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Lisa C Cantwell

On Hansonville Road, about nine miles south of Thurmont, sits a big, three-story whitewashed house with an inviting front porch that seems to personify the word “home.” And, home it will be, very soon, to a group of special young men, ages 16 to 22 years, who are transitioning out of foster care to independent living. They will need guidance and support, and this is the place with a unique and innovative program that will help them succeed. 

This home, christened “STEADFAST” (Standing Firm Against Youth Homelessness), is due to open in 2023. STEADFAST, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has been the dream and mission of its founder and executive director, Cindy Morgan, since 2018.

Morgan knows the challenge to end homelessness in Frederick County is a tall order, but if anyone can start the process to break the cycle, it’s this determined former CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and her team of dedicated board, staff, and volunteers.

The need to support homeless or unaccompanied youth with no parent or guardian is well-established, according to the statistics reported within STEADFAST’s mission brochure that states:

“More than 23,000 children age out of foster care each year. Fifty percent of transitional youth will experience homelessness within 18 months of emancipation. There are at least 145 homeless youth in Frederick County.” 

Morgan’s late father, Robert Jefferson Hemby, Jr., was the major inspiration behind the concept of STEADFAST.

“From the age of four through high school, my father grew up in foster care. At one point, as a teen, his foster mother died and his foster father moved out. He lived by himself and had no electricity.  He fished to eat. It snowed more inside than outside the farmhouse,” said Morgan. “He survived. All my dad wanted was a home and family. By age 29, he had five kids with my mother, his high school sweetheart.” 

Along with her right-arm and house lead, Kelly Christiano, (MSW/Case Manager), Morgan hopes to complete the final phases of fundraising and hiring before the grand opening.

“The atmosphere will be less like a shelter and more like a dorm, not a group home,” said Morgan, adding, “This is not a crisis center, although counseling will be available. We’re more of hands-on, mission-focused, transformational environment.”

Although this opening phase will serve young men, plans are being formulated to serve young women at a future location as well. 

The residents will include referrals from various agencies throughout Frederick County.  Individuals in need may also submit an application. The program-based environment will require goal-setting of its residents upon arrival in the form of an individual life plan. They will be required to work, attend school, and take in-house courses in life skills such as financial planning, resume writing, workforce training, cooking, and laundry duties.

All will be encouraged to earn their high school diploma or GED and a driver’s license. Employment is a must. In fact, each resident will pay rent based on their income, with 90 percent allotted to a savings account, which they will receive upon graduation from the program. Residents may live up to three years in the home. Once they leave, they will have a lifetime of caring support from the staff of STEADFAST, just like a model family.

“This will be home base as they work and go to school,” Christiano said. “We will provide stability and safety in a home-like environment and help them build strong relationships so they can become healthy, independent adults.” 

Recreational and volunteer opportunities will abound, as no young person’s homelife should be all work, school, and no play. For example, a light-hearted, home-cooked “Sunday Dinner” is planned as the highlight of every week, where all of the STEADFAST residents will gather around the table to sup and converse about the stuff of life, just like family. One of the first activities of welcome for residents is to decorate and personalize a dining room chair, which they may take upon graduation.  

Several fundraisers are currently underway, as individual and corporate donations are the lifeblood of this nonprofit. Currently, STEADFAST has a lighted mini-airboat in the charity fundraiser, “Sailing Through the Winter Solstice” on Carroll Creek, now through March 4.  A contribution to their cause gets their boat a vote for each dollar given. A trophy is awarded to the boat and charity with the most votes. Also, for Christmas giving, a beautiful STEADFAST ornament has been created by the glass artist, Yemi. This item can be ordered through his website at Corporate donors may contribute through the “There’s No Place Like Home” campaign which offers commemorative naming opportunities of rooms within the home. The Founders’ Club is another donor program which offers memberships at many levels of affordable giving to benefit the residents.

Morgan and Christiano are grateful for all of the volunteer and community support they’ve received for STEADFAST to finally become a reality. Morgan is especially indebted to Frederick Christian Fellowship (FCF) for graciously providing the home, rent-free, that will serve as a place of stability, support, and love for the future residents of STEADFAST. “We’re so close to opening,” Morgan said. “It’s in God’s hands that final funding will come and we can open our doors.”  

Follow STEADFAST on Facebook at “Steadfast, Standing Firm Against Youth Homelessness.”

For more information about STEADFAST, donor/giving, and volunteer and staffing opportunities, contact by email at, online at, or call 301-304-9133.

Cindy Morgan (left), founder and executive director, and Kelly Christiano (right), lead house manager, prepare to open STEADFAST, a home for young men transitioning out of foster care.

Cindy Morgan (left) and Kelly Christiano (right) stand on the porch of STEADFAST.

Courtesy Photo

Richard D. L. Fulton

A universe of misinformation swirls around us regarding alleged measures that homeowners and renters can take in order to conserve energy or reduce energy costs, and yet, individuals don’t generally have the time to sort out the reality from the fiction.

Leading most lists is the belief that fans, including ceiling fans, cool rooms. Yet, in fact, according to experts, they do not. Fans move air around, but they do not cool the air. According to Think Energy (, air flow generated by fans may make individuals in a room feel cooler, but fans do not affect the room temperature. Further, Think Energy reports, “Leaving a fan on when you leave your home is simply wasting energy, while the room temperature is not cooling off at all.”

Handwashing dishes, rather than using a dishwasher, is actually using more hot water than dishwashers use. Obviously, it takes energy to heat water. When looking to save energy by using a dishwasher, it actually matters how you load dishes and cookware into a dishwasher (search the internet for instructions on how to do this).

Does turning off appliances when not in use, and turning them on when needed, help in reducing energy use? Not necessarily, because some electronics, such as computers, televisions, gaming systems, lamps and lighting fixtures, phone chargers, and small kitchen appliances can continue to expend energy even in the off mode (and, thus, are sometimes referred to as “energy vampires” or “phantom energy”). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unplugging the aforementioned items can reduce home energy use by up to ten percent monthly. 

Another common myth is turning up the air-conditioner or furnace higher in the hopes of cooling or heating the home more quickly. That actually doesn’t work, because no matter how much higher or lower you set the system, air conditioners and furnaces cool or heat at a constant rate at the moment they are turned on. recommends setting the air conditioner or furnace at a rate that one would feel comfortable, instead of trying to force it to get to the desired temperature faster. also recommends setting the air conditioner at 78 degrees during the summer and 68 degrees in the winter for maximum energy savings.

In a related issue, another myth suggests closing the heating/cooling vents in rooms that are not being used in order to reduce energy use. reports that this practice not only doesn’t reduce energy use but could simply increase the amount of heat or cooling being lost through leakage in the duct system, “Furthermore,” states, “closing your vents may cause additional pressure on your system, causing it to work harder, wear out faster, and consume more energy in the long term.” offers a number of tips on saving energy in the kitchen, including minimizing the amount of time the refrigerator door is kept open, or opened and closed repeatedly, noting that “it takes 45 minutes for your fridge to reset to its original temperature for every 10-20 seconds its door is left open.”  Furthermore, the website states that overpacked freezers will require the refrigerators to expend more energy by trying to maintain a freezing temperature.

And with the advent of the holidays, more energy-saving opportunities present themselves to be considered, courtesy of (1) Use LED holiday lights (LED lights are brighter, last longer, and use less electricity than the traditional, incandescent lights; (2) Use timers to control when the celebratory-illuminated displays are to be lighted or turned off; (3) Bake multiple batches of goodies at one time, rather than at different times; and (4) Turn the thermostat down when company and guests are present (“Those extra bodies mean free heat!” –

For additional information on debunking common energy beliefs and for more energy-saving tips, visit these online sources:;;;; and

Richard D. L. Fulton

There are, on the average, some 200,000 “unwanted” horses in the United States, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), many of whom are slaughtered and sold for their meat, are saved by rescue facilities, or are given sanctuary on federal lands.

