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The Timeless Tale of Dave and Margie Harman

Alisha Yocum

Dave and Margie were married on June 22, 1958, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville.

Dave and Margie Harman, married 65 years.

Photo by Alisha Yocum

David (Dave) Harman was working at ACME Market near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he first met Margie Lantz, his now wife of 65 years. Margie’s sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Frank, worked at the ACME store in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, so the first time Dave met Margie was when she was tagging along with Laura and Frank on their visit to the Gettysburg store.

Soon thereafter, Laura and Frank transferred from the Waynesboro store over to the store near Gettysburg.

“We were holding a one-year anniversary celebration at the store [Gettysburg] when Laura and Frank brought her along to help with serving goodies. I suppose it was fate that day. I may have made a few extra trips by the table to get some cookies and punch,” said Dave, with a grin on his face.

Margie’s sister and brother-in-law working at the same store would lead to more opportunities to spend time with Margie, as Dave was invited to family events, like Margie’s 16th birthday party. Dave remembers driving from Gettysburg to Sabillasville in his 1949 Plymouth on his first visit to see Margie. Unfortunately, Dave stopped to get directions to the Lantz’s house, but no one knew who Walter Lantz was. This was because Margie’s dad went by the nickname “Buck,” and no one in the community knew him by his given name, Walter. It wasn’t until Dave’s second attempt to visit Margie that he was successful in finding her family home.

In that same 1949 Plymouth, they would drive to their first date at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg. In a few short years, Dave and Margie, who were 22 and 19 years old, would be married on June 22, 1958, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville, followed by a reception at her parent’s farm right down the road. Margie remembers the old farmhouse being full of people and all the wonderful food her mom made for the reception.

The newlyweds would only have five short months together before Dave was drafted into the United States Army. After completing basic training and radar school, Dave was one of five from his unit who were selected to stay behind rather than go to serve in the Korean War. He was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado. On their first anniversary, Margie and Dave once again hopped in the Plymouth and drove across country to Colorado Springs, so Dave could report for duty. While there, Margie found a job working for Mecca Hotel. The Harmans remember fondly how kind and nice everyone was in Colorado, and they enjoyed family coming to visit them to see popular tourist sites like Pike’s Peak.

In December 1960, Dave was discharged, and he and Margie made their way back to Maryland, where they lived temporarily with Margie’s parents until they could find a place of their own. However, life had different plans, and Margie’s father soon fell ill, so the two decided to stay and help work on the family farm.

At that time, Margie’s family ran a dairy operation, which back then meant milking by hand. Dave had some experience working on a farm, but he learned a lot from the Lantz family. Dave would work his job at ACME Market during the day and work the farm in the evening—many times, still plowing fields at 11:00 p.m.

Dave said his father-in-law told him the Thurmont Bank was looking to hire, and he said, “When your father-in-law speaks, you listen.” Dave interviewed for the job and was hired to handle loans before being promoted to head bank teller and then to bank manager, eventually retiring after 32 years with the bank.

During these years, Margie continued to do farmwork and raise their two sons, David Jr. and Mark. Soon, the family, with their two sons, would switch from dairy to beef cattle.

Today, Dave and Margie don’t spend as much time doing farm chores, but their two sons have kept the farm going. 

After 65 years of marriage, the Harman’s advice is “Agree to disagree.”

Dave said, in marriage, you are going to have differences of opinions. For them, there were many times that they did not always agree, but he said they worked through things and eventually came to an agreement.

The Harmans can’t recall any big challenges over the years, but Dave attributes this to not making a big deal out of things. Even though both have been through health challenges, they continue to take care of each other.

“God willing, we hope we can enjoy a few more years together,” said Dave.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Groundhog Day 2024: What Will Punxsutawney Phil Say?

Groundhog Day has ascended to notable popularity, becoming both an anticipated holiday and a popular saying. It is thought that how a groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2 determines the upcoming weather conditions: If the groundhog glimpses its shadow and scares itself back underground, then there will be six more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then there will be an early spring.

Alongside this holiday, “Groundhog Day” has become a common idiom—largely thanks to the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray—encapsulating the sensation of déjà vu, where the same situation seems to repeat itself. (Get the joke in the title now?)

Groundhog Day carries with it a fascinating backstory. In multiple cultures, the beginning of February, which falls between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, holds much societal value. For instance, Celts in Western Europe celebrated Imbolc on February 2, a festival welcoming the spring season. As Christianity circulated across the continent, Imbolc evolved into Candlemas, a religious gathering involving Christians bringing candles to church to symbolize light and warmth for the winter season.

Even during Candlemas, participants endeavored to predict the forthcoming weather. It was believed that if the sky was clear and sunny on Candlemas, then winter would persist for 40 days longer. If the day saw clouds and rain, then the end of winter was near. It may seem outlandish for there to be such extensive apprehension about the dawn of spring, but back when agriculture was the dominant moneymaker of the region, the weather reflected the health of crops and, consequently, the people.

So far, there has been no recognition of groundhogs. How did they get caught up in this? Animals began playing a role in this meteorology when Germans started populating areas formerly occupied by the Celts. Initially, they believed that animals such as the bear and the badger awoke from hibernation on February 2; if those animals observed their shadows, then six more weeks of winter would follow. When German speakers immigrated to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought their legends to Pennsylvania, where the native groundhog substituted the other species. The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck and whistle pig, was more prevalent in this location.

The first official Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, can be credited to Clymer Freas, a regional newspaper editor, who promoted the idea to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—a collection of businessmen and groundhog hunters. It transpired on February 2, 1887, when the first designated Punxsutawney Phil emerged from its den. Unsurprisingly, what commenced as a local tradition developed into a national festivity. Nowadays, every February 2, tens of thousands of visitors flock to Punxsutawney—a cozy town home to about 6,000 individuals—to attend Groundhog Day events.

Considering Punxsutawney Phil is an adored mascot of sorts now, it may be startling to learn that, in the earlier Groundhog Day celebrations amid the 19th century, it was customary to consume the groundhogs after their weather forecasts! Specifically, in 1887, groundhog meat was served as a specialty dish during the “Groundhog Picnic.” Don’t fret—that hasn’t happened in a while!

Although waiting each year for Punxsutawney Phil’s fateful news delivery is quite the pastime, it’s worth mentioning that his success rate isn’t the most commendable. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the groundhog is accurate only about 40 percent of the time. Moreover, Phil’s guesses are skewed highly in favor of continued winters: As of 2023, Phil has predicted 107 extended winters and merely 20 premature springs!

Regardless, the groundhog remains a treasured character, and he has inspired several similar weather prognosticators, including New York City’s Staten Island Chuck. Allegedly, since 1981, Staten Island Chuck has been right 80 percent of the time, outperforming the original Punxsutawney Phil! (Is it ever possible to surpass the original, though?)

Despite how Punxsutawney Phil is typically cited as a single entity, speculators claim there has been a lineup of groundhogs to accept this title to date—groundhogs can only live for up to 14 years in captivity, unfortunately. However, as articulated on the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s website, there has been one Phil kept alive by a secret “elixir of life.” Sounds pretty irrefutable to me!

As I’m writing this article, there is still no promise of what Phil’s prediction will be this year. Statistically speaking, I wager that Phil will point to another six weeks of winter—there’s an 84 percent chance I’ll be right, drawing from Phil’s previous trends. I’ll be back to see if I’m correct!

According to a Survey by AKC Pet Insurance, They Do!

A survey conducted by AKC Pet Insurance in 2023 surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners in America. The study found that 55 percent of single Americans prefer to stay at home with their dog or cat than to go out for Valentine’s Day!

Not too shocking, considering our furry friends love us unconditionally, even if we are grumpy; are always happy to see us; don’t talk back; don’t judge us; never argue with us on what to watch on TV; and, let’s face it, they are just more fun to cuddle.

The survey also found that 46 percent of single pet owners prefer to date someone who owns a dog or a cat. Not surprisingly, 55 percent of those surveyed said they would not want to date someone who dislikes dogs or cats. One in five respondents who were in a relationship said they would more prefer to spend time with their pets than their partners, with one in four stating they would rather cuddle with their pets than their partners.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), pet purchases are one of the fastest-growing areas of spending on Valentine’s Day. From 2010 to 2020, people purchasing gifts for their pets grew from 17 percent to 27 percent, translating into an increase from $450 million dollars spent to $1.7 billion.

According to, 85 percent of people surveyed said they will spend up to $50 on Valentine’s Day gifts for their dogs—one in three of those people said that amount was the same amount they will spend on a partner. In addition, 25 percent of people stated that they will take their dog on a date on Valentine’s Day.

The survey also concluded that pets take the top spot with couples, too, with many couples preferring to plan dates that involve their pets, such as a hike or a walk in the park, and that these activities can help couples strengthen their relationship bond.


Richard D. L. Fulton

The Gettysburg Battlefield served as the home to America’s first all-black Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in 1939, whose recruits helped in making improvements to the old 1863 former combat site of a fierce and brutal war.

The CCC was established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his “New Deal,” a conglomerate of measures initiated by the president in his efforts to address the ongoing “Great Depression.”

The CCC was established in order to provide skill training, work, clothing, and food for what would, at the height of the program’s existence, involve some three million participants (300,000 recruits and the balance thereof being individuals employed in related roles). Participation was limited to unemployed, unmarried men, ranging in age from 18 to 25. Participants were paid $30 per month, of which $25 was sent to each participant’s dependent (if any). 

Numerous CCC camps were established throughout the nation and its territories.  The War Department managed the program and provided the camp officers. 

Black participation was limited to 10 percent, and these participants were allocated to (usually) all-black camps under the command of white officers. Of the three million enrollees (the National Park Service [NPS] maintains the number was two million), only about 200,000 blacks were accepted into the CCC.

The CCC focused its labor force on improving primarily public lands, forests, and parks, which, due to the amount of tree plantings and landscaping work in which they were employed, led to the participants being called “Soil Soldiers.”

The CCC established two camps on the Gettysburg battlefield. The first camp was located in 1933 in Pitzer Woods (in the field behind the site where the General Longstreet monument stands today) and designated it NP-1. The second camp was located in McMillan Woods in 1934, on the western slope of Seminary Ridge, taking its access off West Confederate Avenue, and designated it NP-2.

After the Pitzer Woods camp had been abandoned in 1937, the last remaining CCC camp, McMillan Woods, was about to make history when it was announced in late 1939 that the camp (which then housed about 198 recruits) was to become the first all-black camp in the country, which included the officers.

As the transition of the McMillan Woods camp to be an all-black camp became a reality, the camp’s first black commander, 1st Lieutenant George W. Webb, reported for duty on November 12, 1939.  

Types of work performed by the CCC (including the work of the recruits of Pitzer Woods and McMillan Woods) on the Gettysburg Battlefield included (as amassed via several newspaper sources and others, principally the NPS):

    Cleaning existing battlefield wells and installing casing to existing wells that lacked them;

    Improving/installing water pipelines (to help improve water distribution to the battlefield facilities and battlefield farms, and for drinking fountains);

    Installing new fountains and fire hydrants,

    Constructing stone bridges over battlefield creeks;

    Establishing and/or improving foot-paths, trails, and bridle trails;

    Groundskeeping, including planting and pruning trees, cutting and hauling wood, removing stumps, and lawn maintenance;

    Erecting 25 miles of stone walls and installing iron fencing (after having removed “modern” fencing);

    Snow shoveling as needed, and assisting on and off-site with any help needed regarding flood and fire control efforts;

    Reconstructing earthworks and other battle-related features and cleaning monuments:

    Resetting grave markers in the National Cemetery; and

    Engaging in countless tasks as needed, including serving as battlefield guides during the 75th Battle of Gettysburg anniversary celebrations in 1938.

Despite all the contributions the recruits at the McMillan Woods camp had made by improving the Gettysburg battlefield during their occupancy, it was decided to close the camp in 1942. The Gettysburg Times reported on March 6, 1942, that a telegram emanating from the CCC’s regional headquarters in Virginia stated, “Due to further reductions in CCC camps” that the McMillan Woods camp had been “approved for abandonment on or about March 15.”

Camp Commander Webb had left for reassignment in August of 1941. The camp commander at the time of the closure was Lieutenant Philip Atkins.

There’s no doubt the demand for troops to serve in the fight against the Germans and Japanese had readily depleted the number of adult males that might have otherwise been available for CCC service.

Although the buildings of the CCC camp were abandoned, the structures would remain to address additional projects as needed.

In January 1944, the McMillan Woods camp, which had been abandoned for over two years, saw renewed life as hundreds of trainees out of Camp Ritchie arrived on a secretive mission preparatory to D-Day operations.

These were the men of the Mobile Radio Broadcasting company, a quasi-military propaganda force that had come to be collectively referred to as the “Ritchie Boys.”  Upon occupation by the Ritchie Boys, the camp was renamed Camp George H. Sharpe (also known more simply as Camp Sharpe, and less known by its more formal name, Psychological Warfare Training Center).

Leon Edel, a member of one of the Mobile Radio Broadcasting companies, noted in his book, entitled The Visitable Past: A Wartime Memoir, that the camp had not weathered well during its two years of abandonment. He wrote that the old CCC barracks appeared as though they had been built and “were filled with dust and cobwebs. The windows looked as if mud had been smeared across them. Mice and rats had left their deposits.”

