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BY Richard D. L. Fulton

To some people, squirrels may seem a public nuisance, chewing on wiring and rubber tires, or finding ways into attics, making a mess out of the insulation. 

Some see squirrels as being a free meal, beginning as far back as whenever the original human occupants of the Americas figured out how to catch them.

But to others, merely observing or documenting squirrel behavior provides a glimpse into one of nature’s basic forms of governance, tribalism…hewn into animal perfection in the case of the squirrels during their 40 million years of existence. 

Having initially evolved in North America, squirrels, as a whole, have survived a half-dozen major ice ages and an equal number of periods of moderate-to-maximum global warming and, along the way, ultimately resulted in their inhabiting every continent, except Australia. 

Today, there are over 300 species of squirrels worldwide. Of the five squirrel species that are found in Maryland, the gray squirrel tends to be the species most encountered in Frederick County. Somewhat scarcer species to be observed include the red squirrels, fox squirrels, and Southern flying squirrels. As an aside, there is no shortage of Eastern chipmunks, which are also considered squirrels, as is the woodchuck, according to a county-generated watershed study.

The 23-acre Thurmont Community Park provides the perfect habitat for the gray squirrels, who are arboreal (tree-loving) by nature, and provides park visitors with ample opportunity to enjoy observing their interactions with each other and humans, as well as the playfulness of their young—and they are not particularly camera-shy as well.

In fact, one of the local Thurmont photographers recently found himself engaged in photographing the grays in the park after having returned from his previous employment in Alaska.

Brenton Knott, a Thurmont photography enthusiast, began searching the area for potential photography subjects. He found himself exploring Community Park, where he noticed the prolific gray squirrel population (he had also spotted a rarer red squirrel on one occasion).

Knott said he came across the park when he was in the process of “scouting out potential landscape compositions.” He said, upon arriving at the park, “Immediately after I got out of my car, three squirrels came up to me (seeking edible handouts), so I changed my focus on the squirrels.”

“I did have a chance to feed the squirrels,” he said, adding, “The most interesting thing about them, I thought, was that they were very friendly. They (generally) kept their distance, but they were not afraid to come up to you.”

Knott, who originally hailed from Monrovia in Frederick County, developed an interest in photography while he was attaining his associate degree in music in 2011 at the Frederick Community College. His interest in photography carried over into art classes that he then attended at the University of Maryland.

Knott explained his fascination with photography by its ability to allow one to “capture a whole story in an image.”

In 2014, Knott accepted a position as a deli and bakery manager for the Alaska Commercial Company (and, subsequently, with the State of Alaska Court System), resulting in his move to Kotzebue, 34 miles north of the Arctic Circle. 

While the position was grocery supply related and not photography related, the Alaskan scenery and wildlife further fueled his interest in photography. He soon found himself expanding on the cameras and lenses, and frequently ventured out to take pictures, which included wildlife (mainly birds), scenic landscapes, and his favorite: the Northern Lights. “I shot pictures the whole time I was in Alaska,” he said.

But, when he adopted a seven-week-old female husky, named Coconut, last year, the puppy’s allergic reaction to certain dog foods created a problem. The nearest veterinarian was not within a reasonable driving distance. In fact, it required Knott to secure flight passage for himself and Coconut in order to acquire medical help for his dog. 

With this in mind, he decided to return to Frederick County earlier this year.

Presently, when not indulging in his photography, he is now employed at the Farmhouse Exchange in Thurmont.

Knott said that, ultimately, he would like to relocate to Upstate New York, where he plans “to work remotely, build a homestead, and live a simpler lifestyle,” along with Coconut, whom he believes would more than likely feel more “at home” in the Upstate New York climate.

Brenton Knott has captured thousands of photos of the Thurmont Community Park’s community of squirrels.

Joan Bittner Fry

The Enchanted Forest was about an hour away, so it became a nice place to go to entertain the kids and “eat out” in the mid-50’s. Our family of four, at the time, went there, and the kids explored the fairy tale houses and rode the wonderful rides. I wonder if this brings back a memory or two for you.  

The Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City, Maryland, officially opened on August 15, 1955, following a preview party the afternoon before—one month after Disneyland Park’s opening. Appealing mostly to families with small children, the park had a nursery-rhyme theme.  

The park featured fairy tale buildings and characters, but no mechanical rides, originally. Track rides were added later, including the Alice in Wonderland ride with teacup-shaped cars, a Cinderella’s castle ride with mice for the cars, the “Little Toot” boat that took children to Mount Vesuvius for giant slides, and the Jungleland Safari that was driven by open Land Rover-type vehicles. 

Children’s birthday parties were often held in the picnic areas among the attractions; many local teenagers worked as ticket-takers at the park. It was unlike many other attractions of the time.

Admission cost one dollar for adults and fifty cents for children. The park expanded from 20 acres to 52 acres. At its peak, the Enchanted Forest welcomed 300,000 children per summer season. After its original owners, the Harrison family, sold the park for $4.5 million to JHP Development in 1988, the park closed for the first time in 1989.  After turning more than half the land (primarily the parking lots) into the Safeway-anchored Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in 1992, JHP Development reopened the park for the 1994 summer season, predominantly for children’s birthday parties.

The park was permanently shuttered from 1995 to 2005, when active preservation began. Much of the theme park sat undisturbed, yet neglected, behind a chain-link fence. In 1999, the Friends of the Enchanted Forest was formed, with the goal of reopening the park. In 2003, the Enchanted Forest Preservation Society was formed, with the long-term goal of reviving the Enchanted Forest. Their work focused on preventing the artifacts from being lost forever.

History of Forest Diner

A trip to the Enchanted Forest Park wasn’t complete without visiting the Forest Diner across the highway. For 66 years, Forest Diner meant great food, good friends, and a real treat, especially for families from more than an hour away.

For 66 years, Forest Diner meant great food, good friends, and a hot cup of Joe. Now, the diner is closing (2012). Customers crowded in for one final meal. “I’m going to miss it. It’s been so nice every time we come here. It’s like family. As soon as you walk in, they know you right away,” said Dorothea Cox of Arbutus.

Waitress Ellen Jackson has been here 19 years. “It’s starting to hit me now. I knew it was going to happen. This is my family. I think I’m gonna make it. I have to. I’m hoping they’ll all come across the street. That’s what I’m waiting for,” Jackson said.

At this beloved Ellicott City landmark, every customer has a story. “It’s a little sad. It’s the end of an institution. I’ve been coming here 25 years. There’s a lot of history and our kids came here,” said Bruce Peen, a customer from Ellicott City.

Forest Diner employees will not lose their jobs. They’ll move across the street to Jilly’s, where the menu will be the same. “I’m trying to be brave,” said Barbara Carroll, an employee for 43 years. “It’s like losing part of the family. This is my second home. I have so many customers that I love, who are like family to me.” That family came out in force Monday for the food and the memories.

“It’s very sad. It’s the end of an era. I’ve been here for 15 years. It’s been great. It’s like a family, and the people who are all grown up now are bringing their children,” said Mary Harrell, Forest Diner employee.

The brothers who own the Forest Diner will create retail space and 38 apartments on the property.

The official notification hanging in the diner:

Dear Loyal Forest Diner Patrons,

After 66 years of serving the finest food in Howard County, the Forest Diner will be opening our doors for the last time on Monday, May 28, 2012. We would like to thank everyone who has allowed us to become part of their lives over the years. It has been our pleasure to serve each and every one of you.

While the Diner will be closing, we have partnered with Jilly’s Bar and Grill, which is right across the street in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, to continue the tradition of fine food and service that you have come to expect from us. This means the Forest Diner without the dining car. Starting on May 29, 2012, Jilly’s will be open at 6 am to serve you. You will be able to get the same food as the Forest Diner, prepared and served by the Forest Diner staff for the same price.

Once again, thank you for being part of our family over the years.  And while we will miss the dining car, we do hope to see you at our new home at Jilly’s. 

~Truly Yours, The Staff of the Forest Diner

BY Terry Pryor, Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the fourth month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items, and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

Power Action #4: Believing Is Seeing

Believing is seeing. No, I didn’t get it backward. If you want that perfect job, relationship, house, adventure, or anything else in your life, you must begin to plant the seeds.

The Seeds to a New You

• See the outcome in your mind.

• Believe that what you see will come to pass.

• Focus daily on what it is that you want and how you will feel once you acquire it.

At this point, you are not yet picturing what you have to do to acquire what you want, only how you will feel once you have it. Emotion matters greatly as we will soon see.

Using the three seeds above, begin to create a movie of how you will live once you have what you wish. You are the producer of this movie and have complete control over the direction in which this film will go. Be creative, and do not let those monkey-mind thoughts enter your script. Example: “I’ll never have enough money to start my own business.” Never is a very long time, so let’s get rid of that energy right now.

Take a piece of paper, and as precisely as you can, create the look, the feel, the atmosphere, the actual environment of that perfect movie outcome. That gorgeous new car with the heated leather steering wheel you have always wanted (don’t forget to imagine what color it will be.) That dream kitchen you have thought about for years. Be very specific about what the finished project will include. Write it all down, even to the type of coffee maker that you will have and the colors in window treatments.

This movie is a must-see, a visual feast starring you. Remember, you are seeing and feeling all the luxuries you want to have and that acquiring your dream will provide for you.

Next, take out that list of undesirable things you created in Power Action #2 in the March edition of The Catoctin Banner. After each item on the list, repeat out loud: “I will never see myself doing (fill in the blank) again.”

I suggest you perform this exercise every day. There is no longer any reason for you to do anything that does not allow your light to shine. Repeating this affirmation daily will reinforce to your subconscious mind that you are worthy of doing only those things that you desire to do.

Next, take out your “I Spy” list from last month, adding even more conditions that you want in your new future. After each one, say out loud (and with gusto), “I see myself happy, challenged, and thriving in my new job, relationship, house, car, or whatever your dream is. I see myself experiencing (list each “I Spy” item) _____________.”

Close your eyes and envision yourself doing and having all of the things on your “I Spy” list. See that dynamite sales team that you lead. See the colors in your new kitchen, the heated seats in your new car, the adventures on your bucket list. See that salary you want in your career. Draw a blank check on a clean sheet of paper and fill in the desired annual income that you want. Make copies of this check and place them all over the spaces in which you currently live. Put a check in the bathroom, on the fridge; put one in your wallet and one next to your computer. Put one of these checks next to your bed and look at it before you go to sleep. Imagine how you will feel when that salary is achieved, that car is in your garage, and that new updated kitchen is done. Imagine how you will feel accomplishing what you desire!

Affirmation: I am deserving of all that is good, prosperous, and healthy. I am an unlimited being in an unlimited Universe with an unlimited imagination for all things good. All things good find their way to me easily. I am inspired to clearly see all my options and to choose only those that allow me to be the person I am meant to be.

Caution, Monkey Mind Ahead!

Here’s a great idea: Don’t believe everything you think! Negative thoughts will come calling, but you can change this. Be sure that you think about what you want, not what you don’t want. Some people get turned around with this. They think thoughts like, “How am I going to live without that job or that person?” or “How am I going to get out of debt?”

These are very emotional subjects. When you focus on something with emotion (joy, fear, confusion, despair), the subconscious acts even more quickly to bring you more of what you are focusing on. Change those thoughts to, “I see myself having all I need at the moment,” or “Today is the day of my most amazing good fortune!” Add emotion to your positive thoughts and powerful things will happen.

Remember, the goal of your subconscious is not to tell you what is a right (positive) or wrong (negative) thought. Its sole goal, now and forever, is to grow the seeds (thoughts) that you plant. Remember, you are creating a brand-new habit. It may take a few days of practice, but I promise the monkeys of doubt will soon disappear. It is very important to remember that you are in control of your thoughts. No one else is in that head of yours. It’s all you!

