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James Rada, Jr.

For 62 years, the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show has been highlighting the role of agriculture in northern Frederick County and spotlighting the talents of area residents. This year’s show was held at Catoctin High School on September 7-9. More than $13,000 in prizes were awarded to the hundreds of exhibitors.

On one end of the school, area residents spread out artwork, agricultural items and baked foods in the large gym. On the opposite end of the school, other students groomed animals preparing to show them. In between these two points, businesses and local civic organizations displayed their services and purposes.

The show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin High’s FFA Chapter, Catoctin Area FFA Alumni, the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board, and the Maryland State Grange. It comes together each year through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers.

The line for the Thurmont Regional Library’s annual used book sale began forming even before the community show’s 6:00 p.m. start time Friday evening.

The show opened with its traditional flag ceremony highlighting all of northern Frederick County’s civic and public service organizations. The evening honored the 50th anniversary of the opening of Catoctin High School.

Catoctin High’s current Principal Bernie Quesada and all of Catoctin’s former principals — with some of them in attendance — were recognized for their contribution to the Catoctin community. “They’ve all had distinguished careers and made a difference in thousands of lives of young people,” Quesada said.

Catoctin High was born in turmoil but has since become a binding force for northern Frederick County. It is due, in part, to the efforts of these men and women who led the school and fostered its growth with the community.

Dr. Harper Long, Catoctin’s first principal who currently resides in Iowa, wrote an e-mail to Principal Bernie Quesada, saying, “One of Mr. Goodrich’s and my highest priorities that first year was to bring together the communities of Emmitsburg and Thurmont. The Board of Education’s site selection for the new school did not sit well with either community. Both towns wanted the new school to be nearer their town. Since we could do nothing to alter the physical position of the school building, we tried to bring the two communities together. We all worked to develop respect for each others’ needs.” It is a mission that all of these principals have worked at accomplishing.

The professionals who served as Catoctin High School’s principals since its opening include Bernard Quesada (2010 – current), Jack Newkirk (2005 – 2010), Ann Bonitatibus (2001 – 2005), Marlene “Marty” Tarr (1996 – 2001), Earl Miller (1984 – 1996), Bruce Brown (1983 – 1984), James Fisher (1977 – 1983), Harper Long (1969 – 1977), and Howard Goodrich (1969).

During the opening ceremony, Catoctin High student Robert Hahn was chosen as the school’s FFA ambassador for the coming year.

National Grange Master Betsy Huber congratulated the community on putting together the show each year. She said, “Grangers everywhere are involved in fairs and shows like this one because we’re all doers.”

Frederick County Superintendent of Schools Theresa Alban said, “I sit here every year and find different inspiration.”

After the opening ceremony on Friday evening, the Community Show’s events continued through the weekend and featured a baked goods auction, a livestock auction, a petting zoo, music, pony rides, a pet show, a horseshoe pitching contest, log sawing contest and much more.

The Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show is the largest in the State of Maryland. It is exemplary. The strength of the show and the strength of agriculture in northern Frederick County stands on the shoulders of the volunteers who proudly teach and carry that heritage forward from generation to generation.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding, Gracie Eyler, Blair Garrett, and Taylor Clarke

Front row left to right: Jan Gardner, Frederick County Executive; Betsy Huber, National Grange President; Jennifer Martin, Secretary of the Community Show Committee; Mary Fisher, widow of Dr. James Fisher former CHS Principal; Marty Tarr, former CHS Principal; Cathy Little, Asst. Treasurer of the Community Show Committee; Robert Hahn, Catoctin FFA Ambassador.

Back row left to right: Dave Harman, Community Show Committee member; Bob Valentine, Vice-President of the Community Show Committee; Daniel Myers, Community Show Committee member; Rodman Myers, President of the Community Show Committee; Earl Miller, former CHS Principal; Jack Newkirk, former CHS Principal; Bruce Brown, former CHS Principal; Bernie Quesada, current CHS Principal; Terry Alban, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools; Amy Jo Poffenberger, CHS Agriculture Education Teacher.

