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Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to those residents who came forth to run for the two open commissioner seats in the town election: two incumbents, Elizabeth Buckman and Glenn Blanchard and challengers Frank Davis and T.J. Burns. How can you lose when you step forward, especially when it is to present your perspective on care for the community? There are no losers.

Thank you to Glenn for the quiet, thoughtful presence he brought to the board of commissioners and the community. Whether in service as a St. Joseph’s board member, as a member of the American Legion and proud veteran, or the years in the classroom, his role is always as that needed steadying hand. Also being a world traveler, he contributed from those experiences and brought a wider perspective and balance to our town meetings.

Thank you to Elizabeth Buckman, a teacher, who often brought an energy centered on representing those in our community who are in need and possibly seldom heard. She also brought to the town meetings a broader perspective from her education and experiences. Congratulations to Commissioner Buckman on acceptance into a University of Pittsburgh graduate program. Her new studies will certainly ready her for the adventures that will be launched from that education. 

The new commissioners will assuredly bring a new energy and verve. 

On occasion, I have received inquiries as to infrastructure improvements during my time as mayor. The following is a recap of most, if not all, of those improvements that have been completed since July 1, 2014, or are anticipated to be completed in the near future.

•Capital Project spending (rounded): $149,000 – town square project town portion; $317,000 – paving and sidewalks; $700,000 – parks and recreation.

•Water: $29,000 – three phases of rip rap at Rainbow Lake; $134,000 – new waterline (North Seton Ave. and Main St.); $39,000 – LG Sonic (solar) – algae control Rainbow Lake; $219,000 – general repairs and maintenance; $13,000 – leak detection since 2017.

•Sewer: $17,000 – Power Star – water treatment; $18,000 – wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); $80,000 – sewer relining (East Main St.); $100,000 – pending sewer relining FY20; $2.5 – $3 million – pending new pumping station; $152,000 – general repairs and maintenance.

Annually, the town is committed to putting aside $65,000 for roads. We are working on another $1,000,000 investment in our water treatment plant that should create significant savings to the town.

The 38th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend was again a successful solemn tribute to the 119 firefighters honored this year. Adding to the tribute this year was the completion of the installation of the William Cochran Glass etching, “Volunteers” in front of the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. Congratulations to the officers of the museum. It was our pleasure in helping to raise funds for the project and assisting when requested. 

As of this writing, the redevelopment of the playground in Community Park to an all-inclusive playground is finishing up. This was a wonderful effort, which could not have been accomplished without support from the state, county, the Civitan Club, and lots of town staff “elbow grease.” It was a pleasure working with the contractor, Playground Specialists, and their field manager, Emmitsburg’s own Tim Boyle. We are very proud of this and a ribbon cutting is tentatively been set for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. Please check the town website, channel 99, and/or Facebook for confirmation of date and time.

Congratulations to Emmitsburg resident Emmy Award-winner Conrad Weaver for his award-winning documentary, Heroin’s Grip. It was screened on Capitol Hill on October 16 in the Cannon House Office Building. Conrad and his team, together with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and others in the Maryland delegation, hosted the event.

Hope you enjoyed the Halloween parade and festivities and are readying for a wonderful Thanksgiving.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

We have survived another Colorfest, and my impression is that this was a profitable one for many of our nonprofits. I also spoke to many vendors, all of whom said they were very happy with the turnout. The weather was ideal and that brought out nice crowds of visitors. I want to thank all our residents, vendors, and nonprofits for helping make this a successful Colorfest weekend.

The Thurmont Lions Club is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, and the Lions have been an active participant in our community for each one of those 90 years. With one of the most active memberships of any organization, the Lions have supported a wide range of activities, from their annual Easter Egg Hunt to the amazing improvements they brought to the Trolley Trail. The Lions sandwich sales, Community Show booth, and Colorfest stand allow them to raise funds that stay within our community. The Thurmont Lions Club is one of the pieces that make the Thurmont the community we all love. Here’s to another 90 successful years for the Thurmont Lions Club!

One of the most popular events in Thurmont is Halloween in the Park. This year’s event has been rescheduled to November 2 due to the weather forecast. Halloween in the Park is attended by thousands each year, and we all have an amazing time while raising funds and donations for the Thurmont Food Bank. The two driving forces behind this fun evening, since the first year, have been Jill and Wayne Hooper. Each year, Jill and Wayne are out collecting donations, encouraging volunteers to help, and making sure that everyone knows about the event. Then, during the week leading up to Halloween in the Park, they are working every day to get things set up just right. They always seem to be everywhere at once during the event and make sure we all enjoy ourselves. Sadly, Jill passed away June 10 of this year, and Wayne has taken on the responsibility of organizing this once again. This year’s event is titled “Jill’s Chills and Thrills,” in honor of her love of Halloween. I hope everyone has a great time, thinks fondly of Jill and her love for this event, and that everyone takes a minute to thank Wayne for bringing so much fun to our community.

Christmas in Thurmont will be here on December 7. Be sure to be on the lookout for information about the day coming soon. There will be games, crafts, and prizes for all ages, as well as a visit with Santa! We will have the extremely popular Christmas Train Garden set up again this year. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be hosting the display on each Saturday and Sunday leading up to Christmas. Our thanks to the FCSME and Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge No. 155 for working with the Town of Thurmont to make this possible.

As always you can call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

by James Rada, Jr.

