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James Rada Jr.

The Gregory family of Big Hook Crane and Rigging operate cranes to carefully guide the crown atop the 26-foot statue of Mary at the Grotto at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Mary is shown being placed on her pedestal with her crown.

Brock Gregory (left) is shown with Mount St. Mary’s University President Tim Trainer.

Big Hook’s cranes are shown doing the work.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg will once again wear a crown of flowers on May 7. The annual crowning of the statue will take place after noon Mass.

The ceremony involves the large crown of silk flowers being blessed at the church and then carried to the statue. Two people are then lifted up in a man-basket to place the crown on Mary’s head.

“The crown is six to eight feet wide,” said Steve Gregory, an owner of Big Hook Crane and Rigging. “It takes two people to lift it and place it on her head.”

The iconic 26-foot statue of Mary overlooks the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and Mount Saint Mary’s University campus from atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile. The statue is located at the entrance to the Grotto, where the old Church of St. Mary had been constructed in 1805 by the university’s founder, Reverend John Dubois, and which has also served as a place of worship for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, according to the Mount.

The ceremony has been happening since 2014, and Steve and Cecelia Gregory have always participated, along with their son, Brock, son-in-law Kyle Koelzer, and crew.

 Cecelia is a Mount Alumna with deep roots at the Grotto. Cecilia’s maiden name is Wivell and she is one of hundreds of Wivells in the area. It’s fitting that many family members have found their final resting place at St. Anthony’s Cemetery.

Cecelia’s brother, Jeff, wed his bride, Tammy, there, and the Blessed Mother can clearly be seen from the family farm in the valley below. Summer novenas hosted by Monsignor Phillips (who married Cecilia and Steve) were always well attended.

The Gregorys have donated the services of the crane and its operators each year. “Helping out with this means more to us than just a job,” Steve said. “We’re Catholic, and it’s part of being a part of the community.”

Not only is the statue in a tricky position to reach, but special care also has to be taken not to damage the statue. The man-basket is wrapped in blankets so as to not scratch the statue or damage the gold gilding.

The crown will remain on the statue’s head throughout the month of May. This Catholic tradition originated in Italy during the Middle Ages. It is called “The Thirty Day Devotion to Mary,” the May crowning. The ceremony honors Mary as the Queen of May and the Blessed Mother. Although the statue of Mary is crowned, Catholics recognize that it is not the statue that is celebrated but that which the statue represents: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

The ceremony attracts close to 500 people, depending on the weather. “It seems to be getting more popular each year,” Steve said.

Big Hook Crane and Rigging was contacted in 2021 by Mount St. Mary’s University to remove the statue of Mary after she was found to be in dire need of structural restoration. That project required two cranes and the addition of other expertise, like Dan’s Welding and Fabrication. Everything was carefully evaluated by Brock, Steve, and the team of experts, including weights, welds, and placement of rigging to safely remove her on July 7, 2021, where she has stood since 1964.

She was loaded onto Big Hook’s truck and trailer for her journey to Manassas, Virginia, where she spent the next year getting structurally overhauled and restored. Finally, on July 29, 2022, Brock hauled her back to the Grotto, where she was restored to her plinth, overlooking St Joseph’s valley on July 30, 2022.

Part II

Richard D. L. Fulton

The mysterious beast made its continuing presence known again on January 29, 1921, when the Strange Beast of South Mountain was spotted near Pen Mar in Washington County, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line. 

The Gettysburg Times reported further on February 1 that a county resident who resided between Pen Mar and Rouzerville, whom the publication identified as being John Simmons, spotted the elusive creature during the afternoon of January 29 as the local resident was walking through a field “near his home.” 

The newspaper reported, “At the time he saw the strange animal, Simmons was not armed, and he was not in the mood to enter combat with the gorilla.” 

The reader might conclude at this point that the unidentified creature, if not having been a gorilla, would have more than likely been a black bear, which is not uncommon in the mountains of Adams County, and sometimes rather plentiful. 

However, do bear in mind (no pun intended) that the residents of the county are nearly all quite familiar with these furry inhabitants, and certainly any of the hunters involved who spotted the animal would certainly have been quick in proclaiming that the mysterious critter was, in fact, a bear. But this did not occur, which suggests that this mystery creature was not a commonly encountered animal within the experience of the witnesses.

But, could it really have even been a gorilla? The Gettysburg Compiler (covering the on-going story for the first time in its March 19 issue) reported that an Edgar E. Wolf, of York Springs, wrote to the Biological Survey in Washington “to ascertain if there were any gorillas in the U.S,” and received a reply from the organization stating, “… there are no such beasts in the United States. The last one died in the New York Zoo some time ago.” 

Although reportedly obtained from a bureau of the United States government, one might question that agency’s claim that the last gorilla in the states had died sometime before the beast of Adams County began to appear, given that, on April 18, the Altoona Tribune reported, “‘John Daniel,’ the only gorilla in the United States, died today of pneumonia in his private room at Madison Square Garden, where he was appearing with a circus.”

However, to the agency’s defense, they might simply have not been aware of the remaining gorilla, and the article does state, “One of the animals [gorilla] died recently at the Bronx Zoo of the same malady,” so the Bureau of the Biological Survey can’t be completely discredited by their statement regarding the numbers of gorillas remaining in the states, at that time period.

Following the last sighting of the creature on January 29, the beast seemed to have gone underground during the entire spring and most of the summer (mating season?), resurfacing again in August, literally, in the streets of Gettysburg Borough.  This encounter was unlike those that had previously transpired, in that the creature was shot at by a local resident, and apparently struck, and left behind footprints, according to The Gettysburg Times.

The encounter in Gettysburg with the creature and local inhabitants was such that the coverage of it would not be limited to the local newspapers, notably The Gettysburg Times. The story would quickly spread to almost every major newspaper in the Mid-Atlantic states. Adaptations of the bizarre encounter as covered by The Gettysburg Times were printed in The Washington Times, Trenton (New Jersey) Evening Times, New Castle (Delaware) News, Wilkes Barre Time Leader, The Kane (Pennsylvania) Republican, and Altoona Tribune.

The local Times reported in their August 9 issue, “After having passed out of the limelight several months ago, the well-known ‘gorilla’ is back. It was in Gettysburg several nights ago … Not long ago a woman residing on York Street saw a strange object about four feet high moving along the fence in the rear of her house.” The woman rushed to a neighbor’s house, who armed himself with a shotgun and proceeded to try and find the beast.

The newspaper reported that the unidentified neighbor “saw the beast” and fired his weapon. “The gorilla dropped to the ground,” adding, “Thinking he had bagged his game, the gunner went toward the fallen animal.” However, the creature was hardly down for the count, and as the shooter approached, “the beast jumped to its hind legs and chased the man into the house.” 

Witnesses reported to the newspaper that “the animal disappeared in the direction of Biglerville,” and that “an examination of the ground in a field nearby revealed footprints of a strange beast.” 

Apparently, associating itself with the Borough of Gettysburg lost its appeal to the strange animal, as its next sighting was reported by Gettysburg resident, Howard C. Mitinger, who had spotted the animal near Fort Louden in Franklin County on August 12, while traveling back home from a meeting in Pittsburgh, according to The Gettysburg Times, August 13. According to the account, Mitinger saw the creature “sitting on a stump along the highway.” 

The sighting was verified by occupants of Mitinger’s vehicle, according to the newspaper, which included Mitinger’s “sister-in-law Mrs. George Ramsey, of Huntington; her daughter, Miss Jean Ramsey; and Robert Mathias, steward of the Hoffman Hotel.” 

Reports on seeing the elusive animal apparently slacked-off until August 21, when the creature was spotted near Fairfield Borough.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 24 that, “Sunday evening while driving along the Fairfield Road, Ray Weikert saw the animal plainly as it crossed the road not many feet in front of his horse,” adding, “Not only did the young man see the beast, but the horse as well, and it was with difficulty it was kept from running away.” 

According to the Times, the unknown animal “crossed the road leisurely, walking on its hind legs, climbed the fence and disappeared in the underbrush.” The creature was described as being “about five feet tall.” 

Following this last encounter, the story seems to slip into the annals of cold cases, save for an effort by the press to place the blame of it all on the black bears of the nearby mountain ranges.

