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U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is 75 years old this year, and Cub Scout Pack 270 and Venturing Crew 270 are proud to continue their partnership with them in collecting new unwrapped toys for kids in Frederick County.  

You will find collection boxes for drop-off at Ace Hardware, Mountain Gate Restaurant, and Thurmont American Legion Post 168. Members of the U.S. Marine Corps will pick up the boxes of toys on December 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Thurmont American Legion Post 168 during Cub Scout Pack 270’s annual Holiday pack meeting. All are welcome to attend.

The Thurmont Lions Club is proud to honor our Veterans with its 3rd Annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony on December 17, 2022. This ceremony coincides with the National ceremony that starts at noon, sharp.  The ceremony will be held at Blue Ridge Cemetery on Altamont Avenue in Thurmont. 

All are welcome to attend. Please be there before noon. All are welcome to help lay wreaths on the Veterans’ graves after the ceremony. 

If you would like to donate or purchase a wreath, please visit  for Veterans in Blue Ridge Cemetery; for Veterans at Weller’s Cemetery, Mount Carmel, and Apples Church Cemeteries (in the notes, please put Veteran name and cemetery). Or send to The Thurmont Lions Club, 15000 Roddy Road, Thurmont, MD 21788 (in the notes, please put Veteran name and cemetery).

For more information or with any questions, contact or 240-258-8208.

November 12 is the BSA Scouts National Annual Scouting for Food program, and Cub Scout Pack 270, BSA Scouts Troop 270B & G, and Venturing Crew 270 will be participating.

On November 5, the Scouts will be putting bags on household doors. These bags make it easier for community members to donate needed items for the local food bank. 

Please take time to fill the bags and leave them on your porch on November 12, and the Scouts will come by and pick them up. 

All donated items will be delivered to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Richard D. L. Fulton

On August 1, Mayor Don Briggs presented a proclamation to Sister Anne M. Higgins, honoring her as the Town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate at the town Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Briggs stated that Higgins was selected by himself (as mayor) and commissioners to the position, which will run from August 2022 to August 2024.

He further stated that the sister has published nine books of poetry, and that more than 100 of her poems have been published in journals and magazines, including The Writer’s Almanac.

Books that she had published included At the Year’s Elbow (Mellen Poetry Press, 2000), Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky (Plain View Press, 2007), Pick It Up and Read (Finishing Line Press, 2008), How the Hand Behaves (Finishing Line Press, 2009), Digging for God (Wipf & Stock/Resource Publications, 2010), Vexed Questions (Aldrich Press, 2013), Reconnaissance (Texture Press, 2014), Life List (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Not Only/But Also (Duck Lake Press, 2019). 

Additionally, she has given readings at the Curious Iguana Bookstore in Frederick, the Joaquin Miller Cabin, and the Café Muse in Washington, D.C., among other venues on the East Coast.

Briggs stated that Higgins has been “passionate about inspiring the Town of Emmitsburg and public to engage in poetry.”

Upon being presented the proclamation by the mayor, Higgins read one of her poems, Cherry Tomatoes, to the mayor and board (and public). 

Higgins, originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a member of the Daughters of Charity for some 44 years and a graduate of Emmitsburg’s Saint Joseph’s College, the Johns Hopkins University, and the Washington Theological Union.

Additionally, she continues to teach English at Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU), which she has been doing for more than 40 years. Before being hired by MSMU in 1999, she taught English at the Weekend College, Notre Dame University of Maryland, from January 1997 until December 1998; and at Howard Community College, from September 1998 until June 1999.

Her hobbies are gardening and bird watching.

Briggs stated that one of the reasons the town elected to acknowledge such contributions as represented by those of Sr. Anne M. Higgins is because “the Town of Emmitsburg wishes to encourage reflection upon the richness and diversity of the people, locations, and traditions (of the town).” Mayor Briggs noted that on August 5, 2019, the town Board of Commissioners established a two-year, honorary position of Poet Laureate of Emmitsburg in the spirit of “encouraging the reading, writing, sharing, and celebration of poetry.”

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs presents a proclamation to Sister Anne M. Higgins, honoring her as the Town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate during an August town meeting.

Photo Courtesy of Town of Emmitsburg

Terry Pryor

It isn’t easy preparing for the life of a Royal. It’s downright cumbersome when you are a rather large frog who sits by the side of a busy highway, waiting for kisses. And how many kisses does it take to transform a frog into a Prince? We are still waiting to find out, it seems.

Kissimmee (pictured right) is his name, and for three-plus years, he has been a focal point for commuters and travelers on U.S. Highway 15, just south of Thurmont. No matter the rain, snow, sunshine, or any weather in-between, nothing has deterred him from his purpose: to be a Prince!

Kissimmee’s previous line of work was in a playground, where children climbed on his back, chased each other around his big old gold and green plastic body, and would-be princesses posed for pictures smooching his big lips. It was an okay gig, but Kissimmee knew he was born for greater things.

One day (or once upon a time), Jeff and Reggie Barber, father and son and owners of Playground Specialists Inc. (a family business in Thurmont that serves Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia), were out assessing a new playground site. Guess who lived there?

Reggie, the elder Barber, a self-proclaimed Purveyor of Nonsense, took it upon himself to adopt Kissimmee and share him with the world that traveled down route 15. The placement of Kissimmee changes daily, as Reggie pulls him up and down the side road next to the highway. It’s a game played by who knows how many to guess where he will show up next.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to where I put him,” Reggie explained. “It’s all about having fun.”

For the most part, smiles are unseen, but in those speeding trucks, cars, and motorcycles barreling down the highway to their destinations, you can bet that smiles often last for miles.

Reggie has received cards, letters, and notes—sometimes stuck on our Prince-to-be—all proclaiming their love for him. And, yes, there are also those who stop to plant a nice big kiss on our stalwart amphibian. One commuter, recently retired, sent a note commenting on how much he enjoyed wondering where Kissimmee would be moved each day and how much fun seeing him made his commute a pleasure over the years.

