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How Did They Fare?

by Deb Abraham Spalding

In 2017, The Catoctin Banner staff followed the progress of two residents’ resolutions. Artist, Rachel Mohler, resolved to complete a painting-a-day of the scene outside the window of her Sabillasville home. Health and Wellness Coach, Susan Torborg, resolved to impact the health of others by sharing her R3 Weightloss Plan. Take a look at how they progressed in meeting their resolutions. Thank you Rachel and Susan for being a part of this year-long adventure!

Rachel Mohler

Rachel Mohler of Sabillasville started 2017 with the resolution to paint the view outside her kitchen window every day. In May, I interviewed Rachel to write a progress update. At the time, she and her family had learned valuable lessons from the resolution: more awareness of nature and changes in the weather, as well as the overall lesson to notice more detail about life. Shortly after our interview, in June, construction started for an addition on her home. During that time, life at the Mohler’s house was complete chaos, as her family of five had to live in two rooms, around construction and construction workers. You can imagine that painting took a back seat and was limited during that time. As summer went on, the thought of painting daily became unreasonable.

Despite the distractions, Rachel completed some watercolor paintings to sell. Seemingly as a distraction, she made some art charms and the charms were selling out. Along the way, several collaborations and projects presented themselves, and Rachel followed the opportunities. She’s been very busy.

First, a long-time friend, Amy V. Lindenberger, who owns a co-op art gallery in Gettysburg, called The Drawing Room Gallery, asked Rachel to start selling her art this coming March. Rachel will have at least a dozen pieces for sale at one time there.

Second, as an analog pen pal artist, Rachel’s friend, Trina O’Gorman of WarriorWriting on Instagram, asked Rachel to collaborate with her on a year-long journaling project. As an artist, when Rachel sends a letter, she paints something on the letter. The letters are placed in a pocket notebook and sent back and forth. Trina wrote an article about Rachel and their journal project for her newsletter. Rachel said, “It was a wonderful, very touching article.” This occurrence inspired Rachel to start blogging online. Rachel belongs to the MTN and Fountain Pens group on Facebook, where participants use fountain pens to write letters back and forth. The letters become art, as the writer indicates the model of fountain pen they used, the type of tip (called nib) on the pen, and the brand and color of ink used to create the expressive words.

Third, Julianne Du Four is a friend that Rachel met in a mom’s group in Walkersville. Julianne started the Petal Patch Flower Farm, from which she sells her flowers at a Downtown Frederick market. Like Rachel, she has small kids, so Rachel recognized the work it takes to make her business grow. Noticing how Julianne’s passion for her flowers transforms her, Rachel was inspired to paint portraits of Julianne each season, and is planning a line of Petal Patch Flower Farm charms, using dried flowers provided by Julianne.

Amidst all the chaos of life, Rachel’s painting-a-day 2017 resolution transformed into new awareness and opportunity.

“While I failed at my original goal, the resolution forced me to do something that propelled me through a winter phase of the artist’s version of writer’s block.” She explained, “I’m in places at the end of the year that I never, ever dreamed.”

The 2017 resolution served as a tool for her. “I’m human, and it’s been helpful. To fail at a goal is almost better than actually succeeding, because it helped me look past that to horizons I’d never dreamed or thought possible.”

Having turned forty in October, Rachel has officially arrived at a goal she never truly took seriously, “…to be an artist with a capital A.”

In 2018, her resolution is to complete one painting of a local scene per month.

Susan Torborg

We first introduced Susan Torborg in our March 2017 issue as our second Catoctin Banner Resolutions Spotlight. At the time, she and her husband Jim and their five children lived in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. In her introduction article, Susan showed a picture of her vision board for 2017. On it, she indicated that she wanted to achieve balance in her life with family first followed by faith, motherhood, health, and financial freedom.

With a degree in exercise science, Susan’s life mission has been to help others. She has been a personal trainer, she even marketed her own workout CD in the 1990s with some success. In more recent years, she has been on a mission to enhance the lives of other people by educating them about how to live chemical-free in their homes and how to achieve their weight loss goals. She introduced her FREE six-week weight loss program called “R3 Weight Loss Plan.” In 2017, through the R3 Plan, Susan had re-solved to help over 300 people lose a cumulative total of 1,000 inches and at least 1 ton (2,000 pounds) of fat. “People love the R3 Weight Loss Plan because it teaches the skill of weight loss. It has keto affects in the first two weeks, but is maintainable long-term because of the variety of foods allowed,” Susan explained.

In addition to helping hundreds of R3 individuals, Susan conducted the first official six-week R3 Weight Loss Challenge from November 1 through December 13, 2017. In this challenge alone, there were 552 participants from all over North America and Canada. The participants in that challenge lost a total of 2,428.8 pounds and 3,036 total inches. Susan far surpassed her original resolution goals.

Susan had achieved success! But, like most lessons in life, it was the journey to the results where her bigger achievements were found. Shortly after a resolution update article that appeared in the July issue of The Catoctin Banner, Susan’s husband Jim, was recruited for a new job in Minnesota (where his large family lives). Within a month, the Torborg family moved to Minnesota so their children could start school in the beginning of the new year.

Susan’s biggest achievements in 2017 resulted while helping her children settle in the new schools, and making a new home for her family in a new place. Susan knew how hard it is to ac-climate to a new community, so she pushed herself out in the community to meet as many people as she could. She said, “It was very hard at times and found myself going through some tough days of missing Emmitsburg and Fairfield and crying as I drove myself around trying to find the local super market.” The intentional push out of her comfort zone resulted in meeting many amazing people and new friends. She started building her business locally in Minnesota in November and initiated partnerships with chiropractors and local gyms.