So how do these horses end up “unwanted?” The Unwanted Horse Coalition reports that, generally, unwanted horses include “horses which are no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner’s expectations, or their owner can no longer afford them,” among various other causes.

Abandonment of a horse generally applies to transporting the animal off the owner’s property and leaving it at some other location. Some abandonments—the lucky ones—have even been found mingling with horse herds on other farms.

Animal cruelty generally entails inflicting harm upon a horse. In some cases, animal cruelty can go hand in hand with neglect. Neglect of a horse refers to simply not providing good, humane care of the animal. An example occurred in Maryland a number of years ago in which more than 100 horses were seized from a Maryland farm where investigators also found the scattered, skeletal remains of more than 25 dead horses.

Horses removed by law enforcement are considered seizures, and the rescued horses who do not need to be euthanized can be turned over to horse farms who accept them.

In Maryland, the aforementioned offenses are considered misdemeanors, but the degree of the offenses may vary from state to state.

Many horses are surrendered, meaning their owners do not or cannot continue to care for or keep the horses. There are many horse farms and rescue operations who will accept surrendered animals. In addition, the federal government provides sanctuary to unwanted animals and 100,000 unwanted horses are maintained on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, according to the NIH.

As if the above-mentioned circumstances were not traumatic enough for the horses, there is actually a worse fate that awaits many.

According to the NIH, 82,000 to 150,000 “unwanted” horses are annually sold and transported out of the United States to Mexico and Canada to be killed, butchered, and sold on the global horse meat markets.

While the federal government in the United States has issued bans on killing, slaughtering, and selling horse meat in this country, they have not actually codified any prohibitions by law.

Horses turned over by their owners for sale for their meat are kept in “kill pens,” awaiting buyers for shipment primarily to Canada and Mexico, where the horses are killed and slaughtered and sold overseas or shipped live to be killed and slaughtered in other countries.  “Kill pens” are, according to, “the worst environment for determining the future of a disenfranchised horse.”

From there, the sold horses are trucked to Canada or Mexico, all bets are off as far as treating the doomed animals. Hanaeleh, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of horses, notes that in some cases in Mexico, “horses are repeatedly stabbed with ‘puntilla’ knives until they bleed to death. In Canada, the horses are hit with ‘captive bolts’ which are supposed to kill the horses immediately. Unfortunately, these bolts were designed to slaughter cows, not horses, and the horses often have to be hit repeatedly, causing them extreme pain and suffering.”

Individuals can help save “unwanted horses” by donating cash and/or volunteering at local sanctuaries to help with grooming, rehabilitating, or any number of other tasks. Several local facilities include: Izzy’s Love Equine Rescue, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit rescue located at 9739 Dry Bridge Road in Emmitsburg. Deborah Dempsey owns the facility and is assisted by her daughter, Izzy, for whom the sanctuary was named.  The operation may be contacted at 410-903-3303. 

Life Horse Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located at Breezy Hill Stables, 15117 Mud College Road, Thurmont, is operated by Vice-President Elizabeth Walker and President Joseph Topper.  The operation may be contacted at 240-674-3856.

Rocky’s Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc, located in Thurmont, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and is operated by President Sharon Burrier and Vice-president Danny Burrier. The facility may be contacted at 240-367-7256.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Reese Topper, 4, daughter of Life Horse management Elizabeth Walker and Joseph Topper, grooms rescued mule, Bert.

Rescued “kill pen” horses with auction tags.

Izzy Dempsey is shown with rescue, Stephanie. 

BY Terry Pryor

Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the ninth month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items, and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

Power Action #10: Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

Here is something to remember today: Energy always flows to where our attention goes.

You can see this in the following example: Your friend stops by to chat. Before long, a juicy morsel of gossip is mentioned. Does it stop there? Nope. Another comment is made about the person who is being gossiped about and then another and another. Pretty soon, 20 minutes of gossiping has transpired, and the conversation has all been moving in a negative direction. It’s not that you meant to be vindictive, but your attention, which was on the flow of gossip, gathered speed and intensity—and “Once you flow, on you go!”

Here’s another example: You have just received notice of an inheritance. In a few weeks, you will be wealthier than you ever imagined. You begin to see what you will do with the money: the new house, car, vacations, travel, all that you could possibly desire. You are focusing on delight, joy, and pleasure. As you do, more and more delights enter your mind. Again, you can see that energy flows where attention goes.

It’s vitally important that you watch your own mind. It can have a party without inviting you! When you begin to watch what you think, you will become excited over the fact that you can change that flow of thought at any time. You have the power and all the tools at your disposal. Use them often and miracles will occur.

Before beginning today’s work, go to your quiet space and do your “Twenty Minutes a Day” visualization exercise. What do you want your future to look like? Remember, energy flows where attention goes. Place your attention on good things, on success and joy. Settle yourself by taking several deep breaths. Relax. Get out your mind’s movie camera and picture yourself having the life you desire.

Feel the excitement you will have. Feel the power in knowing you have control over what you desire. Feel the energy flowing through you that empowers you with confidence and well-being. Allow yourself the freedom of anticipation and the knowing that you are much, much closer to the “you” you see yourself becoming.

It’s December 2022. These past 10 months, you’ve been on a journey with me, with The Catoctin Banner, and with yourself. We are grateful for your readership. We are hopeful of the future as we manifest and create even better versions of ourselves in the moments, days, months, and years to come. I provide counseling on this topic, so please feel free to get in touch with me at


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are, already in December! Thanksgiving has come and gone. I hope everyone was able to celebrate with family or friends. By the time you read this, Christmas in Thurmont will also be no more than a pleasant memory.

We are still left with the better part of December ahead of us! Getting together throughout the month with our family and friends while shopping, or at meals, parties, and faith-based events, we can all enjoy the spirit of the season. This is a season of personal reflection, of expressions of love for others, and of giving and sharing. Come Christmas Day, we will be watching children open gifts, enjoying a delicious meal with those close to us, and for many, the relaxation of a well-deserved afternoon nap. All too close to Christmas will follow the eve of the New Year, with more partying and celebration.

Please keep in mind those of our community that may not be as fortunate as others. Join in the Christmas spirit by making donations to the Thurmont Food Bank and Thurmont Clothes Closet. This is a great way to help others experience the joy of good hot meals and warm, comfy clothes for the cold months ahead. Food Bank donations of non-perishable foods and toiletries can be dropped off at their 7 Frederick Road location. There is a bin in front of the building for donations. The Thurmont Clothes Closet is located at the Thurmont Methodist Church on Long Road. There is a bin for donations at the rear of the church near the Clothes Closet.

I want to leave you with the final passages of one of my favorite stories. This story is about a man who had forgotten the value of both kindness and caring for others. He was reminded of these virtues during a night of reflection, terror, and joy. He discovered that it is never too late for us to mend our ways even as others laugh, and he promised to live out his life with kindness and caring in his heart and in his actions.

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a man as the good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Everyone!”

Karen and I wish everyone the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year. Please be careful in your travels and watch out for others.

Questions or comments? Contact me at 303-606-9458 or by email at


Mayor Don Briggs

At the November 12th regularly scheduled town meeting, the commissioners concurred with the mayor’s recommendation to appoint Dan Garnitz to serve as a regular member of the planning commission for a term of November 7, 2022, through January 18, 2027. Additionally, the board concurred with the mayor’s recommendation to appoint Jack Pollitt to serve as an alternate member of the board of appeals for a term starting November 7, 2022, expiring October 1, 2025.