Arthur H. Jaffe, captain of the Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company, described in his History Second Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company, December 1943-May 1945, that Camp Sharpe was “rugged and barren,” noting that, “The company was quartered in former CCC barracks that were surrounded by a sea of mud. The wind whistled through gaps in the walls while four stoves tried in vain to keep up the room temperature.”

The old CCC camp was again abandoned in 1944 after the Mobile Radio Broadcasting companies were dispatched to Europe in time to participate in D-Day.

But the camp would not be re-abandoned for long. Due to the tremendous drain on manpower, agriculture in Adams County and throughout the country was imperiled due to a lack of available help to manage harvesting and canning food products. Through the exhaustive efforts of local and county farming associations, such as the Adams County Emergency Farm Labor Committee, help was on the way via the War Department, and in the form of hundreds of German prisoners of war.

A tented camp was initially established along Emmitsburg Road to hold 400 prisoners towards the end of June, but the intent was to transfer the prisoners (as well as a few hundred additional POWs) to the McMillan Woods CCC camp. So, in November 1944, the twice-abandoned camp was re-occupied… this time by former enemy combatants (a second prisoner of war camp was established nearby, fronting on West Confederate Avenue and housing an additional 400 German prisoners).

After the end of World War II, the Germans were repatriated (sent home), a process that was not actually fully completed until July 1946.

The final demise of the old CCC camp, which had certainly experienced its share of making history and/or participating in the making of history—from serving as the home to the first all-black CCC camp to serving as the training site for propaganda units bound for Europe in World War II, to housing ultimately some 800 German POWs to assist in saving local agriculture—came in September-October 1947.

The (Hanover) Evening Sun reported on September 25, “Termination of the Adams County Emergency Farm Labor program and the request of the National Park Service (NPS) to restore the grounds now occupied by Camp Sharpe presents an opportunity for farmers to have first consideration in the disposal of the buildings and equipment and it may be possible to salvage buildings in such a manner that reassembling will be possible.”

On October 9, all of the camp buildings (which by then had amounted to some 22 buildings), and all of the remaining furniture contained within them, along with stoves, plumbing, and electrical fixtures, were auctioned off, fetching a total of approximately $8,700, according to the October 10 edition of The (Hanover) Evening Sun.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service CCC recruits work on various projects on the Gettysburg battlefield.

Separated in Life, Segregated in Death

Richard D. L. Fulton

Orange flags denote where the previously unknown locations of bodies buried in the cemetery have been found.

It is believed that over 400 individuals were buried in the Lincoln Cemetery.

Photos Courtesy of the Lincoln Cemetery Project Association

There are few sites in Gettysburg that better illustrate the days of a two-tiered system of “citizenship” than the Lincoln Cemetery on Long Lane in Gettysburg.

More than 160 years ago, more than 91,000 troops in the Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George G. Meade, collided with more than 70,000 troops in the Confederate Army of Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, on July 1-3 in 1863.

In the wake of the engagement, the Union forces sustained more than 22,000 casualties (of which 3,126 were killed), while the Confederate forces suffered about the same in the numbers of casualties, of which 4,400 were killed. By the end of the three days of battles, about 30 percent of the total forces engaged by both sides had been killed, wounded, or reported missing.

The white Union soldiers killed in the battle had the “luxury” of being interred in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. As for the Black Union soldiers who served during the Civil War and died in the war or died later in life after the end of the war, they were not permitted to be buried in the National Cemetery.

Thus, Black soldiers (and the preponderance of Blacks, in general) were compelled to establish their own cemeteries.

One such cemetery is located on Long Lane in Gettysburg and is known as the Goodwill Cemetery (also known as the Lincoln Cemetery). The cemetery was established in 1867 by the Sons of Goodwill “for the burial of the colored citizens of Gettysburg,” according to a historic bronze placard at the site. The Sons of Goodwill founding officers included Lloyd F.A. Watts, Basil Biggs, and Owen Robinson, among others, according to the Lincoln Cemetery Project Association (LCPA).

The Goodwill Cemetery was also called the Lincoln Cemetery after the site was acquired by the Lincoln Lodge 145, a Black Elks Lodge, according to Savannah Labbe, a Gettysburg College student, whose research paper, “Separate but Equal? Gettysburg’s Lincoln Cemetery,” was published in The Gettysburg Compiler (The Gettysburg Compiler is written and edited by students and staff of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College).  The lodge ceased caring for the cemetery in 1934. 

The commemorative plaque also states, “Interred in this burial ground are 38 ‘United States Colored Troops’ (USCT), veterans of the Civil War, who were denied burial in the Gettysburg’s National Cemetery.”

Also interred in the cemetery, according to another historic marker located at the cemetery, “are many of the town’s earliest Black residents, reinterred when the town’s ‘Colored Cemetery’ was cleared in 1906 to provide space for new houses.”

After the Lincoln Lodge 145 ceased caring for the cemetery, various citizens and citizen groups provided care for the cemetery over the years, but eventually the gravesite fell into disrepair and overgrown, and was subjected to vandalism, according to The Sons of Goodwill/Lincoln Cemetery Digital History, citing Betty Dorsey Myers’ Segregation in Death: Gettysburg’s Lincoln Cemetery (Gettysburg: The Lincoln Cemetery Project Association, 2001).

In 1999, the Lincoln Cemetery Project Association (LCPA) was established to oversee the management and care of the cemetery, under the leadership of Myers, who was then the historian and chair of the organization. According to the LCPA, the organization established a new  board of directors in 2013 “to continue this important work and take action to save the cemetery from further deterioration.”

During her tenure, in addition to all her efforts, along with that of the organization as a whole, Myers had directed the cemetery gates to be locked in an effort to prevent further vandalism.

For additional information, or to donate to aid the organization in its efforts to continue with the maintenance of the Lincoln Cemetery, visit the LCPA website at

by James Rada, Jr.


Chicken Ordinance Forms Available

The Thurmont Town Office now has the forms needed for people with existing chickens in their yards or who want to start keeping them. Those with existing chickens must have them registered by March 1. If not, and they have more than six chickens or a rooster, they might have to remove them. Chicken owners will also have to register their chickens with the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Downtown Trash Cans to be Replaced

The Thurmont Commissioners approved a bid of $23,576 to replace and install 13 new trash cans in downtown Thurmont. Playground Specialists, Inc. was the low bid of three and will do the work. The town also has a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development of $22,500, which will cover most of the cost. The remainder will be paid by the town out of the town’s park impact fee fund. The old trash cans will be repurposed in town parks and along the Thurmont Trolley Trail.

Property Assessments Increase Dramatically

The Thurmont Commissioners acknowledged that property assessments in the region increased an average of 31 percent. The commissioners urged residents to appeal their assessments and take advantage of any tax credits available to them, especially the Homestead Property Tax Credit. These things may either lower the property assessment or mitigate some of the property tax owed. More information on the available credits that can be considered is available at the Thurmont Town Office.


Commissioners Approve Fiber-optic Internet in Town

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a franchise agreement with Shentel/Glo Fiber to provide a fiber-optic high-speed Internet network in town.

The 15-year agreement also has options for three five-year renewals of the contract. The contentious point for the agreement was wording of the amount of the franchise fee. It is 5 percent of the cable revenues, which is the maximum the FCC allows to be charged. It is paid by the residents who have cable services on the network. The town wanted to be allowed to charge more if the FCC raised its limit. Shentel/Glo Fiber had no problem with that, but it did not want to be charged more than Comcast, which is the other Internet provider in Emmitsburg.

The commissioners agreed 4-1 on the changes proposed by town staff, with Commissioner Jim Hoover voting against the agreement.

Town Approves New Parking Meters

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a plan to replace 125 aging parking meters in town with new smart meters with coin and card payment options. The replacement is needed because the person who currently repairs the meters is retiring and replacement parts for them are no longer available. In addition, it was discovered that the current meters may be up to 15 minutes off in either direction.

An additional proposal to add additional meters on the west end of town was voted down.

Much of the cost will be paid for with a USDA Community Facility Grant for up to $31,100. The town will pay the grant’s match when the new cost is calculated.

Power Failure Postpones Some Commissioner Items

During the Emmitsburg January town meeting, the building had a power failure partway through the meeting. Although the emergency generator came on, it could not supply all the power the building needed. Because of this, the meeting was cut short, and the remaining items were moved to the February town meeting.


Mayor Frank Davis

Welcome to the winter of 2024. Mother Nature has given us the opportunity to evaluate the recently enacted Snow Emergency Plan, and we are pleased with the results. We still encountered vehicles that failed to move from the streets, and with this, we ask for your help. If you have someone in your neighborhood who failed to move their vehicles, please offer them a friendly reminder. They can obtain the necessary information regarding the policy on the town webpage or give the office a call at 301-600-6300.

During our recent snow storms, a group of Mount Saint Mary’s University students were out in the community shoveling walks and driveways for our citizens. The students took it upon themselves to reach out to their neighbors and lend a helping hand. I want to thank the students for having a positive impact on our community.

The Emmitsburg Town Council voted to replace all existing parking meters on East and West Main Streets. After much consideration and dialog, a decision was made not to add additional meters in other areas of the town. I want to thank our citizens for their input and the town council for investing time in research and communicating with our constituents.

The council also approved a contract with a company to provide internet, video, and phone service to Emmitsburg. Shentel will begin designing their system to give you an option when it comes to phone and Internet service. This will in no way affect your current Comcast service. It now just gives you options. For more information on Shentel, please visit their website.

The installation of new streetlights in the downtown area should begin on January 28. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the town office.

Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Mayor Kinnaird is out of the country and unavailable to write his Mayor’s message for this edition. His column will return next month.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Brrrrrr! It has been a cold new year so far with some actual snow for the first time in three years! I hope everyone has remained safe, and if you enjoy the snow, I hope you have had a good time in it. Personally, I am ready for spring, and it cannot get here quickly enough for me.

This last month was quiet in town. With the winter months, there has not been a lot going on, so it has given us some time to focus on a few projects. I will be attending the annual Maryland Mayors Association Conference from February 29 to March 1 in Annapolis. During this time, I hope to hear about the status of funds availability and different initiatives that may be coming out of this year’s state legislative session and budget.

On January 10, the town clerk and I met with the architect for the town building and the potential construction company representative from Sanbower Construction. We had a very productive meeting and discussed many things that could be removed from the original plans for the town hall. Several things can be modified, and I feel very optimistic that we will get the total cost down to the amount that we are comfortable with and able to afford to pay. The goal is to have a new number before March’s town meeting to present to the council. I was also able to get numbers for the loan from Woodsboro Bank, and the numbers came out in the range of the budget we have, so financing options are looking good if we get the total cost in the range with what we can comfortably afford. I also started the paperwork process for the $400,000 grant promise that we received from the state in 2022. Things are looking very promising, and exciting things are coming to our town.

We were able to get the lights, as well as the safety and trick rails, up around the skatepark. I have also been in conversation with the contractor to get the bathroom started, to be built on the disc golf/stage side of the park. We plan to get that underway this spring and, hopefully, have it completed sometime in late summer.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or by calling 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

The Catoctin Banner is Set for Transition

Deb Abraham Spalding

I wear a ring that is inscribed with the saying, “Life is happening for us.” This concept has been my motto for several years and reminds me of my belief that our purpose in this life is to learn lessons that allow each of us to become resilient, loving, and kind. When I started my business, an errand service, after resigning my position as Recreation Superintendent with Frederick County Government in August 2002, I didn’t realize that life was happening “for” me.

I knew I was doing good things for others and I felt good about that, but I believed I could do so much more – and make more money. Quickly, I learned that being good at managing recreation programs and volunteers in a service industry is completely different than earning enough revenue to survive in my own business.

Fortunately, life “was happening FOR me.” I just didn’t know it yet because my business wasn’t earning a profit! The nice salary I left at the county didn’t follow me. My business was called Errands Plus. I was shopping for people, taking them to doctor appointments, organizing for them, and unwittingly asking for too little compensation. I had a little office/store in Thurmont where lots of people were driving by, but very few were stopping. I was advertising my business in The Banner.

One day, my dear friend Steve Trout reached out to me and asked if I would put my errand service in the lobby of his grocery store, Jubilee Foods, in Emmitsburg. I accepted – convinced that more people would patronize the store since they were now walking by instead of driving by. From the lobby of Jubilee, the community shaped my future. They wanted a copier, then a color copier, then business cards – along with grocery shopping, and errands. Errands Plus became Errands Plus Copy Center.

While acting as a courier for Lori (Smith) Zentz, the then-publisher of The Banner, I offered to help her with the publication. I had designed and published The Recreater brochure when I worked at the county and soon, I added publishing to my list of business services as I burst into a new role as The Catoctin Banner’s publisher.

Next, my store’s name was shortened to “E” Plus Copy Center since I was doing more printing and less errands. “E” stands for “everything,” by the way. That’s right. I was doing everything PLUS!

Soon, Grace Eyler graduated from Catoctin High School and became my team. I met Grace when I worked at the county. She was a participant in one of my afterschool programs at Thurmont Middle School. Today, I most thank Grace for her support of me, for becoming the first member of my team, and for being my rock every step of the way! She learned everything I knew (plus some) and was willing to commit to the business to help it grow.