“I have learned and seen my confidence has grown a lot this year,” Susan shared, “I have a renewed sense of confidence in approaching other trainers, gym openers, chiropractors, and other health professionals to partner with them in helping teach their clients the R3 Plan. My goal in 2018 is to partner with ten other health professionals. I have realized I have been letting fear stop me in approaching them before. I am pushing through fear this year in 2018 and doing the activities anyway to reach my goals.”

Susan is very active on Facebook with frequent live videos about her challenges towards health and life as well as posts and live videos from some of her clients.

You can find the R3 Plan on Facebook by requesting to join the closed group, “R3 Weight Loss Plan” and Susan will add you. She made the group public early in 2017, and now it has over 8,250 members and grows by hundreds of new members weekly. You can download and print the plan for free and find it in the first pinned post. Susan wishes you a new journey of resolution in 2018. You can do it! She will help. The next R3 six-week Weight Loss Challenge starts January 1, 2018, and anyone can join the group at any time during January. If you miss the start date, you can join the next challenge in February.

Deb Abraham Spalding

In 1939, Pauline Smith lived in the white stucco house at the corner of Elm Street and Emmitsburg Road in Thurmont. One day, someone gave her turkey eggs. Pauline had an idea; she decided to put the eggs under a chicken, hoping they would hatch. And, they did! From that day on, she raised turkeys and sold them to friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Over the years, the interest in her turkeys increased, and she realized that there was enough of a market for turkeys to start a business. Already owning a beef and dairy operation, Pauline and husband, Ross, decided to go into turkeys full-time.

Seeing a promising opportunity, the Smiths created Hillside Turkey Farm. Pauline’s husband, Ross, and her children, Betsy, Carlotta, Ann, Ross Jr., and Jimmy all worked for the business at some point in time. Ross II and his wife, Grace, with their sons, Ross III and Bryan, took over when Ross Sr. got sick. Today, Ross Jr.’s son, Bryan and his wife, Judy, have been running the turkey business for approximately twenty years. All of Bryan and Judy’s children—Bryan Jr., Ashley, and Derek—have worked at the business in some capacity while growing up. Bryan Jr. worked the business full-time until he took a new job in Frederick. Derek works while attending college at Mount St. Mary’s University. Both boys show interest in the family business; yet, as parents, Bryan and Judy want the boys to discover all their career options, so they can choose what’s best for them.

According to the USDA, Hillside Turkey Farm’s retail store on Elm Street in Thurmont is known as a Further Processing Plant. The Smith’s farm on Hoover’s Mill Road in Thurmont is where the turkeys are raised. They are then transported for processing in Pennsylvania. Some of the turkeys are shipped back to the store for further processing, meaning the whole bird is used and several things are made from it. They will be processed for sale as fresh turkeys or prepared by smoking, rotisserie cooking, curing, or becoming an ingredient in salads, pot pies, and other foods.

Obviously, the Smith’s turkey business has grown over the generations. Today, the farm has the capability to raise 180,000 birds per year, and it is the job of Bryan and Judy to see that it continues to grow, as technology and shopping trends change. The bulk customer, who freezes and prepares their own large-quantity orders, is joined by the single customer, who is looking for individual-portion packaging. “That’s why it’s important to serve a single customer or an entire party of people,” said Judy. She explained that customers can custom order rotisserie chickens and, occasionally, smoked meats, or they can make special orders with advanced notice.

The Smiths are making a special effort to have individual servings prepared so that customers can take the serving home and freeze it or just pop it in the oven, while still servicing the customer who will need larger quantities. Pre-packaged products in smaller quantities, like pot pies and turkey dinners, are popular for individuals, while the eighty-piece chicken package is a bulk deal for people hosting parties or desiring to package and freeze it themselves.

For parties, smoked breast, deli meats, and cheese can be used to prepare trays; smoked turkey salad makes a great cracker spread, and shrimp and crab meat (available occasionally) round out the party spread.

“Turkey Italian sausage is excellent when baked 25-35 minutes in a 19×13 pan, then cut into slices and tossed in a crock pot with sauce. It’s much easier than making meatballs,” shared Judy.

Hillside turkeys are antibiotic–free and nothing is ever injected, such as added oils or fats. Check out Hillside Turkey Farm by visiting them in person at 30 Elm Street in Thurmont, viewing and ordering online at, or calling 301-271-2728. Tell them you saw them here in The Catoctin Banner newspaper!

Pauline and Ross Smith are shown with a turkey in the early days of Hillside.

Pictured from left are Ashley, Bryan Jr., Bryan, Judi, and Derek Smith.

The smoke house can cook many turkeys at one time on 3’x3’ racks. Wood chips feed the smoke. A huge soup kettle is used for pot pies and soups.

Turkeys are shipped to Pennsylvania for processing. A portion of them are returned to the store for further processing. The whole bird is used, and several kinds of things are made from it.

Eileen Dwyer

Established in the mid-1700s, the village of Thurmont was originally named Mechanicstown. The settlement offered plentiful sources of timber, iron ores, and creeks to provide sources of power. The area flourished with mills, iron forges, tanneries, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, and other craftsmen. The name Mechanicstown seemed appropriate, given the means of trade of commerce.

The arrival of the railroad in 1871 established Mechanicstown as a commercial hub of the area. Rapidly, newer industries such as pottery-makers, coffin works, cigar-makers and lumber businesses were established.  Goods were shipped from the new freight depot.

With the dawn of these more progressive industries, the commercial and business leaders felt the village needed a more contemporary name.  And the railroad felt shipping and passenger confusion caused by similarly-named villages would be greatly alleviated. Subsequently, a vote was taken in the late1800s for the renaming of the village.  The two contenders were Blue Mountain City and Thurmont.

