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James Rada, Jr.

Fighting fires is dangerous work, and to do it safely, firefighters need to train for every conceivable situation and hope that their responses become second nature.

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, members of the Vigilant Hose Company, Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Mount St. Mary’s University Public Safety personnel, and facilities management staff gathered at the college to review how to fight fires in campus facilities and to train.

Vigilant Hose Company personnel have been working with Mount employees to update fire department “Pre-Plans” to make sure everyone knows who needs to be contacted and how to react to fires on campus. The goal is to assure maximum efficiency and effectiveness for successful resolution, with minimum disruption and adverse effects.

As Mount Vice President Wayne Green said, “If you are prepared for anything like a flood, then you’ll be prepared for everything else.”

Vigilant Hose Chief Chad Umbel has been overseeing this latest round of fire and emergency services preparedness. He said, “The Mount has always been a huge supporter of our efforts in being prepared to handle emergencies. And, this past year, they’ve again been very gracious and helpful to our firefighters, who have been studying campus upgrades, allowing for updating maps, double-checking access points for utility shut-offs, emergency operational considerations like hydrant access, and utilizing and allowing full access to areas of all buildings on campus.

About twenty firefighters began the training with a review of the Mount’s buildings. VHC Lt. Alex McKenna explained to the group how to enter each building, depending on where a fire might be located. They also reviewed which buildings had sprinkler systems and standpipes.

“The most dangerous building for us on campus is the Terrace,” McKenna said. “The biggest hazard in there is really just the confusion of where you are.” This is because the Terrace is made up of different halls, running in different directions.

The biggest point driven home during the review was that firefighters first need to scout out where a fire is located in a building before deploying hoses. He used Sheridan Hall as an example of what could happen if the fire wasn’t located first. “If you do it wrong, you can go up 800 feet for a 200-foot stretch,” McKenna explained.

Green also told the group that modernizing each building’s fire suppression system was a top priority for the college administration.

The two training exercises were scenario-based. The first involved entering the smoke-filled second floor of Sheridan Hall to find a student who was unconscious in a dorm room.

The second exercise was a high-rise hose deployment to the third floor of Pangborn Hall.

Utilizing mitigation evolutions like V.E.I.S. (Vent / Enter / Isolate / Search) with a specific focus on Rapid Intervention Techniques and proper utilization of existing built-in building protection systems, emergency services personnel practiced operational exercises, command and control, occupant location and removal, hose deployment, ventilation, and restoration of normal building functionality.

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, members of the Vigilant Hose Company, Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Mount St. Mary’s University Public Safety personnel, and facilities management staff gathered at the college to review how to fight fires in campus facilities and to train.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

State championship marks only the second time Thurmont has won this prestigious honor in over sixty-six years. Read story on page 27.

Pictured from left: #54 Will Gisriel, #33 Braden Bell, #4 Griffin Puvel, #13 Donovan Baker, #35 D.J. Shipton, #7 Connor Crum, #21 Joe McMannis, #23 Braden Manning, #3 Josh Skowronski, #34 E.J. Lowry, #17 Logan Simanski, and #77 Peyton Castellow. Not pictured: Manager Tim Castellow; Coaches Chris Skowronski and Ed Lowry.

For only the third time in twenty-seven years, a team from Maryland District 2 has won the Maryland State Little League Championship.  This year’s champions are from our very own community: Thurmont Little League. Each year, over eighty Little Leagues from across the State of Maryland compete for the championship. Thurmont Little League punched their ticket to the State tournament by winning the Maryland District 2 Championship.

This State championship marks only the second time Thurmont has won this prestigious honor in over sixty-six years. The last team from Thurmont to win the Little League division State championship was the team in 2005, managed by John Tomasini. This year’s team faced some very tough competition, beating teams from Elkton Little League (11-1); Easton Little League (17-0); and then a very tough Berlin Little League, twice (3-2, 11-5).

“This is a very special group of young men,” commented Ed Lowry, Thurmont Little League president and assistant coach on the team.  “Each of these boys accept their respective roles on the team, and are willing to do whatever for the greater good of the team. They represent our communities with such pride, dignity, and class, it’s just a privilege for our coaching staff to work with these fine young men.  The success on the field is great, but the comments we get about their character is even more rewarding.”

With this victory, Thurmont Little League has earned the right to represent the State of Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament in Bristol, Connecticut, this coming August 5-12. All of those games are televised on the ESPN family of networks.  Thurmont will play their first game on Monday, August 7, at 4:00 p.m., versus the winner of the Pennsylvania/Delaware game. Our Banner readers can watch that game on ESPN3.

