Posts by: ""

Wayne Powell

On October 18, 2019, a wonderful man, much loved by an extensive range of people, left us. His passing will have a profound impact on the greater Emmitsburg community for decades to come. His name was John S. Hollinger and his life’s journey touched many—in fact, many who likely never knew his name. Like his father, he managed the former Sperry Ford dealership in town, which at one time was the third oldest Ford dealership in America.

His family, including his late wife, Theresa, were fixtures in and around all of Northern Frederick County and southern Adams and Franklin Counties in Pennsylvania, too. And, just like his dad, John J. Hollinger served as Fire Chief of the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC), Emmitsburg’s local volunteer fire department. Both John and his dad later went on to also serve as presidents at VHC.

John owned residential rental properties that, for decades, provided affordable housing for hundreds of families and individuals. In fact, if not for his generosity, some of those folks could have been among the homeless that we hear so much about these days. No matter what one’s station in life, John treated everyone with respect and dignity. He was always willing to listen and to help whenever he could.

He collected anything and everything about the history of Emmitsburg and its inhabitants; plus, he once had one of the most amazing collections of old Ford parts that existed anywhere in America. Amazingly, a great many of those parts were brand new because rather than turning them back in for credit yearly, he, like his dad, simply kept them in an old building on South Seton Avenue. That building is as distinguishable as any in town due to the wording still visible, “Emmitsburg Motor Car Company.”

Some years ago, many of those vintage parts were sold at auction. When he sold off those parts, some 30 years ago now, people from all across the country came, hoping to find a new or slightly used part, unlikely to be found anywhere else.

John faithfully spent his mornings at the VHC fire station—the “fire hall” as many old-timers called it. His recall of area history was nothing short of amazing. John, often affectionately referred to as the “real” mayor of Emmitsburg, made it a daily practice to drive the streets and alleys of town, looking for things that needed repair. His efforts helped town officials, as well as area business owners and organizational entities, by alerting them to things needing attention of great importance, many of whom were unaware of the unsafe conditions or infrastructure issues that needed to be looked into. He read all area newspapers daily, cover to cover, including the Frederick News-Post, Gettysburg Times, The Catoctin Banner, Emmitsburg News-Journal, Record Herald, and others, to stay on top of the news that helped his beloved VHC fire company stay abreast of changing times and keep in step with timely events.

For over 70 years, John’s fingerprints were on nearly everything the VHC did, as he served on its board of directors for decades, as well as on nearly every major committee in the organization, while also staying close to evolving technologies in the field of emergency vehicles.

But, it’s his impact on people for which he will be most remembered. Several of his sons carried on the family tradition of community service with the VHC. One son, Steve, has faithfully served as company treasurer for some 35 years.

Back in the 1980s, John bought VHC’s ‘Old Engine 63’ (a 1945 Ford American pumper, which had served the community for nearly four decades) and set about restoring it.  Old 63 has been on display for years now at the Frederick County Fire Museum on South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg. Visitors from far and wide have treasured seeing it. For a great many years, that old engine proudly carried Santa Claus to the town’s annual holiday celebrations, arriving with lights and sirens ablaze to the amazement of youngsters and even their parents who once saw the identical spectacle back when they were kids.

In his last days with us, he graciously donated Old Engine 63 back to the VHC, where it will be lovingly cared for. A little-known fact is that John’s great-grandfather, also John S. Hollinger, a respected orchardist in this region, once ran a business in Chicago that was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (each October, National Fire Prevention Week commemorates that event from American history).

The VHC has always had a commitment to “it’s most important service”: Fire Prevention. So, it can be said that knowing the dangers of unwanted fire has long been in the DNA of the Hollinger family. The men and women of the VHC humbly and proudly salute our friend, Chief John S. Hollinger, and all that he did for our community. He is greatly missed.

Photo shows John J. Hollinger in the driver’s seat of the 1930 Engine, which was Emmitsburg’s first motorized Engine and which is now owned by the Rocky Ridge VFC.

Anita DiGregory

“Anyone who knows a firefighter understands that few of us in the fire service are comfortable with that word, hero. But whether we like it or not, firefighters are viewed as heroes by the public. I think that is because firefighters embody a unique blend of courage and compassion. When firefighters are called, it is often because someone else is having the worst day imaginable. Firefighters arrive ready to take control of the situation and provide service and comfort to complete strangers, expecting nothing in return.”

Chief Dennis Compton, Immediate Past Chairman, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

On October 3-6, 2019, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) held its 38th Annual Memorial Weekend to honor the nation’s firefighters who died in the line of duty. The national tribute, which included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, family activities, a vigil, and a candlelight service, culminated with the public Memorial Service on Sunday at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg. 

During the memorial weekend, the U.S. Fire Service honored the lives of 92 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and 27 firefighters who died in the line of duty in previous years. Honoring 119 from 38 states and 1 territory, Sunday’s Memorial Service was estimated to draw nearly 5,000 people, including family members, fellow firefighters, friends, officials, and the public who gathered to honor the life, service, and ultimate sacrifice of these heroes. Other honorable guests presented included Kevin K. McAleenan, Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security; Peter T. Gaynor, Acting Administrator, FEMA; Chief G. Keith Bryant, U.S. Fire Administrator; the Honorable Don Briggs, Mayor of Emmitsburg; and Chief Dennis Compton, Immediate Past Chairman, NFFF.  Congressman Steny Hoyer, NFFF Chairman Troy Markel, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, FEMA Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor, and the U.S. Fire Administrator Chief Keith Bryant placed the Presidential Wreath at the Memorial at the ceremony on Sunday.

McAleenan addressed the crowd of families, friends, and fellow firefighters, stating, “There’s no more honorable vocation in life than to serve to protect your neighbor, to step forward into harm’s way so that others may live. But that selfless service often comes at a great price, and we mourn those fallen firefighters, our heroes, who have given their all to protect their fellow Americans.”

Gaynor added, “It is our sacred duty that we honor our nation’s frontline first responders and their families for the sacrifices and their full measure of devotion. Seeing so many firefighters gather here for a powerful memorial, I am reminded how these very same firefighters assist our communities, states, and FEMA in responding to the nation’s worst disasters…It is therefore right and fitting to come together as a nation this weekend, embrace the families of these fallen firefighters, and remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to their communities. So, on this most significant day of remembrance for these firefighters and the families they leave behind, I join together with you to honor their dedication and sacrifice to community. I urge you to continue to wish all firefighters a safe return to their firehouses and their families at the end of each day.”

The tribute included several time-honored traditions important to firefighters and their families. For the eighth year, the memorial weekend incorporated Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters. Numerous fire departments and places of worship across the nation joined the NFFF in this ceremony, ringing their bells in honor of those firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. 

Additionally, Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters was also incorporated into the memorial weekend, as landmarks and fire service organizations nationwide were illuminated in red light in honor of all these brave men and women. 

The public ceremony also included a traditional honor guard and bagpiper procession. The Pipes and Drums consisted of firefighters from across the country. 

During Sunday’s ceremony, the names of the 92 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and the 27 firefighters who died in the line of duty in previous years were read. The fallen firefighters’ families were presented with an American flag. These 119 flags previously flew over the U.S. Capitol and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial before being meticulously folded and presented to the families. 

A highlight of the weekend included the unveiling of the memorial plaques listing the names of the 2018 fallen heroes and those who died in previous years. McAleenan stated, “It is here that the names of more than 4,000 fallen firefighters are memorialized, etched into our nation’s history, and the lessons learned here from those sacrifices serve as the basis for the training to prevent another tragedy from happening.”

