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Members of both the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company (EVAC) and the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) have begun to discuss how their respective emergency services roles might be improved by merging personnel, resources and facilities.

This initiative is early in its consideration and will require research, on-going discussions and coordination among all stakeholders including the public, area businesses and institutions as well as local and county public policy officials and regional emergency services agencies.

EVAC President Mary Lou Little and VHC President Frank Davis jointly stress that this is an open and positive step that both organizations have long discussed. The community and surrounding area are the driving force to continue to work to improve and enhance service.

Senior administrative and operational leaders of both groups have recently been discussing possible ways to potentially combine personnel and resources to better meet growing service demands while also developing strategies ultimately determined to be in the best interests of those served.

Members of both organizations met together on Sunday evening, May 21, 2017, at the EVAC Station 26 to begin a process for positive outcomes. And, such interactions will continue. Community input is encouraged and will be used in designing a comprehensive approach and structure to move forward. Frequent updates will be issued so all interested can be kept apprised of developments.

Questions can be made through contact with Spokesperson Tim Clarke at 301-748-4161 or at

MAY 2017


No Changes in Tax Rate Expected

Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs gave the town commissioners their first look at his proposed FY18 budget. The constant-yield rate as calculated by the State of Maryland will be 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is the rate that will bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year.

He also noted that the preliminary budget does not include a cost-of-living adjustment for employees, but they will receive any step increases that they are due.

Revenue in the general fund is expected to increase $56,571 or 3.35 percent.

The water fund will decrease, in part, due to conservation efforts. The capital fund is expected to increase from $121,812 to $218,341.

The commissioners will now begin their review of the budget. It must be approved by June 30.


Algae Control Working Well

The preliminary data for Emmitsburg’s new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake looks good, according to Town Manager Cathy Willets. The new system, which cost the town $38,650 for setup and $13,000 a year for calibration, was installed in April. The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. Willets said that once data is available to present, she will do so, but she is pleased with the preliminary data so far.


Emmitsburg Extends Reciprocity to Waynesboro

Because of the Borough of Waynesboro’s generosity in allowing Emmitsburg residents to pay the Waynesboro resident rate to use their town pool this summer, the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners have returned the favor. Should Waynesboro need to close its pool for renovations in the future, residents will be able to swim in Emmitsburg’s new pool and pay the Emmitsburg resident admission.


Meeting the State’s Recycling Goal

The State of Maryland has set a 90 percent recycling goal by 2040. Frederick County has a group that is looking into how the county will be able to meet this goal.

“It’s going to take until 2030 to even intersect with the goals that the state has set for everybody,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick. “Luckily, we’re way ahead in actual recycling of plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and those sorts of items, but this organic is going to be the big issue.”

To meet the state goal, Humerick said that it seems that single-stream organic collection is going to be the answer. He expects the county to institute a pilot program next year in Frederick City and the public schools to move toward this.

It also seems like a countywide program would involve fourteen local composting sites. The part of the county between Emmitsburg and Thurmont would have at least one, maybe two, sites. Each site would need five to six acres and would be able to compost up to 10,000 tons a year.

Humerick said that while he believes this is going to happen, cost will be an issue. Projections right now are that it would cost between $6 and $10 a month per household, and $500 to $700 per month for restaurants to pay for pickup and processing of organic material.

While the program would be voluntary at first, most likely it would become mandatory in the future.

Mayor John Kinnaird said that if the county doesn’t hit its 2040 target, the county could start withholding building permits.

While nothing has happened yet, Kinnaird said that he wanted to make the commissioners aware of what was in the works. “It’s going to impact every one of us, so it’s in our best interest to keep an eye on what’s going on with that,” he said.


Asphalt Overlays Approved

East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue will be getting new asphalt overlays. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently awarded the project to L. W. Wolfe of Myersville. The project costs $95,453.75 and should be complete by the end of the month.


Commissioners Get Draft Budget

With the budget workshops complete, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners got to see the proposed FY18 budget that will go into effect on July 1. It is based on a $3,547,982 operating fund and a $425,000 capital budget. This represents a 3.1 percent increase to the general fund.

The commissioners still need to review and approve this latest draft by June 30.


Tree Saving Efforts Recognized

The Town of Thurmont is in the midst of replacing the dying ash trees in Community Park. With roughly 40 percent of the trees needing to be replaced, it is a labor intensive and expensive project.

The town recently recognized volunteers who have helped plant seventy-five new trees in the park. Thurmont’s Green Team, Venture Crew 270, Girl Scout Troop 81200, Boy Scout Troop 270, Cub Scout Pack 270 Den 1, the Catoctin High Leo Club, and the Frederick County Forestry Board received a Certificate of Appreciation from the town.

The town also received a national award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the work it has been doing to preserve and replace the trees in Community Park. Becky Wilson with the Maryland Forest Service presented the Tree City USA Award.

A town has to meet four criteria to receive the award: (1) Celebrate Arbor Day; (2) Have a team dedicated to tree care; (3) Have at least $2.00 per tree dedicated to tree care in the budget; (4) Have a law to protect trees.

According to Wilson, only about 37 communities out of 147 eligible Maryland towns receive this award annually. This was Thurmont’s first year to receive the award.


Town Helps in Creeger House Restoration

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to donate $15,000 from the town’s unreserved fund balance to the Thurmont Historical Society “to use that funding solely for the purpose of restoring damage to the building that was uncovered to make it whole.”


Food Bank Update

Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, who manages the Thurmont Food Bank for the Thurmont Ministerium, recently updated the mayor and commissioners on the work that the food bank is doing in the area.

In 2016, the food bank filled 3,691 requests for food from 528 households. During this year, from January through April, the food bank filled 1,065 requests for food.

Because of refrigerators and freezers that the food bank was able to purchase with Community Development Block Grants, families can receive fresh and frozen foods, as well as packaged goods and canned items.

“To be able to give out fresh food has been a real gift to us,” Joyner-Giffin said.

The food bank gives out an average of 5,080 lbs. of frozen food and 3,000 lbs. of fresh food a month.


Mayor John Kinnaird

With summer just around the corner, you should be thinking about visiting the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, beginning June 3. There is always a great selection of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, hand-crafted items, and other treats! Live entertainment will be returning this year, with local talent providing background music for the market. The market is located in the Municipal Parking lot on South Center Street and is open each Saturday morning, 9:00 a.m.-noon. If you want to grow your own vegetables and fruit, why not sign up for a spot at the Community Garden! The Thurmont Green Team sponsors the Community Garden, and spaces are still available. Just stop at the Town office and pick up an application. The sites are already tilled and are awaiting your green thumb.

School will be out soon, and our kids will out and about walking, bicycling, skate boarding, and playing. As you drive on our streets, be aware of children and watch out for them. Kids do not always look both ways before crossing the street, and they can run out in front of vehicles while playing. Be sure to drive with extra caution and help insure our children’s safety.

