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BY Dan Neuland

The 79th Annual Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC) Campfire Weekend was held at Camp Airy in Thurmont on May 17-19, 2019. The camp hosted a total of 365 attendees, which included 179 boys and their adult sponsors from 16 different states. A total of 44 boys were new to the program this year. The camp is located near several excellent local trout streams and has two spring-fed stocked ponds on site that are stocked with trout for the annual event.

Briefly, the BOJC is an organization that was founded in 1940 in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County by a group of conservation-minded fly fishermen. The annual campfire weekend is designed to pass on the knowledge, the skills, and the love of the sport of angling and, particularly, fly fishing, to young men. As stated in the BOJC Creed, adult members pledge to “annually take at least one boy a-fishing, instructing him, as best we know, in the responsibilities that are soon to be wholly his.”

The BOJC is an organization that is steeped in tradition. The name chosen to represent the group comes from the waxed neck feather of the male Indian jungle fowl, a chicken-like bird, prized for its beautiful plumage. Feathers from the cape of the jungle cock have been used for salmon flies since the 19th century. A jungle cock cape feather is prominently featured in the BOJC logo worn by its members.

Bob Abraham, Sr. of Thurmont has been a member of BOJC for 61 years. It all began on a rainy spring day in 1958, when Abraham was driving through Catoctin National Park.  He saw a fly fisherman walking along the road and stopped to offer the angler a ride to his vehicle that was parked at the Camp Peniel parking lot.

Abraham was working for the Department of Natural resources as a game warden. The angler accepted the ride and introduced himself as Gurney Godfrey from Baltimore. He informed the warden that he was in the area that weekend for the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock Campfire being held nearby at Camp Airy in Thurmont. “Gurney held his fly rod out of the vehicle window as we traveled down the road and we exchanged conversation,” said Abraham. Godfrey thanked Abraham for the ride and invited him to supper that evening at the camp.

Abraham accepted his invitation and he attended the dinner wearing his uniform. He joined BOJC that same evening sponsored by Godfrey. That chance encounter was the start of a great friendship between the two fly fisherman and the beginning of a close connection between Abraham and the BOJC program.

After joining the BOJC organization in 1958, Abraham became very active in it. He was elected to the board of directors and eventually held the position of president from 1976-77. Abraham has become the friendly and welcoming face of the organization.

Currently, at 86 years  young, he is still very active. He attends the annual BOJC weekend and he can be found stationed under a canopy between the two ponds at Camp Airy with hundreds of hand-tied flies displayed on a table for the young anglers to use. At the 2019 BOJC program, Abraham handed-out a total of 21 dozen flies! Young anglers seek out Abraham for his trusted advice on fly selection and Abraham offers his encouragement. When they are successful, they eagerly run to him to show off their prize catch and share their fish story.

Thomas Burrill, an 11-year old who lives in West Virginia, has a fish story that is worth retelling. Thomas was attending the camp for the first time with his uncle, Ron Burrill of Foxville. Using a green streamer fly tied by Abraham, the young angler hooked and landed a rainbow trout that taped out at just under 25 inches and weighed 5.5 pounds!

BOJC volunteers also sponsor an annual Wounded Veteran Fishing Event in partnership with Project Healing Waters. The Thurmont American Legion Post 168, the Taneytown Country Kitchen Restaurant, Roy Rogers, as well as the many BOJC and Project Healing Waters volunteers contributed to the success of this year’s event on May 25, 2019.

These programs at Camp Airy are high-quality experiences, thanks to volunteers who give so much of their time to share their knowledge of fishing.

The seven-year BOJC instructional program is designed for boys eight-years old or older, starting with the basics of beginning angling and taking them toward the opportunity to fish with “the masters.” It is above all, a hands-on, outdoor educational program for young men. Classes are taught by experienced adults and include conservation, fly casting, entomology, equipment maintenance, fishing knots, fly tying, rod building, and net making to name a few.

Thomas Burrill is shown with his 25-inch rainbow trout with Bob Abraham.

2019 Wounded Veteran fisherman and event volunteers are shown on May 25, 2019 at Camp Airy in Thurmont.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Elmer “Lee” Black was born January 31, 1923, to Willis G. and Maude Baker Black. Lee was only 14 when his father died unexpectedly. He and his siblings, older brother Harry and younger sister Betty, all learned to work hard to help their mother during the 1930s when times were tough.

Many days were spent picking green beans at the Zentz Farm (now Rodman Myers’ farm pictured in “Focus On Catoctin” on page 44). Lee and Harry built a small chicken coop to raise and sell chickens and eggs. They took care of several beehives to get honey for themselves and sold or bartered it. They cut, split, and sold cords of wood during the winter months for some income. The boys would trap and skin small wildlife to get money for the pelts.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Thurmont had two fruit orchards. Hooker Lewis had one south of Thurmont and Johnny Kelbaugh had one north of Thurmont. Both were just off Route 15. Lee said that before he was born, most farmers and homesteaders had a small orchard of their own.

After graduating from Thurmont High School in 1940, Lee went on to serve in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Discharged in 1945 after earning the rank of staff sergeant, Lee returned home and started a photography business serving Thurmont and Emmitsburg.

He met his wife Frances, at the Monterey Tea House on New Year’s Eve. She was born and raised in Baltimore City. They married in 1949.

Wanting to spend more time outdoors, Lee and Frances bought Hooker Lewis’ Strawberry Field in 1950 and started Blacks Hilltop Orchard. Hooker Lewis had several little orchards around Thurmont. Lee said, “During World War II and right after – nearly everyone who had an apple tree could make money from it. But after the war, you had to be good at making an orchard to stay in business.”

Lewis’ Orchard, Pryor’s Orchard, and the original Kelbaugh Orchard were the main orchards in the area. Over the years, different people bought parts of Kelbaugh’s Orchard. Russel Flanagan, who had been a mason, quit and went into the orchard business. Right after the war, Hooker Lewis’ son-in-law opened an orchard now known as Pryor’s Orchard. Galen Pryor of Pryor’s Orchard is Hooker Lewis’ great-grandson.

Lee enjoyed the independence of owning an orchard. All of his and Frances’ six children worked the orchard by picking and thinning fruit. 

Ira Kelbaugh, son of Johnny Kelbaugh, planted an orchard along Kelbaugh Road. Lee’s brother, Harry, worked for Ira during the war. When Ira semi-retired, he told Harry he would sell him the orchard. For years, Harry took care of the orchard for half the profit and eventually bought it. 

This purchase included the roadside market that was very small at the time. Lee said, “When Kelbaugh first started, he didn’t sell fruit along the road. It wasn’t until the highway came through that the market was built around 1948.”

Harry and Lee now owned orchards. Harry said to Lee, “You take care of the picking, and I’ll take care of the selling.” Lee reminisced,  “We added pick-your-own black raspberries that he (Harry) raised and strawberries that we raised. There were a lot of problems along the way, I’m sure he disagreed with me and I disagreed with him, but we never had an argument.”

