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Mary Ellen Clark

Each year, the Frederick County Sheep Breeders look back at the year in reflection during its annual meeting, which was held in December 2023. They use this time to take note of their successes, as well as what they would like to improve for its members and community going forward. During this annual meeting, they reviewed the financial statement, functional reports, 2024 schedule of events, and elected a new officer team.

Outgoing President Mary Ellen Clark led the meeting by greeting attendees and managing the agenda. A presentation was provided by Liam Forrest of the Tom James Company on fiber and clothing production in the United States. The attendees appreciated learning more about the organization and the continued demand for wool fabrics. The new officer team consists of President Kristan Latham of Thurmont, Vice President Charlotte Dutton of Frederick, Treasurer Mary Ellen Clark of Thurmont, and Secretary Kelly Neff of Sabillasville. The newly elected directors include Rhiannon Huscha of Keedysville, Patricia Sanville of Frederick, and Dahl Drenning of Woodsboro.

As part of this reflection, the Frederick County Sheep Breeders also like to acknowledge the contribution of the members to each other, the Frederick County area, and beyond. They honor this with the Shepherd of the Year Award.

The recipient of the 2023 Frederick County Shepherd of the Year went to Dahl Drenning of Lock’s View Farm. The year 2023 was very busy for his farm, not only with the daily chores, but in the community and beyond. There are very few moments available that are not consumed by taking care of animals, maintaining the farm, caring for the family, and supporting fellow members. Involvement in the community includes a strong faith and fellowship in their church community, always willing to lend a hand to larger service to support friends and family. This carries over to the care they offer to their flock of sheep, which has grown over time since establishing their farm operation in the 1970s. As we all know, managing a farm, a career, and a family is a never-ending job, which only gets more complex as the years go on. His operation over time has transitioned from horses to sheep and goats as his family moved into the local 4-H program.

Dahl and his wife, Peggy, started their farm in Woodsboro, located in Frederick County, where they established strong roots in their community. After his completion of a successful teaching career in the Frederick County Public School System, Dahl was able to continue educating the public about history. He was a docent at Mount Vernon, assisting with the livestock and educating visitors about the livestock. Community agriculture organization events at The Great Frederick Fair is where you can find Dahl in the fall. Dressed in period clothing, with his heritage sheep display, Dahl educates the public about the sheep lines kept by George Washington and the heritage ways of working on the farm. Whether showing sheep across the State of Maryland and nationally, lending a hand in fundraising, educating others about sheep, repairing machinery, or making hay, Dahl’s roots are strongly established in agriculture education from a lifetime of work that has been much appreciated in our community.

His contribution to the community is notable and appreciated. Dahl’s dedication to agriculture and agricultural education spans multiple decades and multiple species.  The variety of sheep he has raised—Montadale (white and natural color), Romney, Hog Island, and Leicester Longwool—is just one of the many chapters in this wonderful story. We congratulate Dahl and look forward to his continued support for our organization and community in the coming years.

Interview by Kathleen O’Connor

Ronnie Dove

Kathleen: Ronnie, it was so good to hear you sing this October 28 evening, 2023, here at Mike Pryor’s Mountain Shadows venue. It’s so nice to see you back performing again. Please tell me how did you get started singing?

Ronnie: I was raised on a dairy farm [in Herndon, Virginia], where I milked 30 cows by hand. I was always singing.

Kathleen: Did you sing to the cows?

Ronnie: Yes—and to the cats!

Kathleen: Where else did you sing then?

Ronnie: First, I sang in the Herndon High School Glee Club in Herndon, Virginia. Then, in 1959, I formed my own band, the Bell Tones, and we recorded “Lover Boy” on our own label. Later, I sang at the Spa Night Club in Baltimore. Then, in 1964, I went to New York City to record “Say You” with Diamond Records. In 1966, I recorded “Cry” a popular song [from 1951] by Johnny Ray. In 1968, I recorded “Mountains of Love” [Harold Dorman, 1960] [on the flip side of “Never Gonna Cry”].

Kathleen: I see that you appreciated other stars like Johnny Ray. Who was your favorite singer to emulate?

Ronnie: Elvis Presley. In 1964, when I was recording “Right or Wrong” [Wanda Jackson, 1960] at the RCA Records studio in Nashville, Tennessee, Elvis Presley was in the control room during playbacks. I had hit a high note at the end of the song, and Elvis advised me to keep it.

Kathleen: Did you travel to perform?

Ronnie: Yes. Tom Jones and I toured together for 90 days in 1965, from California to Florida with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. The caravan included Tom Jones, me, Gordon Waller, Brian Hyland, and Billy Jo Royal. I also appeared on the Dick Clark Show.

Kathleen: Did you travel with any other tours?

Ronnie: Yes, I traveled with the Shindig Tour in 1965, the Action Tour, and the Dick Clark Tour. The tours in Canada were most successful, especially those in Toronto. I played at Graceland 34 times. I had 26 hit songs!

Kathleen: Mike tells me that you are coming back to sing. Why did you stop performing, and why are you coming back now?