With this success comes some financial challenges for the team’s families. The team just recently spent the week of July 14-21 on the Eastern Shore in Maryland, participating at the State tournament. The families incurred a collective expense of nearly $19,000 to participate at the State-level tournament. “We were very fortunate to receive a donation from the Town of Thurmont in the amount of $1,500 to help offset some of the cost. Mayor Kinnaird and Board of Commissioners from Thurmont have been staunch advocates and supporters of our program over my tenure at Thurmont Little League. Other than their generous donation, our families picked up the rest of the expenses,” Lowry commented.

The road ahead doesn’t get any easier for Thurmont Little League, both on the field and making the preparations to get to the Bristol, regional tournament in August.

“Unfortunately, Little League doesn’t contribute to the expenses of the families to get to Bristol. It’s a real financial burden in some cases.  We estimate the expenses somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000,” stated Lowry. Thus, the Thurmont Little League players and families are in active fundraising mode. If you would like to donate, you can do so via their “GoFundMe” page at:, or go directly to their website at and click on the “donate” link.

“The great part about this is that everyone in the community can be a part of this. You will get to watch the team play on ESPN and know that your donation helped get them there,” said Lowry.  “We have adopted the hashtag #SmallTownBigDreams for this team, and I can assure you that this group of boys will make you proud to say that they are a team from your hometown community.” The Thurmont Little League 11-12 team leaves for Bristol on August 4.


Mayor John Kinnaird

Summer is here and, with it, the hot and humid weather. Please be careful while outdoors and be sure to keep hydrated and pace yourself while working. Also, keep an eye out for your elderly neighbors and offer assistance when needed.

The Thurmont Fun Fest is coming on August 5, 2017, to the Eyler Road Park, hosted by the Town of Thurmont and CYA Football and Cheer Teams. The day starts at 11:00 a.m. and features a full day of fun and games, including Punt Pass and Kick Competition, games, food, giveaways, volleyball, NFL cheerleaders, vendors, fire/EMS demonstrations, Police K-9 demonstration, car seat inspections, bike rodeo, pet-friendly activities, music, and more. Bring the kids and your dog for a fun day at Eyler Road Park!

This past weekend, I attended the Fun Fair at the Thurmont Regional Library. The day was full of educational fun and games for everyone. Outside, there were town trucks and a Guardian Hose Company Brush Truck to look at. There also was an amazing soap bubble demonstration. Inside activities included games, Cuddles Cat Rescue with kittens, the National Park Service with wild animal pets, service dogs, a very friendly Alpaca, and many other fun displays and activities. If you didn’t manage to get there this year, be sure to attend next year’s event. My thanks to the Thurmont Regional Library and staff for supporting our community by offering a wide range of interesting and educational activities for children and adults.

The month of July typically serves as a break in the schedule for the Thurmont Board of Commissioner (BOC) meetings. We will resume our regular Tuesday evening meeting on August 1 at 7:00 p.m. Regular BOC meetings are open to the public; you are welcome to attend and to participate in public comment during discussions or at the close of the meetings.

Finally, a comment about Thurmont Little League (TLL). Unless you have been living in a cave, you must know about the TLL teams playing in the Little League playoffs. The 9-11 TLL All Stars team took the District 2 Championships and are currently playing for the State 9-11 Championships. The Thurmont Little League 11-12 All Stars won the District 2 Championship and went on to clench the State 11-12 Championship. The 11-12 Champs are now going to play in the Regional Playoffs in Bristol, Connecticut, with the series beginning on August 5. The Regional Playoffs will be broadcast on ESPN3, and if they move onto the World Series games, you will be able to watch on ESPN. That two of the Thurmont Little League teams have moved through the District 2 playoffs, and on to the State playoffs, speaks volumes of the quality of the Little League program, the determination and sportsmanship of the players, the dedication of the coaching staff, and encouragement and support of the team families! Please be sure to congratulate both All-Star teams and support their journey through States and Regional play. Both teams will be holding fundraisers to help cover the costs of attending the playoff games, and they will appreciate any help we can provide.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at

Mayor Don Briggs

Once again, thank you to the Community Heritage Day organizers, vendors, entertainers, and town staff for their behind-the-scenes support. The event continues to grow bigger and better every year. The fireworks show was fantastic.

