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Blair Garrett

Deep in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, is where it is said that country music stars are born.

Yet, in this case, Thurmont has produced a star of its own. Michael Gray (pictured above), a 1979 Catoctin High School graduate, is living the dream in Nashville, playing as the drummer, percussionist, and vocalist with Lee Brice (shown below on stage, left, with Gray, right). Lee Brice is an American singer/songwriter who has been churning out hits for the better part of the last decade and a half.

The group has put together an impressive history of top country songs, peaking at No. 1 in the nation five times over their careers. Their latest hit, “Rumor,” is their most recent top country song in America, reaching No. 1 in late June.

Gray now gets to tour the country, playing shows in America’s biggest cities and meeting loads of great musicians and people along the way. “I love living out of a suitcase because I get to see the entire country and the different parts of the world,” said Gray.

Most musicians get their start or inspiration to pick up an instrument as they develop their taste in music, but for Gray, drumming may have just been something he was born to do.

“It’s in my baby book: pots and pans when I was two years old,” Gray said. “At six years old, [my dad] started buying me drums, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Gray’s affinity for drumming as a kid has lead him to a successful professional career, but it all expanded from his experience jamming around his hometown. “I was a weekend warrior in Maryland,” Gray said. “Any place in the tristate area, I played.” 

When the now 50-something-year-old artist was 42 years of age, and after playing countless local shows, Gray and his wife, Dawne, took a chance and set their sights for Nashville so that Gray could advance his country music career. “When I turned 42, and my wife and I had just gotten married, I said ‘let’s go to Nashville; I think I still have some gas left in me.’”

Gray began making waves in the honky tonks on Broadway, where he eventually linked up with Lee Brice, forming the band we know today.

The group began writing and recording, and finally struck gold with its 2012 album, Hard 2 Love, which featured several top hits, including: “Hard 2 Love,” “A Woman Like You,” and “I Drive Your Truck.”

It isn’t easy making it big in Nashville. Thousands of talented musicians have filled the bars and clubs with beautiful country music, decade after decade. For Gray, Nashville has rejuvenated his drumming career. “I went to one of the hardest cities to keep a gig, and it’s the longest job I’ve ever had,” Gray said.

Since the band’s Hard 2 Love album hit the streets, nothing has slowed down. Gray and company have five No. 1 hits together as a band, with their last topping the charts for several weeks and remaining in the Top 10 for nearly a month.

Despite Gray’s successes touring around the country, he hasn’t forgotten his roots in Thurmont. Gray donated his plaque for the band’s No. 1 hit “I Don’t Dance,” released in 2014, to the Thurmont Historical Society, where it now sits with other merchandise from Gray’s career. You can find those pieces in the Edwin Jr. Room at the Creeger House.

The band returns to Gray’s home state August 22, 2019, rocking the house in the MECU Pavillion in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray’s homecoming will be met by a fleet of friends and family. “A boatload of friends and family are going to come,” he said.

Grab tickets to the 4,000-seat amphitheater soon to support your hometown rockstar.

Cover Page Photo & Stage Photo (top of page) Taken by Jenny Brewer; Other Photos are Courtesy Photos

What’s Afloat on The Monocacy

Blair Garrett

The perfect relaxing day for an August Day Trip lies in the heart of the Catoctin area.

With the sun beating down, not much feels better than sitting on the water surrounded by good people. Fortunately, the Monocacy River is a natural lazy river, which flows from the Mason-Dixon Line around Frederick and all the way to the much larger Potomac River at Dickerson, Maryland. The river bridges Frederick and Carroll Counties, allowing all local kayakers and floaters a short drive for some fun in the sun.

The pace of the river is leisurely to say the least, so for kayakers or those fearful of rapids, the Monocacy is a great place to start learning or adapting to all of your water adventures.

There are entry points scattered throughout nearly every twist and turn, but the farther north in the river that you hop on, the longer the potential float. Popular drop spots include the MD 77 access point, the Creagerstown Boat Launch, Devilbiss Bridge, Biggs Ford Road, and Riverside Park Boat Ramp. Each of these locations grant riders easy access to smooth waters on a sunny day.

The process is easy and a blast with a great group of people. One person parks at an entry point, and one parks at the finish line, so the whole group can hitch a ride at the start on their tubes or kayaks and make it to the end point with a ride back to their cars or back home.

The trip itself can take several hours, or much less depending on where you want to end your ride. Floating is simple, though, and a great way to spend some time with family and friends. Grabbing a few tubes, stringing them together and playing some music while taking an easy stroll down the Monocacy can provide hours of entertainment, and the atmosphere is unbeatable on a nice day.

It’s not uncommon to see families with a big tube in the middle, packed with coolers filled with drinks and snacks, but don’t forget to bring sunscreen and plenty of water to combat those hot August days.

The river flows at an average speed of 2-3 mph, and despite the trees surrounding the river providing shade toward the edges, there is plenty of room in the middle with direct sunlight. So, whether or not you plan on catching some rays, make sure to protect yourself from getting a nasty sunburn.

Depending on recent rainfall, the river may run much faster and may have deeper waters, so it’s important to be prepared and cautious for your day trip on the water. There are few if any rapids at all over the course of the Monocacy, but significant rainfall can and does affect the speed and intensity of the river.

The Monocacy passes plenty of beautiful landscapes and farmlands, but it also runs past a few points of interest that can be seen and heard during a typical floating trip on the northern half of the waterway. The river runs right by the Thurmont Sportsman Club, where they often have competitions and events at their gun range. 

The river also flows under Old Links Bridge, where you may just be able to take a pit stop and grab a bottle of wine from Links Bridge Winery.

Of course, the best part about the Monocacy River float is shutting out the rest of the world and enjoying quality time with loved ones and some of the freshest air Maryland has to offer.

Over the course of the Monocacy’s 58 mile stretch from PA/MD border to the Potomac River, there are plenty of places to fish or swim, so even if a long tube ride isn’t your cup of tea, there’s surely something to do for everyone. The river is also home to several species of bass, trout and sunfish, with each fish posing a different challenge to catch.

