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Patricia Sanville, Frederick County Sheep Breeders Association President

The 2020 Frederick County Sheep Breeders Association held a virtual annual meeting this year to bring sheep breeders together in a safe manner. At the conclusion of the business meeting, President Patty Sanville moved onto new business, which included the presentation of the Shepherd of the Year award. The decision to give this award virtually, and whether or not that was less exciting or somehow less of an honor, was certainly considered. Ultimately, the board voted to honor this member at this time.

There were members who were still out there, sharing their time and talent whenever possible. These members consistently raised their hand to help with virtual events, with shows that were now different, with youth programs that needed to shift gears, and with brainstorming how things could be done safely in our new reality.

The challenges our industry faced this past year and continues to face going forward into the next are no match for this member.

These members signed up for several of the demonstrations we are involved in, both by bringing sheep and demonstrating fiber arts. Again, these events will eventually resume, and I am quite sure these members will again raise their hand.

The award was presented to Mary Ellen and Matt Clark of Thurmont. Both Matt and Mary Ellen grew up in agriculture and have never shied away from a hard day’s work. As a former 4-H member in Carroll County, Maryland, and now 4-H volunteer, Mary Ellen’s roots in agriculture and Matt’s work ethic were a match made in heaven. They were married in 2000, and very soon after, began planning for their own future in production agriculture.

Clark Family Farms consists of 300 acres of crop production, including corn, soybeans, wheat, straw, timothy, orchard grass, alfalfa, and now also a commercial sheep flock. The sheep flock was added in 2013, once their daughter, Caroline, now 14 years old, joined 4-H. Mary Ellen wanted her children to represent the third generation of agriculture in her family, so a 4-H animal project was a perfect way to accomplish this. The Saylor Family helped them get started as they navigated raising market lambs with great success. With the support of fellow breeders, the commercial flock now stands at more than 25 in the breeding program.

Once the family was comfortable with a meat flock, Caroline then became interested in a heritage breed, which was being raised by the Sanville Family. The intrigue of raising an animal, harvesting wool, and making her own yarn became her number one priority, and who could stop a child from learning this art form. The registered Leicester Longwool flock was started with a ewe named Patty, purchased from Carolann McConaughy of Stillpoint Farm. This ewe became the family’s prized animal and quickly multiplied into a flock of ten and growing. The fleeces of this breed are known for the beautiful luster and ease for hand-spinning.  As members of the Livestock Conservancy program, the family has been focused on breeding and exhibiting this rare heritage breed to promote its versatility to other sheep enthusiasts. Matt and Mary Ellen have expanded their business by preparing sheep pelts, handmade felted crafts, dryer balls, yarn, roving, and fleeces.

Over the years, this couple has promoted the education of their children by participating in and attending numerous programs. In addition to countless 4-H livestock judging, livestock skillathon, and entrepreneurship courses, they have attended FAMACHA classes, and the Twilight Tours hosted at the Western Maryland Research Center. This family has been focused on improving its business acumen through the many educational experiences available in the Maryland area. The children have become active sewers, exhibiting wool clothing at local, regional, and state events. The highlight of the year includes the MD Make It With Wool Contest, which three of the family members have entered annually. Preston commented, “If we could only get Dad to sew, well, that’s not going to happen!” This year, the family lambed over 16 ewes and raised the most market lambs since starting out, but did not take them to all of the shows as planned due to COVID-19. The ewes are bred again, and the family will start watching for lambs again in January. 

Mary Ellen is a board member of the Frederick County Sheep Breeders and is also employed by AstraZeneca, located in Frederick. In addition to managing several farms, Matt is employed as a sales manager for Devilbiss Construction in Frederick.

Congratulations to Mary Ellen and Matt Clark, Frederick County Sheep Breeders 2020 Shepherd of the Year.

Mary Ellen and Matt Clark of Thurmont awarded Frederick County Sheep Breeders 2020 Shepherd of the Year.

Courtesy Photo


by James Rada, Jr.

Public Hearing On Parks Requirement in Subdivisions This Month

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners will hold a public hearing during their January 4 meeting regarding changes to the town’s parks, recreation, and open-space requirement. The goal of the amendment is to make sure all residents have equal access to parks near where they live. Town Planner Zach Gulden said the rule of thumb from the county and state is that residents should be within half a mile from a park, so it is easy to walk to. All areas of town except for Pembrook, portions of Brookfield, and the section of town northeast of the U.S. 15/MD 140 intersection meet this goal. The amendment also seeks to balance when parks should be private versus public. The goal is not to place a burden to maintain a private park on a homeowner’s association when the park gets heavy usage from areas outside of the development.

Commissioners Approve CDBG Application

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a Community Development Block Grant application for $697,953.50 to replace 117 curb ramps at various locations throughout the Town of Emmitsburg for ADA compliance. Many of the older curb ramps are cracking and not ADA compliant, which raises liability issues to the town. The goal is to have the new ramps installed by April 2022.

New Salary Chart Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a new salary chart for the town based on an employee compensation analysis done earlier in 2020. The new chart moves from pay grades with step increases to pay grades with salary ranges. Employees will also now be assessed on a scale with a maximum score of 45. Employees receiving a score of 27 and above will receive a step increase annually if the funds are available.

Town to Review Water Restrictions

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the town commissioners that they would review the current phase 2 waters restriction after the holidays to see if adjustments needed to be made. She said during the December town meeting that Rainbow Lake was 2.8 feet below the spillway.

Regional Park Coming to Northern Frederick County

Mount St. Mary’s University sold more than 100 acres along Motters Station Road to Frederick County to be developed into a regional park. The park will have ball fields, night lighting, walking trails, tennis courts, and more. The goal is to eventually tie the park into the Mount’s sidewalk system, which would increase park usage.

Committee Appointments

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners appointed Stephen Starliper as an alternate member of the Board of Appeals from December 7, 2020, to December 7, 2023. They also reappointed Conrad Weaver, Tricia Sheppard, and Will Sheppard to the Citizens Advisory Committee from July 15, 2019, to July 15, 2021. Jennifer Joy and Mark Walker were reappointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee to serve from November 7, 2020, to November 7, 2022.


