight Coordinator, Lion John Aulls at or 301/662-2360.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with almost 1.45 million members in approximately 47,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas around the world.  Since 1917, Lions Clubs have assisted the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.  Lions Clubs are comprised of individuals who identify needs within the community and work together to fulfill those needs. The two clubs involved in the screenings have long histories of community service:  Emmitsburg since 1982, Francis Scott Key since 1959.  If you want to help your community and have a roaring good time doing it, consider becoming a Lion.  There are a number of Lions Clubs in the Frederick County area; for information on becoming a Lion, contact the Emmitsburg Lions at or Francis Scott Key Lions at

Lions participating in the recent vision screenings of Mother Seton School students included: Lions Clifford Sweeney and Bill Wivell of Emmitsburg Lions, Lynn Stimmel of Francis Scott Key Lions, Rachel Wivell and Sharon Hane of Emmitsburg Lions, and John Aulls of Francis Scott Key Lions.

The Thurmont Grange #409 hosted it’s annual “Antique Roadshow” fundraiser on Monday, March 25, 2019.  Many Grangers and community members brought their antiques, family heirlooms, and keepsakes to be evaluated by local experts, David Hunt, Denny Black, and Larry Hauver. Everything from clocks to baseballs and toy trains to silver tea sets were held up for everyone to see. This event is always enjoyable and interesting, as attendees hear the history behind cherished items, as well as their potential value. 

The funds raised from the Antique Roadshow are always donated to a local individual or family in need of community support. This year, the Grange was proud to make a $500 donation to Kinna Strong, through the Patty Pollatos Fund, Inc.  Kinna Strong is a fund which lends support to the Kinna family, a Thurmont family who has always been very active in the community, despite their own medical challenges. Melissa and her son, Nolan, are both battling life-threatening illnesses. It was such an honor to have the entire Kinna family join the Grange for the event. One can definitely gain a sense of strength from this family and their positive outlook. Kinna Strong is really the best way to describe them!

If you are interested in learning more about the Grange or about becoming a member, please contact Rodman Myers at 301-606-9221 or Niki Eyler at 301-471-5158. 

Pictured from left are Grange President Bob Wiles, Grange Lecturer Niki Eyler, Melissa Kinna, Wyatt Kinna, Nolan Kinna, and Nick Kinna  (back row).