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Blair Garrett

Each October, some of our nation’s bravest heroes are honored in Emmitsburg, a.k.a. Firetown, USA.

The Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service gives thanks to firefighters who are no longer with us, who have served our communities, protecting citizens in their time of need.

In a town heralded for its dedication and history in fire prevention and safety, Emmitsburg is a special home for the memorial ceremony, which honored 103 firefighters on its 37th Annual Memorial Weekend October 5-7, 2018.

The service commenced amidst bagpipes sounding off and the hushed crowd filing into the seats, as Chief Dennis Compton, chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, offered confirming words of security to families in attendance who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

“The men and women we are honoring today are not heroes because they died; they became heroes to the people in their communities the day they signed up to be a firefighter.”

The impact firefighters who have given their lives over the years is felt not only in the tight-knit community of Emmitsburg, but around the nation. Major landmarks across the country participated in “Light Up the Night,” shining fire engine red lights on buildings like the World Trade Center in New York and LAX in Los Angeles in support of fallen heroes. Over 150 fire departments nationwide participated as well, in honor of those who came before them.

Throughout the weekend, families of the fallen gathered for the candlelight service and a vigil in honor of the men and women who passed in 2017 and years prior. Participants came together to hold moments of silence and remembrance for members of one of our country’s bravest professions.

The Memorial Service caps off the special weekend, bringing thousands of people from across the country together to stand by the families of the fallen and to show respect for each firefighter gone too soon.

The two-day event is a constant reminder to the proud citizens of Emmitsburg to never take a day for granted and to be thankful that should an emergency strike, we always have men and women in uniform ready to help at a moment’s notice.

“We are again reminded today through the actions of those fallen, when someone calls for help, they can be assured of one thing,” Chief Keith Bryant said,“firefighters will come, regardless of the dangers.”

The importance of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend to Emmitsburg cannot be overlooked or understated. For a town intertwined with firefighting, the service is a chance for the community to recognize the safety and security the nation’s firefighters have given us over the years. And there may be no town in the world more appreciative than Emmitsburg.

As the leaves on Catoctin Mountain turned to yellow, red, and orange, Thurmont turned pink as the town supported activities to raise funds to fight breast cancer.

During October, Thurmont becomes the “Gateway to the Cure,” as the town sells pink light bulbs, pink t-shirts, pink shopping bags, and more. In addition, various groups hold events and fundraisers and donate the income to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Jeff and Patty Hurwitz created The Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital in 1999. Patty had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the couple believed that early diagnosis had helped improve her chances of beating cancer. The fund is used to improve ways of diagnosing and fighting cancer in the county. The fund has raised $1.7 million to date. That money has gone to purchase things, such as a machine for biopsies and another for 3D mammography. Every dollar donated to the fund is used for direct patient benefit, and there are no administrative costs.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of great things with this fund,” said Sadie Wolf, development officer for the fund.

She told the Thurmont Commissioners that because of the hospital’s focus on fighting breast cancer, and with the help of the fund, the time between a patient’s cancer diagnosis and surgery has shrunk from fifty-nine days to twelve days. This means that cancers are treated earlier, which improves a patient’s chances of survival.

Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder told the commissioners that 2017 had been the best year so far for the town’s campaign. Thurmont donated $15,000 to the fund. This brought the town’s four-year total donations to $43,648.

Grinder is hoping that the town does even better this year. She said things had gotten off to a good start with a two-hour Zumbathon at the American Legion that raised $700. The annual 5K run/walk also had forty runners and walkers raising money to find a cure.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird stated that he was challenging all of the other municipalities in the county to do something in their own communities to raise funds to fight breast cancer.

The town will make its donation later in the year, once all of the donations have come in and been tallied.

Thurmont’s involvement in the Gateway to the Cure started in 2014 by Commissioner Wayne Hooper, whose wife Jill is a breast cancer survivor. Since that time, Grinder has been coordinating the town’s efforts to help find a cure.

As the leaves on Catoctin Mountain turned to yellow, red, and orange, Thurmont turned pink as the town supported activities to raise funds to fight breast cancer.

During October, Thurmont becomes the “Gateway to the Cure,” as the town sells pink light bulbs, pink t-shirts, pink shopping bags, and more. In addition, various groups hold events and fundraisers and donate the income to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Jeff and Patty Hurwitz created The Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital in 1999. Patty had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the couple believed that early diagnosis had helped improve her chances of beating cancer. The fund is used to improve ways of diagnosing and fighting cancer in the county. The fund has raised $1.7 million to date. That money has gone to purchase things, such as a machine for biopsies and another for 3D mammography. Every dollar donated to the fund is used for direct patient benefit, and there are no administrative costs.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of great things with this fund,” said Sadie Wolf, development officer for the fund.

She told the Thurmont Commissioners that because of the hospital’s focus on fighting breast cancer, and with the help of the fund, the time between a patient’s cancer diagnosis and surgery has shrunk from fifty-nine days to twelve days. This means that cancers are treated earlier, which improves a patient’s chances of survival.

Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder told the commissioners that 2017 had been the best year so far for the town’s campaign. Thurmont donated $15,000 to the fund. This brought the town’s four-year total donations to $43,648.

