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James Rada, Jr.

Tim O’Donnell

Running for Mayor

Why are you running for the office you chose?

Hello, my name is Tim O’Donnell, and I am running for mayor. I value community service. I know my 14 years as a commissioner have brought positive results for our town.

How does having you in that position benefit the town?

When I ran for Commissioner 14 years ago, my goals included enhancing town relations with local businesses, Mount Saint Mary’s University, the Daughters of Charity, and FEMA; getting our neighborhood sidewalks connected to Main Street; and seeing the pool rebuilt, not closed. I wanted our parks to be updated and to build a network of recreational trails on the mountain. I have been successful with these goals. These and other successes are due to hard work and collaboration with many individuals and groups.

What do you see as the town’s strengths? 

Our community is evolving and improving. I feel very fortunate to live here with my family. With appropriate planning and measured growth, we can maintain the quality of life that makes our community unique and attractive to new businesses and new residents. Emmitsburg’s greatest strength is our sense of community. We know our neighbors. We support one another. We value one another and our town.

What are the biggest challenges facing the town?

Emmitsburg’s biggest challenge today is funding the replacement of our ancient water system. The town has been involved in a systematic process to accomplish this goal. It is important we re-evaluate our efforts here to complete this in a timely and affordable manner.

Accessible local daycare is lacking in our community. After-school programs must be expanded. More elder care is needed, offering independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Downtown parking needs to be expanded. Emmitsburg must expand its participation with Main Street Maryland. Solutions exist that involve an active town government. These represent many of my priorities to further improve our whole community.

Why should residents vote for you?

We have an awesome community, and my hope is to lead it forward. To do this, I hope to maintain your trust and earn your vote. Thank you.

Frank Davis

Running for Mayor

Why are you running for the office you chose?

After serving four years as town commissioner, I feel I have gained the experience necessary to lead Emmitsburg. I have the time to commit to being a “hands-on” mayor.

How does having you in that position benefit the town?

Born and raised in Emmitsburg, I have seen the ups and downs of the town over the years, and with that experience, I will do my best to not repeat bad decisions and practices.

What do you see as the town’s strengths? 

The town has many strengths, but the most valuable is its citizens. We have residents that have knowledge and expertise that we need to take advantage of to help make good sound decisions.

What are the biggest challenges facing the town?

Planning for the future, becoming fiscally responsible, downtown parking, water rates, and child care are a few of the top priorities that need to be addressed.

Why should residents vote for you?

I am excited about the opportunity to lead the town and will commit to listening to the citizens. I want to be sure Emmitsburg remains a viable town that attracts businesses and can provide a great place to live.

Glenn Blanchard

Running for Commissioner

Why are you running for the office you chose?

I am running for office because I want to serve the citizens of Emmitsburg. I feel that I bring experience to the job, having served 14 years previously as a town commissioner. The town, country, and the whole world are recovering from the Pandemic. I want to help bring our community back together.

How does having you in that position benefit the town?

With my previous experience as an elected official, I understand the job and the duties that it entails. I have proven myself to be a patient and understanding elected official. I have lived in Emmitsburg for 32 years, and I understand the town and its strengths and weaknesses. I have shown that I have the ability to listen to the citizens and carry their issues to the town meetings.

What do you see as the town’s strengths? 

The people are the backbone of Emmitsburg. They are what keep the town moving through good and bad times. The people of Emmitsburg care about each other, and they help those who need a helping hand.

What are the biggest challenges facing the town?

Sustainable growth, with appropriate upgrades to the existing infrastructure. Providing services to a growing population that needs a municipal government that responds to their needs.

Why should residents vote for you?

The residents of Emmitsburg will be gaining an elected official who cares about them and the town they live in. The residents will be gaining an elected official who has experience in office and has dealt with many of the same issues that the town is facing today.

The Johns Farmhouse Story

Richard D. L. Fulton

Among the mass of paranormal photographs taken over the decades, one occasionally encounters a photograph that includes a house or structure that no longer exists, or a plantation-like stairway with Victorian inhabitants apparently standing upon it that never existed.

But how about a farmhouse that appears in a Civil War picture 16 years before the farmhouse was built? As strange as that may sound, there is actually a rational explanation for the strange “apparitions.”

On July 1 through July 3. 1863, a ‘terrible storm’ swept through Gettysburg as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac collided on the fields and hills in and surrounding the quiet country borough of Adams County.

The battle that raged for three days ultimately climaxed with the so-called “Pickett’s Charge,” which failed in the final attempt of Confederate General Robert E, Lee to break through the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge under the command of Union General George A. Meade.

The cataclysmic charge and the defense of the Union line was commemorated in a painting known as the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama, which has been on display at the various incarnations of the Gettysburg Battlefield Park’s Cyclorama for decades (including initially at a building at the entrance to the national cemetery).

In the 1880s, French artist Paul Philippoteaux painted four versions of his “Pickett’s Charge” cycloramas, including one which went on display in Boston in 1884. In 1913, the Boston version was purchased and displayed in Gettysburg for the 50th Anniversary of the battle and was displayed in a building near the entrance of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

Philippoteau’s painting was ultimately purchased by the National Park Service in 1942 and was moved to its first NPS home, a building within the park. In 1963, the painting was moved into a new visitor center, and again in 2005, the painting was moved to the current visitor center.

While the painting had to be restored (it had actually been cut into pieces before it was purchased in 1913), no one caught onto, or covered-over the farmhouse that didn’t exist.

The farmhouse in question appears at the left flank of Pickett’s Charge, essentially in the background. As it turns out, the farmhouse was constructed in 1879 by Samuel Bushman (now commonly referred to as being the William Johns farmhouse).

So how did it end up in a Civil War painting? According to Mike Tallent and Ron Frenette, who purchased the old farmhouse in 2014, Philippoteau never left France to view the battlefield, but instead, he had hired photographers to take photographs of the areas to be painted. The photographs were taken in the very early 1880s (before the paintings were executed), after the farmhouse had been built.

Thus, unaware of the unintended anachronism, Philippoteau included the 1879 Bushman home in his “Pickett’s Charge” painting.

Well, at least the land the farmhouse sits upon—which stands on the corner of Johns Avenue and Culp Street—did see plenty of fire and fury on July 4, 1863, as can be testified to by the voluminous number of bullets, shells fragments—even unexploded artillery rounds—that have been collected on the farmhouse property, and those of the neighboring properties that now comprise the Colt Park development.

The property and those surrounding the farmhouse turned up more than just relics. The front of the Johns farmhouse all the way from Culp’s Street to King Street was a temporary Confederate mass grave (the bodies were subsequently removed). In 1882, a trench was dug 300 yards from the farmhouse wherein 15 Confederate bodies were found. Again, in 1914, two more bodies were recovered near the barn, next to the farmhouse.

 Civil War history aside, in 1913, Gettysburg served as the host to the Civil War Veterans’ Reunion, and the sprawling encampment all but encircled the farmhouse property. In 1918, Camp Colt (where the War Department trained the U.S. Army’s first tank unit) was established and basically encompassed the same ground as did the 1913 veterans’ reunion. More than 150 troops encamped in Camp Colt died from the Spanish Flu in 1918.

The Johns farmhouse and the land it was built upon didn’t get much of a break when it came to being witness to tragic events.

In 1922, during the Marine maneuvers at Gettysburg, death came precariously close to landing in the front yard of the old farmhouse when a warplane fell from the sky, killing the pilot and his passenger.

Highly-decorated World War I Marine infantryman Captain George Wallis Hamilton—turned Marine aviator in the aftermath of the war—was piloting a de Havilland DH-4B dive-bomber on June 26, along with passenger, Gunnery Sergeant George Russell Martin, at the head of the Marine column as the column approached the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The more than 5,000 Marines had marched from Quantico to hold their Civil War-theme summer maneuvers and battle reenactment in Gettysburg, and squadrons of bi-wing airplanes flew overhead, as if patrolling the skies during the Marines’ advance.

Hamilton was in command of the lead squadron as it approached the battlefield. The squadron was in the process of preparing to land at an impromptu airfield the Marines had constructed on the Culp Farm near the intersection of Old Emmitsburg Road and Long Lane.

