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Blair Garrett

Celebrations of milestones seem few and far between these days. As life hopefully returns back to normal in the coming months, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Inspirations for an exciting and love-filled future are all around us, and you can look no further than the Stottlemyer family in Foxville, Maryland.

Otha (June) Stottlemyer and Isabel Stottlemyer are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary on April 20, marking an achievement of which most couples can only dream.

June, 92, and Isabel, 90, have spent a tremendous share of their lives together. The two met through mutual friends at 18 and 16, and have been inseparable ever since.

They’ve been together through multiple international wars, the landing on the moon, and 14 United States Presidents. The United States was a vastly different place before the pair got married in 1946.

Before the Stottlemyers tied the knot, the world was without the internet, jukeboxes, mobile phones, and the Queen of England was a bachelorette and still a princess. The United States and Europe had just started recovering from the fallout of World War II, and the world’s first computer had just been built. Times were different and were rapidly changing.

The world was not the modern world we know now, and all of that time, growth, and development together has served to strengthen their marriage. 

The Stottlemyers’ love has stood the test of time, and 75 years is a truly rare feat. The lineage following the couple is an impressive one, making the Cheaper by the Dozen movie family look like underachievers.

June and Isabel had 5 children, 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great-grandchildren.

Spending nearly their entire lives in Foxville, the couple has kept their family close. In addition to navigating the highs and lows of marriage, the Stottlemyers were integral in raising and providing for their four generations of offspring. Nearly all of their family lived within walking distance, and they saw each other almost every day.

Needless to say, family is very important to them, from providing for them to loving and supporting them.

June retired from Moore’s Business Forms in 1990, and Isabel was a homemaker and a caregiver, having a close helping hand in the upbringing of their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and more.

The Stottlemyers have unlocked the secret to a long and successful marriage, and they’ve managed to pass that on to their children. Their three daughters, Linda, Patsy, and Laura, have been married for a combined 147 years, showing that their parents’ love is no fluke.

The key for them seems to be a tight-knit family, as their 58 offspring only seem to have brought them closer.

Although parties are still on hold for the time being, a big community congratulations is in order for the Stottlemyers as they set their sights on the next milestone—100 years!

So, “Happy Anniversary” to June and Isabel, on this remarkable achievement of 75 years together! Here’s to 25 more.

Pictured are: (back row) Patsy Harne, Ronald Stottlemyer, Linda Stitely, Laura Wallace; (front row) Otha (June) Stottlemyer and Isabel Stottlemyer. Not pictured: son, John Stottlemyer.

Deb Abraham Spalding

The Thurmont Feed Store has closed.  This Catoctin Community legacy has come to an end.

The economy has made operating a small business more expensive to operate and that is forcing a higher price at the smaller shops in comparison to the national chains. This fact, paired with the owner’s desire to close, led to its end.

In its final days of business, Mary Royce, Joe Wormley, and  Jacob Carbaugh worked until the doors closed on Saturday, March 20, 2021, the business’ final day.

A group of local farmers organized the Thurmont Cooperative, Inc. in 1935 to meet the needs of the Catoctin area’s farmers and community. They came together to proudly provide agricultural feed, seed, supplies, and delivery in the Catoctin area.

Multi-generations of customers, employees, and farmers patronized, served, and volunteered at the Thurmont Co-op. For example, four generations of the Myers Family served on the Thurmont Cooperative’s Board of Directors since it was founded.  They were Henry Myers, Charles F. Myers, C. Rodman Myers, and Robert Myers. Rodman Myers remarked, “After the Great Depression in the early 1930s, it was an extraordinary accomplishment for area farmers to buy stock forming the Thurmont Cooperative, Inc. After being sold to Hoke Mills, Inc., a cash distribution was made to all Thurmont Cooperative stockholders.”

While families in the Catoctin area’s agriculture community have been a long-standing part of the co-op’s operation, the business served local residents for pet food, grass seed, fertilizer, bird seed, and other supplies. The Thurmont Co-op provided the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s Grand Champion Pet Show winner with a gift certificate, and pet show exhibitors received bags of donated pet food.

In 2007, the Thurmont Cooperative’s board of directors held a stockholder’s meeting, where the board of directors recommended—and the stockholders voted in favor—to sell the Thurmont Cooperative to Hoke Mills, Inc. The Hoke Mills family had been working in the grain and animal feed business for many years with an Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, mill purchased in 1946 and a York, Pennsylvania, mill purchased in 1988. Hoke Mills had been a feed mix supplier to the co-op after a January 2006 fire that destroyed the Thurmont Cooperative’s milling facility.

When Hoke Mills opened the former Thurmont Cooperative as the Thurmont Feed Store, Ronald Hoke of Hoke Mills renovated the former store into a larger and more customer-friendly store with a showroom and a permanent office area. The product base was expanded to include many types of pet foods and new popular feed mixes.

Several long-time co-op employees stayed through the ownership transition including Mary Ann (Harbaugh) Sharer (who passed away in 2018), Joe Wormley, and Co-op Manager Jerry Lillich.  Then-manager Lillich said, “Not one day of service was interrupted in the transition.”

Former co-op/feed store managers included D.S. Weybright, Ralph Zimmerman, Dennis Trout, Eddie Horman, Kevin Donnelly, and Jerry Lillich.

Mary Ann Sharer and Joe Wormley each worked at the co-op/feed store for over 50 years. Sharer was loved by all as she worked as the cashier and managed the office. Wormley started working at the co-op as a young man. He felt it was a good change from the work he was doing at the nearby shoe factory. For several years, he ran the co-op’s bulk feed truck, delivering to farms. After the transition in ownership, he still delivered the product to customers, but the distance was shorter and on foot to the dock.

It was good work for Wormley. He liked it. He liked the customers and his co-workers. He fondly recalls his time spent with co-workers, John Ogle, Bill Smith, Clarence Harbaugh, Calvin Burrier, Sam Andrews, Bill Eyler, and Larry Smith, as well as farmers, Rodman Myers, Dallas McNair, and Mehrle Ramsburg Jr., and many, many other wonderful people.

Wormley  said, “It’s been an honor to serve some good people. I got to be friends with a lot of them.”

“We don’t really want to see it go. We really enjoy the customers. We are family,” Royce said the week before the store’s closing.

A legacy agriculture business, which was a big part of our community, is forever part of the Catoctin area’s history.   

Thurmont Feed Store employees pictured one week before closing: (from left) Mary Royce, Joe Wormley, and Jacob Carbaugh.

Cover Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

Courtesy Photos

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1940 Board of Directors

Pictured from left are Charles F. Myers, Mehrle Ramsburg, Sr., Vernon Fisher, Ben Rosenstock—Attorney, Charlie Bollinger, Ernest Shriver, D. S. (Daniel Sayler) Weybright, Elizabeth Weddle—Secretary, Russell Fisher, John Baumgardner, Lloyd Wilhide, and Charlie Lewis.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1978 Staff

Pictured: (Left, top to bottom) Mary Ann Sharrer, Ralph Zimmerman-Manager, David Harbaugh, and Clarence Harbaugh; (Right side, top to bottom) Judy Dewees, Ruth Ann Green, Bill Smith , Joe Wormley, and Calvin Burrier.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1990 Co-op Board of Directors

Pictured from left are: (back row) Richard Calimer, Rodman Myers, Jeff Wivell, Joe Topper, Curtis Baughman, Henry Barton, Jerry Lillich—Manager; (front row) Paul Baumgardner, Joe Wivell, Mary Ann Sharer, Bobby Black, and Dennis Mathias.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1971 Board of Directors

Pictured from left are: (bottom row) Dallas McNair, Alvie Weller, Harry Black, Robert Ogle, and Raymond Keilholtz; (top row) Ross Stull, Lester Bittner, Rodman Myers, Mehrle Ramsburg Jr., and Ralph Zimmerman (manager).

Jim Kennedy

Trustee, Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, Maryland Chapter

In the coming months and years, the gateway to the mountains – the term from which Thurmont derives its name – along Maryland Route 77 will be changing, even if ever so slightly, in response to two opportunities that have recently arisen. These opportunities are the planned removal of the dam that forms Frank Bentz Pond on the western edge of Thurmont; and a planned comprehensive review and update of the recreation trail network in Catoctin Mountain National Park.

The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC), an 80-year-old organization focused on teaching young people about conservation through the sport of fly fishing, was born along the banks of Big Hunting Creek in 1938. BOJC has a vision for shaping these changes in such a way as to expose young people to fishing and conservation while also linking downtown Thurmont to the state and federal parks that comprise the watershed of Big Hunting Creek. The public is now invited to give input.

Not only is Big Hunting Creek a waterway integral to Thurmont’s history and present recreational opportunities, but it is also a place central to the evolution of the modern sport of fly fishing and central to the catch-and-release ethic that is integral to all sport fishing.

Flash back to the earliest days of Thurmont in the late 1700s. The original name of the community was Mechanicstown, which reflected this place where the mechanized devices related to the production of iron were manufactured and maintained.  The town’s industries were reliant on the production of charcoal in places like Foxville and other heavily-wooded communities. Charcoal produced in the woodlands was used to fire the iron furnace that is now showcased in the Catoctin Furnace area of Cunningham Falls State Park.

As the old-growth forests of the Catoctin Ridge were depleted, and in the aftermath of the War of 1812, ironworks in the United States were consolidated in the territories west of the Appalachian Front where both iron ore and coal were plentiful. Wheeling, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew, as places like Mechanicstown declined.

In late 1893, after a community debate, the name Mechanicstown was changed to Thurmont, meaning, ‘gateway to the mountains.’

This was in keeping with the times as a shift took attention away from the exploitation of timber and ore to the use of the mountain vistas and recreational opportunities. That is to say, the vision of Thurmont shifted towards conservation as a means of increasing economic activity.

In recent months, the decisions to remove the dam and plan for a better trail system will allow Thurmont to continue this natural progression of capitalizing on the enjoyment of the natural world to spark economic activity.

Though coincidental, the geography of these projects has the potential to allow for a relatively simple development that could help turn Thurmont into more of a fly fishing destination than it already is and could reinforce the rich history of fly fishing started here. Big Hunting Creek and the Blue Ridge in Maryland and Virginia were the locations from which the modern sport of fly fishing evolved. The State of Maryland Fisheries and the BOJC were the fundamental in developing the catch and release sport and the culture of fly fishing. BOJC even has a fly fishing creed.

Whether an angler is fishing for sailfish off the coast of Central America, bonefish in the Indian Ocean, or trout in Big Hunting Creek, the sport’s heritage is rooted in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, the limestone basin of South Central Pennsylvania, and the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland and Virginia.

Without getting into the weeds of fly fishing history, it suffices to say Big Hunting Creek and the Blue Ridge streams of Virginia were good places to fish, and, owing to their proximity to Washington, D.C., regularly fished by U.S. presidents.

But, most significantly to the sport of fly fishing, Thurmont, the Federal park at Catoctin, and the BOJC share a common thread dating to the 1930s and the establishment of Catoctin Mountain National Park. The same people who established the BOJC were involved with planning for the national and state parks. Moreover, BOJC founders, most notably Joe Brooks, were responsible for the expansion of fly fishing beyond the pursuit of trout in mountain streams to gamefish in all environs.

Brooks and his friend Frank Bentz, Sr., were also responsible for establishing a means of passing conservation ethics on to new generations through the sport of fly fishing, through the BOJC. Though Brooks had no children, Bentz’s son, Frank Jr., was a BOJC member for the duration of his life. Frank III is an officer in the Brotherhood and Frank Sr.’s great-grandchildren are members, along with well in excess of 500 other active Brotherhood members across the U.S. in chapters in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.

Though it was very much an honor for the pond to the west of Thurmont to be named in honor of Frank Bentz Sr., the fishing opportunity afforded at the pond is less than ideal. With the removal of the dam, however, there’s an opportunity to establish a youth-only, fly-fishing-only area. This would be an international first, which is only fitting. Big Hunting Creek itself, in the era of the establishment of Catoctin Mountain National Park, was among the first fly-only fish-for-fun (catch and release) streams in the country.

Prior to the 1930s, the sport of fishing presumed all fish, except those too small to eat, would be kept for eating. Beginning in the post-Civil War era of the late 1800s, population growth and the catch-and-keep ethic tended to result in the depletion of natural gamefish populations. A conservation movement arose. The movement achieved a high level of public attention under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

With regard to fisheries management, there were differing schools of thought, with one component focusing on efforts to protect wild populations and another favoring supplemental stocking of hatchery-farmed fish. The latter won out and prevailed well into the 1900s and persisting today, but the latter did not vanish. Indeed, the protection and management of self-sustaining wild fisheries is an increasingly preferred option for fisheries managers and anglers alike.