At the direction of the board of commissioners, predicated on an independent study of the water/sewer rates, water bills will increase 44+/- percent annually for the next three years, starting in January 2023, then 2024, 2025, and thereafter, an increase of 3 percent annually. 

The commissioners voted 4-0, with one member abstaining, to deny approval of an ordinance to allow the private shooting ranges in the industrial zone and the use of firearms at private shooting ranges in the town of Emmitsburg.

The commissioners relaxed some of the hunting restrictions and recreational usage at Rainbow Lake and watershed. Certain small game will now be allowed to be hunted during deer season.

The Maryland Mainstreet staff paid a visit to Emmitsburg for a tour of the town. The town currently is a Main Street Affiliate. For over a decade, the town has been recognized as a Maryland Sustainable Community which entitled, among other things, access to grants for private property facade improvements in the historic district that has contributed to over $1 million. Ultimately, full Mainstreet membership is the goal but can only be accomplished responsibly in terms of town staffing and funding capabilities.  

I attended a wonderful presentation on Ukrainian Icons by Kateryna Dovgan at Mount Saint Mary’s University. The slides of Ukrainian Icon art complemented Ms. Dovgan’s extensive knowledge and love as an expert art conservator that she poured into the presentation. The town and the Mount were joint sponsors for the event, with all donations going to the victims of Russo-Ukraine war.

I made a special presentation to the fourth-grade class at Mother Seton School on being mayor and what is going on in town. These presentations are always a joy. I try to alternate between schools in town; next year, I will visit Emmitsburg Elementary.

Congratulations to Emmy award-winner town resident Conrad Weaver on the rollout to a sold-out crowd of the world premiere of his latest film, PTSD911 (Post Traumatic Stress), on November 3, in Irving, Texas. Conrad put in well over three years of work, dozens of interviews, and lots of miles of travel in the production of this film. Next summer, Conrad plans to ride a bicycle across the country as a part of the rollout of the film to 25 cities nationwide.

Recently, Conrad and I had the honor to welcome Michael Zhorvrin, a Ukrainian ex-patriot, now USA citizen, up from Naples, Florida. Mr. Zhorvin played an important role in uniting the town of Emmitsburg to the City of Lutsk as a sister city. Mr. Zhorvin will deliver our town proclamation recognizing Lutsk as such personally to Mayor Ihor Poiishchuk within the next few weeks.

Don’t forget that December 5th is the town Christmas tree lighting, starting at 5:00 p.m. DJ and Christ Community Church child choir is at 5:45 p.m., the Emmitsburg Community Chorale is at 6:00 p.m., and Santa and the tree lighting is at 6:15 p.m. at the community center. This year, a special tribute to our sister city Lutsk in Ukraine will be incorporated into the program. Then, everyone will go down the street to the Evening of Christmas Spirit festivities at the Carriage House Inn.

Lib and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and our best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season and New Year.

by James Rada, Jr.


Bond Sale Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved the sale of $513,207 in bonds to finance the replacement of the Old Pryor Road water line. It is a 20-year loan from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The project will replace the old water main, install new house services and meters, and replace asphalt pavement.

Guyer Brothers was previously approved as the contractor for the project. The company has already ordered material and is waiting for delivery.

PTA Asks to Keep More of Parking Fee

During a recent town meeting, members of the Thurmont school PTAs asked the Thurmont Board of Commissioners to reconsider the $4.00 fee they collect for the town for each vehicle they provide parking for during Colorfest.

During the festival, groups providing parking typically charge $15.00 for each car, of which $4.00 goes to the Town of Thurmont to help offset the town costs for security, buses, trash collection, and porta-potties. The PTA provides the volunteers to staff the lots, and they keep the difference between what they charge and the $4.00 fee to the town. It is a large fundraising opportunity for the groups.

Christy Donnelly, treasurer of the PTA for the elementary and primary schools, asked the town to consider not charging organizations a parking fee and instead raising the cost for vendor permits.

The commissioners did not support this, but they did agree to have the shuttle bus stop at the middle school to pick up and drop off people who park there.

Simmers Annexation May Go To Referendum Vote

Thurmont residents submitted a petition with 1,253 signatures that could put Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners vote to annex 16.7 acres of the Simmers property and rezone it for a high-density development to a vote by residents.

The group, Envision Thurmont, collected the signatures and submitted it the town office. The signatures will be verified, and if there are at least 906 verified signatures (20 percent of Thurmont’s registered voters), the issue will be placed before town residents for a vote.

Potential plans for the property include building up to 194 homes, an assisted-living center, and a day care center.


Developer Wants Frailey Farm Annexed

A developer wants to build nearly 300 homes currently outside Emmitsburg, but he wants the property annexed into the town. A small portion of the Frailey Farm, which is southwest of Emmitsburg, is already within the town’s borders.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners heard a preliminary proposal for the annexation. Jeff Ott of OPi Holdings told the commissioners that the development would offer townhomes priced in the $300,000 range, small single-family homes in the $400,000 range, and larger homes in the $500,000 range, although these are preliminary prices. It would also include a park and hiking and biking trails.

The property is in Emmitsburg’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan as being an area for future residential housing.

The commissioners expressed a number of reservations, but the process is just starting.

No Shooting Ranges in Emmitsburg

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners heard from town staff, their planning consultant, the town attorney, the applicant and his attorney, and other members of the public about an ordinance that would allow private shooting ranges in Emmitsburg. The commissioners voted 4-0 with one abstention against the ordinance.

Small Game Hunting

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a policy that allows small game hunting in the town’s watershed during the same time as deer and turkey hunting will take place.

Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners accepted the resignation of Dan Garnitz from the Emmitsburg Board of Appeals. The commissioners then appointed him as a regular member of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission, with a term running from November 7, 2022, to January 18, 2027.

They also appointed Jack Pollitt as an alternate member of the Emmitsburg Board of Appeals, with a term expiring October 1, 2025.


Burgess Heath Barnes

At our November 8th meeting, we reminded everyone about the decision that was previously made at the monthly town meeting to hold a public hearing on January 10, 2023 to discuss the possibility of allowing chickens in town. We could not do this at the November meeting, as town codes require 30 days’ notice, and there was not 30 days between meetings. We chose not to have it at the December meeting to avoid the holidays. We invite anyone with an opinion either way to attend on January 10. After the hearing portion, the council will vote to proceed with allowing chickens or not. If the vote is yes, it will move to the planning and zoning committee in February to determine the stipulations around allowing them.

We had a resident at the meeting who proposed adding nets to baseball field two and distancing the bases to 90 feet. This is to attract a traveling team of 13-14 year-olds to the park beginning next season. This idea was met with a lot of optimism and would allow the second field to be used again. We also discussed the remodeling of the concession stand that will happen, which will make this nice for the games as well.

We have had several issues of vandalism in the park over the last few weeks, and a discussion took place to entertain the idea of security cameras being installed. I have also reached out to request additional patrol by the sheriff’s department. The vandalism included the breaking of several picnic tables, turning the port-o-potties on their sides, ripping the door off the men’s restroom, several cases of graffiti, and the cutting of the cables around the parking lots. Due to the damage to the restroom, we went ahead and closed the restrooms for the remainder of the year, a few weeks earlier than usual.

I have been told Santa (aka the burgess) will make a few appearances in Woodsboro this year. The first stop will be at the Woodsboro Lutheran Church at its Christmas Bazaar on December 3. Santa will be visiting from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. for pictures. Then, on December 11, Santa will ride around town with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Santa will also be at the Children’s Christmas Party at 1:00 p.m. at the Woodsboro American Legion. Come out and see Santa at one of these events.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday, spent with family and friends. I would like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, A Happy Holiday Season, and a Blessed New Year. Always remember to look out for those around who may not have the resources or family to have a great holiday and lend a helping hand if you can.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

The status of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg follows:

Emmit Ridge 2: The property is for sale.