OCTOBER 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners Reorganized

With the election of new town commissioners, the Emmitsburg Town Commissioners assigned new duties to the members. Cliff Sweeney remains the president, with Tim O’Donnell acting as the vice president and treasurer. Joseph Ritz, III, will be the liaison to the Planning Commission. New commissioners Frank Davis and T.J. Burns will act as liaisons to the Parks and Recreation Committee and Citizens Advisory Committee, respectively.

Town Attorney Recognized

Long-time Emmitsburg Town Attorney John Clapp has retired. He served as the town attorney for 24 years. The Town of Emmitsburg recognized his decades of service with a proclamation honoring him.

Leslie Powell, Thurmont’s town attorney and Clapp’s recommendation, will replace Clapp as the Emmitsburg town attorney.

Planning Commissioner Appointed

Bernard Franklin was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Frank Davis on the Emmitsburg Planning Commission. Davis had to resign from the commission when he was elected as an Emmitsburg town commissioner. The term will expire in July 2022.

Cochran Etching Dedicated

The Frederick County Fire & Rescue Museum dedicated the William Cochran glass etching, called “Volunteers,” on October 4. Its location is at the museum in front on the Community Center on South Seton Avenue.

The etching was moved from the Firehouse Financial Center in Frederick. The business was the former site of Independent Hose Co. No. 1 firehouse at 12 West Church Street. William Cochran developed the public art to replace the former engine house apparatus bay door. The new building owners decided the artwork did not fit into the future renovation plans for the building and donated the etching to the fire museum.

Mayor Don Briggs was delighted with the addition to the town. He has wanted a Cochran public-art piece for years, but the price was too expensive for the town.

Mayor Graduates from Municipal Official Program

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs graduated from the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy on September 29. More than 90 public officials from across the state received a certificate from the academy.

Briggs completed classes designed to meet the professional needs of a municipal official. These included classes to increase his “understanding of local government issues and ethical standards for public services, but also developed a foundation for informed policy making and effective governance,” according to a press release from the academy.

The Academy, which has offered classes since 1998, is a collaborative effort between the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, the Maryland Municipal League, the Maryland Association of Counties and the Local Government Insurance Trust.

by James Rada, Jr.

October 2019 Meeting

Thurmont Welcomes Two New Police Officers

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in two new Thurmont police officers in October.

Mike Mentzer had more than 20 years on the job with the police in Washington D.C. before he retired. He said he looked for something outside of law enforcement to do after he retired, but “There wasn’t anything I really wanted to do other than be a police officer and work in law enforcement.”

Brandon Boyle was formerly with Loudon County Fire and Rescue before taking a position with the Thurmont Police. He started his academy training in October.

Senior Center to Get Funding for a Part-Time Assistant Coordinator

Unlike the other senior centers in Frederick County, the Thurmont Senior Center receives very little of its funding, if any, from the county. The Town of Thurmont usually contributes $20,000 to the center’s funding; however, this year, it provided $23,000 so the center coordinator could get a raise.

The senior center board of directors is now asking for $10,140 more each year to fund an assistant coordinator position for 15 hours a week. The commissioners feel this burden should be shared by the county since roughly half of the attendees to the senior center live outside the borders of Thurmont.

Frederick County stopped funding the center several years ago, primarily over the issue of lunches. The Department of Aging required the center to serve food it provided through a grant. However, the food arrived cold and mushy to the center, according to Commissioner Wayne Hooper. The poor food quality was causing seniors to stay home and the senior center wanted to make its own arrangements for lunches. The county told the center it had to abide by county rules to receive funding. The board of directors chose to run the center itself.

The county has provided a small amount of funding in the past, but it cannot be depended upon.

The commissioners voted to fund the amount needed for the position, less any additional funding the county can be convinced to pay.

Thurmont Changes How Corner Lots are Defined

The Town of Thurmont changed how corner lots were defined in its planning code in 2017. However, the change caused unforeseen problems with many existing corner lots in the town, putting them out of compliance with planning and zoning regulations. The mayor and commissioners unanimously voted in October to change the code back to the way it had been where corner lots are concerned.

This should take care of the problems some property owners have been having.

Emmitsburg Gets Two New Commissioners

Two newcomers were voted on to the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on October 1. Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs swore in Frank Davis and T.J. Burns as town commissioners during the October 7 town meeting. Davis and Briggs defeated incumbents Glenn Blanchard and Elizabeth Buckman.

During the town election on October 1, 371 residents voted. Davis received 278 votes and Burns received 170 votes. They defeated Buckman who received 140 votes and Blanchard who received 117 votes.

Briggs told the new commissioners and audience, “We’re enthusiastic about the attitude you’re going to bring here.”

Davis will service as liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee, and Burns will service as the liaison to the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Briggs praised the service of the two outgoing commissioners.

Blanchard served on the commission for 12 years. Briggs called him a quiet commissioner who always listened, processed, and was engaged with the work of the board.

Briggs encouraged Buckman to run for her first term as a commissioner and encouraged her to run again.

Commissioner Tim O’Donnell told Buckman, “You gave a voice to those who otherwise might not be heard.”

Buckman said she had enjoyed her service on the board and would continue to volunteer.