Although Blue Mountain City received the popular vote, it was vetoed by the Post Office and the village name was changed Thurmont.

Thurmont is a derivative of the German word, tür (door) and the Latin word, mons (mountains).  So, quite literally, Thurmont translates into “gateway to the mountains” far better than Blue Mountain City might.  What’s in a name?


The problem of an odor coming from the wastewater treatment plant lagoon that the town rents to Enviro-Organic Technologies (EOT) during the winter appears to be under control.

After many residents complained of the horrible smell caused by the food process residuals that were being stored in the lagoon, the town and EOT took steps to address the problem.

The lagoon had not been used since the new wastewater plant went into operation. EOT currently hauls the town’s sludge, but it was in need of a place to store a wash water product from processing poultry.

With the lagoon being filled once again for winter storage, Town Manager Cathy Willets and EOT General Manager Mike Oliver updated the mayor and commissioners on what would be happening at the lagoon for the next year to keep the smell to a minimum.

The problem is that the material stored in the lagoon has been creating a hydrogen sulfide type of smell. “They mixed last year, which was the big reason why there was the odor in town,” Oliver said.

The best preventative in stopping the smell was the development of an 8-inch crust on the top of the lagoon, using straw laid over the lagoon. So now, any stirring that is done, can be done under the cap, with very little odor escaping.

PVC piping was laid down the slope of the lagoon and under the cap. This allows the lagoon to be filled or material removed directly to and from the truck, with little to no chance for the odor to escape.

The time frame for filling the lagoon can take place on twelve work days, from December 15, 2017, to February 28, 2018.

In the spring, it can be removed over twelve days, from March 1 to May. The preference is to remove the material as soon as possible before the temperatures warm up, increasing the chance of an odor problem.

The trucks won’t travel through Emmitsburg, which will reduce the chances of odors reaching residents, should there be a problem.

A field operator will be onsite when the material is being removed to deal with any problems quickly.

Oliver also said that a new bacteria was being tested in Georgia lagoons to control solids and odor. It was showing promise, and if the data continues to be favorable, it might be pilot tested in Emmitsburg. The one possible problem, though, is that the lagoon will need to be at least 45 degrees for it to work.

EOT pays the town $80,000 to use the lagoon. The rent will help offset some of the operating costs of the new wastewater treatment plant.

by James Rada, Jr.


Fewer Residents Paying Water Bills Late

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets reported to the mayor and commissioners that by changing the due date for the quarterly water bills, fewer people are paying their bills late. The change began with the quarterly bills that went out September 17, 2017, and seventy fewer later notices had to be sent to residents.

This meant that residents saved on late fees and town staff saved on time.

“We can attribute that mostly to changing our due date to the fifth,” Willets said.


Emmit Garden Playground Gets Approved

The proposed Emmit Garden playground—which the commissioners would like to see as a handicapped-accessible one, like the new playground in Thurmont—received state approval for its plans. The next step is to get the town permits for it. The playground is expected to be built in the spring of 2018.

The Thurmont Civitan Club, which spearheaded the new fully accessible playground for special needs children in Thurmont, has expressed interest in creating a similar playground in Emmitsburg. Emmitsburg currently has enough money set aside to build a playground in Emmit Garden. However, since it will be located in a floodplain, the Maryland Department of the Environment needed to approve the project.


Brookfield Subdivision Lots Sold

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs announced in December that Richmond American Homes had put a contract in to purchase the remaining forty-seven home lots in the Brookfield subdivision. As part of the purchase, the developer will also have to level out a crest on Irishtown Road. Once that is done, there can be two-way traffic between Brookfield and Pembrook.


Cpl. Duhan Promoted

Thurmont Police Cpl. Tim Duhan was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on November 3, 2017. He is the Thurmont Police K-9 officer and has been with the department for five years. Prior to Thurmont, he served as a Frederick City Police Officer.


Power Saver Retrofits Program Update

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were updated on how well the Power Saver Retrofits Program has been doing in the town. The program has been around for five years and was introduced to Thurmont in 2016. Homes in the program are given an energy audit to find where improvements can be made to make them more energy efficient. The program can then provide $7,000 to $10,000 to qualifying homeowners to make those improvements. Currently, fifty-five homes have used the program.

Homes that qualify for this program also automatically qualify for the Green Homes Challenge Program, an online tool to help people save energy. The tool can help estimate energy savings, gasoline savings, carbon emissions savings, and other metrics.


Gateway to the Cure Results

The Town of Thurmont made its presentations from its October fundraising efforts for the Patty Hurwitz Fund.

Catoctin High School Football held its 2nd Annual Pink Out Game. T-shirts were sold during the game, and $1,447 was raised. Five football players from the school made the presentation to Patty Hurwitz.

A number of town businesses participated in the Gateway to the Cure with donations and promotions. For instance, at Gateway Candyland, anytime a special chocolate breast cancer lollipop was sold, a $1.00 donation was made to the fund; next door at Gateway Liquors, anytime a bottle of pink wine sold, a $1 donation was made to the fund.

“It’s always a lot of fun,” said Maggie Doll with Gateway Candy and Gateway Liquors. “The kids always get into it out there, and we get pictures on Facebook with everybody dressed in pink. It’s a good cause, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Nicki Eyler with the Eyler Stables Flea Market said that ribbons were hung throughout the flea market and many vendors donated a percentage of their October sales to the fund.

“We also had a donation jar on our counter, so our customers participated as well, and we actually quadrupled what we did last year,” Eyler said.

Dr. John Moles dyed his beard pink for October and donated $1.00 for every patient who got pink on her braces.

