Currently viewing the category: "Featured Articles"

Deb Abraham Spalding

It was a beautiful day for the grand opening celebration of the new Thurmont Skatepark at the East End Park on East Main Street in Thurmont on Saturday, November 6, 2021. The day started off with the group of project-founding skaters gathering at the skatepark for a sunrise skate session. Their project had become a reality!

They skated for about an hour and a half, then other volunteers joined them to plant 30 trees around the skatepark. Soon, event attendees started filling up the space.

From sunup to sundown, the celebration continued as a solid slate of skaters on skateboards, on scooters, or wearing in-line skates, rolled around the smooth concrete contours of the facility. Paul Zelenka served as the event’s DJ mixing up 5 hours of fun tunes.

This project was initiated by local young residents who were looking for a safe place to skateboard. Sgt. Dave Armstrong, of the Thurmont Police Department, started having conversations with the kids instead of just telling them to stop skating when he saw them around town. He realized they needed a safe place to skate. He went with them to a Parks and Rec Committee meeting and gained roots-level support for a skatepark.

A group of 15 Catoctin High School sophomores attended an April 12, 2021 Town of Thurmont meeting with Patrick Dugan as their leader and presented their case, convincing the town to build a skatepark. Four main skaters spearheaded the project including Dugan, Maceo Zelenka, Alan Chimel, and Norman Montoya, by petitioning for support.

The teens didn’t attend that meeting unprepared. They had done research. They visited other towns with skateparks, and met with other organizers and planners who have designed and built skateparks. A visit with Brent at Embark Skate Shop for advice on building a skatepark led the teens to Joe Wallace who had done fundraising for Urbana Skate Park. He shared the name Matt Arment who built the Urbana Park. Within one day of contacting Arment, he had a skatepark design and a proposal drawn up. That project plan was presented to the town. Everything moved along well.

The mayor and commissioners gave the teens lots of positive feedback, as well as advice on how to help their project move along as quickly as possible. The Thurmont Board applied for, and received, a grant from Program Open Space, a program from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that provides counties with funds for public space projects.

Embark donated a skateboard for a raffle to raise funds. The teens had formed a committee and they were present at Thurmont’s Farmers Markets selling raffle tickets and t-shirts. This was a great way for the committee to tell people about the park.

The committee met every week. Josh Boyle, an active inline skater, joined the committee and contributed a wonderful point of view. Sgt. Armstrong stayed active with the committee and remained a great advocate.

Maceo Zelenka’s mother Stacie Zelenka and Patrick Dugan’s mother Kirsten Dugan became parent volunteers who helped lead the boys through the logistics of fundraising.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper, served as the liaison between the board and the committee. Matt Arment of Arment Concrete out of Dover, PA, was really close to the kids. He designed and built the park. Sponsorship was incredible! The teens wrote a letter and asked the community and businesses for support.

Stacie Zelenka said, “We said the first five $500 donations would have a banner at the park. Within 24 hours we had all five of them. Ninety percent of the people really supported the project because it was driven by teens. They can make a change!”

At the grand opening celebration, Embark Skate Shop hosted the best trick contest. People got to see pro skaters. Delegate Jesse Pippy did a kick flip to start off the best trick contest. That was cool to see, especially since he actually landed the stunt.

A proclamation was presented by Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird on behalf of the Governor of the State of Maryland to the Thurmont Skatepark Committee.

There are many individuals who deserve credit and acknowledgement for this true example of a “community” project. Harold Lawson, Thurmont’s Superintendent of Public Works and his crew are responsible for everything that makes up the skatepark’s finished look. Lori Kaas with the Town of Thurmont was the committee’s point of contact with the town office. She kept the committee organized and on track.

Jim Humerick, The Town of Thurmont’s CAO included the skateboard committee in the process every step of the way so they learned how government works. Jacob Williams designed the logo which has been a big hit on the hoodies and t-shirts. Mayor John Kinnaird was always supportive of the skatepark and Thurmont youth.

The skatepark isn’t completely finished. Eventually, there will be lights installed. Next spring, paved walking trails will be installed from the inclusive playground and from the Main Street sidewalk.

Stacie Zelenka said, “A lot of individuals donated to the project and realized that by giving kids and teens in the community a safe outdoor space for a sport just makes the community better.”

Kirsten Dugan sums it all up, “In less than seven months, this project went from a proposal by a group of teenagers into a reality.  This skatepark is a great asset to our town.  People have been out here enjoying the skatepark almost constantly since the concrete dried. To see it completed and to celebrate with the community that has given so much support is really incredible. The whole process has felt like a miracle.”

The official ribbon-cutting was held at the at the grand opening.

Ben Swauger of Waynesboro attended the Thurmont Skatepark Grand Opening on November 13, 2021.

Catoctin ninth-grader Cameron Santmier catches some air on his scooter.

Part One

Terry Pryor

With the official opening of the Thurmont Skate Park in November, it might be interesting to understand a little more about this fascinating sport. Skateboarding is a sport that discriminates against no age group. That being said, you should assess your level of fitness and stability.

Skateboarding is usually safe for children aged six and above with adult supervision and the correct skateboard protection, such as helmets, and knee and elbow pads. Similarly, skateboarding is not just for kids. Adult skateboards are extremely popular, with many adults building their own as opposed to buying.

As with any extreme sport, you’re bound to fall and get a few scrapes along the way, and skateboarding is no different. Knee and elbow pads help absorb heavy impact and allow you to slide out of tricks, hardshell pads doing the former and gaskets, the latter. Both knee and elbow pads come in various sizes. Oversized pads are great for riders who will be riding lots of big quarter pipes or even half pipes, whereas smaller pads, tucked under the jeans, tend to be the preference of the street rider. (Bear in mind that this will cause you to rip through your new jeans at some point.) Gaskets are the more comfortable option, allowing you to slide out of tricks, particularly on the street, but hardshell pads will always be better for taking hard impact, reducing permanent damage to those elbow and knee joints.

Skateboards haven’t been around for long. Interestingly, it appears that Crate scooters (1940s era) preceded skateboards. A wooden crate was attached to the nose (front of the board), which formed rudimentary handlebars. With rollerskate wheels attached to the bottom, the boxes turned into planks, similar to the skateboard decks of today.

Skateboarding, as we know it, was probably also born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. No one knows who made the first board; it seems that several people came up with similar ideas around the same time, but the first manufactured skateboards were ordered by a Los Angeles California surf shop. The shop owner, Bill Richard, made a deal with the Chicago Roller Skate Company to produce sets of skate wheels, which they attached to square wooden boards. Accordingly, skateboarding was originally denoted “sidewalk surfing,” and early skaters emulated surfing-style maneuvers and performed barefoot.

By the 1960s, a small number of surfing manufacturers in Southern California, such as Jack’s, Kips’, Hobie, Bing’s, and Makaha, started building skateboards that resembled small surfboards and assembled teams to promote their products. One of the earliest skateboard exhibitions was sponsored by Makaha’s founder, Larry Stevenson, in 1963 and held at the Pier Avenue Junior High School in Hermosa Beach, California. Some of these same teams of skateboarders were also featured on a television show called Surf’s Up in 1964, hosted by Stan Richards, which helped promote skateboarding as something new and fun to do.

As the popularity of skateboarding began expanding, the first skateboarding magazine, The Quarterly Skateboarder was published in 1964. The magazine only lasted four issues but resumed publication as Skateboarder in 1975.

The first broadcast of an actual skateboarding competition was the 1965 National Skateboarding Championships, which were held in Anaheim, California, and aired on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Because skateboarding was a new sport during this time, there were only two original disciplines during competitions: flatland freestyle and slalom downhill racing.

One of the earliest sponsored skateboarders, Patti McGee, was paid by Hobie and Vita Pak to travel around the country to do skateboarding exhibitions and to demonstrate skateboarding safety tips. McGee made the cover of Life magazine in 1965 and was featured on several popular television programs: The Mike Douglas Show, What’s My Line, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which helped make skateboarding even more popular at the time.

The growth of the sport during this period can also be seen in sales figures for Makaha, which quoted $4 million worth of board sales between 1963 and 1965. By 1966, a variety of sources began to claim that skateboarding was dangerous, resulting in shops being reluctant to sell them and parents being reluctant to buy them. In 1966, sales had dropped significantly and Skateboarder Magazine had stopped publication. The popularity of skateboarding dropped and remained low until the early 1970s.

In the early 1970s, Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane, calling his company Cadillac Wheels. Prior to this new material, skateboards wheels were metal or “clay” wheels. The improvement in traction and performance was so immense that from the wheel’s release in 1972, the popularity of skateboarding started to rise rapidly again, causing companies to invest more in product development. Nasworthy commissioned artist Jim Evans to do a series of paintings promoting Cadillac Wheels; they were featured as ads and posters in the resurrected Skateboarder Magazine, and proved immensely popular in promoting the new style of skateboarding.

In the early 1970s, skateparks had not been invented yet, so skateboarders would flock and skateboard in such urban places as the Escondido reservoir in San Diego, California. Skateboarder magazine would publish the location and skateboarders made up nicknames for each location such as the Tea Bowl, the Fruit Bowl, Bellagio, the Rabbit Hole, Bird Bath, the Egg Bowl, Upland Pool and the Sewer Slide. Some of the development concepts in the terrain of skateparks were actually taken from the Escondido reservoir. Many companies started to manufacture trucks (axles) specially designed for skateboarding. As the equipment became more maneuverable, the decks started to get wider, reaching widths of 10 inches and over, thus giving the skateboarder even more control.

In 1975, skateboarding had risen back in popularity enough to have one of the largest skateboarding competitions since the 1960s: the Del Mar National Championships, which is said to have had up to 500 competitors. The competition lasted two days and was sponsored by Bahne Skateboards and Cadillac Wheels. While the main event was won by freestyle spinning skate legend Russ Howell, a local skate team from Santa Monica, California, the Zephyr team, ushered in a new era of surfer-style skateboarding during the competition that would have a lasting impact on skateboarding’s history. The team of 12 became known as the Z-Boys and would go on to become one of the most influential teams in the sports history.

Soon, skateboarding contests for cash and prizes, using a professional tier system, began to be held throughout California, such as the California Free Former World Professional Skateboard Championships, which featured freestyle and slalom competitions.

In March 1976, Skateboard City skatepark in Port Orange, Florida, and Carlsbad Skatepark in San Diego County, California, would be the first two large-size US skateparks to be opened to the public, just a week apart. They were the first of some 200 skateparks that would be built through 1982.

The 1980s period was fueled by skateboard companies that were run by skateboarders. The focus was initially on vert ramp skateboarding. The invention of the no-hands aerial (later known as the ollie) by Alan Gelfand, in Florida in 1976, and the almost parallel development of the grabbed aerial by George Orton and Tony Alva in California, made it possible for skaters to perform airs on vertical ramps. While this wave of skateboarding was sparked by commercialized vert ramp skating, a majority of people who skateboarded during this period did not ride vert ramps. As most people could not afford to build vert ramps, or did not have access to nearby ramps, street skating increased in popularity.

Freestyle skating remained healthy throughout this period, with pioneers inventing many of the basic tricks that would become the foundation of modern street skating, such as the “Impossible” and the “Kickflip.” Since few skateparks were available to skaters at this time, street skating pushed skaters to seek out shopping centers and public and private property as their “spot” to skate. (Public opposition, in which businesses, governments, and property owners have banned skateboarding on properties under their jurisdiction or ownership, would progressively intensify over the following decades.) By 1992, only a small fraction of skateboarders continuing to take part in a highly technical version of street skating, combined with the decline of vert skating, produced a sport that lacked the mainstream appeal to attract new skaters.

During this period, numerous skateboarders—as well as companies in the industry—paid tribute to the scenes of Marty McFly skateboarding in the film Back to the Future for its influence in this regard. Many pros started skating because they saw that film.

In the early 1970s, Frank Nasworthy started to develop a skateboard wheel made of polyurethane, calling his company Cadillac Wheels.

Skatecrate’s rolled skateboard history forward.

