Currently viewing the category: "Featured Articles"

James Rada, Jr.

It was supposed to be the first day of spring on March 21. Instead, the region got snow, probably more snow than we saw all winter—when it’s actually supposed to snow—and it continued snowing into the second day of spring. Schools were closed. Events were canceled. There were lots of accidents.

One accident that got some national exposure was the school bus crash on MD 77, shortly before 4:00 p.m. on March 20. The driver lost control of the vehicle, about a mile west of Pryor Road. The bus veered off the winding road into Big Hunting Creek.

Luckily, the driver wasn’t injured, and no children were on the bus at the time. The bus was damaged, though, and MD 77 had to be closed. Traffic was detoured while the bus was pulled out of the creek.

Having lived on the mountain in Foxville while growing up, The Catoctin Banner Publisher Deb Abraham Spalding said, “It’s not uncommon to have more snow on the mountain than in the lower areas. This makes school bus navigation tricky for bus drivers who drive the mountain. My bus drivers, brothers Glenn DeLauter (late) and Paul DeLauter, used chains when I was riding the bus, and we still got stuck, sometimes.” Also, Shirley and Frank Riffle drove us for sporting events in all sorts of weather.

She reminisced, “For the longest time, I believed my father when he said he had four kids so he could weigh down the station wagon to make it up the mountain in snow. I survived many memorably terrifying adventures in the back of that station wagon, while Dad yelled, ‘Hang on!’ as he gunned the engine and fish-tailed the vehicle up to our house on Tower Road. I can laugh about that now, and I’m sure many people can relate.”

This school bus accident was just one of hundreds of accidents that occurred in Frederick County during the spring snow. Northern Frederick County didn’t get as much snow, in general, as the rest of the county and points west, but it was enough to cause plenty of problems. The mountain roads definitely presented more than their usual obstacles, and all of them had to be closed at some point, including Rt. 116 to Blue Ridge Summit and MD 550 to Sabillasville.

The National Weather Service put the snow totals for many places in the county at more than 20 inches, but Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick said Thurmont got 11 inches.

The heavy snow also brought down power lines in some areas. The Maryland State Highway Administration confirmed that besides the MD 77 closure due to the crash, MD 550 was closed an hour later due to a utility pole coming down.

Emmitsburg and Thurmont were able to keep their roads cleared better since their crews are not as spread out as county and state crews. Humerick said that in Thurmont, besides having full public works crews plowing during the day, nine employees stayed overnight to try and keep up with plowing Thurmont’s roads.

“We concentrated on the main roads first and then worked our way back to clearing the cul de sacs,” Humerick said. “Our guys took extra care to try and make sure that they didn’t plow anyone’s driveway in.”

After two days of snow, the sun came out, and temperatures warmed up enough that the snow began to melt, helping to clear the roads even more, and to raise hopes that spring is truly on the way.

Andrea and Tommy Webb’s dog, Sadie, was just as surprised by the spring snow as we all were.

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.

This is an election year that will offer residents choices in county, state, and federal races. Here is a list of the candidates running in Northern Frederick County. If you have questions about registering to vote, the ballot, or other election-related questions, call the Frederick County Board of Elections at 301- 600-VOTE or visit

County Offices

County Executive: Kathy Afzali – Republican ( • Kirby Delauter – Republican ( • Regina M. Williams – Republican ( • Jan H. Gardner – Democratic (; County Council At Large: Philip Dacey – Republican ( • Danny Farrar – Republican ( • Justin M. Kiska – Republican ( • Jason Miller – Republican ( • Galen R. Clagett – Democratic ( • Kavonte Duckett – Democratic ( • Kai John Hagen – Democratic ( • Susan Reeder Jessee – Democratic ( • Mark Long – Democratic (www.MARKLONG.US) • Bud Otis – Unaffiliated (General Election Only) (; County Council District 5: Michael Blue – Republican ( • William M. Valentine – Republican ( • Shannon Bohrer – Democratic (; State’s Attorney: Charlie Smith – Republican (; Clerk of the Circuit Court: Sandra K. Dalton – Republican ( • Megan LeRoux – Democratic (; Register of Wills: Sharon Keller – Republican ( • Melissa Atherholt – Democratic (; Judge of the Orphan’s Court: Douglas D. Browning – Republican ( • Gloria Lynn Lewis – Republican ( • Mary Rolle – Republican ( • Nate Wilson – Republican ( • John Daniels – Democratic ( • Bonnie L. Nicholson – Democratic ( • Eugene N. Sheppard – Democratic (; Sheriff: Chuck Jenkins – Republican ( • Karl Bickel – Democratic (; Democratic Central Committee Female: Lauren Beacham – Democratic ( • Deborah Carter – Democratic ( • Maggi Hays – Democratic ( • Renee Knapp – Democratic ( • Mari Lee – Democratic ( • Mary Caroline Milam – Democratic ( • Deborah Reynolds – Democratic ( • Kaitlynn Sumpter – Democratic; Democratic Central Committee Male: Antonio Bowens – Democratic ( • Josh Cramer – Democratic • Thomas Stratton Gill – Democratic ( • Christopher Izzo – Democratic ( • William “Billy” Reid – Democratic ( • Thomas Gordon Slater – Democratic ( • Jay B. Smathers – Democratic ( • Tony Soltero – Democratic ( • Michael L. Sowell – Democratic ( • Gene Stanton – Democratic (; Republican Central Committee: Jeremy Darius Abbott – Republican ( • Kathy Afzali – Republican ( • Clayton Robert Boone – Republican ( • Barrie S. Ciliberti – Republican ( • Pamela Ciliberti – Republican ( • Dan Cox – Republican ( • Karen Dacey – Republican ( • Michael D. Hill – Republican ( • Joeylynn Hough – Republican ( • Cynthia Houser – Republican • Daniel J. Keller – Republican ( • Angela Ariel McIntosh – Republican • Connie Onspaugh – Republican • Joe Parsley – Republican • David J. Perez – Republican ( • Jesse T. Pippy – Republican ( • Mary Rolle – Republican ( • Billy Shreve – Republican ( • Carl C. Thomas, Jr. – Republican • Cynthia G. Trout – Republican (; Board of Education: Liz Barrett ( • Jonah Seth EisenbergMarie Fischer-Wyrick ( • Edison Joseph Hatter ( • Jay Mason ( • April Fleming Miller ( • Chaz Packan ( • Camden Raynor ( • Cindy Rose ( • Masai M. Troutman ( • Kim L. Williams ( • Karen Yoho ( • Brad W. Young (


State Offices

Governor / Lt. Governor: Larry Hogan / Boyd K. Rutherford – Republican ( • Rushern L. Baker III / Elizabeth Embry – Democratic ( • Ralph Jaffe / Freda Jaffe – Democratic ( • Ben Jealous / Susan Turnbull – Democratic ( • James Hugh Jones II / Charles S. Waters – Democratic ( • Kevin Jamenetz / Valerie Ervin – Democratic ( • Rich Madaleno /Luwanda Jenkins – Democratic ( • Alec Ross / Julie C. Verratti – Democratic ( • Jim Shea / Brandon M. Scott – Democratic ( • Krish O’Mara Vignarajah / Sharon Y. Blake – Democratic ( • Shawn Quinn / Christina Smith – Libertarian ( (Nominated by Party but appearing in General Election only) • Ian Schlakman / Annie Chambers – Green ( (Nominated by Party but appearing in General Election only); Comptroller: Anjali Reed Phukan – Republican ( • Peter Franchot – Democratic (; Attorney General: Craig Wolf – Republican ( • Brian E. Frosh – Democratic (; State Senator District 4: Michael Hough – Republican ( • Jessica Douglass – Democratic ( • Sabrina Massett – Democratic (; House of Delegates District 4: Barrie S. Ciliberti – Republican ( • Dan Cox – Republican ( • Jesse T. Pippy – Republican ( • Ysela Bravo – Democratic ( • Lois Jarman – Democratic ( • Darrin Ryan Smith – Democratic (; Judicial Court Judge: Julia Martz-Fisher ( • Ricky Sandy (


Federal Offices

U.S. Senator: Tony Campbell – Republican ( • Chris Chaffee – Republican ( • Evan M. Cronhardt – Republican ( • Nnabu Eze – Republican ( • John R. Graziani – Republican ( • Christina J. Grigorian – Republican ( • Albert Binyahmin Howard – Republican ( • Bill Krehnbrink – Republican ( • Gerald I. Smith, Jr. – Republican ( • Blaine Taylor – Republican ( • Brian Charles Vaeth – Republican ( • Ben Cardin – Democratic ( • Erik Jetmir – Democratic ( • Chelsea Manning – Democratic ( • Marcia H. Morgan – Democratic ( • Jerome “Jerry” Segal – Democratic ( • Richard “Rikki” Vaughn – Democratic ( • Debbie “Rica” Wilson – Democratic ( • Lih Young – Democratic ( • Arvin Vohra – Libertarian ( (Seeking to be nominated by Party but appearing in General Election only); Congress District 8: Bridgette L. Cooper – Republican ( • John Walsh – Republican ( • Victor Williams – Republican ( • Utam Paul – Republican ( • Jamie Raskin – Democratic ( • Summer Spring – Democratic ( • Jasen Wunder – Libertarian ( (Nominated by party but appearing in General Election only).

by James Rada, Jr.