“As I transition from my official position as commissioner, I pledge to continue to wake up each day with a vision of possibility to stand with the people of Emmitsburg to problem-solve through networking and advocacy,” Buckman said. “I personally pledge to work collaboratively with the Town of Emmitsburg, mayor, and all the board, Mount St. Mary’s, our civic associations, our churches, our health department, our fire department, our cooperating municipal officials, housing, the Seton Center, the SHIP of Frederick, mentoring service, and many more, as we find creative solutions to the problems we face day in and day out.”

She called the new commissioners “two very innovative commissioners with fresh perspectives” and shared some of the insights she had learned during her term as a town commissioner.

Blanchard was unable to attend the meeting.

Thurmont’s Hamrick and Buehrer Win Re-election

Incumbent Thurmont Commissioners Wes Hamrick and Bill Buehrer were re-elected to the board of commissioners by large margins on October 29.

Thurmont’s voter turnout for its municipal election was 11 percent with 531 people casting 1,022 ballots. These numbers include 14 absentee votes.

Election results were:
• Wes Hamrick – 379 votes
• Bill Buehrer – 212 votes
• Sabrina Massett – 179 votes
• Elliot Jones – 126 votes
• Kenneth Oland – 121 votes
• Write-in Candidates – 5 votes

“I am thankful to the five candidates who had enough concern about the community to step up and run for office,” said Mayor John Kinnaird after the election.

Hamrick, 57, will serve his second full term as a commissioner. He was first elected to fill Kinnaird’s unexpired term in 2013 when Kinnaird was elected mayor. Hamrick is a manager with AT&T, where he has worked for 40 years. He has lived in Thurmont on and off for 50 years, including the last 23 years.

“I look forward to serving the town that I love so much,” Hamrick said.

He said his time as a commissioner has “flown by” so far, and he is proud of the things the board has accomplished during his time as a member. This includes improving Thurmont’s streetscape with building facades, new sidewalks, and improvements to the Thurmont Trolley Trail. He also said the board has kept the town’s budget healthy.

He feels the town will face some challenges, including the unpredictable cost of healthcare for town employees and the possibility of town revenues stagnating while costs continue to rise. He is ready to face those questions and make the best decisions he can for the town.

Buehrer, 74, is retired from Stauffer Funeral Homes, where he was a funeral director. First elected in 2011, this will be his third term as a commissioner. He said recently in The Catoctin Banner that his goal as a commissioner is to continue improving the town’s infrastructure, bring businesses to Thurmont, and improve housing development in a conservative manner.

“I was first elected in 2011, vying to preserve our past and save the future of Thurmont,” Buehrer said in the Banner. “This board has demonstrated such through infrastructure improvement. We have vigorously looked for and received state grants, thus bringing our tax dollars back to Thurmont. I want to continue these efforts.”

The election was held at the Guardian Hose Company Activities Building on East Main Street in Thurmont. The commissioners serve four year terms and earn $8,000 a year.

Putting into action the organization’s motto of “We Serve,” nine Lions, representing two Frederick County Lions Clubs, recently came together on a countywide service project when 214 preschool children in the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start program received vision screenings, performed by Lions members on eight different dates at various sites in September and October. The majority of the screenings were conducted at the Head Start offices in Frederick, with the remaining screenings held at Head Start locations at the Frederick YMCA and Hillcrest and Libertytown Elementary Schools.  Approximately 137 Lions service hours were spent on this effort. This was the sixth consecutive year for the joint-screening effort.

The children were brought in one at a time to a non-invasive testing station, with Head Start staff members accompanying the children. The station utilized PlusoptiX S12C eye-vision technology to capture an image of the children’s eyes and automatically determine whether a vision impairment, such as near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism, was present. The tester holds the unit approximately one meter from the child and asks the child to focus on the smiling face on the front of the camera. At the completion of the testing, each child received a Lion sticker to indicate they had completed the screening process.

While the vast majority of children passed, readings obtained by trained Lions indicated that some of the children needed to be seen by vision professionals for potential vision anomalies. The parents/guardians of 43 children tested received written test results to indicate that their child was recommended to see a vision professional for a potential problem or was unable to be screened. The advanced technology of the PluxoptiX camera provides readings that are printed out on a label that is attached to the letter for use by the vision professional of the parents’ choice.

Colleen Ford, health coordinator for the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start, stated, “This school year, our local Lions Club members have dedicated many hours of their time helping Frederick County (Maryland) families and children by conducting vision screenings. They have participated in four days of vision screenings in September 2019 and four days in October 2019. This event is one of extreme importance to the child’s overall health and educational development. With the state of art diagnostic machine they use, if the child is a referral, the information that is printed out for the family is of great importance to the provider performing the vision rescreen. Without the generous time given of the Lions Club members, it would be a hard mandate for Head Start to complete in a timely manner.”

Lions members participating in the screenings included: Sharon Hane, Nancy Smith, Clifford Sweeney, and Bill and Rachel Wivell from the Emmitsburg Lions Club; and John Aulls and Lynn Stimmel from Francis Scott Key Lions Club.

Childcare centers or organizations that want to learn more about the Lions preschool vision screening program or to schedule a screening should contact Lion John Aulls at or 301-662-2360.

Lions participating in the recent vision screenings of Head Start students included:  (seated) Lion Sharon Hane, Emmitsburg Lions, and Lion Lynn Stimmel, Francis Scott Key Lions; (standing) Lion John Aulls, Francis Scott Key Lions; Lion Clifford Sweeney, Emmitsburg Lions; Colleen Ford, Health Coordinator, YMCA of Frederick County Head Start; and Lion Lions Bill and Rachel Wivell, Emmitsburg Lions.  Participating but not shown:  Lion Nancy Smith of Emmitsburg Lions

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg could have its own disc golf by next spring. The town commissioners approved the design of an 18-hole disc golf course in Community Park during their October meeting.