As Hamilton’s squadron circled to position themselves to land, the other pilots, as well as other witnesses on the ground, stated that the captain’s “DH-4B airplane #6157 went into a tailspin from a left turn from which it did not recover, and crashed to the ground,” according to the crash investigatory Record of Proceedings.

The crash occurred in the area of Johns Avenue and Culp Street, just missing a carnival that had been set up along Steinwehr Avenue, precariously close to the front yard of the Johns farmhouse.

Hamilton was found deceased in the wreckage, but Martin was still alive. He was transported to the Warren Hospital (Gettysburg Hospital), where he expired a short time later. Because both were engaged in Marine activities at the time of the crash, they then both became the last line-of-duty deaths to have taken place on the old Civil War battlefield since 1863.

Today, the site of the crash is marked by a memorial wayside dedicated to the two aviators who had perished on June 26, 1922. The memorial was created by a consortium of area residents, members of the Gettysburg and Emmitsburg Marine Corps Leagues, and the Gettysburg Heritage Center.

A photograph of the Johns farmhouse was included in the wayside, as it was the only nearby structure that had existed in that area at the time of the crash. Johns farmhouse owners Mike Tallent and Ron Frenette played instrumental roles in not only raising the funds to erect the memorial and designing it, but also in helping to create the subsequent dedication ceremony when the memorial wayside was unveiled.

The memorial wayside dedication was held on June 26, 2018. Members of the US Marine Corps Historical Company, Marines from Fort Meade, and a Marine bugler from Marine Base Quantico participated in the dedication ceremony.

Frenette stated at the ceremony that the book, The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg by Richard D. L. Fulton and James Rada, Jr., had inspired the effort to create the memorial to the two aviators.

Nancy Gearhart Rice, Thurmont

A way to take one’s mind off the troubled times we now live in is to relive the past with memories. I have called Thurmont my home since the 1950s, so there’s no doubt I’ve seen many changes. 

I went to Thurmont High School and learned along with students in grades 1-12, all in the same building. No bad memories stand out from my school years. I took schoolwork seriously and always aimed for good grades.

After high school, in 1962, I was hired by the town clerk, Mr. Guy Frushour, for the position of secretary in the Thurmont Town Office.  Although my job title was “secretary,” I wore many hats.

The town’s office building was fairly new, about five years old at that time and became my workplace for the next 25 years. I joined Pauline Firor and Annabelle Taylor in the front office. The public works department was headed by Bill Rice, superintendent, and the following workers: Joe Fraley, Dalton Perry, Harry Sharer, Paul Sweeney, Charles Willhide, Raymond Knott, Manuel Willard, Charles Yingling, Paul Shaffer, Johnny Robinson, Ellsworth Poole, and Kermit Riffle.

Mr. Frushour was a very frugal person, but he was easy to get along with and delighted in telling us stories of his life. He loved talking about his college years at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg. He walked from Graceham to the college every day. Sometimes, he was fortunate enough to get a ride. He proudly told us how many footsteps it took to get there. He didn’t have a driver’s license or a car and walked to and from work each day. I would sometimes offer to drive him home, but he usually worked past quitting time.

The electricity and water bills were all computed and written by hand, without the use of adding machines. We had a good supply of scrap paper on which to do the computations. Annabelle would take cards that she had prepared ahead with the customer’s name, account number, and the previous month’s meter reading, and she would transfer the present reading from the meter books to get the month’s kilowatt hour (kWh) usage. Pauline and I would check her subtraction and prepare the customer’s bill. We used pre-calculated rate cards to get the kWh cost, then we computed the sales tax and wrote in the amount due using ink pens. We had to make two copies of the bill (not carbon copies): one for the office and one for the customer. I would then take Pauline’s stack of bills and check all her figures; likewise, she would check mine. 

When a customer’s electric or water bills were past due, one could expect a knock on his/her door by Mr. Frushour. He would walk to their home or catch a ride on a town vehicle and attempt to collect the payment or set up a payment plan. The delinquency rate was very low. The town office hours were 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. 

Each week, usually Wednesday, the parking meter money was collected by someone on the police force. After a meter maid was hired, she did that job.  The coins would be dumped on a large table in our office, and two of us would separate the coins and wrap them by hand, except for the pennies.  These were wrapped using a hand-crank coin-wrapping machine. 

The office was a very comfortable place to work. No freebies were offered. We paid ten cents for a cup of coffee, and a soda machine provided nickel cokes. On Christmas Eve, the employees would be treated to a Christmas lunch. It was held in the stock room on a makeshift table of plywood, and we would get to go home a couple hours early. The office had one adding machine (hand-crank, not electric) that was shared by the three of us. We had manual typewriters, and the office functioned well with one telephone. I was responsible for accounts payable and payroll. Every check was hand written.

I was also secretary to Thurmont Police Chief Clarence Hagelin. On occasion, he would call me in at night to type the statement of persons detained or to type emergency paperwork. There was no copy machine; carbon paper was used. We did whatever it took to get things done.

I was the recording secretary for the board of commissioners for about 20 years. No tape recorder was used. I took notes in shorthand at all meetings and then typed the minutes, which were put into binders having pre-numbered pages.   

In 1964, I was part of the very first committee formed to initiate planning and zoning in Thurmont. Public hearings were held in the auditorium of the Thurmont High School. A few meetings became a rather noisy scene. The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission was then formed, and I was appointed executive secretary. I processed the very first zoning permits for the citizens of Thurmont. I believe the charge was $3.00.

Mr. Frushour became ill in 1966, and his position was filled by Glenn Nikirk. Mr. Nikirk was also zoning administrator. During his time, the office became more modernized. He was instrumental in getting the first grants for the town. In 1978, Mr. Nikirk resigned to take a position with the City of Frederick. Mayor C. Ray Weddle asked me to accept the position of zoning administrator, which I did and served in that capacity for nearly 10 years.

During these years, I also became the unofficial town office historian and answered inquiries from many seeking information about their ancestors.  Here’s one such letter, sent from Putnam, CT. in 1964.

Addressed To: “Either Town Manager, Selectman, Mayor or whoever is in charge of Thurmont, Maryland.”

“To whom it may concern; In 1928 I was shown by a person, a little white cottage at a corner in Thurmont, Md. on the road to Baltimore. Now, I am told there never was a house there. I never took a drop in my life. I’m 84, so there is something or someone cockeyed. Enclosed is a stamped, self-addressed envelope for an answer. My defunct wife was born there in 1897, April 2nd.”

After exchanging a couple letters with the sender to gather more information, we determined the location of the house in question.

Thurmont was a small town back then and much less populated. We knew every resident and most everything about them. The majority of the residents came in person to pay utility bills, usually by cash. 

I am proud to have known and worked under Mayors Donald L. Lewis, Roy W. Lookingbill, C. Ray Weddle, and James F. Black, and I feel fortunate to have watched our town grow over the past 70-plus years.

I can still remember:

The Zimmerman ladies, wearing long dresses and standing on their side porch (later removed) at the stone house on the corner of West Main Street and Altamont Avenue.

Buck Lewis walking from his gas station to direct traffic at the square when the fire alarm sounded.

Ice cream sundaes from Domingue’s and Donald Lewis’ soda fountains.

Buying clothing and shoes at Shappy’s on the Square.

The canning factory in operation.

The State Theatre.

Donald and Freida Lewis’ card and gift shop and Toy Land.

The Thurmont train station in operation.

Both the Dixie Diner and Davy’s Diner on Water Street.

And that is how some things used to be. I am hoping this stirs the minds of the few residents of Thurmont who can remember these times.

The Western Maryland Train Station, taken looking west from Boundary Avenue across the main line. At the left can be seen one of the water towers used to water the engines as they stopped in Thurmont.

Photo of the Dixie Diner, taken in 1939. The Dixie Diner was built in the late 1930s using an old H&FRR car by Mary and Leonard Fogle. After several years, the Dixie was enlarged by adding a second trolley car to the far end. It was operated by several individuals over the years, including Mary Fogle, Bill Houck, Audie and Audrey Moore, and Myrtle and Jim Steele.  The restaurant sat on Water Street at the Frederick Road intersection between the Fogle’s house and garage. The Center of Life Chiropractic Center sits in this general vicinity today.