A regional University Of Maryland Extension man named Charlie Dunbar told Harry to build a retail market and to pack baskets with “good fruit!” Most fruit stands or “hucksters” at the time would place seconds (bruised or spotty fruit) in the bottom of a basket and top it off with good fruit! Lee and Harry used good fruit throughout and Lee claimed that was the foundation for both of their farms to become successful businesses.   

There wasn’t any place that sold good peaches and apples between Thurmont and Washington, D.C., so, when they first opened, they had more business than they could handle. People canned at the time and would load up bushels at a time. The biggest apple growers were in Adams County, Pa., but, Lee said, “That fruit was all bruised up — the workers didn’t care.”

Business was up and down because of the economy and the weather. Lee said that at one point the orchard business was so bad that they started to raise broiler chickens. 

The former Blacks Hilltop Orchard was, and Catoctin Mountain Orchard still is, known as “conservation showcase” orchards. Harry’s family and Lee and Frances’ family worked closely with the State of Maryland to implement smart ideas. In doing so, things changed with orchard procedures and standards.

They started to grow smaller trees to save on costs of picking and spraying. While they always used pesticides of some sort, the pesticides became more effective and, over time, made fruit stronger and more vibrant in color. Lee did some budding on trees, but didn’t do any genetics like the Catoctin Mountain Orchard Black family (Harry’s son Robert’s family, and Harry’s daughter, Pat) does today.

The sale of wholesale fruit was big business for the Black families’ orchards in the 1960s and 1970s. They were the first ones in the area to have Cortland Apples. 

“When we first started to sell Cortland apples, we had one heck of a time getting rid of them,” recalled Lee.  Then they started to promote Cortland apples. He indicated that many Washington, D.C. workers were from New England states, so they advertised that Cortland apples were an “offspring” of the McIntosh variety they ate up north. That started a trend here in northern Maryland. 

Lee planted black raspberries between his young apple trees for some early season spending money. He also grew strawberries in the late 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, when pick-your-own caught on, Lee’s farm was known as Strawberry Hill with a “Million Dollar View!”

     Up on the hill at the Strawberry Fields, Lee had three small ponds that irrigated all of his strawberry fields, peaches, and apples. He said that the strawberries would have burnt up without the water sources.

“The hills are great, but if you don’t have water, the trees won’t perform,” said Robert. 

Ironically, Harry built the first pond for swimming, but it had to be used to irrigate the peaches. Lee had watered most of his orchard on Black Road and told Harry he could borrow his irrigation pump and pipe in 1961 since it was really dry at the time. The pond was fed by a good well and spring combination. When they thought the spring had started to go dry, they put in a submergible pump to pump water from the well into the pond. Even though they could still irrigate the peaches, the Blacks feared that they would lose the source of water for the peaches, so they built a second pond that year, pumped both of them dry, built a third, pumped all three dry, then a fourth pond the year after that. Since then, they have had enough water to keep the trees producing a good crop. Building the ponds helped the business and provided a great resource for generations to come.

Today, Robert and his family use trickle irrigation to water the fruit trees, berries, and vegetables. This process uses less water and energy to water only the tree row, thus saving gallons of water by not over-watering. The water source is still coming off of those ponds. The irrigation system is now all piped underground to minimize loss from evaporation.

To battle a frost, Catoctin Mountain Orchard is strategically placed down a slope from the mountain. Since cold sinks to the lowest level, it will keep moving through open fields and then over Route 15.

In the last years that he ran the orchard, Lee had strawberries; however, a hail storm hit that ruined all the fruit. He said they were “devastated.” “Hail is the enemy. The heavy rain can be managed,” stated Lee. They usually advertised pick-your-own strawberries, but did not have any that season.

Insurance allowed for the catastrophic damage; they then had a total freeze-out for peaches in the 1980s. The insurance paid to maintain the farm to stay in business for the following year. However… “An orchard owner doesn’t want claims. They want a crop to stay in business,” said Robert.

Orchard processes are as close to perfect now as they can be in an uncontrolled environment. There’s more technology available. In the earlier years, a soil test was performed occasionally. “Now, we want to know what is in the soil—pH, Calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc. We want to keep the nutrients balanced, so the fruit grows best. We take leaf samples to determine if we’re short in zinc, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and so on. If we’re short, we add it to the soil or apply it foliarly to the leaves. It’s like taking a vitamin pill,” stated Robert.

With Integrate Pest Management (IPM), the Blacks monitor bad insects with traps. Good insects eat bad ones. During the time stink bugs were penetrating the orchard, the Blacks went into defensive mode at the orchard. “I almost lived in the tractor spraying,” Robert said, “We didn’t know what to do. When a stink bug bit or penetrated an apple, it wouldn’t be detected for two to three weeks.”

That bug changed the orchard’s whole spray program, since the old spray wasn’t killing the stink bugs. The Blacks had 90-percent damaged fruit in some areas of the farm that was unsalable in 2010. That damaged fruit was used to feed hogs at a neighboring farm.

The USDA runs weekly testing at Catoctin Orchard. In partnership with the Blacks, they are doing an experiment on an acre plot where they are only spraying six targeted trees that have a pheromone (attractant) placed on the outer edge for the stink bugs to draw them to that area.

“We could lose six trees and save a crop. There were 3,000 stink bugs killed on one tree, so we may eventually have sacrificial trees,” Robert said. 

About fifteen years ago, Catoctin Mountain Orchard started contracting with the school lunch program, where their apples are used for lunches in Frederick County schools. “It’s wonderful that kids are eating nearly all varieties of our apples. We’re providing them with great eating apples. Prior to that, they were getting Washington State Red Delicious that really aren’t fit to eat,” expressed Robert.

Today, you’ll find all family members— second, third, and fourth generations of the extended Black family—working the orchard and market. It’s a big operation, where everyone plays an important part. 

Uncle Elmer Lee passed away November 9, 2015, and was laid to rest in the Eyler’s Valley Chapel cemetery. We hope he’s enjoying a well-deserved rest after his full and well-lived life.

The first annual Maryland Iron Festival was held the weekend of May 18 and 19, 2019 in historic Catoctin Furnace, in Thurmont, Maryland, to celebrate the state as a center for the craft of ironmaking. Activities were held within the historic village, as well as Catoctin Mountain Park, and Cunningham Falls State Park. The festival featured traditional blacksmithing, casting and molding demonstrations in partnership with Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, live music and performances, artists and craftspeople, spring plant and flower sales, children’s activities, a “feats of strength” tournament, tours of historic buildings and the iron furnace, delicious historic food, plein air artists, and local wine and craft beer.

Historic structures, such as the Collier’s Log House (ca. 1810) (pictured in background of our cover photo), the Stone Cottage (ca. 1820), and the Catoctin Iron Furnace were open to the public both days.

