Currently viewing the category: "Featured Articles"

Harry English put his life on the line just to join the U.S. Army, and because he did, many other men survived World War II.

English, a Hagerstown native, liked to spend his summers by himself on a small island in the Potomac River.

“All I had was a knife, a hatchet, and a .22,” he said. He would take some produce from a nearby farmer’s farm, with the farmer’s permission, and he would fish.

When war broke out, English knew it was his patriotic duty to join the military. He and a friend rode with English’s father to Baltimore when English was only eighteen.

English went to enlist in the Merchant Marines. During the physical, the doctor had him jump up and down. Then the doctor listened to his heart.

“He told me to lay down and lay still until my father came,” English said. “He said I had a bad heart and excitement would kill me.”

He thought that was a bunch of bunk and tried enlisting in the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard. They all turned him down because he supposedly had a bad heart.

With no other choice, English returned to school only to receive a draft notice in April 1944. He reported to Camp Meade, thinking that he would just be sent home. Instead, he became a soldier.

“They never said a word about my problem,” said English.

He went through sixteen weeks of infiltration training in South Carolina, and was then sent to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. A doctor at the camp discovered English’s supposed heart condition and wanted to give him a discharge. “I told him, ‘The Army trained me, and the government spent a lot of money on me. My unit needs me. What difference does it make whether I die here or over there?’”

His argument was convincing, and he was sent to fight in Europe.

For the next two years, he traveled with Gen. George Patton’s Army and fought the Germans in the Battle of Bulge, as well as other battles. He drove Jeeps and cooked for his unit. He chauffeured the soldiers who were tasked with setting up the telephone communications.

During one battle, English volunteered to go into enemy territory with a chaplain to pick up wounded prisoners, no matter which side they fought on. He didn’t see it as doing anything special, but the chaplain put in for him to receive a medal for his actions.

He never received it because his unit moved around so much. He didn’t even realize he had been recommended for commendation.

He said his scariest moment in the war was when he realized that someone was shooting at him with a 20-mm gun. One shell flattened the spare tire on his Jeep, and shrapnel raked across his knuckles.

“I just kept thinking, ‘Man, that was close,’” recalled English.

By the time the American crossed the Rhine River in Germany, it was obvious the war was over, although there was no official word. German soldiers were laying down their weapons and surrendering.

Even after the war had ended, English stayed on to the help with the Nuremberg Trials. He drove vehicles for officers and lawyers. He heard parts of the trials that were broadcasted, and he saw Hermann Goering being led in for his trial.

Throughout the war, his heart never gave him any trouble.

Once he came home, English went on with his life. He married and worked thirty-seven years on the railroad. After his retirement, he and his wife moved to Florida, but later returned because they wanted to be able to watch their grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up. English now lives in Sabillasville with his granddaughter Ann Seiss and her family.

Having earned it seventy-four years earlier, he finally received his Bronze Star Medal in July 2018 during a special ceremony at the Thurmont AMVETS. Maryland U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin pinned the medal on English’s sports coat.

It was a long overdue honor for the ninety-two-year-old Veteran, and one that he was able to share with his family and fellow Veterans.

Harry English is shown with his Bronze Star Medal in July.

Harry is pictured with his Jeep during WWII.

James Rada, Jr.

Lois Olsen (pictured right) of Thurmont suspected she had a genetic time bomb inside her. Her mother needed a kidney transplant in 1989 because of a genetic condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease, and as Olsen neared fifty, she wondered if the disease would present itself in her.

Age fifty came and went without incident. It was years later that she began to lose weight unexpectedly and was diagnosed with the same disease as her mother.

Polycystic Kidney Disease causes many cysts to grow in your kidneys. As the cysts grow, they can enlarge the kidneys and cause them to lose function. It can cause high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Olsen started receiving dialysis treatment each night. Luckily, it was a process that could be done while she slept because it took nine hours. The dialysis helped, and she made sure to eat a lot of protein, which was also recommended.

What she needed was a kidney to replace one of her failing kidneys. Olsen’s name was put on the waiting list. Her husband enrolled in a “pair share” program. He essentially offered one of his healthy kidneys in exchange for a compatible kidney for his wife. He hoped that she would receive a suitable donation quicker. On June 4, 2018, Olsen was told she was number 4 on the donor list at Georgetown Hospital, and she was asked to drive down to have more blood tests done.

The very next morning she received a call from the hospital at 7:30 a.m. telling her that she needed to come to the hospital because they had a perfect match for her kidney. The news came as a surprise, but they headed back to Georgetown.

Olsen received her new kidney on June 5, 2018. Her recovery went smoothly, although she still has to be careful about her health. She will also have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life. It’s a trade she gladly made to not have to be on dialysis every night.

She was able to resume her work at New Midway Elementary School as the Media Specialist this month.

What Olsen wants people to know is how important it is to be an organ donor. So many parts of the body can be donated to help improve or save another person’s life. Some things like blood, skin, and kidneys can be given as a live donor. Others can be donated upon your death.

“I think a lot about the family that lost a loved one while we’re so happy,” Olsen said.

To make sure doctors act quickly to preserve your organs in the case of your death, make sure you register as an organ donor. This can be done when you renew your driver’s license, or you can register anytime at

You can give the gift of life to someone like Lois Olsen.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

The 62nd Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held at Catoctin High School, located at 14745 Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, on September 7-9, 2018.  All events, activities, and entertainment are free.

Free entry of exhibits will take place on Thursday evening, September 6, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., and on Friday, September 7, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., in the new gymnasium and in the Ag Center. Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m. Commercial exhibits may be entered on Friday, September 7, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The show will open to the public at 6:00 p.m.