This photograph (above) of Christmas lights at the Square in Thurmont dates from the early 1960s. All the businesses were all lit up, with the most prominent being Donald and Freda Lewis’s Corner Store.

The Lewis’s purchased this business in 1952 from the Wisotzkey Brothers. The store featured an amazing soda fountain bar along the far wall, a great selection of candies, cards, gifts, magazines, and of course, Toy Land upstairs. Lewis’s was located on the Square at the intersection of East Main Street and Water Street.

The next storefront down East Main Street also belonged to the Lewis’s and housed the Lewis Sporting Good Store. Donald was an avid fisherman and was always willing to offer advice about equipment or the best spots to fish. One of the most interesting features of the building was the corner door seen here; the Thurmont Bank building across the street also featured a corner door. Donald and Freda were very involved in the town (Donald was a Thurmont Mayor and Frederick County Commissioner) and loved by everyone. Freda died in 2004 and Donald in 2018.

On the second floor of the Wisotzkey store on the square was Toy Land! This was the place to go to see toys of all kinds, including bikes, doll houses, games, sleds, drums, baby buggies, swing sets, child-sized chairs, dart boards, and lots of other wonderful toys. Donald Lewis kept Toy Land open for many years as well. Pictured (from left): Unknown lady, Mary Mae Wisotzkey, Donnie Marshall, Roy Wisotzkey, Elizabeth Wisotzkey, and Doris Fitzgerald.

Buck Lewis at his Sinclair Gas and Service Station. After Buck closed the station, the building served as an ice cream parlor and a seafood/sandwich shop.

Thurmont Mayor James Black signing a document in the meeting room at the old town offices, located at 10 Frederick Road.

Lisa C. Cantwell

Seven female combat Veterans enjoyed a four-day getaway recently at Heroes Ridge, a 275-acre retreat complex located atop Raven Rock Mountain near Fairfield, Pennsylvania. Activities included ATV riding on the wooded trails, horseback riding, roping, swimming, painting, yoga, karaoke, dancing around the firepit and a carriage ride tour of the Gettysburg battlefield.  The ladies also enjoyed getting their nails groomed during a special “Spa Day” themed luncheon.

“Females are often the forgotten Veterans,” said Cindy McGrew, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Operation Second Chance (OSC) that manages the gated retreat camp.  Leah, one of the attendees from Kansas City and a Navy veteran agreed, “We, as a society, have to begin thinking that Veterans might be women, too.” She relayed the license plate frame on her car reads “U.S. Navy Retired” and that people often remark, “Please thank your husband for his service.” “I told them, ‘It’s ME’! That people who serve are both men AND women.” 

According to the VA website, more than two million women Veterans reside in the U.S. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense recorded that women made up 17 percent of the active-duty force and 21 percent comprised the National Guard/Reserve population. The VA states that women are the fastest growing group in the Veteran population. 

The gathering at Heroes Ridge offered these minority service members a safe and fun environment in which to share their experiences with one another, thereby supporting each one’s journey of healing and recovery. Leah shared, “Being here has been so important to my recovery, I just don’t feel like I fit in unless I’m with other female vets.”  Accompanied by her service dog, “Garet,” she also shared that she was celebrating her 46th birthday, “My injuries had me in a coma for four weeks. I was told I’d never live past 40 and that I’d never walk again. Well, here I am!” All of the women at the retreat presented her with a round of happy birthday wishes and personal tributes. She shared that her favorite experience during the weekend was around the campfire, as the ladies sang and danced in train formation when they found out it was her birthday.  She also loved swimming in the pool with her dog. Leah has known Cindy McGrew for six years and noted, “Everything Cindy does in her life is for veterans, and that’s what Heroes Ridge is all about.” 

Theresa, an Army Veteran from Southern Maryland, said this was her second trip to Heroes Ridge. McGrew met her at Walter Reed Hospital over 12 years ago. “She couldn’t walk or talk. She’s come such a long way! Her road to recovery has been a difficult one,” McGrew said.

At dinner, Theresa shared her story of overcoming serious injuries with her comrades. She gave Cindy McGrew much praise saying, “She saved my life!” McGrew quickly responded, “Oh no! I didn’t do that. God did!” Theresa has recently been hired by McGrew as an intern with OSC.

“What I love about this particular retreat is that it caters to women exclusively. We can just enjoy some fun in a non-competitive atmosphere,” Theresa observed. “To be able to connect with other women vets and experience new things, share stories, learn what works and what doesn’t is invaluable. It’s reassuring just knowing there are others that understand.” Recognizing the need for female Veterans to connect, she began a group for this underserved population that meets monthly in her community. Her favorite activity at the retreat was horseback riding, noting that experience was much better the second time around.

She said, “It was so calming, and I felt empowered. Riding gave me a sense of accomplishment.”  She recently completed a research course at Harvard and hopes to apply her knowledge toward a future study on women in military service. 

In addition to fully funded retreats at Heroes Ridge, the highly rated non-profit has other getaway locations for Veterans nationwide in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota, to name a few. To date, OSC has provided over $16 million to assist our nation’s heroes and their families in the form of mortgage and rent payments, airline and Amtrack tickets, lodging, essential living expense items, and recreation and entertainment fees.

For more information on retreats for Veterans and their families at Heroes Ridge at Raven Rock and about Operation Second Chance (OSC), please visit the website at

Cover Photo Lead-In: Leah gives “Cactus” a pat during riding and roping activities at Heroes Ridge.

Note: All Veterans requested that their first name only be used.

Sara and Kimberly enjoy the thrills of ATV riding during Heroes Ridge Women Veterans Retreat.

Pool playtime with the service dogs at Heroes Ridge Women Veterans Retreat.

Chris, a combat Veteran, mounted on “Pepsi” at Heroes Ridge. She’s being led by CEO and founder, Cindy McGrew.

If you’ve been reading The Catoctin Banner for the past few years, you have probably read the serial stories written by James Rada, Jr. “What Happens on the Mountain” is the one that is currently running in this newzine. Rada has now collected the horror serials, along with some new, unpublished stories in a collection called Shades & Shadows: Catoctin Tall Tales & Short Stories.

Catoctin Mountain lore tells of monsters like the snallygaster and dwayyo, creatures that haunt the dreams of children and adults alike. Shades & Shadows has similar stories of Catoctin Mountain. These nightmares are on and around the central Maryland mountain, incorporating its places and people into its legend.

In “The Anger of Innocence,”  millions of birds flocked to the small town of Graceham in 1972, destroying crops and annoying the residents. But what brought them to the town and for what purpose?

In “Cast from the Gods,” the U.S. government is building Site R or the Underground Pentagon deep beneath Raven Rock Mountain during the 1950s. When the complex was being built, workers found something else in the ground. It had been there for centuries. Its discovery released a danger that the U.S. Army nearly failed in controlling.

“Old Kiln Road” is a story about a mother dealing with grief and strange things that happen along Old Kiln Road in Thurmont.

“Fire, Fire” is the story of an arsonist who worked for Catoctin Furnace in the early 1800s and what drove him to madness.

Most of these stories appeared as monthly serials in The Catoctin Banner. The collection also includes three previously unpublished serials.

In “Set in Stone,” a stone carver in Thurmont finds blank headstones suddenly inscribed with the death information of murder victims. He becomes the suspect in their murders. He discovers that the truth is far more fantastic and horrific and dates back through generations of his family.

“Bon Appétit” is about a very special dinner at the opening of a new restaurant in Thurmont and how the owner gets revenge against his critics.

“Confessions” is about a man who has visions of murder victims who apparently have no connection to him.

The serial stories are based on a feature of newspapers from early in the 20th century that featured serial stories.

“When I was asked to write something for The Catoctin Banner’s Arts & Entertainment page, I decided to try to bring back the serial story,” Rada said. “My twist was that I localized the story so that they used actual places and/or events from Northern Frederick County.”

Rada’s first serial, “The Anger of Innocence,” was supposed to be the only story, but the feature proved popular, and he went on to write more stories in different genres.

“I switched up genres sometimes to be able to offer something for everyone,” Rada said. “Plus, I liked going outside of my comfort zone with what I was writing.”