The newly constructed trail that was constructed and crafted by Catoctin Furnace volunteers with grant monies now links the furnace to the historic village. Visitors and locals enjoyed all facets of the festival. In our cover photo, Barry Riddle, Liam Deveney, Megan Deveney, Abbey Deveney (seated left to right) and Seamus Riddle and Matt Deveney (standing left to right) enjoyed the fresh streamside Catoctin Furnace Trail on Sunday, May 19.

The Catoctin Furnace was built by four brothers in order to produce iron from the rich deposits of hematite found in the nearby mountains. It played a pivotal role during the industrial revolution in the young United States. The furnace industry supported a thriving community, and company houses were established alongside the furnace stack. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years of operation, the Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

In 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., was formed by G. Eugene Anderson, Clement E. Gardiner, J. Franklin Mentzer, and Earl M. Shankle to “foster and promote the restoration of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District…and to maintain the same exclusively for educational and scientific purposes…to exhibit to coming generations our heritage of the past.”

Today, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. is undertaking groundbreaking research, including bioarchaeological research on human remains from the African American cemetery in Catoctin Furnace. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Reich Laboratory for Medical and Population Genetics at Harvard University, this project is analyzing ancient DNA and the human genome of several revolutionary-era African American workers at Catoctin Furnace. Such research, in conjunction with other technologies, such as stable isotope analysis, could tell us where these workers were born, where they lived throughout their lives, and what constituted their diet. We believe that every life mattered, and every past matters now. By studying and disseminating the results of this research, we hope that people everywhere will get to meet some of these early workers and understand the critical roles they played in the development of our young nation, as well as appreciate the rich, varied trajectories of their lives.

For more information, please call 443-463-6437 or visit catoctinfurnace.org.

Blair Garrett

The sun may not have been shining, but the smiles and laughter of 100 Little Leaguers surely brightened a cloudy day.

Opening day for Thurmont Little League (TLL) kicked off April 6, marking the organization’s 67th year providing kids with an athletic outlet in a supportive, team-oriented environment.

It was a day of fun, excitement, and giving thanks to everyone who makes Thurmont Little League baseball the great organization that it is today.

“We have a lot of people who are helping out to make this run smoothly,” TLL President Jeremy Johnson said. “I want to make sure we give all of our volunteers a round of applause.”

Above all, youth baseball is about teaching the future generation values and skills that they will remember for the rest of their lives. “We all have one goal here, and it’s for these kids to have fun,” said TLL President Jeremy Johnson.  

After opening statements, the area’s favorite Little League teams came storming onto the field, marching out with their coaches, managers, and team moms. The Majors were brought out first, sporting the league’s oldest players, followed by the Intermediate Division, the Minors, the Instructionals, and the Tee Ball teams. The day’s honorary MC was Brian Mo, afternoon DJ at 99.9 WFRE, who was responsible for pumping up the crowd for an exciting start to the TLL season.

Mo had each little leaguer recite the Little League pledge, confirming their dedication to playing hard and playing fair throughout the season.

The community support in Thurmont for youth baseball has been remarkable, particularly over the past few years, and that was recognizable multiple times during the Opening Day ceremony. 

“This community is amazing,” Mo said. “I’ve lived in many places in my life and my radio career, and I have never seen a community like Thurmont. You guys are amazing; keep doing what you’re doing, and keep being involved with these kids.”

The volunteer support, coaching, and effort put forth by everyone involved with Little League baseball has put Thurmont teams on the map during recent seasons. TLL teams have won multiple state and district championships across all age groups since 2015, largely in part to the attention and time dedicated by the volunteers that make Thurmont Little League possible.

Paul “PJ” Nicholson, stood out among the group, while TLL President Johnson read a few quotes from family and friends who know Nicholson. “PJ believes in playing hard, working harder, giving back to the community, and being a great friend to young and old alike,” Johnson said. “PJ’s love for family goes beyond blood. His extended family is Thurmont Little League.” After the passage of kind words,  praising Nicholson’s efforts for TLL, Johnson unveiled the real surprise.

“With that said, our minor league field is no longer called our minor league field. It is now called ‘Nicholson field.’” Nicholson’s response to the love from his closest friends was short and sweet, but there was no shortage of emotion in the crowd.

As the opening ceremony came to a close, there was only one more piece of business to address before the kids were ready to take the field. “The season can’t start without a first pitch, right?” Mo asked, adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Tony Testa, owner of Rocky’s Pizza and proud supporter of Thurmont Little League.” Testa’s pitch brought about hundreds of screaming little leaguers, and with that, TLL’s 2019 season commenced.

Opening Day not only signifies the beginning of a year of fun and competition for the kids of Northern Maryland, but it also offers fans, parents, and TLL supporters a chance to take a step back and appreciate the great opportunities that organized sports provide their children to learn and grow. The Little League season may have just begun, but the lessons and camaraderie young baseball players experience during their time with TLL will last a lifetime. 

James Rada, Jr.

The year 1899 marks the year that aspirin was created. It is the birth year for Al Capone, Duke Ellington, and August Anheuser Busch, Jr. Henry Bliss became the first person killed in a car accident in the United States. And, Woodsboro Savings Bank of Frederick County was chartered on May 1, 1899, with $25,000 in capital stock.

Today, 120 years later, the bank headquarters remains in Woodsboro, and six branch offices—Downtown Frederick, Monocacy, Thurmont, Rt. 40, Guilford Drive, and Homewood—are thriving.

“We have survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the great recession. That’s an achievement,” said Woodsboro Bank President and CEO Stephen K. Heine.

Although the three-story brick headquarters for Woodsboro Bank on North Main Street in Woodsboro looks aged and historic, when it was first opened in 1901, it was state-of-the-art.

“The building was equipped with every modern convenience and featured innovative fire and burglar proof vaults,” according to the bank history on the Woodsboro Bank website.  

“We were the bank that funded the vast majority of businesses here, as well as the families,” Heine said.

The building, which was the heart of the town, was also home to the post office, a grocery store, and the Woodsboro Opera House. Community gatherings were held in the opera house space. Later, the Washington Camp No. 44 Patriotic Order of America held its lodge meetings in the building, and a dentist had his offices.

As the bank grew, its need for space increased. A two-story annex was built onto the rear of the building in 1984, and five years later, a one-story addition added drive-through banking to Woodsboro Bank’s services.

Then, in 1995, Woodsboro Bank took over the opera house space (which had closed in 1953). A floor was added in the opera house, giving the building a full third floor. However, the designers preserved the wooden proscenium, painted mural, and original opera house piano, which can still be seen today.

“We’re truly a modern bank, but you have to respect history,” Heine said.

The bank was growing outside of Woodsboro as well, particularly during the 1990s. It changed its name from Woodsboro Savings Bank to Woodsboro Bank in 1995, which seemed to reflect the bank’s growth.