Ronnie: I took a break in 1988 to take care of my mom. The doctors had given her about three to six months to live, and I wanted to be with her. She lived for three more years, and I did everything for her. After her death in 1991, I slowly got back into singing. It was difficult at first after being away for three years, but eventually, I got some good venues with the help and encouragement of some of my friends in the music business.

Kathleen: So, here you are, and we all enjoyed your performance so much! You’re coming back, hopefully, in March to sing for us some more at Mike Pryor’s birthday party show, right?

Ronnie: Yes, I hope to (God willing).

Mike Pryor

Kathleen: Good evening, Mike. Thank you so much for introducing me to Ronnie and letting me hear him sing. How did you two first meet?

Mike: My aunt and mom were fans, and I heard him on their albums and my grandparents’. I also saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Dick Clark Show. I used to be into the Sprint car races end-of-year banquet, and two friends asked me to go. But, I couldn’t go to the banquet because I was still in high school and only 17 years old. Then a race car driver asked me to pick up his check and trophy for him and gave me two tickets, saying that I would be a guest at the event where a well-known entertainer would sing. I didn’t know what time the event started, so on the way, I pulled out the tickets and saw that the singer was Ronnie Dove! The banquet opened and Ronnie came on stage. I had brought my girlfriend, and although Ronnie didn’t know it, I was planning to break up with her later that evening—then he sang “Almost Tomorrow,” and I was so surprised. I was so attentive during the show that Ronnie picked me out and asked me to come back to his dressing room.

Kathleen: It was so coincidental that he chose that song. When did you see Ronnie again?

Mike: The next year, he came back again to the Sprint car race banquet, and I went to see him again. Then, Ronnie moved to Carroll Valley. He helped to design the nightclub at Charnita [Charles & Anita]. After that, I was there every week, and I started to go to shows all the time. And the more I went, the better friends we became. Charlie had private parties, and Ronnie would invite me to come.

Kathleen: So how did you get into the show business yourself?

Mike: Two years after my [high school] graduation, I started to help others to promote carnivals and fairs. I have promoted 216 concerts together with others, and 118 of my own personal promotions. In 1983, I decided to go on my own and do my own promotions of shows. Ronnie was one of the first entertainers to perform in my own shows. I promoted shows in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. I was his friend and promoter. In 1982, I also became the road manager of The Shirelles. Then, in 1983, I started my own shows as a sole promoter. Ronnie left for a while for Nashville, and then later came back to us in Pasadena, Maryland.

Kathleen: It looks like you and Ronnie both have come a long way since your high school interests in country music. And you’re still producing shows, and Ronnie is still singing. I understand that you will be having a birthday party show in March and that Ronnie will be there to help you celebrate.

Mike: Yes, my birthday is March 13, but we’ll be celebrating it a couple of days later on Saturday, March 16. Yes, Ronnie has promised to be there (God willing). (Check the Banner Community Calendar on page 62 for the show information.)

Kathleen: Thank you, Mike and Ronnie. It was a pleasure chatting with you both— and a special treat to hear you sing, Ronnie. God bless you both. I’ll see you there.

James Rada, Jr.

The interior of the Thurmont Food Bank.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

As inflation continues to drive up prices, especially for food, it is also driving families to their local food banks for help.

“It just seems like everything is going up except their paychecks,” said Josephine Willard with the Help Hotline at the Church of the Transfiguration in Blue Ridge Summit. She said their food bank is seeing more than 40 families a month.

Likewise, the Emmitsburg Food Bank is seeing more families seeking help. Before the pandemic, they would see around 50 families a month. Now, they see 75.

“They are telling me the amount of food stamps they receive is lower, and suddenly the economy is very tight,” said Phyllis Kelly with the Emmitsburg Food Bank. This makes it the highest level it has ever been.

Pastor Sally Joyner Giffin told the Thurmont Commissioners recently that the Thurmont Food Bank had helped 507 families in November 2023. She said this was a dramatic increase for the food bank.

Inflation is also affecting how much the food banks have to offer. Just as it drives food prices up for families, it also does so for food banks. The Help Hotline is entirely funded through donations from individuals, businesses, and churches.

“They are very generous,” Willard said. “It seems like they know the need before we do and help.”

Thurmont and Emmitsburg food banks get this help, but they also are able to purchase some things through the Maryland Food Bank.

The rising cost of food has meant that a lot of the new families the food banks are seeing are elderly couples who are living on fixed incomes. “They lived all their lives working and saving, only to need to go to the food bank,” Willard said.

However, younger people working at low-income jobs are feeling the same pinch.

Joyner Giffin told the commissioners that right now, Thurmont has people living in tents and in their cars. They are having to make a choice between buying food and making a rent payment, and the choice is food. By making food less of a drain on their resources, it allows people to use their money in other areas where it is needed.

Joyner Giffin told the commissioners that the food bank’s goal for those it helps is “to keep them in their homes, off the streets, healthy, and living as comfortably as possible.”

The food banks try to offer more than food. For instance, families also need things like toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and toothpaste.