Disc golf is played similar to golf. Instead of hitting a golf ball into a hole, players throw Frisbees into baskets. Its popularity has soared in recent years because it is an inexpensive sport for both the player and the course owner.

A $14,000 Community Parks and Playground Grant will fund the cost of the course. Fredrock Disc Golf, the group that designed and built the Woodsboro disc golf course, designed the Emmitsburg course to use some of the unused park area in Community Park. Also, the design does not require any mature, healthy trees be removed. Only dead and diseased trees and invasive species of plants will be removed.

“Disc golf is an activity that everybody can participate in,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners. “If you can walk, if you can be in a wheelchair, if you can get around, you can participate in disc golf.”

Town Clerk Madeline Shaw came up with the idea for the disc golf course and did the research to determine its feasibility. She said she was looking for an idea that would utilize more of Community Park (roughly only half of the park acreage is used now) and promote walkability and healthy lifestyles.

Woodsboro, Walkersville, and Middletown have disc golf courses, and Willets talked to staff at those towns to find out how they liked their courses. She said one town manager told her he was “amazed by how many people get out and just walk and get the exercise.” The length of Emmitsburg’s course is estimated to be about two miles.

The commissioners had some concerns over the placement of some of the holes and whether they would be in water when it rained. Fredrock representatives said if water becomes an issue with a hole, it can be relocated to a dry fairway within a few hours.

Although the Town of Emmitsburg will provide minimal weeding and clearing, volunteers with Fredrock will maintain the course in a similar way to how the town’s mountain biking trails are maintained.

If things go as planned, the town could host a ribbon-cutting for the course in April. Commissioner Tim O’Donnell suggested it might even be possible to have a tournament during Community Heritage Day.

The commissioners approved the course 4-1 with the understanding that the layout could be modified if needed. Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, was the dissenting vote.

The Thurmont Lion’s Club will be collecting new and gently used coats (children and adult), beginning October 26 through November. Drop-off sites are: Thurmont Food Lion, Catoctin High School, and Thurmont Middle School, or you can call Marci at 301-748-1665 for pickup.

The Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County held a reception on Thursday, September 26, 2019, at the Thurmont Regional Library to recognize the philanthropic legacy of the late Donald L. Lewis, specifically the creation of the Adult Evaluation and Referral Services Program (AERS) under the Advocates for the Aging (AAFC).

A Thurmont native, Lewis and his wife, Freda, owned and operated the Lewis Confectionery on the square in Thurmont. Donald was a U.S. Army Veteran who served in the European Theater during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. He was Mayor of Thurmont for two terms (1964 to 1970) and served as a Frederick County commissioner and then a legislative representative for Frederick County in Annapolis. He was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying interaction with community members by selling sporting goods at Lewis’ Store.

Lewis was a loved member of our community, and he loved the community back. He also greatly loved Freda. After her death in 2004, he honored her memory by naming the physical and occupational therapy wing of the Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center in her honor.

After his death in February of 2018, at the age of 99, through the trusted management of his niece, Sue Ferguson, he continued his legacy of community service by supporting several projects, including the AERS. This fund is a life-line for low-income and frail seniors to support nursing staff requests that improve a client’s quality of life, but for which the costs could not be covered through regular sources. Examples include assisting with the purchase of a prosthetic limb, an electric wheelchair, an air conditioner or a microwave.

If you are able, please consider including the Donald L. Lewis Fund for the Frederick County AERS Program in your charitable giving plans. For more information, please email or visit online.

Lewistown is a very small community with two churches, a fire company, and an elementary school, but the folks in and around Lewistown have huge hearts and care about one another. The members of the Lewistown United Methodist Church recently recognized the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Company for their courage, service, and commitment as they protect and serve their neighbors. Pastor Katy Mossburg of the Lewistown United Methodist Church offered blessings upon the first responders and the equipment, after which all enjoyed a good time of food and fellowship.

Members of the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Department gather after many of them had just returned from a call for an overturned vehicle; one person was transported to the hospital. Pictured from left are: (standing) Mary Fran Bostian, Karen Stull, Clarice Martin, Wayne Stull, Donald Martin, Steve Stull, Frannie Wachter, Ty Demar, Amber Demar, Beth Wachter, Skeeter Wachter, Vicky Martin, Shirley Stull, Delbert Stull; (kneeling) Bri Wachter, Taylor Boward, Steph Wachter, and Pastor Mossburg.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland announced that the Town of Thurmont was one of 17 Maryland municipalities honored at the Sustainable Maryland Awards Ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League’s annual Fall Conference in October in Cambridge, Maryland.

“The Town of Thurmont is extremely proud to once again obtain this touted recognition and certification,” said Mayor John Kinnaird. “Our staff and our Green Team have worked tirelessly to educate our citizens about sustainability, and the results are very indicative of how important these efforts are to our community. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s hard work and dedication.”

For detailed information about Thurmont’s sustainability initiatives, please contact Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick at 301-271-7313 or

(from left) Mayor John Kinnaird and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick are shown with the Sustainable Maryland Certified award at the Maryland Municipal League conference.

James Rada, Jr.