Promotional items such as t-shirts, pinwheels, and tote bags were sold at the Thurmont Town Office.

All of the donations raised by the town and town businesses amounted to $15,000. Total donations over the four years the town has participated in the Gateway to the Cure have amounted to $43,000.


Criswell Gets Site Approval for Expansion

The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission conditionally approved the preliminary plans for Criswell Chevrolet to add a Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership in town.

A major concern about the new dealership is the additional outdoor lighting that it will add to the area and how it will affect residents. However, the lighting also needs to be bright enough for surveillance cameras to function properly. B&R Design Group presented a plan that reduces the intensity of the lights from 150 watts to 104 watts, which is roughly the lighting intensity at the Thurmont McDonald’s.

Town Planner Chris Jakubiak felt that the intensity of the lights over the employee and customer parking area could be further reduced since those areas are empty at night and do not have inventory that needs to be protected.

Town staff will continue working with B&R Design Group to further reduce the lighting and to decide on the trees and shrubs to use for landscaping along the Moser Road frontage. The site plan also includes privacy fences to separate Criswell from the bordering residential areas.

The new dealership will be at the corner of Moser Road and Frederick Road.


Town Gets a Clean Audit Report

The Town of Thurmont received its annual financial audit report from Zelenkofske Axelrod, LLC. The auditor looked at the finances for Fiscal Year 2017. The town’s net position improved by $615,507, while its debt decreased by $737,316. The total revenues for the year were nearly $12.8 million for all government services, while expenses were $12.15 million.


Town Gets Colorfest Update

Hosting Colorfest each year costs the Town of Thurmont tens of thousands of dollars in security costs, sanitation, town staff overtime, and bus rentals. The town pays these costs primarily out of the vendor permit fees, but also from a portion of the parking fees each year.

For Colorfest 2017, permits and parking brought in $63,222. The town paid out 59,570 for all of its expenses. This left the town $3,652 in the black, which is not always the case. Also, Colorfest, Inc. donated $5,000 to the town’s general fund and $1,500 to the Thurmont Police Department out of its earnings.

“The town does not try to make anything,” said Thurmont Commission Marty Burns, during a recent town meeting. “We just don’t want to lose money.”

It was a good year for Colorfest, with seventy-two more permits being issued over 2016. Chief Operating Officer Jim Humerick also pointed out that there appeared to be record crowds on Saturday.

For the most part, things ran well. Friday evening before Colorfest, the town started experiencing some power problems in the park. Town staff fixed it only to have another problem on Saturday that had to be addressed. There was also a minor issue with U. S. Postal Service and Kountry Kitchen employee access to certain areas, but there’s a plan in place to deal with them next year.

The commissioners also discussed whether dogs were causing a problem at the event, but they were split on this.

The most significant problem that needs to be dealt with for this year’s Colorfest is to add some additional port-a-potties at Criswell Chevrolet and Deerfield Church.


 Mayor Don Briggs

The Emmitsburg Christmastide started with the traditional town Christmas tree lighting on Monday, December 4, in front of the Community Center. DJ lead-in Christmas music, caroling by the Mother Seton School and Christ Community Church choruses. Santa Claus arrived in a vintage Vigilant Hose truck to light the tree. Then, it was on to following Santa on foot, north two blocks, to the Carriage House Inn for the 29th annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit.” The weather was kind, and the crowd, like the one downtown for the Halloween parade, was the largest in memory. Thank you to town staff for decorating, planning, and managing the tree lighting and also to the Carriage House Inn staff.

In our community Christmas stocking:

  • Thank you to all the volunteers who have made Emmitsburg such a wonderful place to live over the last year. This would include individual volunteers, groups, and local churches.
  • Thank you to Alenjandro Canadas for accepting the invitation to be a Trustee of the Community Foundation of Frederick County. The Community Foundation is a pillar of the greater Frederick County community. The Foundation manages at least five scholarship funds for Emmitsburg area organizations and individuals. Canadas, PhD, an associate professor of economics at the Mount, and his bride, Cynthia (also a PhD), live with their family in Emmitsburg.
  • Thank you to our town staff, State Highway Administration staff, and the contractors. The square revitalization sidewalk project connected the west end Pembrook and Brookfield subdivisions for the first time. Coming into town from the west, the viewscape has certainly changed. Lots of compliments.
  • Thank you to the uptick in home building in Frederick County. It has been heard that Ryan Homes intends to build 900 homes in Frederick County in 2018. In Emmitsburg, the remaining 47 residential lots in Brookfield subdivision are now under contract of purchase by Richmond America. The recent sightings of the men doing test borings, etc., is a normal part of their due diligence prior to purchase. With the build-out, the builder will be responsible for modifications to Irishtown Road to improve sight distance issues that then would allow two-way traffic in and out of the two subdivisions on Brookfield Drive.
  • Thank you County Executive Jan Gardner and her staff. Emmitsburg now has midday bus service to and from Frederick. The service started on Tuesday, December 5, and will continue every Tuesday (only on Tuesdays) as a complement to morning and evening return trips from Frederick. Estimated arrival of bus service at DePaul Street is 1:03 p.m. and at Jubilee is 1:07 p.m., arriving at the Frederick Transit Center at 1:42 p.m. This is a six-month to twelve-month pilot program. Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and I worked very closely for this additional service. Finally, you will not have to wait all day. Please call the town office if you need additional information.
  • I attended the Frederick County Association of Realtors (FCAR) legislative breakfast, at which I had the opportunity to speak on the merits of our town and also to hear what our state representatives are intending to propose as bills when in session next spring 2018. There was a lot of across-the-aisle agreement, led by our District Councilman Kirby Delauter and State Senator Ron Young, on tax credits for senior citizens, to keep them in Maryland. Presently, Pennsylvania and other states offer tax credits to make it more attractive for seniors to retire there. We want seniors to stay here because this is where they want to live, and their strong commitment to volunteering in the community.