The 2018 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show Champions and Reserve Champions are as follows: Fresh Fruits: Champion—Martha Hauver (Peaches), Reserve Champion—Christopher Black (Crimson Apples); Fresh Vegetables: Champion—Kylie Robertson (Red Tomatoes), Reserve Champion—Raymond Long (Bi-Color Ambrosia Corn); Home Products Display: Champion—Roxanna Lambert, Reserve Champion—Charlotte Dutton; Canned Fruit:  Champion—Ann Welty (Cranapple Sauce), Reserve Champion—Jackie Troxell (Blackberries); Canned Vegetables: Champion—Bridgette Kinna (Peach Salsa), Reserve Champion—Roxanna Lambert (Tomato Sauce); Jellies & Preserves:  Champion—Donald Stanley (Blackberry Jam), Reserve Champion—Roxanna Lambert (Peach Preserves); Pickles: Champion—JoAnn Fuss Ricketts (Relish), Reserve Champion—Pamela Long (Catsup); Meat (Canned): Champion—Catherine Miller (Canned Moose), Reserve Champion—Roxanna Eaton (Venison); Home Cured Meats: Champion—Robert McAfee (Country Ham), Reserve Champion—Robert Wiles (Country Ham); Baked Products (Cake): Champion—Dawn Hobbs (German Chocolate Cake), Reserve Champion—Dawn Hobbs (Lemon Sponge Cake), Honorable Mention Cake–Burall Brothers Scholarship—Debbie Wiles (Chocolate Cake); Bread: Champion—Maxine Troxell (Pumpernickel Swirl), Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Raisin Bread); Pie: Champion—Joan Wiles (Raspberry Pie), Reserve Champion—Vicky Sharrer (Cherry Crumb Pie); Sugar Free: Champion—Ann Welty (Pie), Reserve Champion—Joyce Kline (Cake); Gluten-Free Baked Product: Champion—Stacey Smith (White Chip, Cranberry, Macadamia Nut Cookies), Reserve Champion—Marie Free (Rolls); Sewing: Champion—Karen Willard (Applique Quilt), Reserve Champion—Charlotte Dutton (Fiber Wool Lamb); Flowers & Plants: Champion—Roxanna Lambert (Side Table Arrangement), Reserve Champion—Christina Wisner (Pressed Flowers); Arts, Painting & Drawings: Champion—Marcia Johnson (Pencil Drawing), Reserve Champion—Andrew Smith (Pastel Drawing); Crafts: Champion—Carol Hocking (Craft), Reserve Champion—Nancy Rice (Dried Material; Color Photography: Champion—Ben Mathias (Miscellaneous Photo), Reserve Champion—Beth Shriner (Sports Photo); Black & White Photography: Champion—Joyce Kline (People Action Photo), Reserve Champion—Beth Shriner (Black & White Flowers); Corn: Champion—David Shriver (Hybrid Corn), Reserve Champion—Bridgette Kinna (Indian Corn); Small Grain & Seeds: Champion—Matthew Clark (Timothy), Reserve Champion—Preston Clark (Soybeans); Eggs: Champion—Robert Wiles (Brown Eggs), Reserve Champion—Josh Stewart (Blue Eggs); Nuts: Champion—Joan Staub (English Walnuts), Reserve Champion—Edward Hahn (Black Walnuts); Rabbit: Champion—Patti Hubbard (Breeding Rabbit and offspring), Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (White Rabbit); Poultry: Champion—Kenzie Lewis (Farm Exhibit – 1 Rooster& 1 Hen), Reserve Champion—Kenzie Lewis (Bantams 1 Rooster & 1 Hen); Dairy: Champion—Jonathan Hubbard (Brown Swiss Fall Calf), Reserve Champion—Cadin Valentine (Ayrshire Spring Calf); Dairy Goats: Champion—Olivia Dutton (Doe 3 years and under 5 years), Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Dry Yearling); Hay: Champion—Matthew Clark (Alfalfa Hay), Reserve Champion—Robert McAfee (Timothy Hay); Straw: Champion—Daniel Myers (Barley Straw), Reserve Champion—Mary Clark (Wheat Straw); Junior Department Craft: Champion—Preston Clark (Flower Arrangement), Reserve Champion—Aiden Wiiters (Recycled Material Craft); Junior Department Baked Product: Champion—Owen Ott (Sour Cream Pound Cake), Reserve Champion—Avery Harbaugh (Frosted Cake); Youth Department: Champion—Caroline Clark (Dress), Reserve Champion—Zoe Willard (Sewn Item, Misc.); Youth Department Baked Product: Champion—Zoe Willard (Rolled Cookies), Reserve Champion—Joanna Genemans (Creamsicle Fudge); Beef: Champion—Austin Ridenour, Reserve Champion—Jameson Ruby; Sheep: Champion—Peyton Davis, Reserve Champion—Caroline Clark; Swine: Champion—Ashley Lescalleet, Reserve Champion—Tyrone Van Echo; Market Goat: Champion—Kelly Glass, Reserve Champion—Skylar Sanders; Pet Show: Champion—Warren Schafer (Prettiest Dog), Reserve Champion—Kenzie Lewis (Cat With Longest Whiskers); Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull: Champion—Ryan Martin, Reserve Champion—Preston Clark, Honorable Mention—Eli Yocum.


Happy 50th Anniversary Catoctin High School Cougars! This milestone as a school is extremely important and that is why CHS’s Student Government Association (SGA) will be hosting several special activities specifically for our alumni. On October 5, 2018, at 4:30 p.m., the Catoctin SGA wishes to invite all alumni to the school’s cafeteria for an informal meet and greet reception followed by a tour of the high school as it is today. Take a peek and see how much our school has changed and how much it has stayed the same. These tours will be led by student government members. The reception beforehand will provide light refreshments to alumni and allow classmates to socialize .There will be yearbooks, trophies, hundreds of pictures and other memorabilia on display. This event is open to all alumni from 1969 all the way to 2018.

Another special surprise for this year’s Homecoming: the SGA members are bringing back Catoctin’s Spirit Week Homecoming Parade!

Several of Catoctin’s clubs will be entering floats, cars and trucks, and displaying the ultimate in school spirit. The parade starts at 6:00 p.m. and follows a route from the American Legion at 8 Park Lane in Thurmont to Catoctin High School at 14745 Sabillasville Road. Please note that only one lane will be open for the parade, which will be the right lane heading northbound on Water Street. At the end of the parade, the floats will be judged and awarded cash prizes.

Then, at 7:00 p.m., Catoctin’s Homecoming game will begin! We are hoping that our alumni are proud of what we have become.

At halftime (when victory is only a matter of time) we’ll be announcing our Homecoming Court; prince and princesses from the ninth, tenth and eleventh grades, and our King and Queen Seniors. Keeping with tradition, they will be escorted onto the field by their family members.

The SGA is also taking orders for special 50th Anniversary t-shirts. They make a great gift for your favorite Cougar! The price for a t-shirt is $15. They are available in an assortment of colors and sizes. For any additional inquiries about shirts, please contact Mrs. Kathleen Herrmann at Catoctin High School via, or call 240-236-8141 (leave a message).

We hope to see you at the alumni reception at 4:30, the parade at 6 and the game at 7. Thanks for supporting your hometown team!