Grinder is hoping that the town does even better this year. She said things had gotten off to a good start with a two-hour Zumbathon at the American Legion that raised $700. The annual 5K run/walk also had forty runners and walkers raising money to find a cure.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird stated that he was challenging all of the other municipalities in the county to do something in their own communities to raise funds to fight breast cancer.

The town will make its donation later in the year, once all of the donations have come in and been tallied.

Thurmont’s involvement in the Gateway to the Cure started in 2014 by Commissioner Wayne Hooper, whose wife Jill is a breast cancer survivor. Since that time, Grinder has been coordinating the town’s efforts to help find a cure.

A mission team from Tom’s Creek UMC traveled to Puerto Rico to provide support and to help Puerto del Cielo Methodist Church rebuild its pavilion that was destroyed during Hurricane Maria. The pavilion was used to cook food and provide meals to the people in the community and to support the ministries of the church. In addition, a solar panel system was brought, so they would have a form of power when future emergencies occur. The team of eighteen missionaries left from Emmitsburg to travel to Puerto Rico on August 8, 2018, for ten days. The team took school supplies for school children in need and helped the teachers paint their rooms before school started. They also were able to lead a service on the beach with music and communion. As with most mission trips, the team received more than they gave and they plan to continue the relationship by returning next year.


Tom’s Creek UMC’s Mission Team helps the Methodist Church in Puerto Rico rebuild its pavilion, which was destroyed during hurricane Maria.

Aaron Shaw of Frederick took the top honors in both the spring and fall 2018 bass tournaments, hosted by Cobblestone Hotel & Suites and held on Lake Royer at the former Fort Ritchie property in Cascade. The events featured adult and youth divisions.

Joining Shaw on the podium for the fall tournament, held on Saturday, September 22, were Jacob Martin (second place), along with Dave Fisher and Josh Smith (tied for third place). Cash prizes were awarded for the top three finishers. In the youth division, Jesse Leisinger of Smithsburg took first place, followed by Chad Moser with second place. Youth division winners earned gift cards. Shaw’s winning fish was 13.25 inches, and Leisinger’s measured 13.5 inches.

The Cobblestone Hotel & Suites’ Bass Fishing Tournaments are held annually in the spring and fall, with proceeds benefitting the programs of the Fort Ritchie Community Center. Cobblestone Hotel & Suites has more than one hundred facilities across the United States, with the closest location to Fort Ritchie being in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. For more information on the community center, please visit www.thefrcc.org.

Aaron Shaw (far right) won both tournaments in 2018; pictured with Shaw are (from left): Josh Smith, David Fisher, and Jacob Martin.

Jessie Leisinger (right) won the youth division, and Chad Smith earned second place.

Developing the “soft” skills necessary to be successful in the workforce is the goal of a new teen program offered by the Fort Ritchie Community Center. The Community Center has received a $30,000 grant from the Rural Maryland Council to pilot the new initiative. In addition to learning new skills, the teens will also have the opportunity to earn some money, according to Buck Browning, executive director of the Community Center.

“The teens will have the chance to earn stipends as they successfully complete the skill development sessions,” Browning said. “Along with our local partners in this initiative, we felt it was very important to make the program simulate an employer-employee relationship. Thanks to the funding from the Rural Maryland Council, the teens will be able to earn and begin to manage money.”

The job skills program will have three main components: Education, Practice, and Evaluation. The education component will provide information to the participants on skills as basic as how to professionally answer a telephone call and take a message for a co-worker. Activities will be fun and very interactive, according to Connor Brown, operations director for the Community Center and the staff in charge of the program.

“The instructional portion is going to be fast-paced and fun,” Brown said. “We will use a wide range of strategies and techniques to keep the messages clear, consistent, and understandable,” he added. Brown said the participants will then demonstrate their new skills as they are assigned tasks within the Community Center. “The teens will have a schedule just like our current employees and they will be expected to complete their assigned tasks with the training they have received as part of the practice and evaluation components.”

A participant-parent information meeting will be held at the Community Center on November 1, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. To register for the meeting or to find out more information on the program, please call the Community Center at 301-241-5085.

For a number of years, the Thurmont Lions Club has sponsored the Thurmont Community Remembrance Tree during the Christmas season. Starting with the 2018 Christmas season, the concept of this tree has been expanded to encourage local residents and organizations to express any seasonal sentiment that they desire. As in years past, the tree will be placed on the corner lot next to the PNC Bank at East Main and South Center Street. Individuals and organizations are being asked to place their own ornaments on the tree (must be weather-proof). The ornaments can express a seasonal sentiment or simply identify the individual/organization that placed the ornament, as long as they are in good taste.

The tree will be dedicated at 4:30 p.m. on December 1 (Christmas in Thurmont Day). Ideally, we would like to see individuals/organizations place their ornaments on the tree as a part of the dedication ceremony; however, if that is not convenient, the ornaments may be placed at any time after the tree is erected (around November 25).

Please join the Thurmont Lions Club in celebrating the spirit of the Christmas Season this year.