People have also stopped to “decorate” Kissimmee. For some reason (perhaps his color), St. Patrick’s Day is a biggie. Reggie is never sure who might show up or when, but people of all ages have stopped to let their kids (and inner kids) out to play.

Before Kissimmee came to live by the side of the road, a purple dinosaur could be seen counting cars, or whatever dinosaurs do. According to Reggie, “He kept traveling. Once, he returned, but then took off again.”

No one has yet tried to make off with Kissimmee. His size is a deterrent; and, just in case you get any ideas, his best friend is a Wizard, so be careful of lightning bolts.

I’m not sure about the Prince thing. They have always been overrated to me. I also would not want that last kiss, whatever number it is, to be the reason we never see Kissimmee again sitting somewhere by the side of the road, watching the world go by.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Jacob’s Church on Harbaugh Valley Road in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, near Sabillasville, celebrated its 200th Anniversary on September 17 and 18, 2022. The two-day event was unique, with old time dress, music, folks telling about the history of Jacob’s Church, food, fellowship, and historic displays of the church.

Jacob’s Church’s Pastor Richard Daughtridge and wife, Robin, have been serving the church for 15 years, serving previously at Ringgold for 12 years.

Pastor Richard said, “It’s been a great little church. The people here are just mountain people who love each other and love to get together. It’s a beautiful place.”

“We have a wonderful congregation! We have a wonderful pastor and his wife. We really love them,” proclaimed a lady in a dress and bonnet dubbed the “madame” by her peers named Carolyn Brookens.

Pastor Richard and parishioners dressed the part for the occasion. Pastor Richard took a wagon ride, courtesy of Wolfe Auctions and Kathy Ruby, on a circuit ride to St. John’s in Sabillasville to create authenticity. Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s held a service there and returned to Jacob’s Church with Pastor Richard for the homecoming. 

Pastor Richard said, “We’ve (the congregation) put a lot of work into it. The parishioners are excited to be part of the celebration.”

Bluegrass players at the church gather and play together and did so for this occasion. The beautiful band stage on the grounds was built from three trees on the property several years prior. The trees were milled at Ray Coblentz’s sawmill. Pastor Richard explained, “All of our men (parishioners) shaved the lumber with a draw knife. Ben Miller led the construction.”

The church, its pews, and the social hall (a former schoolhouse) are all original from 200 years ago, and still used frequently to this day.

Originally, the church was started by Apples Church by Jacob Harbaugh. Jacob Harbaugh was the elder who was in charge of the charge 200 years ago.

Pastor Richard built the old, rugged cross that adorns the pulpit in his barn and actually laid on the cross to determine the placement of its nails. “We’ve always used this old cross as a centerpiece for all sermons.”

The church’s stained-glass window was crafted by Herb and Pam Campbell (deceased).

During the anniversary service, Pastor Richard wore a colonial wig. Many in the congregation wore settlers’ clothing. When taking the offering, the deacons used bags on long sticks to receive the offering and ticklers with a feather on a string to wake people up if they fell asleep during the sermon.

According to Pastor Richard, Jacob’s Church has done well and remained strong for 200 years. Before COVID, the church was packed with around 100 parishioners all the time. They still host approximately 70 people, combined with some in the church in person, some listening on the radio (107.2) in the parking lot in their cars, and some online on Facebook live. 

The history of Jacob’s Church by Joan Bittner Fry will be featured in the November edition of The Catoctin Banner.

Jacob’s Church members, dressed in period attire, made homemade bread, churned butter, cooked soup in a campfire kettle, and served up meals. Pictured from left: (seated front row) Barb McKendrick, Carolyn Brookens, and Christy Worthington; (standing) Aubrey Harbaugh, Ellen Hildabrand, Jean Morrison, Mary Martin, Kathy Gunder, Judy Barton, Helen Troxell, Charlotte Donnelly, and Caythee Ruby.

This horse-drawn carriage (provided by Wolfe Auctions) was used to transport Pr. Richard to St. John’s, where he joined in the service.

The Jacob’s Church 200th Anniversary congregation gathers out front for the celebration. Jacob’s Church was part of the group of churches known as the Emmitsburg Charge. In recognition, Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s Church in Sabillasville joined the presentation.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding


A special birthday celebration was held at Gettysburg’s Transitions Healthcare on September 5, 2022, for resident Gloria Bauerline who turned 99 on Labor Day. The former Emmitsburg resident has been an Auxiliary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6658 for over 70 years, serving in many different capacities, including chaplain and president. She is the last surviving charter member of the post.

Gloria worked in the Mount St. Mary’s finance office for over 30 years. She is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Emmitsburg and was active in their Sodality.

Twenty-nine family members and friends attended her party: Denny and Carol Martin, Robin, Jordan and Collin Dowling, Cory and Kaylee Martin, Gene Martin, Bruce Martin, Robert Henke and Kathy Staub, Mike Joy, Don and Bernadette Joy, Dan and Cindy Trout, Sandra Raines, Pam and Morgan Gigous, Julie Joy, Kevin and Teresa Short, Jean Joy Sanders, Joel Sanders, Tim and Debbie Valentine, Joan Tracey, Marlene Holt, and Debbie Hobbs.

Happy Birthday, Gloria!

James Rada, Jr.

When Joyce Bruchey was a senior at Emmitsburg High School in 1962, the principal came into her class and asked her and another student to substitute teach in the first-grade class. It was an experience that changed her life.

“I had wanted to do something with agriculture, but at that point, I changed what I wanted to do,” Bruchey said.

She became a teacher, and the first school where she was hired was Emmitsburg. However, she was trained in secondary education but hired as a third-grade teacher at the age of 22. She went on to teach in various schools in the county for 39 years. She now serves as the historian for the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association.