I assure you that I understand you might be overwhelmed at times, even while reading these words. Scary thoughts may be trying to get your attention.

Each time one of those undermining thoughts pops up, replace it with, “I am in control of my destiny. I am creating a brand-new life for my family and myself. I am free to become all that I was meant to be. Thank you, (past job or individual’s name), for allowing me the opportunity to grow beyond what you thought I was capable of becoming. My destiny is nothing short of miraculous.” 

It’s a good idea to print this out (or create your own powerful affirmation) and put it on the ceiling over your bed, so you see it when you wake up. Lying there before your day begins, imagine all that you were meant to be and start each day with a positive expectant feeling.

Place a copy of this affirmation everywhere, on your forehead if necessary, anywhere to surround yourself with these positive thoughts. They are your partners in your success. Positive thinking is a habit. Imagining all things good is a habit. As humans, we sometimes tend to think the worst, especially when we are faced with fear, and losing unhealthy emotional patterns can feel scary. After all, change can be daunting. But, I promise, if you begin to replace those negative and fearful thoughts with positive input, and constantly repeat them, you will establish a new habit—one that will serve you very well as we move through this adventure together. 

Adventure? Did she say adventure? Oh yeah, baby, and the adventure continues!


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are in June already! We got a real feel for summertime the weekend of May 21-22, when the temperature soared to the low 90s. This summer, we may be looking forward to higher average temperatures, and we must be prepared to handle the heat and sunshine. Remember to keep hydrated when the temps rise; we need to drink more water when we sweat. Also, be sure to wear a hat and long sleeves, and use plenty of sunscreen if you plan on working, picnicking, or playing outdoors. I know everyone loves a nice tan, but please do not overdo it; sunburn can lead to skin cancer later in life. Keep sunscreen close at hand for the little ones when they are outdoors.

The board of commissioners has been hard at work reviewing the Master Plan Update, 2022-2023 town budget, and an annexation proposal for the Simmers property. These topics are being discussed during our town meetings, BOC workshops, and public hearings. The public is welcome to attend any of these meetings, watch them live streamed on Cable 99, or on the video archives on the town website ( Typically, during town meetings, we will ask for public comment; at workshop sessions, we do not take public comment; and public hearings are designed to include public comment. I encourage everyone to watch our meetings and attend if you have any comments to include in the discussion. Many times, I am approached by residents that have heard mistaken or confused facts from others. Watch our meetings, attend them in person or ask me or one of the commissioners if you have any questions regarding current topics being addressed by our Board of Commissioners.

I want to congratulate the members of Catoctin High School Class of 2022 for finishing twelve of the most important years of your life! We are all extremely proud of each and every one of you, and we hope that you can follow your dreams as you move on to your next adventure. Some of you will be going on to higher education, some may be entering the military, many of you will be entering the workforce, and some may be starting families. Whatever your career path is, be sure to enter it with pride, knowing you are a graduate of CHS! Wherever life takes you, please remember you will always be welcome in the Thurmont and Emmitsburg communities.

With summer close at hand, we will see our children out and about on our streets and sidewalks. Always be on the lookout for children crossing our streets or riding their bikes, skateboards, or scooters. Kids are often unaware of their surroundings, and we need to be extra diligent when they are close to our streets.

Thurmont is once again offering our “A Day in the Park” Summer Recreation Program (for kids in 1st through 8th grades). This year, there will be three week-long sessions with a maximum of 30 kids per week. Each week-long program will be filled with lots of fun, educational experiences, and adventure. Each one-week session costs $45.00 per child and includes an official “A Day in the Park” T-shirt, knapsack, and more. You can stop by the town office at 615 East Main Street (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.) to pick up a registration packet. If you can’t get there in person, call 301-271-7313, and we will send you a registration packet.

The Thurmont Farmers Market is being held each Saturday morning, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, at the Community Park on Frederick Road. Each market offers a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables, fruit, baked goods, eggs, beef, cheeses, handmade soaps, crafts, and other goodies.

On Friday, May 20, we had our first Art & Wine Stroll in over two years. It was an outstanding success, with several hundred guests enjoying the entertainment, vendors, food, artwork, and the wine and moonshine tasting. If you missed this one, be on the lookout for our next Art & Wine Stroll.

Thurmont residents can put out grass clippings and leaves for pickup on Monday mornings. The grass and leaves must be placed in paper bags, no more than 40 lbs. in weight. Have the bags at your curb no later than 6:00 a.m. on Monday mornings. Grass clipping and leaves only—no sticks, rocks, root balls, etc. will be collected.

I hope everyone has a nice June! I can be reached at 301-606-9458, by email at, or on Facebook if you have any comments or concerns.


Mayor Don Briggs

Mayor Briggs was unavailable to write his Mayor’s message for this edition. He will return next month with double the news!

At the Woodsboro town meeting on May 10, we had a few topics on the agenda. The main one, of course, was the upcoming budget that will be voted on at our next meeting on June 14. There was not much discussion around it, as there wasn’t many changes from last years.

Another item that was on the agenda, which I was very excited about, was awarding the ARPA (COVID Relief Grant) to some of our town businesses. We had six businesses apply for the $5,000 grants, and all six were approved to receive the grants by our commission that viewed the applications. The following businesses received $5,000 grants: The Olde Towne Restaurant, Trout’s Market, Forestheart Studio, Affordable Pest Control, Gardner’s Garage, and Dynamic Graphics. The business owners were all in attendance to receive these funds. The town council and I were all happy to be able to assist our small businesses who are the backbone of our community.

After issuing the $30,000 in grants to the small businesses that applied, that left us with $20,000 in allocated funds towards grants remaining. I proposed to the town council, and it was voted on unanimously, to add in another $1,000 to the $20,000 dollar pool and divide it between our six nonprofits in town, which include four churches, the American Legion, and the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department. We will be issuing checks for $3,500 to each of them over the next couple of weeks.

Commissioner Crum reported on the items that she submitted for funding for the annual Program Open Space grant through the county. This year, she submitted for funding for some new ADA-compliant playground equipment, a pavilion to be built near the disc golf course, a message board at the disc golf course, lighting, and new flag poles at the memorial in town. We will know in early June what has been approved. Commissioner Crum and I will be attending the POS meeting on May 26, where we will get more information on what has been approved.

On June 2, the town will be going to closing on the purchase of the lot at 605 S. Main Street. This is where we will be building the new town offices. A large portion of that funding will be coming from the grant we were able to secure in Governor Hogan’s budget. Funding to purchase the lot was made possible through Woodsboro Bank.

I am also very happy to announce that the American Legion’s annual Memorial Day Parade will be back this year after a couple of years of hiatus due to the pandemic. The parade will take place on Main Street in Woodsboro on Sunday, May 29. The events of the day will begin at 12:00 p.m., with a memorial service taking place at the War Memorial on Main Street, followed by the parade at 1:30 p.m.

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 fourteen days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street in Woodsboro. The public is always invited to attend.

by James Rada, Jr.


Mayor and Commissioners Get First Look at Budget

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners got their first look at the Fiscal Year 2023 town budget.

•   General Fund: Revenues-$4,768,518; Expenditures-$4,278,662; Capital Expenditures-$489,000.

•   Water Fund: Revenues-$1,062,150; Expenditures-$838,257; Capital Expenditures-$222,000.

•   Wastewater Fund Revenues-$1,764,009; Expenditures-$1,471,239; Capital Expenditures-$292,770.

•   Electric Fund Revenues-$5,760,224; Expenditures-$5,633,798; Capital Expenditures-$125,000.

The budget needs to be approved before June 30 because it takes effect on July 1.

Micro-Breweries Approved as a Thurmont Business Use

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioner approved a text amendment to allow small-scale micro-breweries to operate in general business and town business zoning districts in Thurmont. Josh Bollinger, with Bollinger’s Restaurant, made the request to the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission in February. They approved it and sent it to the commissioners. Bollinger intends to expand his current business with a small micro-brewery. Under Maryland law, a micro-brewery can produce no more than 15,000 barrels of beer a year.

Easements and Rights Of Way Approved for Hammaker Hills

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners approved the phase 1 easement and rights of way for the proposed Hammaker Hills Subdivision. The easements are for utilities and three parks. The rights of way are for two roads. The commissioners gave the subdivision conditional approval last year if the easements and rights of way could be secured. With this approval, the subdivision can now move forward.


Commissioners Get First Look at Budget

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners got their first look at the Fiscal Year 2023 town budget. The general fund revenues have increased 8 percent to $2,053,217, and it includes a 5 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for town employees to try and keep up with inflation. Tax equity revenues from Frederick County are up over this year, but still lagging behind what the town received in 2021 and 2020. Currently, $1,880,067 has been budgeted with the difference marked to be used for capital projects. The budget needs to be approved before June 30 because it takes effect on July 1.

Changes to Parking Begin

The Town of Emmitsburg is looking to update how it handles parking in town. A 5-year plan was introduced to the board of commissioners in May and tabled for future consideration. Among the things the town is looking to do is purchase parking boots and digital meters. The new meters would also be able to accept digital payments. The town is also looking to install meters at the community pool parking lot, although parking would still remain free for pool patrons.

The town has already made one change to parking. Tickets are now white instead of orange because of a new system the town is using. Also, the town now accepts payment of parking tickets and permits online at the town’s website.

New Wayside Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved the 12th wayside exhibit for the historic walking tour of Emmitsburg the down is developing. This wayside will feature St. Euphemia School and include the fact that the school integrated 10 years before the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954. The exhibit will be in front of the apartment building at 50 DePaul Street where the school was. The total cost is $7,095, including town funding and an in-kind match of $3,548. The installation of the wayside is expected to be complete by June 15.

Town Adding to Bike Trail

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to construct a new quarter-mile section of trail. It will line the green and yellow multi-user trails at Rainbow Lake.

Parks and Recreation Committee Members Re-appointed

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners re-appointed Shannon Cool, Glenn Blanchard, Sandy Umbel, Steve Starliper, and Amanda Ryder to the Parks and Recreation Committee. Their terms run from December 3, 2021 through December 3, 2023.

Evan & Stephanie Felmet, CHS Music/Drama Directors

Over the weekend of April 8 and 9, 2022, Catoctin High School’s (CHS) drama program put on three shows of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, State Fair. The three shows were attended by over 600 people from across the Catoctin community and beyond.

Part of the draw was the involvement of more than 40 cast and crew members in the show. There were also live animals, provided by FFA students, that were carried across the stage during the musical number “Our State Fair.”

Students performed in front of a beautiful six-piece background, depicting the fair that had been painstakingly painted over many months by art teacher, Laura Day, and her students.

Before each show, the drama students partnered with students in Catoctin’s thriving FFA program to put on a carnival in and around the school’s cafeteria.

In the weeks leading up to the show, students from the Catoctin feeder elementary schools had received flyers in their take-home folders, letting them know about the event, and families turned up in droves during each carnival. Ring toss, petting zoo, dime toss, bingo, pony rides, face painting, and a fortune telling booth were only a few of the exciting attractions offered to visiting families. One particularly popular spot was the flush tank, where CHS staff members were soaked with ice-cold water if their students could hit the target. Some of those staff included Principal Clements, Assistant Principal Lininger, Drama Director Evan Felmet, and English Teacher Olivia Aungst. Many high school students spent their tickets ensuring their favorite staff members were drenched multiple times, leaving them shivering but smiling.

Overall, the venture was a great success for both the drama program and the FFA, raising much-needed funds for next year’s endeavors.

Photos by Mike Miller

(above) The cast welcomes the audience with the song, “Our State Fair.”

(above) The hard working crew members of State Fair.

(above The directors pose during the carnival with CHS alumni (and former thespians) Addi Eyler, Sophia DeGennaro, and Joe Hawkins.

(Above) Justin Clair jumps clear over Amelia Phillips as the cast performs “All I Owe Ioway.”