Thank you to the town Parks and Recreation Committee for a wonderful, well attended “Evening in the Park” on July 15. Magician Michael Cantori left a lot of us gasping. Everyone should visit his store on West Main Street, near the Square. Following his show, hot dogs, refreshments, and other entertainment filled the evening schedule.

Thank you to Sherry Waselchalk, the Maryland State Highway project manager, for the bridge replacement; also the Square revitalization and sidewalk projects. We were supposed to have the Square closed for three days and nights, but the work was completed in one evening.

There are a lot of projects happening around town, so here are some updates and estimated dates of completion (EDC):

Pool: Building permit received. Hold up: resubmitted plans for underwater lighting. Now waiting for Frederick County Health Department approvals. EDC: May 2018 (to be open for next summer season).

Dog park: Site behind tennis/ basketball court is cleared. We have applied for a second grant to cover costs. Bidding going out for fencing. EDC: June 2018.

Square revitalization and downtown sidewalk project. EDC: June 2018. Trees to be replaced at locations approved by (fronting) home owners. Different tree varieties, all with no fruit droppings.

Flat Run bridge: delicate work around creek bed. EDC: Fall 2018.

The town was awarded $221,907 from a FY2018 Energy-Water Infrastructure Program (EWIP) grant through Maryland Department of the Environment. The grant funds will be used to replace the pumps at the Creamery Road Pump Station with two energy efficient pumps, a new generator, flow meter, and circulator. The equipment could save the town $6,007 annually in electricity costs.

We are in the process of applying for $100,000 +/- grant for a field for soccer, lacrosse, and rugby.

I had the pleasure to introduce new Congressman, James Raskin, at a recent meet and greet in Emmitsburg. It was good to have Frederick County Council Member Kirby Delauter and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins in attendance. The congressman likes to hike, so I think he will be coming up our way again (and soon).

Congratulations to Vigilant Hose Comapany No. 6 volunteer firefighter Elyssa Cool on being awarded the 2016 Silver Spring Trophy by Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA). The MSFA presented the award on behalf of the sponsor, Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. It is presented each year at the MSFA Annual Convention to an individual who does the most in fire prevention for his/her community. Elyssa received an individual plaque for permanent possession and will hold the trophy for one year and then pass it on. The award is administered by MSFA Fire Prevention Committee and Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office. Thank you, Elyssa, for your service to our community. For more: Link on the MSFA Website –

From what we already know and have felt, but only mused as to why: (from the Wall Street Journal Jan. 17, 2016) bacon prices are up and up 80 percent. Nationwide, we bought 14 percent more bacon in 2016 then 2013. No longer only for BLTs and breakfast sides, bacon is now a standard in a salad mix, as a sprinkling on a cup of soup, or piled regularly on burgers. Move over salmon. The price to wholesalers for pork bellies has risen to $2.10 per pound. Bacon is becoming more of a specialty food item. Look for thinner strips and/or higher prices in restaurants.

Summer reading suggestion: History of My Own Times with a subtitle, The Life And Adventures of William Otter, Sen. Comprising a Series of Events, And Musical Incidents Altogether Original, Emmitsburg 1835, written by William Otter, an English emigrant. Emmitsburg is spelled several ways including “Emmitsburgh” and “Emmettsburg.”It’s a very interesting read.

The third and final “pool party” in Community Park will be held Friday August 18, from 6-8 p.m., featuring hot dogs, drinks, Rita’s Italian Ice, DJ music, and games. Start the weekend off in the park.

“Back to School Day” will be held on Saturday, August 5, from 12:00-3:00 p.m., and will feature school supplies, lots of food, games, and entertainment. Sponsored by Christ’s Community Church.

Groundbreaking for the new Seton Center is August 18 at 3:00 p.m., off E. Lincoln Avenue, west of the Mother Seton School.

This is a great place to live.

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the mayor and commissioners that the town’s new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake is proving effective so far.

The new system, which cost the town $38,650 for setup and $13,000 a year for calibration, was installed in April of this year. The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. Willets presented the results of the first three months of operation of the system.

The first data looked at was the presences of chlorophyll in the water. Willets said that this is the biggest indicator that shows algae is not growing. The amount of chlorophyll has dropped from 20 ug/L to 5 ug/L.

The next item examined was phycocyanin, which causes taste and odor problems in the water. It has dropped from 4-5 ug/L to near 0.

Water turbidity, which affects how clear the water is, has dropped from 4.0 NTVs to <1 NTO. Willets pointed out that town staff have received multiple comments from fisherman using the lake that the water is noticeably clearer.

Coagulant usage and backwash water usage are both down.