The Emmitsburg Council of Churches (ECC) enjoyed excellent participation and inspiring speakers at its first Community Unity Day, September 23, 2018. Addressing a large number of citizens, speakers at the event emphasized the importance of love and tolerance in direct opposition to the hatred and fear scattered by the carriers of racism and bigotry.

The Home Comfort Band provided bluegrass renditions of much-beloved hymns and songs. Their Psalms celebrating a loving and merciful God were appreciated.

Mark Long, Emmitsburg citizen and organizer, began the speaking portion of the celebration by welcoming everyone. Mark stepped forward to help organize the Community Unity Day in direct response to hateful literature left on the doorsteps of many Emmitsburg citizens. He recognized the speakers and government officials attending, including Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs; Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird; town commissioners; county commissioners; and candidates for local office.

Pastor Richard Baker of Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC) welcomed everyone. He spoke about how his own denomination struggles with welcoming gay couples. He then offered the opening prayer for the unity celebration.

Mayor Don Briggs spoke about how important connection is within Emmitsburg. He shared about efforts to upgrade infrastructure and the community swimming pool, both of which build up and encourage community connections, to make the town a welcoming place for all persons.

The Rev. Jon Greenstone, President, Emmitsburg Council of Churches, and Pastor of Elias Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) spoke about the importance of countering the literature left by white supremacists on Emmitsburg residents’ doorsteps. He recounted the stirring history of Emmitsburg citizens standing up against slavery and bigotry.

The Rev. Bill Goal, Bishop, Delaware Maryland Synod of the ELCA, told how he has encountered racism in his own life as a parent of adopted biracial and African-American children. He provided ways to address “funny” racial remarks that are bigoted and hateful.

Roger Wilson, Director, Frederick County Government Affairs and Policy, spoke about how Frederick County had become a place persons want to live, work, and raise their families. He spoke about how this county, through its openness and diversity, welcomes all persons.

The Rev. Stacey Coles Wilson, Baltimore-Washington Conference of the UMC, spoke passionately of the history of racism and bigotry in the United States and the currents of change toward a diversity of humankind, united by love and tolerance.

Fr. Marty McGeough, St Joseph’s Parish, Roman Catholic Church, closed with prayer and loud Amens. The ECC will continue its efforts to demonstrate love and tolerance in Emmitsburg and beyond.

Rev. Stacey Coles Wilson, Baltimore-Washington Conference of the UMC, speaks of positive currents of change towards love and tolerance at the Community Unity Day on September 23, 2018.

Photo Courtesy of Debbie Wivell and Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about these events, please visit Firehero.org.

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

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

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

Learn more about the Pump-Out Rebate Program or download an application at www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/septicrebate or contact Linda Williamson at 301-600-1741 or lwilliamson1@frederickcountymd.gov.

The Thurmont Lions Club will be hosting two Northern Frederick County Candidates Forums in October for the upcoming elections. On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. at the Thurmont Middle School, a candidates forum will feature those running for the County Council District 5 and County Council At Large seats.

On Wednesday, October 17, also at 7:00 p.m. at the Thurmont Middle School, the Northern Frederick County Candidates Forum will showcase the candidates running for the County Executive and House of Representatives 8th District seats.

This Northern Frederick County Candidates Forum series will highlight those issues that are important to our area, allowing the candidates to present their views and allowing the constituents of our area to get to know the candidates so that they can make informed decisions on Election Day. The Thurmont Lions Club does not endorse any one candidate for office, but rather presents an opportunity for our communities to know who is seeking to represent them in our local and national governments.

Catoctin High School will host various activities all school year to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary. Anniversary activities are planned for Catoctin’s Homecoming on October 5, 2018. Before the homecoming football game, an anniversary parade will be held; a reception will be held in the cafeteria at the high school before the game. During the reception, alumni can snack, socialize, and tour the school. Committee members are looking for memorabilia from the last fifty years that can be photographed, scanned, and/or displayed in the school for the 2018-2019 school year. In addition, families where multiple generations have graduated from CHS, please visit www.sites.google.com/fcps.org/catoctin50 to find out how to contribute to this celebration this school year!

The CHS Student Government Association and CHS Sports Boosters will host activities to commemorate the anniversary throughout the year. Stay tuned for details.

Emmitsburg residents, we need your help! Please join Emmitsburg for the third Emmitsburg Volunteer Community Clean-Up Day on Saturday, September 8, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.-noon. Volunteers will pick up and dispose of loose trash and litter from the parks, roads, and alleys in the downtown Emmitsburg area. Meet at Memorial Park (just behind the Post Office) at 8:15 a.m. for a light breakfast and to organize into teams. Plastic bags, gloves, and garbage pokers will be provided. Cleanup begins east of Seton Avenue on both the north and south sides of Main Street, working towards the Silo Hill/Main Street intersection (where the Jubilee shopping center is located).

We had great first and second Clean-Up Days. Thanks to all the volunteers who picked up well over 100 pounds of trash and litter. This is simple hands-on work that needs to be done to help keep Emmitsburg a beautiful community. If you have a passion for your community and a little extra time on September 8, please come out for the third Emmitsburg Volunteer Community Clean-Up Day.