In a story published by The Gettysburg Times on November 7, more than two months after the last-noted sighting of the strange beast, the newspaper stated, regarding a reported encounter with a bear west of Cashtown, “Bears are an unusual sight in this section of the country and it is possible that the various parties in Gettysburg who believed they saw a gorilla at different times may have seen this huge black bear.”

And then a final effort, apparently, to pin the blame on alcohol.

In an article written by The Gettysburg Times regarding noteworthy incidents of 1921, and published in the newspaper’s December 31 issue, entitled, “Year Has Been One of Progress,” presumably tongue-in-cheek, it was noted, “January 21 – Seize truckload of liquor in Gettysburg. January 22 – Gorilla seen in county. January 26 – More liquor seized. January 27 – Men chase gorilla. January 29 – Seize high-proof whiskey. January 30 – Gorilla seen in daylight.”

Clearly, the “detectives” at the Times had solved the mystery in at least two different ways. Either it was a bear, or everyone was drunk when they thought they saw the mysterious creature. Whatever the case may be, the beast was not seen or heard from again… perhaps…

Fast forward… Alleged sightings of what may be the strange beast of South Mountain have continued to be reported in the South Mountain area from the 1980s into the 2000s, in areas ranging from along Route 116, between Gettysburg and Fairfield, to the area of the Greenmount Firehall, to multiple sightings (from the 1990s to the 2000s) in the Michaux State Forest, according to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.

So, the quest continues, because “the truth is out there,” or not.

New Find Enhances Record

Richard D L. Fulton

There was a time when Frederick and Adams counties looked more like an alien world than that which exists today.

A primordial lake (dubbed Lake Lockatong) existed from Rocky Ridge, growing in size towards the northeast, as it sprawled through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and into New York State. Some believe that this great lake covered an area equivalent to the presently existing Lake Tanganyika in Africa, at some 20,000 total miles in size.  Often, vast mud flats bordered the huge freshwater lake, giving way to conifer forests (based on fossil evidence gathered outside of Rocky Ridge).

This was during a period of time classified as the Late Triassic, some 220 million years ago.

Based on fossil excavations in Rocky Ridge and another nearby site, fossils recovered indicate that the lake teemed with fish, mostly those related to the present-day gars, sharing the water with five-to-six-foot coelacanths (whose ancestors gave rise to land vertebrates), and an ancient aquatic gator-like (but unrelated) reptile called Apatopus.

It should be noted that the reptiles and dinosaurs discussed are known only from their tracks, with the exception being Rynchiosauroides (noted below) whose body impressions have also been recovered at Rocky Ridge.

Hundreds of two-to-three-foot-long lizards (called Rynchiosauroides) patrolled the shorelines, diving into and paddling their way within the shallows in search of snails, clams, and freshwater shrimp, while prehistoric crickets, beetles, and millipedes scurried about the mudflats.

The lizards were occasionally joined by at least one species of dicynodont reptiles in their quest for more food. The dicynodonts, though reptiles, were also ancestral to the first mammals, and those of Rocky Ridge apparently established that these unique animals survived longer than previously assumed before,  themselves, becoming extinct.

But the local evidence of the beginning of the rise of another group of animals in the Late Triassic —the dinosaurs—can be found a little further north in Adams County.  Most of the dinosaurs during this period of time in the Mason-Dixon area ranged from a few feet in height or length to 12 feet.

The latest evidence of the local presence of dinosaurs occurred on June 9, 2012, when a remarkable bed of dozens of dinosaur tracks was found at an undisclosed, secured site located on private property, southwest of Gettysburg (for security purposes, The Catoctin Banner agreed not to reveal the exact location of the ongoing excavation, although the reporter was permitted to visit the site).

The discovery was initially made by Brian Cole, a member of the Franklin County Rock and Mineral Club, while hunting for crystals in the limestone deposits. Cole stated that the collectors he was with started finding fossil mud cracks and gathered up several specimens to take home. He later discovered one of the slabs had a clearly defined dinosaur track on it.

The find resulted in return trips to the site, which ultimately resulted in the discovery of dozens of dinosaur tracks, along with non-dinosaurian  reptile tracks. To date, more than 40 tracks have either been removed from the site or still remain on-site. How many remain to be found? Only time and further exploration will reveal.

The site in question consists of limey layers of rock which likely represents the shoreline of Lake Lockatong. Aside from the reptiles Rynchiosauroides and Apatopus, the new site added the tracks of two more (non-dinosaur) reptiles to the list, Desmatosuchus (which bore some resemblance to a crocodile with prominent spikes on its back and heavy back armor) and two different species of  Brachychirotherium.

The primary dinosaur present at the site has been identified as Grallator, also known only from its tracks, but it is believed to be related to better-known Coelophysis, whose skeletal remains have been found in New Mexico. There may be what turns out to be species of Grallator at the site, one larger than the other.  The much more plentiful smaller tracks may represent a different species of Grallator than the scarcer larger version.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs. Over two dozen tracks were found on one layer at the site, all heading in the same direction. If Grallator was as Eastern Coelophysis, it could have had “feet (with) three main claws and a fourth, smaller claw positioned further up the foot,” and “The arms (that) were adapted for grasping and holding prey but are not thought to have been particularly powerful, a long and thin head, with jaws containing “around 50 small, sharp teeth,” according to

Grallator and Coelophysis are among the oldest known dinosaurs, and it is generally held that they primarily ate insects and other small animals. As has been demonstrated by finds made at the Rocky Ridge site, there was no shortage of insects and small reptiles living in the area during the Late Triassic Period.

In 1895, James A. Mitchell, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, found nearly two dozen, 220-million-year-old dinosaur footprints on two flagstone (shale) slabs found in the pathways leading up to Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Emmitsburg, thus making them reportedly the only dinosaur tracks that had been found in Maryland from this period of time (the Triassic Period).

The tracks appeared to have been those of Grallator. One of the two slabs that were found by Mitchell is presently on display at the Maryland Science Center.

But the first “mother lode” of dinosaur tracks, which also included non-dinosaurian reptile tracks, including dicynodont, occurred in Adams County in Trostle’s Quarry near York Springs when the tracks were discovered by Elmer R. Haile. Haile made his discovery in the summer of 1937 when he and some associates were gathering stone for the Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in a bridge; they were building the bridge on South Confederate Avenue over Plum Run.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 3, 1937, that three dinosaurs who left their tracks in the quarry were identified by Arthur B. Cleaves, state junior geologist and paleontologist, as Anchisauripus exsertus, Anomoepus scambus, and Grallator tennis, all three being bipedal (standing upright on two legs). The newspaper also reported in December 1937 that approximately 150 tracks were recovered.

The two blocks containing the dinosaur tracks that made it into the top layer of stones on the Plum Run Bridge have been identified as Atreipus milfordensis, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs, and Anchisauripus sillimani, another bipedal meat-eater. The Trostle’s Quarry tracks have been dispersed over time to such places as the Smithsonian Institute, the William Penn Museum, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg, the Adams County Historical Society, and the bridge on the Gettysburg Battlefield (where they remain exposed and unprotected). 

As an aside, the species names of the dinosaurs (and reptiles) noted in the article can, and may have, changed over time. Paleontology, or the study of prehistoric life, is a constantly evolving science, in and of itself, and as more is learned about a given prehistoric species, sometimes new findings can result in name changes.


Adams County Grallator tracks (new site).

Photo Courtesy of Robert Weams (USGS retired).

Illustration Courtesy of National Park Service.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs.


Atreipus tracks (Plum Run Ridge).

Photo by Rick Fulton.

Illustration Courtesy of Columbia University.

Atreipus, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs.


The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. They live in massive groups and are expert divers, capable of diving up to 1,850 feet below the surface and staying submerged for over 20 minutes.

Deep in the arctic lies an experience bone-chillingly cold, seldom explored, and terrifyingly unforgiving. It is also unmistakably beautiful and enlightening to see the farthest corners of the world.

Antarctica is a destination that many wouldn’t consider for a vacation. The average temperature during the Antarctic summer (November to March) can vary dramatically, depending on your location. The South Pole typically doesn’t exceed -4 degrees Fahrenheit during its 24 hours of continuous light, but the Antarctic Peninsula can be a balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit if you make your trip in December.

Because of the extreme climate, access to the continent is reserved for scientists for most of the year. During the winters, temperatures can plummet as low as -83 degrees Fahrenheit, freezing everything across a barren and icy landscape.