Soldier carrying a skateboard during a military exercise in Oakland, CA (March 1999).

some of the most common skateboarding terms, expressions, and meanings

180: a half skateboard and body rotation, performed either frontside or backside

360: a complete skateboard and body rotation, performed either frontside or backside

ABD: acronym for “Already Been Done”

Acid Drop: to skate off the end of an object without touching the board with your hands and without ollieing

Airwalk: an aerial trick in which the skater grabs the nose of the board, kicks the feet out while in the air, and then quickly back on when he’s about to land it

Backside: a trick or turn executed with the skater’s back facing the ramp coping or the obstacle

Bail: to jump or step off the board safely when a move goes wrong

Brain Bucket: a helmet

Carve: a maneuver in which the skater makes a long, curving arc

Complete: a skateboard with all its components: deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, and grip tape

Deck: the wooden area of your skateboard that you stand on

Fakie: to ride your skateboard backward

Five-O (5-O): a type of grind

Goofy-Foot: a skater that rides with his or her right foot forward

Hanger: the largest part of the truck that is mostly exposed to grinding

Indy Grab: a trick in which the skater grabs the board mid-air with the back hand

Mob: to have bad style

Ollie: a trick in which the skater uses his or her feet to pull the skateboard up into the air

Pop Shove-It: a trick that combines the ollie with shove-it and enables the board to get to the air and rotate along its vertical axis

James Rada Jr.

Last month, Thurmont opened its skateboard park in town. A year ago, it hadn’t been on anyone’s radar, but a group of Thurmont youth committed themselves to making the project a reality.

So, what can you do if you have a project you want to see: a new park, art installation, playground, or something else in your town? What if you are a Scout looking for approval of your Eagle Project?

“The first thing you should do is make a presentation to your elected officials and back it with a large turnout at the meeting when you make the presentation, and have a petition signed by a lot of people,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

You don’t need to be on the agenda. You can sign up to make your initial presentation as public comment. However, be aware there is a time limit for public comment, so you will need to make your initial pitch short. If you back that short presentation with a petition and lots of people in attendance supporting you, it will show the commissioners that residents are interested in the project.

“If the Board likes the idea, then they will either add it to the agenda at an upcoming meeting for more details and approvals or direct staff to work with the person/group on the project,” said Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets.

She added that another option is for the person or group to email the commissioners with their ideas. The commissioners can than decide whether they want to pursue the idea.

Once the interest from town government is sparked in your project, you can do things to help maintain that interest and smooth out any problems that might come up.

Mayor Kinnaird recommends that the person or group needs to commit to making it happen. The Thurmont youth who wanted the skateboard park went out and did fundraising for it and raised a quarter of the costs for the park.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who get a project started,” Kinnaird said. “Then they show up for two meetings, and you never see them again.”

He said over the years, town youth and parents have expressed an interest in having something more in Thurmont for youth to do. However, in those cases, no one took action or committed to making it happen, unlike the group who worked to make the skateboard park a reality.

Another thing to do is watch what is going on with your town government. Sometimes, getting a project moving is all about timing. In the case of the skateboard park, the youth made their presentation at the time when the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were talking about what projects to include in their Program Open Space proposal.

A final tip is to think about the size of the project. The larger it is, the more levels of government are going to be involved. If the project has a footprint larger than 5,000 sq. ft., the State of Maryland requires a stormwater management plan and an erosion and sediment study. This increases the project cost and how long the project will take. The skateboard park didn’t need this because it was a smaller project and the town already owned the land.

“I think for any project to go quickly is to have the plan set, funding set and open lines of communication with the elected officials and staff,” Willets said.


Mayor Don Briggs

As if queued with the changing colors of fall, and a wink from a reluctant fall, all permits in hand, the long-awaited start of construction of the Rutter’s store has finally begun. Many months after getting town approvals, site work has started and moving at a rapid pace to take advantage of the mild weather.

Another solemn and appropriate Veteran’s Day observances were held by the VFW Honor Guard with a 21-gun salute tributes at the American Legion, the Doughboy, and five area cemeteries. The commemoration is celebrated on the anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day, when hostilities with Germany ended at the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.” The honor guard holds the salute ceremony on only two occasions every year: Memorial Day and Veterans Day. It has been an honor to stand with them over the last 11 years on these occasions, and I look forward to doing the same next year.

Irishtown Road upgrades will be delayed now until late December to early January 2022. The contractor hit rock. Again, the completion of upgrades will include leveling out a crest on Irishtown Road and enhancing safer conditions for driver visibility, accommodating the opening of Brookfield Drive onto Irishtown Road to two-way traffic, and bringing Ryan Homes building 19 single-family homes on the last remaining lots in the Brookfield subdivision. Thank you for your patience.

The Seton Center and local churches are seeking our charity to contribute gift cards from local grocery stores to share our blessings with our neighbors for holiday meals. Please contact your church or the Seton Center. They have a sizable list of those in need.

Please join us on Monday, December 5, at 6:00 p.m. for the town Christmas tree lighting in front of the Emmitsburg Community Center. From there, walk to the Carriage House Inn for Christmas music, free hot dogs, cookies, hot chocolate, hayrides, and to meet Santa.

On Saturday, December 11, the Lions Club will host meeting Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Vigilant Hose Company Activities Building on Creamery Road. The event is open to all, at no cost, featuring photos with Santa Claus, hot dogs, and hot chocolate from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Later that day, the American Legion will hold a ham and turkey raffle from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Heads up, the town has been awarded a grant for (license) tag readers. The readers will be positioned along thoroughfares around town.

Our town has been blessed over the last year with grants, building restorations around town and on the square, four new businesses (and more on the way), getting Ryan Homes back building, upgrades to Irishtown Road, and welcoming new families.

Don’t want to forget, from Lib and me: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Thurmont’s Annual Gateway to The Cure was a great success this year, with over $18,500 being raised to help support the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund and the good work at the Frederick Health Hospital and its partners. I want to thank each and every resident of the Town of Thurmont for helping us realize another banner year for this great annual event. Those who participated in the many events, including the Golf Tournament, 5K Fun Run, pumpkin decorating, as well as everyone who purchased light bulbs, pinwheels for the garden, t-shirts, hoodies, and the other items, should be very proud for helping with this year’s effort.

The Town of Thurmont recently held elections, and I am pleased to have been reelected as mayor. I want to congratulate Commissioner Wayne Hooper on his reelection and Bill Blakeslee on his election as a new commissioner. I look forward to serving the residents of Thurmont for this four-year term, and I will be working closely with the Board of Commissioners to continue the work we have at hand. Funding from the American Recovery Act and the recent infrastructure funds will be put to good use in Thurmont. Our plan is to invest the majority of the Recovery Act funding in our water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. One of the first projects we will be working on is the upgrade of water and wastewater lines on North Church Street. Important upgrades to many of our stormwater management facilities will also be completed. It is my hope that the recent infrastructure funding will help us with much-needed street repairs. I will also keep pushing for the reinstatement of 100 percent of the important Highway User Revenue, so we can apply those funds to our streets. Thurmont and all other Maryland communities saw drastic cuts in our HUR funding several years ago, and our streets have suffered from these cuts. HUR funds come directly from gas taxes, user fees, and license and registration fees. We continue to pay these fees, and yet the HUR funds are still not back to the level they were 12 years ago.

With Christmas and winter upon us, I encourage everyone to support our local food bank and Clothes Closet. Many of our neighbors are not as fortunate as we are and would benefit greatly from your generosity during this season. The Thurmont Food Bank depends on community donations and would appreciate donations of nonperishable food, toiletries, baby products, or cash. The Clothes Closet would appreciate your donation of warm winter clothing for both adults and children. Winter is especially hard on families and warm clothing is a must. Your donations can help bring much-needed joy and comfort to local families.

Christmas in Thurmont is well underway, and I hope everyone has had a chance to participate in some of the festivities. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers is hosting an amazing model train display at 21 East Main Street. There are also pop-up shops offering great gift ideas at 21 East Main Street. I want to wish everyone good luck in the Christmas Decoration Contest—they always put a lot of effort into it! I think that Santa, the Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, and, hopefully, Buddy the Elf and Jovie will be making appearances at the Square in Thurmont, so girls and boys can drive past and wave to their friends. A big “thank you” to Thurmont businesses, organizations, and volunteers for helping make Christmas in Thurmont a success.

I want to remind everyone that free COVID-19 vaccinations and testing are available at the Thurmont Town Office every Friday evening, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. All three current vaccinations are available, as are the boosters. Members of the 104th Area Support Medical Company of the Maryland Army National Guard stationed at Camp Frederick, Reisterstown, have been assisting with the vaccinations, and I want to thank them for helping our community. Appointments or doctor’s orders are not required for the vaccinations or testing. This service is made possible through the Frederick County Health Department and the Town of Thurmont.

Karen and I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Year’s. We look forward to what the New Year will bring. See you in 2022!

Please contact me at 301-606-9458 or via email at with any comments, questions, or concerns.

by James Rada, Jr.


Commissioners List ARA Projects

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners listed the projects they will fund with the $6.7 million the federal government is providing the town from the American Recovery Act. Many of the projects that the town had hoped to fund weren’t eligible under the new law, such as roads, electric, and sidewalk projects. The main focus of the funds was to be used for wastewater and water infrastructure projects.

These are the upcoming ARA projects for Thurmont:

•    Replace water and sewer mains on North Church Street. The state is also expected to repave the street once the project is completed. ($163,000 for engineering and design; $136,000 for inspection services; and $2.8 million for construction).

•    Replace the water main on Pryor Road and tie into Hillside Circle. The commissioners had planned to fund this using an already approved state loan. They will have to decide whether to use the ARA funds for an additional project or to repay the loan ($470,000 for engineering, design, and construction).

•    A water pumping station on Radio Lane ($80,000 for engineering and development, and $820,000 for construction).

•    MS4 upgrades to stormwater facilities ($120,000 for engineering and development, and $1.1 million for construction). 

•    Accounting software upgrades to allow online payments ($175,000).

•    Expansion of the town office ($50,000 for engineering and development, and $262,800 for construction).

•    Repair of stormwater catch basins on Frederick Road ($30,000).

•    Repair of sewer lines near well 7 ($18,000).

•    Storm drain repairs in Jermae Estates. This is completed and the town is asking for reimbursement ($17,385).

•    Economic development assistance for businesses affected by COVID ($300,000).

•    COVID-related wastewater and electric payment arrears ($50,000).

•    Repair to sewer laterals ($500,000).

Board Approves Bridge Analysis

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners approved $8,500 to have ARRO Consulting, Inc. study the bridges on Boundary Avenue and North Altamont Avenue to see if there are any structural integrity deficiencies. The bridges are starting to show some wear.


Problems With Pump Station

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the Emmitsburg Commissioners that the pump station “can no longer keep up with these high flows” during the November town meeting. During October, the station treated an average of 889,000 gpd, while using 231,882 gpd. That means that the station was having to treat three times as much “wild water” as normal wastewater. The additional flow was due, in large, part to Tropical Storm Ida and another heavy rain event weeks later.

Another problem that continues to plague the plant is residents who flush rags into the system. The town had to hire a contractor to come to the plant to remove rags and grease from the system after staff had already removed five garbage bags of rags and grease by hand. Because these items aren’t removed during pumping, they are clogging the system. The town has tried to alert citizens to the problem, but it has not yet helped.

Mount Students Still Causing Partying Problems

The Emmitsburg Community Deputies still continue to receive complaints about Mount St. Mary’s University students living in town who are disturbing residents with their partying. The students have been warned in the past about carrying open alcohol containers in town and drinking in public. The deputies told the commissioners that they need to “escalate to the next level” their efforts to curb the problem.

Committee Appointment

Bernard Franklin was reappointed to the Emmitsburg Citizen’s Advisory Committee to serve a two-year term until September 3, 2023.

Town Declares Properties Not Needed

The Emmitsburg Commissioners declared two pieces of property the town owns as “no longer needed for a public purpose.” The properties are at 303 West Lincoln Avenue (now used as Christ Community Church) and 16715 Creamery Road (three acres of the water treatment plant property). This decision allows the town to set a sale price and sell the properties if the commissioners should choose to do so.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Wow, this year has flown by! My hope is that each of you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and took the opportunity to give thanks with your family and friends.

Back on October 17, Woodsboro held its first annual music festival in conjunction with Woodsboro Days, which is traditionally the third weekend in October, annually. The event was a great success, with several hundred in attendance for the family-friendly day in the park that included vendors, food trucks, and bands that played on the newly constructed permanent stage. Be on the lookout for announcements early next year for a spring/summer event to be held on the new stage as well. During the weekend, town residents and churches set up yard sales, and the Woodsboro Historical Society’s museum at the train station was open to visitors. Their annual 5K run/walk fundraiser also had a record number of participants. The weekend was an overall success in so many ways, and I am looking forward to next year’s festivities already. Mark your calendars now to attend next year’s Woodsboro Days on October 15-16, 2022.