He started coming up with ideas for possible stories and outlining them. Some of them might even be expanded into novels.

As the stories accumulated, he realized he had a nice collection of stories with more on the way. He decided to publish the collection as he has done with some of his non-fiction articles.

The problem he ran into was how to present it. The easiest way would have been to collect the published stories and release them as a multi-genre collection. The more he thought about it, though, the more he thought it wouldn’t fly.

“Readers tend to like certain genres,” he said. “My horror fans probably wouldn’t appreciate my romance serials and vice versa.”

He settled on releasing three Catoctin Tales & Short Stories, each which will focus on a single genre. Shades & Shadows is a horror collection. The other two will be a romance collection and a thriller collection.

“This doesn’t mean that I’m done with horror serials. It just means that I would need to write another set to come out with another title,” Rada said. “Meanwhile, I am working on the other two collections.”

Shades & Shadows retails for $18.95 and is available at local bookstores and online retailers. For more information about James Rada’s books, visit his website at

How the Breakup of a Continent Helped Prevent the Breakup of a Country

Richard D. L. Fulton

The Battle of Gettysburg, which resulted in an important stalemate between Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac on July 1 through July 3, 1863, prevented the advance of the Confederate Army through Pennsylvania.

Had the Army of Northern Virginia defeated the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, the Confederates could have advanced onto a number of  Pennsylvania and Maryland cities, and even Washington, D.C.

Essentially, much of the outcome of the battle was settled some 175 million years ago, and further forged by tens of millions of years of weathering, which further sculpted the primordial Gettysburg landscape into the killing fields of 1863.

The real battle, as such, began during the Jurassic Period, as the North American continent was ripped apart—in geologic slow motion—of its African counterpart during a geologic phenomenon known as continental drift.  It was during this cataclysmic event that also gave birth to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Jurassic Period was the central period of time some refer to as being the Age of the Dinosaurs, but the Jurassic Period was also marked as having been a period of cataclysmic geological events—massive earthquakes and the building up of massive magma chambers, comprised of molten rock and minerals—beneath the earth. 

As the North American plate and the African plate drifted further apart, the fire and fury of geological rage was tempered as the distance between the two departed continents drifted further apart. Massive earthquakes petered out, and magma chambers that remained concealed beneath the surface hardened into a rock type known as diabase.

Much of the region at the time that the magma chambers had formed was covered with thick beds of red shale and sandstone that had been laid down as mud during the previous period (Late Triassic). The magma chambers penetrated the lower shale and sandstone layers of the Late Triassic but did not pierce completely through them to reach the surface. If the magma had broken through, they would have developed into surficial volcanoes. 

Thus trapped, the magma slowly hardened into diabase, a rock type more weathering resistant than either the overlying shale or sandstone. As a result, over millions of years, the beds of shale and sandstone were weathered down, exposing the more resistant diabase.

The end result was that the hills and ridges of Gettysburg were formed by the tough diabase, and the ground level and lower elevations remained in the hands of the Late Triassic rocks (dubbed the Triassic basins).

So how did this impact the Battle of Gettysburg?

In the 19th Century (and before), most battles were fought for the main purpose of seizing the high ground (in the case of Gettysburg, the diabase hills and ridges). Not only did the high ground offer an advantage of observing enemy troop movements, but also afforded more defensive positions than if the armies had tried to defend themselves on lower ground (the shale valleys and flatter areas of Gettysburg).

During the Battle of Gettysburg, typical “high ground” features that were composed of diabase included the Devil’s Den, Big and Little Round Tops, Cemetery Ridge (which included the “High Water Mark” of Pickett’s Charge), Cemetery Hill, Seminary Ridge, Culps Hill, etcetera.

Much of the three-day battle pivoted on the effort to retain or capture these key positions. In fact, the epic climax of the battle was when the Confederate Army tried to drive the Union defenders off the Cemetery Ridge by marching three-quarters of a mile across a Triassic basin to assault the diabase ridge defended by the Union forces.

The Confederate forces had attempted the previous day to strike at the flanks of Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, and Little Round Top—both diabase and both attacked from Triassic basin formations—and both failed.

The 175-million-year-old magma chambers—created by the break up of a continent—proved resistant to time, and resistant to capture in 1863, and prevented that battle from being the one that might have assured the breakup of the country.

Courtesy of the Gettysburg NPS

View of the Triassic basin from the diabase hill known as Little Round Top.

“The Angle,” the farthermost point at which the Confederates penetrated the diabase ridge called Cemetery.

by James Rada, Jr.


Approved Bids

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a bid for a new water department truck to replace a 2007 utility bed truck. Three bids were received, and the mayor and commissioners accepted the $72,504 bid from Crouse Ford in Taneytown for a new truck.

The mayor and commissioners also approved a bid for sludge line valve replacements and a water line installation at the wastewater treatment plant for $87,855. Mid-Atlantic Utilities of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, will do the work.

Annual Donations Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently made their annual donations to local organizations in town that provide much-needed services to residents. Guardian Hose Company received $30,000. The Thurmont Community Ambulance Company received $30,000. The Thurmont Food Bank received $6,000, and the Thurmont Ministerium received $3,000.

Ordinance Changes Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved changes to the town ordinance to restrict the type of animals that are allowed within the town limits. The changes made to the “Animals” chapter will allow the code enforcement officer the ability to issue citations and take other actions to correct a problem in town of people having what many people would consider livestock in their backyards. In recent months, some people with an abundance of animals in their yards have caused problems for their neighbors that include smells, mosquitos, noise, and rats. The changes made to the “Parks” chapter will prohibit horses and ponies from town parks and trails unless they have a permit issued by the town.


Upcoming Election

The 2023 Emmitsburg Town Election will be held on Tuesday, September 26, at 22 East Main Street. The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The office of mayor and one commissioner seat are open for this election. Currently, commissioners Tim O’Donnell and Frank Davis have filed to run for mayor. Former commissioner Glenn Blanchard has filed to run for commissioner.

New Zoning Designation Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to add an Economic Development Flex District (Floating Zone) for sites that are larger than 25 acres in the B-2, ORI, I-P, and C-R districts.

Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners re-appointed Wayne and Sandy Slaughter to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Wayne’s term runs from September 8, 2023, to September 8, 2025. Sandy’s term runs from September 7, 2023, to September 7, 2025.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed election judges for the town election in September. Sharon Hane will serve as chief judge. Tammy May and Lynn Orndorff will serve as judges. Charlotte Mazaleski will serve as the greeter/alternate judge.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The school year has started, and we all need to be extra careful while driving on our local and county roads and state highways. First and foremost, we must be aware of the kids crossing our streets. There are crosswalks at all intersections in Thurmont, although they may not be marked. State law requires you to stop at any marked street crossing if people are in the crosswalk or stepping into the crosswalk. This rule should also apply to every intersection if children are crossing or entering the crossing area. As often as kids are told to look both ways before crossing, we all know they sometimes do not. Please keep in mind that kids will also cross streets at any point and can walk out from between parked cars. Be aware of speed zones near schools and slow down to the speed limit posted for traffic during school hours. We also need to be aware of kids getting on and off school buses. You are required to stop for all school buses headed in either direction when the red lights are flashing. School buses will flash their yellow lights as a warning that they are preparing to stop. Be sure to stop with plenty of room between you and the bus. The only exception is if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a multi-lane highway with the lanes separated by a barrier, grass, or paved median. Please keep an eye out for our children and make sure they get to and from school safely.

The 67th Annual Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show is being held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 8, 9, and 10. Be sure to come up and enjoy a weekend of great entertainment, agricultural displays, delicious food, amazing displays of art, photography, baking, canning, sewing, knitting, flower arranging, and other crafts. The show starts Friday evening, with the opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. followed by the baked goods auction at 7:30 p.m. All three days will feature agriculture displays of livestock and equipment. Saturday starts with the Beef, Sheep, and Swine Show and the Market Goat Fitting and Show. Come and see how much effort the young ladies and gentlemen of the FFA invest in their Ag displays. 