During Sunday’s ceremony, McAleenan shared a message from President Donald Trump. In his statement, the president shared, “I send my sincerest greetings to those gathered at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Across the United States, firefighters put their lives at risk each day to serve their fellow Americans. Melania and I join you in honoring these courageous men and women who face daily uncertainty and peril…My administration proudly stands by our nation’s firefighters, and we thank them for all they do to shelter our citizens from harm. May God bless them, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.”

Speaking on the significance of the weekend and the importance of the nation’s firefighters, McAleenan stated, “Our firefighters are critical to our homeland security, standing between us and danger, taking action when many others are frozen in fear.”

The Memorial Weekend concluded with the singing of “The Fallen and the Brave” by award-winning singer-songwriter Dave Carroll.

The Annual National Firefighters Memorial Weekend is intended to pay tribute to those lost in the line of duty, while also helping survivors in healing. Serving as the official national tribute to America’s fallen firefighters, this ceremony has become extremely important to families and their communities in acknowledging and honoring the lives of these heroes. 

Troy Markel, chairman of the NFFF Board of Directors added, “As we gather together to honor and to pay tribute to our fallen firefighters’ selfless devotion to service, Memorial Weekend is a time for us as a nation and a fire service to pause and reflect on their sacrifice and to honor and grieve for the loss their families, friends, and fellow firefighters continue to endure.”

The NFFF was established by Congress in 1992. It remains the only national organization designated to honor all fallen firefighters and to offer support to their families. In his message, President Trump stated, “I commend the NFFF for its efforts to ensure that the loved ones of our fallen heroes receive the support they deserve. Today’s ceremony is a fitting tribute to the brave first responders who laid down their lives in the line of duty, fulfilling their oath to place service to others above self. Their heroic legacy will forever be preserved in the hearts of the communities they helped safeguard.”

The NFFF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that relies on funding through private donations from caring individuals, organizations, corporations, and foundations.

If you’d like to donate to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, you can do so online or by mail. To find out how, visit

Candles are lit in remembrance of firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Theresa Pryor

The mountain may not have been showing her bountiful fall petticoats October 12 and 13, but Thurmont’s annual Catoctin Colorfest event was an artist’s palette of colors and hues.

I was born here in this beautiful part of the country and recently moved back home to Thurmont, so this was my first Colorfest. I had been warned by some that it was “crazy busy.” Well, I just had to see what it was all about, so with camera and notebook in hand, I set off to see for myself.

I was fortunate enough to be able to walk everywhere from my home, so no traffic problems got in my way, though the stream of never-ending vehicles on U.S. Route 15 was astounding. Walking downtown on Friday, I felt the expectancy and excitement in the air. Shopkeepers seemed ready, though some were more jaded than others in what they were ready for, but for the most part, anticipation was in the air.

Down at Thurmont’s Community Park, vendors were putting up their tents and tables, readying them with a plethora of wares that, come Saturday, would hopefully be purchased. I could only get a peek at some so I enjoyed greeting other walkers out nosing around. At the park’s entrance, I stopped and chatted with Betty Burdock and Diana Lewis who were efficiently directing vendors to their assigned spaces. They seemed old hands at this and we chatted about how great the weather looked for the weekend. When I left the park later in the afternoon, closed white tents filled with yet to be discovered goodies, sat like friendly ghosts in waiting.

Saturday proved to be the reason that Colorfest is often called an experience rather than an event. Hitting Main street, I was immediately caught up in the flow of foot traffic and while one might feel a bit out of control in this sea of humanity situation, countless strollers, dogs, and wagons, I felt part of something exciting transforming Thurmont’s everyday life. It was an energetic synthesis! And there was definitely a mission mentality emanating from those who know just how to shop.

Established in 1963, Colorfest has come a long way. What started as a nature walk has evolved into a juried arts and crafts festival featuring well-known and respected artisans from across the United States. It is one of the largest outdoor craft show events on the East Coast.

As I traversed the park, more colors blossomed as handmade candles, silk flower arrangements, Christmas ornaments, jewelry glittering in the sunlight, prism fan pulls and even a small field of Blue Heron yard art that swayed and bobbed in the breeze; there were amazingly innovative crafts, beautiful art and clothing, not to mention the delicious food options whose smells beckoned half way across the park before you even saw the booth. Everything you could ever ask for on a beautiful fall day was all there in one, compact slice of retail heaven. Crazy busy? Yes. Crazy beautiful, too!

One must be quick when interviewing someone working. Their focus is on their customers and that is as it should be, so finding a vendor freed up for a few minutes was a challenge. I lucked out when I ventured into a booth that displayed countless USB Port Lamps. Looking like little r2d2’s ready to do your bidding, this was one of the most innovative items I had seen that day. Owners, Kate and Steve Imes, were happy to answer my questions, the most pressing being, “What in the world made you think to create this?”

Why, necessity being the mother of invention, of course! Their son had gone off to college a number of years ago and called home to complain that the dorm room he shared had one outlet per side. Plugging in a lamp and one other item was less than efficient, so Steve went to work inventing his USB Port Lamp, which was selling like proverbial hotcakes in this, their 5th year at Colorfest. Kate makes the shades and they come in a variety of colors and themes. As I thanked them and left, another group entered the tent and I overheard someone ask…. “What in the world made you think to create this?”

I spoke with other vendors that day and the two overriding themes about this year’s Colorfest was the weather (perfect!) and that it was the busiest year, ever (perfect!). “It doesn’t get any better than this”, one vendor commented.

Over on the back side of the park I was intrigued to see an American Flag made from shotgun shells positioned front and center in a booth. A lovely, smiling young woman greeted me as I entered. In asking Janelle James where the idea came from, she explained that she was a military wife who loved to craft. She and her husband, Zach, create designs from shells and use their Etsy Shop to promote pride and patriotism. This was their 6th Colorfest and they love coming here.

I wrapped up my day with an order of French fries with vinegar and salt and sat on a bale of hay watching people, dogs and kids. My overall opinion of Colorfest? It was fabulous and I am going to do it again next year.

What does a military wife do when her husband is serving the country? Ready, Aim, Craft! And that is just what Janelle and Zach James named their company, a craft shop comprised of products celebrating American pride and patriotism. Their sixth year at Colorfest was a huge success!

This year, Carol and Steve Newmann, of Chapel Crafts, celebrated their 47th year at Colorfest. The Newmann’s craft leather belts continue to please new as well as repeat customers.

Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. provides three scholarships each year in the amount of $1,000 and one scholarship in the amount of $1,500, to be awarded to Catoctin area high school graduates who are continuing their education.

The namesake of our local ‘Cunningham’ Falls has been a mystery for years. Before the reference to the falls as ‘Cunningham’ Falls, around the 1920s, the falls were known as McAfee Falls, Harman Falls, the Cascades, and Hunting Creek Falls.

Recently, a potential answer to the ‘Cunningham’ mystery has been uncovered via the release of a transcript of interviews conducted in 1969 by representatives from the National Park Service with some of the McAfee descendants who were alive during the name transition. These transcripts have been made available by Robert McAfee of Foxville, a descendant of the interviewees.

The interviewees named Mr. and Mrs. Charles McAfee explained that there were several McAfee ‘home places’ around the falls. They acknowledge having births ‘at the falls’ and getting married there. Charles said, “I lived there four years. In 1907, 8 and 9 and10. Then I went up to Foxville.”

Charles explained that he worked in construction ‘under’ Goldsborough and Williams who were constructing youth camps. He said, “They’re the ones – Williams is the one – that named it Cunningham Falls…Williams named it that. Never nobody known like that around here.” When asked why Williams called it Cunningham Falls, Charles said, “I don’t know. No real reason for it. He just picked that and called it that.”