(above) Drama Director Evan Felmet gets soaked in the flush tank.

by James Rada, Jr.

It’s hard to believe that Edmund, a common snapping turtle at the Cunningham Falls Aviary, was the size of a quarter when he first came to Cunningham Falls.

“He was found in a sand trap on a golf course in Frederick County,” said Park Superintendent Mark Spurrier.

He believes that the little turtle’s mother must have come from a nearby water hazard and laid her eggs in the trap. Snapping turtles typically lay 20-30 eggs, but Edmond was the only one left in the sand trap. He was brought to the park and left there about 20 years ago.

Rangers and naturalists named him after Maryland’s first park ranger, Edmund Prince. They cared for him, and he grew… and grew… and grew… and grew some more. Today, he weighs in at 85 pounds and has a shell that is nearly two feet long. He is one of the largest common snapping turtles known. He is still growing, too. He hasn’t even reached middle age.

Edmund now has an outdoor warm-weather enclosure that’s the size of a baby swimming pool. He swims under the water, poking his head up to watch the attention he draws from visitors to the Manor Area Visitor’s Center. When he wants to warm up, he has a platform he can lumber onto and sun himself.

“A lot of people like him, and a lot of people watch him, especially at feeding time,” Spurrier said.

When the outdoor enclosure is cleaned, Edmund is carried out to the grass. This can be quite the workout for the ranger who has to lift the snapping turtle by his shell, while keeping their hands out of reach of Edmund’s mouth to carry the gargantuan turtle to the grass. Edmund is used to it. He waits patiently until he is set down, and then he lumbers across the grass.

When the weather turns cold, Edmund is moved into the aviary, where he can spend the winter in warmth.

Common snapping turtles are known to be combative when out of the water. They will snap with their powerful jaws if something comes too close, and they have long necks that reach further than you would probably expect. However, Edmund is laid back and used to being around people. This is not to say he won’t snap, but he is not as aggressive as he probably would be in the wild.

However, Edmund can no longer survive in the wild. His size keeps him from moving as quickly as a wild snapping turtle does, so he would have trouble catching food. He also has no fear of humans and has no territory. For now, he is healthy and well fed and, hopefully, happy.

If you want to see Edmund, you can visit the aviary, daily, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. When Edmund is in his outdoor enclosure, which is usually from around Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can visit him when Cunningham Falls State Park is open, from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.

At 85 pounds, Edmund is one of the largest known common snapping turtles in the United States. His shell is about 22 inches long.

Cunningham Falls State Park Superintendent Mark Spurrier carries Edmund, the snapping turtle, out of the aviary for a little exercise in the grass.

Richard Fulton

The Emmitsburg Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) offers Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) students, and other area residents, a rare opportunity to train for fire and rescue services while residing in an actual firehouse.

The opportunity, known as the Live-In Program, allows for up to five individuals to participate at a time. Participants must pre-qualify by having completed basic training before they may become firehouse residents.

Also, as a part of their residency requirements, participants must invest an agreed-upon amount of time in the service of the fire company, either as firefighters or ambulance medical technicians, as well as participate in other company administrative and fundraising activities. Participants are not charged rent for their firehouse residency.

MSMU students must maintain a certain number of credits while participating in the program, while non-students must be gainfully employed. The program was launched by VHC in 2019. 

Assistant Chief Joshua “Josh” Brotherton told The Catoctin Banner that eight to ten individuals have participated in the Live-In Program since its inception.

Charlie Rustigian, from Boston, Massachusettes, is a senior Criminal Justice major with a minor in cyber security at MSMU.  He started volunteering with the Vigilant Hose Company during his freshman year. He said, “I wanted to be a firefighter since I was three years old.”

Within the volunteer co-op that even allowed him to live at the fire station, Rustigian has become a firefighter and was the #1 Top Fire Responder in 2021 with 353 calls. “Being able to live in at the fire station and learn true responsibility while working with others and the community has been great. We’re making a difference,” he shared.

Patrick O’Hanlon (Class of ’21), from Wheaton, Maryland, majored in Public Policy and Emergency Management, and Sociology and Criminal Justice with minors in Business History and Human Services. From that large course load, one may surmise that he’s an over-achiever. We joked that he’s about 80 years old, disguised in a twenty-something’s body. It is only fitting that O’Hanlon was a Top EMS Responder for 2020, coming in at #3.

O’Hanlon started volunteering when he was 16 in Wheaton. When looking for colleges, the volunteer opportunities with the Vigilant Hose Company were important. He started volunteering the summer before his freshman year and he’s been an active member ever since.

O’Hanlon was a live-in at the station as well.  He explained, “It really helped me grow as an individual. I learned a lot about myself. Working as a team member, we really are a good family.” He explained that there were good fires that provided good learning opportunities and that he’s met and learned from “a lot of really good people.” He added, “The Vigilant Fire Department – It really is a family. You feel a part of the community from doing the bingos and events, too. Back home, it was a city department where we run a call and then we’re off calls.”

Elizabeth Beaton (Class of ’21), from LaPlata, Maryland, joined the VHC program during her sophomore year at the MSMU.  She joined to become an EMT while considering med school. One of the first calls she responded to was a house fire.  She was able to observe the fire calls and found she was eager to respond. She started fire and rescue classes.

In 2021 Beaton was #10 in the Top Ten Responders even though she only lived at the station from January to May during her senior year. “It was really cool to see how much the Vigilant Fire Department does for the community. A lot of times people just call the station number and we go out to help [on non-emergency calls]. You really get to know people in the community. It seems everybody knows everybody.”

Other participants include Rachel Wheeler and Deysie Diaz.  Wheeler, who met her requirements in December 2021, will be graduating in May. What’s interesting about Rachel is that she applied to the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. Diaz, a health science major in the MSMU’s Class of 2022, has become EMT-certified.

Luke Hoenig, from Essex, Maryland, a criminal justice major in the MSMU’s Class of 2023, is presently undergoing basic training which will allow him to qualify as a Live-In participant.

Thus far, Brotherton said, “The company is extremely happy with how the program is working and hope it continues over the years.”

Individuals interested in participating in the Live-In Program may contact VHC via their website at

Pictured from left are Luke Hoenig, Deysie Diaz, Charlie Rustigian, and Elizabeth Beaton.

Pictured from left are Charlie Rustigian, Patrick O’Hanlon, and Elizabeth Beaton during the annual VHC Banquet in January 2022.

Lisa C. Cantwell

Thurmont has been home to many a war hero, past and present.  The town has also been a safe place for immigrants, refugees, and those seeking a safe, friendly community in which to raise a family. One of Thurmont’s newest residents is not only an immigrant and refugee, but also a war hero, who is credited with saving the lives of American soldiers during the war in Afghanistan.

This new neighbor goes by the name “Amana.” She is a petite and, at first glance, unassuming woman, who is happy to shop, work, and raise her family in our quiet mountainside community. But assumptions aside, she is a brave woman with military skills who directly supported U.S. Special Operations Forces as a Captain in the All-Female Tactical Platoon (FTP). Her 39-member platoon’s mission included hunting down and capturing Taliban and terrorist combatants wanted by the U.S. and Afghan Defense forces. She and her family’s story is one of great risk, survival, heroism, and ultimate rescue from war-torn Afghanistan. 

The journey from her native country to the United States included her two teenage daughters, Maryam and Omulbanin, or “Omul” for short. They have lived in Thurmont for several weeks. Both of the girls are enrolled at Catoctin High and Thurmont Middle School, respectively, and according to Maryam, who speaks English, have been “warmly welcomed” by students and teachers, alike.

Omul is pleased that she has met another Afghan friend who attends her school. Both girls claim math as their favorite subject, with Maryam liking psychology, too.

Amana is currently enrolled in English language class at Frederick Community College (FCC). She is currently working at a local eatery and hopes to return to a career serving the U.S. military, once fluent in her new language. She says she and her girls feel very safe in Thurmont. They are enjoying strolls in the park, bicycling, and trips to the grocery store and library. This is a remarkable development, for within current Afghan culture, females must have a male escort.

When asked how she came to serve alongside U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan, Amana reminisced  about how she came to assist U.S. armed forces with a sparkle in her eyes. “At the end of 2011, while still a high school student, I saw a television commercial advertising for the Female Tactical Platoon (FTP). I applied, and after 10 months of training, I became a soldier involved with American soldiers in internal defense operations.” Amana and the FTP soldiers were trained to U.S. standards in weaponry, counter-IED expertise, navigation, medical skills, and tactical exercises. With over 2,000 missions conducted between 2011-2021, these Afghan women soldiers not only assisted U.S. Army Special Ops, but also Navy Seals, Green Berets, and Army Rangers. Additionally, Amana served as an instructor, training female police at the U.S.-led Afghan National Police Center.

Toward the collapse of the once democratic Afghan government, before the imminent Taliban takeover, Amana had to quit her job and become a teacher. It was too dangerous to continue as a soldier and policewoman. She eventually had to leave her home in Mazar-e-Shariff and move her daughters to Kabul to plan their departure from Afghanistan. Her life was in grave danger due to her close association with the U.S. military.

On the last day before the Taliban takeover, Amana’s American female counterparts, known as the Cultural Support Team (CST), helped her and her girls get to the airport and board one of the first U.S. planes to exit Afghanistan. In fact, all 39 members of the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon (FTP) were successfully evacuated due to the efforts of the CST. 

What followed their departure was a whirlwind of airports, countries, and refugee camps.  Amana and her girls spent 36 hours in Qatar, four days in Germany, four days in D.C., six weeks at Quantico, and five months in Atlantic City, before finally finding a home in Thurmont. The non-profit relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, placed them in the care of a group from Grace Community Church of Frederick. Members, David and Kathy Afzali and Charlie and Diane Powers, took 12 courses, numerous written tests, and passed all vetting requirements of the non-profit to become sponsors of this refugee family. Samaritan’s Purse continues to support Amana and her family in partnership with these sponsors to ensure a successful transition to life in the United States. 

Although she misses her family that remain in Afghanistan, Amana is hopeful for the future, emphasizing again her desire to work for the U.S. military that means so much to her. For the time being, she and her daughters are contented to be in Thurmont and safe at last, in a place they can truly call “home.” 

For more information on refugee sponsorship, check

To read more about the FTP, refer to “The Untold Story of the Afghan Women Who Hunted the Taliban” 4/8/2022.

For more information about the CST, consult

Amana pictured in Thurmont with two new bicycles provided for her daughters by a generous donor.

BY Terry Pryor

Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the third month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items, and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

Power Action #3: I Spy

Do you know that game that children play where they spy something red or bigger than a cow or something green that you eat? Well, this power action #3 is the adult version.

This month, using that same legal pad or notebook you used last month (don’t throw away that list of things you never want to do again just yet), you are going to “spy” the things you want in your new life. You are going to spy (imagine) your dream job, your perfect relationships, the places and spaces where you feel at home.

List them as fast as they come. Do not try to think anything through at this point. What you want to create is a free flow of thoughts as they come to mind. Make them short and sweet.

Here are a few examples, but you create whatever it is that you desire.

•   I spy a better-paying position than my previous/current job (be sure to

     spy that paycheck amount).

•   I spy excellent health benefits.

•   I spy a 36-hour week…or less!

•   I spy working from home.

•   I spy an incredible loving and caring relationship.

•   I spy travel.

•   I spy fun in my work and in my life.

•   I spy contentment.

•   I spy the feeling of abundance of love, money, safety, and opportunity.

•   I spy a great connection with the world around me.

Whatever you want and can imagine having, regardless of how impossible you think it will be to achieve, write it down. Do not edit or second-guess yourself by thinking it is impossible. Do not stop to correct spelling. This is not a business report and no one but you will see it. Nothing is too big or unrealistic for you to spy.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

                                                                          —Albert Einstein

Now imagine that huge, fertile garden with rich, loamy soil. Each thing that you want in your new life is a seedling being planted. Imagine yourself as the gardener, carefully tucking in the plants of your thoughts, patting the soil around them as you go down the rows. You are in control of your seedlings—your thoughts. You are a Master Gardener, tending to your precious desires.

