Currently viewing the category: "Business News"

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.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Scott and Michelle Calderon have opened the new Country Corner Thrift Store, located at 224 North Church Street, Unit C2 (where old Blockbuster and Curves were located), in Thurmont. Having formerly run a thrift store in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, the Rouzerville, Pennsylvania couple proclaim—in unison— that their store is, “…NOT A CONSIGNMENT STORE. We’re a discount store. We give a discount coupon to every person who brings us a drop-off of goods.”

Scott further explained, “Because you get a discount coupon every time you bring in goods, it’s wise to bring in a few grocery bags of goods, rather than trash bags of goods. It’s also wise to space out your drop-offs.”

This process allows the Calderons to keep their prices truly thrifty. In fact, Country Corner prices are unbelievably low because there are no consignment fees to pay out, no staff time spent to figure out percentages, and no hidden costs. Scott stated, “We are not non-profit, we will never be non-profit.” They get their products from shopper drop-offs and from bulk overstock discounted purchases from stores.

At Country Corner Thrift Store, you’ll find a wide variety of media, clothing, household items, housewares, books, bedding, tools, and so forth. They also buy video games at 60 percent of the price they would sell them. Michelle said, “We sell anything and everything. No…I’ll rephrase that…we consider selling anything and everything. There are some things we can’t sell.”

The couple sells some antiques, but most of those have a functional use. Because they operate a true thrift store, their goal is to eliminate the need to wheel and deal and bicker about prices. Things are just unbelievably cheap. Please note that Country Corner will not accept mattresses, upholstered items, or pillows. Drop-offs should be laundered and/or cleaned before being dropped off.

To drop off goods, please carry your items in grocery bags into the store. Please don’t leave bags at the door. Call 301-524-3615 for more information.

Thurmont Town Commissioner Wayne Hooper (left), Mayor John Kinnaird (second from right), and Commissioner Bill Buehrer (right) welcome business owners Scott and Michelle Calderon (middle) of the Country Corner Thrift Store in Thurmont.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Straffy Lawyer retired from his life-long career as a mechanic, having worked with his brother, Dave, and father, Strafford, since he was a youngster in the various service garages owned by the family. Straffy, and his wife, Patti, operated Lawyer’s Automotive on Jimtown Road in Thurmont since the 1980s. In 2016, ownership was purchased by Straffy’s son, Chad, until this past October when a new owner, Mark Breeden (pictured right), purchased the shop. Breeden said, “Straffy and Patti still stop in to say ‘Hi.’” Breeden is originally from Loudon County, Virginia, but moved to Thurmont to be with his love interest, Tanzy Logue. The couple have a son together, Brody Breedon. Upon moving, Breeden started working for Straffy at Lawyer’s Automotive.

He stayed on through the transition of ownership from Straffy to Chad, then he officially purchased the business on October 5, 2018. Since then, he said, “Things have been going great!”

He prides himself on integrity while running the business. In the past, he’s flat out quit working at other garages when he didn’t agree with the under-handed treatment of customers to make a buck. Breeden’s high standard of business is drawing customers, not only locally, but from as far as Olney, Mt. Airy, and Frederick. If a vehicle needs costly repairs, he will flesh out a plan for repair over time so the customer doesn’t have to shell out several thousand dollars all at once. In cases where he finds a more serious safety problem while performing a standard repair, he’ll make sure it is repaired before leaving the shop.

Breeden gathered his career experience beginning as an apprentice at Koon’s Ford in Sterling, Virginia. There, he became a mechanic and diesel tech, he was Ford Certified and ASE Certified. Next, he worked at a tire and auto center in Leesburg, Virginia. After about six years, he became a heavy equipment mechanic for a construction company. Finally, he worked at a transmission shop where he became ATRA certified in Purcellville, Virginia, until meeting Tanzy and moving to Thurmont.

He loves owning his own shop. “Right now,” Breeden said, “I am doing all the paperwork, all the billing, all the selling, and half the work. Did I mention we are hiring?”

Lawyer’s Automotive performs vehicle repair and maintenance from oil changes and tires to transmissions and exhaust. If Breeden can’t fix it, he recommends trusted local professionals who can.

Stop by to give the new Lawyer’s a try. Lawyer’s Automotive is open Mondays through Fridays, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The shop is located at 13910-B Jimtown Road in Thurmont. Call 301-271-2736 for more information.

Deb Abraham Spalding

In 1980, Bruce Davies, Thurmont’s local jeweler at the time, approached John Brown and his wife, Betty, about buying Davies Jewelry Store. Since then, the couple’s business, Browns’ Jewelry Store & Gifts on Water Street in Thurmont, has been the go-to jewelry store for special occasion gems, holiday gifts, and trusted watch and jewelry repairs.

Even after Betty’s passing in December 2009, John and his trusted employee of 27 years, Barb Barbe, along with the help of Corrinne McBreen, his part-time employee, have continued to provide confident, steady service.It is with firm decision that John announced his retirement sale for June 2019. He’s selling everything.

“Everything is for sale, the buildings (7 and 9 Water Street in Thurmont), all the displays, all the jewelry, watches, gift items… everything!” John said.

In June, everything is 30 percent off. Non-priced items are negotiable with John.

While reminiscing, John said, “My customers are the greatest customers in the world. That’s what they are! They’re not customers. They’re family!”

John has served three generations of customers.

About the jewelry business, he said, “Everyone has a special need, and everyone wants something special.”

It was John’s pleasure to meet these needs. While every transaction was important, his most memorable and emotionally rewarding creation was a memorial jewelry item for a mother who lost her daughters in an auto accident.