I have had some residents contact me about scam phone calls from people claiming to be with the Town of Thurmont. If you get one of these calls after regular business hours (8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) or on a Saturday or Sunday, please be aware that it is most likely a scam. If you are not sure, just ask the person for their name and tell them you will call them back at the Town office at 301-271-7313. We are also seeing an increase in the number of door-to-door sales people with the nice weather. Anyone going door-to-door, selling or soliciting, are required to register with the Thurmont Police Department and should have an identification badge showing they are registered. If you are approached by someone and they cannot provide proof of registration, ask them to move on.

Residents may have noticed recent street work, with the paving of Lombard Street, East Street, and Shipley Avenue. These projects are part of our ongoing efforts to improve our streets. There are many more projects in the works that will be moving forward this year and in the future. As part of our improvement plans, we are currently bidding paving for the Eyler Road Park and the Trolley Trail, both of these projects will improve access to these well-used areas. Frederick County has committed to help us in a joint sidewalk project for Moser Road. This will add improved pedestrian access to both the Frederick County Regional Library and the Trolley Trail.

The Board of Commissioners has just finished work on the 2017-2018 Budget, and I am happy to report that we have based the coming budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. As in the past several years, the Constant Yield Tax Rate will ensure that our residents will not see an increase in the property tax rate. I want to thank the residents that provided input in the budget process, our financial staff, department heads, and the Board of Commissioners, for working together in the budget writing process.

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


 Mayor Don Briggs

It has been written that “Hope springs eternal.” For our family, this spring is full of realization of hope. We have a grandson graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University; a granddaughter from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut; a granddaughter moving on to Catoctin High School from Mother Seton; and a grandson in Colorado graduating from Bishop Mullen High School in Denver, on his way to Colorado State University to study and play football. The two college graduating “grand-students” are graduates of Catoctin High School. It’s more than a nudge, this passing of the baton, and we love it.

On June 1, I will be attending the Catoctin High School Commencement exercise at Mount St. Mary’s. Congratulations to the graduating students, their families, and the faculty.

Recently, I attended the “Every day is Earth Day” chorus and band performances directed by Cheryl Carney and Allison Smetana, respectively. One of the songs was a direct hit to the heart: “Don’t Forget the Little Children.” Let’s not. Everything the town does is focused on our children and grandchildren: revitalization, water preservation, recycling, solar, LED lights, and grants for redoing downtown properties. “Use what we need, but save something for future generations” is more than a request, it is a plea from our children.

Before the close of schools for the summer, fourth graders from Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School will be visiting the town office. Very exciting!

In May, the town, in conjunction with the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA), hosted a breakfast for town businesses and other community partners as a simple thank you for what they do in service to the community. A rollout of a family drug-awareness program was also part of the breakfast. The program is tied in with the “Pool Party in the Park” in the Community Park, on Friday, June 16, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.—lots of fun, with a DJ, dancing, free hot dogs, tea, and more (for at least the first 150 people).

Make Saturday, June 24, a day to visit Emmitsburg, with the Community Heritage Day Festival 2017, starting with the traditional breakfast at Vigilant Hose fire hall at 6:30 a.m. and followed later that morning with the Lions Club BBQ chicken dinners (served in the hub of the festivities in Community Park). IMPORTANT: This year, the parade along West Main Street and down South Seton Avenue will start at 5:00 p.m. and the Memorial Program at 6:00 p.m. New this year is the evening horse-drawn carriage tour of Emmitsburg, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Michael Pryor Productions and Stewart Chapman, who will provide a musical review of music through the decades, beginning with the 40s; entertainment begins at 7:00 p.m. and runs until 9:30 p.m. There will be crafters and vendors, plenty of children’s activities, bicycling activities (off-road and on-road), exercise path fun, and fireworks. The Lions Club, EBPA, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and other civic organizations, all work together to provide a day full of fun and activities. The day will end with Independence Day fireworks. Please go to for details on this great day of fun.

June 14 is Flag Day, always a wonderful tribute by our Veterans. This year, the northern County Flag Day observance will be held in Thurmont Memorial Park. The location of the observance is held on an annually rotating basis with Emmitsburg.

In September, Mount St. Mary’s University will hold a Constitution Day celebration, at which I have been invited to read the Preamble of the Constitution at the observance. With the 4th of July coming up, I submit the Preamble for those who may have forgotten, including me: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Amen. From that, we must pull together in common defense against the insidious attack of drugs.

Hoping you enjoy a wonderful June in Northern Frederick County.

Anita DiGregory

On Sunday, May 7, 2017—despite the chilly temperatures, windy conditions, and occasional rain—approximately 1,800 people were in attendance to witness the third annual crowning of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg.

The ceremony, which was preceded by Mass in the glass chapel, included prayers, hymns, and a procession. Mount Saint Mary’s Interim President Timothy Trainor and his wife, Donna, were in attendance, welcomed everyone, and initiated the procession. Several seminarians from the Mount processed carrying the 12-foot long silk flower crown from the chapel to the crane, which was donated for use during the ceremony by Steve and Cecilia Gregory (Mount alum).

Owners of Big Hook and Crane Rigging, the Gregorys have donated the services of the crane and its operators for each of the three years that the statue of Mary has been crowned. In fact, according to National Shrine Grotto Director Lori Stewart, the Gregory’s generous donation helped make the idea of crowning the Mary statue a reality.  Due to space limitations around the tower, a fire-truck ladder could not be used. Additionally, the high cost of renting a crane made the idea seem almost impossible. However, the Gregorys just happened to be visiting the shrine one day when the topic was being discussed. They offered then to donate their services.

This year, their son, Brock, assisted Mount Rector of the Seminary Rev. Msgr. Andrew Baker with the crowning. Adorned with hard hats and crane rigging belts, both men were hoisted over 100 feet in the air to crown the 25-foot-tall gold-leafed bronze statue of the Blessed Mother. “We do it all for our Mother, Mary. Some people think it is extravagant, but we think she is that special.”

The crown will remain atop Mary’s head for the entire month of May. This Catholic tradition, which originated in Italy during the Middle Ages, with the institution of “The Thirty Day Devotion to Mary,” is often referred to as a May crowning. The ceremony honors Mary as the Queen of May and the Blessed Mother. Although the statue of Mary is crowned, Catholics recognize that it is not the statue which is celebrated but that which the statue represents: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Clearly visible to all travelers along that area of Route 15, the 25-foot statue of Mary sits above much of the Mount Saint Mary’s University campus, atop the Pangborn Campanile (bell tower) and measures 95 feet tall all together.  With Mary overlooking the shrine and picturesque countryside, the Grotto continues to be a beautiful and peaceful retreat for the local community, pilgrims, and visitors, averaging about 280,000 guests a year. Stewart added,”It is beautiful being around the people and seeing how they react to Mary. It is the best part.”

