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Deb Abraham Spalding

If you are a Maryland resident receiving power from Potomac Edison, you should request a Quick Home Energy Check (QHEC) to receive energy saving products that lead to cost savings on your energy and water bills as part of the EmPower Maryland Program.

In 2008, the State of Maryland mandated that all power companies reduce residential energy consumption by 20 percent. To help achieve this objective, Certified Home Energy Professionals will conduct “home energy checks” of residential buildings in the Potomac Edison Maryland service area.

Your Quick Home Energy Check (QHEC) will be completed by Emmitsburg native and retired FEMA/NETC facility manager, Perry Joy.

By submitting a request on, you may request a QHEC at your home. Perry will visit you in your home, and he will follow COVID-19 sanitization and prevention protocol during his visit.

During your QHEC, and only with your permission, Perry will install energy-saving LED bulbs that use less electricity (he can install up to 14 LED bulbs), install faucet aerators to reduce water consumption in your kitchen and bathroom, install efficient showerheads to reduce shower water usage, and install electric water heater pipe insulation and a surge protection power strip.

You are already paying for this service and the provided products in the EmPower MD line item on your Potomac Edison electric bill. There is no additional cost for the QHEC or the products. It’s time to save money on your energy consumption. Schedule your QHEC on the website.

Please note, this program has nothing to do with any solicitation whatsoever. There are no phone calls or requests to change energy providers. This service is only available to Potomac Edison customers in Maryland.

To summarize:

(1) All Maryland Potomac Edison residential customers are eligible for one QHEC.

(2) To schedule a QHEC, the eligible customer must submit a request online at

(3) Perry will reach out to you via email or telephone (at your request) to schedule a date and time to visit.

(4) The QHEC is already paid with your monthly Potomac Edison bill, under the “EmPower MD Surcharge” line item. There is no additional cost.

(5) Mention that you saw this in The Catoctin Banner.

(6) Result: You’re helping to reduce energy and lower your monthly electric and water bill.

This process may be utilized as a non-profit fundraiser. A $50 friend and family referral fee will be paid to participating charities to raise money for your group (scouts, senior citizen groups, dance groups, 4-H, sports organizations). There is nothing to sell, and you make money for your organization. It’s a win-win!

Please indicate the charity of your choice during your QHEC scheduling at Regardless, please indicate that you saw it here in The Catoctin Banner in the referral field, so we can track the effectiveness of this outreach.

Perry Joy is shown with some of the goodies he will use during QHEC appointments.

Deb Abraham Spalding

As the popular Ott House Restaurant and Pub celebrates its 50th anniversary starting in July 2020, its matriarch and patriarch, Susie (Ott) Glass and Bobby Ott, siblings, said, “We made it fifty years because of family! It’s all about family.”

Bobby and Susie manage the overall business that usually employs around 15 family members making up their average crew of 36 staff. The pair started working at the business as teenagers as did their siblings when their father, Bernard ‘Bud’ Ott, a painter by trade, opened the Ott House in 1970 as a hobby and “something for their son, Pat, to get into,” said Chris (Ott) Wilson. They had nine children, Buddy (deceased), Pat (deceased), Dave, Susie, Chris, Cathy, Bobby, Rosie, and Ritchie.

Today, four—Bobby, Susie, Chris, and Rosie-—are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of the business that continues to run on the foundation that was set in motion from the beginning with their dad, Bud’s, strong work ethic and Pat’s outgoing personality.

Running a family business for 50 years has created a bond with the community that extends the Ott House family circle to include the community and customers.

Susie said, “Not too many places can say they made it 50 years in business. But, customers are still coming back. They have to get their fix. We have our family. Our customers become our family. We have friends all over the nation. There are 50 years of Mount students, Fire Academy staff and students, local patrons, and our own staff members who have become a huge family.”

The Ott House family now spans the nation, and the Otts are humbled by the gracious reception they receive while traveling. They’re grateful for many great friends.

The foundation of family includes the many people who met their husbands or wives at the Ott House. There are many stories of successful relationships of couples who met there, even stories of meeting first and second spouses at the Ott House.

The Ott House is famous for the fire company patches that cover the interior. When the Fire Academy came to town in the early 1980s, the Otts dedicated a wall of the bar for the patches. Bobby called the Fire Academy, “a wonderful addition to our town.” As more and more patches were added, antiques and keepsakes were removed to make space.

Some of the patches were emulsified into the surface of the bar in the early 1990s. Today, there are patches throughout the bar and dining area. It’s become somewhat ceremonial to add a fire patch to the wall. All that are displayed were added by actual visitors to the pub.

In 1980, the Ott House shuttle bus service was added to provide a  transportation option for students at the Mount and the Fire Academy. This option was popular and has continued ever since in order to keep customers safe.

With the occurrence of Coronavirus, it may be a while until the bus service resumes its full use, however, the Ott House family has adapted as well as can be expected.

During Coronavirus, the once-thriving restaurant and pub has become what Susie disappointedly described in one word, a “deli,” she added, “with delivery.” She explained, “We used to be a little bit of everything — restaurant, pub, gathering place…”

As the business emerges from Coronavirus, the Otts are focused on getting back to business. As of this article’s printing, the Ott House added some outdoor seating and is open to 50% patron capacity while following state and county guidelines for sanitation and social distancing.

Susie said, “It’s a difficult job. You have to show up and work hard every day.” Most important she explained, “You have to love what you’re doing. It’s a labor of love.”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, the Otts are planning a celebration. Details will be announced when they are known. Meanwhile, you can purchase anniversary shirts, glasses, and growlers.

The Ott House’s hours are 11-10 Thursday through Monday. For the time being, the pub is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please note that hours can change quickly as Coronavirus regulations change.

The Ott House is located at 5 W. Main Street in Emmitsburg. Call 301-447-2625 for more information.

The Dalmation mascot on the bar in the Ott House has been fitted with a mask and provided some sanitizer in keeping with Coronavirus safety guidelines.

Susie (Ott) Glass and Bobby Ott of the Ott House Pub and Restaurant in Emmitsburg stand behind the bar in the pub. On the wall behind them is a photo of their dad, Bud, from WWII; a Civil War photo of William B. Ott, a distant cousin who resembles their late brother Bud; and a photo of their late brother Pat who started the Ott House business with their father.

Some of the Ott House family members and staff are pictured for Fallen Firefighters weekend.

A plexiglass divider was installed in order to meet Coronavirus safety guidelines during the quarantine. The Ott House, like all restaurants who chose to be open during the pandemic, provided carry-out food during limited hours through June 19, 2020.

In June 2020, the Ott House building received a fresh coat of paint in cream and blue colors. The work was completed by Nusbaum & Ott Painting Company.

Outdoor patio seating was added as a dining option in compliance with COVID regulations. Pictured left to right are Hannah, Lauri, Lindsay, Claire, and Rayven.