Rebuilding the Emmitsburg Community Pool proved to be a good investment for the town, and judging by the number of people that used it this summer, it was well-liked by residents.

The town closed the community pool for the 2017 season in order to undertake a $369,500 rebuilding of the pool. The town commissioners had initially only been planning on renovating the existing pool, but a pressure test of the plumbing showed that it needed to be replaced. Also, the beams beneath the pool were damaged and needed to be replaced.

Besides a new pool, the pool house has a fresh coat of paint, and the pavilion was treated to remove the bees. The parking lot was repaved and repainted. The new pool’s depths range from 1 foot to 10 feet.

For the two seasons that the pool has been reopened, it is proving less costly to operate, in part, because it is not leaking water like a sieve.

Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners in September that, not including the season pass holders, total attendance for the 88 days the pool was open was 9,911. The town also earned an average of $112.63 per day for admissions. This compares to 2018 when total attendance was 8,404 for 86 days, with the town earning an average of $97.72 per day.

The increase in revenue the town received was $7,258 for the year or about 33 percent more than 2018.

“That’s significantly higher than 2014, 2015, and 2016, before the renovations occurred,” said Willets. During those years, attendance was around 5,300 people a year for 65 days of operation.

Commission President Cliff Sweeney also pointed out that for the 35 days the concession stand was open, it averaged about $75 a day for the 3-4 hours it was open each day. It earned $2,700, while the food cost only $1,140. The profit from the stand goes toward Community Heritage Day. He said if it could be run by another organization that has the volunteers to run it, the concession stand could be a large fundraiser.

“You wouldn’t believe the people from Frederick who come up here to use the pool,” Sweeney said.

Besides Frederick, people are also coming from places like Fairfield and Taneytown and paying out-of-town prices to use the pool.

He said the reason they are willing to travel further and use a pool not in their community is that it is cleaner, quieter, and they enjoy the atmosphere and staff.

Blair Garrett

Donating money to families in need is a cause just about everyone can get behind.

Dedicating the time and effort to make a family’s holiday season just a little bit better is a priceless gift, and one that has been felt by families in Thurmont for years now.

Each holiday season, the Thurmont Police Commission puts together a fundraising drive to help families in need. Whether it’s money for groceries, to pay the rent, or just to get a little girl a toy for Christmas, the goal is the same: To help someone less fortunate than yourself.

“The Thurmont Police Commission is a commission set up by the town of Thurmont, and we work in more of an advisory capacity and a helping capacity,” said Shawn Martyak of the Thurmont Police Commission.

The importance is not placed on who is being helped, but rather how they can be helped. The donations are all anonymously done, with the families typically receiving the holiday gifts from local churches.

“We don’t want to know personally who the families are, and everything remains anonymous,” Martyak said. The commission strives to donate not for the recognition, but solely to do something good for local people who need a little help. “We’re part of the community, and we serve on the commission because we elected to help our community, and we look at this as another avenue to do so.”

As they have done in the past, this year’s goal is to help as many families as they can, and their success is entirely driven on donations by individuals who are able to help and the business community.

Finding families to help was much easier before, but the commission has a “Never Say Die” attitude, which has kept this program around for several years now.

“A few years ago, the commission solicited some donations from local businesses, and then went through the local school system to identify some children and their families who might need some help during the holiday season,” Martyak said. “Privacy laws changed, and we couldn’t get any more information that way. The police commission then leaned on the local police department for help, but privacy laws once again put up a roadblock identifying needy families.”

The Thurmont Police Commission now goes through the ministerial community, who work closely with Thurmont residents, as a way of making sure the donations stay local and get to those who need it most. 

“The plan this year is to go through a local church and present everything we collect to the pastor of a church to identify some people in the community to help the families who they feel are the neediest and could use some help,” Martyak said.

The commission takes donations all the way through November and the first week of December, and will give VISA gift cards to local churches to help out during the holidays.

This is a special group of people who come together to make a difference in their community, and that is something Martyak and the rest of the police commission are proud of. “The neat thing about this is, everything we collect stays in our community, and to us that’s truly working together with our police departments, our business community, and everybody working together,” he said.

If you would like to donate to help out a family in need this holiday season, you can mail VISA gift cards to the Thurmont Police Department at 800 East Main Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, with attention to the Police Commission.

Mayor Don Briggs

This September 11, at 8:46 a.m., marked the 18th anniversary of 9-11. I was humbled to join the town staff in what is now a tradition to observe a moment of silence for those who lost their lives that day in 2001 and their families and friends. Like it is in every year, though brief, it is always a powerful and moving time.

During the first weekend of October, we welcome firefighter families, their guests, and visitors to Emmitsburg for the 38th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial weekend. This year, the weekend commemoration will unofficially start at 7:30 p.m., Friday, October 4, with the unveiling and lighting of the William Cochran “Volunteers” glass etching located in front of the Emmitsburg Community Center and the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Museum on South Seton Avenue. This etching complements the town’s expression of gratitude and support for those firefighters who serve us. Congratulations to the fire museum officers. I enjoyed raising funds for the project. The event will also be attended by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner.

The Catoctin High School football is on a roll with two on-the-road wins. They opened up with a 43-26 win over a tough Boonsboro team. Lots of back and forth lead changes; many of the Cougar supporters in attendance said it felt like a playoff game. Week two, the team went on the road to the western part of the state for a win over Mountain Ridge High School, 43-0. Offense showed consistency, staying strong, and the defense stepped up. A home game with Frederick High School will start a three-week home stand.