James Rada, Jr.

The Year was 1969

Students at both Thurmont High and Emmitsburg High left school at the end of the day on Friday, February 7, 1969. However, when they boarded their school buses or walked to school the following Monday, February 10, they wound up at Catoctin High School. Students from the two rival high schools now found themselves classmates in a brand new school.

“If problems do arise between the two groups of students, it will probably not be a shock to Catoctin High, for this school, even before it was built, had one of the stormiest histories of Frederick’s educational growth,” the Frederick News reported.


The Need for a New School

A consolidation of the two schools had been talked about since the late 1950s. Both Thurmont High and Emmitsburg High were old schools. They needed updating. Thurmont High School, which had been built in 1919, was overcrowded. During a Frederick County Commissioners meeting about combining the schools, “A young woman told the commissioner that she knows a new school is needed for she has had physical education in the halls, classes in the warehouse, and has been a witness to ‘many other problems’ in the school system,” according to the Hagerstown Morning Herald. On the other hand, Emmitsburg High School, built in 1922, was much underutilized, which was limiting some of the educational opportunities available to students.

The Frederick County Board of Education decided to build a new school…but just one. By giving up their small schools in town, each community was told that their students would attend a modern high school located between the two towns.

The problem was where to locate that school?

This is where Catoctin High first became a contentious topic. Local committees couldn’t reach an agreement on where to locate the new school.

“Since the two committees appointed some time back to select a site for a consolidated school have not come up with a solution as to where the new school would be located, it is becoming apparent that the School Board just might take the ‘bull’ by the horns and pick a site itself,” reported the Emmitsburg Chronicle in July 1963.

One possible site was found midway between Thurmont and Emmitsburg, but the property owner wanted $1,000 an acre. Meanwhile, a suitable and larger site just north of Thurmont could be had for $750 an acre. It was also possible for the school to hook into Thurmont’s water and sewer system for additional savings.

The latter site, called the Staub property, was attractive to some members of the Frederick County Board of Education because bussing expenses would be minimized, considering the bulk of the students attending the new school were in Thurmont. Since the school was closer to Thurmont, it meant that while some students would travel further to school, more would have a shorter ride.

Faced with having a site forced upon them, the local committee met and unanimously recommended the purchase of forty acres on Payne’s Hill for the school. It was a site nearly halfway between the two communities.

“This site had previously been approved by both the County Commissioners and the School Board, and its selection, one of the most scenic in the northern section of the county, and one easily accessible off U. .S Route 15, is felt by the committees to be the most feasible and agreeable to the citizens and taxpayers of this area,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

However, negotiations on the cost of the property faltered.

Then, on November 27, 1963, Emmitsburg residents awoke to discover that the board of education had reversed direction and authorized the purchase of the Staub site for $30,000.

“However, the Board of Commissioners apparently threw caution to the winds and when the Board of Education, either by default or deliberate intention, offered no alternate site, the Commissioners went ahead and okayed the sight and appropriated the money,” reported the Emmitsburg Chronicle.


Lawsuit and Funding Problems

The new school was named Catoctin High in February 1965. However, this wasn’t the first choice. It might have been named James A. Sensenbaugh High School, after the former Frederick County school superintendent who was the Maryland school superintendent at the time. The Frederick News reported that Sensenbaugh had rejected the honor because he didn’t like naming buildings after living people, even if it was him.

Three days after the school was named, six Emmitsburg residents filed suit against the county commissioners and the county board of education. The complainants included Emmitsburg Commissioner J. Norman Flax, Jr.; Chamber of Commerce Leader Bernard Boyle; and Chronicle publisher C. Arthur Elder. They wanted a site for the school closer to Emmitsburg and were charging that an incorrect decision had been made on purpose, ignoring things that would have made the midway location just as attractive as the Staub site. The state board of education heard the case in May but still favored the Staub site, despite Emmitsburg’s arguments.

The planning for the new school began, and in February 1966, the plans were released. Catoctin High would educate up to 1,000 students in 122,000 square feet. It would have an auditorium that seated 1,060 people, 41 teaching stations, a large gymnasium, an auxiliary gym, and cafeteria. Catoctin High was also to be the first high school in the county to have a heated indoor pool.

The Hagerstown Morning Herald proclaimed, “The 1,000 student capacity high school will be designed with futuristic educational facilities, enabling students to receive lessons and research material at home via microwave to television unit.”

The expected cost for all of this was projected to be $2.4 million.

The county board of education approved the preliminary plans in March 1965, with a few—mostly cosmetic—changes. For instance, the slanted roof changed to a flat roof, redwood trim on the exterior was eliminated, and oversized brick instead of split rock was used on the exterior. The Morning Herald reported that the Town of Thurmont had to raise its sewer rates to accommodate the increased needs of the school.

The costs of the school soon started rising. The lowest bid that came in was still $1 million more than the projected $2.4 million. Officials began discussing how to bring the costs down. Wall-to-wall carpeting and the pool topped the list of things that could be eliminated, if need be. Another suggestion was to make the auditorium smaller.

By 1967, the county commissioners still wouldn’t approve the budget. More cuts were asked for.

The Emmitsburg Town Council unanimously objected to the inclusion of a pool in the school. However, even if the pool were to be cut, it wouldn’t save the entire $118,000 cost.

“The controversial swimming pool was accepted by the board after they were informed that the pool would serve double duty as a reserve water supply for the school’s sprinkler system as a swimming pool,” the Frederick News reported.

Without a pool serving that purpose, a pond would need to be built to hold a water supply, and that would cost $50,000 to $75,000. A compromise was reached to move the pool outside.