When Catoctin Mountain National Park was in its formative stages as the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area in 1939, Big Hunting Creek was designated as a fly-fishing-only area. Fly fishing goes hand-in-hand with the catch-and-release ethic of wild fisheries management because fish that are hooked in the mouth will immediately spit an artificial fly if not hooked when they first strike. When bait is used, fish will generally swallow the morsel of bait containing a hook, typically resulting in fatal injuries. Thus, a fish caught on a fly can be released and reasonably expected to survive, grow, propagate the species, and even be caught again, providing multiple recreational opportunities. Modern research has established that fly-fishing catch-and-release is a solid management technique for maintaining a viable self-sustaining recreational fishery.

In the years prior to the 1939 establishment of the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had established a fly-only limited kill section along Spring Creek near Pennsylvania State University. The location was known as “Fisherman’s Paradise.” Fisherman’s Paradise had become a legendary fishing destination by 1939, and some of those enlisted to help plan for the new Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area proposed making Big Hunting Creek a Maryland version of Fisherman’s Paradise.

Among the existing tributes to this period already along the banks of Big Hunting Creek is a monument to Joe Brooks. It is on Cunningham Falls State Park property, across Md. Route 77 from the National Park’s visitors’ center.

Owing to their proximity to Washington, D.C., the Catoctin Mountains had been a destination for U.S. presidents who enjoyed the sport of fly fishing, among them Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was under Roosevelt that the Catoctin Recreation Demonstration Area became a federal installation, and one of its installations, Camp Hi-Catoctin, became an informal presidential retreat. Hi-Catoctin would, under another avid fly angler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, become the official presidential retreat known as Camp David (after his grandson). Subsequently, Jimmy Carter also fly fished in Big Hunting Creek.

This rich history will continue to be coveted and shared through BOJC volunteers, students, and anglers in general for generations. With your input, we can create a plan that unites all who are interested in the changes forth-coming while ensuring that the plan has a functional user-appeal coupled with an environmentally careful implementation.

Catoctin Mountain Park Comprehensive Trail

  Plan Public Scoping Meeting Follow-up!

Thank you for those who joined the National Park Service (NPS) on March 10, 2021, for a public scoping meeting regarding the development of a Comprehensive Trail System Plan/Environmental Assessment for Catoctin Mountain Park.

The meeting featured a definition of scope and purpose of a project to provide comprehensive guidance for enhancing the Park’s trail system and visitor experience throughout the park in a manner that is sympathetic with the natural and cultural surroundings and balances resource protection with intended trail uses and long-term management.

The plan is explained in detail on the NPS planning website at

This is the internet location where your input can be submitted through April 10, 2021. Public participation is vital to the planning process. If you prefer to mail your comments, make sure they are postmarked by April 10, 2021, to receive consideration. Mail comments to: Superintendent, Attn: CATO Comprehensive Trail Plan, 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788, or email

The final plan will provide park managers with a framework by which they can manage and maintain existing trails; close/realign existing trails when needed; add new trails and access points where appropriate; and, where feasible, create trails that are universally accessible to meet the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards.

Follow directions above to submit comment specifically about Catoctin Mountain National Park trail plan. Follow the directions that follow to submit comment specifically about a fly-fishing trail after the Frank Bentz Pond and dam are removed. Please email, and we will forward the comments to the State of Maryland, the Town of Thurmont, and the BOJC. Thanks so much for helping shape the Gateway to the Mountains trail system to make it user-friendly, environmentally friendly, and connectively smart.

The dam at Frank Bentz Pond

This article contains a portion of a collaborative project about the Zentz Farm written by Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger, Joan Fry, and Jane Jacobs

  It is the intent of the authors that this project be available for reference in the future at the Thurmont Regional Library and/or Thurmont Historical Society.

Mr. Albert Luther Zentz lived his entire life on the Zentz Farm located at the corner of Carroll Street and Apple’s Church Road in Thurmont. He was born there on March 3, 1914, the third son of W.L.H. ‘Herb’ Zentz (1869-1949) and Florence Daisy (Smith) Zentz (1872-1966). His parents had purchased the Carroll Street farm property in 1897 and moved there from the family homestead of Albert’s grandfather, Abraham S. Zentz (1828-1898) in a little village affectionately called Zentztown just a few miles north of town towards Emmitsburg.

The original dwelling on the property was a small one built of logs, but Herb built on and enlarged it into a comfortable, impressive two-story farm dwelling. In 1922, a big wrap-around porch was added to the front and side of the house. A lot of family time was spent on that porch. When Beulah Zentz’s flowers, planted in bins made of recycled tanks, bloomed every spring, it became a “landmark.” The large farmhouse would eventually be home to three generations of Zentzes who lived and worked together there for many years.

Herb added property from time-to-time and increased his holdings to cultivate “prime property” that was soon taken into the Town of Thurmont’s limits. He was an innovative and prosperous businessman and a great role model for Albert. He was also a very successful horse breeder and raised large draft horses which were highly prized animals in the days before tractors were commonplace. He is credited with raising at least 12 of them.

He built the bank barn along with multiple outbuildings on his land which still stand today.

Albert took over the family farm in 1934 at age 20, and in February 1936, he married “his great love,” Beulah (Spangler) Zentz. Together, they worked tirelessly to continue the successful farming operation, and build several other small enterprises. Albert and Beulah’s children were Doris, Viola, Mary Ellen, and Wendell. They learned about good work habits, the importance of caring for their property and one another, being good neighbors that look out for each other, and practicing their faith.

Albert and Beulah were industrious visionaries and entrepreneurs who continued the practice of buying parcels of surrounding property when it became available. They would make improvements to some of the lots before reselling, or just resell them if there was an immediate opportunity to accomplish the goal Albert had set to discourage the young people from leaving the area in pursuit of jobs. This foresight and diligence brought new businesses, housing, and jobs to the Thurmont community. The couple provided the land for the Thurmont Shoe Company, Claire Frock Company, Moore Business Forms, NVR Building Company and Homes, and Albert Court Condominiums.

They also supported their community with generous donations of time and money to local organizations. They provided jobs to young people and welcomed school classes to visit the farm to observe a working farm from the 1940s through the 1990s. They operated Sunrise Cafeteria Restaurant that was located in a building they built on the land that sits between the railroad tracks and today’s RR Donnelly.

Albert was happy with his life as a farmer. He was 89 years old, and had been happily married to Beulah for 67 years, when he died in 2003. Beulah lived on in her home for 82 years until late 2018 when she moved to an assisted-living facility in Frederick. She was “Thurmont’s oldest citizen” when she passed away on June 23, 2019, at the age of 103. The Zentz Farm was sold in December 2020.

There are eight buildings, some with unusual added features, on the Zentz Farm property. Most have hand-hewn logs showing, many with bark still attached. Four of them are multi-functional under one roof; several of them have lofts with nice stairways. One building has a homemade ‘skylight’ in the roof that brings light into an area with no windows; another, a small, heart-shaped porthole for light and ventilation.

If you look closely, you will also see that most buildings have a ‘strip of large nails’ close to the doorways just waiting for all the everyday accessories that need to be hung up like ropes, harnesses, chains, belts, hangers, aprons, coats, tools, etc. Following are some descriptions of farms and the Zentz Farm in particular.


A barn is an agricultural building used to house livestock, cattle, and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. In addition, barns were used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing. On the Zentz Farm, there were two special resident horses, Maude and Jerrybell. Herb bred horses.

There were two barns. The upper barn had two haylofts. There was a hay fork on a runner on the top arch for unloading hay, a winnowing machine, and granary bins. Hobos, sometimes called tramps, often slept in the lofts. They would ride the trains, stop off at the railroad station, then do odd jobs or just ask for food.

Lower Barn/Stable, Corn Crib, Wagon Shed

On the Zentz Farm, the lower barn had calf pens and stanchions for eight animals. There was a pen for the bull and room for two horses. The middle area was a feeding entry for hay, grain, pumpkins, and other produce. A corn crib is a type of granary used to dry and store corn. Corn cribs were made with slats to provide ventilation for drying the corn. The corn crib on the Zentz Farm was located next to the barn where a wagon could be filled with corn and easily moved to stanchions for feeding the animals and where the corn could also be kept out of the weather. The wagon shed housed wagons and other farm implements.

Milk House

A milk house is a building for the cooling, handling, or bottling of milk. On the Zentz Farm, cows were milked by hand. The raw milk was carried from the barn to the milk house where it was strained and put into a 5-gallon milk can. The can was then placed in a tank of water to be cooled. This was an early means of refrigeration before electricity. On the Zentz Farm, they made regular milk, skim milk, butter, and buttermilk to use and sell. Any unused milk was fed to the hogs.

Spring House

A spring house is a small building, usually of a single room, constructed over a spring. While the original purpose of a springhouse was to keep the spring water clean by excluding fallen leaves, animals, etc., the Zentz’ was part of the summer kitchen building and was constructed of stone. It was used for refrigeration before the advent of ice delivery and, later, electric refrigeration. The water of the spring maintained a constant cool temperature inside the spring house throughout the year. Food that would otherwise spoil could be kept there, safe from animal depredations as well. Some spring houses had goldfish in their spring, a delight for young children to visit. The Zentz family acquired an icebox in the 1950s.

Hog Pen

The family hog pen was a small-scale system of pig farming found on family farms of the early 1900s. Family hog pens housed just a few hogs. Before refrigeration, some family farms depended on pigs as a primary source of meat and shortening (lard) for year-round food. On the Zentz Farm, the hog pen consisted of four areas. One area for the new mother sow with a “creep” for piglets to be moved away so the mother sow wouldn’t lie on them. These piglets could journey to the roadway beside the Zentz Farm where many visitors came. There could be 9-16 piglets in a litter. Pigs used for butchering could range from 200 to 600 pounds. There was a loft above the pig’s area for their dry feed and other necessary items like onions, ropes, chains, and special boards.

Summer Kitchen and Loft

In the early 1900s, it was common to have a small building that was detached from the house called a “summer kitchen.” Its main purpose was to keep the house cool during the hot summer months. They were used for cooking, bathing, and laundry. In a summer kitchen, there was usually a large cookstove with an oven and a large table for workspace and eating. Other uses of the summer kitchen were for canning and preserving garden produce as well as cleaning, repairing, and making curtains, weaving, and other hobbies. Summer kitchens often had a fireplace where water was heated for the weekly wash and could also be used at butchering time. The Zentz Farm summer kitchen was quite large. It was made of whitewashed stone.

As air conditioning and outdoor grills became popular and affordable, the need for the summer kitchen was lost.

Bath House

The bath house on the Zentz Farm was a small room attached to the summer kitchen. It was used for taking showers and washing clothes. There was no shower head but rather a piece of hose that carried only cold water that was a welcome relief after chores on hot summer days. 

Chicken Coop

A chicken coop or hen house is a small house where, typically, female chickens or other fowl are kept safe and secure. There are nest boxes found inside the hen houses for egg-laying, and perches on which the birds can sleep. Viola reports gathering eggs and finding her hand on a small possum in the nest. The Zentzes would raise 200 or more peeps at a time until they were the right size for frying or being taken to market.

A chicken coop usually has an indoor area where the chickens can sleep and nest, as well as a fenced-in outdoor area where chickens will feed and spend the majority of the day. This area is typically made from chicken wire. The coop should be cleaned every two weeks, and the straw shifted every day, similar to a litter box. At night, the coop should be locked with all the birds inside so that they are protected from predators. Both the inside and outdoor floors of a chicken coop are often strewn with a loose material such as straw or wood chips to deal with chicken droppings and to provide ventilation.

Little Chicken House

In this chicken house, there were brooders for peeps who stayed until butchering size or time to make room for more peeps. Cleaning the chicken houses was another job suited for the kids. Coops had to be cleaned regularly for the health of the peeps and chickens and for good egg production. Watering and feeding had to be done daily. 

Big Chicken House and Grinding Shed

The big chicken house on the Zentz Farm was used for housing mature chickens. It had a sleeping loft and a grinding shed which housed a large machine with belts with teeth to grind corn and grain for the farm animals.

Blacksmith Shop

The blacksmith shop was a very important area for making and storing tools. Horseshoes were made to fit the draft horses’ hooves by heating the iron until it could be bent to the right size. This was done on an anvil that was close to the hearth so the iron could be rushed to the heat or cooled in a bucket of cold water. There were many washers, wrenches, nails, hammers, and other tools in the blacksmith shop.


A smokehouse was used to preserve meat by smoking it. A fire was kept going with special wood; apple, hickory, etc. The smoke permeated the meat until the proper taste and preservation were achieved. This process took many days. Hams and bacon were expertly done in the smokehouse for bragging rights when tasted by the farmer’s family and friends.

Wood Shed

The Zentz Farm property had a mountain wood lot which produced an abundant supply of trees to be cut and used for heating, fencing, and building. After trees were cut, they were dragged to the farm and sawed either for fence posts, firewood, or lumber. Firewood was carried and stacked close to the kitchen and summer kitchen by the children. This was a never-ending job in cold weather when wood was used for heating and cooking.


Butchering usually took place near Thanksgiving with helpful neighbors (about 30). Four to six hogs were killed early in the morning, scalded, scraped, cut into the appropriate pieces, and cooled on long tables. Sausage was stuffed, pudding and scrapple were cooked, and lard was rendered. In the meantime, a butchering dinner was being provided in the farmhouse. Everyone who helped ate at the table—usually in three shifts.

