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James Rada Jr.

The Gregory family of Big Hook Crane and Rigging operate cranes to carefully guide the crown atop the 26-foot statue of Mary at the Grotto at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Mary is shown being placed on her pedestal with her crown.

Brock Gregory (left) is shown with Mount St. Mary’s University President Tim Trainer.

Big Hook’s cranes are shown doing the work.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg will once again wear a crown of flowers on May 7. The annual crowning of the statue will take place after noon Mass.

The ceremony involves the large crown of silk flowers being blessed at the church and then carried to the statue. Two people are then lifted up in a man-basket to place the crown on Mary’s head.

“The crown is six to eight feet wide,” said Steve Gregory, an owner of Big Hook Crane and Rigging. “It takes two people to lift it and place it on her head.”

The iconic 26-foot statue of Mary overlooks the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and Mount Saint Mary’s University campus from atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile. The statue is located at the entrance to the Grotto, where the old Church of St. Mary had been constructed in 1805 by the university’s founder, Reverend John Dubois, and which has also served as a place of worship for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, according to the Mount.

The ceremony has been happening since 2014, and Steve and Cecelia Gregory have always participated, along with their son, Brock, son-in-law Kyle Koelzer, and crew.

 Cecelia is a Mount Alumna with deep roots at the Grotto. Cecilia’s maiden name is Wivell and she is one of hundreds of Wivells in the area. It’s fitting that many family members have found their final resting place at St. Anthony’s Cemetery.

Cecelia’s brother, Jeff, wed his bride, Tammy, there, and the Blessed Mother can clearly be seen from the family farm in the valley below. Summer novenas hosted by Monsignor Phillips (who married Cecilia and Steve) were always well attended.

The Gregorys have donated the services of the crane and its operators each year. “Helping out with this means more to us than just a job,” Steve said. “We’re Catholic, and it’s part of being a part of the community.”

Not only is the statue in a tricky position to reach, but special care also has to be taken not to damage the statue. The man-basket is wrapped in blankets so as to not scratch the statue or damage the gold gilding.

The crown will remain on the statue’s head throughout the month of May. This Catholic tradition originated in Italy during the Middle Ages. It is called “The Thirty Day Devotion to Mary,” the May crowning. The ceremony honors Mary as the Queen of May and the Blessed Mother. Although the statue of Mary is crowned, Catholics recognize that it is not the statue that is celebrated but that which the statue represents: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

The ceremony attracts close to 500 people, depending on the weather. “It seems to be getting more popular each year,” Steve said.

Big Hook Crane and Rigging was contacted in 2021 by Mount St. Mary’s University to remove the statue of Mary after she was found to be in dire need of structural restoration. That project required two cranes and the addition of other expertise, like Dan’s Welding and Fabrication. Everything was carefully evaluated by Brock, Steve, and the team of experts, including weights, welds, and placement of rigging to safely remove her on July 7, 2021, where she has stood since 1964.

She was loaded onto Big Hook’s truck and trailer for her journey to Manassas, Virginia, where she spent the next year getting structurally overhauled and restored. Finally, on July 29, 2022, Brock hauled her back to the Grotto, where she was restored to her plinth, overlooking St Joseph’s valley on July 30, 2022.

Part II

Richard D. L. Fulton

The mysterious beast made its continuing presence known again on January 29, 1921, when the Strange Beast of South Mountain was spotted near Pen Mar in Washington County, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line. 

The Gettysburg Times reported further on February 1 that a county resident who resided between Pen Mar and Rouzerville, whom the publication identified as being John Simmons, spotted the elusive creature during the afternoon of January 29 as the local resident was walking through a field “near his home.” 

The newspaper reported, “At the time he saw the strange animal, Simmons was not armed, and he was not in the mood to enter combat with the gorilla.” 

The reader might conclude at this point that the unidentified creature, if not having been a gorilla, would have more than likely been a black bear, which is not uncommon in the mountains of Adams County, and sometimes rather plentiful. 

However, do bear in mind (no pun intended) that the residents of the county are nearly all quite familiar with these furry inhabitants, and certainly any of the hunters involved who spotted the animal would certainly have been quick in proclaiming that the mysterious critter was, in fact, a bear. But this did not occur, which suggests that this mystery creature was not a commonly encountered animal within the experience of the witnesses.

But, could it really have even been a gorilla? The Gettysburg Compiler (covering the on-going story for the first time in its March 19 issue) reported that an Edgar E. Wolf, of York Springs, wrote to the Biological Survey in Washington “to ascertain if there were any gorillas in the U.S,” and received a reply from the organization stating, “… there are no such beasts in the United States. The last one died in the New York Zoo some time ago.” 

Although reportedly obtained from a bureau of the United States government, one might question that agency’s claim that the last gorilla in the states had died sometime before the beast of Adams County began to appear, given that, on April 18, the Altoona Tribune reported, “‘John Daniel,’ the only gorilla in the United States, died today of pneumonia in his private room at Madison Square Garden, where he was appearing with a circus.”

However, to the agency’s defense, they might simply have not been aware of the remaining gorilla, and the article does state, “One of the animals [gorilla] died recently at the Bronx Zoo of the same malady,” so the Bureau of the Biological Survey can’t be completely discredited by their statement regarding the numbers of gorillas remaining in the states, at that time period.

Following the last sighting of the creature on January 29, the beast seemed to have gone underground during the entire spring and most of the summer (mating season?), resurfacing again in August, literally, in the streets of Gettysburg Borough.  This encounter was unlike those that had previously transpired, in that the creature was shot at by a local resident, and apparently struck, and left behind footprints, according to The Gettysburg Times.

The encounter in Gettysburg with the creature and local inhabitants was such that the coverage of it would not be limited to the local newspapers, notably The Gettysburg Times. The story would quickly spread to almost every major newspaper in the Mid-Atlantic states. Adaptations of the bizarre encounter as covered by The Gettysburg Times were printed in The Washington Times, Trenton (New Jersey) Evening Times, New Castle (Delaware) News, Wilkes Barre Time Leader, The Kane (Pennsylvania) Republican, and Altoona Tribune.

The local Times reported in their August 9 issue, “After having passed out of the limelight several months ago, the well-known ‘gorilla’ is back. It was in Gettysburg several nights ago … Not long ago a woman residing on York Street saw a strange object about four feet high moving along the fence in the rear of her house.” The woman rushed to a neighbor’s house, who armed himself with a shotgun and proceeded to try and find the beast.

The newspaper reported that the unidentified neighbor “saw the beast” and fired his weapon. “The gorilla dropped to the ground,” adding, “Thinking he had bagged his game, the gunner went toward the fallen animal.” However, the creature was hardly down for the count, and as the shooter approached, “the beast jumped to its hind legs and chased the man into the house.” 

Witnesses reported to the newspaper that “the animal disappeared in the direction of Biglerville,” and that “an examination of the ground in a field nearby revealed footprints of a strange beast.” 

Apparently, associating itself with the Borough of Gettysburg lost its appeal to the strange animal, as its next sighting was reported by Gettysburg resident, Howard C. Mitinger, who had spotted the animal near Fort Louden in Franklin County on August 12, while traveling back home from a meeting in Pittsburgh, according to The Gettysburg Times, August 13. According to the account, Mitinger saw the creature “sitting on a stump along the highway.” 

The sighting was verified by occupants of Mitinger’s vehicle, according to the newspaper, which included Mitinger’s “sister-in-law Mrs. George Ramsey, of Huntington; her daughter, Miss Jean Ramsey; and Robert Mathias, steward of the Hoffman Hotel.” 

Reports on seeing the elusive animal apparently slacked-off until August 21, when the creature was spotted near Fairfield Borough.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 24 that, “Sunday evening while driving along the Fairfield Road, Ray Weikert saw the animal plainly as it crossed the road not many feet in front of his horse,” adding, “Not only did the young man see the beast, but the horse as well, and it was with difficulty it was kept from running away.” 

According to the Times, the unknown animal “crossed the road leisurely, walking on its hind legs, climbed the fence and disappeared in the underbrush.” The creature was described as being “about five feet tall.” 

Following this last encounter, the story seems to slip into the annals of cold cases, save for an effort by the press to place the blame of it all on the black bears of the nearby mountain ranges.

In a story published by The Gettysburg Times on November 7, more than two months after the last-noted sighting of the strange beast, the newspaper stated, regarding a reported encounter with a bear west of Cashtown, “Bears are an unusual sight in this section of the country and it is possible that the various parties in Gettysburg who believed they saw a gorilla at different times may have seen this huge black bear.”

And then a final effort, apparently, to pin the blame on alcohol.

In an article written by The Gettysburg Times regarding noteworthy incidents of 1921, and published in the newspaper’s December 31 issue, entitled, “Year Has Been One of Progress,” presumably tongue-in-cheek, it was noted, “January 21 – Seize truckload of liquor in Gettysburg. January 22 – Gorilla seen in county. January 26 – More liquor seized. January 27 – Men chase gorilla. January 29 – Seize high-proof whiskey. January 30 – Gorilla seen in daylight.”

Clearly, the “detectives” at the Times had solved the mystery in at least two different ways. Either it was a bear, or everyone was drunk when they thought they saw the mysterious creature. Whatever the case may be, the beast was not seen or heard from again… perhaps…

Fast forward… Alleged sightings of what may be the strange beast of South Mountain have continued to be reported in the South Mountain area from the 1980s into the 2000s, in areas ranging from along Route 116, between Gettysburg and Fairfield, to the area of the Greenmount Firehall, to multiple sightings (from the 1990s to the 2000s) in the Michaux State Forest, according to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.

So, the quest continues, because “the truth is out there,” or not.

New Find Enhances Record

Richard D L. Fulton

There was a time when Frederick and Adams counties looked more like an alien world than that which exists today.

A primordial lake (dubbed Lake Lockatong) existed from Rocky Ridge, growing in size towards the northeast, as it sprawled through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and into New York State. Some believe that this great lake covered an area equivalent to the presently existing Lake Tanganyika in Africa, at some 20,000 total miles in size.  Often, vast mud flats bordered the huge freshwater lake, giving way to conifer forests (based on fossil evidence gathered outside of Rocky Ridge).

This was during a period of time classified as the Late Triassic, some 220 million years ago.

Based on fossil excavations in Rocky Ridge and another nearby site, fossils recovered indicate that the lake teemed with fish, mostly those related to the present-day gars, sharing the water with five-to-six-foot coelacanths (whose ancestors gave rise to land vertebrates), and an ancient aquatic gator-like (but unrelated) reptile called Apatopus.

It should be noted that the reptiles and dinosaurs discussed are known only from their tracks, with the exception being Rynchiosauroides (noted below) whose body impressions have also been recovered at Rocky Ridge.

Hundreds of two-to-three-foot-long lizards (called Rynchiosauroides) patrolled the shorelines, diving into and paddling their way within the shallows in search of snails, clams, and freshwater shrimp, while prehistoric crickets, beetles, and millipedes scurried about the mudflats.

The lizards were occasionally joined by at least one species of dicynodont reptiles in their quest for more food. The dicynodonts, though reptiles, were also ancestral to the first mammals, and those of Rocky Ridge apparently established that these unique animals survived longer than previously assumed before,  themselves, becoming extinct.

But the local evidence of the beginning of the rise of another group of animals in the Late Triassic —the dinosaurs—can be found a little further north in Adams County.  Most of the dinosaurs during this period of time in the Mason-Dixon area ranged from a few feet in height or length to 12 feet.

The latest evidence of the local presence of dinosaurs occurred on June 9, 2012, when a remarkable bed of dozens of dinosaur tracks was found at an undisclosed, secured site located on private property, southwest of Gettysburg (for security purposes, The Catoctin Banner agreed not to reveal the exact location of the ongoing excavation, although the reporter was permitted to visit the site).

The discovery was initially made by Brian Cole, a member of the Franklin County Rock and Mineral Club, while hunting for crystals in the limestone deposits. Cole stated that the collectors he was with started finding fossil mud cracks and gathered up several specimens to take home. He later discovered one of the slabs had a clearly defined dinosaur track on it.

The find resulted in return trips to the site, which ultimately resulted in the discovery of dozens of dinosaur tracks, along with non-dinosaurian  reptile tracks. To date, more than 40 tracks have either been removed from the site or still remain on-site. How many remain to be found? Only time and further exploration will reveal.

The site in question consists of limey layers of rock which likely represents the shoreline of Lake Lockatong. Aside from the reptiles Rynchiosauroides and Apatopus, the new site added the tracks of two more (non-dinosaur) reptiles to the list, Desmatosuchus (which bore some resemblance to a crocodile with prominent spikes on its back and heavy back armor) and two different species of  Brachychirotherium.

The primary dinosaur present at the site has been identified as Grallator, also known only from its tracks, but it is believed to be related to better-known Coelophysis, whose skeletal remains have been found in New Mexico. There may be what turns out to be species of Grallator at the site, one larger than the other.  The much more plentiful smaller tracks may represent a different species of Grallator than the scarcer larger version.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs. Over two dozen tracks were found on one layer at the site, all heading in the same direction. If Grallator was as Eastern Coelophysis, it could have had “feet (with) three main claws and a fourth, smaller claw positioned further up the foot,” and “The arms (that) were adapted for grasping and holding prey but are not thought to have been particularly powerful, a long and thin head, with jaws containing “around 50 small, sharp teeth,” according to

Grallator and Coelophysis are among the oldest known dinosaurs, and it is generally held that they primarily ate insects and other small animals. As has been demonstrated by finds made at the Rocky Ridge site, there was no shortage of insects and small reptiles living in the area during the Late Triassic Period.

