Posts by: "goodNewsBanner"

Alisha Yocum

As you enter the Learning for Life (L4L) classroom at Catoctin High School (CHS), the smiles and laughter are contagious, and you can’t help but feel the love being spread by students and staff alike.

On the day I visited, students were in the middle of a lesson about vegetables. The students were planting seeds, which they hope will yield a harvest in the future with the help of the Science Department down the hall. Students were sharing their likes and dislikes of the vegetables pictured on the box of seeds—many of whom were not fond of beets. 

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) offers the L4L Program for students with a variety of developmental and cognitive disabilities. Through small class settings, students learn functional academic and life skills as they work to earn a High School Certificate of Completion. All ten high schools in the county have a L4L program, as well as Crestwood, Middletown, Oakdale, Walkersville, and West Frederick Middle Schools, and Glade, Monocacy, Orchard Grove, and Twin Ridge Elementary Schools.

This is the first year that the L4L program is being offered at CHS, with six students currently enrolled. Jessica Coblentz, a former L4L teacher at Monocacy Middle and a Special Education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, jumped at the opportunity to teach the L4L program when it became available. She currently leads the classroom along with Special Education Assistants, Brenda Triantis, Lacey Littleton, and Lizzie Dougherty. 

A typical day for L4L students at CHS includes a mixture of academics and life skills. Students have jobs that teach them skills to become more independent after high school. Two students help in CHS’s pre-school program, while the others go

off campus to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. There, students help with jobs like wiping down tables, setting up and preparing for upcoming events, and general cleaning.

Ashlyn Riggles, Relationship Visibility Champion, at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve said they love when the L4L students come to the preserve. “As the kids began coming, they got more excited and more comfortable with our staff. They began asking questions about animals and opening up about themselves.”

It is clear that the L4L students enjoy coming to school every day. When asked what they like about school, the word “Everything” was blurted out without hesitation from student Riley Elias. Although, when taking a minute to think about it, the parade seemed to be a crowd favorite. The L4L Program decorated and rode a float through the Homecoming Parade in the fall. The group came up with a theme and made the decorations themselves. Animals were another crowd favorite, from the animals they see at the zoo to the class pets and a new project, incubating eggs, which they are eagerly awaiting to hatch.

Another student, Josh Ramos, explained the black folders that are also part of their daily routines. Prior to coming to L4L, students relied on teachers to communicate with parents. As part of this program, students write in their folders every day and share what they did for the day and what activities they have coming up to learn responsibility.

Coblentz says she loves the flexibility the program offers to get the students what they need. If academics aren’t working in the morning, then they have the flexibility to adjust their schedule, and if things aren’t working, they can pause and have grace. Through this flexibility, Coblentz says she can see the growth in all the students from the beginning of the year.

Triantis, who they call Mrs. T, said that she is rewarded every day she comes to work. “It is especially rewarding seeing them go out on jobs and learning skills that will make a difference in their life.”

The L4L also has an open-door policy and encourages non-L4L students to visit the classroom frequently. Jacob Hemler, a CHS student who helps out in the L4L classroom in the afternoons, clearly has developed a great relationship with the L4L students. As he entered the classroom on the day of my visit, students were quick to acknowledge him, and a little bantering began in good fun. Coblentz says CHS is a great place for the L4L program. Students and the community are so open and welcoming, and this atmosphere allows the L4L students to thrive as they interact in the hallways and help with jobs around school.

As I left the L4L classroom that day I certainly couldn’t help but feel uplifted by the students who had put a smile on my face from the moment I walked into their classroom. I can’t wait to check back and hear about all the success this program will bring to current and future L4L students in the Catoctin community.     

Catoctin High School Learning for Life teacher, Jessica Coblentz, with her students.

Students from the Learning for Life Program help at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve with general cleaning duties and upcoming events.

Learning for Life students plant seedlings in the greenhouse.

by James Rada, Jr.


Parking Option Explored

Parking in downtown Thurmont has become a problem, with the municipal parking lot regularly filled to capacity. Thurmont Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee investigated possible solutions to the problem and came up with a promising solution.

They reached an agreement in principle with the American Legion to turn the empty field beside the Legion hall into a parking lot. The town would develop and maintain the parking lot, which would create an additional 40 to 50 parking spaces. The Legion would still own the land and carry the liability insurance for the parking lot. The lots would then be available for both as a municipal lot and for Legion activities.

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners believe the solution is worth pursuing. They directed Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick to get estimates on what it would cost to build the parking lot.

Commissioners Take Action On Sidewalk Obstructions

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to revise the municipal code to stop homeowners from allowing the sidewalks on their property to be obstructed without a special permit from the town. Failure to do so will now result in a civil fine. The issue arose because a home in town kept scaffolding up for an extended period of time, forcing people, including school students, to walk in the street to get around the property.

The changes also make the property responsible for keeping the sidewalk in reasonable repair. Failure to do so will also be a civil infraction and fined.

YMCA Bringing Programs to Thurmont

Interest in bringing the Frederick County YMCA to Thurmont began in 2019, and it looked like it would happen in 2020, but then COVID hit and shut down just about everything. Since then, the YMCA has had to rethink how it delivers programming to underserved areas of the county. They developed a program called “Y on the Fly,” which is a mobile program that can bring equipment into an area and essentially create a pop-up YMCA.

In the coming months, the YMCA has a set of programs coming to Thurmont. A painting and drawing class will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library. A running club for children 7-12 years old will be held in the Community Park. A health class that talks about not only exercise, but also sleep and cardiovascular health, will be held in the library. In addition, the YMCA will also sponsor a one-day basketball skills clinic for children, ages 8-14.

The feedback from these classes will help the YMCA staff evaluate the need for and types of programming in Thurmont.

