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James Rada, Jr.

The signs on the doors of businesses across the area are turning from closed to open as the COVID-19 restrictions in Maryland and Frederick County loosen. Even businesses that were open because they were deemed essential are expanding their operations.

On June 11, the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg opened with 32 outdoor seats so that customers could eat at the restaurant for the first time in months. That is, as long as it didn’t rain.

“This is so outside of the way we like to operate,” said Manager Kristy Shriner. “We like to exceed our customers’ expectations of service and this will make it hard to do.”

However, as the restrictions loosened, the restaurant would also offer indoor seating at 50 percent of capacity the following day.

Sherry Myers, owner of Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont was going through the steps of having outdoor seating when the restrictions allowed indoor seating.

“We were really worried the first two weeks after things closed down, but the community has been our biggest supporters,” she said.

With hospitalizations in Maryland under 1,000, and other metrics improving, Governor Larry Hogan lifted some restrictions on June 12 and 19.

On June 12, restaurants could allow indoor seating at 50 percent capacity with social distancing and other health considerations implemented.  Also, outdoor amusements, such as rides and miniature golf could reopen as long as they followed various health rules. Pools could operate at 50 percent capacity while following health rules.

On June 19, gyms, martial arts studio and dance studios could reopen at 50 percent capacity if health guidelines were followed. Casinos, arcades, and malls could reopen. School buildings could reopen for small groups and childcare could have a maximum of 15 people in any one room.

Christina Royer, owner of Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, reopened on May 29 with stylists wearing facemasks, curtains between wash stations, hair dryers more spread out, and a sanitizing station. The stylists had also all completed a course on how to properly clean and sanitize their stations.

“It was busy at first,” Royer said. “We were working 10 to 12-hour days, sometimes 14 hours trying to get caught up.”

Although the Fort Ritchie Community Center was shut down during the health crisis, some fitness classes were offered outside when the weather was appropriate.

“Our outdoor classes were all well attended,” said Director Buck Browning. “They were generally all at capacity.”

While the center was closed, Browning made plans for precautions that would be taken when the interior rooms were allowed to open. Grant money paid for Plexiglas shields between pieces of equipment in the fitness center.

However, even when the center was allowed to reopen, the damage done during the closure will require a long recovery. Besides lost dues for three months, many summer camps were canceled, and those that will run will do so with few attendees.

Shriner said the Carriage House staff also made use of their down time and planned new menu offerings, but she is eager to be back at full operations.

“Everyone has been so wonderful,” Shriner said. “It’s nice to hear how important we are to them because they are important to us.”

Myers agreed, saying, “We miss our customers.”

Although things are taking on a sense of normalcy once again, businesses are still facing restrictions that hinder their ability to do business and may force some to close permanently. So, if you have the opportunity, buy from a local business. They have supported their communities in the past, and now they need their communities to support them.

Christina Royer, of Here’s Clyde’s Family Hair Care in Thurmont, is shown washing a client’s hair at with COVID restrictions in place.

Outdoor yoga classes at the Fort Ritchie Community Center allowed the center to offer fitness classes to its clients during the time when indoor fitness classes were closed due to COVID restrictions.


Mayor Don Briggs

Getting back to “normal”…whatever that means to each of us. From experience, every moment, hour, and day brings with it a new “normal.” But what seems even more challenging now is that we can’t apply our plan to at least attempt to bring in the next “normal” with some balance of predictability. Will there be school in the fall? Will there be Catoctin High and CYA sports in the fall? Any afterschool student activities? We are left with less degree of certainty than what our wonderful farmers contend with every spring—God love’em—who till, plant, and hope for rain, while for our schools and towns, we’re not allowed to even “till” (move forward with a plan).

We do not tell this to any of our graduating classes at Catoctin High School, Thurmont Middle, Mother Seton School, and all the feeder elementary schools. No reminder needed. It is a shame what they all had to go through this year: no graduations ceremonies, no extended family celebration get-togethers, no proms. Still, it certainly will stand out among all graduations as a memorable one.

On the heels of permission to have outdoor dining at restaurants, our restaurants can now open for indoor dining. Sadly, the 2020 Emmitsburg & Thurmont Community Show for this fall has been canceled, except for the Catoctin FFA Alumni Livestock Show & Sale for market goat, beef, sheep, swine is scheduled (for now) on Saturday, September 12, 2020.

Thank goodness Flag Day was not canceled. Flag Day was June 14, and it is very special for us up this way. Held on a rotational basis between the towns of Thurmont and Emmitsburg, this year, it was our honor to hold the tribute in Memorial Park. It is a time where the two towns, Thurmont and Emmitsburg, rich in their histories, come together as one to pay tribute: the Emmitsburg American Legion Post No. 121, Thurmont American Legion Post No. 168, Emmitsburg Post No. 6658, and Thurmont AmVets Post No. 7. Like for our Memorial Day commemoration three weeks prior to Flag Day, the Emmitsburg Color Guard visited all of our cemeteries. The tribute started with a three-volley 21-gun salute; this time, however, by a joint Thurmont and Emmitsburg Color Guard. Then the Pledge of Allegiance was humbly lead by Mayor Kinnaird and myself, the invocation was given by Rich Kapriva, and an inspirational speech was given by guest Ronald Holcombe, Department 2nd Vice Commander. Boy Scout Troop 727 dutifully retired old flags used in our communities by burning them.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Community Heritage Day was changed to a night of music and fireworks, to be held on Saturday, June 27. So much hard work went into it: music from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and then fireworks. Move over COVID-19, Emmitsburg traditional fireworks show is coming through.

The pool opening is planned for Friday, July 3. Please bear with us since only 25 percent of the pool’s surface area can be occupied, which equates to 27 people in the pool at one time.

Farmer’s Market opens June 29. Please support our area farmers.
Try our new disk golf course in Community Park.

Groundbreaking for Dunkin’ (Donuts) will be on July 23. Check with the town website for a time. This COVID-19 is a terrible scourge. Do not think it is a thing of the past. Keep up social distancing, get rest, make proper eating choices, and get out and exercise for short periods of time each day. Whatever challenges are brought, this will be our best 4th of July ever.

by James Rada, Jr.


Questions Remained about Pool Operation

With the COVID-19 restrictions limiting pools to no more than 50 percent capacity, the Emmitsburg Commissioners need to make decisions on how the pool will operate.

“We still want people to enjoy the pool and take full use of it if and when it opens,” Commissioner T.J. Burns said during the June meeting.

The contract with the pool management company needs to be reworked because the season continues to shrink, and the restrictions mean more cleaning supplies and staff will be needed. There is also the question of what to charge when it seems the pool will operate at a deficit this year.

The commissioners are considering two optioins: half-price days during the week for town residents, and a shift system that will have two different pool sessions each day.

Community Park to be Renamed

The Emmitsburg Commissioners voted in June to rename Community Park after Gene Myers. Just what the name will be, will be decided after consulting the Myers family.

Micro-grant Deadline Extended

The deadline to for Emmitsburg businesses with fewer than 15 employees to file for a micro-grant to support existing town businesses has been extended to July 9. The grant is funded with $30,000. The town staff will award a one-time grant with no repayment due to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions placed on businesses and meet the criteria. Based upon the number of applications received, the $30,000 will be distributed evenly to all eligible businesses that meet the criteria, not to exceed $1,000. Nonprofits, churches, banks/ financial institutions, investment, real estate entities, chains/franchisees, and government agencies are not eligible to apply. You can find more information and the grant application at

Temporary Outdoor Seating Permits Available

Emmitsburg and Frederick County offer a temporary outdoor seating permit. This allows restaurants and other businesses to expand their seating areas outside of the building, including sidewalks, common areas, and parking for up to 12 months or until the State of Emergency is lifted. Please contact Town Planner Zach Gulden at for more information.


Community Show Canceled

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show has been canceled. However, a beef, sheep, and swine sale at Eyler Stables will be held on September 12.

Lions Club Donates to Town Projects

The Thurmont Lions Club recently donated $7,200 to the Town of Thurmont for the upkeep of the Thurmont Trolley Trail, and $9,200 for continued work on the building mural at the East Main Street end of the trolley trail.

Commissioners Approve Food Bank Renovations

With the help of a $20,000 Community Legacy Grant, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved $24,371 in renovations to the Thurmont Food Bank building. Blue Line Home Improvement of Emmitsburg will replace the sidewalk with one that is ADA compliant, reframe the front doorways, upgrade the bathrooms, add a new exterior light, add a pair of new interior doors, and replace the flooring. The amount of the project exceeding the grant will be paid for from the town’s capital reserve fund.

Community Shred Event Planned for September

The Town of Thurmont and Woodsboro Bank will offer a community shred event on Saturday, September 26. It will take place at the Thurmont Police Department, located at 800 East Main Street, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Office paper, paper clips, staples, rubber bands, folders, hanging folders, and labels will be accepted. Non-acceptable items include: newspapers, magazines, binders, heavy plastics, cardboard, heavy metal, heavy carbon, trash, x-rays, floppy disks, CDs, and batteries.

This event will benefit the Thurmont Food Bank, so you are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for each box of material to shred you bring.

Remember to Pick Up Your Dog’s Waste

You must pick up your dog’s waste when walking your pet to prevent it from becoming a health hazard. Otherwise, you can be fined up to $100 for a repeated offense.

James Rada, Jr.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world around us has changed, and whether it goes back to normal is still anyone’s guess. We witnessed the doors of some local business and restaurants closed, and others adapting the way they do business; local events cancelled or postponed; and this newspaper didn’t print April or May editions. Odd things… that go against our pattern of life.

However, area businesses, organizations, and residents have worked to adapt to a new way of doing things as they are now. This means things like social distancing, face masks, and lots of sanitizing. It also means lots of people sitting around unable to work, and those who can work having too much to do.

When the quarantine order closed down many businesses in the state, Billy Kuhn, owner of His Place Auto Repair in Emmitsburg, knew that meant fewer cars would be on the road, and he’d see less business. His employees went on unemployment.

“Basically, it’s just been me working,” Kuhn said.

He makes sure all the vehicles he works on are disinfected before he starts work, and he disinfects them when the work is complete.

He has run into some snags because it has been hard at times to get parts, either because the manufacturer isn’t operating, shipping problems, or some other issue.