“Up until the 90s, we were a traditional community bank,” Heine said.

Woodsboro Bank opened its first branch in Thurmont in 1993. Other branches soon followed.

The Monocacy Village branch opened in 1997. The Downtown Frederick and Rt. 40 branches opened in 1999. ATMs came along in 1995 and expanded the bank’s reach into Trout’s Market and Sheetz stores in Thurmont and Taneytown.

“As Frederick started to grow, the bank knew we needed to be part of the Frederick community,” Heine said.

Growth has continued into the 21st century. The Guilford and Homewood branch offices opened. A new Thurmont branch was built, and an art deco building in downtown Frederick was purchased to house Woodsboro Bank’s commercial operations.

Although Woodsboro Bank offers all of the services that larger banks offer, it remains focused on community banking.

“There’s a need and a want among businesses and individuals for a community bank,” Heine said. Heine explained that people want to be treated like individuals and to have bank employees work with them to find a solution to their banking needs.

While the bank’s customer base has grown throughout Frederick County, Woodsboro is still the bank’s home.

“This is our home. We are loyal to the community, and the community is loyal to us,” Heine said. He explained that the bank supports over 60 not-for-profit businesses and community organizations with money and volunteer hours.

Community banks like Woodsboro Bank are quickly disappearing, as they are absorbed into other larger banks, but Woodsboro Bank is thriving as an integral part of Frederick County.

The bank plans to celebrate its anniversary with a dinner at McClintock’s Distilling on May 14. There will also be a BBQ for colleagues and their families at Woodsboro Town Park in June.

The Woodsboro Bank building on Main Street in Woodsboro, was in the heart of the town. It was also the location of the Woodsoboro U.S. Post Office.

The building was also home to the Woodsboro Opera House, where community gatherings were held.

Woodsboro Bank, Frederick County Humane Society and K-9 Unsung Hero Fund joined together to provide the Thurmont Police Department with a new K-9, Majo. Steve Ott (VP/Branch Team Leader, Woodsboro Bank), Steve Heine (President & CEO, Woodsboro Bank), and Consie Meyers (VP/Business Development Officer, Woodsboro Bank), Connie Graff (Director, Frederick County Humane Society) and Martin Burall (VP/Technology, Woodsboro Bank and President, Frederick County Humane Society) visited with Corporal Duhan and Majo.

James Rada, Jr.

Over its history, Emmitsburg has been home to artisans and craftsmen whose pride of craftsmanship made their work collector’s items. One notorious artisan of Emmitsburg is John Armstrong. He is known for crafting Armstrong rifles.

John Armstrong was a first-generation American, born in Liberty Township, Pennsylvania on September 5, 1772. It is believed that he apprenticed with a riflemaker in Hanover, Pennsylvania, when he was just 14.

He moved to Emmitsburg in 1793 and began making rifles. He was already listed as a head of his own household in 1790, which is unusual since most apprentices serve until they are 21, which is how old he would have been when he moved to Emmitsburg.

It is worth noting that Emmitsburg had two other young riflemakers—George Nunemaker I and Peter White—working in town during Armstrong’s early years in town.

“All three of these men were underage to have been working as independent gunsmiths and at no other place in the state can one find three craftsmen of this caliber working together,” Daniel D. Hartzler wrote in his article, “The Armstrong Boys of Emmitsburg.”

Armstrong started crafting his variation of the Kentucky Long Rifle by 1808, although some historians believe he was making them soon after he arrived in Emmitsburg.

He worked in iron, maple, brass, and silver. Many of his designs and design elements were adopted by other riflemakers “from the dove tail iron inset in the heel of the brass butt plate to the long-nosed muzzle cap,” Hartzler wrote.

The Rock Island Auction Company website says Armstrong “is generally considered to be one of the very best of the era. His pieces often draw comparisons to Swiss watches and Rolls Royce automobiles—classics that defy time.” 

He taught a generation of gunsmiths, so much so he and his apprentices were known as the “Emmitsburg School of Gunsmiths.” He had three recorded apprentices and some that are known but not recorded.

His three recorded apprentices were Marine Tyler Wickham, George Piper, and John Blackburn. After their apprenticeships, they continued their work in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; York, Pennsylvania; and Hagerstown, Maryland respectively. Nathaniel Rowe is also known to have apprenticed with Armstrong.

“The point is that John developed a style early in his career, in the late 18th century, that pleased him and pleased his customers; he did not change that basic design with the passage of time,” Albert Manley Sullivan wrote in Emmitsburg: History and Society.

Armstrong was a perfectionist who crafted all of the parts for his rifles, even though it took more time. “But none of these suited Armstrong. Not John Armstrong, the perfectionist! The store-bought locks were not good enough to go on his excellent products, so he made his own locks. Locks of a quality compatible with the high quality of everything else on his truly excellent rifles,” Sullivan wrote.

The result of making them himself was worth it. Sullivan described the locks as “slender, graceful and beautifully proportioned. They blend perfectly into the architectural balance of the gun.”

Like any artist, Armstrong signed his locks. An Armstrong rifle without a signed lock is not worth nearly as much.

His rifles, as you can see from the pictures included with this article, could be considered works of art. They have sold at auction from $40,000 to $90,000.

Armstrong’s four sons—William, Robert, Samuel, and James—were all trained as gunsmiths, although little information is available about them. It is known that William became the Master Armorer at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. A rifle made by Samuel and another by Robert have also been found.

Given the time that Armstrong lived in Emmitsburg, and the size of the town, it shouldn’t be surprising that he knew Mother Elizabeth Seton. Armstrong did work for her, but not as a riflemaker. His name appears in her receipt book, showing that he did work for her and the Sisters of Charity, making locks, mending keys, repairing guitar screws, and repairing piano keys.

Current Emmitsburg Town staff members have talked about developing Emmitsburg’s cultural heritage in the past; recently, the town commissioners approved the creation and placement of three waysides in town that highlight different historical aspects of the town. Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm designed the waysides, and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations wrote the copy. The three waysides will be at the Emmit House, doughboy statue, and town square. The Maryland Heritage Area Authority funded the project with a $9,000 grant.

Carolyn Shields

On Saturday, March 30, 2019, Helen Reaver hosted another “Granddaughter’s Day” at her house at the end of a long, dirt road. Eleven of her granddaughters traveled from across the region to attend this special meal with the matriarch of the Reaver Family.

Helen prepared a bountiful meal of homemade chili, chicken noodle soup, fruit salad, salad, biscuits, rice crispies, and her famous iced tea, and she pulled out her wedding china for the lunch. The young women, ranging from age 18 to early 30’s, caught up with one another around the table where their parents gathered each night years ago. Out the window, some of their children ran around, prompting the women to recall memories of hot summer days on the farm, playing in that same field.