James Rada, Jr.

When Luther Powell and his brothers attended the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, they saw a presentation about raising goldfish. Upon returning home, they realized that their farm had a good water supply, so they dug ponds and began a new business venture.

The idea caught on with other farmers who saw it as a way to make money from their ponds, and within a few years, nearly all of the goldfish in America were coming from Frederick County.

“At one point, 83 percent of the goldfish in the country were from Frederick County,” said Bill Powell, Luther’s grandson.

Bred in China for their color, goldfish were the first non-indigenous fish brought into the United States.  The historical record does not confirm an arrival date, but stories with references to goldfish put their arrival as early as 1826. They were being sold as pets by the 1850s, and interest in them spiked after P. T. Barnum opened the first public aquarium in 1856.

One suggestion for the popularity of goldfish in the county is that the German families that settled in the county enjoyed a fish-rich diet, which had led to a depletion of fish in the local streams. They purchased carp from the government to supplement the natural fish population. The carp were shipped in cans, and some goldfish, which are cousins to carp, also stowed away in the cans.

Ernest Tresselt wrote in his book Autobiography of a Goldfish Farmer, “That’s how goldfish found its way to the Maryland countryside, on the tails of edible carp. It is easy to speculate that one or more farms in Frederick County got goldfish along with their carp during the period when the carp culture in farm fish ponds was advocated as a supplementary food supply.”

Charles J. Ramsburg of Lewistown is believed to be the first goldfish farmer in Frederick County.  By the early 1900s, Ramsberg was shipping about a million fish a year around the country, according to History of Frederick County.

Another pioneer in goldfish farming was Ernest R. Powell of Lewistown. In 1892, at the age of twelve, Powell began to breed goldfish. By 1910, when his biography appeared in History of Frederick County, Powell had become successful enough in his enterprise to be identified as “one of the largest dealers of goldfish in Frederick County.”

More farmers began entering the business, using existing farm ponds or new ponds dug by hand with shovels, wheelbarrows, and horse-drawn scoops. “In the early part of the century, I think people in the county, especially farmers, saw goldfish as a way of making extra money,” Tresselt said in a 2006 interview.

Tresselt believed that goldfish farming flourished in the county in part due to “the availability of water on many farms because of the mountain streams and springs. The temperate climate, with its distinct seasonal changes, is ideal for the propagation of goldfish.”

George Leicester Thomas, who founded Three Springs Fisheries in 1917 in Buckeystown, believed that the success of goldfish farming in Frederick County was largely due to the fact that the mineral content of the water was well-suited for goldfish. Thomas’ grandson, Charles, agreed, saying that the rich color of the goldfish resulted from good breeding stock and water rich in nutrients from truckloads of manure dumped in the ponds. “The manure has nutrients that fish thrive on and actually all they have to do is open their mouths in order to eat,” he told the Frederick Post in 1981. It was these nutrients in the water, according to Thomas, that gave Frederick County goldfish the reputation of being the best-colored goldfish in the country.

George Thomas started his business as a roadside stand in Buckeystown that sold the vegetables and goldfish that he grew on his farm. “He had a keen eye for finding some type of venture where he might be successful,” Charles Thomas said of his grandfather in a 2006 interview. While customers may have bought his vegetables, they tended to show more interest in the goldfish bred in his goldfish hatchery, Three Springs Fisheries. When the U.S. postal authorities agreed to establish a branch office near the fishery to assist in the shipping of the goldfish, they asked George Thomas to select a name; in 1932, the Lilypons post office branch was created. By the end of World War II, Thomas’ fish hatchery, now known as Lilypons, had become the world’s largest producer of goldfish.

Hunting Creek Fisheries near Thurmont was started by Frederick Tresselt, a graduate of Cornell University, who had worked at the state trout hatchery in Hackettstown, New Jersey. “In driving around the county with a friend in 1922, Dad was amazed to see all the goldfish ponds in the area,” his son, Ernest, said in 2006. “Every farm that could, had fish ponds. It was a cash crop for them [the farmers].”  Hunting Creek Fisheries opened in 1923 and is still in operation today as a family-run business, raising ornamental fish and aquatic plants.

Tresselt believed that Frederick County might not have had the oldest goldfish farms in the country, but the county did have the most goldfish farmers. At the peak of goldfish farming in the county (1920s and 1930s), he estimates that as many as thirty or more farms were raising millions of goldfish.  The 1925 News-Post Yearbook and Almanac listed the county’s production at three-and-a-half to four million goldfish on 400-500 acres.

The Powells eventually had 45 acres of ponds on their properties, and would ship out 120,000 goldfish a week from September through November.

“In the early days, we would get the fish out of the ponds and ship them around the country to five and dime stores,” Powell said.

These goldfish were sold for $10 to $50 per thousand, and the value of the yearly production was approximately $75,000. By 1932, production increased to seven million goldfish on 500-600 acres, with goldfish selling for $35 to $70 per thousand (retail price five-ten cents each). Reports estimated Frederick County goldfish farmers had brought $1.5 million into the county.

In 1920, county farmers organized the Gold Fish Breeders Association of Frederick County, in part to fight against the high cost of shipping, property assessments on goldfish ponds, and other issues of importance to Frederick County goldfish farmers. The organization ended once many of the county goldfish farmers left the business.

Early goldfish farming was relatively simple. In the spring, farmers stocked their ponds with breeder goldfish. The goldfish reproduced, and the young grew through the summer. Feeding the fish was kept at a minimum. Generally, some form of ground grain, like wheat middlings or ground corn, was the food of choice. The breeders were kept in the deepest ponds since these ponds provided a good water supply over the winter.

Powell said that his family looked for fish with long fins and thick bodies. They would spread Spanish moss in the ponds where the goldfish could lay their eggs. The moss was then moved to empty ponds so that the goldfish wouldn’t eat the newly hatched fish.

In the fall, the goldfish were harvested and sorted by size. Buyers would come driving trucks full of fish cans in which to carry the fish, or farmers would ship the fish to the buyers. A single farmer might ship thousands of fish each day during the harvest.

“At first, we were shipping dark fish to bait shops for fishermen, but later they began to say that the colored fish caught more fish, and they wanted them,” Powell said.

Goldfish production in Frederick County soared. By 1920, eighty percent of goldfish produced in the United States originated in Frederick County. By 1931, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the goldfish industry was a $945,000 business in the United States.  Throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, the publications of the News- Post Year Book and Almanac note that Frederick County had “more goldfish produced than in any part of the United States.” Interestingly, the yearbooks list goldfish as “selected crops harvested” rather than “livestock on farms.”

Competition was inevitable, however, and by the late 1930s, the appearance of larger, more diversified, growers across the country reduced the demand from Frederick County farms.