At the November 9 town meeting, several items were discussed, including plans for a town hall that will be built on South Main Street on a lot the town purchased in 2018. The engineer and architect said he would deliver the final plans by November 22. The town council made a few changes last month to the original plans that delayed delivery, including the removal of a full basement intended for record storage. An attic with an open room was added instead. I am excited about the process. If all goes well with the approval of the new plans, we can have them submitted to the county soil conservation division for approval by the end of the year. My goal is to have shovels in the ground by early spring once the ground thaws from winter.

The American Rescue Plan funds the town received will help immensely in repairing and replacing several infrastructure items related to the town’s water and sewer systems. The council will vote on several of these items at the December meeting and how funds will be used in accordance with the plan’s spending guidelines.

The town is looking to fill committee seats, including those on the Planning & Zoning Committee and Board of Appeals Committee. We have some potential annexation requests coming up, so it’s very important that we fill these committee seats ASAP. If you would be interested in volunteering your time and live within the Woodsboro town limits, please attend a meeting or reach out to myself or the town office to express your interest.

The town has a few activities scheduled to celebrate the Christmas holiday season, and I invite you to attend. Check the Community Calendar in the back of this issue for these family-fun holiday events.

 I would also encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) Holiday Toy Shoppe toy collection to make sure children in our community have a toy under the tree. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a blessed New Year. After the last two years and what everyone has been through, let’s hope and pray that 2022 is much better.

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

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. The current location for meetings is the St. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. Second Street in Woodsboro. The public is always invited to attend.

James Rada Jr.

When the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) went into Kabul, Afghanistan, in August to assist in the evacuation of U.S. and Afghan citizens, Catoctin graduate Cody Torres was among them. Cpl. Torres is a geographic intelligence specialist with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Torres joined the Corps after graduation. He went through training at Parris Island, South Carolina, before receiving additional training at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.

The 24th MEU deployed in March 2021 and traveled to places such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

The 24th MEU consists of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8, a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24, and an aviation combat element, Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced. The unit is a self-sustained amphibious fighting force, comprised of a command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element, and logistics combat element. Embarked with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, this Marine air-ground task force is forward deployed in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

“MEUs operate globally, year-around as the Nation’s Force-in-Readiness,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer, 24th MEU and reported on the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet website. “As we lean into the future fight, expanding our reach and flexibility by utilizing platforms like HIMARS gives us the ability to facilitate maneuver and freedom-of-movement for friendly forces, and our Allies and partners, while denying our adversaries the ability to do the same.” HIIMARS is High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

When the U.S. military began withdrawing from Afghanistan in August, the 24th MEU was called on to assist in the evacuation of U.S. citizens, Afghans who assisted the U.S. military, and Afghans with visas. This was taking place as NATO forces were also withdrawing from the War in Afghanistan, and as the Taliban was quickly taking over the Afghan government. When Kabul fell to the Taliban, the Hamid Karzai International Airport was the only non-Taliban controlled route out of the country. NATO and American troops protected it as evacuees were flown out of the country.

“It was chaotic,” Torres said. “People were having to leave their lives behind.”

The 24th MEU arrived in Kabul in late August and began assisting.

The Marines “primarily focused on … the evacuation control center. That is the efforts to process American citizens, [Special Immigrant Visas applicants] and other Afghans and partner-nation citizens for evacuation and ensure that they get on the planes and get out of the country to various locations,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Huntley, director of operations at Marine Corps headquarters, as reported by USNI News. “We also are participating as part of the perimeter security,” along with the 82nd Airborne Division.

“My job was providing intelligence,” Torres said. “I was trying to get a good picture of what was going on on the ground and the surrounding area to avoid problems.”

Torres was in Afghanistan for about two weeks, including when a suicide bombing on August 26 killed 183 people, including 13 members of the United States military, one of whom was a member of 24th MEU. Sgt. Nicole L. Gee was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24.

According to Torres, around 177,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan, making it the largest airlift in history.

Once the evacuation deadline was reached, the Marines left, along with all other NATO personnel. The 24th MEU returned to Camp LeJeune in early October, marking the end of their seven-month deployment.

“The Marines and sailors that have arrived today, it’s been a long-anticipated time, a long deployment,” U.S. Marine Capt. Kelton J. Cochran told WNCT 9 News.

Torres is proud of the work he and his fellow Marines were able to do in Afghanistan. “The deployment showed me that there will always be things to do and problems to deal with,” Torres said. “I was never more proud of myself. It showed me that I could overcome any challenge. If there’s a problem, I want to be there to face the challenge and to help.”

Cover Photo: Courtesy Photos – Aboard USS IWO JIMA: Cpl. Cody Torres and Sgt. Cody Huestis

tan E

Transiting the Suez Canal: Cpl. Cody Torres, Sgt. Nicholas Santelmo, Capt. Ryan Sutherland, LCpl. Jake Bledsoe, and Sgt. Cody Huestis.


Mayor Don Briggs

Was it protracted summer or second spring? There was no break in the weather to accommodate a resurgent Indian summer. Our plants and foliage (along with Lib and I) enjoyed the opportunity to rebloom and grow. Then, finally the feel of fall swept in for a morning walk in mid-October. It is time. Time to close out gardens and restock compost bins with fallen leaves.

I greeted 25-plus members of Gettysburg Walking Club (GWC) down for a walkabout and lunch at the Carriage House Inn on a beautiful day. Thank you, Dee Conley, a town resident GWC member, for bringing business and exposure to the town.

Maryland Department of Planning reported census data from 2010 to 2020 reflected the population of Frederick County increased 16.4 percent. As a result, our Northern Frederick County Council District 5 will be redistricted to include precincts from a more-populated adjoining district. We live in the largest district, but also the least populated. The goal of the election board was, “to bring the proportion of the county’s population within each council district to as close to 20 percent as possible. The proposal would bump the District 5 proportion from less than 18 percent to more than 19 percent and decrease the District 2 proportion from more than 21 percent to 19.5 percent, changing it from the most populous district to the second least populous.”

I was honored to attend and speak at the groundbreaking for the Frederick Health—Mount care facility. The facility will serve not only Mount students but also residents of Northern Frederick County. The facility will be located on the university land at the corner of Annandale Road and Old Emmitsburg Road, across from the School Security office. It is much-needed and an important part of enhancing the town and Northern Frederick County social infrastructure. In addition to primary care, blood testing and special testing (i.e. mammary exams) will now be available more conveniently in our “neck of the woods.”

So, what is this MS4 that keeps coming up at town meetings? Well, welcome to the governmental proclivity for what sometimes feels like bloated self-defining program acronyms. MS4 is not a British spy intelligence agency. MS4 is “Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.” Fundamentally, it addresses the concern of protecting the cornucopia the Chesapeake Bay affords us. President Obama, through executive order, elevated the necessity to protect the bay. All of Maryland, except a small sliver of western Garrett County, is included with parts of six states and the District of Columbia in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“MS4 Permit is a permit administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to carry out the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, implemented by the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The NPDES program aims to restore and protect the U.S. waterways. To meet these requirements, MDE issues MS4 permits with the aim to reduce and eliminate pollution because of rainfall runoff. Frederick County is in its fourth generation of the NPDES – MS4 permitting going back to  1997.”

The Seton Family Store plans to hold a Christmas Craft Fair & Open House on Saturday, November 27, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Free Wi-Fi connection and electricity is available to stands. There are limitations, indoor spaces, caps on categories (e.g., number of jewelry artisans). Spaces are offered on a first-confirmed basis. Interested handmade artisans, crafters and/or food vendors wanting to register for spaces, please go to Cut-off for applications is the close of business on Saturday, November 13.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving with family, and get ready to set the table for Christmas.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Thurmont is holding elections for Mayor and two Commissioners the day after I wrote this article. I look forward to serving with the newly elected Commissioners, as we work together to make Thurmont the best it can be!

Colorfest has come and gone for another year, and considering we missed last year, it was a great success. I hope all our nonprofits did well this year. All of our churches, civic groups, Scouts, the Guardian Hose Company, the Thurmont Ambulance Company, and others depend on Colorfest for a large portion of their annual income. Next year, things should be back to normal and Colorfest will be back again.

The Skate Board Park is now open and is an extremely popular place! I want to thank the members of the Thurmont Skate Park Commission for their hard work to help this become a reality. A special thanks to Stacie Zelenka and Kiersten Dugan for their amazing guidance in getting the park up and running. Finally, thanks to everyone that helped by making donations, the Thurmont Board of Commissioners for their full support of the project, and Jim Humerick for staying on top of everything while this dream came to life.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, please be careful. I encourage everyone to consider making a donation to the Thurmont or Emmitsburg Food Banks so that our less fortunate family, friends, and neighbors can enjoy a happy Thanksgiving dinner.

Christmas in Thurmont is coming up fast. Keep your eyes open for more information about our Christmas tree lighting, the annual train display, the Christmas decorating contest, and other fun holiday events.

Please remember that every Friday evening, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., the Frederick County Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccinations and testing at the Town Office. They are set up in the parking lot and typically have the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. If you are eligible, they will also administer boosters.

If you have any questions, comments, complaints, or compliments, I can be contacted by phone at 301-606-9458 or via email at

by James Rada, Jr.


Public Hearing on Master Plan Update

The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft update of the Thurmont Master Plan on December 2 at the town office. The purpose of the hearing is for the planning and zoning commission to receive comments on the proposed update that the members will consider before approving an update and submitting it to the Mayor and Board of Town Commissioners for adoption.

New Commission Members Sworn In

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in Viktor Kraenbring and Frankie Thorton to the Thurmont Police Commission to serve three-year terms. Kinnaird also swore in Kraenbring to serve a five-year term on the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission.

CDBG Project for Medical Center

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved submitting a project for the Catoctin Medical Center for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. If approved by the state, the grant would fund the replacement of the rear entrance ramp and the installation of a new ADA-compliant ramp for the front entrance of the center. These ramps would benefit about 70 percent of the visitors to the center and cost around $151,425. The grant is a pass-through grant and does not cost the town anything.


Regular Office Hours Resumed

The Town of Emmitsburg has resumed its regular office hours, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Appointments are required to meet with staff members, and face masks are required for anyone visiting the office. Water and sewer bills and other documents for staff can still be placed in the black drop box.

Board Designates American Rescue Plan Funds

The Town of Emmitsburg is expected to receive $3.1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The town received the first installment of these funds in July, and the second payment will be received within the next year. The funds can only be used for certain projects, including water and sewer infrastructure projects.

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously voted to use the first installment funds of $1.57 million to help pay for the town’s new water clarifier and pump station projects. The money will be used to cover shortfalls in both projects.

The cost of the pump station is currently estimated at $3.7 million. The new station will replace the existing pump station on the west side of Creamery Road. The water clarifier to help the water treatment plant is estimated to cost $2.36 million.

Wipes Clogging Pumping Station

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners that the town sewer system is having problems because of flushable wipes and sanitizing wipes clogging the wet well at the pumping station. If this problem continues, it could lead to expensive repairs at the pumping station.

Ground Broken for New Health Center

Frederick Health and Mount St. Mary’s University broke ground on October 15 for a new healthcare facility in Emmitsburg. The center will treat Mount students and staff and local residents with prevention and other wellness services. The center is expected to open in June 2022. The project began with a partnership between Frederick Health and Mount St. Mary’s in 2018. The university donated the land for the project, while Frederick Health will operate the building. The center will also serve as the university’s student health center.

Commissioners Sworn In and Board Reorganized

Re-elected Town Commissioners Tim O’Donnell and Clifford Sweeney were sworn in to office during the October town meeting.

Mayor Don Briggs also recommended the following board positions for commissioners: Tim O’Donnell—President, Cliff Sweeney—Vice President and Citizens Advisory Committee Liaison, T.J. Burns—Treasurer, Joe Ritz III—Planning Commissioner Liaison, and Frank Davis—Parks and Recreation Committee Liaison. The commissioners unanimously approved the recommendation.

Deputies Trying to Address Mount Student Problems

Frederick County Deputy Jason Ahalt told the Emmitsburg Town Commissioners that there has been a definite “uptick” in problems with Mount students, primarily student athletes, who are living in town. The problems tend to come from the parties in homes after athletic events. Ahalt said the problems are being addressed, but the commissioners are trying to find more effective means of dealing with the problems.

Blair Garrett

A lot has changed over the past 18 months.

The world is a vastly different place. People have pressed through a lot of adversity to be where they are today.

Nobody has felt that adversity more than the small businesses that make up towns like Thurmont and Emmitsburg.