On Friday night, September 7, the opening ceremonies will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium, where the 2018-2019 Catoctin FFA Chapter Ambassador will be announced. In addition, this year’s program will feature the 42nd Annual Community Flag Ceremony and honor Catoctin High School’s 50th anniversary. At 8:15 p.m., the annual Baked Goods Auction will begin immediately following the program, with the Grand Champion Cake, Pie, and Bread sold at 9:00 p.m. Buyers are welcome to purchase baked good items to support the Community Show and many local organizations.

On Saturday, September 8, the Community Show is open from 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.  Activities include a Market Goat, Beef, Sheep and Swine Fitting & Showing Contest in the Ag Center, from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. In the front lawn of the school at 10:00 a.m., there will be a Pet Care Seminar by Dr. Jonathan Bramson of the Catoctin Veterinary Clinic, immediately followed by the Pet Show at 10:30 a.m. A petting zoo, farm animals, and pony rides will also be held on Saturday and Sunday in the upper parking lot area, from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The Thurmont Academy of Self Defense will present a martial arts program in the small gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 8, and the Elower-Sicilia Productions Dance Program will have a 3:00 p.m. program in the auditorium.

The Thurmont Grange will serve its turkey and country ham supper in the school cafeteria, from 3:00-7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, September 8. Prices are: $13.00 for adults and $7.00 for ages under twelve. Carryouts are $14.00. In the auditorium at 4:30 p.m., an Open Mic Showcase of Talent by local teen performers will be held. At 6:00 p.m., the Catoctin Mountain Boys will feature musical entertainment. At 7:00 p.m., the Taylor Brown’s Elvis Tribute Show will be held.

On Saturday night, the 44th Annual Catoctin FFA Alumni Beef, Sheep & Swine Sale will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Ag Center, selling approximately 8 goats, 22 swine, 10 sheep, and 9 beef steers. Buyers are welcome and encouraged to attend.

On Sunday, September 9, activities begin at 9:00 a.m. with the Dairy Goat Show, followed by the Dairy Cattle Show.

At noon on Sunday, the Catoctin FFA Alumni Chicken Bar-B-Que will be held in the cafeteria. Prices are: $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for ages under twelve. Carryouts are $11.00. A Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the Ag Center area.

In the auditorium, the Catoctin Mountain Boys will feature musical entertainment at 12:30 p.m., and the Taylor Brown’s Elvis Tribute Show will be held at 1:30 p.m. The 35th Annual Catoctin Mountain Log Sawing Contest will be held at 1:00 p.m. in the Ag Center, with classes for adults and children. The 39th Annual Robert Kaas Horseshoe Pitching Contest will begin at 1:00 p.m. on the softball field behind the school.

Exhibits must be removed on Sunday, September 9, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. Any exhibits not removed may be picked up from the school’s Agriculture Center on Tuesday, September 11, from 9:00 a.m.-noon.

By early August, the Community Show booklets can be found in local Thurmont and Emmitsburg area businesses. New residents of the community are urged to enter exhibits—and it is free to enter—and be a part of the Community Show, the largest in the State of Maryland. Please note rule and class changes to Dept. 12’s Arts, Painting & Drawing and Dept. 13’s Arts & Crafts Departments, as well as minor changes to several departments this year. Departments include: Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Home Products Display, Canned Fruits, Canned Vegetables, Jellies & Preserves, Pickles, Meats, Baked Products, Sewing & Needlework, Flowers & Plants, Arts, Paintings & Drawings, Crafts, Photography, Corn, Small Grains and Seeds, Eggs, Nuts, Poultry & Livestock, Dairy, Goats, Hay, Junior Department and Youth Department.

Please visit the Community Show’s website for the entry exhibit list, schedule of events, and more information at:

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin FFA Alumni, Maryland State Grange, and the Maryland State Agricultural Fair Board.

Competition was tough and exciting during the Kiddie Tractor Pull at the 2017 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, just one of the many fun contests offered during this much-anticipated yearly event.

Heroin’s Grip, stories from the front lines of the opioid epidemic, will premiere in Frederick, Maryland, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Director and Producer Conrad Weaver of Emmitsburg is working on finishing up the documentary film, shot almost exclusively in Frederick County.

“Heroin’s Grip is the story about the heroin and opioid crisis in our local community, which is representative of what’s happening around the country. It’s a tragic story for many families and individuals in our county, but it’s also a story about hope. Recovery is possible! There is good coming out of this tragedy, and we want to recognize that in our film,” stated Weaver.

Production on Heroin’s Grip began in early 2017 and continued well into 2018, with Weaver and his small crew capturing interviews and footage from a wide variety of perspectives. The story includes interviews with active users and people in recovery, as well as families who have lost their loved ones to addiction. Weaver has also interviewed members of the Frederick Sheriff’s department, Frederick City Police, treatment providers, as well as staff at Frederick Memorial Hospital and others who are on the front lines of the epidemic.

The Up & Out Foundation, a local non-profit with a mission to educate the public about the disease of addiction, has partnered with Weaver in the production, fundraising, and distribution plans for Heroin’s Grip film. Korey Shorb, founder of the Up & Out Foundation said, “The Up & Out Foundation has been determined and committed to making a difference in our community from the day I decided to start the foundation. I recently lost another friend to suicide, which was a direct result from her struggling from addiction. I’m so sick of burying my friends. This is out of control. With this film, we are hoping to raise awareness and give hope to those who are still struggling with addiction and the ability to realize there is a way out.”  In addition to local screenings, Weaver and the Foundation plan on submitting the film to a number of major film festivals, as well as providing it as an educational resource to schools locally and around the country.

Heroin’s Grip will premiere at the JBK Theater at Frederick Community College on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets will go on sale to the public at 8:00 a.m. on September 5, and will be available through; links will be provided to Eventbright page on the website and social media pages.

For more information about the film, visit or send an e-mail to Conrad Weaver at You can also follow the progress of the film project on Facebook at

Heroin’s Grip is sponsored by a number of Frederick County businesses and organizations, including Second Street and Hope Foundation, Stauffer Funeral Homes, and others. For a complete list of sponsors, visit the website at

by James Rada, Jr.