In 1895, James A. Mitchell, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, found nearly two dozen, 220-million-year-old dinosaur footprints on two flagstone (shale) slabs found in the pathways leading up to Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Emmitsburg, thus making them reportedly the only dinosaur tracks that had been found in Maryland from this period of time (the Triassic Period).

The tracks appeared to have been those of Grallator. One of the two slabs that were found by Mitchell is presently on display at the Maryland Science Center.

But the first “mother lode” of dinosaur tracks, which also included non-dinosaurian reptile tracks, including dicynodont, occurred in Adams County in Trostle’s Quarry near York Springs when the tracks were discovered by Elmer R. Haile. Haile made his discovery in the summer of 1937 when he and some associates were gathering stone for the Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in a bridge; they were building the bridge on South Confederate Avenue over Plum Run.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 3, 1937, that three dinosaurs who left their tracks in the quarry were identified by Arthur B. Cleaves, state junior geologist and paleontologist, as Anchisauripus exsertus, Anomoepus scambus, and Grallator tennis, all three being bipedal (standing upright on two legs). The newspaper also reported in December 1937 that approximately 150 tracks were recovered.

The two blocks containing the dinosaur tracks that made it into the top layer of stones on the Plum Run Bridge have been identified as Atreipus milfordensis, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs, and Anchisauripus sillimani, another bipedal meat-eater. The Trostle’s Quarry tracks have been dispersed over time to such places as the Smithsonian Institute, the William Penn Museum, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg, the Adams County Historical Society, and the bridge on the Gettysburg Battlefield (where they remain exposed and unprotected). 

As an aside, the species names of the dinosaurs (and reptiles) noted in the article can, and may have, changed over time. Paleontology, or the study of prehistoric life, is a constantly evolving science, in and of itself, and as more is learned about a given prehistoric species, sometimes new findings can result in name changes.


Adams County Grallator tracks (new site).

Photo Courtesy of Robert Weams (USGS retired).

Illustration Courtesy of National Park Service.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs.


Atreipus tracks (Plum Run Ridge).

Photo by Rick Fulton.

Illustration Courtesy of Columbia University.

Atreipus, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs.


The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. They live in massive groups and are expert divers, capable of diving up to 1,850 feet below the surface and staying submerged for over 20 minutes.

Deep in the arctic lies an experience bone-chillingly cold, seldom explored, and terrifyingly unforgiving. It is also unmistakably beautiful and enlightening to see the farthest corners of the world.

Antarctica is a destination that many wouldn’t consider for a vacation. The average temperature during the Antarctic summer (November to March) can vary dramatically, depending on your location. The South Pole typically doesn’t exceed -4 degrees Fahrenheit during its 24 hours of continuous light, but the Antarctic Peninsula can be a balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit if you make your trip in December.

Because of the extreme climate, access to the continent is reserved for scientists for most of the year. During the winters, temperatures can plummet as low as -83 degrees Fahrenheit, freezing everything across a barren and icy landscape.

Winters locally welcome longer nighttime hours, colder temperatures, and the occasional snowstorms. Winters in Antarctica change the continent much in the same way, but to a much more extreme degree.

Travel during winter becomes extremely dangerous, and it’s treacherous enough that nearly all ships and flights cease activity until the sea ice surrounding Antarctica melts off. It is almost complete darkness 24 hours a day. Traditional routes via boat or plane have enormous challenges navigating the harsh climate.

Summer months in Antarctica change the landmass so drastically that the continent’s surrounding sea ice expands from 3 million square kilometers in summer to 18 million square kilometers in winter.

For that reason, ships have much greater access to the breadth of wildlife that flourishes during the Antarctic summer along the Antarctic Peninsula. On the peninsula, you can spot a variety of animals you likely wouldn’t see anywhere else. The blue whale, Earth’s largest-ever animal, can be found in the frigid coastal waters, along with humpback whales, and even orcas. There are also 15 species of penguins among the vast variety of wildlife, hunting and fishing the waters of the Antarctic Circle.

Organizing a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime destination like Antarctica can seem like a daunting task, but there are two methods most travelers use to experience one of the most unique journeys our planet has to offer.

While there are no commercial flights to the icy continent, there are plenty of private operators that fly from the southern tip of Chile to King George Island, which sits just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. From there, boats are available to ferry visitors along some of the islands and destination spots along the Peninsula.

By far, the most popular travel route is by boat, though. Most visitors from North America fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then take another flight to Ushuaia, colorfully nicknamed “the end of the world.”

Small cruise ships carry passengers from the southern tip of South America across the Drake Passage to reach the icy destination along the Antarctic coast. There are also longer term boat routes from New Zealand and Australia, but the trips typically last between three to four weeks and can, as a result, be tremendously more expensive. You do, however, get to come across some of the historic huts built during the world’s first expeditions to Antarctica. There are also active volcanoes, scientific bases, and a chance to see the largest penguins on earth, the Emperor Penguin.   

Boats from Australia and New Zealand reach the eastern coast of Antarctica in about six days of consistent sailing, so stops along the way to surrounding islands and wildlife points of interest will extend your trip significantly. Interestingly enough, you don’t even need a visa to get to Antarctica since it’s not owned by any country, so it’s a choose-your-own-adventure with your crew once you reach the Antarctic Circle.

While expensive, there’s no substitute for the life-changing experience explorers have discovering our planet’s most unexplored region. You may want to stick to the coast, though, because the pilgrimage to some of central Antarctica’s plateaus and ice shelves have reached temperatures as low as -128 degrees Fahrenheit, and may have been even colder on the barren surface.

If you’re seriously considering making the journey, be sure to bring a nice camera and a warm coat, because the sights and wildlife are sure to provide you with a lifetime of memories.

Blair Garrett

A little-known hunting hobby has hit the scene, and springtime is the perfect time of year to jump right in. Don’t tell anyone!

Frederick County is home to a lot of hunters, and it’s an activity that’s usually passed down from generation to generation.

This hunting activity, however, is quite a different kind of hunting. Mushroom hunting is a tremendously growing hobby, and a great way to get your daily steps, get to know your area, and add a locally grown ingredient to your family dinners.

Mushroom hunting takes a bit of knowledge to get started, but avid hunters count down the days until it’s warm enough for their favorite breed of mushrooms to start growing.

Knowing a mushroom’s ideal environment is a must. They are incredibly adaptive fungi that can flourish in a variety of environments, but they really excel in warm, rainy climates. Your common April showers followed by periods of mid-70-degree weather are when mushrooms really pop.

Mushroom foragers all over Maryland rave about hunting the elusive “morel mushrooms.” Morels are a distinct and very tasty mushroom that have become the darling of the hunting community. With a honeycomb-like top and great flavor, hunters spread far and wide come mushroom season when morels are in bloom. Typically, they’re most commonly found in May when the ground temperature starts to rise, but with how unseasonably warm this winter was, don’t be surprised if you find a few earlier than expected.

When picking mushrooms, it’s important to clip them or twist and pull right at the bottom of the stem. Pulling them directly out of the ground can damage the mycelium in the top of the soil.

Morel hunters can be very protective of their hunting grounds, so be sure to check and see if the area you’re hunting is encroaching on someone else’s territory. Keeping an open eye on fallen trees, tree trunks and the ground floor of shaded terrain should yield all mushroom hunters great results.

There are a few extremely important things to be aware of when diving into your first mushroom hunt. There are 100 different poisonous mushroom species, and nearly two dozen of them are potentially lethal to humans. It’s important to be able to identify what type of mushroom you’re interested in hunting and any potential similar mushrooms that may leave you with a bad stomach ache or worse.

Morels, the most popular mushrooms among fanatics, even have a poisonous alter ego. False morels look similar to their widely hunted counterparts, but they have a distinctly melted appearance to them and a lack of the trademark pitted holes that traditional morels have.

There are lots of online guides and resources for new and experienced mushroom hunters that can be of great help in identifying edible and dangerous mushrooms.

With thousands of mushroom species found across the United States, you are bound to have some variability in the taste of mushrooms. But mushrooms happen to be one of the most unique things our earth has to offer. You have delicious mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, and mushrooms with very special properties.

Psilocybin mushrooms, or more frequently known as psychedelic mushrooms, gained popularity in the west in the 1950s. They have been used recreationally across the United States for decades until recently, where there’s been a big push to legalize the use of them for medicinal purposes.

Clinical trials have had extremely positive feedback for microdosing psilocybin mushrooms to treat things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression, and have had a particularly strong impact treating veterans and cancer patients.

Though recreational use remains illegal, it has been decriminalized in select cities and has gained a lot of advocates as an alternative treatment option to standard pharmaceutical drugs in just the past few years.

While mushrooms have the potential to treat medical conditions and alter reality, perhaps the strangest type of fungus is the cordyceps fungi.

Cordyceps is a species of fungi that has been thrust to the forefront of pop culture through the popular game and HBO series “The Last of Us,” but the shocking reality of the “zombie fungus” is its real life method of transmission. In the show, a mutated strain of cordyceps allows the fungus to infect a human host, turning them into bloodthirsty zombies. In the real world, cordyceps fungi aren’t able to survive in humans due to our natural body temperature and a variety of other factors, but they are known to infect ants with spores, draining their host completely of nutrients while the spores reproduce.

What’s remarkable about these fungi is its interaction with the host once the host is infected. The spores from the fungi have a parasitic relationship where they can control the insect’s body until its eventual demise.

It’s theorized that the parasitic spores control the ant’s motor function through chemical changes or the manipulation of muscle fibers, but what is known is that the ants or infected insects will forcibly climb to higher ground, so when the spores are released after the host dies, it has easier access to spread.

As far-fetched as it sounds, there are tons of videos and documented cases of ants climbing to the tops of plants or grass while infected to spread the fungi across a greater area than it would be able to right from the ground it grows out of. That’s a terrible sci-fi film waiting to happen.

While cordyceps aren’t found locally, there are some really great and edible mushrooms that will be popping up in just a few short weeks. Whether you’re an annual mushroom hunter or a newbie looking for a great outdoor activity, the Catoctin Mountains is home to some of the best hunting grounds in Maryland, and there’s something out there to find for everyone.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Approves Bond Issue

After a public hearing, the Thurmont Commissioners voted for the ability to issue infrastructure bonds up to $6 million. The proceeds from the bond sale will be used to complete the Thurmont Boulevard project and the wetlands mitigation. The town does not necessarily need to issue the bonds, but the hearing and vote were necessary in order for the town to pursue other sources of funding for the project. Most of the people who spoke were not in favor of the town issuing bonds. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Commissioner Bill Blakeslee voting against the motion.

State Funding for Park Projects

The Town of Thurmont was recently approved for state grant funding of four park projects in town:

        $220,083 for the Gateway Trail Pedestrian Bridge over Hunting Creek.

        $256,000 for the replacement of the Community Park Tennis Courts.

        $10,000 for the East End Dog Park watering stations.

        $20,000 for the Trolley Trail Interpretive Sign Project.

These project grants will require no match from the town.

Juneteenth Holiday

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to make Juneteenth a town holiday to be celebrated on June 19 each year. The holiday represents the date of the emancipation of the last slaves in the Confederate States. It became a federal holiday in 2021.

Committee Appointments

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird recently swore in Kirby Delauter to serve on the Thurmont Board of Appeals and Ed Hutson to serve on the Thurmont Police Commission.


Sewer and Water Rate Increases Coming

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners is still considering how to implement the new water and sewer rates that will allow the system to be sustainable. The discussion has been going on since last October.

The recommended increases that it appears the commissioners will hold a hearing on this month are: (1) Increase sewer rates 3 percent a year; and (2) Increase water rates 36 percent a year for five years and then 3 percent a year, thereafter.

Water rates haven’t increased since 2013, and sewer rates haven’t increased since 2006.

New Park Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg was recently awarded a Program Open Space grant for $70,000. It will require a $37,500 match from the town. The grant is for a stormwater management plan to pave a 10- to 12-space parking lot at Rainbow Lake.

Commission Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners recently made the following appointments to town commissions:

        Scott Frager was reappointed to the Board of Appeals with a term of February 17, 2023, to February 17, 2026.

        Carolyn Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Martin Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Mark Walkers’ resignation from the Citizens Advisory Committee was accepted.

        Valerie Turnquist was appointed to the Planning Commission with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2026.


Mayor Don Briggs

With April comes traces of lengthening days, milder weather, and once again, the increasing choruses of activity in our parks. In addition to the hardy Emmitsburg Walking Club members (Look them up; they have a Facebook page), comes baseball and softball pushing the edges of each day for practice times. 

Earth Day will be celebrated this year on Saturday, April 22. Planned events start at 9:00 a.m. with a three-hour cleanup around town, fueled by the efforts of the town Citizens Advisory Committee members, families, and friends. For the second year, Stream Links will be planting trees at the wastewater treatment plant. More children-directed activities of plantings, games, music, and an ice cream truck are planned from noon to 2:00 p.m. behind the community center.

Once a year, it’s good to pay tribute to the original Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA)-sponsored scholarship fund, which now brims over $28,000. Thank you to all the businesses that made the educational opportunities possible. Also, the EBPA “Change for Food” program has now raised over $52,000 for the Emmitsburg Food Bank. Thank you to old-guard EBPA members, Allen Knott for accounting and Bob Rosensteel for the idea and collection of donations at different business locations in town. It is my understanding that Bob will be stepping back from collections, and Phyllis Kelley of the food bank will be taking over for him. Thank you to Bob and Allen for many years of service.  