New members of my team joined and today, I believe that E Plus and The Catoctin Banner have THE most talented writers (Banner Team), contributors and advertisers (Banner VIPs), and readers (Banner Fans) in the whole world! I’m serious!

If The Catoctin Banner publication was a ship, it would be a Catoctin cruise ship docked in the sunny and warm Bahamas! It’s sunny and warm with all good news that’s presented in a way that celebrates our residents, our successes, our history, our progress. It’s where to find “where the party is being held” with the most comprehensive calendar of events for our area. The whole community “shares their good news” to make The Catoctin Banner come to life every month. It’s an important part of our lives.

I didn’t succeed with The Catoctin Banner and E Plus (now E Plus Graphics and Promotions) on my own. Life happened “FOR” me by presenting me with talented team members. Early on, James Rada, Jr. joined the team as a contributing writer and editor and George W. Wireman (deceased) contributed his journalistic talents to solidify its foundation. Michele Tester joined as the publication’s talented layout artist, and Maxine Troxell created and maintains its web presence. Blair Garrett joined on as a journalist, and John Nickerson, a.k.a. Gnarly Artly, created the Banner’s masthead logo and contributes the monthly cartoon.

The Banner Team grew with very talented columnists – Valerie Nusbaum, Denise Valentine, Buck Reed, and poet (deceased) Frances Smith. My mother, Barbara Abraham (deceased) and her sister Joan Fry volunteered to edit each edition and even helped with distribution.

A host of contributors shared their unique perspectives including Jeanne Angleberger, Dr. Thomas Lo, Michael Betteridge, Carie Stafford, Lisa Cantwell, Jayden Myers, Ana Morlier, Ava Morlier, and Helen Xia. Jack Davis tackles the bulk of the distribution and most recently – it’s been years now – Richard Fulton joined our Team as a journalist. There are more people who served as part of The Catoctin Banner Team. I can’t properly recall all of our team members over the years and for that, I apologize here. Likewise, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge and thank the postal carriers at our Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Rocky Ridge, and Cascade Post Offices for delivering The Catoctin Banner in every kind of weather all of these years!

With all of these individuals handling their part, I can boast that The Catoctin Banner is blessed with a talented and knowledgeable team!

This January edition is my last as the leader of the Banner Team and I pass my keyboard to a new publisher for the February 2024 edition.

Welcome Alisha Yocum! Born and raised in the Catoctin region, she attended our local schools and participated in local sports as a youngster. She brings with her over 15 years of experience in non-profits where she has managed publications, membership, and marketing for multiple associations. Yocum and her husband, Justus, live in Sabillasville with their two children, Eli and Bryce.

Yocum says she is honored to carry on the mission of The Catoctin Banner by sharing the good news in the Catoctin community. “Being born and raised in this community, I have experienced first-hand all the goodness of the people and organizations that call this area their home,” said Yocum.

You’ll already find Yocum entwined in the community through her volunteer roles where she serves as member of her church council, President of the Board of Directors of Sabillasville Environmental School, Secretary of the Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) Football and Cheer, and actively involved in Thurmont Little League and CYA Basketball. Yocum hopes to use her community connections to keep growing The Banner and make it a “go to” place for businesses and non-profits to promote their services and events.

I believe Yocum will grow this publication to a new potential from which we’ll all benefit.

I am grateful to each and every person who has touched me through this publication over the years. I most greatly acknowledge our Catoctin Banner VIPs – our advertisers! And as we do every month, we thank you, Banner Fans, for reading The Catoctin Banner and we urge you to continue to support the community through this publication by patronizing its advertisers and mentioning their ads in The Catoctin Banner when you do. It is because of our VIPs (advertisers) that The Catoctin Banner exists. I extend a sincere thank you to every advertiser for your continued support!

Life is happening FOR us, folks! Isn’t it exciting? My most recent motto is, “If you don’t do it, you won’t do it.” I’m cheering us all on!

The History of the Publication

The Banner can trace its roots back to 1995 when Lori (Smith) Zentz was asked to take over the newspaper publication from Art Elder at the Chronicle Press in Emmitsburg. From there Lori printed her first issue of The Banner with a new mission, which was to provide a friendly source of community news and information for residents of Thurmont and surrounding communities; and to promote a sense of community pride and spirit. Smith Zentz quickly grew the paper from 8 pages to 20 pages and added spot color blue print. Even as a small community newspaper, she covered national news like when Thurmont Elementary School was the media hub for the Israeli Peace Talks at Camp David in 2000. There, she and the team of writers met reporters from all over the world. They even went to the White House to report the local Challenger League playing baseball on the White House lawn and had a tour of Marine One.

 In 2000 the name of the publication changed to The Catoctin Banner and she continued growing and fulfilling the mission of the publication. In 2007, Zentz transitioned the publication over to Deb Abraham Spalding, who has also put her own touches on the paper for the past sixteen years.

Banner VIP Advertisers

The Catoctin Banner has relied on the support of its advertisers to keep providing a source for community news. The Catoctin Banner would like to thank the following advertisers who, once they started advertising, never stopped. Some have been advertising continuously for over fifteen years!*

*Affordable Self Storage, Baker Tree Services, Carriage House Inn, Catoctin Church of Christ, Catoctin Dental, Catoctin Mountain Flooring, *Catoctin Mountain Orchard, *Catoctin Veterinary Clinic, Charis Realty-Kelsey Norris, Climb Properties-Sandi Burns, D&J Auto Body, Delphey Construction, Doug’s Auto Body, Dynamark Security Centers, Dynamic Automotive, Emmitsburg Tattoo, Frederick County Parks & Recreation, Fort Ritchie Community Center, Frederick County Chimney Sweep, Frederick County Paving, Gary the Barber, Gene’s Towing, Getz Computers & Communications, Graceham Moravian Church, Harriet Chapel, Here’s Clyde’s Family Hair Care, *J&B Real Estate, Jubilee Foods, Keymar Outdoors, KLS Home Improvements, Long & Foster-Ginger Greene, Los Amigos Restaurant, *Main Street Groomers, Main Street Upholstery, McLaughlin’s Energy Services, Melissa M. Wetzel Accounting, Mick’s Plumbing and HVAC, Mike’s Ag Fence Repair, *Mike’s Auto Body & Towing, *Mountain View Lawn Service, Nails By Anne, Nusbaum & Ott Painting, Nutritional Healing Center, Ott House Pub, Palms Restaurant, Pondscapes, Quality Tire and Auto, Re/Max Results-Kim Clever, Real Estate Teams-Little & Moore, Scenic View Orchards, Senior Benefit Services, Slater & Slater PC, Spike’s Auto Care & Tire, Squeaky Clean, Staley’s Onsite Services, Thurmont Ambulance Company, Thurmont United Methodist Church, and Tracy’s Auto Repair.

This list does not diminish the advertising of new and less frequent advertisers who rely on this publication to share their services and news. We thank you, too. If you own a business or run non-profit services or events, please reach out to be a part of the Catoctin community’s favorite monthly publication, The Catoctin Banner!

Deb Abraham Spalding (right) will be transitioning The Catoctin Banner to a new publisher, Alisha Yocum (left) with the February issue.

Pictured above is Alisha Yocum (right), with her family, Eli, Justus, and Bryce.

Covers from the past issues of The Catoctin Banner are showcased above

Maryland’s Ancient Dogs

Richard D. L. Fulton

Long before humans traversed the plains and forests of Maryland, and millions of years before the Chesapeake Bay even existed, there were the “Bone Crushers.”

This Maryland version of The Land That Time Forgot occurred some 12 to 20 million years ago, when the Atlantic Ocean had made a major incursion into Maryland in the form of a large bay (referred to as the Salisbury Embayment). The shoreline of this bay, which stretched from west of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, rejoined the main oceanic shoreline in the Philadelphia area.

This was during a period of time referred to as the Miocene Epoch, when the Maryland waters were patrolled by 50- to 60-foot sharks in search of whatever they needed to kill in order to sustain their growth and size.

But “Bone Crusher” was not a shark. It was a dog (in fact two different species of dog), that were members of a group scientifically known as Borophaginae, which literally translates from Latin to “gluttonous eater.” Specifically, the two species of bone crushers that have been recovered from the Chesapeake Bay fossil deposits have been tentatively named Cynarctus marylandica and Cynarctus wangi.

In Maryland, only a few teeth of the Cynarctus have been recovered from the escarpments along the western shores of the Chesapeake, known as the Calvert Cliffs. While these cliffs are primarily clay, marl, and sand beds deposited in the oceanic Salisbury Embayment, occasionally, the remains of land animals are found whose teeth and bones had been washed into the ocean via rivers and streams in which proximity the animals had lived and died.

The Borophaginae, Cynarctus included, received the nickname “bone crusher” because the teeth of the animals were clearly adept at smashing the bones of their no-doubt sometimes sizeable prey—whether live-killed or scavenged—to smithereens, presumably to gain access to the marrow. Modern hyenas have similar teeth for crushing bones.

It has been generally held that climate change (during which period of time the climate was becoming more arid) taking place during the Early Miocene Epoch resulted in the reduction of lush vegetation, which in turn, resulted in the expansion of grasslands. 

Because this change in habitats likely impacted the proliferation of plant-eating prey of the carnivores, the “fine art” of bone crushing evolved to allow these carnivores to extract more nutrients from each kill than that faced by carnivores of lusher times. Modern-day hyenas, who developed similar teeth, also live in an arid climate.

“In this respect, they are believed to have behaved in a similar way to hyenas today,” according to the primary author of a research paper discussing one of the new Cynarctus species, Steven E. Jasinski. Jasinski is a paleontologist and zoologist, employed by the Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

Maryland’s bone-crushing Cynarctus were not big dogs, having apparently been about the size of a coyote. Also, researchers believe that Cynarctus may not have depended entirely on meat and bone-crushing for their diet, but may have also added insects and even plants to their diet, according to  published a synopsis of the research paper, describing Cynarctus on their website, noting “Despite its strong jaws, the researchers believe C. wangi wouldn’t have been wholly reliant on meat to sustain itself.”

Some other attributes had been deduced from crushed bones and coprolites (excretion) found at fossil sites outside of Maryland, bearing traces of the Borophaginae. It may have been possible that Cynarctus was a social pack hunter (like modern-day wolves), and that bone-crushing served as a social activity for the pack.

In addition, coprolite pile clusters have been found in areas inhabited by Borophaginae, which would suggest they were left as territory markers, also according to a research paper published by multiple researchers, including Xiaoming Wang.

Cynarctus existed for about 5.7 million years, becoming extinct by the end of the Late-Miocene or the early stages of the period of time that followed.

Painting: An artist rendition of a member of the Borophaginae. Painted by Charles R. Knight, 1902, Public Domain.

Illustration of a Cynarctus Skull

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Richard D. L. Fulton

Residents of the Emmitsburg area were probably not shocked at reading the news regarding the great blizzard of March 1-2, 1914, that “Emmitsburg was in the midst of the severest portion of the storm…”

But, in fact, the destruction was ultimately countywide, so much so, that the March 3 The (Frederick) News reported that only the Walkersville, Libertytown, Woodsboro, and Ladiesburg had sustained “very limited damage to speak of.”

The News reported on March 2, “Frederick and the county were visited by one of the worst storms last night and today in the history of this section,” adding, “fierce northwest winds up to 60 miles per hour were prevalent throughout the night and into the following morning, noting that the wind howled with a fierceness which was probably never known before in this part of the county.”

Temperatures were reported to have reached a high of 23 degrees during the day and attained a low of 11 degrees at night, not including wind chill factors.

The blizzard virtually impacted the greater upper Mid-Atlantic. The News stated in their March 3 edition that 15 lives were lost in New York, and five lives were lost in Philadelphia due to the snow and wind, and that the railroads were “badly crippled.”

In Frederick County, authorities began to assess the damage after the storm subsided post-morning on March 2. The News reported on March 3 that the degree of damage estimated to have occurred on the day of the storm “exceeds any estimate that was yesterday given.”

Emmitsburg, the newspaper reported, “was cut off from telephone communications with Frederick” during much of the height of the storm, noting that “houses were unroofed and four or five barns were blown down.”

Additionally, the roof of the Emmitsburg High School was blown off and a gable was “blown in,” the newspaper noted, adding that plastering had been badly cracked and that “it is felt the walls have been rendered unsafe.”

Other area educational institutions damaged were the Cattail Branch Run School, which had a gable driven-in and the roof torn off, and the school house at Brenman’s was nearly a “total loss.”

Two hotels were damaged in Emmitsburg, including the Hotel Spangler and the Hotel Hinddinger, mostly in the form of windows having been blown in. In addition to widespread chimney damage and the loss of portions of slate roofs in town, the roof was also torn off the Emmitsburg Broom Factory, according to The News.

In Thurmont, a portion of the roof of the United Brethren Church was lost, and the end of the high school was blown in, according to the March 3 edition of The Baltimore Sun, which further noted that when the school’s wall was blown in, the bricks “crashed through the floors to the basement, demolishing desks and twisting part of the structure…”

The Baltimore Sun also reported that the Thurmont Town Hall and (a grain?) elevator were damaged, as well as various other structures and out-buildings, and that a barn was also destroyed, killing a number of the livestock.