Water Line Relocation Agreements

The Emmitsburg Commissioners signed two agreements with Milani Construction and the Maryland State Highway Construction, concerning the relocation of the water line necessitated by the Flat Run Bridge project.

The combined result of the two agreements is that the Town of Emmitsburg will not have to pay to relocate the water line. This is because the town did not agree to have the water line moved as part of the project.

Although SHA will bill the town for its share of the water line relocation (estimated to be around $19,000), Milani placed $28,500 in escrow that the town will use to pay for the costs.

“On the bright side, we’re getting a brand new water line in an old section of town,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told mayor and commissioners.


Burn Ban

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners during their March meeting that the Frederick County Fire Marshall had announced an outdoor burning ban until further notice.


Town Planner Retiring

Town Planner Sue Cipperly will be retiring at the end of July, ending her ten years with Emmitsburg. The town will begin advertising for her replacement this month, with the goal of having someone in place by the end of the fiscal year in June.


Town Receives Clean Audit

The Town of Emmitsburg received a clean audit report from Auditor Michele Mills. This means that no material weaknesses in internal financial controls were found, and there were no non-compliance issues.


Pool Management Team Approved

As the opening of the new town swimming pool nears, the Emmitsburg Commissioners approved RSV Pools to manage operations this year. The company submitted the low bid of $54,489 to manage the new pool. The new swimming pool is expected to open on May 26, during Memorial Day weekend. It will be open from noon to 7:00 p.m., daily. It will close for the season on September 3.


Thurmont Senior Tax Credit Applications

Thurmont residents who are at least sixty-five years old and have a combined household income of no more than $70,000 can apply for the Thurmont Senior Tax Credit, if their municipal taxes are paid and current. The credit is only applicable to the primary residence. Applications can be obtained at the town office. The deadline to submit an application is September 1, 2018.


Thurmont Green Fest

The Town of Thurmont, Thurmont Regional Library, and Thurmont Green Team are sponsoring the Thurmont Green Fest on Saturday, April 21, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The event will promote green living, with games, nature crafts, information on how to save money with solar and geothermal energy, lessons on organic gardening, and more. Events will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library.


Remembering Donald Lewis

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners remembered former Thurmont Mayor Donald Lewis, who passed away in February. The commissioners, Mayor John Kinnaird, and audience members recalled their favorite memories of Lewis. “Donald was a great guy, a terrific mayor, a true gentleman, and can’t say enough about someone like Donald,” Kinnaird said. “Every town has at least one of Donald Lewis, and he makes it worthwhile living in the community, and he was great for our community.”


Commissioner Liaison Appointments

Mayor Kinnaird decided that he wanted to change the commissions that the town commissioners were acting as a liaison to, so the commissioners could get a broader picture of what is happening in the town. He said, “I think the more experience we have with different commissions and different ideas that are going on in our town is good for all of us.” The new liaisons, who began serving in March, are: Police Commission – John Kinnaird; Seniors Commission – Wayne Hooper; Planning and Zoning Commission – Bill Buehrer; Main Street/Economic Development Commission – Wes Hamrick; Thurmont Addiction Commission – Marty Burns; Board of Appeals – John Kinnaird; Parks and Recreation Commission – Marty Burns.


Youth Program Discussion

Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick explained a proposal that he had for summer youth programs in a town park to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners.

“Our first thought for the first year is to do something as simplistic as we can to see if the community likes it or not, but we really don’t know what that is,” Humerick said. He may attempt to survey the community to see what kinds of programs they would like and what fees they would be willing to pay. Someone would need to be hired for the summer to run whatever programs are decided upon. The early thought is to have a two-week program in Community Park, with some day trips to the Catoctin Zoo or Cunningham Falls.  “I think this would be a really nice program for the community,” Humerick said. “I think that people will be interested in it.” The commissioners told him to move forward with his survey and see what he discovers.


 Mayor Don Briggs

In a late February journey to Annapolis, Commissioner Tim O’Donnell and I met up with representatives of other Frederick County municipalities to demonstrate our support at a hearing before a House of Delegates subcommittee on our earned share of highway user revenues (HURs). In 2009, just this side of absconding, the State of Maryland reduced our earned share of HURs funds, substantially. HURs are created from gasoline taxes. We need our share back. The funds are needed desperately for road repairs. So, if you don’t like your potholes or deteriorating road surfaces, I encourage you to please contact our state representatives: Senator Ron Young (, 301-858-3193); Senator Michael Hough (, 301-858-3713); and House of Delegates Kathy Afzali (, 301-858-3184).

We are gearing up for the annual spring visit by fourth-grade students to the town office. This year, students from Mother Seton School will not only visit us to observe, but also participate in town department activities. The day will end with students being posed questions and speaking from the mayor and board of commissioners’ dais.

I attended the Black History commemoration at the FEMA/National Emergency Training Center campus. The commemoration started with the presentation of the colors by our VFW Honor Guard. C. Lilian Virgil, Chief Mitigation Branch, Acting Chief, Preparedness Branch, Emergency Management Institute, gave a gracious welcome. Dr. Denis Onieal, Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, U.S. Fire Administrator, and Steven Heidecker, Acting Deputy Superintendent, Emergency Management Institute, gave moving tributes. Interspersed were musical selections by renowned Gospel singer, Patricia Jones. Our very good friend to the needs of Emmitsburg, Roger Wilson, Government Affairs & Policy Director at Frederick County Maryland, Office of the County Executive, and also a Frederick City Alderman, was the keynote speaker. When our town has “irons in the fire” (which we do now), he has and always is there in support.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have put in hundreds and thousands of hours of service to our community. Backpacks for kids, food bank, pregnancy center, churches, Seton Center, and our scouts, to name a few, and now we welcome the new volunteers for our youth baseball. This year, three different groups will be using our fields, one of which is a girls’ softball team. The primary impetus for this change in use is homespun. We have a town resident with an excellent perspective and the successful experience to grow baseball here again. The refresh button has been pushed. The torch has been passed from one wonderful generation of volunteers to another. Fields are being prepped; clinics and games are being scheduled. A strong base is being redeveloped. Thank you to all who have volunteered over the years—baseball is coming back.

Coming up is our Community Arbor Day Tree Planting Celebration on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.-noon at Community Park in Emmitsburg. Twelve trees will be planted. Planting will be done by a representative from community service groups and institutions, myself and town commissioners. Five River Birch, two Swamp White Oaks, and five Red ‘Autumn Flame’ Maples. Joining us will be Dr. Tim Trainor, President of Mount St Mary’s University, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Becky Wilson, Western Region Coordinator for Urban and Community Forestry and Mike Kay, Project Manager for DNR Forest Services. From the celebration, the town will become certified as a Tree City USA town in 2018. Light refreshments will be available. We plan to have a fall planting at a date to be announced.

In early March, we had a burst water line emergency along Flat Run, near the bridge construction area, and on a cold and damp weekday afternoon, no less. Perfect timing, too, right when the kids are coming home from school and the commercial area of town is starting to bustle with after-work activity. The inconvenience with a water shut-off would be immense, affecting all the businesses and residences east of Flat Run, but it would have to be done. Without hesitation, staff members in both the town office and field responded immediately and adeptly; town staff in notifying the affected businesses and residents by all means of social media, notices, personally or phone, and the field staff by going out and fixing the problem. The water service was back on in two hours, by 5:30 p.m., before dinner. Thank you, town staff.