Town Wins Municipal Impact Award

During a recent Thurmont town meeting, Jodie Bollinger with the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, presented the town with a Frederick County Municipal Impact Award for Business Retention and Expansion. It is one of four Municipal Impact Awards the county presented this year. She said it was given for the town’s efforts to do everything it possibly can to support business in Thurmont. Mayor John Kinnaird said, “Main Street has been a real godsend to the Town of Thurmont, with grants we get, the opportunities, and the doors that have been opened with our Main Street designation.”

He also thanked Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder for her tenacity, spirit, hard work, and dedication for the town.

“It’s been a wonderful ride and a wonderful journey,” Grinder said.

Town Seeks to Create System for Determining Road Improvements

The Town of Thurmont conducted an initial survey to apply criteria and a scoring system to some of the roads in town to determine which ones are most in need of repair. While a step in the right direction, the new system does not take into account traffic on the roads. It strictly looks at the condition of the roads. So, while Mountain Road is the most in need of repair, it doesn’t have as much traffic as other roads that don’t need as much repair. One road that will definitely be repaved is Apples Church Road, from Main Street to the railroad crossing. This will cost about $70,000. Some roads can be patched to delay repaving until more funds are available.

The commissioners allocated $250,000, which includes Highway User Funds from the state, to be used to start making needed repairs on roads.

Town Considers Naming Bridges for Veterans

At the request of the American Legion, the Town of Thurmont is considering naming two of the town’s bridges for Thurmont Marines killed in action in Vietnam. Sgt. Woodrow Carbaugh was killed in Vietnam in 1968, and PFC Charles Pittinger was killed in 1969. Both of them were Thurmont High School graduates. The two bridges being considered are the Frederick Road bridge near Community Park and the Moser Road bridge near the library. The commissioners plan to discuss this further, but first they asked that the American Legion develop a set of criteria for how it determines which Veterans to consider naming bridges or stretches of road for and which Veterans should be considered for roads and bridges in the town.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently received the results of the annual review done of its finances by an independent auditor.

Town Issues Arbor Day Proclamation

The Town of Thurmont issued a proclamation recognizing Arbor Day. Thurmont has been a Tree City USA for four years. A group of town volunteers recently planted 20 new trees in Eyler Road Park, which brings the total of new trees planted in town over the past few years close to 500, according to Mayor John Kinnaird. “That is unbelievable, and this was, of course, sparked by our fear of losing so many trees at Community Park due to the Emerald Ash Borer,” he said.

Playgrounds to be Improved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a $40,000 to have Playground Specialists install new playground equipment in the Woodland Park Playground. Program Open Space fund will pay $30,000 of the bid, and the town will pay $10,000.

Playground Specialists was also awarded a bid for $13,726 to upgrade the equipment at the Ice Plant Park Playground. Program Open Space will also pay for 75 percent of the bid.


Mayor Don Briggs

Town Christmas decorations are up, and the town’s main streets stand dually adorned. To the broad sweep of the engineered virus a faint tribute, a mere tip of the hat, to all the traditional events we have forgone this past year. The pandemic, with certainty, jarred our routines. We have rubbed two sticks together to make another wonderful year here in Northern Frederick County. We have had to adjust to less, but less has come to be better in many respects. In part because of who we are and the way we live. To the overwhelming generosity of everyone living in our valley. Thank you. It has been the glue.

Somewhere amidst the strands of news coverage over the last weeks was the mention of a C.S. Lewis essay he wrote in 1948, regarding going on with life with the threat of the atomic bomb. Googling to find the essay, I saw where someone had the presence of mind, and connection to the breadth of Lewis’ writings, to suggest replacing “COVID-19 pandemic” in place of “atomic bomb.” Below is the Lewis essay. A year to remember, our stint in history.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“On Living in an Atomic

    Age” (1948) in Present

   Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

Safe outdoor exercising is a strong ally of social distancing. Wear your face mask. Enjoy our parks and connected town.

From Libby and I: We hope you had a Merry Christmas, and we wish you a Happy New Year. 2020 is behind us; now, by the grace of God, we are armed with several vaccines. Let us go on with our lives, our stockings full.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The year 2020 is now behind us, and I look forward to a much improved 2021. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I wish you a very Happy New Year and a healthy and happy year ahead.

The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed and should be broadly available to all of us in the coming months. With that in mind, I ask that all of us keep doing what we can to help stem the spread of this virus. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask when out in public and when in contact with others, keep at least six feet away from others whenever possible, and try not to gather in large groups. COVID-19 will continue to be a high health concern until the majority of our residents have been vaccinated.

As I first noted, I am looking forward to the year 2021 being a better year than 2020. It is my hope that all our friends and family stay safe, and that we move forward into the new year with an open mind and with an optimistic spirit.

Please call me at 301-606-9458 or email me with any questions or concerns you may have.

The Town of Thurmont has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program. Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach™.

“We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, president & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”

In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new jobs were created, and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.

“The benefits that we receive from being a nationally accredited Main Street program are a vital component of the critical services the Town of Thurmont provides to our community” stated Jim Humerick, chief administrative officer.  “We are proud to be a Main Street community since 2005 and equally proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far.”

The Town of Thurmont’s performance is evaluated by the State of Maryland Main Street under the Department of Community Housing and Development, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet ten rigorous performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.

Since Thurmont’s 2005 designation, the work of Thurmont Main Street has resulted in: $1 million in 57 private investment projects; $676,985 in 26 public improvement projects; 46 new businesses; 138 jobs created; 17,290 volunteer hours valued at $439,685; grants received $760,205.

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $85.43 billion in new public and private investment, generated 672,333 net new jobs and 150,079 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 295,348 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Valley of Blessings” Joins World in Celebration of Local Saint

Anita DiGregory

“Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is an American. All of us say this with special joy, and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of the saints. Elizabeth Ann Seton was wholly American! Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.”—Pope Paul VI, in his homily from the canonization of Elizabeth Ann Seton, September 14, 1975.

The first canonized saint born in America, Mother Seton (as she is still fondly known) remains a saint for our country, our world, and our times. A convert, wife, mother, and founder of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, the first community for religious women established in the United States, Mother Seton remains today a beacon of hope in a time of pandemic, isolation, and uncertainty. 

On January 4, 2021, the world will celebrate St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s feast day and the 200th anniversary of her death. Locally, the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will kick off a year-long celebration of this momentous anniversary with a commemorative Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Mass, scheduled for 11:30 a.m., will be aired live on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network). Father Ted Trinko will celebrate an additional Mass at 1:30 p.m. that day.