No Hunting on the Scott Road Farm

Although hunting has been allowed on the Scott Road Farm in the past, the Town of Emmitsburg has said there will be no hunting on the property this year and possibly for the foreseeable future. The town has had problems with trespassing, people riding four-wheelers on the property, erecting tree stands, and fishing in the pond, all of which are not allowed. To curb the trespassing and enhance safety in the area, the town has made the farm a “no hunting” area. The policy will be reviewed again next year to decide on whether it should be continued.


Phase 1 of Flat Run Bridge Should be Complete this Fall

The Maryland State Highway Administration updated the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners on the progress of the new Flat Run Bridge, east of town. The original completion date had been expected to be August, but delays in signing documents, weather, and water line changes pushed the date back to the fall of 2019.

However, phase 1 is expected to be completed this fall. This will mean that two-lane traffic will be able to travel across the new bridge, allowing the state to remove the old bridge without having to deal with traffic.


Community Market Garden

The Town of Emmitsburg is considering starting a community market garden. Unlike a community garden, produce is raised and typically sold. One location being considered for the garden is near the farmers market, which would provide a possible sales location. Another possible location is near the baseball outfield and walking path.

The commissioners are generally supportive of the idea, but insurance and liability issues could be possible roadblocks. The commissioners are having town staff look into this and make some recommendations.


After School Club House Gets Funding

The Town of Emmitsburg had hoped to get a Boys and Girls Club in town for this school year. Money was transferred to an account in the town budget to help fund it. Things didn’t work out for this year, though, so $10,000 was transferred back to the Parks Department to continue funding an After School Club House. Efforts to get the Boys and Girls Club in Emmitsburg are still being pursued.


Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Coming Soon

The town approved its plan for four electric vehicle charging stations on the parking lot behind the community center. The stations are funded through a grant from the Electric Vehicle Institute.

The town was required to sign a five-year agreement with the Electric Vehicle Institute. The stations will not cost the town anything. Electric consumption used by the charging station will be paid for by the driver charging the vehicle.

The commissioners also had to approve an addendum to their lease with Frederick County, which is the owner of the community center. The addendum change allows the charging stations to be installed. The four charging stations will be marked, and the parking spaces in front of them will only be for the use of cars being charged. Vehicles will be allowed to park in the spots for up to six hours; overnight parking is not allowed.


Town Makes Annual Donations

The Town of Thurmont made its annual donations to the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, Thurmont Senior Center, and Thurmont Food Bank on July 24. The fire and ambulance companies each received a check for $30,000. The Thurmont Senior Center received $20,000, while the food bank received a check for $6,000.

Guardian Hose Company President Wayne Stackhouse said that the fire company’s money will go towards the $500,000 needed for a new pumper engine.

Commissioner Marty Burns pointed out that if the town had to pay for a fire and ambulance company, rather than having a volunteer fire company and partially volunteer ambulance company, “our taxes would be double what they are today.”

Judith White accepted the check on behalf of the ambulance company, and Dick Lee accepted the food bank check.

Thurmont Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder premiered an economic development video about the town on July 24.

“It’s a video that is intended to last in the long run and produce results in the long run, not in the short run,” Grinder said. “The objective of this video was to attract future businesses, future residents, and tourism.”

It accomplishes this in three minutes and was created by Digital Bard.

The video was shown and the commissioners were pleased with the result.


New Date for Gateway to the Cure 5K

The annual Gateway to the Cure 5K had to be rescheduled. It is usually held in October, but this year’s event will be on Saturday, September 15, beginning at 8:30 a.m. If interested, you can register online at: You can also sign up at the town office. The cost is $35.00 and pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt. All proceeds are donated to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital for breast cancer research.


Mayor Don Briggs

Attention! With September comes our children going to and from school, which means the added congestion of school buses stopping to pick up children crossing streets to catch buses. Please be extra careful.

All of the Catoctin High School and Catoctin Youth Association fall sports teams are in full swing with pre-season practices and scrimmages. Cross country, golf, field hockey, soccer, and volleyball are all gearing up. The first varsity football game with Boonsboro H.S. is set for August 31, at 7:00 p.m. A full slate of fall teams, pick one or all and support them.

The 2018 Mid Maryland United baseball program concluded its season in July with the 13U, 14U, and 15U teams winning championships at “The Battle of the Wood Bat” tournament in Emmitsburg, hosted by Mid Maryland United and Stinger Bat Company. The 10U, 12U, and 13U teams made their home in Emmitsburg at the Community Park and the Memorial Park fields. The 12U team ended its season ranked no. 1, and the 13U team ranked no. 4 in the state. Together, the Emmitsburg teams posted a combined record of 86-34-5 and won seven tournaments.

Memorial Park was also home to the First Annual Mid-Maryland United “Schools Out” Baseball Camp in mid-June. The camp was facilitated by 13U coach and Emmitsburg resident Ed Lowry and assisted by Mount Saint Mary’s University players Vaughn Parker, Nick Dellavalle, and Randall Minogue. That’s not all, Emmitsburg also hosted another successful tournament: “The Armed Forces Slugfest.”

Great feedback about the facilities and town by the visiting teams and their fans. More baseball is planned for the fall, maybe even another clinic to build for the spring 2019 season. If we can get the volunteers, we can grow baseball next spring, to start first with T-ball. Baseball is back. Let’s do it.