Charles went on to say, “…afterwards [Dr.] Bowman and a bunch of us got together to get rid of that Cunningham business…So, that’s when we tried to get it named McAfee Falls.” Conversation continued about names of the falls, referencing Hunting Creek, the Cascades, and, “when we went to school, it was called the Falls.” They estimated Charles’ reference to attending school to be around 1901.

According to Rose McAfee in a separate interview, it was, “…after they sold the timber long before the government purchased the land, the name was changed to Cunningham Falls. People from away called it Cunningham Falls all of a sudden and people around here called it McAfee Falls.”

To date, these interviews point to the most plausible explanation for the naming of ‘Cunningham’ since the timeline and printed references align.

A May 23, 2018, Frederick News-Post’s “Yesterday” post from “50 Years Ago” referenced that, “A mistake of more than 30 years standing (as of May 23, 1968) was righted recently when Maryland’s Commission on Forests and Parks renamed the falls in Cunningham Falls State Park. The official name is now McAfee Falls, honoring an old Frederick County family which settled in the area in 1790. As a logical follow-up the Forests and Parks Commission is now considering renaming the park Hunting Creek State Park.”

When looking back at the corrective actions taken to remedy this ‘mistake,’ not much was done. At one point, signage was posted “McAfee Falls” at the Falls hiking trail inside Cunningham Falls State Park. Otherwise, correcting the ‘mistake’ referenced in Frederick News Post’s “Yesterday” post has been forgotten.

With this newest discovery of information, we’ll call the ‘Cunningham’ mystery solved. It’s been an interesting path to the ‘facts,’ and we thank all who gave insight.

Regardless of its name, thousands of visitors enjoy the falls every year, which is the State of Maryland’s largest cascading waterfall, standing at 78 feet.

The Battle that Changed the Tide of the Civil War

James Rada, Jr.

While the first week in July is the busiest time on the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield because of the anniversary of the battle, the second busiest time is in November when Dedication Day is celebrated.

Dedication Day

Dedication Day is held in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s reading of the Gettysburg Address during the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery, where nearly 6,000 soldiers from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I are buried. It was dedicated on November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the historic Civil War battle. This year’s Dedication Day activities will be on November 18, 19, and 23.

Some of the events happening are an open house at the David Wills House and Gettysburg railroad station on November 18, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Lincoln arrived and left Gettysburg at the railroad station and stayed at the David Wills house while in town. Both locations will hold special programs that evening.

The actual Dedication Day ceremony will be held at Soldiers’ National Cemetery at 10:15 a.m. on November 19. It will feature a wreath-laying ceremony at the Soldiers’ National Monument, and Presidential Scholar Michael Beschloss will be the keynote speaker.

The following weekend, the annual parade of Civil War living history groups will march through Gettysburg at 1:00 p.m. on November 23. That evening, from 5:30-9:00 p.m., a luminary candle will be lit on the grave of each of the 3,512 Civil War soldiers buried at Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and the names of the dead will be read throughout the evening.

Visitor Center

Even if you can’t make it to Gettysburg for one of the special events, you can always find something happening around the battlefield. Start at the Visitor Center at 1195 Baltimore Pike. From this point, you can watch an orientation film, tour the museum, see the cyclorama, book a tour, ride to the Eisenhower Farm, eat lunch, and more. The building is free to enter, but there are fees for different activities.

The 20-minute orientation film, A New Birth of Freedom, narrated by Morgan Freeman, will give you a good overview of the Battle of Gettysburg and its historical significance.

The cyclorama is the largest painting in America. It is 42 feet tall and 377 feet around. “Longer than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure, the Gettysburg Cyclorama oil painting, along with light and sound effects, immerses visitors in the fury of Pickett’s Charge during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg,” according to the National Park Service website. It is painted so that it encircles you as it depicts Pickett’s Charge. French artist Paul Philippoteaux researched the battlefield for months before beginning the oil painting that took him and his assistants more than a year to complete.

The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War features artifacts from one of the largest collections of Civil War relics in the world. It also has interactive exhibits and multi-media presentations throughout.

If you want to tour the battlefield itself, you can purchase tickets for a bus tour or make arrangements for a licensed battlefield guide to take you around the park. You can also take your own tour. Pick up a driving map at the ticketing desk to help you get around the park.

While in the Visitor Center, you can make arrangements to visit the farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The cattle farm was used as Eisenhower’s home after WWII. He hosted world leaders at the farm during his presidency and ran the country from his den while he was recovering from a heart attack.

You can tour the house, which still appears as it did during the 1960s. Also, on site are the Secret Service office, farm building, and grounds.

The Visitor Center will also have a listing of the various ranger programs going on throughout the day.

The November programs are: Gettysburg History Hike – Three Days in 90 Minutes (90 min.); Four Score and Seven Years Ago – Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (45 min.); Hold to the Last! – The Battle for Little Round Top (60 min.); The 3rd Day and Beyond – Stay and Fight it Out! (45 min.).

The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center winter hours (November 1 through March 31) are 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. It also closes at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

For more information about the events and park sites in Gettysburg, visit: Gettysburg National Military Park; Eisenhower Farm:; David Wills House:

Two re-enactors talk during the annual WWII weekend, held at the Eisenhower Farm.

Farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The house still appears as it did during the 1960s.

Andrea Myers Mannix

During the Opening Ceremonies of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show in September at Catoctin High School, Veterans representing the Thurmont American Legion and the Francis X. Elder American Legion Post No. 121 in Emmitsburg were honored in recognition of the American Legion’s 100th Anniversary in 2019.

The American Legion organization was founded in 1919 by Veterans returning from Europe after World War I. It was later chartered as an official American patriotic society and carries on the tradition to support Veterans, families, and their community. The Legion continues to volunteer in patriotic service of mutual help to our country’s Veterans and has touched virtually every facet of American life. Even to this day, American Legion members carry on their objective to serve their community, state, and nation.

Veterans honorees of the Francis X. Elder American Legion Post No. 121 of Emmitsburg were:

Kevin Cogan

Kevin entered the U.S. Navy Seabees in 1979 and was assigned to Construction Battalion Unit 416 and then Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, proudly serving until his honorable discharge in 1986.

Kevin now serves as the commander of the Francis X. Elder American Legion Post No. 121 in Emmitsburg.

Thomas E. Hoke

Thomas served as a Combat Medic during World War II in the European Theater, and his Division was part of Patton’s Third Army.  He fought in the Hurchin Forest, Siegfried Line, and the Battle of the Bulge.

On April 11, 1945, the Division which Thomas was part of, liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and then were the first Division home after the War. His Division was to get a furlough and then be the first wave to hit the Japanese Mainland.

Thomas was home on August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped. After that, Thomas was sent to the 95th Division at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and was discharged on January 9, 1946, as a staff sergeant.

Edward E. “Gene” Lingg

Gene served as a Gunner with the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam from July 1966 through August 1967, as a corporal. He was stationed in northern South Vietnam near the DMZ – The De-Militarized Zone.

Gene was re-assigned about halfway through his 13-month tour to Headquarters Battalion S-3, Intelligence, which planned and carried out field operations. 

Sanford “Mac” McGuire

Mac joined the U.S. Air Force in January 1959 and served our country until his honorable discharge in November 1962 as Airman First Class. He then entered into Federal service—as a civilian—for 43 years.

Mac has continued his service and support through memberships in different Veteran organizations and appointments that he has held in these organizations. He is currently the finance officer of the Francis X. Elder American Legion Post No. 121 in Emmitsburg.