Things seemed to be getting to the point that not much more could be cut from the plans without making the school’s student capacity smaller. North County residents blamed Thomas Johnson High School for using up construction funds.

“We are being punished in Thurmont for the money spent in Frederick. We are being taken advantage of,” stated Thurmont Mayor Ray Weddle.

Even as the board of education was trying to strip down plans for the school, costs continued to rise. Board of Education President Mary Condon Hodgson presented a $2.7 million plan that was “stripped of all frills” to the commissioners in February, only to have it rejected a second time.

The commissioners even suggested that perhaps a new site should be chosen and the whole process started over. Forty acres southeast of Thurmont were offered for free, but the Board of Education turned down the site, stating the two high schools needed to be consolidated and the new site would take more time to develop, thus opening old wounds between Emmitsburg and Thurmont that had started to heal.

“Mayor Guy A. Baker, Jr. of Emmitsburg said the citizens of that town would erupt in “open rebellion” if consideration is given to changing the site for the school,” the Frederick News reported.

A $2.6 million plan was finally agreed upon, and construction began in July 1967. “Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on July 28, 1967, and the first shovelful of earth was turned over by Ross V. Smith, a local citizen who is a member of the Frederick County Board of Education,” according to the first Catoctin High School yearbook.

Although much was stripped out of the approved Catoctin High School, it was noted that it would have the first mathematics lab in the county.

“A portion of the mathematics laboratory will be devoted to individual study areas where the student may pursue on his own an interest that may have in a specific branch of mathematics,” the News reported.

Some of the resources in the lab for student use included computers, film strips, and records.

The school was also in a scenic location. “The school is being built to take advantage of the view—mounds of the Catoctin range on two sides, the sprawling valley on another side, and a forested area on the fourth side. Even the trees of the orchard that once covered the school property have been left within a few yards of the school door,” the News reported.

When students returned to Frederick County schools in the fall of 1968, students were still attending Emmitsburg High and Thurmont High. The organizations and sports teams were starting to combine as Catoctin High, although Catoctin High was not yet operating.

When students began attending the new school on February 10, 1969, Catoctin High’s history was already starting to form. The Frederick News noted that Catoctin High’s history “is a malleable piece of clay that can be molded in to a fine and finished product of beauty and grace.”

Now fifty years later, that clay has been formed into a school of which Northern Frederick County can be proud.

The first graduating class from Catoctin High School is shown entering the auditorium. The photo appeared in the first Catoctin High School yearbook in 1969.

by Cathy (Wivell) Yoder and Phyllis (Wivell) Green

Since 1978, Grandparent’s Day has been celebrated the Sunday after Labor Day. September is a good time to make plans to honor past generations.  A few years ago, a friend described a memorable breakfast that she organized with cousins to honor their grandmother.  We liked the idea, so in March of 2015, the women in our Wivell family held the first “Grandma’s Girls” gathering to honor our matriarch, Helen Guise Wivell.  We have met annually for lunch since then to catch up with each other, share wonderful memories, and enjoy our time together.  The Wivell men camp each summer in Western Maryland, so this event is for the ladies.

Many local people have heard of, and even remember our grandparents, Roy and Helen Wivell.  They met at a barn dance at the Guise farm. They were the dedicated parents of 20 children.  They had a deep faith in God and a commitment to their community. They possessed a strong work ethic and passed this on to their children. For younger family members who never knew them, the “Grandma’s Girls” gathering is a good opportunity to learn about their ancestors and feel connected. Each year approximately 50 ladies, from babies to late 80s attend.

Our grandmother Wivell usually wore an apron, so aprons have been an ongoing theme at our gatherings. The first year everyone was asked to bring an apron to wear and small prizes in several categories were awarded. We all had a hearty laugh at the apron dance as the long line of apron clad ladies tried to keep time to the fast drum beat of the Hawaiian War Chant. Last year some cousins suggested that we make aprons for the family. That seemed like a lofty goal, but several aunts and cousins used nice cloth napkins leftover from a family wedding and fabric remnants on hand, to piece together more than 60 aprons, complete with lined pockets, at no cost. A lovely lady added a beautiful and priceless embroidered rose with “Grandma’s Girls” logo to each bib, making them a special keepsake. Everyone was encouraged to make memories with their new aprons, but we think they are too pretty to get dirty.

Family members lend their talents to make the occasion special. If we mentioned each by name we would surely miss someone. Prayers of thanksgiving are always offered and loved ones are remembered. One of our cousins brings her tea cup collection each year and we look forward to a special cup of steaming tea or coffee, served in dainty china from times past. Another cousin developed poster displays depicting family members and birthdates. Cousins make centerpieces from flowers, elaborately decorated cupcakes, or meaningful mementos. Food items are assigned alphabetically based on first names. There is always a good selection of delicious food.

Prior to the event, cousins have selected a theme, prepared questions, and interviewed family members. They then share these stories about our ancestors and life growing up in the 30s, 40s and 50s on the family farm. Times have certainly changed and the stories are quite interesting, like the laborious process of washing 12 loads of laundry three times a week with a wringer washer.  It starts with building a fire to heat the water. This year we honored our Grandfather, Roy Wivell, on the anniversary of his 120th birth year, with special memories from his children, an interesting picture and farm display, and a decorated birthday cake.

Chinese auction items are always a favorite and help to cover expenses. Popular prizes include copies of a framed family picture from times past, and expertly handcrafted gifts from family members. Games to entertain young and old alike have been a highlight. This year’s “Human Hungry Hippos” probably was the all-time favorite. Ladies from 4 to 70s tried their luck at snatching the most balls with a round laundry basket while lying on little wheeled dollies, as someone held their legs and pushed them in the right direction.