The 62nd Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is coming up on September 7-9 at Catoctin High School. Free entry of exhibits on Thursday evening and Friday morning. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday at 7:00 p.m., with the 42nd Annual Community Flag Ceremony, accompanied by Bill and Andrew Douwes playing their bagpipes. The program will honor the 50th Anniversary of Catoctin High School and announcement of the 2018-19 Catoctin FFA Ambassador. On Saturday, there is a breakfast at 7:00 until 10:30 a.m., provided by the Thurmont Lions Club; a supper is at 3:00 until 7:00 p.m., provided by Thurmont Grange, fresh roasted turkey and country ham served in the cafeteria. Sunday, September 9, from noon until sold out, Catoctin FFA Alumni’s chicken BBQ will be served in the cafeteria.

Coming up on October 6–7, 2018, is the 37th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, when we have the honor of welcoming nearly 6,000 guests. This year, the weekend events will honor firefighters who died in the line of duty during 2017 and previous years.

It appears Emmitsburg will soon have a William Cochran public artwork. Cochran is best known for his interpretive painting on one of the bridges that span the City of Frederick Carroll Creek Linear Park. Nothing will be more fitting for our community than to have a glass etching of firemen boarding a fire truck, setting out on an emergency run. The etching comes from the old Independence Hose Company in Frederick. Through generous gifts, funds have been raised to construct a lighted case outside the fire museum, located on South Seton Avenue, to house the 9-foot-high by 15-foot-wide work. The hope is to have construction completed for an unveiling on Fallen Firefighters Memorial Sunday.

Four level-two electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations should be installed and operable at the Community Center parking lot by no later than September 1. Though the town will soon have an electronic vehicle, the charging stations are primarily for visitors for a place where they can recharge vehicles while dining and shopping in our community.

The last day for the Farmer’s Market is Friday, September 21. The market is open 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thank you to our vendors and to the community for its support for another successful season.

Welcome, Mount students! Settling in always brings with it a welcome from the business community and some angst from residents. But in the end, let’s all live and work together for the betterment of this great community.


Mayor John Kinnaird

If you have not entered Thurmont by way of North Church Street recently you may not have seen that the Maryland Midland railroad bridge has been repainted and THURMONT painted on both sides. This project was a collaborative effort between several groups of interested parties, including the bridge painting committee, the public and the Board of Commissioners. The bridge committee started by crafting a survey to see how residents thought the bridge should be painted. After tabulating the surveying results, the decision was made to paint the bridge black with white lettering. The contractor, Black Land Industries from Baltimore, was selected from three quotes and was awarded the job. They started by painting the surface of both sides of the bridge. Then, two coats of an epoxy-based primer and two coats of black paint were applied. Finally, the lettering was added to each side and the final result is eye-catching. My thanks to the bridge-painting committee, all those who participated in the survey, town staff for moving this project forward, and, finally, Black Land Industries for helping bring this project to a successful conclusion.

This month, the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held the weekend  of September 7-9. This year, the Grange will be congratulating Catoctin High School on its 50th Anniversary during the opening ceremony on Friday. Be sure to attend the Community  Show to enjoy all the crafts, vegetables, fruits, cakes, photos, and animals on display. There is also live entertainment, auctions of the cakes, and many 4-H animals. You can enjoy tasty food the entire weekend, served by the Thurmont Lions Club, the Thurmont Grange, and the 4-H. The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is one of those events that sets our communities apart from others. This is a great opportunity to see how amazing our residents are! Join us for an amazing weekend.

With fall just around the corner, Colorfest is not far away. Planning for this annual event is addressed year-round, and several changes are being implemented again this year, including the banning of parking on both East Moser Road and North Church Street. Remember to get your permits for Colorfest in plenty of time to avoid the rush during the last week.

Finally, school is starting again and kids will be walking to and from schools and crossing our streets. Be on the lookout at all intersections for kids, and remember that Maryland Law requires you to stop for pedestrians in designated crosswalks. Of course, you should also watch for kids crossing streets where there are no crosswalks. Thurmont’s crossing guards will be on duty to make sure our walkers get to school safely. School buses will be picking up and dropping off kids on our streets. Be sure to obey the red lights on school buses; they are there to protect our children!

Please call me with any questions or comments at 301-606-9458 or e-mail me at

On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, family members, along with First Responders of Emmitsburg’s local volunteer fire department, the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC), as well as area citizens and civic leaders from across the region, gathered to say farewell to past VHC fire chief Tom White (pictured right), who passed away on Friday, August 3, 2018, at the age of seventy-six. During viewings the previous day at the Myers-Durboraw Funeral Home in Emmitsburg, the large attendance was testament to an individual who had placed great importance on community service during his entire lifetime. Having previously held all leadership ranks within VHC over the years, Tom became Vigilant Hose Company’s chief in 1984—the department’s 100th anniversary year.

Chief White was carried to his final resting place aboard VHC’s Engine 63 (a 1989 Pierce custom pumper), which he had helped design and purchase during his years as chief of department. Upon leaving the church, his funeral procession passed along Emmitsburg’s West Main Street and VHC’s stationhouse, where members had assembled to render their final salute while positioned in front of emergency vehicles draped in memorial black bunting.

From the Town Square, the procession continued down South Seton Avenue, pausing briefly while passing the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum, owing to Chief White’s past service as president of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association.  The antique rigs there were also adorned with black bunting, including VHC’s Old Engine 63 (a 1945 Ford pumper). At the cemetery in Thurmont, VHC’s Tower 6 proudly displayed a large American Flag, which waved gently during the graveside service.

Tom was a maintenance specialist with State Farm Insurance Company in Frederick for twenty-three years. He was previously employed by Myers Radio and TV in Emmitsburg. He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Emmitsburg, and was a proud Veteran of the Army National Guard. A lifetime member of VHC, he loved spending time at the firehouse, where he could be found brewing the first pot of coffee every morning for the “Coffee Club” and sharing the day’s news and stories of what was happening around town with fellow members. About Tom, VHC’s president and long-time friend, Frank Davis, shared, “He was a firefighter’s fire chief. He would teach and give others the opportunity to learn and lead.” He added, “He was the first fire chief that didn’t work in Emmitsburg (State Farm Insurance in Frederick) and that allowed others to step up and learn the job.”