Sludge Pumps for the Wastewater Treatment Plant

Thurmont’s wastewater treatment plant has aging sludge pumps, one of which failed recently. At the request of Superintendent Randy Eyler, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to authorize $30,000 for the purchase of two new pumps for the plant.

Contract Awarded

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded a $147,500 contract to Clean Cuts Lawn Care of Cavetown to cut the grass on town property for 2024 and 2025.

They also awarded Superior Facilities Management Services in Gaithersburg a $141,898.25 contract to replace the Community Park tennis courts.


Town Receives Clean Audit

Michelle Mills and Addie Blickenstaff, CPAs with Deleon and Stang, presented the results of the annual independent audit of Emmitsburg’s financial statements for Fiscal Year 2023. They gave the town an unmodified or clean opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given.

However, the auditors did note some adjustments that needed to be done with the reports.

The material adjustments needed were in the capital projects, sewer, and water funds. This was because money paid with grant funds is not requested for reimbursement until the project is complete. Because of the time delay, it causes a mismatch sometimes between grant revenues and expenditures. The auditors recommended that the town review its policies to see if a more timely billing for grants can be done.

Two other adjustments were needed with the sewer fund that the auditors identified as an oversight during the financial close process.

Depaul Street Waterline Replacement Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners awarded a contract to replace 2,340 feet of 8-inch waterline, replace the fire hydrants and copper water services, restore the asphalt pavement and concrete sidewalks, and traffic control along DePaul Street to W.F. Delauter & Son. Theirs was the low bid of $849,220.63. The project will be paid for with funds from three different grants.

Trash Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners awarded a three-year trash service contract to Republic Services of Frederick. Republic will collect trash from approximately 1,142 units in town, weekly, and dispose of it in the landfill. In addition to curbside pick-up, Republic will also provide bulk-item curbside pickup twice a year and a roll-off dumpster for yard waste and discarded Christmas trees. The cost of the contract was $117,252, annually.

Change In Plan for New Park Restroom/Concession Stand

Upon recommendation from town staff, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners rejected the bids received for building a pre-fab restroom/concession stand building at E. Eugene Myers Park. It was found that if the town purchased the building directly from Smith Midland, it could save the town around $70,000. Although the town still needs to bid for the site work, the submitted bids included a mark-up from the bidders. This is roughly the amount the town will save by working directly with the manufacturer.

The commissioners voted to spend $217,124 to purchase the building from Smith Midland. They also voted to request bids for the site work, which is expected to cost around $50,000.


Mayor Frank Davis

 Every month brings new challenges, but each month also brings new opportunities to improve the day-to-day operations of the town. This past month was no exception. I had the opportunity to spend three days in Annapolis, meeting with fellow mayors at the Maryland Municipal League Mayors Conference. The time spent sharing information, comparing issues, and working together to find solutions was a rewarding experience. I learned that most municipalities struggle in the same areas of operations and are searching for that golden answer. So, we in Emmitsburg are not alone.

You may begin to see activity around Irishtown Road behind Northgate. The land has been purchased by a developer in hopes of completing Emmit Ridge II.

The town is close to releasing a new Citizens Notification and Alert Application. This will make it easy to communicate information on events, notices, and most importantly, emergency notifications. The app will be free to downland onto your phone and will add another means of communication with you, our citizens. Be on the lookout for the unveiling of the new system.

The flooding on Annandale Road has become a weekly occurrence and needs to be addressed. While the hazardous area is outside the town limits, it still affects our citizens, the Mount St. Mary’s community, and most importantly, our fire and police response. We are currently working with Frederick County and the Maryland Department of the Environment to correct the problem.

As the weather gets warmer, we encourage you to take a walk in our parks, take in a ballgame, try your hand at disc golf, or just get out and talk with your neighbors. Spring is a great time of year, and I look forward to seeing you out and about around town.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy spring! Warmer weather has arrived and, hopefully, all winter weather is now gone until next winter.

Our annual Easter egg hunt in town was quite successful. The Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, along with the town of Woodsboro, outdid themselves again. The weather is always challenging, especially with Easter being so early this year, but we made it work.

The March 12th town meeting was quiet. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen situation, I was not able to attend, but the meeting was in good hands and was run by Council President Bud Eckenrode. Thank you, Councilman Eckenrode, for stepping up last minute.

The main discussion was about the new building development that is coming to town. The nine townhouses that were approved several years ago are to be built on Second Street, and the project is starting to take place. The builders will begin the construction before too much longer. This will bring at least nine more families and homes to town.

It was also brought up that the town has stopped electronic payments for water bills. Electronic payments have been stopped at this time due to the revision of the fees that the processor is charging the town, along with the low utilization of this program. With those added fees, the council decided to stop them for now. We will research other options that the town can afford without taking a large loss each quarter.

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

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

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

Pennsylvania’s State Fossil

Richard D. L. Fulton

Some 350 million years ago, “Frog Eyes” plowed through the mud and silt on the floor of an ancient sea that had then covered much of the area that would someday become the State of Pennsylvania.

Based upon the discovery of the fossilized gut contents of a related creature that once foraged the sea bottom in the Czech Republic, “Frog Eyes” likely sought out such morsels of food such as that provided by the presence of small, nearly microscopic, crustaceans. It’s likely that small soft-bodied sea creatures were on “Frog Eyes”’ menu as well.

While “Frog Eyes” became extinct some 300 million years ago, the creature’s “legacy” lives on as Pennsylvania’s state fossil… sort of.

Specifically, “Frog Eyes” was a sea creature presently known as a trilobite (derived from the fact that the shell, or carapace, of these animals was divided into three sections or lobes). Scientifically, “Frog Eyes” was given the name Phacops rana in 1832 by paleontologist Jacob Green.

Phacops rana literally translates into “frog eyes,” rana being Latin for frog, while phacops is Greek for lenses (referring to the eyes, which were comprised of many lenses, like that of a bee’s).