He has applied for financial aid from the various programs available to help businesses suffering income loss from COVID-19. While he has been approved for some of them, he has yet to receive any funds.

Meanwhile, Shriver’s Meats can’t keep up with demand. Stoked by stories of meat shortages, people have sought to stockpile meat. They bought up what they could.

“I was having to tell customers of 30, 40, and 50 years that I didn’t have what they wanted,” said Dave Shriver.

It wasn’t that he didn’t have the meat, but the increased demand was impossible for his team to keep up with. They went from offering retail sales six days a week to one. They work through the week preparing meat for sale, and they offer it on Saturdays. Even that is only a partial fix. They have still had to limit how much people can buy of certain meats.

“We are selling so much meat that we are not taking any orders for anything else,” Shriver said. He hopes to start retaking wholesale orders by July.

While he is getting overworked during this crisis, he is happy he is still able to work when so many other businesses are forced to close.

Melissa Wetzel of Melissa M. Wetzel Accounting Services in Emmitsburg is someone else who is working long hours, despite the tax deadline being pushed back to July 15.

“The July 15 deadline really isn’t helping me,” she said. “This seems to be a never-ending tax season.

Although the business is not open to the public, Wetzel is still working. However, she is having to do it alone since her employees can’t come to work.

Her clients drop their papers off at her door, and Wetzel gets to them as she can. But the forms pile up.

“I don’t even take calls anymore,” she said. “I don’t have the time. There are just too many calls coming in with people needing help.”

Her clients can contact Wetzel via e-mail. She answers their questions or helps them with the paperwork that needs to be filled out to be eligible for the COVID-19 financial impact programs.

When a client needs to pick up paperwork, they arrange a time to come by the office. They pull up to the curb and text Wetzel they have arrived. She dons gloves and a mask and takes the paperwork out to the client’s car.

J&B Real Estate in Thurmont shut down its physical office, although Cindy Grimes continues working.

“We had to keep our physical office closed to the public, but we have been allowed to continue working with precautions, showing property but wearing face coverings, gloves, etc.,” Grimes said. “Meeting with no more than two people at a time, if possible. We have also made use of virtual showings, virtual meetings, and virtual listing appointments as much as possible.”

Despite being able to make accommodations, fewer people are listing their properties right now, so there is less business for real estate brokers. Particularly if a property is still occupied, the owners might be reluctant to have people coming into their homes right now.

“We are asking clients to do only what they are comfortable with,” Grimes said. “I do have a few occupied homes that are coming on the market, and we are asking buyers agents to take every precaution, including wearing the proper PPE and getting to the property before their clients so that they have time to open closets, turn on lights, etc., so that buyers touch as little as possible while they are visiting the property.”

Although buyers tend to want to visit a home in person, the use of virtual showings has been rising, and Grimes thinks that will continue even after the crisis passes.

Celebrations Catering in Thurmont still offers carry-out service for meals during the crisis, but catered events are not happening right now. “We hope to be catering again by July 1,” said Executive Chef Colin Snyder. “We are projecting parties of 50 or less.”

He said that while staff already wore gloves while catering events, he foresees face masks continuing to be used for the time being.

“The masks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon,” he said.

One organization that saw big changes during this crisis was the school system. Students had to switch from learning in a classroom to distance learning.

“Teachers have redesigned their instruction to be delivered on a digital platform, and students have worked to adjust as well,” said Catoctin High Principal Jennifer Clements. “We have had to overcome challenges, including students’ lack of internet access and difficulties in mastering material without the benefit of their teacher right there to instruct and respond to questions immediately. Our teachers have put forth great effort to support their students virtually, and we have worked together with families to problem-solve the barriers to student learning.”

However, educating students was only part of the challenge. Students no longer had personal interactions with their friends. A virtual graduation had to be developed from scratch.

“The students have been disappointed, but they have also displayed a very mature perspective, including a reflection on what they have learned through this situation (such as an appreciation for what they had and/or have),” Clements said.

Mother Seton School also had to move students to remote learning. They closed for a day, so staff could put together a plan to accomplish this, and students were asked to take home all the textbooks and workbooks they might need.

“Once it was made official that we would have to close the campus, we immediately put our remote learning plan to work,” Lynn Tayler, Marketing and Communications Specialist with Mother Seton School, said. “Middle school was already used to using Google Classroom for their homework and some in-class assignments, so it was mainly a matter of organizing lessons and communicating with the families. Teachers for the younger grades adapted their lesson plans and technology use to best fit their grade. Regular communication with families was, and remains, imperative. The first couple of weeks were a transition for everyone, and we used the time to work out any kinks and address any special needs.”

The students had to deal with missing friends. Staff at the school put together a Virtual Spirit Week, book club lunches using Zoom, and a Virtual Walkathon for students to participate in.

Jayden Price, a sixth-grade student, said. “I don’t like that I can’t see my friends all the time. But it’s cool that I can do the schoolwork on my own schedule, as long as I get it done.”

With the virus causing the most damage in nursing homes, maintaining services for senior citizens posed a challenge. Meals on Wheels in Frederick County continued, but county staff took over the deliveries as opposed to volunteers. The staff wore face masks, used hand sanitizer before and after each delivery, and wore fresh disposable gloves for each delivery, according to Kitty Devilbiss, Home and Community Connections Directory for Frederick County Senior Services Division. A weekly meal delivery service was also added, which provided eligible seniors with seven frozen meals, and the Groceries For Seniors monthly distribution was expanded to accommodate twice as many recipients, twice per month. 

Per the governor’s order, county senior centers were closed. However, seniors were able to stay connected.

“Additional resources were added to The Virtual Learning Center on the FCSSD website, and by mid-April, the Virtual 50+Community Center was launched,” Devilbiss said.    

The virtual center allows seniors to participate in live fitness, education, and recreation activities on a daily basis to maintain health and stay connected with others.

With summer upon us, the crisis is expected to let up, but what will happen this fall remains to be seen. However, having been through the problems that came with the virus this spring, businesses and organizations will at least have a basis to work from should things get bad again.

Cover Photos:

Catoctin High School Class of 2020 by Theresa Hutchinson;

Courtesy of John Kinnaird

Catoctin High School Graduation Plans

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) has announced that all high schools will have a virtual graduation ceremony this year. Staff members at Catoctin High School (CHS) are working hard to create a memorable virtual ceremony for the Class of 2020 that will air the week of June 8.

Catoctin High School also offered seniors the opportunity to wear their cap and gown and walk across the CHS auditorium stage. A photographer captured a picture of each senior on the stage, which will be included in Catoctin’s virtual graduation ceremony. The event took place on May 26-28. Seniors were limited to bring no more than four members of their immediate family to watch them walk the stage.

CHS Principal Jen Clements issued the following statement, “Seniors (and families of seniors) – I know that this school closure, at what would normally be a time of great celebration and anticipation, makes us all feel as if we are losing out on important milestones—I agree and feel the same way. As a principal, graduation is the day that brings me the greatest joy; and every day with students in the building is what gives me energy…those have both been missing during the past few months. However, I have challenged myself (and encourage all of you to do the same) to find the good and to make the best of what we cannot control. Whether we like it or not, this time in our lives will be memorable and will leave an unforgettable mark on the year 2020. This situation has also afforded us time to reflect and appreciate even the little things (I have heard this in my communication with many students, and think this mature perspective will serve you well as you venture into adulthood). I have also seen many examples of our community coming together (not physically together, but always together in spirit and purpose) to support each other and our students—this just serves to reiterate what is so special about our Catoctin community. So, as you feel the disappointment of what is different about your senior experience, I hope you can also be reflective about what you have gained through the last two months, but also throughout your time at Catoctin High School.

We now know that Graduation will be a virtual program to be aired during the week of June 8. I understand the feelings of disappointment and frustration that our current situation is affecting such an important and momentous event. While I share those same feelings, I also take great pride in the beautiful graduation program that we are producing to honor our seniors; the hundreds of hours that are being poured into creating an amazing and meaningful program is reflective of our goal to honor you in the best way we can right now. I look forward to the opportunities ahead to see you, to congratulate you, and to wish you well (from a distance!).

Thank you for your continued support of our community, our school, and, most especially, the beloved members of our CHS Class of 2020. Through our collaboration, support and communication we will come through this Cougar Strong!”

Honoring Catoctin High School Seniors

In honor of the Catoctin High School Class of 2020, signs celebrating each of the graduates were on display at Catoctin High School on Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22. The signs were provided through the courtesy of the Town of Thurmont, the Town of Emmitsburg, Catoctin High School, and Karen and John Kinnaird.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird posted the following message on social media, “We are very proud of each end every one of the students from within the Catoctin High School feeder area, and we congratulate [our graduates] for achieving this goal in your journey through life. Your future holds an entire world of opportunity; make the most of it.”

In honor of the Catoctin High School Class of 2020, signs celebrating each of the graduates were on display at Catoctin High School on Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22. The signs were provided through the courtesy of the Town of Thurmont, the Town of Emmitsburg, Catoctin High School, and Karen and John Kinnaird.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird posted the following message on social media, “We are very proud of each end every one of the students from within the Catoctin High School feeder area, and we congratulate [our graduates] for achieving this goal in your journey through life. Your future holds an entire world of opportunity; make the most of it.”

James Rada, Jr.

If you weren’t already aware of it, the closures due to COVID-19 also caused Maryland’s Primary Election to be postponed until June 2.

The State of Maryland is pushing for this election to be primarily conducted via mail. All registered voters should have already received a ballot. If you are registered but did not receive a ballot, it may be because you have changed addresses. The ballot was sent to the address the Board of Elections has on file.

If you need a ballot, you can download it from the Maryland Board of Elections website on the absentee voting page. The ballots must be postmarked by June 2. You can also drop the ballot off at designated locations. For our area, the closest locations are:

•   William R Talley Recreation Center, 121 N. Bentz Street, Frederick.

•   Frederick County Board of Elections, 340A Montevue Lane, Frederick.

You can also vote in-person on Election Day at the William R. Talley Recreation Center (the closest) from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Social distancing guidelines will be observed at these locations, which could lead to long lines or wait times.

In Frederick County, you will be voting for president, vice-president, congresspeople, state judges, and county board of education members.