With the mountainous and forested landscape covering much of southern Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, there are plenty of rivers, streams and tributaries that offer the public a great way to cool off over the summer. The Monocacy is just one of a few popular floating destinations in the area. For those of us north of the PA/MD border, the Conococheague Creek is another similar experience for adventurers to have a fun day on the water.

The Conococheague is a tributary in the Potomac River system, running 80 miles from start to finish. The majority of the creek lies in Pennsylvania, with prime floating locations near Greencastle, PA. Just 12 percent of the creek resides in Maryland before connecting to the Potomac River.

While both the Monocacy and the Conococheague eventually connect to the Potomac River, many of the sights to see and points of interest on the Monocacy tour are in and around the greater Frederick Area.

Historic locations like the Buckeystown Dam and the Monocacy National Battlefield run with the river, so a quick detour to do some exploring and to take in the history is an option worth checking out.

Whatever it is that draws you to the water, the Monocacy River float is a day trip the whole family can enjoy. Check out a location near you and grab a tube before the summer is over!

Wade and Alison McGahen kick back for a day of fun in the sun on the Monocacy River.

A group of friends hits the Monocacy waters with their favorite tubes on a hot summer day.

Accesses & Points Along the Monocacy

The Town of Thurmont is preparing to launch its automated speed monitoring program in an effort to decrease drivers’ speeds in school zones throughout the town. The primary goal is to provide consistent enforcement to make the streets safer for children, citizens, and motorists.

An automated speed enforcement system (ASE) is an enforcement technique with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds above a defined threshold. Images captured by the system are processed and reviewed in an office environment and violation notices are mailed to the registered owner of the identified vehicle.

Transportation Article §21-809 of the Maryland Annotated Code, effective October 1, 2009, authorizes local jurisdictions and municipalities to use automated speed enforcement systems in school zones. The Town passed and adopted local enabling legislation for the use of speed monitoring systems in school zones in February 2019. (Ordinance 2019-02, Chapter 127).

A school zone is a designated roadway segment within up to a half-mile radius of school buildings or grounds, along which school-related activities occur, and/or where there is a school crossing. The speed monitoring system will be in operation Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Town of Thurmont designates the following school zones within the Town: Thurmont Primary School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Thurmont Elementary School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Thurmont Middle School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Catoctin High School—Portions of North Church Street (Rt. 550), located within one half-mile radius of the school.

Appropriate signage designating the school zones shall be erected pursuant to the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and the guidelines for school zones established by the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Violators must be traveling at least 12 mph over the posted speed limit for the cameras to activate. The citations are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle and carry a $40 fine and no points. The citations are not reported to insurance companies. The vehicle owner may elect to pay the fine or contest the citation in court. The citation explains how to pay a violation or how to request a hearing in court.

The Town, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the State Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and State law, may give or cause to be given notice to the MVA of all vehicles registered by the State that are the subject of any outstanding and past due automated speed enforcement citations and request that the MVA suspend the registration, refuse registration, or refuse the transfer of registration of the subject vehicle until notified by the Town that the violation penalty has been satisfied.

A warning period began July 15 and will end on August 23. Once the warning period is complete, actual citations will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The violation is a civil citation, meaning there is no impact on your license status, no points assessed, and no insurance impact.

Senate Bill 350 Speed Monitoring Systems Reform Act of 2014 stipulates that a local jurisdiction that authorizes a program of speed monitoring systems shall designate an official or employee to investigate and respond to any inquiries related to the Speed Monitoring Program within a reasonable time.

The Town of Thurmont has designated Sgt. David Armstrong as the employee who hears and investigates complaints/concerns regarding the program. Sgt. Armstrong can be contacted at 301-271-0905, ext. 118, or at

The Safe Ride Foundation, Frederick County’s only anti-drunk driving nonprofit, has an exciting announcement. The foundation’s local ride program, SOS Safe Ride, the mobile app that promises to get you and your vehicle home safe, recently launched an upgraded membership option known as Safe Ride PLUS! For those who use SOS Safe Ride regularly, the intuitive donation platform is now offering the Frederick community unlimited rides for just $39.00 a month. From Frederick to New Market, Thurmont to Mt. Airy, no matter where you go in Frederick County, it’s free and lightning fast!

The SOS Safe Ride app began operating in Frederick County back in 2015, with The Safe Ride Foundation now celebrating four years of impaired driving prevention. In fighting drunk driving in our area, the foundation recognized that one of the biggest challenges for consumers in using a ride-share service was having to leave their car behind. “When I started SOS Safe Ride here in Frederick, I wanted to fix a problem that I ran into when going out. I may have needed my car the next day, or simply didn’t want to leave it downtown and potentially receive a ticket, or worse, a tow. Most of us living in the area have that issue because we’re pretty spread out here in Frederick County; it’s the largest county in Maryland, after all. So when you go out and wind up leaving your car, trying to get back to pick it up the next day can be a hassle, an annoying one at that,” explains Wayne Dorsey, president of SOS Safe Ride. “As great and convenient other rideshare operators can be, a shortcoming was that they couldn’t solve that issue.”

The SOS model of bringing two drivers provides a safe solution to this problem. Since launching, SOS has given over 9,500 safe rides home to county residents and their vehicles, contributing in part to a 14 percent decrease of Frederick County DUI-related arrests since 2016, according to local law enforcement.

With the upgraded app and unlimited ride program, SOS Safe Ride serves ALL of Frederick County. “Our nonprofit has brought on significantly more drivers. More drivers along with the upgraded mobile app will allow SOS to reach driver numbers we couldn’t have originally anticipated,” said Wayne Dorsey. “This means we’re prepared to expand this program in a big way and effectively double the number of safe rides home, significantly reducing DUI arrests.”

SOS Safe Ride is also well known for putting on various shows and engagements in and around Frederick, such as The “Over the Limit” Comedy Festival at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, the Good Ole Days Fair at Blue Sky Bar & Grill, and of course the Pump Your Brakes Booth that you can find downtown on Market Street every other Friday during the summertime!