The square revitalization and sidewalk project is approximately 80 percent complete. When we get beyond freezing weather, tree plantings and landscaping will begin.

Hoping that everyone has a wonderful Easter.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

As I write this, we are just recovering from the unexpected snow storm on March 20 and 21. What a surprise it was to have the biggest snowfall of the year on the first day of spring! I want to take this opportunity to thank all the hardworking men and women of the state, county, and our municipalities for their hard work and long hours keeping our roads clear during this snow storm. Hopefully, we can now move on to spring.

With spring comes a lot of new outdoor opportunities, and our children will be out there playing, skateboarding, and riding their bikes. Please be on the lookout for our children as they get back outdoors. They may not always be aware of their surroundings, so we need to be especially careful driving in our neighborhoods.

I want to invite everyone to try one or more of the many amazing restaurants we have during Thurmont Restaurant Week. This Thurmont Main Street event will be held April 13-22, 2018. Be sure to try something new or enjoy your favorite menu items at any number of local restaurants. Experience Thurmont’s locally owned restaurants and enjoy the prix fixe menu special or some of their signature dishes! Main Street is also hosting the Annual Thurmont Business Showcase on April 28, 2018, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The Showcase will be at the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company Event Complex on Stratford Drive. Be sure to attend and see all the local businesses on display. There are always a few surprises and new businesses to learn about.

As we are all aware, the opioid and addiction epidemic continues to impact our communities and has touched all of our lives. The Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC) has been created to help educate and inform our residents on three important pieces of the addiction puzzle. Education and Awareness, Support & Recovery, and Prevention & Outreach are the three pillars the members of TAC are helping address. Please visit the Facebook page to see when the next presentation will be held, and attend to learn about the signs of addiction and what you can do to help in this critical battle.

This past March 15, I attended the first meeting of a new group, intent on helping our youngsters choose a healthier and safer path through their teen years and into young adulthood. Abandon Teen Center will be hosting events and get togethers to help our youth set a path free of drug use and the many peer-pressure pitfalls they face. Please support this worthwhile organization, and take the time to discover if this group is an option for your children.

The nice weather will be bringing some road work and infrastructure improvements to our streets. Be aware and drive carefully whenever you see a construction site.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at

Deb Abraham Spalding

Donald L. Lewis often said his goal was to live to be one hundred years old. Never one to fuss, I’ll assume that he didn’t mind that Heaven called him home slightly early, at the age of ninety-nine and almost two months, because more than likely he was reunited with his beloved wife of sixty-eight years, Freda, there.

I knew Donald Lewis all of my life. He and my father were buddies in outdoor pursuits like fishing, hunting, and shooting. My father, Robert Abraham, Sr. and Donald volunteered with the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock fishing organization for many years by serving as president and on the executive board. Dad shared, “Donald was a true conservationist. He never killed a fish or an animal that he didn’t eat. He would transport live fish in a milk can from the Potomac River to his pond in Thurmont so local kids could fish them out.”

Donald carried my senior high graduation photo in his wallet. Whenever I ran into him, he’d pull out that picture and show everyone nearby. Proud as anything, he’d grin and say, “Look at this beautiful girl in this picture. Do you know her?”

Through my family’s friendship with him, I knew him one way, but while interviewing him for an article in The Catoctin Banner in August 2008, I learned about his impact on people and progress. I was still a green reporter, having taken over the newspaper about a year prior. Donald was selected as one of our “Who Am I?” personalities. For the “Who Am I?” column, readers would call in guesses about who the upcoming spotlight was from clues printed in the previous issue. Donald had the highest number of guesses ever logged in the five years the column was run. Here’s an excerpt from that column:


“Who Am I?” August, 2008

I am Donald Lee Lewis.

From mayor of Thurmont to Commissioner of Frederick County; from store owner to mortician (yes, you read that right—mortician!); from a decorated Army Ranger to humble husband; and from sportsman to farmer, Donald Lewis is a man you might pass on the street and wonder what he’s seen. You may have met Mr. Lewis when you shopped in his sporting goods and gift store on the square in Thurmont, or you may have waved when you drove by his house on West Main Street (Route 77 west) in Thurmont. You probably still wave, like I do. …having discovered during our interview that he waves at everybody. That’s the person he is: community member, all-around good person. Humble, I say, because he is that, too. For the interview, I sat beside him in the second of triplet rocking chairs in his living room. As we rocked through his stories, I tried to envision what he has lived.

Mr. Lewis was one of twelve children of Edgar Russell and Glenna (Weller) Lewis. After age eight, he was raised by his maternal grandparents who let him stay at their house for several years after he got caught there during a snow storm. “They [his grandparents] just called my mother and asked if they could raise me,” he said.

He did what had to be done in various situations including working his family’s farm in Thurmont. “Those were the days when you milked the cows and fed the horses before you had your breakfast,” he said, “The farm came first.”

After his grandparents passed, he helped his paternal grandfather, J. Hooker Lewis, with his horses. Upon graduating from Thurmont High School in 1935, he worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps where he was sent to Medimountain in Grantsville, Maryland. He met his future wife, Freda Broadwater, there. Humorously, he recalled her falling off a hay wagon while she was throwing hay. They were married in 1942 and spent 62 years together until her death in April of 2004. Mr. Lewis spoke fondly of her and of her last days and admitted, “She was one of the best. We did everything together.”

He joined the Army in 1940 and served in France where he was unharmed by a bullet that zinged around the rim of his helmet. He was posted about thirty feet up in a tree when the bullet entered the front of his helmet at such an angle that it rode the inside rim around his head and exited out the back, making another hole.  He bounced down the tree from limb to limb, but came out okay. As luck would have it, soon after, he was hit on the upper left thigh by shrapnel when a tank exploded nearby.

He had four surgeries to remove the shrapnel, the last of which he opted to stay awake without pain medication, so that he could tell the doctor when he found the shrapnel. The doctor removed it.

Upon return, he and Freda worked her family’s farm for a while, and then he became a funeral director and embalmer for Winterberg Funeral Home in Grantsville. A few years later, when Mr. Winterberg died and his family sold the funeral home, Mr. Lewis and his wife bought her family’s farm and farmed it until 1952. It was that year that Mr. Lewis returned to Thurmont. He and Mrs. Lewis purchased Wisotzkey General Store on the corner square in Thurmont. It had a fountain, a toy room on the second floor, and a gift shop. Soon after, he bought the drug store next door and made it into a sporting goods store. They called the business Lewis’ Toys, Gifts and Confectionary. “It was a very good business,” he said.

He was encouraged to run for mayor of Thurmont where he was elected and served three terms from 1964 to 1970. Next, he was encouraged to run for Frederick County Commissioner and was elected and served from 1970 to 1978. In 1986, he and Freda decided to sell the business.

The words printed here don’t pay justice to the man or his experiences. But you, like me, have captured a glimpse of his life, that he has lived well.


James Rada, Jr., contributing editor of The Catoctin Banner newspaper wrote a cover article in honor of Veterans Day in the November 2014 issue. This issue was extremely popular, received many positive comments and is one of my all-time favorites:


Remembering Our Nation’s Veterans

Donald Lewis stood crammed among a group of friends and fellow soldiers, trying not to lose his balance. The landing craft they were on was pushing toward its destination on Omaha Beach at Normandy, France. A strong current threatened to pull them away from their destination.

Lewis was a long way from his hometown of Thurmont, but he, along with millions of other young men, had been drafted to serve in the armed forces during World War II. Though he had entered the army as a private, he had risen to the rank of staff sergeant.

Lewis stood at the front of the landing craft hanging onto the edge of the wall. Around him, he could hear the explosion of artillery and see the explosions on the water and beach. Things seemed a mass of confusion, but it was all part of the largest seaborne invasion ever undertaken: the coordinated D-Day attack on German forces at Normandy, France. The invasion involved 156,000 Allied troops. Amphibious landings along fifty miles of the Normandy Coast were supported by naval and air assaults.

Lewis’ job in the invasion seemed simple. He was to go ashore first and mark safe paths across the irrigation ditches that crossed the beach.

However, the landing craft couldn’t make it to the beach. It grounded on a sandbar.