On June 23, 2020, Dunkin’ hosted an official groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the coming of its first next generation restaurant in Emmitsburg located at 103 Silo Hill Parkway. Tentatively slated to open in Fall 2020, the next generation restaurant will offer Emmitsburg a first-hand look at Dunkin’s store of the future experience, with a modern atmosphere and new and innovative technologies and design elements.

As part of the ceremony, representatives from Dunkin’ franchisee network GN Southwestern, LLC were joined by Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs, Frederick County Council Vice President Michael Blue and President of Mount St. Mary’s University Timothy Trainor for the official ceremony to break ground at the new site.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to become part of the Emmitsburg community and bring the local citizens an enhanced Dunkin’ experience through our next generation store design,” said Neil Patel, Dunkin’ Franchisee. “We are thrilled to be part of Dunkin’s next generation store initiative and feel the new, modern features will offer our guests superior levels of convenience and choice to help keep Emmitsburg running on Dunkin’ for years to come.”

The new restaurant will feature a modern look that provides a fresh, friendly, vibrant and engaging environment for guests. Complete with a new, warmer interior color palette, the restaurant will also offer comfortable guest seating, atmospheric lighting and a convenient, contactless drive-thru. Other exciting elements of the store will include:

Premium Pours: Dunkin’s signature cold beverages are now served through an innovative tap system serving eight consistently cold beverages such as coffees, iced teas, cold brew coffee and nitro infused cold brew coffee. Crew members will also use top-quality flavor-maximizing espresso machines to make hand-crafted drinks to order.

Dunkin’ on Demand: With fully-integrated digital kiosks, guests will be able to choose to order with or without the help of a crew member. Dunkin’ has also introduced an area dedicated to mobile pickups, so that members of the DD Perks® Rewards program who order ahead via Dunkin’s Mobile App can get in and out of the restaurant faster than ever before. Guests will be able to track the status of their orders placed for pickup inside the restaurant via a new digital order status board.

Increased Energy Efficiency: The new Dunkin’ will be a DD Green Achievement™ restaurant, which is designed to save 25% more energy compared to a standard Dunkin’ restaurant.

Upon opening, the 1,500 square foot restaurant will employ approximately 15 crew members and will offer free Wi-Fi. To learn more about Dunkin’, visit or follow us on Facebook @DunkinUS, or Twitter @dunkindonuts .

Emmitsburg Town and Frederick County dignitaries gather with Dunkin’ representatives for the official ground-breaking of the Emmitsburg location coming this fall.

James Rada, Jr.

COVID-19 may have halted progress in turning the old Pizza Hut on Frederick Road into Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant, but owner Roberto Joaquin says he expects his new Mexican restaurant to open this month.

“Everything slowed down so much with the pandemic, but we expect to open in July,” Joaquin said.

Los Amigos—Spanish for “friends”—will bring authentic Mexican dishes to Thurmont for lunch and dinner. Joaquin likes to say his restaurants are “where good friends meet and eat.” Besides the typical beef and chicken choices, you will also find seafood, chorizo, and vegetarian options.

Although Joaquin lives in Hagerstown, where the original Los Amigos is located, he has visited Thurmont multiple times with family and friends to see places like the Catoctin Zoo or the state and national parks.

“It’s a really friendly town,” he said. “I really enjoy it.”

So, when he started looking for a second restaurant location, he found another reason to visit Thurmont.

Work crews have been refinishing the interior of the old Pizza Hut to give it a Mexican feel. Besides tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, you will find molcajete (which includes cactus leaves in its ingredients), chimichangas, fajitas, steaks, and more.

“I like to focus my restaurants on the family,” Joaquin said. “I want them to be able to come in, sit down, eat, and have a good time.”

During dinner, adults can enjoy specialty drinks, and afterward, everyone can enjoy Mexican desserts:  flan, fried ice cream, churros, choco chimichangas, or xango.

The original restaurant on Burhans Boulevard in Hagerstown has been very successful, and Joaquin will bring all the lessons he learned with that site to make the Thurmont restaurant just as successful.

The restaurant at 205 Frederick Road will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. For more information, call 301-271-8888.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Amongst our abundant natural resources in our local Catoctin Mountain, seekers will find a tranquil treasure at ThorpeWood. ThorpeWood is a retreat nestled in the woods on Mink Farm Road in Thurmont. It boasts 160 acres of forests, meadows, an arboretum, wetlands, a native brook trout stream, a timber-framed lodge, a cottage, barn, pavilions, pond, and trails.

ThorpeWood is a unique place, being both a venue for events of all types that mostly use its timber-framed lodge as home base and also a nature and farm-based safe-place, hosting educational and emotionally supportive programs. Frederick County’s Head Start Program is one of the beneficiaries of ThorpeWood’s programs, engaging 260 three- to five-year-old children who upon entering kindergarten will have had 30 ThorpeWood farm experiences.

Additionally, older youth groups such as Way Station’s Camp Journey, Hospice’s Camp Jamie, Frederick County’s Kids Like Us, Laurel Hall and Brook Lane Schools, Baltimore’s So What Else, and area-wide Boys and Girls Scout troops take advantage of the lovely mountain-top setting of ThorpeWood. At its Stoney Lick Farm, ThorpeWood also offers an equine-assisted learning program, which entails doing the work necessary to form a bond with a horse, all on the ground (i.e. no riding), and in so doing, developing better overall communication skills. Incidentally, all non-profit use of ThorpeWood is offered free of charge.

The other side of what ThorpeWood is features events, expertly handled by Mountain Memories at ThorpeWood, a company owned by Julie Castleman. Mountain Memories at ThorpeWood manages all facility rentals and special events. The tagline is “More than a venue,” and indeed it is, as Julie and her team handhold those who need it, assuring everyone that their event is the most important thing at the moment. There are six wedding-appropriate gathering sites on the property.

Sam Castleman has been called, “the heart and soul” of ThorpeWood. He serves as its president and executive director. In that role, he has enjoyed a journey with ThorpeWood that started 25 years ago and has taken many directions, much like the stream that flows through the property. Upon arriving at the property in 1995 with his Bachelor of Science in Forest Management, he has nurtured it to become a place of safety, comfort, and growth. This path was sparked by his stepfather, the late Merle Thorpe, Jr., a securities attorney who owned ThorpeWood’s original 23 acres. Sam calls his work at ThorpeWood “sweetly rewarding.”

ThorpeWood is proud to support a strong environmental and protection ethic. For example, the lodge is constructed in an environmentally sensitive way, using an earth-friendly insulation (air-crete); operable cupola windows that when open create convection currents, drawing in the cooler outside air while expelling the hotter air out onto the roof; construction material reuse: 300 year-old chestnut wood comprises the flooring and many posts and beams; composting toilets that reduce water consumption by 90 percent; and nutrient-rich solids and liquids that are carefully land applied.

Being at ThorpeWood is a farm, arboretum, stream, pond, and hiking experience. All 10 horses, 2 goats, 2 cows, 11 chickens, barn cats, and many family-friendly dogs can be involved in the visitor’s time on the property, or if one just wants to sit and reflect—that is great, too.