SOS Safe Ride is committed to combating driving under the influence by creating easy, safe, and reliable solutions for the Frederick County community. Frederick County residents (exclusively Frederick County residents) can use the low-cost program as they go, or take advantage of Safe Ride Plus, providing unlimited safe rides home for a small monthly donation to the cause. Learn more about the organization, its mission, and how you can volunteer by visiting

James Rada, Jr.

A small group of town and county representatives helped dedicate the three new waysides that are the hoped-for beginning of a historic Emmitsburg walking trail. The dedication took place Saturday morning, June 29, 2019.

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved the development and installation of three markers in town to describe some historic sites in Emmitsburg.

The first is on the southeast corner of the town square and talks about the historical significance of the square.

“Just think for a moment,” Mayor Don Briggs said during his remarks, “We are standing where so many before have stood, moved around in Independence times, the Civil War, both World Wars, the Depression, and waved to President Eisenhower and Mamie on the way to their farm in Gettysburg.”

The other two markers are across the street from the Emmit House and the Doughboy statue. The Emmit House is a historical building with roots back to 1850, when it was known as Black’s Tavern.

The Doughboy is a historical statue erected to honor the town’s World War I Veterans.

Mayor Briggs; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; County Councilman Michael Blue; Emmitsburg Town Commissioners Tim O’Donnell, Cliff Sweeney, and Joe Ritz; and other county representatives were on hand to cut the ribbon, officially dedicating the waysides. Blue also read a proclamation from the county, declaring June 29, 2019, as Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day.

Briggs said that the square wayside dedication marked the end was nearing for the square revitalization and sidewalks projects. The town square revitalization efforts started in 2011. Since then, trees were planted, attractive brick work replaced cement, a town clock was erected, an informational kiosk installed, ADA-compliant curbing installed, and more. Briggs called it an “eight-year overnight success.”

“Once again, the square is pedestrian attractive, safer, and friendly,” Briggs remarked.

The waysides are designed and written by Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations.

The waysides are funded with a $9,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. The long-term goal is to create a historic walking tour through the town.

On June 29, 2019, Emmitsburg Town, Frederick County dignitaries, and community members gathered to dedicate the new wayside signs on a historic Emmitsburg walking trail through town.

Christine O’Connor

Poison Ivy

Most of us have heard the saying “leaves of three, let it be.” That oversimplification might cause some to dodge strawberry, clover, and many other attractive, innocuous plants.

Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy, is a widespread noxious plant, notorious for causing allergic skin reactions in the majority of humans that come into contact with this plant.

Poison ivy contains urushiol, an odorless, oily substance emitted by the plant when it is disturbed.  Urushiol is also found in poison sumac and poison oak, as well as a variety of nut trees and others.

Urushiol causes varying degrees of skin irritation, depending on an individual’s sensitivity. Reactions range from mild dermatitis and itching to large patches of painful, blistering skin.  

Poison ivy is not picky as to growing conditions, thriving anywhere from shady woodlands to sunny flower beds. It can resemble a shrub or imitate a tree-like habit, using hairy aerial roots to scale all manner of objects, from trees to power poles, stone fences, and masonry walls.

Many species of birds and mammals consume its high fat berry clusters or “drupes” when it fruits during the growing season and throughout the fall and winter. So, it’s no wonder these plants pop up in unexpected places from seeds that have passed through animals’ digestive tracts.

All parts of the plant contain urushiol, even after the plants have been dead for years, so great care must be exercised to safely dispose of yard waste. Extreme caution is required when burning brush, for errant poison ivy branches or wood with poison ivy vines clinging to it will result in urushiol being carried in the smoke and potentially into lungs of humans. Open burning of poison ivy is so dangerous, it’s against the law to do so in many states.

Domestic pets exposed to poison ivy can harbor urushiol on their coats, so its advisable to bathe pets after romps in the fields and trees.  Launder towels and wash collars,  leashes, and any pet toys that may have gotten urushiol on them. Urushiol can also be transferred to the skin if it’s left on clothing, footwear, gloves, and tools, so it’s important to thoroughly clean them after using. Rubbing alcohol is effective in removing urushiol, so keep a bottle or two handy when enjoying outdoor activities.

Some people have minor reactions to urushiol and will benefit from topical applications of  a variety of over-the-counter remedies; there is also a benefit to calamine lotion, baking soda paste, oatmeal baths, and cool compresses.

People who have a severe reaction to urushiol should seek medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, those include folks who have the rash on their face or genitalia, have blisters that show signs of infection by oozing pus, have a fever of over 100 degrees, or have a rash that persists for more than a few weeks.


Knowing what poison ivy looks like and the vast places it could be hiding allows us to give poison ivy a wide berth, avoiding the noxious plant. However, it’s a bit more challenging to stay off the menu of female mosquitoes that need human and animal blood to nourish their eggs’ development.

A significant number of mosquito-borne diseases have shown up in the United States, including encephalitis; yellow and dengue fevers; and West Nile virus, Zika virus, and the lesser known chikungunya virus. Reduce the odds of vulnerability to the bitey female’s needle-like proboscis by using some simple precautions.

Following a number of blood meals, the female mosquito lays her eggs in any amount of stagnant water. It can be a puddle or water in a cup left outdoors. Other typical offenders are buckets, saucers under flowerpots, clogged gutters, tarps, garbage cans, and a host of other places in the average yard.  Water troughs, water buckets, and birdbaths should be emptied and refilled every few days to prevent eggs from developing into “wrigglers,” the larval stage of mosquito metamorphosis.  Otherwise, add a device such as an appropriately rated pump to keep the water moving.

Female mosquitoes are known to be drawn to exhaled carbon dioxide, body heat, movement, and lactic acid exuded by sweat glands, especially during exertion.  Mosquitoes generally prefer moderate temperatures, around 80 degrees Fahrenheit; moderate to high humidity; and after a rain.  They are also a nuisance at dusk, dark, and dawn, but will avoid the hottest time of day when they can easily dehydrate and perish.