The fossils of Phacops rana are plentiful in Pennsylvania, where they lived during a period of time known as the Middle Devonian, the rocks of which in Pennsylvania are comprised of layers of dark shale and siltstones. Adults can range in size from about 3.5 inches to 5 inches.

Phacops rana was designated as being the state fossil of Pennsylvania by an act of the state General Assembly of the Commonwealth on December 5, 1988, a decree which stated, “Fossils of Phacops rana are found in many parts of Pennsylvania, and, therefore, the Phacops rana is selected, designated and adopted as the official State fossil of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…”

 Seems straight forward enough, right? Maryland thought so back in 1984, when the Maryland General Assembly designated a prehistoric snail, Ecphora quadricostata, as the state fossil. Three years later, it was discovered they had designated the incorrect species of Ecphora as their state fossil, resulting in the state General Assembly having to redesignate the proper species, Ecphora gardnerae, as being the state fossil.

Presently, Pennsylvania’s state fossil is faced with the same enigma. Since Phacops rana was designated as Pennsylvania’s state fossil, it was subsequently discovered that the species is not even a member of the genus Phacops, but instead is a member of the genus Eldredgeops, which was named for paleontologist, Niles Eldredge.

Apparently, Phacops only occurred in Africa during the Devonian Period, and Eldredgeops is the proper generic name for the species that lived in the oceans that covered the Americas. As a result, Pennsylvania’s state fossil, Phacops rana then became known as Eldredgeops rana, which also resulted in the old name of “Frog Eyes” then becoming “Eldredge’s Frog.”

The name change reportedly occurred in the 1990s, when paleontologists evaluated the genus Phacops and Eldredgeops.

Apparently, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly didn’t get the memo. Unlike Maryland, the name change has yet to be reflected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and the erroneous name, Phacops rana, is still indicated as being the current state fossil on Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources website.

If the reader might be interested in trying to find a specimen or so of Pennsylvania’s state fossil, a couple of references might prove to be of assistance in the quest (neither are in print, but both can be found online): Fossil collecting in Pennsylvania by Donald M. Hoskins, Jon D. Inners, and John A. Harper (the writer of ‘Frog Eyes’ – Pennsylvania’s State Fossil served as a consultant for this book, as indicated in the acknowledgments), and Stratigraphy and Paleontology of the Mahantango Formation in South-Central Pennsylvania by R. L. Ellison.

Grandson of an American Saint

Richard D. L. Fulton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born American to be canonized) declared a saint by the Catholic Church), which was achieved on September 14, 1975, under the auspices of Pope Paul VI.

Seton, who resided in Emmitsburg from 1809 up until the time of her death from tuberculosis on January 4, 1821, at age 46. Her remains are presently interred within the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.

The story of her life is legend—documented in many written accounts and books as such that it not be elaborated further upon herein—but perhaps a great deal less has been written about her descendants. This story is about one of her descendants, grandson Robert Seton.

Elizabeth Seton was born Elizabeth Bayley on August 28, 1774, in New York City, to parents Dr. Richard Bayley and his wife, Catherine Charlton Bayley.

She married William Magee Seton, a wealthy New York shipping entrepreneur on January 25, 1794, and the couple had five children: Anna Maria, William, Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca. William Seton subsequently died from tuberculosis on December 27, 1803, in Italy.

Prior to William Seton’s death, his health had declined due to the pressures resulting from the stress of his having suffered financial ruin in New York, and the family had moved to Italy, according to the Maryland State Archives.

Elizabeth Seton’s son, William, and his wife, Emily Seton, had nine children, one of whom was Robert Seton, who was born in Livorno, Provincia di Livorno, Toscana, Italy, on August 28, 1839. Robert Seton was one of seven of William and Emily Seton’s nine children who survived into adulthood.

Seton spent his childhood at his parent’s 51-acre estate, “Cragdon,” in Westchester County, New York. The estate was acquired by Emily Seton in 1840 upon the death of her father, Nathaniel Prime. The couple soon converted the estate into a working farm, according to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Today, much of the estate is preserved within Seton Falls Park. The “falls” was actually constructed by William and Emily Seton.

In 1850, Robert Seton enrolled at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg. According to, he studied at the Mount for two years before departing with his parents to Pau in southern France “where he continued his schooling.”

After his mother, Emily Seton, died in France in 1854, he continued his studies in Europe, and in 1857, studied theology and Canon law in Rome, graduating in 1867 with honors from the Accademia Ecclesiastical (also known as the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy). In 1865. Seton was ordained under the title of patrimony (ordained clerk).

In 1866 Seton was advanced to the rank of private chamberlain to Pope Pius IX, and in 1867 he was honored with the title of prothonotary apostolic. As a result, Seton became the first individual from the United States named to these two titles.

After securing his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Roman University of Sapienza, Seton returned to the United States, where he served, beginning in 1876, as the rector of Saint Joseph’s Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Seton returned to Rome in 1901 and was subsequently appointed Archbishop of the titular See of Heliopolis in Phoenicia by Pope Leo XIII in 1903.

In 1914, Seton returned to Emmitsburg to the former home and burial place of his grandmother (in Emmitsburg) and other family members (in the nearby cemetery at Mountain Saint Mary’s). The (Baltimore) Sun reported in their October 14, 1914, edition, “Archbishop Seton… came to (Emmitsburg) Maryland, as he said, to die and be gathered with his people.” The newspaper further noted that, upon his arrival in Emmitsburg, “(Seton) has established a headquarters at Mount Saint Mary’s College.”

However, he was not to die in Emmitsburg. Instead, less than a year later, he told The Sun (published in their August 18, 1915, issue) that he had decided to move to France “to spend the remainder of his life,” and to be buried where his parents had been buried in France. He stated that one of the main reasons for returning to France was to “try to alleviate the sufferings of the soldiers brought back from the fighting…”

Seton still did not achieve his final objective of passing away in Emmitsburg. Upon retiring in 1921 overseas, he returned to the United States and died in 1927 at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morris Township, New Jersey, and was buried in the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Newark.