Stop by Browns’ Jewelry & Gift Store in Thurmont for its Retirement Sale. Everything must go! Find gifts for all occasions, anniversary items, beautiful jewelry,  jewelry boxes, watches, pewter, crystal, minerals, mantle and wall clocks, and much more. See their advertisement on page 47 for more information.

Pictured from left are John Brown, Barb Barbe, and Corrinne McBreen, inside Browns’ Jewelry & Gifts Store in Thurmont.

The Thurmont Business Network held its monthly gathering on May 2, 2019, at the Thurmont Kountry Kitchen on Water Street.

Each business representative in attendance was given two minutes to talk about their business. At each meetings, one business is randomly selected as the ‘feature’ business who is given more time to go more in depth about their business. Sharon Edmondson, with Milestone Hypnosis, was the featured business at this meeting.

Thurmont’s Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder was the first to present. She reviewed that the second annual Restaurant Month in April was reported by restaurant owners as a success. She talked about the The Gateway publication that is produced by The Frederick News Post with content supplied by the Town. It has a 100,000 copy distribution and advertising costs are low. It is published twice a year in April and September.

Thurmont CAO Jim Humerick talked about some residential and commercial growth anticipated in the Town of Thurmont in the next two or three years. He suggested that if you feel strongly about the growth or lack of growth in the Town that you express that.

To become more involved with the Thurmont Business Networking group, please contact Vickie Grinder at 240-626-9980.

Mayor Don Briggs and members of the Emmitsburg Business and Professionals Association hosted the quarterly Emmitsburg Business Professionals Breakfast Meeting at the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg on May 23, 2019.

County Executive Jan Gardner was the featured speaker. She spoke about the importance of small businesses and the Frederick County Office of Economic Development indicating that over 100 small businesses operate in Emmitsburg. She was proud to announce that the FY 2020 Frederick County Budget passed with a 7-0 vote. She also gave an update on county-wide topics that impact our small towns including recycling, agriculture, green initiatives, economic development, professional development, etc.

Mayor Briggs and Zach Gulden, Emmitsburg’s Town Planner gave an update on several projects around town including the sidewalks, bridge, and sign ordinance. Sister Martha with the Seton Center indicated that many good things are under way at the center with a dental program, career education, and other programs in the planning stages.

Various members gave updates about business and invitations for activities and events. Wayne Slaughter, Michael Cantori, and Allen Knott, officers of the EBPA, updated members about plans and social events like happy hour at the Ott House on Tuesday evenings. For more information, please visit EBPA’s new website

James Rada, Jr.

Brooks Behavioral Health has started taking appointments for individual, group, and family therapy sessions to address addiction problems. The office is located at 31B Water Street in Thurmont, and is one of two offices that Clinical Director David Brooks maintains in the county.

Brooks has worked as a Criminal Justice Program Manager for the Frederick County Health Department. This involved him working as the treatment coordinator of both Frederick County Drug and Veteran’s Treatment Court, while supervising the Frederick County Detention Center Substance Abuse Program. He opened the Frederick office of Brooks Behavioral Health Services in October 2017.

While working in his Frederick office, David Brooks realized that many of his patients were coming from the north end of Frederick County.

“Because of the type of treatment I provide, I was overwhelmed by the need in the north end of the county,” Brooks said. “I also saw that many of them had transportation issues with coming to see me.”

He also realized that part of the need for treatment in this area is because U.S. 15 is becoming more popular as a route used to transport drugs.

After speaking with the Thurmont Addiction Commission, Brooks decided that the need in the region was great enough that he should open an office to make it easier for people in the Thurmont and Emmitsburg area to get treatment.

Brooks is a criminogenics specialist, which looks at the behaviors of addiction rather than look at it as a disease.

“It is a disease, but we’re not treating it that way as a model,” explained Brooks.

The goal is to look at the ways that addictions manifest, such as lying, not trusting anyone, and being oppositional. Those things are identified and then addressed.

“Once that changes, and they understand where the behaviors come from, they start not wanting to do all of those negative behaviors,” said Brooks.

Brooks stated that the program has been working “phenomenally.” He has seen more than 500 people since he opened his Frederick office. In that time, he has only experienced three deaths among his clients and two of those were within the first week of treatment before much could be done.

Blair Garrett

Art comes in many forms.

For Shawn and Wendy Martyak (pictured left), their dry rub and buffalo sauce business has been crafted to perfection, offering locals a balanced blend of flavor and spice that can only be described as art.

The Martyak’s start in the sauce industry with the Wait, What? Sauce Co. was born from the love of the average American’s game day Holy Trinity: wings, beer, and sports. When Shawn retired from the Frederick Police Department in 2011 after 27 years, he began experimenting more with cooking and smoking meats in his new-found free time. After discussing recipes and techniques with friends and other spice connoisseurs, Martyak began to hit his stride.

“About 20 years ago, I started playing with this sauce,” Shawn said. “There was a place in Frederick that had a wing sauce that I really liked with garlic in it. I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I started playing around. I wrote down everything that I did every time. Finally, I hit on the flavor that I was looking for.”

Figuring out the recipe was one thing, but sharing it with friends, family, and locals was the most rewarding part for the couple. The sauce found its first home at a small establishment in Blue Ridge Summit called The B&T Unique Bar and Grill, where the Martyaks began a tradition of stopping every Sunday to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers.

One Super Bowl, the bar decided to run a wing special, and the Martyaks offered to have the bar try out their signature sauce “Shawn’s Spicy Buffalo.”

“I brought a half gallon of my sauce up to see what people would think,” Shawn said. “Family and friends will tell you one thing, but I wanted to see what strangers would think.”

After the Super Bowl, the reviews came in, and people couldn’t get enough of the pair’s soon-to-be famous sauce.