In mid-March, I toured the three construction projects underway at the Daughters of Charity St. Joseph House, of which the Basilica is a part. The former main entrance area off the Porto Concierge is being renovated into three museum exhibit areas and a gift store. Completion is scheduled for this August. In the northeast corner of the building, the “C” wing’s first and second floors, that were previously the nursing home, are being repurposed to house up to 40 pre-seminarians for the Mount seminary. Completed construction and use is also scheduled for August of this year. The third project entails the terrace and the first floor of the “E” wing, adjacent to the new museum, being renovated for use by the new Mount Saint Mary’s School of Health Professions, scheduled to open August 2024.

On Saturday, March 25, Emmitsburg Walking Club member, Melissa McKinney, walked a marathon, 26.2 miles around the Myers Community Park exercise trail loop that was inspired, in part, by a similar event held annually, now in its 34th year in Los Cruses, New Mexico, that commemorates the WWII 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Melissa walked the 51 laps, toting a 15-pound rucksack for her cherished causes for Veterans, Team Red, White and Blue, and Soldiers Angels.

At an event I attended and spoke at, County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced Emmitsburg and Thurmont will soon have more access to County Transit services, with a pilot program to launch as of Saturday, April 1. Added to the existing service will be a late-morning optional trip available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Saturday, there will be two round trips between Frederick to the benefit of all, including Mount students. Improved bus stops and updated signage are part of the new services. To learn more about Transit Services, visit, @TransITServicesFrederick on Facebook, and @TransitServices on Twitter.

Our sister city Lutsk in Ukraine is being hit with Russian missiles. Thank you, Cathy Bodine, Nathalie Raymond, and Dr. Bonnie Portier for the clothing collection for Ukraine. Take care and pray for our Ukrainian friends.

Hoping you have a wonderful Easter and its magnificent Sunday sunrise.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, there are buds on the trees, and many of us are experiencing stuffy noses due to the pollen in the air. While Mother Nature has gotten this done, the town crews have been working hard at getting the baseball and softball fields in good order. They have also been cleaning up the parks and reopening the restroom facilities. The next couple of months will bring several changes to our parks facilities. The East End Park will be getting a new pavilion next to the all-access playground, replacing the aging pavilion. The dog park will be getting dog-watering fountains to help keep your four-legged friends cool in the summer and well-hydrated while they play. The Community Park will be getting a new tennis court, nets, and fencing; this is to replace the existing court. I expect that the tennis court will be unavailable for at least a month while this work is being completed, so your patience will be appreciated as this work moves forward. The Community Park will also get a pedestrian bridge at the rear of the park over Hunting Creek. This bridge will allow easy access to the park for residents on West Main Street, and it will provide a connection to the Gateway Trail from within the Community Park. The Gateway Trail is a trail leading from Thurmont into the Catoctin Mountain National Park.

I am proud to say that the water main project on Old Pryor Road has now been completed. This project is providing much-needed improvements to the water service for residents on Old Pryor; it has also provided a loop through the Hillside subdivision that will improve service there as well. Thanks goes to Guyer Brothers for completing this project on time, with as little disruption as possible.

You may notice some work has started on improvements to Frederick Road. The contractor has begun refurbishing the stormwater basins on both sides of the road. This is the first part of a project that will see sidewalks repaired, the roadway milled and repaved, and traffic lines reapplied. This project will take several months to complete. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane, with flaggers directing the flow while the roadway is being repaired. These improvements will eliminate several sections of damaged sidewalks and result in a much smoother road for traffic. As always, once the road work begins, please drive slowly through the area and obey the traffic control devices and the flaggers. They are there to protect you and the workers.

There has been much talk recently about the forever chemicals in our drinking water. The EPA recently established 4ppt (Parts Per Trillion) as an acceptable level for drinking water. The Town of Thurmont has been working with our engineers and manufacturers to design filtration systems that will bring PFAS to an undetectable level. These filtration units will be installed at each of our water treatment facilities. The installation will require the construction of new buildings to house the units and the necessary plumbing to connect them to our system. I want to assure our residents that we are following the guidance of the MDE as we move forward with this effort and that we are investigating all funding sources available to get this project completed.


Burgess Heath Barnes

I am happy to report on some great developments at our March 14 meeting.  

Our planning and zoning committee presented to the council an updated drawing of the plans for our new town hall. The council unanimously approved the plans, and now I can happily report that they will be going to the county for the permit approvals. I am going to work as hard as I can to get it through the process quickly, because once those come back, we can break ground. This has been a long time coming, with the previous attempts to build on a smaller lot etc., but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. I have high hopes that we will be breaking ground by summer; once again, those are my hopes, not the set timeline.

We have a couple of things coming up in town and more details will follow. The community Easter Egg hunt, in partnership with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, will be April 1. The rain date will be April 8.

Reminder: Woodsboro has elections coming up on May 13. There will be two town commissioners up for election. To be eligible to run, you must be 18 years old and a resident residing in the town limits for a minimum of one year before the election. If you have an interest in running, please reach out to Mary in the town office. To be placed on the ballot, you will need to either attend the April 8 meeting and announce your intention to run or reach out to the town office prior to April 8 to appear on the ballot.

Just a reminder that there will be a public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on April 8 directly preceeding the monthly town council meeting. The two items up for discussion will be changing the town code to allow chickens, based on the parameters voted on in February, and to change the town’s grass height code from the current 18 inches to 8 inches.

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

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

Deb Abraham Spalding

On a sunny, 11-degree morning in early February, Warren Schafer was making snow at his house in Thurmont.

Schafer is a 15-year-old freshman at Catoctin High School. While society and social media lead us to believe that high school freshmen are sitting behind their cell phone apps and cell phone cameras or mesmerized behind their computers immersed in someone else’s imaginary world in video games, be assured, Schafer is, too!

The difference between the average freshman and Schafer—an avid skier and ham radio operator—is that he’s using some of that time to continually challenge himself to make a better snow-making gun than those currently used in the ski industry. 

Thus, Thurmont’s “Snow Man” has been revealed!

Two years ago, Schafer’s snow-making prototype was his science fair project in middle school. He won first place in the Frederick County Science Fair in the Environmental Sciences category. He has taken that prototype and improved upon it again and again. The original design was built with parts from the local hardware store, and now he’s custom building them out of aluminum.

It is his goal to ultimately design and create a more efficient snow-making nozzle, one that uses less air, less electricity, and less water to produce more snow in less time than the current industry standards. Oh, and he’s recycling, too!

When asked if he’s achieved his goal this year, Schafer simply stated, “Yes, I have!” It’s a continual process.

Schafer explained, “We can make (a wet) snow when it’s 33 degrees if the humidity is really low. Snowmakers combine temperature and relative humidity together to create what’s called a wet bulb. As long as the wet bulb temperature is below 28 degrees, we can make snow.” 

Schafer recycles water from the backyard pool. Rainwater catches on a tarp on the pool while a pump sits on the tarp and pumps the water into a big tank. A hose connects to the tank and feeds the water to the snowmaker that is powered by a small pressure washer.

At the time of our visit, Schafer had created a sled run with snow four to six inches deep at the bottom and two feet deep in the middle, and he had just started building the hill.

The two-foot base in the middle took about two hours to create with Schafer’s tiny snowmaker. A feat that is impressive even to the novice! Imagine, in the near future, being able to create a snow run in your own backyard using Schafer’s snow-making system that you can purchase at the local hardware store.

Schafer will continue to improve his design more and more to advance the system until he’s satisfied. At that point, he will make his system fully automated from controls at his computer. There may even be an app for that!

Warren Schafer is shown with his snow-making system. The swimming pool and collection tank are shown to the left, leading to the electric connection, power washer, hose, tripod, and snow-making gun.

Warren Schafer is shown adjusting his snow-making system in February.

Part I

Richard D. L. Fulton

January 1921 saw the commencement of the pursuit of an unidentified beast among the rolling foothills of Appalachia in Adams County, Pennsylvania, a quest that resulted in the local inhabitants doing more damage to themselves than the sought-after creature. It did not take long for the local newspapers to label the efforts to shoot or kill the strange creature as the “gorilla war.”

The story begins with the reported sighting of a “monstrous animal” near Mount Rock on January 20, 1921.

According to The Gettysburg Times, the creature was spotted whilst sitting upon a rock. “When the monstrous animal saw that it was discovered by some Mount Rock citizens, it arose, stretched itself and disappeared into a nearby wood.” The beast was described as a “large gorilla.” 

However, on January 21, The Gettysburg Times noted that, in fact, the creature had been reported as having been sighted “for days” leading up to the newspaper’s January 20 coverage of the bizarre episode.

The newspaper went on to report, “When told this story, one Gettysburg citizen said, ‘It is evident that some of my Mount Rock friends are seeing more peculiar visions now than they did before the advent of the Eighteenth Amendment.”

The Eighteenth Amendment, of course, was one of the federal government’s first significant attempts at social engineering through the alteration of the U.S. Constitution, in which the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages were outlawed in 1920. This was the period of time during which this controversial, and ultimately repealed (via the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933), legislation became not-so-affectionately known as “Prohibition.”

In spite of Prohibition, the sightings continued—the next time by residents in several northern Adams County municipalities.

The day after the newspaper reported the initial story about the sighting of the unknown animal, it appeared, as the publication garnered more information regarding the incident, that there might be more than just alcohol involved. “Thursday afternoon and evening,” The Gettysburg Times reported, “a general chase with the gorilla as the objective was conducted by the residents of Idaville and vicinity.”

The Gettysburg Times reported that the animal had been described as possibly being a gorilla or a kangaroo, adding that the beast “was first seen at Snyder’s Hill between York Springs and Idaville where a number of men failed in a combined attempt to capture or shoot it.”

By 10:00 p.m. on the night of January 20, “50 men gathered on Pike hill near Idaville and again vainly tried to kill the elusive creature,” which The Gettysburg Times reported, “escaped across the snow to Daniels’ Hill near the Adams-Cumberland County line.”

Theories as to how this alleged “gorilla” managed to find its way into Adams County began to be seriously considered. The newspaper reported, “The theory advanced for the animal is that it escaped from a circus train that wrecked several months ago.” 

But no record of any circus train wreck in Pennsylvania could be found in any 1921 newspapers published before January 20.

The Gettysburg Times did note that, thus far, the only damage reportedly inflicted by the unknown was the “robbery of a smokehouse.”

The Gettysburg Times reported on January 25 the first casualty suffered as a direct result of the growing panic over the wandering, but as of yet unidentified creature, suggesting the concern had now spread into adjacent York County as well. “Stories of a wandering gorilla caused the shooting of a mule when Abraham Lau, of Franklintown, York County, mistook the animal for the much talked of wild beast.”  According to The Gettysburg Times, when Lau spotted what he thought was the much sought-after and alleged gorilla, “He became alarmed and went to the house for the gun [and] shot and badly injured his neighbor’s mule.” It would not be the first local animal to die in the quest.

The Harrisburg Telegraph began carrying coverage of the mystery “gorilla” in Adams County as of the mule-shooting incident, but noted in the newspaper’s January 26 article that the “mule was not seriously injured by the shot.” 

On January 27, The Gettysburg Times reported that the “gorilla” had now been sighted near Waynesboro, in Franklin County. Regarding the multicounty hairy desperado, the newspaper reported, “Harry Shindledecker, an employee of the trolley company in Waynesboro, was on his way to work Wednesday morning [January 26]” and spotted the unidentified beast “while passing the baseball grounds.”  Shindledecker subsequently arrived at the Waynesboro trolley barn “in an excited condition,” and described the animal as having appeared to have been “about the height of a man.” 

The effort to end the alleged gorilla’s reign of imagined terror, now spanning three counties, heated up on January 26 when one local community launched what was described as an “armed posse” in pursuit of the creature in an effort to put an end to the affair once and for all.

Unfortunately, the only end that resulted from the effort was the life of one of the hunting dogs accompanying the impromptu posse.

The Gettysburg Times reported on January 28 that the “gorilla war” began on the night of January 26 when the beast was reportedly seen in an alley in Rouzerville, in Franklin County. “The word was quickly spread and the members of the Rouzervlle deer camp and every one [sic] else that had a rifle soon turned out,” the newspaper reported. “After the mobilization of marksmen was completed, the attackers in battle formation started up the mountain.”

The advance of the “skirmish line” had barely gotten underway when the creature, or at least what was believed to have been the creature, described now by The Gettysburg Times as a “chimpanzee,” was flushed out.   The newspaper reported, “Although a number of shots were fired, the chimpanzee kept on bounding toward the thicker brush of the slope.” 

The posse, as such, appears to have decided at this point in the attack to send for backup, which was hastily sent forward to bolster the assailants in the effort to capture or kill (most likely kill) the still essentially unidentified animal. The effects of the added firepower were audible in the nearby communities.

“The firing in the mountain was heard in the village and the town was soon in an uproar,” The Gettysburg Times wrote.  Some tactical genius among the combatants then decided “to form a great circle around the foothill where the animal was last seen,” the newspaper reported, adding, “Deployed in this fashion the grizzled hunters and young marksmen moved into the woodland.”   

In the process of searching the mountainside “halfway to Pen Mar” without any success at spotting the renegade creature, the hunt did result in yet another casualty. “A black dog running through the underbrush paid the death penalty when an excited hunter mistook it for an ape.”

To add insult to injury, not only had the mighty mountain warriors returned empty-handed, but when they gave up the pursuit and returned to Rouzerville, the creature had already beaten them there. “When the hunters returned from the mountains, the reports say the town was in a turmoil,” the newspaper reported, adding that, “… the animal had been seen there while the hunt was on.” 

The Gettysburg Times reported that the younger women in town who were out and about when the beast appeared were so terrified that escorts were provided to see that they got off the streets and to their respective homes safely until the “panic” had subsided. 