Sketch of Archbishop Robert Seton (1839-1927); Source: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography,1893.

Alisha Yocum

Beth Ohler & Co. recently started as a new team of J&B Real Estate. Ohler, who has been an agent for J&B Real Estate for seven years now leads her team out of the company’s office in Walkersville. Ohler says opening her new company allows her to maximize the team’s reach and allows for more flexibility in providing all the great services they offer!

Ohler’s team will include three additional agents and an administrative/marketing assistant. Combined, the team has over 14 years of experience.

Whether you are looking to sell or looking to buy your first home, a farm, land, or a townhouse, Ohler says she is ready to help you. The company even offers discounts for first responders!

When asked what advice Ohler had for the current real estate market, she advises sellers to use someone local who knows the market, so they can develop a strategy to maximize your sale. For buyers, she had similar advice: Don’t wait. Contact a realtor as soon as possible, even as much as a year out, so you can make sure everything is in order for when you are ready to buy.

Ohler resides on her farm in Thurmont with her husband, David, and two daughters, Madison and Jordyn.

When not selling real estate, you will find her around town at the softball fields or showing livestock her family raised on their farm. Ohler is also known for her support of the local community.

In December, Ohler connected with her parents at Kelco Plumbing and brother at Bulletproof Roofing to provide a Santa’s Workshop event for the community. Ohler says she hopes to do more events like this in the future, as giving back to the community is an important part of her business.

For more information about Beth Ohler & Co., view the advertisement on page 24.

Beginning mid-April, the YMCA of Frederick County, working with the Town of Thurmont, is bringing several six- to eight-week-long classes to the town of Thurmont, as well as a one-day youth basketball clinic.

The YMCA of Frederick County has two branches and seven locations (including Camp West Mar in Sabillasville), but provides programs and services out of about 40 locations throughout the county, including before/after school care in 25 elementary schools and 8 Head Start classrooms. And, now, they are bringing programs to Thurmont, using Thurmont Regional Library and Thurmont Community Park. Programs will include:

Painting and Drawing, Mondays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Thurmont Regional Library.

Youth Run Club, Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Thurmont Community Park.

Let’s Get Healthy, Wednesdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Thurmont Regional Library.

Flying Cows Basketball Skills Clinic, May 14, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (incl before/after care), Thurmont Community Park.

This is not the first time the YMCA has brought programs to Thurmont, but it is the first time in about two years. During COVID, the YMCA offered some one-day, family-friendly events outside at Thurmont Regional Park, but this is the first time the YMCA is bringing full-session, long programs, spanning a variety of program departments, including Arts & Humanities, Youth Sports, and Healthy Living.

The YMCA has been working with the Town of Thurmont to approve programs, find locations, and market the upcoming services. They recently attended the Thurmont town meeting and presented about the YMCA and the offered programs.

“We are so excited to be working in collaboration with the YMCA of Frederick County to bring the “Y On The Fly” programs to Northern Frederick County. The programs being offered for the spring session cover a wide range of interests for all ages. There is something for everyone,” says Vicki Grinder, economic development manager for the Town of Thurmont.

As part of its strategic plan, the YMCA is focusing on “offering vital Y programs and services throughout Frederick County by expanding programming.” The YMCA has hired Jon Watkins as director of Community Outreach to build and expand relationships with local governments and other organizations and nonprofits.

“Our mission is to provide critical services to those in underserved communities. We are excited about re-engaging in the town of Thurmont and look forward to learning more about the needs and interests of Thurmont residents,” says Chris Colville, president and CEO of the YMCA of Frederick County.

The YMCA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and provides programs to build a healthy body, mind, and spirit for all. Through their annual campaign, they provide financial assistance, ensuring everyone has access to programs and services to learn, grow, and thrive. To learn more about financial assistance or programs and services offered, please visit

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 US 15) — Under construction.

Seton Village — The applicant is seeking planning commission approval of a subdivision plat to convert two condominium units into two recorded lots. Town staff met with the applicant to discuss the forest conservation requirements.

Emmitsburg Distillery (East Emmitsburg Industrial Park II Lot 4) — Update plans have been received, and town staff is reviewing them.

Christ Community Church (Creamery Road) — The applicant has resubmitted site plan for review. A landscape plan stamped by licensed landscape architect and a final review of the lighting plan are still pending.

Mount St. Mary’s University E Wing Improvements (South Seton Avenue) — The planning commission conditionally approved the plan, and staff provided additional comments for the applicant to address. The applicant has yet to satisfy all the conditions of approval, particularly regarding the lighting plan.

St. Joseph Church (North Seton Avenue) — Applicant summited an improvement plant for the installation of a ramp that meets ADA standards. Staff is currently reviewing it.

Development Pipeline/Applicant Interest

Frailey Property Annexation — A potential developer is interested in developing the portion of the property within the town boundary before annexing and developing the rest of the property.

Emmit Ridge — Town Staff will meet with the DRB Group regarding a sketch plat.

Rodney McNair Property Annexation — Town staff is awaiting an annexation application.

The Catoctin Mountain Story

Some things are taken for granted:   for example, Catoctin Mountain. The mountain has not always been there, and it will not remain there forever.  This is the mountain’s story.

The Catoctin Mountain shares its origins with that of the actual mountain chain of which they are a member: the Appalachian Mountain Chain. 

The Time Before Catoctin

In the beginning, there were no mountains where they presently exist. Their birth can be traced back to a period over one billion years ago, when there was only one supercontinent. Today, there are a few areas of the Appalachian Mountains where the billion-year-old remnants of this supercontinent can still be observed, one being near to an area where southwestern Maryland borders Virginia.