The first line of personal defense is to cover up as much as possible in light-colored clothing, for it is believed that the females are attracted to dark colors. And, as mosquitoes are notoriously weak fliers, save some outdoor pastimes for windy days. When sitting outdoors, an oscillating fan may be sufficient to mimic windy conditions and discourage the mosquitoes’ flight.

And, like with poison ivy, shower as soon as possible after exposure and treat any itching that might be present with any number of home or over-the-counter remedies.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.  

BY James Rada, Jr.

Depending on who you might talk to and where you are along the U.S. Route 15 corridor that runs through the heart of the Catoctin Region, the highway could be referred to by at least nine different names and that’s not even counting the names of the business routes and auxiliary routes.

U.S. Route 15

This is the official name of the nearly 792-mile-long highway that runs from Waltersboro, South Carolina, to Painted Post, New York. It passes through South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The Catoctin Banner region encompasses an approximate 15-mile stretch of the highway from the Pennsylvania/Maryland (Mason Dixon) Line south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to the area north of Frederick, Maryland.          

Route 15 is one of the earliest U.S. Highways, opening in 1926. However, the original U.S. Route 15 did not enter Maryland. What is currently Route 15 from Frederick, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was called U.S. 240 at the time. In 1927, U.S. 240 became the major route between Washington, D.C., and Frederick and Route 15 was extended from Leesburg north into Maryland through Point of Rocks, Maryland, and connected with U.S. 240 in Frederick, and U.S. 240 from Frederick north became U.S. Route 15.

Journey Though Hallowed Ground

From Gettysburg to Charlottesville, Va., U.S. 15 Route has been designated The Journey Through Hallowed Ground. It is a 180-mile long, 75-mile wide National Heritage Area that includes 9 presidential homes and sites, 18 national and state parks, 57 historic towns and villages, 21 historic homes, hundreds of Civil War battlefields and thousands of historical sites. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground bills itself as “Where America Happened.”

“With more history than any other region in the nation, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground was recognized by Congress as a National Heritage Area and offers authentic heritage tourism programs and award-winning educational programs for students of all ages,” according to

James Monroe Highway

The northern portion of Route 15 in Virginia is also known as James Monroe Highway. Monroe was the fifth President of the United States who lived in Loudon County, Virginia at Oak Hill. To make matters confusing, the highway later changes from James Monroe Highway to James Madison Highway, named after the Virginian who was the fourth President of the United States.

Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway

Along most of its nearly 38 miles through Maryland, Route 15 is known as the Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway. This is because along that route, the highway runs along the east side of Catoctin Mountain. The break in this designation is from the U.S. Route 340 intersection to the Maryland Route 26 intersection north of Frederick. Route 15 was originally called Catoctin Mountain Highway beginning in 1974. The entire length of Route 15 in Maryland became a National Scenic Byway in 1999. It became the Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway in 2005.

Jefferson National Pike

Route 15 and Route 340 run concurrently for a few miles in Frederick. This stretch of U.S. 15 is known as Jefferson National Pike. This is due to the fact that Route 340 through Frederick is also known as Jefferson Boulevard.

Frederick Freeway

From the Route 340 intersection to the MD 26 intersection, Route 15 is sometimes called the Frederick Freeway. This is the stretch of Route 15 that runs north-south through Frederick. It is the busiest section of Route 15 in Maryland.

115th Infantry Regiment Memorial Highway

The Maryland General Assembly designated Route 15 the 115th Infantry Regiment Memorial Highway. The 115th Infantry Regiment is a unit of the Maryland National Guard and it was a regiment of the U.S. Its history dates back to the Revolutionary War. The unit saw service in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. A large stone marker was erected in the median of the highway near Emmitsburg in 2006 to mark this designation.

Blue AND Gray Highway

The first of the two designations that Route 15 carries as it begins its trek through Pennsylvania is Blue and Gray Highway. This designation comes from the fact that the first 12 miles of Route 15 in Pennsylvania takes you from the Maryland border to Gettysburg, site of the most-famous battle in the Civil War.

Marine Corps League Highway

The Marine Corps League is made up of Marines and former Marines who support the United States Marine Corps. They are perhaps best known for the “Toys for Tots” Christmas toys program. Route 15 through much of Pennsylvania is named in their honor.

Business Routes and Offshoots

The above names cover the main route from Gettysburg to Virginia. However, Route 15 once passed through some small towns. As traffic increased, the decision was made to divert the highway around the towns and the original route through the town was designated Business Route 15.

Along the area The Catoctin Banner covers, this happens in Emmitsburg and Gettysburg. In Emmitsburg, Business Route 15 is known as North Seton Avenue and South Seton Avenue. In Gettysburg, the route is known along different sections as Emmitsburg Road, Steinwehr Avenue, Baltimore Street, Carlisle Street, and Old Harrisburg Road.

Route 15 also has five auxiliary routes in Maryland designated 15A, 15B, 15C, 15D, and 15G. These are all very small sections of road adjoining the main highway. The longest is less than .2-miles.

Call it what you will. U.S. Route 15 is still a beautiful highway to travel to see natural beauty and historic sites.

Article by Jane Savage, Administrative Secretary, Sabillasville Elementary

Many parents currently serving on the Sabillasville Elementary School (SES) Parent Group, Inc. are SES Alumni. They started chatting about all the great memories they had of the spring bazaar that was held years ago when they were students, and they wanted to give current students and the community an opportunity to create their own memories, as well, so they re-created the event. They hoped the bazaar would raise funds for the SES Parent Group. Currently, the Parent Group provides activities and educational resources for the students including field trips, cultural arts activities, subscriptions to online reading programs and books, magazines and classroom supplies, and events throughout the year.   