“We are doing more backwashes, but the gallons used are less,” Willets said.

The water usage is down from 1,292,250 gallons to around 600,000 gallons. This is saving the town 85 water taps.

Willets also told the commissioners that since the system has been installed, there has been no unexpected filter-related overtime.

Two items that have not shown any noticeable difference is the usage of soda ash and chlorine. Usage of these items is expected to be reduced as the new system continues to operate.

Also, while the system has been operating as expected, the satellite uplink that will allow LG Sonic to monitor the system hasn’t been able to be established yet, which is something that is being worked on.

“Staff is very pleased with what they’ve seen so far,” Willets said.

Data from August and September will be examined with interest because this is the time when the lake has historically had its largest algae growth.

The Town of Thurmont Main Street Program has once again received the National Main Street Accreditation for 2017.  Thurmont’s Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder, who also manages the Thurmont Main Street program, was notified of the recognition last month.

In a release from Main Street America, Thurmont received notification stating “Thurmont Main Street, in June of 2017, has been designated as an accredited Main Street America Program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.” Thurmont Main Street hosts events and programs throughout the year, including the Main Street Farmers’ Market, the Business Showcase, Christmas in Thurmont, the Thurmont Business Bucks program, and Art and Wine Strolls, along with operating the Thurmont Main Street Center.

“Main Streets are the heart of any community and the catalyst for future growth within any town. Thurmont is proud and honored to be recognized as an elite member of the 828 Nationally Accredited Main Street America communities, and one of the twenty eight in the state of Maryland. A special thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers who make this possible,” stated Grinder.

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners received a report about how well their social media efforts are doing in reaching people.

Office Manager Terri Ray collected the data and put together a PowerPoint show that Town Clerk Madeline Shaw presented to the commissioners.

The Emmitsburg Facebook page now has 945 followers, which is up about 225 people in the last seven months. The page only had 150 followers about two years ago. Women, ages 35-49, make up 21 percent of the town’s followers.

Each post on the page reaches an average of 370 people. Some reach many more:

  • A photo of the beginning of the dog park construction was seen by 1,600 people.
  • Construction updates are seen by about 2,600 people.
  • The announcement of the Green Registry Award was seen by 1,600 people.


“We are starting to get more comments,” Shaw told the commissioners.

When people visit the town’s website, they spend a little over two minutes on the site, on average, and about two-third of the visitors are first-time visitors.

Visit the town’s website at, and check out their Facebook page:

Wayne Powell

There’s a house in our small community that’s more than just a house. Even though it’s a house right along Main Street, in fact, many pass it by, never thinking about its importance.

In some ways, it may seem to be a house not all that different than your home. However, it’s a house that is very different than most others in Emmitsburg and beyond.

It’s a house where you can hear the phone—a rather special phone, it is at that—and you can’t escape its ring no matter where you might try to hide, for you always have to answer it, even at dinner time.

The nature of the chores in this house are, at times, pretty much just like everyone else’s: wash the floors, clean the sinks, dust the shelves, run the washer, scrub the toilets, put away pots and pans, shop, keep records, pay the bills;  yet, it’s a house where training videos—not DVD or VHS movies—line the shelves on either side of the television.

For those who reside there, it’s their “Home away from Home,” as they say. And, it’s about the only house in greater Emmitsburg where the announcement “fire” does not lead to panic. In fact, that term, “fire” just means it’s time to go to work.

But, in this house, there’s something very special…no, it’s not a collection of photos—albeit, some of those old pictures take the folks back, just like photos in your albums do—and it’s not the computers or the TV’s or even the super large red machines that fill much of the first floor. No, it’s the people there who make it so special. The fact that they’re committed to helping others is what makes this house so very special, indeed. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing place, especially in these interesting times in which we all now live. As you’ve likely already figured out by now, we’re talking about a house that is actually YOUR house, too. Yes, that’s right, the community’s firehouse!

Those at this house, the firehouse, certainly are “family,” and just like everyone else’s family, they have some interesting characters, too. Plus, just like you, they take pride in their home and all that’s in it—especially the people!

Little ol’ fire station number 6 runs with the pace and precision of a beehive. The long-ago Norman Rockwell-like image of those who inhabit houses like this community’s firehouse no longer sit around playing cards or checkers all day—an image of a by-gone era.

In fact, sometimes they feel they have enough to keep them busy even if they never got called out—with training and paperwork, and fundraisers and paperwork, and cleaning and paperwork, vehicle maintenance and paperwork, and the endless certifications and equipment checks, and, of course, in case it wasn’t mentioned, there’s all that paperwork, too.