Grape Arbor

The grape arbor was a necessity for grapes to make jelly, preserves, pies, and maybe even wine. The Zentz Farm had a blue grapevine (Concord) and a white grapevine.


The silo on the Zentz Farm connected to the barn and was usually filled with ensilage (fermented corn). The silo was later used to store leaves for bedding for the animals. The ensilage was blown into the top of the silo and doors were closed to keep it in. In order to get it out, you had to climb a ladder and crawl in through the door to throw it out. 


An outhouse is a small enclosed structure having one or two holes in a seat built over a pit that serves as an outdoor toilet. The outhouse on the Zentz Farm was visited by all family members several times a day until the town of Thurmont brought the sewer system under the railroad tracks and down along the street to the Zentz’ property. Usually, two or three outhouses would show up on the square of Thurmont on Halloween night.

The Zentz Family Activities

Some activities for the Zentz Family included participating in church groups, 4-H, and FFA, swimming in a creek two miles away, and sledding down the barn hill in winter.

Mr. Zentz often took children on hayrides and caroling rides at Christmas. Other activities were mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and walking to school. There was no television and only one radio.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger is shown in the hog pens of her former family farm in Thurmont.

The back of the Zentz Farmhouse.

The outhouse, which was used before the farm got indoor plumbing.

The old gate post that held three farm gates still stands across Apple’s Church Road from the farm.

The lower barn on the Zentz Farm included a corn crib, wagon shed, and stables.

To commemorate the bicentennial of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s death, the Sisters of Charity of New York have donated artifacts of their Elizabeth Ann Seton to the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg.

Sr. Donna Dodge, president of the Sisters of Charity of New York, said in a press release about the donation, “These treasures have always had a great significance for us. It is with great joy that we send them on a new mission where more people can appreciate them and draw closer to Mother Seton.”

The artifacts were unveiled and blessed during an event at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in March. The items will be featured in a special exhibit this summer.

“Our mission, of course, is to promote the life and the legacy of Elizabeth Ann Seton as a source of inspiration and as a source of hope,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the shrine, in a press release. “These artifacts are a tremendous contribution to our ability to tell her story and cover the themes that were important to her in her life and make her relevant today as an example, as an intercessor and a friend from heaven.”

The artifacts include:

Hand-painted wedding porcelain miniatures of Elizabeth Ann Seton and husband, William Magee Seton;

A gold-filigree Seton family brooch worn by Seton on her wedding day;

Seton’s portable writing desk;

The christening gown Seton sewed for her daughter, Catherine;

Seton’s rosary and crucifix;

A tea chest with inlaid decoration that belonged to Seton’s father, Dr. Richard Bayley; and

Seton’s cap, shaw, and belt.

Judge said the artifacts will help tell Seton’s story and her struggles and help people relate to her. “The more she’s relatable, the more she becomes an example, an inspiration, and a friend in heaven for those who visit the shrine or participate in our print and online programs. Mother Seton endured many of the challenges we are enduring in 2021, and therefore provides hope for our nation and the world.”

The shrine’s basilica was dedicated in 1965, and Seton was canonized as America’s first native-born saint in 1975. Her remains were then transferred from the cemetery to the basilica. Pope John Paul II designated it a Minor Basilica in 1991.

The christening gown Seton sewed for her daughter, Catherine

Seton’s rosary and crucifix.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Gets Partial Grant Funding for Infrastructure Projects

The Town of Emmitsburg received some help with its water and sewer infrastructure projects that will cost more than $5 million.

The water clarifier for the Crystal Fountain Road Water Plant will help treat and improve the raw water quality flowing into the plant. The project costs $1.4 million, but Sen. Hough helped the town get a $1 million grant from the state to pay the majority of costs. The town is responsible for the remaining $400,000. The project is expected to be complete in July 2022.

The Creamery Road Pump Station replacement will cost $3.7 million. The USDA provided the town with an $833,000 grant and $1,987,000 loan, leaving $807,000 for the town to fund. The project is expected to break ground at the end of the year.

The North Seton Avenue and DePaul Street waterline replacement is in the preliminary engineering stage, which will cost the town about $25,000.

Commissioners Make Budget Transfers

Emmitsburg’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget audit confirmed the town had a $180,174 excess in the general fund. In March, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners allocated the excess to FY21 general and capital projects. These included projects for stormwater management, town pool, ball fields, the dog park, and COVID-19-related expenses.

Town Recognizes Long-time Employees

The Town of Emmitsburg recently recognized several town employees for their many years of service. The following employees received certificates of appreciation for their service: Dan Fissel, Water/Sewer Superintendent (25 years); Chris Wantz, Public Works (20 years); Amy Naill, Parking/Code Enforcement (15 years); and Steve Fissel, Maintenance (15 years).

The Emmitsburg commissioners also issued a proclamation honoring Keith Suerdieck for his service on various town committees for the past 10 years.

Commission Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed Glenn Blanchard to the town planning commission for a five-year term and Deborah Hobbs to the ethics commission. The commissioners also reappointed Carolyn and Martin Miller to the parks and recreation committee for two-year terms.

Pavilion Contracts Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved the construction of two picnic pavilions in Community Park, one of which will be ADA-compliant. Green Sites in Elkridge won the project with a $40,507 bid that includes steel pavilions and connecting sidewalks. The pavilions are expected to be completed by mid-May. Program Open Space funds will pay for 75 percent of the project, and the town will pay the remaining 25 percent.

M.I. Tech Construction in Frederick won a contract to renovate the Community Park bandstand for $22,270. This project will not only renovate the bandstand, but will add LED lighting to the structure. Program Open Space funds will pay $11,250 of the project, with the town paying the rest.


Town Could Get $5.8 Million from Federal COVID Relief

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were recently informed that the Town of Thurmont could receive around $5.8 million in federal funds from the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill that President Biden signed into law. Mayor John Kinnaird called it “an astounding sum of money” for the town. It can be used to offset the negative economic impact from COVID; pay essential workers premium pay; or cover revenue losses from water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. The commissioners will be discussing what to do with the funds as the amounts and rules governing their use are made known.

Mowing Contract Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a new two-year contract with Mountain View Lawn Services in Rocky Ridge to mow and maintain 75 acres of town-owned property throughout Thurmont. The contract is for $73,859 each year, with a one-year extension if the commissioners want it. This represents a 2.9 percent increase over the current contract with Mountain View.

Road Paving Project Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners accepted a bid to repave Apples Church Road from East Main Street to the railroad tracks, Mountain Road, and North Altamont Avenue from West Main Street to the railroad tracks. The work includes milling, curb replacements, asphalt resurfacing, striping, and some patching on Gateway Drive West. Pleasant’s Construction of Frederick won the contract with a bid of $190,367.

Stream Cleanup at Community Park

The Thurmont Parks and Recreation Commission is hosting a stream cleanup at Thurmont Community Park on April 10 at 1:00 p.m. Gloves and bags will be provided. Wear a face covering. For more information, contact Amie McDaniels at

Community Shred Event

The Thurmont Police Department and Woodsboro Bank are sponsoring a community residential shred event at the police station at 800 East Main Street in Thurmont. The event will be held on Apr. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon. You can shred up to five boxes of office paper, paper clips, staples, rubber bands, folders, and labels. Bring a non-perishable food item for each box. The food will go to the Thurmont Food Bank.


Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to Mount St. Mary’s University and its women’s and men’s basketball teams on winning bids to NCAA tournaments. They came after decisive wins in their respective NEC championship games. The women’s tournament field includes 31 teams and runs from March 21 through April 4. The tournament will be held in San Antonio, Texas. The men’s 67-team field tournaments will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from March 18 through April 5. GO MOUNT! Bring it on.

The American Rescue Plan, AKA the Covid Relief Bill, will include funds for the town. Our first priority is creating working opportunities through water and sewer infrastructure projects. In addition to scheduled underground line repair/ replacements, funds will be used for an $800,000 pump station and $400,000 to complement funds from the state for a water clarifier (water treatment filter). 

Vigilant Hose Spring Fling is on. But in a virtual form. If interested, hurry. Contact the fire company for details. Non-Emergency: 301-447-2728. E-mail: The fire company has gone out on several brush fires in March. As a reminder, we need rain.

The Maryland Historical Trust approved another town grant request for downtown façade restoration projects. Going back to 2013, this will be our ninth approval. Approvals are typically for $50,000 in matching funds. For the 2021 cycle, a matching grant of $50,000 is already lined up for disbursement among several private properties. Over the years, the town has received $405,000, resulting in over $1,000,000 in improvements to private properties. If you have an interest in the program for the 2022 grant cycle, please contact Town Planner Zach Gulden at 301-600-6309.

In the Catoctin Cougars football team’s first outing scrimmage with Middletown, the outcome was marred by the serious head injury Cougar lineman Colan Droneburg sustained. From updates, he is up and doing well. The family is overly thankful to the community for the outpouring of support for them and Colan. The Frederick High School game scheduled for March 5 was canceled because Frederick coaches and/or players had failed COVID-protocol testing. As of this writing, games against Thomas Johnson were scheduled for Friday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m., and a close-out game against Brunswick, Friday, March 26, also at 6:30 p.m.  

On the Mayor COVID update video series in February and March, guests included County Executive Jan Gardner, Frederick County Sustainability Department Manager Shannon Moore, and Green Builder Mark Lancaster.

From the County Executive’s Office, over 20 percent of county residents have been vaccinated (mid-March). At that point, total COVID-19 cases for the county were at 12,665 and deaths at 256. In the 21727-zip code, we have had 361 cases. While statewide demand for COVID-related hospital bed demand is declining, Frederick County is still at a second surge level. We are getting there.

With COVID, this Lenten season will be remembered as one where we have given a lot, but do not forget all you do for others, as that also is a part of the season. It has been a special Lent.

From Lib and I, we wish everyone a Happy Eastertide.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

With the arrival of spring, I invite everyone to visit the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market at their new indoor location! The Farmers Market is open Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon at the Thurmont Plaza Shopping Center at 224 North Church Street. Guests are required to wear a face mask and observe social-distancing guidelines. The vendors offer a wide range of produce and baked goods, including cakes, croissants, donuts, cupcakes, cookies, pies, local Red Angus Beef, eggs, handmade cornhole bags, mushrooms, herbs, dried peppers, potted flowers, goat milk soaps, and other goodies. Stop by and check out the selection; you will not be disappointed! After May 1, the Farmers Market will return to the Municipal Parking Lot on South Center Street.

Thurmont residents are encouraged to follow the Planning and Zoning Commission as they work to update the Thurmont Master Plan. This includes reviewing land use, comprehensive rezoning, updates to the Zoning Regulations, improving the Growth Map, and other items. The meetings are open to the public, and there will be public hearings and open houses to get community input. The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m.

Thurmont Main Street will be sponsoring Main Street Sweeps on Saturday, June 5, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Then, Thurmont Green Team, Thurmont Lions Club, YMCA Thurmont Teen Program, and other volunteers will be joining forces to help clean the downtown streets. The cleanup will start on East Main Street, from Thurmont Barber & Styling to the corner at PNC and South Center Street, then onto South Center around to Water Street and back up to the Mechanicstown Square Park. The Thurmont Lions Club will be supplying brooms for the Sweep! Contact Karen Schildt at or call her at 240-285-8076 if you would like to help.

I am sure many residents are aware of the issues we have been trying to address at the Recycling drop-off site on Moser Road next to the Regional Library. The recycling facility is located on Town of Thurmont property as a courtesy to Frederick County. The County reimburses the Town for the majority of the cost of dumping the recycling by funding one emptying per week. Any additional emptying is paid for by the Town of Thurmont. In recent months, it seems that almost every weekend people are dropping off recycling when the bin is full. Rather than take the recycling back when there is room in the roll-off, they are throwing it on the ground and making a big mess. The cardboard, paper, and other items blow all over the place, and our staff has to spend several hours on Monday mornings cleaning up the area. What’s worse, is they are dropping off many items that are not recyclable, including styrofoam, trash, construction debris, and plastic bags full of bags of cans-bottles-containers. These items are considered to be contaminants and are refused at the recycling facility. Any load with a noticeable amount of contaminants is refused and sent to the landfill, costing the County additional money. Last week the Town decided to start having the recycling roll-off dumped a second time each week in an effort to reduce the amount of recycling being tossed on the ground. We are funding this and have reached out to the County for financial support for the additional cost involved. We are also posting the property with “No Littering” signs; any items dropped off on the ground at the recycling bin will be considered littering, and those doing so will be fined. It is our hope that the second emptying per week and the No Littering signs will help resolve the situation. The Recycling Drop Off is a valuable asset to the Thurmont Community and the surrounding County residents; we want to do what we can to keep it here for everyone to use.

I hope everyone has a joyful Easter and a pleasant April. As always, I can be reached at or by phone at 301-606-9458.

James Rada, Jr.

Deer Run Farm in Emmitsburg was featured on the 100th episode of Maryland Farm & Harvest. You can stream the episode, which aired February 9, 2021, on the Maryland Public Television website.