Emmitsburg is a great place to live. Hoping you all have a wonderful New Year.


Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are at the end of another amazing year in Thurmont. Looking back on 2017, it seems that there was something going on every day of the week, and as we enter the new year, I am sure it will be as busy, if not more so.

We made several improvements this past year, including new sidewalks on Moser Road, the inclusive playground at East End Park, a new playing field at the Eyler Road Park, improvements to the Moser Road intersection, paving the Trolley Trail, improvements to our electric distribution system, paving Eyler Road Park driveways, and many other projects.

The coming year will bring several new projects, including water and sewer line repairs and street work. As always, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to bring these improvements to our residents.

In the next few weeks, we will be welcoming two new businesses to Thurmont. Nu-Way Cleaners will be opening at 12 East Main Street in January, offering home pick-up and delivery, as well as an on-site seamstress. Images Of U Hair Studio will be opening at Thurmont Plaza; appointments and walk-ins will be welcome at this full-service hair salon for the entire family.

There is much to look forward to in 2018, and Karen and I hope that the New Year brings you good health and happiness.

Question, concerns, or comments? Contact me at or call me at 301-606-9458.

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School celebrated its distinguished graduates, who are making their dreams come true, during the 3rd Annual Distinguished Graduates ceremony on November 21, 2017.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization was created in 2015 to recognize Catoctin High graduates who have made a difference in their post-high school careers. Graduates are recognized in five different categories: Academics, Arts and Humanities, Athletics, Business, and Service (community, military, or public). Former staff members are also recognized for the impact they had on the school community. Each honoree was given an engraved award, a Catoctin High School print, and a Catoctin High blanket.

Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada told the senior and freshmen classes, who filled the auditorium for the ceremony, that he hoped they would be inspired by what fellow Catoctin graduates had accomplished and that they would “understand the legacy” of Catoctin High School.


Rebecca Yates Shorb

Rebecca Yates Shorb worked as an art teacher at Catoctin from 1970 to 1994. She was recognized as a former staff member. She told the students that up until this point in their lives, they have been on a journey to discover what their gifts are.

“If you pay attention, you’ll know what direction life wants to take you in,” she stated.

She urged the students to be open to changes, but to always seek to live the life of their dreams.


Paul Nolan

Former Catoctin coach and athletic director, Paul Nolan was also recognized as a former staff member. He talked about the goals he set in his life and working to achieve them. He encouraged the students to set goals for themselves and to pursue making those goals become realities.

“Now is the time to decide what you want to do, where you want to go,” Nolan told students.


Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter

Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter received the academic award. A lawyer who has recently started her own successful legal practice, Delawter told the students a story of when she was at the lowest point of her life, and how it only turned around when she decided to “chase the lion.”

Chasing the lion is a concept presented in a book she read about facing your fears, chasing them down, and conquering them. The book also made her realize that if trying to achieve her dream didn’t scare her, then it wasn’t a big enough dream.

She told the students that they would fail at some point in their lives, but they needed to turn those failures and the fears of failing into motivators to achieve.

“If I had let my fears scare me, I’m not sure where I’d actually be,” Delawter advised students.


Jonathon West

Jonathon West received the athletics award. A former Frederick County player of the year, and currently an estimating analyst for NVR, he praised the staff and offerings at Catoctin High for giving him the opportunity to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. It then became his job to make the most of those opportunities.

“Opportunities are given, but success is earned,” voiced West.


Richard Love

Local dentist Dr. Richard Love received the business award. He spoke to the students about having strong core values, embracing teamwork, and doing the right thing. He also urged that they should put themselves on the path of constant and never-ending improvement.

Although he also enjoyed playing sports in high school and college, he realized that he would never be a stand-out star. By the same token, he also saw that he had a part to play on the team, and if he did his best in his role, he would help the team.

Love has applied this idea of being part of team and a team leader to growing and managing his business.


Ryan Rippeon

Navy Lt. Cdr. Ryan Rippeon received the military service award. He also spoke of turning life’s failures into learning experiences. Getting his first failing grade at the Naval Academy allowed him to switch majors to something he loves and excels in. Failing his first interview for a position with the White House Communications Agency enabled him to hone his skills and advance in rank, so that the position he eventually took in the agency was even better than the original position for which he had applied.

“You’re going to fail,” he leveled with the students. “Let yourself learn from it, because great things can come of it.”


Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn received the public service award. He emphasized to the students to find something they could believe in, something that brings joy to their lives. He found his in helping feed the hungry as the food packaging director for Feed the Hunger. The Evangelical organization has helped feed millions of people in the United States and in some of the poorest places in the world.

He also cautioned the students against gauging their success by their material wealth. “Life will leave you empty if your main goal is to accumulate things.”

Michael Gray

Drummer Michael Gray received the arts and humanities awards. He told the students his story of how he pursued his dream of making a career in the music business. He and his wife left their Baltimore home in 2002 to move to Nashville, Tennessee. With no promise of work, he began to build a name for himself in the music business. His persistence paid off, and he became the drummer in a new band, being formed by then-unknown country artist Lee Brice. Brice and his band have since produced a number of top-10 hits.

Gray urged the students to go after their dreams and not let anyone stop them.


Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada concluded the ceremony, declaring, “All of us have a place in the history and future of Catoctin High School.”

Pictured from left are Rebecca Yates Shorb, Paul Nolan, Meaghan Delawter, Jonathan West, Richard Love, Ryan Rippeon, Scott Hahn, and Michael Gray.