Their radios blare, yet they all seem to block out most of the routine buzz, unless it’s something close or unusual or profound; then, yes, they listen intently. And, they always listen for Number 6 to be called upon when it’s their turn to help others in danger. They are proud to do their duty, just like firefighters in our country have been doing for more than 375 years—yes, all the way back to Peter Stivincent in New Amsterdam, or New York as it’s called today.

What’s amazing is that those in that house do what they do for free. Yep, no pay! No stipend, no fee per call, not even an honorarium for preparation time or travel time.  And, oh yes, they still make house calls!

If you’re a person who doesn’t like to be woken up from a sound sleep, or someone who just can’t handle working outdoors on bitter cold winter nights, or for that matter, blistering hot summer afternoons, or perhaps you are just one of those who needs time to ponder, plan, sort, think, re-think, then review your options before initiating an action, then this sometimes hectic pace necessary for the required rapid-fire decision-making may be a bit much to handle.

But, thank goodness there are those who somehow take all these and many other challenges in stride and are willing to do the right thing. In fact, a review of history of this region finds that there’s been these type of folks here for well over 135 years, who have been, and still are, there when the community calls upon them for help.

That house, and those in it, routinely make a difference in the lives of others, even those they don’t know. The men and women of this particular house stand ready—on a moment’s notice—to help when and where needed. And, the rest of us are so very lucky they do.

If you would like to better understand the critical role that volunteer ‘First Responders’ in communities just like ours do every day to help others, I encourage you to watch this superb 5-minute animated video ( that tells those in the community the value of their volunteer fire and emergency services personnel.

James Rada, Jr.

Rain the night before gave way to sun and heat for the annual Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day on June 24, 2017. Events took place throughout the day, beginning with the Vigilant Hose Company’s breakfast that started at 6:00 a.m. and ending with the last boom of the fireworks around 9:45 p.m.

During the day, dozens of food and craft vendors were set up in Community Park. Visitors could browse the offerings in between participating in events like the horseshoe competition, greased pig chase, and bike rodeo.

Jill Long moved to Emmitsburg three years ago and has attended Heritage Day every year. She really looks forward to it. “It’s really nice to have this available for people. It shows community pride when businesses and people come out and support this.”

Outside of the park, visitors stocked up on books at the library book sale, voted for the best entries in the car show, and toured one of the local museums.

Entertainers performed at Community Park, singing to the visitors. The headline acts were “Mr. Charisma” and Elvis, who presented music in the styles of Dean Martin, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. There was even a dance at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, featuring the music of the Frederick Camerata. Other live entertainment that played at the Community Park bandstand was the Home Comfort Band, the CCC Praise Band, Commendable Effort, and the Harmony Cornet Band.

Ashley Hewitt attends Heritage Day every year with her family. They can find something for each member of the family to enjoy. In fact, there’s so much going on, they have to take a break in the middle of the day to let the kids rest before returning to the park for more.

“I think it was bigger this year than it has been in previous years,” Hewitt said.

Some new activities were offered this year, including a Civil War tea and carriage history tours of Emmitsburg. Community Heritage Day is coordinated each year by the Emmitsburg Lions Club, but would not be possible without generous community support. Platinum sponsors of this year’s event that donated at least $500 to Heritage Day are the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association, Emmitsburg Glass, Mount St. Mary’s University, William and Bonita Portier, Emmitsburg Ambulance Company, Melissa Wetzel, the Tommy West Foundation, Don and Libby Briggs, Emmitsburg Lions Club, the Town of Emmitsburg, American Legion Post 121, Knights of Columbus Brute Council 1860, Frederick Bicycle Coalition, and More Riding Bicycles and Building Trails.