From your local restaurants to the Walmarts of our community, the majority of businesses are desperately looking for help. The signs are everywhere, and hiring managers are still having trouble getting applicants through the door.

The hiring shortage is a complex problem that has countless potential causes. But, it’s also a problem that is gutting businesses around the country that are looking to recover from continuous setbacks over the past two years.

Lack of employees is an issue that is felt from top to bottom, forcing local businesses in our hometowns to limit hours, cut back days, or even close for good during these difficult times.

While we deal with the fallout of mismanagement due to the pandemic on every level, the hiring problem even transcends our communities. Industries across the world that had either temporarily closed doors due to the Coronavirus or permanently shut down have sent a ripple effect that we deal with now every day.

Places responsible for importing many of the raw materials we use have experienced their own shortages, skyrocketing production times and prices, locally.

The smaller businesses owned and run by people you grew up with struggle every day to keep things rolling day after day. It is exhausting, and there is no simple fix for the situation we all have had the shared misery of navigating.

While there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel that one day this pandemic will officially be behind us, there are still major issues lingering throughout our communities.

“I work with these businesses every day, and it’s still a crisis situation for employment,” Town of Thurmont Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder said. “The hiring situation, in general, has been coming for a long time, but the pandemic just solidified it and took it to the tenth power.”

While events are now somewhat in full swing, the staffing issue has not followed suit. “Over the past few months, small businesses in hospitality have had to close early because of the lack of employees,” Grinder said. “It has not rebounded at all.”

What exactly causes these shortages of workers is as complex an issue as it gets, but the pressure-cooker that the virus has put us in has exacerbated these problems tenfold.

Something not mentioned enough is how much inconsistency at home is putting pressure on families to adjust when they may not always have the means to. “As a parent, it’s kind of hard to work when one week your kids are in school, and one week they’re not,” Grinder said. “Especially if you’re a single parent, what are you going to do?”

Situations, where one or both caregivers have to work to provide for their children, have never been more challenging. If a child in class tests positive for the virus, how many students are being sent home, where a parent has to take time off work in order to be there for the kids?

That kind of flexibility is not a luxury that every parent can afford to have, and it’s often unmanageable for the businesses having to compensate for that.

“A lot of restaurants and manufacturing companies can’t have people in one week and out the next, and so people may just stay home,” Grinder said.

Many people point to government assistance as the culprit for workforce shortages, but there is always more to the story.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had been focused on alleviating the hiring shortage for months, pushing to end additional government funding back in July, with legal delays slowing down that process. While it is not up to states to decide whether or not to use pandemic relief funding toward unemployment benefits, Maryland officially decided to end the extra $300 per week assistance on September 5. More than 100,000 Maryland residents were receiving additional benefits when they ended last month, and for the time being, the unemployment situation continues to plague local businesses.

The blue-collar jobs that the United States was built on were for a long time the primary avenue for success for the American people. The post-Industrial Revolution tech boom has seen millions of people choose an alternative route to start their foundations on. With thousands more each year choosing higher education and tech careers out of high school over a physical labor trade, there are bound to be fewer people searching for small local businesses as the focus for their careers.

The fix for such a muddy situation is as gray as the cause for how we got here in the first place, but there is hope that this trend will turn the corner at some point. “I think we’re all witnessing something we never thought we’d see,” Grinder said.

Who knows, once this pandemic is behind us and our industries can return to the consistency and rhythms that previously made them successful, our communities might just see the economic rebound your favorite mom and pop stores have been hoping for.

Until then, be mindful of the difficulties your local businesses may have, and be understanding of the hard times we are pushing through, and support those places when you can. After all, a small town is nothing without the support of the community within it.

James Rada, Jr.

Parts of this article come from a 2015 Catoctin Banner article about the Acacia Lodge.

The world has changed drastically since 1871, yet freemasonry remains relatively the same with its traditions and goals.

“It can be difficult to imagine a world of 150 years past, the year 1871… a world so familiar to all of us, yet so far in the past that even our most common conveniences were unknown nor heard of,” John Hoke said during the Acacia Masonic Lodge’s sesquicentennial dinner in September 2021.

The dinner celebrated the formation of the Acacia Lodge No. 155 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Thurmont.

“We had Masons from every lodge in Frederick County and some from D.C. and Pennsylvania,” said Lodge Worshipful Master Rick Boyle. “We also had the Grandmaster of Maryland and some of his line officers with us.”

It was a special event. Not many Maryland lodges have reached 150 years of service. In fact, there was a time when the Acacia Lodge closed. Decreasing membership led to the lodge’s charter being revoked in 1881. It wasn’t reinstated until 1887.

It is no coincidence, though, that the Acacia Lodge formed after the arrival of the Western Maryland Railroad in Mechanicstown.

“Employees from the Western Maryland Railroad began to settle in the local surrounding areas of Mechanicstown,” Hoke said. “Many of these men were members of Masonic Lodges in other parts of Maryland.”

The Acacia Lodge was formed from the Columbia Lodge in Frederick. Thirteen Masons in the area formed the lodge in Mechanicstown, with Charles Lyon as the first Worshipful Master (lodge president). The new lodge’s first meeting was held on May 22, 1871, in a room on the third floor of the John Rouzer apartment house, opposite the Lutheran Church on Church Street. Besides choosing officers, it was decided to name the lodge the Acacia Lodge.

Not all of the charter members of the Acacia Lodge came from the Columbia Lodge. Others came from lodges in Baltimore, Westminster, and Union Bridge.

Even before the Acacia Lodge received its charter and was officially recognized, it had begun to grow as two new members were added.

The Acacia Lodge was examined by other Maryland Masons in October 1871 to see if its membership was sufficient enough to support their own lodge, and on November 21, 1871, the Acacia Lodge was granted its charter. It met in the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall.

The Acacia Lodge continued to grow between 1872 and 1876, but for the next two years, many of the members found themselves working away from Thurmont. Because of the distance and the available forms of travel, many of the Masons couldn’t attend meetings.

This decrease in membership and activity led to the Maryland Grand Lodge taking back the lodge’s charter in 1881. Local Masons continued paying their dues and working to establish stability in their lodge. They applied for restoration of their charter in 1887, and it was granted on December 19.

“The lodge reorganized for work with all of its old members returning, and the lodge once again began to grow and prosper,” Hoke said.

One of the things that the members decided would help their stability was to own their building rather than continue to rent space. Beginning in 1894, the Masons, under Worshipful Master Leonard Waesche, began looking into buying the Bussard Building (where the lodge is currently located at 12 E. Main Street).

The lodge purchased the building in 1895 and began adding a third floor. The Masons also made repairs to the first and second floors of the building and began renting out the space. Over the years, the first two floors have been a livery, doctor’s office, post office, grocery store, drug store, beauty parlor, and more.

The third floor was completed in 1898, and the building began serving as the Acacia Lodge in January 1899.

When the lodge celebrated its first 50 years at the Thurmont Town Hall on November 29, 1921, only three of the original members were still living. They were George Stocksdale, Leonard Waesche, and David Martin.

World War II saw a surge in attendance at lodge meetings, mainly because of servicemen stationed at nearby Camp Ritchie who came to the Acacia Lodge. The Acacia Lodge conferred Masonic degrees on servicemen on behalf of other lodges through the Masonic Service Association.

The last tenant for the second floor of the lodge left in 1960. The space remained vacant until 1962 when it was decided to use the floor as the lodge’s social hall, which continues to be used for that purpose today.

Though generally believed to be a Christian group, Masons include many faiths. Each lodge has a book of faith on its central altar. The Acacia Lodge uses a Bible, but other lodges can include a book of faith for the predominant religion of the lodge.

“It doesn’t matter what religion you are, you just have to believe in a higher power,” Boyle said.

The Acacia Lodge is involved in many civic activities and participates in parades and building dedications. They can be identified in full regalia that includes tuxedos, top hats, and aprons. The local Masons dedicated the cornerstone of the Thurmont Library and have contributed money to many local efforts, such as purchasing a new flag pole for the town and paying for the memorial stone for servicemen in Memorial Park.

The lodge also offers an annual scholarship of $1,000 to a senior in the Catoctin High district.

The lodge is always seeking new members. If you are interested, contact a Mason. If you don’t know a Mason, visit the lodge’s website at and send an email on the contact page.

Pictured from left: (back row) Walter Ellenberg, Guy Calhoun II, Rob Reid, Colt Black, Bob Koons, Shawn Winpigler, John Hagemann, Rocky Birely, Mick Barlow, John Hoke, Buzz Murdorf; (front row) Grant Johnson, Barry Bosley, Cliff Drumheller, Marlin Mills, Rick Boyle, Bob Keilholtz, Bob Reid, Brian Speck, Roal Davis Jr., Daniel Webb, and Tommy Morris.

by James Rada, Jr.


Rutter’s Breaks Ground

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rutter’s store on MD 140 was held on September 13. Work is expected to begin this month. The 8,400-square-foot store is expected to bring around 50 jobs to the area. Besides the convenience store, the site will also include diesel and gasoline fuel pumps, a truck scale, and truck and car parking spaces. It is expected to open in the second half of 2022.

Stormwater Study Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners reluctantly awarded a contract of $33,578 to the University of Maryland Environmental Science Center to conduct a stormwater utility feasibility study. This is part of the federal mandates municipalities are being required to do, and the commissioners complained that it is placing an unneeded strain on the town’s budget.

Town Charter Repealed and Replaced

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners repealed the town’s charter in September and replaced it with one that had been updated and corrected for grammar and style issues. Although it did not contain major substantive changes, one that garnered discussion among the commissioners was a change from requiring a one-year residency in town to run for town office to one month. This is based on a recommendation that the longer requirement was likely unconstitutional.

Slaughter Appointed to Committee

During the September town meeting, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed Sandy Slaughter to serve on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Her three-year term will run until September 7, 2023.

Arbor Day Event at Myers Community Park

The Town of Emmitsburg is hosting an Arbor Day event at Myers Community Park on October 2 at 9:00 a.m. Seven new trees will be planted. The public is invited to attend. Bring a shovel and help. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will also hold a tree-planting demonstration.

Town Receives $400,000 to Plant Trees

The Town of Emmitsburg received a $400,000 grant to plant 26 acres of trees near the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The trees will be planted on land donated to the town by Daughters of Charity.


Town Election This Month

Thurmont’s town election will be on October 26 at the Guardian Hose Activities Building at 123 East Main Street in Thurmont. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., as citizens choose who will serve as mayor and in two commissioner positions. Anyone in line when the polls close will be allowed to vote.

To learn more about the candidates, you can attend the candidates’ forum hosted by the Thurmont Lions Club at the town office. It will be held on October 6 at 7:00 p.m. If you have questions you would like asked, contact Mark Long at no later than October 4.

Town Makes Donation to Senior Center

The Town of Thurmont recently made a $33,000 donation to the Thurmont Senior Center to help them continue providing activities and services for the town’s elderly.

Town Replacing More Utility Poles

The Town of Thurmont had planned on replacing six utility poles in town, but recently discovered that three more were in need of replacement. The additional poles are in Woodland Avenue and Moser Road. The town added the poles to the outstanding RFP for the six poles. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded a contract of $56,500 to AUI Power in Elkton to replace nine utility poles in town.

Check for Tree and Shrub Compliance

The Thurmont Police are asking residents to check to make sure their trees and shrubs are in compliance with town ordinance. Limbs must be no closer than 9 feet above sidewalks and 15 feet above streets. Otherwise, the limbs must be removed.

Blair Garrett

Making the big league is every young athlete’s dream.

For Mason Albright of Thurmont, that dream has finally become a reality.

The Catoctin alumni pitcher was selected in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Angels, giving him the opportunity to move one step closer to reaching a professional baseball career.

Albright, who pitched for Catoctin High School his freshman, sophomore, and junior year, spent his senior season in Bradenton, Florida, pitching at the IMG Academy among some of the nation’s top prospects.

Leaving friends and family behind for a year to improve was a tough decision, but ultimately, Albright felt it put him in the best position possible to begin a professional career in baseball.

Catoctin went on to win the state championship in Albright’s absence this past season on the back of a remarkably skilled pitching core, but Albright’s sights are set much higher.

The 18-year-old had plans to commit to Virginia Tech this coming fall, but the Angels made him an offer sweet enough to push the prospect to sign right out of high school, a feat that hadn’t been done by a Frederick County baseball player in over a decade.

With the first two draft days passing by without hearing his name called, the chances were getting slimmer and slimmer that he would accept an offer from a team and forgo his scholarship to Virginia Tech.