Time at ThorpeWood is spent connecting with nature, conducting business, getting married, celebrating special occasions, and much more. Folks from FCPS employees, Leadership Frederick County, St. John’s Regional Catholic School, and church group retreats utilize the property. Every December, ThorpeWood welcomes the community to enjoy its free annual Holiday Open House. The date for this year is Saturday, December 5—mark your calendar!

Designated acreage at ThorpeWood is used by the American Chestnut Foundation to sustain the growth of American Chestnut hybrids. The Native American chestnut was prized for its use in furniture because of its beautiful honey color and grain patterns, for characteristics that made it a great building material—straight-grained and light but very strong and for its usefulness as fence post and other outdoor uses because of its rot resistance. One-third of the eastern deciduous was chestnut, but, unfortunately, this forest giant completely (nearly) died out due to an imported blight. The hybrid program crosses Chinese chestnut with American chestnut, seeking a back cross that is essentially 97 percent pure American with only a trace Chinese, that trace containing the blight resistance.

Please note that ThorpeWood is not a park. It’s not open all the time, but you can catch up with the happenings at ThorpeWood by visiting, following them on Facebook:, or reading their blog posts. Call 301-271-2823 for more information.

Sam Castleman (pictured right) chats with a program participant at ThorpeWood.

Program participants are always happily curious at ThorpeWood.

Woodsboro Bank is pleased to announce that Crystal Wiles has joined the team as Vice President and Controller. Ms. Wiles has over 30 years in the financial services industry with experience in finance, accounting and strategic planning. Most recently, Ms. Wiles was the Chief Financial Officer at Frederick County Bank.

“With her banking expertise and love for our great community, Crystal is a perfect fit with us as we continue to move forward in being the local community bank of Frederick,” said Steve Heine, President and CEO of Woodsboro Bank.

Ms. Wiles is a native of the Frederick community. She received her A.A. degree in Accounting from Frederick Community College and her B.S. degree in Finance from Mount Saint Mary’s College. She serves on the board of the Frederick County Humane Society.

Michelle Green has been promoted to Vice President of Risk Management and Financial Officer. Ms. Green joined Woodsboro Bank in June of 2018 as an Accounting Specialist. Ms. Green expanded her role to being named the Bank’s Controller in 2019.  Ms. Green has over 25 years’ experience in the banking industry involving the branch banking, accounting, operations, and risk management.

Ms. Green attended Towson State University receiving a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance. Also, she has her CAMS and CBAP certifications. She has an active membership with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists LLC (ACAMS) and volunteers with her children’s school athletic events in Hanover, PA.

Blair Garrett

Reliability is essential for any business.

Consistency and honesty are characteristics that are fundamental in running a successful business.

For the better part of the past four decades, Bob Delphey at Delphey Construction has been providing just that for the residents of Thurmont.

“We’ve been doing this for over 45 years, ever since I was in my early 20s,” Delphey said. “The relationship we get with our customers is important to us. We love working for the people of Thurmont.”

Thurmont holds a special sentiment for Delphey. He built his business and his home there, so working day in and day out for Thurmont residents has engrained Delphey Construction as part of his community.

Local businesses without a commitment to doing things the right way don’t last, and Delphey’s team has been together long enough to make a lasting impact on its community.

“Right now, if you look at Thurmont, we’re the oldest legit home improvement contractors, with insurance, payroll, an office, and storage areas,” Delphey said.

Over his 45 years in business, Delphey has developed a tremendous skill set and work ethic to keep up with all the moving parts of running a successful business. Between ups and downs in the economy and the growing competitive home improvement market, Delphey has remained steady and committed to doing his best for his customers.

“There have been a lot of companies around here over the years that I thought would be a lot of competition,” Delphey said. “And next thing you know, they’re out of business.

Delphey and his two employees, Steve Hankey and Dale Boyer, provide a multitude of services. The team works on decks, siding, window installation, and just about any other home improvement service to turn your current home into your dream home. The neighbor-like customer service is just the cherry on top.

“We always try to do the best to our knowledge for our customers,” Delphey said. “I always hope that the first time we have a customer, they’ll be our customer for life.”

Perhaps the most appreciated part of the way Delphey Construction handles business is its upfront approach with its customers. “When you call us, you can depend on us,” Delphey said. “If we can’t do it, I can usually put you in touch with somebody who does.”

The work Delphey and his team have done over nearly half a century has given them a whole lot of tools to draw upon for future projects. “Steve and Dale are very meticulous,” Delphey said. “And when they’re done working, they want to be able to write their name on it and show they’re proud of doing it.”

Home improvement is a tough business. Companies need to have a vast repertoire of skills to fulfill the needs of the market. The best way to build that skill set is to do what your customers need and continue to learn and grow over a number of years.

That growth has kept Delphey construction around for a long time, and it continues to keep them going 45 years later. When all is said and done, Delphey can look back and be proud of the jobs that he and his team have created for the community of Thurmont. 

If you want a job done right, there are a lot of great people in the community. If you want a job done with excellent service and quality you can count on, you don’t have to look much further than Delphey Construction in Thurmont.

“We may not always be the cheapest price out there,” Delphey said. “But sometimes, if you go cheap, you pay twice.”

Bob Delphey of Delphey Construction.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Deb Abraham Spalding

While traveling, Jeff Barber, owner of Playground Specialists, Inc. in Thurmont, encountered an ice and water dispensary kiosk called Twice The Ice. He thought the concept would fit perfectly on the slice of ground he owned at the former drive-through bank location on the corner of Apples Church Road and East Main Street in Thurmont.

 In September of 2019, the Twice The Ice kiosk opened for public vending at that location in Thurmont. It is an entirely self-contained vending unit that filters water four different times, including a cycle of reverse osmosis (a process that removes lead in the water). Upon demand, it dispenses the purified water into your container varying in size from a 20-ounce sports bottle (25¢), a gallon (50¢), three-gallons ($1.00), and five-gallon ($2.00) cooler.

It also uses that purified water to make and bag its own ice within the sanitary unit on demand. Your made-to-order ice bag (10- or 20-pound bags) slides down a shoot for easy pickup. Tie the bag, and you’re good to go! The ice is freshly cubed in the customary small cubed shape, just like other bagged ice.

If freshness isn’t enough to make you run to the Twice The Ice kiosk, the cost will be. Twice The Ice is about half the price of bagged ice and bottled water purchased elsewhere.

This kiosk serves the entire community! Little leaguers, in-home users, construction workers, and travelers will find value in this fresh, clean water option.

Step right up! Twice The Ice takes credit cards (for ice purchases only), coins, and cash.

For more information, visit

Jeff Barber uses the Twice The Ice kiosk to fill water dispensers for staff.

The Town of Thurmont held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Black’s Funeral Home in the Thurmont Plaza at 224 North Church Street in Thurmont on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

Pictured from left: (front row) Marg Black; Libby, Atlas, and Colt Black; Mayor John Kinnaird; Phil Pearce; and Denver Black; (back row) Grant Johnson, Andrea Cahill, Jerry and Micheala Black, Thurmont Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Bill Buehrer.