Lori, who at the time of Seton’s canonization was studying to become a priest at Mount St. Mary’s seminary, recalls the day Seton became a saint. He and his fellow seminarians helped the Sisters of Charity coordinate the celebrations in Emmitsburg.

“Looking back on it, I’m not sure that we were much help to the sisters,” joked Lori. “But, I certainly remember how happy we were, how excited we were that a saint, who so loved Emmitsburg and who so loved the grotto, and who knew our seminary, and was the first saint born in the United States…we were so excited about all these things unfolding before us.”

Mother Seton had a deep love for the Catoctin Mountains and Valley, referring to the area as the “Valley of Blessings.” It was here that she walked, and prayed, and served the community. It was in Emmitsburg, in the heart of the Catoctin Valley, where she founded St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, the first free Catholic school for girls staffed by sisters in the United States.  Here is where Mother Seton’s religious community flourished, and she wrote, “Our community increases very fast, and no doubt will do a great deal of good in the care of the sick and instruction of children, which is our chief business.”

The Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph inspired the formation of other communities across North America. Today, her legacy continues as the religious sisters of these communities serve the poor, assist the needy, care for the sick, and educate the young, just as Mother Seton did in countries throughout the world.

“Mother Seton sent sisters out across the country, who in turn have gone out across the world, and they’ve built hospitals and schools and orphanages—all of that came out of our community here,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “The first American-born person to be canonized as a saint, she’s a saint of the universal church, which of course is international—Emmitsburg’s own, so to speak, has an international footprint. That’s a reflection on the community, and they rightly should have a lot of pride in that recognition.”

Now, on this 200th anniversary, the town of Emmitsburg will join with the world to once again celebrate Mother Seton. In addition to the commemorative Masses, The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will be hosting a year-long celebration honoring this anniversary and “Two Centuries of Charity.”

On January 4, the Shrine will premiere the new and inspiring film, “Elizabeth Ann Seton:  Seeker to Saint.” Every Saturday throughout the winter, the Shrine will offer free tours of Mother Seton’s historic homes, in addition to exclusive, live virtual tours. They will offer a free, downloadable, spiritual biography, as well as a deep discount on Annabelle M. Melville’s book, Elizabeth Bayley Seton. The year-long celebration has a few surprises in store and promises some big news coming soon. More information on these upcoming events can be found at

The Shrine strives to continue Mother Seton’s legacy through prayer, community outreach and support, education, and programs. Some of their newest initiatives include creating a prayer line (where the public can call, and trained staff can offer prayer and outreach), the Seeds of Hope program (offering assistance and support to the community), virtual learning, pilgrimage, educational and spiritual podcasts, and tours that bring guests “back in time” (utilizing adult and junior history interpreters).

“Our goal is to foster devotion to Mother Seton, to continue her legacy, and to make sure that her work remains in the minds and hearts of all,” adds Judge. “This is more than the story of how Elizabeth Ann Seton became an American saint. It’s about a woman who changed the world, the lives she touched, and a legacy that lives on today. That’s why visitors of all backgrounds are drawn here, and why we welcome everyone to share in this celebration.”

James Rada, Jr.

A Gettysburg-based writers’ group has released its first anthology, Four Score & Seven Stories Ago.

Gettysburg is where President Abraham Lincoln gave his most famous speech. It is also where he wrote parts of the Gettysburg Address. The town and its history have inspired many other writers to express their feelings and dreams on paper, whether a nonfiction examination of the historic battle, a story of a restless spirit in town, or poetry about the people. Gettysburg has inspired many authors, including the members of the Gettysburg Writers Brigade.

The Brigade was organized in January 2010. Its mission is simple: A group of local writers willing to meet weekly to share and discuss the writing process, writing techniques, publishing, promotion, and marketing, and to help writers work through all these endeavors.

“We have 120 members, although, at any weekly meeting, attendance runs from 6 to 12. Our membership spans the gamut from novice writers with ideas for stories to published authors,” Brigade founder Will Hutchison wrote in the anthology acknowledgements.

Over the past ten years, the group has met over 500 times. The majority were held at O’Rorke’s Eatery and Spirits at 44 Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg. The group chooses the topic for each meeting. One member leads a discussion, whether it’s on writing technique, marketing, publishing, finding an agent, or something else.

Four Score & Seven Stories Ago is a collection of fiction and nonfiction about Gettysburg. Eleven talented members of the Gettysburg Writers Brigade created stories related to the most famous small town in America. Some of these stories include:

Sgt. Francis Cassidy and Cpl. Paddy Quinn have looked danger and death in the face while fighting with the Union Army. Their friendship and love of their fellow soldiers of the “Irish Volunteers” now takes them to the Battle of Gettysburg, where they must meet their destiny.

Nestled in the rows of flat grave markers in the Gettysburg National Cemetery lies a Veteran of World War II who may be one of the few that knows the true story of the Kennedy assassination.

The death of a father sends a Gettysburg family into crisis. Dark secrets from the past come back to complicate the life of a son struggling to help.

The small garden of her Gettysburg farm was often busy with guests, mostly the ghostly type, and then someone from Abigail’s past surfaced there… as she dug him up in her flower bed.

Hometown hero or traitor? One Civil War soldier’s views of life, family, and friends in Gettysburg, inspired by true events.

The anthology project began last August when a group member suggested the group publish an anthology as a way to put all the skills the group had been discussing over the years into practice and offer novice writers a chance to have a professionally published credit.

The members responded enthusiastically. Eleven members have pieces in the anthology (six are published for the first time). Catoctin Banner editor James Rada, Jr. wrote a story about an aging Veteran’s walk from southern Virginia to Gettysburg to die on the battlefield called, “Finishing the Charge.” Other members helped with different aspects of the project, such as editing, formatting, and marketing.

Within a few days of being published, the book hit the Top 10 in three categories and was the no. 1 new release in several.

Frederick resident Kerry Springle wrote a story called “Past Attentions” for the anthology. “Getting published was a dream come true,” she said.

Profits from the book’s sales are going to be donated to the Gettysburg Area Education Foundation, which supports children’s literacy. The book sells for $14.95. It is available on or from E Plus Graphics in Emmitsburg.

The group has already started planning to put out a second anthology sometime in 2021.

