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Catoctin Mountain rose from a primordial lake to heights taller than Mount Everest. As time wore it away, many of its secrets were lost with its dwindling peaks. In the era of man, though, its history has been better preserved, although it still holds onto its secrets.

In his new book, Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Frederick & Loudoun Counties, James Rada, Jr. (Catoctin Banner contributor/editor) tells the stories of Catoctin Mountain, its people, and places.

Residents of Northern Frederick County treasure their association with the mountain, but it actually runs south from Thurmont until nearly reaching Leesburg, Virginia. The more than two dozen stories in the book take place all along Catoctin Mountain.

You can hunt for the snallygaster and dwayyo, legendary monsters that roam the mountain ridges.

Discover what it took to become a spy at the secret OSS training camp on the mountain.

Search for a forgotten gold mine in the foothills of Catoctin Mountain.

These are just a few of the stories included in Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, telling the tales of ordinary people living their lives under unusual conditions at times. Taken together, they paint a picture of the character of the people who live on and around Catoctin Mountain, whether they are from Maryland or Virginia.

“These are stories that caught my attention in one way or another,” Rada said. “They aren’t the types of stories you find in history books about the county, but they are part of the area’s past.”

Rada considers “secrets” in this book as stories that aren’t widely known. He gave as an example a presentation he recently did at the Garrett County Historical Society about his book Secrets of Garrett County. He told the audience about a half a dozen of the “secrets” from the book.

“Before each one, I would ask, ‘Who has heard of…’ and say the secret. I thought that I would be preaching to the choir, and the group would know even more about the stories I was telling than I did. Most of the group had only heard about two of them,” Rada explained. “They’re the type of stories I look for, interesting, but not well-known.”

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain contains sixty-four black and white photographs and illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

“I love writing about history,” Rada said. “I love finding interesting and unusual stories about people and places, and I haven’t come across an area that doesn’t have plenty of these stories.”

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain is the second in a new series of books that Rada is writing about regional topics. The first, Secrets of Garrett County, was released earlier this year.

James Rada, Jr. is an award-winning writer whom the Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” Small Press Bookwatch said that Rada’s coal-mining book, Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town, was “highly recommended.” He has two dozen writing awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, Maryland State Teachers Association, and Utah Ad Federation.

Rada has been writing about history for nearly twenty years and still finds it fascinating and new.

“History is not boring. It’s full of love, adventure, comedy, and mysteries that still aren’t solved to this day. It’s those types of stories I like to write, and I believe I’ve pulled together a great collection of them for this book,” Rada said.

Rada is the author of twenty books, most history and historical fiction. His articles have been published in magazines like The History Channel Magazine, Boy’s Life, and Frederick Magazine. He also writes five local history columns for The Republican, the Cumberland Times-News, the Gettysburg Times, The York Dispatch, as well as The Catoctin Banner.

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Frederick & Loudoun Counties retails for $19.95 and is available at the E Plus Graphics, Printing, & Promotions store in Emmitsburg, at online retailers, or on his website at

Poet and novelist, Mark Greathouse, will be the featured writer for “Catoctin Voices” Evening of Poetry at The Creeger House in Thurmont on April 21, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. Open mic precedes his presentation, so poets of all ages are invited to share up to three of their favorite or original poems.

This author and poet continues to express his passion for writing, as he seeks to share a revealing cross-section of his own life through poetry.  His soon-to-be-published Life Unfettered represents his own life catharsis, as he humbly presents his poetry to readers and shares the vulnerability that accompanies such personal offerings. Greathouse regularly offers his original poetry at monthly gatherings of the “Catoctin Voices” in Thurmont, and at First Friday Poetry in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, he had poems published in the Gettysburg Poetry Society’s anthology, Almost Time Enough.

Greathouse created his first “serious” poem in 1957 at age fourteen. At the time, he saw it as an expression of the deep feelings he was having about evil and its repercussions. He has always enjoyed the arts—especially poetry—as an expression of his emotions, invariably cathartic. He sees poetry as an expression of personal vulnerability and thus views poetry as sharing pieces of his very soul.

A must-see documentary film by Leonardo DiCaprio, Before The Flood, will be shown at Thurmont Regional Library on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. It is an excellent documentary about the many problems our planet and all its life forms are presently enduring because of pollution. DiCaprio has dedicated his life to speaking out for healthy changes that we can make in order to stop the degeneration of our water, land, and air. The visuals speak for themselves; so if you want to see a powerful film that speaks to your heart, then please come out to the library on April 8. There is no cost, and popcorn and juice will be provided!

That same day, starting at 11:00 a.m., the Thurmont Green Team is holding a stream clean-up and water quality testing in the Community Park in Thurmont. All ages are encouraged to come to this educational and fun event. Afterwards, you can jog on over to the library to see the film!

Thurmont’s Main Street Center, located at 11 Main Street, will host a second showing of this amazing film on May 20, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.

To get more information about Before The Flood, you can Google it. Once again, admission is free. The Earth is a gift and a treasure, which we all need to take care of the best we can.

The story of Frederick County’s heroin crisis will soon be shown on the big screen in a documentary film, being produced by Emmitsburg, filmmaker, Conrad Weaver.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic has devastated hundreds of families, individuals, and businesses all across our county. We see it in the news nearly every day, and it’s easy to think that it’s someone else’s problem. We think that it’s a Frederick or Baltimore issue. It’s not! It’s in our neighborhoods. My neighborhood. My small town. It’s our community’s problem, and we must work together to solve it. I couldn’t simply stand by and watch; I had to get involved. That’s why I’m making this film,” said Weaver.

The film is being called Heroin’s Grip and will tell the story from a variety of angles. Weaver intends to interview current addicts, healthcare and mental health workers, officials from the law enforcement community, as well as families whose lives have been shattered by heroin and opioid addiction.