Around 750 million years ago, this supercontinent began to pull apart, resulting in the creation of subcontinents (which, incidentally, bore no resemblance to the continents as they exist today). As a result of this continental breakup, the land upon which the Catoctin Mountain is presently located was inundated by the ocean around 500 million years ago, as was most of what would ultimately become the Americas several hundreds of millions of years later.

From some 500 million years ago to about 358 million years ago, oceans covered much of what would later

become land. These oceans spanned several periods of time, including the Cambrian Period (541 million to 485.4 million years ago), the Ordovician Period (485.4 to 443.8 million years ago), the Silurian Period (443.8 to  419.2 million years ago), and the Devonian Period (419.2 to 358 million years ago).

During the course of time in which the oceans predominated, from 541 to 358 million years ago, the seas would witness the rise of the first major life forms during the Cambrian Period. Many of these life forms were so alien that paleontologists of today have not yet been able to determine where they should actually fit within the animal kingdom, due to the fact that they did not survive the Cambrian to be capable of providing any living examples with which to compare them.

On the upside, however, the ancient ancestors of virtually every modern form of life arose and survived, appeared in the Cambrian Period, and the explosion of life on Earth thus commenced with a vengeance.

But the sea floor from which the Catoctin Mountain was to arise was about to come to a cataclysmic event, setting the state for the formation of the Catoctin Mountain.

The continents of the earth, whether they be supercontinents or subcontinents, sit upon portions of solidified crust, which had formed into plates. These plates “drift” about on the surface of the Earth in almost imperceptible slow motion.

 As these plates drift about, they might break up into smaller plates or collide with other plates, thereby, becoming adhered to them. This geologic phenomenon is known as continental drift (also known as plate tectonics).

The Continents Collide

Around 335 million years ago, two continental plates—one referred to as the African Plate and the other called the North American Plate—began to move toward each other, like an irresistible force colliding with an immovable object, on a grand scale. 

The collision of the two continental plates was so violent that not only did their convergence form a new continent, which geologists have dubbed “Pangaea,” but as the North American Plate buckled from being rammed by the African Plate, the Appalachian Mountains (Catoctin Mountain included) were created.

Geologists have been able to identify three supercontinents that have existed over time on the Earth, according to Live Science, Future USA Inc.

The oldest was Columbia (also called Nuna), which existed from around 1.7 billion years ago to 1.45 billion years ago, during a period of time referred to as the Precambrian Period. A second supercontinent, called Rodinia, existed from a billion years ago to about 700 million years ago, also during the Precambrian. 

Pangaea became the third supercontinent and, to date, the last. But the Earth’s plates are still in motion, and someday in the future, there could be a fourth.

The Appalachian Mountains, along with the Catoctin Mountain, are mere remnants of the Appalachian Mountains of 300 million years ago. As the collision subsided, the Appalachian Mountains were as high as the modern-day Himalayas, and the entire mountain chain ranged from Newfoundland to Alabama. 

In Alabama, the Appalachians (on a section of the North American plate that had apparently slumped) were subsequently submerged beneath, and buried by the sediments that were deposited by oceans that covered much of the state, some 145 to 40 million years ago.

In addition to mountain building, the collision also transformed rocks that had lain beneath the surface before the continents collided, which were altered into new forms of rock.

The rock layers that had formed from the sediments that had been deposited by the overlying oceans before the great collision were comprised mostly of shale (which had formed from mud) and sandstone (which had formed from sand).  Among them were layers of lava (deposited by active volcanoes).

The force of the collision was such that even the crystalline nature of these basic rocks was altered, resulting in shale being converted into phyllite and meta-schist, sandstone being converted into quartzite, and lava being converted into metabasalt. Other basic rocks had also undergone extreme alteration, according to the National Park Service.

Catoctin Mountain Today

Catoctin Mountain as it exists today represents a mere remnant of the mountain it once was. So much of the former Catoctin Mountain has been eroded over the millions of years since its formation, that much of the soil of the fields to the sand at the beaches in Maryland originated as rocks in the primordial mountain. 

Even the dinosaurs of Maryland foraged and hunted on land that was generated by the once-commanding heights on the Appalachian Mountains; while, today, farmers can plow and beachgoers can build sandcastles out of the material generated by a dying mountain.

For those interested in collecting remnants of ancient Pangaea still preserved in Catoctin Mountain, restrict your quest to private land (with permission), public roadway roadcuts (where there are safe pull-offs to accommodate a vehicle), and quarries (with permission). However, stay away from federal and/or state lands.

Recommended equipment should include goggles (if one doesn’t already wear glasses), heavy-lined work gloves, a crack hammer (also called a hand sledge), and/or a rock pick, and a variety of cold steel chisels, as well as newspapers and a knapsack for containing specimens. It’s also advisable to label finds as to where they were specifically collected.

For additional reading, the following is suggested: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website article, Maryland Rocks: Amateur mineral hunters find treasure, and the website.

Someday, there will be no Appalachian Mountains…unless or until the continents collide once again.

In the 1930’s, after years of making charcoal to fuel the iron furnace, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased to be transformed into a productive recreation area; helping to put people back to work during the great depression. Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Fisherman tries his luck in a Catoctin Mountain stream.

Rock specimen: Catoctin Mountain metabasalt, which had been transformed from basalt (hardened lava) as the result of the impact of the continent.

Work Could Begin Spring/Summer 2024

James Rada, Jr.

The Richard W. Kanode Farm Park, a new county park that will focus on agricultural and equestrian pursuits, is moving closer to reality. The Frederick County Planning Commission voted in February that the Kanode Park Master Plan is consistent with the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan. It is now moving on to Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater for review, which should be finished this spring.

Richard W. Kanode donated a 183-acre parcel to the county in 2017 to be used as a park “for the use and enjoyment of the general public, containing agricultural, equestrian, educational, and recreational facilities consistent with the terms of the Agricultural Preservation Easement,” according to Kanode’s agreement with the county. He also donated $1 million to the Community Foundation of Frederick County to establish an endowment fund for the park.