“About 80 percent of the wings had our sauce on it, and it was like it was addictive,” he said. The bar asked Shawn for another half gallon of sauce, and even though Shawn had been making small batches out of his kitchen at the time, he was well-prepared to provide more sauce to local patrons. “Two weeks later, they said they were out of sauce, and the wing sales quadrupled.”

“As it gained in popularity, people started asking us to buy bottles,” Shawn said. The two had something special on their hands, and after straightening out the complexities of business certifications and permits, the Martyaks had the pieces in place to continue doing what they loved. “I’m very flattered and humbled that something that I make, so many people like,” Shawn said. “We even got our first fan mail letter this week.”

While the Martyaks emphasized their hopes to keep their sauce local and available for the people of Thurmont and the surrounding areas, they also have plans in the works for new sauces and rubs for people to enjoy.

And while the creativity and production of their products is still fun, there’s one thing in particular that keeps the Martyaks cooking. “What we like most about this is going to the farmer’s markets and meeting people, and hearing what they use it on,” Wendy said. “We learn a lot of new recipes that we can pass on to others.”

Even with the couple’s recent successes, they find no shortage of time to give back. The two often provide galvanized buckets of their specialty sauces and rubs, T-shirts, and aprons with the Wait, What? Sauce branding on it, along with donations, for local charities and events. Giving back is an important part of the growth of anything within a community, and it’s something that won’t soon be forgotten by the Thurmont residents.

“Here is where we think we fit the best,” Shawn said. “Not on a shelf in every grocery store, but at these little mom and pop places that people are starting to gravitate toward.”

Blair Garrett

What got you guys initially started with getting into this business and what prompted the recent move?

Bruce (owner of Kelco) has worked in the plumbing industry for the past 41 years. The company that he was working with for all those years was dissolved, so with honesty and integrity we decided to venture out. The community that we grew up in and love has supported us to the point that we required a larger place to do business in. For that, we are very grateful!

What’s been the best part about the development and growth over the years for the business?

We have had the sincere pleasure of servicing the people that we have known all of our lives, and have met many new friends and business acquaintances along the way. Our reputation of a job well done and fair pricing has led us down a successful path. Most of the new work that we incur is from references and word of mouth. Venturing out with a new business is never easy; however, if you treat your customers fairly and provide excellent customer service, you’ll never fail! Having the ability to serve our community and meet our customers face to face around town without having any fear of a negative comment is a great feeling. We never have to be afraid of running into someone who was not satisfied with the service that we provided them with. That’s the BEST part of the business!

What’s your goal with each job for a customer?

When we decided to start Kelco Plumbing, we also decided to be the best that we could be. To us, providing the best possible service and not forgetting the minor details means the most to us. We’re always happy to see our customers, knowing that we were fair and honest with them. Our goal is to ensure that every customer is satisfied with our service and that we did the best job possible. No matter how small or large the job is, each one is as important as the other.

How long have you been in business now?

Hard to believe, it’s been almost seven years already. It’s very rewarding knowing that we’re providing a service to our community that they are obviously satisfied with.  

Any favorite parts of the job?

Bruce’s specialty is septic installation and repair, but each member of our team (Mike, Matt, and David) is extremely knowledgeable on all facets of plumbing. The favorite part of our job is meeting new people in the community and walking away knowing that the job was successfully completed.

How exciting was it to have friends and family support you guys in the move, and even have the Thurmont Mayor there to support the company during the ribbon-cutting?  

We are truly blessed to have the loving support from family and friends that we do.

The Mayor and Commissioners warmly welcomed us to Thurmont, and we would like to thank each and every individual that took the time to support and encourage us at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. There is nothing like small town living…this is where our hearts are! Thank you, everyone, especially our loyal customers who have made this all possible.

We would also like to welcome our two new employees: Bill Boyd, Jr. and Steve Wolfe.

Kelco Plumbing is located at 9 Woodside Avenue in Thurmont.

In April, a ribbon-cutting was held for the opening of the business location in Thurmont.

Kristen Daly

Local dance studio, Elower-Sicilia Productions (ESP) Dance and Music, LLC is celebrating 50 years of business this year.

Owner Linda Elower Sicilia started the studio back in 1969 in the basement of her parents’ Thurmont home. Within a year, she was able to move the studio to the Thurmont Guardian Hose Company Meeting Room, renting a room there one night a week to teach dance lessons. Within the next couple of years, Linda married her husband, Pete Sicilia, and moved the studio to the front room of their home on Main Street, while she and Pete lived upstairs. In 1972, Pete secured a loan from the Thurmont Bank and remodeled the basement himself to make a small studio space for Linda to continue teaching lessons.  Quickly outgrowing the basement studio space, Pete designed and built the Pool House (which was originally planned to be his shop and garage) to accommodate the growing studio. Linda continued teaching lessons in both the basement and the Pool House studios for the next few years. But as the studio continued to grow, it was moved to a variety of locations throughout Thurmont over the years, eventually ending up in the Old Mill building on Water Street, where it is today. 

Regardless of what the studio space was like, over the past 50 years Linda has taught so many young people to love dance. Some students may have stayed for just a year or two, or only took a couple of classes. While others stayed for their entire childhood, taking every class that was offered. Either way, countless young people were shaped by their time with Linda at ESP.

When asked to reflect on the past 50 years, Linda said the one thing that comes to her mind is the life-long friendships of parents and students that she has gained over the years that have made her life so much richer. Generations of families have gone through ESP, including Linda’s own three daughters, who were all ESP students and remain a part of the studio. Now, they have their own children dancing there.  Linda’s oldest granddaughter is the director of the ESP Performing Company. There are many parents who were ESP students themselves, who are now bringing their own children to dance at ESP.