“We need more documentary films like this so that you become a part of the solution,” said Charlie Smith, State’s Attorney in Frederick. Smith was interviewed for the film to include his perspective on the epidemic.

Filming began in early February and will continue through the spring months. Weaver hopes to complete production by early September in order to submit the project to a number of major film festivals around the country. He plans on releasing a DVD version, along with educational materials related to the film sometime in 2018.

Weaver is not working on this alone. He’s recruited Caressa Flannery, a Frederick entrepreneur and mother of a heroin addict who’s in recovery. Together, they have partnered with the Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, who will help manage the fundraising efforts for the film.

Weaver is launching a Crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to raise money for the production of the film. Interested donors should visit the film’s website at www.HeroinsGrip.com for more information.

Weaver is an award-winning filmmaker. Most recently, he received a Mid-America Regional EMMY© Award for his 2014 documentary, The Great American Wheat Harvest.

Maryland film producer, Conrad Weaver, and a collaboration of award-winning film makers, have launched a crowd-funding campaign on IndieGoGo.com to raise development funds for a new film project called Scars of an Orphan. The film will tell the true story of Diana Prykhodko, a young orphan girl who survived—yes, even thrived—against insurmountable odds. Fleeing the wrath of her abusive mother, Diana took to life on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine. But through a series of unlikely events and encounters with loving people, she discovered a very different identity. Scars of an Orphan will tell her remarkable story.

Weaver and his team hope to raise $25,000 in order to launch the film project and enable them to begin the process of writing the script and developing the business plan and marketing for the movie. “People need to see this story. That’s why we’re asking generous donors to partner with us by making a contribution!  It’s the most important film project I’ve ever worked on; the film will shock you, inspire you, and motivate you to help orphans around the world.” Weaver and his team believe Diana’s story will help shed light on the plight of orphans in Ukraine and around the world, and they have committed to donate a portion of the profits from the film to organizations who help orphans.

The film was inspired after Weaver attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Orlando, Florida, where Diana told her unbelievable life story to an audience of orphan advocates. Following her talk, Weaver spoke with Diana about the possibility of making a film based on her story, and has since signed a story-rights agreement with her.

Weaver has partnered with a couple of award-winning production companies to make the film: Panama-based Seedling Media Productions, and Star Wipe Films based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “We plan on casting actors from the United States and Ukraine to make this a truly international film. Our goal is to produce a movie that garners national and international attention in order to see worldwide theatrical distribution. This is a story that simply must be told,” said Weaver. He hopes to begin production in the fall of 2017.

The IndieGoGo campaign was launched on November 13 and will run for a month. You can visit the campaign page at https://igg.me/at/scarsofanorphan. Weaver is the executive producer on the film project and can be reached for comment, interviews, and other media inquiries at 301-606-7794, or via email at conrad@conjostudios.com.

2dsc_3149Deb Spalding

Sabillasville resident, Christine Maccabee (pictured right), has been a volunteer at Frederick Memorial Hospital (FMH) since 2012. In that role, she plays a baby grand piano on Wednesdays for a couple of hours. She first encountered the piano in the lobby of the hospital when she went there for one year after an accident, which had damaged her right arm. For close to a year, she had to discontinue playing her guitar and organ for churches. “This was a very depressing time for me, until I found the FMH piano. Its tone and light touch was a perfect match for me,” and it was therapy for her injured arm. She also discovered that her music was a gift for people waiting there in the lobby.

The piano was a gift to the hospital from Jeff and Patty Hurwitz, and set up to be a player piano. However, “It is a wonderful instrument to play on by a real human being.” She feels that the hospital is a perfect place to share her music because, “music is a healer.” Patrons and visitors often thank her for her music, and once, a father and young daughter began dancing together to an Irish waltz she was playing!

Christine is proud to be releasing her third CD of music entitled Love at First Touch recorded live at FMH by her son Ashley Maccabee. Her original song, “Love at First Touch” was inspired by the love she felt when first playing the baby grand in the lobby of FMH. The words and music for the song came within a half hour. She said, “It was meant to be.”

Christine also wrote the second song on the CD called, “Forgive Me For Loving You”—about a man, not a piano! The remainder of the music on the CD are various versions of twenty-two songs from the 1920s through 1070s, songs like “It Had to be You,” “Memphis Blues,” “Yesterday” (Beatles), and “What the World Needs Now” (is Love Sweet Love). The $15.00 CD is available at E Plus Copy Center or by email at songbirdschant@gmail.com.

Christine had created two earlier CDs of original songs, “Songpoems from the Heart of a Naturalist” and “Winter Wait.” “Songpoems” was recorded before a live audience at Apple’s Church in 2002. “Winter Wait” was recorded live in her living room. “These are both very personal CD’s, with songs I didn’t want to take with me, if you know what I mean…” They include a mixture of music on piano, guitar, and vocals, many expressing her deep love of  nature.

Christine has been studying and playing piano since she was just four years old. She was raised south of Baltimore in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. She claims that her mother couldn’t keep her out of the woods behind her house. The first song on her first CD is called “Child’s Song.” It was inspired by her adventures as a child in the woods. Her love of nature drove her to become a naturalist, but she’s a trained musician and artist as well. Christine graduated from Hood College with a B.A. in Music. In her twenties, she sang in the Verdi Requiem Mass as soprano soloist and did roles in Mozart operas at Frostburg State College, all while being inspired to write her many folk songs.

Christine has taught private piano, voice, and guitar in this area for twenty years, while always very busy with environmental things and being a mother of three. At heart, she said, she “was always out climbing trees and experiencing the glory of the natural world.” It would be impossible to separate that love from her music!