Paul J. Sutton

Paul served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years as an aviation mechanic and has been a life-long resident of the Emmitsburg/Thurmont area.

Legion leadership positions include Past Post Commander and the Western Maryland District Adjuvant.

Martin R. Williams

 Martin served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1969 through 1971 and was part of the 5/2 Artillery 2nd Field Force, 25th Infantry. Martin is also a life member of American Legion Post 121, and an active member of AMVETS Post No. 7. He is presently serving in his eighth year as commander of VFW Post 6658, where he is also a life member.

TheEdwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion Post No. 168 of Thurmont honorees were:

The Late Kenneth Allen

Kenneth served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel and was a personnel service clerk from 1970 through 1973 and—in both active and reserve duty—was a Judge Advocate from 1976 through 2002. He was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; the Judge Advocate General School in Charlottesville, Virginia; the Court of Military Review in Northern Virginia; and various reserve units in both Pennsylvania and Germany.

Kenneth was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and came to the Thurmont area after being hired as a contract lawyer at Fort Ritchie.   His leadership position at the Legion was as judge advocate.

Kenneth passed away in May of this year. His contributions to the American Legion, the members, and the families it serves are too numerous to list. He was a man of integrity, honor, and service, and is greatly missed.

Robert H. Brennan

Bob served in the Army from 1960 through 1964. For 50 years, he has lived in Thurmont with his wife, Marie, and been a member of Post 168.

Bob’s leadership positions have included being adjutant for 30 years.   He is also adjutant of Frederick County and at the department level.

Lee Fisher was a great teacher and mentor for Bob, and between them, they know so much about Post 168. Bob is a very dedicated Legion member and loves helping all Veterans.

Edward Gravatt

Edward served in the U.S. Air Force from 1961 through 1969 in Vietnam, working in the Air Police with Base Gym-Photographic Systems Repair. He is originally from Wilmington, Delaware, and his wife’s family is from Thurmont.

Edward has been a member for 12 years. His leadership positions have included post commander, second and first vice commander, and the post executive committee.

His Legion memorable moments were renovating the kitchen, Legion College at the Convention, Wounded Warrior Fishing, the Community Show, and the Catoctin Colorfest.

Rick L. Hall

Rick served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from 1970 through 1973 as a gunner aboard the USS San Bernardino, USS Alamo, and Patrol Boat Riverine. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he came to Frederick County in 1965, when his father was transferred with State Farm Insurance Company. Rick enlisted on July 15, 1970—just 24 days after his 17th birthday. Rick joined the American Legion in Clear Spring, Maryland, and then transferred to Thurmont. He was also involved with the Sons of the American Legion at the Woodsboro American Legion under his father, E. J. Hall.

Rick has been a Legion member for 23 years, and his leadership positions have included first vice commander, commander, and the post executive committee. His Legion memorable moments are the Ocean City Department meetings.

Rick stays as a member for all the important things the Legion does for our Veterans, families, scouts, scholarships for high school students, baseball teams, and the great friends he has made. The American Legion is a place for healing for some and a place of remembrance for others.

Alvin L. Hatcher

Alvin served in the U.S. Navy from 1984-1996 as hospital corpsman and was involved in Grenada and Desert Storm.

Alvin is from Mansfield, Ohio, and his wife is from Thurmont. His wife’s grandfather, Charles Downs, Sr. was a founding member of Post 168.

His leadership positions have included sergeant at arms, first vice commander, second vice commander, commander, post commander, county commander, and district commander.

Memorable moments at the Legion include becoming commander at Post 168 and his First Legion Convention in Ocean City. Alvin has enjoyed meeting many great memorable Legionnaires over the years.

Raymond A. Long

Raymond served in the Army from 1954 through 1956 and was a Morse Code interceptor during the Korean Conflict. He is a lifetime Thurmont resident, and joined the Legion so he could volunteer for his community.

Leadership positions in the Legion have included post commander, county commander, and district commander. While a member of the Veterans Affairs Department, Raymond was able to get funding for the Martinsburg, West Virginia, Veterans Affairs Center. 

His most memorable moments were being installed as commander of Post 168 and going to play bingo with Veterans at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Center.

James “Buzz” Mackley

Buzz served as a sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard from 1962 through 1968, with Light Weapons Infantry and Heavy Weapon Infantry. He was stateside for Vietnam and involved in riot duties while being stationed in Baltimore in 1968. He was also stationed twice in Cambridge, Maryland.

James is originally from Thurmont and has been a Legion member for over 50 years. His grandfather, Lloyd Mackley, was a previous commander. Leadership positions have included commander, vice-commander, and board chairman of the post executive committee. 

Cooking for the Wounded Warrior Fishing Day at Camp Airy Ponds, sponsored by the Brotherhood of the Junglecock, was one of his best Legion memories.

Sidney A. Wolf

Sidney served in the U.S. Marines, and also served as the Legion’s Post Commander.

He also served on the House Corporation and Colorfest committee and helps to play bingo at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Center.

Pictured from left are: (front row) Paige Riley; Emmitsburg’s Francis X. Elder American Legion Post #121 Honorees: Martin Williams, Sanford “Mac” McGuire, Paul Sutton, Thomas Hoke, Edward “Gene” Lingg, Kevin Cogan; (back row) Andrea Mannix; Amy Poffenberger; Daniel Myers; C. Rodman Myers; Cathy Little; Jennifer Martin; Frederick County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Theresa Alban; Jennifer Clements; Barry Burch; Dave Harman; and Cheryl Lenhart.

Pictured from left are: (front row) Paige Riley; Thurmont’s Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion Post #168 Honorees: Alvin L. Hatcher, Raymond A. Long, Robert L. Brennan, Edward Gravatt, James “Buzz” Mackley, Rick L. Hall, and (not pictured) Sidney A. Wolf. Also honored was deceased member Kenneth Allen; (back row) Andrea Mannix; Amy Poffenberger; Daniel Myers; C. Rodman Myers; Cathy Little; Jennifer Martin; Frederick County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Theresa Alban; Jennifer Clements; Barry Burch; Dave Harman; and Cheryl Lenhart.

Anita DiGregory

On Sunday, October 6, 2019, the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, together with the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA (AMS), welcomed more than 400 visitors to the Annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services.  Active-duty and retired members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and Public Health Service, along with the public, were in attendance to honor all who serve or have served at sea.

The pilgrimage began with Mass in the Basilica, which was celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, S.J., Bishop of Oakland, California. Having served for many years as a chaplain in the Naval Reserve, Bishop Barber prayed for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s intercession for all those serving at sea. Having had two of her sons, Richard and William, serve at sea, Mother Seton was officially designated the Patroness of the Sea Services in 1977. 

Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, participated in the pilgrimage, and Plebe Anna Hercules served as lector. The U.S. Naval Academy Catholic Choir, led by director Monte Maxwell, provided the music.

In his homily, Bishop Barber talked of his experiences as chaplain and recalled the advice he gave. “All our lives are in God’s hands. If today is not your day to die, no bullet will find you. If today is your day, the only thing keeping you from Heaven is mortal sin. We have a remedy for sin, the sacrament of confession which wipes sin away.” Promising the Marines he would not leave until everyone desiring the sacrament was afforded the opportunity, he recalled how each of the men, even the non-Catholics, accepted the opportunity.

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral William J. Fallon, chairman of the Pilgrimage Sponsoring Committee, spoke of the importance of the time-honored event. Reflecting on the pilgrimage and the solidarity it fostered, he added, “We are here to pray for our people in uniform and for their families, to ask St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to intercede for them.”