You can check to make sure your ballot was counted by visiting and clicking “Look up your Voter Info” and following the directions. You can also call 1-800-222-8683 and ask a State Board of Elections representative to check the status of your voted ballot. The information will be posted about 10 days after the election.

John Kinnaird

Memorial Day means many things to many people. To some, it is the first weekend of the summer; to others, it’s a day off to spend with the family.

To Joe Keller of 107 East Hammaker Street in Thurmont, Memorial Day is the day to remember his brothers in arms who died in action while stationed with him in Vietnam.

Joe has erected a moving memorial to his fallen brothers and has the names of each one on display. I stopped to visit with Joe the afternoon of Saturday, May 23, and it was a moving experience. He knew each of these guys and reminded me that his friends and each one of the 58,220 who died in Vietnam had a name and a story. So often, we hear the number of soldiers killed in action but seldom do you know their names or anything about who they were.

I remember watching the evening news in the 1960s and seeing scenes of battle from Vietnam and hearing the daily casualty lists. I left Joe’s house this afternoon with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifice each of those men and women made on our behalf.

Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day and reaches back to before the Civil War. Soldiers graves are decorated with flowers or flags so their memory will be carried on to the next generation. Joe is making sure his brothers are remembered and honored for their service and sacrifice.

I encourage each and every one of my friends to take a drive past Joe’s house and experience this moving memorial for yourselves. If you see Joe there, stop and say “Hi.” Take a minute or two to hear a little about the American Heroes and the personal friends Joe is honoring.

John Kinnaird stands with Joe Keller in front of Joe’s memorial to his fallen brothers.

James Rada, Jr.

Although the Hagerstown and Frederick Trolley last ran more than 65 years ago, the former trolley route has become a popular walking trail through Thurmont, from East Main Street along the side of Memorial Park to Moser Road.

The trail is less than three-quarters of a mile long, but plans have been made to extend the trail to the north and south. The H&F Trolley Trail Association formed to try and develop the trail so that it can connect with other trails in the county.

“Eventually, we would like to connect to the Carroll Creek Trail in Frederick off of Rosemont, and even get to Emmitsburg,” said Bryant Despeaux, president of the H&F Trolley Trail Association.

A fully connected trail could be an economic boon for the town and county. A 2012 Economic Impact Study on The Heritage Rail Trail in York County, Pennsylvania, found that the trail drew in 281,185 annual visits, resulting in over 4.4 million dollars in revenue to the local economy. The Heritage Rail Trail is similar to the proposed trolley trail, so it is hoped the results would be similar.

The southern trail extension runs from Moser Road south past the library and wastewater treatment plant and loops around a pond. This will extend the trail about 3,000 feet, and also takes the trail to the edge of the Thurmont municipal boundary. This extension will probably be the first one built.

The northern extension starts at Sunset Street and continues to the boundary of property owned by Mechanicstown, LLC. Mechanicstown, LLC has committed to extending the trail on the property as they develop the property. This would bring the trail to Radio Lane and close to the ultimate destination of Eyler Park. This extension probably won’t start until next year.

Despeaux said the estimate is that it will cost about $64,000 to develop these extensions. A large portion of that amount will go towards renting an excavator. The association has applied for three grants that will help reach this amount, although two of the grants will still require matching funds.

“We are hopeful we will receive at least one of them,” Despeaux said.

The organization is also soliciting donations and fundraising through various events.

You can learn more about the extension and the association at the Thurmont Greenfest on June 6. The H&F Trolley Association will be there building bluebird boxes.

Find out more by visiting

Trail Photos Courtesy of Bryant Despeaux

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Board of Education Votes for More Time

Deb Abraham Spalding

Applause and cheers concluded a meeting on Wednesday, February 27, 2020, at the Frederick County Public School’s (FCPS) Central Office in Frederick, when Frederick County Board of Education (BOE) members listened to the voices of residents in Northern Frederick County by voting to take more time—through December 31, 2020—to explore and weigh all factors involved in the consideration of shutting down Sabillasville Elementary School. 

At a January 22, 2020, Board of Education meeting, FCPS staff presented an enrollment update to the Board that sparked concern about low enrollment at the Sabillasville Elementary School. In response, BOE members asked FCPS staff to investigate.

The topic was routed on a seemingly high-speed path, surprising and shaking up the Northern Frederick County school’s staff, students, and residents. The report, that was released the morning after an informal February 20 informational community meeting led by FCPS Superintendent Theresa Alban and BOE President Brad Young at the school, supports the closure of the school and the re-assignment of its students to Thurmont schools.

Dr. Theresa Alban commenced the February 20 informational meeting with a public apology. She explained that she had talked to a reporter with the Frederick News-Post about the report before communicating with the school, staff, or community. People read the news article and thought the decision to close the school had been made without community input. She assured the community that was not the case.

She went on to explain the process of considering shutting down a school under Board Policy 200. She outlined the schedule of opportunity for public comment with meetings planned in March, leading up to a Board vote at the end of March.

Alban said, “We are not looking at this lightly and easily. When you look at the factors that a Board has to consider when a Board is determining whether they need to close or consolidate schools, you’ll see that it’s pretty comprehensive.”

Alban referenced the “Consideration of Sabillasville Elementary School Closing Superintendent’s Report” that would be released the following morning and reviewed the factors being considered in the report: student enrollment trends in relation to state rated capacity; age and/or condition of school buildings; transportation; educational programs; racial composition and levels of poverty of student body; financial considerations; student relocation; impact on community in geographic attendance area for both the proposed closing school and schools impacted by relocating students; and any other factors the Board deems relevant to rendering its decision.

Though this meeting was intended to be informational, Dr. Alban and Young invited questions and promised to answer truthfully and to the best of their knowledge.

Many people in the audience asked questions or raised points of consideration.

Marty Burns, former mayor of Thurmont and current Thurmont Town Commissioner, received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of his thoughtful and passionate delivery about the potential closure. He said, “We feel [the residents of Northern Frederick County]…that we’re not being represented appropriately…It doesn’t make any sense…when we’re [Thurmont] doing this Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that we can’t develop when we have over-crowded schools. We chose not to develop Northern Frederick County, and we’re being punished by closing our school. We feel like you don’t care. I’m asking you to reconsider… It shouldn’t happen.”

A couple of hundred people attended this meeting, and several citizens took the opportunity to ask questions or deliver concern or statistics, including George Kuhn, president of the Northwestern Civic Association; SES parent, Colt Black; resident, Jim Bittner; community supporter, David Harman; resident, Mark Harman; resident, Steven Firme; supporter, Walt Ellenburg; a man from Wolfsville who was concerned about his school being next; SES parent Penny Rice, and several others.

The community was invited to the February 26 Board of Education regular meeting to make comment and learn about the report. At this meeting, public comment was heard, including SES Staff representative Barb Doney, who read a letter from the staff; Thurmont Town Commissioner Marty Burns, who asked the Board to, “…reject the report.”; SES third grade student Hope Rice, who read a letter, addressing the wishes of the students; SES PTO representative Drew McGinness; neighbor, Rich Calimer; Military Family Transition Specialist Tashina Adris; and, most notably, Northwestern Civic Association President George Kuhn. Kuhn implored collaboration and said, “We want the BOE to exhaust every option and possibility that is available to you before you consider closing this school. We want you to find out if there’s any way that we can be in complete compliance with the State and Federal regulations. We want you to seek a waiver, both from the State and Federal government. We would like, as a community, to have input into the formation of that waiver. We want to make sure that that waiver gives you the accurate facts.”

It was Board member, Liz Barrett, who inspired a change in the course of the implied shutdown of Sabillasville Elementary when she stated, “I like the idea to use the space and provide a more equitable experience for all the kids in north county…We haven’t had to close a school in many years. I don’t feel comfortable not considering all the options… not promising [a change in the result]…but feeling artificially constrained by this deadline that we set for ourselves.”

She made a motion to keep the school open and explore collaboration. That motion was approved.

Board President Young addressed the time constraint. He made a motion to extend the decision to December 31, 2020, while evaluating all the options. This motion passed unanimously.

The March 11 meeting was canceled.

These votes bought time and allowed for another year of school at SES. These decisions mark the beginning of collaborative research and work by several entities: FCPS, Frederick County Government, Frederick County BOE, SES students, SES staff, Northern Frederick County residents, and other interested parties.

Banner writer James Rada, Jr. was formerly a school staff reporter in Allegheny County and reported the closure of three schools there. About this situation, he said, “You can rush it and be wrong. In most cases, you regret it.”

“Don’t close our school!” is the sentiment SES students express, as parents back them up at a recent gathering organized by parents at the school.

Third-grade SES student, Hope Rice, adjourned the meeting.

Former Thurmont Mayor and current Thurmont Town Commissioner, Marty Burns, spoke passionately about Northern Frederick County on February 26.

Retired FCPS teacher and Northwestern Civic Association president, George Kuhn, spoke at the February 20 community meeting.

James Rada, Jr.

This year marks 50 years of celebrating the area’s maple-syrup-making heritage at the Cunningham Falls Maple Syrup Festival.

“A lot of families produced maple syrup on their farms and homesteads, and we wanted to preserve that heritage and teach people about something not well known about this area,” said Ranger Travis Watts at Cunningham Falls State Park.

This year’s festival will be held on March 14, 15, 21, and 22 at the Houck Lake Area of the Park. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., you can purchase breakfast and maple syrup products. Also offered for the first time this year, you can buy Maple Festival souvenirs. Children can enjoy games, and a maple-syrup-making demonstration will be held every hour. Local bands will provide live music.

“We will also have some new things this year, such as an antique tractor display, and we will be demonstrating new tapping equipment,” Watts said.

About 3,000 to 5,000 people are expected to attend over the four days.

Admission is a $3 donation in lieu of the park entry fee. All of the money collected goes to the Friends of Cunningham Falls State Park and Gambrill State Park, a non-profit group that supports the park.

Maryland Park Service rangers and volunteers demonstrate the traditional way to make maple syrup.