The 63rd Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show was again a predictably wonderful weekend. In addition to all the events, displays, and various community groups’ booths, there were special tributes by Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and County Executive Gardner to Community Show Committee President Rodman Myers for his years of service to the Community Show. I had the honor of presenting an award from Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder, a wonderful man and a wonderful event. 

With the change in season comes the close out of our Farmer’s Market in September. The fresh vegetables from farmer’s markets have made for incredible summer salads. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini, all farm-to-table fresh. Add to these fresh sweet corn, peaches, and plums.

Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 31, for our Halloween Parade and ensuing refreshments and activities at Vigilant Hose Company. Check the town website or Facebook for details. It’s always a fun evening.

Enjoy the fall. Emmitsburg—a great place to live and work.

In light of some recent bicycling events, a general increase in bicycle traffic, and a recent accident involving a bike and a vehicle, I thought it might be helpful to review bicycling laws in Maryland.  The following highlights are provided by the State of Maryland. For complete rules regarding bicycles in Maryland, please refer to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Transportation, Title 21 – Rules of the Road.

Bicyclists fare best when they act like, and are treated as, drivers of vehicles. By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

•Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.

•Ride with traffic, never against it.

•Stop at all red lights and stop signs.

•Use hand signals when turning or stopping.

•Yield right-of-way to pedestrians.

•Pass on the left when overtaking a vehicle.

•Use marked bike lanes or paths when present.

•Use sharrows (markings in the travel lane that indicate where people should preferably cycle) to help guide you in shared travel lanes.

•Use caution when crossing ramps.

•Bikes must be ridden as close to the right side of the road as possible, unless making a left turn, riding on a one-way street, passing a halted/slowed vehicle, avoiding pedestrians or hazards, the right lane is a right turn only lane or the lane is too narrow for a bike to travel safely.

•Never ride more than two abreast.

•Only ride on sidewalks where it is allowed by local ordinance.

•Stay visible when riding at night and during inclement weather.

•All riders 16 and under are required to wear a helmet and wear the helmet correctly.

 Remember, a bicycle weighs 20 pounds; a car weighs 4,000 pounds. Even the slightest mistake on the part of the driver can result in tragic consequences for the bicyclist.

•Expect bicyclists on the road.

•Allow at least three feet when passing bicycle.

•Always keep a safe following distance.

•Yield the right-of-way to bicyclists when turning right.

•Look for bicyclists before opening a car door.

•Stay alert when pulling out of driveways or side streets.

•Watch for children.

•Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to text and use handheld devices while driving.

•Stay alert – avoid all distractions.

Please keep these rules in mind when you are riding a bicycle on our streets and whenever you encounter bicyclists.

As always please contact me with any concerns at 301-606-9458 or by email at

by James Rada, Jr.

SEPTEMBER 2019 Meeting

Colorfest Services Contracts Awarded

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved contracts to provide additional services during the 2019 Colorfest. The total cost of the contracts is $3,075 over the cost of the 2018 Colorfest contracts.

Security services: May Security of Frederick will provide 29 guards, 1 supervisor, and 1 relief guard during Colorfest weekend for $4,694.

Bus services: Rill’s Bus Services of Westminster will provide 10 standard buses and 1 wheelchair-accessible bus on Saturday, and 8 standard buses and 1 wheelchair-accessible bus on Sunday for $17,440.

Portable bathrooms: Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide 128 regular portable toilets, 17 handicapped-accessible portable toilets, and an on-site pumping truck for $16,850.

Trash services: Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide a special trash pick-up after 6:30 p.m. each evening, 2 dumpsters, and a recycling truck on site for $2,750, plus tipping fees.

Thurmont Town Election on October 29

The election to fill two commissioner seats will be held on October 29 at the Guardian Hose Company Activities Building on 123 East Main Street. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. The last day to register to vote in the election is close of business Oct. 1. Absentee ballot applications will be available on Oct. 4.

Commissioners Hear Road Improvement Estimates

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners heard from Arro Engineering about the probable cost to improve Carroll Street and Woodside Avenue. Mayor John Kinnaird said the improvements were a “long time coming” for roads that are “in dire need of repairs.” Doug Smith, senior project manager for Arro Engineering, said that 20-30 percent of the roads would need to be fully rehabilitated. He provided two estimates to the commissioners. One was the cost of road improvements with storm drains included ($5.3 million) and one estimate was without storm drains ($3.149 million).

Bamboo Added As Invasive Species

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners amended the town code to include bamboo as an invasive plant species. This will give the town some control over having property owners eradicate the plant if it moves onto a property outside of the person who owns the bamboo.

Halloween in the Park will take place on October 26 at Thurmont Community Park at 6:00 p.m. Rain date: November 2.       Trick-or-Treating: 6:00-7:30 p.m.

by James Rada, Jr.

SEPTEMBER 2019 Meeting

Paving Contracts Awarded

The Emmitsburg Commissioners awarded nine contracts to three companies to pave roads in town. The contracts total $90,941, which has already been budgeted for by the commissioners.

The roads to be paved are: Chesapeake Avenue (East Main St. to Lincoln Avenue); Chesapeake Avenue (Potomac St. to Potomac Avenue); Wagerman Lane; Bunker Hill Drive; Creamery Way; St. Joseph Lane (Seton Place and N. Seton Avenue); W. Lincoln Avenue at Jamison Ave. intersection; W. Lincoln Avenue at Patterson Ave. intersection.