Countywide, some 100 barns were destroyed in the blizzard, along with the deaths of dozens of livestock. In total, more than 136 structures were damaged, according to the March 4 issue of The News, amounting to an estimated $200,000 in damages. The newspaper reported there were some impacted communities that had not as yet reported their losses.

Amazingly, there were few deaths, some estimates ranging from one to three.

No figures were published in the newspapers regarding the depth of the snowfall, but the average received by the Upper Mid-Atlantic was two feet or more of snow.

Most of the damage appeared to have been caused by the persistent high-wind velocities.

The old Emmitsburg hotel, known as the Spangler Hotel in 1914, weathered out the
blizzard, sustaining damage mainly to the windows.

Hoffman’s Market Closes

Deb Abraham Spalding

Should auld acquaintences be forgot? We don’t think so!

Hoffman’s Market has closed and its building has been sold, but local children of all ages in Thurmont remember stopping at the market across from Thurmont Middle School and purchasing subs, sodas, and penny candy. These memories will not be forgotten.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids grow up,” Michelle Hoffman said. She added, “Little kids who used to come in from the elementary and middle school now come in with their own kids.” The Hoffmans themselves have had four generations of Hoffmans grow up in the store. The youngest is now three years old.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Sharon Hoffman said when she closed the door to customers at 5:00 p.m.on December 12, 2023, after almost 37 years in business.

She and her late husband Reno opened Hoffman’s Market at 405 East Main Street in 1987. The market was known for scrumptious deli sandwiches. “We make them fresh every morning. We pick good meats and my daughter, Michelle, makes them,” Reno Hoffman explained to The Catoctin Banner in 2009.

Recently, Thurmont’s mayor John Kinnaird shared, “Other than a short time as a hair dresser shop this has been a community general merchandise store. I remember first going there with my parents when we moved to Apples Church Road in 1961. Generations of kids have stopped here after school at what was known as the East End Grocery to grab some penny candy, an ice cream bar, or some soda pop. Charlie Hobbs ran the store for many years and I also remember Pinky Ambrose having it for a time. Everyone probably remembers when it was known as the ‘Purple Store.’ Lots of memories for sure!”

The Hoffmans sold the building at auction in November and on December 12, they held a customer appreciation day for customers to stop in for a sandwich, a piece of cake, and to talk about old times. Then they prepared the sale of the store’s inside contents at an auction the upcoming Saturday.

When asked if they felt Reno would approve of the sale and closing of the store, Sharon said, “The last thing he told me was, ‘Sell that damn store!’” If you knew Reno, that’s just the way he would say it. He was ornery and loved by many. The market was for sale several times before Reno passed.

In the store, it felt as if Reno’s spirit was still around. Michelle said, “We heard him yesterday several times. He was making his presence known!”

The Hoffmans hold their customers and community in high regard. Sharon said, “Thank you for all the wonderful years of kindness, patronage, and friendship. We’ve made a lot of friends that we consider family.”

Note: The Hoffmans have been long time supporters of The Catoctin Banner.  The market served as a distribution point where readers could pick up a copy of our latest edition. We are grateful.

Michelle Hoffman (left) is shown with her daughter Nicole Wentz, and her mother Sharon Hoffman on December 14, 2023 preparing the market’s contents for public auction Saturday, December 16, 2023.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

December 12, 2023, was Customer appreciation Day at Hoffman’s. Pictured left to right are Karen Kinnaird, John Kinnaird, Sharon Hoffman, Michelle Hoffman, Kinsley Wentz, Bradley Wentz, and Nicole Wentz.

Courtesy John Kinnaird

Customers miss Reno Hoffman. He was ornery but sweet with a tell-ya-like-it-is manner. Here he is pictured in an August 2009 Catoctin Banner photo. He passed away October 19, 2021. He and Sharon were married for 56 years and purchased the former Anna’s Market building in 1987.

Photo by Carie Stafford

The Hoffmans handed out 2024 calendar keepsakes to visitors.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

There are a few commonplace practices during this time of year—or should I say, “new year?” We’re all familiar with New Year’s resolutions, but there are far more traditions to this rousing new beginning. After all, it only comes once every 365 days!

Beyond watching the Times Square Ball Drop and buying plane tickets to visit family, there are traditional New Year’s meals, too, including lentils, cornbread, and noodles—something I didn’t know until recently. Lentils symbolize good luck and abundance, for they expand greatly in size when cooked. Cornbread? Well, it’s gold in color, which equates to prosperity. The meanings behind these foods are more straightforward than you might think. Can you guess why noodles are consumed for New Year’s? It’s because the noodles are long, which represents living a long, fruitful life.

There are several amusing New Year’s superstitions as well, from opening doors and windows to avoiding chicken and lobster. Cracking windows and doors open supposedly releases the aura of misfortune and welcomes the new year. Why skip the chicken and lobster? Chickens have wings, and you don’t want your good luck flying away! (Even though chickens can’t really fly…) Comparably, lobsters move backward, giving rise to the superstition that eating them will cause you to also move backward in your progress. Hitting the ground running doesn’t help if you’re running in the wrong direction!

What would you do if you woke up to a pile of broken glass at your doorstep? You wouldn’t cheer with delight, I’m sure. In Denmark, the larger the pile of shattered dishes, the more luck it represents. Neighbors and friends throw kitchenware at each others’ doors, hoping to bring their loved ones the best upcoming year. Evidently, some traditions are region-specific—I don’t think this tradition would translate well where I live.

Is broken glass more concerning, or is an onion dangling from your front door worse? In Greece, it’s tradition to hang an onion outside your door for New Year’s, because it allegedly brings fertility and growth. The context behind this is how onions can reproduce asexually through bulbs.

How cute are we to create these endearing folklores for ourselves to celebrate special occasions!

There are countless traditions for New Year’s, alone. One can only wonder how many things are done simply because it’s tradition. When pondering this, I usually think about eating mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and decorating evergreen conifers for Christmas. However, could some traditions ever be harmful to society?

If you’ve read the classic short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, then the answer is clear: Yes, it’s possible for tradition to be detrimental. A classmate put it well: “[Some] traditions are the epitome of peer pressure. We do things because we see other people doing them, so we [subsequently] feel the need to do them too. If we always blindly follow what other people are doing, then we might fail to recognize when something is corrupt.”

Takeaway: Unlike what the title of this article suggests, it’s important to constantly question yourself.

Why do we have traditions in the first place? Is there a point? Although tradition has the potential to be damaging, to many, it’s closely linked to their identity. “[We have tradition because it’s] the preservation of culture,” my friend explained. “Also, it [gives us a sense of] purpose.” Indeed, what better reflection of an individual than their actions?

To some, tradition serves as motivation. “I think tradition is what keeps a group of people going forward [and shows] how far they have come,” another student shared. This is a perspective I hadn’t considered before; rather than focusing solely on the practices themselves, we can utilize traditions as milestones, especially taking into account how most traditions are exercised at particular times of the year.

Furthermore, tradition can serve as a relieving break amid something as spontaneous and, oftentimes, isolating as life. As my friend elaborated, “[The point of tradition is] to get family together and to spend time together. I feel like it is one thing that doesn’t change, you know? It is one thing that will always happen and that family will always do together.” With doings such as family dinners, exchanging presents, and celebrating relationships of all kinds, traditions undoubtedly illuminate the beauty of interpersonal connection. On that lovely note, are you planning anything to celebrate New Year’s? Perhaps reading this newspaper can become a tradition for you—not just for January, but for every month of the year! (We would certainly appreciate it!) We assure you that, unlike frantically cleaning your house and opening your windows every day, this tradition will not feel like a chore

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Moves to Twice-a-Month Meetings at Least Temporarily

The Thurmont town meetings will switch from weekly to twice a month for the next three months. At that point, the mayor and commissioners will evaluate the impact of the change and decide if it should continue.

For January, the meetings will be on the second and fourth Tuesdays. In February and March, the meetings will be on the first and third Tuesdays.

The goal is to have meetings where a lot of work for the town can be accomplished without creating undue meetings that town staff and others need to attend. However, additional meetings can be held if needed. The town charter only requires that the commissioners meet monthly.

The town may also survey residents to see if they have a preference to how many meetings the town holds.

New Leadership at the Thurmont Police Department

With the retirement of Police Chief Greg Eyler from the Thurmont Police at the beginning of December, new officers were needed to lead the department. At two separate town meetings, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in new Chief Dave Armstrong and Dep. Chief Jerry Morales.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

Mike Samson and Alison Burke with Zlenkofske Axelrod, LLC, presented the results of the annual independent audit of Thurmont’s financial statements for Fiscal Year 2023. Samson told the mayor and commissioners that Zlenkofske Axelrod, LLC, gave the town an unmodified or clean opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given. The auditors had no difficulties performing the audit or had any disagreements with the management.

Town Considering Reopening Facebook Page To Comments

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners are considering how to best interact with the public via social media. The mayor and commissioners had made the town’s Facebook page information-only and closed to comments when too many inappropriate comments and personal attacks were left in the comments.

Commissioner Marty Burns brought the topic up with the board again, wanting the comments turned back on. “I stood before the mayor and board before. I think constituents have a right to freedom of speech, even speech I find reprehensible,” Burns said.

The board was split on the matter, with both those against and for reopening the page to comments seeing the advantages and disadvantages.

Mayor John Kinnaird suggested leaving the town page information-only and creating Facebook pages for the commissioners that would be open to comments. The difference is the latter does not reflect poorly on the town if inappropriate comments are made, but it would create more work for town staff to monitor the new pages.

Commissioner Bob Lookingbill suggested sending a survey to residents to get their thoughts on the matter before making a decision. 

Town Celebrates 10 Years of Gateway to the Cure

Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder recently told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners about the town’s 10th Annual Gateway to the Cure efforts. The town has been raising funds in October for the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. Events include a 5K race, golf competition, Zumbathon, offering parking at Colorfest, and selling pink light bulbs.

The first Gateway to the Cure in 2014 raised $3,000 for the fund. This year’s donation was $24,500, bringing the town’s 10-year total to $163,500. The money stays within Frederick County and goes toward direct patient care.

Woodland Ave. and Water St. Paving Project Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved $88,133 from its Highway User Revenues to have Woodland Avenue and Water Street repaved and widened in areas. This is a joint project with the developer of Hammaker Hills. It is being done with a change order to work that C.J. Miller is already doing in town. Because the company is already working, it will save time and money for the town. The entire project costs $147,547 and is expected to be completed before winter sets in.

Colorfest Made Nearly $20,000 in Donations to the Town in 2023

Catoctin Colorfest President Carol Robertson made a presentation to the Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners, announcing that besides the benefit town organizations get from selling or offering services during Colorfest weekend, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. made $19,780 in contributions to organizations this year.

The contributions included: $2,500 to the Thurmont Ambulance Company; $5,000 to the Town of Thurmont for a new PA system in Community Park; $6,500 in scholarships; $150 so the Thurmont Food Bank volunteers could enjoy a dinner; $5,000 in $25 local gift cards for the food bank to distribute; $275 to the Thurmont Food Bank; $70 for 3,000 bags to be used at the Thurmont Food Bank; an FFA donation; and a Christmas in Thurmont donation.

“It’s amazing how the municipality as a whole benefits from Catoctin Colorfest, Inc.,” Mayor John Kinnaird said.


Town In Danger Of Losing Parking Meter Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg may lose $31,100 in grant funding to replace the parking meters in town if the commissioners cannot reach a consensus about what needs to done and when. The project would replace 125 coin-only parking meters in town and possibly add 20 new metered spots with new smart meters with coin and card payment options. The replacement is needed because the person who currently repairs the meters is retiring and replacement parts for them are no longer available. In addition, it was discovered that the current meters may be up to 15 minutes off in either direction.

The town obtained a USDA Community Facility Grant for up to $31,100. The grant requires a town match to make up the difference of roughly $30,000 when the total cost of the project is calculated.

The commissioners began disagreeing over whether the monthly charge for the new meters was worth it, whether the income will cover the salary of the staff member who handles parking enforcement, whether the income would help the commissioners purchase property for a town parking lot, and if 20 new meters along West Main Street should be installed.

Commissioner Cliff Sweeney tried to break the log jam by making a motion to accept town staff’s recommendation. The motion failed 3-2.

Because no decision was made to move forward, the town is in danger of losing the grant because of a USDA deadline that requires the grant to be spent by a certain date. However, the commissioners tabled the decision, and town staff is seeking to see if the deadline can be extended to relieve some of the pressure.

Expect Stricter Enforcement Along West Main Street

During the Emmitsburg Commissioners’ discussion about approving the new parking meter bid, one bone of contention was whether 20 new meters should be installed along West Main Street where there are currently none.

Arguments for and against were made. It was said the meters would help businesses along Main Street. Others said it would penalize residents of West Main Street or equalize the treatment of residents along West and East Main.

At one point, Commissioner Valerie Turnquist argued that the meters weren’t needed because the town code already prohibited parking at unmetered spots along the street for more than two hours, and she read from the code. This seemed to come as a surprise to some of the commissioners, and town staff admitted that it wasn’t being enforced because it had been misinterpreted.

However, because Turnquist had pointed out the law, town staff said they would need to start enforcing it because it is in the code. This means cars parked in unmetered spots along Main Street can remain in the spots for up to two hours. Otherwise, they can be ticketed at any time 24/7.