“Things like shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste, you can’t buy with food stamps, so we offer it,” Kelly said.

The Thurmont Ministerium, which supports the food bank, also has an emergency housing program to get at-risk families off the street and into safe housing temporarily. Like food, the cost of hotel rooms has also limited the number of families that the ministerium can help.

If you can afford to help, please contact your local food bank to see what they need and how to make donations.

Frederick County is going red in support of American Heart Health Month. During the entire month of February, the County will be launching several events to encourage a #HeartHealthyFC. Several government agencies and partners will be participating.

“I am so proud of and grateful to the various divisions and community partners who have joined us to launch our first-ever Heart Healthy Frederick County campaign,” said County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. “Heart disease claims more lives each year in the United States than any other cause of death. This campaign is a great way to increase awareness and encourage interconnectedness in the name of health.”

Heart Health Month events include: Hands-Only CPR non-certificate classes, sponsored and taught by Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue and hosted by Frederick County Parks and Recreation; We Heart Storytime!  sponsored by Frederick County Public Libraries, featuring Frederick County 9-1-1 employees; Heart Health – Veg It Up! cooking classes for kids and adults, sponsored by Frederick County Parks and Recreation; and Mental Health and Heart Health class (TBD) for ages 50+, sponsored by the Frederick County Division of Aging and Independence and taught by Estelle Dupree, LCPC, LC-ADAS Therapist with the Frederick County Health Department.

The public is invited to participate by wearing red in honor of Heart Health Month on Wear Red Day, which is February 2.

For more information on Heart Healthy FC, including the full calendar of events, visit www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/HeartHealthyFC.

The Keeney Family, who owns Steeple View Farm, was recently featured on a morning show in France for their Miniature Herefords. France Television sent reporters from its Washington, D.C., office to visit the farm in Rocky Ridge. Family members Cora Coblentz and Kynlee Keeney, who are both members of the Ridge View 4H Club, spoke with the journalist about their Miniature Herefords, how they care for them, and why they enjoy showing them.

Kenny Keeney, along with David Coblentz, who owns part of our herd, spoke about the history of Miniature Herefords and the unique differences between the breed and a full-size cattle breed. Since the story has been featured, other French television networks have been reaching out to do additional stories.

A Miniature Hereford—the feature story of a French morning show.

Kynlee Keeney (left) and Cora Coblentz (right) of Steeple View Farm spoke to French reporters about their Miniature Herefords.

French news reporters filming for a news story on a French morning show.

On behalf of IPP (Immediate Past President) Julie El-Taher, IPDG (Immediate Past District Governor) Nadja Muchow presented the Governor’s Medal of Accommodation to Lion David Crum. 

Lion David Crum joined the Thurmont Lions Club in April 2022. As a new member for less than one year, he did not hesitate to take on the responsibility of dues treasurer for the club. It is out of the ordinary for such a new member to assume such a position. Congratulations, Lion David, and thank you for your services.

Pictured from left are IPDG Nadja Muchow, Lion David Crum, and President Susan Favorite.

During the Thurmont Lions Club’s Bingo in November 2023, IPP (Immediate Past President) Julie El-Taher presented the “Rookie of the Year” Award to Lion Corey Hodge-Chisholm.

The criteria for receiving the Rookie of the Year” Award are as follows: You must be inducted into the Thurmont Lions Club in the prior Lions year, must have contributed in an outstanding way, must have a positive attitude, and must have a can-do spirit.

Lion Corey joined the club in August 2022. As a new member for less than one year, he did not hesitate to take on the responsibility of co-advisor of the Thurmont Middle School Leo Club.  It is out of the ordinary for such a new member to assume such a position.  Congratulations, Lion Corey, and thank you for your services.

Pictured from left are IPP Julie El-Taher and Lion Corey Hodge-Chisholm.

During the annual Thurmont Lions Club Christmas Party, the club’s “Spirit of Generosity” award was presented.

The Awards Committee consists of Lion Evelyn Zimmerman, Lion David Crum, and IPDG (Immediate Past District Governor) Nadja Muchow as chairperson.

The criteria for the award are as follows: Must donate significant funds and time to the Thurmont Lions Club and/or the TLC Foundation projects, must participate in multiple TLC and TLC Foundation events, and must lead a service committee for at least one year.

IPDG Nadja Muchow presented the “Spirit of Generosity” award to Lion Joyce Anthony for her dedication, passion, dependability, and unhesitating support of Lionism, both on the club and District levels. She is always available if asked to do something and never says “no,” and she is always dependable to follow through with all assignments.

Lion Joyce was surprised and indicated “She is a dedicated Lion, does not need to be recognized, and her motto is ‘it is better to give than to receive.’”

Pictured from left are IPDG Nadja Muchow, President Susan Favorite, and Lion Joyce Anthony.