On January 27 or 28, the creature was again reported to have been seen near Monterey by two young men. “As they neared the Monterey golf links, they saw what they thought was a man approaching on all fours,” The Gettysburg Times reported, until the animal “rose on its hind legs and came toward them making gurgling sounds.”

Richard D. L. Fulton

Every year, an estimated 17,000 meteorites hit the Earth, according to researchers at the British University of Manchester and the London Imperial College, ranging in size from 1.75 pounds to 22 pounds, the larger ones being quite rare.

Just for the record, a space rock which has not fallen into the Earth’s atmosphere is termed as being a meteoroid. However, when the rock enters the atmosphere, it is then called a meteor (sometimes called a “shooting star”). Once it impacts upon the ground, the rock is then termed as being a meteorite.

There are basically three types of meteorites: (1) Iron meteorites (consisting primarily of iron and nickel and make up about 5.7 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet; (2) Stoney meteorites (which comprise about 92 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet); and (3) Stoney-iron meteorites (which comprise about 2 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet), according to

North Frederick County and southern Adams County, Pennsylvania, have each experienced a single confirmed strike, one confirmed and one unconfirmed hit in Emmitsburg, and one confirmed hit near Two Taverns in Adams County.

Of the three encounters of the meteoritic kind, little has been recorded regarding the Emmitsburg meteorite, with much more having been published regarding the Two Taverns meteorite (also referred to as the Mount Joy meteorite).  The Natural History Society of Maryland (NHSM) reported in its 1948 publication, The Maryland Naturalist, that “nothing at all seems to have been written of the finding of the Emmitsburg meteorite,” thus, the finder’s name has remained elusive.

The one confirmed Emmitsburg meteorite (classified as an iron meteorite) was discovered in 1854 and weighed in at just under one pound. 

Nothing seems to have been recorded regarding the circumstance under which it was found, nor when it fell, but the coordinates for where it was found, if accurate, were given as being 39 degrees 43 seconds north, and 77 degrees 18 seconds west, placing the discovery as having been found east of the current location of Mountain Liquors (geological discoveries were often referenced by the nearest town), according to Meteoritical Society records. In fact, Joseph Boesenberg, a former meteorite scientific assistant with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, previously told the reporter that the first published description was that written by a meteorite specialist, Aristides Brezina, in 1885. The next appearance of the meteorite was in the hands of meteorite dealer S.C.H. Bailey in the early 1900s.

Subsequently, the Emmitsburg meteorite fell into the hands of Dr. J.R. Clinton, of New York, and was soon after “thin sliced (cut into thin sections) and distributed to a number of institutions around the world, including in New York, Harvard, Washington, DC., Chicago, London, Vienna, and Gottingen, Germany).” But those only represent a portion of the meteorite. The remainder remains unaccounted-for.

A second, unconfirmed meteor fell into the Emmitsburg area around 1895 and landed in the yard of a home occupied by J.K. Hays and family. The family reported as having seen the meteor strike “about 100 yards from the house,” and Hays subsequently recovered the specimen, which he stated he kept in their basement. He described the meteorite as being oval-shaped and approximately eight inches by four inches. It was never shown to anyone with a museum or university, and some 40 years later, Hays said he could not find it, stating that he thinks his son “threw it out,” according to the NHSM.

Better known is the Two Taverns (Mount Joy) meteorite, probably because this meteorite, for decades after it was discovered, held the title of being the third largest meteorite that had been found in the United States, and the largest one that had been found east of the Mississippi.

The 847-pound  iron meteorite was discovered in 1887, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph, and it was later reported by The Gettysburg Times in 1925 that the meteorite had been found by Jacob Snyder, who was digging a hole for a fruit tree on his farm when he encountered “a stubborn hard stone,” The identification was subsequently confirmed at Gettysburg College, and subsequently sent to the Smithsonian Institute.

The Gettysburg Times reported in 1946 that, upon being found, the first use of a portion of the meteorite was forged into a cornhusker (which was subsequently lost). Specimens “sliced” from the rock made their way into various museums, including the Museum of Natural History in Vienna, Austria.

Not all of the Mount Joy meteorite made its way into museums.

The Gettysburg Times reported in 1925 that “several souvenirs were made from it by J.J. Epley… and several pieces are still in the hands of (a) Mr. Rudisill,” and that a “good sized piece” was still in the possession of Snyder, and later sold.  Those specimens, apparently, have yet to be accounted for.

James Rada, Jr.

Winged bee slowly flies to beekeeper collect nectar on private apiary from live flowers, apiary consisting of village beekeeper, floret dust on bee legs, beekeeper for bees on background large apiary

As the weather warms up, you might start to hear a buzzing as bees emerge from their hives to seek out pollen to create honey. They have spent the winter in their hives, clustered together, using their body heat to maintain warmth. With the outflow of bees, you might also notice people who look like they’re wearing radiation suits.

Dan Harbaugh of Emmitsburg maintains 35 beehives. He decided to learn about beekeeping after he retired because he wanted a new challenge. He took a class in Westminster offered by the Carroll County Beekeepers Association. He now sells his raw honey (meaning it is strained but not heat treated) at the Harbaugh Farm Greenhouse and Produce in Sabillasville.

Beekeepers will often sell additional products, such as beeswax, propolis, pollen, and even bees and hives.

Beekeeping has roots that go back to ancient Egypt. Workers keeping bees can be seen on the walls of ancient Egyptian temples. They knew what modern beekeepers know. Not only can bees be a source of honey and wax, but having them around improves the pollination of plants and flowers nearby.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. About one mouthful in three in the diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination.”

“Honeybees are critical to our food chain, and I respect them deeply,” said Kelly Frye-Valerio of Emmitsburg.

While beekeeping is not expensive, there are set-up expenses beekeepers usually buy. These include hive supplies, an extractor, a smoker, and protective clothing. These add up to a few hundred dollars to get started, but it may be nearly all of your costs for years except for the cost of bottling the honey.

These initial costs are unlikely to be covered in the first year you have a hive because it takes time to get a healthy hive established. Once a bee hive is established, it doesn’t take much to care for them. Keep the hives in the sun and near a source of food. Once a week or so, beekeepers will check the hives to make sure there is enough room for the bees.

You don’t need a large area to keep a hive. Frye-Valerio lives in a subdivision.

“My husband and I are looking to transition in to more of a self-sustaining lifestyle,” she said. “Until we are able to find the right property, we are starting with what we can do right now on our quarter of an acre in a subdivision.”  They maintain four hives on their property.

Bees range for up to two miles in their search for pollen. They will collect pollen from whatever plants are in the area. The honey is usually identified by the plants the pollen is collected from, such as clover honey or orange blossom honey. Harbaugh calls the honey he collects wildflower honey because there are no identifiable flowers dominating the area where his bees collect their pollen to make honey.

The hives that beekeepers raise are actually boxes that are stacked on each other. The boxes are about 18 inches square and 6 inches high. Each box is open on the top and bottom to allow the bees to move from box to box. Within each box hangs a series of frames on which the bees can build their honeycombs. As the frames in one box fill up with comb and honey, additional boxes are stacked on top.

There are a few ways that beekeepers can start a hive.

They can buy bees and a queen and place them in a hive. They can capture a bee swarm, or as is often the case, they remove a hive from a house.

Beekeepers will also examine the bees in their hives for signs of disease on a regular basis. The big concern is the Varroa Mite, which needs to be kept under control to keep the hive healthy.

Beekeepers are also helping the world. Mites, parasites, and pesticides have reduced the bee population worldwide. They are needed, however, because they pollinate plants and allow things to grow. In the winter, bees weakened by a mite infestation may die, and if there aren’t enough bees to maintain the colony, it will collapse.

“The beekeeper needs to prepare, protect, or manipulate the hives to prevent these problems,” Harbaugh explained.

When the time comes to bottle honey, the frames from the hive are placed in an extractor, which is similar to a large centrifuge and spun. Honey is pulled out of the comb and falls to bottom of extractor, where it drains out a spigot into a bucket.

The result is a tasty treat that many people think has more flavor.

DID YOU KNOW? Here are 15 facts about bees you probably didn’t know.

        There are 20,000 bee species, worldwide.

        Bees are found on every continent except Antarctica.

        Honeybees have hairy eyes.

        Honeybees have five eyes: two large compound eyes with hexagonal facets and three   small simple eyes.

        The honeybee brain is sophisticated even though it is only the size of a grain of sugar.

        Some bee species, including honey bees, may have descended from wasps.

        All bees in a hive are aware of the presence of their queen bee. If she leaves, the entire colony knows within 15 minutes.

        Scent is very important to bees, and they are best at learning  new smells in the mornings.

        Bees cannot see the color red, but they can see the ultraviolet patterns in flowers, so they do visit red flowers.

Female bees can sting, but male bees cannot sting.

Bees have been trained as   bomb detectors and can detect hidden landmines.

Honeybees can be trained to detect illness in the human body.

Honeybees keep the inside temperature of their hives at    93° Fahrenheit.

Bees vibrate their bodies to create body heat to warm up the hive to 93°F if it is cold outside. Bees flap their wings like fans to create a breeze to cool the hive off to 93°F when it is hot outside.

Worker bees do the “waggle dance” to alert their hive sisters about where to find great new sources of water and nectar.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Pi Day is an annual celebration of pi (π) that takes place on March 14. It’s a relatively new holiday, recognized as a national holiday in 2009. This notorious math symbol represents the ratio of any circle to that same circle’s diameter, which is approximately 3.14–why Pi Day is on March 14! This number, however, has no known end, so it’s an irrational number that continues forever, randomly. In fact, last year, Google Cloud broke the record for calculating the most digits of pi with 100 trillion digits.

Pi, sometimes referred to as “the most important number of the universe,” can be observed in all things involving curvature, rotation, or even matters with no obvious pattern. It’s a number that elegantly links the natural world together, regulating what seems to be beyond our control. For instance, it’s a number indispensable in engineering, since it deals closely with arcs, pillars, and other structures associated with diameter and circumference. Those who work in computer science may test the efficiency of a program by seeing how quickly it can calculate the endless number sequence of pi. Scientists working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) utilize this number to calculate the distance between stars via spherical trigonometry. The perimeter of The Great Pyramid of Giza—constructed about 4,500 years ago—divided by its height equates to 2π. That is only scratching the surface of the wonders of pi, and how a mysterious number could be behind so many of life’s processes.

While pi is relevant to a plethora of topics, you probably learned about it in your mathematics class. Math is the logical science of relative quantity, order, change, and relationships, which are all amalgamated to efficiently track, answer, and rationalize questions. Math’s reputation is often tarnished with labels such as “boring,” “tedious,” or “irrelevant,” but it deals directly with how different components of life—including you and me—interact with each other, so it’s far from irrelevant. However, “boring” and “tedious” are sometimes true—only sometimes, though. It’s also not as disliked as some may think; according to Gallup, 23 percent of teenagers in the United States name math as their favorite class in school, followed by science and social studies.

Math is dull for some, but for others, it’s a thrill to make sense of the world, so much so, that they make a career out of their love for this subject. In class, my teachers teach cheerfully and passionately, and I wanted to see how they—teachers of all subjects—personally view the beauty behind what they teach every day.

A common theme amongst the math teachers was that math satiated their mental hunger, similar to puzzles and riddles. “I love math because it is like a puzzle. I love all sorts of puzzles and, to me, math is just another type of puzzle to figure out,” my past math teacher explained.

“The cool feeling that comes when you get a solution that makes sense is a great [one].” Another teacher expounded upon the puzzle analogy, stating how “Sometimes, it’s very clear which pieces fit together and what your next step or steps may be. Other times, everything can be scattered, and it takes a lot of experimenting to figure out which pieces go where and how they all fit together. I love the feeling of solving something extremely complicated.”

Comparably, the quest for understanding holds true with teachers of all specializations. “As a life-long seeker of knowledge, I am very interested in English and math, but my love of reading from an early age has always made English more appealing to me, overall, than math,” my English professor responded. He had a very unique take on his aforementioned appreciation for math. “However, I have always loved music, and I notice and respect the mathematical foundation of music, which is very interesting and relevant. For example, the classic Pink Floyd song ‘Mother’ features a compelling, complex, interesting blend of time signatures, and this presented a challenge for the regular Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason, who ceded his percussion duties to session drummer Nick Porcaro. I am also very interested in numbers and statistics, as they relate to sports and literature; for example, the numerical precision of iambic pentameter. But English always wins, for me, compared to math, probably due to the power of stories that is inherent in English and history.”

The power hidden between the lines of literary works was echoed by another past teacher of mine, who replied, “I can learn something new every time I re-read a novel or have a discussion with students about a character, scene, etc. My perspective always changes, and I learn new things about the novel and myself.”

Interestingly, the science teachers I questioned both mentioned math in their answers–which makes sense, since “Science boils down to math applied to solve problems, model processes, or provide evidence,” as my biology teacher defined it. “I think one of the most important questions a teacher needs to be able to answer is ‘Why am I learning this?’ One of the big problems for students learning math, especially anything after algebra I or geometry, is that the material is too far removed from its application. Math seems too abstract to be of much use… If a student doesn’t pay attention in statistics or calculus, then biology, chemistry, and physics will never bloom into their full beauty.”

Similarly, my environmental science teacher described math and science as going “hand in hand.” She went on to say, “I love science. However, to me, science is something we can experience hands-on in our everyday lives, from what we eat to just walking outside. Science is in everything we do!” This may be combated by another math teacher, who explained, “Mathematics is used in some way in every person’s daily life. It may not be as explicit as solving equations or creating graphs, but mathematical modeling is a process that is used every day by everyone. Such data and observations provide statistics we can use to improve our community, well-being, and overall lives.”