It’s spring…time to prepare and plant the new you!


My mind is a rich and fertile garden. I now plant incredible ideas to help create the perfect life for me. I am smart and savvy and possess the skills others seek. I am open to receiving new avenues of income, social events, relationships, and adventure.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Hopefully, we are now enjoying a beautiful spring! As you are aware, we had frost well into April and snow on the 18th. Mother Nature seemed to be having trouble deciding when to move on from winter.

The improved weather will get everyone outdoors for yard work. The Town of Thurmont will be picking up grass clippings on Monday mornings. This pickup is for grass clippings and leaves only, with no sticks, root balls, dirt, or stones! Please have the yard waste in paper bags by 6:00 a.m. for pick up and keep the bags under 40 lbs. The yard waste drop-off site on Moser Road will be open from 8:00 a.m. until noon on May 8, June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11, October 16, November 13, and December 11. The yard waste site accepts grass clippings, leaves, shrubs, sticks, and tree limbs up to six inches in diameter. We ask that you use paper bags or that you empty your plastic bags, then remove the bags. We do not accept tree trunks, large root balls, or fencing.

Our parks will also be getting busier with the nice weather. Picnic pavilions can be reserved by calling the Thurmont Town Office at 301-271-7313. Please be watchful when driving near or through our parks; children are not always aware of their surroundings.

The Thurmont Little League and the CYA are getting up to speed and offer great opportunities for our children to participate in group sporting activities. Be sure to stop and watch them play this season; the kids will be happy to see you in the stands. The Thurmont Little League is making much-needed improvements to the restroom facilities at Leisner Field.

CYA football recently completed the construction of a new field house, including a meeting room, storage area, and a press box. The town had the newest football field resurfaced and seeded in anticipation of this year’s schedule. All of our youth sports organizations would be very appreciative of any financial support you can provide.

The update to the Thurmont Master Plan is nearly complete and should be approved by the board of commissioners. This update is two years in the making and has involved many steps, including more than a dozen dedicated planning and zoning meetings, several public hearings, and reviews by the state and county. I want to thank the members of the Planning & Zoning Commission; our planner Chris Jakubiak; and town staff members, Kelly Duty and Jim Humerick, for all the time and thought they have invested in this document.

The Thurmont Board of Commissioners is wrapping up the budget considerations for the fiscal year 2022-2023. The budget gives us a fiscal plan for the year ahead, based on expected revenue and expenses for our general fund, electric department, water department, and wastewater department. The budget is crafted with input from the department heads and our Chief Financial Officer Linda Joyce. As mayor, it is my responsibility to introduce the proposed budget to the board of commissioners, and after their review and recommendations, we will adopt the budget. The new budget will take effect on July 1, 2022.  

Spring will bring a great time to Thurmont and all of our residents. I hope everyone has an enjoyable month ahead.

Have any questions, suggestions, compliments, or concerns? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at


 Mayor Don Briggs

I recently had the opportunity, along with other county municipal leaders, to meet USDA Rural Development/Department of U.S. Agriculture, Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. The event was held at a midday gathering at the South Mountain Creamery in downtown Frederick. The event was hosted by our to-be 6th District Congressional Representative David J. Trone, who was in attendance with members of his staff. Most questions fielded by both centered around scrambling to staff and pay for the ever-increasing load of regulatory demands being placed on municipalities.

The town project to replace 122 curb ramps throughout the town with the American Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps is now complete. It was about a year-long project. Thank you to all for your perseverance.  Added to the project, with efficient management savings, are funds for the stormwater piping along Cedar Avenue (southside of community center) to South Seton Avenue. Installing a sidewalk over new piping is planned for the town’s 2023-2024 fiscal year. The estimated project cost of $623,000 will be funded by a state-administered, federal community block grant. Congratulations to the town staff for applying, assisting the contractor, and overseeing the project.

The final phase of planting 250 trees of the town’s 3,300+/- native-tree program was completed by approximately 50 volunteers on the beautiful, sunny Saturday morning of April 16. This was the day the town designated to celebrate Arbor Day this year. All 3,300 trees are planted on 11 acres of town-owned land by our wastewater treatment plant on Creamery Road (east side of U.S. 15). Thank you to Town Clerk Julie Scott and Town Planner Zach Gulden for working with Streamlink Education, which managed the plantings funded by a Chesapeake – Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund grant. The plantings are one of the town program accomplishments to meet the state-mandated time phase MS-4 requirement.

Also in planning is the North Seton Avenue Green Street project. The streetscape project is part beautification to replace bare, open concrete/asphalt culvert with improvements to include sustainable plantings designed to impede the flash-flood storm sheet flow that, on more than one occasion over the years, has contributed to flooding at the base of Federal Avenue-North Seton Avenue and limiting access through the area and entry into the Northgate subdivision. Adding to the practical aspects of the design will be 23 designated on-street parking spaces. The estimated project cost of $291,000 should be 100 percent funded by a Chesapeake Trust Community Legacy Federal Flood grant. The Green Street Project is planned for 2023-2024 fiscal year.

NEW: Pickleball is now part of the array of town outdoor activity offerings. The tennis court in Meyers Community Park has an overlay imprinted of the smaller 20-feet wide by 44-feet long pickleball court over the tennis court. The lines are only visible from close-up and should not affect tennis play. It is a game that has caught on with seniors that uses the same net height as tennis, played with a wiffleball.  

New sidewalk connections, new bleachers at ball fields, new family picnic gazebos, and now pickleball. Soon, there will be a new paved parking lot at Memorial Park, while all the time continuing to work on the existing infrastructure.

Memorial Day cookouts and graduations are almost here. Things are good. Keep in your thoughts and prayers the people of Ukraine.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Increases Tax Rate

The Thurmont Board of Commissioners voted to increase the town’s property tax rate from $0.2992 to $0.3206 per $100 of assessment. Because of growing assessment of real property in town, this will generate an additional $129,291 in tax revenue that will help offset the rising inflation costs and their effect on costs to run the town. Even with the increase, the town will continue to have one of the lowest tax rates in Frederick County.

Town Maintains Its Tree City USA Status

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has named Thurmont a Tree City USA for the sixth year in a row. Towns can earn this designation by having a board or department that cares for trees, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and a proclamation and observation of Arbor Day.

Mayor John Kinnaird said in a news release, “I am very pleased that we have achieved this level of tree care here in Thurmont. Our staff and volunteers have done a great job planting trees, maintaining them, and working hard to ensure that our trees remain healthy for future generations.”

Thurmont also received the Growth Award for the second year in a row. It recognizes the work Thurmont has done to build a sustainable community forestry program.

Town Has Board of Appeals Vacancy

The Town of Thurmont has a vacancy on the board of appeals. If you are a town resident and would like to serve, submit your interest in writing to Becky Long at You can also drop off the letter at the town office.

Town Approves New Trash Contract

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to continue using Ecology Services Refuse and Recycling as the town’s trash hauler. The contract is a lump-sum bid of $339,199 for a two-year agreement.


Town Maintains Tax Rate

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to maintain the town’s property tax rate at $0.3464 per $100 of assessment. Because of growing assessments of real property in town, this will generate an additional $26,414 that will help offset the rising inflation costs and their effect on costs to run the town.

License Plate Readers Coming to Emmitsburg

License plate readers are coming to Emmitsburg to assist police with investigations.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted Monday 4-1 to approve a contract with Applied Technology Services of Middle River for advanced license plate readers. The contract is for $42,140.

The recommendation is supported by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, who believes the readers will help with investigations, according to Town Manager Cathy Willets.

Madeline Shaw, town grant administrator, noted these are not speed cameras.

The proposed locations for the plate readers are East Main Street (near East North Avenue), West Main Street (near Warthens Court), and South Seton Avenue (near Pizza Hut). However, the police will be consulted before the readers are placed.

Commissioner Joseph Ritz III voted against the contract, saying he was unsure how beneficial it would be.

Town Participates in Water Assistance Program

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the town’s participation in the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program during the April town meeting.

Maryland was allocated more than $14 million through the program, which is funded through December of 2023. Eligibility requirements include submitting a current water and/or wastewater bill, showing accrued past-due bills of at least $100. Total household income cannot exceed 60 percent of the state median income. One bill account per service address per utility is eligible. Applicants must provide proof of residency and live in Maryland.

Eligible residents will receive a one-time grant ranging from $100 to $2,000. The money can be put toward residential water and/or wastewater accounts with past-due bills. It is paid directly to the utility supplier.

Visit, click “home energy/water,” then “apply for energy assistance” to reach the application.

Brookfield Parcel Rezoned

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a zoning map amendment that will allow for the construction on seven new houses on the west side of town.

They will be added to the Brookfield subdivision. The subdivision has about 117 houses already. The rezoned property is 2.85 acres on Timbermill Run.


Burgess Heath Barnes

I hope all of you had a Happy Easter, and all the children, teachers, and school staff enjoyed their spring break. I am excited to share with you all that the Town of Woodsboro and the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department were able to put on a very successful first Town of Woodsboro Easter Egg hunt on April 9. Volunteers stuffed and hid about 1,900 eggs, and we had around 150-200 children show up to hunt them. In addition, the fire department supplied nine grand prizes to be given out. I personally had a great time being one of the Easter bunnies and seeing the joy on so many children’s faces. This event would not have been made possible without donations from the following business: Gardner’s Garage, Rocky Hill Lutheran Church, Woodsboro Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Woodsboro Bank, as well as many donations from town and surrounding area residents. Thank you to all who supported this event.

At the April 12 town meeting, we had a few things on the agenda. The first one is that our ad for a part-time code enforcer/supervisor job will be posted beginning April 28, as we had a delay in getting it ready. Applications will be taken and interviews begin shortly after for qualified candidates until the right candidate is identified.

I announced that the town has received notification that the grant for the town office that I submitted through Senator Hough and Delegate Pippy was approved, and $400,000 dollars has been added in the governor’s budget toward our town hall. I am very excited about this development, as this will save the town a lot of money in its endeavor to build a much-needed town office. We are still having difficulties with the county in receiving permits, but hopefully things will start moving soon.

On April 25, the application process will end for businesses to apply for the COVID-19 grant that the town is giving out to qualified businesses. The grant is for up to $5,000 dollars per business. We plan to meet with the committee to make the determination of the award on April 28 and to distribute the funds at the following town meeting on May 10.

I am very happy to announce that the American Legion’s annual Memorial Day Parade will be back this year after a couple of years of hiatus due to the pandemic. The parade will take place on Main Street in Woodsboro on Sunday, May 29. The events of the day will begin at noon, with a memorial service taking place at the war memorial on Main Street, followed by the parade at 1:30 p.m. We invite you all to make plans to join us.

I also want to congratulate and mention Dalen Hahn, a Woodsboro resident who is a senior at Walkersville High School and was awarded the Winona “Winnie” Crum Rookie of the Year Award on April 18, 2022, during the annual Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association banquet. Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work.

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. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street in Woodsboro. The public is always invited to attend.

Blair Garrett

It’s no secret that a healthy diet and exercise are the keys to extending your lifespan as long as possible.

If you think of your body as a machine, it helps put things into perspective. Your body needs maintenance and care to keep running at an optimal level, and those things translate into proper rest, a balanced diet, and regular exercise to keep the gears turning efficiently.

The American diet is a complex and continuously changing concept, still shrouded with questions of what diet best suits you.

People have tremendously different bodies and sensitivities to different foods, so oftentimes, something that suits one person well may not work for the next person. Popular diets like the new carnivore diet (meat and fish only) and keto diet (low carbohydrates, high fats) may work well for some people, but it may cause others to have problems related to nutrient deficiencies because of the restrictions.