Town staff will post the parking limitation with signage on the street and let residents know through other means.

It was also discussed that perhaps the parking ordinance is outdated and needs to be reviewed. If the commissioners go this route, it could still take months to go through the legislative process before changes are made.

New Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg recently received a Department of Housing and Community Development Assistance Grant – Main Street Improvement Grant for $10,000. The money will be used to purchase and install four directional wayfinding signs for downtown. Once state representatives sign the agreement, the project can begin.

Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners made the following appointments during its December town meeting:

Shannon Cool to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Sandy Umbel to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Steve Starliper to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Amanda Ryder to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Dale Sharrer to the Planning Commission as an alternate, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2028.


Mayor Frank Davis

It is hard to believe the holiday season has passed by so quickly, and for the next month, I will still be dating documents 2023. With another year behind us, I hope we can all look back on our accomplishments and find the good in last year.

Things are changing in the town office. The biggest change is the hiring of two new employees. Joshua Snyder is our newest addition to our water and sewer department. Josh comes to us with over 10 years of experience in this field and will be a terrific addition to our talented crew. We would also like to welcome Kimberly Mondshour to our office staff. Kimberly has accepted a position as our accountant and brings a wealth of experience to this vital position. Please help welcome both of our new employees to Emmitsburg.

Construction is well underway for our new Sewer Lift Station on Creamery Road. This project is being tackled by Conewago Construction Company. Please be cautious while traveling around the construction site.

At times, the winter months can keep you searching for things to do with your family, so don’t forget about Mount Basketball. Both the women’s and men’s teams are playing at an extremely high level and are exciting to watch.

The town is exploring options pertaining to parking issues and meter upgrades. Conversations are running high, and there are many opinions, both positive and negative, regarding future needs. I can assure you, that the commissioners are listening, exploring options, and will decide what is best for our town—not only for now but also in the future.

There are two workshops scheduled for the town council in January and February. On January 22, we will review and discuss the financial status of the town. The February 12 workshop will be the start of identifying future projects and setting priorities. Citizens are invited to attend in person or watch on Channel 99.

Please remember that all streets in the town limits are now snow emergency routes. This means that when the snow emergency plan is enacted by the Maryland State Police, parking is prohibited on ALL streets. This will enable road crews to plow and open roads more quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, it will ensure access for emergency vehicles into your neighborhood. All town parking lots are available for off-street parking. Additional parking is also available in the 100 block of South Seton Avenue, next to Chronicle Press. If anyone has transportation issues with getting their vehicle to one of these locations, please contact the town office BEFORE the snow begins. Please be responsible and pre-plan for severe weather.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. We are open to suggestions to make Emmitsburg a great place to live.

Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Welcome to the New Year! Karen and I hope that everyone has an amazing, healthy and happy year ahead. We are looking forward to another great year!

The new year brings with it the continuation of water and wastewater infrastructure replacement on North Church Street from Boundary Avenue to Catoctin High School. This project will upgrade all water, wastewater, and service lines on the entire stretch of road. Work started at the intersection of Sandy Spring Land and headed toward Catoctin High School. In the coming weeks and months workers will be addressing the other end of the project area. This effort will resolve many issues along the road caused by additions to the system and multiple upgrades.

Residents will also see wastewater line work to Rte. 77 from Old Pryor Road to Park Central Road beginning on Jan. 4th. This project is being completed by the State of Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Environmental Services. I’m The work will improve the wastewater lines first installed between Thurmont and the State Park back in the late 1960s into the early 1970s. There will be well marked detours set up during this project that will use Rte. 550 and Foxville Deerfield Road. Work should be completed by the end of May.

On a personal note, Karen and I will be travelling to Great Britain for a couple of weeks. We plan on visiting friends and family in London, and the city of my birth, Aberdeen, Scotland. The first part of our trip will see us visiting London, Lands End at the Southwest coast before heading north to John O’Groats at the northern most point on the British Isle. In between we will drive through Wales, visit Yorkshire, stop at the historic Auld Alloway Kirk made famous in Robert Burns’ Tam O’Shanter. We will be spending a couple of nights with friends on the Isle of Skye, a night in the wonderful North Seaside village of Pennan and then a few days in Aberdeen with cousins. Hopefully while in the Highlands we will get to see the Northern Lights! We will then return to London via Ripon and spend the last two days in Windsor.  You can follow our adventure on my Facebook page.

We will miss all our family and friends while on vacation, and we will be looking forward to returning to Thurmont.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe it’s 2024, but a new year has arrived. I hope it’s a happy and blessed year for all and that you all had a wonderful holiday season.

On December 16, the Town of Woodsboro teamed up with the Woodsboro and New Midway volunteer fire departments to participate in a Santa run that lasted several hours and covered many streets and roads in the town of Woodsboro and areas of New Midway. The response that we received from not only the young ones but people of all ages was wonderful, and we will be doing it again next year. Playing Santa is always rewarding and magical, seeing the joyous looks on the faces of the children.

At the town meeting on December 12, 2023, we reviewed the seven bids from contractors to build the town hall. We all were a little shocked, to be honest, and are back to making some changes. We have a budget of about $900,000, with the $400,000 that we were able to secure from the state for the building, but the bids came in between $1.7 million and $2.3 million. We are in talks about how we can make some changes and get the building into our price range. I also reached out to our county- and state-elected officials to request additional financial assistance. At the time of this article being written, I have not heard back. We are working diligently and going to get the building built; it just may not be the exact style we had planned.

Lights are going up around the new skate park that is being used by the community, and we are very pleased that this project was able to happen. I encourage parents to have their children wear helmets when utilizing the skate park to avoid unnecessary accidents.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

James Rada, Jr.

Inflation rising. The Middle East in turmoil. Sections of the U.S. witnessed a solar eclipse. Paul McCartney played in groups that had one of the top songs of the year.

And so it was when a 23-year-old Greg Eyler became a police officer with Thurmont in 1979, and so it is as he retires on December 1, after 44 years as a police officer, the last 18 of which were as the chief of police of the Thurmont Police Department.

“It’s time,” Eyler said. “I’ve been here 18 years, which is really unheard of for a police chief.”

Eyler is believed to be the longest-serving police chief in Thurmont; although, for some reason, no one is able to verify the service dates for Chief Herman Shook, who happened to be the chief who hired Eyler as a police officer in 1979.

It was Eyler’s dream job. He grew up on Church Street in Thurmont and would see Thurmont Police pass by while he was out playing ball with his friends.

“I always heard and saw that they did a great job, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

Eyler graduated from the Montgomery County Police Academy in August 1979. He served as a police officer in his hometown until November 1980, when he transferred to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

As a sheriff’s deputy, he trained in many areas over his 25 years with the sheriff’s office. In September 1990, he was the first ever to receive the Department Commendation for Valor. He attended and graduated from The FBI National Academy in 1994. He retired from the sheriff’s office as a major in 2005.

He retired because then-Mayor Marty Burns and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee visited him to ask if he would consider becoming Thurmont’s chief of police. He thought it over for about a week before he accepted.

“I like challenges,” Eyler said. “This was a challenge, and I never regretted any of it.”

When Eyler took over as chief, the Thurmont Police Department had seven sworn officers and two civilian employees. They worked out of 500 square feet at the back of the old town office building.

“We had an I-bolt that went through the wall to the outside,” Eyler said. “That’s how we held our prisoners.”

Today, the department has fourteen sworn officers and six civilian employees in a modern building on East Main Street.

While Eyler and the department had many achievements during his tenure (see sidebar), he is most proud of how he improved the relationship between the police, the citizens, and the town staff.

“They did not get along back then, but you need to because that’s how you solve crimes when you all work together,” Eyler said.

He encouraged his officers to get out in the community and get to know the people they were protecting. As they did, respect between the community and the department grew.

As he prepares to retire, Eyler has no regrets.

“I think I did everything I could for the town, and they were appreciative of that,” Eyler said. “I’m a hometown boy, and this is what I wanted to do here in the town of Thurmont: Make this department one of the best that I can and make this town as safe as I can.”

Eyler has no plans for retirement. “I’m going to do what my wife, kids, and grandkids tell me,” he said.

He knows retirement will require an adjustment, beginning when he gets up in the morning and has to decide what to wear since his closet is full of uniforms. “I think I have to go shopping now because I don’t have anything to wear,” he said.

“Chief Eyler has served our community and the residents of Thurmont in an exemplary manner.  I can’t thank Greg enough for his professionalism and dedication to the Town of Thurmont. Our residents’ safety has always been his highest priority, and for that, we are sincerely thankful and appreciative,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.  

Lt. David Armstrong will succeed Eyler as the new chief.

Mayor Terry Best swears in Thurmont’s newest Police Officer in 1979.

Chief Herman Shook welcomes Greg Eyler to the Thurmont Police.

The Town of Thurmont listed a number of achievements of the Thurmont Police Department under Chief Greg Eyler’s leadership when it announced his retirement after 18 years as the chief of police. During his years as chief, he has:

Initiated and managed the design, construction, and transition to the current TPD headquarters.

Expanded the department from 7 to 14 authorized sworn police officers and 6 civilian employees and expanded the Department training program to include specialized training.

Created and implemented a Detective/Investigator Position, Narcotics Detection K-9 Program, and Code Enforcement Officer Program.

Developed the TPD Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Values Statement, website, and social media account.

Expanded and redesigned the TPD vehicle fleet and department logo.

Developed and implemented first-ever Department Rules and Regulations and Job Descriptions for all employees; civilian and sworn; TPD’s first Disaster Plan for potential terrorist incidents and weather-related incidents; Special Operation Plans for Active Assailant Response, Police Involved Shooting Response, and COVID Response Plan.

Implemented state-of-the-art technology systems to allow for integration with other police agencies, including mobile data computers, in-car video cameras, LPR (license plate readers), E-TIX software, and body-worn cameras.

Enhanced community policing efforts by providing training from The Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute for all sworn personnel. 

Created and implemented a TIPS line for anonymous tips from citizens and Thurmont’s automated speed monitoring program.

Joined the National Child Safety Council, which provides educational material relating to drug and alcohol issues, senior citizen scam assistance, missing and exploited children, and school safety.

Presented and received approval of the first-ever departmental pay scale and LEOPS program.

Coordinated, implemented, and managed Response Plans for large events, including G8 Summit, demonstrations, rallies, and the annual Colorfest event.

Expanded community outreach programs to include National Night Out, Safety Pup, traffic-calming initiatives, bicycle safety, and child safety seat installations.

He is a member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, The Maryland Municipal Police Executive League, and the FBI National Academy Associates.

He has been recognized as CHS Distinguished Graduate for Public Service; Lions Club/Shumaker Roofing Officer of the Year and received the Enforcement Commendation medal presented by The Sons of the American Revolution.

During his tenure, the Town of Thurmont has been recognized as one of the safest communities in Maryland numerous times.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 8th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 21.

Principal Jennifer Clements welcomed the students and guests, expressing pride in the school’s plentiful distinguished alumni.

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization was formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s alumni were honored for achievements in academics, public service, and arts and humanities, who have made a difference in the state or nation.

The ceremony also recognizes former Catoctin High staff who have had a significant impact on students.

Susan Weaver was one of the Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductees. She worked as a school counselor for 32 years, about half of that at Catoctin High School. She also coached JV basketball, varsity volleyball, and softball. She also worked at the ticket gate with colleagues, officiated athletic events, and enjoyed pep rallies. Susan recently moved to Delaware and enjoys biking the Eastern Shore bike paths, golfing, walking on the beach, and has recently started playing pickleball.

Brian Persse (Class of 1999) was the Public Service Inductee. He is a senior analyst with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, where he leads high-visibility audits of the National Highway Traffic Safety and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials administrations.

Jeff Barber (Class of 1994) was the Business Inductee. After graduation, Jeff pursued a career in farming and construction. He started Playground Specialists Inc. in 1998 at the age of 22. Through the past 25 years, while keeping the company located in Thurmont region, Playground Specialists has installed large custom playgrounds all over the region, totaling almost $250 million in revenue, and becoming one of the leaders throughout the world in the recreation market. He also opened Thurmont’s first ice vending machine, Twice the Ice, and purchased Maple Run Golf Course.

William Delawter (Class of 2004) was the Athletic Inductee. As a sophomore at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, he pitched on the state champion baseball team before transferring to finish his high school career at Catoctin the following year. He continued playing baseball at UMBC at the Division 1 level.

He has been named a Frederick County’s Player of the Year, earned a spot on the Brooks Robinson All-Star Team, was a Team Maryland Selection, a JUCO All American, UMBC Pre-Season All-American, and 1st Team All-Region, just to name only a few. In 2009, Will was inducted into the Chesapeake College Hall of Fame.

Will earned an associate degree from Chesapeake College and a bachelor’s degree on a full scholarship to UMBC, where he played baseball at the Division 1 level. He also obtained his master’s degree from Frostburg University.

He is now a teacher at Whittier Elementary School, but he has been an assistant baseball coach at Catoctin High since 2015.

Jeff McAfee (Class of 1982) was the Arts and Humanities Inductee. After graduating Catoctin High in 1982, Jeff started working for the State of Maryland in the division of Maryland Environmental Service as a Water Plant Operator for 10 years. From there, he moved to the Maryland Park Service and worked at South Mountain Recreation area as a Park Technician for 11 years. Jeff then transferred to Maryland Wildlife Division and is currently a Wildlife Technician.