A lifetime member of VHC, Tom was inducted into the VHC Hall of Fame in 1998 for his distinguished and extraordinary service to the company and the community. He was also past president of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

Tom White in the 2009 Town Parade — VHC’s 125th Anniversary Year.

Hub and Tom in uniform at the fire station’s podium in the 1980s.


Eileen Dwyer

Located on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania on South Mountain, Pen Mar Park became a prominent resort in the late 19th century. The owner of the Western Maryland Railroad felt the scenic location in the cooler Blue Ridge Mountains would entice Baltimore-area residents out of their city dwellings during hot summer months. And, utilizing his railroad, the city dwellers did just that.  Back in its heyday, Pen Mar Park boasted many first-class hotels, a dance pavilion, dining hall, playground, scenic overlook, roller coaster, Ferris wheel, carousel, penny arcade, shooting gallery, movie theater, beer garden and a miniature train.

The park was by far one of the most popular resorts in the eastern United States, with close to 20,000 visitors taking the 71-mile trip from Baltimore to Pen Mar each summer weekend. President Grover Cleveland, Dr. Walter Reed, and even actress Joan Crawford counted among the Pen Mar’s early visitors.

Unfortunately, by the end of the 1920s, the once-glorious Pen Mar Park began to lose its luster, as tourist numbers declined. Over the next few decades, the park fell into rapid decline.

In 1977, Washington County purchased the park, and it was re-opened in 1980. Currently, Pen Mar Park holds live music concerts during the summer in the multi-use pavilion (located at the site of the original dance pavilion). Visitors also enjoy the playground, rent the pavilions for gatherings, hike the Appalachian Trail, and take in the picturesque view from High Rock Summit.

It is like stepping back in time to visit the Pen Mar dance pavilion on Sundays between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., where various musicians provide entertainment as part of the Jim and Fay Powers Music Series. Visitors of all ages dance or simply watch and soak it all in. Whether a seasoned professional of swing or ballroom dance or a complete uncoordinated amateur simply wiggling to the tune, this place and activity replicates the spirit of the Pen Mar Park of yesteryear. Twenty-five to fifty percent of those who attend are considered regulars, with dance groups from Pennyslvania, Viriginia, and Maryland.

On an afternoon at the dance pavilion at the end of June, where folks gathered to watch, listen, or dance to fifties music and easy listening provided by “Détente,” David Jacoby of Gettysburg was visiting. He took relatives on a tour of the area and included stopping at Pen Mar Park, Thurmont, Emmitsburg, and Gettysburg along the way. He said, “I just like this place. I’ll stop when I’m close by and have some fun.”

Doris Flax was raised in Emmitsburg, but currently lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. She started visiting Pen Mar Park when she was just two years old and visits every chance she gets today. “My mother would bring us up here every Sunday, back then, to dance. Just like it is now.”

Shirley Rienks of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, especially remembers “Everybody’s Day” when she was a youngster. She said, “They had babies. I have a picture of that.” Everybody’s Day will be held on August 26 this season. It will feature the Ray Birely Orchestra. The Rocky Birely Combo is also one of the featured bands at Pen Mar Park. Rocky’s father, Ray Birely, was the original band leader at Pen Mar back in the day.

Joe Etter of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has been dancing at Pen Mar “off and on for about twenty years.” A seasoned dancer, he’s known to be the local expert about everything Pen Mar Park. He recalled his favorites from childhood: the penny arcade and the carousel.

Vicky Anderson from Montgomery County, Maryland, grew up in the area. She returns when she can and makes a day of it by stopping for a meal in Thurmont, bringing a book to read, and then dancing, “It’s really nice. The view from High Rock is just breathtaking.”

The Pen Mar Park Music Series will continue through September 30 this season. Pavilion reservations and park information may be obtained by contacting the Washington County Buildings, Grounds & Parks Department at 240-313-2807.


Pictured are Doris Flax (left) and Shirley Rienks (right) at the Pen Mar Dance Pavilion.

Dancers enjoy swing and ballroom dancing at the Pen Mar Dance Pavilion on Sundays.

The reason for the name “Cunningham” being chosen as the name of the Catoctin Area’s local waterfalls, located west of Thurmont on Route 77, has become slightly clearer recently when following a reference from a May 2018 issue of The Frederick News-Post to an article from 1968.

Historically, the falls had been called Herman’s Falls (or Harmon’s Falls) and McAfee Falls after various land owners, and even Hunting Creek Falls after the stream that supplies water through the Falls.

Many locals still refer to the waterfalls as McAfee Falls, honoring the family who owned the falls at the time the federal government took ownership of the land in 1935 as part of Former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which sought to use the land for recreational use and provide much-needed jobs in response to the Great Depression.

The McAfees were early settlers from Bute, Scotland, in the mid-1770s. The name had been changed to Cunningham Falls after the transition of ownership of the land from the federal government to the State of Maryland. There is no clarity as to how the name Cunningham stuck since there have been obvious efforts and intent on record to keep the name McAfee Falls.

A May 23, 2018, Frederick News-Post’s “Yesterday” post from “50 Years Ago” references that, “A mistake of more than 30 years standing (as of May 23, 1968) was righted recently when Maryland’s Commission on Forests and Parks renamed the falls in Cunningham Falls State Park. The official name is now McAfee Falls, honoring an old Frederick County family which settled in the area in 1790. As a logical follow-up the Forests and Parks Commission is now considering renaming the park Hunting Creek State Park.”

There are several theories about how the name Cunningham came to be the modern name of the Falls, but none are backed by a substantial amount of fact. Today, on the internet, it is stated that the falls “was apparently named after a photographer from Pen Mar Park who frequently photographed the falls.” Research shows that there is no evidence of a photographer of Pen Mar Park or Cunningham Falls by the name of Cunningham.