They were a motley ragtag group back then, particularly on Grandkids Day, which was every Wednesday during the summer when all the cousins flocked to the farm to play kickball. “Do you remember the automatic home runs when we kicked it to the cornfield?” one of the granddaughter’s laughed.

“What about the time Kathy and Liz jumped in front of the cop car, thinking it was Gina and wanted to scare her?” another recalled.

“Why did we ever think jumping in front of cars to scare our aunts was a good idea?” another mused.

After lunch, Grandma pulled out a few items for her infamous Grocery Game, a beloved classic that is usually reserved for the married aunts and uncles and “older cousins” in the family at Easter and Christmas; but because it was a special occasion, she made an exception. Afterwards, the girls huddled around one end of the table and indubitably broke out the cards for a rapid game of Uno, filled with shouts and guffaws.

Meanwhile, Pappy walked one of his great-granddaughters down the long country lane while the “big girls” helped Grandma do dishes.

The girls left, already looking forward to the next lunch with Grandma.

Pictured from left are: (back row) Carolyn Shields, Emily Bencie, Priscilla Reaver, Brittany Johnson, Kathy Calis, Sydney Reaver; (front row) Amber Reaver, Helen Reaver, Kimberly Shields, and Jessica Buitrago.

Courtesy Photo

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

April 2019 Meeting

Town Approved Mandated Cross-Connection Control Program

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the state-mandated cross-connection control program that will help protect the water supply from pollutants. The program requires all properties to have a backflow prevention device installed on the waterline leading into the property. Each device will cost an estimated $150.

Residential properties will need to be re-evaluated every 10 years. The inspection permit will cost about $100. Businesses will need to be inspected every two years, the permit will cost $25 for a new installation and $15 for each renewal.

The commissioners voted to require all properties to have the backflow prevention device installed within five years, but if a property is sold, it will first need to have a device installed.

Some commissioners worried that the costs would harm low-income residents and wondered if something could be done to mitigate the costs for them. However, some of their proposed solutions could prove to be costly as well. It may be something they will consider in the future.

The commissioners also approved three contracts for other state-mandated programs. These were a baseline impervious surface assessment, a standard-operating procedures manual for those doing stormwater management work, and annual inspections for three years.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring these actions for stormwater management improvement. The total cost of the three contracts is $22,900.

Firewood for Low-income Families

The Emmitsburg Commissioners are pursuing a program to help some low-income families in town heat their homes during the winter. The program, if approved, would allow low-income families in Emmitsburg, who use firewood, to harvest downed trees on town-owned property in certain areas.

“This would be of real value and serve our community,” said Commissioner Tim O’Donnell.

Town staff is working to formulate a policy and permitting process by consulting the town attorney, Maryland Forest Service, and other municipalities with similar programs.

New Dump Truck Purchase

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the purchase of a new dump truck to replace the 23-year-old dump truck the town currently uses, which will no longer pass inspection and is not safe to haul material in. They approved a bid of $154,460 from MJR Equipment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

New Wastewater Treatment Plant Building Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the construction of a storage garage at the wastewater treatment plant. It will be used to keep equipment from having to sit outside, where it is exposed to the elements. It should also lower the maintenance costs for those pieces of equipment. The commissioners approved a $35,870 bid from Hanover Building Systems. Although the bid was the higher of the two bids received, the roof can hold a heavier load, it is made from better material, and it comes with a 35-year fade warranty.

Thurmont

April 2019 Meeting

Commissioners Reviewing Changes to Town Subdivision Regulations

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are reviewing proposed revisions to the town’s subdivision regulations. Town Planner Chris Jakubiak said the current regulations, many of which date back to the 1970s, are a “bit outdated,” with some gray areas that needed to be defined.

“In my opinion, the code lacks real guidance to good neighborhood design,” Jakubiak said.

Commissioners Approve New Vehicle Purchases

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved the purchase of a new service bucket truck and transferred $14,466 to the capital reserve fund to have the full purchase amount. The commissioners have been setting aside money for years in the capital reserve fund to be able to purchase the vehicle. The new vehicle will replace a 2002 Chevrolet bucket truck.

The commissioners also approved the purchase of a new police vehicle for the Thurmont Police Department. The new vehicle is needed to replace one totaled in an accident in January. The 2020 Ford Explorer costs $34,034, but the commissioners only needed to set aside $20,984 for the vehicle because the insurance settlement for the wrecked vehicle was $13,050. The electronics from the totaled vehicle can also be reinstalled in the new vehicle.

Trash Collection Contract Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a new trash collection contract with a new hauler recently. The contract is for two years, with a third-year extension option. The new hauler will be Ecology Services Refuse and Recycling in Columbia. Their bid of $134,580 for the first year and $137,945 for the second year was a significantly lower amount than the other bid. The same company currently handles the town’s recycling collection. The switch to a new hauler for trash will not affect the current trash collection days in town.

Commissioners Correct Planning and Zoning Mistake

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners corrected a mistake made when the town’s master plan was updated in 2010. At that time, the Planning and Zoning Commission and Mayor and Commissioners approved a rezoning of the 3.2-acre Hauver property on Eyler Road, from R-1 zoning to R-2 zoning. However, the change never made it onto the zoning maps, which was discovered years later. The change allows 8,000-square-foot lots versus 12,000-square-foot lots. In the case of the Hauver property, it might allow for another lot or two with little additional impervious surface. This would depend on how a subdivision plan is drawn.

The commissioners also reappointed Planning and Zoning Commission members Randy Cubbedge and Bryant Despeaux to the commission for new terms.

Richard Lee was also reappointed to the Thurmont Board of Appeals for a new term.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

As always, May brings a lot with it, both in the expected and the unexpected. None more touching, as expected, than the many graduations: pre-K to kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. The passage of time, a child one day, a youth another, then on to an adult and out to the world that awaits. With each step comes the unexpected sinking feeling that they all happen so quickly. This year, we will see our fourth grandchild off to college.  

On May 1, youwill find me participating as a forum panel member at Hood’s (College) Green Neighborhood Festival. On May 7-8, to the same subject, I will be attending a second two-day State of Maryland-sponsored program on climate change. This program was supposed to have been held in February, but there was the homage that had to be paid to the weather. Here is a catchy phrase for you: “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” The program consists of three, two-day sets. The third set will be held in June on a very interesting topical subject presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers. Our town concentration has been on reducing waste and lowering costs, one of mitigation and re-adaption. We have done so primarily through shifting over 94 percent of town account energy needs to renewable energy. On May 6, at the town’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the town council will deliberate on the Mayor’s 2020 budget.

May 21 is the wrap-up session at St. John’s College Annapolis — Santa Fe Classics program. This year’s topic was: “Tyranny and Democracy.” The readings were from Plato, Chaucer, Hamilton, Shakespeare, Shelley, Kafka, DeTocqueville, and Ursula LeGuin. It’s my fifth year attending. From Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville’s observations of the new American form of democracy in the 1830s, I was captured by one sentence in particular: “There exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart of man to the place where man is born” (My translation).