If this sounds like something your family would enjoy, we hope you will organize a family gathering to honor your ancestors. We hold our gatherings at a local church hall, but smaller families could go to a restaurant or home. It takes some planning, but it is a lot of fun and well worth the effort.

Pictured left, Roy and Helen Wivell of Emmitsburg are pictured on their wedding day, October 20, 1926. They were dedicated parents of 20 children. The male descendants of Roy and Helen enjoy an annual ‘Savage’ Wivell reunion. Since 2015, the female descendants now enjoy the ‘Grandma’s Girls’ Reunion.

Pictured below, Roy and Helen Wivell at their 25th wedding anniversary celebration.

Above left to right, daughters of Helen and Roy Wivell are Joan Matthews, Helen Reaver, Therese Topper and Genny Little wearing the aprons that are now a highlight of the annual Wivell ‘Grandma’s Daughter’s’ reunion

Jack Walker

Brimming with life, nature, and scenery, Catoctin Mountain Park embodies the vast beauty Frederick County has to offer. Take a look beyond this initial allure, however, and you will discover the park’s hidden past—one with a sizable impact on American history.

In 1942, soon after American entry into World War II, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area, now Catoctin Mountain Park, was selected as a training site for a new United States intelligence agency. This was the Office of Strategic Services, or the OSS, a precursor to the CIA that organized wartime planning and espionage. The park was selected because of three key factors: its closeness to the capital, its access to railways, and its seclusion from the public. Originally located at Camp Greentop, the OSS quickly moved in its personnel and equipment, separating their territory into five new areas for training and trainee life.

Even prior to the United States’ official entry into the war, Catoctin had long maintained a significant military presence. During the summer of 1941, the Lend-Lease Act called for American support of Allied powers financially and politically. As such, British soldiers came to Catoctin seeking shelter and respite while their ships were docked in Baltimore. They stayed at the camps of High Catoctin and Greentop, as well as the Bessie Darling House.

Later in 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the potential in the park’s land and converted the area now known as Camp David into a presidential retreat. In turn, the OSS stopped using some of its designated training areas in the CRDA in favor of those in Prince William Forest of Northern Virginia, where presidential security would not be an issue.

Nevertheless, training still went on in some parts of the CRDA. Trainees were stripped of their identities, given fake names and new clothes. They then learned basic military survival tactics, like how to avoid detection as a spy or militant. Kasey Clay, a veteran who served sixteen years with the United States Air Force and Army and a historian at Catoctin Mountain Park, describes the park’s further specifics. She says that OSS spies learned “condensed” skillsets. They were taught “how to blow up buildings, how to break and enter into houses, how to crack safes and [even how to] forge documents.” All were trained by the best in their fields—many of which came from prisons.

At a facility known as the “Trainazium,” personnel practiced their response to prisoner of war conditions. The course was intense, leading to frequent injuries, including the broken jaw of future CIA Director Wiliam Casey. This was built without permission of the park, using many park trees and leaving holes in their places, to the dismay of park superintendent Mike Williams.

After initial training was complete, trainees had to enter the ‘House of Horrors,’ a final testing area where their skills were assessed by their response to simulated war situations. Once they passed, they disappeared from the facilities entirely, with no word given to other trainees regarding their departure. If they failed, they were transferred to different locations to preserve the site’s secrecy. No current trainees knew about these tests; they were surprised with them when deemed ready.

The training of OSS operatives changed as World War II waged on. To help with the transition to different environments abroad, training centers were established in new locations that better matched wartime conditions. This limited the use of Catoctin to an initial-stage training facility. Additionally, the Marine Corps began to send marines to Catoctin to recover from the pangs of fighting abroad and to prepare for their next steps in the war effort. They lived and trained at Camp Misty Mount.

In 1947, two years after the end of World War II, the OSS transferred full use of Catoctin back to the National Park Service. The official OSS personnel files, however, were not released until 2008, leaving the history of the program defined solely by personal interviews and word of mouth. No official photographs of the training facilities were made public, save seldom training videos filmed for OSS use, making the history of the OSS at Catoctin all the more elusive. After World War II, trainees signed agreements ensuring that they would keep the events of their training secret. The impact of OSS training resided with trainees for long after the war. Psychological trauma and trust issues followed them, and fear for their own safety led many to live in secrecy for the rest of their lives.

The history of Catoctin Mountain National Park and its affiliation in World War II is still investigated today. Catoctin Mountain Park’s Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services Peggie Gaul says that the park is “working on a new exhibit for the visitor center” using assistance of Kasey Clay and other staff to help review documents. “Our hope is that people will get interested from the exhibit and want to do more research,” Gaul explains. “We want to better tell the history of the park.”

“History always matters because we can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been,” says Clay. “I think it’s really important for Catoctin Mountain Park and the people who love her because we get so lost in the big monuments [that we don’t realize] we’ve had a lot of stuff take place right here.” Clay wants people to walk the trails and see the history beneath their feet. She continues, “they can go ‘wow, somebody who walked the same trail was training to go fight, or became a prisoner, or was a Hollywood star.’ You can really connect to Catoctin that way.”

The beauty of Catoctin Mountain Park is that its roots run deep into the course of the past, and that there is more to discover with every visit. The role that the park played in wartime efforts is still being researched by the likes of Clay to help those who come to the park better understand the specifics of its role in American history. Clay loves the work she does and hopes that newcomers to the park can find the same novelty in discovery that she does every day. “After all,” Clay beams, “a bad day here is better than a good day anywhere else!”.


 An instructor teaching a shoot-from-the-hip technique, “Instinctive shooting” they called it.