Winters locally welcome longer nighttime hours, colder temperatures, and the occasional snowstorms. Winters in Antarctica change the continent much in the same way, but to a much more extreme degree.

Travel during winter becomes extremely dangerous, and it’s treacherous enough that nearly all ships and flights cease activity until the sea ice surrounding Antarctica melts off. It is almost complete darkness 24 hours a day. Traditional routes via boat or plane have enormous challenges navigating the harsh climate.

Summer months in Antarctica change the landmass so drastically that the continent’s surrounding sea ice expands from 3 million square kilometers in summer to 18 million square kilometers in winter.

For that reason, ships have much greater access to the breadth of wildlife that flourishes during the Antarctic summer along the Antarctic Peninsula. On the peninsula, you can spot a variety of animals you likely wouldn’t see anywhere else. The blue whale, Earth’s largest-ever animal, can be found in the frigid coastal waters, along with humpback whales, and even orcas. There are also 15 species of penguins among the vast variety of wildlife, hunting and fishing the waters of the Antarctic Circle.

Organizing a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime destination like Antarctica can seem like a daunting task, but there are two methods most travelers use to experience one of the most unique journeys our planet has to offer.

While there are no commercial flights to the icy continent, there are plenty of private operators that fly from the southern tip of Chile to King George Island, which sits just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. From there, boats are available to ferry visitors along some of the islands and destination spots along the Peninsula.

By far, the most popular travel route is by boat, though. Most visitors from North America fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then take another flight to Ushuaia, colorfully nicknamed “the end of the world.”

Small cruise ships carry passengers from the southern tip of South America across the Drake Passage to reach the icy destination along the Antarctic coast. There are also longer term boat routes from New Zealand and Australia, but the trips typically last between three to four weeks and can, as a result, be tremendously more expensive. You do, however, get to come across some of the historic huts built during the world’s first expeditions to Antarctica. There are also active volcanoes, scientific bases, and a chance to see the largest penguins on earth, the Emperor Penguin.   

Boats from Australia and New Zealand reach the eastern coast of Antarctica in about six days of consistent sailing, so stops along the way to surrounding islands and wildlife points of interest will extend your trip significantly. Interestingly enough, you don’t even need a visa to get to Antarctica since it’s not owned by any country, so it’s a choose-your-own-adventure with your crew once you reach the Antarctic Circle.

While expensive, there’s no substitute for the life-changing experience explorers have discovering our planet’s most unexplored region. You may want to stick to the coast, though, because the pilgrimage to some of central Antarctica’s plateaus and ice shelves have reached temperatures as low as -128 degrees Fahrenheit, and may have been even colder on the barren surface.

If you’re seriously considering making the journey, be sure to bring a nice camera and a warm coat, because the sights and wildlife are sure to provide you with a lifetime of memories.

Blair Garrett

A little-known hunting hobby has hit the scene, and springtime is the perfect time of year to jump right in. Don’t tell anyone!

Frederick County is home to a lot of hunters, and it’s an activity that’s usually passed down from generation to generation.

This hunting activity, however, is quite a different kind of hunting. Mushroom hunting is a tremendously growing hobby, and a great way to get your daily steps, get to know your area, and add a locally grown ingredient to your family dinners.

Mushroom hunting takes a bit of knowledge to get started, but avid hunters count down the days until it’s warm enough for their favorite breed of mushrooms to start growing.

Knowing a mushroom’s ideal environment is a must. They are incredibly adaptive fungi that can flourish in a variety of environments, but they really excel in warm, rainy climates. Your common April showers followed by periods of mid-70-degree weather are when mushrooms really pop.

Mushroom foragers all over Maryland rave about hunting the elusive “morel mushrooms.” Morels are a distinct and very tasty mushroom that have become the darling of the hunting community. With a honeycomb-like top and great flavor, hunters spread far and wide come mushroom season when morels are in bloom. Typically, they’re most commonly found in May when the ground temperature starts to rise, but with how unseasonably warm this winter was, don’t be surprised if you find a few earlier than expected.

When picking mushrooms, it’s important to clip them or twist and pull right at the bottom of the stem. Pulling them directly out of the ground can damage the mycelium in the top of the soil.

Morel hunters can be very protective of their hunting grounds, so be sure to check and see if the area you’re hunting is encroaching on someone else’s territory. Keeping an open eye on fallen trees, tree trunks and the ground floor of shaded terrain should yield all mushroom hunters great results.

There are a few extremely important things to be aware of when diving into your first mushroom hunt. There are 100 different poisonous mushroom species, and nearly two dozen of them are potentially lethal to humans. It’s important to be able to identify what type of mushroom you’re interested in hunting and any potential similar mushrooms that may leave you with a bad stomach ache or worse.

Morels, the most popular mushrooms among fanatics, even have a poisonous alter ego. False morels look similar to their widely hunted counterparts, but they have a distinctly melted appearance to them and a lack of the trademark pitted holes that traditional morels have.

There are lots of online guides and resources for new and experienced mushroom hunters that can be of great help in identifying edible and dangerous mushrooms.

With thousands of mushroom species found across the United States, you are bound to have some variability in the taste of mushrooms. But mushrooms happen to be one of the most unique things our earth has to offer. You have delicious mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, and mushrooms with very special properties.

Psilocybin mushrooms, or more frequently known as psychedelic mushrooms, gained popularity in the west in the 1950s. They have been used recreationally across the United States for decades until recently, where there’s been a big push to legalize the use of them for medicinal purposes.

Clinical trials have had extremely positive feedback for microdosing psilocybin mushrooms to treat things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression, and have had a particularly strong impact treating veterans and cancer patients.

Though recreational use remains illegal, it has been decriminalized in select cities and has gained a lot of advocates as an alternative treatment option to standard pharmaceutical drugs in just the past few years.

While mushrooms have the potential to treat medical conditions and alter reality, perhaps the strangest type of fungus is the cordyceps fungi.

Cordyceps is a species of fungi that has been thrust to the forefront of pop culture through the popular game and HBO series “The Last of Us,” but the shocking reality of the “zombie fungus” is its real life method of transmission. In the show, a mutated strain of cordyceps allows the fungus to infect a human host, turning them into bloodthirsty zombies. In the real world, cordyceps fungi aren’t able to survive in humans due to our natural body temperature and a variety of other factors, but they are known to infect ants with spores, draining their host completely of nutrients while the spores reproduce.

What’s remarkable about these fungi is its interaction with the host once the host is infected. The spores from the fungi have a parasitic relationship where they can control the insect’s body until its eventual demise.

It’s theorized that the parasitic spores control the ant’s motor function through chemical changes or the manipulation of muscle fibers, but what is known is that the ants or infected insects will forcibly climb to higher ground, so when the spores are released after the host dies, it has easier access to spread.

As far-fetched as it sounds, there are tons of videos and documented cases of ants climbing to the tops of plants or grass while infected to spread the fungi across a greater area than it would be able to right from the ground it grows out of. That’s a terrible sci-fi film waiting to happen.

While cordyceps aren’t found locally, there are some really great and edible mushrooms that will be popping up in just a few short weeks. Whether you’re an annual mushroom hunter or a newbie looking for a great outdoor activity, the Catoctin Mountains is home to some of the best hunting grounds in Maryland, and there’s something out there to find for everyone.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Approves Bond Issue

After a public hearing, the Thurmont Commissioners voted for the ability to issue infrastructure bonds up to $6 million. The proceeds from the bond sale will be used to complete the Thurmont Boulevard project and the wetlands mitigation. The town does not necessarily need to issue the bonds, but the hearing and vote were necessary in order for the town to pursue other sources of funding for the project. Most of the people who spoke were not in favor of the town issuing bonds. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Commissioner Bill Blakeslee voting against the motion.

State Funding for Park Projects

The Town of Thurmont was recently approved for state grant funding of four park projects in town:

        $220,083 for the Gateway Trail Pedestrian Bridge over Hunting Creek.

        $256,000 for the replacement of the Community Park Tennis Courts.

        $10,000 for the East End Dog Park watering stations.

        $20,000 for the Trolley Trail Interpretive Sign Project.

These project grants will require no match from the town.

Juneteenth Holiday

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to make Juneteenth a town holiday to be celebrated on June 19 each year. The holiday represents the date of the emancipation of the last slaves in the Confederate States. It became a federal holiday in 2021.

Committee Appointments

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird recently swore in Kirby Delauter to serve on the Thurmont Board of Appeals and Ed Hutson to serve on the Thurmont Police Commission.