In April, I attended the spring Mount Athletic Advisory Committee wrap-up meeting for the school year, where members reviewed data on the student athlete academic performance. Competition and winning are important for a Division I School. The Mount has to be commended on its commitment to academics. It’s a delicate emphasis that many institutions lose. Well done.

The town celebrated Arbor Day in Community Park, on Saturday, April 13.  Eight—not just any type, but native-adaptive—trees were planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses in front of the elementary school. Thank you to the town staff, Lion’s Club, the EBPA, and other individual volunteers.

The town was honored by the visit of a dozen University of Maryland grad students, who toured the town’s innovative water systems.

Once but a “unicorn,” our historic area 50-50 grant program genesis 2013, now has grown into over $880,000 of façade improvements in our downtown. Every year, we apply for grant money and our allotment seems to always be $50,000. Please contact our planning department if you have an interest.

Looking forward in the not too distant future for another spectacular Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29; a full slate of summer concerts; and, on August 6, National Night Out, sponsored by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. From the official narrative, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement, while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.” The K-9 team, the SWAT team, and vehicles. Please plan to join us.

The town was recently awarded two grants. One, a $5,000 “Keep Maryland Beautiful” grant to be used for nine recycling bins for our parks, and another for $3,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to be applied to a storm water management project. Thank you to our planner, Zach Gulden.

I hope all had a wonderful Easter. 

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont recently appointed Harold Lawson to the position of Director of Public Works. Harold has been with the Town of Thurmont for 29 years and has served as Superintendent of the Water Department for the last 6 years. Harold is well acquainted with our infrastructure and will serve our residents well in this new position. I congratulate Harold on his appointment and look forward to working with him.

The months of April and May are always busy for our staff and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) as we craft the Town budget for the upcoming year. Our department heads have already submitted their preliminary budgets, and the BOC is in the process of reviewing the budget for each department. There are actually four budgets to be reviewed: the general fund budget covers streets, parks, police, Economic Development, Planning and Zoning, and office staff. The revenue for the General Fund Budget is received through property taxes, permit fees, tax equity refunds from Frederick County, and other user fees. The other three budgets being reviewed are for the Water, Electric and Wastewater Departments. These departments function as Enterprise Funds and are self-sustained by the fees paid for the services each provides our residents. Currently, the BOC has completed a first review of each budget and has recommended several changes in each. The next step will be the official introduction of the budget, at which time addition recommendations can be made by the BOC and public comment will be received during a public hearing on the final budget. Currently, the budgets all show a positive balance of revenue over expenditures. As of today, April 24, 2019, we have based the General Fund budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. This rate is calculated to generate the same amount of Property Tax revenue we received during the current (2018-2019) budget year. If we hold to the Constant Yield Tax Rate, our residents will actually pay a slightly lower Property Tax Rate this coming year. The Tax Rate for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year was 30.41 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value. If the BOC decides to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate, the Property Tax Rate for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will drop to 29.92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This change is due in part to increased property values and the construction of several new residences. Generally speaking, we try to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate as often as we can, but increases in costs for materials and labor will sometimes require an increase in the tax rate, as we experienced last year. I invite you to watch or attend the upcoming budget discussions and public hearing; you will be surprised by the amount of effort that is put into the Thurmont Budget process.

This summer, we will be hosting two Summer Concert in the Park events. The first will be on June 9 and will feature the Spires Brass Band; the second will be on August 25 with our own Gateway Brass Ensemble. The concerts are held at Memorial Park and begin at 6:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and join us for this great small-town tradition!

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com. I hope everyone has a great spring!

James Rada, Jr.

Rutter’s opened its first Maryland convenience store/gasoline station in Walkersville in February, and now work has started on an Emmitsburg location.

Emmitsburg Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners during their April meeting that Rutter’s plans to build an 8,380-square-foot store at the southeast corner of MD 140 and US 15. It will be the opposite side of US 15 from Emmitsburg on a portion of the town-owned land there. The proposed location will include 7 gasoline stations, 5 diesel fuel stations, a truck scale, 28 short-term tractor-trailer parking spots, and 59 passenger vehicle spots.

The store will also include some green techniques Mayor Don Briggs suggested. These include electric-vehicle stations and tree islands.

“They’re getting ready. I’m sure they’re out there surveying,” Gulden replied when asked about the trailer on the site.

The Emmitsburg Rutter’s is one of seven that the Pennsylvania-based company has planned for Maryland so far. The state marks the third where the 73-store chain is located. (The other two states are Pennsylvania and West Virginia.)

“Maryland is a natural progression for us in our growth plans. Actually, the Pennsylvania Maryland line is a mere 19 miles from our corporate office,” said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s, when speaking about the opening of the Walkersville location.

With truck facilities planned, the proposed location will be convenient to traffic traveling along US 15.  Rutter’s also serves food, such as chicken pot pie and BBQ beef short ribs, and the stores are open 24/7.

Based on the size and employment at the Walkersville location, the new Emmitsburg store should bring at least 50 new jobs to the area.

The store is still in the planning stage, and the planning commission and town commissioners have not yet approved the plans.

Blair Garrett and James Rada, Jr.

Whether it’s in the grocery store, your local food chain, or volunteering for a charity in need, elders continue to pitch in and help the community around us.

Thurmont resident Margaret Reed, age eighty-seven, has put in countless hours over the years, working a variety of jobs. To this day, Reed still works. She aims to keep herself busy and moving.

“I love to work, and I always have,” Reed said. Her working career started off at a young age, back when it was necessary to have the whole family chip in to help. She began working at fifteen years old at Kresge’s 5 and Dime, making 35 cents an hour.

At sixteen, Reed moved on to Sagner’s in Frederick, sewing clothing, where she got a significant bump in pay to 50 cents an hour. “I thought I was rich,” she recalled.

That youthful attitude and determination was not age-relative for Reed, though, as she has carried youthful optimism throughout her life.

Reed flourished in a long career, and she had decided to enjoy retirement at sixty-two years of age. But after forty years of marriage and the passing of her husband, Reed got back into the workforce to get out of the house, where she took a job at the Carriage House Bakery.

She spent sixteen years there until her second retirement this past December. But even at eighty-seven, Reed couldn’t stay dormant for long, taking her current job, on-call, cleaning at the Super 8 Motel in Thurmont. Seeing her friends using walkers and oxygen is motivation for Reed to stay active, and keeping busy is the best way to maintain her independence.

Darlene Wastler is another example of perseverance and dedication. Wastler, age sixty-six, maintains a job at the Roy Rogers in Thurmont, where her smiling face is often the first thing new and old customers see when they visit.