In a previous edition of The Catoctin Banner, a grandson of the Falls’ owner at the time of federal acquisition, Reuben McAfee, Rob McAfee of Foxville informed us that a local woman believed there was a Cunningham family who lived near the falls.

Most recently, the Frederick News-Post’s “50 Years Ago” reference led us to that May 23, 1968, article in the News-Post titled, “Cunningham Park Falls Renamed ‘McAfee Falls.’” In this article, written by Jim Gilford, the name Cunningham is referenced to, “honor a Department of Interior employee.”

Researchers still have yet to uncover the truth behind the mystery, but regardless, thousands of visitors enjoy the falls every year, which is the state of Maryland’s largest cascading waterfall, standing at 78 feet.

Jim Schlett

When our National Parks were first established, well over a century ago, painters and photographers created works that inspired Americans and people from around the world to journey and visit those areas and to generate interest in the parks. That practice lives on to this day. The National Park Service (NPS) still reaches out to potential “artists” through its Artist-In-Residency (AIR) program, which is available at over forty different locations.

After retiring from the Federal government with over thirty years of service, including the last fifteen as the director of administration for the Law Department, I decided to “refocus” on my photography. Through a very competitive application process, I was notified that I had been selected as the AIR at Catoctin Mountain Park for two weeks in May. Like other painters, my photos tell a story with images rather than words. I had been very fortunate to have been selected as the AIR at the Whiskeytown National Park Recreation Area in Northern California in 2016, so I had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish and share with the Catoctin Park staff. Each park asks that the artist donate one piece of their work back to the Park after the residency is completed and to give a workshop/talk to the public during the residency.

My wife and I arrived on Sunday, May 6, 2018, in light rain, which created a bright spring green on our drive up from Virginia that I hoped would make for great photos over the next two weeks. That ride sparked a conversation about our great interest in our National Parks, dating back to the early 1980s with our first trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons,  now having visited over 140 sites to-date.

Based on my prior AIR experience at Whiskeytown Park, I kept a detailed journal of each day, touching on such activities as hikes, the people we met, and notes for future exploring. As part of the program, the park provides lodging to the artists. My wife and I were assigned housing at Camp Misty Mount, a historical complex of cabins built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration. On our first day, we met AIR Coordinator Carrie Andresen, a dedicated park ranger, who provided us with an excellent overview of the park, potential workshop dates, introduced other park employees and volunteers, and also talked about on-going events of the park. Afterward, we unpacked the car in now heavy rain and settled into the cabin. I was able to take just a few images of the surrounding area and cabins for the first afternoon; we then made our way down to the Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont for a great dinner.

In addition to creating my own images of the park, I had made an offer to take photos of the park employees and volunteers during my stay. As a result, I managed to meet many employees and volunteers, who all went the extra mile in terms of reaching out to me and all of the visitors to the park. Catoctin Park provided space in the Visitors Center for the display of my photography; so, on the first Monday, we installed about fifteen of my canvas prints. I also provided a daily update of three to four new images for each day at the park, which were also posted at the Visitors Center, as well as on  their Facebook page and mine. Over the two weeks, we hiked essentially all of the trails, and some more than once. I was amazed at the quietness and peaceful feeling of just being in the park. I discovered what many of the locals must know, it really is a hidden gem in the National Park Service. Enjoying American history at the same time, I learned of the creation of the park and its legacy, including training grounds for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, during World War II.

It doesn’t take long in a National Park to find inspiration for creating new work. As an example, a simple, relatively easy walk along the Blue Blazes Trail would lead to hundreds of photos of the stream, trees, flowers and eventually the whiskey still. During one of my photo workshops, two of the participants were quickly laying down on the ground, capturing close-ups of what they described as a rare flower find by its scientific name. On a few days, a heavy fog and mist—which I was excited to see—provided unique lighting for new images. I find that light plays a critical role in finding photographs, and that is why I often go back to specific locations several times to try and capture just the right light. The light can make the difference between a good photograph and a great one. Wandering around also has its benefits when searching for new photographic opportunities, and I took full advantage of wandering while in the AIR program. Every morning involved a short walk from the cabin, within a 200-yard radius, that brought me in contact with many varieties of flowers, trees, and wildlife that often set the tone for the day.

My efforts were geared to try to take meaningful photographs of Catoctin that are so hard to put into words. It has been said that our National Parks are one of “America’s Best ideas,” and I truly feel that is so true. In our parks, I sense a re-connection to nature and the universe that is so needed in today’s fast-paced society and world. As John Muir said, “come to the woods, there is rest.” We were so enthralled with the park, we invited several of our friends from Northern Virginia to travel up to spend the day, and we became tour guides in exploring the park; they all greatly enjoyed the experience.

As Ansel Adams, a world-renowned photographer and friend of the National Parks, had remarked something to the effect … good photographs occur when you figure out the right place to stand. I spent a great deal of time looking for those “right places,” and part of the richness of the Catoctin is that the hiking journey gives as much inspiration as the destination, such as Chimney Rock or the Thurmont Vista. Most days, we walked six to ten miles within the park. With a full two weeks in the park, I never tired of exploring and heading out for more springtime photos, and yet the time raced by us until our departure on May 19.

Being in a National Park gives one time to get in touch with nature, and my time at Catoctin Mountain Park gave me that and much more. We had some time to explore other nearby areas, such as the covered bridges, the Seton Shrine, and the back roads, as well as the hospitality of the folks of Thurmont and the region. Even though the Residency came to an end too quickly, I have already made plans for more return visits, with the changing of the seasons at Catoctin. Since I took many images, one of the difficult and time-consuming tasks has been to edit my work down to the best ten to fifteen prints for future exhibitions. I am hopeful that people will respond to my work in ways that will benefit the park itself, such as new volunteers for Catoctin Park or the Catoctin Forest Alliance. I will also be exhibiting some of my photographs from the Catoctin experience at the ArtSpace Gallery in Herndon, Virginia, later this year.