Ronald and Annie Stewart started a herd of Red Angus cattle and established the farm in 1996. They raised and sold the cattle for breeding and consumption. The past year, in particular, has been a busy one for the farm.

“The beef demand during COVID has been ridiculous,” said Allison Stewart, who helps run the farm with her husband, Josh. “People have been wanting to stock up on beef or buy extra for their families because they are afraid there will be empty grocery shelves again.”

The poultry operation on the farm began in 2017 when an opportunity arose to purchase a neighbor’s poultry operation. The family talked it over and decided Josh and Allison would run the poultry operation. While the previous owner provided assistance for the first year, Josh and Allison went on a steep learning curve to learn all they could about poultry.

Allison was, understandably, nervous. Before moving to Emmitsburg, “I had never seen a farm,” she said. “I went to school in Pittsburgh, and I had a job there, but I’ve always been an animal lover.”

When the opportunity presented, she worked as a graphic designer in Emmitsburg, but she and her then-boyfriend, Josh, decided she would commit to running their own farming operation full-time.

They now have 1,000 chickens in five breeds (Delaware, Welsummer, Oliver Eggers, Copper Marans, and Ameraucanas). They are pasture-raised chickens.

“These are your grandma’s chickens,” Allison said. “They don’t have as much meat as the chickens you buy in stores, but they have more flavor.”

With different breeds of chickens, you also get a rainbow of egg colors—blue, green, brown, tan, and speckled.

“Some people swear different colored eggs taste different,” Allison said. “I don’t think so. They are all fed the same thing, and they have access to the bugs in the pasture, which are nature’s best ingredients.”

Besides the different colors, free-range chickens lay eggs with thicker shells, with yolks that are a rich orange, and with better nutritional content, according to some studies.

It was the array of colorful eggs that caught the attention of Maryland Farm & Harvest. Deer Run Farm now has a thriving business selling eggs, chicks, and chicken meat. Customers drive to the farm from as far away as New Jersey and Virginia. The farm has also sent chicks to all 50 states. There is a demand for heritage breeds of chicken.

“South Dakota was the last holdout,” Allison said. “For the longest time, we couldn’t find a customer there.” She keeps a map with pins in it, marking all the places they have shipped their chicks.

Because the farm ships all over the country, each state’s shipping regulations have to be followed. The Stewarts also make sure their chicks are disease-free.

“We are the only hatchery in the country that vaccinates our chicks for everything they can be vaccinated for,” Allison said. “We also have our birds tested every three months to make sure there’s no sickness.”

The crew from Maryland Farm & Harvest spent the day on the farm in March 2020, following Josh and Allison around to see how the poultry operation works. It turned out to be great publicity because Allison said she saw a noticeable increase in their orders from Maryland customers.

To learn more about Deer Run Farm, visit

A day-old chick at Deer Run Farm explores her world before being shipped to a new home somewhere in the United States.

Allison Stewart of Deer Run Farm holds day-old chicks that will soon be shipped out to places across the country. Cover Photo & Photo Below by James Rada, Jr

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

While people have been carefully navigating the daring dance with COVID-19, the world has been faced with lockdowns and restrictions.

In the resulting chaos, everyday life changed for us all. The stressful situation took a toll on those who were confined to their homes, sending some into a boredom frenzy and making others feel stir-crazy.

Although still relatively restricted, people have slowly adjusted over time and become very creative with what they do in their free time.

Many have stayed busy by engaging in hobbies, ranging from making face masks to writing stories. Others have committed to helping others during this time by supporting small businesses, supporting the food banks, providing for those who can’t go out, and much more. This has been beneficial to the community and its citizens in this time of need.

Besides supporting the community in various ways, there are other hobbies people have developed for fun. Personally, I’ve started writing more stories, drawing, painting, and trying new recipes. I also found a new hobby of crafting sticks into wands. It gives me a project to focus on that I have fun doing. Not only has this helped me cope with the sweeping lifestyle changes, but it’s helped me discover other interests as well.

Eighth graders Olivia Johnson of Western Heights Middle School in Washington County and Kendall Stuart, a home-schooled student, spoke of how they have occupied their time over the past year.

“I started writing and making TikToks more,” Johnson said. “That’s mainly what I’ve done to keep myself busy.” Although our conversation was brief, she went on to explain that there hadn’t been a whole lot she had become interested in, as writing takes up most of her time. This keeps her occupied during the time she isn’t in school.

Stuart committed time to personally enriching hobbies, “So far, I have started making YouTube videos, TikTok videos, and improving my makeup skills and dancing skills. I mainly focus on improving my makeup and dancing. I’m trying to work toward my goal of being a professional makeup artist.” Stuart agreed that these activities have kept her busy during her out-of-school free time.

Both have found pastimes that they enjoy and that keep them active. 

While randomly asking members of the community about their hobbies, the most popular answers were arts and crafts, such as wreath-making; drawing; painting; making face masks for the community; pursuing outdoor activities; and spending more time with family. It seems people have started doing activities they did not have time for before the pandemic. I feel like people have realized what they were missing before it all started.

The quarantine has given people time to connect with their families and to have more free time to explore creative outlets. It also taught many a lesson like cherishing what they have before it’s too late, and to be grateful.

Similarly, new hobbies such as cooking, storytelling, making online videos, creating music, designing, and far more, have been chosen by people along the way to keep away the lockdown boredom.

As time progresses, many will likely stick with the new hobbies and skills they gained during this difficult time.

Blair Garrett

Storytelling is something humans have done since the beginnings of communication.

The ability to harness a whirlwind of ideas and narrow it down into a digestible story that pulls a reader’s mind into the author’s imagination is one of those rare-to-find skills.

An effective storyteller crafts and creates gripping content that engages readers in a way that keeps them looking for more.

James Rada Jr., 54, of Gettysburg, knows a thing or two about storytelling.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” Rada said.

To date, Rada has published over 30 books, with three becoming bestsellers in 2020.

Rada’s journey to reach where he is has been a long one, but he’s picked up a lot of steam since his launch in the mid-90s.

“My first novel was published in ‘96,” Rada said. “I started working as an indie publisher in 2000, and I really liked that, so I stuck with it.”

Over the years, Rada has written about a variety of subjects. Anything from historical fiction to horror to young adult stories to the Civil War era history has caught his eye.

Rada first tasted success with his premier historical novel, titled Canawlers. Canawlers details the life of a family navigating the hardships of the Civil War on the C&O Canal. The C&O Canal ran between the Confederate and Union armies during a particularly volatile time.

During the inception of Canawlers, Rada’s focus relied on covering places he could visit and draw inspiration. Several of his books feature places about which he has intimate knowledge. Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, Secrets of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and Canawlers are all great examples of that first-person experience manifesting into an interesting and riveting story.

Great artists, creators, and storytellers often develop ideas for future work off of untold loose ends in their books, chord progressions that didn’t provide the right melody for a song, or projects where all of the pieces didn’t quite fit. Readers of Rada’s books would often ask what happened to characters outside of his story’s focus. That interest sparked creative fires that led to follow-up books.

“My goal was to tell the story of the canal,” Rada said. “Once I started doing the events, people would come up to me and say, ‘Well, what happened with George, and what happened with Alice and David, and did they get together?’” Rada continued. “I hadn’t really thought about that because that wasn’t the purpose of the story, so I had to start thinking about that, and that’s where the other canal books came in.”

These burning questions needed answers, and the pen hit the paper. Rada’s second and third iterations of some of his most popular stories are contoured to tell his complete story, beginning to end, even if it wasn’t the initial scope of the first volume.

Rada has made plenty of adjustments with his books, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. With the increasing market for electronic books and the consumption of online media, Rada made a change that propelled his novels to the next dimension.

“Last year, I pivoted from what I was doing,” Rada said. “I started looking more at ebooks, marketing what I had, and I got a mentor.”

 Rada’s efforts to expand his work to the masses paid off, and it reflected with more sales, more visibility, and more confidence going forward.

“The first book I did after that was Strike the Fuse, which was the second book in a trilogy,” he said. “That one got up to number 81 in the free Kindle market, and the top 300 in the paid Kindle market, and number 1 in six different categories on Kindle.”     

The train didn’t stop there, though, as Rada’s Four Score & Seven Stories Ago: A Gettysburg Writers Brigade Anthology took off shortly after, reaching heights Rada hadn’t expected.

“An anthology from my writers group got into the top 10 in three categories after some marketing. I relaunched the canal books, and all of those made it into the top 10 in multiple categories, and the top 10,000 on Amazon. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you realize there are 33 million books on Amazon, it’s something,” Rada said.

There are big plans in the works for Gettysburg’s newest best-selling author, but he plans on sticking to what excites him the most to write about.

“I’ve always written stories that appealed to me,” Rada said. “If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, then your reader is not going to be interested in it.”   

Whether it’s mystery that captivates you or history that fascinates you, Rada has something for just about everyone, and there is always more to come. “I’ve got a long way to go, but I feel like I’m really catching some traction now.”

Rada is a writer and contributing editor for The Catoctin Banner Newzine. He also contributes to multiple other publications. You can find his books and novels online in paperback and ebook format or visit

Jim Rada displays his dozens of short stories, novels, and thrillers that he has written over his career.


Mayor Don Briggs

The Green New Deal for Emmitsburg is no big deal. The town government energy needs achieved 95-percent reliance on renewable energy in 2014. It came from solar panels and LED lighting. We even added some possible redundancy along the way with vehicle charging stations, an electric vehicle, and a solar-powered algae control system at Rainbow Lake. We are for renewable energy to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our energy needs for the most part are off the electricity grid. Though the solar panels do create energy on cloudy days, we still need to fall back on using fossil-fuel-generated energy.

Recently, the Eastern Shore Pipeline received unanimous final approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works for an extension of a natural gas pipeline from Delaware, through Wicomico, and 11 miles into Somerset County to the University Eastern Shore and the Eastern Correctional Institute. The pipeline is already in Delaware and Wicomico County. The pipeline is controversial. Natural gas, lest we forget, is a fossil fuel. This is a responsible take by the state to rely on a blend of energy sources. The mix can change over time, but let us do it responsibly.

Ah, the peace a snowfall brings, but not so much for the town crews. Early in the morning hours, late in the night, their skills have been tested. Ever present are the flashing yellow lights on their vehicles. We have approximately a 12-mile network of town roads. So, if they plow both sides of the roads once, they have plowed the same distance as it is to Frederick. And, they do the roads more than once.

In the month of January, the Vigilant Hose Company answered 55 fire calls and 100 ambulance calls. That is over five calls a day! Incredible for a primarily volunteer fire company. That is more than well done. Thank you.

According to Commissioner Davis, Vigilant Hose Company is getting closer to its activities building on Creamery Road being approved by the County Health Department as a vaccination site.

As the town wrestles with the pandemic and weather to get back to a community:

A disc golf tournament was held for the hearty on our course in Community Park on February 21 as a charity event for the Emmitsburg Food Bank.

        In an awkward, but pandemic-adaptive way, the Catoctin Cougars football team will open an abridged spring schedule (four-game season), against Middletown, Friday evening, March 5. The game will be played at Frederick High School on their turf field. Go Cougars! More sports this spring: Please check CHS website and support the teams.

        On Saturday, March 27, the Seton Family Store will host a Spring Fling Craft Fair. Up to 15 crafters and/or vendors, a DJ, and a representative from the Frederick Health Department will be on hand. Emmitsburg area restaurants have been asked to provide a “Taste of Emmitsburg” at the fair. Interested crafts and businesses should call Kenny Droneburg at 301-447-6102.

In January, Keith Suerdieck—after 10 years of dedicated service—stepped down as Chairman of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission. Thank you, Keith; we will miss you. From your architect background knowledge to your experience from being an associate pastor of Trinity Methodist Church, you brought a quiet professional demeanor to the Commission. With Keith stepping down, commission member Mark Long was elected by the board to take his place as chairman. Also, former Town Commissioner Glenn Blanchard came on the Commission as a “new” member. Welcome back, Glenn.

Hope your Lenten season is going well. Stay warm, help a neighbor, be thankful.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

With all the snow we have been getting recently, I will brighten your day by announcing that the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market will be opening on Saturday, March 20. This is the first indoor version of our popular market, and it will be held in the Thurmont Plaza, 224 North Church Street, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, every Saturday through May 1. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed. After May 1, the market will move to its regular location in the Municipal Parking Lot. The indoor market will feature local honey, sauces, rubs, goat soap, homemade pies, donuts, bread, bagels, gourmet cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, organic greens, a variety of mushrooms, Red Angus beef, Easter flowers, hand-crafted items, and more. This will be a great addition to the already amazing Main Street Farmers Market!