Sewer and Water Rate Increases Coming

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners is still considering how to implement the new water and sewer rates that will allow the system to be sustainable. The discussion has been going on since last October.

The recommended increases that it appears the commissioners will hold a hearing on this month are: (1) Increase sewer rates 3 percent a year; and (2) Increase water rates 36 percent a year for five years and then 3 percent a year, thereafter.

Water rates haven’t increased since 2013, and sewer rates haven’t increased since 2006.

New Park Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg was recently awarded a Program Open Space grant for $70,000. It will require a $37,500 match from the town. The grant is for a stormwater management plan to pave a 10- to 12-space parking lot at Rainbow Lake.

Commission Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners recently made the following appointments to town commissions:

        Scott Frager was reappointed to the Board of Appeals with a term of February 17, 2023, to February 17, 2026.

        Carolyn Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Martin Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Mark Walkers’ resignation from the Citizens Advisory Committee was accepted.

        Valerie Turnquist was appointed to the Planning Commission with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2026.


Mayor Don Briggs

With April comes traces of lengthening days, milder weather, and once again, the increasing choruses of activity in our parks. In addition to the hardy Emmitsburg Walking Club members (Look them up; they have a Facebook page), comes baseball and softball pushing the edges of each day for practice times. 

Earth Day will be celebrated this year on Saturday, April 22. Planned events start at 9:00 a.m. with a three-hour cleanup around town, fueled by the efforts of the town Citizens Advisory Committee members, families, and friends. For the second year, Stream Links will be planting trees at the wastewater treatment plant. More children-directed activities of plantings, games, music, and an ice cream truck are planned from noon to 2:00 p.m. behind the community center.

Once a year, it’s good to pay tribute to the original Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA)-sponsored scholarship fund, which now brims over $28,000. Thank you to all the businesses that made the educational opportunities possible. Also, the EBPA “Change for Food” program has now raised over $52,000 for the Emmitsburg Food Bank. Thank you to old-guard EBPA members, Allen Knott for accounting and Bob Rosensteel for the idea and collection of donations at different business locations in town. It is my understanding that Bob will be stepping back from collections, and Phyllis Kelley of the food bank will be taking over for him. Thank you to Bob and Allen for many years of service.  

In mid-March, I toured the three construction projects underway at the Daughters of Charity St. Joseph House, of which the Basilica is a part. The former main entrance area off the Porto Concierge is being renovated into three museum exhibit areas and a gift store. Completion is scheduled for this August. In the northeast corner of the building, the “C” wing’s first and second floors, that were previously the nursing home, are being repurposed to house up to 40 pre-seminarians for the Mount seminary. Completed construction and use is also scheduled for August of this year. The third project entails the terrace and the first floor of the “E” wing, adjacent to the new museum, being renovated for use by the new Mount Saint Mary’s School of Health Professions, scheduled to open August 2024.

On Saturday, March 25, Emmitsburg Walking Club member, Melissa McKinney, walked a marathon, 26.2 miles around the Myers Community Park exercise trail loop that was inspired, in part, by a similar event held annually, now in its 34th year in Los Cruses, New Mexico, that commemorates the WWII 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Melissa walked the 51 laps, toting a 15-pound rucksack for her cherished causes for Veterans, Team Red, White and Blue, and Soldiers Angels.

At an event I attended and spoke at, County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced Emmitsburg and Thurmont will soon have more access to County Transit services, with a pilot program to launch as of Saturday, April 1. Added to the existing service will be a late-morning optional trip available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Saturday, there will be two round trips between Frederick to the benefit of all, including Mount students. Improved bus stops and updated signage are part of the new services. To learn more about Transit Services, visit, @TransITServicesFrederick on Facebook, and @TransitServices on Twitter.

Our sister city Lutsk in Ukraine is being hit with Russian missiles. Thank you, Cathy Bodine, Nathalie Raymond, and Dr. Bonnie Portier for the clothing collection for Ukraine. Take care and pray for our Ukrainian friends.

Hoping you have a wonderful Easter and its magnificent Sunday sunrise.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, there are buds on the trees, and many of us are experiencing stuffy noses due to the pollen in the air. While Mother Nature has gotten this done, the town crews have been working hard at getting the baseball and softball fields in good order. They have also been cleaning up the parks and reopening the restroom facilities. The next couple of months will bring several changes to our parks facilities. The East End Park will be getting a new pavilion next to the all-access playground, replacing the aging pavilion. The dog park will be getting dog-watering fountains to help keep your four-legged friends cool in the summer and well-hydrated while they play. The Community Park will be getting a new tennis court, nets, and fencing; this is to replace the existing court. I expect that the tennis court will be unavailable for at least a month while this work is being completed, so your patience will be appreciated as this work moves forward. The Community Park will also get a pedestrian bridge at the rear of the park over Hunting Creek. This bridge will allow easy access to the park for residents on West Main Street, and it will provide a connection to the Gateway Trail from within the Community Park. The Gateway Trail is a trail leading from Thurmont into the Catoctin Mountain National Park.

I am proud to say that the water main project on Old Pryor Road has now been completed. This project is providing much-needed improvements to the water service for residents on Old Pryor; it has also provided a loop through the Hillside subdivision that will improve service there as well. Thanks goes to Guyer Brothers for completing this project on time, with as little disruption as possible.

You may notice some work has started on improvements to Frederick Road. The contractor has begun refurbishing the stormwater basins on both sides of the road. This is the first part of a project that will see sidewalks repaired, the roadway milled and repaved, and traffic lines reapplied. This project will take several months to complete. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane, with flaggers directing the flow while the roadway is being repaired. These improvements will eliminate several sections of damaged sidewalks and result in a much smoother road for traffic. As always, once the road work begins, please drive slowly through the area and obey the traffic control devices and the flaggers. They are there to protect you and the workers.

There has been much talk recently about the forever chemicals in our drinking water. The EPA recently established 4ppt (Parts Per Trillion) as an acceptable level for drinking water. The Town of Thurmont has been working with our engineers and manufacturers to design filtration systems that will bring PFAS to an undetectable level. These filtration units will be installed at each of our water treatment facilities. The installation will require the construction of new buildings to house the units and the necessary plumbing to connect them to our system. I want to assure our residents that we are following the guidance of the MDE as we move forward with this effort and that we are investigating all funding sources available to get this project completed.


Burgess Heath Barnes

I am happy to report on some great developments at our March 14 meeting.  

Our planning and zoning committee presented to the council an updated drawing of the plans for our new town hall. The council unanimously approved the plans, and now I can happily report that they will be going to the county for the permit approvals. I am going to work as hard as I can to get it through the process quickly, because once those come back, we can break ground. This has been a long time coming, with the previous attempts to build on a smaller lot etc., but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. I have high hopes that we will be breaking ground by summer; once again, those are my hopes, not the set timeline.

We have a couple of things coming up in town and more details will follow. The community Easter Egg hunt, in partnership with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, will be April 1. The rain date will be April 8.

Reminder: Woodsboro has elections coming up on May 13. There will be two town commissioners up for election. To be eligible to run, you must be 18 years old and a resident residing in the town limits for a minimum of one year before the election. If you have an interest in running, please reach out to Mary in the town office. To be placed on the ballot, you will need to either attend the April 8 meeting and announce your intention to run or reach out to the town office prior to April 8 to appear on the ballot.

Just a reminder that there will be a public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on April 8 directly preceeding the monthly town council meeting. The two items up for discussion will be changing the town code to allow chickens, based on the parameters voted on in February, and to change the town’s grass height code from the current 18 inches to 8 inches.

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.

Pictured from left are Thurmont Commissioners, Bill Blakeslee and Wayne Hooper; Shawn Legambi; Rebecca Legambi; The Rosie Boutique Owner Jaden Legambi; Karie Taylor; Courtney Casper; Lucas Bonvillain; Billy Casper; Thurmont Commissioner Wes Hamrick; and Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird. Visit the Rosie Boutique at

Photos Courtesy of Main Street Thurmont

Welcome Kenny Vanover, owner of Catoctin Mountain Motorsports, and Aaron Reckley, owner of Thirty 4 Detailing. Catoctin Mountain Motorsports is a full-service auto repair shop for all types of vehicles, motorcycles, and ATVs. Thirty 4 Detailing is a full-service car detailing service. Both businesses are located at 7702 Roddy Road, along Rt. 15 North. There is also U-Haul Rental. Catoctin Mountain Motorsports and Thirty 4 Detailing held an open house on Saturday, March 25. Special thanks to D&J Auto Body, Sweet Sarah’s Eats & Treats, 99.9 WFRE, Thurmont Paving, and all who attended to welcome the new businesses

(left) Dr. Mike’s handicap-accessible office at 9 E. Main Street is in the old Knights of Columbus building in Emmitsburg’s Town Square, which had been the Guild for the canonization effort of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Courtesy Photo

(right) Dr. Mike and his wife and office manager, Jane.