1.   It takes a tree about 40 years before it is large enough to tap.

2.   Quebec produces two-thirds of the world’s maple syrup.

3.   Many producers uses sap pumps rather than taps and buckets to gather sap.

4.   Thieves stole $18 million worth of maple syrup from Quebec in 2012.

5.   Quebec maintains a huge syrup reserve that can be distributed to members during lean years.

6.   You can’t tell the difference between maple sap and water by looking at it.

7.   A tablespoon of maple syrup has 52 calories.

8.   IHOP has only one restaurant among its 1,400 that serves real maple syrup.

9.   It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

10. Maple trees yield 5 to 15 gallons of sap per season so it takes around three trees to produce a gallon of syrup.

James Rada, Jr.

Most people in the country will receive a card in the mail by the middle of March, inviting them to participate in the 24th decennial census. Many people consider the decennial census merely a count of all the people in the United States—which is what the U.S. Constitution calls for as a minimum—but for each of the 23 U.S. Censuses taken, additional information has also been collected.

“The demographic information is very important. It gives us an idea of what type of life is going on in Thurmont,” said Jim Humerick, Thurmont’s chief administrative officer.

The U.S. Constitution requires the census to be taken every 10 years, and, by law, you must participate. The nine questions take just minutes to answer. The census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790, but this is the first time that census has offered an online response option.

It is not information collected simply to collect data on U.S. residents. The information is used for a variety of purposes, as governments determine legislative boundaries and school districts and decide where needs are for spending money from various programs. Non-profit organizations often use census data to support their needs when writing grants. Corporations use the data to determine where to locate new businesses. The federal government uses census data to determine where approximately $675 billion in federal program spending will go.

Locally, census information is used for planning and zoning and economic development decisions.

“The main thing I use it for is grants,” Humerick said. This is because grants often want demographic information about the community seeking the grant. The source for much of this information comes from the U.S. Census. It has been estimated that Frederick County and local municipalities lose $2,000 a year for each person not counted in the census.

“It’s extremely important that we get some of that massive amount of money that depends on census data back here,” said Emmitsburg Planner Zach Gulden.

The Town of Emmitsburg received an $8,500 grant that it will be using to make people aware of the census and encourage them to fill it out.

The Town of Thurmont will receive materials from the Census Bureau that it intends to send out with the water bills.    

Just as the law requires all U.S. residents, whether citizens or not, to participate in the census, the law also protects the information collected. According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, “Your answers can only be used to produce statistics—they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.” This means that no government agency or court can use your information. It won’t be used by the sheriff’s department to locate a felon or ICE to find illegal immigrants. Income you list won’t be used in a divorce case, or your name won’t be used to track down a deadbeat parent.

The online census form goes live on March 12, but the official Census Day is April 1. If you haven’t submitted your census form by May, you can expect a census taker to show up at your door. The president will receive the official counts by the end of this year. By March of 2021, the states will receive the numbers that they will use to redraw their legislative districts.

You don’t have to go far to find a great atmosphere with great people.

Social gatherings bring out the best in us, and can often help attendees branch out and meet new people. There may be no better way to get out and experience town living to the fullest than an annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl.

Pub Crawls are a staple of the Americanized version of St. Patrick’s Day, one of this country’s most fun-centered and party-filled holidays. Cities across the nation light up green in honor of the Irish St. Patrick, and it’s not uncommon to find a bit of green in just about everything come March 17.

Even non-Irish pubs often serve shamrock green beers all day long, offering pub goers a refreshing and festive accent to a day full of celebration.

Nearly every major city in the United States has its own take on St. Patrick’s Day, and you don’t have to cross the pond to Dublin to get what feels like an authentic Irish celebration. Baltimore, Washington D.C., and plenty of other modern metropolises have various events and crawls where you can get discounted drinks and a driver to shuttle your group to and from each location. 

Pub Crawls typically feature a set of designated locations, where patrons have a limited amount of time to drink up until hitting the road for the next stop. The name comes from the slow pace of pushing from bar to bar at the crawl, with drinkers spending short amounts of time at each bar before heading to the next. Or, perhaps it derives from a bar crawl’s most rowdy participants, who may end up partying too hard and actually crawling to the final bars on the list.

Check out a few of the local and not-so-local options perfectly suited for your green-themed St. Patty’s Day fun.

Westminster’s Celtic Canter Pub Crawl/5K

The Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day (March 14) features a plethora of holiday events. Westminster’s Celtic Canter Pub Crawl draws crowds looking for some mid-day St. Patrick’s Day fun with some familiar locations, featuring stops at Maggie’s, Conah’s Bar and Grille, O’Lordans Irish Pub, RockSalt Grille, and many more. The crawl begins at noon, and features 10 bars with specials along the way. The crawl kicks off at the Westminster City Department of Recreation.

Crawlers are given a passport to have punched at each bar, with participants who complete the passport entered to win gift cards at the restaurants featured in the crawl. A free trolley is available for guests to safely tour the bars, shuttling passengers until 5 p.m.

Drinking and exercise is a seemingly strange pairing that has gained popularity in recent years, and Westminster also offers a 5K run the morning before the pub crawl.

A morning run may be the perfect way to prepare and compensate for the carb blowout that comes with St. Patty’s Day beers and food, so it’s worth checking out for those go-getters looking to celebrate the holiday from start to finish.

The race runs through historic downtown Westminster and has enough activities for kids and live music to keep the whole family entertained. Plus, finishers get a free T-shirt, and that is something everyone can get behind. 

St. Patty’s Day Margarita Crawl

Bar Crawl Unlimited is well-known for hosting outrageously fun pub crawls, packed with good bars and better beers.

The margarita crawl is a unique take on a traditionally beer-focused holiday. Margaritas aren’t just the perfect summer drink, and with the unusually warm winter, it may just be your first taste of Spring.

Rain or shine, the plan does not change for this pub crawl, so if a fun and concrete plan for a great St. Patrick’s Day is on your radar, a margarita crawl may be the perfect trip to start your Spring right.

This Baltimore-based Pub Crawl kicks off from popular downtown spot Power Plant, with six hours of drinking throughout scenic downtown Baltimore. There are plenty of giveaways, live music, and discounted drinks to keep the party going all day long.

Registration at Power Plant begins at 2:00 p.m. on March 7.

Chase The Green Bar Crawl

Washington D.C. is full of historic monuments, beautiful museums, and some of the most fun city tours in America.

It also has a great nightlife, and pub crawl promoters capitalize on the bar scene every St. Patrick’s Day with some of the best pub crawls on the east coast.

D.C. has plenty of crawls to offer the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, and Chase The Green pub crawl features six great bars all with a unique spin. Each bar plays different music, so no matter the taste or mood, you are sure to find a few that bring out your Irish side.

Food and drink specials keep the party going all night long, so patrons are free to contour their St. Patty’s Day experience well after the pub crawl is over.

The event expects more than 1,000 participants, so get your tickets early before they sell out for good.

Outside of Ireland, nobody does St. Patrick’s Day bigger and better than right here in the United States. Whether you choose to stick with one of the local parades, or head to your nearest Irish pub, you can’t go wrong tossing on a green shirt and some face paint to go see what towns near you have to offer.

Keep your eyes open for early-bird offers on tickets, because nobody wants to miss out on a great time with great people, and your perfect day trip is right around the corner.

Please note that, locally, Emmitsburg’s Vigilant Hose Company hosts a St. Patty’s Day Pub Crawl, but it was sold out at the time of this publishing.

Blair Garrett

Dedication is something that often takes a long time to cultivate.

For Thurmont native James “Jim” Wisotzkey, 95, bowling is something that has been an integral part of his life for a long, long time.

Wisotzkey’s roots in bowling run deep, as his passion for the sport began when he was just a teenager.

“I ran a bowling alley in Thurmont when I was 14,” Wisotzkey said. “It’s old and run down now with water damage, but that’s where it began.”

Wisotzkey has been an expert bowler for over half a century, but his passion for the game and a push from his doctor has kept the bowler throwing strikes for decades longer than your average senior leaguer.

“The doctor doesn’t want me to quit,” Wisotzkey said. “He says it’s the best I can do to keep me going.”

It isn’t just the longevity of Wisotzkey’s bowling career that has people singing his praises. As a Marine Veteran and a staple of the Frederick County bowling scene, Wisotzkey has built a bit of a legacy at Terrace Lanes in Frederick.

“I’ve been in this league for 30 years,” he said. “I started it back in 1990, and I’m the only one left of the originals.”

The league routinely packs the bowling alley every Tuesday, giving Frederick County seniors a physical outlet and a chance to get out and have some fun.  

Bowling competitively has kept the skills sharp for Wisotzkey, whose 2020 high score nearly breaks 200. While he may not throw the ball with the same power as he used to, the fundamental technique is as solid as ever for Wisotzkey, who continues to push the limits and wow his teammates and competitors.

Wisotzkey’s team, the Silent Bowlers, is comprised of four members, including Wisotzkey, John McBride, Mary Ann Anderson, and Jeff Dunefsky, who all recognize Wisotzkey’s efforts and dedication to the team and the league. The unit fully supports Wisotzkey and, like the rest of the league members, is astonished at his consistency and love for the game.

The future is bright for Wisotzkey, the Silent Bowlers, and the rest of Terrace Lanes Senior League, as Wisotzkey has no plans to slow down.

“I have a pacemaker, and they checked that about three months ago,” Wisotzkey said. “The lady turned to me and said, ‘I’ve got good news for you. Your battery is good for 12 more years.’”

Wisotzkey turns 96 on June 2, and while he certainly holds the title of the league’s eldest bowler, there’s one title he’s still chasing. “My all-time highest score was a 289,” Wisotzkey said. “I just missed out on the perfect game in the last frame.”

At the pace Wisotzkey is going, the perfect game is not out of the question. In addition to his regularly scheduled league games on Tuesdays, he also takes his talents to duckpin lanes each week to keep active.

With the senior league going strong, a cast of teammates behind him, and an iron will to keep knocking down pins, it’s clear Wisotzkey has a knack for defying expectations.

The Silent Bowlers prepare for its league game: (from left) James “Jim” Wisotzkey, John McBride, Mary Ann Anderson, and Jeff Dunefsky.


Mayor Don Briggs

Happy Birthday, Emmitsburg! Established (platted) in 1885, we are now 235 years old. Speaking to age… infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure…there are all kinds. Water, sewer, sidewalks, ADA compliance, parks and recreation, schools, youth activities, and seniors, to name a few. Every municipality needs and wants to provide and maintain its infrastructure.