The Thurmont Lions Club held a Christmas Cookie Contest on Friday, December 1, with participants bringing six of their finest Christmas cookies on a paper plate to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thurmont. Judging was done in two sections: Lion judging was Friday evening, and public judging was on Saturday during Christmas in Thurmont. There were two sets of prizes (judged and public): 1st place received $100; 2nd place received $75; 3rd place received $50; and 4th place received $25. Winners are as follows:

Lions Club Judging

1st Place — Wanda Frye

2nd Place — Geoff Bowen

3rd Place — Drew Dayhoff

4th Place — Luke and James Dugan

Public Judging

1st Place — Drew Dayhoff

2nd Place — Angie Matthews

3rd Place — Maxine Troxell

4th Place — Diane Hunter

Wreaths Across America is an annual collaborative that honors our nation’s veterans around the holidays by placing wreaths on their graves.

Several organizations went to work to transport, deliver, unload, and distribute wreaths in the Thurmont area on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. A Sheetz truck delivered 72 boxes containing 12 wreaths per box for a total of 864 wreaths to volunteers representing the Thurmont Lions Club, the Sons of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, the American Legion Post 168, the Town of Thurmont, Cub Scout Troop 279, and Pack 270. The wreaths were unloaded, prepared for distribution, and delivered to local cemeteries.

Pictured left to right are: April Fordham, Alex Dankanich (American Legion), Mark Resch (Pack 270), Jimmy Best with Parker Best (Troop 270) and Aubrey Best (Pack 270), Allen Middendorff (Thurmont Lions Club), Jim Robbin’s, Brian Glass, Buz Mackley, and John Byrne (American Legion).

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

The Mount St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees announced that Gerard “Jerry” J. Joyce, Ph.D. (pictured right), will be the 27th president in the university’s 215-year history. Joyce, a 32-year higher education veteran, currently serves as executive vice president of DeSales University. He will join the Mount effective July 1, 2024.

In announcing the board’s unanimous choice that followed a nationwide search, Board Chair Gracelyn McDermott, C’93, said that Joyce will be an excellent leader for the next chapter in the history of America’s oldest independent Catholic university. She noted that trustees praised Joyce’s collaborative nature, as evidenced by the many partnerships he has established with healthcare systems, and strategic thinking prowess that enabled DeSales to achieve the largest first-year classes for two consecutive years in an increasingly challenging higher education landscape.

“The Mount is preparing to open the School of Health Professions, further expand our growing interdisciplinary and STEM programs, continue to grow undergraduate enrollment, and develop new online learning programs,” McDermott said. “With his dedication to academic distinction, drive for mission-oriented expansion, and commitment to the values inherent in Catholic education, Jerry is prepared to lead the university into the future.”

In expressing his feelings about being named president of the Mount, Joyce stated: “I am deeply honored and excited to be chosen as the 27th president of Mount St. Mary’s University and to build upon the extraordinary legacy of President Trainor. Under his leadership, the university has evolved to meet the changing needs of our students. The School of Health Professions is a testament to Mount St. Mary’s commitment to forward-thinking education and responsiveness to societal needs. As we stand at this exciting juncture, I am committed to leveraging our storied past to propel us into a future where Mount St. Mary’s continues to flourish as an institution that nurtures innovation, community, and excellence.”

“I eagerly anticipate leading the university in this transformative era, ensuring that we remain well-poised to offer an education that is both rooted in the Catholic Liberal Arts tradition and attuned to the evolving landscape of higher education,” Joyce said. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading this esteemed institution.”

As the first non-clergy president in DeSales history, Joyce was instrumental in the strategic planning and developing of new programs. During his tenure as interim president, DeSales experienced tremendous enrollment growth and enhanced DeSales academic portfolio with revenue-generating academic programs.

Under Joyce’s guidance as executive vice president, DeSales raised and redistributed funds to offer more than $40 million in scholarships and grants for students, and developed its first branding platform. He also managed the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the Mount, DeSales successfully brought students back to campus in the fall of 2020 and experienced enrollment growth.

Joyce’s previous roles have included serving as vice president for student life and dean of enrollment management. He has implemented innovative student recruitment strategies, developed character-building programs, and established international education initiatives. As an adjunct instructor, he taught courses on education philosophy, ethics, leadership, and decision-making.

Joyce holds a doctorate in education administration and policy studies from The Catholic University of America. He earned his masters degree in education from Kutztown University, and his bachelor’s degree in finance from DeSales University. He served as chair of the Allentown Diocese Board of Education for eight years.

Joyce and his wife, Erin, a nurse practitioner, have five children: Isabella, 22; Liam, 20; Aidan, 17; Amelia, 14; and Adeline, 7. The family includes a dog named Shamrock.

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society won three grants related to historical preservation in November. The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Mini Grant will fund the purchase of a 27 foot historically accurate marquee tent for outdoor events. The second grant is from the Delaplaine Foundation to perform a traffic calming feasibility study, and the third is a federal earmark to supply matching funds for the restoration of an original ironworker cottage.