Winners of this year’s games are: Greased Pig Chase — Malakai Andrews (ages 1-6), Lucien Ridenour (ages 7-11), John Lane (ages 12-16), and TJ Burns (ages 17 and older); Sack Race Singles — Phoenix Smith–1st place and Irene Trexler–2nd place (ages 1-4), Addison Welch–1st place and Thomas Love–2nd place (ages 5-8), Erin Gregg–1st place and Krystal Lane–2nd place (ages 9-12), Michael DiIulil–1st place and Jedn Pembroke–2nd place (ages 13-16), Logan Gregg–1st place and Jack McCarthy–2nd place (ages 17 and up); Sack Race Doubles — Madison Ott/Madelynn Myers–1st place and Savanna Phebus/Emma Annadale–2nd place (ages 5-8), Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place and Jazmyne Howar/Lucien Ridenour–2nd (ages 9-12), Thomas Lowe/Mathias Buchheister–1st place and Zoe Ridenour/Jean Pembroke–2nd place (ages 13-16), Dan Goetz/Nathan Goetz–1st place and Mary Fran Gregg/Logan Gregg–2nd place (17 and older); Egg Toss — Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place tie, Dan Goetz/Nathan Goetz–1st place tie; Water Balloon Toss — Adrian Febus/Deondre Febus–1st place and Abby McCarthy/David McCarthy– 2nd place; Pie Eating Contest —Jameson Ebaugh–1st place and Keane Burns and Cora From tie for 2nd place (ages up to 4 years), Thomas Love–1st place and Raphael DiIulio–2nd place (ages 5-8), Finnian Ridenour tied with Blake Cool–1st place (ages 9-12), Jean Pembroke– 1st place and Mathew Knox–2nd place (ages 13-16), Jack McCarthy– 1st place and Rose Samples–2nd place (17 years and older).

Kids give it their all, determined to break through the finishline during the much-anticipated Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day sack races.

On June 14, 2017, a Flag Day Ceremony at Thurmont’s Memorial Park was hosted by the communities of Emmitsburg and Thurmont, with the support of Thurmont American Legion Post 168, Emmitsburg American Legion Post 121, Thurmont Amvets Post 7, and Emmitsburg VFW Post 6658. Area Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, and Venture Crew helped with the Flag Retirement portion of the ceremony. Thanks to those representing our Veterans organizations and Scouts for helping celebrate the 240th Anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

James Rada, Jr.

While the cost of solar energy from Emmitsburg’s two solar farms cost more than power purchased from First Energy, the cost of using solar is so much less that it created a savings of $72,000 for the Town of Emmitsburg last year.

Questions have been raised in town meetings and in print as to whether switching much of the town’s power consumption to solar energy was worth it. Much of this seems based on the fact that a kilowatt hour of solar energy costs around .08092 cents, while only costing the town around .06481 cents from First Energy. This is true. The actual cost of solar power is more, although the actual difference varies as the cost of power purchased from First Energy changes multiple times in a year.

However, as Town Accountant Cole Tabler points out in an analysis of the town’s energy costs, “[T]he true savings from solar are in the consumption charges that are greatly reduced or eliminated.”

This conclusion is based on an examination of the town’s actual energy bills. The costs without solar power are estimated based on First Energy’s bills alone. When Emmitsburg switched to using solar energy for its power needs, six taxes and surcharges were eliminated from their bills. These are the: Administrative Credit, Cogeneration PURPA Surcharge, Franchise Tax, EmPower MD Surcharge, Demand Resource Surcharge, and MD Environmental Surcharge. Also, three other charges and taxes are minimized because the power being purchased from First Energy is minimized. These are the: Distribution Surcharge, Maryland Sales Tax, and Electric Universal Service Fee.

In FY2016—from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016—the Town of Emmitsburg consumed 1,657,216 kWh among its twenty accounts. This usage includes the higher consumption of the town’s new wastewater treatment plant.

The cost of power (including solar) for FY2016 was $134,100 (rounded to the nearest $100). In addition, the extra taxes and surcharges on the power bills amounted to $68,000 (rounded). So, the total amount that the town paid for its power last year was $202,100.

To get an estimate of what the town would have paid for its power if it had been entirely drawn from First Energy, the total usage was multiplied by the prevailing rate. This changed multiple times throughout the year, so an average cost of .06481 cents/kWh was used. Using this rate, the energy cost last year was $107,400 (rounded). This is $26,700 less than it cost for solar.

The taxes and surcharges on that amount of power purchased from First Energy would have been $167,300 (rounded) or $99,300 more than the town paid for solar.

The bottom line is: Without using solar energy, the town would have paid $274,700 for its power last year, compared to what it actually paid ($202,100).

By converting to solar power, the town saved $72,600.

Looked at in a different way, the town would have had to been paying .02099 cents/kWh or less for switching to solar power to have been a loss.


JUNE 2017


FY2018 Budget Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a $3.3 million budget for Fiscal Year 2018, with no increase in the property tax rate.

The new budget includes $1,743,959 in the general fund, which is about a $55,000 increase over FY2017. Property tax rates have not increased since 2005.

The water fund has decreased from $555,510 last year to $510,000 this year. This is due to people using less water.

The sewer fund has increased from $987,900 last year to $1,000,500 this year.