Although the day was rainy and chilly, the Basilica was filled with members of the community there to pray for the country and members of the Sea Services, and to honor those who have sacrificed and those that continue to sacrifice through their service. Many also reflected on how Mother Seton had touched their lives in personal ways.

Bishop Barber was struck by how beautifully Mother Seton “balanced her vocation of mother and sister…with an eye always on her sons and family, simultaneously living out both vocations.”

Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., Vocations Director, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, also spoke of Mother Seton’s influence. “My mother was involved in the effort for her beatification. She had a relic she would take to the bedside of anyone we knew who was sick. I felt like I knew her. Her conversion story and discovery of the Catholic Faith was very influential in my life. When I was at the Naval Academy, I made sure I invoked her…Today, she is very much in the minds of the midshipmen.”

Deacon Daniel Koehl, a student of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, was grateful to be able to both attend and take part in the pilgrimage. “This is a Mass that I have gone to every year at the Mount. I have grown in devotion to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton over the years, especially this year.” Koehl, whose home parish is St. Vincent de Paul in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, joked of Mother Seton seemingly chasing him down, as, over the year, he had been located to different Mother Seton parishes and assignments. He was happy to volunteer to take part in the Mass and added, “As soon as the call came through, I said, ‘I will be there!’”

“We’re grateful for all of the servicemen and women who’ve taken part in the pilgrimage over the years,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the Seton Shrine. “It’s a prayerful and moving time for them to join with their family members and others in thanking Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for her protection, and to ask for her continued intercession on their behalf as they serve our country.”


Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to those residents who came forth to run for the two open commissioner seats in the town election: two incumbents, Elizabeth Buckman and Glenn Blanchard and challengers Frank Davis and T.J. Burns. How can you lose when you step forward, especially when it is to present your perspective on care for the community? There are no losers.

Thank you to Glenn for the quiet, thoughtful presence he brought to the board of commissioners and the community. Whether in service as a St. Joseph’s board member, as a member of the American Legion and proud veteran, or the years in the classroom, his role is always as that needed steadying hand. Also being a world traveler, he contributed from those experiences and brought a wider perspective and balance to our town meetings.

Thank you to Elizabeth Buckman, a teacher, who often brought an energy centered on representing those in our community who are in need and possibly seldom heard. She also brought to the town meetings a broader perspective from her education and experiences. Congratulations to Commissioner Buckman on acceptance into a University of Pittsburgh graduate program. Her new studies will certainly ready her for the adventures that will be launched from that education. 

The new commissioners will assuredly bring a new energy and verve. 

On occasion, I have received inquiries as to infrastructure improvements during my time as mayor. The following is a recap of most, if not all, of those improvements that have been completed since July 1, 2014, or are anticipated to be completed in the near future.

•Capital Project spending (rounded): $149,000 – town square project town portion; $317,000 – paving and sidewalks; $700,000 – parks and recreation.

•Water: $29,000 – three phases of rip rap at Rainbow Lake; $134,000 – new waterline (North Seton Ave. and Main St.); $39,000 – LG Sonic (solar) – algae control Rainbow Lake; $219,000 – general repairs and maintenance; $13,000 – leak detection since 2017.

•Sewer: $17,000 – Power Star – water treatment; $18,000 – wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); $80,000 – sewer relining (East Main St.); $100,000 – pending sewer relining FY20; $2.5 – $3 million – pending new pumping station; $152,000 – general repairs and maintenance.

Annually, the town is committed to putting aside $65,000 for roads. We are working on another $1,000,000 investment in our water treatment plant that should create significant savings to the town.

The 38th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend was again a successful solemn tribute to the 119 firefighters honored this year. Adding to the tribute this year was the completion of the installation of the William Cochran Glass etching, “Volunteers” in front of the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. Congratulations to the officers of the museum. It was our pleasure in helping to raise funds for the project and assisting when requested. 

As of this writing, the redevelopment of the playground in Community Park to an all-inclusive playground is finishing up. This was a wonderful effort, which could not have been accomplished without support from the state, county, the Civitan Club, and lots of town staff “elbow grease.” It was a pleasure working with the contractor, Playground Specialists, and their field manager, Emmitsburg’s own Tim Boyle. We are very proud of this and a ribbon cutting is tentatively been set for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. Please check the town website, channel 99, and/or Facebook for confirmation of date and time.

Congratulations to Emmitsburg resident Emmy Award-winner Conrad Weaver for his award-winning documentary, Heroin’s Grip. It was screened on Capitol Hill on October 16 in the Cannon House Office Building. Conrad and his team, together with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and others in the Maryland delegation, hosted the event.

Hope you enjoyed the Halloween parade and festivities and are readying for a wonderful Thanksgiving.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

We have survived another Colorfest, and my impression is that this was a profitable one for many of our nonprofits. I also spoke to many vendors, all of whom said they were very happy with the turnout. The weather was ideal and that brought out nice crowds of visitors. I want to thank all our residents, vendors, and nonprofits for helping make this a successful Colorfest weekend.

The Thurmont Lions Club is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, and the Lions have been an active participant in our community for each one of those 90 years. With one of the most active memberships of any organization, the Lions have supported a wide range of activities, from their annual Easter Egg Hunt to the amazing improvements they brought to the Trolley Trail. The Lions sandwich sales, Community Show booth, and Colorfest stand allow them to raise funds that stay within our community. The Thurmont Lions Club is one of the pieces that make the Thurmont the community we all love. Here’s to another 90 successful years for the Thurmont Lions Club!

One of the most popular events in Thurmont is Halloween in the Park. This year’s event has been rescheduled to November 2 due to the weather forecast. Halloween in the Park is attended by thousands each year, and we all have an amazing time while raising funds and donations for the Thurmont Food Bank. The two driving forces behind this fun evening, since the first year, have been Jill and Wayne Hooper. Each year, Jill and Wayne are out collecting donations, encouraging volunteers to help, and making sure that everyone knows about the event. Then, during the week leading up to Halloween in the Park, they are working every day to get things set up just right. They always seem to be everywhere at once during the event and make sure we all enjoy ourselves. Sadly, Jill passed away June 10 of this year, and Wayne has taken on the responsibility of organizing this once again. This year’s event is titled “Jill’s Chills and Thrills,” in honor of her love of Halloween. I hope everyone has a great time, thinks fondly of Jill and her love for this event, and that everyone takes a minute to thank Wayne for bringing so much fun to our community.

Christmas in Thurmont will be here on December 7. Be sure to be on the lookout for information about the day coming soon. There will be games, crafts, and prizes for all ages, as well as a visit with Santa! We will have the extremely popular Christmas Train Garden set up again this year. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be hosting the display on each Saturday and Sunday leading up to Christmas. Our thanks to the FCSME and Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge No. 155 for working with the Town of Thurmont to make this possible.

As always you can call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

by James Rada, Jr.

OCTOBER 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners Reorganized

With the election of new town commissioners, the Emmitsburg Town Commissioners assigned new duties to the members. Cliff Sweeney remains the president, with Tim O’Donnell acting as the vice president and treasurer. Joseph Ritz, III, will be the liaison to the Planning Commission. New commissioners Frank Davis and T.J. Burns will act as liaisons to the Parks and Recreation Committee and Citizens Advisory Committee, respectively.

Town Attorney Recognized

Long-time Emmitsburg Town Attorney John Clapp has retired. He served as the town attorney for 24 years. The Town of Emmitsburg recognized his decades of service with a proclamation honoring him.