Lewis and the other men were still expected to take the beach, though. The front ramp of the landing craft was lowered and Lewis ran into the water. He suddenly found himself in water over his head, weighed down by a heavy backpack.

“I just had to hold my breath and walk part of the way underwater until my head was above water,” Lewis said.

The Germans started firing on the beach and the landing craft. Lewis focused on his job and began marking the paths where troops could cross.

“When I looked back, men were laying everywhere,” Lewis said. “Just about everyone on the boat was dead.”

After the war, when he was invited back to Normandy for the anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Lewis always turned down the invitations. Now ninety-six years old, he has never returned to Omaha Beach.

“I’ve seen all I wanted to,” he said.

Though amazingly he was not wounded during that invasion, he was later wounded in the leg during an artillery barrage. Lewis remembers laying in a hospital in England waiting to be taken into surgery.

“A big, ol’ English nurse comes walking up and she pulls back the sheet and looks at the wound,” recalls Lewis. “Then she says to me, ‘Almost got your pride and joy, didn’t they?’”

Another time, Lewis barely escaped being killed. He and other soldiers were up in trees along a road, waiting to ambush the Germans. However, the Germans were being careful that day.

“A sniper must have spotted me up there,” Lewis said. “I knew he hit my helmet. I started down that tree as fast as I could, grabbing limbs and dropping.”

When he got to the ground, he took off his helmet and saw that there was a hole through the front of it and a matching one through the back of it. Only the fact that his helmet had been sitting high on his head saved his life.

“People wondered why I didn’t bring the helmet home as a souvenir, but I didn’t want anything to do with it,” said Lewis.

Perhaps his most pleasant memory from the war was when he was discharged from the Army. He was in line with other soldiers being discharged after the end of the war. The soldier at the front of the line would walk up to the officer at the front of the room, receive his discharge papers, salute, and walk away.

“When I got my papers, I let out a war whoop and woke that place up,” Lewis said.

Once back in Thurmont, Lewis went to work on the family farm. He married his wife Freda in a double ceremony with a couple they were friends with.

Lewis also had a political career…He said a group of people tried to talk him into running for governor, but he turned them down, saying, “I’m too honest for that.”

Thurmont’s current mayor, John Kinnaird, actively communicates and updates friends on his Facebook page. Upon learning of Donald’s death, he posted the photo of Lewis’ Store on the square in Thurmont (pictured above) and said, “Donald was a true gentleman and always had the best interest of our community at heart.” Kinnaird also invited comments from friends.

Janet Lewis posted, “He was a director at Thurmont Bank, always wanted to give the tellers a raise, he always tried anyway.”

George Wilhide posted, “I loved the soda fountain. He had a barrel of root beer behind the counter. We got a frosty mug of that root beer for a nickel. It was so cold it hurt your teeth, but was soooo good!!!”

Art Drager posted, “Very sad news! He was a wonderful man with always a smile on his face and something nice or funny to say! One of my favorite stories was when he took Dr. Pargman, Director of Camp Airy from 1924-1969 and Merle Eyler fishing…Doc said he wasn’t catching any fish. Finally, Donald told Doc he wasn’t going to catch any fish with the hook caught in his pants! The 10 cent root beer in frozen mugs was the best a wonderful treat on a hot summer day! Mr. Lewis was dedicated to Thurmont, its residents, The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock organization, and was a good friend to Camp Airy! My first tennis racket was purchased at his store.”

Other sentiments include those from Donald’s long-time friend, Larry Eby. He said, “In the sixty years I’ve known Donald Lewis, a lot comes to mind and I could write a book. However, for the purpose here, I’ll share single words that define a complex individual. Friend, mentor, peace maker, warrior, manager, father figure, generous, accountable, forgiving, held high standards, stubborn. Lastly, Godfather which earned him the name, Don-Don and his wife, Fi-Fi.” Larry’s wife, Donna, who worked at Lewis’ store, added a few adjectives, “Strict, trusting, and kind.”

Donald’s niece, Sue Ferguson, was his main support in his final years. She was often on hand at Homewood where Donald lived for several years. She made sure he was happy, loved, and well cared for.

Sue shared, “Donald and Freda traveled to every state in the union in their RV, including going through Alaska and to the North Pole. They flew to Hawaii. Went from coast to coast two times to see the Rose Bowl parade.

He felt it a privilege to serve his country. He never wanted to talk about the war for a long time. He felt honored to serve Frederick County as a Count Commissioner and took that position very seriously. He always gave an honest answer, never “honey coated.”

It was a privilege and honor for him to serve as mayor of his home town. He loved living in Thurmont. After retiring, he spent his winters in Florida, always ready to go soon after hunting season. But, in the spring, he would say he was ready to be back home.

After selling his property on the west end of Thurmont, he was told he could move into a cottage at Homewood in Frederick, where he had his name on the list for quite a few years. Just before he was to go, he came to my house one Saturday morning, and said, ‘I have to talk to you. I can’t move to Homewood, I want to stay here in Thurmont, this is my home.’ I told him about a condo for sale on Easy Street, he looked through it, and said he’d buy it. He was so happy there and loved staying in town with the people and place that was so very special to him.”

Our community thanks you, Sue, for taking such good care of your Uncle Donald, the community’s friend.

Joan Bittner Fry

The Lake View Hotel, C. J. Remsburg, Proprietor, Lewistown, Maryland, Long Distance Phone 840-2

While looking through my postcard collection, I came upon a small brochure about Lake View Hotel, and I quote the brochure:

“Lake View Hotel is located midway between Frederick and Thurmont, Maryland on the Western Maryland and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads, within two hours’ ride of Baltimore and Washington.

The hotel is high above sea level, overlooking the highest range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One could hardly wish for a more ideal spot to spend a vacation than Lewistown, Maryland, located in picturesque Frederick County.

The Lake View is a large six-story (some places say 4-story) concrete building, with roof garden and sun parlor, commanding an excellent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, far famed for their beautiful scenery.  The hotel contains 50 rooms, baths and toilet rooms, also 25 private baths, making it the largest and one of the most modern houses in this section of the country. The bed rooms are all large and airy, newly furnished in the most up-to-date manner. We can accommodate 125 guests. The dining room is spacious, light and well ventilated. Cuisine under the personal attention of the proprietor. Piazza is large and shady and the hotel is lighted throughout with acetylene gas.

In connection with the house is a 200-acre farm, producing all varieties of fruits and vegetables, with which the table is abundantly supplied; plenty of fresh milk, eggs, poultry, etc., the best the country affords.

Aside from the lobby may be found smoking room for gentlemen, private parlor and writing room for ladies. For health, comfort and beauty of natural scenery, this place is second to none in the mountains of Western Maryland.”

The hotel is located 6 miles north of Frederick; rail transportation could bring pleasure seekers to a peaceful setting that featured a casino, hotel, and lake. Charles Remsburg was a native of nearby Lewistown, having grown up on a farm originally laid out by his grandfather, Jacob. In addition to the family trade of farming, Charles found success in the late 1800s goldfish boom and was one of the county’s largest exporters.  He was also an investor in the Westminster, Frederick, and Gettysburg Railroad, which would traverse property owned by his family. He obtained this land and created a scheme to cash in on the new trolley line that would connect Frederick and Thurmont.

In 1908, Charles merged his many fishponds and formed a lake in the shadow of the picturesque Catoctin Mountain to the west. He looked to capitalize on the rail transportation line’s ability to deliver visitors in the same manner as neighboring mountain retreats, such as Braddock Heights and Pen Mar Park.

The brochure also boasts an up-to-date livery where saddle and driving horses could be had at a moment’s notice; ladies riding suits to hire; croquet, tennis, dancing; rambles over the mountains; and a large shady lake for fishing. Those fond of motoring could find one of the best automobile roads in the country, leading from Washington and Baltimore to Pen Mar and Gettysburg, passing the door of the Lake View Hotel. Persons afflicted with tuberculosis were requested to not apply for accommodations. (The State Sanatorium at Sabillasville for TB patients opened in 1908.)

From an article in Frederick Daily News, September 10, 1908:

“The hotel featured an elaborate amusement center in the form of a casino (a 2-story building with a first-class skating rink and a beautiful dance hall. On the first floor were 4 bowling alleys, a pool room, and cloak and toilet rooms). Guests were invited to use the lake for bathing, swimming, and boating, as row boats were made readily available.