Newer issues like gluten intolerance may seem much more common today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, but like our bodies, food science learns more and more every year.

Perhaps the composition of wheat is slightly different from what it was just 100 years ago, or today’s medical diagnostics are superior to what they once were. One thing that is clear is that a clean and healthy diet gives us the best chance to avoid lingering digestive, heart, and brain issues that may plague the way we live.

There are some American food regulations from the Food and Drug Administration that are approved to be in our foods that may not be available in other countries. For example, in Europe, there are lots of additives like Titanium Dioxide (a coloring often found in Skittles, Starbursts, and sauces) and growth hormones that have either been deemed as dangerous or potentially dangerous to consumers, so they have been banned from production in European foods.

Many of these additives are believed to be potentially cancerous or have been deemed harmful in other ways, but all are fair game and consumed every day in the United States.

If you look at the difference in size of livestock like cows and chickens over the past 50-70 years, the results are shocking. Chickens are about four times the size they were in the 1950s, and cattle are nearly 40 percent heavier. The tremendous growth in a relatively short time is due to a variety of reasons like selective breeding and over feeding, but there may be other factors at play.

While growth hormones are banned from usage in poultry production, it has been a common practice in the United States in the beef industry since the 50’s. Not all beef production facilities use growth hormones on their cattle, but if you’ve enjoyed a burger or two from your favorite fast food joint over the course of your life, chances are you’ve consumed meat with added hormones.

To make sure you’re getting quality meats without all the harmful additives, shop local and stick to farms that care about the meat you’re buying, like Orchard Breeze Farm and Shriver Meats.

Because the meat industry is so massive and there’s such a demand for our livestock to provide as much meat as possible, it’s imperative to get your protein from a source you trust.

So, what all can you do to clean up your diet and live a healthier life? Awareness of what’s in your food is a great place to start.

Make sure you know what ingredients are going into your food and where your food is coming from. Cutting unnecessary things in all facets of your life helps, but with food it is essential. Fried foods, foods and drinks packed with added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, and foods loaded with a litany of preservatives are on the no-no list.

Saying goodbye to your 12-pack a week of Mountain Dew may be hard at first, but little changes of metaphorically trimming the fat from your life make an enormous difference over the course of a few months and years.

There are tons of great local food options that bring great fruits and vegetables directly from the farm to your table, but knowing where to look is key.

Companies like Good Soil Farms sell bundles of freshly picked vegetables each week to their customers, guaranteeing you get quality foods free from the harmful additives plaguing our foods. Plus, it’s a great way to reinvest in your community, instead of forking over your hard-earned cash to mega corporations that push local businesses out.

At the beginning of the season, customers buy their share of vegetables, and then each week, they can stop by and pick up their bushel of fresh veggies. This ensures you get locally grown foods ripe and ready to eat each week, and the variety alone will keep you coming back for more.

Another great option is some of the local food markets that pop up throughout the year. Depending on where you live, there are almost always great markets to go to, featuring your neighbors and friends selling homemade and homegrown products you could substitute from traditional shopping habits.

Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Waynesboro, and many other towns, all have farmer’s markets that offer affordable foods, teas, and everything in between. Plus, it’s an opportunity to explore what the people in your neck of the woods are selling.

Thurmont’s market is open Saturday mornings, indoors, through May 7, then outdoors through October; Emmitsburg’s market is open Friday evenings, from June 24 to October 7; and Waynesboro’s market runs from late May to October on Saturday mornings.

If those are out of your range or schedule, local farms and markets sell great meats and produce to help you make that shift into a healthier source of food.

Avoiding the mass-produced consumables is one of many small changes that keep a community thriving, and it’s just a matter of breaking your typical Sunday morning Walmart routine and choosing something that helps you get better food, and helps your community to continue producing it.  

When you look better, you feel better, and these small adjustments to how we get our food and where we get our food can put us all on the right track to live healthier lives.

So, keep on the lookout for what you put into your body and get on the track toward a cleaner diet.

Kids in the Good Soil Farm family help distribute their locally grown foods to hungry customers.

Courtesy Photo

BY Terry Pryor

Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the second month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items, and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

Today, I am encouraging you to vent—quietly, please.

Quietly venting is actually a healthy activity. It allows you to focus on all the things you are not content with. I encourage this exercise no matter what is causing you to be unhappy. Knowing what you don’t want allows you to clear the way for what you do want.

Life has a way of putting us in positions that cause us to make choices. Choices are wonderful. We love choices. But, having too many choices coming at us at one time can create an overload. At times, we look back and realize that if we had thought a bit more about a particular choice, we just might not have chosen it. Although there is no going back, you do have the option not to make that choice again.

Find a comfortable place to relax. Get out a pencil or pen and your legal pad or notebook. Begin writing down everything you dislike about your life. I mean everything! No one but you is ever going to see this, so vent, vent, and vent some more. Nothing is too big or too small. This is your wish list in reverse. Write down everything you never want to do again.

The point of this exercise is to plant in your subconscious the seeds of what you want in your new perfect life. You may not know what that perfect life is yet, but because it will be perfect, you sure know what you don’t want it to contain.

Let the things you dislike flow out of you onto your paper. They will come very quickly at first because some things will immediately come to mind—that nagging boss, the work you had to bring home at night, an awful commute, a lemon of a car, the archaic computer that crashes three times a week—whatever they are, write them down. You just might want to begin recording notes in your phone throughout these processes. It is an invaluable tool.

You, Your Partner in Success

What is the true meaning of a successful life? Some might answer a million dollars; others, the ability to travel around the world. Perhaps your answer is a prestigious job or the perfect relationship or family. I think if we all really drilled down, we would agree that having a life of sustained peace, joy, and happiness would be considered a successful one.

But remember, all tangibles are easily lost. The million bucks, the ability to travel, the job—are all external items outside our control. Peace, joy, and happiness come from within ourselves, and if we understand that we are in control of those things, we really can have it all.

Your Treasure House

There are two levels or parts to your mind: the conscious and the subconscious.

We think consciously. As long as we are awake, thoughts stream through our consciousness. Scientists say we have more than 10,000 thoughts per day, but we often don’t pay attention to what we are thinking. I’m sure you have had this happen. For example, you begin thinking about what to have for supper. All of a sudden, your thoughts have taken you down memory lane to something your grandmother cooked for you years ago.

You began with a problem to solve, “What’s for supper?” and ended with tears in your eyes, as you fondly recall your grandmother who has long passed. How did you get there and what were all the thoughts in between?

Imagine trying to remember every single thought you had today before you drift off to sleep. It would not be possible. Furthermore, many people are unaware that they have any control over their thoughts at all. Thoughts can run through our heads like naughty children who won’t listen.

Your subconscious is the creative part of your mind. It is the control tower, directing flights (conditions in your life) in and out of your life experience—every day, all day, your entire life long. It listens to you with complete and total attention, and whatever you demand it to do, it does.

Working together, the conscious and the subconscious are your most precious assets, your treasure house of infinite possibilities.

The best way for me to explain the interactive workings of these two parts of your mind is to have you visualize a garden. Your consciousness plants the seeds and your subconscious is the fertile soil, the water, the sun, and the necessary conditions for your seeds to grow.

Your thoughts are the seeds of your conscious mind; the fertile soil of the subconscious is where they take root and grow.

Whatever you consistently think about in the conscious mind seeps down into the garden of the subconscious and begins to flourish and grow. If you habitually think fearful, negative, and unhappy thoughts, your subconscious will grow more of those. If you consistently think happy, positive, and joyful thoughts, that is what your subconscious mind will grow more of for you.

Your mind is the genie of your universe, and you know what that genie says…“Your wish is my command!” This is a very important lesson. Once you understand how your thoughts create your conditions and experiences, you will have the power to literally change your life.

Once you’ve written down all of those things you dislike in your life, it’s time to pay attention to how often you think about those things, and when you do, change your focus to what you DO want in your life.

Part 2 of 3

Submitted by Joan Bittner Fry

The Sabillasville Charge was formed in May 1886 by detaching St. John’s congregation of Sabillasville and Jacob’s from the Mechanicstown Charge. Jacob’s congregation (originally Herbach’s) was with the Emmitsburg Charge after 1842 until 1853, when Jacob’s and Millerstown were made into a charge. Rev. A. B Stoner, pastor at Mechanicstown, was instructed to supply the charge until a pastor could be secured.  Classis granted charge sustentation to the amount of $200 for a year.  The charge received the sum of $600 for its interest in the parsonage in Mechanicstown.

Rev. E. Welty, M.D., was called during the year 1886, but left before he could be received into Classis or installed.

At the annual meeting of 1887, James W. Meyer was called and was ordained and installed June 12 of that year. He was authorized to organize a new congregation in the vicinity of Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, if possible, as Classis realized that some new material must be found if the charge was to survive. The territory around Blue Ridge Summit and Highfield was rapidly being developed as a summer resort and appeared to be a promising place for a congregation.

In November 1888, Meyer resigned, and on that date, Classis cited him for trial. Meyer was tried on January 20, 1889, found guilty of immorality and suspended. He later made several unsuccessful requests for reinstatement.

In 1889, Rev. H. W. Hoffmeier, who had supplied the charge on several occasions, was elected but declined the call. The charge was vacant until September 1891, when Rev. James R. Lewis became pastor of the Sabillasville Charge. Lewis resigned in May 1896 and was succeeded in August 1896 by Rev. Cyrus Cort, whose service ended in 1900.

The charge was then vacant for several years.

During these years, the affairs of the Highfield Congregation occupied much of the time and attention of the pastors and of Classis. In 1891, a special committee on the interests of the Sabillasville Charge recommended the building of a church at Highfield, making it the center of the charge. It was reported that an option had been taken on a lot to cost $300, toward which the sum of $167 was already on hand. Classis instructed the committee to complete payment on the lot, to organize a congregation at Highfield, and to secure a pastor for the charge. Classis promised charge sustentation for the first year to the amount of $300 as soon as a pastor could be called.

As soon as Pastor Lewis came, he proceeded, under the instruction of Classis, to take possession of the lot, toward the purchase price of which Mr. Wantz, from whom the lot was purchased, contributed $100. The pastor and the trustees were also instructed to have plans prepared for a building to seat 250 or 300, the cost not to exceed $2,500.

At the session of 1892, it was reported that the building was being erected and that the cornerstone would be laid May 8. Classis voted to charge sustentation of $500 for the year, and instructed the trustees to borrow $1,600 toward the cost of the building.

After the resignation of Dr. Cyrus Cort in June 1900, the Sabillasville Charge was vacant until May 1903, when Rev. Charles A. Bushong was called to the pastorate. Bushong resigned January 1906. The next pastor, Rev. Milton H Sangree, began his service in the charge in May 1906.

In May 1909, part of St. Stephen’s lot at Highfield was sold for $100.  Sangree resigned in January 1910, and the charge was vacant for three years. During the vacancy, a committee was appointed by Classis to study conditions in the community with a view of strengthening the charge by the addition of other congregations if possible.

A proposal made to the Lutheran Church in Sabillasville to bring about a union of the two denominations in the community was refused by the Lutherans. Nor was there an opportunity for a union with any other congregations of the Reformed Church. While the charge was vacant, Rev. J.B. Shontz served the charge as supply pastor during the years 1911 and 1912. In July 1912, Rev. M.L. Firor became the pastor.

At the annual session of 1914, the Highfield Congregation asked for a deed to their church property.  The request was granted on condition that the congregation pay to the pastor at least $100 a year for five years, above the regular salary.  The condition was accepted, and it was reported in 1918 that the full amount had been paid.