More of my photographic images in individual galleries by subject matter can be found at

By artist Jim Schlett, taken in Camp Misty Mount, within 200 yards of his cabin. “The lighting at that early morning, with a light fog, created a sense of being invited in to the forest.”


James Rada, Jr.

Marines marched through Emmitsburg in 1922 on their way to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They were fully outfitted in preparation for a historical reenactment and training maneuvers on the battlefield. The event turned tragic for two of the Marines when their plane crashed on the battlefield, killing both men on board.

On June 26, 2018, a memorial wayside, erected in Gettysburg to honor Marine Captain George W. Hamilton, a highly-decorated World War I Marine officer, and Gunnery Sergeant George R. Martin, was dedicated before a small crowd.

Marine Captain Hamilton, of World War I fame, survived the bloody Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918 (also known as the “Germans’ Gettysburg”), with honors, only to perish in a dive bomber crash on the Gettysburg Battlefield during Marine maneuvers held in 1922, along with Gunnery Sergeant Martin, a veteran of the Santo Domingo campaign.

On June 26, 1922, Captain Hamilton was piloting a de Havilland dive bomber over Gettysburg battlefield, with Martin, at the head of the column of 5,500 Marines arriving for training maneuvers and Civil War reenactments, when their airplane crashed while attempting to land on the Culp Farm, killing both aviators.

The deaths of the aviators were declared as line-of-duty deaths, resulting in their being the last such deaths to have occurred on the historic battlefield since the 1863 battle itself.

As part of the event, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has issued a proclamation declaring June 26, 2018, as Captain George W. Hamilton and Gunnery Sergeant George R. Martin Remembrance Day “in grateful recognition of their military service.”

Tammy Myers, president of the Gettysburg Heritage Center, said that the project to erect the memorial “was initiated and brought to us by our neighbors.” She said that the Heritage Center supported the project because it “tells a story beyond the typical Civil War story.”

The memorial is on property near the crash site and donated by the Gettysburg Heritage Center. The project began when Richard D. L. Fulton, co-author of The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg, happened to run into his neighbor, Ronald Frenette, who became the project manager of the memorial wayside. Both men live near the crash and talked about it. “Rick said we really should have a memorial for them, and the project was born,” said Frenette.

The memorial’s creation is the result of the efforts of Frenette, Fulton, Mike Tallent, Marine Corps League Gettysburg Battlefield Detachment #705, and the Gettysburg Heritage Center.

The memorial wayside is located at the corner of Culp Street and Johns Avenue, near the 1922 crash site.

Photo taken of Memorial Wayside near the 1922 crash site in Gettysburg, Courtesy of James Rada, Jr.

The new Seton Center Outreach Office and Seton Family Store are open for business. The Seton Center is not only serving as a community resource in Northern Frederick County, but it is demonstrating some of the best technologies in green and sustainable living.

“We wanted to be as earth-friendly as possible,” said Sister Martha Beaudoin, Seton Center Executive Director.

The building at 226 East Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg was dedicated and had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 10, 2018. Morgan-Keller Construction of Frederick served as the general contractor, building the 13,000-square-foot building designed by MSB Architects of Hagerstown. It houses the Outreach Office, Seton Family Store, and a large meeting room for workshops and presentations.

The most obvious energy-saving technology is the use of solar energy to power the entire building. The Seton Center has only electricity, which the solar panels power.

“Our first full month electric bill was a little more than $348,” said Sister Martha. “Our bill used to be about $600.”

An unseen improvement is that the building is insulated on the exterior, beneath the brick veneer.

Lighting in the store maintains a constant level of brightness and adjusts based on the natural light coming through the windows. Windows are tinted and have shades to help control how hot a room gets from sunlight. Lights have LED bulbs, and the lighting throughout the building is on motion-sensitive timers so that if no movement is detected for fifteen minutes, the lights in a room shut off.

“We don’t have to worry about leaving the lights on, but if I’m in my office and not moving around, the lights sometimes go off on me,” explained Sister Martha.

The parking lot uses permeable pavers to allow water to pass through it when it rains.

The Seton Center has dishwashers and reusable dishes so that throwaway plastic and paper plates and utensils aren’t needed.

The HVAC system also allows staff to control the amount of particulate matter indoors. Filters throughout the building collect particulates from the air.

“A lot of our staff have asthma problems, but they come in here, and they are fine,” Sister Martha said.

The toilets in the six bathrooms are all low-water usage, and the faucets are motion activated. Both features help reduce the water usage for the Seton Center.

All of these features are in a building that is attractive and welcoming to visitors. It replaces an old building on South Seton Avenue. That original building only had a ten-year lifespan, but it was used for more than sixty years.


Town Gets $30,000 Grant

During the July meeting of the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners, Town Manager Cathy Willets announced that the town had received a $30,000 grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The grant was awarded because the town had been able to keep its nitrogen and phosphorus in the water to less than one part per million gallons. The money will be used to continue to improve and optimize the town’s water system.

ADA Playground Complete

The ADA-compliant playground in Emmit Gardens is complete, except for an ADA-compliant pathway to the park. The playground is designed to allow children with disabilities to enjoy activities in the park.

Cipplerly Retires

The July meeting of the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners was the last one for Town Planner Sue Cipperly.

“Your work here has been a catalyst for our ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of life in Emmitsburg,” said Tim O’Donnell, president of the Board of Commissioners.

The new town planner, Zach Gulden, introduced himself to the mayor and commissioners. Gulden lives in Gettysburg and was the Freedom Township manager and Upper Allen Township planner. He has a master’s degree in public administration.