Federal Stone: The forest and site plans have been approved. The next step is to submit an improvement plat with the town. Construction is being pushed back due to high construction cost caused by inflation.

Frailey Farm: The property is under contract. The proposed developer held a public workshop with the mayor and board of commissioners to discuss the project last month.

Mason Dixon Logistics Park (Trout Property): The concept plan has been submitted to staff for a commercial/industrial park. Submitted an informal floating zone amendment for comment.

MDOT/SHA Park & Ride: MDOT/SHA restarted design work on July 1. It is expected that 30 percent of the project will be complete by the end of 2022.

Ripleigh’s Creamery: Construction was to begin in October.

Rutter’s: The project is under active construction. It is expected to be completed this month.

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn: Property owner has informed the town he is now phasing the project – Phase 1: first-story convenience area and Phase 2: second- and third-story hotel. They are currently waiting on Frederick County improvement plan approval.

The following are the status of new businesses and development coming to Thurmont:

   Hobb’s Division: Consists of two approved building lots in the Mixed-Use Village 1. They are listed for sale. 

   Hammaker Hills, Phase 1: Consists of 37 single-family dwelling lots in the R-2 zoning district. Final plats have been recorded. Permits have been issued for two lots.

   Hammaker Hill, Phase 2: Received preliminary plat approval for 22 single-family dwelling lots.

   Mechanicstown, LLC: Received preliminary plat approval for 31 single-family dwelling lots.

   Mountain Brooke: Received preliminary plat approval for 11 single-family dwelling lots.   

   Meunier Minor Subdivision: Received preliminary/final plat approval for one new lot and adjustment of two lots in R-2 residential.

   Simmers Minor Subdivision: Preliminary/final plat has been approved for one new lot.

   Weis Gas & Go (2 Thurmont Blvd.): Weis Markets did a partial site redevelopment for converting existing underutilized overflow parking area to a Gas & Go fuel station that will have three pumps and one manned kiosk. It is under construction.

   Thurmont Business Park: Lot 1 to be developed for the relocation of Goodwill into a 17,850-square-foot building. The final site plan is under review.

   Criswell Automotive (105/107 Frederick Road): Relocating the existing accessory structure and paving of the parcels for automotive sales and storage. It is complete.

   Thurmont Main Street Pop Shops (224 North Church Street): They are open every Saturday through December 17, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., in the Thurmont Plaza. They offer handmade and commercial products, along with four bakers. A different food truck will be there each week.

   Simmers Property: The Thurmont Board of Commissioners have approved the Resolution for the Annexation of 16.68 acres for an intergenerational mixed-use neighborhood with day care and assisted living center. Complete and accurate information is available at A petition for referendum has been received and adequate signatures verified to suspend annexation until special election.

   New business and services coming: Catoctin Mountain Massage, T-Mobile, and The Rose Boutique.

Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

America, for many years, has faced a nuanced concern: the rise of the population of feral cats. These domesticated felines depend on humans for survival; however, feral cats are often abandoned on the streets, leaving them to endure the harsh outside world unaided.

Not only are feral cats vulnerable to threats such as contagious diseases, blood loss from worms and fleas, infections from untreated wounds, and cruel treatment from humans, but they also pose a danger to wildlife. For instance, according to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), “Every year in the United States, cats kill well over 1 billion birds.”

The number of feral cats is not low, either. In fact, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), about 60 to 100 million feral cats wander our country’s roads, helplessly. What’s more, unfixed cats continue to produce even more litters of homeless kittens, further accelerating the problem.

Here’s some good news: We can help! The Cuddles Cat Rescue was organized in 2013 to help humanely reduce the large stray and feral cat population in the Thurmont area. The rescue is run entirely by volunteers who regularly dedicate several hours per week to coming in and caring for the cats. Since Cuddles Cat Rescue is a nonprofit organization, it relies solely on donations from the community to pay for food, veterinary care, and supplies to support its beneficial cause. (As a way to support the nonprofit, you can purchase an adorable tee or hoodie! To learn more, please visit

In the beginning, Cuddles Cat Rescue only operated through Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR). This method entails colonies of cats being captured, vaccinated for rabies, and safely sterilized by a veterinarian before being returned to where they were found to be cared for by the property owners for the rest of the cats’ lives. Not long after starting, the rescue moved into a small, donated space on Carroll Street, where the organization could house cats and offer them for adoption. That way, instead of releasing them back into the wild, the cats had the opportunity to find forever, loving homes. In 2021, the rescue relocated to East Main Street in Thurmont, where they—Cuddles Cat Rescue and the felines themselves—have much more visibility to the public.

As mentioned previously, Cuddles Cat Rescue is managed exclusively by loving, generous volunteers, fostering a devoted, passionate, cat-loving community. The institution’s volunteers enjoy helping the cats as much as the cats enjoy finding their safe havens!

“I enjoy the rescue because it is my break from a hectic life,” said Tami Ridgway, a devoted volunteer at Cuddles Cat Rescue. “We see them come in scared and helpless, and then they develop into crazy fun cats! I also enjoy seeing the joy on the adopters’ faces when they get to take their new friend home.”

These sentiments were shared throughout the Cuddles committee. “I enjoy volunteering at CCR because you see the difference we make first-hand,” Chelsea Boggs explained, adding “Scared, sick, or unwanted cats come to us and leave not only healthy but with loving, forever homes.”

Similarly, the adoption director of the organization wrote, “Cuddles Cat is my weekly outlet from work and life. As the adoption director, it’s a great feeling to watch them find their ‘furever’ homes after coming in from a life outdoors. I love being a part of that. I started volunteering after the loss of my own cat. It’s been therapeutic.”

It is evident that while improving neglected cats’ lives and the environment, Cuddles Cat Rescue is bringing happiness to the individuals forwarding the nonprofit’s mission, too.

As a student volunteer at the rescue, I’ve definitely felt this happiness. It’s a bittersweet moment when a cat finds their long-awaited family—it’s a rewarding feeling, though you can’t help but feel a little sad when reminiscing the hours you spent looking after and playing with them. You often witness the feline friends grow up—both physically and mentally—especially if they entered the rescue as kittens or from adverse conditions. The rescue, to me, serves as a getaway from a potentially daunting reality. Sandwiched in-between responsibilities, such as work and schoolwork, is a refuge of innocent cats, jolly and eager for playtime, along with kindhearted volunteers who spark amusing and interesting conversations. I’ve been playing with the furballs for more than a year now, and I hope to continue for several more! Cuddles is excellent at what it does, from nurturing cats to emanating a warm, welcoming aura for all.

You can help save the lives of cats and dogs by making sure they are spayed or neutered. Fixing your furry friends is the number one way to reduce the population of homeless cats and dogs. Doing so also increases their quality of life, since they wouldn’t have to have litter after litter, which can cause a plethora of medical issues. There are far too many pets all over the country in need of loving homes. Even one litter of kittens or puppies is too much when countless other animals are waiting to be adopted in shelters and rescues.

If you have an unfixed cat on your property, or if you know of one anywhere, please do something to help! One unfixed cat can turn into dozens before you know it, only adding to the already overflowing population of feral cats in the United States. Though it is an intimidating issue, we have the power to help resolve it.

To learn more about Cuddles Cat Rescue and its adoptable companions, please visit

On October 12, Thurmont Grange #409 held its annual Veterans Appreciation Program. The evening started with a welcome given by Grange Lecturer, Niki Eyler. She stated that the Veterans being honored were “all honorable, upstanding, and respectable members of their families, churches, and communities.” Next, Grange member Noah Barth led all attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem, led by Granger Hannah Barth. 