The Lake View Casino opened in early September 1908. The crowd was estimated to have been at least a thousand persons, over 300 from Frederick alone.  Many went in carriages and other vehicles from surrounding towns.

Not all persons who desired to skate could be accommodated, as only a portion of the number of skates ordered arrived.  They are expected shortly.”

Sadly, the full potential of the site was never realized, suffering a devastating fire two years later, just prior to the opening of the hotel in May 1910. Mr. Remsburg had grossly under-insured his building, and with the outlay for the hotel, he was not in the position to rebuild the casino.

Over the next four years, the Lake View Hotel hosted pleasure seekers, but would suffer the same fate as the casino on June 16, 1914. Just days before opening for the summer season, the hotel burned to the ground. This time, a faulty heating apparatus was to blame.

Mr. Remsburg gave up his endeavors in the hospitality resort business and went back to an enterprise that was decidedly “fireproof.” He returned to putting his full attention to the business of raising goldfish.

In 1916, the Maryland Conservation Commission assessed the state for future fish hatcheries, especially trout. The following year, Lewistown was selected for the commission’s first hatchery. The state also stocked Remsberg’s Lake View with a supply of small-mouth bass, crappie, and catfish.

Plans for the proposed Lewistown hatchery were drawn up during the fall of 1917, and by January 1918, a 22 x 44-foot temporary hatchery had been completed at the site, and 400,000 trout eggs had been placed into the new hatchery.

Lewistown Hatchery Today

Little remains today that would suggest the size of the hatchery operation that once existed until the early 1950s. A sign on Fish Hatchery Road, off U.S. 15 south, states: “Lewistown Trout Hatchery and Bass Ponds Frederick County – Purchased by State 1917” (shown right).

Mr. Remsburg’s influence would have a profound effect on the son of his next door neighbors, Milton and Rosanna Powell. Their son, Albert M. Powell, developed a love of fish, as well, and served as the longtime Superintendent of Maryland State Fish Hatcheries. The Albert Powell Hatchery is located in Hagerstown, Maryland. Construction of this facility began in 1946 and was completed in 1949.

From Powell’s obituary: “Albert M. Powell, Fisheries Expert of Lewistown, Maryland, died in February 1991 at Homewood Retirement Center at age 93. He was retired superintendent of inland fisheries, retiring in 1967, after working in the state’s freshwater fish program for more than 40 years and briefly for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. He had been a member of the American Fisheries Society, The Potomac Valley Fly Fishing Association, and the Frederick County Fish and Game Protective Association. He wrote a history of the state programs and became an expert on shipping live freshwater fish, sending one shipment of small mouth bass to South Africa.”

The next time you travel to or from Frederick on Route 15, you will understand the meaning of Powell Road and Fish Hatchery Road, and possibly remember the ill-fated Lake View Hotel and Casino.

The Lake View Hotel — 1908.

February 2018


Homes Taken Off Town’s Water System

Town staff had to do an emergency fix to the town’s water lines. Four homes outside of town limits, but on the town water system, received their water through a water line that was installed in the 1930s. Over the decades, 200 feet of the 8-inch line has been exposed to the elements. Because of the extended subzero temperatures that the region had this winter, a major break occurred in the line on January 8. Temporary fixes to the line could not be maintained.

In one instance, a temporary pump placed on the water line malfunctioned, and one home’s basement was flooded.

Town staff evaluated the situation and determined that the old water line was unrepairable. It would need to be replaced, which would cost $1 million to restore service to the four homes.

Since this would be too expensive, an alternative solution was sought. It was discovered that one of the homes could be connected to an existing 10-inch water line. The other three homes were too far away for this solution to work for them. For these homes, the town reached an agreement with the homeowners to drill wells that could service the homes and take them off the town’s water system. The estimated cost for this solution is $50,000 per connection or $150,000.


Transfers to Capital Projects

When fiscal year 2017 ended, the Town of Emmitsburg had excess money in its general fund. The excess needed to be transferred to capital projects per audit requirements. Town staff put together a list of projects and amounts that they recommended be funded with the excess.

  • $66,300 towards the Community Park Pool and its grounds. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $17,245 for the dog park. The commissioners modified the dog park plan to include no leash stations (for now) and four benches instead of seven. (Approved with modification.)
  • $15,000 for the general streets fund. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $14,000 for curbs, gutters, sidewalks, roads. The commissioners asked that the St. Joseph’s Lane pedestrian walkway become a future agenda item. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $10,000 for the general planning fund. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $6,526 for building maintenance at 140 South Seton Avenue. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $4,500 for building maintenance at 22 East Main Street. (Unanimously approved.)

The total transfer amount was $133,571.


Town Starts Monthly Street Sweeping

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willetts announced that town staff will now perform monthly street-sweeping in Emmitsburg, which is required for the MS-4 permit that the town is seeking.


Community Day Race

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously approved a 6K race on Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day, June 30, 2018. The Catoctin-Ettes will run the event as a fundraiser.



Conrad Weaver was appointed to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for a two-year term, from November 4, 2017, to November 4, 2019.

Wendy Walsh was reappointed to serve on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, from February 20, 2018, to February 20, 2020.


Town Gets Grant for LED Lighting

As the Town of Thurmont moved to increase its sustainability and reduce costs, one of the changes it has been working on is switching over to LED street lights downtown and in subdivisions. The Maryland Energy Administration recently awarded the town $34,650 for this project. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted unanimously to spend $28,035 of that amount to have Catoctin Lighting replace the street lights in Catoctin Heights. The remaining balance will be used to purchase additional lighting fixtures for a yet-to-be-determined location.


Curb Side Grass and Leaf Pickup

Curb side grass and leaf pickup will resume in Thurmont on April 2. Residents should have received notice of all the pertinent information and dates with their utility bills.


Work Continues on Employee Manual

Town staff has been crafting an employee policy manual for town employees for the past few months. “It’s something that would be able to assist our supervisors and managers, assist our employees, and assist in the overall management of our staff here,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the mayor and commissioners.

A draft of the manual was presented to the mayor and commissioners during a workshop meeting, where they went through the document to address any questions and concerns. These will then be used to make changes to the final manual.


Mid-year Budget Review

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received a mid-year budget review in January to see how close they were staying to the approved fiscal year 2018 budget. According to Chief Financial Officer Linda Joyce, at the halfway point in its budget, the town was 15 percent under budget.


Thurmont Addiction Commission

The Thurmont Addiction Commission is now up and running. The group has a Facebook page, where interested parties can be kept up to date on meeting times and topics. One topic that has been discussed between the commission and Frederick County Health Department is a needle exchange program. Commissioner Marty Burns pointed out that this was a presentation being made by the Health Department to gather input. It did not mean the program would happen.


Mayor Don Briggs

My February calendar started off with the Maryland Municipal League Winter Mayors Conference. Featured speakers included Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., President of the Senate; Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House of Delegates; Secretary Mark J. Belton, Department of Natural Resources; and, Secretary Kenneth C. Holt, Department of Housing & Community Development. Though I did not attend all of the events this year, I did attend grant programs and small group discussions. On everybody’s mind was the status of the state giving back to the municipalities its earned share of the highway user revenue.

Like most months, February comes with opportunities and, oh yes, often obstacles to those opportunities. The foremost obstacle, understandably, has been the intractable cold, damp weather affecting everything, in particular, delays and inconvenience to all with regards to the sidewalk – square revitalization project. I know, ‘tis the season, and we come into it disarmed and lulled by the mild late fall weather, but the state contractors cannot do concrete work when the temperature is below 32 degrees and cannot lay bricks when there is high moisture content in the air, as it affects the application sand seam bonding material. Patience. We are doing something special for the town. The town “scape” is improving.

But, spring is out there, and the first gate to it has been Lent. My Lent this year, besides the usual girth/related abstinence issues, will include a commitment to visit the aged and a ramp-up in seasonal-related readings and gatherings. Lent always reminds me that, if I have worries, get above them and in front of them through giving, caring, and prayer for others.

The Mount Relay for Life, sponsored by Mount St. Mary’s University, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, will be held on March 23, 2018. To donate or enter a team, go to the Mount St. Mary’s University website, then to “Mount Relay Page.” Great time, great event, and great cause.