Pointing to the library’s community room, Bruchey said, “It’s been over 70 years since I first sat in that [first grade] room as a student.”

On September 17, one hundred years and two days after the Emmitsburg School first opened, dozens of people gathered at the current Emmitsburg Community Center to celebrate the building’s history.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs cut the ribbon for the newest historic wayside marker in town, which recognizes the history of the school. Inside the Emmitsburg Library, visitors viewed a new exhibit about the history of the building and other historic artifacts and pictures Bruchey had brought for the event. They also enjoyed refreshments in the community room as they reminisced about school.               

Librarian Penny Stockton created the display hanging on the library wall. She hadn’t realized the building was 100 years old until she was creating a similar display about the history of the Emmitsburg Library.

“This building is important to the people here,” Stockton said. “Look at how they fought to keep the school.”

Many of the attendees were former students at the school, and they spent a lot of time talking about their time in the building as students and teachers, pointing out where classrooms used to be and recalling students and teachers they knew.

The building was originally constructed as the Emmitsburg School in 1922 and housed grades 1-11. The elementary classes were on the first floor, and the high school classes were on the second floor and basement. The only bathroom in the building was also in the basement.

Grade 12 was added to the school in 1949 as part of changes the state made to the education system. A new wing was built that held the cafeteria, gymnasium, and locker rooms between 1950 and 1952.

However, due to a decreasing enrollment, the county-built Catoctin High School in Thurmont in 1969 and combined the student bodies of Emmitsburg and Thurmont into the school.

 The last graduating class from Emmitsburg High School was in 1968. Catoctin High opened in the middle of the following school year, and the students were moved to the new school.

The building was adapted as a community center for Emmitsburg and now houses a variety of organizations, including the Emmitsburg town office, the Emmitsburg Library, the Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Emmitsburg Senior Center, the Frederick County Health Department, the YMCA Head Start, the Catoctin Community Agency School, the Catoctin-Ettes, the Silver Fancy Garden Club, and the Catoctin Youth Association Basketball.

“Without a doubt, this building has served as the heart of the community for 100 years,” Gardner said during her remarks at the celebration.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

(above) Community members and officials gather for the ribbon cutting of Emmitsburg’s newest wayside marker that depicts the building’s former use as a school.

(below) Memorabilia of the former Emmitsburg High School are shown.

What do horses with asthma and a national science fair in Washington, D.C., have in common? Answer: Emma and Sarah Simmons, eighth-grade twin sisters from Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg. These 13-year-olds of Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, were recently selected as two of the Top 300 Broadcom Masters in the 2022 STEM competition held in Washington, D.C. Their win at the Top 300 Broadcom Masters competition locates them in the top 2 percent of middle schoolers in the country and makes them eligible to participate in the Top 30 Broadcom Masters this autumn.

The engineering project that caught the attention of judges in the nation’s capital was titled, “A Portable Bronchodilator Delivery System for Equine Inflammatory Respiratory Diseases.” Emma and Sarah, daughters of Dr. A. Jeffrey Simmons and Dr. Lisa S. McLeod-Simmons, began their project last autumn when they were in seventh grade at Mother Seton School. They explained that the purpose of their biomedical invention is to develop a portable bronchodilator delivery system that allows a horseback rider to administer pharmaceutical therapies to a horse suffering from a sudden onset of severe Equine Asthma Syndrome or other respiratory diseases without having to dismount or return to the stable.

“We ride horses,” Emma said, “and one of the horses we ride has asthma. Sometimes when we rode, we could see the horse struggling to breathe.”

 Sarah continued, “Then we would have to dismount and take the horse back to the barn for him to cool down and for his owner to give him medicine. Seeing this made us think about what would happen if we were farther away from the stable and not near the asthma medicine.”

 “So, Sarah and I began thinking about how to solve the problem,” said Emma, who is interested in a career in equine veterinary medicine and research. “How could we make riding a horse that had a respiratory disease, but was otherwise healthy, safer for the horse and for the rider?”

 “And what we engineered was the portable bronchodilator delivery system,” noted Sarah, who is planning to study either biomedical or aerospace engineering. “The unit is small and portable and can easily deliver emergency medicine whenever needed without the rider having to dismount. It’s a manual system, so it doesn’t require electricity like a mask inhaler or a muscular injection. And, it can be used in any weather.”

Emma and Sarah won their school STEM fair’s top seventh-grade project and the school’s best overall award last fall for this project. They then advanced to the Frederick County STEM fair early this spring, where they won top honors in the biomedical engineering category, as well as several other county science fair awards.

Their project was then nominated to participate in the national level Top 300 Broadcom Masters STEM competition. There were nearly 2,000 entries in this competition from the top 10 percent of middle school students in the country. On September 7, 2022, Broadcom Masters announced that a panel of judges, comprised of engineers, scientists, and educators from around the United States, had selected Emma and Sarah Simmons as two of their Top 300 young engineers and scientists across the country.

“We were so excited when our mother told us we had placed in the Broadcom Masters,” Sarah commented.” It’s an amazing feeling to work so hard on a project and then to have that work recognized. Emma and I thank the Frederick County STEM fair and Broadcom Masters for giving us this opportunity.” Emma added, “And we are so grateful to our parents; our teachers, Mrs. Kuykendall and Mrs. Beard; and our church family at Trinity UMC in Emmitsburg, who have always been so supportive. We really are blessed.”

Sarah Simmons (left) and Emma Simmons (on the horse) demonstrate their Portable Bronchodilator Delivery System used to administer asthma medicine to horses.

Two men from Thurmont received a special Mason award this summer.  They both received the 50-year pin as a Mason. 

Randy Valentine of Thurmont and a member of Tyrian Lodge #205 in Emmitsburg received his 50-year award during the lodge’s annual Strawberry Night.