Laura Knotts’ garden has produced over 1,100 pounds of squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs, since this past June. Yet, she hasn’t tasted any of it. All of the produce is donated to New Hope Ministries in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, to be given out to families in need.

“Every load of produce that we’ve had come in is gone the next day,” said Jeanne Troy, New Hope Ministries northern region gift officer. “It is such a premium to have fresh produce.”

New Hope Ministries serves around 2,900 people a month. Because of the availability of the herbs and vegetables from Knotts’ garden, New Hope Ministries is now teaching the families it serves how to cook with fresh vegetables.

Knotts, a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Smithsburg, is a member of the American Heritage Girls. Her troop meets in Dillsburg, Pennslyvania, which is why she located her garden in Pennsylvania. The garden is 40 by 60 feet, and she arranged for the land and equipment. She also made sure that there are volunteers to maintain the garden. The Ames Charitable Foundation donated the tools for the garden work, built the storage shed, and built the fencing.

Knotts got the idea for the garden when she was looking for a project to earn her Stars and Stripes Award, the highest award in the American Heritage Girls. Not only did Knotts have to design the project, but she also had to show leadership in it and have at least one hundred hours of participation.

“I looked around and saw New Hope Ministries and thought it was an organization that I could help out,” Knotts said. “I asked what they needed, and Jeanne told me there was always a need for a fresh source of produce.”

The pantry typically receives only canned or boxed items. Knotts came up with the idea of creating a garden that could provide needed pesticide-free, fresh produce for the pantry. It also tied in with Knotts goal of becoming a nutritionist when she starts college next fall.

The garden is now a permanent part of the West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, where the plot is located.

“She set up a plan for keeping it running for the next few years,”Troy said. “Next season, all we have to do is clean up the ground, till it, and plant seeds.”

Knotts said that she would like the see the Mechanicsburg garden enlarged to provide more for New Hope Ministries. She would also like to see other churches duplicate the idea on their properties to give fresh produce to their local food pantries.


Seventeen-year-old Laura Knotts of Smithsburg donated 1,100 pounds of fresh produce, from the garden she created and built, to New Hope Ministries for the hungry in need.

Pictured from left are Russ Delauter, Charles “Jake” Spalding, Larry Clabaugh, Frank Valentine, and Dick Shank.

Photo by Ross Lillard, member of Trinity UCC

On Sunday, November 5, 2017, Trinity United Church of Christ held its fourth special Veterans Day Service and Recognition.  The service was held at 101 East Main Street in Thurmont at 11:00 a.m., with a luncheon immediately following the worship service.  Special recognition was given to those who are currently serving and Veterans who had previously served in any branch of the United States Armed Services, as well as any named persons who are deceased and had previously served their country.

The church’s goal was to thank the living and to honor the deceased Veterans in our communities for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.

Honored guests who attended the service included Pastor Emeritus from Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church and retired commander U.S. Navy, Pastor Dale Williams leading the service, along with Trinity’s pastor, Sean DeLawder.  Other participants include Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, Honor and Color Guard from the Thurmont AMVETS, musical group “Solid Ground” out of Fort Detrick, Commissioners of Thurmont, Retired Rev. Sherman Mason, Gary Jagow, and other retired persons of service.

Anita DiGregory

Have you found that the abundance of digital technology available today has led to continual distractions and interruptions and even hindered your ability to get more accomplished throughout the day? Do you struggle trying to keep your tweens and teens from spending too much time on devices or video games? Have you found yourself thinking that the quality of life or family time has dwindled as a result of digital technology? If so, you are not alone. In fact, local resident and Mount St. Mary’s University professor Joshua Hochschild has not only taught a class on the subject, he has co-authored a book regarding this topic. In his recently released book, A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction, Hochschild and Christopher Blum offer concrete advice and encouragement on reclaiming interior peace and order.

“Chris contacted me in Spring 2016, and we talked about how classical spiritual wisdom could address modern social challenges,” said Hochschild.  “He sensed there was an opportunity to give people a way to highlight the challenges of technology and digital media and cultivate a sense of interior peace. Together, we wanted to offer classical Christian wisdom to help people renew the order of the soul that can negotiate today’s distraction-filled environment.”

Because the writing of the book coincided with Hochschild’s Mount class “Friendship and Contemplation in the Digital Age,” he was happy to involve his students, allowing them to both read the manuscript and offer timely feedback. He noted that his students recognized the habits developing around digital media and even opted for self-imposed fasting in different forms from these digital distractions.

Released in August, A Mind at Peace offers wisdom from authors, philosophers, and great thinkers, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. However, the reader should not be intimidated, as the authors do an excellent job of making the information relatable and attainable. The “Questions for Reflection” at the end of each section are a favorite element for self-reflection. Having held the positions of “Top 5 of Catholic Self Help” books and “Number 1 New Best Seller in Catholic Self Help,” the book has proved both timely and important. The book and its authors have been featured on different radio shows and podcasts. Additionally, the book was also the focus of a Mount campus retreat.

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, Hochschild and his new release were featured in the premiere “Chat with an Author,” an innovative series, hosted by the Seton Shrine in an effort to introduce talented and inspirational authors to the community. Hosted in the Shrine’s Visitor Center Theater, the event was moderated by fellow Mount Professor John Mark Miravalle. The talk centered around key elements of the book and was followed by the opportunity for audience members to ask questions and share observations. Immediately after, Hochschild took time to meet with different attendees and sign copies of his book.

With regards to the first Chat with an Author event, which was both well attended and received by the community, Rob Judge, executive director at the Seton Shrine stated, “Josh has a compelling solution to the busy, distracted lives we’re all living, and we’re excited to have him here and help people begin to refocus their lives to return to a sense of peace.”