During his pastorate at Sabillasville, Firor gave a great deal of pastoral service to the patients of the Maryland State Sanatorium near Sabillasville. The service was so acceptable and evidently so necessary that Classis proposed that he be appointed chaplain to the sanatorium at a salary of $840 a year, of which amount Classis agreed to pay $240 if the Baltimore Federation of Churches and the Protestant Churches in Maryland would furnish the balance. The Baltimore Federation was not willing, however, to assume any financial responsibility, and the whole matter was dropped when Firor resigned the pastorate of the Sabillasville Charge September 1919 to accept a call to Burkittsville.

Rev. Walter D. Mehrling, the next pastor, began work in the charge June 7, 1920, but remained only until September 26, the same year. The charge was then vacant for several years.

In 1924, Jacob’s congregation celebrated the 100th anniversary of the erection of its church, although the congregation was organized some years before 1824.  Dr. F. B. Bahner served as Supply Pastor for the charge from 1922 until 1927.  In July 1927 at a special meeting it was reported that the affairs of the charge were at a low ebb; that there had been no pastor for seven years, and that no elders or deacons had been elected for more than six years.  But a brighter day was in prospect.

Classis secured the promise of the Board of Home Missions to enroll the charge as a mission, and an every-member canvass was held after which the congregation pledged the annual sum of $800 for pastoral support and Classis promised an additional amount of $350, provided the Home Missions Board would give a similar sum. 

On May 23, 1927, Rev. Wilmer H. Long began a successful pastorate.  The charge began to pay the apportionment in full and in 1929 the pastor reported that St. John‘s Church at Sabillasville had been improved at considerable cost. 

Long resigned on December 31, 1929, and was succeeded by Rev. Claude H. Corl, who began his pastorate May 1930 to continue until December 1936. 

From 1937 to 1940, Rev. Darwin X. Gass accepted a Call to the Sabillasville Charge. In 1937, a parish hall was erected in Sabillasville at a cost of $2,000.

Rev. Edwin L. Werner served the Sabillasville Charge from 1940-1947 (Rev. Claude Corl returned to the Sabillasville Charge in 1947 after serving in the Army Chaplain Corps in the African and European Theaters. The second time, he served from 1947 until his retirement in 1974.)

From History of Maryland Classis of the Reformed Church in Maryland by Rev. Guy P. Bready (1938)

The Sabillasville Charge (Jacob’s, St. John’s, St. Stephen’s)

St. John’s Elders; C.B. Harbaugh, D.A. Wagaman, Thomas Wagaman, Howard R. Wagaman, Lester Bittner. Deacons; Roy C. Pryor, Paul Wagaman, Harold Bittner, Edgar McClain, and Paul Fry.

St. Stephen’s Elders; C.C. McGlaughlin, Victor L. Pryor, William Happel and A.L. Happel.

Deacons; John A. Zimmerman, Lawrence Walter, Theodore Zimmerman, S.P. Bittner, Charles E. Keckler, and T.O. Eyler.

Jacob’s Elders; George E. Harbaugh, and Jerry Miller.

Deacons; Ernest Gladhill and Paul Gladhill.


Mayor Don Briggs

So, we went again into spring and mid-March with snow. Sometimes, for those of another generation, the snow event is characterized as a “Robin’s snow.” At this turn of the seasons, looking back, the winter season, for the most part, was a dry one. Even though it’s hard to visualize a drought during the winter months, we may have experienced one. The concern is replenishing the groundwater supply, of which snow plays an important role.

To the 20 young women and men students from Virginia Tech who recently graced our town to work on projects for those in need in the Emmitsburg area, that was so kind of you. Thank you for spending your spring break with us. Also, thank you to the Seton Center and Daughters of Charity for pulling the pieces together to host and provide housing for the students. To our elderly and those in a squeeze, if you need help with projects around the house, contact Sister Martha at the Seton Center (301-447-6102) because our local Mt. St. Mary’s University; Gonzaga High in Washington D.C.; and St. Mary’s High in Niagara, New York, are coming to town this spring eagerly looking for things to do.

The rising cost of fuel affecting us at the gas pump is compounded by the rising embedded cost to produce and deliver items to the grocery store shelves. Producers, wholesalers, and retailers all must pass the cost on to us. So far, rising gas prices seem to have not affected the market demand for homes in the northern part of the county. The secret is out. It’s a great place to live.

At the March 2022 regularly scheduled meeting, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved the recommendation of the mayor and staff to design and construct a town sign in front of the town office/community building with the capability of providing updated information for time of day, weather, and special events. The masonry stone base of the sign spans eight feet and the height is nine feet by three inches. The sign will feature the town name, logo, and a two-faced message board. We hope to commence with install as soon as county gives permission to replace current sign.

It was two years ago, in a March 2019 meeting, that the town meetings were first affected by COVID-19. At the current calendar March meeting, the last remnants of the COVID-19 protection—Plexiglass dividers between commissioners—were removed. Also, the commissioners approved the mayor and staff recommendation to pave the parking lot and circular drive at Memorial Park this year. The hope is to have the work completed this spring.

Most of Irishtown Road improvements are completed, but the weather delayed “detailing” shoulder work remains to be done. Additionally, home construction work on the Brookfield remaining 19 lots along Irishtown Road is in full gear. Lots of trucks and workman activity.

Please rejoice in the benefit of now two-way traffic but do so at a moderate speed.

Congratulations to our Catoctin High School Cougar girls’ basketball team after securing a berth in the state championships game after a decisive 56–27 win over rival Brunswick; they lost a tough one to Pikesville in the championship game. Great season for coach Amy Entwistle, the team, and especially seniors Emma Wivell, Emily Williams, Paige Smith, and Lily Gadra.

The work to replace 120-plus sidewalk curb ramps throughout town to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines is about done. The project cost was $683,000, which was funded totally through a federal block grant. Way to go, staff!

Thank you, Dee Connolly, for once again bringing the Gettysburg Walking Club for a tour of the town wayside exhibits and lunch at one of the fine restaurants in town.

Hope all are having a blessed Lent, and let’s all pray for the Ukrainians. Lib and I hope you have a wonderful Eastertide.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

History plays a big part in our lives and in our community. Memories, keepsakes, family histories, bits of our past, and the structures we all recognize help make up the fabric of our lives and our community. Each of us collects memories of our family and community; in some cases, it can be as simple as the family Bible handed down through several generations, in others, it can be a basement full of valued local artifacts and documents. Here in Thurmont, we are fortunate to have a group of individuals determined to help keep our personal and community memories and treasures intact and on display for us to enjoy and cherish.

The Thurmont Historical Society (THS) was established in 1988 by a group of local residents intent on honoring and preserving our history. One of the driving forces behind the creation of the THS was a wonderful gift from the Creeger family. Ethel Creeger donated her family home at 11 North Church Street to be used as the home of the Historical Society. The society invested untold hours in bringing the house back to life after it had stood vacant for many years. The work included a complete replacement of the double porch at the rear of the house; installation of a modern HVAC system; finishing the basement with a concrete floor; repairing wiring and plumbing; and major repairs to the windows, shutters, and cornices. As with any home, regular maintenance is an ongoing issue. In recent memory, the society repointed much of the brickwork, replaced the concrete walkways at the rear of the house, and replaced the aging HVAC system. Current projects include the scraping and repainting of all the trim on the exterior of the building. This is a $30,000-plus project, being funded in part by generous grants from the Maryland Historic Areas Trust and the Delaplaine Foundation. The society is also working toward digitizing five decades worth of the Catoctin Enterprise newspaper.

The Thurmont Historical Society is open on Sundays from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., and at other times by appointment. There are many informative displays and local artifacts to see, and there is an amazing library of local family and community history. Please consider helping the Thurmont Historical Society by becoming a member or by making a donation to help ensure the success of the many projects the society undertakes. The Thurmont Historical Society and its members are committed to preserving our history so that we, and generations to come, can look back and understand our past. Be sure to visit the new Society webpage at

The Frederick County Health Department continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations, booster shots, and testing to Thurmont residents.  Vaccinations and boosters are available at the Thurmont Regional Library on Monday evenings, 5:00-7:00 p.m. COVID-19 testing is available at the Thurmont Town Office on Friday evenings, 5:00-7:00 p.m. I want to thank the Frederick County Health Department and their amazing staff for making these services available to our residents and our north-county neighbors.

The Thurmont Farmers Market has started for the season! The indoor market is located at 21 East Main Street and will be there Saturday mornings, from 9:00 a.m.-noon through May 7. The outdoor market will then be open Saturday mornings, 9:00 a.m.-noon, at the Thurmont Community Park for the rest of the market season.

The Thurmont Business Showcase is on Saturday, April 23, from 11:00 a.m.-2: 00 p.m., at the Thurmont Event Complex. The Thurmont Green Team will be hosting the 2022 Greenfest at the Thurmont Regional Library, Saturday, April 9, from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. The Woodsboro Bank and Thurmont Police Commission are hosting a Community Shred Event on Saturday, April 30, from 8:00 a.m.-noon, at the Thurmont Police Department Headquarters.

I am available for your comments, questions, or suggestions at 301-606-9458 or by email at

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Gets Tips to Improve Safety In Electric Department

Tim Lawrence, electric utilities director for the Town of Berlin, gave the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners some advice from his 41 years of work in municipal electric departments on how to improve safety at the Thurmont Electric Department. What most of his advice came down to was making sure that the employees were fully and competently trained.

“You have jobs you can mess up on,” Commissioner Wes Hamrick said. “This is one job you can’t.” That is because the employees are working with high-voltage lines, and a mistake can kill someone.

Berlin has all its linemen complete a state-certified course. The course takes four years to complete, including two weeks of classroom time each year. The linemen have to be certified to do various jobs in the electric department. Berlin’s electric department also issue each employee their own copy of the American Public Power Safety Manual and federal safety guidelines.

Town to Purchase Downtown Property

The Town of Thurmont will use $80,000 in grant funds to purchase the business property at 6 E. Main Street. The town’s goal is to preserve this property and find a business to occupy it. Failing that, they will try to find a public use for it. The belief is that anything that can be done to attract more people downtown will ultimately benefit other downtown businesses.

Colorfest Parking Fees to Increase

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to increase the amount they receive per vehicle parked during Colorfest from $2.00 to $4.00. They will also encourage parking vendors to increase the cost of parking from $10.00 per car to $15.00. However, the amount is ultimately left up to the vendor. The mayor and commissioners also plan to look at increasing the cost of permits for craft vendors.

Town Votes to Fund Little League Field Improvements

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to fund repairs and improvements “critical to the safety and sanitation needs of the Little League fields,” according to Mayor John Kinnaird. The improvements and repairs will be made to the bathrooms. The estimated cost is around $22,112, pending bids for some items. The town will pay for the project using American Rescue Plan funds that it received from the Federal Government.

New Board of Appeals Member

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners appointed Mickey Blank to serve in the open alternate member position on the Thurmont Board of Appeals. He will become a permanent member automatically when the next position opens.


Town Moves Toward Implementing a Stormwater Fee

The Emmitsburg commissioners voted to move forward with possibly implementing a stormwater fee that would cost most residents $20.00 a year. The revenue from the fee would be used to pay for water-related projects required as part of an unfunded Federal Government mandate. With the unanimous vote, the town and state will look at how the fee can implemented.

The town has completed all of the affordable projects that can be done. However, more needs to be done to meet the federal goal. It is estimated $1.4 million will be needed between fiscal years 2023 (which begins July 1) and 2028. Even with grant funding, it is expected the town will still need to pay around $700,000 for the needed work. The restoration projects that need to be done are: Northgate stormwater management basin; North Seton Avenue Green Street; increased street sweeping; 12 acres of tree plantings with StreamLink.

These actions are needed to reduce and eliminate pollution from run-off that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. If the municipalities don’t meet the federal goals, they can be heavily fined.

A stormwater fee is not required under the mandate, but many municipalities are using it as a way to pay for the projects that do need to be done under the mandate. Maryland has 17 municipalities doing this, including Frederick City.