The second to the gate is St. Patrick’s Day. And what is St. Patrick’s Day without Irish poetry?  To that, here are a couple Irish quotes/poems:


There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.

— W.B. Yeats


I composed habits for those acres

So that my last look would be

Neither gluttonous nor starved.

I was ready to go anywhere.


— “Land” Seamus Heaney

From Ireland: Failte and Slainte


Mayor John Kinnaird

The Maryland Legislature is currently in session, and I recently attended a House Hearing on a bill that would restore the Highway User Revenue (HUR) funding to our municipalities. Simply stated, HUR funding is collected by the state through gasoline and diesel taxes, tag renewals, and other sources related directly to the use of our streets and roads. These funds are then distributed to Baltimore City, the counties, and municipalities. In 2008, almost $45 Million in HUR funds were distributed statewide; it fell to $1.6 Million in 2010. This year, we are expecting to receive $27 million, almost 50 percent short of the funding from 2008! The HUR funds help us repair and improve our streets and are an important source of funding for our community. Since 2008, Thurmont has seen as much as $1 million in reduced HUR funding. This has caused us to delay the repair and maintenance on our streets. The funds are being collected at the state level, but are not being returned to our communities to help repair our streets. I hope that this year the Legislature will correct this issue and restore the HUR funding we need.

There are some great events coming up soon in Thurmont. Be on the lookout for the Annual Business Showcase and A Taste of Thurmont, featuring many local restaurants. The Thurmont Green Team will be hosting the Thurmont Green Fest on Saturday April 21, 2018, at the Thurmont Regional Library. This event will feature over twenty-five exhibitors and vendors, as well as music, tree planting, live demonstrations, kid-friendly activities, and more. The Green Fest is the place to learn about living sustainably while having fun. It will soon be Farmer Market season. The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is the place to be for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh cut flowers, jams, fresh eggs, and other goodies!

As the weather improves and we get back outdoors, you will notice that more of the damaged ash trees in the Community Park have been removed. The town has successfully been treating a number of the ash trees, and we will continue this program in an effort to retain as much of the mature canopy in the park as is possible. As you walk through the park, you will notice the large number of new trees that have been planted. There are a wide variety of trees, including flowering trees and others, that will replace the ash trees. The trees are being planted with the help of the Thurmont Green Team and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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

by Deb Abraham Spalding

At a combined meeting of all available Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company (EVAC) and Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) members at Vigilant Hose Company’s Station 6 on Tuesday evening, December 12, 2017, the signing of merger documentation, in which the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company became a part of the Vigilant Hose Company, took place. This followed the signing of merger documentation by EVAC leadership members that authorized the transfer of all assets and liabilities to the VHC. The VHC was represented by the Law Offices of Michael H. Delauter, while EVAC was represented by Ian Bartman of Offutt & Kurman.

Following a presentation by the VHC Attorney Michael Delauter, EVAC and VHC membership, together and unanimously, approved the action, thus exceeding the required two-thirds membership vote.

The merger documents stipulated that the legal transfer would take place at 12:00 a.m. on January 1, 2018. At the stroke of midnight, during EVAC’s New Year’s Eve Bingo at the Activities Building on Creamery Road in Emmitsburg, the crowd of approximately 350 people had more to celebrate than just the new year 2018. As they burst into cheer at midnight, it was to celebrate the new year and the merger. Earlier that night, in a different part of the same facility, a party was held during the final hours of VHC’s Six of Hearts fundraiser. Tickets were drawn every ten minutes until a winner was finally pulled at 10:00 p.m. The name Barbara Berg was drawn and the card behind number 45 revealed the 6 of Hearts. Barbara became the lucky winner of the $54,000 cumulative jackpot.

The New Year’s Eve Bingo and the Six of Hearts fundraisers are perfect examples of the new stronger volunteer force working together for one unified organization. “It’s a win-win situation,” shared Mary Lou Little, former president of EVAC, “I can’t emphasize how well it’s working. It’s the greatest thing ever! It made Emmitsburg stronger than it’s ever been. We’re all so proud.”

VHC president Frank Davis expressed a similar sentiment, “The biggest thing is that it was the right thing to do for both organizations, overall, and it was the right thing to do for the community. The merger strengthened the community in emergency responses. It’s taken two groups of talented individuals and put together one of the best emergency services organizations in the state.”

As with all volunteer organizations, the need for funds to drive the mission is vital. In addition to a new Six of Hearts fundraiser that is ongoing until a winner is drawn in 2018, the VHC hosts bingo every Wednesday afternoon in the Activities Building, with games starting at 1:00 p.m., as well as every Friday evening, with games starting at 6:50 p.m. Food is available to participants and the general public for eat-in or take-out during these games.

The VHC’s annual Spring Fling event will be held at a new location this May: at the Company’s Activity Building, located on Creamery Road in Emmitsburg.

Spring Fling will be held May 19, 2018, with winners drawn from noon-5:00 p.m. See their advertisement on page 14 for more details and ticket information.

Pictured from left are: (standing) Vicki Long, EVAC secretary and Mary Lou Little, EVAC president; (seated) Tom Vaughn, VHC assistant secretary; Steve Valentine, VHC secretary; Frank Davis, VHC president; Mike Delauter, VHC Company attorney; and Steve Hollinger, VHC treasurer.

January 2018

by James Rada, Jr


Snow Removal Reminder

Given the snow that has fallen this winter, the Emmitsburg town staff reminded residents that all basketball hoops and other items need to be removed from the street before a storm, and vehicles need to be removed off snow emergency routes. After the storm has ended, residents have 24 hours to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks that border their property. Snow should not be blown or shoveled into a cleared street. These items are part of the town municipal code and can result in citations if not followed.


Sidewalk Do’s and Don’ts

Now that Emmitsburg has new sidewalks connecting different areas of the town, there are things that residents can do and shouldn’t do to ensure those sidewalks continue looking good. Don’t use any product containing salt or any type of chloride to melt snow and ice. Chloride reacts with the aggregate in the concrete to scale and delaminate it. Instead, use kitty litter, sand, or fireplace ashes for de-icing. Wash or sweep (if cold) any concrete that gets salt deposited on it from your car.


Recycling Schedule

Emmitsburg will continue to follow the Frederick County recycling schedule this year. The schedule can be found on the town website. Pickups will be every other Thursday. Your recycling should be placed at the curb by 6:00 a.m. on scheduled pickup days and at least four feet away from trash cans, cars, and mailboxes.


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



Donation from Halloween in the Park

The Town of Thurmont recently donated $2,520.78 to the Thurmont Food Bank. This amount came from the excess of the admission charged at the annual Halloween in the Park event, once the expenses were paid. This was in addition to a truckload of nonperishable food items that were also donated to Thurmont Food Bank at the event.


Water Capacity Study Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid of $15,200 from Arro Consulting in Hagerstown to perform a water-capacity study of the town’s water system. The study will look at the condition and capacity of the water system and evaluate water sources, treatment systems, transmissions, distribution mains, storage, pumping systems, and system losses. It will also look at the town’s current and projected demands on the water system, identify any excess capacity, outline alternatives for sharing of infrastructure, and make any recommendations. The town has worked with Arro Consulting before and has found their work excellent.


Mayor Pro-tem Chosen

Following the re-election of Mayor John Kinnaird last fall, the commissioners had to choose a mayor pro-tem. The mayor pro-tem duties are to serve in the place of the mayor if the mayor is unable to attend a meeting. Commissioner Bill Buehrer was the most recent mayor pro-tem and Commissioner Wayne Hooper served before him. Commissioner Wes Hamrick was elected to the position with a 4-0-1. Hamrick abstained from voting.

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


 Mayor Don Briggs

The New Year comes with traction. On January 3, the first day of business, we had a meeting with the executive director of the Frederick County Boys and Girls Club. We have been working with the club for some time. Things seem to be moving in the right direction for a youth program in Emmitsburg, possibly in the fall. On January 4, I attended the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Memorial Mass and reception at the basilica. The main celebrant was Archbishop William E. Lori of the Baltimore Diocese. The service was a solemn tribute and very well attended. On January 6, Lib and I were among the 245 people who attended the 134th Annual Vigilant Hose Company 6 Banquet, which also included Ambulance Company 26. The banquet was held at the facility on Creamery Road.