ESP parent Megan Claggett shares “My fondest memories of my childhood are dancing for Linda. I still have all of my costumes, recital t-shirts, and recital VHS tapes! I couldn’t wait to have a little girl of my own to send to ESP, and now I have two. ESP truly is a big family, and I’m so proud to have my family be a part of it!” Megan’s daughter Jordyn said, “Dancing at ESP makes me so happy! I think it is so cool that most of my teachers also taught my mom and will teach my baby sister, too!” 

Many families share Megan’s sentiment, as do many alumni. Most of the current instructors at the studio are former ESP dancers. It is a true testament to the bonds students form with the studio when they want to send their own children to the studio or come back to teach classes there themselves. What makes ESP so special is that Linda sees the potential in each and every student that walks through the door. There is no set mold that ESP dancers must fit into, and every dancer can find a forever home at ESP. 

In addition to the quality dance technique and training that dancers receive at ESP, they also gain self-confidence, perseverance, and learn teamwork and dedication. And they make some of the best and most lasting friendships of their lives in the dance studio.

Current high school senior Lucy Estep, who has danced at ESP since she was two years old, sums it up perfectly by saying, “Miss Linda has created such an incredible family; they will forever be special to me. I have had countless laughs and memories made at the studio, and none of it would be possible without Miss Linda. I am beyond thankful for everything she gives the community, as well as her dancers. I can’t wait to watch the legacy continue on for plenty more years.”       

After 50 years, Miss Linda has impacted thousands of lives, and continues to make a difference every day. Although ESP is what some may call a “small town studio,” it has a huge heart and a reach far beyond the town of Thurmont.  ESP alumni and former Frederick County Public Schools teacher and counselor Beth Myers said it best when she said, “There’s so much to be said about a wonderful woman who was a second mom to most of the kids, including my two sisters and me.  Through dance, she also taught us kindness, teamwork, cooperation, the power of commitment, and building confidence. She created a welcoming space that expanded our small-town life with the diversity and creativity of the world of dance and life outside of Thurmont. I cherish her trust and faith in my sisters and I to become student teachers for her studio, assisting other kids to enjoy the passion and fun of being in the dance family. In fact, it was my first teaching job. What I learned from Linda, I carried with me in my heart and implemented in my teaching career, paying those gifts forward.”  Fifty years ago, Linda Elower Sicilia had a dream to teach children to love the art of dance. And through hard work, dedication, and the love and support from her family and friends, that dream is a reality. Thank you, Linda, for being a part of the Thurmont community for 50 years!  We are so proud! 

Come see the annual ESP Recital “ESP Visits Wonderland,” on June 15, 2019, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick. There will be two showings: 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Tickets are available through the Weinberg Center Box Office.  

Pictured from left are Kyra Fry, Kara Weedy, Rose Weedy, Maria Fry, Linda Sicilia, Pete Sicilia, Kela Marceron, and Toni Marceron.

Blair Garrett

Tucked away on a quaint 38-acre property in Thurmont lies a little-known winery full of rich experiences, friendly faces, and, of course, plenty of wine.

Links Bridge Vineyards, off Old Links Bridge Road, provides local residents a refreshing getaway from life’s stresses, with a variety of red and white wines sure to please even the pickiest wine connoisseurs.

The small-scale winery is run by Bob and Joan Cartier, a couple who has been creating wine for a decade. While the pair normally focus on dry wines, a rainy 2018 forced the Cartiers to improvise, beginning to make a few sparkling wines for the future.

“We started selling the grapes to Old Westminster, and we’d go over there and help process them, and it was just so interesting what they were doing,” Joan said. “So we decided that maybe we could try making wine ourselves.”

The area is perfectly fit for an intimate setting with friends and family, without the commotion and traffic of a big facility. “We’re right on the Monocacy River, and we have a picnic area and a patio down by the river,” Joan said. “People can bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine, and go down to the river.”

The science of wine making is far from exact, and recipes are often hard to recreate. Many things can affect the taste of a wine from batch to batch, including weather, temperatures, different grape harvests, and many other often unknown factors.

The Cartiers are relatively new to the scene of wine making, with both having previous careers far outside their current field. Robert was an assistant dean at a university, and Joan still does work in Washington D.C. Wine making is a much more relaxing profession than the stresses of running a university. “It’s a nice change,” they both said in unison.

With a small winery, keeping customers aware and interested in events can be a challenge. Links Bridge offers wine tastings on weekends, where you can try numerous different reds and whites with cheese and crackers. But there is more on the horizon for Links Bridge winery. The vineyard plans to host goat yoga, a hot new fad, connecting goats with the relaxation and zen of yoga. Miniature goats will climb onto the backs of participants, who balance the goats in a series of poses and stretches. The vineyard even has plans to have a wine stop for people tubing down the Monocacy River.

The growth of the wine industry has taken off since the rise of social media. Today, people can find something they enjoy and share it with the world; so, naturally, wine fits perfectly into that idea. The exposure of good wines and great food have opened wineries up all over Maryland.

“When we first started growing grapes, there were 15 or 20 wineries in Maryland,” Bob said. “Now there are 90-some wineries in Maryland, and that’s happened in the space of a dozen years.”

With the couple’s passion for making great wines, it’s no surprise that Links Bridge Vineyards has exceeded expectations for a small Thurmont winery. Whether it’s a bottle of wine by the river, or a wine tasting among close friends, Links Bridge has something to offer everyone, and that’s something worth getting excited about.

Links Bridge Vineyards is located at 8830 Old Links Bridge Road in Thurmont. Visit the website at

Bob and Joan Cartier, proprietors of Links Bridge Vineyards in Thurmont.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Deb Abraham Spalding

Charla Acker (pictured right) is a professional in dress, demeanor, and presentation. She works out of her home office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and often ventures out to appear at community events. She defines her profession as, “Service work. It’s hard work, but it’s very fulfilling.” She is committed to her profession and finds great joy in “seeing clients transform.”