An interesting question to ponder is whether math is invented or discovered. Some argue that math is, like any set of rules, manmade, and therefore invented. Others, on the other hand, claim that mathematics exists independently of humans and would have existed with or without us, making it a discovery and not something we created ourselves. What do you think? Philosophical questions like these may be difficult to answer, but they are excellent food for thought. Speaking of food, I think my pie is almost finished… (Not pi, because pi, an infinite number, is never finished!)


 Mayor John Kinnaird

With the last two weeks of February surprising us with amazing weather, I think we are all looking forward to the warmth of the spring and summer months.

Now is the time to plan to attend many of our amazing events in the coming year. Here is a listing of some of the events we have planned for this summer: 2023 Concerts in the Park at Memorial Park, Green Fest, Restaurant Week, Thurmont Business Showcase, Thurmont Farmers Market, Art and Wine Strolls, Plein Air, Colorfest, Gateway to the Cure, and Christmas in Thurmont.

Information on these and many other events are available at

Questions, comments, or suggestions? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or [email protected].


Mayor Don Briggs

So many good things happened in February. One good thing is the town has been approved, for the tenth year, with Community Legacy Grant (CLG) funds for facade improvements of properties located in the historic area. This began when the state approved Emmitsburg as a Sustainable Community during my first year in office. A gauntlet lies ahead for property owners who choose to apply, including the Maryland Historic Trust approval. From humble beginnings, more formalized protocols have developed. Currently, after advertising the availability of funds, a committee of residents with both technical construction knowledge and community service resumes beyond reproach review the applications. All members of the committee have been approved by commissioners over the years for services to the community and some on more than one occasion. To date $455,000 in 50/50 grants have been dispersed, resulting in $988,000 in improvements. Thank you to the committee members for setting aside the time for this commitment.

Another good thing, on the first Friday of February, Conrad Weaver, my grandson Tyler Myles, and I attended the 17th Annual Ukrainian National Prayer Breakfast, held at Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. This is an event I have looked forward to attending after two Zoom meetings with Mayor Ihor Poishchuk of Emmitsburg’s Ukrainian Sister City Lutsk. We joined well over 300 people for a breakfast that featured a Ukrainian chorale in traditional dress; other recognized Ukrainian singers; Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant clergy, and Evangelicals. Also in attendance were three U. S. ambassadors, as many as six congressmen, one governor, and at least one mayor. More than 10 countries were represented, including Israel. To me, the most special attendees I had the opportunity to meet included Veteran soldiers, some bearing noticeably serious injuries from the ongoing defense against the invasion by Russia, and 10 children who lost their fathers in the war. They were touring the U.S. as part of a healing process program sponsored by a Ukrainian-American group, UKRHELP Foundation, based in Bellevue, Washington; Yurii Bezpiatko, member of our Sister City Lutsk City Council; and Ukrainian Ambassador to U.S., Oksana Serhiyivna Markarova. The ambassador may visit us in Emmitsburg.

The town council discussion on water rates was postponed until the March 13 town meeting. This will be the fifth time over the last year this topic has come before the council. There have been hours of discussions that included selecting a consultant to study water rates and reviewing the consultants’ findings. A lot of information is floating about, but the facts are that water rates were not raised during the last 12 years because the council approved raising sewer rates significantly twice during that time to accommodate the new $19.5-million sewer plant the town was required to build by the state. To note, if the commissioners come to an agreement on an increase in the water rate, only the water rate will increase, not the combination of water and sewer rate.

Another President’s Day has come and gone. Not much recognition attached to it any more it seems, just a day off as a part of a three-day weekend. The roots of the holiday are worth remembering. President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is on February 12, and President George Washington’s birthday is on February 22. These two were amazing people who rose from very humble beginnings to be presidents. Their lives are worth learning more about and not forgetting.

Ash Wednesday fell on February 22 and marked the beginning of a 40-day Lenten period that leads up to Easter, which falls on April 9 this year. It’s a good time to do things for those in our community who are more in need, starting with, perhaps, being more respectful.

Take care and enjoy the off-and-on days of sun and warmth as we get ready for all the many spring youth events.


Greetings to all! Our February 14 meeting was a busy, productive meeting.

The town commissioners and I went through the recommendations on an ordinance to allow chickens in town. Chickens are currently not permitted in town per the town code that was implemented in 1972. After several deliberations and changes, the vote was 3-1 to allow chickens in town. Yards less than one acre in size will be allowed up to five hens, and lots larger than an acre in size will be allowed up to 12 hens. No roosters will be allowed. This is the tentative approval. As per code, we are required to have a public hearing before amending the code. The public hearing meeting is scheduled for April 11 before our regular town meeting. At that point in time, unless the commissioners change their votes, the code change will be solidified, and all of the requirements will be codified. We will also be adding an additional code change proposal at the meeting, concerning residents’ grass height. The current code states grass can be 18 inches high. We will be proposing a change to a 9- or 12-inch height maximum.

Our planning and zoning committee sent the drawings back to the engineer for the site plan for our town hall building at their February meeting due to it not having enough green space up front to fit a sign and flagpoles. The engineer will have the revised plan back to P&Z for their March 6 meeting. If they approve it, then it will come to the town council at the March 14 meeting. If the commissioners approve the site plan, the next step is that it will be sent to the county for the permitting process to begin.

A reminder: Woodsboro has elections coming up on May 13. There will be two town commissioner seats up for election. To be eligible to run, you must be at least 18 years old and a resident within the town limits for a minimum of one year before the election. If you have an interest in running, please reach out to Mary in the town office.

We have started projects for grants that we have been approved for. Our three new flag poles have been installed at the Veterans Memorial where we will now be able to fly our American, Maryland, and Woodsboro flags all simultaneously on their own poles. In addition, construction will begin soon on the approved pavilion to be built in the upper side of the park by the disc golf course. I have also started the process of getting electricity run to the upper side of the park and will be working on getting the bathroom built up there as well. We were approved for a $214,000 grant for these projects so we will be beginning them soon. My goal is to have the electricity run before Woodsboro Days in October. In addition, we submitted a grant request to remodel the concession stand and upgrade the bathroom as well. We will have the answers for that when the governor’s FYI 2024 budget is approved.

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

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

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


Town Issues Water Notice

The Town of Thurmont sent a health-advisory notice to residents on town water that the Maryland Department had detected elevated levels of PFOS/PFOA in water samples MDE tested. Although residents did not need to take corrective action, the notice did advise that people with “a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your healthcare providers about drinking this water.”

The chemicals have been used in products for decades and most people have been exposed to them. You can read the entire notice on the town website.

Town Recycling Center Will Close

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to close the Moser Road Recycling Center. Since Frederick County stopped running regional recycling centers, the Town of Thurmont started running it with a $10,000 annual contribution to the costs.

However, the cost of running the center has escalated, in large part because of the non-recyclable items and trash that have been left around the recycling bin. Another factor has been rising inflation and fuel costs that have increased the cost of the program.

In recent years, the market for recyclables had all but disappeared. Income from selling recyclables helped offset some of the costs of the program.

In Fiscal Year 2021, the total cost of the program was $11,480, and after the county contributed its portion, the final cost to Thurmont was $600. In Fiscal Year 2023, the expected program cost is $38,220, with the town expected to pay $28,220.

“It’s getting to the point where it’s costing us too much to host it,” Mayor John Kinnaird said during a town meeting.

Another Step Made on Thurmont Boulevard

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners agreed on an ordinance that, if approved, will allow the town to borrow up to $6 million to complete the Thurmont Boulevard project. This is a project that has been in the works for years without much having been done.

Although the ordinance would allow up to $6 million in debt for the project, the preliminary estimate currently is that it will cost $4.4 million.

The next step in the process is to hold a hearing on the ordinance. Following public input, the commissioners can approve, change, or disapprove the ordinance.

Commission Appointments

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners reappointed Kirby Delauter to serve on the Board of Appeals and Ed Hutson to serve on the Police Commission.

Police Station to Get Heat Pump Replacement

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners voted to award Holtzople Heating and Air Conditioning $27,602.96 to replace one of the heat pumps at the police station. This pump is no longer functioning and beyond repair. The money will come from the town’s unrestricted fund balance.


Ritz Nearly Accuses Mayor of Ethics Violation

Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, raised concerns of a “potential ethics violation” during the February Emmitsburg town meeting. In recent years, the town has received a matching Community Legacy Grant from the Maryland Historical Trust for $50,000. Because the grant is competitive, the town’s Sustainable Community Workgroup decides who is awarded grant money.

Ritz said because the mayor appointed all the members of the workgroup, it may be a conflict of interest for Briggs to apply for the grant. The mayor said he did nothing wrong and said it was a petty matter, pointing out his record, so far, of bringing $8 million in improvements to the town.

Ritz replied, “A perceived conflict of interest is not a petty matter. You never know what people are thinking. You never know what people may say. I don’t think that’s petty at all.”

The Frederick News Post reported that Briggs chose to avoid the possibility someone might think he had a conflict of interest and asked his wife to withdraw the matching grant application for $12,500.

Ritz also had concerns that the applications that had been left at the podium during a meeting for anyone to see were not completed as stated in the directions, and the workgroup meetings were not broadcast.

Town Benefits from Park Grants

The Town of Emmitsburg received a Community Parks and Playground grant for $146,263 to replace the old swing set and playground tower and install a half-basketball court at the Silo Hill Playground. The playground equipment and basketball hoop have been installed; once the weather is warmer, the concrete for the court will be poured.

The town received a Program Open Space grant of $6,000 (requiring a $2,000 match) to install two pairs of permanent concrete cornhole boards in Community Park. These will also be installed once the weather is warmer.

The town also received another POS grant for $8,250 (requiring a $2,750 match) for an outdoor storybook trail in Community Park. For this trail, 30 pedestal exhibits will be installed along the trail. The exhibits will hold exchangeable storybook pages to tell a story as the trail is followed. This project is being coordinated with the library.

The town received two Community Parks and Playground grants, totaling $120,686, for Memorial Park. The grants will pay for a playground addition and a half-basketball court.

Pump Station Change Order Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a change order from Rummel, Klepper and Kahl for work on the Creamery Road Pump Station replacement project. The amount of $251,660.75 will cover the need for full-time construction inspection services by a resident project representative. The original control only included part-time services. It also covers engineering construction administration and post-construction support.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

Michelle Mills and Addie Blickenstaff, CPAs with Deleon and Stang, presented the results of the annual independent audit of Emmitsburg’s financial statements for Fiscal Year 2022. They gave the town an unmodified or clean opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given. The auditors had no difficulties performing the audit or had any disagreements with the management.

Citizens Advisory Committee Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed Shelia Pittinger, an out-of-town representative, to the Citizens Advisory Committee for a term running from February 6, 2023, to February 6, 2025, and Amber Phillips to the Citizens Advisory Committee for a term running February 6, 2023, to February 6, 2025.

Carl and Jeanne Angleberger’s love story began when Carl’s mom suggested he take Jeanne on a date. One day, after leaving the office where Jeanne was a dental assistant (in Thurmont), she rode home with her aunt because her car was in the garage, and she needed a ride home. Carl’s mom, Alma, and Jeanne’s aunt worked together at Moore Business Forms in Thurmont. Jeanne met Carl’s mom that day, riding in the car less than two miles. When Carl came home from work, Alma told Carl that she “met this nice girl today,” and he needed to ask her out. Carl had a girlfriend at the time. But his mom insisted that he ask Jeanne out. And, finally, Carl took her advice! Maybe a month or so later, Carl and Jeanne met at a dance at the Casablanca in Thurmont and started dating. The year was 1964. Carl had finished serving four years in the Navy at the time.

Carl and Jeanne were married on August 20, 1966. In those days, newlyweds started with nothing except their love for each other! Carl and Jeanne rented a small apartment in Emmitsburg. Their rent was $65.00 a month. The newlyweds started out with used appliances and living room furniture. They purchased a bedroom set and a small television.

For a wedding gift, they received a new card table and chairs and used that for their dinner table. They each had a car payment. “We had to make it work! It’s what newlyweds did!” said Jeanne.

Now 56 years of marriage later, you may wonder how Carl and Jeanne manage to have fun and continue to enjoy life to the fullest, side by side.

Carl says Jeanne always supports him. Jeanne says it’s about being a team. Marriage is about give and take. When Carl started his police career in 1967, he needed Jeanne’s support. It was Carl’s dream to become a policeman, and he enjoyed every moment of his police career for 39 years. Today, they are both grateful for this decision made early in their marriage because the career path Carl chose gave him job security and provided healthcare for them both. And for Carl, it was a dream come true. Today, his law enforcement career is providing life benefits in their retiring years. In addition, Carl was an active fireman in the Frederick County Volunteer Fire Service for 40 years. Besides extensive training by Carl, it also required team effort by Jeanne. Carl enjoyed serving Frederick County as a volunteer, not knowing a Length of Service Award was available to him upon his retirement.

Jeanne always put their marriage on the front burner. “Pay attention to your feelings and your love for each other. Stay romantic!” said Jeanne. Friday night is the couple’s date night. They go out to dinner with another couple. “Romance comes naturally when a couple is in love. Holding hands is easy.” They always exchange holiday and anniversary cards and take the time to choose the perfect card. The words must read what they want to say. When opened, Carl reads his and Jeanne reads hers. “It can be emotional and sometimes it is,” said Jeanne.

Healthiness and happiness go together! This is an absolute motto of Carl and Jeanne. Jeanne believes gratitude and appreciation must be part of the marriage walk. Saying thank you may be simple, but it means so much.