New members are welcome. The group meets weekly, although members aren’t required to attend all meetings. To be kept up-to-date on what the meeting topics will be and other information about the group, sign up for the Gettysburg Writers Brigade on

Blair Garrett

Children’s books provide immeasurable value to the development of ideas, morals, and creativity for a child’s growing mind.

Stories are the keys to unlock the imagination of a child, and they’re a great gift for a parent to be able to share.

Rocky Ridge-based author Fabiola Miller has published a children’s story of her very own, hoping to give that gift to as many children as possible.

Miller’s book, Playful Princess Panda, tells a story about a princess who rules over a kingdom and her evil sister’s jealous attempts to ruin the kingdom.

The book was originally derived from years of reading stories to her son to help him sleep. “When he was young, he used to have a hard time sleeping, so I used to read him bedtime stories,” Miller said. “When I ran out of bedtime stories that I knew, I started coming up with new bedtime stories.” Coming up with her own stories on the spot developed into lessons and teachings. “I decided to tell him stories that had a little bit more value,” she said.

Her son used to tell other relatives about the bedtime story, and Miller relayed that same story to her niece over and over.

“She would ask me to repeat the story, and after having to recall it so many times, I was inspired to write it on paper.”

Putting it to paper got the gears turning for Miller’s book, and it eventually led to its publication. “It was always in the back of my head, until one day when I could visualize the characters, their message, and how it needed to be told.” Miller’s revelation brought the book to life. Through the colorful illustrations and thoughtful dialogue between characters, the story was told.   

Miller’s Boston Terriers displayed a lot of different personalities throughout her son’s life, and those traits are on full display in the Playful Princess Panda.

The inspiration for the art and characters of the story has deep roots to her son’s childhood, and it was intended to help him connect better with the message of the book. “The characters are based on dogs we’ve had in the past,” Miller said. “Their personalities come off in the book.”

Though the use of familiar characters throughout her son’s life helps him relate to the book, the themes and message are meaningful for all, young and old.

“The book is meant to teach children the importance of kindness and thoughtfulness,” Miller said. “It’s about their attitude toward others and how it impacts them.”

The importance of kindness is often placed on children, but the lesson is transcendent for people of all ages, and in trying times like these, kindness from person to person is more needed than ever.

Instilling those positive values at a young age is the goal for Miller, and through personalized illustrations and unique storytelling, she is well on her way to achieving that goal. “I like to write books that could help children build character,” Miller said. Her immediate plans don’t have more books in the works just quite yet, but it’s a future goal down the line, and Miller always has more stories to tell.  

Miller’s book is available online in paperback and for digital download.

Playful Princess Panda features hand drawn illustrations and valuable positive themes.

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg’s annual Evening of Christmas Spirit had little spirit this year because of COVID-19.

About a dozen people were on hand for the lighting of the town Christmas tree in front of the Emmitsburg Community Center on the evening of December 7, 2020. Christmas music played during the brief event that usually draws a crowd and has local students singing carols.

Mayor Don Briggs thanked the small group for coming out. He acknowledged the problems that COVID has caused this year, and said, “Sometimes you’ve got to go with what you can.”

Briggs asked Dacosta Wivell, 12 years old, and the only child at the event, to assist him with the countdown. Then the pair flipped the switch, and the lights came on.

In the past, “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” at the Carriage House Inn has followed the tree-lighting ceremony. The event typically draws hundreds of people both inside and outside of the restaurant who come to enjoy free food, music, crafts, hayrides, and Santa’s visit.

None of that happened in December. For the first time in 32 years, it was canceled. State restrictions on restaurants and gatherings because of the virus forced the closure.

Mayor Don Briggs and Dacosta Wivell congratulate each other after lighting the town’s Christmas tree.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

On Sunday, December 6, 2020, the family of the late James E. “Jef” Fitzgerald, Sr., gathered at the Vigilant Hose Company’s (VHC) emergency services stationhouse at 25 West Main Street in Emmitsburg to dedicate the apparatus bay in his memory. Jef, a much-respected and well-known area resident, was instrumental in overseeing all aspects of the significantly expanded and enhanced VHC facility back in the decade of the 1990s. The activity included collateral efforts to plan for and acquire the community’s first aerial ladder truck, Tower 6.

Portions of the re-constructed and enhanced complex included dealing with sections dating back over 200 years.

Jef was a life-long dedicated VHC member, including having served for several years as VHC president. Jef passed at his home on January 10, 2013, minutes after arriving there from a work detail at the station.

Jef had also served for several years as president of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association. Over several decades, Jef assisted Emmitsburg Town Government Officials with assuring proper compliance to specifications and code mandates of a great many community constructions projects.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance at the December 6  event was limited. Thus, it is hoped that all who knew Jef will make it a point to view the permanent plaque on display along West Main Street on the exterior wall out front of where Tower 6 sits.

Plaque unveiling: With Jef Fitzgerald, Sr.’s family in attendance, VHC President Tom Ward (far right) unveils a commemorative plaque dedicating a portion of the Fire Station in memory of James E. “Jef” Fitzgerald, Sr.

Photo Courtesy of Vigilant Hose Company*Along with Jef’s photo, wording on the Commemorative Plaque reads: James E. “Jef” Fitzgerald, Sr., 1942–2013, a 55-Year Vigilant Hose Company Life Member. Dedicated in memory of his unselfish service and extraordinary commitment to the Emmitsburg Community, its Volunteer Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services organization, and the Citizens of Frederick County.

The Thurmont Lions Club is collecting much-needed items for its local homeless shelters: baby diapers, baby wipes, and adult white socks. You can drop off your donations at Hobb’s Hardware on 15 E. Main Street in Thurmont, and the McLean residence on 7 Geoley Court in Thurmont (there will be a container at the garage for items). The donation deadline is January 17, 2021. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

The Grinch visited Thurmont in the beginning of December to the surprise and delight of many onlookers. He could be seen at the square in Thurmont waving as people drove by.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird noticed that the Grinch “really  liked our Christmas tree, so I watched to make sure he didn’t try to take it!”

Many drivers looped around several times, so they could get multiple looks at the Grinch!

“I want to thank Mayor May who from Whoville for letting us know the Grinch would be in town. I also want to thank Jenn and Dave Lewis for making sure the Grinch found his way to the square, so everyone could see him, “ said John Kinnaird.