Leslie Powell, Thurmont’s town attorney and Clapp’s recommendation, will replace Clapp as the Emmitsburg town attorney.

Planning Commissioner Appointed

Bernard Franklin was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Frank Davis on the Emmitsburg Planning Commission. Davis had to resign from the commission when he was elected as an Emmitsburg town commissioner. The term will expire in July 2022.

Cochran Etching Dedicated

The Frederick County Fire & Rescue Museum dedicated the William Cochran glass etching, called “Volunteers,” on October 4. Its location is at the museum in front on the Community Center on South Seton Avenue.

The etching was moved from the Firehouse Financial Center in Frederick. The business was the former site of Independent Hose Co. No. 1 firehouse at 12 West Church Street. William Cochran developed the public art to replace the former engine house apparatus bay door. The new building owners decided the artwork did not fit into the future renovation plans for the building and donated the etching to the fire museum.

Mayor Don Briggs was delighted with the addition to the town. He has wanted a Cochran public-art piece for years, but the price was too expensive for the town.

Mayor Graduates from Municipal Official Program

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs graduated from the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy on September 29. More than 90 public officials from across the state received a certificate from the academy.

Briggs completed classes designed to meet the professional needs of a municipal official. These included classes to increase his “understanding of local government issues and ethical standards for public services, but also developed a foundation for informed policy making and effective governance,” according to a press release from the academy.

The Academy, which has offered classes since 1998, is a collaborative effort between the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, the Maryland Municipal League, the Maryland Association of Counties and the Local Government Insurance Trust.

by James Rada, Jr.

October 2019 Meeting

Thurmont Welcomes Two New Police Officers

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in two new Thurmont police officers in October.

Mike Mentzer had more than 20 years on the job with the police in Washington D.C. before he retired. He said he looked for something outside of law enforcement to do after he retired, but “There wasn’t anything I really wanted to do other than be a police officer and work in law enforcement.”

Brandon Boyle was formerly with Loudon County Fire and Rescue before taking a position with the Thurmont Police. He started his academy training in October.

Senior Center to Get Funding for a Part-Time Assistant Coordinator

Unlike the other senior centers in Frederick County, the Thurmont Senior Center receives very little of its funding, if any, from the county. The Town of Thurmont usually contributes $20,000 to the center’s funding; however, this year, it provided $23,000 so the center coordinator could get a raise.

The senior center board of directors is now asking for $10,140 more each year to fund an assistant coordinator position for 15 hours a week. The commissioners feel this burden should be shared by the county since roughly half of the attendees to the senior center live outside the borders of Thurmont.

Frederick County stopped funding the center several years ago, primarily over the issue of lunches. The Department of Aging required the center to serve food it provided through a grant. However, the food arrived cold and mushy to the center, according to Commissioner Wayne Hooper. The poor food quality was causing seniors to stay home and the senior center wanted to make its own arrangements for lunches. The county told the center it had to abide by county rules to receive funding. The board of directors chose to run the center itself.

The county has provided a small amount of funding in the past, but it cannot be depended upon.

The commissioners voted to fund the amount needed for the position, less any additional funding the county can be convinced to pay.

Thurmont Changes How Corner Lots are Defined

The Town of Thurmont changed how corner lots were defined in its planning code in 2017. However, the change caused unforeseen problems with many existing corner lots in the town, putting them out of compliance with planning and zoning regulations. The mayor and commissioners unanimously voted in October to change the code back to the way it had been where corner lots are concerned.

This should take care of the problems some property owners have been having.

Emmitsburg Gets Two New Commissioners

Two newcomers were voted on to the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on October 1. Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs swore in Frank Davis and T.J. Burns as town commissioners during the October 7 town meeting. Davis and Briggs defeated incumbents Glenn Blanchard and Elizabeth Buckman.

During the town election on October 1, 371 residents voted. Davis received 278 votes and Burns received 170 votes. They defeated Buckman who received 140 votes and Blanchard who received 117 votes.

Briggs told the new commissioners and audience, “We’re enthusiastic about the attitude you’re going to bring here.”

Davis will service as liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee, and Burns will service as the liaison to the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Briggs praised the service of the two outgoing commissioners.

Blanchard served on the commission for 12 years. Briggs called him a quiet commissioner who always listened, processed, and was engaged with the work of the board.

Briggs encouraged Buckman to run for her first term as a commissioner and encouraged her to run again.

Commissioner Tim O’Donnell told Buckman, “You gave a voice to those who otherwise might not be heard.”

Buckman said she had enjoyed her service on the board and would continue to volunteer.

“As I transition from my official position as commissioner, I pledge to continue to wake up each day with a vision of possibility to stand with the people of Emmitsburg to problem-solve through networking and advocacy,” Buckman said. “I personally pledge to work collaboratively with the Town of Emmitsburg, mayor, and all the board, Mount St. Mary’s, our civic associations, our churches, our health department, our fire department, our cooperating municipal officials, housing, the Seton Center, the SHIP of Frederick, mentoring service, and many more, as we find creative solutions to the problems we face day in and day out.”

She called the new commissioners “two very innovative commissioners with fresh perspectives” and shared some of the insights she had learned during her term as a town commissioner.

Blanchard was unable to attend the meeting.

Thurmont’s Hamrick and Buehrer Win Re-election

Incumbent Thurmont Commissioners Wes Hamrick and Bill Buehrer were re-elected to the board of commissioners by large margins on October 29.

Thurmont’s voter turnout for its municipal election was 11 percent with 531 people casting 1,022 ballots. These numbers include 14 absentee votes.

Election results were:
• Wes Hamrick – 379 votes
• Bill Buehrer – 212 votes
• Sabrina Massett – 179 votes
• Elliot Jones – 126 votes
• Kenneth Oland – 121 votes
• Write-in Candidates – 5 votes

“I am thankful to the five candidates who had enough concern about the community to step up and run for office,” said Mayor John Kinnaird after the election.

Hamrick, 57, will serve his second full term as a commissioner. He was first elected to fill Kinnaird’s unexpired term in 2013 when Kinnaird was elected mayor. Hamrick is a manager with AT&T, where he has worked for 40 years. He has lived in Thurmont on and off for 50 years, including the last 23 years.

“I look forward to serving the town that I love so much,” Hamrick said.

He said his time as a commissioner has “flown by” so far, and he is proud of the things the board has accomplished during his time as a member. This includes improving Thurmont’s streetscape with building facades, new sidewalks, and improvements to the Thurmont Trolley Trail. He also said the board has kept the town’s budget healthy.

He feels the town will face some challenges, including the unpredictable cost of healthcare for town employees and the possibility of town revenues stagnating while costs continue to rise. He is ready to face those questions and make the best decisions he can for the town.

Buehrer, 74, is retired from Stauffer Funeral Homes, where he was a funeral director. First elected in 2011, this will be his third term as a commissioner. He said recently in The Catoctin Banner that his goal as a commissioner is to continue improving the town’s infrastructure, bring businesses to Thurmont, and improve housing development in a conservative manner.

“I was first elected in 2011, vying to preserve our past and save the future of Thurmont,” Buehrer said in the Banner. “This board has demonstrated such through infrastructure improvement. We have vigorously looked for and received state grants, thus bringing our tax dollars back to Thurmont. I want to continue these efforts.”

The election was held at the Guardian Hose Company Activities Building on East Main Street in Thurmont. The commissioners serve four year terms and earn $8,000 a year.