Blowing up a structure during explosives training.

The OSS symbol at end of the OSS Ford training film.



Town to Start Relining Old Sewer Pipes

The Town of Emmitsburg has been noting a problem with wild water getting into the sewers (called inflow and infiltration [I&I]). Once the water is in the system, it winds up being treated for an estimated cost of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons. This covers the cost of chemicals, staff time, power, and wear and tear on the system. It has become a costly problem for the town, costing around $40,000 a month in May and June of this year to treat I&I.

“This year we’ve had a lot of precipitation, which will cause the I&I to spike and cause your costs to spike,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told the Emmitsburg Commissioners in September.

The commissioners approved an $80,575 bid from Mr. Rehab to begin relining sewer pipe on East Main Street and Creamery Road. The money will come from the town’s sewer fund. The process does not require digging or traffic control. Also, it is estimated to take only a week.

This should be the beginning of what is estimated to be a ten-year process to reline the old sewer pipes in town that cracked and are allowing in wild water.

It will work in conjunction with rehabbing the existing sewer pumping station to make it more efficient and allow it to handle more sewage. The commissioners approved seeking federal funds to begin the planning process to rehabilitate the old pumping station. The project could begin in two years if things move along smoothly. The relined pipe, new pumping station in Emmit Garden, and rehabilitated pumping station would work together to significantly reduce I&I problems, saving the town tens of thousands of dollars every year.


Welcome Letter Delayed

A welcome letter that would have been sent to new town residents has been delayed because the Emmitsburg Commissioners feared liability issues with some of the information in the letter. The letter lists certain businesses that new residents might need to know about, but it did not list all of the businesses in town. Some of the commissioners thought this might be suggesting favoritism to some business owners and might lead to problems.

Commission President Tim O’Donnell suggested having the Maryland Association of Counties review the letter for any possible ethics problems in the way the businesses are presented.


Community Legacy Grants Are Now Being Accepted

The Community Legacy Program is a partnership between Emmitsburg and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD provides a 50 percent grant for exterior façade and exterior improvements, while the property owner pays the other 50 percent. The maximum grant is $12,500 per property per fiscal year while money is available. If you are interested in applying for the grant, contact town staff at 301-600-6300 for more information.


Hunting and Emmitsburg Trail Use Information

Hunting on property owned by the Town of Emmitsburg is allowed Monday through Saturday only. There is no hunting on Sundays. While Maryland Department of Natural Resources allows permit hunting on certain Sundays in certain areas, none of the dates or areas apply to town-owned properties. The last day for hunting is May 23, 2019. Currently, the town trails can be used on Sundays only to ensure there is no hunting going on around them. All-week access will begin on May 24, 2019, after hunting season has ended.


Citizens Advisory Committee Appointments

Mark Walker was reappointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee for a two-year term beginning October 20. Brian and Melissa McKenney were appointed to the committee as new members. Their two-year terms began on September 4.


Closed Columbus Day

The Emmitsburg Town Office will be closed on Columbus Day, Monday, October 8.



Town Gets ADA Curb Update

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received an update on the ADA-compliant curb project that was undertaken this summer. This summer, forty-one ADA-compliant curbs and ramps were installed in twenty locations. Some of the locations include Frederick Road at Moser Road, Summit Avenue at Thurmont Middle School, Community Park at Frederick Road, the municipal parking lot, and Locust Drive at Apples Church Road.

This project cost $87,804, of which $84,000 was paid for with a Community Development Block Grant. With the project’s completion, all of the town’s major pedestrian crossings have been made ADA compliant in the last three years.


Town to Pave Weddle Alley

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the paving of Weddle Alley during a recent town meeting. The alley runs behind seven homes from North Carroll Street to Radio Lane.

“It’s our last gravel-based alley in town,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners.

The commissioners debated whether such a small alley was a priority. Mayor John Kinnaird pointed out that this was a project that had been talked about in the past and could be done now with Highway User Revenues. Other projects that were higher priorities were also much larger and would take multiple years of savings to pay for. The commissioners voted 4-1 to award the contract to Frederick County Paving for $27,900, with Commissioner Marty Burns dissenting.


Senior Center Carpeting to be Replaced

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation from the Thurmont Senior Center to award Peterson’s Carpeting in Frederick a contract to replace the carpeting in the Senior Center.

The contract is for $8,823.75 and will be paid for by Frederick County. Although Peterson’s bid was not the lowest, it included two items that the other didn’t. It came with a fifteen-year guarantee and included a microbial treatment. In addition, the town will have its cleaning service strip the wax and clean the tiles in the Thurmont Senior Center for an additional $573.


Town May Connect Thurmont Boulevard

The Town of Thurmont is looking at connecting two sections of Thurmont Boulevard and creating a through-road that would help ease some of the traffic problems in town. Mayor John Kinnaird said, “It would make traveling through town a whole lot easier for everyone.” Some studies would need to be conducted before any construction could begin, but the commissioners have directed town staff to get preliminary pricing on what each of the studies would cost.


Trolley Trail May be Expanded to Eyler Park and Catoctin Furnace

Thurmont town staff is looking to purchase a piece of property that would allow the Trolley Trail to continue to Catoctin Furnace. Meanwhile, another group is trying to secure a way to extend the other end of the trail to Eyler Road Park. The current trail is well used, and the extensions would make it more attractive to walkers and bike riders.