Photo Courtesy of John Kinnaird


Mayor Don Briggs

In the face of a larger second wave of COVID-19 cases, and with new restrictions, there was an individual “community” 5K walk-run Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day morning. It was not done in person. Thank you, Commissioners Burns and O’Donnell.

As of this writing, the 32nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Evening of Christmas Spirit will occur as planned. The Christmas Tree Lighting will be held on Monday, December 7, at 6:00 p.m. in front of the Community Center. The tree lighting will be followed by hayrides, seasonal inspiring music and song, and free hot chocolate and hot dogs at the Carriage House Inn. Please check our town website and our Facebook page for further details and updates on both events. Masks required.

We are asking you to do your best to conserve water. The town is in Phase 2 of its water conservation mandate that includes not washing cars or boats, etc. We have been blessed with some rainfall but are still below our optimum water supply levels at Rainbow Lake and town wells as established in 2011.

November 11 at 11:00 a.m., Commissioner Davis and I joined the American Legion VFW Honor Guard at several local sites in town for the annual observance to celebrate the end of WWII, Veterans of all wars, and those who gave their lives for our country. It is always a very moving and special experience. 

Rutter’s Convenience Store is now working on its last hurdle: a Maryland State Highway approval of entrance onto Route 140. The reality is close that construction will start at the first of the year. 

Ryan Homes’ model is complete, with final landscaping underway. Ryan Homes marketing is extraordinary. Homes for Emmitsburg will be marketed in all their projects in the area, as well as on-site.   

The town office is still closed to the public. The county-owned community center building continues to be closed to the public except for the Head Start program, which has a separate entrance to the building. 

Please get out and enjoy our wonderful parks and connected sidewalk system. Safe outdoor exercise is a strong ally of social distancing and wearing a face mask.

Libby and I wish each of you and your families the very best for the holidays.


Mayor John Kinnaird

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Karen and I spent the day at home, and we enjoyed a nice, quiet day together. I want to give a big shoutout to our streets, electric, and park crews for doing a fantastic job with our Christmas lighting and Christmas tree. If you haven’t had the opportunity to drive by or stop at Mechanicstown Square Park to admire the decorations, I invite you to do so. I also invite you to take a drive through the Community Park to see the decorations along the roadway. The Thurmont Lions Club has their Remembrance Tree set up at the corner of South Center Street and East Main Street. Be sure to stop and have a look at that tree as well. Seeing the decorations on the tree always brings back memories of those I knew. Christmas in Thurmont is a little different this year. We are not having the program downtown as we normally would. Santa will be available for virtual visits on Saturday, December 5; call 301-271-7313 to make a reservation. There will be prize drawings for kids, and the adults can once again participate in the map contest. Check the Thurmont Main Street Facebook page for all the details at 

The extremely popular Frederick County Society of Model Engineers (FCSME) Christmas Train Display will be set up in unit C2 at the Thurmont Plaza Shopping Center on North Church Street. The train display is always a lot of fun for kids of all ages! The display will be open Wednesday evenings, from 5:00-9:00 p.m.; Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., during the month of December. The display is free of charge, but donations to the FCSME are welcome. Everyone must wear a mask while in the train display; if you are not wearing a mask, you will be asked to leave.

Sadly, COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise. The Governor’s Orders require the wearing of face masks in all public locations, and we are encouraged to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others whenever possible. Wearing a mask may be a small inconvenience, but it helps protect you, your family members, your friends, and everyone else.

Christmas is almost here, and we will be visiting family and friends. A thoughtful and easy Christmas gift for all your family and friends is to wear your face mask! If you need a face mask, please call me. I have plenty of handmade face masks, made and donated by local residents. At this time, we should also think about our less fortunate neighbors and friends. A donation to the Thurmont Food Bank can help bring a more cheerful Christmas to many needy families.

One of my favorite things to do on Christmas Day is to watch A Christmas Carol; I especially like the 1938 version with Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge. Each of us knows an Ebenezer Scrooge, and we may have acted like him at some time. After all, we are only human and can sometimes let our thoughts make us blind to the needs of others or ourselves. I think the closing lines of A Christmas Carol are the best part of Charles Dickens wonderful story, “He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”

I can be reached at 303-606-9458 or by email at with any questions or concerns.

Karen and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Emmitsburg November 2020

For more information on the Town of Emmitsburg, visit or call 301-600-6300.

Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 7

The Town of Emmitsburg will hold its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on December 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the Community Center. Come enjoy music and carolers as Emmitsburg kicks off the Christmas season.

Addressing Traffic at the Square

The Maryland State Highway Administration made a presentation to the Emmitsburg Commissioners about possible ways to alleviate the traffic at the town square. The first solution looked at was alternating traffic on Main Street like it alternates at the light with Seton Avenue traffic. However, traffic on this road is much lighter than it is on Main Street. Trying to alternate Main Street traffic through the light would actually increase congestion at the square.

Sam DeLaurence with SHA said traffic “would look more like ski season.”

The state’s suggestion was to create turning lanes on Main Street. They would not hold up traffic and would actually improve safety at the intersection. The changes would not require construction, only some restriping of the road. The drawback is that seven existing parking spaces near the square would be lost, where the driving lanes would be increased.

DeLaurence said that as traffic increases with Emmitsburg’s growth, “At some point, we’re going to need to do something like this.”

The commissioners are now considering whether they will go forward with the recommendation or not.

Concern About Disk Golf

The new Emmitsburg disk golf course in Community Park has only been open a short time, but potential problems with the placement of some of the disk cages has been raised. At a recent town meeting, the commissioners discussed whether the flight path of the disks could potentially hit walkers on the paved path around the park. The town is going to take another look at the course. If changes need to be made, the town can make them quickly.

Water System Study

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners took steps toward building a new water plant in town and improving the town’s water capacity during its November meeting. The commissioners unanimously approved a bid of $25,000 from McCrone Engineering in Annapolis to conduct the preliminary engineering report and environmental report on the town’s water system. Although McCrone was not the cheapest bid, their bid included items that the cheapest bid did not, and the company has experience working with the town, Maryland Department of the Environment, and United States Department of Agriculture.

New Pump Station Financing

Although the United States Department of Agriculture is financing the Town of Emmitsburg’s new $2 million pumping station on Creamery Road, it won’t pay for the project until it is further along in the process. The town commissioners approved using CoBank to provide bridge funding for the project until the USDA begins paying for the project.