Grace Eyler

Nearby in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, an avid fisherman and his family construct top-notch saltwater fishing rods that have become well-known around the Chesapeake Bay waters. The family business is called JLS Custom Rods.

The inspiration for the business began when Ron Buffington set out to solve his dissatisfaction with saltwater fishing rods that he was using to fish in the Chesapeake Bay.  He felt the commercially mass-produced rods fell short on quality. The line guides were too few or too small, and the quality of the overall rod, even on high-end models, was going down.

“I just wanted to build my own stuff, and I wanted to be able to build a rod the way I want in order to hold up to strong migratory saltwater fish,” said Ron.

Determined to learn how to build his own rod, Ron sought out training tips from watching videos online and asking questions in online forums. As a result, he created the “perfect storm” of a product. Ron describes his rods as “light and sensitive and built well to hold up against harsh bay conditions and big saltwater fish!” Most importantly, Ron knew his rods “had to be made with high-quality components.”

Ron is proud that all the parts on the rods are sourced from the USA (including his proprietary rod blanks hand made in Arizona), with one exception. He uses Fuji guides and components. These are considered well-known parts that are manufactured in China to “gold standards” for high-end rods. He commented, “Japanese build the best of the best; they are very serious about their fishing.”

It takes anywhere between three to five hours to make a rod over the span of several days. Everyone in the family has a roll in the business. Ron’s duties include a little bit of everything: ordering, negotiating sales, designing with clients, and assembling his rods. Ron’s wife, Jaime, assists Ron with the assembly, as well as graphics and marketing for the business. Their son, Hunter (17), manages the social media and website content.

Both Ron, who works at Lehigh Cement, and Jaime, who works for Wellspan, have full-time careers. They fit JLS into their hectic schedules. Ron’s average day runs four to six hours of sleep, eight hours of work at Lehigh, and then six to eight hours on rod-building at home. The family has the building process down to a systematic process. While six to eight rods are turning to dry the epoxy, another set of rods are getting handles, guides, and components put on. He admitted, “This year, we’ll be hiring help.”

As of now, 30-40 percent of their business continues to be custom builds. As they keep expanding, JLS projects to go from 200-300 rods a year to as many as 1,000 in 2021.

Ron has concocted a perfect recipe for his rods, which landed his small business into the big ocean of the fishing industry. Specifically, JLS is filling the niche of “light tackle saltwater rods.” At present, no other company really focuses on this niche.

As business picked up, and the JLS name for a quality rod began to spread in the bay area, this provided JLS a great opportunity to start to retail the products in commercial storefronts. Currently, they are available in a handful of shops, such as Angler’s and Island Tackle Outfitters. Most rods that you see on the store floor will range between $130-$200. For a custom build, they start at $200 and go up.

One of the neat aspects of the retailing on the shore is that Ron’s products are alongside other well-known products such as Bass Kandy Delight (BKD)—Ron’s go-to bait when he hits the brackish saltwater. He notes, not only is BKD another local company right out of Waynesboro, Pennylsvania, but many lures and things of such are locally made in the Chesapeake radius.

If you’re not ready to invest in a light-tackle rod, you can always schedule a charter to try one out. Ron works with six bay-area “best of the best” guides, including Captain Jamie Clough of Eastern Shore Light Tackle Charters, Captain Tony Moriera of Morefins Charters, Captain Brad Foxwell of Chesapeake Fishing Adventures, Captain Nick Lombardi of Redbeard’s Charters, and Captain Lonnie Johnson LJ’s light.

Even if you’re vacationing in Florida, you may come across a JLS rod on the peninsula. “Down there, you have a much bigger pool of rod builders who are kind of doing what I’m doing.” Ron recognizes the competing products are not built the same way and notes that JLS has entered the Florida Market and is selling some rods there.

Ron’s motivation for building a better rod has resonated with individual clients, as well as fishing charter captains and guides. Ron said, “They could use any other rod. It’s a real honor for them to choose to use our products on their boats.” He appreciates all who religiously use his rods and feels the products help everyone’s livelihood.

Ron loves to see captains and clients send in pictures of their trophy catch. Often, he finds JLS being recommended from one angler to another, online. Ron and his family also do what they can to help conservation efforts on the Chesapeake Bay by actively participating in the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland and sponsoring other activities such as local tournaments and benefit banquets. One example is the Tangier Classic, which every year selects a local youth in need to benefit. All activities help spread awareness of the Chesapeake waters and help people in need. He also takes an hour or so each month to go live on social media to educate his followers about fishing, the parts they use and why they use them, and to answer any questions.

The best advice Ron has for all of us is, “Go fishing more and join a local fishing club in your area.” It’s really a great way to get the family outside or get friends together and create some new fun memories.

Next time you’re on your way to the bay, stop in and pick up a handmade rod made by the Buffington Family of JLS. It might just land you a big one! Like any good angler, you’ll at least have a rod that will make your fishing story believable.

If you are interested in purchasing a custom-built rod, contact JLS through Facebook, Instagram, or online at

Ron Buffington displays the catch of the day, a 38” striped bass, caught with his very own custom rod.

Jaime Buffington carefully adds fine details to one of their custom rods.

No Two Pondscapes’ Ponds are the Same

Deb Abraham Spalding

Imagine the serene sound of a waterfall splashing onto gorgeous, natural stones on its way to a lovely little pool filled with happy, colorful fish that are swimming through plants, flowers, and lily pads. Can you feel the peace that this space inspires? Now, imagine enjoying all of this with a grin on your face while you lounge in your own backyard!

Paul and Stacie Zelenka, of Thurmont, celebrate 20 years of building ponds, backyard sanctuaries, and stone patios this year. The couple first met in college at Frostburg University in western Maryland. After graduating, they continued dating while working at Lilypons in Buckeystown, Maryland.

In 1999, they married, and soon after, started their Pondscapes business utilizing Paul’s degree in biology, his extensive knowledge of pond fish and aquatic plants, and the professional wisdom in the art of pondscaping that they had both gleaned while working at Lilypons. Stacie admitted, “Paul got me into it.”

Pondscapes opened in the spring of 2000 with 10 clients. Stacie said, “The business blew up!” The Zelenkas now have over 600 Pondscapes’ clients.

The 20-year journey of Pondscapes mirrors the Zelenkas’ partnership in marriage. As they worked from their home, their success in maintaining a strong marriage, explained Stacie, is “keeping the business and conversation about business in spaces designated for business.” This obviously worked, as the business grew and their family grew with the birth of their daughter, Lyla, and son, Maceo.

Pondscapes’ first two clients’ ponds were memorable. They really showed the vastness of the Zalenkas’ talent because the scope of the projects was completely different from each other. One was a formal garden next to a formal patio. The pond, patio, and garden spaces were symmetrical. In contrast, the second client’s project was completely natural, with native plants that attract birds and animals and become symbiotic with the environment.