Her clients’ transformation is often an emotional relief from grief or the reassurance that we are not alone in life, nor do our souls cease to exist after our physical bodies die. You see, Charla Acker is a psychic medium by profession. She admits, “We don’t choose this work, it chooses us. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s a life-long education.”

Charla explained that we all have some psychic ability; intuition at its least-developed level and psychic mediumship at a professionally trained level. About being a psychic medium, she added, “You’re already starting at a disadvantage in this profession because there are so many people out there claiming to be a psychic medium when they’re not. In this work, you’re called crazy and a fraud. As professionals, we need to bridge that perception.”

How to bridge the negative perception is through education. Professional psychic mediums don’t “fish” for facts. They present specific information. It’s called evidential information, and it leaves no doubt. “People should be at this professional level before calling themselves a medium. Those who don’t do more damage than good.”

Charla is skeptical and tough on spirit. For example, “Last week a father came through during a client’s reading, and I saw the strangest thing. I saw cases of creepy clowns. I looked at the client and said, ‘I have to tell it like I see it.’ I told her what I saw. Her face turned white and she started to cry. She said there were three people in the whole world who knew that her father was in a circus as a kid and collected creepy clowns. They are still in her parent’s attic.”

I first saw Charla when she presented a psychic gallery for charity at the Totem Pole Playhouse near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, last August. A friend offered me one of her tickets and I accepted, not because I wanted a reading nor did I expect one in an audience of 350 people. I told my friend that I would video when she got her reading. And, that’s what I did! I started to video as quickly as I could when Charla said, “I have ‘Tom’ here bringing through his daughter, ‘Ash.’” Charla named their names, no questions asked. She did that with every reading she gave that evening. I’d never seen a psychic who was so accurate with names, not even big-name celebrity psychics.

The second time I saw Charla was in March of this year. This time it was just me and Charla. The first thing Charla said during my reading, after explaining how it works and her role, was, “Who’s Diane?” After conveying the message that, “Diane has transitioned and wants everyone to know that she’s happy,” Charla went on to mention several other names throughout my reading that were significant to me.

Charla feels that she’s “just the radio” who brings through the message from the spirit realm frequency. She explained, “It’s the love that bridges the gap.” She describes her energy as being like a balloon. It starts out full of energy and with every reading, it deflates a little until it’s all gone.

Her advice to a client is to not have expectations about who will come through during a reading, stating, “It’s not 1-800-Dial-the-Dead! Whoever chooses to come through, comes through!” The spirit who comes through could be an uncle who’s been dead longer than you’ve been alive or a family friend who steps forward instead of your deceased mother. This can leave you scratching your head about things. Be assured that if the facts presented don’t make sense in the moment, they’ll usually make sense later.

Charla was raised in a church-going Protestant family in Ohio. In kindergarten, she remembers playing with spirit children on a memorial playground located on a former school site that was destroyed by fire in 1908: 172 children, 2 teachers, and 1 firefighter perished in that fire. She said, “As a child, you really don’t know what to do with that energy. It’s a lot to take on.”

As she grew older, Charla dabbled in the topic of energy as a hobby and furthered her knowledge. She got married and lived in Pittsburgh with her husband who was a criminal attorney. Then, at age 30, she had a stroke. “That’s when my ability exploded.” She had become spiritually heightened. The adage, “When the student is ready, the teachers will come,” was evident.

At a book signing for John Edward (he did the television show Crossing Over) he said to Charla, “Wow, you’re going to be doing this work. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!” After that, she met people with like interests, and she attended workshops and group development sessions. She couldn’t get enough learning about energy. Yet, although she was fascinated by the whole process, it was still just a hobby. She said, “You don’t grow up wanting to be a psychic!” She used to be like everybody else and battled with the perception of being different.

Regardless of her internal excuses, her talents expanded, and she started giving tarot card readings to her friends and then started to take on paying clients. One day, while giving a reading for a client, she started seeing visions and hearing voices (hearing comments in her head). This was the beginning of her mediumship development. She took every class she could to understand the process. It had become her mission, her purpose in life.

Charla and her husband moved to Gettysburg from Pittsburgh when her husband started a new career. Her business continued to expand. Her clients are doctors, lawyers, garbage men, and people from all walks of life. Today, Charla has a full schedule. She is accessible and affordable. She is reaching to impact many people because she feels that’s her calling.

For Charla, it’s about healing, clarity, and transformation. She assures us, “There is life after death. This isn’t all there is.”

Charla is certified through the Tarot Certification Board of America and is a member of The American Tarot Association & Forever Family Foundation. Charla is also an Ordained Minister with the Universal Life Church Ministries. She is certified in Usui Reiki Levels 1, 2 & 3 Master/Teacher. The wait time for a reading (in-person or on the phone) with Charla is currently one year.

Find out more about Charla or see some of the videos of her in action online at

James Rada, Jr.

It’s been six years since Bogley’s Chevrolet closed in Thurmont. Last month, Gene Bogley came out of retirement and opened Bogley’s Auto Sales of Thurmont at 906 East Main Street.

Bogley is a familiar automotive name in Thurmont. Bogley’s Chevrolet was on Frederick Road from 1981 to 2013. After selling cars for thirty-three years in Thurmont, sales was in his blood, and Bogley wasn’t enjoying retirement as much as some people.

“I traveled some, but unless you play golf a lot and have a lot of hobbies, you get bored,” said Bogley.

He wasn’t the only one missing his former dealership. He was hearing often from former customers, expressing that they hadn’t bought a car since his dealership had closed because new cars were just too expensive. According to Bogley, the average cost of a new car is now over $40,000.