Modern technology also worked against county goldfish farmers. Advances in shipping techniques, and the increased variety and quality of goldfish available from growers around the world, gradually changed the goldfish market. By the 1950s, fish could be shipped in plastic bags by air freight. The plastic reduced shipping costs and the planes extended the distance the goldfish could be shipped. This further increased the competition in the market. Air transportation allowed areas that had not previously engaged in goldfish farming—such as Arkansas—to become competitive or even better locations than Frederick. “By going south, you had a longer growing season,” said Charles Thomas. “In a place like Arkansas, instead of having only one crop each season, you could have two.”

The result was that farms producing only common goldfish seasonally, such as those in Frederick County, could not compete. By the 1940s, only a few farms in Frederick County were still cultivating goldfish. “Everything changed,” Tresselt said. “We have to supply fish year round. The competition made it unprofitable for most farmers, and they went out of business.”

Powell’s family got out of the goldfish business in the 1960s. “People didn’t want them. They were starting to ban them from being in lakes. The county had a severe drought that made it hard to keep the ponds full. Fishermen were using spinning lures more than live bait, and kids didn’t want goldfish as pets. They wanted tropical fish that were harder to care for,” Powell said.

By 1980, Lilypons, once the world’s largest producer of goldfish, had diversified so that it now specialized in water garden supplies and plants more than in fish. Hunting Creek Fisheries and Eaton Fisheries also survived by diversifying their offerings into plants, game fish, and/or other types of ornamental fish, such as koi.

Today, there are still fish ponds in Frederick County. Lilypons devotes some of its nearly 500 ponds to goldfish. Hunting Creek Fisheries still has ponds in Thurmont and Lewistown, as does Eaton Fisheries in Lewistown.

Other goldfish ponds have disappeared, however. The Claybaugh fish ponds in Thurmont are now covered over by Mountain Gate Restaurant, Exxon, and McDonald’s. Fish ponds belonging to Ernest Powell and Maurice Albaugh, along Moser Road, no longer exist. The area east of the Maple Run Golf Course used to have Ross Firor’s ponds, but does no more. The ponds on William Powell’s Arrowhead Farms on Apples Church Road north of Thurmont and Frank Rice’s goldfish ponds alongside Route 15 south of Thurmont have been filled in and turned back to pasture.

Frederick County no longer is the biggest producer of goldfish in the country, but there was a time when the county led the country in growing the fish of emperors and kings.

Deb Spalding

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is a coveted link to our local history in Northern Frederick County. It is one of three historic covered bridges in the area, along with Loy’s Station and Utica bridges. The forty-foot-long single-lane structure was originally built in the mid-1800s.

Last June, it was struck and partially carried away by a box truck. The resulting damage made the bridge unsafe, so it had to be closed. Repairs to the bridge began in October and were completed by Dean Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., in cooperation with the Frederick County Department of Public Works and Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation.

While the bridge was closed, Frederick County took the opportunity to re-route Roddy Creek Road away from Roddy Creek in order to open space for a new park that includes a playground, walking trail, bathroom, parking area, and a (future) bridge-like pavilion. They also took action to prevent future damage to the bridge by installing a passive over-height warning system that a too-large-to-pass-through-the-bridge vehicle will hit before getting to the bridge.

Several Frederick County officials and staff came out to celebrate the reopening of the bridge and park on Monday, April 17, 2017. Frederick County Public Works Director Chuck Nipe welcomed guests. He extended sincere appreciation to the residents who attended public meetings and provided recommendations about how to avoid future bridge damage incidents. He also thanked several entities, including Jeff Yokum, the bridge neighbor who provided land for the turnaround at the bridge; Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Inc. employees who rebuilt the bridge; HMF Paving employees who were instrumental in the apprehension of the individual who damaged the bridge; Frederick County Highway Bridge Construction Crew, District 1 Crew, and the sign crew who fabricated and installed the signage and protective devices; Frederick County maintenance personnel who completed the electrical work; and the Transportation Engineering staff who coordinated the project and the reconstruction efforts.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said, “In Frederick County, we are passionate about our historic covered bridges.” She talked about the historic significance of the bridge, and thanked all parties involved in its reconstruction and the formation of the surrounding park.

Other speakers included Frederick County Council President Bud Otis, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Mary Ann Brodie-Ennis, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Kortright, Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission members, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, and several other guests and staff.

Dean Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., the contractors for the project, shared his memories of playing in the creek and on the bridge as a youngster. He said that at a young age he never imagined he would have a part in its reconstruction. He reminded us that we must continue to be vigilant about our covered bridges and our community. “These are blessings we don’t even realize we have.”

Dean remembered Shaeffer Bailey. Bailey was the bridge neighbor who lived in the brick house nearby, and the man who gave the land to Frederick County for Roddy Road Park. He was vigilant in protecting the bridge, taking Dean to task [and surely others] when he was caught throwing mudballs at the bridge. Bailey rallied the community to put the bridge back together in 1992, after it received damage. At the time, it took two days work for community volunteers to repair the bridge.

Dean announced that his company is partnering with Frederick County Parks and Recreation to construct a pavilion. “We want it to be similar to the covered bridge and potentially use some of the timber that was salvaged from the original bridge. The community is invited.”

Jeremy Kortright coordinated the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon. “This is an exciting day for the community,” he expressed, and thanked the parties involved in the restoration of the bridge.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, reminded us that the bridge opening is eight feet, six inches tall and not every vehicle is going to fit through that opening.

Once the ribbon was cut for the bridge’s official opening, the first to pass through it were people on foot, followed by bicyclists. The first vehicle through was a Chrysler minivan driven by Thurmont resident, Joe Eyler.

Dean Fitzgerald, president of Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Inc., the contractor for the bridge repair project, is shown as the sun shines on the beautifully completed bridge.

Honored guests and elected officials cut the ribbon to open the reconstructed Roddy Road Historic Covered Bridge.

James Rada, Jr.
November 29, 2004, was Army Specialist Erik Hayes last day alive. He didn’t know it. The decorated soldier had just turned twenty-four a couple of weeks earlier, and was a young man with dreams. He wanted to attend college and become a veterinarian; but most of all, he wanted to return home to his family.

As he sat on the roof of an Iraqi police station with Sgt. Daniel Hopson, watching the streets, Hopson posed a question. If Erik could go anywhere for a vacation, and money was no object, where would he go?

Hayes turned to his friend and said, “All I want to do is go home and work three jobs and get my brother home healthcare and get him taken care of.”

Bradley Hayes had been injured in a car accident two years earlier when he was only eighteen, and was being cared for in a Hagerstown facility.

Hopson, who has six sisters, was moved by how much Hayes loved his brother. “I need a brother like you,” he told Hayes.

Hayes looked at him with a bit of surprise and confusion in his expression. “Hopson, we are brothers, brothers in arms.”