Both were very passionate clients who had two completely different objectives. Thus, the secret to Pondscapes’ success was quickly revealed in the couple’s knowledge of what would work in varying landscapes, their artistic ability, and their fluent customer relations.

When they started the business, the Zelenkas would travel far and wide for jobs, but as the years have passed, they’ve been able to rein in their residential business diameter closer to home.

Commercially, Pondscapes has designed and installed several watergardens at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. One is located at the emergency room, and one at the cancer center. Stacie said, “People who are there visiting family are obviously sad and having a hard time. For them to be able to go outside and sit by a beautiful pond and hear the moving water and see the fish swimming and smell the intoxicating aroma of the blooming water lilies, it means a lot.”

Paul does all of the design and works with the existing scape to fit it in any setting. Even clients with spaces that don’t really have much room for a pond are pleased with the finished project that fits in and naturally becomes part of the environment, no matter what space they have to work with. There is always gratification when people visit and say it looks like it was meant to be there and had been there forever.

Stacie explained, “It’s important to your soul to be able to be outside and connect with nature, especially in an age where people are deeply connected to their phones.” She said that even if it’s the smallest space like a tiny patio, a little spouting bowl where you can hear the moving water can make a big impact for a peaceful space. Kettle gardens and whiskey barrels with spouting statuary, mini water lilies, and small fish are other options in small spaces.

So, you see, no two Pondscapes’ ponds are the same!

To consult about the creation of your own backyard sanctuary, call Pondscapes at 240-446-2846 for a consultation and visit them online at Pondscapes specializes in aquatic gardening; the creative placement of natural stone for stone walls, patios, walkways, and steps; masonry and stonework that is durable and built to last; pond filtration; spring and fall pond cleanings and winterizations; and creating an ecologically balanced backyard sanctuary. Pondscapes carries a full line of pond products and supplies. They have earned the “Best in Show” award at the Frederick County Home Show for several years.

The Zelenkas wish to convey that they are truly appreciative of the community and each treasured client. Stacie expressed, “We appreciate, not just their business, but the personal connection that we’ve made with so many.” She added, “When we moved to Thurmont, I became involved with the Thurmont Economic Development Committee. Members were very supportive and helped in so many ways.”

Stacie continued by expressing, “How incredibly grateful we are for our crew. These guys are amazing. They work harder than anyone I know and do so with such a positive attitude. They are probably the best crew we have ever had. They are hard-working, knowledgeable, dedicated, trustworthy, and kind. They are a joy to work with and be around. We are so thankful to have them on our team.”

The Zelenkas were planning to host the Pondscapes 20th Anniversary North County Pond Tour in August, but the event will likely be rescheduled for next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictured from left are Stacie Zelenka, Paul Zelenka, Lyla Zelenka, Maceo Zelenka, Chris England, Steve Browne, and Hayden Spalding.

Pictured from left are Chris England, Paul Zelenka, Steve Browne, and Hayden Spalding.

James Rada, Jr.

Imagine having your own personal farmer who grows nutritious fruits and vegetables and harvests them the day you pick them up. This farmer deals with the dirt and bad weather to make sure you have food that is fresher and more nutritious than what you can buy in a grocery store.

That is mostly what happens when you participate in Good Soil Farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA). It is a win-win farming concept for both the farmer and consumer.

Stephen and Casey-Mae McGinley own Good Soil Farm in Emmitsburg. They practice regenerative agriculture “to glorify God by cultivating fruitful soil, happy souls, and healthy communities,” according to the mission statement.

Both the McGinleys are graduates of Mount St. Mary’s University and both had wanted to farm for years before being able to purchase 25 acres on Keysville Road from the Daughters of Charity in 2017. Stephen said that health issues and Casey’s pregnancies “made us more interested in healthy food and how to grow healthy food.”

The idea behind the way they farm is to grow foods that like the soil. For instance, the McGinleys tried growing green beans, but beans don’t like the soil on the farm, so they never grew to their potential or tasted as good as other vegetables suited to the soil.

The McGinleys also try to grow complementary crops. “Certain plants grow well together, such as tomatoes and basil,” Casey-Mae said.

They grew their first crop in 2018 and offered shares to 10 families using the CSA model. A CSA farm sells shares of the crops that the farmer grows.

“Members pay at the beginning of the season, and each week, they can pick up their share of what we’ve grown,” said Casey-Mae.

The concept has been around for about 30 years and continues to grow in popularity because of the benefits it offers to both farmer and consumer. It has become a popular way for smaller farms to maintain their viability at a time when it is becoming harder for small and medium-size farms to make ends meet.

Last year, Good Soil Farm had around 40 members, and they would like to continue to grow. Stephen estimates that they could serve about 50 members on their current farm.

The farm grows a variety of vegetables, including lettuce, eggplant, squash, peppers, beets, and a lot more. The McGinleys sell eggs separately and are growing a sheep herd to eventually be able to offer lamb.

“The value you’re getting is pretty remarkable, and the quality makes it difficult to beat,” Stephen said.

Because people might be unfamiliar with how to prepare some of the items the McGinleys grow, they often have recipes you can use to cook up a delicious meal.

Because part of the McGinley’s goal is to build a community, they hold special events throughout the season at the farm. The parties bring together the members and feature dishes prepared with the food from the farm.

“It’s not just raising vegetables,” Stephen said. “We think the Lord made the world in such a way that if we work with it, instead of making it conform to our designs, it flourishes and we flourish.”

You can learn more about Good Soil Farm or sign up for a share at

Good Soil Farm’s regenerative agriculture cultivates “fruitful soil, happy souls, and healthy communities.”

Deb Abraham Spalding

Known as a leader in the catering industry, the team at Celebrations Catering in Thurmont recently opened a unique opportunity for locals with dinner take-out, Mondays through Thursdays, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
While quality, never-frozen product has always been the number one focus of Celebrations, they are now beyond excited to finally have the opportunity to open their doors to service the local community!

Celebrations’ Sous Chef Matt Stewart is the talent behind this venture, and he said, “Sales are growing steadily because our customers know our meals are fresh and they’re made from scratch. We peel the potatoes daily, no boxed products here.”

Like an artist immersed in creative paint colors, Stewart creates weekly menus with items as innovative as Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, or as familiar as Grilled Cheese and Tomato Bisque.

For Valentine’s Day, Chef Matt has created a special menu that is guaranteed to make your romantic dinner extra-memorable! Valentine diners have the flexibility to build their own four-course dinner. This menu is available one day only on Friday, February 14, 2020.

In addition to Chef Matt, the core team at Celebrations Catering includes: Chip and Tammy Coblentz, owners; Amber Edmondson, operations manager; Colin Snyder, executive chef; Nicole Dempsey, event coordinator; and Megan Coblentz, marketing manager.

These folks continue to wow diners in the catering world while expanding to become more accessible with this new local take-out option.

Please note that there is no eat-in dining available at Celebrations, but there is space to walk-in, order, and wait. Use the convenient online order-and-pay system at or call 301-271-2220. Don’t forget, customers may order from a complete take-out dinner menu, between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Weekly menus are posted on Facebook.
Pick up your orders at 425 N. Church Street in Thurmont.