Photo by Grace Eyler

Dr. Michael Hargadon of Dha Dentistry in Emmitsburg has been a dentist for 39 years, 16 of which have been in Emmitsburg. His handicap-accessible office at 9 E. Main Street is in the old Knights of Columbus building in Emmitsburg’s Town Square, which had been the Guild for the canonization effort of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. He often said he was “working within a relic.” He and his wife and office manager, Jane, are considered traditional Catholics, in that they regularly attend the Latin Mass. They also belong to the 3rd Order of the Canons Regular of New Jerusalem.

Dr. Mike graduated from the University of Maryland’s Dental School in 1983. His practice consists of local residents, a group of referrals through The Seton Center, and patients from his prior offices in East Baltimore, West Baltimore, and Eldersburg, who followed him to Emmitsburg. He has also traveled abroad to do missionary dentistry in India, Tanzania, Peru, and Haiti.

Prior to going into dentistry, he worked as a microbiologist, receiving his master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s Dental School’s Microbiology Department.  His microbiology training has been a great base in managing healthcare offices.

He has also had political interests. In an effort to maintain and guard against the erosion of our constitutionally protected liberties, he ran for offices: Lieutenant Governor—Maryland Constitution Party 2010, House of Representatives—Maryland’s 7th Congressional District as a Republican, 2008 vs. Elijah Cummings, and Frederick County’s Republican Central Committee. 

Dr. Mike expresses thanks to all the residents of Northern Frederick County, but is steadfast, “It is time for me to fold up.” He feels he has been blessed with a great profession: dentistry. “Dentistry has been, to me, a blend of art, healthcare, and business. I know I love my patients because, for most days, my schedule is a list of my friends. While I have been fortunate to know many of my patients personally, others may have just known me as ‘the other dentist in Emmitsburg.’”

After selling the building at 9 East Main Street, Dr. Mike will walk away from his Emmitsburg office on or about July 1, 2023. His license will expire, and he will retire from the practice of dentistry.

The status of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg:

Federal Stone — (Creamery Road, east side of U.S. 15) Awaiting the submission of an updated site plan and improvement plans.

Ripleigh’s Creamery (W. Main Street) — Delayed due to funding, but ice cream truck operation starts in April.

Seton Village (South Seton Avenue) — The Daughters of Charity Ministries, Seton Village Property is seeking to formally re-plat the property, creating two lots for purposes related to ownership. 

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn (Silo Hill Parkway) — Owner is seeking to have an updated addition plat approved.

McDonald’s (Silo Hill Parkway) — Additional driveway construction is planned.

Mount St. Mary’s Seton Shrine E Wing (South Seton Avenue) — Renovations to accommodate nursing student clinical rotations is in the planning phase. Parking inquiry: Is the classification “commercial, business, technical, or trade school,” which will require one spot per three students?

The status of new businesses and development coming to Thurmont:


        Hobb’s Division (East Main Street) — Final plat recorded for two lots in Mixed-Use Village 1.

Hammaker Hills, Phase 1 (Woodland Avenue) — Final plat recorded for 37 single-family lots in R-2 district. Ten permits issued.

Hammaker Hills, Phase 2 (Westview Drive): Preliminary plat approved for 22 single-family lots in R-2 district. The improvement plan is conditionally approved.

        Mechanicstown, LLC (Emmitsburg Road) — Preliminary plat approved for 31 single-family lots in R-2/ ARP district.

        Mountain Brooke (Emmitsburg Road) — Preliminary plat approved for 11 single-family lots in R-2/ ARP district.   

        Meunier Minor Subdivision (North Carroll Street) — Preliminary/final plat approved for one new lot and adjustment of two lots in R-2 district.

        Simmer’s Minor Subdivision (Apples Church Road) — Preliminary/final plat approved for one single-family lot.

        Oak Forest Townhouse Community (East Moser Road) — Concept plan submitted for a 36-unit townhouse community in R-5 district.

        505 E. Main St. Minor Subdivision (E. Main Street) — Preliminary/final plat approved for one lot.

Simmer’s Subdivision (Apples Church Road): Concept plan submitted for a 40-unit townhouse community in R-5 district.

Site Plans

        Weis Gas & Go (2 Thurmont Blvd.) — Weis Markets did a partial site redevelopment; a Gas & Go fuel station to consist of three pumps and one manned kiosk is under construction.

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

Members from the Silver Fancy Garden Club are sharing displays of books and related floral arrangements/vignettes at Thurmont Regional Library beginning Wednesday, April 12, and running through April 30.

The garden club is comprised of members from the Emmitsburg and Taneytown areas. In previous years, they have shared their work with their local libraries. They are continuing their service project of making arrangements/vignettes at Thurmont Regional Library. Club members have made floral arrangements/vignettes to represent children’s books, and both the books and arrangements will be given away by a drawing. People may fill out an entry form each time they visit the library. Names will be drawn on Monday, May 1, and winners will be notified by phone.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Town of Thurmont has been recognized as a Tree City USA.

To become a Tree City USA, a community must have: A tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observation and proclamation. The Thurmont Green Team, Thurmont Parks and Recreation Commission, Town staff, and other community organizations hold tree planting events throughout the year. Since 2014, the Town of Thurmont has planted close to 1,000 trees.

“I am very pleased that we have achieved this level of tree care here in Thurmont,” said Mayor John Kinnaird. “Our staff and volunteers have done a great job planting trees, maintaining them, and working hard to ensure that our trees remain healthy for future generations.”

The town is currently working on tree planting projects that are affiliated with the 5 Million Trees Program, sponsored by the Maryland Forest Service. A tree planting project at Carroll Street Park is being planned for this spring.

On Saturday, April 22, Frederick County will take part in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.”

This drive-through event offers Frederick County residents the opportunity to safely dispose of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs and prevent medicine misuse or diversion. As an additional service to the community, the event will also provide for the disposal of used or unused sharps, including syringes, needles, lancets, and auto injectors.

On Saturday, April 22, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., law enforcement and health department personnel will be collecting medicines and sharps in a drive-through event format at the following locations: Frederick County Health Department — 350 Montevue Lane, Frederick; and Maryland State Police, Frederick Barrack — 110 Airport Drive East, Frederick.

The following medications may be dropped off during the event:

Prescription and over-the-counter medicines (in pill form only);

Prescription patches; and

Pet medicines (in pill form only).

 Participants may dispose of their medicines in the original container and are encouraged to remove any identifying information from the prescription label.

Frederick County Health Department’s Harm Reduction Program will be on-site at both locations to collect used or unused sharps, including syringes, needles, lancets, and auto injectors. Sharps must be separated from all medicine being disposed. If disposing sharps, please have an approximate count of sharps to be disposed.

This event is for residential disposal only and is not intended for businesses, clinics, or medical/healthcare facilities.

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 16.1 million Americans reported misusing any prescription psychotherapeutic drug in the past 12 months. This drug disposal event provides an opportunity for residents to prevent drug diversion, addiction, and overdose deaths by safely and securely disposing of their expired and/or unwanted medications.

For more information about the DEA’s “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” initiative, visit

For information about the dangers of prescription medicine misuse and for information about monitoring, storing, and disposing of medicines, please visit or contact the Frederick County Health Department at 301-600-1755.

People living in Brunswick, Emmitsburg, Jefferson, and Thurmont will soon have more access to Transit’s award-winning service, including round-trip shuttles on Saturdays, thanks to a pilot program that launches Saturday, April 1. County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced the expansion in February. She was joined by the mayors of Brunswick, Emmitsburg, and Thurmont.

“We asked communities in the northern and southern areas of Frederick County how we could better serve them,” Executive Fitzwater said, “and people told us they needed more options to get to medical appointments, shop, and even to work. By expanding access to Transit, we are expanding opportunities for people who live in our smaller, more rural communities.”