ECM Corporation, C. J. Miller LLC, and Frederick County Paving won the contracts. By awarding the contracts by street, the town got a lower total price for all of the streets than if the commissioners had awarded one company all of the street projects.

New Businesses Move Closer to Construction

The new Rutter’s store is expected to have its final site plan submitted to the Emmitsburg Planning Commission by early 2020. Also, the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on the site of the Silo Hill car wash is expected to submit a site plan with traffic study to the planning commission.

Emmitsburg Passes Firewood Policy

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a policy allowing residents to collect firewood from town property. A free permit is required, and it allows town residents to collect firewood from June 1 to August 31. Only downed trees on town property within 100 feet of Hampton Valley Road can be cut for firewood. Also, motorized off-road equipment or vehicles cannot be used to remove the firewood.

Emmitsburg’s Annual Halloween Parade & Costume Contest is on October 31, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Parade starts at 7:00 p.m. (intersectioin of Federal & DePaul St.). Refreshments & contest winner announcements following parade at Vigilant Hose Co.       Trick-or-Treating: 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The Town of Thurmont held a Nominating Convention on Tuesday, October 24, 2019, for the upcoming municipal election in which two commissioner seats are up for election. Five candidates were nominated (pictured right); incumbent Wes Hamrick, new candidates Elliot Jones, Sabrina Massett, and Kenneth Oland, and incumbent Bill Buehrer.

The Thurmont Lions Club will sponsor a Candidate Forum to be held at the town office, the date and time will to be announced.

Mayor John Kinnaird encourages all registered voters to participate in the election and predicted a 50% voter turnout for this election. Let’s prove him right, Thurmont residents!

Dates to remember:

October 1 is the last day to register to vote, you can register at the town office.

October 22 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot.

October 29 elections will be held at the Guardian Hose Company Activities Building at 123 East Main Street. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.

Staff members of Senior Benefit Services, Inc. and realtors of CLIMB Properties gathered for a grand opening of their new offices at 112 E. Main Street in Thurmont on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Senior Benefits Services (SBS)celebrates a new beginning in the new space, having moved from offices on Water Street in Thurmont. Senior Benefits’ Phyllis Nizer said, “Today is a very important day for us at SBS. We’ve grown into a new location in this beautiful older home in Thurmont to continue serving your Medicare and retirement needs for all ages, not just 65 and over.”

Karen Simundson of Senior Benefits Services has been in Insurance for 20 years. She recruits and manages agents for Senior Benefits, which has a corporate office in Hagerstown, Maryland. She said, “We added a Thurmont office a handful of years ago but outgrew our spaces. I bought the Main Street house to be a permanent fixture in business here.”

She explained, “At SBS we provide retirement and insurance services that take folks from employee to retiree as seamlessly as possible. We do 401K & IRA rolls, income planning, life insurance, and many indemnity plans. We know Medicare inside and out, but also review folks’ group benefits that they may be able to keep at retirement. We educate so one knows what they have, how to use it, and any exposure they may be responsible for down the road.”

It’s important to note that all SBS services are free, so it’s free to look, shop, compare! SBS has four agents in Thurmont. They are licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Call Senior Benefits Services at 301-271-4040 or visit for more information.

When CLIMB Properties broker Caron Kinsey started making a list in order to start her own company, the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) were answered, the model thought through, and CLIMB Properties became a reality. Caron attended broker class over an hour away, in each direction, three days a week for four months, sometimes having to drive in snow and icy conditions. She then secured office space, conquered business logistics, and, of course, enlisted real estate agents. Caron worked with one agent who followed her from RE/MAX to start CLIMB. She then added another and then another. The business model was based on Caron’s own agent experiences that inspired her unique brokerage perspective. She explained, “What can CLIMB Properties do for their agents, instead of how much do agents give to their traditional brokers.” Caron felt that the brokerage was designed “by an agent for an agent,” which is not the normal flow of the real estate business.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, CLIMB has 15 agents, 1 administrative manager, and 3 offices (Frederick, Hagerstown, and Thurmont). CLIMB Properties is licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and services clients in residential, commercial, land and farms, and investors, with specialties in luxury homes, estates, and historic properties.

 CLIMB Properties hopes to add 5 more licensed real estate agents by the end of 2019, and ultimately grow to about 50. As CLIMB’s tag line reads, “helping their clients AND their agents reach new heights” is the number one goal!

Call CLIMB at 240-215-6533 or visit for more information.

Theresa Dardanell

Pictured from left are: (back row) Pat Wastler (Prayer Shawl Coordinator), Pastor Katy Mossburg, James Gray (Lay leader), Gene Long, Celeste Carroll, Alan Flowers; (front row) JoAnn Mossburg (Church Council Chair) and Gloriae Green.

Lewistown UMC Prays 4 You. Those are the words on the new community prayer box in front of the Lewistown United Methodist Church (LUMC). Do you know someone who needs extra prayers right now, maybe a friend or a family member or even you? Members of the Lewistown United Methodist Church want to pray for your special needs. LUMC Pastor Katy Mossburg said, “We want people to know we are here for them and to help them be connected to God.” 

The locked prayer box is prominently displayed in front of the church at 11032 Hessong Bridge Road; pen and paper are provided. Requests are confidential and anonymous, unless you would like to be contacted for a follow-up call or visit.