Later that night, Hopson was with Hayes on the mortar tank that hit an improvised explosive device. Hayes died far from his home and became the sixth Marylander to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On Saturday, April 15, 2017, Hopson, Hayes’ family, friends, politicians, and Veterans gathered near the Monocacy River to celebrate Hayes’ life, remember his service, and honor his sacrifice.

More than one hundred people were at the State Highway Administration building, where Maryland 140 crosses the Monocacy, to take part in the dedication of the bridge sign for the nearby bridge in honor of Hayes. The sign that would be installed at the beginning of the bridge was unveiled, and Hayes’ parents were given miniature versions that they could keep with them.

Maryland State Delegate William Folden, who is also a Veteran, said getting the bill passed that allowed the bridge to be named in Hayes’ honor was the first bill he had ever introduced in the legislature. More than a “feel good” bill, he expressed that acts such as this mean something to servicemen and their families. He said the idea for the bill had been inspired by a trip that he and his son had taken to West Virginia, where many bridges and other structures have been named in honor of fallen West Virginians. His son had asked about the people named, which had led to him looking up information about the serviceman.

“I hope that every time someone crosses that bridge, they will keep in mind the sacrifice he [Hayes] made, and other young men and women are making for the freedom we have,” said Frederick County Commission President Bud Otis.

To date, 145 Marylanders have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter was the emcee at the event. Also in attendance were Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; Carroll County Commissioners Stephen Wantz, Richard Weaver, and Dennis Frazier; Taneytown Mayor James McCarron; and members of the local VFWs and American Legions. Patriot Guard Riders and Desert Knights also escorted a procession of cars to the ceremony.

Hayes was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but he grew up in Thurmont and Harney. He graduated in 1998 from the Living Word Academy in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. Before he had joined the military, he had worked at a dairy farm and trained to be an electrician.

He had enlisted in the army in 2001 to be able to use the GI Bill to get a college education when his duty was complete. He had trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, and served in Germany, Bosnia, and Kosovo before being trained in Iraq.

Hayes’ father, Daniel, said of his son, “He was a good boy. He loved people. He loved animals.”

Hayes was also an artist, drawing whenever inspiration hit him. His father remembers a drawing on the cover of one his son’s army notebooks that showed a camel smoking a cigarette out in the dessert.

His fellow soldiers also remember him with love and respect.

SSgt. Erik Pisauro of Charlotte, North Carolina, first met Hayes when he was eighteen and said that Hayes watched out for him and kept him from getting in too much trouble. “He was a big brother to a lot of us younger guys,” Pisauro said.

Sgt. Tim Grossman of Lexington, Kentucky, said, “Even though I outranked him, I learned to listen to what he said. He had a lot of wisdom for someone his age. When he spoke, you had to respect his answers; he wasn’t rash in his thinking.”

Grossman and others also noted that Hayes was generous to a fault. “He would give you the last five dollars he had until the next pay,” Grossman said.

SSgt. Andre Topaum of Raleigh, North Carolina, first met Hayes when he was eighteen. One memory that continued to shape his career in the military was something that Hayes said to him early on. “Dang it, Topaum, pay attention and take notes.” Topaum said it is something that he still continues to try and do.

Hopson, who is from Oklahoma, arrived in Iraq as a sergeant and didn’t have experience on mortar tanks where he was assigned. One of the first things Hayes said to him was, “I won’t ever let you get embarrassed, Sergeant; if you don’t know the answer to something, I’ll tell you.”

Hayes has touched the lives of these men so deeply that they were willing to travel hundreds of miles sixteen years after his death just to pay him one final honor.

“Just remember Erik’s name, and he will become a legend forever,” Hopson said.

(above) Army Spec. Erik Hayes’ parents, Debora Reckley and Douglas Hayes, stand next to the bridge sign for the MD 140 bridge over the Monocacy River that was named in honor of their son.

(below) The VFW Color Guard prepares to retire the colors during the April 15 ceremony that dedicated the MD 140 Monocacy River Bridge in honor of fallen Spec. Erik Hayes.


Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont celebrated Arbor Day on April 22 by planting more trees in the Community Park.  This planting was undertaken by the Thurmont Green Team, as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure a clean environment for our current and future residents. The damages inflicted on our Ash trees by the emerald borer resulted in many of the mature trees having to be removed from the Community Park. The planting of new trees will, over time, replace the cooling canopy we enjoy in the park. The Green Team also sponsored a Hunting Creek Clean Up Day and managed to remove 690 pounds of trash from the steam and its banks. The Green Team also wants to remind everyone that garden spots are still available in the Community Garden. Many thanks to Thurmont’s Green Team for their hard work!

The Board of Commissioner (BOC) recently approved a bid for street improvements within town. The work includes blacktop overlays of East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue. This work will be completed during the summer months; please be aware of these projects and, as with all of our street repairs, please be careful when driving through the construction areas.

The BOC is currently working on the 2017-2018 Budget. I am hopeful that we will use the Constant Yield Tax Rate for the upcoming year.  This means that we will be collecting the same amount of taxes as during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With recent increases in property values, everyone should realize a very small decrease in property taxes. We hope to adopt the final budget in May.

In recent weeks, you may have noticed underground work being completed at the intersection of Rouzer Lane and Rt. 550. This work is part of the ongoing effort to ensure dependable electric service for Catoctin High School and the Catoctin Heights subdivision.  Currently, Catoctin Heights is at the end of a service line that starts on the Emmitsburg Road and crosses Rt. 15. The improvements will include new underground service lines, as well as a new loop connected to Sandy Spring Lane, to provide a backup circuit should there be a problem with the current feed line.

I was recently appointed to serve on the Frederick County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC). SWAC is charged with reviewing the County Solid Waste Plan, and we have been following closely the What’s Next initiative, established by County Executive Gardner to investigate improved recycling options for our residents. The State of Maryland has mandated a recycling level of 90 percent for organic waste, including food waste and grass clippings, by the year 2040. This goal will require a massive undertaking within Frederick County to start a program of collection and composting to realize these levels of recycling. The current recommended plan calls for as many as 10-14 small composting facilities across the County and new methods of collection. Ultimately, all residences, businesses, schools, and other facilities will be included in this plan. I encourage all of our residents to pay attention as this plan moves forward and to get involved! For more information about What’s Next, visit

Please take the time to enjoy the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, as well as the improvements to Roddy Road Park and Loy’s Station Park!

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


 Mayor Don Briggs

In April, I was given the opportunity to speak at three events.

On April 8, at the Doughboy statue, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the town commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. Commissioner Blanchard and I spoke. Thank you, Commissioner Blanchard, for putting this event together.

In addition to a quote of General Douglas MacArthur, I referenced, in a humble tribute to the soldiers who fought in WWI: “There, for those soldiers, in the prime of their lives, it was a hope for a tomorrow and a prayer for their – now. For us, because of them and what they did and gave, we have a tomorrow of tomorrows and prayers for our now and those nows to come.”