Brunswick Mayor Nathan Brown said, “We are excited to have great partnerships with Frederick County Government and to create new opportunities to expand services that our community members want and need.”

“Expanding connectivity has been a work in progress for some time,” noted Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs. “Mass public transit is the sustainable way and helps our seniors and students.”

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird added, “The residents of Thurmont appreciate the increase in transit services. Our seniors will greatly benefit from this expansion.”

Frederick is one of the fastest growing counties in Maryland, and Transit Services’ ridership continues to grow. In fiscal year 2022, riders took more than 550,000 trips on Transit’s fixed route and paratransit services, an increase of over 130,000 trips from the year before. Transit is focused on improving the customer experience, regardless of where a rider boards, and is identifying improvements to bus stops and transfer facilities throughout Frederick County.

“This pilot service expansion is a direct result of listening to transit riders and community members,” said Director Roman Steichen. “It is critical to meet people where they are, and we commit to working together across the board to ensure that riders have the opportunity to access every opportunity here in Frederick County.”

The pilot program includes the following features:

        Brunswick/Jefferson riders will have two round trips between Frederick and Brunswick every Saturday.

        The Brunswick/Jefferson route’s first trip will start in Frederick, rather than in Brunswick, ensuring employees can get to early shifts in Brunswick.

        Emmitsburg/Thurmont riders asked for a late morning option that provides access to medical appointments along Thomas Johnson Drive, so a late morning trip will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

        Emmitsburg/Thurmont riders will have two round trips between Frederick and those communities every Saturday, supporting Mount St. Mary’s University students, as well as community members throughout northern Frederick County.

        Riders of both the Brunswick/Jefferson and Emmitsburg/Thurmont shuttles will have improved bus stops, including accessibility upgrades, places to sit, and updated signage.

Transit Services of Frederick County provides public transit, paratransit, and commuter services and employer outreach information throughout beautiful Frederick County.

To learn more about Transit Services, visit, @TransITServicesFrederick on Facebook, and @TransitServices on Twitter.

At the March meeting, the Thurmont Grange proudly welcomed five new members: Kathy Hoffman, Juliann Frantz, Kayleigh Frantz, Cherie Knighton and Shannon Knighton.

The Thurmont Grange is a family organization and people of all ages are invited to join.  If you are interested in more information or becoming a member, please email [email protected] or call Rodman Myers at 301-606-9221.

Kathy Hoffman, Juliann Frantz, Kayleigh Frantz, Cherie Knighton, and Shannon Knighton are pictured with Thurmont Grange Vice President Alan Brauer.

Pictured from left are Russ Thompson, Program Committee; Ray Ediger, Program Committee; Elizabeth Comer, guest speaker; and Harold Staley, Program Committee.

Courtesy Photos

Elizabeth Comer, an archaeologist who serves as the president of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. and president of EAC/Archaeology, Inc., was the guest speaker of the March meeting of the Lewistown Ruritan Club. 

Comer gave an interesting presentation on the historic industrial iron furnace and village at the foot of Maryland’s beautiful Catoctin Mountains.  She described the restoration project of this area that commemorates the state as a center for the craft of iron making. Her presentation was well received by the club members and guests, as evidenced by the lively question and answer period afterward.

In addition, the Lewistown Ruritan is proud to welcome Greg Daniels as a new member. Greg was sponsored by Jeff Barber, Lewistown Ruritan Club member. This is the fourth new member that Jeff has sponsored for the Lewistown Ruritan. 

The Lewistown Ruritan Club works to improve the community through funds raised from its famous chicken BBQs and other fundraising events. They always welcome new members to the Lewistown Ruritan.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club is proud to be an organization of positive people doing positive things in our community. The club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the Lewistown United Methodist Church.

The Thurmont Lions Club is now accepting nominations for the 2023 Volunteer of the Year. Nominate an individual(s) who is making a difference in the lives of others—working with children in the schools, helping at the food bank, a member of a service organization or church, a special neighbor who is always there to help whenever needed, and so forth.

There are many individuals eligible for this honor. Please nominate those deserving individuals for the goodwill and volunteer services they give to help their community. The volunteer service work must be done in the area of zip code 21788.

Forms are available online at or by contacting Lion Nancy Echard at [email protected], or you may pick up a form at the Thurmont Town Center.

Nomination forms are due no later than April 18, 2023. Send your completed nomination form to Lion Nancy Echard, 4 Tocati Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, or email to [email protected] Lions Club members are eligible to be nominated with the stipulation that the MAJORITY (95 percent) of volunteer services considered for the award must be performed outside of related Lions Club community service, e.g. church, school, community, another organization, etc.

The Volunteer of the Year will be recognized and receive their award at a Thurmont Town meeting.

Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) launched its $50 million capital campaign. “Our Mission, Our Moment, Our Mount,” geared towards financing the School of Health Professions and investing in the Science, Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs and facilities.

Mount President Timothy Trainor stated, “Our mission calls us to help our students find the intersection of their passion and talents and then shape their path to leading a life of significance,” adding, “We’re evolving in ways that provide new pathways that emphasize the Mount way – ethical and creative decision-making, compassionate care, and respect for all people.”

“Together we can achieve our campaign goals that position the Mount for the next 100 years and serve our community,” he stated.

Bob Brennan, MSMU Vice President for University Advancement, stated, “We are deeply grateful for the commitment our donors have made to the Our Mount campaign to this point,“ further noting, “Alumni, federal and state government, foundations and other friends of the Mount believe in our mission, leadership and vision for the future. This campaign will build on our success and continue our growth in the coming years.”

Donna Klinger, Executive Director of Communications, reported, “A major portion has already been committed toward the $50 million goal. The campaign is among the most ambitious and impactful fundraising efforts in the university’s 215-year history.”

Regarding the School of Health Professions (which will also include a Center for Clinician Well-Being) aspect of the fundraiser, that school will be made transformational for students, the university and Frederick County by helping students answer the call to serve and helping to bring about changes to patient and provider care, according to Klinger. “The school will evolve to include master’s level nursing and other healthcare programs,” she stated. 

The Mount is partnering with the Daughters of Charity and that the Daughters have offered an “in-kind gift of a wing of St. Joseph Provincial House” for the School of Health, allowing the MSMU to “expand its footprint in Emmitsburg.’ Klinger said.  The Daughters of Charity will offer mentors and scholarships, while Care for America will teach students how to care for underserved patients.

“This element of the program dovetails with the missions of the Mount and the Daughters by seeking to graduate healthcare providers who possess the desire to provide equitable and compassionate care and the ability to thrive in difficult work environments,” the Executive Director of Communications stated.

The campaign also focuses on $20 million in improvements to the university’s STEM facilities, which the university has outgrown,” Klinger said, adding, “The Mount has experienced significant growth in science and technology programs and the funds will be used to create state-of-the-art labs and teaching spaces to meet the demands of future learners.”

The three-story, 50,100 square-foot Coad Science Building, built in 1964, serves the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. Planned facilities’ improvements will commence with a 21,000-square-foot addition to the existing space that will house neuroscience, computational, and research labs as well as collaborative learning spaces.

The second phase will build additional science labs, classrooms, and research spaces. The third phase will focus on the renovation of the existing space in Coad, she stated.

The new classroom and lab spaces will be technology-rich, multi-use, flexible, and configurable for a variety of instructional formats and class sizes. Specific goals for the building addition include a design that promotes circulation and spontaneous interaction; is flexible and adaptable; and provides natural light where STEM students and faculty in action can see and be seen.

The additional space will also allow for increased programs with local STEM industry partners.

A third focus of the campaign addresses the recent growth and success of the Mount’s athletic programs. The university has doubled the number of athletes in its NCAA Division-I program in just six years and netted 17 conference titles and nine NCAA tournament appearances in that same period.

A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

6: The Decision to Cross

Surprisingly, Thomas Hamilton found it easier to accept that he was stuck in the 1950s than to accept that his boss’s daughter, Jessica Weikert, was going to marry George Kirkpatrick, the son of a store owner in Thurmont. Thomas had met the man. Not that George was mean or boring, but he wasn’t a farmer, and Jessica wanted to farm. It was in her blood, just like it was in Thomas’s. George wanted to take over his father’s store, not John Weikert’s farm.