Saving A Historic Ironworker Cottage

The historical society purchased the 200+ year old Miller House in December 2021 for $229,000 to save it from modern renovation, and with funding will restore the log worker cottage to its original condition. The restoration will be undertaken by historic building professionals alongside students from Heritage at Work, a training program in preservation and building trades for at-risk youth. Once completed, the Miller house will become a residence for Catoctin Furnace’s new Furnace Fellows program, in which emerging professionals will spend a year living and working in the historic village while being mentored in heritage tourism, museum management, and hands-on historic preservation.

21st Century Safety in an 18th Century Streetscape

Between 2022 and 2023, Catoctin Furnace saw a 2,474 percent increase in visitors, including several major events and visits from thousands of school children each year. To address their safety, CFHS needs to find solutions to slow traffic and increase pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety along Route 806, the sole narrow historic village roadway. The seven historic sites that make up the area are situated on both sides of the road which lacks sidewalks and crosswalks. The Delaplaine Foundation grant will fund a feasibility study to assess pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety, traffic calming, and improve pedestrian access between the public sites and private residences. The study will provide information for the state to use to plan and implement safety measures along the roadway.

History and Present Day Role of Catoctin Furnace

The iron furnace at Catoctin played a pivotal role during the American Revolution and later the industrial revolution in the United States. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years in service, Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

Founded in 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society is undertaking groundbreaking research, including bioarchaeological research of the African American cemetery. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Reich Laboratory for Medical and Population Genetics at Harvard University, CFHS is analyzing ancient DNA and the human genome of revolutionary era enslaved African American workers at Catoctin Furnace. By studying and disseminating the results of this research, we hope to give everyone, including the descendants of the enslaved workers, the opportunity to understand them and the critical roles they played in the development of our young nation.

The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society shares the history of ironmaking through special events throughout the year including an annual commemoration of black history month’s “In Their Own Voices,” an autumn performance of Spirits of the Furnace, now in its 21st year, and the Maryland Iron Festival. The 6th Annual Maryland Iron Festival will take place on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, 2024 in the village of Catoctin Furnace, and throughout Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park.

For more information, contact info@catoctinfurnace.org.

On Saturday, October 28, 2023 the Frederick County Health Department partnered with the Frederick Police Department, Maryland State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to host a drug and sharp take-back day as part of “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.” Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., 105 residents turned in over 150 pounds of unwanted or expired medication and 5,934 sharps at two collection sites.

“We are incredibly grateful to our community and partners who came out on a beautiful fall day and gave part of their Saturday to make this event a success,” said Nate Smith, Opioid Misuse Prevention Program Coordinator. “A huge thanks to the Frederick Police Department, Maryland State Police and the DEA for helping to staff the event, and most of all, we thank our communities for turning out in full force to dispose of medications and syringes safely, which helps keeps our community safe.”

For residents who were unable to attend the event and have medication to dispose, please visit one of the locations below to get rid of your unwanted or expired pills and medicinal patches:

Brunswick Police Department — 811 West Potomac Street, Brunswick (24 hours a day).

Emmitsburg Community Center — 300 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg (Weekdays, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

Frederick Co. Law Enforcement Center — 110 Airport Drive East, Frederick (24 hours a day).

Frederick Police Department — 100 West Patrick Street, Frederick (24 hours a day).

Middletown Municipal Center — 301 Main Street, Middletown (Weekdays, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.).

Myersville Municipal Center — 301 West Main Street, Myersville (Weekdays, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.).

Thurmont Police Department — 800 East Main Street, Thurmont (Weekdays, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.).

For additional medication disposal locations and more information about the dangers of prescription medicine misuse, please visit health.frederickcountymd.gov/OMPP or contact the Frederick County Health Department at 301-600-1755.

Jeanne Angleberger, former author of the “Health Jeanne” column in The Catoctin Banner, attended the Florida State Senior Games on December 3, 2023 held in Wesley Chapel at the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Complex. She participated in three basketball events. In the Free Throw and Spot Shooting events, she scored a silver medal. In the Timed Spot event (shooting three one-minute rounds with self-rebounding), she earned a gold medal. Jeanne also earned a team gold medal when playing 3-on-3 with the 70s team from The Villages.

Jeanne Angleberger is shown with her medals won at the Florida State Senior Games on December 3, 2023.

On November 8, 2023, Thurmont Grange No. 409 held its annual Veterans Appreciation Program. The evening started with a welcome, given by Grange President, Niki Eyler. She stated that the Veterans being honored were “all honorable, upstanding, and respectable members of their families, churches, and communities.” 

Next, Thurmont American Legion Post 168 Commander Nick Middendorff led all attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem, played by Bob Dunk of both Harmony and Spires Cornet Bands. 