Halloween in the Park Seeking Volunteers

Thurmont’s annual Halloween in the Park will be held on Saturday, October 27 (rain date: November 3). Volunteers are needed to help with set up, children’s games, and scaring people. Contact Commissioner Wayne Hooper at 301-418-8641 or


Colorfest Traffic Changes

During Colorfest weekend, the Town of Thurmont is prohibiting vehicles to stop, stand, or park at any time on North Church Street and East Moser Road. The width of the roadways has been narrowed, causing a safety issue when vehicles are parked along the street. Vehicles, to include Emergency apparatuses, will not be able to pass freely and safely. State law prohibits vehicles from blocking any portion of a roadway and prohibits obstructing or hindering the free passage of another. The Thurmont Police Department has been directed to strictly enforce these restrictions.


New Police Officer Being Trained

Thurmont’s newest police officer, twenty-five-year-old Hailey Leishear, is currently in her seven-month-long training at the police academy in Carroll County. Once she graduates, she will then undergo ten weeks of field training before hitting the streets on her own as a Thurmont Police officer. She is one of two women and eleven sworn officers currently on the force.



Mayor Don Briggs

On Monday, October 8, 2018, the Seton Center will hold the 2018 Job Fair for Northern Frederick County at Mother Seton School, located at 100 Creamery Road in Emmitsburg. Please call the Seton Center for further information at 301-447-6102 x18. This is a great opportunity for those looking for a job and those businesses looking for people.

I cannot say it enough, congratulations to the Catoctin High School and Catoctin Youth Association fall sports teams; all the pre-season practices and scrimmages are paying off. Across the board, results attest to well coached and prepared teams that are taking the “field” and “court.” Congratulations.

As of this writing (mid-September), preparations are well underway for the 37th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, October 6-7, 2018. The weekend events are attended by approximately 6,000 visitors to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty during 2017 and previous years.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, Emmitsburg will have a William Cochran public artwork. The glass etching depicts firemen boarding a fire truck, setting out on an emergency run. Again, Mr. Cochran is best known for his interpretive painting on one of the bridges that span the City of Frederick Carroll Creek Linear Park. Through generous gifts, funds have been raised to construct a lighted case outside the Fire Museum, located on South Seton Avenue, to house the 9-feet-high by 15-feet-wide work. The hope is to have a groundbreaking at the museum Sunday afternoon after the Fallen Firefighters Memorial service.

It is, perhaps, the “hurry up and wait” acceptance that I, and many others, developed as a description of our service in the military that has helped me survive the town effort to complete the two electronic-vehicle charging-stations project. Now, we have been told, that it is only a right-of-way agreement from the power company that is holding up things, and the stations should be installed by no later then November 1.

Emmitsburg was recently honored as a recipient of the 2018 “Infrastructure & Large Project” Award by the Frederick County Department of Business and Economic Development. The award was in recognition of the town developing a 50 percent matching grant program for historic district property owners. To date, over $500,000 of improvements have been added to our downtown streetscape. The town has applied for more grant money for 2019.

Mark your calendar and follow up for details on the town and the Emmitsburg Lions Club websites for the Emmitsburg Annual Halloween Parade and Party at Vigilant Hose Company on Wednesday, October 31. The parade is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored is by the Lions Club and supported by most of the local businesses and civic organizations.

Thank you to incumbent commissioners O’Donnell and Sweeney for running again for the two open town commissioner seats.

Happy fall and stay dry.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Town of Thurmont is once again helping raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support. Through the ‘Gateway to the Cure’ program we are inviting residents and businesses to join us as we work together to fight this terrible disease. As in previous years, we are encouraging everyone to purchase a pink light bulb for your porch light and turn it on each evening in October as a sign of your support. The bulbs are $3.00 each and are available at Cousins Ace Hardware, Hobbs Hardware and the town office. The town office also has magnets, tote bags, t-shirts, vinyl clings, water bottles, and vo-tive candles. All proceeds from the sales of these items is added to our total donation. Local restaurants will be offering to make a donation to the Gateway to the Cure when you order certain items from their menu. If you like wine, please visit Catoctin Breeze Vineyard where $1.00 will be donated for each bottle of Mead purchased. Gateway Liquors will donate $1.00 for each bottle of pink wine sold, while Towne & Country Liquors will be donating $1.00 for each bottle of pink or red wine. Please help us by visiting participating businesses!  Last year the town donated $15,000.00 to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital, every dollar received goes toward research and patient care.

While we are talking about cancer, please be careful while you are outdoors and do not allow your children to get sunburned. Sunburn is a leading cause of skin cancer and you can reduce your chance of developing skin cancer by following these simple guidelines. Wear a hat while outside for extended periods of time, apply and reapply a good SPF sunscreen to exposed skin, wear long sleeves and long pants if you are outdoors working and do not allow your children to get sunburned. They will thank you later in life. Please remember that you can get sunburn even in cooler temperatures. Always wear protective clothing or sunscreen!

Colorfest is just a few days away and Thurmont will be ground zero for tens of thousands of visitors each day. Remember to apply for Colorfest permits if you are planning to hold a yard sale on Saturday or Sunday. A yard sale permit is required on those days only. Be sure to allow for extra time if you are running errands or driving through town during Colorfest. Remember that Water Street, South Center Street and Frederick Road will be closed to traffic both days. Street parking will be prohibited on many streets during Colorfest weekend, so be sure to check for no parking signs before you stop somewhere. Colorfest weekend represents the single biggest fundraising opportunity for many of our service organizations, churches, non-profits, Girl and Boy Scouts and many other groups. Why not get out and support them by stopping at their booths while you enjoy Colorfest weekend.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at if you have any question, comments or recommendations.