POS Projects Get Funding

Mayor Donald Briggs announced that Emmitsburg had received $191,000 out of $391,000 that the Frederick County municipalities had to share for Program Open Space (POS) projects.

Briggs said that the all-children play lot will receive $120,000 (77 percent of what the project could get), and the pool bathhouse renovations will receive $71,000 (100 percent of what the project could get).


For more information on the Town of Thurmont, visit or call the town office at 301-271-7313.
Note: The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners did not meet between June 26 and July 24.


Mayor Don Briggs

The new signs about the square, “Old Main Streets,” are part of the State of Maryland Tourism program. Its promotional anthem is: “Vibrant streets invite visitors to explore history, heritage, and architecture, while savoring the flavor of local shops, eateries, and lodging.” The signs accurately reflect the vibrancy enfolding in our downtown. The square is special again, not just something left to speed through. Embellished now with enhanced crosswalks, the Mount four-faced clock, flowers blooming, and the commemorative centerpiece to the fountain where it was once set. New businesses, possibly a new restaurant, and new homes are coming to our town. To the square sidewalk revitalization, “If you build it, they will come.” Our grant request from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area for three interpretive signs for the old square fountain, Doughboy, and Emmit House was approved. The signs will be like those in other historic towns, on a stand that will contain a picture and a narrative for each landmark. Walk, walk, walk…the town is connected, so let’s get out of the cars and walk to the downtown and the parks.

Good to see landscaping going in around the square, and this fall will come the trees to complete the revitalization taking place up and down Main Street. Green soon will line our downtown. Our community parts of Pembrook Woods and Brookfield to the west are now connected by sidewalks, as are the homes along Route 140 west of the Doughboy. The approach coming into town from the west, looking up Main Street, now paralleled with sidewalks on both sides, is inviting.

The Farmers Market opened in June with thirteen vendors, fresh vegetables, and more. Stop by the farmers market on South Seton Avenue through September, Fridays, from 3:00–6:30 p.m.

Great initiative of the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association on a trash pick-up brigade. Much appreciated. Thank you to that lady who weeds, waters, and picks up trash around the square. She’s back at it for, what, the sixth year?

Great to have a pool. Great to have a new pool. In all, 437 swimmers used the pool on Community Heritage Day in the first month. Over 5,700 sun lover’s made trips to the pool, almost tripling the 2016 same period of use. Thank you to those who choose to make those anonymous gifts so that families can use the new pool this summer. Also, thank you to our town staff for all the hard, high-pressure work needed to make sure the pool was finished for the summer season. With a pool and a 14-mile multi-use trail, exercise trail, and dog park, very few towns offer the passive and active recreational choices of Emmitsburg.

Final Pool Party will be Friday, August 17, from 6:00–8:00 p.m. Cost is a $1.00 admission. The party will feature a DJ, free hot dogs, lemonade, and maybe McDonald’s hamburgers.

We had wonderful summer visits from the Frederick Rescue Mission summer campers. All forty-eight strong. The first visit started off in the Community Park pavilion with a magic show by our Michael Cantori, pizza from Stavros for lunch, and then up to the pool. On the second visit, there was a stop at the Carriage House for lunch and dining etiquette lessons, then up to the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum and National Fire Heritage Center. One more visit is scheduled for an August swim.

The Town election is coming up at the end of September, with two, three-year term council member seats. The deadline to file is 4:00 p.m. on August 27.

Farewell to our planner Sue Cipperly. After a decade with the town, she is retiring. Her role as an umpire calling the balls and strikes for development expanded to grant writing and being a part of the Square-sidewalk project. Job, well done! Her attention to detail will be hard to replace.

Welcome to Zachary R. Gulden, our new town planner. Zach holds a B.S. and MPA degrees.

It’s summer. Enjoy. Be careful in your travels.


Mayor John Kinnaird

We have been having wild weather so far this year. Recently, two sets of thunderstorms managed to knock out some of our electric service. These outages can be very inconvenient, regardless of how quickly power is restored. When power goes out, you can call the town to report the outage by dialling 301-271-7313. After regular business hours, you will be instructed as to how to speak to an electric department employee. Please keep in mind that after power goes out many people are calling to report the outage, and, more than likely, our crew is aware of the situation. It can take some time for our crew to come in and get their trucks out, then it can take some time to identify the problem and repair the damages. I am happy to report that outages in Thurmont are repaired fairly quickly due to the size of our service area and our hardworking crew. We have also had several heavy rains recently that caused flooding of several streets. This flooding is something we have little control over, other than to close flooded roads to traffic. If you come upon a flooded road, especially one that has barricades, please do not attempt to drive through the water. Remember, when you encounter flooded roads: Turn around, don’t drown!

The summer brings with it long outdoor days, working or playing. When you are outdoors, please wear sunscreen and a hat. Be especially careful with children, and make sure they have sufficient sunscreen while outdoors playing or swimming. A childhood sunburn can lead to skin cancer later in life. When we were young, sun block was not as available as it is today, and many of us now suffer from skin cancers that were preventable. Do your kids a favor and make sure they are protected while outdoors;they will thank you for it later in life.

The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning, from 9:00 a.m.-noon. There is always a great selection of locally grown produce, fruit, locally raised Red Angus beef, local pork products, fresh cut flowers, delicious baked goods, jams, and many handcrafted goodies. Be sure to get there early for the best selection, and bring your friends!

This summer, there will be two carnivals in Thurmont, something we older residents remember from years ago. The Thurmont Community Ambulance Service will be hosting a carnival at its Events Complex, located on Strafford Drive in Thurmont. The carnival will be held from August 21 through August 25, and will feature live entertainment, nightly. Kids will enjoy all-you-can-ride fun for one low price each evening. There will be a nightly buffet, homemade food, games, and raffles. I hope to see you there.

As always, you can contact me with questions, concerns, or complements at 301-606-9458 or at