A special recognition of Veteran and past Granger, Bill Zentz, was given by Thurmont Grange Secretary Jane Savage. Bill, eldest son of Phil and Betty Zentz and grandson of Harry Zentz, a charter member of the Thurmont Grange, graduated from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a degree in business administration. Upon graduation, Bill enlisted in the Army. Before heading to Vietnam, he was stationed in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, where he was trained as a Field Artillery and Intelligence Specialist.

In 1970, Bill was stationed in Phu Bai, just outside of Danang, and then he was at Firebase Nancy, a hilltop several miles outside Quang Tri City and about 30 miles south of the DMZ. On April 13, 1970, his unit was overrun by the North Vietnamese sappers, and throughout that night, everyone fought back with their rifles, regardless of their military training. After returning home, Bill completed his master’s degree from Frostburg State College, in addition to graduating from the Stonier School of Banking at Rutgers University. He began his career in banking at Thurmont Bank and assisted with the mergers of Nations Bank, Sovereign Bank, and Bank of America. After 35 years, he retired from Bank of America and spent several years working for Ferko, The Frederick County Teachers Association Credit Union.

Bill led an active life of service in Thurmont.  He was a member of Thurmont Grange #409; the Thurmont Guardian Hose Company, where he served as Treasurer for 20 years; and American Legion Post 7. Bill was also chairman and member of the Frederick County Vocational-Technical Advisory Council for 20 years. Bill was recognized by Hospice of Frederick County for his service and was presented with a Vietnam War Veteran pin and Presidential Proclamation. He was also the first recipient of the “Proud Veteran” pin, designed by Hospice. On December 20, 2017, Bill passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family after a courageous six-year battle with dementia. He was buried with full military honors at the Blue Ridge Cemetery. In addition to this special recognition, Thurmont Grange will honor Bill with a banner in the Thurmont Military Banner Program, sponsored by the Thurmont Lions Club. Also, members of Scout Troup 270 folded the American flag and presented it to Bill’s children, Warren Zentz, Carroll Zentz, and Jessica Zentz-Ridenour in honor of Bill’s service to our country.

The guest speaker for the evening was Ron Pitts, who is the Western Maryland Chair of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program that promotes a supportive work environment for Service members in the Reserve Component. Ron explained that almost half of our military force resides in the National Guard and Reserve. They are unique in that they also have civilian employers. Support of America’s employers and the employees they share with the Nation ensures the viability of this all-volunteer force of the Reserve Component and, thus, our national security. For more information on this program, visit

Next was a roll call of the evening’s honored Veterans, Fred Henning (Army 65-67), Stacie Massett (Navy 89-95), Louis Haynes (Army 92-00), Ron Pitts (Army 68-71), and Nelson Leroy Smith (Navy 60-80).

Honorees were met with a round of applause in appreciation of their selfless service in the United States Armed Forces. Lastly, a moment of silence was observed for departed Grange members Bill Powell, Cliff Stewart, and Jim Moser, as well as those who had lost their lives defending our country. 

If you are interested in joining the Thurmont Grange, please email

Pictured are family and friends of Bill Zentz who attended to be part of his special recognition.

Pictured from left are Grange Lecturer Niki Eyler, Ron Pitts, Louis Haynes, Fred Henning, Nelson Leroy Smith, Stacie Massett, and Grange President Bob Wiles.

Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

As much as we look forward to the fun and festivities of the holidays, the holiday season can also bring with it stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

Most of us are pulled in multiple directions during the holidays, with shopping, cooking, sending cards, baking cookies, hosting family, attending events, and, well, trying to please everyone. This can wear us down and, sometimes, even cause us to get sick. However, there are several techniques we can try to minimize our stress and anxiety so that we can thoroughly enjoy the holiday season.Here are a few:

(1) Set a spending budget—don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses.” That’s a battle you can’t win. Remind yourself of what the holidays are really about; (2) Get plenty of exercise—being active can elevate your mood and help you deal with stress better; (3) Try to keep it simple—know your limitations and learn how to say “No;” (4) Take some time for yourself—set aside at least 15 minutes of alone time a day; (5) Forget “perfect”—stop setting unrealistic expectations. Don’t let stress over the house being perfect, dinner being perfect, etc. rob you of enjoying the moment. Those things don’t matter in the scheme of things; focus your energy on enjoying special time with your loved ones…that’s what really counts; and (6) Pick your battles—don’t let the actions of others rob you of your joy.

The Great Pumpkin Pickup, sponsored by the Thurmont Green Team, was held on Saturday, November 26. Approximately 20 volunteers combed the streets of Thurmont for pumpkins placed on the curbs by residents and delivered them to The Catoctin Zoo and area chicken and pig farmers to provide food for the animals.

At least 600-700 pumpkins were diverted from the landfill to provide food for the animals.

Volunteer Danni dropped off pumpkins for chickens and pigs at a farm on Layman Road. The farm owner says it will feed them for several weeks.

Emmitsburg’s Joy Family’s multi-generational Mount St. Mary’s (MSM) graduates are pictured (from left): Theresa Joy, Melissa Joy, Don Joy (seated), Sandra Joy, Cynthia Joy, Dolores Joy Henke, Robert Henke, and Mike Joy; (back row) Julie Joy and Ed Joy. Gertrude Joy was the first of ten children to graduate from MSM in 1953. All pictured are still alive except Dolores Joy Henke, who graduated when she was 52 years old

North-Effect Wa Tatas-Red has been named the best of the best at the 55th World Dairy Expo held in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 2-7. World Dairy Expo is the premier exhibition for dairy cattle exhibitors and enthusiasts. This year’s event was the largest ever, with a record number 2,663 animals housed and 54,525 attendees from 86 countries. Tatas was the winning Summer Yearling and Junior Champion in the International Red and White Show. She then went up against other breed champions in the prestigious Supreme Champion Pageant that concludes the weeklong event. While the overall winner hailed from Canada, Tatas reigns as Reserve Supreme and best in the United States.

Tatas is owned by Chris and Jen Hill of Thurmont and Tim and Sharyn Abbott of Richford, Vermont. She is housed at Glad-Ray Farm in Emmitsburg, owned by Jen’s parents, James and Sharon Keilholtz.

Pictured from left are Tim and Sharyn Abbott, Tatas, and Jen and Chris Hill.

Transit Services of Frederick County is committed to constant improvement, including ensuring that residents in our more rural communities have access to safe, reliable public transportation. They are embarking on an outreach effort to engage both current and future transit riders to learn more about how to improve the routes, especially the Emmitsburg/Thurmont Shuttle.

The Transit Services team has scheduled an open-house style event for the Emmitsburg community and surrounding areas on Thursday, December 8, from 4:00-6:00 p.m., at the Town Hall Office in Emmitsburg, located at 300A S. Seton Avenue. At this event, they will provide an opportunity for the Emmitsburg community and surrounding areas to learn more about the existing service, provide feedback for service modifications in the area, and ask their team questions about paratransit, job opportunities, and more. For more information, call 301-600-2065 or visit

Born November 16, 1922, Frances Messner recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She is third in line of 10 kids to Joseph W. and Annie Kelly. Frances has lived in Thurmont all her life. Her key to longevity? She claims, there are “too many people waiting to get into Heaven and the devil doesn’t want me. Besides, it’s too hot there!” She said she’s just waiting… “twenty-four hours a day “settin’ around, take it as it comes.”

As we age, she explained, we “get to a point where you can’t see, can’t hear, and you have to have somebody waiting on you hand and foot.” She most regrets that she “can’t eat the good stuff.” She joked, “You know, right before I die, I’m gonna ask for one of those big meals for my final meal!”

In school, Frances earned good grades, but one day (in 10th grade), she decided not to go to school anymore and “nobody ever said anything about it.”