The Town of Thurmont will be holding an election to fill two Board of Commissioner seats on Tuesday, October 31. There are some important dates to keep in mind leading up to the election. The Nominating Convention will be held on September 26; this is when candidates will be nominated and begin their campaign. The last day you can register to vote is on October 3. If you are already registered for state and national elections, you are registered locally as well. You can register to vote at the Thurmont Town Office during regular business hours. Absentee Ballots will be available starting on October 18. Contact the Thurmont Town Office for Absentee Ballots. The last day to apply for an Absentee Ballot is October 24.

Colorfest is fast approaching and now is the time to get permits and secure a spot if you are setting up to sell items that weekend. This year, Colorfest will be held on Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15.  As usual, there will be lots of activity going on the entire week leading up to Colorfest. Preparations will be getting underway for security, sanitation, and transportation, and vendors will be setting up. Thurmont is widely known for all of the yard sales that pop up Wednesday through Friday. So, be aware of cars stopping to visit yard sales throughout the week. There will be no parking signs posted on select roadways, and we ask that you honor those signs during the times noted.

The town is working to organize the upcoming construction project on North Church Street. This will entail the replacement of water and wastewater mains on North Church from the railway bridge to out past Sheetz. Residents and businesses on North Church Street have received notification about the project and what they should expect as the work progresses. During the majority of the construction, one lane of North Church will be open, with flaggers guiding traffic through the work area. The contractors will be notified regarding the times when school buses and vehicles will be coming from CHS, and they will attempt to accommodate the traffic patterns whenever possible. I encourage you to find alternate routes to your destinations during this construction. All businesses will be open during the construction of the North Church Street improvements. Once the infrastructure work is completed, the entire roadway will be repaved. This project will get underway in late October and should continue for six months.

As always, I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 301-606-9458 for any comments, questions, or concerns.


Mayor Don Briggs

As I write this, one of my last two monthly mayor articles in The Catoctin Banner, I want to thank the residents, businesses, and the town staff for the honor to work with you over my four terms—12 years—it has been my humble honor. The two-fold measure of the office is to serve and govern. Sometimes, we were at odds with the governing piece, but at the foundation of every discussion was always our town charter and town code.

Together, we have done a lot. We did “take back” the square, re-did it, as it is the “foyer” of all our homes. We filled the sidewalk gaps, so now the town is connected from Tract Road to Emmit Gardens, Northgate, FEMA, and Silo Hill. We now have basically a new pool and changing rooms, a dog park, a redone bandstand, all-accessible children’s playground, and paved gaps to the walking path in Community Park. Through begging and cajoling, we got Ryan Homes back to finish the remainder of Brookfield after they swore they’d never come back here after being rudely dismissed some 15 years ago. Being recognized by the state as a Sustainable Community, the initial step to becoming a Main Street town and the thousands of dollars in grants to downtown building owners that equates to over $1 million in improvements. The three corners of the downtown square buildings benefit from that program. Finally, the Mount is coming downtown with programs and classes. Our solar field provides 94 percent of the town’s energy accounts. Adding energy saving LED street lighting, electric charging stations, and a town electric car. The thousands of trees we planted. To wit: we have the town recognized as one of the top 10 most beautiful small towns in Maryland. We did all of this together.

August started out with still trying to assist in any way the sponsors of a new Catholic High School to find a home in Emmitsburg. They have the students, Maryland Educational approved time-tested G.K. Chesterton-shaped curriculum, and the teachers. Miraculously, it has been accomplished. Fall classes will first be held at St. Anthony’s and then come into Emmitsburg around the first of the year. Congratulations to the sponsors, the Crook family.

August for me started out with attending a presentation by members of the Frederick County Economic Development Office to a group of town businesspeople over a light breakfast at the Carriage House Inn. The topic was Emmitsburg progressing on being a Maryland Main Street affiliate to full participation in the program and many additional opportunities. It was an excellent presentation, adding to the groundwork that has been done to improve the setting of our wonderful town.

That same night, Lib and I attended the Emmitsburg’s Annual National Night Out tribute held in the Community Park; we had the honor of serving, along with the town staff, pizza donated by Tuscany’s Pizzeria, along with hamburgers and cheeseburgers donated by McDonald’s, water, popsicles, school bags, and more. The weather cooperated with a cooler, less humid evening to befittingly honor our guests, the Sheriff’s deputies, and members of the Vigilant Hose Company. An ice cream truck, local churches, vendors, and children amusements, all lent to a wonderful evening.

 On August 8, the County Historic Preservation Commission approved the expansion of the Emmitsburg National Register Historic District to include West Lincoln Avenue, Emmitsburg’s historic black neighborhood. Ever since writing 20 years ago a thesis paper on black education opportunities in Northern Frederick County, I have pursued including West Lincoln Avenue in the Emmitsburg National Registry of Historic Places. West Lincoln Avenue is a history-rich African American homestead area that was not included in the original district. Thank you to Joy Shaffer with the County Executive Office and Elizabeth Comer of the Catoctin Furnace Society for pushing and pulling through.

 In honor of our sister City Lutsk in Ukraine, a Ukrainian needlework exhibit was held in the Emmitsburg Library in August, honoring the Ukrainian Day of Independence. On August 19, the second annual jointly-sponsored town and Mount event welcomed the new freshmen class at the Mount with an array of music, swimming, food, and vendors. August 22 featured a ribbon-cutting for the Mount Seminary Blessed Stanley Rother House of Formation in a wing of the Basilica building. All of this in a quiet town. September 22 will be the Blessing and Dedication of the Seton Shrine Visitors Center and Museum. Don’t forget the 67th Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show on September 8-10 at Catoctin High School.

 Best wishes from Lib and me for a Happy Labor Day holiday! Don’t forget to vote in the town mayoral and commissioner election on Tuesday, September 22, at the deputy station on East Main Street. They are all really good people who love Emmitsburg.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Greetings and welcome back to school to all the students, teachers, and staff. My wish is that this is a safe and productive school year for you all.

As all residents should have seen on their last water bills, we are in the process of changing out the water meters. This will allow us to begin taking electronic payments; however, we cannot move forward until all meters are updated. It does require the tech to enter your home, as stated on the water bills. Please be sure to set up your appointment with them. The sooner we get them all changed out in town, the sooner we can move forward with the system that many of you have asked for regarding electronic payments for your water bills.

I am happy to announce that groundbreaking for the new bathrooms on the east side of the park will begin to take place soon. Electricity to the east side of the park has begun as well and will hopefully be completed and run to the stage before the Woodsboro Days festival that is scheduled for October 22. If you are a vendor and would like to participate, please reach out to me.

The latest town hall update is that I signed several documents for the county permits, and we should have the process to start the bidding to build the town hall out by mid-September. This is very exciting, as a groundbreaking will take place shortly after that. With a mild winter, we should be able to be in the building by mid-spring.

The construction of the new skate park should begin in early September. The excitement around it is very high. It will be built between the concession stand and tennis courts. I am very excited to see these projects happening.

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 [email protected] or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] 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.

Geraldine Otremba, Cascade Resident

On August 2, the Washington County Zoning Board voted 4-1 to approve a new Dollar General Market that has been hotly opposed by local residents for two years as not in character with the unincorporated community’s rural setting. The applicant seeking a “special exception,” Outdoor Contractors Inc., has been seeking the exception to construct the store in what is recognized as a rural village zone.

The zoning board’s authority to grant an exception rests on the criterion of compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. Special exceptions allowed include B&B’s, farm stands, and grocery stores. Cascade residents opposed to adding another Dollar General in Cascade filled the hearing room (three Dollar General stores are nearby in Blue Ridge Summit, and Wayne Heights, PA, and Emmitsburg, MD) and rallied around the town’s long-established grocery store, Sanders Market, which has provided fresh meat, produce, deli, and a full array of products for 60 years.

The zoning board first approved a special exception for the proposed Dollar General in May of last year. Cascade residents appealed the decision to the Washington County Circuit Court, which sent the appeal back to the Zoning Board to re-consider the request as a single special exception use.

The zoning board heard presentations from Outdoor Contractors and opponents of the project.

One resident testified in support of the exception, based on the allegation that the proposed Dollar General was “functionally similar” to a grocery store. Residents from Cascade, Sabillasville, Frederick, Hagerstown, Blue Ridge Summit, and Waynesboro testified in opposition to the exception, citing Dollar General’s own legal and financial filings describing the business as a general merchandise entity.