With the return of good weather in April and May, there will be several infrastructure improvements going on in Thurmont. These include repairs to the Frederick Road Bridge over Hunting Creek. This work will be mainly focused under the bridge, repairing some exposed rebar and spalling. There will be water-system repairs on Frederick Road at Emmitsburg Road. This will entail removal of a decommissioned pumping station. We are also planning improvements to Apples Church Road from East Main Street to the railroad tracks. This work will involve milling the surface, repairing curb and gutters, and repaving. We will be sure to notify our residents before any of these projects get underway and keep you updated on their progress.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for a new electronic newsletter, being developed by our Economic Development staff. This newsletter will replace the announcements we send out with the electric billing. The electronic version will allow for more information and updates about local events. There are residents of Thurmont not served by our Electric Company, and this change will ensure that they can receive all our updates and news. If you do not have an email account, there will be printed copies available at the Town Office, Main Street Center, and other locations. Please email your request to receive the Electronic Newsletter to

The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission is continuing their updates to the Thurmont Master Plan and Comprehensive Rezoning. I encourage you to watch the P&Z meetings and participate in the public comments and discussion. These meetings are being Zoomed, and log-in information is included with the monthly agenda. The agenda can be viewed online via the Video Streaming page on This page also contains links to all current and past P&Z and Board of Commissioners meetings.

The Town website also features a new COVID-19 information page, with regularly updated information from Frederick County Health Department and Frederick County Government. Frederick County is receiving COVID-19 vaccines, and they are being made available at several locations in the County. You can get vaccine clinic information at As vaccines are becoming more available, please do not stop wearing your face masks and observing social distancing.

by James Rada, Jr.


No February Meeting

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners canceled its monthly meeting because of bad weather. The next meeting will be held on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. You can watch the meeting on Channel 99 or participate via Zoom with a link on the town’s website.

Register for Your COVID-19 Vaccination

Pre-register to get your COVID-19 vaccination. Once you register, you will be contacted when you are eligible for an appointment. Fill out the form at:


Frederick Road Bridge Repairs Approved

The Frederick Road Bridge needs work on the concrete substructure to repair cracks, stabilize the piers and gabions, and repair the sidewalks. Three contractors bid on making the needed repairs. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the low bid of $87,300 from Marine Technologies of Baltimore. The repairs will extend the life of the bridge by 10 to 20 years.

MS4 Engineering Bid Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid of $34,500 from ARRO Consulting for engineering and consulting services needed to remain in compliance with Maryland’s mandated MS4 program. Half of the funds will come from the FY2021 budget and the other half will come from the FY2022 town budget.

Water Main Engineering Work Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid from ARRO Consulting for $8,550 for the nonfunctioning North Church Street pumping station engineering and design services. There is a non-functioning waterline under Church Street. The town wants to remove the waterline and replace it with a six-inch water main. The project was approved last year. The design work starts the project. The motion carried 4-0.

Blair Garrett

For everyone of us who is “in love” with a furry, loyal, and loving pet, let’s take a moment this Valentine’s Day to reflect on why we’re so crazy about our pets…and maybe why our four-legged friend may be a better Valentine than a love interest.

For those of us riding solo this Valentine’s Day, maybe feeling a bit down because we don’t have a Valentine, don’t fret, there’s still one surefire fall-back plan: Why not make your pet your Valentine? Why does a Valentine have to have only two legs?

People with pet allergies need not apply, but our furry friends will always be there to save the day. A person’s relationship to their pet can provide immeasurable companionship, fun, and plenty of love, and, in some ways, it’s even better than a person-to-person relationship.

Dogs will never complain about your cooking, and they’re always happy and willing to try out your new recipes with a smile on their face.

Plus, they’re great listeners. If you’ve got a nasty coworker who grinds your gears from nine to five, your dog or cat is always there at the end of the day to let you go on your half-hour rant about Cathy from accounting.

Love to snuggle? Furry Valentine to the rescue! They will never push you away or tell you that they are too “tired” and just want to be left alone.

Always wishing for someone to love you just the way you are? Your furry Valentine will never judge you, never imply that you need to lose some more weight or maybe wear a little more makeup. No, they will love you exactly as you are—at your best, and at your worst.

If you’re someone who struggles with what to get your significant other on Valentine’s Day, don’t worry. Pets have low expectations on holidays, so your last-minute-gas-station-artificial-flower bouquets are more than enough to make them happy.

The love from dogs and cats is unconditional, and they may even return the favor by bringing you gifts from time to time. It may not be that Pandora bracelet you’ve added to your online shopping cart a dozen times, and it might not necessarily look or smell very good, but it’s the thought that counts.

If you’ve ever had a spouse use your credit card for their personal hobbies, or a rogue pre-teen buy hundreds of dollars of Fortnite V-Bucks with your precious VISA, fear not. Dogs will never spend your hard-earned cash without asking. In fact, they aren’t materialistic at all. They don’t desire much; they only long to make you happy.

If 2021 isn’t the year that you find the love of your life, there’s always next year and the year after. Just be thankful your pups don’t argue back. They worship you. To them, you’re the best thing since sliced bread. And, with your pets, you are always right. No battles there.

When it’s a cheap date, and you don’t have to dress up, there’s not much room left for complaints. Your animals won’t judge you for it, and big, comfy sweatshirts are always encouraged. Netflix and a glass of wine is a totally viable night with your four-legged companions. Plus, you won’t have to compromise on a show or movie. Your pet will love whatever you choose to watch.

If all that isn’t enough to convince you that your pet is the perfect Valentine, consider this: If it’s just you and your pet, you get to eat all the chocolates and candies, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

A Sweet Ride

by James rada Jr., Blair Garrett, and deb abraham spalding

Just last year, Valentine’s Day meant giving personalized Valentine’s cards to our classmates and families; snacking on sweets like Smarties®, SweetTarts®, and heart-shaped chocolates; and declaring our love with flowers and engagements.

This year is going to look a lot different, with social distancing in place and the sharing of treats suspect, we’re presented with a sweet challenge: expressing sentiments to our sweeties without getting too close.

We’d like to propose to you a sweet alternative: To take a sweet ride to area sweet shops. Specialty candies and chocolates are an easy way to score brownie points and show the important people in your life how much you love them. So, make this year’s V-Day a special one with a road trip to regional and local places that sell sweetness.

1. Gateway Candyland

Gateway Candyland has brought Thurmont residents and Route 15 travelers candies and goodies for over 35 years. The store has made additions over the years, adding 26 flavors of Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream, 6 flavors of soft-serve ice cream, 2 flavors of Italian Ice, and delicious homemade fudge to the repertoire, offering something tasty for just about everyone.

Candyland’s more than 20 fudge options and 300 types of candy give visitors all they can handle, and more. You’re sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Interested in making your own candies? Gateway also sells the area’s largest selection of candy-making supplies in one location for you do-it-yourselfers.

 There are plenty of great shops to visit during your very own Valentine’s Sweet Ride! Finding great candies and chocolates to sweeten your February or Valentine’s Day has never been easier.

Indulging in our sweet tooth may be just what we need to put a miserable 2020 behind us. Let’s make 2021 a little bit sweeter!

2. Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium

Everyone local to the Gettysburg area has seen the signs! Big and bold is the name of the game for Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium. As you drive along, it’s hard to miss this unique attraction with the giant billboards directing you to the elephant garden.

Ed Gotwald, better known as “Mister Ed,” is the namesake for this must-see destination, where more than 10,000 elephants can be found in his peanut and candy store in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania. His elephants range in size from the life-size “Phoenix” to small jewelry pieces.

Mister Ed’s elephant collection began innocently with a wedding gift in 1967 from his sister-in-law. It was a little wooden elephant.

“From there, things just got out of hand,” said Mister Ed.

Although he is now retired, Mr. Ed’s granddaughter and son-in-law still carry on the traditions that make the store a destination spot. The candy emporium is known for many things, including its more than 100 flavors of homemade fudge and perfectly roasted peanuts.

3. Sweeet! Candy Store

Tapping into downtown Gettysburg’s sweet tooth is Sweeet! Candy Store. The owners, Mark and Cindy Fox, opened the retro candy shop in 2012, originally specializing in wax bottles, candy buttons, and long-lost candy bars.

However, as the store’s popularity grew, its offerings have grown to over 4,000 different items. Sweeet! has since added foreign candies from England, Spain, Japan, and more. The store also offers various retro sodas made with real cane sugar, and even unique sodas like their bacon-flavored soft drink.

4. Zoe’s Chocolate Company

Chocolates with a Mediterranean origin have graced Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, for over a decade. In 2007, third-generation chocolatiers Pantelis, Zoe, and Petros Tsoukatos opened Zoe’s Chocolate Co. in Waynesboro. The shop was inspired by their father, George, who was a master chocolatier in their family business. 

At Zoe’s, you can find items like pomegranate blended into chocolate ganache; Greek baklava dipped in chocolate, and rolled in nuts and spices; or spun honey covered in chocolate. Over the years, Zoe’s has perfected gourmet chocolates, and gained national recognition for it in the process.

“Though a lot of our chocolates have a Mediterranean taste, we try to source all of our ingredients locally,” Marketing Manager Samantha Weilacher said. Zoe’s chocolates can be found locally in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and in Frederick, Maryland, as well as online and in hotels and shops.

5. Despina Leos Candy Kitchen

Century-old candy stores are hard to come by, but Despina Leos Candy Kitchen in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, has a nearly 120-year claim to fame selling candies and hand-dipped chocolates.

John Leos, a third-generation store owner, specializes in buttercreams, caramels, and turtles. “We’re one of the last stores in the country that still do hand-dipped chocolates,” Leos said.

They also have a full line of sugar-free candy, with more than 20 items. The chocolates and candies are made using the store’s original molds from 1902. Now, that’s consistency!

Shopping local has been the mantra for small towns for a long time, and Leos’ chocolates are as fresh as it gets. Local chocolates don’t contain the preservatives that national-brand chocolates need to have to extend shelf-life. “Everything in our store was made yesterday or the day before that,” Leos said.

6. Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe

Shopping Local is big in downtown Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and it seems the town is extra sweet as we add a third stop there. Entering Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe is like stepping into the 1950s, with retro candies, soda, sweet creations, and gifts.

Whitney Warner invites lovers of old-fashioned candies, ice creams, floats, and the latest and greatest “stuffed” milkshakes.

Warners strives to be, “a place in the community where people can come out, hang out, just to ‘be,’” said Whitney.

In support of the downtown Waynesboro Main Street businesses, Warners invites you to participate in Galentine’s Day Brunch, Couples Strolls, Founder’s Day, and other special activities.

Retro candies, nostalgic and fun sodas, plus lunchboxes, puzzles, toys, and more.

Nearly a 120-year claim to fame selling candies and hand-dipped chocolates.

Their chocolates have received national recognition and are sold in the finest shops and hotels.

Ed Gotwald stands in his museum and candy store (2015), which features more than 10,000 elephants, ranging in size from life-size to jewelry pieces.

Whitney Warner displays Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe’s have-to-try, one-of-a-kind extreme peanut butter “stuffed” milkshake.


Mayor Don Briggs

With the new year comes Emmitsburg recognizing Emmitsburg as one of “The 10 most beautiful, charming small towns in Maryland.” Congratulations! Thank you to former Emmitsburg Mayor Ralph Irlan for bringing this to our attention.

Adding to that good news, the following grants are now in process: FY21 Two Mini Picnic Pavilions in the back of Community Park—$30,750; FY20 Band stand renovation—$11,250; FY20 Memorial Park ball field no. 7 bleacher replacement—$5,250; FY20 Community gardens rehab—$2,550; Disc golf course construction—$14,000; FY21 Wayside Exhibits—$12,052 grant; Engineering study for the waterline replacement project—$25,000.

At the January 2021 regularly scheduled town meeting, commissioners approved four additional wayside exhibits.

The effects of a second surge in coronavirus have hit our zip code. As of January 13, Maryland reported total numbers as follows:

Testing volume: 6,254,353; 24 hr. change +34,334 with 314,867 confirmed cases.

Positive tests: 24 hr. change +2,516.

Deaths: 6,233 deaths, 24 hr. change +37.

In Frederick County, there have been 13,676 positive cases and 207 deaths. In the 21727 zip code, 274 cases. For hospitals, ICU bed demand is up, acute beds demand is up, and total bed demand is up.

From the county executive’s office, first responders and frontline healthcare workers are designated as “Phase 1a” of the vaccine protocol by the state and have begun to receive vaccinations. Adults over 75 years old fall into “Phase 1b,” and the vaccine should be available by late January. For those 65–74 years old in the “Phase 1c” designated bracket, vaccinations are projected to begin in March. We have requested the use of more-convenient facilities than Frederick Health Hospital. We are working on assisting in transportation for those in need of shots wherever they might be administered. We have the vaccine; let’s not let our guard down. Wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.

Thank you to all our first responders, hospital staff, and frontliners who serve us every day.

If we are looking for bellwethers as to the progress of our town, all-site approvals for the proposed Rutter’s convenience gas-and-go have finally been accepted by the various levels of government. The expectation is to break ground in early spring. Most notable remaining ones would include grading and seeding along the Flat Run north of the Myers bridge and work along Irishtown Road.

With the recent snow and slow melt, groundwater has been partly replenished, but another slow-melting snow would be wonderful. We need the moisture. Your vigilance in conserving water use is greatly appreciated.