Keep Celebrations Catering in mind for catering your next special event.

For more information, view Celebrations Catering’s advertisement on page 20.

Sous Chef Matt Stewart, the talent behind the take-out dinner service at Celebrations Catering in Thurmont.

On Monday, November 25, 2019, Thurmont Grange #409 held its annual Community Citizen Award Banquet.  The evening began with a welcome from Grange Master, Bob Wiles, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.  Grange member, Sandy Moser gave the invocation before a meal and fellowship was shared by all in attendance. 

This year, Bollinger’s Restaurant was recognized for its years of service to Thurmont.  The award presentation began with Grange Lecturer, Niki Eyler, explaining that in order to understand why Bolllinger’s is so dedicated to our community, you must first understand how deep the Bollinger roots run in Thurmont.  In 1946, Eva Bollinger opened a small sandwich shop just down from the town square. Within a few years, Bollinger’s Dairy was established and the restaurant moved out to the farm.  The restaurant quickly grew into a gathering place for many town folk where there was always good food and good conversation.  1970 saw the expansion of the Route 15 highway, which forced the restaurant to close.  But not for long.  Soon after, Junie Bollinger reopened the restaurant in what is now the CVS Shopping Center.  Donna Bollinger purchased the restaurant in 1989 and continued until their lease was lost and they were forced to close in 2003.  But you can’t keep a Bollinger down for long, in 2007, Donna and her children bought the restaurant that we all know today as Bollinger’s.

Bollinger’s generosity to our community is well deserving of recognition.  Not only has Bollinger’s fed generations of local residents, they have gone over and above to lend support whenever asked.  Each year Bollinger’s donates a free dinner to each Grand Champion winner at the Thurmont/Emmitsburg Community Show.  That is over 40 dinners!  They donate cole slaw for the Community Show BBQ lunch and donate all the food for the Annual Rob Seidel Golf Tournament.  Bollinger’s provides food at cost to the Little League and CYA.  They have sponsored Wing Night benefits and given countless bottles of Josh’s famous bbq sauce and restaurant gift certificates whenever they are asked to make a donation.  No organization, charity or cause is ever turned away.  The Bollinger Restaurant Family was chosen for the 2019 Grange Community Citizen Award for their endless support of our community and their generosity given without question or hesitation.  Donna Bollinger and her son, Josh Bollinger, were present to accept the award.

In addition, several Grangers were recognized for their years of membership.  Rodman Myers (70 years), James Royer (50 year), David Harman (40 years), Robert Wiles (40 years) and Carolyn Wiles (40 years).   If you are interested in learning more about Thurmont Grange, please contact Rodman Myers at 301-271-2104 or Niki Eyler at 301-471-5158.

Pictured from left are Grange Overseeer Rodman Myers, Community Citizen Award recipients Donna and Josh Bollinger, Grange Master Bob Wiles, Grange Lecturer Niki Eyler.

Start 2020 with 20/20 Vision

A Vision Board Workshop will be held for business professionals at the Thurmont Bar & Grill at 10 E. Main Street in Thurmont on January 7, 2020, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. There is a $25.00 fee to participate.

For questions about the workshop, contact Mary Ellen Mitchell at

Deb Abraham Spalding

Despite the chilly rain falling outside the newly relocated Village Store & Deli on a wintry Tuesday in Keymar, Maryland, it was all warm smiles for customers inside.

Returning customers already knew the reputation of the excellent food that they were ordering from the deli because they followed the business from its former location in Detour. New customers tasting their food for the first time indicated that they have every intention of returning.

On his lunch break from nearby Evapco with two of his work buddies, a smiling Darren Beacham declared, “It’s great!” referring to the steak and cheese sub he had just finished.

His co-workers, Andy Foglesong of Taneytown and Justin Markle of Hanover, were also grinning from ear to ear, happy with their meals. Justin said it was his first time eating at The Village Store & Deli, and he declared, “I’m coming back!”

Keymar resident Eric Olson’s go-to was the bacon cheeseburger, and he added, “The guys at the mill rave about the club sandwich.”

He added, “Mary [Crushong, co-owner and manager] is doing a great job of serving the community.”

Sam Valentine, who lives near Emmitsburg, had been a regular customer of The Village Store in Detour for many years. This was his first visit to the businesses’ new location, where he ordered his usual steak and cheese sub for takeout.

Owners Mary and Craig Eichelberger operated The Village Store in rented space in its former location for two years. They purchased the current property so they’d have more control as owners instead of renters. What was once a dark barroom that closed down several years ago, is now a bright and spacious dining and retail area, thanks to extensive renovations by Craig and Mary.

Mary said the cheeseburger sub and steak and cheese sub are hot sellers, as well as the awesome fried chicken (give 30 minutes prior to sit-down to order). Hot platters like hot roast beef, hot turkey, and shrimp and fries are popular as well.

Mary firmly stated, “Let me be clear! There is no consumption of alcohol on these premises, inside or outside in our parking lot.” Nearby, a customer placing an order for food, overheard our interview and shouted, “Mary’s awesome!”

With no consumption of alcohol on the premises, it must be noted that wine, beer, and liquor are for sale in the convenience store. A takeout/eat-in menu is available for order at the deli counter, and there is a dining room. Additionally, household conveniences can be purchased, from ice scrapers and bandages, candy to motor oil, to lottery tickets and groceries. This business combines a liquor store, grocery store, and eat-in or takeout deli rolled in one.

The Village Store & Deli is located at 6694 Middleburg Road in Keymar at the intersection of Rt. 194 and Middleburg Road. It is open 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Mary invites all to, “Stop in and keep coming back for more.” She promises, “We’re here to serve. Let us know your suggestions.”

To comment, to place an order, or if you want more information, please call 410-775-2966.

Pictured in the foreground from left are Justin Markle, Mary Eichelberger, Darren Beacham, and Andy Foglesong; seated back right are Katherine and David Greene; and standing far back are Nicole Honeycutt and Sam Valentine.

The Village Store & Deli is open for business at the corner of Route 194 and Middleburg Road in Keymar.

In the kitchen, Lanny Ridenour (front) and Sherry Corente serve up some good food.

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners will hold a workshop to try and decide how best to handle a request from Pradeep Saini, owner of Village Liquors, to change the town’s water and sewer tap costs.

Saini owns three acres by the Emmitsburg McDonalds, with an option to purchase four more acres. He has been developing a small strip mall on the site where he intends to move his business, but he told the board of commissioners he would like to build a 90-room Choice Hotel on the site as well. The proposed project will cost between $7 and $8 million, of which 10 percent will pay for the town’s water and sewer impact fees.

“When 10 percent of that is just water and sewer tap fees, it’s humungous, and investors are going to shy away from that,” Saini told the commissioners.

He said the town’s costs are out of line with other municipalities. For instance, he said, a similar project in Brunswick would only cost $172,000 in water and sewer tap fees, and he could get a 30 percent discount off that figure.