According to the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, the average single-family residential stormwater fee nationwide is $5.94 per month or $71.28 annually, compared to the proposed $20.00 fee for Emmitsburg.

The proposal calls for a three-tier fee. Parcels less than 1,466 square feet would pay $10.00 annually. Parcels greater than 4,398 square feet would have a calculated fee. Parcels between 1,466 and 4,398 square feet would pay the $20.00 fee. The proposal is projected to generate about $34,850, annually.

Town Can’t Do Anything About Eyesore Property

Because of complaints about the condition of the property at 507 E. Main Street, the Emmitsburg Commissioners and town staff have been exploring options for what can be done about it. The town was not able to work with the owner to rectify the situation, so an administrative search warrant was obtained to inspect the property. Although it does not look pretty, the property was found to be structurally sound. This means the town cannot deem it a “dangerous and hazardous building.” It also means that the town cannot do anything about the building.

New Town Office Sign Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the design of a new sign for the town office that will be placed on South Seton Avenue. Now, bids will be solicited for the construction and installation of the sign.

New Board of Appeals Member

During their March town meeting, the Emmitsburg Commissioners accepted the resignation of Levi Essess from the Emmitsburg Board of Appeals and appointed Scott Frager to the open position for a term that will run through February 17, 2023.

Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy spring! I always look forward to this time of the year, as it means that it is getting closer to the warm summer months and I can say goodbye to the bitter cold of winter. Hopefully this spring, we can be back to normal and see more activities and events happening and things coming to life.

At the March 8 town meeting, we only had a few things on the agenda. The first one is that our ad for a part-time code enforcer/supervisor will be posted beginning March 15, and applications will be taken and interviews begin shortly after for qualified candidates until the right candidate is identified.

On April 9 at 2:00 p.m. in the town park, the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Woodsboro will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt. This event is made possible by donations from the Woodsboro Evangelical Lutheran Church, as well as by many other citizens in the town. If you would like to donate to a bag of individually wrapped candy to stuff the eggs with, it can be dropped off at the town office. If the weather does not cooperate on April 9, the event will be moved to Sunday, April 10, at 1:00 p.m. There will be three age-group areas for the hunt with three grand prizes in each age group. In addition, the Easter Bunny will be there for pictures.

We also discussed the status of the stage and new walking bridge that are being built in the park. I spoke with the contractor and was assured that both projects will be completed by the middle of May, in time to meet our deadline of June 1, 2022, for grant funding of the projects. We also discussed several upgrades to the park that are coming, as we are working on replacing and updating some outdated equipment.

We have opened the application process for the COVID-19 business relief fund grants, effective March 25, 2022. The application process will open on March 25 and will end on April 25 at 4:00 p.m. All applications must be received at the town office by 4:00 p.m. on April 25 to be considered for the grant. The application can be obtained off the town website or by visiting the town office. Each business is eligible for up to $5,000 in grant relief. To be eligible, you must be a business registered to do business in the town of Woodsboro, in good standing with the state, and be able to provide examples of how your business was affected by COVID-19. We encourage all business owners in the town limits to apply. Final decisions will be made by April 30, 2022, and funds will be distributed the first week of May 2022 to all businesses that are selected.

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. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N 2nd Street in Woodsboro. The public is always invited to attend.

James Rada, Jr.

Fun Facts: Although maple trees are found on other continents, no other continent’s maples can compare in sweetness to the sugar maple trees in North America. It takes an average of 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

As spring approaches in the area, maple sap is flowing into buckets to make maple syrup in the area. Two maple sugaring events will be held in March.

The Maple Syrup Festival is returning as an in-person event at Cunningham Falls State Park on March 12-13 and 19-20. This festival has been a staple in Frederick County for more than 50 years.

Park staff will demonstrate the traditional way of simmering sap to syrup, starting every half hour from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. each day.

“It’s the first time for a live event since 2019,” said Park Manager Mark Spurrier. “This will be a scaled-back event because we didn’t want to overplan since we don’t know what conditions will be like.”

This year’s festival will have two boiling sites and a storybook hiking trail. The trail will tell the story of how maple syrup is made and show how trees are tapped to gather sap.

Unlike previous festivals, this year’s event won’t have live music or a pancake breakfast.

“We’re going to keep it simple,” Spurrier said. “We want to get people outside and back into the park.”

Although the park will be making syrup using the old kettle method, it is only for demonstration purposes. Maryland-made maple syrup will be available for sale at the event though.

Admission to the park and event is $3.00, with the money going to support the park and the Friends of Cunningham Falls State Park. For more information, visit

Just over the state line in Pennsylvania, Strawberry Hill will host the Mount Hope Maple Madness at Camp Eder on March 5. The camp is in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.

“We are giving people a chance to taste what we produce,” said Amanda Markle, environmental education manager for Strawberry Hill.

The event will feature a breakfast with all-you-can-eat pancakes and Pennsylvania maple syrup. Then you can take a guided tour through the woods to see how maple syrup is made from start to finish.

“We are hoping to tap a tree with every tour,” Markle said.

Back at the main area, visitors will also be able to visit local vendors, offering hand-made goods, nature-related items, and information about local nature organizations.

The cost for breakfast is $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children. The tour is $7.00. You can combine the two for $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children.

Because Strawberry Hill does not want to get overcrowded due to health concerns, making a reservation for a tour is strongly recommended.

For more information on this event, visit

Visitors to the Maple Syrup Festival watch a demonstration of how sap is boiled to make maple syrup.

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Cunningham Falls and Gambrills State Parks

Deb Abraham Spalding

Mr. Francis Smith has been a beloved contributor of poetry to The Catoctin Banner for many years. On February 13, 2022, he passed away at the age of 96. As part of the Banner Team, he was creative, consistent, smart, and talented. He always offered a warm handshake in greeting and often shared a sweet smile along with his greeting.

In addition to his poetry, he was featured in The Catoctin Banner as a “Who Am I?” spotlight, a human interest feature, and in town news as Emmitsburg’s Poet Laureate.

Mr. Smith was a teacher, an artist, a poet, a man of faith, and an all-around good person. We miss you already, Mr. Smith. We will continue to publish Mr. Smith’s poems in the poetry section in his honor. Take a look at Mr. Smith’s life as described below…

Taneytown Man a Poet for 71 Years

James Rada, Jr. (published in The Catoctin Banner in 2017)

Francis Smith’s oldest dated poem, that he has, is dated 1946, more than seventy years ago. Over that time, he has penned thousands of poems.

“I enjoy words and how they sound,” Smith said from his Taneytown home, which is filled with notebooks of his poetry and more than a few loose scraps of paper with his poetry on them.

As essential a part of his life as his poetry is now, it wasn’t always that way. When he was a young man studying to be a priest in the seminary, he had a hard time catching on to what is so wonderful about poetry.

His poetry instructor was a patient Catholic priest. Each day, he would come into the classroom and begin by reading a poem. Then he would look at Smith.

“I would shake my head to tell him that I didn’t get it,” Smith said.

Day after day, poem after poem, Smith struggled to understand. Then, one day, the priest read a poem; Smith doesn’t recall what it was titled or who wrote it, but he remembers one line: “Meekly no angels fancy.”

Something about the poem touched him, and he understood. When the priest looked at him that day, Smith nodded. The priest went to his desk and picked up a large list of names and checked off Smith’s name. Apparently, Smith wasn’t the only seminarian who didn’t get poetry.

From there, his understanding of poetry multiplied, and he was soon tutoring a friend in it.

During his years at the seminary, he majored in philosophy and also taught at St. Joseph Prep School in Philadelphia. This served him well, because when he decided not to become a priest, he instead became a Carroll County teacher. Smith taught English in Sykesville High School, Taneytown High School, and Francis Scott Key High School, for forty years.

When he finally retired, Smith’s poetry and painting became his life’s pursuits. He is a cancer survivor, but it left him weak and unable to do strenuous activity. However, he can create pictures from word and paint.

“Writing and painting are my life,” Smith said.

He is regularly published in The Catoctin Banner, and some of his collected poems have also been published in limited-edition books.

Francis Edward Smith (96) Obituary

Francis Edward Smith, 96, of Emmitsburg, passed away peacefully on February 13, 2022. Born August 19, 1925, at Edlou Farm in Long Green, Maryland, he was the son of the late Francis David and Julia Elizabeth (Guelta) Smith. He was the husband of 50 years to the late Margaret Virginia (Bouey) Smith, who preceded him in death in 2015. He is survived by daughters Denise Lupp (John) of Littlestown, PA, and Marjorie Root (Steve) of Emmitsburg; grandchildren Jennifer Bolin (Andrew), Sarah Russell (Austin), and Nikolas Root; great-grandchildren Heath and Cassie Bolin; brother Leo B. Smith (Eleanor), sisters Mary Maritia Smith, SSND, Dorothy L. Feaga, and Regina E. Class (John Robert), and the late Julia H., Albert M., W. Kevin Smith, William Donahue; brother-in-law of Sally Smith. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, and other loving family and friends.

Francis graduated from Loyola High School at Blakefield in Towson, Maryland, and St. Louis University in Saint Louis, Missouri. He spent 40 years teaching English (and Latin) in PA and Carroll County, MD; retiring in 1990. He was honored as Maryland English Teacher of the Year in 1988 and Carroll County Teacher of the Year in 1989.

Francis was talented in poetry and painting. He self-published several booklets of poetry, frequently contributed works to The Catoctin Banner, and held the honor of Poet Laureate of Emmitsburg from 2019-2021. His artwork won ribbons in the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Community Show and Carroll County and Frederick Fairs. He gifted many paintings to friends, former students and family. Francis volunteered for the Emmitsburg Library Board, Emmitsburg Food Bank, and Emmitsburg Lifelong Learning Council. He was proud to be the oldest participant in the Run for Life in memory of Father Darin Didier at Mt. St. Mary’s University from 2011 to 2017, as well as the oldest participant at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for several years. Francis also enjoyed traveling the United States and chaperoning high school students on trips abroad, as well as gardening and walking.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Smith’s name to Sarah’s Place Women’s Resource Center, Inc., P.O. Box 197, Sandy Hook, KY 41171, or a charity of your choice.

BY Terry Pryor, Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the first month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

About Affirmations

Affirmations are tools that declare an intention. In other words, you are making a positive statement or command intended not only to change your outlook but also to elicit the assistance of your higher self, God, the angels, or whatever you perceive to be a greater power than you. Whether you believe you are the only one hearing these words or not, the magic of affirmations declared with faith is that they work.

Remember the example of the Olympic athletes we talked about last month: The mind cannot tell the difference between an actual event and a vividly imagined one.

It is with the power of your words, your thoughts, and your intentions that the magic of change begins.

Fake It ’til You Make It

I’m sure you have heard the expression “Fake it ’til you make it.” Putting something into practice results in an empowering mental benefit. The subconscious acts predominantly on your feelings. What you feel is its fuel bringing you more of the same. It doesn’t know if you really have a job or not or if you have the perfect home. It only knows what you feel.

Whatever you desire, feel what having it will mean to you—in other words, fake it ’til you make it!

Power Action #1: Vacation

(Choose a weekday rather than a weekend day)

If you’re working at an unfulfilling job, or you don’t have a job and, therefore, don’t have money coming in, taking a day off seems ludicrous. After all, taking time off might appear to unwind into the future like a huge ball of string.

I would like to suggest otherwise.

Power Action #1: Today, you start to invent the new you, and the new you is open to a truckload of new possibilities. The new you has an open and flexible mind, willing to try anything. The new you is filled with the idea of a day totally different from any other day. I give you permission to play hooky.

This month, I want you to do things that you may not have done in a long time.

On this first Day of Power, you are to get away from anything that remotely looks like a routine. Whatever your job is or was, it probably consisted of, in part, a regimented daily schedule.

When was the last time you went to a matinee movie? Go see one.

Take a long hike through town or your own neighborhood, which you may not have done in a while—or ever.