Randy became a Master Mason on January 22, 1970.

Ernie Farkas of Thurmont and a member of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont received his 50-year pin from Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, during Acacia Lodge’s Annual Strawberry Night.

Ernie became a Master Mason on April 11, 1972.

For additional information regarding Masons in Thurmont, visit

Two men from Thurmont received a special Mason award this summer.  They both received the 50-year pin as a Mason. 

Randy Valentine of Thurmont and a member of Tyrian Lodge #205 in Emmitsburg received his 50-year award during the lodge’s annual Strawberry Night.

Randy became a Master Mason on January 22, 1970.

Ernie Farkas of Thurmont and a member of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont received his 50-year pin from Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, during Acacia Lodge’s Annual Strawberry Night.

Ernie became a Master Mason on April 11, 1972.

For additional information regarding Masons in Thurmont, visit

Pictured from left are Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, Ernie Farkas, Rick Boyle, and Tommy Morris.


Pictured from left are Dave Mohler, Randy Valentine, and Rick Boyle.

Courtesy Photos

Dignitaries with the Town of Emmitsburg and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church gathered to celebrate the St. Euphemia School wayside exhibit with a ribbon cutting on DePaul Street in Emmitsburg on August 10, 2022.

This exhibit is one of 14 that will be part of a historic walking tour in Emmitsburg, thanks to grant funding from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. St. Euphemia’s School was a Catholic School founded by St. Joseph’s parish. It served children in grades 1-8 from 1878 to 1956. The school was operated and instructed by the Daughters of Charity.

On August 10, 2022, Catoctin High School’s (CHS) Baseball Coach Mike Franklin and Athletic Director Keith Bruck and the family of the late Catoctin Baseball player Vinny Healy recognized Tom Sherald as the school’s first Vinny Healy D.I.R.T. Hall of Fame recipient. He gave many amazing years to Catoctin High as a coach, an athletic director, and a mentor. Our community is honored to acknowledge and join in with well-deserved congratulations to Tom and his wife, Peggy (Peggy is also a career educator in the Frederick County Public School System).

Mike Franklin expressed, “special thanks to the Healy family for always supporting the CHS baseball program and community in positive ways.”


Pictured left to right are Keith Bruck, CHS Athletic Director, Mike Franklin, CHS Baseball Coach, Peggy and Tom Sherald.

BSA Troop 270 is proud to announce a new Eagle Scout to its ranks, Tanner Seiss. Tanner’s project built a much-needed storage shed and several picnic tables for Frederick County 4-H Therapeutic Riding program at Silverado Stables in Thurmont.

Eagle Scouts standing in support of Tanner as he receives his Eagle: (from left) M. Miller, B. Seiss, M. Place, C. Miller, T. Seiss, K. Coolidge, D. Dutrow, S. Young, A. Keefer, and N. Middendorf.

Todd Imes, 1988 Catoctin High School Graduate

When you see the word “recovery,” do you automatically think of drugs and alcohol? Most of us do. However, we live in a world where many more issues, other than these, control our lives. Things such as food, gambling, shopping, pornography, and work addictions are just a few more of the physical addictions. There are also emotional addictions like depression, anxiety, anger, fear, low self-worth, pride, and perfectionism, just for starters.

Every single one of us is either struggling with one of these issues or know someone who is. I am a Thurmont native (moved here in 1978) and this area is very dear to me. With Celebrate Recovery, we can come together, unjudged, and work through these things together. I truly believe we can all be better, and with a group like this, we have the perfect opportunity to achieve that: Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step Christ-centered group that provides this. I assure you we do not make it “churchy.” We make it joyous, confidential, and uplifting. But most of all, we make it!

Celebrate Recovery gathers from 7:00-9:00 p.m. every Friday evening downstairs at MorningStar Family Church, located at 14698 Albert Staub Road in Thurmont. You have nothing to lose by coming, but could possibly lose so much by not.

Please contact me, Todd Imes, with any questions at 240-285-7802 or email

Venturing Crew 270 went to Flight 93 National Memorial Park in Pennsylvania. Taking the tour and talking to the Park Rangers, Crew members learned about the day the world changed. How the crash impacted the local area and the Nation as a whole. They learned how the Memorial was built on symbolism of the day, the memories of the 40 victims of flight 93, and the area of the crash site. 

The words used by Crew members to describe their experience: Memorable, Inspiring, Informative, Haunting, Speechless, Symbolic. 

What is Venturing? Go to for more information on Crew 270.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club sponsored a virtual crab feast raffle as a summer fundraiser, suggested by Lewistown Ruritan Secretary Loberta Staley. All the tickets for this fundraiser were sold. The winner received $300 to purchase crabs, shrimp, or to be used however they choose. This was the first time the club has attempted to hold this type of fundraiser, and it proved quite popular.

The winning ticket was drawn at the Lewistown Ruritan annual picnic on August 2 at the Thurmont Community Park. The winning ticket holder was Angie Frye, who was quite excited to be the winner. 

The winning ticket was drawn by Lewistown Ruritan President Frank Warner. Loberta thanked everyone who participated in this successful fundraiser for the Lewistown Ruritan.

Vigilant Hose Company’s (VHC) “Christmas in July Bingo” brought in hundreds of pounds worth of donations for the Emmitsburg Food Bank. All during July, bingo players brought in donations and purchased extra 50/50 games for which profits went directly to the food bank. On August 3, VHC members packed up the donations and presented them and a check for nearly $1,200 to help support the food bank’s mission.

Throughout August, the VHC collected school supplies from their generous bingo players for back-to-school during every Bingo!

During the June 8, 2022, membership meeting, Lion President Dianne McLean (pictured on right) provided the club’s “Lion of the Year” award to Lion Carie Stafford (pictured on left). 