Also on April 8, I joined the  more than two hundred people who attended the dedication of the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue, sharing in awe of the live-burn demo, which used a “Side-by-Side Burn Trailer.”

“Welcome. They say every story has a protagonist, a leading character. The good person, the good people. In our town, there are many protagonists for the many stories that form our community story. And what a story it is, with a rich history that includes both an emphasis on education and spiritualty… Today, we gather for one such story to recognize the collaborative efforts of suppliers, installers, fire service personnel, and all levels of government, to bring about the installation of the sprinkler system in the Fire Museum and National Fire Heritage Center…But underlying this effort has been the quiet efforts of a group of amazing people, lifelong fireman, rooted here in Frederick County and from all over the country… To these founders, it is an honor and pleasure to know and work with you,” I said during my remarks.

On April 10, Libby and I dined with Korey Shorb and Conrad Weaver. Korey is doing great things for the county to educate and understand addiction through his “Up & Out” Foundation. Our Emmy-Award-winner Conrad is producing a documentary on drug addiction, with a focus on Frederick County. More to come on the town’s collaboration with these gentlemen.

On April 12, Libby and I, along with Commissioner Buckman, attended the presentation on addiction at Catoctin High School, sponsored principally by the Schildt family: “CHRIS for Family Support in Recovery.” It was a moving program that touched all the sensibilities of those in attendance, in the nearly packed-full auditorium. I am blessed to have coached young men, in either football or rugby, over a span of five decades, during which I attended funerals for five of my players. Recently, I have been blessed to be mayor of Emmitsburg for the past five years, and during this time, I have already attended five funerals for drug-related deaths.

It is written, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure is our families. In the face of this insidious onslaught, put away petty distractions, and, yes, everything is petty when it comes to our families, as well as our friends and community.

They say that our grandparents—and for some, great-grandparents—were the greatest generation in what they did during WWI. We need another greatest generation in this fight for our children. We can be the next greatest generation—we have to be the next greatest generation.

I am so blessed to live in Northern Frederick County.

The Mount St. Mary’s University men’s basketball team took on the defending National Champion Villanova Wildcats in Buffalo, New York on March 16, 2017, during a nationally televised broadcast on CBS. The Mount trailed by just one at the half, but Villanova took over in the second session and won 76-56. The Mount’s Miles Wilson, C’20, led all scorers with 22. Although they came up short in their effort, the Mount showed the nation how they can play with the best in the country.

The Mount opened the NCAA Tournament with a 67-66 victory over the University of New Orleans on Tuesday, March 14. A combined 40 points from Junior Robinson, C’18, and Miles Wilson, C’20, was enough to allow the Mount to advance.

The team earned its automatic berth by capturing the NEC Championship with a win over Saint Francis University (Pennsylvania). It was the Mount’s fifth NEC title and first time it has clinched in front of its home fans. Junior Robinson, C’18, and Elijah Long, C’19, were named to the NEC All-Tournament Team, with Long also being named the Tournament MVP.

Last month, the Mount won the NEC regular season conference title for the first time in twenty-one years, defeating St. Francis Brooklyn 77-62.

As a result of the team’s success, the Northeast Conference named head coach Jamion Christian the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year. The award is Christian’s first, and he becomes only the second coach in the program’s history to take home the honors, behind the local legendary coach Jim Phelan, for whom the award is named.

Three players also received accolades, including guard Elijah Long, C’19 (All-NEC first team); guard Junior Robinson, C’18 (All-NEC second team); and guard Miles Wilson, C’20 (NEC All-Rookie team).

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg Mayor Richard Sprankle’s remarks dedicating the VFW Memorial Community Pool in 1975 were all wet. Literally.
“At the close of the dedication ceremonies, Sprankle and new Park Commissioner Eugene Rosensteel were tossed into the new $250,000 Z-shaped pool, which has been named the ‘VFW Memorial Community Pool,’” the Frederick Post reported in 1975. The pool was named in honor of the VFW because the Emmitsburg VFW donated $40,000 to the project.

The Gettysburg Times reported that several hundred people turned out for the dedication. That first weekend the pool was open, the Frederick Post reported that it was filled to capacity, with 391 swimmers in the pool, and 49 kids in the wading area.

And every summer since then, area children and their families have been able to escape the heat of the summer in the cool waters of the community pool—except for this summer. In summer of 2017, there will be no local swimming pool. With the Emmitsburg Commissioners’ approval in February to build a new community pool, the timeline doesn’t work out for it to be open this summer.

The new pool is expected to cost around $369,500, which appears to be a bargain. The original pool cost $250,000, which is equivalent to about $1.1 million in today’s dollars. The town commissioners had initially only been planning on renovating the existing pool, but a pressure test of the plumbing showed that it needed to be replaced. Also, the beams beneath the pool were damaged and also need to be replaced.

“Once you got in there digging around, you saw where things were patched up for forty years,” Mayor Don Briggs said during an Emmitsburg town meeting.

The commissioners decided that it was worth the investment to rebuild the pool. It will be funded with the remainder of the money set aside for the renovations, money that is usually paid to a management company for the pool, and fund balances from other capital projects.

Last month, the commissioners started looking at the cost to put LED lights in the pool. They also considered a new diving board and a pool slide, but these two projects will have to wait until a future time.

The new pool is expected to be less expensive to run, primarily because water and chemicals won’t be leaking from the pool.

Makin’ Waves will be in charge of installing the new pool.

Although there will be no swimming pool this summer, the town will still be hosting three pool parties.

James Rada, Jr.

During the 1980s, Ed Metka lived in Thurmont and made the long daily commute to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the Army Corps of Engineers. At the time, he would have appreciated a quick form of transportation to work, but the Frederick station on the MARC line hadn’t opened yet.

Ed would have used it because he has been fascinated with streetcars since he was a child. He grew up in Chicago in the 1940s. Trolleys were starting to lose ridership to cars, but they saw a temporary resurgence during WWII. The large vehicles running along streets, powered by a thin pole connected to a wire, caught Ed’s attention.

“I was five years old, and it always fascinated me to see these things come down the street on a track,” he said.

Ed would ride on the streetcars with his mother and stand next to the motorman, pretending to be driving the trolley.

As a teenager living near San Francisco, he discovered that trolley museums existed, and he joined one in the Bay Area.

“I had thought I must be the only one who liked that stuff,” Ed said.

Like other trolley museum members, he started taking pictures of streetcars and collecting books and magazines about streetcar systems.

Trolleys were a slower form of transportation, primarily designed for urban areas that provided mass transportation around a city. However, they fell victim to the same problems as trains. After WWII gas rationing had ended, people began purchasing and using automobiles, and trolley ridership declined.