Frances got a job in Taneytown for three years until marrying and starting a family with Ralph Messner. The couple had four children. When they started to fall behind on the bills, Frances went to work at the Emmitsburg Manufacturing Company. She worked there for 21 years. She and Ralph worked opposing shifts to cover care of their children. Frances now has 12 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, 19 great-great-grandchildren (with three more on the way)!

Frances Received 122 birthday cards. Thanks to all who reached out to her for her special centennial birthday!

Bobby Black of Catoctin Mountain Orchard (left) delivers 100 apples to Frances (pictured with Bev Sutton, Frances’ daughter) for her 100th birthday, as she takes a bite from the 100th apple.

Five generations: Emily Snyder—great-granddaughter, Beverly Sutton—daughter, Teresa Snyder—granddaughter, Josh Snyder—grandson, Chase Shoemaker—great-great-grandson, Frances Messner—holding Adeline Minns, great-great-granddaughter, and Kiley Myers—great-great-granddaughter.

Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount St. Mary’s University’s Office of the Provost announced in October that the institution has added 12 new full-time faculty members to its university staff.

The office stated that the new employees represent a range of various disciplines and backgrounds. 

“They bring in diverse experiences and backgrounds that will greatly benefit Mount students,” said Provost Boyd Creasman.

 According to the Office of the Provost, five of the new faculty members have been assigned to the College of Liberal Arts.

These five include:

Assistant Professor of Theology Roberto De La Noval, who earned his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame with a focus on 19th and 20th-century philosophical theology.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Rika Dunlap who came to the Mount from the University of Guam and who earned her doctorate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Asian philosophy.

Assistant Professor of World Languages Manuel Garzon who recently completed his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Hispanic transatlantic studies.

Sheldon Shealer, lecturer in communication who joined the MSMU after teaching at the Mount for many years as an adjunct professor, and whose expertise in sports communication will help the university maximize the benefits of the MAAC’s contract with ESPN.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Mai Truong, who had earned her doctorate from the University of Arizona with a specialization in social and protest movements in East and Southeast Asia.

Three new faculty members have been assigned to the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.

These members include:

Associate Professor of Business Boris Morozov, who came to the Mount from the faculty of Lock Haven University, and who earned his doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and brought a “vast experience in teaching finance.” 

Associate Professor of Business Philip van Berten, who is teaching entrepreneurship for the Mount, and who earned his doctorate from CNAM in Paris, France.

Associate Professor of Sports Management Sarah Zipp who came to the Mount from the University of Stirling in Scotland, and who earned her doctorate from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

The success of MSMU’s new Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis has led to the hiring of two additional faculty members: Rebecca Correll, who recently completed her doctorate in applied developmental psychology from George Mason University and has served as the CEO of The Language and Behavior Center in Silver Spring, and Alexa Mochan, who has brought a vast amount of experience in working in clinical settings to help train our students and is currently serving as clinical director for Mission Autistic Centers in Frederick.

Office of the Provost reported that two of the new faculty members have previous connections to the Mount: Angela Mucci-Guido returned to the faculty as a lecturer in education, having most recently taught at Salve Regina University, specializing in special education; and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sarah (Bonson) Krueger, who returns to her alma mater after completing her doctorate at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in organic chemistry.

“It was a great recruiting year for the Mount,” said Provost Creasman, adding, “We are blessed that these talented faculty members joined us this fall.”

From Antietam to Gettysburg

Richard D. L. Fulton

(Adopted from ‘Nazis’ in Gettysburg:  World War II Comes to a Civil War Battlefield by Richard D. L. Fulton, pending publication)

In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to create an intelligence agency to operate outside of the auspices of other existing intelligence operations, due to the apparent disarray of cooperation amongst those agencies.

This new, independent agency would establish a training camp at Camp Ritchie, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Cascade, Maryland, within Washington County, just south of the Mason-Dixon Line between Edgemont, Maryland and Blue Ridge Summit in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the newly established camp was to provide training in intelligence gathering, psychological warfare, interrogation techniques, and other covert or special operations (special ops)— skills the inductees would be called upon to employ in the not-so-distant future when they would find themselves deployed in front of and behind enemy lines in Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944. 

The intelligence trainees became known as the Ritchie Boys, and their numbers included Jewish immigrants who had fled Germany (and other threatened areas) to escape the rising tide of fascism under the leadership of Adolph Hitler. But in addition to Jewish refugees, a “mixed bag” of other foreign nationals and selected American civilians were also assigned to the service of the Ritchie Boys at the camp.

John E. Dolibois, in Pattern of Circles: An Ambassador’s Story, described some of the array of Camp Ritchie as having been “an odd assortment of mixed talent from all over the USA.”  He further noted, “There was a prince of Bourdon-Parma; an Italian count; there were former local hotel managers; government officials; chefs; corporation executives; and prominent journalists.  The inmates of Camp Ritchie were said to speak fifty languages – all, in fact, except good English.”

When it came to field training exercises, the instructors were well-equipped and held back nothing to achieve near actual circumstances the trainees might have encountered during actual combat operations, and this included spontaneous responses to “reported’ German incursions to engaging in patrols during even the most extreme weather that the skies could offer.

Mandler noted that when it came to exercises, “Training was as realistic as the experts, both in military and civilian subjects, could make it.”  As the war in Europe and in the Pacific progressed, the author stated that even captured equipment from the enemy armies made their way to Camp Ritchie for educational purposes and for being incorporated into the training exercises.

The training was so intensive that the Ritchie Boys suffered their first recorded fatality in November 1943, when around 11 p.m. in “late November,” an undisclosed number of Ritchie Boys were dispatched in pairs into the woods in the vicinity of Antietam Creek, site of some of the most ferocious fighting during the American Civil War. 

Leon Edel described the incident in his book The Visitable Past: A Wartime Memoir, writing that as he and his comrades were being transported to the scene of the maneuvers, a storm began to descend upon the battlefield.  “We huddled in the truck, which bumped its way through the storm…we all agreed that it was the kind of night we would have liked to spend in our bunks.”

As the result of a raging storm, the command desperately tried to cancel the operations.  Loudspeakers announced the cancellation, and then Edel’s surroundings were suddenly lit-up by numerous military floodlights, “I could see the terrain we had covered and beyond it. The entire lower woodland was now filled with water.”

But it would not be learned until the following day that one of the Ritchie Boys would not see Europe.  “The Hagerstown newspaper next morning had a full account of the entrapment of Camp Ritchie troops in the flashflood and reported that the body of one soldier was recovered near the creek.  The death of a fellow soldier sent a shudder through us,” he wrote.

But on January 2, 1944, he and the rest of the approximately 800-man  2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Mobile Radio Broadcasting companies would be on their way to the Gettysburg Battlefield with orders to refurbish the no-longer used Civilian Conservation Corps camp that had been located in McMillan Woods to serve as the “top secret” headquarters for their further training – the compound which they renamed Camp Sharpe (named for George H. Sharpe – who had been appointed as the intelligence chief for the Union Army of the Potomac in 1863).

The first camp commander was identified as having been Captain Hugh Speed, Jr.  Subsequently, Major John T. Jarecki assumed command, and remained in that capacity until the camp was abandoned. During its existence, the local residents were never told what the purpose of the military encampment had been.  That would not be discovered until post-WW II.

The trainees had little forewarning that their final training on that field was intended to be preemptive to the then-approaching D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, and the battles yet-to-be-fought which lay beyond. 

Edle wrote – as the trucks in which the broadcasting companies pulled into the future home in a former CCC camp, “We were at Camp Sharpe, a mere fifty miles from Ritchie, parked in a muddy hollow at the bottom of a slanting road, just outside the national park of Gettysburg.