You can view the budget in detail at the town office.


Farmer’s Market Every Friday

The Emmitsburg Farmer’s Market is now ongoing every Friday evening, from 3:00-6:00 p.m., at 302 South Seton Avenue. Items offered may include: fruits, vegetables, dried and cut flowers, container plants, berries, nuts, eggs, honey, milk, cheese cider, preserves, meats, fish, and baked goods. The market will continue until late September. For more information, call 301-600-6303 or e-mail


Use the Footbridge

Due to the ongoing work on Route 140 at Flat Run, there is now a footbridge over Flat Run and a paved asphalt path leading to it, for pedestrian use. All pedestrians must use this footbridge. The sidewalk on the north side is closed.


Town Block Party

Although the Emmitsburg pool is closed this season, the town is still sponsoring pool parties, which have been renamed block parties. The next one is on July 21, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Community Park.


FY2018 Budget Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved a $12.6 million budget for Fiscal Year 2018, with no increase in the property tax rate. The real property tax rate has been set at $0.2849 per $100 of assessed value, and the personal property tax rate has been set at $0.62 per $100 of assessed value.

The new budget includes general fund expenditures of $3,445,855, with a capital budget of $301,000. The water fund has $830,791 in expenditures and $82,500 in the capital budget. The wastewater fund has $1,406,379 in expenditures and $186,825 in the capital budget. The electric fund has $6,122,787 in expenditures and $269,700 in the capital fund.

You can view the budget in detail at the town office.


Abuse Commission Formed

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted unanimously in June to establish a new town commission to help the town better deal with the problems associated with drug abuse.

“We have multiple people that have been impacted and want to make a difference; they need a place to go and have a formalized support by their local government,” Burns said. The commission is now seeking members. Anyone interested should contact Commissioner Marty Burns at


Commissioners Seek Sidewalk to Library

As part of the Thurmont Community Development Block Gap (CDBG) fund, the commissioners are seeking an ADA compliant sidewalk, adjacent to Moser Road. The area currently has no sidewalk, yet the area is heavily traveled by pedestrians going to and from the Thurmont Regional Library. The sidewalk would also connect the library to a 55+ community and the Thurmont Trolley Trail along Moser Road.

The town is not seeking funds for the sidewalks. They are requesting that CDBG fund the ADA curb ramps and crossing warning devices. Funding for the rest of the project is being requested from Frederick County and the town’s highway user revenues.

The entire sidewalk project is estimated to cost $180,000.


Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from the Maryland Municipal League Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City. This is my eighth time at the summer conference, and it looks like this trip will be as exciting and informative as all the others. The four days are filled with meetings, discussion groups, and classes, all of which help our elected officials better understand the responsibilities and mechanics of serving our communities. One of the best things I have found is that we get the chance to speak with others and see how they address issues in their communities; but more importantly, we see firsthand that other communities generally have much bigger issues than we have to contend with. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of our elected state officials and the heads of State agencies is another advantage of attending these conferences. This gives us a direct line of contact with those that can have a positive impact on how Thurmont fares when dealing on the state level, as well as with the many grants and funding opportunities of which we take advantage. My thanks to Commissioner Hamrick, CAO Jim Humerick, Kelly Duty, and Vickie Grinder for attending this year’s conference and expanding their knowledge of governmental issues and for increasing their networking contacts.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with representatives of seven Frederick County municipalities to help assign Project Open Space (POS) funding to our communities. POS funds are monies granted to counties by the State of Maryland to be used to enhance open space or park lands. Typically the money is split 50-50 between Frederick County and the municipalities. This year, a little over $507,922 in funding was available to municipalities in Frederick County. Of that amount, $126,981 was available for the acquisition of park land and $380,941 was available for improvements to existing parks.  I am happy to announce that Thurmont was able to garner a total of $107,000 for two projects we applied for: $89,000 will be used to help complete the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park (more about that later), and $18,900 will fund the installation of an ADA-compliant restroom facility at the East End Park. It is always an interesting evening when we get together to discuss the POS funds. As you can imagine, there is never enough funds to satisfy everyone’s requests. This year, there was almost $800,000 in requests from the seven municipalities, so it was obvious to the seven of us that we could only fund 50 percent of the proposals. Given this, it would seem to be a real problem. But as I have seen repeatedly, the municipalities are always willing to take less so that others can get funding for their special projects. This year, the Town of Thurmont benefited from this practice and was awarded almost 30 percent of the money available! In past years, we have cut back on our request during the discussions to assist others, and this year we benefited from that courtesy.