Inspirational is the best way to describe how the two companies joined together to better serve our community. The merger that began last July was completed officially on January 1.  From what I have heard, if and when other fire and ambulance companies should choose to merge, this is the county’s official template.

Congratulations to Leo “Mike” Boyle on receiving an award for his sixty-five years of service and support of the company. Well done. Also, congratulations to the company. The 2017 statistics are more than compelling. For the year, Vigilant Hose responded to 534 calls, on average (over 10 a week or almost 1.5 a day). EMS calls for both (including Station 26, up until July 1) totaled 1,139 calls for the year (almost 22 per week or over 3 per day). Since July 1, the dispatch arrival average time to “its first due area response area” (Emmitsburg) averaged 6.54 minutes.

On January 11, I attended the monthly County Executive – Mayor/Burgess meeting. The main topic of discussion was updating all those who attended on the status and priorities of the Maryland State Highway Administration for improvement to U.S. 15 and Interstate 270. The time table has been moved up on the construction of additional lanes south of Frederick to 2025 completion; there will be four lanes each direction, of which two, each way, will be toll. To everyone’s dismay, the widening of U.S. 15 through the City of Frederick has been pushed back to 2030. Upgrading of Biggs Ford Road at U.S. 15 interchange timetable is scheduled for 2040.

On January 13, Lib and I attended the Emmitsburg Lions Club Banquet, commemorating its 35th charter year. It was very well attended. Congratulations to Gene Rosensteel on receiving a special award for assisting in the Emmitsburg Lions Club formation.

Late Christmas present for Emmitsburg and a prize indeed for the community: A fire company-themed glass etching done by nationally renowned artist William Cochran is coming to the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. The three-panel, 15-foot x 8-foot, 120 square-foot etching is presently displayed at the Firehouse Financial Center on W. Church Street in Frederick, the old Independent Hose Company building. It was done in the mid-1980s to commemorate the Independent Hose Company that had moved to its present location on Baughman’s Lane.

This fall, the Mount will field a men’s soccer team, men’s and women’s golf teams, and women’s bowling team to take the university to twenty NCAA teams.

From last December: I forgot to mention that on December 18, Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill visited the Mount to learn more about the Mount’s newest majors: entrepreneurship and cybersecurity. I participated in the meeting with President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., Chief of Staff Wayne Green, Christine Adamow, Director of the Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship, Professors Nick Hutchings and Donald E. Butt, Jr., Jane Graves, DC, Board Chair of Seton Center, Inc., and Sr. Martha Beaudoin, DC, Director of Seton Center, Inc.

Like all, I am hoping for some warmer weather so the State can get back to work on the square. It would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift. Thank you to everyone for your patience for any inconvenience the square/sidewalk project has brought about, but when finished this spring, we will have something special.


Mayor John Kinnaird

The cold weather not only brings snow, sleet, and rain, but it also causes issues with our infrastructure! I am sure that everyone is aware of the electric and water issues we have had recently, many caused by the weather. The freezing weather can cause residential water lines to freeze and can be a prime factor of breaks in our water mains, both of which we have experienced recently. We have also suffered power outages caused by high winds, freezing precipitation, and circuits under strain, due to increased electric heating demand. When power goes out or water service is interrupted, we encourage residents to call our office at 301-271-7313 and report these issues. After hours, there are instructions for reaching staff during these emergencies. When the office is closed, please listen to the recorded information. The instructions will tell you to dial 1 for emergencies; you will then be instructed to dial option 1 for electric, option 2 for sewer, option 3 for water, and option 4 for streets and parks. When following these instructions, your call will be transferred to one of our staff. Please keep in mind that once an issue has been reported, the person answering the phone is most likely working on the problem and may not be able to respond to all calls. It is a safe bet that once several people have noticed an issue, town staff has been made aware of the situation. You are free to call, but if your call is not answered promptly, it is probably because the staff person is working to repair the problem. You can also check out the Town of Thurmont Facebook page ( or my page ( to see if anyone has reported an issue. It is important that our residents are informed of any infrastructure issues we may be experiencing, and we keep an eye on Facebook for reports of questions about issues and we attempt to provide updates as they are available.

Currently, the Town of Thurmont is making sewer line repairs to Rouzer Court, and will be working in the coming weeks on repairs and improvements at locations on Apples Church Road, Mantle Court, and Moser Road. Please be aware of these ongoing projects and be careful while driving where sewer line work is being completed.

This summer, we are planning to start work on waterlines on North Church Street, between Emmitsburg Road and Rt. 15. This project will see the replacement of water mains and the installation of new service lines. The work is expected to cause disruption to traffic, with narrowed or closed travel lanes. During this project, be sure to allow more time if you are passing through the work area or plan on taking alternate routes. There will be flagmen directing traffic and, as always, be sure to pay close attention to the directions they are giving traffic.

Finally, I want to thank our residents for your patience and understanding during the recent water and electric issues we have been addressing. Our staff is dedicated to restoring service as quickly as possible whenever there is an outage or loss of services.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at, by calling me at 301-606-9458, or through my Facebook page.

How Did They Fare?

by Deb Abraham Spalding

In 2017, The Catoctin Banner staff followed the progress of two residents’ resolutions. Artist, Rachel Mohler, resolved to complete a painting-a-day of the scene outside the window of her Sabillasville home. Health and Wellness Coach, Susan Torborg, resolved to impact the health of others by sharing her R3 Weightloss Plan. Take a look at how they progressed in meeting their resolutions. Thank you Rachel and Susan for being a part of this year-long adventure!

Rachel Mohler

Rachel Mohler of Sabillasville started 2017 with the resolution to paint the view outside her kitchen window every day. In May, I interviewed Rachel to write a progress update. At the time, she and her family had learned valuable lessons from the resolution: more awareness of nature and changes in the weather, as well as the overall lesson to notice more detail about life. Shortly after our interview, in June, construction started for an addition on her home. During that time, life at the Mohler’s house was complete chaos, as her family of five had to live in two rooms, around construction and construction workers. You can imagine that painting took a back seat and was limited during that time. As summer went on, the thought of painting daily became unreasonable.

Despite the distractions, Rachel completed some watercolor paintings to sell. Seemingly as a distraction, she made some art charms and the charms were selling out. Along the way, several collaborations and projects presented themselves, and Rachel followed the opportunities. She’s been very busy.

First, a long-time friend, Amy V. Lindenberger, who owns a co-op art gallery in Gettysburg, called The Drawing Room Gallery, asked Rachel to start selling her art this coming March. Rachel will have at least a dozen pieces for sale at one time there.

Second, as an analog pen pal artist, Rachel’s friend, Trina O’Gorman of WarriorWriting on Instagram, asked Rachel to collaborate with her on a year-long journaling project. As an artist, when Rachel sends a letter, she paints something on the letter. The letters are placed in a pocket notebook and sent back and forth. Trina wrote an article about Rachel and their journal project for her newsletter. Rachel said, “It was a wonderful, very touching article.” This occurrence inspired Rachel to start blogging online. Rachel belongs to the MTN and Fountain Pens group on Facebook, where participants use fountain pens to write letters back and forth. The letters become art, as the writer indicates the model of fountain pen they used, the type of tip (called nib) on the pen, and the brand and color of ink used to create the expressive words.

Third, Julianne Du Four is a friend that Rachel met in a mom’s group in Walkersville. Julianne started the Petal Patch Flower Farm, from which she sells her flowers at a Downtown Frederick market. Like Rachel, she has small kids, so Rachel recognized the work it takes to make her business grow. Noticing how Julianne’s passion for her flowers transforms her, Rachel was inspired to paint portraits of Julianne each season, and is planning a line of Petal Patch Flower Farm charms, using dried flowers provided by Julianne.

Amidst all the chaos of life, Rachel’s painting-a-day 2017 resolution transformed into new awareness and opportunity.

“While I failed at my original goal, the resolution forced me to do something that propelled me through a winter phase of the artist’s version of writer’s block.” She explained, “I’m in places at the end of the year that I never, ever dreamed.”

The 2017 resolution served as a tool for her. “I’m human, and it’s been helpful. To fail at a goal is almost better than actually succeeding, because it helped me look past that to horizons I’d never dreamed or thought possible.”

Having turned forty in October, Rachel has officially arrived at a goal she never truly took seriously, “…to be an artist with a capital A.”