The commissioners also approved annexing two parcels on Creamery Road, making up 85.39 acres, for the wastewater treatment plant.

Salary Compensation

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners decided to start adjusting the pay scale for town employees based on the recent salary compensation analysis conducted in town. Since some of the adjustments are large, they will be made incrementally: 50 percent of the adjustment will be made on January 1, 2021, and 50 percent will be made on July 1, 2021. Town staff will also be looking for ways to fund the adjustment through unfilled positions and unused money in the budget.

Thurmont November 2020

For more information on the Town of Thurmont, visit or call 301-271-7313.

Toys for Tots Dropoff at Thurmont Town Office

Thurmont Scout Troop 270 is collecting Toys for Tots for Christmas 2020. The dropbox is located in the lobby of the Thurmont Town Office. Toys can be dropped off Mondays through Fridays, 8:00 a.m.-4 p.m., until December 7. 

Town Hiring Lobbyist to Get Solar Credit Help

The Town of Thurmont is teaming with other Maryland towns that have their own power companies to hire a lobbyist to push the town’s hopes of getting the same caps on their solar renewable energy credit costs as cooperatives in the state. Thurmont will share in the lobbyist costs up to $20,000 with Easton, Berlin, Williamsport, and Hagerstown. As the state’s requirements that more of its power come from renewable energy sources, the costs have skyrocketed, which could wind up costing Thurmont $250,000 to $320,000 more a year if something isn’t done.

Thurmont Police Department Teams Up with 7-Eleven for Operation Chill

The Thurmont Police Department is partnering with 7-Eleven and Slurpee for Operation Chill. The Operation Chill Program allows local law enforcement officers to reward children with free Slurpee coupons for observing safety rules, participating in positive activities, or performing good deeds or acts of kindness.

Town Amends Purchasing Ordinance

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners adjusted its purchasing ordinance so that it reflects the procedures that town staff have found work well. The major change is that the town is no longer required to advertise in newspapers for vehicle and mobile equipment purchases. The ordinance change needed to be made to comply with an exception found in last year’s town audit.

On Veterans Day 2020, Grace Eyler with The Catoctin Banner had the honor of joining the Hoke Family in the Church of Incarnation in Emmitsburg to honor our Veterans. Becky Hoke diligently rang the church’s bell for over three minutes while family helped by keeping a timer and prompting her pulls on the bell rope. The bell is rung annually at five minutes before 11:00 a.m. in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Becky’s father, Tom Hoke, recalled being 13 years old when his father had taken over as the ringer. Since then, the Hoke family has performed this tradition at this church for over one hundred years (except while Tom was in service in WWII, then Fred Wolf did it). Tom celebrated his 97th birthday in November!

Photo by Grace Eyler

Mr. Billy Hodge, Sr., former coach and teacher at Thurmont Middle and Catoctin High Schools, was honored at the Cascade American Legion on November 7, 2020, not only as an impactful teacher and coach, but also as a Korean War Veteran. The gathering focused on celebrating Mr. Hodge’s 90th birthday (November 8) and was also part of the Cascade American Legion’s Veteran Showcase, organized by member, Joan Fry.

His late wife, Helen, who taught fourth grade at Sabillasville Elementary School for many years, was honored as well.

Prior to the gathering, Facebook and The Catoctin Banner were used to communicate the occasion. On Facebook, Mr. Hodge was touted by Kim Miller Cromwell as a “Great teacher!”; by Helen Horton-Rice as, “A wonderful man.”; and by Evan Atkinson as, “A great teacher who was always very fair, honest, and very easy to respect.”

Visitors to the gathering brought birthday cards and gifts for Mr. Hodge and shared yearbooks and class photos for all to see. Several of Mr. Hodge’s peers attended, including former coach, teacher, and athletic director, Paul Nolan, and FCPS bus drivers Frank and Shirley Riffle, who traditionally drove CHS sports teams to away competitions.

Mr. Hodge is remembered fondly for teaching in a way that taught respect in a supportive way. He is notorious for asking pointedly blunt questions and assigning nicknames. The most widely-remembered is the assignment of “Bonehead” to a student when he or she was acting in an illogical way. Several of his children and grandchildren in attendance confirmed that he still uses that specific term of endearment. At the gathering, Mr. Hodge explained, “It just makes sense. I was teaching biology and science. The human skull is made of bone. We’re all boneheads.” Upon reflection, it seems that most of his students ended up using their boneheads to make sense of the task at hand, and they appreciated it.

Some of Mr. Hodge’s former students were impacted significantly by him. Beverly Hicks Little said, “He was the first teacher to tell me about Mitosis vs. Meiosis. He intrigued me to learn and do more. I am now a nurse… [in Florida] can someone please let him know how much he impacted me in fifth grade science class!”

Susan Clem Crone, former student and now educator at Thurmont Elementary said, “BONEHEAD! I still call people that!”

On Facebook, several children in the Lucey Family in Creagerstown chimed in. Kathaleen Lucey said, “I’ll reach out and send a card on behalf of my family…I hope he didn’t have to teach all seven of us. LOL.” Her sister Clare chimed in that she had him, and Kathaleen added, “He had six [of the seven Lucey children], I know that. I think of him whenever I call my kids dummy nuts.”

Cory Martin said, “I remember him calling me “Bonehead “ a few times. Lol,” and Jean Rippeon added, “He was one of my favorite teachers in the middle school. He used to call me ‘Elmer.’” I asked him, “Why do you call me Elmer?” He replied, “Because you are always coming to me saying I’m stuck!”

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hodge! Thank you for your service!

Thanks to all who attended this event. Stay tuned for upcoming events to honor our local Veterans at Cascade American Legion.

Courtesy Photos

Pictured from left, former CHS coach, teacher, and athletic director, Paul Nolan, looks at yearbooks with Mr. Billy Hodge, former Thurmont Elementary and Thurmont Middle School teacher and CHS coach, while Shirley and Frank Riffle, retired FCPS school bus drivers, look on.

Mr. Hodge’s 6th Grade Class, Thurmont Elementary School, 1973.

Vickie Grinder

In November, the Town of Thurmont presented Patty Hurwitz from the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Health a check for $15,300 from the 7th Annual Gateway To The Cure Campaign!