The proposed park would include an obstacle course, a western riding arena, an outdoor practice arena, three miles of riding trails, and an enclosed arena for barrel racing and jumping. There will also be lawn parking for horse trailers, tent space for events, and a manure storage bay.

The park would include 64 acres for active farming, 6 acres for a managed meadow or orchard, a 10-acre native plant arboretum, and smaller garden plots for agricultural research and demonstrations.

Although the Frederick County Planning Commission is moving the park plan forward, it is not without detractors. Horse riders support it, but local farmers do not so much. Many of them feel the park will attract too many people for events.

If the project continues moving forward, the county has set aside $5.6 million in the FY2025 Capital Improvement Program to develop Phase 1 of the park over five years.

The park would seem to be a good fit with Frederick County. The preliminary plan pointed out that Frederick County “has a long horse history, starting with Frederick as a main stop on the National Highway with horses transporting goods from Baltimore to the West. The county has been the setting for large draft horse breeding operations. There have also been large horse racing farms.”

The Maryland Horse Census, compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, found that the county has 7,850 horses, making it the third largest county horse population-wise in Maryland, only trailing Baltimore and Montgomery counties.

Horses are kept in 1,600 places throughout the county, totaling 21,400 acres. All equine assets in the county total $442 million in value.

The county also has four Horse Discovery Centers. These are farms that have similar programs to what Kanode Park would offer, although Kanode might offer even a greater variety. The horse discovery centers are: Good Intentions Farm in Keymar, Foxie G Thoroughbred Rescue in Libertytown, Paradise Stables in New Market, and Silverado Frederick County 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program in Thurmont.

Phase 1 of the park development can begin shortly after the project receives the final approval from the county, which could be spring or summer of this year.

Amanda Barber-McGuire (pictured above), president of Playground Specialist, Inc., cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of the cougar-themed playground at Eyler Park in Thurmont, which she designed.

Also in attendance were Thurmont Town Commissioners, President of Catoctin Youth Association John Steiner, Catoctin High School Principal Jennifer Clements, and several local kids.

The Maryland State Highway Administration closed MD 77 (Foxville Road) between Pryor Road and Park Central Road in January to assist Maryland Environmental Services with the renovation and replacement of a sewer line that runs under the road.

The Maryland Environmental Services is excavating the underground pipes, removing the sewer line, and installing a new one. Once this is done, the State Highway Administration will resurface the road.

The closure affects about two miles of the road on Catoctin Mountain, and it is expected to remain closed through May, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration website.

The closure was estimated to affect about 3,665 vehicle trips each day, and those vehicles are getting detoured using MD 77 to Route 15 to MD 550 to Foxville Deerfield Road and back to MD 77. Trucks and other large vehicles use MD 77 to MD 550 to MD 491 to MD 64. The detour routes are far longer than the original route.

For more information about the project, please contact Mr. Luke Page, Project Manager, at or (410) 729-8537.

Alisha Yocum

On March 19, the chairs in the Thurmont Town Meeting were filling up quickly, but not by who you may expect.

In attendance at the meeting were several four-legged friends, who were there to help the volunteers from Wags for Hope and the Thurmont Police Department announce their new partnership.

Wags for Hope is a local non-profit that provides volunteers with their pets to bring joy to the lives of others. During the meeting, Meghan Padhi, co-president of the organization, gave a brief presentation about the organization to the Thurmont Commissioners. During the presentation, she announced that they would now be partnering with the Thurmont Police Department and will use their dogs to bring stress-relief to the community through attending outreach events, visiting the police department staff, and helping in cases where community members, especially children, have experienced trauma.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird expressed that when Kristi Woods, a Town of Thurmont employee and volunteer at Wags for Hope, brought her dog to visit him in the hospital, it really made a difference.

You may have already seen Wags for Hope volunteers and their furry friends around town, as they often visit schools and have a partnership with Frederick County Public Libraries, where children are able to read to the dogs, inspiring them to learn to read because an animal is non-judgmental and reading then becomes fun for them. The goal behind the R.E.A.D.® Program is to improve literacy skills and give children a positive association with reading.

Along with District 22-W, the Thurmont Lions and Leo Clubs are sponsoring a community event for the public at the Thurmont Regional Library. This is a community event for all ages (adults and children). Student service hours are available. The event will be held April 6, from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

This is a hands-on project event, whereby, anyone can make: Linus fleece blankets, friendship bracelets, adopt-me bandanas for dogs, and spider cat toys; also painting with straws and finger painting.

The Thurmont Lions Club will supply materials and instructions with volunteer help. For more information, please contact Lion Dianne McLean at 410-206-1805.

Everyone must know someone who is making a difference to be nominated for this award!

The Thurmont Lions Club is now accepting nominations for the 2024 Volunteer of the Year. Nominate an individual(s) who is/are 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, many individuals eligible for this honor. Please nominate those deserving individuals for the goodwill and volunteer services they give to help their community. These individuals are an asset to your community.

The volunteer service work must be done in the area of zip code 21788. Forms are available online at or by contacting Lion Joyce Anthony at Nomination forms are due no later than April 15, 2024.

Send your completed nomination form to Lion Joyce Anthony, 31 Sylvia Circle, Thurmont, MD 21788, or to Thurmont Lions Club, P.O. Box 306, Thurmont, MD 21788, or email to

Club members are eligible to be nominated with the stipulation the MAJORITY (95 percent) of the 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.

During the month of February, local organizations, Thurmont Grange No. 409, Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club, and BSA Scout Troops 270B and 270G joined together to collect dog and cat food to be donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Their combined efforts resulted in 311 pounds of dry dog and cat food, 28 cans of food, as well as cat litter, dog treats, and various dog and cat toys, being donated to the Food Bank. It is important to remember that pets are also family members, and we need to do what we can to make sure they also do not go hungry.