The SES Parent Group revived the bazaar three years ago, and it has grown significantly each year. This year’s Planning Committee consisted of Alisha Yocum (coordinator), Priscilla Blentlinger, Dawn Fisher, Dawn Harbaugh, and Kelsey Norris.  Parent Group members volunteered to put on the bazaar, as well as families, community members, and staff. Alisha Yokum said, “We tried to re-create the event so that it would just be a day of good family fun, while supporting the school. We included ‘old-fashioned’ carnival games, some of which were the same as when it took place 30 years ago. Back then, an auctioneer auctioned off donations from local businesses. This time, we changed that to be a silent auction. We received so much support from businesses within the community, as well as the surrounding communities, through donations to the silent auction.”  The school receives much support from the community and surrounding communities in many different ways all year. Contributors include individuals, businesses, and service organizations. In the past, the bazaar was held the Saturday before Mother’s Day; and plants that were purchased from the Ag classes at the high school were sold at the bazaar. This year, the bazaar was held the first Saturday in June.

In the past, a pie in the face contest, where the principal took a pie in the face from students who won a raffle, was a highly anticipated activity. (Mrs. Severance started this activity when she was the principal).

In sticking with re-creating just “good fun,” the Parent Group decided to broaden the Pie in the Face contest with four staff members volunteering to be candidates. Students cast their votes and Mrs. Krietz (Principal) topped the contest with just over 8,100 votes. Two lucky winners (Abbey Sparkman and Hope LeGore) were then selected from a raffle to smash the pie in her face on the day of the event. A pie in the face of the principal was sure to draw a crowd to the event because who doesn’t want to see the principal take a pie to the face!

About the cover photo: Dalton Wolfe (boy in orange shirt), Noah Bradbury (boy in tank top), and Maycee Grimes (girl in pink shirt) observe as Abbey Sparkman smooshes a pie in SES Principal’s Kate Krietz’ face.

Pictured above: Alayna Sowers (age 8) plucks a duckie for a prize.

Pictured above: Kyle Mullennex is the winner (safety yellow shirt) of a Cake Walk.

Pictured above: Baked goods have always been a big seller at the bazaar.

Pictured above: Even the smallest of tractors competes in the Tractor Show.

James Rada, Jr.

Geocaching is a fun way to find hidden treasures, not only locally, but across the world using a GPS device.

While you can purchase a GPS device, if you have a smartphone, you can download a free app that will allow you to get started right away. Once you enter the coordinates of the cache, the GPS device acts like a compass, helping you zero in on the cache’s location. The closer you get to the cache, the more it becomes a game of hot/cold since most GPS devices can only get you accurately to the cache’s hiding spot within 10 feet or so.

This article will highlight some of the caches hidden in The Catoctin area and allow you to add treasure hunting via geocaching to your recreational activities. You can find where hundreds of thousands of other caches are hidden at You can track caches you find, leave comments about caches, and upload pictures of your finds.

Good hunting!

Thurmont Park and Grab (Difficulty: 1.0/ Terrain: 1.0)

Coordinates: N 39° 36.989 W 077° 25.180

This cache is a quick find in a Thurmont shopping center. Should be an easy park and grab.

Hint: Light post cache.

Moser Cache (Difficulty: 1.5/ Terrain: 3.0)

Coordinates: N 39° 36.474 W 077° 24.139

Hidden on private property with permission. Parking at this cache is minimal, so please use the following coordinates to park: N39’ 36.458 W77’ 24.205. The actual cache is hidden at the above coordinates.

The cache is a smaller ammo can (5.56mm) with NASCAR and GEOCACHE stickers on it. Since this cache was created by a huge Jeff Gordon fan, you’ll find a lot of J.G. swag, including a key chain, pictures from a race he attended at Texas Motor Speedway, Pez dispenser, log book, pens, official geocache congratulations “You’ve found it” notice, and a few other odds and ends. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you’ll enjoy this one.

Hint: Beware of the thorns and watch for the fallen tree and water.

FCMGT-Emmitsburg Doughboy (Difficulty: 1.5/ Terrain: 1.5)

Coordinates: N 39° 42.357 W 077° 19.954

This cache is part of the Frederick County Memorial GeoTrail.

Emmitsburg’s doughboy, the popular name for a WWI foot soldier, stands at the end of West Main Street in its own little grassy park about 10 feet square. The statue stands on the lawn of the Emmit House, once a hotel that frequently hosted Maryland governors, but is now an apartment house. It was erected in 1927. For more information, go to

Hint: Fake rock at base.

Hatchery and Ponds (Difficulty: 1.5/ Terrain: 1.5)

Coordinates: N 39° 32.128 W 077° 25.976

The Lewistown Trout Hatchery and Bass Ponds are located near this cache. The property was purchased by the State of Maryland in 1917. The area is well known for fish ponds, some of which are no longer used. The cache you seek is located near the marker. As a side note, in the early 20th century, Frederick County was the leading goldfish producer in the United States.

    Hint: GRC.


Cache: The hidden item. Caches can take any form and be hidden or disguised. Some have a piece of paper in them that you can sign and date to mark that you found it. Others have cheap swag. If you take a swag item, you are expected to leave one of your own behind.

Coordinates: The location of the cache given in latitude and longitude.

Difficulty: On a scale of 1-5, how difficult is it considered to find this cache.

GPS: Global Positioning System. This is an electronic device that uses coordinates you enter to direct you to those coordinates. Think: Mapquest, where the address entered are latitude and longitude coordinates.

Muggles: Non-geocachers.

Swag: Small items, such as might be found in a Cracker Jack box, that are left as a small reward for finding the cache.

Terrain: On a scale of 1-5, how difficult is it to get to this cache.

James Rada, Jr.

Note: The below article “Thurmont’s Oldest Citizen Turns 102” was featured in the July 2018 issue of The Catoctin Banner. Beulah Zentz passed away on June 23, 2019 at the age of 103. Our community has lost a friend in Beulah Zentz, and she will be missed. Turn to page 60 to view her Obituary.

Beulah Zentz may not have been born in Thurmont, but the town’s oldest resident has become a part of the town’s history.

She was born on May 26, 1916, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Fresh out of high school, she met Ethel Hockensmith. Beulah went to help Ethel with housework at her home in Zullinger, Pennsylvania. Beulah stayed with her about a week before Ethel asked her, “Do you want a job?”