He also told the commissioners that they needed to pay attention to the ripple effect the hotel would have on town businesses since people staying at the hotel would most likely eat and spend money in town.

“A successful hotel is going to open doors for other development,” Saini said.

He asked the commissioners to look at the current costs, compare them to other municipalities, and bring them in line with other towns. He also asked the commissioners to consider a one-time waiver for a project of this size.

Board President Cliff Sweeney showed a great reluctance to reducing the fees. “The water tap fees that we get from you to pay for the water to pay for the treatment center that’s what the tap fees are for,” Sweeney said.

He said that the town was being asked to give away $800,000 – or a portion of it – when the hotel project would bring the town much closer to needing a new treatment plant that would cost around $2 million.

Commissioner Tim O’Donnell said, “The opportunity here is wonderful. We do want to support you. We do want to see you guys get this done, but there’s also an economy we do have to deal with as well.”

It was pointed out that comparing Emmitsburg’s rates to Brunswick’s was not quite appropriate. The developer in Brunswick gave Brunswick $20 million for improvements. Also, the town’s water capacity was far more than Emmitsburg’s.

Town Manager Cathy Willetts told the commissioners that based on town staff’s research, Emmitsburg’s rates were about midway between comparable municipalities.

The commissioners decided to hold a workshop to discuss all of the issues surrounding the tap fees, in general, and whether something could be done to incentivize the hotel project.

Construction Has Begun for Revitalized 25,000-gallon Koi Pond

Landscaping contractors from the tri-state area are converging on Catoctin Wildlife Preserve in Thurmont to complete a new, naturally balanced koi pond. The work is being done as part of a Certified Aquascape Contractors (CAC) Build, which brings water feature contractors and distributors together for real-world training intensives with an experienced instructor.

Aquascape’s Ed “The Pond Professor” Beaulieu will lead the construction of a 25,000-gallon water habitat for Japanese Koi and ornamental fish, creating a revitalized centerpiece for the expanding Asian Trail at the Preserve. When complete, the exhibit will replace a 16,000-gallon pond installed in 2007. 

Guests will see a naturally-balanced habitat with mechanical and biological filtration, fish, and aquatic plants. Tiered waterfalls provide aeration, gravel and stone support beneficial bacteria, and aquatic plants purify the water. The result will be a crystal clear wetland environment.

When the trail opens to Preserve visitors in 2020, new pathways will wind past Snow Leopard, Asian Small-Clawed Otters, a wading bird rookery with Sacred Ibis and Abdim’s Stork, and Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes, an endangered species bred at the Preserve.

Beaulieu’s work has been featured on the cover of Architectural Digest, has appeared on several HGTV and DIY channel shows, and served as the project manager for the installation of water features at the Flower and Garden Festival “Water Garden Wonders” highlight at Epcot Center.

The build is the result of coordinated community efforts by the Preserve’s in-house staff, host CAC Kingdom Landscaping, host Aquascape Distributor Turf Equipment and Supply, and an estimated 50 participating contractors. Heavy equipment dealers Bobcat of Frederick and Rentals Unlimited of Frederick have donated excavation equipment and tool rentals for the build. Barrick & Sons will deliver over 85 tons of river gravel.

Want to help them complete the pond and Asian Trail? You can donate to the project and see photos at

Pictured is early work showing the various river rocks in place for the new upcoming 25,000-gallon koi pond at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve in Thurmont.

A secret group of soldiers, who are credited with shortening World War II by two years, is being honored locally. The group, known as Ritchie Boys, was part of the D-Day invasion and subsequent march across Europe to defeat the Nazis.

An exhibit highlighting the impact of the Ritchie Boys during World War II is on display at the Fort Ritchie Community Center. The exhibit was recently donated to the Community Center from the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Ritchie Boys were a military intelligence unit trained in psychological warfare, counterintelligence, sabotage, and other skills at Camp Ritchie in Cascade (later renamed Fort Ritchie). 

The Ritchie Boys consisted primarily of German-born soldiers, many of whom were also Jewish, that had fled Europe to the United States before the war. Because of their knowledge of the German culture and language, the U.S. Army used the Ritchie Boys for a variety of intelligence tasks, including interrogating prisoners of war, deciphering German communications, and various forms of psychological warfare. The name Ritchie Boys was bestowed upon the group due to their time being trained at Camp Ritchie.  

Guy Stern, a Ritchie Boy and former college professor, designed the exhibit using his firsthand knowledge, as well as access to other Ritchie Boys. Following its display at the Holocaust Memorial Center, the exhibit was placed into storage. At Stern’s suggestion, the museum agreed to donate the exhibit to the Fort Ritchie Community Center, where it will be open to the public. The exhibit will be available for viewing during the Community Center’s regular business hours for several weeks. 

The size of the exhibit is so large, the Community Center will not be able to keep it on display in its entirety indefinitely. The plan, however, is to feature parts of the exhibit in the museum, located in the Community Center. Photos of the complete exhibit will be available for viewing so that guests may still experience the impact the Ritchie Boys had during and after the war. 

Please visit for more information on the Ritchie Boy exhibit and the Fort Ritchie Community Center. 

One of the Ritchie Boys in Germany.

James Rada, Jr.

No sooner had one barber shop moved from the storefront at 7 Water Street in Thurmont when another shop opened. Thurmont Family Barbershop opened its doors on September 9, 2019, and residents might have noticed the familiar face holding the scissors.

Jim McNey, a long-time Emmitsburg barber, is running the shop for Jamie Andrew, the former owner of Emmitsburg Family Barber. Two part-time barbers will assist him on the busy days.

McNey has been a barber since 1966 and owned his own barber shop in Laurel for 12 years. He is known locally from the time he worked in the Emmitsburg Family Barber Shop.

“I like this work,” he said. “I like to create and talk to people, and this job lets me do that.”

Business is already starting to pick up for the shop, with some of his former Emmitsburg customers coming to Thurmont to have McNey do their hair. McNey also has plans for the shop. He will soon be adding a new floor and barber station. He is also considering adding additional services beyond the typical haircuts and shaves.

“I’ve had some talks with people who could bring new things here,” he said.

For now, customers can get a great haircut and enjoy looking at the antique barber chair from the 1800s McNey keeps in the shop.

The store is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can call the shop at 240-288-9323.

Pictured from left are: Thurmont CAO Jim Humerick; Sabrina Massett;Thurmont Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Wes Hamrick; Mayor John Kinnaird; Owner/master barber Jamie Andrew; Barber Jim McNey; and Barber Dawn Roberts and her husband, Gary Roberts, with their two grandchildren, Benjamin and Emily.

For over 85 years, The Eyler Stables in Thurmont has been well-known for its horse auctions. Four generations of Eylers have had a turn at holding the reins of one of the longest running equine auctions on the East Coast.  