Within the $3 million town square and sidewalk revitalization, unbeknownst to some, was the inclusion of $124,000 of decades of deferred water infrastructure work. Two years ago, we completed the construction of a $19 million+ wastewater (sewer) treatment plant.

Last year, lines under East Main Street were relined, and we’re about to start relining behind the post office to Creamery Road. In addition, a leaking water line under MD 140 at Tract Road will be addressed.

To accomplish all of this work, we have applied for state aid to upgrade water lines at part of North Seton Avenue and DePaul Street.

We have a new dog park, a new all-inclusive playground, a virtually new pool (after years of neglect), 10 sidewalk connections, and a road connection from Brookfield-Pembrook to Irishtown Road, not to mention $4 million solar arrays and first-time renewable energy savings. All of these improvements have been achieved with significant grants sourced by our great staff.

We have a budget, and we have worked within our means to catch up on years of deferred work. We’re on it!

It was good to have the Honorable John Kinnaird, our neighboring Thurmont’s mayor, at the State of the Union address to add dignity that speaks of Northern Frederick County values to the State of the Union.

At our February town meeting, Roger Wilson, the first Frederick County Director of Government Affairs, was honored. Roger, also a Frederick City Alderman, is leaving his county position. He was powerful, and an accessible friend to Northern Frederick County interests. He will be missed. A wonderful, competent person named Joy Schaefer is taking his place.

Like many, I was saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant, the iconic basketball player who died tragically in a helicopter crash with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. The challenges of such a gifted athlete were many. To those challenges of training and playing at the highest level of competition also came those of human frailty to fame and fortune. He wasn’t perfect. Nor am I, but he was a father and a family man. What was most heartfelt for me was, yes, a consummate basketball player had died, but more so, a father with his daughter had died. Like all of us, we will know not the hour. But he and his daughter, with the rest of the family, had the blessing of attending a 7:00 a.m. Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church together in Newport Beach, California, just hours before the crash.

The funeral service was private. A public memorial service was held on February 24, significant as his daughter’s jersey number was 2 and his 24. He left us with his own personal challenge and now tribute, “I want to outwork my potential.” I like that.

Here we are again; the county school board wants to close Sabillasville Elementary School, the only five-star-rated elementary school in the county. Furtively, it seems, only one-week notice was given before the first public hearing. I attended and spoke before the Board of Education to oppose the closing of the county’s only infrastructure improvement in Sabillasville-Harbaugh Valley. The meeting was in the Frederick County Board of Education Headquarters, which is an almost new multi-million-dollar facility, located one block from the $100-million-dollar Carroll Creek Linear Park. Inside was a packed room of supporters for keeping the school open. In my opinion, this is an insane and predatory action. Never has there ever been a peep out of anyone from the valley for anything even in light of what could be readily seen in luxurious-like investment in schools in other parts of the county. The school is the facility hub, serving not only students but also as a place for community groups to meet and hold activities.

Fifty years ago, Emmitsburg lost its high school, a void still felt today by many. In my remarks to the board, I asked if the Emmitsburg Elementary School could be next.

So much more to write about, but I will leave you with, “Enjoy your Lent, and bring it on, spring!”


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The United States Census 2020 is less than one month away! U.S. households will receive 2020 Census Invitations between March 12 and March 20. During this time, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving at houses. It is critical that all residents are counted. Billions of Federal Tax dollars are distributed based on Census information. Any shortage in our count can lead to less Federal spending in local programs. Funding for highway planning, public transportation, Head Start, teacher support grants, special education programs, housing assistance for the elderly, wildlife restoration, school lunches, Pell Grants Children’s Health Insurance, Medicare Part B, Department of Aging, hospitals, and many others depend on accurate Census counts. Each person not counted could cost our community $18,000 in Federal support over the next 10 years.

The invitations will remind respondents to include everyone living in the household, whether they are related or not. This includes young children. It is also essential that household members serving in the military are counted, and marriage relationships are very important to report. Your response will impact communities for the next decade.
“The Census Bureau is ready for the nation to respond next month,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Millions of Americans are applying for 2020 Census jobs, more than 270,000 local and national organizations are engaged, and in less than 30 days, the majority of U.S. households will receive an invitation to respond to help ensure that every person in the U.S. is counted.” “The Census Bureau has successfully tested its data collection systems, has built backup systems to support resilient operations, and is ready to receive responses from all around the country,” added Dillingham.

This invitation will include instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone. By April 1, most households will have received an invitation, delivered either by mail or by a census taker. In areas of the country that are less likely to respond online, a paper questionnaire will be included in the initial mailing to households. Reminder mailings will be sent to households that do not respond; in the fourth mailing, every household that has not yet responded will receive a paper questionnaire.

The best way to fill out the Census will be online. If you do not have a computer at home, you can use the computers at our local libraries. The Senior Centers will also be set up to assist with the Census. Thurmont residents that do not have the ability to go to the library or Senior Center can call the town office at 301-271-7313 or call me at 301-606-9458 for assistance.

Mark Your Calendar with these Important 2020 Census Dates: March 12-20: Initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone. March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.
March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded. April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded. April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded before census takers follow up in person. May 13-July 31: If a household does not respond to any of the invitations, a census taker will follow up in person.

Mayor Don Briggs of Emmitsburg and I will be doing our best to see that all of our residents are counted! We will have a contest to see which community can get the highest percentage of Census participants. It is my hope that we both get over 90 percent participation, and it would be fabulous if we both tied at 100 percent.

Let’s make sure we are all counted!

As always, you can email me at or call me at 301-606-9458 with any comments or suggestions.


FEBRUARY 2020 Meeting

by James Rada, Jr.

Baseball will be Played in Town this Summer

The Thurmont Little League will play games in Emmitsburg on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Emmitsburg Commissioner Frank Davis has been working to ensure Emmitsburg baseball players will have opportunities to play locally. He said CYA has been trying to do more in Emmitsburg. “We’re starting to come together as one, which I always hoped we could,” Davis said during a town meeting.

Town May Annex Daughters of Charity Property

The Town of Emmitsburg may consider annexing the Daughters of Charity property to help the town comply with mandated MS4 regulations to aid Chesapeake Bay restoration. MS4 requires an area equal to 20 percent of the town’s impervious land to be used for runoff control measures by 2023.

Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners during a town meeting that one way the town can meet the regulations is to increase tree plantings, but they need more open space to have the room to do this. A combination of annexation and conservation easements of the Daughters of Charity can accomplish most of the need.

Another action that will help meet the MS4 mandate is Silo Hill Stormwater Management Basin retrofit. This could cost as much as $250,000, but it will fix the failing basin while also making it attractive for residents and useful in meeting MS4.

The town is also considering annexing the town-owned land where the wastewater treatment plant is located.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners recently received the results of the annual review done of its finances by an independent auditor. The town received a clean and unmodified audit, which means the town presented its financial information statements fairly.

Waysides Get Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved changes to one of four new historical waysides that will become part of the town’s historical walking tour. The commissioners had delayed their approval because of a couple factual changes that needed to be made to the wayside about the Chronicle Press building. The cost of the waysides is paid for with an FY2020 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant of $12,032. The other waysides will explain the history of the Great Fire of 1863, Vigilant Hose Company, and Carriage House Inn building.

Defensive Driving Course Added to Employee Handbook

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the addition of policies offering a defensive driving course, preventative maintenance for vehicles, and hand-held cell phones to the employee handbook. Much of what was added was already being done, but the formalization of the policies should allow the town to receive credits on its insurance costs, which could save the town a few thousand dollars.

The defensive driving course policy requires all employees who operate town-owned vehicles to take a four-hour-long online course when they are hired and every four years. The cell phone policy follows Maryland law regarding the use of cell phones while driving.


FEBRUARY 2020 Meeting

Town Considers Options for New Press Box

Members of Thurmont’s CYA organization presented revised plans for a new press box at Eyler Field. The new 30-foot by 80-foot building would serve as a storage facility and press box. The field and building are used for CYA soccer, cheerleading, lacrosse, and football teams that serve hundreds of local children. Estimates of the proposed building will cost around $200,000, and CYA only has $10,000 set aside for building. The CYA organization is hoping to get help from the town, and the Thurmont Town Commissioners are considering how they might be able to help.

Special Activities Committee Donates to the Thurmont Food Bank

The Thurmont Special Events Committee presented Rev. Sally Joyner Giffin with a check for $2,585.04. This is the amount collected during the town’s Halloween in the Park event for the food bank.

Help Needed

The Town of Thurmont is forming a new Internet Commission. If you are interested in volunteering to serve on this commission, please contact Elliot Jones at 240-831-7749.

The town is also seeking volunteers to serve on the Special Events Committee, Board of Appeals, and Police Commission. If interested, please contact the town office.

Yard Waste Drop-Off Permit Needed

Anyone using the Moser Road yard waste drop-off site must have a Yard Waste Permit issued by the town. Permits were mailed out with the last town electric/water/sewer bill. If you do not have the permit when you go to the site, you will be asked to show your driver’s license to verify town residency.

New Sewer Lateral Inspection Policy Being Enacted

The Town of Thurmont is implementing a new sewer lateral inspection policy. The policy allows town staff or its contractors to inspect lateral sewer lines on private property. It also requires property owners to make required repairs within a set amount of time. The policy protects the integrity of the town sewage system, as well as helping the property owner avoid paying for sewage leakage.

Whether it’s Indy Cars, NASCAR stock cars, prototype sports cars, or G.T. race cars of almost all makes, Thurmont’s Scott Michael has built them and raced them. And whether it’s been in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, or Australia, Scott has raced there. In a career that’s spanned 30-plus years, he says he’s “simply blessed to have chased my dreams and worked with my childhood heroes.”

Voted the biggest dreamer of Catoctin High School’s graduating class of 1982, Scott always knew exactly what he wanted to do in life and wasted very little time in reaching his goals.

He started in racing by helping local racecar drivers, Dave Lawyer and Dave Weddle, both of Thurmont, with dirt track cars at Hagerstown Speedway while he was still in high school. After high school, Scott pursued a mechanical engineering degree at West Virginia University, but became frustrated with the slow progress of becoming an engineer. He left college and quickly began working on all types of modified sports cars at local Summit Point Raceway, located near Charles Town, West Virginia, on the weekends, while holding various streetcar mechanic jobs during the week.