Putting into action the organization’s motto of “We Serve,” nine Lions, representing two Frederick County Lions Clubs, recently came together on a countywide service project when 214 preschool children in the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start program received vision screenings, performed by Lions members on eight different dates at various sites in September and October. The majority of the screenings were conducted at the Head Start offices in Frederick, with the remaining screenings held at Head Start locations at the Frederick YMCA and Hillcrest and Libertytown Elementary Schools.  Approximately 137 Lions service hours were spent on this effort. This was the sixth consecutive year for the joint-screening effort.

The children were brought in one at a time to a non-invasive testing station, with Head Start staff members accompanying the children. The station utilized 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, each child received a Lion sticker to indicate they had completed the screening process.

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 parents/guardians of 43 children tested received written test results to indicate that their child was recommended to see a vision professional for a potential problem or was unable to be screened. The advanced technology of the PluxoptiX camera provides readings that are printed out on a label that is attached to the letter for use by the vision professional of the parents’ choice.

Colleen Ford, health coordinator for the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start, stated, “This school year, our local Lions Club members have dedicated many hours of their time helping Frederick County (Maryland) families and children by conducting vision screenings. They have participated in four days of vision screenings in September 2019 and four days in October 2019. This event is one of extreme importance to the child’s overall health and educational development. With the state of art diagnostic machine they use, if the child is a referral, the information that is printed out for the family is of great importance to the provider performing the vision rescreen. Without the generous time given of the Lions Club members, it would be a hard mandate for Head Start to complete in a timely manner.”

Lions members participating in the screenings included: Sharon Hane, Nancy Smith, Clifford Sweeney, and Bill and Rachel Wivell from the Emmitsburg Lions Club; and John Aulls and Lynn Stimmel from Francis Scott Key Lions Club.

Childcare centers or organizations that want to learn more about the Lions preschool vision screening program or to schedule a screening should contact Lion John Aulls at or 301-662-2360.

Lions participating in the recent vision screenings of Head Start students included:  (seated) Lion Sharon Hane, Emmitsburg Lions, and Lion Lynn Stimmel, Francis Scott Key Lions; (standing) Lion John Aulls, Francis Scott Key Lions; Lion Clifford Sweeney, Emmitsburg Lions; Colleen Ford, Health Coordinator, YMCA of Frederick County Head Start; and Lion Lions Bill and Rachel Wivell, Emmitsburg Lions.  Participating but not shown:  Lion Nancy Smith of Emmitsburg Lions

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg could have its own disc golf by next spring. The town commissioners approved the design of an 18-hole disc golf course in Community Park during their October meeting.

Disc golf is played similar to golf. Instead of hitting a golf ball into a hole, players throw Frisbees into baskets. Its popularity has soared in recent years because it is an inexpensive sport for both the player and the course owner.

A $14,000 Community Parks and Playground Grant will fund the cost of the course. Fredrock Disc Golf, the group that designed and built the Woodsboro disc golf course, designed the Emmitsburg course to use some of the unused park area in Community Park. Also, the design does not require any mature, healthy trees be removed. Only dead and diseased trees and invasive species of plants will be removed.

“Disc golf is an activity that everybody can participate in,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners. “If you can walk, if you can be in a wheelchair, if you can get around, you can participate in disc golf.”

Town Clerk Madeline Shaw came up with the idea for the disc golf course and did the research to determine its feasibility. She said she was looking for an idea that would utilize more of Community Park (roughly only half of the park acreage is used now) and promote walkability and healthy lifestyles.

Woodsboro, Walkersville, and Middletown have disc golf courses, and Willets talked to staff at those towns to find out how they liked their courses. She said one town manager told her he was “amazed by how many people get out and just walk and get the exercise.” The length of Emmitsburg’s course is estimated to be about two miles.

The commissioners had some concerns over the placement of some of the holes and whether they would be in water when it rained. Fredrock representatives said if water becomes an issue with a hole, it can be relocated to a dry fairway within a few hours.

Although the Town of Emmitsburg will provide minimal weeding and clearing, volunteers with Fredrock will maintain the course in a similar way to how the town’s mountain biking trails are maintained.

If things go as planned, the town could host a ribbon-cutting for the course in April. Commissioner Tim O’Donnell suggested it might even be possible to have a tournament during Community Heritage Day.

The commissioners approved the course 4-1 with the understanding that the layout could be modified if needed. Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, was the dissenting vote.

The Thurmont Lion’s Club will be collecting new and gently used coats (children and adult), beginning October 26 through November. Drop-off sites are: Thurmont Food Lion, Catoctin High School, and Thurmont Middle School, or you can call Marci at 301-748-1665 for pickup.

The Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County held a reception on Thursday, September 26, 2019, at the Thurmont Regional Library to recognize the philanthropic legacy of the late Donald L. Lewis, specifically the creation of the Adult Evaluation and Referral Services Program (AERS) under the Advocates for the Aging (AAFC).

A Thurmont native, Lewis and his wife, Freda, owned and operated the Lewis Confectionery on the square in Thurmont. Donald was a U.S. Army Veteran who served in the European Theater during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. He was Mayor of Thurmont for two terms (1964 to 1970) and served as a Frederick County commissioner and then a legislative representative for Frederick County in Annapolis. He was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying interaction with community members by selling sporting goods at Lewis’ Store.

Lewis was a loved member of our community, and he loved the community back. He also greatly loved Freda. After her death in 2004, he honored her memory by naming the physical and occupational therapy wing of the Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center in her honor.

After his death in February of 2018, at the age of 99, through the trusted management of his niece, Sue Ferguson, he continued his legacy of community service by supporting several projects, including the AERS. This fund is a life-line for low-income and frail seniors to support nursing staff requests that improve a client’s quality of life, but for which the costs could not be covered through regular sources. Examples include assisting with the purchase of a prosthetic limb, an electric wheelchair, an air conditioner or a microwave.

If you are able, please consider including the Donald L. Lewis Fund for the Frederick County AERS Program in your charitable giving plans. For more information, please email or visit online.

Lewistown is a very small community with two churches, a fire company, and an elementary school, but the folks in and around Lewistown have huge hearts and care about one another. The members of the Lewistown United Methodist Church recently recognized the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Company for their courage, service, and commitment as they protect and serve their neighbors. Pastor Katy Mossburg of the Lewistown United Methodist Church offered blessings upon the first responders and the equipment, after which all enjoyed a good time of food and fellowship.

Members of the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Department gather after many of them had just returned from a call for an overturned vehicle; one person was transported to the hospital. Pictured from left are: (standing) Mary Fran Bostian, Karen Stull, Clarice Martin, Wayne Stull, Donald Martin, Steve Stull, Frannie Wachter, Ty Demar, Amber Demar, Beth Wachter, Skeeter Wachter, Vicky Martin, Shirley Stull, Delbert Stull; (kneeling) Bri Wachter, Taylor Boward, Steph Wachter, and Pastor Mossburg.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland announced that the Town of Thurmont was one of 17 Maryland municipalities honored at the Sustainable Maryland Awards Ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League’s annual Fall Conference in October in Cambridge, Maryland.

“The Town of Thurmont is extremely proud to once again obtain this touted recognition and certification,” said Mayor John Kinnaird. “Our staff and our Green Team have worked tirelessly to educate our citizens about sustainability, and the results are very indicative of how important these efforts are to our community. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s hard work and dedication.”

For detailed information about Thurmont’s sustainability initiatives, please contact Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick at 301-271-7313 or

(from left) Mayor John Kinnaird and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick are shown with the Sustainable Maryland Certified award at the Maryland Municipal League conference.

James Rada, Jr.

Rebuilding the Emmitsburg Community Pool proved to be a good investment for the town, and judging by the number of people that used it this summer, it was well-liked by residents.