Keeping romance in their marriage is special and exchanging “I love you” is repeated each and every day. A loving marriage is easily demonstrated by the actions of a husband and his wife. They easily hug each other no matter where they are. Carl opens the car door for Jeanne. He speaks highly of Jeanne, and Jeanne speaks highly of Carl. Smiling at each other is a sure sign you’re happy; showing kindness to one another and complimenting each other. Jeanne’s cooking and baking is true love to Carl! During the pandemic, the couple posted skits on Facebook, with Jeanne taking Carl’s order from a menu. The fun was reading the comments! Occasionally, friends still comment on those Facebook pandemic postings.

Every day, Carl and Jeanne listen to 60s music—the same songs they heard and loved during their dating days. You may find them dancing either in the kitchen or the garage.

Carl and Jeanne’s son, Chris, gave them a “Kissing Bell” on their anniversary. “To start each day, we ring the bell showing our love for each other,” said Carl. 

Their favorite adventure is cruising on the high seas. They love the shows and the music at the nightclubs. Their most recent cruise was last month in January to celebrate Jeanne’s birthday. Carl and Jeanne usually plan three cruises each year. Their first cruise was taken in 1976, celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.

Carl and Jeanne’s lives have rarely been interrupted by disagreements or arguments. Above all else, they both say that how good your life can be will largely come down to how you choose to look at life and marriage. “It really is in the attitude. Everyone has challenges. Look for solutions within every situation. Usually, there is a lesson waiting to be learned. By all means, communicate! Marriage is a man and woman uniting as one. Work things out together.”

Carl and Jeanne truly are a team and always work things out together, looking for the best solution in all of life’s challenges and situations. Jeanne would tell you that some solution findings take longer than others! The key is to stick it out together. And to not forget to have fun together along the way. Carl has always been a big advocate of this! Jeanne is so glad!

Fifty-six years of marriage and looking forward to many, many more, Carl and Jeanne’s picture could be placed in the dictionary, right next to the definition of “love.”

It is obvious they are committed, that they are a team, that they love deeply, and that throughout their marriage, they have worked together to keep it healthy and strong.

Carl and Jeanne’s sentiment: “Stay positive. Enjoy the present moment. Live, laugh, and love!”

Carl and Jeanne Angleberger’s wedding day, August 20, 1966.

Photos Courtesy of Carl & Jeanne Angleberger

Blair Garrett

Love is in the air.

February is a time of appreciating the love we do have, whether it’s for your significant other who’s always there to listen to you, your family who is always there to care for you, or your friend who is always there to make questionable decisions with you. Love comes in many forms, and in the modern dating world, things are tremendously different than they have ever been.

The trend to find a partner is going virtual, with nearly one in four relationships starting online since 2020. Among many things, technology has completely revolutionized the way we date. Instead of vetting potential mates based on what you know about them and your in-person experiences with them, we can now decide based on a few pictures and a conversation or two, should you decide to go the online route.

Meeting partners online gives singles access to meeting fun and interesting people, no matter their current circumstances. In the adult world, it can be hard to branch out and meet new people if you’re living in unfamiliar territory. Say you get a new job away from home, or you’re going to school out of state. There are hundreds of apps and outlets to start friendly or romantic relationships online, and the connectivity of the internet has made that more available than ever before.

Beginning relationships online does have its drawbacks, though, and before you enter that world, it’s good to educate yourself on what you might be getting into.  

Online dating emphasizes quantity over quality when choosing dates. The general idea is the more feelers someone puts out, the higher the chances of them landing a potential date. While that has become the norm, it may not always lead to success when venturing out into the virtual dating pool.

The problem is that it can degrade the level of communication when your focus goes from one person to many. Think of it like a flashlight. A concentrated beam of light shows great contrast and detail, but when you greatly widen the scope, you may pick up more of the surroundings, but the shine may not be as bright on the things right in front of you.

The tendency is often to match, send a low-effort pickup line, and repeat. Some people cut straight to the chase, immediately stating their intentions, but that also takes time and effort.

When it’s a numbers game, people put less and less thought into their connections, because it takes more time to do so. The less time and energy someone has to dedicate to a stranger, typically the less lively and engaging the conversations end up being.

One of the big pitfalls of online dating is the lack of context with your match. Without body language and other physical cues, it can be hard to pick up on a person’s real thoughts or opinions on subjects that may be important to you. That can, of course, be alleviated by meeting up for the first time and assessing the chemistry, but that, too, has its inherent problems when not approached with caution.

With social media being as volatile as it is, there’s no shortage of contention when someone can throw insults from the safety of their home. It can be difficult to iron out exactly who you’re talking to until you meet in person.

While there are certainly dangers when going out to meet a stranger for the first time, the general guidelines are to meet in a public place, have a backup plan in case things go south, and have someone you trust know your location. Most modern smartphones have a share location feature, which allows you to share your current location at any given time with an individual of your choosing.

Terrible daters are out there, and an alarming amount of both women and men have horror stories about first dates. If you think that can’t happen to you, guess again.

That’s not to say that online dating is all bad, though, as it gives people who are especially crunched for time a chance to date on their time and on their terms.

It provides people with an opportunity to connect with so many more people than they ever would have, and that’s a really valuable thing.

So many people have found success stories through the internet when dating online, but with a little attention to detail, you can weed out the duds from the studs. One thing that may be helpful is to really pay attention to the things that you need in a partner and the things that you know do or don’t work for you when meeting someone new. If you have values that are near and dear to you, compromising on those for a new boyfriend or girlfriend can spell failure down the line.

Red flags are there for a reason. They stand out, and if something doesn’t feel right with a person’s reaction or demeanor toward something important to you, you’re better off playing it safe than sorry. But fear not, everyone’s perfect person is out there somewhere. It’s just up to you to put in the effort to find them.

Richard D. L. Fulton

One would hardly expect to see a wild elephant wandering about the landscape in Maryland today unless it was a zoo or circus escapee, but there was a time when the sight of them would not have seemed to be so out of the ordinary.

In fact, there was a time when Maryland served as the home to three different types of elephants.

The state’s indigenous elephants plodded the Maryland landscape from 12 million years ago until about 10,000 years ago, some having likely been hunted by prehistoric humans, who followed animal migration trails that led through Maryland.

The oldest elephant among the state’s prehistoric ones was the Gomphotherium, meaning “welded beast” in Latin, so named in reference to its tusks. The species of Gomphotherium, whose remains have been found in Maryland, is Gomphotherium calvertensis, named for the Calvert Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay, the area in which a number of teeth were discovered.

Gomphotherium calvertensis was initially described and named in 1950. The animal lived during a period of time designated as the Miocene Epoch, which lasted from about 18 to 5 million years ago, when much of Eastern Maryland was submerged under the Atlantic Ocean.  It’s been estimated that Maryland’s Gomphotherium lived about 12 million years ago, according to Stephen J. Godfrey, Calvert Marine Museum (CMM)’s curator of paleontology.

Gomphotherium lived when the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean extended westward beyond Washington, D.C. The CMM has a number of this elephant’s teeth, as they were buried in marine sediments, having been washed there via rivers that emptied into the sea.

Godfrey wrote in Maryland’s Prehistoric Elephants (CMM’s Bugeye Times, Winter 2009-2010) that Gomphotherium stood some ten feet tall at the shoulders and weighed in at around four to six tons. 

The unusual feature of this creature was that it possessed four straight tusks, a pair of upper tusks and a pair of lower tusks. In spite of the unusual array of tusks, it is held that modern elephant of today descended from Gomphotherium stock. 

The Miocene Epoch was superseded by the Pliocene Epoch, which lasted from five to two million years ago, and during which period the gomphotheres eventually became supplanted by more modern types, one of which was the American mastodon (specifically Mammut americanum). The name Mammut means “earth burrower,” referring to the one-time belief that their remains that had been found in Russian fields were left by burrowing animals.

The presence of mastodons in Maryland was established by the finding of two isolated teeth, one of which was dredged from the Chesapeake Bay near the nuclear power plant, while the second was found in a stream located in Anne Arundel County, according to Godfrey.

Adult mastodons averaged ten-feet tall at their shoulders and weighed an estimated five tons. 

The mastodons in Maryland were also joined by the appearance of another elephant during the Pliocene, the far-more renowned hairy and aptly named Woolly Mammoth (the animated hero of the movie, Ice Age). With regard to the prehistoric elephants, mammoths are the most closely related to the present-day elephants.

Godfrey noted these behemoths stood up to 12 feet in height at the shoulders and could have very well weighed eight tons.

The period of time following the Pliocene was called the Pleistocene (Ice Age) Epoch, which lasted from two million years ago to 11,700 years ago, and both the mastodon and mammoth shared their territories during the entire epoch, as well as into the subsequent period of time known as the Holocene Epoch (which began about 11,700 years ago with the commencement of the period of global warming the Earth has been continuously experiencing since, to date).

One of the highly interesting aspects of the Ice Age in Maryland, is that, while there were no glaciers in Maryland, so much water was tied-up in continental ice that Maryland’s land mass extended to the east for some 300 miles, meaning that much of the land in Maryland that served as home to the mastodons, mammoths, and prehistoric humans is today under the sea.

The mastodons and mammoths were both hunted by early man, which likely also took place in Maryland given that the elephants and prehistoric humans coexisted in the state. Both elephants, however, eventually became extinct around 10,000 years ago.

*Cover Photo: Public Domain Mammoth, Courtesy of


Gomphotherium Illustration by Tim Scheirer, Courtesy of CMM

Gomphotherium Tooth: Photo by S. Godfrey, Courtesy of CMM


Mastodon Illustration by Tim Scheirer, Courtesy of CMM

Mastodon Tooth: Photo by S. Godfrey, Courtesy of CMM


Mammoth Illustration by Tim Scheirer, Courtesy of CMM

Mammoth Jaw: Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

by James Rada, Jr.


For more information on the Town of Thurmont, visit or call 301-271-7313.

Residents Overwhelmingly Vote Down Annexation

During January’s special election, Thurmont residents voted 834-157 to not annex 16.7 acres of agricultural land into the town for high-density development. Although part of the property is already in town, and the lot in question was in the town’s master plan for residential development, residents gathered enough votes for the special election on January 17.

Frederick-based developer Cross and Company planned on a 24.5-acre mixed-use “intergenerational community” on the property. It would have included 172 homes, a day care center, and an assisted-living center.

With the vote results, the current plan cannot move forward, although something can be done with the portion that is already in the town boundaries.

Pavilion Rental Fees Increased

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners voted to increase the rental fees for the pavilions in the town parks this year. The small pavilions will now cost $40.00 to rent and the large pavilions at Community Park will cost $60. The pavilion at Eyler Road Park is not included in this.

Purchases Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners recently approved some capital purchases for various town departments.

The electric department is purchasing a pick-up truck from Fitzgerald’s in Frederick for $42,909.

The wastewater treatment plant will be installing an emergency generator system in the plant for $370,500. This will cover the cost of the machinery and the initial $5,000 fuel charge. Most of the funds ($322,000) come from the American Rescue Plan. The remainder will come from the town’s budget surplus.

The streets department is purchasing a dump truck from Crouse Ford for $103,923. Most of the cost ($100,000) was a budgeted capital expense. The remainder will come from the town’s unrestricted fund balance.

Nearly Five Acres Added to the Town

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a resolution to annex 4.881 acres of property owned by Apples United Church of Christ and town-owned property into the Town of Thurmont.

Liaison Appointments

The commissioner liaison appointments for 2023 will remain the same as 2022: President Pro Tem – Wayne Hooper; Planning and Zoning – John Kinnaird; Thurmont Addictions – Wayne Hooper; Parks and Recreation – Wes Hamrick; Thurmont Ministerium – Wes Hamrick; Police – Bill Blakeslee; Board of Appeals – Bill Buehrer; Senior Center – Bill Blakeslee; Economic Development – Bill Buehrer; Special Activities – Wayne Hooper.

Zoning Changes Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners made some adjustments to the town’s zoning ordinance and how land can be developed.

The mayor and commissioners repealed the Traditional Neighborhood Floating Zone. This was a development option that had never been used in Thurmont. It had been applied for once, but not approved.

The mayor and commissioners also approved a Planned Unit Development zoning option for the town.


For more information on the Town of Emmitsburg, visit or call 301-600-6300.

Frailey Farm Developer Backs Out

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners announced during the January town meeting that the developer who was seeking to build new housing on the property was not pursuing the project. The reason given was that the economy was slowing and financing for the project was becoming more expensive.

The proposed plan would been to have the town annex the 118-acre farm and then the developer would build 300 homes on it. Although the farm was in the town master plan for future residential development, some residents were not happy with the idea.

System Upgrade Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved $56,937 for the ChemScan system at the wastewater treatment plant. A similar upgrade had been made at the water treatment plant and has been very successful.

Change Order Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a change order for Bearing Construction to have trees removed on the dam at the Silo Hill Basin. This was something that Frederick County Soil Conservation required per MDE guidelines. The cost for the change is $47,185. The board also approved an agreement with Barton and Loguidice for the Silo Hill Basin tree removal engineering services. This was part of the change order request that was not in the initial scope of work.

  The cost of the work is covered by the grant that is funding the project.

American Rescue Plan Monies

Emmitsburg received $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan funds. The first payment was in 2021, and the second payment of $1.6 million came last August. The money can be spent to support public health expenditures and address negative economic impacts; replace lost public sector revenue; provide premium pay for essential workers; and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The first payment was used for the water clarifier and pump station projects. Town staff recommended that the second payment be used for water infrastructure projects such as the 16-inch main water line, with which the commissioners agreed.