The Seton Shrine will be highlighting more authors in the future. On February 11, 2018, Stephanie Calis, author of Invited:  The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner, will be featured at the next Chat with an Author event. On April 29, 2018, local mom and author Colleen Duggan will be highlighted.


Pictured are (left) Mount Professor John Mark Miravalle and (right) author and fellow Mount Professor Joshua Hochschild.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Smarsh, Seton Shrine


James Rada, Jr.

Nearly a decade ago, Brother Pascale O’Brien of Divine Mercy should have been dead four times over.

“I had the Last Rites given to me four times, and my younger brother was told to have me prepare a living will,” O’Brien said.

He had blood clots in his system that the doctors thought would kill him. O’Brien’s health remained precarious. When he finally recovered, his doctor told him that his survival had been nothing less than miraculous.

“I started thinking what I could do to repay the Lord for saving my life,” O’Brien said.

He decided to take the vows of a hermit.

While you might imagine a hermit as a bearded old man living in seclusion in the woods, cut off from society, Catholic hermits are men, and sometimes women, who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. O’Brien, who turned seventy this year, is retired from the dietary department with Daughters of Charity. He had no children, and he has never been married.

He applied to be a hermit through the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The process not only included interviews, but also a psychological evaluation. The evaluation took years, but he finally took his final vows in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Mount St. Mary’s University on October 1, 2017. O’Brien said that the Mass was a “bigger event” than he thought it would be.

“My life is now dedicated to the Lord,” O’Brien said. “My life is about how God can use me as a vessel in the lives of other people.”

His days are now spent performing spiritual exercises, studying the Bible, and praying for the church and families who are in need.

Although some hermits live on their own in hermitages, O’Brien lives on his own and conducts his exercises in the privacy of his apartment. He wears a brother’s collar, habit, and ring to show that he is celibate.

“I am no better than anyone else, but I am striving to become better and more holy,” O’Brien said.

As he works toward this goal, his life is quiet unless he is listening to spiritual music or watching a church sermon. He does not interact much with the world unless it is needed. His time and attention are instead focused on growing closer to his God.

“I feel blessed,” O’Brien said. “I feel fulfilled, and I feel like I have a purpose in life.”


Brother Pascale O’Brien is shown on the day he took his final vows to become a hermit on October 1, 2017.


by James Rada, Jr.


Possible Urgent Care Center in Emmitsburg’s Future

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners welcomed Mount President Timothy Trainor to the town meeting, and congratulated him on his permanent appointment as university president.

During his remarks, Trainor said that the growth of the Mount’s sports programming had placed a strain on the college’s ability to provide healthcare for its athletes. As a consequence, the university was sending out an RFP to healthcare partners to remedy this issue.

“As we do that, these partners are interested in potentially putting an urgent care type of facility in a surrounding community that would support not just the Mount, but could support the surrounding community,” Trainor said.

While it is a future project, it is something that is on Trainor’s radar to pursue.


Town Prepared for State Monitoring of Toxins

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners that the State of Maryland was looking into monitoring reservoirs for toxins. However, because the town’s new sonic algae-control system has been effective in controlling blue-green algae—which is responsible for the release of toxins in water—Emmitsburg was ahead of the game and well prepared for any monitoring that the state set up.


Davis Appointed to Planning Commission

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously appointed Frank Davis to the planning commission. His term will run from January 2, 2018, to July 2, 2022.


Free Parking in Emmitsburg

The Emmitsburg Commissioners voted to not require the town parking meters to be fed from December 15, 2017, to January 2, 2018. The commissioners do this every year to encourage shoppers to visit downtown. Since this gift is not advertised, any money that is fed into the meters will be donated to the Emmitsburg Heritage Day event to help offset the costs of putting it together.


Joint Council Between Town and Mount a Possibility

Another idea that Mount President Timothy Trainor suggested to the Emmitsburg Commissioners was that sometime in the future a joint council between the town and college be formed. It would meet occasionally to discuss issues of mutual interest.


East End Park Inclusive Playground is Finished

Thurmont’s one-of-a-kind, inclusive playground at East End Park is completed and open. The town held a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the first phase of the playground was complete. A second celebration was held on November 17 at the playground to celebrate its entire completion. The playground is behind the Thurmont Senior Center, across the street from Thurmont Elementary School. The Catoctin Civitan Club started the project and conducted the fundraising for it. Playground Specialists, Inc. installed the equipment, which will allow all children, no matter their disabilities, to have fun playing.


Volunteers for the Thurmont Snow Team Needed

The Town of Thurmont is seeking students and adults to serve on the Thurmont Snow Team. This group of volunteers will remove snow from the sidewalks of seniors and residents with disabilities. Students can use any time they spend working with the team as volunteer hours towards graduation. You can pick up the application forms by December 15 at the Thurmont Town Office or Thurmont Police Department. You can also call Kristi Wood at 301-271-0905 x105 to have the forms mailed to you.


Extra Precautions Taken at Colorfest After Las Vegas Attack

You may not have noticed it, but Colorfest had an extra police presence this year. The Las Vegas massacre left Thurmont Police worried that the Colorfest crowds might make a similar target.

“We could be hit here with a vehicle driving through the crowd if it wanted to,” Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick told the Thurmont Commissioners before Colorfest in October.

To try and head off the possibility of this happening, some changes were made this year.

“We’re putting barricades at Frederick Road north of Howard Street and at Frederick Road and Moser Road,” Humerick said. “Those barricades are going to be there to stop vehicles from coming through.”

Other precautions were also taken that weren’t released to the public.

Pictured from left, Violet Markwell, Michael Markwell, and their Nana, Mary Swager, try out the new inclusive playground apparatus at East End Inclusive Playground.