Pictured (from left) are Pastor Sally Joyner Giffin, Thurmont Food Bank Director; and Nancy Wine, Thurmont Granger and Food Bank volunteer.

The Thurmont Grange No. 409 hosted its annual Antique Roadshow on Monday, March 11. This event is held each year to raise money for an individual or family in need or an organization’s cause.

This year, funds were donated to the Catoctin FFA Chapter’s trip to the 2024 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Several past FFA members attended the Roadshow and shared their experiences at National Convention and the impact the trip had on them.

Those in attendance brought a wide variety of antiques and collectibles to be evaluated by our local experts, Norman Feldser and Bill Eyler, who graciously volunteered their time and knowledge. Everything from a toy train and swords to a corn sheller and pocket watch, and everything in between, was examined and evaluated.

All the guests enjoyed listening to the stories and history behind these items and learning the potential value and professional opinions of both Norman and Bill. Our experts also shared local history and personal experiences related to many of the items. Catoctin High Ag teacher, Barry Birch, was present to receive the donation Thurmont Grange was able to raise, thanks to the generosity of everyone who attended the Roadshow.

Bill Eyler examines a crock belonging to Joe Pelkey, as Norman Feldser observes.

Lynnelle Ediger, daughter of Dr. Ray Ediger of Thurmont, recently hosted three students of the Shenandoah Conservatory, who gave a free concert of harp, organ, and soprano solos at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Utica.

Pictured (from left) are Lynnelle Ediger, Anna Smith (harp, organ), Danielle Caldwell (harp), Serenity Flores (harp, soprano), and Karen Schlosser (piano accompanist).

September 27, 1939 – February 25, 2024

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Norman Elsworth Elsbree Jr., who peacefully left this world on February 25, 2024, at the age of 84. Norman was born on September 27, 1939, to proud parents, Norman Elsworth Elsbree Sr. and Marjorie Eleanor Elsbree nee Mathies.

Norman was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, whose kindness and patience touched the hearts of all who knew him. He proudly served his country as a Veteran in the U.S. Army, where he received many accolades, including a Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the prestigious Presidential Service Badge and Certificate.

Norman is survived by his devoted wife of 61 years, Diane, his children, Norman “Rusty” and his wife Melinda, Kim and her husband Andy, along with his beloved grandchildren (Josh and his wife Lisa, Rachel, and Hannah and her fiancé Tyler, and his great-granddaughter, Naomi), and other beloved family members. He was anxiously awaiting the birth of his second great-granddaughter in June. He was preceded in death by his son, Brian; his granddaughter Jessica; and his cherished cat, Coco.

While in the Army, he was a communications specialist at the White House, serving under the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations. Other than his pride for his family, this was one of his proudest accomplishments! After leaving the Army and White House, he was employed with the federal government at the Department of Energy until retiring in 1994.

A celebration of Norman’s life, complete with military honors, will be held on April 27, 2024 from 2:00-5:00 p.m., at Thurmont Grange #409, to honor his memory and the impact he had on all those around him.

His legacy of love, patriotism, and dedication will forever be remembered by those who had the privilege of knowing him!

June 25, 1949- December 6, 2023

Celebration of Life

Sunday, April 14, 1:00-4:00 p.m., Thurmont American Legion Hall

Light lunch, cash bar, music & memory-sharing

Gary Paul “Jake” Jagow, 74, of Littlestown, PA, passed away suddenly on December 6, 2023, from complications following emergency heart bypass surgery and RSV. That day, the angels recruited a new drummer for their heavenly rock & roll band.

Gary was born on June 25, 1949, in Niagara Falls, NY. He was the son of the late Victor Russel and Betty Louise (Wise) Jagow.

While at Thurmont High School, he kept the beat going as drummer for The Coachmen, a popular 60s rock & roll dance band, founded and managed by his father. After graduation in 1967, he began his career in radio at WTHU, when the station first went on the air. Gary then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where they were quick to recognize and utilize his radio talent. He worked for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service while he was stationed in Greenland and Germany. After proudly serving his country, Gary returned home to continue his career at WTHU. He eventually went on to become a well-known radio personality with Frederick’s WFMD/WFRE stations. When syndication forever changed radio, Gary decided to change gears, to leave the studio confines for the freedom of the open road as a delivery driver for AmeriGas Propane.

Most recently after retirement, he was a Frederick County Meals on Wheels driver, where he loved all of his coworkers. He held a special place in his heart for the elderly folks he looked forward to seeing every day. His dedication and caring nature surely will be missed.

Throughout his work career, Gary continued to play drums or bass guitar in several prominent bands, including Don Barnes & The Countrymen and Full House.

Gary had a remarkably eclectic musical ear and enjoyed everything from rock, country, and jazz classics to German oompah and modern jazz. He also loved attending drum and bugle corps competitions. He volunteered in his younger years for a few weeks during the summer as a drum line assistant. He was also an avid animal lover, classic car enthusiast, and always enjoyed celebrating his family’s German heritage, especially during Oktoberfest season.

Gary is survived by his cherished life partner of 33 years, Harriette Mathews; his sister Gwen Leahy and husband Jerry of Wellsboro, PA; one nephew and niece; precious friends, Alban Little and Rocky Birely, plus countless other friends and band mates.

On January 26, 2024, Gary was inurned at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery with the full military honors he had earned and rightly deserved. Please join us as we celebrate his amazing life on Sunday, April 14, from 1:00-4:00 p.m., at the Thurmont American Legion.

Memorial donations may be made to Frederick County Meals on Wheels.

September 7, 1967 – February 29, 2024

Jerry E. Ferson, Jr., 56, of Thurmont, passed away on February 29, 2024, at Frederick Health Hospital in Frederick. He was the beloved husband of Patricia (Tomalewski) Ferson.