Robert Viti is the second Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductee. Robert started his educational career as a Social Studies teacher at Dundalk Middle School and eventually transferred to Frederick County Public Schools, where he continued teaching Social Studies. He then became an assistant principal with Frederick County Public Schools and eventually landed at Catoctin High School, where he also took the role as Behavior Support Specialist. In 2016, he was inducted into the Frederick County Soccer Hall of Fame. He is also a lifetime member of the National PTA, as well as an honorary chapter FFA member of Catoctin High School.

Distinguished graduates are shown (left to right) Susan Weaver, William Delawter, Jeff McAfee, Robert Viti, Brian Persse, and Jeff Barber.

Photo by Keith Bruck

Richard D. L. Fulton

Readers of November 27, 1897, issue of The Baltimore Sun, were greeted by this: “A fire, which at one time threatened to sweep away the whole town of Taneytown, Carroll County, began this evening (November 26) about 7 o’clock (p.m.)…”

Those who resided in the Taneytown area at large were likely already aware of the blaze, as the reflection of the flames in the sky and the rising smoke were reportedly seen as far away as Emmitsburg, and Hanover, Pennsylvania, more than 15 miles away, according to The Democrat Advocate.

Although the cause of the costly fire was never ascertained, a number of newspapers, large and small, reported on much of the details of the event, which The Advocate summed up in their headline, “Taneytown Narrowly Escapes Destruction.”

Three factors aided in the spread of the flames:

    The majority of the businesses and homes in Taneytown at the time were wooden-framed structures, as was the case in most of the rural Mid-Atlantic towns and communities dating back to their founding. Trees were common then. Bricks were more expensive.

    The second issue was the lack of a water supply system and its associated pipeline infrastructure. Construction of a waterworks had been previously begun, but had not yet been completed, according to The Baltimore SunThe Democrat Advocate noted that, fortunately, there was plenty of water available (mainly in the form of local wells, but …

    The third factor contributing to the spread of the fire came into play – Taneytown did not have a “regularly organized” fire department at the time that could have delivered and utilized the water from the wells.  As a result, The Baltimore Sun reported, “every citizen responded to the call for help,” no doubt through the employment of bucket brigades, wherein people form a chain, passing buckets of water hand-to-hand from the source of the water to where it is needed, and then passing the empty buckets back to the wells.

While, as previously stated, the cause of the fire was never determined during, or in the wake of the inferno. Where it began was known almost immediately.

According to The Democrat Advocate, the fire started in a wooden “hay packing warehouse,” belonging to Tobias H. Eckenrode around 7:45 p.m. on the evening of November 26. The Baltimore Sun, which gave the time of the fire as having been 7:00 p.m., also stated that the warehouse was also storing hay, grain, and other items at the time of the fire.

Destructive fire was no stranger to Eckenrode property in Taneytown. In 1889, a blaze broke out in his coal and lumber sheds, fanned by high winds, according to The Baltimore Sun. That fire was also described as posing a threat to the town, as well as to the warehouse, which was ultimately leveled by the 1897 fire.

As far as the 1897 blaze, the Baltimore newspaper reported that “in a short while both warehouse and the adjoining buildings were in the flames.” So quickly was the fire gaining ground and potentially threatening the town, that help was sought to combat the fire from as far away as Littlestown, Pennsylvania (whose fire department reportedly arrived by 9:00 p.m.). The Baltimore Sun, however, reported that by the time the Littlestown hose company arrived, the fire was essentially already under control, although a “number of the buildings were still in flames.”

The Democrat Advocate reported that it was clear from the start that the Eckenrode warehouse was “doomed,” and, thus, the citizens endeavored to protect nearby property,” further noting the intensity of the heat had quickly spread the fire to a building housing the local newspaper.

The Democrat Advocate further reported that local authorities had also sought help from the Hanover firefighters but were told the Hanover firemen could not take their apparatus out of Hanover “without the permission of the burgess, and before he could be found, the last train had departed.”

Also arriving were multitudes of interested observers. “Great crowds of people from the vicinity and surrounding county were at the fire, as the blaze could be seen for (10-15) miles (in all directions).” The Advocate reported that “the flames were fierce, leaping high in the air.”

The next notable structure which had succumbed to the inferno was a wooden, three-story building, belonging to E. E. Reindollar, which contained the office and printing operations of The Carroll Record, according to The Sun.

All of the newspaper’s machinery, lead type, and other equipment were destroyed in the fire; arrangements were subsequently made by Editor P. H. Englar with The Frederick News to publish The Carroll Record in their offices, until The Record’s office in Taneytown could be restored, The Sun reported. The Record had only been in business for about four years.

From the building that had housed the newspaper, the fire had quickly spread to Stanley Heaver’s saddler shop, a dwelling owned by Eckenrode and was being rented by Josiah Snyder, and a double dwelling owned by John Davidson.

The fire was essentially declared under control before midnight, The Sun stated. Most of the fire-fighting effort was the result of citizen volunteers, who had extinguished the worst of it by hauling water from wells, before Littlestown firefighters could arrive at the scene.

Damage to the buildings that were affected by the flames amounted to some $20,000, by early estimates, but the value of the business and personal contents of each of the buildings that had burned remained undetermined at the time, according to several newspapers. Those included (according to The Sun):

The loss suffered by the burning of the Eckenrode warehouse, which included a dwelling, other structures, and the stored grain and hay, was given as being $8,500, of which only $5,600 was covered by insurance.

    The loss of the Carroll Record Printng Company(the newspaper) and the saddlery shop amounted to $5,000. The loss of the contents of the newspaper was listed as $2,000, of which only $1,000 was insured.

    F. S. Stakey’s cigar shop (located in a building owned by Stanley Reader) sustained an estimated $900 in cigar stock, of which $500 was insured.

    John Davidson’s dwelling, including contents, sustained a loss of $4,000, of which $3,400 was insured.

Other buildings in the town were also damaged by the fire, but their sustained damages were “very slight.”

That there were no noteworthy injuries or deaths associated with the fire-fighting effort was remarkable, given that it was largely brought under control by citizen volunteers.

But five miles out of Taneytown at Bruce Mill Junction, another devastating fire had destroyed Hammond’s Mill, located along Little Pipe Creek, on December 3, only a week after the Taneytown fire.

The outcome was not so fortunate. 

Miller George Biehl was last heard from when he was calling for help from within the burning building.

According to The Democrat Advocate, “After the fire, his bones were found in the ruins of the mill and taken to his residence… They were interred later.”

  Richard D. L. Fulton

“Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.”  How many readers have heard that often-spoken form of good night over the decades?

It can actually be kind of humorous… until it’s not.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all consider bed bugs a public health pest, even though the creatures are not known to spread or transmit diseases.

Nevertheless, an infestation of bed bugs can adversely impact the quality of life.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are insects belonging to a family of insects that feed upon mammalian blood—that of bats, birds, and notoriously, humans, depending on the species. 

Because bed bugs do not fly, they tend to rely on a means of transportation such as on clothing and furnishings involving cloth as part of their effort to promulgate the species.

Britney Bishop, formerly of Adams County, spending 16 years in upper hotel management in the Gettysburg area, to serving as hotel operations manager in Pasco County, Florida, provided much insight regarding the “nature of the beasts.”

Bishop said bed bugs can lay from one to five eggs each day, and may lay up to 500 eggs within a lifetime.

“If you see an adult, it means they have been there for quite a while, as it takes a bedbug 21 days to reach maturity,” Bishop said, adding, “Bed bugs can live four to six months.”

Detecting Bed Bugs

Finding and correctly indentifying an infestation early is important. The EPA suggests various ways to determine if bed bugs are present:

    Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.

    Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.

    Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale-yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.

    Live bed bugs.

Also, the EPA lists a number of places where bed bugs can be found:

    In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains.

    In drawer joints.

    In electrical receptacles and appliances.

    Under loose wallpaper and wall hangings.

    At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.

    In the head of a screw.

Treating Bugs in the Single-Family Home or Office

Aside from contacting a qualified exterminator, some measures can be taken at home and/or office to combat a bed bug infestation. suggests the following:

    First and foremost, if bed bugs are detected in the home, contact a qualified exterminator.  In the interim, suggests washing bedding and clothing in hot water for 30 minutes. Then, put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.

    Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.

    Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day that reaches 95°F (35°C) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take 2 to 5 months to kill sealed-up bugs.

    Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17.78°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least 4 days. For additional guidance, visit

Treating Bed Bugs in the Multifamily Residences

Multifamily residences can include apartment buildings, townhouses, hotels, and dorms.

Using hotels as an example, Bishop said a hotel she managed in Florida employed the following to deal with bed bugs:

Preventive measures were taken in the form of weekly, random inspections by a licensed exterminator (hotels would generally have a higher turnover of occupancy than an apartment complex or dorms, thus possibly requiring more frequent inspections).

Housekeeping was educated to report potential bed bug activity to management.

In addition, Bishop said, that guests will report possible bed bug activities that all other measures might have missed or that occurred between exterminator inspections.

“Employing an exterminator to perform routine inspections is the first line of defense,” Bishop stated.

For additional information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

I’ve always found it amusing how there is no apparent “Thanksgiving season.” We transition from carved pumpkins and spider webs to Christmas songs and garlands as soon as Halloween ends. In stores, shelves quickly go from bags of trick-or-treating candy to candy canes and gingerbread men. With brands adopting festive packaging and wrapping products in green and red foil, Christmas is linked closely to consumerism.

The materialistic aspect of Christmas never quite dissipates. It begins early—children pen letters to Santa and circle images in magazines for what they want to receive under the tree. Unlike most other occasions, the holiday season never loses its splendor with time. Adults, too, are excited to snag deals on Black Friday and embellish their homes with decorations. It must be something in the air.

Christmas shopping is far from inexpensive! Forbes expects holiday sales to top 957 billion dollars this year, and this incredible total will likely only increase as each year’s spending outdoes the previous year by around 4 percent. Most of this money goes toward gifts, constituting 65 percent of Christmas spending. 20 percent goes toward gift cards and vouchers—perfect presents for those who claim not to want presents. On an individual level, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spend an average of 997 dollars each Christmas.

Businesses understand well how receptive consumers are to supplementary spending during the holidays. Stores are promoting Christmas shopping earlier and earlier with each passing year, it seems. Companies release seasonal products and offer holiday discounts, all while playing Christmas tunes to encourage gift-giving. (Did you know “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song?)

Interestingly, some claim this commercial tendency diminishes the magnificence of Christmas: What used to be special and short-lived now lasts for two months, and the excessive commercialization of the holiday causes it to feel more like an obligation or a chore, as opposed to a merry tradition.

Although many report feeling stressed about holiday shopping, usually, delivering and accepting presents “[activate] pathways in the brain that release oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that signals trust, safety, and connection” (American Psychological Association). Not only do gift-receivers feel rewarded, but gift-givers do, too! Perhaps this shared essence of generosity is what’s floating in the air amid these times. Gift-giving has undoubtedly become an integral characteristic of Christmas.

Speaking of presents, it may be challenging to identify what to give a teenager. I am one and still struggle to purchase the perfect gift for my friends. Therefore, this month, I decided to ask peers what they think the best and worst gifts to receive are!

Multiple individuals prioritized the usefulness of their presents. “I guess my worst Christmas present would have to be a bow my dad bought,” somebody answered. “It was a pretty sick bow that had some cool arrows, but where am I going to use a bow? My best Christmas present would have to be [the] viola I have now. [I named it] Charlotte.”

Comparably, a friend explained, “I would say the best is practical things. This year, [I’d like] things for college, clothes, shoes, or electronics. The worst is things I wouldn’t use, like makeup. That’s a tough question, though.”

Another overarching theme within the sample population was how students spotlighted the amount of thought invested in their gifts. “I think the best are sentimental or handmade gifts. I don’t think there are any ‘worst’ gifts, but I would say clothes because that’s more boring.”

This is where I fall when it comes to presents as well. Nothing beats a heartfelt, handwritten card alongside something functional and fun to try, from a gift card for an unfamiliar restaurant to a new perfume.

A few emphasized the surprise element behind the gifts. “The best gift you could receive is a puppy because who doesn’t love puppies? I can’t really think of the worst gift you could get. Maybe something underwhelming like coal, but then again, coal is pretty useful sometimes.”

Some appreciated the versatility of their gifts. “Money would definitely be the best—you could use that for anything,” someone shared. “Pencils would be the worst for me.”

On the flip side, interestingly, several respondents weren’t fond of receiving cash for Christmas. “I think money is more of a birthday gift than a Christmas gift,” somebody remarked. Another commented, “Money is one of the worst gifts I could receive. My mom ends up taking my money.” Similarly, another friend revealed, “I’d say money or a gift card isn’t something I like because it’s not meaningful. [The] best would be jewelry and stuffed animals because you can keep [them] forever and they’re more meaningful.”

There you have it: some input from teenagers like myself about what they prefer receiving as gifts. Evidently, we all like different things, which adds to the thrill and difficulty of gift shopping. Rest assured: As long as the gift was given with love, we will be grateful! The saying “It’s the thought that counts” has never been so true (and has never felt so comforting)!