Amending Development Fees

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners amended the town ordinance to approve changes to the subdivision, plan review and annexation, and forest conservation procedures. The goal is that the developers will pay the legal costs the town incurs for work related to proposed developments. This will keep the taxpayers from having to pay for work on proposals that ultimately go nowhere.


Mayor Don Briggs

The New Year brought some excitement with Rutter’s opening Tuesday, January 17. With town approvals in hand and most of the county approvals, too, the protracted construction was complicated by supply chain issues, state highway approval, and state environmental approvals, but FINALLY, it is open. The station offers wide, spacious access to the many pumps, along with an attractive, open interior convenience store and deli. Lots of people were taking pictures and selfies. A good day for our community!

The Frailey Farm annexation intrigue as to its potential impact is no more. The developers notified the town over the Christmas holidays of their intent to not move forward with the project. They appreciated the time given by the community. Their reasoning centered around the timing and economic climate. The good news is it allows the community to assess where we are and what we want to see.

Duck and cover! COVID variations, flu bronchitis, and common colds seem to be flowing through the community. Finally, the flu got to our town office staff, which caused the moving of the town’s regularly scheduled meeting to Wednesday, January 18, 2023. A summary of the agenda items are as follows:

For consideration, approval of Bearing Construction change order for removal of trees on the dam at the Silo Hill Basin. Mandatory requirement from Frederick County Soil Conservation per MDE guidelines. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For consideration, approval of agreement with Barton and Loguidice for Silo Hill Basin tree removal engineering services. Part of the change order request that was not in the initial scope of work. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For consideration, approval of the HACH estimate for the ChemScan upgrade at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The Board previously approved a similar upgrade at the WTP. This was included as an asset project for the WWTP in the FY23 budget. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For consideration, approval of Resolution 2023-01 bond reduction request for the Irishtown Road project. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For approval, designation of the second tranche of the American Rescue Plan monies. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For consideration, approval of Ordinance 2023-03 amendment to Title 16 changes to subdivision fees. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

For consideration, approval of Ordinance 2023-02 amendment to Title 17 changes to zoning fees. This ordinance will amend the collection process for zoning fees. Approved unanimously by the board members present, Commissioner O’Donnell not present.

 There are lots of events planned for the year: Earth Day, Tree City, Arbor Day, Community Heritage Day, National Night Out, just to name a few. I hope you join us! Dates and information to follow.

With the gathered gusto, as usual for the new year, comes a reluctant resolve to move the belt in a notch or two, again. So be it, the days are getting longer…


 Mayor John Kinnaird

As everyone must be aware, the referendum opposing the annexation of the Simmers property was successful and that project is now halted. This is a great example of residents getting involved in the processes regarding the growth of our community. Moving forward, I hope that more residents make themselves aware of what is happening with our master plan and planning and zoning topics before the need for public referendum arises. The agendas for planning and zoning, the board of appeals, and the board of commissioners are all posted on the website, The agendas identify the topics being discussed and those that action will be taken on. These agendas can be viewed on the video streaming page, along with videos of past meetings.

This spring and summer will see several public works projects starting. The first will be the replacement of the water line on Old Pryor Road. This work will include the replacement of outdated water mains and the installation of a new line tying into the Hillside subdivision. Only residents on Hillside Circle and Old Pryor Road will be impacted by this work. Next, we will be upgrading the stormwater catch basins on Frederick Road. The basins will be rebuilt and may require single-lane closures on Frederick Road, so please follow traffic control measures during this work. Once the catch basins are completed, we will be milling and repaving Frederick Road. This work will also require lane closures during the work. A new ball field will be constructed at East End Park to feature lighting for nighttime games. Construction of this new field should not impact residents. A new pavilion will replace the existing one at East End Park. This will involve removing the old pavilion and pad, then installing a new pad and a metal pavilion. Later this year, we will begin with a large project on North Church Street. This will involve replacing all the water and wastewater lines on North Church Street and installing new water service lines and lateral lines where needed. This will require long-term line closures during the project, with limited inconvenience to residents in the area as the work progresses. Once completed, North Church Street is scheduled to be resurfaced.

Please keep in mind our neighbors, friends, and family members in need of food and warm clothing over the winter months. Donations of non-perishable food, sanitary items, baby food, diapers, and cash donations to the Thurmont Food Bank will help ensure nutritious meals are available to those in need. Donations can be dropped off at the Thurmont Food Bank at 10 Frederick Road. Clothing donations to the Thurmont Clothes Closet at Thurmont United Methodist Church at 13880 Long Road in Thurmont will help families keep warm. Donations can be dropped at the donation box at the Clothes Closet. Any jackets, coats, and warm clothing you donate will be greatly appreciated.

Luckily, we have managed to dodge any accumulating snowfall, but that will probably end soon. When it snows, please try to keep vehicles off the streets wherever possible, so our snow crews can clear the streets to the curb. As much as you want to clear your driveway, try to wait until the trucks are finished, so they don’t plow your driveway shut. Sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours of the snow stopping or within 36 hours if more than eight inches of snow accumulates. Snow cleared from sidewalks, driveways, etc. cannot be placed onto any streets. If you would like to volunteer to help senior citizens with snow removal, please contact the Thurmont Police at 301-271-0905.

As always, I am available at [email protected] or at 301-606-9458 if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. I hope everyone has a great February!


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy February! We are over halfway through winter, with seven more weeks until spring. I am personally grateful for the mild winter we have had so far, and I am looking forward to spring.

At our January 10 meeting, we held a public hearing about whether to allow chickens in Woodsboro. The current town code, written in 1972, does not allow them. We opened the meeting up with this topic and allowed any town resident up to three minutes to speak on the issue. We had several town residents in attendance, and the majority present spoke in favor of allowing chickens. With the information that was provided, the council voted 3-1 not to take the vote that night but rather to let our planning and zoning committee who met on January 23 to put in place what the regulations would be: herd size, distance from property line for chicken coops, etc. The Woodsboro Town Council will vote on the measure at the February 14 meeting.

During the January 10th town meeting, I gave an update on the town hall progress. Our engineer and architect are working diligently on it, and our engineer feels that there is a good chance we could see shovels going into the ground by late spring. I, as well as many others, will be happy to see this progression happening.

This month has been very quiet in the town, so there isn’t much more to report on. Next month, there will be more.

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

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

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

Richard D. L. Fulton

Note: Cover Photo (Never before published) Nazi medical officer poses near the High Water Mark on the Gettysburg Battlefield, 1939 (Source: National Park Service, Gettysburg). It was found by an NPS archivist while searching for materials for my book.

(Adapted from ‘Nazis’ in Gettysburg: World War II Comes to a Civil War Battlefield by Richard D. L. Fulton, pending publication.)

It’s amazing how much history has transpired on the Gettysburg battlefield that did not occur in 1863 and did not involve the collision of Union and Confederate troops.

One of those non-Civil War events occurred when the battlefield served as “home” to hundreds of German prisoners of war (who were referred to as PWs – POW being a post-World War II acronym).

As to why they were here, the war had drained the availability of military-aged men in the county (and in the country as a whole), that farmers were concerned over the resulting shortage of labor, that much of their produce would be lost before it could be harvested.

Given that the Geneva Convention allowed for the use of POW labor, as long as it was not directly employed in the production of war materials, a proposal was put forth and approved to establish POW camps around the country to house Germans to help in harvesting and other agriculturally related activities, thereby providing an opportunity for Adams County farmers to receive the much-needed labor.

The prisoners ultimately did not only help in the fields, but also in pulpwood cutting, and even in the canneries.

The first of what would be three PW compounds was constructed in 1944, when a 600-foot by 400-foot rectangular prisoner of war compound (paid by the Adams County Fruit Growers Association) was erected, paralleling Emmitsburg Road and Long Lane.

The compound consisted of rows of squad-sized tents for the prisoners, the German command tent, a canteen, the compound kitchen, two mess tents, wooden showers and latrines with concrete floors, and an exercise ground.  Adjacent to the POW compound was a section that included the quarters and associated structures utilized by the camp guard and support staff, shower and latrines, a kitchen, mess tent, administration tent, and storage and supply tents.

The entire compound, except for the portion inhabited by the army guards and staff, was surrounded by barbed wire, with a guard tower at each of the four corners of the barbed wire enclosure. Joan Thomas, daughter of the camp’s commander, Captain Laurence C. Thomas, noted that the camp guards were armed with machine guns.  This camp held 400 prisoners.

As winter approached, it was then decided to establish a new compound in the old, former Civilian Conservation Corps (which had also served as the headquarters—dubbed Camp Sharpe—for various units of the Ritchie Boys in preparation for their deployment on D-Day). 

The prisoners at the Emmitsburg Road camp had been reduced to 200 PWs, and these, along with the Army guards and staff, were relocated in November to the old CCC camp, located off West Confederate Avenue on the western slope of Seminary Ridge, which had been further modified by moving some of the structures and adding others. 

During December, the number of PWs grew to 42 German non-commissioned officers and 448 German enlisted men. The abandoned Emmitsburg camp was then dismantled. Captain Thomas was initially in command, but he was subsequently transferred to Camp Michaux (a secret World War II camp in Michaux State Forest for interrogating prisoners of war), and Captain James W. Copley (and later, Captain Clarence M. Morfit, Jr.) assumed command.

During the winter, PWs were mainly employed for cutting pulpwood. However, as spring approached, farmers became concerned that there was still not enough labor to handle the harvests and canning. This resulted in a third PW compound being constructed, directly fronting West Confederate Avenue, not far from the compound that had been established in the old CCC camp.

Although the new camp shared the same military identification as the CCC camp, it was, in fact, considered a separate camp with its own command structure, headed up by Captain Clarence K. Randall.  The compound was a tented camp as per the abandoned Emmitsburg camp. It appears that the tented encampment was to be replaced with actual barracks, which were not constructed, as the result of the end of the war with Germany.

By September 8, 1945, four months after Germany’s surrender, both West Confederate Avenue camps housed a combined total of 83 German non-commissioned officers and 799 German enlisted men and covered a combined total of 70 acres.

The Gettysburg compounds experienced a smattering of escape attempts, but all in all, there seemed to be little interest in attempting such an adventure. For one thing, the prisoners were safely out of the war and away from the poorly maintained camps overseas. 

The prisoners were also well-fed, and a little on the spoiled side, as farm families insisted that each soldier fill their pockets, or anything else they might be carrying, with farm goods.

But there were a few attempts to escape for various reasons (attempting to escape an enemy POW camp is not a crime. In fact, under international law, attempting to escape is part of a soldier’s duty.  An escapee cannot be shot while attempting to escape, although some were on both sides. They cannot be tried for attempting to escape, but they can be tried for any other crime that might have occurred during the escape).

On July 3, 1944, Thomas Kostaniak, 27, and Axel Ostermaier, 22, escaped from the Emmitsburg compound through a drainage conduit that ran from the camp and under Emmitsburg Road (the conduit is still there!), thereby having triggered a two-state manhunt that lasted for days.

The duo managed to elude capture for some 30 miles, when, by the time they reached the York area, hunger and fatigue compelled them to surrender to a farm wife, Rachel Bentzel, and her daughter-in-law, Grace Bentzel. The duo was subsequently turned over to the York police, and then the FBI, who returned them to the camp.

As to the motive for the attempted escape… they were trying to get to Atlantic City, having assumed by the name it must be a major seaport in which they could make their way aboard an outgoing ship and head back to Germany.

To illustrate the opposing extreme in escapes, during October 1945, two POWs escaped from a work detail and headed into Gettysburg Borough.  It was reported that apparently the two Germans had no real intent of escape and had merely grown bored at the camp and decided to go off on an adventure. The adventure quickly came to a conclusion when the two POWs were spotted by two off-duty camp guards, and the “escapees” were taken into custody.

As for a motive, it was reported the two wanted to see a movie (Captain Eddie: Story of Rickenbacker was playing at the time) but were refused entry because the theater would not accept their POW vouchers (script).

Prisoners of war would not have had any actual cash placed in their hands for their labors, or the result of any other source of income, their earnings being “banked” by the government and the prisoners being issued script at their encampment canteens.

Following Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945, German POWs remained in the tri-state area. At the beginning of repatriation, Pennsylvania, along with Maryland and Virginia, served as “home” to more than 35,000 German prisoners of war. The War Department began to set into motion their effort to send the one-time enemy combatants housed in the tri-state area home in November 1945.

Before being released, the Germans had to go through “de-Nazification,” which included watching German death camp films and other exposed atrocities. Upon repatriation, each prisoner also received the money the government had “banked” from their labors.

Source: NPS, Gettysburg

Aerial view: The former CCC camp that was coverted to hold German POWs.

Sources: NPS, Gettysburg & Adams County Historical Society

Emmitsburg Road POW camp tents.

James Rada, Jr.

Photo Courtesy of

The Tracey triplets (from left): Mabel, Bessie, and Edith.

In 1886, Emma Catherine Tracey of Fountaindale gave birth three days in a row.

Mabel Viola was born around noon on April 4, weighing 6 lbs. Her sister, Edith Grace, was born the following day around noon, also weighing 6 lbs. Finally, Bessie Barton was born on April 6 around 6:00 p.m. and weighed 7 lbs. Dr. Abram Pierce Beaver of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, delivered the children.

A total of 54 hours separated the births.

Because of the expense involved with raising triplets, the Traceys took pictures of them on August 26 and began selling them as postcards for 25 cents each (about $11.00 in today’s dollars). One side of the card had the picture of the children. The other side had information about them and their unusual birth. However, it misspelled Mabel’s name as Mable and listed Bessie’s birth time as 4:00 p.m.

The card also mentioned that Mother Emma had been born with only one arm. Her health seemed perfect otherwise. Not only did she survive the birth of her triplets, she lived until 1949 and was 91 years old.