She also works at the Thurmont Senior Center, offering help week after week. Wastler is a Catoctin local, born and raised. She graduated from Catoctin High School in 1970, and ever since, she has found her way in the workforce in the Emmitsburg and Thurmont area.

“I enjoy the people and the customers,” Wastler said. “If you can get along with your employer, they look out for you.”

Wastler has been a staple of Thurmont’s Roy Rogers, having worked there for more than a decade. “It’ll be eleven years Mother’s Day weekend,” Wastler said. “I got a pin for ten years.”

Despite spending much of her fifties and sixties balancing life’s stresses on top of two jobs, she doesn’t plan on stepping back any time soon. “I’m hoping to continue for a while.”

If dedication and longevity are the keys to becoming a huge part of a business or company, Don Stitely is the epitome of those characteristics. Stitely is a member of the Guardian Hose family, logging more than sixty years for the volunteer fire company.

Stitely still serves as the President Emeritus, playing a big part in the administrative duties at Guardian Hose as a volunteer. Stitley was honored at the annual Guardian Hose banquet with a certificate for his long-standing contributions.

On top of the various volunteer work Stitely has done over the years, he also works at Jubilee Foods in Emmitsburg, stocking the shelves on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At eighty years old, the motivation is built from a long career of putting in hard work.

“After people retire, they don’t last long if they aren’t on the go,” Stitely said. “I’ve slowed down a bit, but I like to keep moving.”

Stitely spent just five years in retirement before picking up a job at Walmart, and then finally at Jubilee. “I really just like meeting with people and getting out of the house a bit.”

After the last sixty years in the workforce, Stitely’s future appears to be the same as it’s always been. “I hope to stick around there for a while.”      

Regardless of where you go across Northern Frederick County, you will find many elders still active in the workforce and volunteering their services to the community. With the dedication shown here by just a few of our local elders, it’s easy to see how they continue to make an impact and how their value in the workforce is still undeniable.

At eighty-seven, Margaret Reed continues to push herself to stay active in the workforce.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

by James Rada, Jr.

March 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg

Review of Sign Ordinance Changes Continues

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners continued its review of the proposed changes to the town’s sign ordinance. During the March town meeting, the commissioners heard about the proposed changes to what types of signs could be located in which areas of town. They also paid particular attention to lighted signage.

They reviewed off-premise signage, which Town Planner Zach Gulden told them is a “totally new and business friendly section” to the sign ordinance.

Gulden told the commissioners that the new ordinance brings the town up-to-date with new signage technology, into compliance with legal rulings that could lead to future court challenges, and adheres to the best practices recommended by the Maryland Municipal League and American Planners Association.

However, he reassured business owners, “We will not take any signs away if this is passed, unless it was currently not permitted and not legal.”

Town staff also said they planned on taking pictures of all of the signage in town that is non-conforming to the whatever sign ordinance is eventually passed. This will create a visual list to show what signs are grandfathered in under the new ordinance and avoid any new town staff in the future to cause a business owner problems because they have signage not allowed under the sign ordinance.

Commissioners Support Nature Trail Garden

The Emmitsburg Commissioners supported a project proposed by Sandra Adams and Wayne Slaughter to create a half-mile-long walking path surrounding the Community Park baseball field into a nature trail garden.

The project will use volunteers to remove debris and prepare the garden beds. The maintenance costs are expected to be minimal, and they hope to raise the amount through donations.

The commissioners voiced their support of the project, and Adams and Slaughter will start to move forward with it.

Emmitsburg Food Bank Looking to Move

The roof of the Emmitsburg Food Bank building is in need of $40,000 of repairs to stop leaks and mold mitigation.

“I don’t know whether it’s even worth it,” Food Bank Director Phyllis Kelly told the Emmitsburg Commissioners.

Kelly asked the town commissioners if they could help the food bank find a new location. The commissioners directed her to contact the town planner, who could help the food bank with its search.

Commissioners Put Off Passing a Cross Connection Control Program

Emmitsburg must pass a cross connection control program or face fines from the State of Maryland. However, they put off the decision for a month to better understand the ordinance that the state is requiring them to pass. The program is designed to protect the potable water supply from contamination by connecting backflow preventers to water lines. Once passed, businesses will have time to make the changes while residents will only need to make the addition to their home water lines when major changes are made to the home or it is sold.

Thurmont

March 2019 Meeting

Proposal to Extend the Trolley Trail

The .7-mile-long Thurmont Trolley Trail may not be long, but it is well used by residents. The H&F Trolley Association would like to see the trail grow and attract even more users.

Members of the association presented their plan to Thurmont Town Commissioners. The plan calls for extending the trail north to Eyler Road Park and south past the water treatment plant. The hope would be that it might eventually connect up with other hiking and biking trails.

The projected cost to extend the trail to be two miles long would be $190,102.

Donovan Named Thurmont Police Officer of the Year

Thurmont Police Officer First Class Brian Donovan was named the Thurmont Lions Club Police Officer of the Year. Donovan has served in the department for three years and performed many traffic stops. He has also administered Narcan three times to overdose victims, most likely saving their lives. He also serves as the lieutenant of the Guardian Hose Company.

Donovan received a gift certificate to the Shamrock Restaurant and will have a $400 donation made to the charity of his choice.

Commissioners Begin Compiling POS Wish List

The Thurmont Commissioners have begun compiling their wish list of projects that could be funded through Program Open Space grants. The division of funds will emphasize property acquisition. Among some of the suggested projects are to increase the size of Community Park and to create a pocket park in Catoctin Heights. The commissioners also expressed no interest in pursuing a skateboard park, which was on the town’s POS wish list last year, but dropped.

Subdivision Regulations to be Reviewed

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners will be reviewing proposed regulations to the Thurmont subdivision regulations at the regular town meeting on April 9. A public hearing will be scheduled for a later date.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Alas, April. Closer to warmer weather is our earnest hope. Earlier sunrises and later sunsets surely spurs the imagination. But to keep one grounded, and still encouraged, comes the timeless reminder, “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” Then the tempering reality in the warning given to Caesar, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

As I write this, we’ve just passed the Ides of March with no ill effects other than the loss of an hour of sleep and waking up in darkness again for Daylight Savings Time.

That’s not all—how about Lent? Late start this year. Ash Wednesday fell on March 6. A shove, a prod, a nudge…whatever draws my attention that it is time for some moral calculus. Can I give something up that I really like and/or do something for others who are in need? Dauntless, I signed on. Took the ashes to the forehead with a hope that I can do a combination of both. We’ll see how well I did when Lent ends on April 18.