The Angels’ $1.25 million signing bonus offer is the largest in the bonus-pool money era of the draft for a player picked after the 10th round, which means the Angels knew they had an opportunity to pick up a talented player and ran with it.

With a limited amount of signing bonus money left, the Angels’ commitment to meet Albright’s signing value shows they believe he can make an impact down the line someday soon.

Albright held tight for a signing bonus that would persuade him to relinquish his commitment to Virginia Tech, and his confidence in his abilities ended up paying off big time on the final day of the draft.

The mission over the past year for the left-handed pitcher has been to improve his game, and he is now among elite company to eventually make the push onto the Angels’ roster. 

The Angels used all 20 picks of their 2021 draft selection on pitchers, so the message is clear that the team wants to develop a deep prospect pool of pitchers.

Albright headed west to Tempe, Arizona, to the Angels’ training facility for a team mini-camp to grow with other top prospects for the coming season.

The future is bright for the former Cougar to make a splash into the MLB, and he’s just getting started on what is hopefully a long and successful career on the mound.

Mason Albright, 18, throws for the Perfect Game National Showcase, which gives

scouting exposure to baseball’s top prospects.

James Rada, Jr.

As the world remembers the tragedy of September 11, 2001, I am filled with memories of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and my experiences there.

I was off work that Tuesday, so normally, I wouldn’t have heard about the day that changed the world because I didn’t have television in my house. Instead, I had a “honey, do” list to finish, and I was in the car driving around Cumberland on various errands.

I was listening to a CD on my car stereo, so I didn’t hear the first reports of the plane crashes on September 11. It was a beautiful fall morning, and I was enjoying the day. However, when I stopped at a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, the pharmacist asked, “What do you think about the plane crash?”

When I told her I had heard nothing, she explained a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center tower in New York City. I hurried back to my car and turned on the radio. The reporter was talking about the crash. I quickly realized it was about a second crash into the World Trade Center.

I drove to the next place on my errand list, listening to the radio reports as news came in. I didn’t want to get out of my car when I parked at the store where I needed to pick up some things. I went in and bought what I needed as quickly as I could. When I got back into my car, the news reports were talking about a third crash into the Pentagon.

‘CumberlanFiguring things were probably crazy at the Cumberland Times-News where I worked, I headed in to see if I could help.

I was wrong. Things weren’t crazy. Everyone seemed glued to the television as the video played over and over of the planes crashing into the towers.

I had barely seen the footage when my city editor saw me and sent me and a photographer off to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to search for another plane that had supposedly crashed. No one was sure what to make of this. Why would a plane crash in a town of fewer than 250 people? It wasn’t a well-known target like the World Trade Center or Pentagon. As the photographer and I neared Shanksville, we wondered where to go. We saw no smoke or anything that could lead us to the crash site.

Then, a Pennsylvania State Trooper car passed us with its lights flashing.

“Follow him,” I said. “If a plane crashed up here, that’s where he’s got to be going.”

So, the photographer sped up and followed the police car up the highway. It had gone about a mile when it suddenly made a U-turn in the middle of the road and headed toward us. Diane let the car pass and did her own U-turn to follow. The police weren’t even sure where the crash site was.

The car began snaking through some back roads until it reached another group of police cars with flashing lights. The police had barricaded all entrances to the site of the crash and pointed us to a field across the street as a place to wait. Only a handful of reporters were there.

I walked to the nearest house and interviewed the woman who answered the door. Paula Pluta had seen the plane come down in the quarry across the street. I stood with her for a few minutes and drew out her story. When I left her, I felt a little shaken myself. To have seen such a crash, what would that be like?

In the next house, a man had been driving home when he heard the crash. He had been to the crash site and seen nothing but smoke and small pieces of debris, “nothing bigger than the size of a car door.”

After I had interviewed anyone I could find within walking distance of the site, I headed back. I waited for hours in a hot, open field with no shade. As the day wore on, more and more reporters showed up, and we took cover from the sun in the shade of vehicles.

I was too afraid to leave the site in search of food or water, although I was hungry. What if we were allowed into the site and I was snacking at a diner? I ignored my rumbling stomach and dry mouth and waited.

After a couple of false alarms that we would be allowed back to see the site, a tour bus arrived around 4:00 p.m. The bus drove the media through lines of vehicles that made up mobile stations for federal teams, the Red Cross, biohazard teams, and cadaver dogs. Then, it stopped in a clearing, and we got off.

There wasn’t anything to see.             An amazing statement considering a passenger jet had crashed there just a few hours earlier.

Some state troopers stood watch at the edge of the perimeter where the media was allowed. You could see a pile of earth and smoke coming out a couple hundred feet away. That was it. That was all that was left of Flight 93.

After a press conference wth Governor Tom Ridge, there wasn’t anything left to do but to head home and file my story. It was a quiet ride. I tried to gather my thoughts and write out my story. It was hard to write objectively, though, when I felt so unsettled.

I guess the world has felt that way ever since.

Picture shows debris from Flight 93 at the crash site.

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg town election is on September 28. Four candidates are running to fill two commissioner seats. Here’s why they think residents should vote for them.

Rosario Benvengi

My family and I moved to Emmitsburg in 1989 after I had served four years in the U.S. Army. I had just accepted a job with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and we were looking for a safe place to reside and raise our children. We found that place in Emmitsburg and have lived here for 31 years. After 10 years of service with the sheriff’s office, I started my first business as a private investigator. After 15 years with my investigating business, I opened an Allstate insurance agency, located on Main Street. I became a member of the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, and was a driver for the Emmitsburg Ambulance Company. I managed one of six little league teams and umpired for the league prior to becoming a manager.

Eugene Myers, Thomas Topper, and John Hollinger were the first three people I met when I moved here, and they helped me understand how great this small town was. I decided to give to the community what it gave to me. In 1995, I was elected town commissioner. Although it has been 25 years since I was in office, I once again would like to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family.

If I am elected, I will work with the current board and the Maryland State Highway Administration to obtain left-turn lanes for the east and westbound lanes located at North and South Seton Avenues. With more houses being built in and around the town, traffic will only increase, and the problem can’t be ignored any longer.

Second, I will work to provide a 50-percent tax credit for new businesses. This will allow new business owners time to settle in and allow their business to grow. We should do everything possible to help our small businesses, as they are a vital piece to our town’s success.

We need to take a hard look at all building requests in town. We need to make sure we have the water to support this growth. Prior boards have spent thousands of dollars trying to locate usable wells for the town. During my term as commissioner, we tested five wells and could not use any of them. We must not allow this town to outgrow the infrastructure that is already in place.

Finally, the town government, along with town employees, needs to do a better job in assisting our residents and businesses. There need to be more resources to support our existing and new businesses. Our existing sign ordinance needs to be updated to allow businesses to advertise within their premises. Town codes should not hinder businesses but help them thrive.

Liz Buckman

I decided to run for town commissioner, and I would like you to vote for me on September 28. Saying I love this town and the people is not enough. I have spent the last eight or more years in service to the Emmitsburg community, three of which were as a commissioner. Although we have gotten a lot of bruises on Emmitsburg Cares and faced the perils of social media, we, as a community, have created a platform that connects us all. We have created a support system for each other, meeting our needs, troubleshooting problems, and sometimes just sharing information. It allows us to stay aware of town affairs and what impacts us. Sadly, that is not enough.

However, that is not why I am running. I have seen the need for transparency in town government. The people elect officials to represent us, but we do not know what is going on. We should know what, when, where, why, and how of our government, and it should be presented to us in an understandable way. This is my main goal.

Electing me would create a more representative government. The town council, as it stands, is all married men. As a woman, a single mother, and a teacher of the visually impaired, I bring an additional perspective that is currently missing in our town council.

I will work together with civic associations, churches, other municipalities, the fire department, and the people of this town.

Elect me and I vow to instill a vision of possibility and stand with the people, to listen to you and advocate for you.

I vow to work with the other council members, MSM staff and students, our civic associations, our churches, our fire department, the health department, our cooperating municipalities, housing, the Seton Center, The Ship, mentoring services, and many more as we find creative solutions to the problems we face.

I vow to make decisions on how we spend your tax dollars because spending directly impacts me as a resident. We will begin to challenge spending and discuss how it impacts you. We will look at the budget and cut unnecessary costs. Let’s look at the future and plan accordingly so that we can continue to afford to live here.

It is apparent with the new Rutters and other businesses that growth is happening. I will vow to ensure we consider best practices in urban planning to keep this small town a vibrant and safe place for our children to grow and learn.

As a teacher, not with FCPS, I vow to support our schools by attending FCPS board meetings where decisions are made to advocate for our small community.

I pledge to work toward a transparent government and for a responsive government that looks at how they can help you, not why they shouldn’t. Our town needs to work on communication with its customers, the residents of Emmitsburg, who pay their salaries. Enough is enough. This Emmitsburg government was created by the people and for the people.

Tim O’Donnell

Emmitsburg is a thriving community. We are challenged by immediate and long-term issues. COVID, aging infrastructure—like water lines that must be replaced—and community growth, all need careful attention. These are all significant and have to be addressed.

Our town government has remained open during the pandemic and was able to quickly pivot to a socially distanced format when the need arose. As we again see the possibility of social distancing returning, our staff is ready and supported by myself and my fellow board members, to perform our duties and continue serving the community.

Through a systematic process, our water infrastructure is being replaced. We have made intense efforts to correct immediate problems, such as brown water issues. Additionally, the town government is carrying out a long-term plan to replace failing water lines. It is well known that I have pushed for this effort, and have also pushed for the town staff to pursue grant funding to upgrade our water system in a timely manner with as little cost to the community as possible.

Whether it is new business, new housing, or a new regional park, I have made it a priority to support appropriate, measured community growth that serves our needs but does not compromise our quality of life. Whether a household, business, or individual is new to Emmitsburg or has deep roots here, their voice must be heard in town government. I understand that this is part of my role.

In my role as board president, it has been my goal to assist my fellow commissioners in being heard in an open public meeting, while also advocating for the community. It has been my goal to be certain that anyone who has participated in a town meeting has been given full opportunity to be heard. It is imperative that the process of meetings is transparent and inclusive. I have taken this role seriously and have seen the progress the board and town staff have made in serving our community as a result.

I am passionate about the quality of our recreational assets. Our parks, paths, game fields, pool, and trails deserve proper funding. I have worked with numerous mayors; commissioners; committees; federal, state, and county elected officials; as well as my neighbors, to see our parks and recreational options expand. I have also successfully pursued improved pedestrian access. Good sidewalks and connectivity throughout our community are essential. We must continue to expand our pedestrian options and link with the university and the new regional park.

My belief is my past actions have served the Town of Emmitsburg well. Nothing I have achieved here has been done alone. It has taken a collaborative effort. My hope is that I will earn your vote on September 28, and together we can move Emmitsburg forward.

Cliff Sweeney

I have served the Town of Emmitsburg for 23 years on the Board of Commissioners. Through my eight terms on the board, I have held every commissioner position on the board, which gives me a strong foundation about how all aspects of our town government work. I am also a member of the Emmitsburg Lions Club, EOPCC, Sons of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, and I have served in various leadership positions in each of them.

During my time as commissioner, I have helped create Community Park, improved Memorial Park, added more baseball and softball fields to the town, built a new town pool, and built hiking and biking trails. I helped get the state to replace two bridges in town and make other street improvements. Emmitsburg has revitalized the town square, improved its sidewalks, and updated its streets. The town was also able to get a new town office, senior center, library, and YMCA Head Start Program. We built new water and sewer plants and are in the process of getting a new pumping station.

I want to continue to build on this success as I continue to serve you as commissioner. I want to put more emphasis on bringing both large and small businesses to town, as well as promoting our current businesses. I want to create a more transparent government so that both residents and businesses understand what we are doing on their behalf. I want to bring back our beloved Little League and other youth activities. I want to see this wonderful community unified as we build a better future for ourselves.

James Rada, Jr.

Three years ago in Ireland, Hagerstown found out it would be hosting the 2021 World Canals Conference (WCC).

However, the world has changed since then.

“Last year’s onset of the pandemic suddenly converted the preparations into a series of Zoom calls,” said Bill Holdsworth, president of the C&O Canal Association. “Leipzig was scheduled to host 2020 WCC in Germany. They had to reschedule to 2022. We hoped that time was on our side for 2021. The COVID surge in December/January created doubts.”

The distribution of the COVID vaccines and the large space in the Maryland Theater in Hagerstown helped things move forward with an in-person conference.