Ethel’s brother owned and operated the Munshour Dairies in Thurmont. So, Beulah made the move to Thurmont in 1932. She lived with the Munshours. Her work included milking sixteen cows twice a day, washing glass milk bottles, and bottling milk. Munshour Dairies delivered milk by horse and wagon to locations throughout Thurmont. Sometimes, Beulah would ride along.

“The only place she got to go while she was living there was the Lutheran church,” said Viola Noffsinger, Beulah’s daughter.

It was there that she met Albert Zentz, a local farmer. The two got along well, but before their relationship could really develop, Beulah moved back to Chambersburg. A friend of hers invited Beulah to come work at a factory in Chambersburg for $7.50 a week. Beulah was only making $3.00 a week at Munshour Dairies, so she jumped at the new job.

This complicated her growing relationship with Albert, who had to travel from Thurmont to Chambersburg to visit her. He finally told her that it was too far to travel.

Beulah had a choice to make, and she chose Albert over her job. She moved back in with her family, who were living in New Franklin, Pennsylvania. Once she did, Beulah said, “He started visiting more often.” They married on February 24, 1936.

Albert had taken over his family’s farm in 1934, and Beulah moved into the farmhouse at 158 North Carroll Street in Thurmont. “We had animals of all kinds,” Beulah said. “Hogs, calves, beef cattle, chickens.” They also grew vegetables to sell in town.

The farmhouse also became quite crowded. Albert’s parents, Wendell and Florence, continued to live in the house, and Beulah and Albert started their family. Jean (Heims) was born in 1939, Viola (Noffsinger) in 1940, Mary (Eyler) in 1942, and Wendell in 1954.

As the town grew, factories began building in town.

Meanwhile, Albert not only worked his farm, but he helped anyone in town who needed help. Albert got a reputation of being the person to go to if you needed a helping hand.

Beulah did her part to assist the family. She worked for a time at the shoe factory in town, but then she found a better way to help out.

The Zentzes owned a building next to the railroad tracks and near the shoe factory. The upstairs rooms were rented out as apartments, but the Zentzes had another idea for the ground floor.

“The shoe factory wanted something so people could have snacks and eat,” Beulah said.

And, so, the Sunrise Cafeteria was born. Employees at the shoe factory would place orders, and one employee would walk over to the cafeteria to pick up the order of milk and sandwiches that the employees would eat on their break.

The Western Maryland Railroad passenger trains also stopped at the cafeteria. “They made it a point to stop there and eat,” Beulah said.

The cafeteria operated for years until bureaucracy began interfering. Insurance rates climbed because the cafeteria sold fresh milk, not pasteurized. Then the health inspector told Beulah that they would need new coolers to hold the milk, which were too expensive. The cafeteria closed in the early 1950s.

Beulah continued working with companies like Claire Frock and Hillside Turkey.

Albert died in 2002. He and Beulah had been married for sixty-seven years.

Beulah is now 102 years old, making her Thurmont’s oldest citizen. However, she has had health issues this year, including pneumonia. When asked what her secret to long life is, Beulah said, “I never gave it much thought. I just went along and did whatever needed doing.”

Deb Abraham Spalding


Incidents of Lyme disease in people are on the rise in our area, while the incidents of Lyme disease in our dogs are on the decline. Our Blacklegged (Deer) Tick is the culprit. Other local tick species like the Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick are not known to transfer Lyme but can transfer other diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to pets and people.

Pets: Trish Hahn, a veterinary technician with the Catoctin Veterinary Clinic in Thurmont, explains that there’s a 99 percent effective Lyme vaccine available for your dogs, which substantially decreases the incidents of Lyme. There are also various flea and tick treatments, topical and oral, that are effective as well. These reliable flea and tick products kill the tick before there is a blood exchange, thus preventing disease.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in a dog are lethargy, loss of appetite, and kidney damage if left too long without treatment. From the point of the bite, symptoms may begin within 24 hours. Trish explained that we don’t see Lyme disease in cats.

People: Jenice Palachick, CRNP (Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner) in Dr. Cooper’s office in Thurmont, formerly worked with Dr. Timothy Stonesifer at the Cumberland Valley Parochial Medical Clinic in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Stonesifer runs his clinic as a family practice, with a specialty in Lyme. Having prior experience with diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is a useful resource for Jenice while working in general practice at Dr. Cooper’s office, but she often consults with Dr. Stonesifer if she suspects Lyme.

Typical symptoms of Lyme can be difficult to diagnose because they mimic so many other ailments. They include fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and, about 30 percent of the time, a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Every case of Lyme disease is unique. Thus, treatment for each case is a journey of trial and error. Jenise said, “I’ve been fooled before. It’s not that simple.” The symptoms are so broad, especially in the chronic phase where symptoms have gone on for years.

Jenice suggests that the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is in place when preventing Lyme. When outside in the tick’s natural habitat, wear long pants tucked into your socks. Buy clothes that are infused with pyrethrum, which is a natural repellent to ticks. Use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered ingredient, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear light colored clothing. Do a tick check after being outside. Ticks love the scalp, behind the ears, and the groin area. Ticks can be as small as a pin head.

For more about Lyme Disease, read the ‘Ask Dr. Lo’ column in the Health Matters Section on page 56.


(Correction from this article in June’s issue: our water snakes are not venomous. The Cottonmouth water moccasin mentioned can be found in southern Virginia and other southern areas.)

There are two kinds of venomous snakes in our local area: timber rattlesnakes and copperheads. They are rarely aggressive. The easiest way to determine how to treat a snake bite is to look at the eyes of the culprit. Venomous snakes have elliptical pupils while non-venomous have round pupils. Venomous snakes have hollow retractable fangs while nonvenomous snakes lack fangs. Venomous snakes have a triangular shaped head while nonvenomous snakes have a rounded head. Please don’t assume that all snakes are venomous, but please do assume that all snakes can bite.

Pets: Though not all snakes have a deadly venom, a snake bite will still cause discomfort and stress for your pet, so please take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your pet was bitten by a venomous snake, it will need antivenom.