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, fell this year on Sunday. Guardedly, with some trepidation, I welcomed the fete with a tip of my hat to my Irish heritage, knowing full well the celebration brings with it flauntingly many offers of contraband to my Lenten season. At about the same time, I received the book, Lincoln and the Irish by Niall O’Dowd from my daughter. It recounts the key role Archbishop John Hughes of New York played during the Civil War in swaying the strong Democrat Irish support over to the Union cause under Republican President Abraham Lincoln. As if the Civil War did not pose enough trouble, there was still the simmering undertow of the Nativist anti-immigrant feelings in the North. John Hughes, once an impoverished Irish immigrant to our area, worked as a gardener/stone mason at the Mount. After some time, he applied for admission to the Mount and was initially turned down by the Rector Father John Dubois. It was only after the intervention of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton that he was admitted to the school and went on to graduate from the seminary.

On one snow delay day, I joined others from the community at Mother Seton School to be readers as a part of the celebration of National Education Association (NEA) “Read Across America Week.” I read to Mrs. Marr’s third grade class, where sat my beautiful granddaughter amidst other beautiful children. This year, I read a Dr. Seuss book featuring none other than the Cat in the Hat to take us step by step through what it means to live in a free country, and the responsibilities that are granted to, borne by, and gifted to us. Most importantly, to register and vote. It is always an honor and a grace to read with them. It’s the innocence in their eyes that “sticks the landing.” What a future we must build for them. A new pool, dog park, exercise trail, mountain multi-user trail are not enough. We have to lead by example and follow Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat lead to instill in them and preserve for them their freedom. They’re excited about living. Let’s make it so, to the best of our ability, a happening for them. I have always said that my grandchildren and their generation are a major part of my constituency.

We have a beautiful town. One that was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992. I reference that because we want to protect its nuances, character, and even its quirky inconveniences. New technological changes in lighting capabilities and presentation methods bring almost assuredly that a new type of signage could threaten the historic ambience of our town. To this issue of public concern, the town is revisiting its sign ordinance. We want to get in front of it. Our sign ordinance has not been reviewed in over twenty years. I am familiar on several instances in the past that it seemed the interpretations of a signage request was handled by the town in a darn near arbitrary way. All signs, billboards, and small ones, the criteria is being revisited. I know there is a lot to be said for, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but it may well be broke. Nationally, things are changing. From the strong encouragement of the Maryland Municipal League (MML)—to which the town is a member, along with 156 other municipalities and two special taxing districts—has recommended that every municipality, big or small, revisit their sign ordinances. The American Planner’s Association (APA), of which MML and the town are members, has a tested model for municipalities that choose to protect its streetscape. The basic format is the one recommended by the MML. These ordinances are organic, living rules that need to be reviewed and updated periodically. Public meetings are scheduled. Please call the town office at 301-600-6300 or go to our town social media resources.

Spring, in case you haven’t heard, we’re pulling for ya!

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring has finally arrived, and with it, we will see warmer weather, and the coming months will be filled with lots of outdoor activities and events. As the weather improves, we will start seeing lots of kids out and about, heading to sporting events, playing, and visiting friends’ houses. Please keep an eye open for our youngest residents, as they may not always be aware of their surroundings. I have noticed that Little League has been holding practice as well as soccer, lacrosse, and other outdoor sports. I recommend that if you want to see some dedicated kids playing sports and having a great time, just visit any of our playing fields and see what is going on. The kids will appreciate that you have taken the time to watch them play.

 There are some exciting events coming up in Thurmont during the month of April, including the 2nd Annual Thurmont Green Fest and the Annual Thurmont Business Showcase. The Greenfest will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library on Saturday, April 13, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. There will be nature crafts, games, stories, a rain barrel raffle, composting information, planting instructions for trees and plants, and an electronics recycling drop-off. With the exception of CRT tubes in televisions or monitors, all electronics can be dropped off to be recycled. This event is for kids and adults, so be sure to bring the little ones along for a fun day of learning how we can all improve our environment. The Thurmont Business Showcase will be held at the Thurmont Event Complex on Saturday, April 27, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to find out what kinds of products and services local business and non-profits offer our community. There is always something new to see at the Thurmont Business Expo. Admission is free, and the Showcase is at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex, located at 13716 Stratford Drive in Thurmont. You are also invited to enjoy A Taste of Thurmont Restaurant Week, from April 5 through April 13. Visit any of the participating restaurants to enjoy special meals or discounts. Participating restaurants will be revealing their Taste of Thurmont Specials in the coming week.

The Board of Commissioners was recently presented with a plan of action to extend the Thurmont Trolley Trail, north from East Main Steet to Eyler Road Park. This extension of the extremely popular Trolley Trail will open the north end of Thurmont to a safe and well-maintained trail system for the use of walkers and bicyclists. The trail will connect not only to the existing Trolley Trail but also to the Gateway Trail we establish through a partnership with the Catoctin Mountain Park. This extension will also provide access to a planned bike trail between Thurmont and Emmitsburg. The final route of the north extension to the Thurmont Trolley Trail is still in the planning stages;  volunteers are welcome to contact the H&F Trolley Trail Association on its website if you would like to join the association or help with this community project.

I hope the nice weather gets us all outdoors for some much-needed sun and fun! As always, please contact me at 301-606-9458 (8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) or via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any comments, complaints, or compliments.

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont businesses are beginning to be recognized as some of the best in Frederick County. The Frederick News-Post’s annual “Best of the Best” contest recognized 183 county businesses in 14 categories as being the “Best of the Best.” Each year, the community nominates and votes for their favorite businesses.

At a town meeting where the local businesses were recognized, Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder said, “Traditionally Frederick had held all the winners; but in the last couple of years, several years, that has been changing.”

Grinder recognized these local winners with a “You Make Thurmont Proud” Award.

Cunningham Falls State Park won awards for Best Place to Camp (Regional) and Best Place for a First Date (Non-Food). “It’s a great partnership we have with Thurmont, and we’re growing with Thurmont,” said Mark Spurrier, park manager.

Dr. Jon A. Moles with Gateway Orthodontics won Best Orthodontist. He said, “To make it to the final five, and then to actually be the best comes from the community.” He said opening his practice in Thurmont was the best decision he ever made.

Stauffer Funeral Home, PA, won Best Funeral Home.

Hawkins Landscaping won Best Landscaping Company. Eric Hawkins said, “For so many years, we used to think we had to go to Montgomery County, and we did, and we beat that road. Little did we know we had all the support we needed right here, locally.”

Baker Tree Services won Best Tree Service Company.

Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery won Best Wedding Venue and Best Winery: Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery. Amy with Springfield Manor said, “Thurmont is such a small place, but look how mighty we are. We snagged a lot of the big awards.”

The Frederick County Office of Economic Development also listed a report of the top 50 CEOs in the county. Two Thurmont CEOs—David Hawkins, Jr. with Hawkins Landscaping and Jeff Barber with Playground Specialists—were among the list of top Frederick County executives. Grinder also awarded them “You Make Thurmont Proud” Awards.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2019, at the Town meeting, several Thurmont businesses were given the “You Make Thurmont Proud” Award for winning the 2018 Frederick News-Post “Best of the Best.”