“You can buy a car here for under $20,000 and trucks for under $30,000,” Bogley said. “I’m not selling anything over $30,000.”

He decided to open a new automotive lot and focus on selling quality, low-mileage cars. The new dealership is a small lot with forty vehicles that Bogley has purchased primarily from other dealer contacts that he has developed over the years.

“Every car I have out here, I hand-picked,” Bogley said. He is proud that every car also has a clean Carfax and required less than $200 to pass inspection.

Bogley’s employees are part-time workers and most of them are like Bogley, retired but still wanting to work.

“You won’t believe how different your outlook is on life when you have something to do,” Bogley said.

Bogley said he wants his new dealership to have the same reputation that Bogley’s Chevrolet had. He wants to be known for giving people good deals. Already, many of his former customers have been stopping by to see what he has for sale.

“If you treat people right and give honest deals, people will come back to you and tell others about you,” stated Bogley.

Buyers can also get financing and extended warranties through Bogley’s.

Bogley’s Auto Sales is open Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Gene Bogley stands in front of his new used car dealership on East Main Street in Thurmont.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Seton Center. What began as a day care center to meet the needs of local preschool children and their families has grown into a community landmark, a place of “Hope in the Valley” for our neighbors who aren’t simply looking for a handout, but are seeking a way to improve their lives.

To celebrate this legacy, Seton Center is hosting a “Welcome Home to Seton Center” party on May 4, 2019 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on the grounds of the new building at 226 E. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and see what a difference fifty years can make! This is a free event, with games and activities for children and adults, raffles, door prizes, and light refreshments.

It all started in 1969, when a small band of mothers advocated for a safe place to send their preschool-aged children, where they would be nurtured and given the opportunity to learn about God and caring for one another in the community. The Daughters of Charity answered the call. Over the years, the center grew to accommodate a thrift store and outreach office. While the “Blue School” ceased operations in 2013, having finished its faithful service, the programs established to meet the changing needs of Northern Frederick County community continue.

Come back and see that while some things may have changed—most notably, Seton Center’s new location—the most important thing hasn’t: the mission to work with its neighbors to build a hopeful future in the spirit of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Vincent de Paul. Get information on the various programs offered by Seton Center, such as free Build Your Resources seminars, which give important tips like buying a car without getting ripped off, starting a savings plan, and caring for your mental health.

During the reunion party, the Seton Family Store will be open until 3:00 p.m. Browse the current selection of quality items and see how the support of the Family Store helps the outreach programs operate. Seton Center relies on the generosity of donors and funds from the store to continue helping our neighbors in need.

Seton Center has sustained for the past fifty years because of volunteers, clients, donors, and staff. It’s because of the determination of mothers like Cheryl Bushman, Nancy Cool, Elise May, and Marlene Springer that Seton Center got its start, and it’s the dedication of people like the Daughters of Charity who keep it going.

Please join in celebrating the past fifty years, and come be part of the next fifty.

Seton Center’s new location at 226 E. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg.

Local travel advisor, Barb Cline (pictured above) of Barb Cline Travel, earned the elite Millionaires Club status with Cruise Planners®, an American Express Travel Representative, the nation’s largest and most-awarded travel advisor network.

As a member of the recently announced 2019 Millionaires Club, Cline is recognized as a top-producing travel advisor for Cruise Planners. She has been a full-service travel advisor in the Frederick area since 2009, specializing in Alaska, Europe, River Cruising, Multi-Generational Travel, and escorting groups all over the world!

Cruise Planners franchise owner, Cline, who plans customized vacations and specializes in personal and professional travel services is a member of the network’s 2019 Millionaires Club.

As a full-service travel agent, Cline is dedicated to offering superior customer service and planning customized cruise, land, and resort vacations for her clients. When people book through Cruise Planners Millionaires Club member, travelers can confidently know their vacation is being handled and managed by a proven professional. Client benefits include:

• My Trips Account — Once logged in, clients can view their past and upcoming trips, account information, specials, and more. In addition, they can submit payments for bookings and purchase travel insurance and shore excursions.

• Mobile App — The Cruise Planners Mobile App connects to clients’ My Trips accounts, giving them information about their upcoming trips and allowing them to book new cruises. It’s available for Androids and iPhones – Google Play and Apple App Store.

• Voice-Activated Alexa skills — Travelers have the ability to link their My Trips accounts to Amazon Alexa, letting Alexa provide important information about the upcoming trips.

• Price Tracker — Cruise Planners travel advisors’ system will continually check for any fare reductions on a clients’ cruise bookings, potentially saving clients’ money or giving them access to upgraded cabin types.

“As a Cruise Planners travel professional, I am also a small business owner and entrepreneur, dedicated to ensuring every customer has a personalized and memorable travel experience,” said Cline. “As an experienced, award-winning travel advisor, travelers will benefit from my years of expertise and trust that I will provide them the best vacation planning experience.”

Travelers can discover a world of vacation possibilities by reaching out to Barb Cline at 240-575-5966 or by visiting View the advertisement on page 40.

The Classmates4Life Foundation invites students at all levels—elementary, middle, and high schools—to enter a video and poster contest called Classmates4Life to curb drug abuse.

Contest creator and founder Billy Shreve says, “Drug abuse continues to be a serious problem in our county, our state, and our nation. Our community needs to do everything possible to make sure our young people are aware of the dangers of drugs. It’s also important that kids have the loudest voices rallying against drug abuse. The Classmates4Life video and poster contest is a creative approach to help make that happen.”

The contest is intended to send a message that preventing drug abuse is one of our county’s highest priorities. Several local organizations and businesses are collaborating as sponsors in the contest: Frederick County Public Schools, the Frederick County Health Department, Rotary Clubs of Frederick County, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the PTA of Frederick County, the YMCA, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Frederick Community College, and Wells House.