Opponents also offered first-hand recent photographs from in-person visits to existing Dollar General Markets, highlighting limited grocery offerings and moldy produce. Much of the discussion among the members of the zoning board focused on what is a common understanding of a grocery store. In the end, Board Member Tim Ammons appeared persuaded by an undated, unidentified photo of grocery shelves and voted with chairs, Jay Miller, Marvin Gower, and Bob Meyers to approve the exception. The local opponents through their attorney have said a further appeal is likely

The following are the statuses of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg from the town planner’s report:

Federal Stone (Creamery Road, east side of U.S. 15) — Performance bonds and tap fees are pending.

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn (Silo Hill Parkway) — A preconstruction meeting is pending.

Seton Shrine Museum Entrance (South Seton Avenue) — The deed of easement, county approval, and signatures from town representatives are pending.

Tenant Fit-out for Daughters of Charity Ministries (South Seton Avenue) — This project is under review, and a county building permit is pending.

Mount St. Mary’s University School of Health Professions (South Seton Avenue) — This project is under review. A zoning certificate and county building permit are pending.

Pictured (from left): Wesley Haines (11 months old) with mother, Briana Fowler: named Cutest Boy; Charlotte Berry (11 months old) with mother, Shelly Berry: named Prettiest Girl; Hayden Myers (11 months old) with mother, Laci Myers: named Chubbiest Baby.

The annual Mt. Tabor Church Big Picnic, Tractor Parade, and Baby Show was held on Saturday, August 12, at Mt. Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge, with lots of sunshine! A total of 32 babies—16 girls and 16 boys—participated in the show. We also had 32 tractors in the Tractor Parade! The youngest baby was two-month‐old Kinsley Davison, daughter of Jenna Fazenbaker from Chewsville, Maryland. There were no twins or triplets in this year’s Baby Show. Wesley Haines, 11-month-old son of Briana Fowler and Jonothyn Haines, traveled the farthest distance from El Paso, Texas! Babies placed in three categories: prettiest girl, cutest boy, and chubbiest baby, in five age categories, from 1 day to 24 months old.

There were only two babies in the one-day to three‐month‐old category. The prettiest girl was Kinsley Davison, two-month-old daughter of Jenna Fazenbaker from Chewsville. The cutest boy was Linden Webb, two-month‐old son of Andrea and Tom Webb from Woodsboro. There were four babies in the four- to six-month-old age category. The prettiest girl was Saylor Sterner, five-month-old daughter of Amber and Zack Sterner from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The cutest boy was Daelan McIlrath, five‐month‐old son of Patrick and Taylor McIlrath from Thurmont. The chubbiest baby was Tyler Domer, six-month-old son of Destiny and Hunter Domer from Rocky Ridge.

In the 7- to 12‐month‐old category, there were 10 babies. Charlotte Berry, 11‐month‐old daughter of Shelly and Tim Berry from Thurmont, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Wesley Haines, 11‐month‐old son of Briana Fowler and Jonothyn Haines from El Paso, Texas. Hayden Myers, 11‐month‐old son of Laci and Steven Myers from Cascade, was named the chubbiest baby.

The 13- to 18‐month‐old category had the most registered babies, with 11. Trinity Grace Ruch, 17‐month‐old daughter of Robbie Ruch and Camelia Powell-Ruch from Emmitsburg, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Malcolm Hahn from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, 15‐month‐old son of Lara and Brian Hahn, Jr. The chubbiest baby was Cecilia Shorb, 15‐month‐old daughter of Aaron and Rebecca Shorb from Cascade.

In the 19- to 24‐month‐old category, there were five babies. Viella Rice, 23-month-old daughter of Heather Rice from Thurmont, was named the prettiest girl. Alexander Crawford, 20‐month‐old son of Haylee Wolfe from Fairfield, Pennsylvania, was named the cutest boy. The chubbiest baby was Josie Geiger, 23‐month‐old daughter of Chelsea and Donnie Geiger from Emmitsburg.

Please join them again next year on Saturday, August 10, at Mt. Tabor Park. Watch your local newspapers for more details, including registration time.

On August 9, 2023, the Thurmont Lions Club awarded the Nancy Dutterer Service Award to Lion Lisa Riffle (pictured on left). This special award is given to a Lion member who doesn’t stop with their work with the Thurmont Lions Club; they also volunteer with other organizations in Thurmont and Frederick County.

Lion Lisa has been a Lion member since September 2015. She has given her selfless service and demonstrated what it means to be a Lion. She helps at Operation Second Chance (Heroes Ridge), which is a site for Veterans. The Veterans come for a week or two at a time (alone or with their family) at no cost to them. Heroes Ridge is definitely a “heaven” for the Veterans. Congratulations, Lion Lisa Riffle! The Thurmont Lions Club meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Church Street in Thurmont at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit or contact Lion Susan Favorite at [email protected]

On August 9, 2023, the Thurmont Lions Club recognized Lion Nancy Echard (pictured on right) as the recipient of the prestige award “Lion of the Year” for 2023. Lion Nancy has been a Lion member since June 2016, and during this short period of time she has taken on the planning and coordination of various club activities and service projects.

Lion Nancy has gone above and beyond serving as a Lion. She has served as coordinator of the Farmer’s Market table for the club working with Vickie Grinder throughout the summer. She promoted Lionism by letting the community know what we do as a “Lion” and encouraging new membership. Lion Nancy Echard works very hard at selling multiple raffle tickets, as well as supporting many of the Lions functions. Last year, she stepped up into a leadership position as 3rd Vice President. A huge thank you to Lion Nancy Echard for her dedication to Lionism and community service.

New Service Translates Callers’ Text Messages

Frederick County will become the first county in Maryland to offer an enhanced 9-1-1 system. Starting September 1, people who call or text Frederick County’s 9-1-1 center will find a range of improved capabilities, including language translation for over 170 languages and dialects and precise location of mobile phone callers.

“Every person should be able to call 9-1-1 and know that help is on the way,” said Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. “Improving access for everyone is essential, and this enhanced service is just one of the many ways Frederick County is growing into a more vibrant and inclusive community.”

The Frederick County Division of Emergency Management is partnering with Baltimore-based Convey911 to add a series of capabilities to support the division’s 9-1-1 specialists. With the new capabilities, staff will be able to deliver quicker, more accurate, more inclusive, and accessible 9-1-1 text and voice services to the residents of and visitors to Frederick County during emergency incidents. The improved capabilities include:

Language interpretation for both parties in a 9-1-1 call or text conversation in over 170 languages and dialects, with automatic detection of the language. Census data show over 35,000 Frederick County residents speak a language other than English.

Precise location of mobile devices contacting 9-1-1, in partnership with RapidSOS (latitude/longitude) and NextNav (vertical axis).

Sending text messages requesting location tracking in an emergency to phones that did not directly dial 9-1-1. This can happen in cases of lost people, welfare checks, or when a call is transferred to 9-1-1 from 9-8-8 or a non-emergency line.

Beginning October 1, Frederick County will activate ConveyConnect live interpretation service with over 22,000 public safety trained interpreters available to support over 350 languages and dialects, including sign language (ASL, SSL, SEE, PSE and Hungarian). After the initial roll-out to the 9-1-1 center, the county will make the critical capability available to public safety staff in the field who need to directly communicate with residents and visitors they are serving. Convey911’s patented process to securely and reliably remove language barriers to facilitate service delivery is initially being deployed to 9-1-1 services in Frederick County. Convey911 can also provide the same language translation services to other county agencies as needs are identified

Members of the Lewistown Ruritan volunteered to do a number of projects for the Lewistown Elementary School, prior to the start of school.

The projects included painting the curb in front of the school with yellow paint; disassembling and removing rotted lumber and replacing the boards on four picnic tables; and disassembling and replacing the boards on a bench, so it is usable. 

The Lewistown Ruritan prides itself for being able to provide support for many local community projects.

Pictured from left are Jim Brown, Steve Moser, Frank Warner, Ben Tilley, Jeff Barber, Greg Warner, and Patricia Goff.