Lion Carie has been a Thurmont Lion since 2019.  During this short period of time, she has single-handedly taken on the planning and coordination of two very important service projects: Wreaths Across America and the club’s annual 9/11 Memorial program. Each of these important programs require a considerable amount of time, effort, and coordination. Lion Carie contacted several individuals and groups to participate in both programs, which included politicians, musicians, speakers, and first responders, just to name a few.

As a leader of Scout Troop 270, she has also assisted with having Scouts help with the Thurmont Lions Club’s service and fundraising projects, such as the Easter egg hunt, the pit sandwich sales, and Colorfest. During regular club meetings, Lion Carie provides updates on the Scouts activities. She also works with the Venturing Crew and Girl Scouts. She is a dedicated Lion, supporting Lionism and community service. For more information, visit or contact Lion Susan Favorite at or 240-409-1747

The annual Mount Tabor Church Big Picnic, Tractor Parade, and Baby Show was held on Saturday, August 13, at Mt. Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge. 

A total of 43 babies—26 girls and 17 boys—participated in the show. The youngest baby was nine-day-old Rhett Young, son of McKaila Himes and David Young of Taneytown. Mathan and Eliana Reynolds, 10-month-old twin son and daughter of Jeremiah and Valerie Reynolds of Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, were the only twins in the show (of note is the meaning of the babies’ names: Mathan means gift from God, and Eliana means God heard my cry). Two-week-old William Burrier and his 20-month-old sister, Ryleigh Burrier, son and daughter of Butch and Sarah Burrier, traveled the farthest distance from Charlotte, North Carolina! Babies placed in three categories: prettiest girl, cutest boy, and chubbiest baby (in five age categories, from 1 day to 24 months old).

There were six babies in the one-day to three-month-old category. The prettiest girl was Weylynn Tokar, two-month-old daughter of Molly and Quentin Tokar from Fairfield, Pennsylvania. The cutest boy was Lucas Swartz, three-month-old son of Chelsea Gelwicks and Tim Swartz from Rocky Ridge. The chubbiest baby was Cecilia Shorb, three-month-old daughter of Rebecca and Aaron Shorb from Cascade. There were seven babies in the 4-to-6-month-old category. The prettiest girl was Wrenleigh Forrest, five-month-old daughter of Alissia and Thomas Forrest from Rocky Ridge. The cutest boy was Carter Garner, five-month-old son of Candace and Taylor Garner from Woodsboro. The chubbiest baby was Brooklynn Baugher, six-month-old daughter of Megan and Timothy Baugher from Emmitsburg.

The 7-to-12-month-old category had the most registered babies at 15.  Lorraine Rex, 7-month-old daughter of Mindy Gregory and Ricky Rex from Union Bridge, was judged the prettiest girl; the cutest boy was Maddox McLeroy, 10-month-old son of Nathan and Stacie McLeroy from Thurmont; Violet Haines, 12-month-old daughter of Megan and Joshua Haines from Woodsboro, was named the chubbiest baby. In the 13-to-18-month-old category, there were nine babies. Aubree Hoffman, 15-month-old daughter of Zachary Hoffman and Rachel Kirkpatrick from Thurmont, was judged the prettiest girl; the cutest boy was Henry Price from Thurmont, 13-month-old son of Heather and Bob Price; the chubbiest baby was Alex Smith, Jr., 15-month-old son of Alex Smith and Kayla Brown from Rocky Ridge.

In the 19-to-24-month-old category, there were six babies. Addison Staub, 22-month-old daughter of Justin Staub and Ashlea Farinholt from Thurmont, was named the prettiest girl; Brantlee Young, 22-month-old son of McKaila Himes and David Young from Taneytown, was named the cutest boy; the chubbiest baby was Madison Shank, 20-month-old daughter of Jessica and Justin Shank from Littlestown, Pennsylvania.

Please join the fun again next year on the second Saturday of August at Mt. Tabor Park. You may register your baby (or babies) who range in age from 1 day up to 24 months. Watch your local newspaper for more details, including registration time.

Cheryl Lenhart

Thurmont Grange #409 hosted its First Responders Appreciation Night at the Thurmont Town Park on June 27. After an invocation given by Nancy Wine, all members and guests in attendance enjoyed a covered-dish picnic dinner.

Lecturer Niki Eyler then turned the program over to Grange members who introduced our First Responders.

Graceham VFC No. 18: Jane Savage introduced recipient of Graceham VFC No. 18 recognition award, Julie Fogle. Julie was nominated by Fire Chief Louis Powell, Jr., who in his comments stated, “It is with the utmost honor that I nominate FF/EMT Fogle to be recognized by the Thurmont Grange #409.” Chief Powell stated that FF/EMT Fogle’s hard work and dedication earned Graceham VFC No. 18 the Clint Hughes Departmental Fire Prevention Award at this year’s Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (“FCVFRA”) Awards Ceremony, which was held on April 18 at Walkersville VFC #11. FF/EMT Fogle is in charge of Graceham’s Facebook page, where she posts monthly fire prevention and life safety messages. FF/EMT Fogle previously held the positions of secretary and lieutenant and currently serves on the board of directors and is assistant secretary. She is also the chairperson for Graceham’s Fire Prevention Committee and Banquet Committee. It was her hard work that allowed Graceham to have a great banquet this past year. FF/EMT Fogle meets and exceeds the standards set forth by the FCVFRA to be a Chief officer.

Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department: Nancy Wine introduced recipient of Lewistown’s recognition award, Bethany Wachter. Bethany was nominated by Wayne P. Wachter, Jr.  and was nominated as she was the top responder for EMS calls during the entire COVID-19 pandemic.  This year, she will have 25 years of service to the community. Bethany helps with dinners, bingos, yard sales, and all other functions the Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department has during the year.  She lives in Mountaindale with her husband and two daughters.