It was there that he met several drivers from the Washington, D.C. area that wanted to go semi-pro racing. From that starting point, through hard work and sheer determination, he worked his way up through the ranks from a “weekend warrior” and helper mechanic to truck driver, “over the wall” pit crew member, second mechanic, chief mechanic, and eventually, crew chief for many different racing teams. Throughout those years, racing became his full-time occupation, and the cars he worked on changed from modified street cars to purpose-built NASCAR stock cars, custom sports racing prototypes, and eventually full-blown Indy Cars, as he climbed the racing career ladder.

“Over those years, there were career highlights and lowlights,” Scott laughs. “Sure, being the crew chief on the winning G.T. car at the biggest sports car races in North America, the 24 Hours of Daytona, in 1996 is one of the highlights and qualifying 34th for the 1998 Indy 500 (only 33 cars start the race) is surely one of the lowlights.” There were other achievements along the way: being voted by his peers as the Indy Lights Mechanic of the Year in 1999, and later being asked by four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt to be a part of running a second Foyt team car for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 in 2011.

However, one of the funniest highlights happened when Scott was the crew chief on a Porsche racecar at Watkins Glen, New York, for co-drivers Kyle Petty and John Andretti. “I never thought that I’d be standing on pit lane with Richard Petty on one side and Aldo Andretti on the other side (Mario’s twin brother and John’s father), two members of the racing world’s dynasty families, while they asked me questions about race strategy and the pit stop procedures in sports car racing. That was pretty crazy.”

After many years moving from state to state and wearing out suitcases by traveling constantly, all while working for professional racing teams based in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and missing many family events while on the road, Scott knew that it was time to begin to slow down on the travel schedule.

So, to be closer to friends and family, he moved from Indianapolis to Pennsylvania, now residing outside of Allentown, where he maintains cars that predominately race on the East Coast. “I still run about 12 races a year these days, but they’re normally within a thousand miles of home, so that makes the travel part simple.” Scott went on to say, “I do make the occasional run to the West Coast, but that’s once every several years now, not several times a year like the old days.”

As time has marched on, many of the cars that Scott helped build and race when they were new have now begun to race on the vintage racing circuits.

Since he cut his teeth as a mechanic working on many of these cars, it’s only natural that he is now beginning the next phase of his career: restoring and racing these now-historic racecars. “The really appealing part of this next phase in my career is that it’s part mechanic and part historian,” adding, “therefore, it’s important to keep them in top mechanical condition while also keeping them historically correct.”

“One project that I’m particularly fond of is a 1984 Corvette that ran in the SCCA Trans Am Series. Although I didn’t work on it when it was new, I was mesmerized by its beauty when I saw it race at Summit Point as a kid.”

As time went on, the car was raced both professionally and later in amateur races until it was destroyed in an accident at Watkins Glen, New York, in 2009. Being one of only four of these cars ever built by the DeAtley team, the parts to repair it are basically non-existent. Still, Scott was given the task of putting it back together. “It was a part-time, five-year labor of love to take a bent frame, broken suspension parts, and completely destroyed body panels (the molds to which were tossed away years ago) and rebuild the car from a pile of junk. Working on it between races and over the off-seasons, it took considerable time. The car turned out so well that it is now on permanent display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.” Scott added, “Basically, the owner told me that it is now too beautiful to race.” However, there is talk of getting the car out of the museum and racing it some in 2020.  If talk turns into reality, Scott will be there to oversee this historic car returning to the track.

There are still many projects to complete for Scott, both now and in the future. Currently, he is restoring a Corvette that was built specifically for, and raced in, the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. The car went on to race in both Europe and the United States, winning several championships along the way. It was a complete “barn find,” having been stored in a warehouse in England for about 12 years before the current owner bought it and shipped it to the United States. After that project is finished, next up is restoring another historically significant Corvette that raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as part of the driving ream. Sadly, this was one of the last cars that Dale Earnhardt Sr. ever completed a race in, tragically losing his life weeks later in the 2001 Daytona 500.

When he’s not traveling, Scott enjoys time back in his hometown of Thurmont, visiting with his childhood friends and family that live in the area.

But, for most of the last 30 or more years, his real home has been on pit lane. “It’s the one place in the world where I feel the most comfortable.”

1984 DeAtley Corvette that Scott rebuilt from scrap (2002-2007) now resides in National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Photo captions from cover: (top left) Scott working on Indie Car in 2000 at Nazareth PA Speedway; (top right) Scott (pictured back) pushing Indie car out to qualify for the Indy 500 in 2011; (bottom) NASCAR Busch Grand National Series at Hickory Motor Speedway in 1994. Scott was on the team that buildt and raced this Ford Thunderbird.

GT de Las Americas Series Chevrolet Camaro in 1996 at Salinas Speedway, Puerto Rico.

Blair Garrett

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning for a night out with your special someone.

Chocolates and flowers are nice, but for those of us who are searching for a memorable evening with our significant other, options for a fun or romantic night out are a welcome change from the norm.
There are plenty of great date spots that work outside of just Valentine’s Day, too, and if you’re in desperate need of ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

Big and bold plans can be fun and exciting, but your date night doesn’t have to break the bank. Your options are only limited to your creativity, and the most important thing you can spend this Valentine’s Day is your time.

Let’s take a look at a few great local and non-local options for your perfect February night out.

1. Antrim 1844
     If a romantic getaway is more your style, look no further than Taneytown’s Antrim 1844. Built on an old plantation, Antrim 1844 offers customers a variety of historic housing options for a weekend stay close to home you won’t soon forget. With 11 different local houses to choose from and dozens of room options among them, a new and exciting experience awaits couples looking to celebrate.

The property often hosts weddings and work outings, so, naturally, there are food accommodations. Antrim 1844’s Smokehouse Restaurant has been named “Best Historic Restaurant in America,” and with all of the options available to guests, it’s easy to see why.

Whether it’s a six-course meal or a trip to the restaurant’s 20,000 bottle wine cellar, you’re in for a classy, laid back evening at Antrim 1844.

2. Carroll Creek Park Walk
       This free, open to the public day trip gives visitors gorgeous views of downtown Frederick. On the walk, you can see some of the best murals and artwork Maryland has to offer, all at your pace and leisure. There are tons of shops and restaurants you can make a stop at along the way, so the trip is really what you make it.

This former floodplain is now one of the premier attractions to Frederick and has been renovated as recent as 2016. There are also electric bikes for rent to add a workout or faster mode of transportation to your self-guided tour. A bike also allows you flexibility to branch out and see more of the city.  
3. Firestone’s Culinary Tavern
       If beautifully prepared meals with a fine glass of wine suit your ideal night out, Firestone’s Culinary Tavern in Frederick has all that and more. Firestone’s features a “Raw Bar,” consisting of upscale seafood delicacies with an intimate setting. Draft beers, fine wines, and signature cocktails accompany some of the finest oysters the east coast has to offer.

At Firestone’s, there is always something new to try, and you’ll never get tired of their extravagant dishes. With Frederick’s largest selection of beer and ale, there is an accommodation for just about everyone.

4. Order Take-out
     For an intimate stay at home night, bring home a special take-out dinner. See our article in this issue about Celebrations Catering in Thurmont, where a special Friday Night Valentine’s Menu offers upscale delicious meal options.

On Valentine’s weekend, several local non-profits are hosting dinners or events, where carryout is an option as well. Take a look at those opportunities in the Around Town Section and Community Calendar in this issue.

5. Ice Skating
       There’s no better time to lace up the skates than with local ponds starting to freeze over. Although the Greater Catoctin area is typically not as cold as our neighbors to the north, and sometimes our outdoor ponds aren’t entirely frozen over, don’t fret.
There are some great local spots to ice skate—indoors and outdoor.

Ski Liberty hosts outdoor skating daily, and both Hagerstown and Frederick have indoor ice rinks with weekend public skates.

No gear? No problem. All options listed have rentals available upon request, so ice skating is an easy and fun way to kick off your February.

Ice skating is something most people are either proficient at or terrible at, and it makes for a lot of laughs if the latter is the case. Dates are all about having fun and spending time with a person you care about, so what better way than to watch each other slide around like a newborn calf taking its first steps.

6. escape room
       Nothing focuses more on communication and problem solving—two cornerstones of a relationship—quite like an escape room. For those of us who have never taken an escape room challenge, couples or parties must work together—and sometimes compete—to solve riddles, puzzles, and equations to find a way out of a themed escape room.
       When the door locks behind you, the timer starts, and carefully inspecting each item in the room is the key to finding your escape key and freeing the group. Solving an escape room together is a great way to get out and do something unique and creative. The riddles are often funny and challenging, allowing you to share a few laughs while working together.

There are several excellent options, just a short drive away, with each offering a one-of-a-kind experience. Frederick has ClueIQ, Surelocked In Escape Games, and Escape This. Escape Gettysburg and 1863 Escape Room are also great options north of the Mason Dixon line. So, there is no shortage of great local spots for a fun night out.

The value in the year’s most romantic holiday is designating a specific day dedicated to the most special person in your life. Whether you’ve dated for six months, or you’re celebrating your 50th anniversary, date nights are a healthy outlet to keep relationships flourishing.

Great date ideas are everywhere, but it’s up to you to make it a memorable one. If it’s once a week or once a year, taking a trip to do something out of the same old routine is an easy way to put a smile on the face of those you care about most. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and make your dream night out a reality.

Ski Liberty’s outdoor ice rink, open daily at the foot of the mountain.

by James Rada, Jr.


JANUARY 2020 Meeting

Pedestrian Bridge Over Flat Run Closed

The pedestrian bridge along MD 140 over Flat Run is now closed. The contractor will remove it soon. This means that pedestrian traffic on eastbound MD 140 will be closed until the spring. All pedestrian traffic has been moved to the sidewalk along westbound MD 140.

Town Seeking Small Business Tax Credit

The Town of Emmitsburg is seeking state authorization to implement a small business tax credit. The proposed credit lasts six years and is based on the increase in real property tax assessments due to a business’ expansion. To be eligible, the business would need to add at least 2,500 square feet of space and employ at least five full-time employees for two years after the expansion.