Thus, by the 1950s, most of the trolley systems in the United States had gone out of business, including the old Thurmont and Frederick trolley. The cars had been junked, sent off to museums, or abandoned.

Ed worked with the City of Frederick in a failed bid to bring a streetcar line back to the city. It was around this time that he had the opportunity to purchase ten streetcars from the Philadelphia Transit System (SEPTA). He decided that he needed to buy them to help keep that vanishing era of history from disappearing entirely. He rented a railroad siding from the Maryland Midland Railroad in Union Bridge and stored his streetcars there. Then, the opportunity came to buy even more streetcars.

“Well, I couldn’t fit them all in my driveway, but by then I was retired and flexible about where I lived.”

He began searching for a suitable and affordable piece of property, and found an old coal company storage yard in Windber, Pennsylvania.

“It’s kind of amusing,” Ed recalled. “The railyard was all covered over with trees and bush, and several local Windber residents didn’t even realize there was a railyard back there.”

He had the streetcars transported on flatbed trucks to Windber to create what most people call the Windber Trolley Graveyard. Although the site has no official name, trolley graveyard seems appropriate.

The 20-acre property is filled with forty streetcars that are shells of their former selves, skeletons if you will. Some lay on their roofs, others on their sides, a few still sit upright. Indeed, most are sitting on the mile of rail track that crosses the property, although some list to the side, seemingly ready to topple over.

You can climb on the cars to explore, but you need to be careful. (You also need to have permission, because the trolley graveyard is private property.) Some of the floors are missing, and most of the windows have been broken, so there is a lot of glass on the floor.
The site is not advertised as a tourist attraction, but word of mouth has spread its reputation. Visitors come from all over the Eastern United States. They come to photograph the trolley cars and explore what is left of them.
A dozen trolleys that are in decent shape—and Ed hopes to see restored—are kept in the repair building, out of the elements. However, such a restoration project is a massive undertaking and impossible for one man. So, Ed keeps those trolleys protected in the hopes that one day they will once again run on the outdoor track.

His “hobby” of collecting streetcars is now a business. He restores the best of the trolleys, sells parts from the ones that are beyond hope, and lobbies cities to include trolley lines in their tourism and economic development plans.

The streetcars, which date from 1912 to the 1950s, come from places like Philadelphia, Boston, Kansas City, Chicago, and Cleveland. They are spread throughout the property, along more than a mile of rail track. Their windows are busted. Leaves and debris litter the interiors. Many of the cars are covered in graffiti. “Mother Nature has taken its toll, as you can well imagine, because some of these cars have been here since the mid-90s,” Ed said.

The cars sit there, seemingly forgotten, but Ed remembers. He can tell you the story behind just about every streetcar on the property. The streetcars from Boston used to run on a suburban trolley line. The ones from Chicago were part of the L-system, the elevated tracks that run through the city. Two 1912 streetcars from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had previously been used for a lakefront cabin.

Ed can tell you about the parts of some of his streetcars that wound up in trolleys in places like Dubai, Aruba, and San Francisco.  He has even sold entire streetcars to a small trolley system in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some day, he hopes to see those trolleys running again in American cities.

The general public, as well as area business and community leaders, are invited to see, firsthand, the effectiveness of fire sprinkler protection in homes, places of work, play, and worship. A specially designed live-burn prop will be showcased in the parking lot of the Frederick County Fire-Recue Museum / National Fire Heritage Center at 300B South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg on Saturday, April 8, 2017, beginning at 1:15 p.m. There will be a “side-by-side” live-burn demonstration of two identical/typical residential dwelling living rooms—one with fire sprinkler protection and one not (see photo above).

Experts in fire sprinkler design, installation, and maintenance will be available to answer questions, while First Responders from the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) and Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company will be participating in support of the demonstration, coordinated with the governments of the Town of Emmitsburg and Frederick County.

The demonstration is made possible by the National Fire Sprinkler Association and its Regional Chapter, the Capital Region Fire Sprinkler Association. Fire/Life Safety information, courtesy of the VHC, will also be available.

Parking in the rear of the Emmitsburg Community Center is recommended.  Following the demo, tours of the Museum and Heritage Center will be available, as will be light refreshments. Questions may be directed to Wayne Powell at 240-344-7390 or

March 2017


by James Rada, Jr.

Town Square Improvements Will Begin this Month

Maryland State Highway officials told the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners that the $3.5 million improvements to the town square and Main Street will begin this month.

The project will focus on Main Street, from Creamery Road to Timbermill Run, and a block north and south from the Seton Avenue intersection with Main Street. This includes two weekends when the Seton Avenue – Main Street intersection will be closed for waterline work.

The project will build new brick sidewalks that have curb ramps, to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. New crosswalks and resurfacing of the town square intersection are also included in the project. Parking on the Square will be reconfigured. Other improvements include gutters, the traffic signal, and landscaping. The Bradford Pear trees along Main Street will be replaced with either snowgoose cherry, scarlet oak, or rotundiloba sweetgum trees.

There will be temporary road and sidewalk closures and restrictions of on-street parking while the project is ongoing. Officials will work with property owners to minimize their inconveniences.

  1. Romano Construction will be in charge of the project, which should be completed next summer.


Dog Park Fundraising Approved

The location for the new Emmitsburg dog park has been staked out west of the tennis courts in town. The location is relatively flat. It is an 80-foot by 200-foot site that will include a park for large dogs and one for small dogs.

The town has a $13,000 Project Open Space (POS) grant to use for construction, but the commissioners also approved a brochure that will be used to solicit donations to help fund the park amenities, such as benches, signage, water fountains, trash cans, and pick-up bags. These are things that the POS grant won’t pay for.


New Algae-control System Being Installed

The new algae-control system that the Town of Emmitsburg purchased last month will be installed at Rainbow Lake this month. The new system is expected to save the town money by making the filtration of the water easier.

The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. The cost of the system is $38,650, which not only pays for the system but gets it up and running. After that, the town will pay $13,000 a year for calibration, interactive monitoring to adjust the sonic waves for the different types of algae, and on-site servicing.


Pavilion Rental Fee Modified

Responding to concerns from citizens, the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners modified their pavilion rental policy to waive the rental fee for non-profit organizations.


Boys and Girls Club for Emmitsburg?

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs has been talking with the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County to get a branch open in Emmitsburg that would complement the after-school program at Emmitsburg Elementary School.



Town Enters into Mutual Aid Agreement

The Town of Thurmont entered into a mutual aid agreement recommended by the Maryland Municipal League and the Department of Homeland Security. The agreement is a formal recognition that if any municipality experiences an emergency or catastrophic event, other municipalities will respond with help as needed.

“Honestly, we probably would do that now, but this just really kind of formalizes the agreement,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners.

The agreement does not force the town to respond to another municipality’s emergency. It is left to the town to determine how to provide aid. The municipality is also indemnified from liability under the agreement.