Thurmont Community Ambulance Service: Nancy Wine introduced recipient of Thurmont Community Ambulance Service recognition award, Jennifer Frushour. Jennifer was nominated by Judith White of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service. Jennifer was recognized for her service to the department and the community as a whole. She has been involved with volunteer fire and rescue service since she was a youngster and helped her dad with activities at the fire department. Jen became involved with the ambulance company as well; she completed her Emergency Medical Technician training and went on through national registry.  She has also trained in Emergency Vehicle Operator, instructor training, hazardous materials operations training, and EMS officer program.  She has served as lieutenant and now is the assistant chief for Thurmont Ambulance. She has countless hours of standby and has been recognized by the department as a top responder for multiple years. Jen is also a mentor to new members and EMT students and continues to assist with many activities. She is employed as a dispatcher for the 911 Center in Frederick.

Vigilant Hose Company: Jim Barto introduced recipient of Vigilant Hose Company’s honoree, Matthew Boyd.  Matt was nominated by Fire Chief Chad M. Umbel. In his remarks, Fire Chief Umbel stated that it was his honor to nominate Matthew Boyd, who has been a member of Vigilant Hose Company for 10 years and was active as a junior firefighter before obtaining operational status.  Matt’s remarkable ability to work with people and effectively organize tasks and priorities have made him a model for others to emulate and has earned him the respect of his peers.  Along the way, he has obtained many certifications and awards for exceptional service. At the Vigilant Hose Company, there is no better role model than someone who is humble and modest, who constantly strives to improve his knowledge and skill set toward the betterment of the organization; someone with a vision who is also a good listener, has a sense of humor, and can be decisive when necessary; a person of integrity, always willing to help someone else succeed. Matt has spent many hours at the station and the activities complex, utilizing his mechanical capabilities, working on and fixing whatever needs done.  Matt has worked his way up through the ranks and currently holds the position of Captain.  

Thurmont Police Department: Jim Barto introduced recipient of Thurmont Police Department’s honoree, Sgt. Dave Armstrong.  Sgt. Armstrong was nominated by Lt. P.A. Droneburg, deputy chief of police for the Thurmont Police Department. In his remarks, Lt. Droneburg stated that Sgt. Armstrong joined the Thurmont Police Department in 2012 after retiring from the Frederick Police Department. He has proven to be an asset to the department since the day he began. After serving in patrol and as a first line supervisor, Sgt. Armstrong was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2018. His service has been exemplary. He has responded to numerous call-outs for death investigations and other significant criminal investigations. His work ethic has also been outstanding.  In January 2021, Sgt. Armstrong received a compliment from a citizen (excerpt): “The sergeant then took it upon himself to look for my daughter as a missing person (as she had fled the scene), and once he found her, he took her to the hospital. I did not expect the professionalism and great concern for everyone’s safety that the officer provided.”  Sgt. Armstrong assumed the role as the agency’s training coordinator after being promoted and has developed a timeline for all mandated training.  During this past year, he attended numerous training sessions to improve his knowledge and to better serve the agency. In May 2021, Sgt. Armstrong completed a De-escalation Training Course, so he could be an instructor for the agency. In July 2021, Sgt. Armstrong received a Letter of Acknowledgement from Chief Eyler for his outstanding performance in handling a suspicious death investigation. Also during July 2021, Sgt. Armstrong nominated a citizen for a Certificate of Appreciation for their assistance with a young female found walking along a roadway. This nomination enhanced community involvement and recognition. During this past year, Sgt. Armstrong became an advocate for the skateboarding youth in town and was instrumental in assisting them with their presentation to the board of commissioners, which led to the construction of the Thurmont Skatepark. In October 2021, Sgt. Armstrong worked with the agency’s administrative coordinator to prepare for a significant CJIS Audit.  Their combined effort provided the agency with one of the best audit evaluations ever received. Sgt. Armstrong also provides daily supervisory leadership for the officers. His service to the Thurmont Police Department projects a professional image to the community with efficient and quality policy service. 

Guardian Hose Company: Niki Eyler introduced Brian Donavon, the representative for the Guardian Hose Company. In the company’s remarks, Chief Charlie Brown and President Wayne Stackhouse stated as follows: “We have decided not to pick only one person from the Guardian Hose Company to be honored, but to honor everyone that is a first responder/member in our organization. It is very hard to pick one person over another when everyone in our organization has an input to our success. There are so many people within our organization that provide a very meaningful part of the day-to-day operations, from administrative duties to responding to emergency calls. Without either one of these individuals, we could not function as a whole and be there when residents of Thurmont need us. We want to thank the Grange for thinking about our family at GHC and our mission to do our best to help the citizens of Thurmont remain safe. We hope that we can continue to assist residences in Thurmont for a long time to come.”

Chief Brown also wished to thank all of the people who came out the last week of June and supported the Guardian Hose Company during the carnival. It was a very successful week with lots of support for the town and the residents. He then went on to say that the “Guardian Hose Company has operational members who run the emergency calls, we have social members and also administrative members, all who play a special role in the organization. This past year and a half, the organization received career staff from the county. We have three people 24 hours a day to get the first piece of apparatus out the door.  The career staff and the volunteers work hand-in-hand to respond to emergency calls. With the changing world and everyone’s schedule being more involved with family priorities and work obligations, it’s hard to make sure someone is around to staff the apparatus 24 hours, seven days a week. The operational members responded to over 700 calls last year. This year, I think we are going to top that. Our area is currently in the neighborhood of 47.2 square miles of first-due area. Now, we also respond out past the state lines and county lines. We respond to Pennsylvania. We assist other counties: Franklin County and Adams County, Pennsylvania; Carroll County and Washington County, Maryland, and a few weeks ago, we were specially requested to a commercial building fire in Jefferson County, West Virginia, with our air unit. We have over 50 operational volunteers and are always looking for more to help to fill the openings. The Guardian Hose Company was organized in 1887 and provides fire and rescue services to an approximate 84 square miles, mostly all rural area. In that 84 square miles lies the Catoctin Mountain National Park, the Cunningham Falls State Park, and William Houck Area, within which the company provides service as well.”

Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company: Niki Eyler then introduced honoree for Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, Alan Brauer, Sr.  Alan was nominated by Linda Northrup, the Awards Committee chairperson. Alan joined the fire company in July of 1963. He is also a member of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company and the Frederick County Hazardous Incident Response Team.  He has been active with the fire service and instrumental in company training since joining. He has also held many offices and served on many committees throughout his 58 years, serving as secretary for 14 years, assistant secretary for 4 years, vice president for 2 years, and captain of the Rocky Ridge Fire Police for 11 years. He has served as captain of the fire prevention committee for 13 years, chairperson of LOSAP for the company for 18 years, and Fund Drive Committee for 7 years. He also served as the meat raffle chairperson in 2018-2019 and the drive-through ham sandwich sales in 2021.

Alan also helps with the fire company’s Santa detail two weeks before Christmas, and he helps to patrol the traffic and keep personnel safe. He provides fire police services for any need in Frederick County, especially in the northern part of the county. He is a member of the Frederick County Fire Police Association, and has served as secretary for the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Association and the Executive Committee, and was chairman of the Frederick County Fire Prevention Committee. 

At the annual Rocky Ridge Carnival for the past 47 years, Alan has been in the same stand. It just has had a few name changes over the years, from nickel pitch to glass pitch and now dime pitch. Alan has received many awards, including 1988 Lifetime honor member, and in 2018, the Charles Mumma “Firefighter of the Year Award.” He has also received the Millard “Mick” Mastrino Instructor/Safety Award at the Frederick County Fire & Rescue Association Awards Ceremony in 2005, and in 2007, received the State Instructor of the Year Award. He also has participated in several fun activities with the fire service such as the Hook Up Contest in 1971, chairman of the Halloween party, and has participated in a pie-eating contest at the Summers Farm. 

He provides Hazmat Refresher and CPR Refresher courses for the local volunteer fire companies. He also provides safety consulting services. He does CPR, OSHA, MOSHS training and other safety training all over the United States.  He has developed and implemented compliance training for the biotech, general, and construction industries across the country. He has extensive knowledge in Federal regulations, including OSHA, DOT, and EPA. He has had many years of experience in the fire service, including specialized knowledge in fire prevention, life safety, and hazardous materials.

Alan is also very involved with agriculture and is an active member of the Farm Bureau and the Grange, where he has held several offices in the local, county, and state.

When Alan spoke at the Rocky Ridge Fire Company banquet in January of 2014, he recapped his 50 years in the fire service. His ending comment was “The concept of fighting a fire has not changed from 50 years ago, we just have bigger and more expensive equipment and a lot more training.”

The members of the Thurmont Grange sincerely congratulate all of the award recipients and thank them for their service to the community and the county.


Pictured from left are Julie Fogle (Graceham VFC #18), Niki Eyler (Thurmont Grange Lecturer), Bethany Wachter (Lewistown VFC), Brian Donovan (Guardian Hose), Alan Brauer, Sr. (Rocky Ridge VFC), and Sgt. Dave Armstrong (Thurmont Police Dept). Not pictured: Jennifer Frushour (Thurmont Ambulance) and Matt Boyd (Vigilant Hose).

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.

Camp Airy’s historic dining room catches fire on June 29.

Photo by Trevor James

The day after the Camp Airy (a Jewish summer overnight camp for boys) dining hall in Thurmont burned at the end of June, the staff and campers at Camp Airy showed their resilience by still hosting a carnival for the campers and the girls from Airy’s sister camp, Camp Louise.

“The kids had a blast, and it allowed them to feel everything was normal,” said Marty Rochlin, co-executive director for Camp Airy and Camp Louise.

The fire caused $4 million in damage to the hall, kitchen, storage, and offices in the building. No one was injured, but the remnants of the building have been demolished and a new building will be constructed. More than 100 firefighters fought the blaze for hours. The Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services said in a news release that the cause is under investigation, but it was not believed to be “intentional or suspicious factors,” according to the release.

“It’s not the sort of summer experience either we or the kids expected, but they are doing fine,” Rochlin said. “It was an unprecedented and scary day. We had to make sure the kids were taken care of and let the worried parents know they were fine.”

At any given time during the season, the camp has around 340 to 400 boys, plus a couple hundred staff members.

Following the fire, a tent dining hall, serviced by a mobile kitchen, has been established. Rochlin said that he expects a fine-tuned version of this will be used next camping season as well, with the new hall ready for use in 2024.

In the days following, area restaurants and grocery stores provided meals and food to the camp, while donations poured in from alumni and the community. Some of the businesses lending a hand were Food Lion, Weis, Rocky’s Pizza, Mountain Gate Restaurant, and Gateway Farm Market.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington allocated $25,000 in emergency funds to the camp, according to a news release.

“Jewish summer camp is an incomparable experience,” Gil Preuss, the Federation’s CEO said in the release. “Many children from our Greater Washington community attend Camp Airy, and we are grateful to Camp Airy’s professional team for their dedication to ensuring that, in spite of this difficult situation, their campers will continue to have a wonderful summer.”

Rochlin said the response has been wonderful. “We are lucky to have such great alumni and a supportive community.”

Richard D. L. Fulton

Two youth camps located in Frederick and Washington counties are preparing to celebrate for their 100-year anniversaries.

Camp Louise was established in 1922 and is located at 24959 Pen Mar Road in Cascade. Camp Airy was established in 1924 and is located at 14938 Old Camp Airy Road near Thurmont. Both will be celebrating their 100th anniversaries in 2023. 