A special recognition of Veteran and Thurmont resident, Jim Stull, was given by Niki Eyler. Jim was born on March 3, 1933, on the outskirts of Thurmont. He was one of nine children and was forced to leave school early to work in the family plumbing business. Jim always understood the importance of taking care of family, even at a young age.  At 18, he was drafted into the Korean War. His basic training was at Camp Atterberry, Indiana, and from there, Jim was stationed at Fort Carlson, Colorado. He volunteered to be a cook in the mess hall. After returning from a six-week recuperation from a broken leg, Jim’s platoon received the news they were being sent to Korea the following week to fight in the war.  Fortunately, the war ended before they were deployed. Jim went on to marry his wife of 59 years, Carolyn, and they had two daughters, Diana and Sylvia. He was a member of Weller United Methodist Church and Thurmont American Legion Post 168 for 45 years. He enjoyed spending winter months in Florida, and during the summer, he loved to be at his cabin in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. Jim also loved spending time vacationing with family and driving his antique Chrysler 300 convertible. The members of Scout Troup 270 folded the American flag and presented it to Jim’s daughter, Diana Stull, in honor of Jim’s service to our country.

Thurmont Grange also honored Thurmont resident, Grange member, and U.S. Army Veteran, Russell Moser, with a banner in the Military Banner Program, sponsored by the Thurmont Lions Club. Russell served as Private 2nd Class (1957-1958) as a trained Lineman in the 559 Signal Company. His basic training was at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Russell was then stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Upon release from active duty, Russell returned to the Army Reserves until 1963. During the Cuban Crisis, he was called back to active duty, at which time he was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The guest speaker for the evening was First Vice Commander of Legion Post 168 Debbie Middendorff, who spoke about the Poppy Program and how Veterans across the country are assisted by the funds raised through this program. Post 168 Poppy Princess, Ella Renner, was also in attendance and fulfilled her duty by ensuring everyone received a Poppy.

Next, the evening’s Veterans were recognized: Roland Renner (Army 69-72), Allen Middendorff (Army 76-98), Debbie Middendorff (Army 79-82), Denise Shriver (Navy 90-93), and Alvin Hatcher (Navy 84-96). Honorees were met with a round of applause in appreciation of their selfless service in the United States Armed Forces.

Finally, a moment of silence was observed for recently departed Grange members Patty Johnston, Roger Troxell, and Robert McAfee, as well as those who have lost their lives defending our country. In closing, Taps was performed by Bob Dunk. Before parting for the evening, those in attendance enjoyed refreshments and fellowship.

If you are interested in joining Thurmont Grange, please contact Rodman Myers at 301-606-9221.

Pictured from left are: Thurmont Grange President Niki Eyler, Roland Renner (Army 69-72), Allen Middendorff (Army 76-98), Debbie Middendorff (Army 79-82), Denise Shriver (Navy 90-93), Alvin Hatcher (Navy 84-96) and Thurmont Grange Vice President Alan Brauer.

Courtesy Photos

Jim Stull’s daughter (pictured center), Diana Stull, holds the flag presented to her by Scout Troup 270 in honor of Jim’s service, surrounded by friends.

Pictured from left are Thurmont Grange President Niki Eyler, American Legion Post 168 Poppy Princess Ella Renner, and Thurmont Grange Vice President Alan Brauer

James Rada, Jr.

Frederick County’s covered bridges are a beautiful part of Northern Frederick County. Utica Mills, Loy’s Station, and Roddy Road covered bridges are all within 12 miles of one another, and they are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, being historic has also caused problems for the bridges because they aren’t designed for modern vehicles.

The Utica Mills Covered Bridge was damaged earlier this month by an unknown vehicle. The bridge is currently closed for an indefinite period of time until it can be repaired. Traffic is now detoured from Old Frederick Road to Lewistown Road to Hessong Bridge Road.

Because the size of a covered bridge limits the size of vehicles that can pass over it, signage is posted listing the maximum height for a crossing vehicle.

This is not the first time the bridge has been damaged. In June 2021, a truck trying to cross the bridge damaged it, and it was closed for six months.

Roddy Road Covered Bridge has also suffered its share of damage. One incident was caught on video in 2016. A rental truck forced its way over the bridge and kept going with part of the bridge hanging on the truck. It only fell off the truck when it braked before turning onto US 15. The person taking the video pursued the truck and called the police.

Sadly, the damage was extensive enough that the bridge had to be rebuilt.

After that incident, the Frederick County Department of Highway Operations installed clearance bars on either side of the bridge to warn drivers if their vehicles were too tall to enter the bridge.

The Frederick News Post reported that the country is considering doing the same for Utica Mills Covered Bridge. While this would alert drivers of large vehicles if they are too large to cross, there is no place for the vehicles to turn around if that is the case.

Loys Station Covered Bridge has suffered a different type of damage from the other bridges. In 1991, a pickup truck was set on fire while on the bridge as part of an insurance fraud scam. The bridge did not burn down, but it needed extensive reconstruction and did not open again until 1994.

It helps that these bridges are on lesser-traveled roads or roads that don’t typically see large vehicles, but drivers need to pay attention to clearance and weight signs for older bridges like these. They aren’t suggestions. They are warnings that need to be heeded.

Deadline is January 26, 2024

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the school system’s 2024 Support Employee of the Year Awards. The awards recognize outstanding members of the FCPS support staff.

Examples of staff classified as support employees are bus drivers and bus assistants; custodial, maintenance, and warehouse staff; instructional assistants, community liaisons, user support specialists, secretaries, and resident substitutes; as well as those working in business-support positions.