However, change is vital for any business to remain successful, so when a need was seen for a new and different type of auction, The Eyler Stables was more than willing. Most recently, Eyler’s has added a livestock and produce auction to their schedule on the first Friday evening of each month, starting at 6:00 p.m. The first livestock and produce auction was held on October 4, with over 80 buyers in attendance. The evening started off with the sale of a large selection of cages, crates, and various farm supplies, and moved on to produce and eggs. Rabbits, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, quail, guineas, geese, goats, and sheep were just a few of the livestock you could purchase.  Several in the crowd were heard to say that selling prices were really good, especially for the first auction. Niki Eyler, manager, said that the turnout was great, and it is anticipated that the auction will continue to grow quickly as the word spreads. Of course, The Eyler Stables will continue to have its horse auctions on the third Friday evening of each month. 

If you are interested in more information, visit their website at, check out their Facebook page, or call 301-471-5158.

Staff members of Senior Benefit Services, Inc. and realtors of CLIMB Properties gathered for a grand opening of their new offices at 112 E. Main Street in Thurmont on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Senior Benefits Services (SBS)celebrates a new beginning in the new space, having moved from offices on Water Street in Thurmont. Senior Benefits’ Phyllis Nizer said, “Today is a very important day for us at SBS. We’ve grown into a new location in this beautiful older home in Thurmont to continue serving your Medicare and retirement needs for all ages, not just 65 and over.”

Karen Simundson of Senior Benefits Services has been in Insurance for 20 years. She recruits and manages agents for Senior Benefits, which has a corporate office in Hagerstown, Maryland. She said, “We added a Thurmont office a handful of years ago but outgrew our spaces. I bought the Main Street house to be a permanent fixture in business here.”

She explained, “At SBS we provide retirement and insurance services that take folks from employee to retiree as seamlessly as possible. We do 401K & IRA rolls, income planning, life insurance, and many indemnity plans. We know Medicare inside and out, but also review folks’ group benefits that they may be able to keep at retirement. We educate so one knows what they have, how to use it, and any exposure they may be responsible for down the road.”

It’s important to note that all SBS services are free, so it’s free to look, shop, compare! SBS has four agents in Thurmont. They are licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Call Senior Benefits Services at 301-271-4040 or visit for more information.

When CLIMB Properties broker Caron Kinsey started making a list in order to start her own company, the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) were answered, the model thought through, and CLIMB Properties became a reality. Caron attended broker class over an hour away, in each direction, three days a week for four months, sometimes having to drive in snow and icy conditions. She then secured office space, conquered business logistics, and, of course, enlisted real estate agents. Caron worked with one agent who followed her from RE/MAX to start CLIMB. She then added another and then another. The business model was based on Caron’s own agent experiences that inspired her unique brokerage perspective. She explained, “What can CLIMB Properties do for their agents, instead of how much do agents give to their traditional brokers.” Caron felt that the brokerage was designed “by an agent for an agent,” which is not the normal flow of the real estate business.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, CLIMB has 15 agents, 1 administrative manager, and 3 offices (Frederick, Hagerstown, and Thurmont). CLIMB Properties is licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and services clients in residential, commercial, land and farms, and investors, with specialties in luxury homes, estates, and historic properties.

 CLIMB Properties hopes to add 5 more licensed real estate agents by the end of 2019, and ultimately grow to about 50. As CLIMB’s tag line reads, “helping their clients AND their agents reach new heights” is the number one goal!

Call CLIMB at 240-215-6533 or visit for more information.

The Emmitsburg Business & Professionals Association (EBPA) met Thursday, August 15, 2019, for a quarterly breakfast at the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg. Guest Speaker Nancy McCormick, the City of Taneytown’s Economic Development and Mainstreet Manager, energetically shared her experience and advice about economic development, marketing, signage, and attracting businesses to Emmitsburg.

The EBPA will host a live concert fundraiser featuring The Reagan Years band on September 14, 2019, at the Vigilant Hose Company’s Event Center at 17701 Creamery Road in Emmitsburg. For concert tickets, visit to purchase online. For more information about EBPA, visit

Nancy McCormick (pictured front center), the City of Taneytown’s Economic Development and Mainstreet Manager, gave an up-beat and informative presentation to members of the EBPA during the group’s quarterly breakfast.

The August 1 Thurmont Business Network meeting was held at Ole Mink Farm Recreation Resort, where Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Shultz addressed the group about conducting business in Maryland, regulations, and other pertinent topics to running a business. The next Thurmont Business Networking meeting will be held on Thursday, September 5, at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard at 15010 Roddy Road in Thurmont. The meeting will start at 8:00 a.m., and will end at 9:00 a.m. Thurmont Business Network is open to any business owner/manager in the 21788 zip code only. For more information, contact

Guest speaker, Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Shultz, addresses the group at the Thurmont Business Network meeting in August.

Blair Garrett

Tucked away in the quiet mountain town of Emmitsburg lies a talented blacksmith who specializes in creating the unknown. 

The unknown for Harold Green of Horseshoe Forge and Ironworks is what job will come through his door next. Green creates what his customers need, and that is quality metalwork, repairs, and an innate ability to pull off the near impossible.

Green often has customers come to him, struggling to find a way to create the project they have in mind. Filling the gaps with the design and craftsmanship is what has taken Horseshoe Forge and Ironworks to the next level.

“Anything made out of metal that people can’t find anymore, they come and see me,” Green said.

Whether it’s small trinkets for a keychain or a hand-crafted specialty knife, and anything in between, Green finds a way to make it happen.

This latest venture of running his own business has exploded since its establishment in September 2017.

“About a year and a half ago, I did a bluegrass festival in Granite Hill,” Green said. Green’s displays and dedication have earned him a reputation, rocketing his business to new heights. “With all the promoters, now, people call me and ask me to come out. It’s just been growing and growing.”

There is no limit to what Green can create from the comfort of his garage, but it isn’t the money that gets him out of bed every morning. Green came into contact with a father from Alabama, desperately trying to raise enough money for his daughter.

“I sent some stuff down to a guy who was trying to send his autistic child to camp in Alabama. I sent a hand-forged tomahawk and a knife down, and with that they raised enough money to send that little girl to camp for two weeks. The email that the gentleman sent me back was well worth it.”

The joy Green gets from creating something he’s proud of is what pushes him to pursue his passion, but even though Horseshoe Forge and Ironworks is a one-man show, Green still needs a little help from time to time.

“My wife helps out when we go to shows sometimes,” Green said. “Diana really, more or less, supported me throughout this whole thing. There were times when I wanted to quit, but she told me I wasn’t a quitter and that was it.” Green also has an official chief of security dog on staff, Riley, who protects and supports him throughout his work day.

The long-time welder turned blacksmith has big plans for the future, but Green is taking his work step by step. “Our dream is to open up a retail store somewhere,” he said. For now, the plan is to keep putting out the best product possible for his customers.

Even though Green is officially retired, running his own blacksmithing business has been far from work. “I don’t consider this a job,” expressed Green. “It’s more like a nice opportunity to expand my imagination.”

Check out Horseshoe Forge and Ironworks online to see more of Green’s work at

Harold Smith worked as a welder for 40 years before opening his own business in 2017.