Organizers were elected to hold one celebration in 2023 to commemorate the founding of both the 1922 and 1924 camps instead of holding separate celebrations.

Anniversary events to be held in 2023 include a Centennial Golf Tournament at the Worthington Manor Golf Club, 8329 Fingerboard Road, Urbana (to be held on May 19), and a Centennial Gala at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore (to be held on October 14). Fees to attend the events to be announced. Sponsorship slots are available for both events.

Other celebratory events to be held will be for (then) current staff and campers only and will include a Summer 2022 100th Birthday Party at Camp Louise and a Summer 2024 100th Birthday Party at Camp Airy.

Camp Louise was founded by Baltimore philanthropists, Aaron and Lillie Straus to provide a respite for young Jewish female immigrants,  after the couple having observed the “cramped, sweaty factories and offices” many of the immigrants were working in, according to the camp website. 

The Straus couple purchased the Cascade Melvue Hotel—subsequently dubbed the Camp Louise White House—which formed the nucleus of Camp Louise. Camp Louise quickly became “a mountain retreat where young women would come each summer for an opportunity to rest, relax, celebrate being Jewish, and learn from inspiring women role models.”

The camp website noted that the young women were able to enjoy “the freedom to try new things without judgment from their male peers” and that this, “combined with the camp’s encouraging sense of Jewish community, made it easy for girls to grow into excellent, confident community leaders.”

Due to the immediate success of the camp for young Jewish females, in 1924 the Straus couple established a second camp, Camp Airy, for young Jewish males. 

Camp Airy was recently in the news for less-historic purposes than its impending 100-year anniversary when the camp dining hall was destroyed in a fire on June 29.  The fire rendered the hall a total loss. More than 100 firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania responded to the blaze, isolating the fire to the dining hall.

It took firefighters approximately three hours to bring the fire under control, according to the Frederick County Division of Fire/Rescue Services. There were no civilian injuries reported, as the camp population was evacuated to a safer location within the camp. There were also no reported injuries to emergency responders.  Firefighters continued to extinguish re-ignited hot spots among the building’s debris throughout the day into the next.

Lauren Perlin, Camps Airy and Louise co-executive director and director of development, told The Catoctin Banner that the loss was established at around $4.4 million, and that the structure will be replaced, although the timeframe for which that would occur has yet to be determined.

Loss of the Camp Airy dining hall aside, Camp management noted, previous to the fire, “To this day, Camps Airy and Louise are the only ‘brother-sister’ Jewish overnight camps in the country, and they still exist as a place for Jewish children from any economic background to get a refuge each summer.”  The camp is not restricted to solely Jewish attendees.

“We know that Lillie and Aaron would be amazed at what their camps have become and proud of the legacy we still celebrate. That is why we are so excited to kick off the camps’ 100th anniversary,” management stated.

To volunteer to help with the approaching 100th anniversary celebration or serve as an event sponsor, email the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization, at For additional information on the 100th Anniversary celebration, visit the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization website at

To donate money toward the replacement of the lost dining hall at Camp Airy, go to the Camp Louise-Camp Airy organization donation page at

Cascade Melvue Hotel as it appeared in the early 20th century before it was purchased by Aaron and Lillie Straus and made part of Camp Louise.

Date: 1900/1906; Source: Library of Congress

The old Cascade Melvue Hotel as it appears today, where it continues to serve as the primary building serving Camp Louise.

Source: Courtesy of Camps Airy & Louise, Baltimore

One of the greatest supporters of the annual baked goods auctions at area community shows, Mearl McCleaf of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, passed away in October 2021. For many years, Mearl McCleaf purchased Champion and Reserve Champion cakes and baked goods at Community Shows in Frederick County. 

At this year’s Frederick County Community Show’s Baked Goods Auctions in September and October, every Youth Department’s Champion Cake will benefit its community show’s area youth with the proceeds equally allocated to these three funds: FFA Chapter’s National FFA Convention Trip, and their Grange & FFA Alumni & Supporters Scholarships.

Rodman Myers, president of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, recently presented a plaque in honor and memory of Mearl McCleaf to his wife, Dolores, and sons (left to right) Craig, Dean, and Keith, of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant in Thurmont.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

As a member (since 1958) and volunteer fireman for the Guradian Hose Company (GHC), Dick Willhide held many positions within the GHC.

Dick has been ill for the past year, and wished he could ride in the squad truck one last time (not possible because of his health and age), especially since the squad truck had been in an accident last year. 

His son, Greg Willhide, and daughter-in-law, Sherry, said, “Why can’t you?” and made arrangements to make it happen.

Dick rode with Steve Yingling in the Guardian Hose Company’s Fireman’s Parade in June (pictured below). Dick always loved to watch the parade, but this made it so much better to have his wish come true.

Sherry said, “He was not only throwing candy, he had a lollipop in his mouth, too!”

Photo by Sherry Willhide

Brenda Wastler, the late George Wireman’s granddaughter, received a postcard in the mail from a lady named Jean Roeth, of  Delaware. Jean tracked Brenda down to let her know that she had found an original, signed copy of George Wireman’s Gateway to the Mountains book at their church’s flea market a few years ago, while cleaning out.

Jean and her sister decided to try to find George’s family. They reached out in December after finding Brenda on Google.

Brenda said, “We finally met in May when I went to Rehoboth for a retreat. It was really a miracle they found me.”

“There are only so many copies of signed Gateway to the Mountains books that Pap made,” Brenda explained, “We’re trying to get a signed copy for every member of our family. This was a real gift that we can keep in the family.”

Shortly after this meeting, Brenda had a severe case of COVID that resulted in central vision loss. She is still seeking treatment and a path to healing. If you know of someone who has been through this, please reach out to The Catoctin Banner.

Brenda Wastler (center) is shown with Jean Roeth and Nancy Hlywiak from St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Othodox Church in Delaware.

Courtesy Photo