Arthur H. Jaffe, captain of the Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company, described Camp Sharpe in his book History, Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company, December 1943-May 1945, as being “rugged and barren,” noting that “The company was quartered in former CCC barracks that were surrounded by a sea of mud.  The wind whistled through gaps in the walls while four stoves tried in vain to keep up the room temperature.”

Edel further described the units’ future home, noting that the old CCC barracks appeared as though they had been built in 1918 (construction of the McMillan Woods CCC camp had actually begun in 1933), and “were filled with dust and cobwebs.  The windows looked as if mud had been smeared across them.  Mice and rats had left their deposits.”

As their unit designation of Mobile Radio Broadcasting companies suggests, they would, among many other tasks, be charged with setting up the allied, counter-propaganda radio stations in Europe, primarily aimed at keeping citizens in German-occupied areas informed as to the actual state of the war, as well as to inform German soldiers and their commanders, in an effort to realize the real or hypothetical “hopelessness” of their further resistance to the advances of Allied troops. 

They would also come to man on-site radio broadcasting equipment in the line of fire, instructing the enemy on the fruitlessness of continued fighting, and how to surrender.

Because of the primary thrust of their particular contribution to the American propaganda effort, these Ritchie Boys also came to be known as the “radio soldiers.”  The companies also became adept at packing artillery shells with flyers instructing German troops how to surrender.  These would be fired over enemy positions, dropping thousands of said documents upon the troops below, resulting in these Ritchie Boys also earning yet another moniker – “confetti soldiers.”

Camp Sharpe would be turning out soldiers trained specifically to pound the enemy with words, rather than shot and shell.  The overall success of the Mobile Radio Broadcasting companies, and the Army’s psychological warfare program in general, has proven, then and now, difficult to assess. 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, wrote of the success of the psychological warfare units et al, “The exact contribution of psychological warfare cannot, of course, be measured in terms of towns destroyed or barriers passed.  However, I am convinced that the expenditure of men and money in wielding the spoken and written word was an important contributing factor in undermining the enemies’ will to resist and support the fighting morale of our potential allies in the occupied countries.”

Without doubt,” he stated, “psychological warfare has proved its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal.”

Ritchie Boy (Martin Selling) interrogating German prisoners.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army Signal Corps

Soldier sketch map of camp.

Courtesy of NPS (Gettysburg)

James Rada, Jr.

The Ritchie Boys were crucial in helping the Allies win World War II. They interrogated prisoners, translated captured messages, and engaged in psychological warfare against the enemy. The Ritchie Boys provided more than 60 percent of the actionable intelligence in Europe according to Landon Grove, director and curator with the new Fort Ritchie Museum.

Despite their contributions to the Allied victory in WWII, much of their work was classified until recently.

“Much of it was classified until just within the past 20 years. This, along with their decision, and their devotion to keeping silent about their training and service in World War II, have deservedly earned them the title of ‘secret heroes,’” said Bernie Lubran, president of the Friends of Camp Ritchie. His father was Ritchie Boy Walter Lubran.

With the secret out, the Ritchie Boys may soon get some long-overdue recognition. Congressman David Trone announced in November that he and Sen. Ben Cardin are introducing legislation to award the Ritchie Boys the Congressional Gold Medal.

“Their vital role they played in helping the United States fight the Axis Powers during World War II and ultimately win needs to be recognized,” Trone said.

According to the House of Representatives website, “Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event.”

Beginning in 1942, more than 19,000 men trained at Camp Ritchie in Cascade. About 2,800 were refugees from Europe. Their numbers included men from more than 70 countries. They were trained as order-of-battle specialists, counterintelligence operatives, photo interpreters, psychological warfare experts, and other specialists, according to the legislation.

“Starting in 1942, the Ritchie Boys were sent as individual specialists to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (“SHAEF”) in small elite teams to join combat units in the North African, Mediterranean, European, and Pacific theaters and to military camps, prisoner-of-war camps, and interrogation centers (such as Fort Hunt, Virginia) in the United States,” according to the legislation. Ritchie Boys served with every Army, Marine, Office of Strategic Services, and Counter Intelligence Corps unit in the war.

Approximately 140 Ritchie Boys lost their lives during World War II. They also earned 65 Silver Star Medals, numerous Bronze Star Medals, five Legion of Honor Medals, and many Croix de Guerre Medals.

“The Ritchie Boys made significant contributions to the success of the Allied Forces on the Western Front through their knowledge and their skills, as demonstrated by a classified postwar report by the Army finding that the Ritchie Boys were the source of nearly 60 percent of the credible intelligence gathered in Europe during World War II,” according to the legislation.

Following the war, many of the Ritchie Boys went on to lead distinguished careers, including David Rockefeller (chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank), Archibald Roosevelt Jr. (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt), J. D. Salinger (author of Catcher in the Rye), Gardner Botsford (editor of the New Yorker Magazine), John Chafee (a governor and senator from Rhode Island), David Chavechavadze (the great-great-grandson of Czar Nicholas I of Russia), Vernon Walters (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations), William Warfield (actor and singer known for his role in the opera Porgy and Bess and the musical Showboat).

Today, it is believed that only 200 Ritchie Boys are still alive, most of whom are in their mid- to late 90s.

One of the secret heroes was in attendance for Trone’s announcement at Fort Ritchie. Ninety-seven-year-old Gideon Kantor first came to Camp Ritchie in 1943. He and his family had left Austria, fleeing the Nazis. They arrived in America in 1941. He graduated high school here and started college, but he chose to join the Army and support his adopted country. He was sent to Camp Ritchie to train as a Ritchie Boy.

The Ritchie Boys have also been awarded the Elie Wiesel Award from the United States Holocaust Museum and a U.S. Senate resolution.

Bernie Lubran

Gideon Kantor

Landon Grove

The Lions clubs of Lions District 22-W (Western Maryland), which includes both the Thurmont (TLC) and Emmitsburg Lions Clubs, have recently completed a fundraising drive to purchase a custom class 3 bus that will be equipped to provide a number of basic health-screening functions. The unit will be fully self-contained and will include features such as on-board power generation and heating and air conditioning so that it can be set up on any reasonably level spot. The completed unit, including testing equipment, will cost in excess of $250,000, of which the Lions of District 22-W has raised half of the total cost. The balance will be covered by a community service matching grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). This foundation is funded by donations from Lions Clubs around the world.

Lions Clubs International has a long history of supporting local healthcare activities. Currently, the Thurmont Lions Club conducts a health fair on a yearly basis at the community library. The Mobile Screening Unit (MSU) will be made available at no cost (other than fuel) to any Lions Club in the district for use at public events, such as community fairs, local health events, and so forth, where large numbers of local citizens come together. The completed unit will be equipped with six testing stations. Once placed into service, the MSU will be able to provide the following basic health checks: adult vision testing; youth vision screening (as young as one year in age); hearing screening; blood pressure and pulse rate; and blood-sugar levels. Additional tests such as internal eye pressure (glaucoma) and macular degeneration will probably be added in the future.

The Lions Clubs who use the MSU will not make any specific health diagnoses. Instead, they will notify the individual being screened (or a guardian) that there are indications of a potential health issue and recommend that the individual seek professional help for further diagnosis. In some cases, the clubs may be in a position to assist the referred individual to public health services if they do not have the necessary insurance to cover the costs of the recommended procedure. 

Now that the funds are in place to order the MSU, District 22-W is working on raising money to cover the operating costs on an ongoing basis (insurance, license and registration, maintenance, supplies, etc.). Starting in January of 2023, the Thurmont Lions Club will be placing donation jars at various club events, such as the Christmas Extravaganza, bingo events, traditional health fair, etc.) to allow the community to help to place the valuable health-screening asset in regular service as a part of the annual TLC Make a Difference Day program.