In 2018, her resolution is to complete one painting of a local scene per month.

Susan Torborg

We first introduced Susan Torborg in our March 2017 issue as our second Catoctin Banner Resolutions Spotlight. At the time, she and her husband Jim and their five children lived in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. In her introduction article, Susan showed a picture of her vision board for 2017. On it, she indicated that she wanted to achieve balance in her life with family first followed by faith, motherhood, health, and financial freedom.

With a degree in exercise science, Susan’s life mission has been to help others. She has been a personal trainer, she even marketed her own workout CD in the 1990s with some success. In more recent years, she has been on a mission to enhance the lives of other people by educating them about how to live chemical-free in their homes and how to achieve their weight loss goals. She introduced her FREE six-week weight loss program called “R3 Weight Loss Plan.” In 2017, through the R3 Plan, Susan had re-solved to help over 300 people lose a cumulative total of 1,000 inches and at least 1 ton (2,000 pounds) of fat. “People love the R3 Weight Loss Plan because it teaches the skill of weight loss. It has keto affects in the first two weeks, but is maintainable long-term because of the variety of foods allowed,” Susan explained.

In addition to helping hundreds of R3 individuals, Susan conducted the first official six-week R3 Weight Loss Challenge from November 1 through December 13, 2017. In this challenge alone, there were 552 participants from all over North America and Canada. The participants in that challenge lost a total of 2,428.8 pounds and 3,036 total inches. Susan far surpassed her original resolution goals.

Susan had achieved success! But, like most lessons in life, it was the journey to the results where her bigger achievements were found. Shortly after a resolution update article that appeared in the July issue of The Catoctin Banner, Susan’s husband Jim, was recruited for a new job in Minnesota (where his large family lives). Within a month, the Torborg family moved to Minnesota so their children could start school in the beginning of the new year.

Susan’s biggest achievements in 2017 resulted while helping her children settle in the new schools, and making a new home for her family in a new place. Susan knew how hard it is to ac-climate to a new community, so she pushed herself out in the community to meet as many people as she could. She said, “It was very hard at times and found myself going through some tough days of missing Emmitsburg and Fairfield and crying as I drove myself around trying to find the local super market.” The intentional push out of her comfort zone resulted in meeting many amazing people and new friends. She started building her business locally in Minnesota in November and initiated partnerships with chiropractors and local gyms.

“I have learned and seen my confidence has grown a lot this year,” Susan shared, “I have a renewed sense of confidence in approaching other trainers, gym openers, chiropractors, and other health professionals to partner with them in helping teach their clients the R3 Plan. My goal in 2018 is to partner with ten other health professionals. I have realized I have been letting fear stop me in approaching them before. I am pushing through fear this year in 2018 and doing the activities anyway to reach my goals.”

Susan is very active on Facebook with frequent live videos about her challenges towards health and life as well as posts and live videos from some of her clients.

You can find the R3 Plan on Facebook by requesting to join the closed group, “R3 Weight Loss Plan” and Susan will add you. She made the group public early in 2017, and now it has over 8,250 members and grows by hundreds of new members weekly. You can download and print the plan for free and find it in the first pinned post. Susan wishes you a new journey of resolution in 2018. You can do it! She will help. The next R3 six-week Weight Loss Challenge starts January 1, 2018, and anyone can join the group at any time during January. If you miss the start date, you can join the next challenge in February.

Deb Abraham Spalding

In 1939, Pauline Smith lived in the white stucco house at the corner of Elm Street and Emmitsburg Road in Thurmont. One day, someone gave her turkey eggs. Pauline had an idea; she decided to put the eggs under a chicken, hoping they would hatch. And, they did! From that day on, she raised turkeys and sold them to friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Over the years, the interest in her turkeys increased, and she realized that there was enough of a market for turkeys to start a business. Already owning a beef and dairy operation, Pauline and husband, Ross, decided to go into turkeys full-time.

Seeing a promising opportunity, the Smiths created Hillside Turkey Farm. Pauline’s husband, Ross, and her children, Betsy, Carlotta, Ann, Ross Jr., and Jimmy all worked for the business at some point in time. Ross II and his wife, Grace, with their sons, Ross III and Bryan, took over when Ross Sr. got sick. Today, Ross Jr.’s son, Bryan and his wife, Judy, have been running the turkey business for approximately twenty years. All of Bryan and Judy’s children—Bryan Jr., Ashley, and Derek—have worked at the business in some capacity while growing up. Bryan Jr. worked the business full-time until he took a new job in Frederick. Derek works while attending college at Mount St. Mary’s University. Both boys show interest in the family business; yet, as parents, Bryan and Judy want the boys to discover all their career options, so they can choose what’s best for them.

According to the USDA, Hillside Turkey Farm’s retail store on Elm Street in Thurmont is known as a Further Processing Plant. The Smith’s farm on Hoover’s Mill Road in Thurmont is where the turkeys are raised. They are then transported for processing in Pennsylvania. Some of the turkeys are shipped back to the store for further processing, meaning the whole bird is used and several things are made from it. They will be processed for sale as fresh turkeys or prepared by smoking, rotisserie cooking, curing, or becoming an ingredient in salads, pot pies, and other foods.

Obviously, the Smith’s turkey business has grown over the generations. Today, the farm has the capability to raise 180,000 birds per year, and it is the job of Bryan and Judy to see that it continues to grow, as technology and shopping trends change. The bulk customer, who freezes and prepares their own large-quantity orders, is joined by the single customer, who is looking for individual-portion packaging. “That’s why it’s important to serve a single customer or an entire party of people,” said Judy. She explained that customers can custom order rotisserie chickens and, occasionally, smoked meats, or they can make special orders with advanced notice.

The Smiths are making a special effort to have individual servings prepared so that customers can take the serving home and freeze it or just pop it in the oven, while still servicing the customer who will need larger quantities. Pre-packaged products in smaller quantities, like pot pies and turkey dinners, are popular for individuals, while the eighty-piece chicken package is a bulk deal for people hosting parties or desiring to package and freeze it themselves.

For parties, smoked breast, deli meats, and cheese can be used to prepare trays; smoked turkey salad makes a great cracker spread, and shrimp and crab meat (available occasionally) round out the party spread.

“Turkey Italian sausage is excellent when baked 25-35 minutes in a 19×13 pan, then cut into slices and tossed in a crock pot with sauce. It’s much easier than making meatballs,” shared Judy.

Hillside turkeys are antibiotic–free and nothing is ever injected, such as added oils or fats. Check out Hillside Turkey Farm by visiting them in person at 30 Elm Street in Thurmont, viewing and ordering online at, or calling 301-271-2728. Tell them you saw them here in The Catoctin Banner newspaper!

Pauline and Ross Smith are shown with a turkey in the early days of Hillside.

Pictured from left are Ashley, Bryan Jr., Bryan, Judi, and Derek Smith.

The smoke house can cook many turkeys at one time on 3’x3’ racks. Wood chips feed the smoke. A huge soup kettle is used for pot pies and soups.

Turkeys are shipped to Pennsylvania for processing. A portion of them are returned to the store for further processing. The whole bird is used, and several kinds of things are made from it.

Eileen Dwyer

Established in the mid-1700s, the village of Thurmont was originally named Mechanicstown. The settlement offered plentiful sources of timber, iron ores, and creeks to provide sources of power. The area flourished with mills, iron forges, tanneries, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, and other craftsmen. The name Mechanicstown seemed appropriate, given the means of trade of commerce.

The arrival of the railroad in 1871 established Mechanicstown as a commercial hub of the area. Rapidly, newer industries such as pottery-makers, coffin works, cigar-makers and lumber businesses were established.  Goods were shipped from the new freight depot.

With the dawn of these more progressive industries, the commercial and business leaders felt the village needed a more contemporary name.  And the railroad felt shipping and passenger confusion caused by similarly-named villages would be greatly alleviated. Subsequently, a vote was taken in the late1800s for the renaming of the village.  The two contenders were Blue Mountain City and Thurmont.

Although Blue Mountain City received the popular vote, it was vetoed by the Post Office and the village name was changed Thurmont.

Thurmont is a derivative of the German word, tür (door) and the Latin word, mons (mountains).  So, quite literally, Thurmont translates into “gateway to the mountains” far better than Blue Mountain City might.  What’s in a name?