Mayor John Kinnaird

We are fast approaching the end of the year, and each year seems to pass quicker than the one before. I know that this year has been good to me, and I hope it was good for you as well. With Christmas just a few weeks away, Karen and I want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas in Thurmont is coming up on Saturday, December 2. Be sure to stop downtown and register the kids for the many gifts and prizes. Santa will be at Mechanicstown Square Park to meet with all the children, parents, friends, and pets. The day will include free photos with Santa, horse drawn wagon rides, a story with Santa at the Regional Library, and fun and prizes for everyone.

This time of year brings with it colder weather, employment slowdowns, and all the seasonal difficulties many of our neighbors face. Please keep the less fortunate of our community in mind this winter by helping support the Thurmont Food Bank, Thurmont Clothes Closet, Seton Center, and other local charity organizations. Your donation of food, clothes, or cash can help bring joy to a local family.

I want to thank Catoctin Colorfest Inc. for the generous donations they made to our community this year. Their donations totaled $20,676.80 and included $1,500.00 each to the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, and the Thurmont Police Department. Catoctin FFA received $1,146, and $4,500 to Catoctin High School Scholarships. The Thurmont Food Bank received $3,400. Other beneficiaries include $1,000 to the Trolley Mural Project, $5,000 for improvements in Community Park, $325 to the Library, and $200 for flowers and decorations in our parks.

You might have noticed that the sidewalk project on Moser Road is nearing completion. This project will improve pedestrian safety on the road and allow easy access to the Regional Library. Improvements to the Frederick Road intersection will help turns onto Moser and the narrowing will help control speeds. This project is a joint effort of the Town of Thurmont and Frederick County.

The recent Town election has returned Commissioners Hooper and Burns to office and yours truly to the office of mayor. I appreciate the opportunity to serve our community for another term, and I look forward to working with our residents, town staff, and the commissioners, as we work together to make Thurmont a great community.

Please contact me at 301-606-9458 or with any comments, questions or suggestions.

Mayor Don Briggs

I was looking for the tempest, but the gift of mild weather heralded in November. However, there are signs of more sobering weather to come in December.

Thank you to everyone for your patience with the Square and all the sidewalk work. For the first time, Brookfiield and Pembrook subdivisions are connected to the town with a sidewalk. There will be a heavy concentration of work at the Square in an attempt to complete this section prior to the freezing weather. The project may be completed six months ahead of schedule.

ALERT — CHANGE IN LOCATION: Because of downtown construction, the Town Christmas tree lighting on Monday, December 4, will take place in front of the Town Office and Community Center. Christmas music provided by a DJ will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Mother Seton School and Christ Community Church chorales at 5:45 p.m. Then, at about 6:30 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive. Next, we will go down two blocks to the Carriage House Inn for the 29th annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” event for more entertainment, hay rides, free hot dogs, and hot chocolate.

ALERT — CHANGE IN DATE: Regularly scheduled Town Council meeting is moved to Tuesday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m.

Dipping back into the last days of October: I was honored to be the starter for the ESP Performing Company’s 7th Annual Autumn 5K course, “Halloween Edition” through the Mount Saint Mary’s University east campus. Eager runners—many costumed—set the tone for the wonderful fundraiser. Also, with a nod to the mild weather, the largest crowd, by many accounts, participated in or crowded the square to cheer on the annual Halloween parade as it progressed down North Seton Avenue through the town square. Then it was on to Vigilant Hose Company for refreshments and costume awards. Thank you to the Lions Club, Vigilant Hose Company, and all the businesses and civic groups that also shouldered the event. Everyone loved it; you were a success.

In November: Another solemn Veterans’ Day 21-gun salute tribute by the joint American Legion – VFW Honor Guard at our seven area cemeteries. Out of town for a wedding, I missed this year’s commemoration for the first time in seven years. Commissioner Glenn Blanchard, a Veteran, represented the town.

On several Saturday mornings, our Boy Scout Troop 727, huddled in threes and fours in their illuminated vests, gathered for merit badge credit, applying yellow refresher coats of paint to forty to fifty fire hydrants. Good to see. Thank you for the public service, your merit noted. It’s been almost twenty years since the Mount rugby team did similar volunteer work for the town.

Interesting article on farming in the Wall Street Journal (October 24, 2017) titled, “Supersized Family Owned Farms Transform U.S. Agriculture.” Four percent of U.S. farms now produce over two-thirds of the country’s agricultural output. There has not been anything like this since the U.S.D.A. began keeping records on size/production in the 1980s. The article goes on to note that one Kansas farmer can fly his Cessna thirty-plus miles over the property he owns. That’s 30,600 acres. Farm holdings of this size enjoy the economies of scale that enables them to pressure farm suppliers and grain companies for lower prices and discounts accommodations that are not available to smaller farmers. As a result, more, and smaller, farmers are being driven out of business. The average size of a farm in Frederick County is about 140 acres. Living amidst a beautiful farm community, rimmed to the west by Catoctin Mountain, we have to support our local farmers in every way. Dine at “farm to fork” restaurants. Shop at our Farmer’s Market. Stop by a local orchard.

At the recent Frederick Chapter Maryland Municipal League (MML) meeting, the membership approved its 2018 Legislative priorities. The No. 1 priority was to restore municipal Highway User Revenue (HURS) to pre-recession levels. In 2010, HURS funds (from state budgets) for municipalities lost 96 percent of transportation revenues. Currently, they have been 61 percent restored. Thank you for last year’s nudge. Please, Governor Hogan, take us back to pre-2010 level. Our municipal budgets need the revenue.

Hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and wishing a Merry Christmas to all.