Thomas kept working on the farm through the harvest. It was easy and hard working beside Jessica at the same time. Easy because he enjoyed talking with her, laughing and thinking about life while they shared the labor. However, it was hard knowing she left the fields to see George in the evening. Did he make her laugh? Did George know how much Jessica was tied to the land?

Thomas felt those conflicting feelings helped him decide. Since it appeared he had no way to return to 2021 and no farm in Rocky Ridge, he had no reason to remain in Thurmont. He had no life here any longer. His farm was somewhere in his future. His parents were children at this time. He was alone.

Thomas often went running after work. He wasn’t sure why since he was usually pretty tired, but the run worked different muscles in his body and got his endorphins flowing. It allowed him to familiarize himself with the new, or rather old, Rocky Ridge. He often ran by his old farm, feeling nostalgic about it.

One day, he was running near Loys Station when he saw fog on the other side of the covered bridge. He stopped and stared at the bridge. It was the exact opposite of what had happened to him two months ago, except he was standing on the clear side and looking at the fog on the other side of Owens Creek.

Thomas walked along the road until he could see through the bridge. He saw an old man standing in the middle of the bridge, a stupid thing to do in the fog. If a car came along, it would hit him before the driver could see him.

Somehow, though, Thomas didn’t think a car would come along. This was the same old man he had seen on the day he walked across the bridge and back in time.

“This is my way back, isn’t it?” Thomas asked.

“Back, yes, but not forward,” the old man said.

“What do you mean?” Thomas wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his arm.

“You fought to get Paula back after she dumped you with a text, but if you cross this bridge, you’re letting Jessica go without a second thought.” Paula Clark had been his girlfriend. They had been dating for a year when she dumped him with a text message and didn’t return his calls.

“Jessica’s engaged.”

“So? Engagements are broken.”

Thomas stepped closer to the man, who looked familiar. “Who are you?”

“Someone who made the right decisions and still got hurt. Sometimes, you have to gamble. You may not win, but if you try to understand the game, your chances are better.”

“I understand the game. If I cross this bridge, I will be home.”

The old man shook his head. “You’ll be in 2021, but you won’t be home.”

“Who are you? Are you the one making this happen?” Thomas paused. “Are you an angel?”

The old man laughed. “Does this look like heaven?”

“No. It’s Rocky Ridge.”

“Then I’m not an angel.”

“No, you’re a cryptic smartass.”

The man laughed again. “I’ve been called worse. So, are you going to cross?”

Thomas looked around. He saw the nearby farms, but he knew he was looking for something farther away. He wasn’t looking toward his old family farm where he had scared his very young grandmother when he walked in two months ago. He was looking toward the Weikert Farm where Jessica Weikert was probably out in the fields checking on crops before she got ready for a date.

“Why won’t you explain things to me?” Thomas asked.

“You’re an adult. You need to make your own decisions.”

“You said the first time we met that if I walked across the bridge, I would find the love of my life.”


“I only wound up going back in time, apparently.”


“So, where’s the love of my life?”

The old man gave him a look as if to say, Are you that stupid?

“Jessica?” Thomas asked. “An engaged woman who can’t wait for me to leave her farm is the love of my life? How do you know that?”

“Does it matter?”


The old man shook his head. No, I think it only matters how you feel.”

Thomas hesitated. “Okay, so I like her. I like her a lot.”

“More than a girl who broke up with you via text?” the old man asked.


“Then I think you know whether you should cross this bridge right now.”

“What will people think if I just disappear?”

He wasn’t sure whether he meant the people here in 1951 or those in 2022.

“I don’t know,” the old man admitted. “I can’t tell the future, and it’s still the same day here that you left.”

Movement caught Thomas’s eye. He turned and saw Jessica walking along the road towards him, but she wasn’t looking at Thomas. She was staring at the fog bank across the creek.

Could Thomas break her engagement to George? Could he really be in love with Jessica, or was he just fooling himself like he had with Paula? Jessica didn’t seem to be in love with him. Yes, she had held his hand the one time, and they had grown close enough to call each other a friend. That was a lot different from her being in love with him, though.

The love of his life. Could it be?

Thomas turned to the old man. “I want to stay and see what happens.”

The old man smiled and nodded. “I knew you weren’t an idiot.”

Andrea (Myers) Mannix wins 1st place for her photograph entitled “Independence Day Sunrise with Round Straw Bales” in the 2022 annual National Grange Lecturer’s Photography Contest.

At the November 2022 National Grange Session in Las Vegas, the annual National Grange Lecturer’s Photography Contest winners were announced.

From the 81 entries in the Agriculture Category, Thurmont Grange’s Andrea (Myers) Mannix won 1st place with her photo entitled “Independence Day Sunrise with Round Straw Bales.”

This photo was taken by Andrea at her family’s Catoctin Mountain View Farm, established in 1962, which is owned by C. Rodman and M. Jean Myers and family.

Andrea painted an oil painting of “Independence Day Sunrise with Round Straw Bales,”and notecards of her oil painting are available.

   For the 24th year, all Maryland middle-school students are invited to enter a statewide writing contest focusing on the themes of peace and social justice. Seventh- and eighth-grade students enrolled in public or private schools in Maryland and to homeschooled students corresponding to the same grade levels are eligible. Four cash prizes will be awarded ranging from $350 for first place to $100 for fourth place. The winners will be honored at a special ceremony, although attendance is not required to receive an award.

To enter, students must submit an entry of up to 1,200 words on this topic: Some students have engaged in school “walkouts” to express their views on an issue on which they have a strong opinion. The “climate strikes” proposed by Greta Thunberg calling attention to the challenges posed by climate change and the “March for Our Lives” advocating gun control are examples of this tactic. School officials have responded in different ways. Some have allowed it, some have “scripted” the actions with specific guidelines and limitations, and some have declined to permit it. You are asked by your principal to serve on a committee at your school to develop a policy governing student actions on important issues such as climate change and gun control. What would be your suggestions be and why?

Entries must be accompanied by a separate cover sheet, including the student’s name; address; phone number;  email address; school’s name, address and phone number; and the name of the teacher sponsor if applicable. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 15, 2023 and mailed to Peace Writing Contest, 310 Riverview Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403-3328. Anne Arundel Peace Action and the Maryland Peace Action Education Fund are affiliated with Peace Action, the country’s largest grassroots peace and disarmament organization.

For more information, please call 410-263-7409 or email [email protected].

Aaron Meekins

CYA (Catoctin Youth Association) Wrestling’s March Madness began with the Mid Maryland Wrestling League (MMWL) Championships, held at Urbana High School on March 5. Here, teams from Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties sent their best wrestlers to compete for mat supremacy in a double elimination or round-robin format, depending on the number of grapplers signed in for each weight class. The parking lot and gym overflowed with wrestlers, coaches, and spectators.

Out of the madness, a number of CYA wrestlers were able to reach the podium and bring home a coveted 2023 purple and gold trophy. Eighth-grader Ashton Thompson led the way, securing the only first-place trophy of the day for CYA in his weight class. Fellow eighth graders, Beau Andrew and Shane Smith, both brought home first-place trophies in their respective weight classes. These wrestlers will take their talents to high school next year following a successful season on the youth wrestling circuit.

Other CYA wrestlers also got the chance to climb the podium. Seventh-grader Shawn Smith fought hard and earned a fourth-place trophy, as did sixth-grader Carter Reaver, who also earned a fourth-place finish. Third-grader Xavier Meekins reached the finals in his division, earning a runner-up second-place trophy. Fellow third graders, Julian Thompson and Liam Jenkins, also placed in their weight classes, with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Many other CYA wrestlers put up a valiant fight in their divisions and put in some tough matches, but came up a bit short of reaching the podium.

The following weekend, seven CYA wrestlers made the three-hour trek across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to wrestle at the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s (MSWA) Youth State Championship Tournament on Saturday, March 11, followed by the Future Champions Series and MSWA Regional All-Star Duals on Sunday March 12 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury.

At Saturday’s event, Ashton Thompson again showed that he is a top wrestler in the state, making the final four in his division and finishing with a fifth-place trophy. Gracen Baer won two matches, and Xavier Meekins won one match in the pair’s first showing in state-level competition.

At Sunday’s Future Champions Series, seventh-grader Hunter Byington, one of CYA’s wrestling leaders, earned a first-place finish in the 14U division. Following Hunter’s lead, third-grader Aaron Oden (in his first-year wrestling) and Jackson Wivell also ended the day with first-place finishes: Aaron in his 10U division and Jackson in his 8U division. Fellow third-grader, Maddox Miller, also put in a valiant effort against stiff competition, bringing home a fourth-place trophy.