Born on September 7, 1967, in Sunnyside Washington, he was the son of Reverend Jerry E Ferson and Linda F (Radach) Ferson.

Jerry graduated from Lee University and worked as a sound engineer and videographer.

As a devoted husband and father, Jerry exemplified unwavering love and support for his family. He valued the moments spent with his boys, instilling in them integrity, perseverance, and kindness. He was a pillar within the Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) community. A leader and advocate, known for his love of football and commitment to the Thurmont youth. Throughout the years, Jerry’s involvement in youth sports included coaching, football coordinator, vice president of CYA Football, and a member of CYA Inc. He was the first one on the field on Saturday mornings for youth football and the last one to leave. No job was too small or insignificant. He was a constant encouragement for new coaches, and he would often help out or fill in until a permanent coach took over. On Friday nights, Jerry could be found in the high school announcers booth, recording the football and lacrosse games. Jerry will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and the entire youth sports community.

In addition to his wife and parents, Jerry is survived by his sons, Wayne and Wyatt Ferson; sister Lee Ann Ferson-Roehl and husband Mike. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the Thurmont community for the tremendous outpouring of support that they have received. Words cannot effectively communicate how humbled and moved they are by your expression of love for Jerry. The words of encouragement and memories shared has strengthened them through this difficult time.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, March 9, at 11:00 a.m. at the Thurmont United Methodist Church, 13880 Long Road, Thurmont.

In the breadth of a single stanza, Longfellow evokes the image of two icons that have all but disappeared from our shared American experience: the village blacksmith and the American chestnut. Mount Saint Mary’s (MSM) is doing its bit to revive one of those icons by offering credited courses in blacksmithing.

MSM is in its second year of offering the course. There were six students the first year for just one class. This year, there are fifteen students in three classes. Each of the three classes meets once a week in the evening for four hours. One of the classes is an advanced class for the students who wanted to continue learning from the previous year.

As a testament to the class’s appeal, there is a waiting list forty-six students deep—and counting—for next year’s course.

The course is taught by Harold Green of Emmitsburg at his shop on Waynesboro Road. He prefers to be addressed simply as Harold. Initially reluctant to teach, Harold has been wowed by his students. He constantly comments on how enthusiastic his students are and what a pleasure it is to teach a skill to such eagerness.

When asked why they would take a course in such an old technology, senior math/computer science major Thomas Passaro simply expressed a desire to create something with his hands. That seemed to be the consensus of the others—a desire to create something tangible.

Annie Brennan, a neuroscience major from Northern Virginia, was one of the charter students of the first year. She’s in the advanced class this semester and helps Harold teach the class, all while learning the trade. She’s done well enough to have some of her work picked up to be sold in the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum’s gift shop in St. Augustine, Florida.

In watching Harold conduct his class, it’s easy to see the truth in his statement that his students have become friends. There is a continual, good-natured banter between student and teacher not often found in a typical classroom. His wife, Diane, often feeds the students.

After seventeen years, Harold retired from Camp David in 2016. He’s been a blacksmith for more than forty years. In a year’s time, he exhibits his skills and wares at as many as twenty-seven vendor shows, including Colorfest.

Harold’s shop, Horseshoe Forge & Ironworks, is located at 9245 Waynesboro Road, just west of Emmitsburg. Besides the items from the forge found in the gift shop, Harold is a farrier and does custom ironwork as well.

If you want to find him at Colorfest, you can find him up front in the town park near the tennis courts. Just listen for the ring of the anvil.

MSM blacksmithing instructor, Harold Green, in his Emmitsburg shop.

Annie Brennan demonstrates for the class.

Annie Brennan demonstrates for the class what the taper for a wall hook should look like.

Olivia Irvin, a Health Sciences junior from Calvert County, Maryland, starts forming a piece of bar stock that will become a wall hook.

Thomas Passaro discusses with Annie Brennan his progress with the wall hook project.

Are you looking for a scholarship? Check the Community Foundation of Frederick County (www.Frederick for the scholarships offered by the Thurmont High School Alumni Association.

The application’s new final date is April 15, 2024. You must be a graduating high school senior and related to someone that graduated from Thurmont High School or from Catoctin High School, classes of l969 to l974.

Then remind those that did graduate during those years that the annual alumni banquet will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex. Any questions may be directed to Viola Noffsinger at 301-418-1760 or by email

The Emmitsburg High School Association is accepting Scholarship Applications. Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students. Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate who is enrolled in an institution of higher learning is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21778, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on Rt. 140). Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution of higher learning.

Selection is based on having a 3.0 or higher GPA, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, and pursuing higher education (4-year college, community college or technical). No GPA is required for full-time technical school.

Applications may be obtained by contacting the Guidance Department at Catoctin High School (240-236-8082, Mike Marquez) or EHSA (443-677-5705, Vickie Frushour).

All applications must be received by May 1, 2024.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization was established to recognize the graduates of Catoctin High School (CHS) who have made a difference locally, in the state, and/or in the nation. These men and women are nominated in five categories: Academics, Arts & Humanities, Athletics, Business, and Service (community, military, or public).

Nominated graduates will be mailed an application to complete. Honorees are selected from those applications returned to the committee. All nominees must be graduates of Catoctin High School. Students who attended CHS but did not graduate from CHS are not eligible for recognition.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization would also like to recognize former Catoctin staff members who have had a significant impact on the graduates of Catoctin High School. The community can nominate former cafeteria workers, custodians, instructional aides, secretaries, administrators, or teachers. The earliest a former staff member can be nominated is two years following their departure from CHS.

Please return completed Nomination Form by April 15: USPS—Catoctin Distinguished Graduate, 14745 Sabillasville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788; Fax—240-236-8101; Email— or

Nominees will then receive an application to be completed by May 15. The Distinguished Graduate Organization committee will determine the award recipients by June 21.