At this time, it is hoped that the MSU can be placed in service before the end of 2023. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available. 

Photo shows a Mobile Screening Unit currently in use in Virginia.

Courtesy Photo

Katara Vasher, Postmaster Thurmont

It is a great honor to serve Thurmont as your new Postmaster. With more than 11 years in the U.S. Postal Service, I have seen firsthand the role my organization plays connecting neighbors and communities to the nation. Our post offices serve as a lifeline for small businesses reaching customers and businesses six days a week and package deliveries on Sunday.

I have had the opportunity of serving different communities, helping businesses thrive and grow. I was chosen to represent the Central PA District as an Engagement Ambassador and will bring that same commitment to the Maryland District. In addition, I was directly involved with the Caught in the Act Safety Program that aligns with improving employee engagement and safety at work and in our communities. I look forward to bringing a strong postal presence and time-honored tradition of postmaster in the Thurmont community, and I am excited to be involved in the Colorfest next year.

The U.S. Postal Service has been hard at work preparing for the holiday season since January. Rest assured, we’re holiday-ready and well prepared to deliver fast and reliable service to every address locally and across America.

USPS has made significant investments to ensure your holiday greeting cards and packages reach their intended destination on time. We’ve added 249 new package sorting machines across the nation, which will allow us to process 60 million packages per day. This new equipment is part of $40 billion in new investments made under Delivering for America, our 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence.

Additionally, we have the space we need to manage all packages and mail when they reach us. We’ve strategically expanded our footprint by 8.5 million square feet throughout the country to augment space shortages at existing postal facilities, and we’ve deployed new technology on our workroom floors to make sure we can track and move mail and packages quickly to get them on their way.

The 650,000 men and women of the U.S. Postal Service pride themselves on playing an important role in delivering the holidays for the nation. We’ve had more than 100,000 part time employees convert to full time positions since January 2021. And there is still time to join our team for the holiday season. Open seasonal positions are posted at

Thank you for continuing to support the Postal Service. Our Thurmont Postal Service team wishes you a wonderful holiday season.

The Thurmont Grange #409 recently presented dictionaries to all northern Frederick County third-grade students. This is a community-service project called “Words for Thirds,” and all of the third-grade students in the Catoctin feeder system received dictionaries (Sabillasville, Lewistown, Thurmont, and Emmitsburg Elementary Schools).

The Grange is an agricultural organization, which is deeply rooted in the community. Many of its members are farmers, businessmen and women, and its focus is on community service, legislation, education, and agriculture. Many of our members hold local, county, and state offices to promote the Grange.

Every year, the Grange helps at events such as the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, the Frederick Fair (where they put in an exhibit at the Farm and Garden Building), the Catoctin Colorfest, and the annual Cookie Walk in December, to name a few. The Grange holds a Veterans’ Appreciation Night, and has also donated funds and items to the Thurmont Food Bank, Catoctin FFA, Boy Scouts, Catoctin Safe & Sane, and so forth. 

The dictionary has many features, such as the history of the Presidents of the United States, the solar system, sign language, and also the longest word in the United States.

Emmitsburg Elementary School (from left): (front row) Patrick Morgan, Payton Fritz, Clary Walker, Vivian Satterlee; (back row) Paulette Mathias, Robert Wiles, and Carolyn Wiles.

Sabillasville Environmental School (from left): David Savage, Michele Heerema, Emma Santos, Blake Wagaman, Mattee Lambert, Catherine Riggs, Ryan Balsley, and Jane Savage.

Thurmont Elementary School (from left): Jody Eyler, Caythee Ruby, Jennifer Reynolds, Carol Long, Nancy Wine, John Wine, Charlotte Donnelly, Carli Savage, Kaylee Hoff, Braden Weber, Aaron Oden, Caroline Stevens, McKinnly Glotfelty, Ryan Vorndran, Harper Strobel, Kam Dal, and Lukas Bromwell.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club held their annual Ladies Night Dinner at Dutch’s Daughter Restaurant in November in appreciation of the ladies of the Lewistown United Methodist Church who prepare the dinners for the club’s monthly meetings and the wives of Ruritan members.

Frank Warner, Ruritan president, welcomed everyone and thanked the ladies of the Lewistown United Methodist Church for preparing the delicious meals for the Ruritan meetings.

Harold Staley (pictured on right), program committee, introduced Richard Cutter (pictured on left), a retired sheriff from New York as the guest speaker for the evening. Cutter provided a very interesting history on the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance. He described the various changes that were made prior to the acceptance of the pledge that we say today. The original purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance was to bring the United States together after the Civil War, which had caused a devastating divide in America. The Pledge was written in 1885 by Union Army officer George Thatcher Balch, with the purpose of healing the nation. This wonderful history lesson was appreciated by the members of the audience since the Pledge of Allegiance is said at every Ruritan Meeting.

Following the presentation of the guest speaker, Frank Warner distributed donations totaling $2,600 to the following organizations: Catoctin High School Safe & Sane, Team Hope, Lewistown Fire Co, Lewistown Elementary PTA, Lewistown United Methodist Women, Thurmont Food Bank, and the 4H Therapeutic Riding Club. At the annual picnic in August, $4,200 in scholarships were also awarded to local students.

The slogan of Ruritan is fellowship, goodwill, and community service. The Lewistown Ruritan Club is a service-oriented club that provides financial support for many local community functions, as well as the annual scholarship program for local students. Club membership represents a cross section of the community which the club serves and is available to all persons interested in joining. The club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Lewistown United Methodist Church in Lewistown.  New members are welcome. If interested in membership, plan to attend one of their meetings or contact Frank Warner at

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 7th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 22.

Principal Jennifer Clements told the audience the program “celebrates what makes this school and this community so special.”

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s alumni were honored for achievements in business and academics.

The ceremony also recognizes former Catoctin High staff who have had a significant impact on students.

Besides the honorees and their guests, the Catoctin freshman and senior classes were in attendance.

Jason Polansky, Class of 2014, was recognized for his business achievement. He has worked for Microsoft, Whole Foods, and Recruit Ability. He told the students that they can never know what life will throw at them, so they need faith, perseverance, and problem-solving skills, to “make the best decisions to continue to succeed.”

Kenneth Getzandanner, Class of 2006, was inducted for his academic achievement. He works with the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Navigation and Mission Design Branch. In 2020, he led the navigation team that landed a spacecraft on a meteor to collect samples to analyze. The spacecraft should return to earth next year.

He told the students that Catoctin High had helped him find something he was passionate about and offered him opportunities to explore it. He said that the students needed to surround themselves with people who support and encourage them, as his family and the staff at Catoctin High had.

Jason Stoner, Class of 1996, was another business inductee. Stoner is a full-time chainsaw-carving artist. He echoed Getzandanner’s sentiments, saying that the students needed to surround themselves with good friends who would support them in their goals.

Vickie Stroh spent 36 years of her teaching career as a library media specialist at Catoctin High. She encouraged the students to do three things that would help them have a great life. “Whatever your future brings to you, I hope it includes: someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.”

Deborah Clark was another former Catoctin staff inductee. She taught Sociology and AP World History, served as the National Honor Society advisor, helped initiate Rho Kappa, and served as department chair.

“None of us get where we’re going without the influence of others,” she said. The others can be friends, family, teachers, and strangers. She encouraged the students to thank them for their positive influence.

Inductees received a Distinguished Graduate Award, a Catoctin High School print, and a Catoctin High School stadium blanket.

Pictured from left are CHS Principal Jennifer Clements with the 2022 Catoctin High Distinguished Graduate inductees, Vickie Stroh, Jason Stoner, Jason Polansky, Kenneth Getzandanner, and Deborah Clarke.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.