Ballfield Fees Approved

The commissioners approved a set of ballfield usage fees for 2020. For next year, there is no charge for ballfield usage. The mayor and commissioners can extend this fee schedule at the end of that time. If they choose not to, the new fees will be as follows.

For single-day use, non-profits will pay $10 an hour, which is fully refundable if the area is left in good condition. Residents will pay $10 an hour, which is 50 percent refundable if the area is left in good condition. Non-residents will pay $20 an hour.

Resident leagues will pay $50 per team, per field, per season. Non-resident leagues will pay $100 per team, per field, per season.

Youth tournaments will pay $50 per day, and adult tournaments will pay $75 per day.

Historic Wayside Approval Delayed

The Emmitsburg Commissioners postponed approval of the new set of historic waysides in town to make edits to one of them.

Emmitsburg received a FY2020 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant of $12,032 to create four new waysides that will be erected at historic spots in town. The waysides are about the Great Emmitsburg Fire, Vigilant Hose Company, Chronicle Press building, and the Carriage House Inn building.

At the January meeting, Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, raised a factual issue with the Chronicle Press building wayside and also with what information was presented on the waysides.

Commissioners Give Approval

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved amendments recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission to the town forest conservation ordinance and other areas of the code affected by it.

Logging stand 6 also received approval from the commissioners. This 45-acre group of white oak, red oak, and tulip poplar trees are expected to earn the town $45,000 to $50,000 when harvested. The request for bids will go out in May, and harvesting should begin in July.

The commissioners also approved the creation of a sewer and water connection fee payment plan.

Finally, they approved a $1,000 fine against anyone who connects to a town fire hydrant for a non-emergency purpose.


JANUARY 2020 Meeting

Town Plans to Purchase Radio Lane Property

The Town of Thurmont will purchase an 11.87-acre property at 99 Radio Lane for $285,000. The property, which contains a house that the town will rent, was listed as $300,000 initially. The main reason for the purchase is that when the electric substation is decommissioned, a location for a new larger station will be needed. The property could also be used for a stormwater management facility to alleviate some of the flooding in the area. If the Thurmont Trolley Trail is extended to the north, it could come through this property without needing to negotiate a right of way.

Commissioner Liaison Appointments Made

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird recommended new commissioner liaison appointments for 2020, which the commissioners approved. They will be as follow:

•    Commissioner Wayne Hooper—Thurmont Senior Center, Planning and Zoning Commission back-up.

•    Commissioner Bill Buehrer—Police Commission, Parks and Recreation Committee

•    Commissioner Marty Burns—Planning and Zoning Commission

•    Commissioner Wes Hamrick—Thurmont Addictions Committee, Economic Development Commission

•    Mayor John Kinnaird—Board of Appeals

New Police Officer on the Job

Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler introduced Officer Nathan McLeroy to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners during a recent town meeting. McLeroy is the newest Thurmont Police Officer. He worked formerly with the Frederick County Highway Department. He is a native of Rocky Ridge, but he currently lives in Pennsylvania. He is currently in the Sykesville Police Academy, as he prepares to work in Thurmont.

“I like to do a lot of community policing,” McLeroy said. “I served three years in the army as a police officer, and police work seems to be my niche.”

Thurmont May Get State Solar-Energy Exemption

The Frederick County legislative delegation plans to introduce a bill to exempt Thurmont from Maryland’s solar energy mandate. The mandate requires the state to provide 14.5 percent of its energy from solar energy by 2030. The mandate is part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It capped the percentage from electrical cooperatives at 2.5 percent. This did not apply to municipalities like Thurmont, which operate their own power companies. Without the cap, costs could increase $250,000 for Thurmont residents. This is because Thurmont would have to purchase solar energy credits to reach 14.5 percent.


Mayor Don Briggs

Infrastructure comes in many stripes. Sewer lines, water lines, sidewalks, streets, power lines, the list goes on. The number one infrastructure priority of town staff and elected officials right now is the discolored water service experienced by some of our residents. Our attention to this concern has remained unaltered. To our efforts and our lab testing, we have invited the assistance of the county and state.

Other infrastructure needs include mitigating the effect of flash flooding occurrences at the North Seton Avenue, Federal Avenue, and Provincial Parkway intersection. Flooding has occurred at this point forever. I have seen an old photo of the intersection flooded long before Provincial Parkway was opened and the development of the Northgate subdivision (late 1980s-early 1990s). Town staff is working on a grant to fund a street conceptual plan to reduce the stormwater runoff discharged along the stretch of North Seton Avenue that slopes toward the intersection with Federal Avenue and Provincial Parkway.

Whoa! What a couple of days of 60-degree weather in January can do for you. It was a good break for those among us who are restless from TV football fatigue and possibly girth expansion. To wit, I took our youthful yellow lab, Finn, out on an expedition through Community Park. Perhaps sparked by an equal genesis, the park was busy with plenty of old and new friends for both Finn and me. A good “pack” seemed to be enjoying the new dog park: several families and tots at the new all-inclusive playground, both pick-up baseball and basketball games, joggers, and walkers—what an excellent resource for the community.

At the January board of commissioners meeting, we were honored to host the State Champion Catoctin High School Cougars football team and coaching staff. First, for hotdogs (as many as they could eat and some did), cold drinks, and other treats. Thank you to Mrs. Umbel for the use of the senior center. Then, introductions and presentation of a proclamation from the town was received by Head Coach Doug Williams. Thank you to Commissioner Frank Davis’ family for providing the food and service for the team.

After Christmas, I was honored to attend the Boy Scout Troop 727 awards dinner. Wonderful event. Congratulations to Matthias Buchheister, Thomas Lowe, and Joseph Legare on earning the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. We will honor the lads at an upcoming town meeting. Troop 727 has done many service projects for the town; there is a scout project planned for Community Park this spring.

With spring comes a whole host of youth sports, including baseball again in Emmitsburg. Bring ’em on.  Also, don’t forget, Lent and Easter are on the way.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont has started our 2020 Master Plan Update. The current plan has been in effect for about eight years and needs to be reviewed. The Master Plan guides the Town’s growth, development, and conservation, and has been updated about every ten years since the 1970s. This update will take six to nine months to complete, and residents are encouraged to get involved in the process. The first public workshop took place on Thursday, January 16, with 50 or so residents attendance.

During this first workshop, there was an introduction to the Master Plan, followed by an exercise where the participants broke into smaller groups to discuss several questions. The questions were: 1.—What would Thurmont look like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted?; 2.—What would you preserve about the Town, and what would you change about it?; 3.—Imagine you are in a future generation of Town residents and tell us what would impress you most about the vision of today’s citizen planners?

After discussing the questions, everyone got back together to read each group’s answers. Not surprisingly, the answers were very similar. Most want to keep our small-town feel; to plan future development so that it benefits our residents; to provide more public amenities such as parks, trails, and community centers; and to improve roads and other infrastructure. The results from these discussions will be complied, presented at a future meeting, and incorporated in the update.

Future meetings and workshops will discuss land use, planning, zoning changes, the growth boundary, and other related topics. There will also be public meetings, where maps and other parts of the plan will be displayed for residents’ review and comment. As part of the update, there will also be a Comprehensive Zoning Review. This review allows residents and property owners to apply for a change in zoning for their property.

The requests will be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission; applications for zoning changes must be received by March 15, 2020.

I encourage you to get involved in this process by attending the meetings and workshops or by watching the meeting on Cable 99 or via stream video from the Streaming Video page on This can be a long and involved process, but is worth every minute spent on it. As an active participant, you will be able to take pride in being a part of the 2020 Thurmont Master Plan Update.

The 2020 United States Census will be underway in the month of March. Everyone needs to participate in the census! Among other things, the census will determine the distribution of Federal Funds. Any shortage in census figures for our area can hurt the Federal Programs and services on which many of our residents depend. The census can be taken online, or you can provide the information to Census workers that will be canvassing the community. Be on the lookout for more information as the date for the census approaches.

Please contact me at 302-606-9458 or by email at with any questions, comments, or concerns.

James Rada, Jr.

The Town of Emmitsburg found and repaired one leak in its water lines that may have been causing the brown tap water problems some residents have been experiencing for months. A second leak under Waynesboro Pike has been identified, but, because of its location, repair crews haven’t been able to fix it yet.
    Residents started complaining about brown water in late October. At first, it was believed to be a result of hydrant flushing, but when the problem continued, town staff realized it was something else.
    Water drawn at the plant and various points in town was tested for lead, copper, chlorine, turbidity, bacteria, and pH.
    “All testing came back within the limits requested by MDE and EPA,” Commissioner Frank Davis said during the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners meeting in January.
    Despite being within the accepted standards, the water was obviously discolored. Residents had light-colored clothes washed in the water ruined. The water also stained tubs and sinks. Particulates clogged filters.
These frustrated residents showed up at the January meeting to voice their displeasure. Many of them complained about having to buy filters and bottled water because of the brown water. Others worried about what drinking the water might do to them or their children.
    Allison Calhoun had her water in Brookfield tested independently and found it had high levels of iron and manganese in it. She also said it had black flecks in it that stained her tub and smelled like tar.
    She said that despite staff saying the water was safe, “When presented to town staff, no one would even consider drinking it.”
    Barrett Turner, West Main Street, said, “A filter that would last me a month, I’ve been changing every week for my house.”
    Some residents demanded compensation, not only from their increased water usage from trying to flush their water lines but also for the costs of bottled water and filters. While the commissioners seemed open to this, they did not know what they could legally do. A leak on North Seton Avenue was repaired the middle of January, but fixing a leak under Waynesboro Pike has been delayed.
    The commissioners held a special meeting on January 22 to discuss the water problem, the repairs, and the possible compensation due to the brown water. The commissioners also talked about the issue of tuberculation, which could be causing problems in the older water lines. The problem is when pipes installed before 1952 begin to corrode and pieces of the corrosion fall into the water during times of high water flow through the pipes.
    Both the Maryland Department of the Environment and Frederick County are working with the town to fix the problem.
    “We’ve got to make this our No. 1 priority,” Commissioner Frank Davis said.
    The big problem for Emmitsburg is finding the funds to make the repairs. The water fund has been operating at a deficit, and money in the general fund can’t legally be used for water line repairs.