The girls lived long lives, marrying and having children of their own. When they were 79 in 1965, it was reported that they were the oldest living triplets in Pennsylvania, and possibly, the country.

Bessie, the youngest of the triplets, was the first to die. She passed away on February 24, 1966, shortly before turning 80. The cause of her death was listed as “Ovarian carcinoma & metastases.”

Mabel and Edith died the following year on January 17 and March 20, respectively. Mabel’s cause of death was listed as “Recurrent myocardial infarction & hypertensive cardiovascular, due to severe disease and thrombus in the left ventricle.” Edith’s cause of death was listed as “Myocardial infarction, acute, due to [illegible] heart disease and generalized arteriosclerosis.”

The sisters are all buried in Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesboro.

Nowadays, triplets make up only about 5 percent of births, and that number has been boosted because of fertility drugs. In 1886, it was even less frequent, so the Tracey girls began life as an oddity. As the Waynesboro Record Herald noted in 1950, “The rarity of their births 64 years ago was made more significant last month when three babies were born on consecutive days, but within a much shorter span of time, to a woman in Jonesville, Louisiana. When this phenomena was learned, press associations over the world proclaimed the three-day birth series as having occurred perhaps ‘the first time in medical history.’”

But it had happened before.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Is teenage dating more common now than in the past?

Not necessarily. In 1992, 15 percent of students in twelfth grade had never dated; in 2017, that number jumped to 49 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, only about 35 percent of teenagers have had some experience with dating or romantic relationships. From the same study, it was found that, unsurprisingly, older teens—those ages 15 to 17—are “around twice as likely as those ages 13 to 14 to have ever had some type of romantic relationship experience.”

Technology and social media have played a big role in dating, just as they have played a role in every other component of life. Specifically, though, only 8 percent of teenagers have met a romantic partner online. About 50 percent have expressed their interest in someone through social media apps, whether that may be through friending or following their account, liking and commenting on their posts, or direct messaging the other person, to name a few common interactions (Pew Research Center).

It’s notable that while social media helps bring potential lovers together, it also gives rise to undesirable sentiments. To demonstrate, 27 percent of teenagers say that these apps spark feelings of envy or doubt about their romantic relationships, and 69 percent express how “too many people can see what’s happening in their relationship on social media.” (Pew Research Center).

Even with the statistics, love is an intricate concept that’s often difficult to put in words. Despite this, to help me define the essence of love, I asked my peers (who are more knowledgeable in the topic than I am) a few questions surrounding the matter.

For starters, I asked them: What is a romantic relationship?

“For me, dating is the process of trying to find someone who I want to marry,” one respondent said. “That’s why I’m very intentional about why I’m dating, because if you’re only dating just to date, you’re dating to get your heart broken. While dating to find someone to marry can lead to heartbreak, if you’re seeking out a committed, serious relationship, I feel like that’s the type of relationship you’re more likely to find. While I’ve waited what’s considered a ‘long time’ amongst most teenagers before starting to date—since I’ve been intentional about dating for marriage—I’ve been able to get the benefits of a more committed, serious relationship with someone I love and hope to someday marry, than I would have if I had decided to just date around.”

Another teenager replied, “Dating is finding that special person that makes you feel happy and completes your life—they fill up the other half of your heart. As teenagers, some have dated multiple people, however, I waited longer than most until I was comfortable and more mature. I feel now that I’ve made the right choice, as now I’m more likely to have a serious and life-long relationship that could ideally lead to marriage. Dating isn’t just something you can be goofing around with, ‘cause in the end, you’re hurting yourself and someone else. Wait until the perfect time and the perfect person. They will be put in your way at the right moment.”

What is communication in a relationship? We’ve all heard the proverb that “communication is key” in any relationship, but what is it on a more detailed level? According to many experts, part of good communication is paying attention and listening when your partner is speaking, listening to understand rather than to respond. Is communication something that comes naturally or is it more of a conscious effort? Curious, I asked these questions to fellow high-school students. Right away, it was agreed that communication is one of the pillars of a fulfilling romance.

“Communication means a lot to me,” a classmate explained, adding, “It’s necessary for a healthy and strong relationship.”

In regards to describing what it entails, one student replied, “Communication is destroying the language barrier between you and your partner’s hearts.”

Another responded, “Communication in a relationship, to me, means trusting [one another] enough to get vulnerable without fear or ridicule.”

When asked whether communication is deliberate, a junior in high school answered, “Yes, most of the time, it’s deliberate. It shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to talk about your feelings in a relationship, but it also takes effort to do. And, even in dating, it’s difficult sometimes. With us being so young, we don’t really know who we are yet, ourselves, so it’s tricky explaining who we are to somebody else.”

The final question I asked was: What do you value in a relationship?

Interestingly, all of the respondents mentioned honesty in some way.

“I find honesty and transparency essential (which is basically communication),” a close friend of mine told me. “Getting into a relationship there’s always going to be some kind of insecurity and being able to feel comfortable is important. Getting to know each other honestly not only brings you closer together as people, but [also] allows you to realize whether you’re really meant to be with each other.”

A second teenager’s take on this question was as follows: “One thing that I really value in a relationship is honesty—and not just toward the receiver, but also to yourself. It becomes a chore to fake your life to another person, because, at that point, you are lying and living two lives. One [life] is depression-inducing enough. We should, and need, to be honest to others and ourselves about how we feel. It’s a blessing when you can hang around your friends and loved ones by simply being you.”

So, what is romantic love? Put simply, it’s what you make of it, as long as your partner agrees! Even if the details may differ, depending on the couple you ask, a few themes remain constant, such as the value of communication, the importance of sincerity, and, of course, its inherent beauty. Valentine’s Day may have been a day for celebrating love and affection with your other half, but love toward everything—your parents, your pets, your hobbies, nature—should be celebrated every day. Gratitude is a timeless phenomenon.

Fun Valentine Facts

Did you know that National Lover’s Day is on April 23? It’s, essentially, a second Valentine’s Day!

There’s a town in Texas named Valentine, though it’s not a very popular one. It boasts a population of approximately 108 residents.

Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery, penicillin, was introduced on Valentine’s Day.

In 2022, Americans spent $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day. That was down from $27.4 billion spent in 2020.

Chocolates didn’t always mean love. Physicians in the old days would recommend chocolate to people who were suffering from a broken heart or pining after a lost love.

Valentine’s Day is going to the dogs. One in four people buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets, and almost half admit they cuddle with their dog more than their partner.

Film Raises Awareness About PTSD in First Responders

More than 400 people filled a darkened theater in Irving, Texas on November 3, 2022, for the world premiere of PTSD911, the most recent film from Emmitsburg resident, Conrad Weaver. PTSD911 is a relevant and timely documentary exploring the post-traumatic stress in first responders, as well as the importance of providing resources and training necessary to equip first responders with the tools they can use to mitigate the impact of the traumas they experience on the job.

The comments after the premiere in Texas were very positive. Samantha Horwitz, a former Secret Service Agent and now the co-host of A Badge of Honor Podcast, said, “Wow! Wow! Wow! The emotion, vulnerability, and reality of what [Conrad] captured was astounding. You could feel it in the theatre last night.” Her comments were echoed by Monica Million, former president of the National Emergency Number Association, “Thank you for the care with which you told this story.  It was very moving and impactful.  All in our community need to see it, including decision makers.”

Weaver began working on the film after spending time with local law enforcement and emergency service agencies while shooting his previous film, Heroin’s Grip. After a few ride-alongs, he began to research how traumatic scenes affect first responders and uncovered the issue of PTSD within the first responder community.  He discovered that the risk of suicide among first responders is exponentially higher than among the general population, and many first responders are afraid of losing their job if they ask for help. These experiences inspired him to create this film.

“We expect first responders to show up when we call and take care of us on our worst day, but many times—more often than not—the first responders themselves are not doing well. We must do better. We can do better, and we show that in this film,” said Weaver.

PTSD911 follows the wellness journey of three first responders: a firefighter from Anaheim, California; a dispatcher from Boston; and a former Frederick City Police officer.  Their stories are the backbone of the film, but Weaver also weaves in stories from other first responders, as well as commentary and informative content from mental health experts who work with first responders. Weaver captured b-roll footage for the film from several Frederick County agencies, including from the 9-1-1 Emergency Call Center and the Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg.

The goals of this film are to:

1. Raise Awareness

Most civilians don’t know or understand the issue of post-traumatic stress in first responders. The goal is to educate the viewer and stimulate change in people’s behavior and attitudes toward our nation’s first responders. First responders are heroes who not only deserve applause, but also deserve to have access to the support networks that can help mitigate the ongoing stress that trauma can bring.

2. End the Stigma

To help first responders realize it’s okay to ask for help. The case studies featured in the film depict individuals and agencies who are helping their members realize that it is okay to raise one’s hand and ask for help.

3. Inspire Systemic Change

No one should get fired just because they are struggling with the traumas they have faced, and they have asked for help. It is vital to implement healthy changes and training within first-responder agencies so that their members get the mental health help they need and can continue to be productive in their public service to our communities.

Weaver and his team are now bringing the film to cities all across the United States, including a multi-city Bike and Film tour in the summer of 2023. Weaver and his friend John will ride bicycles from Astoria, Oregon, to Ocean City, Maryland, stopping at 25 cities along the way to show the film. They will be coming through Frederick County on July 13, when they plan on showing the film at a local venue. Tickets for the Frederick County screening will be available on the website:

Following their film tour, Weaver will release an educational toolkit, which will contain the film and additional video footage, as well as resources for first-responder agencies. The film’s production was sponsored in part by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lighthouse Health and Wellness, and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation among other organizations and hundreds of individuals from around the globe.

To learn more about the film, watch the trailer and learn where it can be seen, including the bike and film tour. Visit

Conrad Weaver (left) with Tom Morris Jr, LIVE-PD, who Emceed the Premiere Q&A.

Principal cast and producers of PTSD911.


Conrad Weaver (left) during a PTSD911 ride-along with Anaheim Fire in 2021.

Richard D. L. Fulton

Beneath the rolling hills of Hamiltonban Township, a township in Adams County, Pennsylvania, lies a land before time, a terrain that existed when even the first life upon Earth was just beginning to evolve into a myriad of more complex forms. Many of us know it as the ‘Grit Mill’ that is visible from Route #16 at Blue Ridge Summit, PA.

Some billion years ago, there was but one continent dubbed Rodinia. But continents—over the course of millions of years—tend to come and go, and 575 million years ago, Rodinia was about to drift away into the annals of time—literally.  Rodinia was beginning to break apart into subcontinents due to continental drift.

Continental drift, resulting from the breaking up of continental plates—or even the collision of them—tends to generate the epitome of violent geological events, usually entailing massive earthquakes and/or the outbreak of severe volcanic eruptions.

The series of events resulting from the slow-motion demise of Rodinia, which impacted the geologic future of Hamiltonban Township, extended from South Central Pennsylvania through Maryland, and into Virginia. The sequence of events preserved in the rocks of that period has been dubbed the Catoctin Formation, according to the National Park Service.

Principally, this earthly disruption created fissures in the Earth’s surfaces in the above-noted region, allowing massive amounts of lava to flow out onto the surface, which, over time, hardened into a rock called basalt. But geophysics was not yet done with these hardened layers of basalt. 

When the African plate collided with the North American plate around 250 million years ago, the collision, which crumpled up the land into mountains, exerted such intense force that it restructured many existing rocks into new forms…so much so, that it altered the basalt into a green, fine-grained form called metabasalt (meaning altered basalt). The effects of erosion over the course of millions of years weathered the mountains down, and within the Hamiltonban area, exposed the long-buried beds of metabasalt.

The first humans to dig into the ancient lava beds were those seeking native copper during the 1800s, which occurred in seams that subsequently formed within the Catoctin Formation via fractures within the rock. The long-abandoned mines can still be found in the Hamiltonban area, but most are far too dangerous to enter.

Then came Specialty Granules, LLC (SGI), a Hagerstown-based subsidiary of Standard Industries—in obviously more recent times—who began quarrying the metabasalt in Hamiltonban Township and pulverizing the rock to be used primarily in the production of roofing shingles. If one were to run their hand over one of these shingles, the rough surface granules one would feel are the particles of pulverized metabasalt (this weather-resistant rock helps prolong the life of the shingles). 

Aside from the use in shingles, SGI also produces building materials and agricultural products using the metabasalt, according to Allison Devlin, senior communications and marketing specialist for SGI at their Hagerstown headquarters.

The Hamiltonban facility and quarry is known as the Charmian Plant, while the quarry itself has been dubbed the Pitts Quarry.

Matthew McClure, Specialty Granules vice-president of Roofing Operations, stated that the Hamiltonban metabasalt quarry operation initially began in 1923.  McClure stated that the quarry is now some 1,500 feet wide from west to east and 2,000 feet wide from south to north, and that the operation mines the metabasalt deposit to a depth of approximately 400 feet.

The vice president also stated that the company mines approximately 1.5 million tons of metabasalt, annually, and that the metabasalt formation presently being quarried/mined should continue to be productive for 40 to 50 more years, “based on current mining volumes.”  The company presently employs 160 individuals in conjunction with the Hamiltonban facility.

SGI is ”a leading mining and mineral processing company that specializes in the development of roofing products, building materials, and soil amendments for agriculture,” according to Devlin, further noting that SGI operates four nationwide surface mines, where it sources highly specific rock for its products, with the corporate headquarters and a fully equipped research and development facility, all located in Hagerstown. 

And it all began… with the lost continent of Rodinia.

First miners at Pitts Quarry, 1930s.

Excavating metabasalt in Pitts Quarry.