My monthly mantra: Please support our local restaurants and businesses. These are good people who serve us. As a community, through the town, the grants applied, qualified for, and received by the restaurants and businesses pale in comparison to the economic reality of the loss these businesses have experienced. Treat yourselves and help our neighbors: BUY LOCAL – BUY CARRY OUT – DINE OUT and enjoy!

It’s lining up to be a busy spring: vaccines, longer daylight hours, lots of prayers for activities, Groundhog Day, Ash Wednesday (February 17), and Easter (April 4).

Lib and I wish you the best for a happy and healthy 2021. Let us get our shots, wear our mask, wash our hands, and social distance until this virus is just another one of those things out there well under control through vaccines.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Thurmont Board of Commissioners (BOC) has opted to return to virtual meetings for the next month. This decision was made based on an increase in positive COVID-19 test results within Frederick County and the 21788 zip code. Residents can watch the meetings on Cable Channel  99, via the streaming video page on the website, or by Zoom. The Zoom meeting code is: 671 626 6523; the passcode is: sXxm96. The BOC will reevaluate this decision after the February 9 meeting. 

Free COVID-19 testing continues every other Friday, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Thurmont Town Office at 615 East Main Street. The tests are free and are currently a drive-up test. If you need a COVID-19 test prior to the next one in Thurmont, please go to the Frederick Health Village on Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick. They test seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Test results typically take four to five days; if you have an upcoming procedure, they will fast-track your test results.

The State of Maryland is about to institute Level 1-B of the COVID Vaccine program. You can sign up for text messages regarding scheduling by texting FredCoVID19 to 888777. More information can be found at Please be patient; vaccines may be in short supply, and everyone is as anxious as you are to get one.

The Town of Thurmont has been making improvements to the Ice Plant Park and the Woodland Park playgrounds. This includes new climbing pieces, swings, seesaws, and other playground items. This work is being funded through Program Open Space funding and will be completed in the spring. The parks playgrounds are closed temporarily when items are being installed and are open all other times. Our thanks to the Maryland Program Open Space program for helping fund these improvements and to Thurmont’s own Playground Specialists for the amazing equipment and installations.

With winter upon us, I want to remind everyone that when it is calling for snow, we ask that cars be moved off the streets whenever possible. This allows our plows free access to clear the streets to the curb where possible. We also recommend that you do not clear the ends of your driveways until the streets have been cleared. The plows push the snow off the roadways and can reclose driveways. Sidewalks can also be an issue with snow plows. We live on North Church Street, and our sidewalks are regularly pushed shut by the SHA snow plows. It is helpful to wait until the streets are plowed before clearing sidewalks, where there’s no place to throw the snow or where there is no separation from the roadway. This is especially something to consider if you live on one of our State Highways, including East and West Main Street and North Church Street. Please be careful driving in icy or snow conditions.

The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission continues to address the Master Plan update and will be holding hearings to address this update throughout the next several months. P&Z meets the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. and can schedule special meetings. At this time, meetings are closed to in-person attendance, but residents can watch online or on Channel 99 and contact P&Z with questions or comments. Planning and Zoning Agendas are posted on on the Video Streaming page.

I hope everyone has a great month! As always, I can be contacted by phone at 301-606-9458 and via email at

by James Rada, Jr.


Trying to Make Vaccine Convenient

As Frederick County rolls out its vaccination program, town staff is trying to get a vaccination location in the northern end of the county. Currently, the closest place to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is in Frederick. Since many of the people receiving the early vaccinations are elderly, traveling to Frederick could be a problem. If a north-county vaccination location can’t be arranged, staff is also looking into the possibility of arranging special transportation for residents to take them to Frederick for their vaccinations.

Town Approves Four More Waysides

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved four more waysides at historical sites in town, as the town works toward creating a historical walking tour through the town. The new waysides are:

John Armstrong and the American Long Rifle on East Main Street.

The Emmitsburg Railroad on South Seton Avenue.

Volunteers Mural on South Seton Avenue (the Frederick County Fire Museum will pay half the cost).

St. Joseph’s House on South Seton Avenue (Daughters of Charity will pay half the cost).

The cost for the new waysides is $12,054 and will be paid for with a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

New Town Parks Requirements Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners held a public hearing about proposed changes to the town’s subdivision amendment concerning parks. The amendment requires 10 acres of park/open space land for every 1,000 in a subdivision or $1,200 in-lieu-of land per dwelling unit.

Waterline Replacement Contract Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a contract to have McCrone Engineering complete a preliminary engineering report and environmental report on the town’s water system. This is required before the town can seek funding to replace the water lines on DePaul Street and North Seton Avenue.

Considering Little League Donation

The Thurmont Little League is trying to raise $20,000 to send 17 players and coaches to Cooperstown, New York, to play in a special tournament at the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since some of the players are from Emmitsburg, the Emmitsburg Commissioners are planning on making at least a $1,000 donation. This amount could increase based on how much money can be found in the budget and how much other local governments will contribute.

Board of Appeals Appointment

The Emmitsburg Commissioners appointed Dr. Levi Esses as an alternate member of the Board of Appeals, with his term ending on January 11, 2024.


Thurmont Goes All Virtual

On January 19, 2021, Thurmont town meetings went all virtual with no in-person attendance. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners did this based on the rise of the number of COVID cases in the county. Meetings will remain this way until February 9, when the situation will be re-evaluated. Residents can participate in the virtual meetings via Zoom. (Meeting code: 671 626 6523, Passcode: sXxm96). You can also call into the meeting at 301-715-8592. Meetings will also continue to be televised on Comcast channel 99 and at

Town Hiring Lateral Police Officers

The Thurmont Police Department is hiring lateral police officers. These are police officers who are already Maryland certified. Applications can be picked up at the Police Department (800 E. Main Street) or found online at

Town Considers Annexation

The Town of Emmitsburg is considering annexing the Simmers property at 304 Apples Church Road. The property is zoned agricultural and is already partially within the town. The property owners would like to have it zoned R-5 residential if it is annexed. The proposed plan includes 6 duplex units, 52 townhomes, 88 apartments, and a senior living area with 40 independent and assisted-living units and 20 memory care units. The commissioners accepted the proposal. It will now go to the planning and zoning commission for a recommendation.

Commissioner Liaisons Remain Unchanged

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird asked the town commissioners if they wanted to make changes to the liaison assignments for 2021. None did, so the liaisons remain:

•   Marty Burns—Planning and Zoning Commission, Internet Commission

•   Bill Buehrer—Police Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission

•   Wayne Hooper—Senior Center Liaison, Planning and Zoning Commission backup, Internet Commission backup

•   Wes Hamrick—Main Street Liaison, Thurmont Addictions Commission

Everly Zecher experiences her first snowfall! Her mom, Sam Zecher said, “From inside the house looking out, Everly definitely loved watching the first snowfall of the season. Yet, once she was in it…definitely not a fan! Like most of us with 2020 as a whole.”

We saw our first significant snowfall of the season on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Here were some local accumulations based on measurements submitted to the National Weather Service: Sabillasville—12.1 inches; Emmitsburg—10 inches; Thurmont—6.0 inches; Woodsboro—5 inches; Point of Rocks—5.8 inches;  Frederick—9,4 inches. Did you measure your snow?

James Rada, Jr.

With the State of Maryland encouraging people to stay in and reducing the ability of businesses to operate, Christmas was sadder than usual this year. However, at least one of the two vaccines against COVID-19 was expected to be approved and starting to be administered by this month.

As of December 19, Frederick County has had 9,380 cases of COVID-19, and 160 deaths from the virus. The Frederick County Health Department also reports cases, but not deaths, by zip code.

Locally, here’s how things look by zip code:





Rocky Ridge—37

Looking at the county data on December 19, it showed that hospitalizations from COVID-19 were up from their peak in May, but ICU hospitalizations were down. This seems to indicate that although more people were getting sick enough to go to the hospital, fewer cases were critical.

Getting Tested

If you are interested in getting tested for COVID-19, you have various options in Frederick County.

Frederick Health Hospital offers curbside testing at Frederick Health Village behind the Walmart on Monocacy Boulevard, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily. Testing is done using a nasopharyngeal swab. The health department will phone you with your results and notify the state health department of any positive cases.

The health department is also providing community testing sites. The locations and dates vary, but you can find out information on the Frederick County Health Department website or local government websites. Testing at these sites is primarily done using a nasopharyngeal swab, but oropharyngeal or anterior nasal swabs may be available depending on supplies.

Pixel by LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics offer at-home test kits. You can get more information from their websites.

Stay Safe

Remember to stay safe, particularly if you are an at-risk population, such as an elderly person or someone who is immunocompromised. Even if you aren’t in an at-risk group but worry about catching the virus, stay home as much as possible, and get tested if you think you have come into contact with the virus.

Also, having COVID-19 is not a death sentence. The current best estimates from the Centers for Disease Control show the percentage of people who have coronavirus and survive in the following age groups:

0-19 years old—99.997 percent

20-49 years old—99.98 percent

50-69 years old—99.5 percent

70+ years old—94.6 percent

As more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 or recover from the virus, the hope is that we will soon reach a point where the virus loses its hold on us, and we can begin recovering from the other damages coronavirus has done to Frederick County…and everywhere.

Helpful Websites:

Pixel by LabCorp —

Quest Diagnostics —

Frederick Health Hospital —

Frederick Co. Health Dept. —

Blair Garrett

New Year’s resolution goals seem strange. Why is the turning of the page of a calendar year going to be the vehicle for you making positive changes in your life? More often than not, the ticking of the last column of the date is not enough to continue motivating yourself to stick to your new goal.

Common goals include losing weight, kicking bad habits, and advancing in your career. While those are all very achievable goals, they can seem overwhelming and tiring without the proper structure to reach them. 

The following top 10 New Year’s resolutions that people make probably look familiar to you—maybe you’ve chosen one or more of these resolutions over the years: (1) Exercise more; (2) Lose weight; (3) Get organized; (4) Learn a new skill or hobby; (5) Live life to the fullest (not sure how you can measure that one!); (6) Save more money/spend less money; (7) Quit smoking; (8) Spend more time with family and friends; (9) Travel more; (10) Read more.

The truth is, there’s never a bad time to set a goal for yourself. After all, if you’re not moving forward, you’re only moving backward. So, while the famed New Year’s resolution goals can seem hollow and gimmicky, that doesn’t mean you should shirk your personal duties to better yourself in some facet of your life.

The easiest way to stick to a goal is to start small. Setting small, manageable, daily challenges that you can build on give you a feasible route to accomplishing the bigger goal that you’re really looking for.

Think about it this way. To get to the second story of the mall, you aren’t taking one giant Stretch Armstrong step to the next floor right out of the gate, you’re taking small, bite-sized steps to reach your destination. This applies in the same fashion to an exercise goal or kicking that unhealthy habit.

Instead of waking up non-caffeinated and overworked and crushing a 5K, you take time each day to work toward the big run. Maybe the first day starts with you doing a lap around your neighborhood, and by the end of the week, you’re already passing a mile.

Instead of going cold turkey on your portable IV of Diet Coke, you substitute it with an apple juice, and then a Vitamin Water, and then your beverage you rely on for survival but avoid like the plague: regular water.

The point is, reaching goals is daunting when you’re staring at the top of the mountain. But when you focus on your first base camp, and then your next stop on the journey, things don’t seem so impossible.

Focus on making that daily goal, and at the end of the day, be proud of what you’ve accomplished and excited about the next challenge. The important part is just showing up. Remember that change is a process. The only limitations you have in the world are the ones you place on yourself. You can do it, and as long as you have the right attitude and the commitment and determination, you can reach any goal you can dream.

Blair Garrett

For many of us, winter can feel like the longest time of the year.

With cold weather, snowfall, and shorter days highlighting the chilly months of the year, it can be a struggle to motivate yourself to find something new and fun to do to help fight those winter blues.  

During our proverbial “hibernation months,” food consumption is at an all-time high, and the tendency to avoid the cold weather and veg out is all too familiar for most of us. But hope is not lost, as there are endless ways to break free of those winter blues and into a great new hobby or activity.

While most travel is on hold from the ongoing pandemic, finding exciting things to do is only limited to your own creativity. Whether it’s braving the outdoors, discovering a new hidden talent, or finishing a project you’ve been meaning to do for a long time, you are sure to find the perfect fix to boredom with just a nudge in the right direction.

1. Picking up a Winter Sport

Scorching down a steep mountain at record speeds may not be for everyone but, fortunately, there are a ton of great resources to help you navigate picking up a new winter sport that you think you would like to try. Skiing and snowboarding has gained tremendous popularity in the last decade, and there are excellent local options where you can take lessons from experienced instructors from now until March, as long as the weather cooperates.

Ski Liberty, Ski Roundtop, and Whitetail are all excellent venues to begin a challenging new hobby. And with dozens of slopes of varying difficulty, there’s a comfortable fit for just about anyone.