Deb Abraham Spalding

On Friday, January 24, 2020, former Catoctin High School (CHS) basketball players from the 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams were invited on the court at half-time during the Catoctin Boy’s Varsity basketball game against Williamsport. It was CHS Boy’s Basketball Alumni Night.

Dave Ammenheuser, former CHS graduate and statistician for the boy’s teams as a student at CHS during those years, announced the returning players able to attend the Alumni Night reunion.

Players present included John Campbell, Duane Gigeous, Dennis Grandstaff, Larry Martinez, Charlie Brown, Michael Hill, Mike Valentine, Dwayne Snyder, Jim Hamilla, and Coach Steve Lengkeek. Mark Williard had flown in for the event but was unable to attend this gathering due to illness.

Catoctin’s Athletic Director Keith Bruck said it was probably the biggest crowd they’ve had for a home game in about 20 years. Thus, Alumni Night was a success.

Following the game, many alumni gathered at the Ott House in Emmitsburg to enjoy a nice evening out.

The next day, Saturday, nine of the players (including Mark Williard) came to the gym for about an hour. Midway through the hour, Coach Steve Lengkeek pulled out his whistle and told them to line up on the court. They looked at him crazily, like, “Is he serious?” He was.

He put them through a basketball drill for about 20 minutes. Dave Ammenheuser said, “It was pretty funny.”

Some then went to a local restaurant and others headed home.

It was a great weekend.

Pictured left to right are Dave Ammenheuser, John Campbell, Michael Hill, Charlie Brown, Matt Stitely (son of Mike Stitely deceased), Mike Valentine, Duane Gigeous, Dwayne Snyder, Larry Martinez, Dennis Grandstaff, Jim Hamilla, and Coach Steve Lengkeek. 

Joan Bittner Fry

Note: The Red Men’s Hall was a part of Sabillasville’s local history for a long time. It is now a residence.

From a “programme” dated May 9, 1914, for Cranberry Corners, a comedy drama held at the Redmen’s Hall. Local actors were Alvie Harbaugh, Jesse Poole, Francis Manahan, George Small, Earl Eby, Kennard Harbaugh, Miss Bernice Wachter, Mrs. Mabel Eby, Hazel Eyler, Eva Harbaugh, Francis Rowe, and Mary Wachter.

Note: I can remember all these people as adults. My house was purchased from Eva Harbaugh’s estate.

Two other playbills are A Minstrel Show, presented by the Sabillasville Minute Men, Company 822, November 1942, and George in a Jam, a comedy in three acts, presented by Sabillasville School PTA, April 1943.

Starring in the minstrel show were an entire group, and specials were a dance by Glenn Wolfe and Lewis McClain, a playlet by Glenn Wolfe and Lester Sanders, and a monologue by Harold Bittner. Others listed are Francis Manahan, Edgar McKissick, Harold Wolfe, George Eby, and Glen Brown. The play was directed by E. Maurice Clarke, the principal of the elementary school.

Note: At this time, World War II was happening and everywhere our patriotism showed. My father, Harold Bittner, sang “White Cliffs of Dover,” as it was mentioned many times later when he would sing it to us. 

The White Cliffs of Dover are the first and last sight you see when departing from or arriving in the port of Dover and is a sentimental symbol of England. The cliffs’ symbolic value to the English is exemplified in the famous World War II-era song.

“White Cliffs of Dover” lyrics

I’ll never forget the people I met braving those angry skies.

I remember well as the shadows fell the light of hope in their eyes.

And though I’m far away I still can hear them say “Thumbs up!”

For when the dawn comes up

There’ll be bluebirds over

The white cliffs of Dover tomorrow, just you wait and see

There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after

Tomorrow, when the world is free

Later, starring in George in A Jam, also at the Red Men’s Hall, were Lewis McClain, Margaret Leatherman (teacher), Karl “Bud” Gray, Helen Ratas, Harold Bittner, Naomi Waynant (teacher), Virginia Kuhn (teacher), Alice Dysert, Oliver Kipe, and Glenn Wolfe. This play was directed by Edgar Wachter.

In 1954, the Sabillasville PTA presented Look Out Lizzie for the benefit of the Blue Ridge Mountain Vol. Fire Co. No. 1. The play was held at the fire hall and was directed by Maurice Clarke and Harold Jarrett. The players were Harold Bittner, Mary Benchoff, Joan Bittner, Helen Beard, Lewis McClain, Geneva Shindledecker, Bob Fox, and Raymond Kipe.  Prompters were Ada McKissick and Catherine Clayton.

Every time Lewie McClain saw me thereafter, he called me Hazel and I called him Hank, our “stage” names. I was 16 at that time. Advertisers in the brochure (all with old phone numbers) were Stanley Bros., Dingle Brothers, Blue Ridge Coal Co., Davis and Shuey Construction Co., Hull’s Super Market, Bohn’s Shopping Center, Weikert’s Garage, Summit Sales and Service, Smith’s Esso Station, Highfield Liquor Store, V.L. Pryor and Son, Harry E. Harbaugh, New Shirt Laundry, Winebrenner Motors, Trostle’s Grocery, Coffman’s Taxi, First National Bank, Ray Birely’s Men’s Wear, Flohr Lumber Company, Cornerette Beauty Salon, McClain’s Diner, Luther N. Martin, Traceys, Spangler’s Electric, Pauline Kramer Antiques, Jefferson Standard, L. M. Barton, J. Bob Benchoff, Clarence Smith, G. Ross Pryor, Park View Tavern, Sam’s End of Trail, Gearhart’s Pharmacy, Knox Welding, Angell’s, Gonder’s Gas & Electric, Geesaman’s Inn, Benchoff’s Grocery, Ressler’s Metal Works, Monterey Tea House, and the Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.

Those were the good old days!

PDG Susan Bonura, District 22 W

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In 2018, LCIF launched a comprehensive fundraising campaign at the annual Lions Clubs International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. The most ambitious fundraising effort in LCIF history, Campaign 100: LCIF Empowering ServiceSM will span three years, with a goal of raising $300 million by June 30, 2021. Campaign 100 will empower Lions to serve 200-plus million people each year.

Campaign 100 will expand Lions’ commitment to communities, with a focus on vision, youth disaster relief, humanitarian causes, diabetes, hunger, childhood cancer, and the environment.

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Dominance from Start to Finish

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High Football clinched its second state championship Saturday, December 7, defeating the Poets of Dunbar High School (Baltimore) 31-8 in a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 1A matchup.

The Cougars stormed through the playoffs, yielding opponents just 41 points over the team’s five playoff victories while posting a monstrous 213 points on offense.

It was a clash of the best of the best, with both teams flattening semifinal opponents by more than 40 points. An unstoppable force versus an immovable object scenario set a collision course for the 1A State Championship game, with only one possible victor.

The teams’ last matchup against each other came back in Catoctin’s historic 2009 run, where they edged Dunbar 13-12 en route to the team’s first-ever state championship. The parallels to this season were apparent, and the Cougars had the confidence to replicate that result once again.

“The coolest thing about it is there were only three of us [coaches] when we won our first championship,” head coach Doug Williams said. “Getting to be there with my assistant coaches and players who haven’t done that is special.”

With everything on the line, the only thing left to do was execute, and Catoctin did that in a near-flawless manner from start to finish.

As the Cougars took the turf at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, the boys came ready to play, exposing Dunbar mistakes to shock the Poets over the first quarter.

On the first play of the game, Dunbar fumbled to the benefit of Catoctin, laying the groundwork for a theme that would plague the Poets all night long. Turnovers repeatedly cut possessions short for the perennial 1A playoff powerhouse, and the Catoctin defense was ready at every turn to send its offense back onto the field.

“Our defensive coaches had Dunbar very well scouted,” Williams said. “The staff and players all bought into the program, and it made us successful.”

The Cougars had too much firepower to put the ball in their hands with excellent field position, and quarterback Ryan Orr made quick work of the defense in the first half, connecting passes across the middle to put the boys in blue within striking distance. As it has all season, the running game continued to chew up yardage with each play.

Dunbar had successful drives down the field, but a mental mistake led to a red-zone interception for Catoctin, effectively thwarting any momentum for the Poets and preserving the shutout.

A series of mistakes kept the Catoctin offense on the field, but the Cougar defense managed to punish the Poets with a pick-six to continue frustrating the opposing quarterback.

Despite the lopsided turnover ratio, the Dunbar offense had its moments where possessions were threatening. After 24 unanswered points by Catoctin, Dunbar made its first significant impact of the game with a beautiful ball over the middle to Deairus Carr, who slipped between the defense, shook off a tackle, and cruised into the end zone to get his team on the board.

Dunbar’s message was loud and clear, the team needed to stop the bleeding, and shutting down Catoctin’s run game was necessary if the Poets were going to turn the game around. The Cougars’ bread and butter all season was its slashing runs with running back Carson Sickeri, but Dunbar had keyed in and cut his drives repeatedly short throughout the second quarter.

Fortunately for Catoctin, Sickeri did what he does best and found a running lane to break through the Poets’ defense for a huge chunk of yardage. Sickeri’s run eventually set up another ball over the top to Travis Fields, for his second touchdown of the game.

With a 31-8 lead at halftime, the Cougars just needed to play solid defense and maintain long possessions to close out the game and capture the team’s second championship of the decade.

Coach Williams and company continued to pour on the pressure, bottling up Dunbar’s offense and preventing the Poets from stringing together a successful drive.

As Catoctin continued burning the clock, the Gatorade bath watch was on, and the Cougars successfully doused several coaches in the only ice bath a person would ever be excited about.

The final buzzer sounded, the crowd went wild, and players stormed the field in what was undoubtedly the most exciting game of their lives.

Through the biting cold temperatures, the fans stood in unison as their hometown friends and family celebrated a near once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

“The community we live in is amazing,” Williams said. “We were the smallest school of the championship winners, and we were the loudest. That’s awesome.” The 2019 Catoctin football team’s legacy of dominance has been solidified, with the team’s 13-1 season ending with the MPSSAA 1A Championship trophy in hand. A big congrats to the players, coaches, and families that made this season so great. Go Cougars!