“Unfortunately, travel regulations forced our registrants from Europe to cancel. So, our conference will have an American focus,” Holdsworth said.

The conference will run August 30 to September 2 in Hagerstown and sites on the C&O Canal.

“The event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of creation of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Substantial restoration works have been completed on significant sections of the canal, particularly in Georgetown, Washington, and in Williamsport, Maryland, close to Hagerstown,” said Dan Spedden, president of Visit Hagerstown & Washington County, MD.

The conference features talks in the Maryland Theater in the morning and tours of various canal sites in the afternoon. Although COVID has restricted some international travel, more than 100 international canal enthusiasts are expected at the conference. The goal of the conference is to bring together canal enthusiasts, professionals, and scholars “to exchange good practices on canals,” according to Holdsworth.

“The World Canals Conference provides Visit Hagerstown with the opportunity to present these improvements to an international audience,” Spedden said. “The profile of our destination is greatly elevated by the WCC; we expect to see a rise in visitation for years to come.”

The World Canals Conference is held at a different location with a connection to canals each year. The 2022 conference will be in Leipzig, Germany. 


Mayor Don Briggs

With heavy hearts, the southern Adams County, Northern Frederick County community mourn the loss of Battalion Chief Joshua D. Laird. He gave his life in the line of duty at a residential fire in Ijamsville on August 11. Chief Laird was a 21-year veteran of Frederick County Fire and Rescue. He resided with his family in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania. As a further bond, the family is a part of the Mount family. The viewing and funeral memorial service were held at the Mount athletic arena. 

Recently, Northern Frederick County lost another dear friend, Tom McFadden, a former superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park. I first met Tom in the mid-80s at a Rotary Club luncheon. In not too short a measure of time, I was a volunteer. Soon, Lib and I were founding members of the Catoctin Area Mountain Park Resources, Inc. (CAMPER), a nonprofit organization set up by Tom. Initially, we worked on clearing trails for President Reagan to ride. My role expanded to the shared leadership duties of a newly formed park horse patrol. The responsibility of the patrol was to assist in assuring safe passage for visitors. Patrol members were holstered with then state-of-the-art “walkie-talkies.” Horses and tack were kept high on the mountain at the Misty Mount stable near Camp David, the Presidential retreat. Unlike today’s less-inviting identification, back then there was a simple roadside sign: “Camp David.” Once, I took a photograph of a visiting student from Nigeria by the sign. It was a special time and an honor to be a part of the park, absorbed into the mountain’s palette of wildlife, birds, mountain laurel, ferns, and a broad cooling canopy of hardwood trees. 

The Irishtown Road construction started in mid-August. The intention was to not shut down the road and have flag-men there to assist the traffic flow during construction. However, in a more-encompassing perspective for the safety of workers and vehicular traffic, there will be road closures. Soon, there will be two-way traffic off Irishtown Road to Brookfield Drive. This is a vital connection needed to balance expanding town traffic flow. The timetable is fluid, but the intention is to wrap up road construction by mid-fall. With the road project will come 19 homes built on the south side of the road to finish out the Brookfield subdivision. So, another segment of town connectivity will be completed, with sidewalks and lighting in front of the homes. Think about it, in the not-too-distant future, with the completion of the proposed Emmit Ridge II subdivision and finally a second entrance to Northgate, there will be a second east–west sidewalk connection through town.

Under the long list of taking things for granted…40 years ago, we might have laughed at the thought of buying water or at the possibility of a water shortage in the area. But, once again for many reasons—development, weather changes—the town has implemented phase 1 voluntary conservation restrictions.

The town has issued its permit for development of the Rutter’s site. It is our understanding that the permit from the county is being processed.

Envision Frederick held its monthly meeting in Community Park on Saturday, August 28. I welcomed visitors and was a panel speaker.

The town pool will close after Labor Day weekend (September 6). From all reports, a good season was had by all.

Praying that our students can get back to school this fall in an orderly and comfortable way. They are our present; they are our future.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

I am very pleased to announce that the contract for installing the new skate park has been awarded. Construction should start within two months. This has been a very interesting process that began with a group of teens approaching the Board of Commissioners about getting a skate park in Thurmont. Since then, we acquired Project Open Space funding to help finance the project, and the members of the Skate Park Commission have raised about $15,000 in donations to help with the funding. The park commission has also played a part in designing the park and made a recommendation for the selection of the contractor. The skate park will be located at East End Park. Be sure to keep an eye open for the groundbreaking ceremony.

The Frederick County Health Department is offering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at the Town Office parking lot every Friday, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. You can also get the booster shot if you qualify with medical issues. At this time, you must use the same vaccine as your original shots. I believe Frederick County will be expanding the booster shot to everyone else within the next two months. Check the Frederick County Vaccination page for vaccination clinic locations, times, and the vaccinations available at

The Town of Thurmont will be holding elections this fall for mayor and two commissioner positions. Here are dates to keep in mind as the elections approach.

September 28, 2021—Nominating Convention at 7:00 p.m. at the Thurmont Municipal Offices.

September 28, 2021—Last day to register to vote in the election. You must register at the Municipal Offices before the close of business at 4:00 p.m. on September 28.

October 8, 2021—Absentee ballot applications will be available.

October 19, 2021—The last day to make an application for an absentee ballot. You must apply at the Municipal Office before the close of business at 4:00 p.m. on October 19.

October 26, 2021—General Elections to be held at the Guardian Hose Company Activity Building, 123 East Main Street, Thurmont. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Persons in line at the time of closing will be permitted to vote.

For more information contact the Town Office at 301-271-7313. I encourage everyone to get out and vote!

Colorfest for 2021 is in the planning stages, and permits will be available soon. After last year’s cancellation, I hope that this year will be a huge success. Many of our local non-profits, churches, Scouts, organizations, the Guardian Hose Company, and the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service depend on Colorfest for much of their annual income. We will follow Maryland COVID-19 recommendations in place at the time.

I hope everyone has a great September. As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at with any questions or comments.

by James Rada, Jr.


Water Alert Issued

Emmitsburg town staff are concerned about water usage in town. The town issued an alert last month asking residents to be aware of how much water they are using.

“Please be conscious of water usage. Emmitsburg is nearing the point where phase 1 of the water curtailment ordinance will be enacted,” according to the alert. “Watering is prohibited on all days between 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Also, check for leaking hoses and sprinklers and turn them off when not in use. Contact the town office with questions or concerns.”

Phase 1 water restrictions are voluntary and ask residents to reduce water usage on their own. Mandatory restrictions will begin should the town commissioners enact Phase 2 restrictions.

Emmitsburg Town Election Update

As of August 17, four people are running in the Emmitsburg town election to fill two commissioner seats. Clifford Lee Sweeney, Rosario Benvenji, Liz Buckman, and Tim O’Donnell have filed to run for the seats currently held by Sweeney and O’Donnell.

The election will be held on Tuesday, September 28. Votes can be cast at 22 East Main Street, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed Sharon Hane as chief judge for this year’s election, with Tammy May and Charlotte Mazaleski working with her as judges. Deborah Arnold will serve as the greeter, and Dianne Walbrecker is an alternate judge.

New Animal Code Adopted

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to amend the town’s animal code. The changes deal primarily with keeping chickens on property within town boundaries.

Commissioners Consider Exploring Speed Cameras

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of bringing speed cameras to town to reduce speeding in town. It was suggested that the town could follow Thurmont’s example in contracting for portable speed cameras to be set up within half-miles of the town schools. Thurmont also uses a certified third-party to confirm the licenses and infractions.

“I think, strategically placed, it would make the town a lot safer,” Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Ahalt said.

Before anything happens, the town would have to hold a public hearing and pass a law allowing them.


Town Gets First Installment of Federal Funds

Thurmont received nearly $3.4 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and it is expected to receive another $3.5 million by the end of the year. The initial money will be used to pay for the new water and sewer lines on North Church Street, the new water line on West Pryor Road, a pump system to connect the town’s different pressure water systems, repairing manhole covers, and more. The second payment will be used to make stormwater management pond improvements.

Although there are other projects the town commissioners would like to do, the American Rescue Plan money can only be used for water and sewer projects, stormwater management, and high-speed internet connectivity.

Skate Park Funding Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded Arment Concrete in Denver, Pennsylvania, a contract of $83,500 to build the Thurmont Skate Park. The company has built skate parks across the country, including ones in Urbana; York, Pennsylvania; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The funding for the project will come from a $60,000 Program Open Space grant, $15,000 from donations the Thurmont Skate Park Committee raised, and $8,500 from Thurmont parks impact fees. Construction is expected to begin in October and take two months to complete. It will be 4,000 square feet of concrete and include features and obstacles.

Thurmont Studying Emmitsburg Road Flooding

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to pay ARRO Consulting $12,800 to study the flooding that occurs on Emmitsburg Road and recommend how it can be mitigated. The town will use the recommendations to decide on what will be done to correct the issue. The flooding along Emmitsburg Road has been a long-running problem in town.

Thurmont Gets 5th Tree City USA Designation

Becky Wilson with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently presented the Town of Thurmont and the Thurmont Green Team with the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Award. This marks the fifth consecutive year that the town has received the award. The town also received the Growth Award for the first time. It was awarded for activities above and beyond the baseline required in caring for trees and doing plantings. Thurmont is only one of eight jurisdictions in Maryland to receive this award.

Town Annexes Apples United Church of Christ

Apples United Church of Christ petitioned the Town of Thurmont to be annexed in order to get on the town’s water and sewer system. The property is 4.6 acres, with about half of it improved. The commissioners unanimously approved the annexation.

Next Phase of Woodland Park Playground Moves Forward

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded Playground Specialists, Inc. a $159,534 contract to replace playground equipment for the Woodland Park Playground. Old equipment, borders, and surfacing will be removed and replaced with new ones. It will include a large central unit, an outdoor fitness gym, see-saw, percussion play items, benches, shade structure, and wood-fiber surfacing. The sidewalk will be made ADA-compliant.

Commission Appointments Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently reappointed Viktor Kraenbring, Jim Robbins, and Frankie Thornton to the Thurmont Police Commission. Kraenbring was also reappointed to serve on the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission.

At Emmitsburg’s 39th Annual Community Heritage Day, representatives from the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) set up a booth to display information about EMI’s 70 years of training for emergency managers across the nation who visit the 107-acre National Emergency Training Center (NETC) campus in Emmitsburg.

Joe Goldsberry, Training Specialist, and Bill Hertel, Telecommunications Specialist, answered questions as festival-goers stopped to look at the signs and brochures. Joe, as chief steward of the EMI Union, and Bill, as a 25-year staffer at EMI, were the perfect ambassadors for explaining what goes on behind the gates.

The fence along South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg was installed around the property by the federal government following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They make the campus appear mysterious, although training emergency managers is simply practical! Interactive lectures and activities, sharing lessons learned from disasters, and exploring concepts in leadership and management are the stock-in-trade of training at EMI where managers prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from disasters.

In fact, last year more than 900,000 students from around the nation and the world took a total of 2.4 million courses selected from the 152 online independent study and 211 classroom-based courses.

Don Briggs, mayor of Emmitsburg, stopped by the booth to congratulate EMI and to say how much he appreciates EMI’s mission. “I’ve run into EMI students many times in town and heard about what they are learning. It’s interesting, most of all, to hear how they can apply what they learned here in Emmitsburg to making their own communities safer and more resilient.”

While the NETC campus, owned and operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Fire Academy (NFA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), has been operating since 1981, training for the nation’s emergency managers began in 1951 at the Civil Defense Staff College (CDSC).

In response to the public’s concern after the Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb in 1949, President Truman issued an Executive Order to create FCDA, the Federal Civil Defense Administration. One of the key components of this executive order mandated the federal government to provide training to state and local government officials.

On April 1, 1951, the National Civil Defense Training Center opened in Olney, Maryland. It consisted of two schools, the Civil Defense Staff College and the Rescue School. By the end of 1951, the Staff College had given 25 courses to state and local administrative personnel. It went on to evolve into the Emergency Management Institute today.

The Rescue School went on to become a precursor to the national urban search and rescue (USAR) system that we know today. In fact, 28 USAR teams from counties in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, among others, and those from Israel and Mexico have been working in the aftermath of the Surfside Condo collapse in Florida most recently.