The Gateway To The Cure included a 5K, Golf Tournament, purchasing pinwheels for our Garden of Love, a Pink Pumpkin contest, selling Gateway To The Cure merchandise, receiving private donations from residents, and selling pink light bulbs.

Last but not least, comes the backbone of our Gateway To The Cure Campaign: Our businesses! In a year of such uncertainty, with business shutdowns and many still operating in very limited capacities, these businesses are a guiding light and show the power, strength, and innovation of small businesses.

Our donation was, to say the least, phenomenal in a year where many of our funding avenues were prohibited due to restrictions that generated several thousand dollars last year.

Every single person who made some type of support along our Gateway To The Cure journey, “Thank You!” Your contribution was not just a donation but directly affects the lives of those undergoing treatment for breast cancer for the hope of a better tomorrow with the state-of-the-art treatment, care, and support at Frederick Health via the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund.

Thanks to you, the Town of Thurmont has donated a little over $98,000 in seven years to the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Health.

For more information on the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund, visit

On behalf of the Town of Thurmont and Patty Hurwitz, our heart-filled thanks go out to each and every one of you for your contribution!

 The month of October Gateway To The Cure Campaign business supporters: Amber Hill Physical Therapy; Bakers Tree Service; Bollingers Restaurant; Catoctin Veterinary Clinic; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard; Cousins Ace Hardware; Gateway Candyland; Gateway Liquors; Gateway Orthodontics; Hawkins Landscaping; Hobbs Hardware; Images Of You Hair Studio; J&B Real Estate; Kelco Plumbing & Backhoe Services; Legacy Financial; Mountain Gate Family Restaurant; Pondscapes; Rebecca LaChance Artistic Portraits; Rocky’s NY Pizza & Italian Restaurant; Roy Rogers; Scentsy–Traci Solich Independent Consultant; Seven Dragonflies Studio; Town & Country Liquors; Thurmont Bar & Grill; Thurmont Child Care; Thurmont Kountry Kitchen; Thurmont Lions Club; Timeless Trends Boutique; Tracie’s House Of Hair; Wait, What? Sauce Company; Woodsboro Bank. Gateway To the Cure 2nd Annual Golf Classic Donors: Pink Ball Top Tier Sponsors—Colonial Jewelers, Emmitsburg News Journal, J&B Real Estate, Kelco Plumbing, Stauffer Funeral Home, Thurmont Ambulance Company, Woodsboro Bank, Mountain View Lawn Service, Jubilee Foods in Emmitsburg; Hole Sponsors—Affordable Storage; Baker Tree Services; Dick & Elizabeth Lee; G&S Electric; Guardian Hose Company; Lewistown Ruritan; Mikes Auto Body; Pondscapes; Rebecca Pearl Gallery; R.S. Kinnaird Memorials; Shank & Associates; Smoketown Brewery Station; The Farmhouse Exchange; Thurmont American Legion Post 168; Thurmont AMVETS Post #7; Thurmont Kountry Kitchen; Town of Thurmont; Wait, What? Sauce Company; Prize drawing donations—Beaver Creek Country Club; South Mountain Golf Course; Wegman’s; Costco; ThorpeWood; Yemi; McClintock Distilling; Top Golf; Mindful Focus Photography; Wait, What? Sauce; Nicole Lutrell; Warehouse Cinemas; Rebecca Pearl Gallery; Weis Markets.

Pictured from left are Thurmont Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Bill Buehrer, Mayor John Kinnaird, Thurmont Commissioners Marty Burns and Wes Hamrick, and Patty Hurwitz.

James Rada Jr.

It’s 1818, and a shipment of straw bonnets has just arrived at Sis. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s free school in Emmitsburg. The young girls sit in their school room decorating their bonnets with ribbon as they talk about their lives, whether she is a daughter of a farming family in town or the granddaughter of one of the wealthiest men in the country.

The 1818 Experience at the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg is a living history experience at the Stone Farmhouse and White House on the grounds.

At the 1750 farmhouse, you meet living history interpreters, portraying Sisters Sally Thompson and Bridgette Farrow, who take you on a tour of the first permanent home in Emmitsburg for Seton and her sisters. They show you where the small home was added onto and the room where Seton slept and the first small chapel for the sisters.

It was also in this house that Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s on July 31, 1809.

At the White House, a class of young girls is comprised of girls from town families and those who are boarding at the school. This is the building where the first free Catholic school for girls was founded, and it eventually grew into St. Joseph’s College.

An interpreter portraying Sis. Elizabeth explained that many of the boarders came from cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore because Mother Seton had “connections” in those cities.

“They knew their daughters could get a good education here and good skills needed to start a household,” Sis. Elizabeth said.

The 1818 Experience also allows you to watch the girls have fun with outdoor activities and take French lessons.

“Everything we can control, we try to keep period,” said Claire Bodine, group visits coordinator at the Seton Shrine.

The program makes uses of the junior history interpreters, a relatively new program at the shrine that trains youth in living history.

“They take workshops and classes to learn why what they do is important,” explained Bodine. “They also do instructional shadowing with experienced interpreters to learn how it is done.”

Bernadette Hahn, age 10, plays Catherine Walters, a student at the school. When her mom first signed her up for the program, all she knew was it had something to do with history. Now, after learning more about Walters and playing her during living history activities, Bernadette said, “I love it.”

Although the program chose a bad year because it had to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, it will be returning in the spring. The living history interpreters will be participating in the Candlelight Tours this month from December 11-19. These tours will take you into the homes on the grounds that are decorating for the holidays during the early 1800s. Visitors will learn about the Christmas traditions from Mother Seton’s time and can partake in hands-on activities.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

Junior history interpreters get ready to play students at the White House at the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg.

Living history interpreters play sisters Sally Thompson and Bridgette Farrow at the Stone House at the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg.

When there’s a shortage of good news, local Lewistown neighbors come together to do some good. Driving along Hessong Bridge Road, you may have noticed that the Lewistown Ruritan Club sign got a bit of a facelift. Erik Legg, of Meadowland Agricultural Farm, donated his time to make the sign stand out. Adding evergreen holly bushes, deer-resistant salvia, native Black-eyed Susans, and all-season liriope, he wanted to call attention to “this special group of people in the community.” He added, “We have a great town, and we should take pride in it.”