Richard D. L. Fulton

For the bicyclist enthusiast who has no issue with braving the winter months enjoying bike trails, Mountaindale appears to offer several challenging options in any season.

Mountaindale, itself, is located in Frederick County and has been described as a “log cabin community.”  The community remains in a generally rural area of Frederick County.

The first trail system established in Mountaindale and the surrounding county lands was essentially established as game trails by prehistoric nomads thousands of years ago, before the Native American tribes with which everyone is generally equated even existed.

Archaeologists have even discovered prehistoric spearheads, so unique that they bear the name Mountaindale points, dating from the Middle Archaic Period (4,000 to 6,000 B.C.).

Even though prehistoric inhabitants were well acquainted with the area, very little information about Mountaindale has yet to make it to the 21st century internet.

However, information regarding a number of Mountaindale biking trails has been reported.

All of those in the trail systems noted below are located wholly or mostly within the City of Frederick Municipal Forest and Watershed and/or Gambrill State Park, according to, and the trails below also employ the names as given on that website. described the trail systems within the Municipal Forest and Watershed as being “a virtual labyrinth of interconnecting trails.”

Just a few are noted below.

Salamander Trail (also known as the Skink and Salamander Trail):

The length given for Salamander (loop) Trail is 3.7 miles and is classified as suitable for mountain bikes and hiking, according to 

The trail begins on Gambrill Park Road, a short distance to the north from the intersection of that road and Tower Road, and then continues in a circuitous loop until it returns to its starting point, according to, who also rates the trail as “moderately challenging,” and takes a little over one hour to traverse. The trail also leads past a geographical feature known as Salamander Rock (also known as Salamander Mountain).

Gambrill Yellow (loop) Trail (apparently also known as the Yellow Poplar Trail):

The length given for the Gambrill Yellow Trail is 7.2 miles, and is listed by as appropriate for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and is described as “moderately challenging,” and can take some three hours to complete the trek. Dogs are welcome but must remain leashed. 

This loop trail begins and ends in the parking lot of the Gambrill State Park Trail System parking lot.  The trail passes several landmarks, including the Middletown Overlook, Bootjack Springs, and North and South Frederick viewpoints.

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail:

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail is a loop-trail system, which begins and ends in the area of Hamburg Road Parking Lot.

The loop is given as being 2.8 miles in extent, according to (note: for just using the Knuckle Buster Trail alone, refer to the references listed at the end of this feature). The loop can take from a little over an hour to an hour and a half to complete and is classified as being “moderately challenging.”

The trail may be used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. reports that dogs are welcome but must remain leashed, further noting, “The trail is not well marked in places, so downloading the map ahead of time is recommended.”

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop:

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop is a 4.1-mile trek, according to, which also classifies the trail as “moderately challenging.”

The trail has its access located off where Gambrill State Park begins, and ends on an access road off Gambrill State Park. noted, “this is a popular trail for mountain biking.”

Dogs are welcome, and may be off leash in certain areas. 

For maps and information on other Mountaindale trails, visit and

by James Rada, Jr.


New Commissioners Sworn In

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in newly elected commissioners Marty Burns and Bob Lookingbill during the November 4th town meeting to serve four-year terms.

Connection and Impact Fees Raised

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners raised impact fees for the town, and they are expected to increase the connection fees. Connection fees are the cost new development pays to connect to the town’s water and sewer systems. The impact fees are fees that new development pays based on the development’s impact on various things in town. The fees must be spent on the items they are paid for.

The new impact fees are:

Water — $3,935, up from $2,885.

Wastewater — $5,575, up from $2,275.

Sewer Pumping Station — $1,000, up from $250.

Roads — $2,760, up from $1,500.

Parks — $1,840, up from $1,000.

The proposed connection fees that the commissioners are expected to pass are:

Water — $4,145, up from $2,500.

Sewer — $5,065, up from $2,500.

Easements Released

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to release easements the town holds on two parcels because they are no longer needed for a public purpose. The easements were on a property on Clark Drive and the Mountain Gate Business Park. The property owners will now have the property with encumbrances.


Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed former mayor and commissioner Jim Hoover to fill the unexpired term for the commissioner seat that was left vacant when Frank Davis was elected as Emmitsburg mayor during the recent town election.

The commissioners also appointed Patricia Galloway as a member of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission, with a term running from November 6, 2023, to March 1, 2026.

Board Reorganized

In a change from years past, rather than putting forth recommendations for which board members should serve in which positions, Mayor Frank Davis allowed the board to decide among themselves which roles the board members would serve.

President: Amy Boehman-Pollitt

Vice President: Jim Hoover

Treasurer: Valerie Turnquist

Parks and Recreation Committee Liaison: Tim O’Donnell

Planning Commission Liaison: Valerie Turnquist

Citizens’ Advisory Committee: Jim Hoover

Town Gets Some Water Fund Relief

Emmitsburg received almost $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money in two payments in 2021 and 2022. It is money designated to help towns and states deal with losses due to the COVID pandemic. Town staff determined that it lost $300,000 from one of its largest water users, FEMA, during the COVID restrictions. Town staff proposed using $300,000 from the ARPA money to fund operating and maintenance costs in the water fund for fiscal year 2024. The hope is that it lessens the impact of the water rate increases the town needed to make recently.


Mayor Frank Davis

My first few months as mayor have passed quickly. It has been busy and I’m constantly learning something new. The behind-the-scenes operations that keep our town running are impressive. I have gained a new appreciation for the workload and time required to meet the needs of our citizens. Sometimes, it may seem like your concerns are not being heard, but I can assure you that is not the case. Our team, both employees and elected officials, are here to listen and will do our best to respond to these concerns promptly.

I would like to welcome Jim Hoover to the Emmitsburg Board of Town Commissioners. Mr. Hoover is a former mayor and town commissioner and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the council. Mr. Hoover will fill the remaining 11 months of my vacated commissioner term. I would also like to thank all the citizens who expressed an interest in the position; it is evident how many people truly care about making a difference.

Over the last month, I attended many meetings and met many new people, but two events stand out. I was invited to Emmitsburg Elementary School to take part in “Starts with Hello Week.” I was able to meet and speak with each student as they arrived to begin their school day. Their smiles and handshakes were a fantastic way to start the day. I also had the opportunity to speak with the fourth-grade class of Mother Seton School. I spent time speaking about what it was like to be mayor. As most of you know, kids of that age keep you on your toes, and you never know what the next question might be. My time spent interacting with those students gives me hope that the future is bright and there are good things to come.

Be on the lookout for a groundbreaking around Creamery Court. Federal Stone (currently located in Thurmont) is scheduled to begin construction of their new building in the first part of December. The construction process should take about six months, with hopes of moving into their new home in July of 2024. In addition, the remaining building lots on Creamery Court have been sold and are in various phases of pre-construction.

Please check the town website for holiday hours, as they may change in the month of December. Even with the reduced hours, know that we have staff on call, and I can be reached if there are emergency situations.

Let us cherish family and friends this holiday season. From my family to yours: Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


Mayor John Kinnaird

Christmas is upon us, and Karen and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

On December 1, Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler retired from the Thurmont Police Department. Chief Eyler served our community for 18 years and in those years, he brought the department from a small town force to a professional police department. Greg began his police career right here in Thurmont, under the guidance of Chief Herman Shook. He moved on to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department, where he came up through the ranks and retired as a Major before returning to the Thurmont Police Department. During his time here, our department has grown in size and moved into a new headquarters building. His leadership brought new technology, an increase in the number of sworn officers, and a new standard of community policing. One of the chief’s most recent accomplishments was instituting the switch to a dedicated retirement benefit for his officers. His service has created a police department that our community is very proud of, and we all thank him for his service. We wish Greg and Brenda all the best as they head off on a new adventure in life.

Please consider donations to the Thurmont Food Bank and Clothes Closet in the coming weeks and months. The winter months bring additional hardships to our friends, neighbors, and family members who are less fortunate than ourselves. Donations of non-perishable food, decent cold weather clothing, or cash to these organizations can make a real difference in the lives of many.

It is with great sadness that I talk about the death of former Thurmont Commissioner Bill Buehrer. Bill lost his battle with cancer last Wednesday. I have known Bill for about fourteen years, having met him while attending Thurmont Town meetings. We sat in the back row and shared our thoughts on the future of the town. Bill ran for office in 2011 and was elected as commissioner of the Town of Thurmont. Commissioner Buehrer was extremely proud to serve our community and would often state that Thurmont was the best municipality in Frederick County. He truly believed that we live in the best town possible and worked hard to make sure our residents received the best possible municipal service. As a commissioner, he was very supportive of all events in town and volunteered to help at many of them. He was proud of the sense of spirit in our community and was active in Economic Development, Main Street, and was an active supporter of the Gateway to the Cure fundraising. Bill was very supportive of all of our staff and police officers and helped ensure they got the equipment necessary to do their jobs professionally.

It was my pleasure to serve with Bill over the past 12 years. We did not always see eye to eye on every topic, but we worked to do what was best for our community. Bill and I found ourselves at the radiology department at Johns Hopkins, where we both underwent radiation therapy for our cancers. He was keenly aware of how impactful illness could be on families and was very considerate of those impacted by cancer. This is why he was such a dedicated supporter of the Gateway for the Cure campaign. We spoke often about our illnesses, and he had a very encouraging and positive outlook. I am sorry to see Bill pass, but I will be forever grateful to have known him. Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Bill’s wife Colleen and their family.

Here are some thoughts from others who served with Bill.

Former Commissioner Wes Hamrick:

“It was my honor and privilege to first meet Bill several years ago when I was hired as a staff member with Stauffer Funeral Home. He and his wife, Colleen, recently transferred from South Carolina to work the pre-needs and aftercare for the Stauffer Funeral Home. I instantly connected with both of them. Bill, along with prompting by Colleen, convinced me to run for commissioner. It was their encouragement, faith in my ability, and support that I made the decision to run.

For 10 years, I served with Bill. His personality and that of the other board members provided a nice balance on the dais. Although Bill could have a sometimes gruff and tough-minded exterior, underneath was a very kind and gentle spirit. He truly had the heart of servitude for his community and only wanted the best for Thurmont.”

“The next to the last time I saw Bill was at my last meeting as commissioner.  I went to each one and hugged and thanked them for their support and for the privilege of serving with them. Since Bill sat at the furthest end of the dais, he was the last one for me to thank. We hugged and he held on to me and we said I love you to each other. He truly was a gentle bear in the truest sense. He will be missed and my prayers are with Colleen and his family.”

May God keep you in His protective arms, my friend.”

Commissioner Wayne Hooper:

“Bill loved our community and served with the best interest of Thurmont at the heart of his work. He was always quick to say that Thurmont is the best municipality in Frederick County, and he truly believed it was.”

CAO Jim Humerick:

“I think Bill was a man of great integrity who loved Thurmont. I sincerely appreciate his support of the town employees and our endeavors to improve operations over the years.”

CFO Linda Joyce:

“I am sorry to hear about Bill. I would like to mention he was receptive to moving the town forward and embraced positive change.”

Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder:

“I will always remember and love Bill for his compassion and support for the Gateway to The Cure campaign. He was a driving force for the Gateway To The Cure Golf Classic, and was a huge reason for its success. Even when he wasn’t feeling his best, he was always there to help with the tournament, no matter the task he was given. Bill was also a huge supporter of all of our Thurmont small businesses and their owners and could be found patronizing them all. I will greatly miss him and his ambition to bring home a larger check each year for our Gateway to The Cure for the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. I sure hope he is looking down and smiling because this year was the largest total collected in our 10-year history of the campaign. I will miss you, Bill.”

Comments, concerns, or compliments? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at


Burgess Heath Barnes

I hope each of you had a very happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Blessed New Year. If you can volunteer at a place in the community or help with Christmas for a family that doesn’t have the resources, I encourage it. I promise you; it is very rewarding.

On November 4, 2023, we opened the bidding process for the new town hall. Within three days, we had six contractors reaching out with interest in bidding on the project. All prospective bids are due in the town office by noon on December 4, 2023. All received bids will be presented to the town council on December 12, 2023, and a vote to select the contractor will take place at the January 9, 2024, town meeting. We are all very excited about this next step in getting the construction of the town hall started soon.

As many noticed, water bills for this quarter went out late. This was due to 12 residents not having completed the water meter change upgrade. Billing could not be completed until all were updated. The town had to spend extra money and bring in a new plumber on October 20 to complete these final 12 upgrades, as the contractor’s time in town was only for September. We have finally completed the upgrade. This will make billing much smoother; in January, we will be able to start taking electronic payments, which has been a request for a long time now.

Santa Claus (aka the burgess) will make an appearance at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 17, riding around town with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department. This year, we will be going down all the town streets and possibly up toward the New Midway area as well. After the Santa run, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Santa will be back at the firehouse for pictures until 4:00 p.m. All are welcome to come out and say hello.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164. Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Planning and Zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Blair Garrett

Festival season is upon us.

There’s no doubt we’ve all noticed the changing of the season. A biting cold light frost has replaced the morning dew from summer’s end. Our windshields are foggier than they were just a month ago. And, come October, Northern Frederick County gets a whole lot busier.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, the race to get your loved ones something special is on. And there may be no better place to find that special item for your family than at one of our great local annual events.