Through the early 1950s, the Cold War escalated, more powerful bombs were built, and faster jet aircraft with guided missiles were developed to carry and drop the bombs. Washington, D.C. was considered to be the Soviet’s prime target. This led to the decision in 1954 to move the nation’s civil defense assets, including the Staff College, to Battle Creek, Michigan. The Staff College’s curriculum from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s was technical in nature and heavily oriented towards Nuclear Attack preparedness and response.

As the Cold War waned, the need to train for nuclear attacks diminished. Emergency management moved toward an all-hazards approach, training for floods, tornados, building collapses, and other types of natural and technological disasters. 

As Jeffrey D. Stern, Ph.D., EMI’s superintendent, said in a recent video announcing the start of EMI’s 70-year celebration, “We’ve been proud of our work in training the nation’s emergency managers since 1951; first, as civil defense professionals preparing for the cold war and then as the emergency management profession evolved in the 1970s for what we know today as our all-hazards national emergency management system. Over the years, we have grown… What we’ve also learned since 2002 is that our resilience, our preparedness, our response, and our recovery requires more than just government; it requires what we now refer to as, ‘the whole community.’ This includes the private sector, nonprofit organizations, individual citizens, and resilient communities working together. So, we are here in this 70th year rededicating [EMI] to helping train and educate the professionals that will lead the development of emergency management into the next 70 years.”

“The last several years have been incredibly challenging for our emergency management professionals and the whole nation, whether we’re dealing with hurricanes, massive flooding, civil disturbances and most recently the global pandemic, EMI has continued its mission to make ready our nation’s emergency management workforce in fiscal year 2020… As we look towards 2021 and the 70th year EMI will continue to innovate in how we deliver the important essential training and education to further build the profession our country needs and deserves.”

Joe Goldsberry at the booth celebrating EMI’s 70 years of training those who serve the nation at Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day, June 26, 2021. Listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, N Building, shown on the display, houses EMI staff and the Learning Resource Center and is the iconic symbol of EMI.

Four stenographers and clerical workers (from left: Mrs. Frances Christiansen, Mrs. Claire Federline, Mrs. Helen Hawthorne, and Miss Rachel Gonzales) walk in front of the building that housed the Civil Defense Staff College in Olney, Maryland. 

Above Cover Photo: Bill Hertel (left), Dianne Walbrecker (center), and Joe Goldsberry (right) set up the booth at Heritage Day to celebrate EMI’s 70 years.

Photo Courtesy of Edward Nolan, Archives of the Sun Papers

Photo by Dianne Walbrecker

Gracie Eyler

Do you enjoy the sport of fishing? If you do, then there is a hefty chance one [or many] of your most treasured memories involves a farm pond, family, and friends.

While not everyone has access to their own private fishing oasis, fortunately, we have a few great spots to cast a line right in our neck of the woods. If you haven’t come across Cool’s Pond, you’re surely missing out on this hidden gem.

Nestled on the top of a mountain, Cool’s Pond is a small piece of paradise. When you arrive at the property you can’t help but notice the scenic overlook, but the view isn’t the biggest draw. It’s actually the massive catfish that can be caught out of two large ponds.

In the 1980s, proprietor Barb Cool’s (late) husband, Sam, tossed around ideas to help generate more revenue for their large family. He came up with a grand plan that was implemented when, in 1985, Sam Cool welcomed the community to “Cool’s Pond” to pay-to-fish (catch and release).

He took out an ad in a local newspaper, expecting crowds to come out and fish. Barb laughed and said that in the beginning, “You’d be lucky to have a few people a week!” After a while, word got out that Sam had the pond stocked with monster catfish, and it snowballed from there.

Barb laughs as she sits on the big farmhouse porch, “I never thought anyone would fish, and then, guess what, I was wrong!”

Unfortunately, in 2019, Sam passed away. Barb and her family worked hard to freshen up the property. Fast-forwarding to 2020, outdoor recreation was at a high. We were all feeling the effects of a rough year, being cooped up inside for too long from the ongoing pandemic. With so much support from their repeat customers over the years, they reopened, and it was just what the community needed. “It was just incredible, the support we received from our fishermen.”

Some of the fish that you may catch and release during your visit include sunfish, crappie, bass, flathead, and channel catfish. The largest catfish, named “Bubba” is roughly 50 pounds and lurks at the bottom of one of the ponds. (Sorry, we can’t tell you which pond—you’ll have to figure that out on your own!) The farm also produces brown eggs and fresh fruit. If you’re looking for farm-fresh eggs, they are available for purchase at the bait shop.

To begin your adventure at Cool’s, you stroll up to the brown building, sign in with an envelope, and leave eight dollars in the envelope. You’ll most likely be greeted by a friendly face, the groundskeeper, Derek. He knows the ponds just as well as Barb and her late husband, Sam.

“Doctor Derek,” Barb jokes, knows an immense amount about the fish species in the pond, appropriate baits and tackle, and when the fish are biting. Informally, his doctor title comes from being the guy who helps the unfortunate who have hooked themselves, to remove the new piercing. Making his rounds to all of the visitors, he is happy to chat about the ponds and provide advice, but he also keeps an eye on those who might not be following the rules.

Another friendly face you may see helping out, is Sammie, Barb’s granddaughter (and Derek’s summer sidekick). Sammie adores her grandparents’ paradise. She spends most of her summer doing odds and ends around the farm and, of course, fishing when she has a chance.

Sammie recollects one of the unforgettable moments growing up, “I was two or three, fishing with my grandfather. I went to cast in, and instead of landing in the pond, the hook landed and was stuck in the back of my head.” Some kids may have ended the hobby right there, but it didn’t discourage Sammie.

Along with the well-maintained grounds, bait is available for purchase and rods are available to rent. For those who may be having trouble with their own fishing rod—or may have had a monster cat hook the line that jerked their fishing rod into the pond—visit the shop, and Derek will outfit you with the appropriate rental.

Snacks and drinks are also available for purchase, but you’re welcome to bring your own meal and picnic while you’re fishing. A variety of benches, chairs, and picnic tables are along the banks, as well as charcoal grills if you feel like cooking! Don’t worry, if you chose not to roast some wieners, they won’t go to waste. Turns out, the catfish may love them more than us. They especially enjoy them if they’ve been soaked in red Kool-Aid! If they don’t hit on hot dogs, then they may be hungry for chicken liver or bait fish.

While enjoying your outing at Cool’s Pond, there are a few rules and pond etiquette that visitors must follow. For example, bait fish are available for purchase. They are kept in a large container with no exposure to other water sources. This limits the risk of introducing disease, unwanted vegetation, and parasites into the pond.

As you’ll notice, there are concrete blocks every so often on the banks. These are used as heavy-duty rod holders, but you are encouraged to stay with your rod. If a big fish grabs the line, there is a very good chance you’ll either need to get creative and try to get your prized rod back or accept its fate, and it will become a part of the fishing-rod graveyard. There have been quite a few recovered over the years.

You are welcome to bring your own food, drinks, and supplies, but please make sure any unwanted items and trash are discarded into the trash bins on the property, or even better, leave with everything you brought. Cigarette butts and cut fishing line along the banks are certainly frowned upon. Discarded string can litter the ponds and threaten other local wildlife in the ecosystem.

Treble hooks are a handy hook to almost guarantee a catch, but they generally cause more harm to the fish when being removed. Skip the treble hooks while at the pond. You’ll save yourself—and your catch—the misery. Instead, use a single-snare hook. “If the fish does swallow the hook, and it cannot be removed without damage, cut the line, and leave the hook in the fish. Hooks will rust and the fish will heal,” Derek said.

One of Sam’s favorite parts about the fishing business is giving people the opportunity to bring their children to a safe place, with few obstacles, to learn the sport. Sam invites local youth up every summer to give kids a class on fishing. Sunfish tend to be curious and aggressive of anything passing through their territory, which makes them ideal to keep little kids interested if they continuously catch them. When you’re done with your bait, take it with you, or ask your neighbor on the bank if they could use it. If the fish are well-fed and don’t have to put up a fight for food, you or your child may have a disappointing day of fishing.

For a nominal fee, Cool’s Pond is a local treasure that you and your family should experience. If you want to take the outdoor experience a step further, make a reservation to go night fishing and even camping! New this year, the family worked hard to provide three fresh new primitive campsites. Each is equipped with a picnic table and private grill. 

Cool’s Pond is located at 14419 Edgemont Road in Smithsburg and is open daily, from sun-up to sundown. To make reservations for a campsite or catfishing at night, call 240-527-9758 or 301-824-0083. There is no license required for fishing.

You won’t just make a good memory, you’ll most likely find yourself making new friends at the Cool family paradise.

Barb Cool, granddaughter Sammie, and Groundskeeper Derek take a quick break from the summer heat before getting back to work at the pond.

Photo by Gracie Eyler

(left) Barb and Sam Cool stand out on the dock at Cool’s Pond.

(right) Gracie and Danny Eyler show off their skills (really, just random luck) catfishing at Cool’s Pond. Please note, it’s not always as easy as it looks holding a catfish and posing for a picture.

James Rada Jr.

Like old friends that we haven’t seen in a while but are now beginning to, familiar events are once again happening in Northern Frederick County.

Carnivals and festivals that were canceled last year are taking place this year. Pools and venues that were closed last year are open this year. And everyone is elated to see this long-awaited trend back to normalcy.

Emmitsburg Heritage Day and the Guardian Hose Company carnival were among the events that went off without a hitch this year.

“We were able to do it, and the community came out and supported us,” said Wayne Stackhouse, Guardian Hose Company president.

He was pleased with the turnout, although the carnival was one day less this year. Still, it was a big improvement over having no carnival—and no fundraiser for the fire company—last year.

“When you take away the biggest fundraiser we have, it hurts the company,” Stackhouse said.

The Emmitsburg Heritage Day Committee had to make its decision about the community event while many restrictions were still in place, although things were improving.

“It was an optimistic decision, similar to the one we made last year,” said committee member Jennifer Joy.

The Heritage Day Committee consists of Lions, Sons of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, and is supported by the whole community through donations. “We figured that even if restrictions stayed or were imposed, we could still have an abbreviated event. So, we planned for the whole event and, if necessary, were prepared to abbreviate it to just an evening entertainment and the annual fireworks like we did last year.”

The fireworks would have needed to happen, regardless of whether the rest of the event happened because the committee had to pay half of the show cost in December, and it was non-refundable.

Meanwhile, the biggest area event to come is Colorfest in October, and planning is happening for that event, which will bring somewhere around 100,000 people to Thurmont over the weekend.

“We are all systems go,” said Colorfest President Carol Robertson.

Without Colorfest happening last year, the $20,000 in annual donations Colorfest, Inc. makes directly to the community didn’t happen. This included scholarships and the Christmas dinner donations the group makes to the Thurmont Food Bank. Also, churches and organizations that use the event as their major fundraiser for the year didn’t get that income.

Robertson expects the turnout for Colorfest to be great this year. The vendors are excited to attend, and people want to get out.

“When we made the decision to go ahead with it, I had people come up and hug me in the store,” Robertson said. “It was missed, and I think it will be well attended.”

The games at Emmitsburg Heritage Day were lots of fun!

(above) Kyle Welsh and Chase Jackson at the Thurmont Guardian Hose Co.’s Carnival.

(above) Karen Eiker, Molly Tokar, Rose Downs Hatcher and Lori Young pumped up for the Amish Outlaws at the Thurmont Event Complex.

(below) McKinley and Karlee at the Thurmont Guardian Hose Co.’s Carnival.

(below) Braylee and Ayden Helman enjoy rides at the Thurmont Guardian Hose Co.’s Carnival!

Courtesy Photos

Emmitsburg Heritage Day Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding

Members of the South Paw Dog Club direct the talents of their beautiful dogs.

The Heritage Day parade is enjoyed by many. The Catoctin High School Baseball Team rides in the truck, celebrating its win at the Maryland State Championship.

John Whittaker volunteers to drive the kiddy train ride at Heritage Day.

Volunteers Jenni and Pat Joy represent the Emmitsburg Lions Club and Knights of Columbus to make Heritage Day possible.

A smiling Luke Ray places second in the Pie Eating Contest (ages 5-8) at Heritage Day!

Marc and Becca Cichocki cross the finish line (ages 17 & up) in a sack race.

Tyrian Lodge #205 sponsored the annual Horseshoe Tournament at Heritage Day. Winners are pictured.

Photo by Ron Cool

Various games were held during the 2021 Emmitsburg Heritage Day event that was held in the E. Eugene Myers Memorial Park in Emmitsburg on June 26. A great day was had by all! The winners are listed below.