Sunday’s events also featured the MSWA Regional All-Star dual that saw different regions of Maryland face off in a team event. Representing the West Region at 56 pounds, Xavier Meekins faced stiff competition from the South, Central, North, and East regions. He ended his weekend by earning a win by fall versus the East Region’s representative.

This year’s wrestling season brought an end to Cory Bell’s 14 years leading the CYA Wrestling Program. Fourteen years ago, Cory decided to get his oldest son into wrestling. Ever since, Cory has led CYA wrestling on the mats, along with Kristen Bell and Kara Castellow organizing the program behind the scenes. The families of CYA wrestlers past and present truly appreciate their time and efforts over the years. Thank you very much!

If wrestling sounds like something your child may be interested in, please have them come out and give it a try next season. Practices are held three times a week, beginning in mid-late November. There are eight matches prior to the end-of-the-season tournament. It is a great way to learn friendly, albeit physically challenging, competition and to make some friends along the way. We would love to see your child and you out on the mats and help bring more trophies back to Northern Frederick County in 2024!

Pictured from left are Coach Steve Byington, Maddox Miller, Hunter Byington, Aaron Oden, Jayce Oden, Coach Garrett Baer, and Jackson Wivell.

Photo Courtesy of Melody Byington

with Michael Betteridge

There Is Something Special Happening on Sabillasville Road

It’s not like Catoctin Baseball Coach Mike Franklin has never been mentioned here on these pages before. Coach Franklin is in his 24th season coaching Catoctin baseball. He was honored here in the Banner as Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year in 2017. His teaching peers honored him in 2019 as Frederick County “Teacher of the Year.” He has two state baseball championships in the display case, one in 2013 and another in 2021.

Coach Franklin finished his baseball career as a player at Salisbury State. He began substitute teaching at Frederick High School in the mid-90s, where he met his mentor, Frederick baseball coach Frank Rhodes. Franklin joined Coach Rhodes’ staff as an assistant. His first year coaching, the Cadets made it all the way to the State championship, an experience that would give him an appetite for winning.

There is no way to begin talking about Catoctin Cougars baseball without laying out the very foundation of the program, Coach Franklin. His smile and his attitude are infectious. He elevates his players. One of his former pitchers, Mason Albright, made it all the way from a humble start on the Sabillasville Road practice field to the “Big Leagues,” where he received the largest signing bonus ever for a 12th-round Major League Baseball draft pick with the Los Angeles Angels: $1.25 million dollars in 2021 at age 18.

Good coaching builds for the future and that’s why good coaches seem to enjoy success over and over again. And that is what is unfolding in 2023 for the Catoctin Cougars baseball team. History is repeating itself, going all the way back to 1996.

Coach Franklin’s teams always produce great pitching. Sophomore pitcher Joey McMannis pitched this team to a 2021 state championship, and he will take the mound this season as an experienced senior, with 20-30 Major League teams interested in him and a fastball above 90 mph. McMannis was an integral part of that incredible “Cindarella” story two years ago.  They finished the 2021 regular season as the No. 4 seed in the 1A West and traveled to Clear Spring to face the No. 1 Blazers, whom they defeated.  Then, back on the road again, after winning the regional title at Clear Spring, still an underdog, they make the short trip over the mountain to Smithsburg for another amazing win! But now the short trips were over. They had to pack up the team bus and head all the way across the state to Bel Air to face a powerful Patterson Mill team. Once again, they pulled off the impossible upset.  If that weren’t enough, now they had to come home, regroup, pack and travel 130 miles to McHenry to face Northern Garrett, the No. 1 seed in the 1A. That afternoon when they arrived, the playing field was surrounded by a 20-foot-high chain link fence. Cougars fans who had made the difficult drive had to peer through the chains in the fence to see the game. It was a very uninviting venue for baseball. It was more like a ball field for the county jail. There was a cold, swirling wind blowing off Deep Creek Lake across the playing field, and it felt like March, not June. But, once again, the Cougars pulled off the impossible, crushing Northern 13-5 on a rally off the bat of Joey McMannis, who boomed a two-run shot over the massive fence, deep into left center. On the road again, their last game was equally far, but the excitement and anticipation were different this time. They were so excited and pumped up that the trip seemed like minutes rather than hours as the bus pulled up to the beautiful Regency Stadium in Waldorf, where they captured the 2021 Maryland 1A State baseball title!

All in all, the Cougars pulled off the impossible, with a grueling 500 miles of travel over the course of 10 days, producing five underdog wins to bring the trophy home to Thurmont for the second time in Coach Franklin’s tenure.

One of my favorite side stories involving that championship game began with a phone call from some avid Cougars fans who offered to pay the outrageous $300 live stream fee that the state charges businesses for permission to broadcast the video. WTHU had been providing video throughout the no-fee regular season and these fans were willing to cover the state’s playoff fee, just so they could watch the game from their lawn chairs on a big screen TV in Ocean City. Vacations don’t stop real fans from seeing their favorite team play in the big game. During the game, they posted pictures all over Facebook of the tailgate and game parties and what a blast they had. That game is still on the WTHU YouTube page, with 390 views!

Last year was a very successful year, but unfortunately, the Cougars ran into a familiar face early in the playoffs, the Clear Spring Blazers.  This is how rivalries are formed.  Remember in 2021, Catoctin knocked Clear Spring out of the playoffs early on their own field and went on to win it all. Well, in 2022, Clear Spring returned the favor by knocking Catoctin out of the playoffs in Thurmont. The Blazers went on to Waldorf, just like Catoctin had, and brought the 1A trophy home. Hey, if you are going to lose, it makes it easier when you lose to someone in your division (1A West) who goes on to win it all. Somehow, it takes the sting out of the loss when you lose to the eventual state champion, at least it did for all of us looking for “silver linings.” I am not good at predictions, but here is one I’ll make with confidence: Catoctin will play Clear Spring in the playoffs and the winner will go deep into the playoffs this year.

So, here we are in 2023! This team couldn’t look better! They have arguably one of the deepest pitching rotations in Frederick County, with two ace pitchers in McMannis and Castelow. Speaking of the Castelows, this team features two Castelow brothers who are tough, baseball-savvy kids who have both come back from substantial injuries last year. The brothers, Peyton and Keiten, are 100 percent ready and anxious to get back on the field. They have a great defense and don’t forget their offense. This is the team that invented “Mountain Ball,” also known as “death by a thousand cuts.” 

Of course, coaching, as I mentioned earlier, is also a team strength. This group of assistant coaches is very special. Led by Tyler Ausherman, Will Delawter, Nick Huff, William Warram, and Ken Mcivor, I had a chance to catch up with Coach Delawter recently. Will played for Catoctin and Coach Franklin in 2004. Like Coach Franklin, Will had a passion for teaching, too. After graduating from college, Will Delawter took his first assignment teaching in the Washington County school system, but it was way too far to drive to teach and coach at Catoctin. So, when he landed his dream job at Whittier Elementary in Frederick seven years ago teaching fifth grade, he contacted Coach Franklin and was immediately brought on to the Cougars team. Coach Delawter coaches outfield and hitting, and at games, you’ll see him parked on the first base line. His job as the first base coach is a sort of traffic cop for base runners.

Coach Delawter is married with two boys: seven-year-old Liam, and three-year-old Max, who was born in February 2020 and diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. I asked him what was the secret to his success, wearing four hats in one day: teacher; coaching in two leagues, Little League and High School; and father, and his simple answer was “time management” and the ability to shift gears from one role to the next. When I asked him what challenges he faced raising Max, Will said: “Max is such a joyful young boy and his enthusiasm and energy are infectious. He’s always in the middle of everything, fist bumping and encouraging us and making us smile all the time. He doesn’t challenge us, he makes us better.”

Catoctin has eight home games on the schedule this season. It’s not just baseball. It is fun! From the campy “Curtain Call” medallion given at home plate to the player who hits a home run to the silly stuffed dog in the baseball helmet mascot that goes everywhere with his guys, this team knows how to have fun and win! 

If you really want to see some exciting high school baseball and be a part it, come on over to Catoctin High School to check out this Cougars baseball team! And if you can’t make it to the games, there is always the audiovault archive of the games. Just click on the high school baseball tab.