Gene Long Week

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners proclaimed that March 5-11, 2017, was Gene Long Week in Thurmont. The proclamation recognized the many contributions that Long has made as a life-long resident of Thurmont. He has encouraged the preservation of agriculture in the county, volunteered with many Lions Club projects, helped create the Thurmont Trolley Trail, and proven himself a friend of Thurmont.


Program Open Space projects

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are in the process of deciding on what their priorities will be as they seek Program Open Space funding this year. The state funding for parks is highly sought after among municipalities.

The commissioners decided that their two major projects will be getting additional funding for the East End Park special-needs playground, and converting the concession stand there to an ADA-compliant bathroom. The second project will be to get solar-powered lighting for the Thurmont Trolley Trail.

Another two or three projects will be added to the list before it is submitted on May 5. The representatives from the different county municipalities will meet to decide how to divide the pot of money that Frederick County gets from the state.

They do not expect to get money for all of their projects or even all of the funding for the projects that do get POS money. However, the projects that do get funding will be greatly helped.


Mayor John Kinnaird

The months of April and May are budget-crunching time here in Thurmont. Our department heads have submitted their department budgets and capital project requests, and our CFO has been busy organizing the requests and reviewing the recurring funding needs for the operation for the town. Beginning in April, the Board of Commissioners will be discussing our Draft FY2018 Budget, with the input of our staff and department heads. Budget workshops will be held on April 4, 11, and 18. The final budget will be introduced on May 2, with a public hearing on the tax rate and proposed budget on May 16. The tax rate and budget will be adopted on May 30. Residents are welcome to attend any or all of the budget workshops or hearings. Public comment will be welcome during the May 16 public hearing.

I am happy to announce that Frederick County is planning a dedication ceremony for the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, and the vastly improved Roddy Road Park. The ceremony will be held at 3:00 p.m. on April 17 at the Roddy Road Park. I want to thank Frederick County for stepping up and repairing our covered bridge to its original appearance. There are three covered bridges in Frederick County, all of which are maintained by the Frederick County Department of Public Works. The County has demonstrated time and time again that they are interested in maintaining these historic structures so future generations can enjoy the living history embodied in these cherished bridges. There are new truck-height warning devices installed at both ends of the bridge to warn drivers of the height limitations. There is also a new truck turnaround being placed on the South side of the bridge for those drivers not deterred by the warning signs at the intersection of Apples Church and Eyler Road. The County is also installing new signage, intended to direct truck traffic back onto Rt. 15 to help keep trucks from getting to the covered bridge.  The improvements to Roddy Road Park will bring a new appreciation to the bridge and Owens Creek. There is a new parking lot with playground, picnic facilities, and even a new restroom! Roddy Road has been moved away from Owens Creek, so visitors can walk along the creek and enjoy the view of the covered bridge without worrying about dodging traffic. I look forward to the dedication ceremony and to visiting the bridge and park for many years to come.

The nice weather will mean that our children will be spending more time outdoors in the coming weeks. Be sure to watch out for children, and remember that they may not be watching out for you. I am sure everyone remembers what it was like when we were kids and the weather improved enough that we could get out on our bikes, play ball, ride skateboards and scooters, and walk to our friend’s houses! We were not always aware of our surroundings and would occasionally cross the street without looking both ways. Please be aware of our speed limits and watch out for pedestrians in the many crosswalks in Thurmont.

As always, I welcome your phone calls, emails, and text messages! I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or, and on my Facebook page. Enjoy the nice weather before it gets too hot!


 Mayor Don Briggs

Warm weather, blooming flowers…and then eight-plus inches of “Robin’s snow.” No alarm, instead it was a quiet respite, a beautiful settled gesture to coax a slowdown to enjoy.

On the way to the town office last week, there, at the far edge of the parking lot, was a man and woman with two goats on lead lines and a group of children. The man, as it turns out, was a dear friend, Sam Castleman of Thorpewood, and the lady was his associate, giving Head Start program children the opportunity to learn, hands-on, and to lead the goats on the grassy school grounds behind the town office. Several years ago, Sam and I were two of the three founders of the Catoctin Land Trust (CLT), a conservation group, formed to preserve land in the Catoctin Mountain area. Through CLT efforts, a green belt of over 1,300 acres surrounding Emmitsburg has been preserved.

Spring weather or not, on Saturday, April 8, at noon at the Doughboy, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and town, will conduct a service to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. (The actual date is April 6, but the commemoration will be held on Saturday, April 8.) Please join us.

Also, on Saturday, April 8, at 11:00 a.m., the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue will be dedicated. This is a celebration of the two-year private and public collaborative effort. An effort of donated sprinkler industry materials and equipment and local installers labor working with town, county, state, and national elected officials and administrators. The National Fire Sprinkler Association intends to conduct a live-burn demo, using one of their “Side-by-Side Burn Trailers.” The unit then will go on directly to New Jersey for statewide public education use there. An identical unit will shortly be donated to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association for use across Maryland. That time is of the essence is never truer then when there is a home or building fire. Sprinkler systems can provide that time that saves lives. Vigilant Hose Company Chief Chad Umbel has approved fire company apparatus and personnel being on-hand in support of the live-burn demo.

Please note that even though the pool will be closed this summer for a major makeover, the town will still be hosting the Mayor’s pool parties. The venue will be the Community Park pavilion. Please join Lib and me for free hot dogs and lemonade, a DJ, and more! The dates for the pool parties are as follows: Friday, June 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Friday, July 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Friday, August 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

All this will be going on while the $3.5 million State-Highway-Administration-funded downtown streetscape–square revitalization and sidewalk project should be underway. At the March town meeting, the State Highway Administration (SHA) staff made a presentation and took questions from a resident-packed room. The project is scheduled to start the first week of April, with work beginning at the entrance to the Brookfield subdivision.

Renewable energy is provided using the natural sources the sun, wind, or hydrology. The town is committed to the renewal source of solar energy, now and in the future. Through this commitment, the town is doing its part not to compete with town residents for energy and driving up their energy bills. The town has twenty electric accounts. Currently, our solar production is outperforming our professional-supported expectations. By agreement, the excess is repurchased by our provider at wholesale costs, so there is a gap from our retail purchase. The gap is in the neighborhood of $1,300 a month. We have new accounts to bring on that should level this out, but we are currently not permitted to do so until after December of this year. Our goal is to provide the energy needed for the excess capacity of the state-mandated new wastewater treatment plant. Alas, growing pains.

Lent, in the past, seemed to always be attached to some form of mortification in giving something up. Today not so much; more so, it is the time to do things for those in need. In some ways, it seems to becoming the season of giving. The residents, the town, Lions, EBPA, churches, Knights, and Masons, are all contributing to the richness of the Lent and Easter season. Happy Easter.