The goal for students is to produce a creative video, 30-60 seconds long, that highlights drug-abuse danger and motivates their peers to choose life. The videos should answer one of two questions: at the elementary level, “How are drugs bad?”; at the secondary level, “How can drugs wreck your world?” Videos are due by Thursday, April 4, 2019.

This year, students are also invited to submit posters that capture the same anti-drug message. Posters, also due by Thursday, April 4, can be dropped off at the FCPS Central Office, located at 191 S. East Street in Frederick or at their school’s main office. The public can view each entry and vote on YouTube by clicking the thumbs up symbol for the one they deem best. Voting will take place from April 4-14. An expert panel of judges will also review the entries. Winners will receive prizes and attend a “red carpet” awards ceremony and resource fair at Frederick High School on Monday, April 15.

Prizes include: iPhone, GoPro, tickets to a Frederick Keys game, pool parties, pizza, and more. Classmates4Life began in 2016 and has over 74,000 views on YouTube. The most viewed video has 3,300 views.

Blair Garrett

Off the beaten path, tucked away in a quiet corner of Blue Ridge Summit, lies the Orvis Hill Country shooting range, where members can shoot clays, hunt wildlife, and be a part of a tight-knit community.

The gun club offers a variety of activities and perks for members and non-members, but the crew has big plans for events in the future. While you need to be a member to go on the upland bird hunts on the 572-acre property, non-members are still encouraged to shoot clays and take in the mountain scenery.      

Orvis Hill has big plans for its official grand opening April 6-7, 2019, where they plan on bringing vendors and potentially thousands of hunting and sport fanatics to see what the group has to offer.

“We’re sending out a lot of invitations for the grand opening,” Orvis Hill Manager Jeremy Mays said. 

The grand opening is a lead-in to much more for Orvis Hill, which plans to offer members a variety of fun events to bring its tight-knit community even closer.

“We’re going to do a guns and clubs event, where they’ll shoot here in the morning and then they’ll go play golf at Liberty or a local course,” Mays said.

The massive property still has plenty of area prime for development, with the group only using about 150 acres and featuring a plethora of clay shooting bunkers and stands.

“We have a 15-station course, 100 round clays,” Mays said. “We still have plans to move things around and reorganize, but that will come eventually.”

While the club has been open to accepting new memberships for a short time, the growth of the member list has been substantial over the past couple months. “The growth has been really good, so it’s exciting,” Mays said.

Orvis Hill also utilizes local hunters to lead members to have a fun and safe time.

“For our upland hunts, we have all local guys who bring their dogs in, and they’ll run the hunt,” Mays said. “They also do a safety speech beforehand.”

Orvis Hill has more to offer than just hunts, though, allowing members to enjoy the community and the comradery that the shooting grounds offer. The Orvis lodge is a log cabin formerly used as a deer hunting facility, which offers several cozy rooms for members to kick back and relax after a long day.

“We have a member room here where after they’re done hunting, guys will just come up and sit, drink, talk, and smoke cigars,” Mays said.

The future for Orvis Hill is bright though, with events like fly fishing and competitions on the horizon.

“We want to get some stuff going on the clays side of things as far as competitions after our grand opening,” Mays said. The team is also looking into developing youth programs for young outdoorsmen to participate in. 

For those looking to get away and have fun with friends or family, or those who are looking to be a part of a sportsmen community, Orvis Hill Country Shooting Grounds sits off Gladhill Road in Blue Ridge Summit and features a pro shop with hunting gear, apparel and everything in between.  

James Rada, Jr.

Catherine “Cat” Szafran remembers that when her family left Spain, a bonfire at her house burned for four days, for the purpose of consuming her father’s artwork. Years later, when the Barnstones left England, a bonfire burned for a week, again turning Myron Barnstone’s work to ash.

It wasn’t that his work wasn’t exceptional. Barnstone had an excellent reputation as an artist in Europe. The truth was that he didn’t want to pack up the paintings for the move or leave the unsettling images he painted behind. Much of his work visualizes the way he saw the Holocaust and nuclear war survivors.

“He also did floral pieces that don’t slap you as hard,” Szafran said.

Leaving Europe, Barnstone moved his family to Pennsylvania, where he opened the original Barnstone Studios near Allentown. It was a destination for students from around the world who wanted to learn painting and drawing from Barnstone. The self-taught artist had developed a way of teaching art, which is called the Barnstone Method.

When Barnstone died in 2016, Szafran set about to honor her father’s legacy and continue teaching the Barnstone Method. She brought out the remaining works her father painted and opened the Barnstone Studio in Thurmont at 202A E. Main Street last September.

“This is a nice, little town working toward becoming more artistic,” said Szafran, who lives in Frederick.

She also noted that commercial space is much more affordable at the north end of the county, and that the location is a half hour closer to Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, where a lot of her customers live. The studio has about five hundred pieces of art from Barnstone.

“We are selling his work to fuel the education side,” explained Szafran.

Besides selling art, Szafran continues to teach the Barnstone method to students. Master guides teach the method during classes and workshops. They are available live, on DVD, and online.

For collectors, the Barnstone Studios offers original works, artists’ sketches, and limited-edition prints. For the more-expensive pieces, Szafran offers a program called Home Is Where the Art Is. It allows collectors to purchase the art in twelve equal, interest-free payments.

If you would like to see Barnstone’s work, visit the Artist Angle Gallery at 124 S. Carroll Street in Frederick, which is hosting a Barnstone exhibit beginning February 9, 2019. The show, “A Celebration of Colors: Myron Barnstone’s Palette” will feature some of Barnstone’s brighter art.