Courtesy Photo

Randy Green, Co-chair of the Lewistown Ruritan Education and Scholarship Committee, presented $3,175 in scholarships at the annual picnic to the following students: Natalie Dodson, Penn State – Altoona; Dalton Mount, Waynesburg University; Kaitlyn Schildt, West Virginia University; Phoenix Moore, Costal Carolina; Allison Rippeon, Shippensburg University; Lauren Anderson, Bucknell University; and Michael Staley, University of North Carolina.

 The Lewistown Ruritan Club has been a mainstay of economic support for many community activities. The money to fund these activities and the scholarships is raised by holding its famous chicken BBQs each year from May through October and through funds derived from its golf tournaments.

Pictured from left are Natalie Dodson; Dalton Mount; Kaitlyn Schildt; Phoenix Moore; and Randy Green, Lewistown Ruritan. Recipients not pictured: Allison Rippeon, Lauren Anderson, and Michael Staley.

BSA Scout Troops 270B and 270G hold an annual Junkyard Racing Competition.  Each patrol gets together and builds—out of scraps around their yards—a non-motorized go-kart. They then compete against each other on Elm Street in Thurmont for the fastest go-kart. The winner again this year was Howling Wolves patrol T270G.

Howling Wolves, USA & Wolverine patrol members compete in Junkyard Wars. Courtesy Photo

Members of BSA Scout T270B/G read the 271 names of the enslaved at the Catoctin Furnace cemetery, with a ringing of the bell after each name by Julie El-Tahar of the Thurmont Lions Club.

June 19 is a federal holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  This year the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Thurmont Lions Club and Harriet Chapel Catoctin Episcopal Parish hosted a Juneteenth Remembrance, with a wreath laying and reading of names of the enslaved found in the cemetery at the Catoctin Furnace.  Youth from BSA Scout Troops 270B&G provided the voices that commemorated 271 people.

Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, with the help of the Smithsonian, used DNA research to find living descendants of the skilled enslaved ironworkers from the furnace.

The Juneteenth Remembrance hosted several descendants, with guest speakers Mayor John Kinnaird and Elizabeth Anderson Cooper, along with a video presentation from Machele Jones, a descendant of one of the iron workers.

Daisy Troop 81224 decided to celebrate summer and their Daisy program by spending some time at Lazy Daze Farm, located at 14074 Hoovers Mill Road in Rocky Ridge. The farm is owned by the Doody family, and they have turned a portion of the farm into an area to hold small get-togethers/parties. Their slogan is “Helping families create memories and inspiring children’s curiosity in agriculture!” And that is exactly what they did for Girl Scout Daisy Troop 81224.

Scouts, along with their parent/guardian, spent time on the farm learning about farm animals, such as chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, and ponies, to name a few. The girls spent time getting comfortable around the animals, petting, feeding, and even riding one of the ponies. Most of the animals are rescues, to which the Doody family have lovingly given a home.  The girls enjoyed age-appropriate activities, including loop lassoing, sand box, corn hole, and hay bale climbing. They also made a horseshoe wind chime, ate some pizza, and ended the fun with a hay ride. An experience the girls will talk about for a long time.

Lisa Doody had a vision to expose people of all ages to her family’s love of farming and agriculture with a hands-on experience in a comfortable atmosphere.  And she did just that for Daisy Troop 81224!

Daisy Troop 81224 feed a baby sheep with Lisa Doody at Lazy Daze Farm.

Courtesy Photo

On Monday, September 11, 2023, the Thurmont Lions Club will commemorate this somber day in Memorial Park, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Chief Charlie Brown of the Thurmont Guardian Hose Company will be the speaker, and Mr. Steve Hess will provide special music.

Scout BSA Troop 270 B&G, Venturing Crew 270, Cub Scout Pack 270, and Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital will be doing the opening flag ceremony, in conjunction with the American Legion Post 168, AMVETS Post 7, Maryland State Police, Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, our local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and Fire and Law Enforcement personnel. Please attend the 911 Memorial ceremony to support those who were affected and are still being affected by this event.

Member of VFW 6658 Emmitsburg places a flag for retirement during Flag Day Ceremony.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of Flag Day. The Thurmont American Legion Post 168, in coordination with Legion Post 121 Emmitsburg and AMVETS Post 7 Thurmont, hosted a Flag Day Ceremony at Memorial Park.  Guest Speaker and special music set the tone on the importance of our national flag and its historical and current significance to our nation.

June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress commemorated the adoption of our national flag. In 1916, it was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson, officially establishing the day as Flag Day.  The year 1877 marked the first celebration of Flag Day. To this day, civic groups such as the American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS host a ceremony on June 14 to honor our national flag.

Every year, Post 168 and Post 121 alternate towns where the ceremony is held. Included in the ceremony is a flag retirement ceremony. The United States Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Worn, ripped, and damaged flags are usually given to the American Legion for disposal. A special ceremony honoring our nation’s flag is done and the flags are then burned.

BSA Scouts T270B/G, T1011 (Walkersville), Venturing Crew 270, Cub Scout Pack 270, Girl Scouts Daisy and Brownie T37191, and Girl Scout Junior T37126 spent hours folding bags of flags properly, including a flag donated by Criswell in Thurmont. Scouts, as well as ceremony attendees, took turns retiring our nation’s flag with honor. 

Phillips Library Receives $10,000 Grant

Richard D. L Fulton

Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU) students began to move into their quarters in mid-August, preparatory to the coming school year.

Donna Klinger, MSMU executive director of Communications, announced on August 14 that the day was “move-in day for approximately 500 first-year and transfer students, and the returning students.”  The day also included faculty, administrators, and staff who assisted the students with their moving in.

The idea of having faculty aid in the moves, Klinger stated, was that it provided “an efficient, seamless process, and those moving in and their families don’t even break a sweat.”

The new students participate in the Expedition MSMU 2023 orientation program through Sunday, with classes beginning on August 21, she said.

 The move-in was staggered.  Those who moved into Sheridan Hall were scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m., while students scheduled to move into Pangborn Hall and McCaffrey Hall arrived at 10 a.m.  Sheridan Hall, she noted, underwent renovations this summer and has new flooring and furnishings.

In other MSMU news, Katherine Stohlman Pieters, writer and editor with the university’s Office of University Marketing & Communications, reported that the Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Hugh J. Phillips Library has been selected as a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions.

Pieters stated that, “The maximum award of $10,000 was given to the Phillips Library, in recognition of its status as a small institution whose collection and archives are of cultural and historical significance,” adding, “The grant will be used to improve the preservation of the university’s Rare Book Collection.”

Jessica Boyer, director of the Phillips Library, said, “I am profoundly grateful for the generous grant from the NEH, which will be directed toward enhancing the preservation of our university’s Rare Book Collection”, further noting, “This funding is a testament to the recognition of the historical and cultural significance of these invaluable texts.”

Boyer has been the director of Phillips Library since 2017. After having graduated from the Mount, she continued on to earn her master’s degree from Clarion University and her doctoral degree from Concordia University Chicago, Pieters said.

The grant will enable Phillips Library to purchase several hundred custom-fit archival preservation boxes, to house the library’s rare books, a collection that contains over 1,000 titles. The Mount’s Rare Books Collection includes volumes from as far back as the Early Modern Period, in languages including English, French, Latin, Hebrew, Welsh, and more. Most of the books are about literature, theology, and history, and some are the only copies within the United States or even the world.

Boyer noted that by preserving these rare books, the library is preserving the voices of the past, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of our collective history, literature, and culture.  “We’ll continue to provide researchers, students, and scholars with unprecedented opportunities to engage with these materials, enriching their academic pursuits and intellectual growth,” Boyer stated.

Monsignor Hugh J. Phillips, the library’s namesake, was a former president of Mount St. Mary’s College who was associated with the Maryland Catholic school for more than 80 years.  Phillips passed away in 2004.  According to The Washington Post, Monsignor Phillips was the last priest to have served as a full-time president of Mount St. Mary’s.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

Hugh J. Phillips Library, Courtesy of MSMU

When you buy a pit beef, ham, pork, or turkey sandwich from the Thurmont Lions Club at Bell Hill Farm or devour one of the Emmitsburg Lions Club finger-licking delicious chicken BBQ dinners from the Activities Building on Creamery Road, where does the profit go? What do our two local Lions Clubs do with the profit and the donations that many of you kindly give when you purchase their food or participate in our other fundraisers?