People: On May 19, 2019, while hiking with her wife Sarah, two dogs and friends, Lindsay Klampe was bitten by a rattlesnake (actual snake shown in photo).  She was wearing shorts and sneakers while hiking from Hog Rock in Catoctin Mountain Park to Cunningham Falls in Cunningham Falls State Park.

Lindsay said, upon feeling the bite, “Adrenaline took over. I jumped and started running.” She ran about a quarter mile from where the bite occurred to the falls parking lot along Route 77. Meanwhile, Sarah called 911.

Ambulance personnel transported Lindsay to Frederick Memorial Hospital where, within 1 hour and 15 minutes from when the bite occurred, she was injected with antivenom.

Lyndsay said she plans to get back to hiking but will wear hiking boots and pants in the future since she feels that ankle-covering boots could have served as a barrier of protection and prevented the bite from penetrating her skin.

UpToDate clinical first aid for a venomous snake bite suggests keeping the victim warm, at rest, and calm while initially elevating the injured part of the body to the level of the heart. Remove any rings, watches, or constrictive clothing from the affected extremity. Rush to the nearest medical facility using emergency medical services.

For Pets and People: In case of a non-venomous bite, clean the wound, apply a clean dressing, and go about your day while monitoring for any changes in condition like swelling, dizziness or clamminess, or changes in breathing. If any of these changes occur, seek medical attention.

In the case of a venomous bite, take emergency action to get to an emergency room where an antivenom can be injected.


The National Park Service has posted bear safety tips on its website. The biggest prevention tip is: Make a lot of noise. The bears in our local parks are black bears. They are not normally aggressive or threatening, and mostly just want to be left alone. So, being a loud hiker or camper may deter their interest. But, if you encounter one, keep in mind that they are very curious. That’s not to say they won’t be aggressive or threatening if they are protecting their young or hungry in pursuit of food, and you get in the way.

People: If confronted with a black bear, stand tall with arms stretched above your head so you appear bigger than you are. Talk in a normal tone to the bear, so it determines that you are a human and not a meal. Stay calm. Do not run away or climb a tree; a bear can do those things better than you.

Bear pepper spray is available for purchase and can be a part of your safety regimen while in the wild. Most importantly, if any bear attacks you in your tent, or stalks you and then attacks, do NOT play dead—fight back!

Pets: If you encounter a Black Bear while with your dog, keep your dog on a leash, calmly control your pet, talk in a normal tone, and make yourself big as explained above. Give a Black Bear enough room to retreat since Black Bears usually avoid confrontation.

BY Dan Neuland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deb Abraham Spalding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blair Garrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carolyn Shields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blair Garrett and James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

Stauffer Funeral Home, PA, won Best Funeral Home.

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

Baker Tree Services won Best Tree Service Company.

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

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Commissioners began a review of proposed changes to the town’s sign ordinance. The ordinance is undergoing major re-work, and the review will take place over three meetings. The next two town meetings this month, as well as in April, will be when the discussion is continued. The public is encouraged to let the commissioners know their opinions about the proposed changes so that their input can be taken into consideration.

The changes are needed in order to update the ordinance to deal with new technology and to comply with recent state and federal legal cases involving signage. Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners that in one case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sign ordinances needed to be “content neutral.”

“If your code enforcement officer has to read the sign in order to determine whether a regulation applies, the ordinance provision will likely be subject to a challenge,” he said. He also pointed out that the current town sign ordinance might possibly fail that test because it treats civic and nonprofit signage differently than commercial signage.

One change suggested is to move the sign ordinance from its current location in the town code into the zoning ordinance.

“This will allow the Planning Commission to review and comment on the proposed amendment, and it will allow businesses and residents the opportunity to apply for zoning variances if the property has a unique hardship not recognized by the sign code,” Gulden said.

This first session looked at the proposed types of signs that would be allowed and prohibited. These changes and other proposed changes are based on other sign ordinances around the state.

Sign types such as abandoned signs were obvious choices for prohibited signs. Other types, such as reflective and animated signs, were included because they can lead to distracted driving.

Prohibiting neon signs raised concern among the commissioners. “That one’s just jumping out at me,” said Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III.

Gulden said that whether or not to include neon signs was up to the commissioners, but he pointed out that buildings with neon signage are not eligible for Community Legacy Grants.

Signs that would be allowed under the proposed ordinance include traffic signs, holiday/seasonal decorations, personal expression signs, security signs, flags, arts and murals, legal notices, and temporary signs.

During a February Town meeting, owners of three local businesses (Emmitsburg Tattoo, The Ott House, and Total Look Hair Salon) spoke to express how restrictions on signage would affect their businesses.

Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners that she feels they will find that the changes, taken as a whole, are far less restrictive than the current sign ordinance.

No actions were taken on the proposed changes during the February meeting. The review of the changes continues during the March 4 and April 1 meetings of the town commissioners. Residents and business owners are invited to voice their opinions about the changes at these meetings.  

“We’re really going to dig deep into the details in the next two meetings,” Gulden said.

Even if existing legal signage does not comply with whatever the town commissioners eventually pass, the existing signage will be grandfathered in and allowed to continue unchanged.

Emmitsburg Commissioners are conducting a sign ordinance review to deal with new technology and to comply with recent state and federal legal cases involving signage.

James Rada, Jr.

Last year was a wet one for the region, with about twice as much rain as typical. With two months under our belts in 2019, are things back to normal?

Despite the couple days of arctic cold and then higher-than-typical warms, the days have been relatively balanced, with just as many days with temperatures above average as below.

The quick-changing temperatures have caused some problems, though.

“The freeze and thaw can cause ground movement, and it doesn’t take much movement to crack a water line,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick.

Thurmont has had two water main breaks in 2019. Humerick said that, luckily, they weren’t significant, and the town crews were able to locate and repair them quickly.

Emmitsburg’s Town Manager Cathy Willets stated that no town-owned water lines have frozen, although a few private citizens had problems. There has also been no increased pot holes in roads due to the freezing, thawing, and the use of snow melt chemicals.