If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other wintertime exercise options to get you moving. Ice skating and figure skating are easier on your joints, and they provide you with a cheaper route to go that you can continue working on throughout the warmer months via local indoor ice rinks.

2. Cooking/Baking

There is no better time of the year for cookies and the like than during the holiday season.

The art of cooking and baking is something all of us have to take part in at some point, and a cold winter amidst a global pandemic seems like a fitting time to improve upon an indoor skill you may not have brushed up on before.

An easy place to start is bread baking. Sourdough starter kits are wildly popular, and with more people taking on a new frontier in the world of bread, awesome recipes have never been more accessible. Everyone’s day would be a little brighter with more people making great sourdough.

Everyone needs to eat, so the ability to put together a delicious, complex meal or something as simple as a tasty chocolate chip cookie is tremendously valuable. Plus, having something to share with family and friends is always a huge bonus.

Though Christmas is over, plan for next year and start perfecting your baking skills. The importance of a good batch of sugar cookies cannot be overstated. Fortunately, once grandma’s famous recipe is perfected, annual holiday cookies can be a hit year after year.

3. Meat Smoking

Meat smokers are not just for your favorite barbecue restaurant anymore, personal smokers are now widely available and easier than ever to operate.

With the huge population of hunters locally and hunting season scattered throughout the winter, fresh deer meat and other game is common for people to store.

There are tons of great wood-pellet smokers that range anywhere from a small operation to adjusting temperatures and heat from an app on your phone. Smoking meats opens a new spectrum of possibilities when it comes to the flavors you can develop through smoking.

While it’s not the cheapest hobby you’ll ever have, the results from smoking your own meats will revolutionize the way you cook.

4. Snowball Fights

While this outdoor activity is snow-dependent, there is nothing more fun than slinging chunks of snow at your family and friends. The more family-friendly option is building snowmen or snow forts, which is another perfect way to spend a snow day.

This winter’s total snow accumulation has already eclipsed last year’s, so there may just be plenty more opportunities to find yourself on the receiving end of a snowball hurtling toward you.

The year 2020 was not an ideal situation from start to finish, but in 2021, there are numerous ways to find yourself wrapped up in a fulfilling new hobby. So, don’t be afraid to take a chance on pushing yourself with a fun, new challenge this winter season.

5. Make a Movie and Book List

Wintertime is a perfect time to take to reading those books you’ve been meaning to for so long but just haven’t gotten to. Maybe challenge yourself to read all the classics over the cold, winter months. Maybe you usually confine your book choices to only fiction; it’s a good time to switch that up. Think of a topic that you’ve always wanted to learn more about, and pick a non-fiction book about that subject. Not only will you combat the winter blues, but you’ll be smarter come springtime!

Always wish you had more time to watch movies? Well, the cold, dark days of winter are the best time to sit down, get comfy, wrap up in a soft blanket, and watch a good movie. Like to laugh? Google good comedies to watch. It’s been shown that humor relieves stress. Get lost in a good movie for two hours and get a little escape from reality.

So, grab a pen and a piece of paper and get working on your movie and book list for this winter.

6. Start a Home Project

While you may be thinking: How is doing home projects considered fun? Well, maybe it’s not as exciting as skiing down a steep mountain or as relaxing as watching a good movie, but it has its perks. Starting a home project and seeing it to completion gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment—something we could all use during the deary winter months.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to clean out those over-packed closets. Start with one and work your way through the house. Set a pile aside of items you can donate.

Keet putting off painting those rooms that have been on your “to-do list”? Wintertime is a great time to paint. Maybe try a whole different color theme.

Other home projects to tackle could be organizing your filing cabinet, going through old papers and figuring out what you can shred, and cleaning out your garage.

Will Heurich captures the peak of a snow-capped mountain in Telluride, Colorado. 

Skiers and snowboarders find solace blazing trails in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

The Catoctin Banner

The Chronicle Press in Emmitsburg has a solid history of publishing newspapers. Ironically, The Catoctin Banner can trace its roots there as well. Under the management of Art Elder, the Chronicle Press published an ad flier called The Banner for several years prior to the publication’s transfer to Lori Smith Zentz. Lori took over the layout and publication of the piece and gave it a new mission with her first edition published in June of 1995. Lori said, “I was so excited when Art Elder at the Chronicle Press offered me the paper.”

According to Lori, Bo Cadle was asked to take over The Banner, but he declined and referred Art to Lori. Lori had become acquainted with Bo when submitting information for the community newspaper he published for Emmitsburg residents, The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch.

At the time, Lori was leaving a job with the Y to start her own marketing and promotions company at home. It was her dream to be able to publish a newspaper.

Though The Banner was a publication originating in Emmitsburg, with the transfer to Lori, she focused on Thurmont to compliment Bo’s coverage. Her mission statement read: “To provide a friendly source of community news and information for residents of Thurmont and surrounding communities; and to promote a sense of community pride and spirit.”

Initially, The Banner was basically a newsletter of eight pages. It swiftly grew to 20 pages. Then, when it changed to a larger newsprint format with the January 1997 edition, the page count averaged about 16 pages. It was spot color blue print throughout the publication.

Lori said, “In 1995, we didn’t have the internet the way that we have the internet now. Things were not easily found. You had to make phone calls and read newspapers, and research by going to the library. Now, we’ve grown and everything is digital, but people still enjoy picking up a newspaper and reading.”

The Catoctin Banner

With the June 2000 edition, the publication’s name was changed to The Catoctin Banner, and the coverage area grew to include the region that it still covers today.

Lori was featuring some quality writers who provided engaging content, while community groups and citizens shared their good news to be published. George W. Wireman was a well-known local historian in Thurmont. He joined the Banner after the Glade Times and Mountain Mirror newspaper in Walkersville, where he was a journalist, closed. He wrote the “Roving Ron and Traveling Terri,” the “Then and Now,” and the “This and That” columns. “George Wireman was such a good advocate and helpful resource for The Banner,” said Lori.

Anne W. Cissel, representing the Thurmont Historical Society, wrote the “Thurmont Scrapbook” column and Christine Maccabee wrote “Short Essays in Human Nature.”

Even as a small community newspaper, The Catoctin Banner saw its share of national action. Thurmont Elementary School was the media hub for the Israeli Peace Talks at Camp David in 2000. There, Lori and George met reporters from all over the world.

Lori went to the White House to report the local Challenger League playing baseball on the White House lawn. She had a tour of Marine One. Her then-school-aged daughter, Taylor, went along as her junior reporter and wrote about the experience for school. Lori said, “Little Thurmont was making such big news!”

After the transition of the newspaper to Deb Abraham Spalding with the October 2007 edition, Lori retired form her career in marketing and communications. She took six years off to volunteer, take care of her kids, and help at her husband’s business. She now serves as an administrative assistant at Catoctin High School, where part of her duties includes publishing the CHS bi-weekly newsletter.

Lori said, “I’m excited that it’s [The Catoctin Banner] been around for 25 years, and that Deb is still staying true to the original mission. I really wanted to help the community to see the good.”

Our Contributors

Lori published The Catoctin Banner as a one-person operation with some paid writers. When Deb took over in October of 2007, The Catoctin Banner became a project of her E Plus Graphics business in Emmitsburg. She worked hard to grow it. It was, and still is, direct-mailed to households in zip codes 21788, 21778, 21727, 21780, and 21719. Free copies are put out for pickup in Taneytown, Keymar, Woodsboro, Smithsburg, and north Frederick in Maryland; and Blue Ridge Summit, Rouzerville, Waynesboro, and Fairfield in Pennsylvania.

Deb inherited a number of key people in the transition from Lori. George Wireman stayed on to write “This and That” until his death in January 2012. A number of other volunteers and writers merged to form a diverse Banner Team including Jim Houck, Jr.; Theresa Dardanell; Michele Cuseo; Carie Stafford; Aaron J. Heiner; Joseph Kirchner; Christine O’Connor; and many others who have since moved on to other endeavors, but may still contribute from time to time.

John Nickerson, a.k.a. Gnarly Artly, our cartoonist, created our full-color Banner masthead logo. He even created different versions of it for different seasons.

Current staff and contributors have been steadfast in their commitment to the community and the team. They include James Rada, Jr., contributing writer and editor; Michele Tester, managing editor and layout design; Maxine Troxell, webmaster and “Taste of the Past” columnist; Blair Garrett, contributing writer and multimedia manager; Barbara Abraham, editor and distributor; Jeanne Angleberger, “Health Jeanne” columnist; Jack Davis, distributor; Anita DiGregory, “Catoctin Kids” columnist; Joan Fry, contributing writer and distributor; Ava Morlier, “Culinary Student” columnist; Ana Morlier, “Gardening Gangster” columnist; Dr. Thomas Lo, “Ask Dr. Lo” columnist; Christine Maccabee, “On The Wild Side” colunmist; John Nickerson, cartoon artist; Valerie Nusbaum, “Happily Ever After” columnist; Priscilla Rall, “Veteran Spotlight” columnist; Buck Reed, “Supermarket Gourmet” columnist; and Denise Valentine, “Tickling Our Tastebuds” columnist.

The main person who made a huge difference for Deb was Grace Eyler. She started working at E Plus in 2008, soon after graduating from Catoctin High School. Grace learned the graphic design skills that Deb knew, and then passed Deb’s skills and speed. Many know Grace as the face of E Plus Graphics and Promotions, where she now serves as the manager.

The Catoctin Banner Newzine

In 2008, The Catoctin Banner became full-color. Printing technology had advanced to the point that it was affordable to do so. After Deb and team launched a magazine project that failed, The Catoctin Banner was reformatted to include some of the elements of the magazine. In June 2019, the first Catoctin Banner Newzine was published. This change included a full-page photo on the front cover and layout styles that were less news format and more magazine. The newzine format is still being used.

Michele Tester is The Catoctin Banner’s layout artist. She has incorporated styles and design elements that make reading more fun. Every month she begins with a blank slate and somehow, she creates a finished project that really deserves recognition and praise.

Banner Advertisers

The Catoctin Banner exists because of its advertisers! We are so grateful. Without them, there would be no Banner! The costs of publishing have increased 300 percent from 2007 to 2020. Every month, games are included in The Catoctin Banner in order to draw the reader’s attention to the advertisers. Hot links to advertisers’ web addresses take the online reader to the advertiser’s website when they click on an ad. Reminders to “visit our advertisers’ businesses and mention that you saw their ad in The Catoctin Banner when you do” are included throughout every edition.

With that said, there are several advertisers who have been on board with The Catoctin Banner from the first edition, and there are advertisers who have advertised since Deb took over in 2007. These advertisers are the base that allow us to publish.

As a thank you to advertisers, as long as they don’t break their agreement—whether it be a continuous advertising commitment or a six-month contract—their rates have not been raised…for as many as 13 years!

Here are the advertisers who have been on board since at least 2007: J&B Real Estate; Pondscapes; Catoctin Mountain Spa & Tub; Catoctin Veterinary Clinic; Main Street Groomers; Catoctin Mountain Orchard; Rich Shank, now with Shank and Associates; Mountain View Lawn Service; Marie’s Beauty Salon; Main Street Upholstery; Bill’s Auto Body, now D&J Auto Body and Towing; Mike’s Auto Body; Nails By Anne; and Hillside Turkey Farms.

Turn the page to see who the longest running, continuous advertiser is!

J&B Real Estate has been advertising continuously since July 1995!

In the very first edition in 1995, it’s interesting to note that Dr. John Hagemann of Catoctin Chiropractic in Thurmont (now Center of Life Chiropractic), Peking Palace, and Nationwide Insurance (Zentz Insurance in Thurmont) are the only advertisers who are still in business.

These advertisers have never stopped advertising since signing up: Nutritional Healing Center; Affordable Self Storage; Baker Tree Service; C&K Grooming; Capital Womens Care of Frederick; Carriage House Inn; Catoctin Church of Christ; Catoctin Mountain Flooring; Complete Automotive; Craigs Mower & Marine; Delphey Construction; Denny Brown Custom Painting; Doug’s Auto; East Park Automotive; Emmitsburg Tattoo Company; Frederick County Chimney Sweeps; Gary The Barber; Gateway Automotive; Gene’s Towing; Getz Computers & Communications; Graceham Moravian Church; Harriet Chapel; Here’s Clydes; Hessong Bridge Contractors; His Place; KLS Home Improvements; Lawyer’s Automotive; Little Moore Realty; Long & Foster, Taylor Huffman Team; McLaughlin’s Heating Oils & LP Gas; Melissa Wetzel, CPA; Mick’s Plumbing & Heating; Nusbaum & Ott Painting; Ott House Pub; The Palms Restaurant; Quality Tire & Auto; ReMax, Kim Clever; Scenic View Orchard; Senior Benefits Services; Slater & Slater PC; Spike’s Auto Care; Squeaky Clean; and Tracy’s Auto Repair.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your commitment to the mission and the community!