Pastor Katy collects the prayer requests daily and sends them to members of the prayer chain who are dedicated to praying for the needs of the community. Prayers can also be requested by sending an email to Prayer shawls are also available; shawls are prayed over and blessed when made and presented to the recipient with a prayer and an additional blessing. Pastor Katy said, “It is like wrapping yourself up in a big hug from God.”

Megan Doolittle

Elower-Sicilia Productions (ESP) ESP dancers are back for a new dance year and are excited to dance for their community! The dancers loved dancing at the Community Show, as well as the Thurmont Art & Wine Stroll! They will also perform at Colorfest in the Thurmont town park on both Saturday and Sunday at noon. While ESP is celebrating its 50th anniversary, the ESP Performing Company has been working hard at brand new choreography for a new year. ESP is so lucky to have such a great group of dancers, who love to express their love for dance through their performances. ESP Performing Company has a couple of events coming up in the near future that we would like to invite you to attend!  

ESP would like to invite all to come and participate in the 9th Annual ESP 5k “Superheroes On The Run Fighting through Breast Cancer” on October 26, 2019. We are again proud to use this event to honor our dear ESP friend who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010. Pamela Gray Hobbs was a dancer, teacher, and parent affiliated with ESP for over 20 years. She remains in our hearts. In memory of Pam, a portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to help support Maggie Kudirka, aka “The Bald Ballerina.”  Maggie is a Maryland native who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 23, while she was dancing with the Joffrey Ballet Company in New York.  Maggie has been a strong advocate for breast cancer awareness.  The money raised will help with the cost of Maggie’s increasingly large medical bills, as she has already received 85 maintenance treatments. 

We always like to have a little fun with this event! So besides running a beautiful course lined with dancers cheering you on, this year we will be holding a contest for the most creative, most powerful and the cutest costumes! Runners and volunteers will be entered into this contest and the winners will receive a prize. Please register at ESP Dance Studio @ 15 Water St. Thurmont or you can register on Active:

For more information, contact the studio at 301-271-7458. Be sure to check them out on Facebook.

The ESP Performing Company would like to extend a special “thank you” to the Thurmont community, The Catoctin Banner, and to The Frederick Arts Council for all of their continued support.

ESP taking its fight to new heights.

Children of all ages enjoyed a fun-filled day of games, demonstrations, food, and laughter at the Back-to-School Celebration on Sunday, August 25, 2019, sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Thurmont, located at 7 Sunny Way in Thurmont. 

Members of various community organizations, including Girl Scouts, YMCA After-School Program, Good News Club, and Fountain Rock Nature Center, presented their programs to the adults and children and explained how they could participate. Also, Maryland State Police Officer Cpl. Corey Borns and local Crossing Guard Eleanor Putman shared safety tips regarding traffic, building safety, crowd issues, and other school activities. School Music Teacher Alison Schroeder talked about what to expect the first day of school in order to avoid any anxiety, confusion, or uncertainty about classes, teachers, or building directions. Beautician Roxanne Renner offered interesting beauty tips, and Nurse Pam Adams did health checks and shared health tips that were helpful to both the children and parents.

Donations of school supplies were received for Operation Christmas Child, an international mission organization that helps less-privileged children with clothes, shoes, and other gifts at Christmas. A special prayer was offered for everyone involved in education, students as well as teachers, bus drivers, staff, etc., for a productive, safe and enjoyable school year.  There were games and snow cones that added to the fun and information. The youth of the church were guides and did a great job of helping to lead the children throughout the event. The event was enjoyed by all and provided lots of useful information and guidance.

On July 20, 2019, the Thurmont Lions Club held a 50’s Sock Hop. The proceeds were donated to the non-profit organization “Music for Medicine Foundation” to help combat the heroin epidemic in the Thurmont community. 

On August 14, 2019, a donation of $550 was presented to Rachel Hubbard, Music for Medicine Foundation.

The Lions Club extends its gratitude to everyone who attended the Sock Hop to support this important fundraiser.

Alumni of the former St. Joseph’s High School met for their monthly gathering at the Ott House Pub in Emmitsburg on August 7, 2019.

Pictured above are Gloria Joy Bauerline (age 96), Donald Joy, Bernadette Joy, Cynthia Joy Trout, her husband Dan Trout, and John “Buzz” Walter.

Don and Buzz recall playing basketball on the same team at St. Joseph’s 70 years ago (1949). Don was the leading scorer with 345 points, and Buzz second with 225 points. All present had a good time.

The Thurmont Lions Club (TLC) would like to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Thurmont community, surrounding counties, and all the travelers on Rt. 15, who stopped by its sandwich booth for their support of the pit beef, pit ham, pit pork, and pit turkey sandwich sales held this summer. The community’s dedication to the club over the past numerous years have been nothing short of amazing.

TLC saw record crowds this year for its sixth sandwich sales event. The club’s dedication to quality food and large portions has been major contributors to the sales. This year has been an astonishing, outstanding year, with the club netting a profit of $15,300.   

These successful events have supported the club in helping to sustain donations to sight-related organizations and organizations within our community.

The Thurmont Lions Club will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in October. Over the years, the community has helped in providing eyeglasses; doing preschool vision screening; and giving to the Thurmont Food Bank, local schools, Thurmont Regional Library, Diabetes Awareness, and many, many more local and vision-related organizations.