Rain and snow is also tracking with the area average so far, although this may vary depending on where you measure. It is nowhere near twice as much as the average.

“Emmitsburg’s been faring pretty well with the weather,” Willets said.

Since January, Humerick said, “It’s been a few things you would typically expect to happen in the winter.”

Now that we are entering springtime, the worries about snow will end, and we’ll start to worry about making sure we have enough rainfall to maintain the water levels in municipal wells.

Deb Abraham Spalding

It’s common-place for His Place Auto Repair and Restoration Center owner, Billy Kuhn III, and his repair professionals to completely strip down a vintage Corvette, or any collectible auto for that matter, to its frame and restore it entirely to new, or better-than-new, from the wheels to the engine to the paint and detail. At His Place, these projects are in process alongside vehicles that are being routinely serviced with oil changes and brake repairs.

The business runs like a well-oiled… well you know… automobile! Billy’s father, William C. Kuhn, Jr. (a.k.a. Big Daddy), started the business in 1969 due to his love for classic cars, especially Corvettes. Billy III has been a part of the business all of his life, while the station moved from its original location in Germantown, Maryland, to the family’s farm on Sixes Bridge Road in Emmitsburg, to its current 6,000 square-foot shop located on Creamery Way in Emmitsburg. These days, the business is under the ownership of Billy III, while Big Daddy continues to oversee the business as an advisor, despite being in “retirement.”

Billy III strives to maintain the standards created by Big Daddy, from quality operations and customer service to show-level restorations to common repairs done right the first time. Billy III explained that the restorations at His Place recapture the new look of the auto while providing new technology that allows for improved performance under the hood and new toys at the driver’s fingertips. One vehicle had been enhanced with a backup camera and a touch screen interface.

His Place has a national draw for restoration clientele and has even been chosen by some of the rich and famous to service some well-known celebrity’s vehicles, and well-known vehicles that are celebrities unto themselves. His Place mechanics and employees treat customers the way they deserve to be treated.

Billy III explained, “We work with the customer. Sometimes with really big repairs, we prioritize critical repairs to allow for budget restraints. We create a maintenance plan.”

Billy feels that the most rewarding facets of running the business occur when delivering a shiny, like-new, completed renovated vehicle to a satisfied customer; when helping with a repair that makes a customer’s life easier; and when people show their appreciation with gifts. “Food and drinks go a long way when you’re a mechanic, especially when people take the time to bake.”

The name of the business, His Place, found it’s meaning from Big Daddy’s desire to have “his place” and a reference to the creator, His place. In respect to a more divine contribution, Billy III is proud that he’s providing jobs in our local area since all His Place mechanics reside in the local vicinity. He’s also proud to support the community by contributing to local charities, schools, and churches with proceeds resulting from the annual His Place Car Show events.

His Place Inc., is a full service, state-of-the-art automotive repair facility, a Maryland State Inspection Station, AAA Certified, a NAPA AutoCare Center, and employs tenured mechanics who are ASE Certified. His Place provides one of the best warranties in the area against defects and failure on all parts and labor purchased and performed at His Place (some exceptions may apply).

For more information about His Place, please call 301-447-2800, visit the facility in person at 20 Creamery Way in Emmitsburg, or visit online.

Billy Kuhn III, owner, and Liz Gamble, Chief Executive Officer, are shown with Gracie and Kasha (dog hosts) at His Place Auto Repair in Emmitsburg. His Place, Inc. celebrates fifty years of serving the community this year.

Blair Garrett

Breaking one world record can take a lifetime of dedication and hard work.

Holding two world records is a distant dream for most athletes.

For sixteen-year-old Tristan Rice, that dream has become a reality.

After spending just five months training and working out, Rice took his talents to Las Vegas, Nevada, to take his shot at powerlifting glory in the International Powerlifting League Drug Tested World Championship.

The young athlete’s short but fruitful powerlifting career began through success in other sports. Rice, a dual-sport athlete, took a break from football and track and field to face a new challenge and to accomplish something he had never done before.

“I started powerlifting during football and shot put,” Rice said. “There was always something I enjoyed about it.”

From the beginning, Rice found a knack for lifting heavier weights, and it did not take long for him to set his sights a little higher.

“I looked up the records and saw what they were, and I thought that I should give that a try,” Rice said. “I figured if I could be the first to set those records at my age and my weight, then that’s something I wanted to do.”

Rice slotted into the 16-17 year-old, 275 pound weight class, smashing the existing deadlift record with his 540.1 pound lift. Rice beat the previous record by nearly 35 pounds, but still believes he has room for improvement.

“I’ve done more in training,” Rice said. “I went for 567 pounds, but I couldn’t pull it. I broke out with a nosebleed.”

The climate of Las Vegas posed a new challenge for Rice, pushing him to compete despite a series of nosebleeds from the stresses of lifting, plaguing Rice’s ability to recreate his heaviest lifts in practice. “I got it to my knees and my nose let loose,” he said. “I kept pulling and lost my balance and fell.”

Across the three events Rice competed in, he set three Maryland state records, three national records in the United States Powerlifting Association 16-17 year-old division for his weight, and two world records in his class for the deadlift and squat.

Perhaps Rice’s most impressive event of the day was in squats, where he lifted 567.7 pounds to secure his second world record, among other accolades. Rice was one of just two athletes to even qualify for the championships in his age and weight class.

Rice’s final national record was a cumulative one, totaling 1,355.8 pounds across the three main events: bench press, deadlift and squat. While 1,355 pounds sounds like a nearly unbeatable record for a sixteen-year-old, Rice plans for much greater numbers.

“My next meet is April 27,” Rice said. “I want to drop weight classes and be the youngest person at the lightest weight ever to total 1,500 across squat, bench, and deadlift.”

Now, just six months into the powerlifting scene, Rice has his own training regimen and his own goals to reach. Limits have yet to stop Rice so far, and world records may only be the beginning.  

Rice lifts 540.1 pounds to secure first place at the Powerlifting League World Championship.