Greased Pig Chase: Ages 1-6—winner was Ryan Krom; Ages 7-11—winner was Alexandra Singh; Ages 12-16—winner was Justin Lejeune; Ages 17 & up—winner was Mark Creager.

Sack Race Singles: Ages 1-4—Ava Cichocki (1st) and Kynslee Miller (2nd); Ages 5-8—Jerome Turner and Sophia Myers (two heats 1st) and Morgan Fogle and Jackson Ciehocki (two heats 2nd); Ages 9-12—Bernadette Hahn and Bradon Zentz (two heats 1st) and Sarah Legare and Madelyn Fogle (two heats 2nd); Ages 13-16—Mary Legare (1st); Ages 17 & up—Jack McCarthy (1st) and Brendan Allison (2nd).

Sack Race Doubles: Ages 9-12—Austin and Addison Welch (1st) and Kennedy and Gage Creager (2nd); Ages 13-16—Sarah Legare and Naomi Hahn (1st) and Lucy Hahn and Sphia Legare (2nd); Ages 17 & up—Becca and Marc Cichocki (1st) and David and Timmy McCarthy (2nd).

Egg Toss: Bridget and Dan McCarthy (1st); Danielle Wilson and Bobby Knox (2nd).

Water Balloon Toss: Abigail and Quin McCarthy (1st).

Pie Eating Contest: Ages up to 4—Leah Krom (1st); Ages 5-8—Cora Krom (1st) and Luke Ray (2nd); Ages 9-12—Alexandra Singh (1st) and Sophia Legare (2nd); Ages 13-16—Mary Legare (1st) and Naomi Hahn (2nd); Ages 17 & up—Jack McCarthy (1st) and Mark Creager (2nd).

Watermelon Eating Contest: Ages up to 4—Leah Krom (1st) and Everly Wivell (2nd); Ages 5-8—Ryan Krom (1st) and Gage Creager (2nd); Ages 9-12—Alexandra Singh (1st) and Kennedy Creager (2nd); Ages 13-16—Jeremy Talcott (1st) and Timmy McCarthy (2nd); Ages 17 & up—Jack McCarthy (1st) and Nick Wivell (2nd).

Horseshoe Tournament: Ted Rill, Sr. and Brendon Allison (1st), Ted Rill, Jr. and Dan Warren (2nd), and Harold Stafford and Eileen Scovitch (3rd).

Jayden Myers

For those traveling in the area, whether it be for sightseeing, visiting, or just passing through, there are some unique places that you could stop visit this summer and fall.

Locally, spots such as Cunningham Falls State Park, Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, and the Catoctin Furnace are places worth visiting.

Cunningham Falls State Park is a beautiful place to visit, not just for its scenery but for some of the activities it offers. There are many trails that are great for hiking, and the lake holds opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing. If planning for a longer stay, there are campsites for overnight visits. You can also visit Catoctin Furnace while visiting Cunningham, as it is located within.

Catoctin Furnace is appealing to history buffs, as it holds history from the American Revolutionary War and much more. You can explore what remains and enjoy the views as you do.

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve is a lovely place to go and enjoy the wildlife. You can feed and touch some of the animals, as well as enjoy some of the other activities it offers. It can be a very fun experience for both kids and adults.

For areas a bit farther away, Deep Creek Lake and Ocean City are some great family vacation options.

Deep Creek Lake has something for everyone. You can rent estates in the area to serve as a homebase while exploring all the recreational options lake has to offer. The lake has tons of different activities for the whole family. In certain sectioned-off locations, it is safe to swim and play, as it is roped off and has lifeguards during the summer. The lake is also open to boating and fishing, as well as other water activities.

Ocean City has many family-friendly activities, like miniature golf, amusement parks, and water parks. On the boardwalk, there are arcades, shops, stands, and you can listen to the waves from the beach. On the beach, you can swim, play, boat, and fish. Fun for the whole family.

One other great place to stay in Maryland is Assateague Island. It has amazing scenery and wild horses roaming the island. You can swim, camp, and sightsee while there. You can go kayaking, see the wildlife, go hiking, horseback riding, and more!

Make sure to check out some of the amazing places in Maryland this summer and fall.

by James Rada, Jr.


End-of-Year Budget Amendments Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved nine adjustments to the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, totaling around $158,000 in additional funding and $48,651 in transfers from other funds. Most of the amendments reflect grant funding that was received during the year and the town match required of the grants. The transfers show that for a town investment of $48,651, it received an additional $158,000 in improvements.

Stormwater Management Projects Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners will pay Arro Consulting $134,385 for retrofit design engineering of five stormwater management facilities the State of Maryland is requiring. The project will be paid for with money from the general fund.

Thurmont Boulevard Study Progresses

The plan for Thurmont Boulevard has been on the books for about 30 years, although little progress has been made on the project. The new road would relieve some of the traffic on Moser Road and Frederick Road and support development in the southern end of Thurmont. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved using $53,300 in street-impact fees to continue the preliminary engineering study. The goal is to be ready to move forward with the project when a developer gets a project approved that needs the road.

Additional Park Projects Possible

The State of Maryland provided Frederick County with $6 million in local parks and playgrounds infrastructure funding. The money will be split 50/50 between the county and municipality for near-shovel-ready projects. The town needed to submit a wish list to the county of possible projects for the funding. These include: sealcoating the Thurmont Trolley Trail, building the Gateway Trail pedestrian bridge to connect Community Park to West Main Street, the new East End Park baseball field, and Eyler Road Park field lighting. The town also plans on submitting some lower-priced projects in case sufficient funding for the larger projects cannot be obtained.


Town Office Open for Walk-ins

The Emmitsburg Town Office is now open for walk-in service at the front desk. You can pay water/sewer bills, obtain fishing permits, make park pavilion reservations, all in person. Office hours are 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Friday.

Per Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, the following guidelines will be enforced: (1) face masks are required in the building, (2) only the service window will be open to the public, and (3) appointments are required to meet with town staff outside of regular front desk services.

You can also attend town meetings in person. Face masks are required throughout the town meetings.

ADA Curb Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Town Council awarded MIM Construction the contract to make the town’s sidewalk curb’s ADA-compliant at street crossings. The contract is for $623,028.50, but with allowances for change orders, it is not to exceed $705,893. The project is funded with a $685,893 Community Development Block Grant, a $10,000 town cash match, and a $10,000 town in-kind match.

Logging Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Town Council awarded Tipton’s of Union Bridge the contract to log forestry stand 10. The town will receive $75,100 for the timber. Ninety percent of the funds will go to the water fund, and 10 percent will be used for trail maintenance to repair and damage the logging might cause.

Concern for Bypass

Emmitsburg Commissioner TJ Burns expressed concerns about the southern bypass included in the town’s comprehensive plan. Although the project is not happening in the near future, the town and the owner of one of the properties needed for the bypass have talked about annexation.

Burns’ major concern is that the town would have to maintain the road and supply the electricity for a future traffic light on South Seton Avenue to create a way for non-town residents to get around the town.

“There’s a lot of things the town is on the hook for to create a loop around for non-residents.”

Mayor Don Briggs added his reservations, saying that it would hurt commerce downtown. However, he added that the bypass has been on the books around 14 years, and it is no closer to happening.

Town Planner Zach Gulden added that there are many hurdles to leap before it would become a reality. All the property owners would have to want their properties annexed. The town council would have to agree to the annexation. Town residents could vote against the annexation, and the Maryland State Highway Department would have to approve the connections to two state roads. Any of these could derail the project.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are in the month of August; time flies when you are having fun! I hope everyone had a great time at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival. Be sure to watch for upcoming events at both Guardian Hose Company and the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company. I know they are planning car shows and other events for the upcoming months. They will also be out in full force at Colorfest. Both of these great organizations need our continued support!

The Thurmont Skate Park is getting closer to reality with the public request for bids on the project. The town has secured $40,000 in funds to help with the construction, and I know the Skate Park Committee has been hard at work collecting donations. Once the design has been approved and the contract awarded, we will be planning a groundbreaking ceremony at the Skate Park grounds at the East End Park. Be sure to watch for upcoming details and join us as we kick off this wonderful project.

Frederick County recently received $6 million in parks improvement funding from Federal Recovery Funding, and the municipalities in Frederick County will be sharing half of that funding. We have submitted several projects that are shovel-ready and expect to be able to move forward on several of them as soon as possible. We will keep you updated.

As many are aware, the Federal American Rescue Plan has allocated funds to the state, county, and municipal levels. These funds are to be used for a very narrow set of circumstances, with most of the funds targeted at infrastructure repair and improvements. The Town of Thurmont has received $3.78 million to be invested in the first phase of this program. It is our intention to focus on several important water and wastewater projects. These will include the replacement of water and sewer lines on North Church Street from the railroad bridge to Rt. 15, much-needed repairs to the water service line on West Pryor Road, improvement to several Storm Water Management facilities to bring them up to current MS4 requirements, and several water service items to help improve water flow and availability. The Thurmont Board of Commissioners will be discussing these projects during upcoming meetings.

Finally, I want to remind everyone that the Frederick County Health Department is offering free COVID-19 vaccinations every Friday afternoon, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., at the Thurmont Municipal Offices at 615 East Main Street. I want to thank the Frederick County Health Department for making the vaccinations available to the residents of Thurmont and Northern Frederick County. I also want to thank everyone that has received a vaccination and to encourage those of you that have not received a vaccination to think about doing so. The vaccine is one of the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19!

As always, I am available for comments or suggestions at 301-606-9458, by email at, or via Facebook..


Mayor Don Briggs

The State of Maryland COVID-19 State of Emergency has been lifted. Governor Hogan made the announcement at the Maryland Municipal League (MML) late June conference. Maryland is back in business. For the most part, all COVID-19-related mandates have ended. Masks in places of worship, restaurants, and stores are optional.

Looking to the future with the experience of losing over 500,000 citizens to COVID-19 is the not included 93,000 drug-overdose-related deaths, of which approximately 70,000 were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us reach out and talk to people. We are in this community together, not alone.

After the governor’s announcement, the town requested that Frederick County Government, our landlord, allow the town to reopen the office to the public. County buildings are now open. The request was granted with certain restrictions. We must all wear masks in public areas of the building. Ordinary transactions, paying bills, licensing, etc., will be handled at the receptionist service window. If you need specific attention with a staff member, it will be by appointment only. Office hours are 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Friday.

Gym use will commence Sept. 1. Groups interested in using the gym should contact the town. Like in pre-pandemic times, there will be a meeting in September to work out sharing the gym. Please contact the town for the date and time of the meeting.

June closed out with yet another grassroots Community Heritage Day success. Other communities have their special events but this is Emmitsburg’s. The events, displays, parade, and fireworks combine to make it a unique day. Lots of elbow grease in this one. Lions Club members, businesses, town staff. Congratulations and thank you. Comparatively the 4th of July was quietly celebrated in our hearts with flags out, and visitations to the new businesses in town. The smoothie shop and comic book and more shop in the strip center by Jubilee and the ice cream stand (soon to be Dairy and possibly bakery shop) on E. Main Street. Coming soon is a pizzeria at the Stavros location on the Square (with, I have been told, the Stavros pizza recipe).

Quietly, a major investment in the downtown is taking place. On the building facing the square in the northwest corner. Total rehabilitation of interior, electrical, plumbing, and windows. Renovation is planned to be completed in mid-August.

Four wayside historic exhibits were dedicated on the last day of June. On East Main Street, the John Armstrong long rifle maker home. On South Seton Avenue, the train terminal, the fire museum glass etching, and the Mother Seton’s White House. This brings us to a total of eleven waysides. Another set is in the works that will include tributes to St. Euphemia grade school on DePaul Street and the free school on West Lincoln Avenue. Please enjoy your walkabouts.

I attended the opening of the “Seton Family Treasures” museum on the lower level of the Basilica. Very attractive presentation with informative historical displays. Congratulations.

And congratulations to the Catoctin State Championship baseball team.  What a group of young men! Winning two state championships within 18 months is an incredible achievement. A third championship most likely could have been won in basketball, too, if not for the pandemic.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Emmitsburg is one of the top 10 most beautiful, charming small towns in Maryland, and also known as “Green Town” over the last decade. The goal has always been to reduce expenses, cost, and waste through the use of renewable energy. By implementing, we contribute to the sustainability of the fragile balances in our ecological systems.

Lots of walking, park use, baseball, and disc golf is an overwhelming success.

We have gotten some rain, but “droughts are out there,” so please water the yard and plants at night or early mornings. 

Back to school soon. Please be vigilant in watching out for children walking to school or to catch a bus.