Go for a bike ride. Go to the zoo.

Have lunch at that great little restaurant you haven’t visited since before COVID that serves those gigantic Reuben sandwiches or have one of those terrific pizzas the local pub serves up. Try that new restaurant you’ve been intending to check out.

I want to suggest that you spend at least four or five hours out there in your city or town—your own backyard, so to speak.

I want you to do this alone. Don’t take anyone along, even if someone offers to go.

This is a play day for you, and only you.

If you have lost your job or have not found the perfect one yet, or if life does not look fun or positive anymore, it’s possible that you will experience moments of complete mind-numbing fear today, moments where you wonder what the heck just happened to your life and what are you doing at an afternoon movie on a Tuesday. When that happens, push those thoughts away. Know that in the very near future, you are going to begin accomplishing great things.

For now, have fun. That energy is very important.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

In light of the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in Frederick County, County Executive Gardner has rescinded the mask order for public places. Many businesses and restaurants may still require you to wear a mask in their establishment.

COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots are available on Monday evenings, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Thurmont Regional Library on Moser Road. COVID-19 tests are available on Friday evenings, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., at the Thurmont Town Office at 615 East Main Street in Thurmont. The tests are free and do not require a doctor’s note or an appointment.

Spring is headed our way, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for winter weather. I just want to remind everyone that if you can get your cars off the street, it makes for a better job of clearing snow from our streets. Please do not clear the end of your driveway until our trucks have plowed to the curb. Chances are the plowed snow may block the end of your driveway, and I don’t want you to have to clear your driveaway more than once, if possible.  Also, be aware of snowplows as they work to clear the streets. Give all snow plows ample space as they are working or as you drive past them. These trucks are wide!

Speaking of spring, the Thurmont Farmers Market will be open on Saturday, March 26, at 21 East Main Street in Thurmont. The early indoor market was a big success last year and this year will be no different. The indoor market will be open Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. until noon, through May 7. The indoor market will feature mushrooms, locally made sauces and rubs, baked goods, organic greens, and much more! Bantam Coffee Roasters will be at every Farmer Market with their trailer, serving up freshly roasted coffee, lattes, espresso, and more. The Farmers Market will then move to its new outdoor location in the Thurmont Community Park on Frederick Road. The outdoor market will be open Saturdays, 9:00 am until noon, beginning Saturday, May 14.

Cunningham Falls State Park is a great recreational resource right on our doorstep. There are plenty of trails to hike; streams for fishing; campsites; a beautiful lake for swimming, fishing, and canoeing; the beautiful Cunningham Falls, and tons of history! Be sure to visit the Maple Syrup Festival at Cuningham Falls State Park, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., on March 12-13 and March 19-20. There will be two boil sites, the fresh syrup will be for sale, and there will be hot beverages and light fare available.

The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission has wrapped up the Master Plan Update and Comprehensive Rezoning. Both are now in the hands of the board of commissioners and will be the topic of a public hearing in the near future. If you are interested in the Master Plan and Comprehensive Rezoning, please watch for the board of commissioners’ public hearing dates.

Please contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns at 301-606-9458 or by email at I hope everyone has a very nice March!


Mayor Don Briggs

With spring almost here and months of talking about the new businesses and major town improvements, here are some things about people.

Over the last year, unimpeded by COVID variations, the Frederick County Health Department, partnering with Dr. Portier, has conducted a sample group program of 40 patients to enhance self-care blood pressure care and awareness. Forty (40) “cuffs,” medical parlance for the wide band you put around your bicep and squeeze a rubber ball kits, were distributed to the patients. The intent is to develop patient motivation in using cuffs, provide literature, and a more than “one and done” follow-up support system to keep blood pressure in a healthier range. It is my understanding that the program is still being tweaked before being opened to the public. Preventive medicine at work.

Providentially, with spring comes another restaurant option on the Square. The vacated Stavros space is occupied again. Tuscany’s Pizzeria held its grand opening on February 23. Please welcome them with a visit. 

So who is Father Gene? He is the gentle octogenarian, who walks several miles every day and has run 15 marathons. Besides being a very spiritual parish priest at St. Joseph’s Church, he is an ardent Auburn Tigers fan. In his earlier days, he was pastor at Auburn University. His number of marathons run is impressive and noteworthy, posing possibly a challenge to Bridget McCarthy in marathons, but I do not think so. Included in his marathons run is the Marine Corps. Marathon in Washington D.C. I ran it in 1980, followed a year later by the one notable initiates of the club Libby ran (an hour faster than me). 

 So, where are we with the Change for Food program, the donations placed in those little jars throughout town retail checkouts? The initiative to raise money for Emmitsburg Food Bank was started ten years ago by Bob and Jean Rosensteel and has been maintained by them and the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA). The latest tabulation is $54,056 raised. To add to that, the EBPA college scholarship assistance fund, administered by the Frederick County Community Foundation, now exceeds $27,000. Well done business community.

 There is a Catoctin High student program known as “Family, Community, and Career Leaders of America” (FCCLA). A school-sponsored club whose mission is “Leading Others to a Better Tomorrow,” and whose motto is “Caring and Sharing.” The goal is, by performing services for the community, students learn and develop leadership skills. Notable initiates of the club include “adopting” area elderly and Thurmont Primary School students for engagement in activities throughout the school year. Well done.

 If you want to be nudged in an intellectual way, consider the Mount’s Alumni Symposium, sponsored by the Mount St. Mary’s University College of Liberal Arts. Now in the third year of fall and spring sessions, this may be the one for you. The overseer of the program is Dr. Peter Dorsey. You do not have to be a Mount grad to join in person or by zoom. For the 2022 spring session, in January, Drs. Elizabeth and Charles Strauss led a discussion on Catholics and Jews after the Holocaust. Followed in February by Fr. Jim Donohue, “The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke’s Gospel.” March will be Dr. Carol Hind, “Sanctification of the Ordinary in Mark Salzman’s Lying Awake.” In April, Dr. John Hershey: “Star Wars and the Force of Philosophy.” In May, Dr. Jack Dudley: “The Everyday Life of the Priesthood, The Short Stories of J.F. Powers.” The symposium sessions are held at the Mount Frederick campus one evening a month. There is a fee that includes reading materials and dinner. Contact the College of Liberal Arts for information on the 2022 fall semester.

We mourn the loss of Francis G. Smith, 96 years young. He was a wonderful person and renowned area artist and poet. In 2019, he was recognized as the town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate for 2019-2021. From his poem, “The Poet’s Fantasy”:

Pent-up within the bounds of my humanity,

My restless spirit, ever straining upward,

Thrills to harmony.

Not so much giving up something but rather do something special for others during Lent.  

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Reinstates Commissioner Liaisons to Public Works

Although Thurmont used to have commissioner liaisons to the town’s public works departments, the assignments have stopped being made at some point in the past. At Mayor John Kinnaird’s suggestion and with the approval of the commissioners, this has been reinstated. The following liaison assignments were made to the commissioners: Water—Wayne Hooper, Wastewater—Bill Blakeslee, Electric—Bill Buehrer, Streets and Parks—Wes Hamrick.

Part of Trolley Trail to be Dedicated In Memory of Former Employee

At the suggestion of a town employee, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners agreed to dedicate the section of the Thurmont Trolley Trail from East Moser Road to the wastewater treatment plant pond entrance to Jeff Kilby. Kilby was a town employee in the wastewater department who died unexpectedly in October 2020. A bench with a plaque on it will be placed on the trail to note the dedication.

Armstrong Named Thurmont Police Officer Of The Year

The Thurmont Lions Club named Sgt. Dave Armstrong as the Thurmont Police Officer of the Year. He joined the Thurmont Police Department in 2012 after he retired from the Frederick Police Department. He was promoted to sergeant in 2018. Besides his work as a police officer, he helped the town youth organize themselves to get the new Thurmont Skatepark built.

Jonathan Hamrick with the Thurmont Lions Club presented Armstrong with a certificate and gift certificate for a local restaurant. His name will be added to a plaque of other Thurmont Police Officers of the Year, and the Lions Club will make a $400 donation in his name to the Thurmont Boy Scouts.

Wood Named Thurmont Police Civilian Employee Of The Year

Code Enforcement Officer Kristi Wood was named the Thurmont Police Civilian Employee of the Year. She began work with the department as a part-time employee in 2014. However, her hard work and initiative to take on other duties allowed her to become a full-time employee in 2017. Citizens have often complimented her good work to the department.

“Her caring and concern for everyone is noticeable every day,” Eyler said. “Ms. Wood has proven to be an outstanding employee for the Thurmont Police Department and the Town of Thurmont.”

Purchases Approved to Extend Gateway Trail

The Town of Thurmont and Catoctin Mountain National Park have been working to develop the Gateway Trail. It begins in Community Park, through town on Altamont Avenue, and out of town on West Main Street. It will then connect to trails in Catoctin Mountain National Park. To complete the trail, the town needs to purchase three pieces of property on West Main Street in order to make a direct connection to the west end of Community Park. Using $75,000 in funds from the county, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to purchase properties and easements at 128 W. Main Street, 202 W. Main, and a parcel along Hunting Creek for $23,500 to build a six-foot-wide asphalt trail.

Thurmont United Methodist Church Petitioning for Annexation

The Thurmont United Methodist Church has asked to be annexed into the Town of Thurmont. The church leadership would like to create a daycare center, but to do so, it needs to add a sprinkler system, among other improvements. It is uncertain that the church’s well could support the sprinkler system, so it would like to connect to the town’s water system. The church is included in the town’s master plan for future growth.

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to forward the request to the planning and zoning commission for review and recommendation.


New Business News

Christ’s Community Church has submitted their concept plan to build a new 12,500-square-foot church on Creamery Road near Quality Tire.

Federal Stone is preparing engineering plans to submit to the Emmitsburg Planning Commission. The company purchased all of the Emmitsburg East Industrial Park II for its business. The company also planned to submit the final subdivision plat and forest conservation plan to the planning commission in February.

Ripleigh’s Creamery is working to obtain a county building permit for its building work.

Rutter’s is under construction and expected to open late this summer.

The MDOT/SHA Park and Ride design is 15 percent complete, but the project is now on hold due to state budget cuts.

Tuscany’s Pizzeria is now open on the square.

Village Liquors and Plaza Inn is working on completing the final subdivision plat and improvement plat conditions the planning commission asked for. They also need to secure the necessary permits from the town and county.

Residential Work

Emmitsburg continues to see growth, with 32 new residential permits being issued in the town last year.

Park Work Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a bid of $14,325 to Frederick County Paving in Thurmont to pour eight concrete slabs for bleachers in town parks. Frederick County Paving was one of 25 bidders for the project.

Green Sites, Inc. of Elkridge will be installing seven new 15-foot-long bleachers (three in Eugene Myers Community Park and four in Memorial Park) for $42,600. Green Sites was one of 11 bidders for this project.

HMF Contractors in Frederick will be paving the gravel area in Memorial Park for $28,980. HMF Contractors was one of 21 bidders for this contract.

All the projects will be paid for with FY2022 Local Parks & Playgrounds Infrastructure (LPPI) from the state.

New Hires

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved hiring Julie Scott as the new town clerk. She lives in Cascade and was one of 115 people who applied for the position. Her salary will be $63,000 a year. Current Town Clerk Maddie Shaw stepped back to take a part-time position as the town’s grants administrator. This job pays $35.00 an hour but offers no benefits. It is expected that she will be working 16-20 hours a week.

Sabrina King has also been hired as the town office coordinator. She lives in Taneytown and is one of 85 people who applied. She will earn $41,900 a year.

Pool Management Contract Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a three-year contract (2022-2024) to have RSV Pools in Gaithersburg manage the town pool during the season. The company will be paid $65,952 for 2022, $67,848 for 2023, and $70,980 for 2024 for the work.