Earlier, I mentioned the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park. This project is a joint venture between the Town and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club. The Civitans made a proposal to establish an All Inclusive Playground last year, and I am happy to say that with funding from both the town and the Civitans, the project is moving forward. The town portion of the initial funding came from Project Open Space; and now with the recently awarded POS funds, we will be able to move the project closer to completion. The first phase of this amazing park has been dedicated and is now open. Be sure to stop for a look and remember that this playground is designed to be used by children with all levels of physical and emotional capabilities. All the equipment can be accessed by children in wheelchairs and walkers, so they can enjoy the thrill of outdoor fun with their friends and family. I want to thank the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for their vision and help in establishing this playground right here in Thurmont.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival, and I hope you have a great time watching the Annual Fireman’s Parade!

As always, I can be reached by email at, by phone at 301-606-9458, or on Facebook.


 Mayor Don Briggs

In June, the Town of Emmitsburg received the Maryland Green Registry 2017 Leadership Award. Due to a lot of “sweat equity” from lots of people in a body of work, we are very proud of receiving the reward. “Green” is shorthand for living in a more natural way, with a determination to reduce waste, use renewable energy, and enhance walkability through community connectivity. A simple, workable definition of Green is: “use what you need today and save what you don’t need for future generations.” Green is shorthand for sustainability. Sustainability, boiled down, is to keep, hold, or maintain for an extended period of time. Sustainability is nothing new to the crop farmers working the land around us, who plant, grow, reap, and replenish, to then plant again, all the while taking care of their soil. These farmers, like farmers for thousands of years, are renewable energy reliant on the seasons, sun, and water—surface, ground, or rain, and do everything they can to reduce waste. Now is the time to bring that consciousness to our uses.

As a strong impetus to and validation for our sustainability goals, the town was honored to host on separate days the 4th-grade classes of Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School. Our special guests moved in small groups throughout the office to meet with staff in four stations: accounting, receptionist–office manager, the town clerk, and mayor’s office, before moving on to the council meeting room. Every student sat in the mayor’s and/or council member’s seats and introduced themselves over the microphones. A mock hearing was conducted before a visit to the Frederick County Fire Museum and Fire Heritage Center, where they climbed aboard.

Coming up are several town-sponsored events in the park. Please check the town website and Facebook page for descriptions, dates, times, and specific locations. Please note on your calendar Tuesday, August 1, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for National Night Out (NNO) at the field behind the town office. NNO is an annual event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. This is a new event to Emmitsburg, “but across the nation, different communities host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events, with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and much more.”

What is the Impact Club? And what is Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick?

Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was started by educator Hermine Bernstein, who literally stumbled on the problem in Frederick County of over 11,000 children that are on FARM (Free And Reduced Meals). Hermine saw a greater calling in helping these kids, so she started Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick for children in strained family situations.

The Impact Club is a group of people wanting to contribute to the good of the community. Every quarter, Lib and I, along with 230-plus other residents in Frederick County, donate $100. Every quarter, members nominate community causes from which one is selected by membership vote. For this quarter, Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was selected and received a $23,600 check.

Community Heritage Day 2017: Thank you to the Lions Club, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and many businesses and civic organizations in Emmitsburg, for working together to provide a day full of fun and activities, ending with Independence Day Fireworks. Please go to for details on a great day of fun.

Finally, the Square revitalization and sidewalk project has begun on the west end of Main Street.


Members of both the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company (EVAC) and the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) have begun to discuss how their respective emergency services roles might be improved by merging personnel, resources and facilities.

This initiative is early in its consideration and will require research, on-going discussions and coordination among all stakeholders including the public, area businesses and institutions as well as local and county public policy officials and regional emergency services agencies.

EVAC President Mary Lou Little and VHC President Frank Davis jointly stress that this is an open and positive step that both organizations have long discussed. The community and surrounding area are the driving force to continue to work to improve and enhance service.

Senior administrative and operational leaders of both groups have recently been discussing possible ways to potentially combine personnel and resources to better meet growing service demands while also developing strategies ultimately determined to be in the best interests of those served.

Members of both organizations met together on Sunday evening, May 21, 2017, at the EVAC Station 26 to begin a process for positive outcomes. And, such interactions will continue. Community input is encouraged and will be used in designing a comprehensive approach and structure to move forward. Frequent updates will be issued so all interested can be kept apprised of developments.

Questions can be made through contact with Spokesperson Tim Clarke at 301-748-4161 or at