Nomination eligibility, criteria, and process information are online at www.fcps.org/awards. Nomination packets are due Friday, January 26, 2024, to the FCPS Public Affairs Department, 191 S. East Street, Frederick, MD, 21701.

The Board of Education of Frederick County will recognize one finalist from each of eight broad job classifications at the April 10, 2024, board meeting. During the recognition, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl L. Dyson will present one of the eight finalists the overall 2024 Support Employee of the Year Award. Finalists and the Support Employee of the Year are chosen by a panel of FCPS staff across a number of departments.

Daniel Genemans is shown with some of the approximately 1,000 pumpkins and gourds collected from the town of Thurmont in the Second Annual Great Pumpkin Pick-Up event on November 25.

Sponsored by the Thurmont Green Team to prevent pumpkins from going into the landfill and feed area farm and zoo animals, the pickup was made possible by 20 volunteers, from ages 8 to 81, combing  the town streets collecting pumpkins and gourds placed on the curb by Thurmont residents. Once collected, they were dropped off at The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, Rise and Shine Farm, Catoctin Mountain Farm, and Deer Run Farm, to provide food for bison and other hoofed zoo animals, pigs, and chickens.

Most Original

1st Place — Barbie by Shannon Poehler (241)

2nd Place — Mac & Cheese by Deliah Herrell (112)

3rd Place — Spider by Cooper Carter (367)

Cutest

1st Place — Semba Baby by Lyla Green (215)

2nd Place — by Enora Ridenour (213)

3rd Place — by Emmy White (231)

Scariest

1st Place — Skeleton in Coffin by Wyatt Ridenour (36) (pictured right)

2nd Place — by Jonas Ruby (249)

3rd Place — by Gracie Abel (363)

Funniest

1st Place — Hairy Styles by Jonah Hillman (10)

2nd Place — Monk by Linus Queale (2)

3rd Place — Venus Fly Trap by Owen Day (108)

Best Group

1st Place — Addams Family by Burns & Dodsons (398)

2nd Place — Bugle Gees by Insley Carter (2)

3rd Place — Bears Blow up by Greyson Ridenour (245)

The Volunteer for Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Northern Frederick County group of volunteers will again offer free preparation of Federal and MD tax returns this coming spring.

Starting January 23, 2024, you can call 301-471-5757 (the same phone number as last year) to make appointments for the first week in February 2024 or later. The group, working under IRS guidelines and certified by IRS to prepare certain types of returns, will follow the same general process for making appointments and preparing tax returns as last year. For example, when you call for an appointment, a volunteer will ask you several questions about your 2023 income, filing status, and other tax factors to determine if IRS allows them to prepare your taxes. If IRS does, the volunteer will give you an appointment time at the Thurmont Regional Library, located at 76 E. Moser Road in Thurmont, that is convenient to you. The volunteer will also ask you to bring several documents to the appointment, including a photo identification for all individuals listed on your returns, last year’s Federal and MD returns, and your social security card or number. At the appointment, the volunteer will prepare your tax returns while you wait and may ask you questions that help them better prepare your returns.

Dianne L. Walbrecker

Here are the brief details about my terrible experience. I already reported this to Target, to the Frederick County Police, to my bank, to Xfinity, and to the FTC, but thought the community might want to know as well, to encourage others to be careful.

It can happen to all of us. I had seen the warnings about people getting scammed, but I never thought it could happen to me. On a Wednesday morning in late October, I called Xfinity to complain about my bill. They didn’t answer, so I hung up after a good 15 minutes of waiting. So, I wasn’t surprised to get a call from Xfinity about an hour later. The man on the phone said he wanted to offer me a promotional deal. “Since you have been a good customer since 2001, we have a deal for you,” he started off. He introduced himself as Sean and continued, “Since you are paying more than $200 a month for your internet, television, and mobile phone, we want to see your payments reduced.”

Who wouldn’t like that, I thought?

He pulled me in, bit by bit. Since he knew so much about my account, I really thought he was with Xfinity.

Sean said, “We can lower your payment to $175 a month for all three, and give you two free months if you just pay us upfront for 10 months.” I hesitated, and said that sounds like too good a deal to be true. He continued, “And we have a special deal with Target. If you pay us using Target gift cards, we will also throw in an iPhone 15.”

I had to pick up a friend who needed a ride to a doctor’s office, so I agreed, and listened impatiently as he told me what to do next. Hurriedly, I took down the notes and told him I would do it. Before I hung up, Sean said the deal would be off unless I called a certain number by 8:00 p.m. to give them the gift card numbers.

Annoyed by now, I wrote down the number and then took my friend to the doctors. On my way back home, I thought, “Wow, I could really use the savings, and it would be cool to have an iPhone 15.”

So, I went to CVS and bought the Target gift cards for $1,750. The cashier at CVS asked me if I knew why I was buying the cards. Sean had warned me that she would do so. I gave her the answer he had told me to: They were for my personal use. I brought them home and told my husband what I had done and that I was going to call the number and report the gift card numbers. He’s aware that I tend to be gullible, and he said, “Think about it, Dianne.”