The Favorites

Over the years, a number of columns have come and gone. Deb wrote a “Who Am I?” column for five years. In it, clues about a mystery person were given, and readers would call in their guesses. The next month, an article would answer the clues. The person who garnered the most guesses, by far, was Donald Lewis of Thurmont. Later, James Rada, Jr. wrote a Veterans Day cover article in 2014 about Mr. Lewis’ active military service during the coordinated D-Day attack on German forces at Normandy, France. This was one of our most popular articles.

In addition to his military service, Mr. Lewis served a variety of roles in our communities. He and his wife, Freda, owned a business on the square in Thurmont for many years. He served as Thurmont’s mayor and as a Frederick County commissioner.

The Bessie Darling Murder and the Raid on the Blue Blazes Still were popular historic topics. George Wireman and Spencer Watson both wrote versions of the Bessie Darling Murder, and George Wireman wrote about the Blue Blazes Still Raid.

Though there is not one standout in the “Spotlight” column that Theresa Dardanell wrote for several years, this was a special column that helped us appreciate church congregations, EMS and fire companies, and public service organizations.

Valerie Nusbaum’s “Happily Ever After” column receives the most expressed acknowledgement with emails and comments. She is humorous and often makes correlations that hit home. She makes it easier to know we’re all in this community together.

The Catoctin Banner now showcases a lot of quality content, from history and current events by Jim Rada, Jr. to cooking and baking with Denise Valentine, Buck Reed, Maxine Troxell, and now Ava Morlier, or environmental awareness with Christine Maccabee. Our writers are greatly appreciated and valuable to our community.

We hope we haven’t missed anyone in expressing our history and our thanks. But, when you start naming names, it’s easy to do, so please forgive us.

Thanks to all who send in good news, share photos, or contribute in any way to this project. We all work together to celebrate the good things, good people, and fabulous history of the Northern Frederick County Region. You’re the best! Cheers to 25 years!

Members of the Banner Team are shown in front of the E Plus Store at 1 E. Main Street in Emmitsburg. Some are photoshopped in the photo (obviously). From left (standing) Buck Reed, Supermarket Gourmet; Ava Morlier, Stories From A Culinary Student; Ana Morlier, Gardening Gangster; Jeanne Angleberger, Health Jeanne; Anita DiGregory, Catoctin Kids; Blair Garrett, Writer & Multimedia Manager; Maxine Troxell, Webmaster & Taste of the Past; and Valerie Nusbaum, Happily Ever After; (seated, top to bottom) John Nickerson, Gnarly Artly Cartoonist; Gracie Eyler, Advertising Sales & Design; Deb Abraham Spalding, Publisher; and James Rada, Jr., Contributing Editor. Not pictured: Michele Tester, Managing Editor & Layout Designer; Barbara Abraham, Editor  & Distributor; Jack Davis, Distributor; Joan Fry, Contributor & Distributor; Dr. Thomas Lo, Ask Dr. Lo; Christine Maccabee, On The Wild Side; Priscilla Rall, Veteran Spotlight; and Denise Valentine, Tickling Our Tastebuds.

The late George Wireman was a long-time writer for The Catoctin Banner. He also wrote for several other newspapers. He was Thurmont’s honorary resident historian, a local WTHU radio broadcaster, a volunteer conductor for the Walkersville Southern Railroad, and quite a character to know. He took great pride in building a huge model railroad display that was housed in his basement. Every December, he hosted a model train display open house at his house in Thurmont. For the past several years, a model railroad display has been available in Thurmont, and this year it will be located in the Thurmont Plaza Shopping Center at 224 N. Church Street, Ste C, on select days in December. This is a courtesy of the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers. See the Holiday Train Display ad in this edition.

Taken from a December 1995 Banner Newspaper, adjusted for this printing.

Local model railroad enthusiast George Wireman would welcome the public to his house every December to see his model railroad set up. George was a long-time lover of trains, an interest he credits to his dad. “My dad worked for the Western Maryland Railroad. I guess that’s where I got the bug.” It probably helped, too, that George was a frequent railroad traveler. In 1939 and 1940, George attended Hagerstown Business College and would catch the train every morning in Thurmont and every evening after school in Hagerstown.

George’s model railroad setup, called the “Monocacy Valley,” was named after the railroad of the same name, a steam engine that ran from Frederick to Thurmont and was a branch of the Washington-Frederick-Gettysburg Railway.

George took his model railroad very seriously. It took up nearly his entire basement and included a mountain, representing Catoctin Mountain, that was three-feet high and eight-feet long with a tunnel for the train line. There was also a bridge over a canyon that took George three months to complete. “I could have put the bridge together in one night, but I decided to haul each piece of ‘lumber’ for the bridge on one of the freight trains. I then used a model crane to lower each piece of lumber—made it more fun that way.”

The model railroad had two running lines of track, with various switches along the route to send the train into the railyard or onto a different track. His collection of trains included over one hundred freight cars; five different sets of passenger cars, including replicas of the Western Maryland Railroad and popular Amtrak; and numerous old-type coaches and locomotives.

What made the “Monocacy Valley” railroad even more interesting was the village in-between the lines of track. You’d find a vast array of familiar businesses, people, cars, trucks, and even an airport complete with planes and a terminal tower. George explained that “the village is not modeled after a particular community; instead, it pertains to things of my lifetime,” such as The Cozy Inn, where he used to be a host; Zentz Chevrolet-Buick because he used to go to school with Carroll Zentz; Nations Bank, where George did his banking; the WTHU radio tower, representing his involvement with our local radio station; a building for the Glade-Times Mirror, for whom George was a journalist; and even one for The Catoctin Banner since he also wrote for it.

You would see Hobb’s Hardware, the Thurmont Co-op, the police station, fire station, and even a very special Eisenhower memorial, built because of George’s fondness for this former president. There were billboards along the railroad and throughout the village to advertise local establishments, such as Hoffman’s Market, Kountry Kitchen, and the (then) Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies.

There was so much to enjoy about George’s railroad that it was a must-see event.

George said, “I thoroughly enjoy working on the railroad; the work is never done. It’s a barrel of fun for me, and I enjoy sharing it with others.”

Maybe George’s railroad will put the railroad “bug” into someone else.

Blair Garrett

For frontline workers, the approach to each workday remains the same. While the world changes rapidly around us with global pandemics and novel vaccines, the essential workers who have put the time in day after day have realized a new normal.

It’s going on ten months since COVID-19 reached the United States, and there is still not quite an end in sight. When put in situations of great adversity, individuals find ways to adjust to survive or push past a difficult time. It’s been a period of great challenge for an entire nation and beyond, from top to bottom.

Yet, the people who continue to provide the rest of us with essential services head to work every day with the same attitude. Just keep going, and one day we won’t need so many limitations, precautions, and restrictions on where we can go. But until then, the reality is that we don’t know who could have the virus, and we don’t know its long-term effects. People who have to work through this situation have to take a risk each day, and that can be tough to manage when you don’t know how it’s all going to play out.

“At first, it was scary,” UPS Driver Alex Serpi recalled. “We really didn’t know what was going on.” But like the rest of the essential workers, Serpi found a new normal in an abnormal world. “After a couple of months of it, we became numb to it,” he said.

Had the panic of the pandemic ended in early summer like many anticipated, we would be looking back on the chaos that was the start of 2020 with strong disdain. Unfortunately, it has dragged on throughout the rest of the year, and it’s now been long enough to make what was at one point a brief nightmare feel like just another day.

“Now, it’s the same situation because we’re tired and numb from it,” Serpi said. “There’s an unknown to it. The sentiment of a new, masked normal has permeated our everyday lives. “Where we’re going, who we’re seeing, what’s going to happen. You get to the point where you become desensitized to it.”  

We are now heading into winter with our hopes set for spring for small businesses, bars, restaurants, and even sports to return to the old normal. This winter will be more of the same social distancing, masks, and limited-capacity public spaces. Still, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, even if we haven’t seen much of it this year.

The notion of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is something grocery store workers, in particular, have had to deal with throughout 2020. At Jubilee Foods, Margaret Burns has effectively navigated the scary unknown that followed the initial pandemic announcement what feels like an eternity ago.

“In 35 years of me working in retail, I’ve never experienced anything of this magnitude,” Burns said. “We just went at it head-on, tried to listen to the information and take it one day at a time.”   

No matter what happens, everywhere from small mountain towns to big cities will keep plugging away because of the efforts and consistency of those who connect with the public every day. 

The ‘just keep swimming’ approach from millions of Americans in essential business has been admirable, and they certainly have not received enough recognition for it.

Whether you are a frontline worker who deals with the public on a day-to-day basis, or you have family or friends who do, we all need to be mindful and appreciative of these everyday heroes whose continued efforts provide the country with things they need to keep a sense of normalcy alive.

“You just keep it going; that’s all you can do,” Serpi expressed. We all need to just keep it going, and eventually, businesses and individuals affected by this situation most will be back on their feet.

In these current challenging times, it is sometimes painstakingly difficult to find a reason to smile. Yet, in truth, you really don’t need to look far. It is actually the simplest things that bring us the most joy. U.K. healthcare group Bupa sponsored a survey that asked 2,000 people what brought them happiness. Below are the top 21 feel-good results. How many do you agree with?

1.     Sleeping in a freshly made bed

2.     Feeling the sun on your face

3.     People saying “thank you” or a random act of kindness from a stranger

4.     Finding money in unexpected places

5.     Having time to myself

6.     Laughing so hard it hurts

7.     Snuggling on the sofa with a loved one

8.     Freshly made bread

9.     Doing something for others

10.    The clean feeling after a shower

11.    When your favorite song comes on the radio

12.    Finding a bargain in the sales

13.    Listening to the rainfall/thunderstorms when you’re inside

14.    Freshly brewed tea/coffee

15.    The thrill of personal achievement

16.    Having a long, hot bath

17.    Seeing a fresh coating of snow

18.    Freshly cut grass

19.    Chocolate melting in your mouth

20.    Doing something active outdoors (e.g. bike ride, run, country walk)

21.    Smell of bacon cooking in the morning


James Rada, Jr.

While the national election may be tied up in the courts for some time yet, the results for Frederick County are clear. Most people stayed home and voted for Joe Biden as President of the United States.

While President Donald Trump commanded large leads in the early voting and Election Day totals, more than three times as many people voted for Biden over Trump by mail. The final tally in the county was 61,692 votes for Trump and 73,491 votes for Biden (44.3% vs. 52.8%). The Libertarian, Green, and Bread and Roses parties also picked up 3,050 votes in the county.

For our U.S. Representative in District 8, Frederick County went for Republican Gregory Coll (57.2%) over Democrat Jamie Raskin (42.6%). However, the district covers more than Frederick County, and Raskin, the incumbent, won re-election.

Other county races included:

Board of Education (Vote for 3)

Sue Johnson (21.5%)

Jason “Mr. J.” Johnson (16.3%)

David Bass (15.1%)

Rae M. Gallagher (14.6%)

Lois Jarman (13.9%)

Dean Rose (13.8%)

Judge of the Circuit Court—Theresa M. Adams (97.7%), Others (2.3%)

Judge, Court of Special Appeals At Large—E. Gregory Wells to Continue, Yes (86.6%), No (13.4%)

Judge, Court of Special Appeals—Kathryn Grill Graeff to Continue, Yes (86.2%), No (13.8%)

Local Ballot Questions

All four county ballot questions concerned charter amendments, and all four passed with more than 75 percent approval.

Local Charter Amendment A: Council Non-interference

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to require the County Executive to provide any information that is requested by an individual County Council member that is for the purpose of introducing and evaluating legislation or to engage in the review and monitoring of Government programs, activities, and policy implementation.

Local Charter Amendment B: Borrowing limitations

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to reduce the percentage of assessable property the County can pledge from debt from 5 to 3 percent of assessable real property, and from 15 to 9 percent of assessable personal property.

Local Charter Amendment C: County Council Special Elections

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to provide that the County Council shall fill a vacancy on the Council by choosing one of three persons from a list submitted by the central committee of the same political party as the vacating member. If no list is submitted or the vacating member was not a member of a political party, the Council shall appoint a person it deems best qualified to hold office. If the Council fails to fill the vacancy within 45 days, the County Executive shall fill the vacancy by following the same procedure. All persons considered for appointment shall be presented to the public and shall be interviewed by either the Council or Executive, allowing for public comment, prior to appointment. If the vacancy occurs in the first year of the vacating member’s term, after a person is appointed to temporarily fill the vacancy, a special election will be held to elect and fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.

Local Charter Amendment D: County Executive Special Elections

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to provide a process to fill a vacancy in the position of County Executive. The County Council shall fill a vacancy of the Executive by choosing one of three persons from a list submitted by the central committee of the same political party as the vacating Executive. If no list is submitted or the vacating Executive was not a member of a political party, the Council shall appoint a person it deems best qualified to hold office.  If the Council fails to fill the vacancy within 45 days, the Council shall appoint the County’s Chief Administrative Officer. All persons considered for appointment shall be presented to the public and shall be interviewed, allowing for public comment, prior to appointment. If the vacancy occurs in the first year of the vacating Executive’s term, after a person is appointed to temporarily fill the vacancy, a special election will be held to elect and fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.