Founded in 1960, the Lewistown Ruritan Club aims to achieve fellowship, goodwill, and community service. Overseen by President Gregg Warner, the club proudly carries on its 60-year-old tradition of doing positive things in the community. Together, members work to improve areas of business and professionalism, patriotism and citizenship, environment, public service, and social development.  

Members survey the needs of the community and decide where they can best lend a hand. This year, the club had to adjust to the COVID-19 regulations, holding only four of the traditional six chicken BBQs, which started in May and went through October. The BBQ’s were well-attended by the community. With the funds raised, the club could financially assist with other local non-profit and community needs. From contributing to local food banks, supporting 4-H, awarding scholarships to local teens, and helping the elderly and infirm, the Lewistown Ruritans help make the community stronger, even in the face of tough times. 

“COVID-19 has shifted some things around,” Warner said. “We need to wait to see which events will actually take place before we can commit to helping fund them; however, we know there are plenty of opportunities to help.” While not an official club member [yet], Legg believes, in addition to local organizations, such as the Lewistown Ruritans, volunteerism is a great way to make the world a better place. “If we aren’t willing to help out on a very local level—in our own homes, our own towns, churches, schools, and so on—how can we expect to positively impact society?” It might have been a small thing to add perennials to a road sign, but maybe a little splash of color these days can go a long way.

If you are interested in getting involved to make a difference, consider joining the Lewistown Ruritan Club. Members meet monthly on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewistown United Methodist Church. To request your membership application or to learn more about the benefits of joining, contact Gregg Warner via email at

Courtesy Photo

Gregg Warner (left) and Erik Legg stand by the newly renovated Lewistown Ruritan Club sign on Hessong Bridge Road.

Congratulations to Bill Powell of Thurmont. Bill was inducted into the Angus Heritage Foundation on November 8, 2020, during the American Angus Association’s Awards Recognition Dinner, at the 137th Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Angus Heritage Foundation recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the Angus breed and Association programs.

Photo by Karen Hiltbrand, American Angus Association Pictured from left are Chuck Grove, American Angus Association treasurer; Eva Hinrichsen, 2020 Miss American Angus, presenting; Don Trimmer, accepting for Bill; and Mark McCully, American Angus Association CEO, presenting

George Tuggle, Emmitsburg Council of Churches Secretary

When a town comes together for a celebration, it has to be something important. Most often, we celebrate a national or religious holiday. On October 4, 2020, Emmitsburg came together to celebrate its unity in loving all persons regardless of race. Sponsored by the Emmitsburg Council of Churches (ECC), the celebration featured guest speakers, Christian music, Bible readings, and fellowship.

The beautiful fall day accentuated the presence of persons coming together expressing their belief in God, who loves all humanity. Not just our family, our tribe, our race, but all families, tribes, and races.

Guest speakers, Pastor Ron Reaves and Rev. Joseph A. Donnella, spoke wise words about the equality that all alike enjoy through our loving Savior Jesus Christ. Such equality exists through the eternal love of our heavenly Father and the help of the Holy Spirit. There is no room for racism in the Kingdom of God.

Before and after the speakers’ messages, musical groups, CCC Praise Team and 4th Sunday, lifted up those gathered with Christian praises.

Attendees included Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs; Mount St. Mary’s University President Timothy E. Trainor; Rev. Bill Gohl, Bishop of the Delaware Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Rev. Harry Arnone, Associate Pastor, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

The gathering was blessed by members of the ECC who participated and helped organize the Unity Celebration: Pastor Jon Greenstone, Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church; Pastor John Talcott, Christ’s Community Church; Phyllis Kelly, ECC vice president, Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church (UMC); Sr. Anne Marie Lamoureux, National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; Bill Wivell, ECC president, Trinity UMC; Pastor Richard Baker, Trinity UMC.

The Unity Celebration emphasized how Christians of all denominations are one in their love of persons regardless of race, and how Emmitsburg is a welcoming community.

Courtesy Photo Submitted by Bill Wivell, Emmitsburg Council of Churches president, and Phyllis Kelly, Emmitsburg Council of Churches vice president

Musical group, 4th Sunday, entertains and lifts up those gathered at the 2020 Emmitsburg “Unity Celebration.”

The Thurmont Food Bank is grateful to the community, especially to the Town of Thurmont, for all the generosity and support of the Thurmont Food Bank.

Your help has been especially important this year due to the pandemic; loss of jobs, income, and housing; and because children are not receiving food at school. Each month, the food bank has given out 200-320 shopping carts full of much-needed food, including milk, eggs, meats, produce, bread, and canned and boxed goods. You have helped to feed people from Thurmont, Sabillasville, Cascade, Lewistown, Deerfield, Rocky Ridge, Mountaindale, Utica, Creagerstown, Graceham, Foxville, and the surrounding areas.

The Food Bank is a labor of love, sponsored by The Thurmont Ministerium’s member churches and supported by community groups, individuals, and the Town of Thurmont. 

If you know someone who needs food, please tell them to come to the Thurmont Food Bank, located at 10 Frederick Road, on Tuesdays (5:00-7:30 p.m.) and Fridays (4:00-6:00 p.m.). Please do not arrive more than half an hour before they are open, and enter using the driveway across from the Post Office.

Christmas hams or turkeys will be given out starting on December 8. The food bank will be closed on December 25 and January 1.

Please Join the Thurmont Lions Club on National Wreaths Across America Day on December 19, 2020.

The Thurmont Lions Club is coming together to remember the fallen, to honor those who serve and their families, and to teach the next generation about the value of freedom, by participating in National Wreaths Across America Day. The club is sponsoring and laying wreaths at the graves of over 400 Veterans. The club is asking the Thurmont community to come out and help, as many volunteers are needed for the endeavor. 

A memorial service will begin at noon at Weller United Methodist Church, followed immediately by the laying of the wreaths. The club is also accepting monetary donations to help with the costs of the wreaths.

Lion Susan Smith is coordinating volunteers and requests to attend to a certain grave. Please contact her at 240-405-8482

The Emmitsburg Food Bank’s hours are Monday through Wednesday, from  7:00-8:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 10:00-11:00 a.m. The food bank is located at 130 S. Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

They appreciate all donations and can use most anything currently. Individuals and organizations can donate monetarily. The address to mail a check of support to is: Emmitsburg Food Bank, P.O. Box 898, Emmitsburg, MD 21727-0898.

For more information on the Emmitsburg Food Bank, please contact Phyllis Kelly at 717-642-6963 or