Wow! I had almost lost a lot of money. I did call the number before 8:00 p.m. that night. A very pleasant-sounding man named Bob picked up the phone and asked me to report the numbers. I asked him, “How many people have you scammed today? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” He replied, with his voice really nasty now, “Lady, I’m not ashamed at all. I make more money in one day than you will ever make in your entire lifetime.” And then he laughed before I slammed the phone down. 

After two weeks of reporting the scam and sending paperwork to Target, the company sent me a check for the entire amount I had spent on the gift cards. I sure hope my story can keep others from falling victim. These operators are very smooth, and they know much more about you then you would imagine.

In a triumph of storytelling and social impact, the groundbreaking PTSD911 Documentary has been honored with the prestigious Award of Excellence for Best Documentary Feature at the 2023 November Vegas Movie Awards. This recognition underscores the film’s powerful narrative and exceptional filmmaking, highlighting the profound impact it has had on both audiences and critics alike.

The Vegas Movie Awards is renowned for celebrating exceptional cinematic achievements and recognizing filmmakers who push the boundaries of storytelling. The Award of Excellence for Best Documentary Feature is a testament to the documentary’s unparalleled ability to delve into the complexities of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effects on individuals and communities.

In addition to the Best Documentary Feature accolade, the PTSD911 Documentary has also been bestowed with the highly coveted SOCIAL AWARENESS AWARD. This distinguished honor acknowledges the film’s commitment to shedding light on critical social issues and fostering awareness, sparking crucial conversations about mental health, trauma, and the resilience of the human spirit.

PTSD911 Documentary is an emotionally charged and deeply resonant exploration of the challenges faced by those living with PTSD. Through intimate interviews, poignant narratives, and stunning visuals, the film transcends traditional documentary boundaries, delivering a powerful message of empathy and understanding.

The film’s director and Emmitsburg resident, Conrad Weaver, expressed gratitude for the recognition, stating, “Receiving the Award of Excellence and the SOCIAL AWARENESS AWARD is a humbling acknowledgment of the film’s impact. Our team poured their hearts into bringing this important story to life, and we’re thrilled that it’s being recognized on such a significant platform. This honor is not just for us; it’s for the brave individuals who shared their stories, and for everyone who battles with PTSD. We hope this film continues to raise awareness and foster compassion.”

As the PTSD911 Documentary continues to make waves on its film tour, this double honor from the Vegas Movie Awards solidifies its place as a vital and influential piece of documentary filmmaking. The film stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to create meaningful change and promote understanding on critical societal issues.

Eleven-year-old Emily Roberts of Thurmont recently decided to do a mission project at Weller United Methodist Church. 

Emily decided to make beaded bracelets and earrings and sell them to raise funds for the Thurmont Food Bank. She was able to raise $407, which was  phenomenal! Weller United Methodist Church is very proud of Emily for coming up with this concept all on her own!

Pictured are Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, Chairman of Thurmont Ministerium/Thurmont Food Bank, Emily Roberts, and Pastor Mark Eyler of Weller UMC.

Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater will hold a public hearing regarding fiscal year 2025 Operating and Capital Budgets and the fiscal year 2025-2030 Capital Improvement Program at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 4. The public is invited to offer their suggestions and priorities for the upcoming budget year, which begins July 1, 2024. People can participate in person, by phone, or by submitting comments online.

Attend In Person

Come to Winchester Hall, located at 12 East Church Street in Frederick. Parking is available on the street or in downtown parking decks. Transit’s fare-free buses also stop nearby. The 51 and 61 Connectors serve Market Street and Church Street, less than two blocks from Winchester Hall, and the 40, 50, 60 Connectors and the Brunswick/Jefferson and Emmitsburg/Thurmont Shuttles operate nearby. American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand.

Watch the Live Broadcast

The public hearing will be broadcast live on FCG TV, and can be viewed on the following platforms:

Cable Channels 19 and 1085. Closed captioning is available in English and Spanish.

Web-streamed from FrederickCountyMD.gov/FCGTV. Closed captioning is available in English.

Web-streamed from FrederickCountyMD.gov/BudgetPublicHearing. Live translations in multiple languages are available from this broadcast, using the “translate” button on that web page.

Listen and Comment Via Phone

To join the meeting by phone, call toll-free 855-925-2801 and enter meeting code 10042. Press *1 to listen to the meeting, press *2 to record a comment for playback during the public hearing, and press *3 to be placed in a queue to speak. You will continue to hear the meeting while you wait for your turn to speak. Comments also may be submitted online at FrederickCountyMD.gov/BudgetPublicHearing.

Additional budget listening sessions will be held in each of the county’s five council districts, beginning in January. Dates, times, and locations will be announced in December.

All meetings are open to the public. If anyone needs auxiliary aids or services for effective communication, please contact the ADA Coordinator at ADA@FrederickCountyMD.gov or by calling 301-600-1063, preferably at least three days before the meeting. To request an interpreter, please call 301-600-1208.