If you have been to one of the local food events lately, you can see how many people are involved in pulling these events together. In addition to the purchase of the food, it still needs to be cooked, the event must be advertised with signs and ads, then people need to serve and collect payment for the results. When all is said and done, at least 16 Emmitsburg Lions are involved in each BBQ and 25 Thurmont Lions are involved in the pit beef/pork and chicken events.

While the profit from each individual sale is not huge—because they realize the impact of inflation on local residents—each purchase you make adds money to their activities funds. While they like to focus on using these profits to benefit the members of our local Thurmont and Emmitsburg communities, they also provide funds, through their dues, to the International Lions Club.

Lions Clubs work on the five global causes that are the focus of the International Lions Clubs: vision, diabetes, hunger, environment, and childhood cancer. Lions are serving a world in need. Lions International is the largest service club organization in the world, with more than 1.4 million members in 49,000 clubs, serving 200 countries and geographic areas, worldwide. Since our founding in 1917, they have been proving that where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.

The Emmitsburg Lions Club provides eyeglass exams and glasses to approximately 35-40 local residents each year. In addition, the club works with other local Lions clubs to conduct vision screening for preschool and school-age children. Last year, the club screened at least 500 children in the county. Children whose results show potential issues are referred to eye doctors for follow-up diagnosis and care. The Thurmont Lions Club provides similar services to local residents. 

Emmitsburg Lion Club President Dianne Walbrecker was asked to serve as Diabetes Awareness co-chair for District 22-W, which encompasses 75 clubs. She and her co-chair, Lion Tom Harney, raised close to $10,000 to support diabetes awareness efforts and to send Type I diabetic children to the Lions Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy, Maryland, and to Camp Charm City in Baltimore, which is located on the campus of Johns Hopkins University. Campers spend five days to one week at these camps. While there, they learn how to manage and live with their diabetes, rather than fearing or fighting it.

Both Lions Clubs provide support to their respective food banks. In addition to organizing bags to be purchased and then donated to the food banks, several Lions also work at the Thurmont and Emmitsburg food banks.

The Thurmont Lions Club spent years restoring the Trolley Trail, contributing to the environment, as well as the health of residents. Several Emmitsburg Lions have planted trees in environmentally sensitive local areas.

Kindness matters to Lions. Lion’s motto is “We Serve,” and Lions put that motto into action every day. They are caring men and women who come together to be the difference in their communities. Every day, every way, Lions are investing their time, talents, and resources in the communities where they live, work, and serve. Come join them! Contact the Emmitsburg Lions Club at (20+) Facebook or call Lion President Dianne at 301-676-1561. Contact the Thurmont Lions Club through its website at or contact Lion President Susan Favorite at 240-409-1747.

The Frederick County Health Department (FCHD) is offering two rabies vaccination clinics in 2023. The first one is on Sunday, September 24, at the Thurmont Community Park (Community Park Road). The second is Sunday, October 22, 2023, at the Brunswick Park (655 East Potomac Street). Both clinics are from 12:30-3:30 p.m.  

The clinics will be held rain or shine on a walk-in basis. Each vaccination is $10.00 and payable by cash or check only (no debit or credit cards). All dogs, cats, and ferrets 12 weeks old or older are welcome.

As of August 15, 2023, Frederick County had 21 laboratory-confirmed rabid animals for 2023: 11 raccoons, 5 skunks, 3 foxes, 1 bat, and 1 horse. Rabies exposures can impact both pets and their families. Exposures to rabies-positive animals can create the need for people to get post-exposure vaccinations and for pets to complete a quarantine. It is important to note that vaccinated pets have shorter quarantines and, more importantly, much better protection from rabies.

Rabies has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate once an animal or person starts having symptoms. However, rabies fatalities are preventable in humans through avoiding unvaccinated animals or, if exposed, by early administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. In pets, rabies is preventable by vaccination or by preventing their exposure to unknown or unvaccinated animals. Since it is not always possible to limit your pet’s interactions with unvaccinated wild or stray animals, it is crucial to get pets vaccinated against this deadly disease. According to FCHD Environmental Health Services Director Barry Glotfelty, “The cornerstone of rabies prevention and control is rabies vaccination of domestic animals, so please take this or other opportunities to vaccinate your pets.”

For additional information about this vaccination clinic or general rabies information, please contact 301-600-1717 or visit

For millions of Americans who are descended from enslaved Africans, genealogical research often hits a dead end at the era of slavery because there were few written records of enslaved people’s lives. That has now changed for thousands of Americans who are descended from 27 enslaved workers who were buried at the Catoctin Furnace iron forge in the state of Maryland. 

Published August 4 in the journal Science, researchers from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, 23andMe, and the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society analyzed the DNA of the remains of 27 individuals buried at Catoctin Furnace and compared it to people who have submitted their DNA to genetic genealogy databases.

The results revealed how the 27 individuals at Catoctin Furnace were related to each other, genetic conditions they may have had, and their African ancestors and American descendants.

Elizabeth Anderson Comer, CFHS President: “The search for a descendant community has been the principal quest of CFHS for more than a decade. Catoctin Furnace is an example of the tragedy of slavery writ large: namely, the erasure of the black population and collective heritage from the area, manifest in the lack of an identified descendant community. This latest research has the potential to identify individuals and reconnect this lost legacy of skilled ironworking.”

The research compares novel ancient DNA technology, which sequences genetic data from human remains to data from consumer genetic testing services, to establish relationships between the enslaved African Americans at Catoctin Furnace and modern Americans. The new method was developed by a team led by David Reich, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, and first author Eadaoin Harney, a population geneticist at 23andMe. Until now, it has been difficult to trace family lines from enslaved people because of the absence of birth and death certificates and census listings. Before this research, there were no known descendants of the enslaved ironworkers.

By comparing the genetic profiles of the 27 Catoctin Furnace workers to millions of American DNA profiles, 41,799 relatives were identified. Of those, 2975 participants were found to be close relatives of the Catoctin Furnace workers. The results have a profound impact on our understanding of the history of enslaved Africans and their descendants.

The research also shows that the people buried at Catoctin Furnace were descended from people in West and Central Africa, particularly the Wolof and Mandinka of Senegambia and the Kongo of Central Africa. Fifteen of the Catoctin workers were part of five genetic families who were buried close together.

Elizabeth Anderson Comer, CFHS President: “This research may increase our understanding of knowledge transfer of ironworking skills from the continent of Africa. For example, well over forty thousand smelting furnaces have been counted in one eighty-kilometer section of the Senegal River Valley in Mauritania, illustrating the prevalence of ironmaking. These results may inform future research linking knowledge transfer of ironworking to the colonies, that was then exploited by owners who realized great wealth and power for themselves.”

The Catoctin Furnace study moves genetic research into African American family trees forward and helps to right some of the historical wrongs that were created by the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Catoctin Furnace was built in 1774 by four brothers, James, Baker, Thomas, and Roger Johnson, to produce iron from the rich deposits of hematite found in the nearby mountains. The iron furnace at Catoctin played a pivotal role during the Industrial Revolution in the young United States; American cannonballs fired during the Battle of Yorktown came from here. The furnace supported a thriving community, and company houses were established alongside the furnace stack. Throughout the nineteenth century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

In 1973, The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. was formed by G. Eugene Anderson, Clement E. Gardiner, J. Franklin Mentzer, and Earl M. Shankle to “foster and promote the restoration of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District…and to maintain the same exclusively for educational and scientific purposes,” as well as “to exhibit to coming generations our heritage of the past.”

Catoctin Furnace maintains much of its original layout and structures, which were constructed primarily between 1774 and 1820. The village introduces visitors to the area’s historical importance and heritage resources, providing the look and feel of an early industrial complex yet retaining the freshness and charm of a small community at the foot of Catoctin Mountain. It is located 12 miles north of Frederick on Maryland Route 806 (Catoctin Furnace Road). For more information, call 240-288-7396 or visit