Despite the rain, doom and gloom, shoppers arrived in droves to the three big October festivals on the weekend of October 14-15. Colorfest, Ridgefest, and Mountain Fest vendors all braved the weather to put on a great showing for visitors.

Colorfest has been renowned as one of the nation’s top craft events for the past 60 years. Patrons arrive by the bus load to sample some of the great food or check out some of the best artists in the area. On every corner in the Thurmont Community Park during Colorfest weekend, there are some of the most interesting and unique items for sale. You can find anything, from custom metal airplanes to hand-crafted jewelry.

Vendors come from all over the east coast to show off some of the custom art and products they’ve been working on throughout the year.

There are even multiple stands of organic local honey to satisfy your sweet tooth, along with all your classic festival treats like whoopie pies, fried oreos, and chicken on a stick. Colorfest is one of the year’s most fun community events because of all the representation from businesses and craftsmen that are scattered throughout our region. You can get delicious brisket sandwiches from some of your favorite local fire companies, or baked goods from any of the various churches who reserved a spot along the way.

The money spent each year at Colorfest goes a long way into supporting these organizations, so they can continue creating the products that brighten up our communities.

Even with heavy rains, blustering winds and cloudy skies, Colorfest once again reminded us of how many talented people make up our towns. Hopefully, next year’s festival weekend is a little sunnier and a little bit warmer; but no matter what, the support from festival-goers is sure to be there.

Mountain Fest is another one of the great events put on by our tight-knit community. Each year, Sabillasville Environmental School sees tons of friendly faces pass through the halls, checking out some of the delicious pastries for sale and the many artisan crafts. There are food trucks serving up hot meals and happiness, and music in the background to keep everything fun and exciting.

Another huge draw for visitors is the annual car show at Mountain Fest, which is a huge attraction for automotive aficionados from far and wide. The antique tractor show also featured is perfectly fitting for our big farming community.

There was no shortage of specialty items featured at this year’s Sabillasville Mountain Festival. Tammy and Donald Haycraft displayed a huge variety of custom specialty pens, with some featuring your favorite sports teams, some fit from bullet shell casings, and some Halloween pens fit for the season. The pair even has a pen made from the wood of the old Yankees’ Stadium. Now, that’s what you call a collector’s item.

If neither of those events are in your wheelhouse, Rocky Ridge’s annual Ridgefest might be just what you’re looking for. While the kids play on Mount Tabor Park’s famous big slide, you can always catch the popular apple butter boiling demonstration. And, even with the rain, Mount Tabor Church put on a great event for locals to stop by and see.

All items sold at the park were donated by locals who enjoy giving back to the community, and the proceeds made for the event go toward keeping Mount Tabor Park a great place for everyone to gather.

At the end of the day on Saturday, there were still lots of great deals and great items being sold. Tons of cool memorabilia, lamps, cards, custom benches, and so much more were still available for patrons to check out, and they’re sure to have more donated items for next year.

It’s a great yearly festival that showcases how shopping local benefits our community, and Mount Tabor Park is a beautiful place because of it.

If you missed out on the chaos of festival weekend this year, brave the traffic and give it a shot in 2024 to help support your hometowns and pick up some really great memories along the way.  

Cover: Rain doesn’t stop the town of Thurmont and visitors from all over from showing support to all the vendors at Colorfest.

Photos by Blair Garrett

Connie Smith sells baked goods to benefit Saint Stephen’s Church of Cascade during Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Mount Tabor Park’s Ridgefest sells a variety of donated items to support the park.

Tammy Haycroft shows off her variety of detailed and custom pens at Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Antietam Dairy serves up ice cream and smiles at Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Christiana Graham (left) and Tom Peterson (right) check out some of Colorfest’s tastiest treats at Calvert Kettle Corn.


by Richard D. L. Fulton

While the Gettysburg Battlefield has always been viewed as a paranormal hotspot, stories have evolved over time addressing the multitude of spirits that inhabit the area, to the alleged discovery of a time portal that may very well exist on the fields, to UFO flyovers.

The following are just a couple of UFO encounters experienced on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

The Wheatfield Encounter

Chris Krasnai of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was one of those who encountered a UFO while touring the Gettysburg battlefield a number of years ago.

Krasnai said she and a friend were taking photographs one night in the Wheatfield, hoping to capture any evidence of paranormal activity.  Whether or not either had any luck in photographing any spirit activity, what they did encounter remains vivid in Krasnai’s mind to this day.

She stated that she was standing in the vehicle pullover area at the Wheatfield “chit-chatting” with her friend, when she “looked up and saw light in the sky.” She said, at first, she assumed it was an airplane or a helicopter, but it became clearer that it was neither due to the lack of any sound.

“It came closer and wasn’t making any sound,” she stated, adding, “Then it kind of stopped and a beam of light shined down on the Wheatfield.” The beam, she said, “got pretty close to us.”

She said the UFO finally stood still, with the beam of light still shining down, further stating, “I think it was pretty high up, but we were able to get a good look at it before it went behind the tree line and then just disappeared.”

Krasnai stated that the apparent UFO had four white lights around the outside of it, with three red lights in a triangular pattern in the center.

An Alien Abduction?

Gettysburg resident Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis experienced an encounter on the field of Pickett’s Charge of a more serious incident.

Curtis had been engaged in taking photographs that night near the Virginia Monument, when she found herself immersed in a swarm of “orbs,” the entire incident having also been witnessed by her companion.

Regarding the swarm, Curtis stated that attempting to make her way through the encroaching mass of orbs was like “trying to divide the Red Sea.”

As the swarm intensified, her companion said that he could no longer see her. She had vanished among the swarm.

“All of a sudden, I was in this massive, cool (temperature-wise) ship along with little people (around four to five feet in height), with big dark eyes,” Curtis stated, adding, “They were like little kids, hugging me and touching my hands and arms.”

She said the beings stated (without moving their mouth), “We don’t take all people into our crafts. We have means of knowing who are open to us.”

Curtis said the beings indicated that contact would continue “whenever the time and place was right.” She further noted, “It seemed like I was in there for hours.” Her companion stated she had vanished for only a few minutes… maybe ten.

The Quandary of the Orbs?

The orbs (as described above) have been attributed to natural to paranormal to alien-association causes.

Adhering to only the alleged alien association of the orbs with alien activities, the orbs appear to be capable of self-generating light, and their illumination is not the result of being illuminated by the flash of a camera.

There may also be a connection to having the capability of self-generating energy, possibly having their own internal power. One or more individuals associated with the U.S. Department of Energy was a constant visitor to one website that featured the many forms that had been photographed of a variety of orbs. Were they exploring the energy capabilities of the orbs?

The quandary of the orbs remains to be solved.

A battlefield enigma. Photo Gettysburg Battlefield by E. C. Curtis, mid-2000s

Orbs on the move.  The orbs are traveling from the upper left towards the lower right.  To the right edge is the trunk of a tree.

Richard D. L. Fulton

For three days, from July 1 through July 4, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, engaged the Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George Meade, in and around the Borough of Gettysburg.

On July 3, General Lee ordered a massed assault on the center, which failed to break the Union line, and thereby ended Lee’s campaign of marching his army across Pennsylvania.

However, in spite of the carnage, one single death struck the hearts and souls of Americans across states and territories: the death of a 20-year-old female Gettysburg resident who had been caught in a crossfire in a home located in the heart of what had become a “no man’s land” on July 3.

WHO was Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade?

Wade was born in Gettysburg on May 21, 1843 to parents James Wade and Mary Anne Filby Wade, and was raised in Gettysburg. She had two sisters, Georgeanna Anna Wade McClellan and Martha Margaret Wade, as well as three brothers, Harry M. Wade, Samuel Swan Wade, and John James Wade. Martha Margaret Wade passed away after having only lived for four months.

WHAT propelled her into being regarded as a national heroine?

Jennie Wade became the only civilian killed during the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. This was fostered by the claim that she was killed while baking bread for Union soldiers during the battle.

WHERE was Jennie Wade killed?

On July 2, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army had pushed the Union troops from west of town into and through the Borough of Gettysburg and the heights that run from Culps Hill to the Rounds Tops, where the Union troops assumed a defensive “last stand” position.

Wade and her mother decided to take shelter in the home of Jennie’s sister, Georgeanna, who lived on the north side of two two-story apartments that had been created out of a house located at 548 Baltimore Street, just a short distance north of East Cemetery Hill. Jennie and her mother also felt they could assist Georgeanna with her newborn baby (Lewis Kenneth McClellan) to whom she had just given birth only a few days earlier.  Georgeanna was also alone, as her husband, John Louis McClellan, was off serving in the Union Army.

Also sheltering in the home at the same time was brother Harry M. Wade and Ike Brinkerhof (of unknown affiliation).

WHEN was Jennie Wade Killed?

It probably had become obvious by the morning of July 3 that the occupants of the house were now in a “no man’s land” that had erupted between Union-occupied East Cemetery Hill and Confederate troops trying to advance up both sides of Baltimore Street towards the Union position.

Although the house had been pelted with bullets and even had an artillery round penetrate the roof (without detonating), the group decided to remain in place within the home.

It was reported that Union snipers were posted on the second floor of the house to contest the advance of Confederates working their way up both sides of Baltimore Street.

Jennie Wade woke up early, around 8:30 a.m. on July 3 and had left the house for water and firewood. She then returned to the house and began kneading dough to make the bread, when she was struck and killed by a bullet.

HOW was Jennie Wade killed?

According to “history,” Wade was struck and killed by a bullet fired by a Confederate that penetrated two doors (the kitchen door and the bedroom door) sometime after she had returned from fetching water and firewood.

However, since the house was basically located in a crossfire, one would have to had examined the fatal bullet in order to determine its source.

WHY was Jennie Wade killed?

It should be pointed out here that Confederate soldiers had previously tried to convince the family to leave, but they chose to remain. Clearly, a fight was going to unfold as Union troops dug in on East Cemetery Hill to defend the right center of the Union line as Confederates attempted to advance and potentially capture the position.

It seems quite probable that soldiers might have mistaken the figures inside the house as enemy combatants, since it would not have made much sense to them that civilians had remained in the house after all that had been, and was still, transpiring around it.

As the fight subsided, Union soldiers, probably the sharpshooters that had been posted, removed her body to the basement via knocking a hole through the second-floor wall, carrying her body into the neighboring apartment and down to the neighbor’s side of the home into their basement, where her body remained until after the battle when she was buried in her sister’s garden.

A Confederate officer had been killed on the front porch of the McClellan side, and his fellow soldiers subsequently attempted to bring up a casket to carry the body off in, but Union fire forced them to abandon the effort. After the fighting had ceased, the casket was salvaged and was used for Wade’s burial. 

So, that’s the story… but is it the real story?

The problem is, the physical evidence does not support how she was killed, and circumstantial evidence does seem to question whether someone from the North or South had killed her. And, then there was the sudden change of a “death by friendly fire” to “death by enemy fire” that took place when her mother applied for a pension, which could not be paid unless the death was deemed due to enemy fire.

Problematic issues began with the two doors, through which the fatal bullet was alleged to have traveled, especially based on the “bullet hole” in the front door. Forget examining the front door. Photos taken over the decades, beginning soon after the war, reveal that the door was replaced three or more times with another door, and that the original door had four panes of glass (two over two) in the upper portion of the door.

It has been stated that the fatal bullet came from the Confederate-occupied, west side of Baltimore Pike, but the angle would not be right from any location on the west side to strike the door and penetrate it, along with penetrating a second door, to hit anyone in the house.

It has also been suggested that the fatal shot came from the Confederate-occupied Tannery on the east side of Baltimore Street, except that there were intervening houses located between the Tannery and the McClellan house.

The only thing the period media accounts disagreed on (they all agreed it was friendly fire) was if the fatal shot went through the door or a window. Knowing that the front door had glass windowpanes at the time, they both could have been right.  Although, for the bullets to have been fired through the upper door window at an angle to kill someone inside means that the shooter had to be on a second-floor side porch of the house adjacent to the McClellan house on the same side of the street.

Another account stated that Wade was struck by the same “volley” of bullets that killed the Confederate officer on the front porch of the McClellan house. This points to Wade having been killed by Union gunfire.

There is one final tidbit that appeared in 2007, in the form of a small package sent to the late Kenneth Rohrbaugh, then manager of the Jennie Wade House and Museum. The small package contained a bullet that had been kept by a Union soldier, found within the casket containing Wade’s body when it was being examined, before being removed to the Evergreen Cemetery.

As it turned out, the soldier himself had not removed the bullet. It was actually a family member who had examined the body (preparatory to presenting his findings before Congress) who found the loose bullet.

The author of this article—a former Civil War relic dealer—was asked by Rohrbaugh to examine the bullet and identify it. It was a .577 caliber Union Minie’ ball that had lost its velocity, but still had enough force that the imprint of Wade’s muslin-clothing was still embedded in its nose.

Not only had the bullet established the source of the gunfire but had also established that Wade had been struck by two bullets, one spent round and the fatal one.

The tell-tale bullet, one of two that struck Jennie Wade. (Photo by and from the personal collection of R.D.L. Fulton. Initially published in The Gettysburg Times, August 11, 2007)

A 1904 view of the McClellan side of the home where Wade was killed.

Note the four glass panes at the top of the door.