Learn more about the Barnstone Studios at

Cat Szafron, owner of Barnstone Studios, sits in front of some of her father’s artwork that is available at the art studio.

Blair Garrett

Whether it’s fixing up European classics at his local full-service auto shop or rescuing a sinking business, Thurmont business owner and Discovery Channel star Chris Stephens is making an impact.

The Discovery Channel’s Garage Rehab, featuring Stephens and his two co-hosts, Russell Holmes and Richard Rawlings, tackle a struggling business each week in a race against the clock to set up auto shop owners around the country with a business plan for success. 

The hit show has just entered its second season, where Stephens and company are continuing to pour blood, sweat, and tears into building a life-changing garage for shops in desperate need of a business intervention.

Fortunately for Stephens, the difficulties of the expedited rehabbing of a struggling body shop has gotten easier throughout the development of season one, heading into season two.

“Nobody’s ever rehabbed a garage in about 7-8 days,” Stephens said. “When we first did it, we weren’t even sure if we could do it. Now we have it streamlined.”

Outfitting a shop with the correct equipment, tools, and training is a near impossible task to accomplish in a week’s time. But, implementing a business plan to bring the necessary changes for these families and companies to turn their futures around seems like a truly impossible feat.

Yet week after week, the Garage Rehab team hits the road and designs a game plan for success that is personally tailored for each location and demographic to build a better future. Spending time in the area, talking with locals, and doing market research gives the group an idea of what will work and what won’t, and Stephens takes that information and builds a foundation for the new garages.

Sometimes, the changes aren’t easy, but in the end, the rewards are felt by the families, friends, and communities built around these auto shops.

The show features Stephens and the crew fixing the issues plaguing the business, making changes to put them in a position to make money, and, eventually, revealing the brand new shops to owners with a touch of dramatic flair.

“My favorite day is always the last day when you’re giving it back to people,” said Stephens. “When you first start it, you don’t know them, you have no connection with them. But after you spend time with them at the beginning, and we bring their family in, the community comes together, and their friends come to help. So, at the last day, you get to see all those emotions come alive, and they see that people actually do care about their business and they want you to survive.”

The reveal is often an emotional passing of the torch, from the old, struggling business to the new and improved shop. But the team’s work is not done there. The training then begins, showing the garage owners how to use their new tools and resources to put them in a position to succeed for the future.   

Over the course of the two seasons so far, Stephens has been a part of a wide variety of garages, all with different stories to tell.

“We’ve done regular mom and pop body shops, and then we’ve done a lot of hot rod shops. We also did a motorcycle shop,” said Stephens.

When Stephens isn’t out touring the states with the Discovery Channel, you can find him turning wrenches on European classics at his auto shop off Putman Road. His brother, Marc, runs the day-to-day operations of their shop Eurotech Classics, which services all European cars, from vintage European roadsters to modern day Volkswagens. 

If you would like to catch new episodes of Garage Rehab, the show premiers Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, or you can find previous episodes online.     

Eurotech Classics business owner and star of Discovery Channel’s Garage Rehab, Chris Stephens.

Blair Garrett

Mountaindale Convenience Store offers more to its customers than just quality foods, hot meals, or gasoline.

Owners Rida and Julian Mitchell bring a warm, inviting atmosphere to the people of Thurmont, along with great service with a smile.

The family has followed and finally capitalized on their dream of doing something bigger and better, opening up a second convenience store back in October. The new store provides all the same services as the existing previous one, but with expanded room and variety, and, of course, the same friendly customer service.

Owning a convenience store for nearly thirty years teaches you a thing or two about how things work. You learn to effectively manage costs, how to balance a budget, and the intricacies of how a business is supposed to run. But one thing you do not learn is how to connect with a community. That is a skill that must be cultivated, practiced, and then implemented with perfection.

The Mitchell family has cornered that country market feel, hitting home with the residents of the greater Thurmont area, and giving customers the exact atmosphere to make them feel at home while grabbing a bite to eat or a pack of their favorite sweets.

The initial store, still on Mountaindale Road in Thurmont, was taken over by the Mitchells in 1990. The store has that blue-collar town look, featuring the same faces that have been stopping in for decades, day after day. And even though the new second location has a brand-new kitchen, larger floor space and more varieties of sodas than a person could ever ask for, it has not lost an ounce of that same country charm.

“The bottom line is, we are a country store,” Julian said. “That old building was built in 1870. It’s always been a country store. I wanted to be able to do something bigger.”

The new location just off U.S. Route 15 on Putman Road offers a wider selection of goodies, deli meats, and bakery items, but the same friendly faces that have been there to offer a helping hand remain the same.

The business features a plethora of custom-made benches, frames, and counters made by locals, for locals. The countertops from the deli to the checkout counter all come from local people, which shows that the roots of this community run deep in Mountaindale Convenience Store. 

But with the location of the new store, it is no longer just the same crowd passing through. “We’ve got locals that have been checking us out to see what’s going on,” Rida said. “Most of the people are new people who we’ve never seen before, but I can see them becoming regular customers because we’ve already heard them say this is going to be their regular stop.”

The store has even been catering to a younger demographic, packing the coolers with popular craft beers and specialty drinks, gaining popularity in breweries across the nation. “My son has been helping us out with that,” Rida said. “We have got shelves and shelves and shelves full of craft beer, so when they come in here, they’re shocked to see it all.”

Through the highs and lows, Mountaindale Convenience Store is still thriving and looking forward to building new relationships with customers who stop in from places near and far. But one thing is certain, no matter how much growth and development the convenience store has, that comforting country-store feeling will always stay the same.

Mountaindale Convenience Store owner, Rida Mitchell, is shown inside the store’s second location, just off of U.S. Route 15 at Putman Road.

Photo by Blair Garrett