Trinity United Church of Christ, located at 101 E. Main Street in Thurmont, invites all Veterans and the general public to the 5th Annual Veterans Day Celebration and Luncheon on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., with music from 10:40 a.m. Luncheon to follow. All planning to attend, the public and Veterans, must RSVP to: or call 301-271-2655 by November 1, 2018, so that food can be planned and Veterans information be listed in Trinity UCC’s program.

Austin Fogle has earned the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout. Austin’s Eagle Scout project was to rebuild the outdoor chapel at Camp West-Mar, located off Route 77 near Foxville. With the help of Troop 1011 scouts and adult volunteers, the old walls were removed and new walls were built. Over a couple of weekends, the project took 460 volunteer hours to complete. Austin was inspired to take on this extensive project after a camping trip there, when he noticed caution tape affixed to trees keeping people from entering the chapel area. Having experienced his first scout camping trip at Camp West-Mar, this location held special meaning to him.

Austin has demonstrated leadership in a variety of roles, having served three terms as Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 1011; Vice Chapter Chief of the Order of the Arrow; Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of Jamboree Troop 1440; and Wilderness Pledge Guia at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Austin is a senior at Catoctin High School, where he has maintained perfect attendance and belongs to the National Honor Society, Frederick County Career and Technology Center Technical Honor Society, and is a Skills USA local competition winner in Carpentry. Austin is also a member of the Frederick Church of the Brethren, where he serves as greeter and usher.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations made by Frederick Brick Works, Robert W. Sheckles Inc., York Building Products, Barrick and Sons, and Federal Stone Industries Inc.

Did you know that the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend takes place every October in Emmitsburg? What a great honor to host this memorial in our community. This year, the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend takes place October 5, 6, and 7 on the grounds of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial at FEMA on S. Seton Aveneue. It is customary that the families of the firefighters who lost their lives in 2017, and before, across our nation come together to honor their loved ones.

In 2017, 103 firefighters – men and women who shared the same dedication to protect – lost their lives while fighting fires. Here are some ways we can honor them:

Red Helmets Ride – Observe, cheer on, or participate in the 20th Annual Red Helmets Ride on Saturday, October 6. Motorcyclists may participate in the police-escorted ride by departing from the Anne Arundel County Fire and Rescue Headquarters in Millersville, Maryland (Veterans Hwy near Benfield Blvd) beginning at 12:00 p.m. or from the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Department (79 West Frederick Street, Walkersville) leaving at 3:30 p.m. enroute to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg. The procession will ride through downtown Emmitsburg on the way to the campus.

No registration is required, just ride and show your support to the families of the Fallen Firefighters. Community members are encouraged to line the streets in downtown Emmitsburg to show support.

Attend the Candlelight and National Memorial Services – Both the Candlelight Service and National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service are open to the community. However, if weather or other factors prohibit holding the Candlelight Service outdoors at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, it will be limited to the families of the fallen firefighters due to indoor space limitations. The Memorial Service begins at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 7.

Lower your flag – Did you know that the law requires the American flag be lowered in tribute on only a few days each year? Quite appropriately, one of these days is the observance of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.

Sound your sirens – Should your agency wish to participate, on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at noon, many stations across the country will sound their sirens in honor of the fallen firefighters. Please notify your community ahead of time if you will join in this tradition.

Watch the Services Live – Live broadcasts and web streaming of both the Candlelight Service and the Memorial Service are available online at

Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters – Light up your firehouse, building, or suggest a landmark to light up in red from October 1-7, for Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters as part of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.

Participate in Bells Across America – Host or partner with others to hold a moment of remembrance any time during the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend for Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters.

The sound of a bell holds special significance for firefighters. Historically, the toll of a bell summoned members to the station, signaled the beginning of a shift, notified departments of a call for help, and indicated a call was completed and the unit had returned to the station.

Departments sounded a series of bells when a firefighter died in the line of duty to alert all members that a comrade had made the ultimate sacrifice. This time-honored tradition continues today during the funerals or memorial services for firefighters.

For the seventh year, bells will ring from coast to coast as a grateful nation pauses on Sunday, October 7, to honor those firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2017 and previous years. Fire departments and their places of worship will join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) for Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, part of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

For more information about these events, please visit

Frederick County’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources launched the FY18 Septic Rebate program on April 5, and it has proven to be very successful, with over 150 approved applicants within three months after the launch. The program’s early success would not have been possible without county outreach efforts, along with the support of the permitted septic haulers and the farm bureau, all working together to promote the program.

The FY19 Septic Pump-Out Rebate Program will again target homeowners with a septic system by offering the $75.00 rebate every five years. Rebates will be available for homeowners who have their septic systems pumped-out, beginning in 2018. The offer will continue until funds are no longer available.

A properly maintained septic system benefits property owners in several ways and will be less likely to break down and require costly repairs. Maintaining a septic system protects the home investment. When selling a home, the septic system must be in good working order. Maintaining a septic system also protects the groundwater and the drinking water supply.

Learn more about the Pump-Out Rebate Program or download an application at or contact Linda Williamson at 301-600-1741 or

On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, students in the Catoctin feeder district went “shopping” for free school supplies, thanks to generous donations from local churches, organizations, and the Stuff the Bus school supply drive. A total of 206 students, along with their families, gathered at Graceham Moravian Church in Thurmont for the annual Catoctin Community School Supply Program.

After selecting a brand new backpack, students went to the “store,” where they found hundreds of supplies, including folders and notebooks in nine different colors, stacks of binders and notebook paper, crayons, pens, pencils, rulers and more. Also, every student received a pair of headphones; middle and high school students were given USB drives.

Jen and Laura Harbaugh have been coordinating this event for ten years. They were joined this year by volunteers from Graceham Moravian Church, Harriet Chapel, CASS, and students in the Lewistown 4-H Club.