The town closed the community pool for the 2017 season in order to undertake a $369,500 rebuilding of the pool. The town commissioners had initially only been planning on renovating the existing pool, but a pressure test of the plumbing showed that it needed to be replaced. Also, the beams beneath the pool were damaged and needed to be replaced.

Besides a new pool, the pool house has a fresh coat of paint, and the pavilion was treated to remove the bees. The parking lot was repaved and repainted. The new pool’s depths range from 1 foot to 10 feet.

For the two seasons that the pool has been reopened, it is proving less costly to operate, in part, because it is not leaking water like a sieve.

Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners in September that, not including the season pass holders, total attendance for the 88 days the pool was open was 9,911. The town also earned an average of $112.63 per day for admissions. This compares to 2018 when total attendance was 8,404 for 86 days, with the town earning an average of $97.72 per day.

The increase in revenue the town received was $7,258 for the year or about 33 percent more than 2018.

“That’s significantly higher than 2014, 2015, and 2016, before the renovations occurred,” said Willets. During those years, attendance was around 5,300 people a year for 65 days of operation.

Commission President Cliff Sweeney also pointed out that for the 35 days the concession stand was open, it averaged about $75 a day for the 3-4 hours it was open each day. It earned $2,700, while the food cost only $1,140. The profit from the stand goes toward Community Heritage Day. He said if it could be run by another organization that has the volunteers to run it, the concession stand could be a large fundraiser.

“You wouldn’t believe the people from Frederick who come up here to use the pool,” Sweeney said.

Besides Frederick, people are also coming from places like Fairfield and Taneytown and paying out-of-town prices to use the pool.

He said the reason they are willing to travel further and use a pool not in their community is that it is cleaner, quieter, and they enjoy the atmosphere and staff.

Blair Garrett

Donating money to families in need is a cause just about everyone can get behind.

Dedicating the time and effort to make a family’s holiday season just a little bit better is a priceless gift, and one that has been felt by families in Thurmont for years now.

Each holiday season, the Thurmont Police Commission puts together a fundraising drive to help families in need. Whether it’s money for groceries, to pay the rent, or just to get a little girl a toy for Christmas, the goal is the same: To help someone less fortunate than yourself.

“The Thurmont Police Commission is a commission set up by the town of Thurmont, and we work in more of an advisory capacity and a helping capacity,” said Shawn Martyak of the Thurmont Police Commission.

The importance is not placed on who is being helped, but rather how they can be helped. The donations are all anonymously done, with the families typically receiving the holiday gifts from local churches.

“We don’t want to know personally who the families are, and everything remains anonymous,” Martyak said. The commission strives to donate not for the recognition, but solely to do something good for local people who need a little help. “We’re part of the community, and we serve on the commission because we elected to help our community, and we look at this as another avenue to do so.”

As they have done in the past, this year’s goal is to help as many families as they can, and their success is entirely driven on donations by individuals who are able to help and the business community.

Finding families to help was much easier before, but the commission has a “Never Say Die” attitude, which has kept this program around for several years now.

“A few years ago, the commission solicited some donations from local businesses, and then went through the local school system to identify some children and their families who might need some help during the holiday season,” Martyak said. “Privacy laws changed, and we couldn’t get any more information that way. The police commission then leaned on the local police department for help, but privacy laws once again put up a roadblock identifying needy families.”

The Thurmont Police Commission now goes through the ministerial community, who work closely with Thurmont residents, as a way of making sure the donations stay local and get to those who need it most. 

“The plan this year is to go through a local church and present everything we collect to the pastor of a church to identify some people in the community to help the families who they feel are the neediest and could use some help,” Martyak said.

The commission takes donations all the way through November and the first week of December, and will give VISA gift cards to local churches to help out during the holidays.

This is a special group of people who come together to make a difference in their community, and that is something Martyak and the rest of the police commission are proud of. “The neat thing about this is, everything we collect stays in our community, and to us that’s truly working together with our police departments, our business community, and everybody working together,” he said.

If you would like to donate to help out a family in need this holiday season, you can mail VISA gift cards to the Thurmont Police Department at 800 East Main Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, with attention to the Police Commission.

James Rada, Jr.

No sooner had one barber shop moved from the storefront at 7 Water Street in Thurmont when another shop opened. Thurmont Family Barbershop opened its doors on September 9, 2019, and residents might have noticed the familiar face holding the scissors.

Jim McNey, a long-time Emmitsburg barber, is running the shop for Jamie Andrew, the former owner of Emmitsburg Family Barber. Two part-time barbers will assist him on the busy days.

McNey has been a barber since 1966 and owned his own barber shop in Laurel for 12 years. He is known locally from the time he worked in the Emmitsburg Family Barber Shop.

“I like this work,” he said. “I like to create and talk to people, and this job lets me do that.”

Business is already starting to pick up for the shop, with some of his former Emmitsburg customers coming to Thurmont to have McNey do their hair. McNey also has plans for the shop. He will soon be adding a new floor and barber station. He is also considering adding additional services beyond the typical haircuts and shaves.

“I’ve had some talks with people who could bring new things here,” he said.

For now, customers can get a great haircut and enjoy looking at the antique barber chair from the 1800s McNey keeps in the shop.

The store is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can call the shop at 240-288-9323.

Pictured from left are: Thurmont CAO Jim Humerick; Sabrina Massett;Thurmont Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Wes Hamrick; Mayor John Kinnaird; Owner/master barber Jamie Andrew; Barber Jim McNey; and Barber Dawn Roberts and her husband, Gary Roberts, with their two grandchildren, Benjamin and Emily.

For over 85 years, The Eyler Stables in Thurmont has been well-known for its horse auctions. Four generations of Eylers have had a turn at holding the reins of one of the longest running equine auctions on the East Coast.  

However, change is vital for any business to remain successful, so when a need was seen for a new and different type of auction, The Eyler Stables was more than willing. Most recently, Eyler’s has added a livestock and produce auction to their schedule on the first Friday evening of each month, starting at 6:00 p.m. The first livestock and produce auction was held on October 4, with over 80 buyers in attendance. The evening started off with the sale of a large selection of cages, crates, and various farm supplies, and moved on to produce and eggs. Rabbits, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, quail, guineas, geese, goats, and sheep were just a few of the livestock you could purchase.  Several in the crowd were heard to say that selling prices were really good, especially for the first auction. Niki Eyler, manager, said that the turnout was great, and it is anticipated that the auction will continue to grow quickly as the word spreads. Of course, The Eyler Stables will continue to have its horse auctions on the third Friday evening of each month. 

If you are interested in more information, visit their website at, check out their Facebook page, or call 301-471-5158.

Zachary Olsen, a 2006 Catoctin Graduate, earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Coastal and Marine System Sciences from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in August of 2019.

After earning his B.A. at Malone University and his Masters of Sciences degree in Coastal Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi, he accepted a job with Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

Starting as a technician and then a biologist of the Upper Laguna Madre, his current job title is a coastal ecologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife in their Department of Coastal Fisheries. 

Zach is the son of Tim and Lois Olsen of Thurmont, and currently lives with his wife, Serena, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Recently, the Frederick County Retired School Personal Association (FCRSPA) had its fall luncheon at the Lewistown Fire Hall. The guest speaker was Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Dr. Hrabowski has been credited with transforming a commuter college into an institution known for its research and innovation, especially regarding African American students. He has written three books and been the recipient of many awards and honors. Dr. Hrabowski spoke about the role of higher education in American society and the importance of telling our own stories.

Membership in the FCRSPA is open to all those who have retired from Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). For membership information, email or call the FCRSPA Member Chairperson at 301-788-1117.