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People who live and work in Emmitsburg can run on Dunkin’ faster and more conveniently than ever before, as the brand officially opened the doors to its first next-generation restaurant in Emmitsburg on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Located at 103 Silo Hill Parkway, the next-generation restaurant offers Emmitsburg Dunkin’s store-of-the-future experience, with a modern atmosphere and new and innovative technologies and design elements. 

At 8:00 a.m. on October 18, Dunkin’ franchisee network GN Southwestern, LLC celebrated the new store with a ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs.

The new restaurant features a modern look that provides a fresh, friendly, vibrant, and engaging environment for guests to enjoy their favorite Dunkin’ offerings. Complete with a new, warmer interior color palette, the restaurant also offers comfortable guest seating, atmospheric lighting, and a convenient, contactless drive-thru. Other exciting elements of the store 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 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 percent more energy compared to a standard Dunkin’ restaurant. 

Open daily from 4:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., the 1,500-square-foot restaurant employs approximately 15 crew members and offers free Wi-Fi.

Dottie Davis of Emmitsburg posted on Facebook on October 18, “Guess who was their first customer? Frank and me,” with a photo of Dunkin’s coffee and to-go bag.

To learn more about Dunkin’, visit or follow them on Facebook @DunkinUS, Twitter @dunkindonuts, or Instagram @Dunkin.

Dunkin’ in Emmitsburg opened its doors to its first next-generation restaurant on October 18, 2020.

Courtesy Photo

Deb Abraham Spalding

Some locals are aware of the long-standing history of Eyler’s Stables in Thurmont. Harry Eyler began selling horses and livestock at the barn on Emmitsburg Road in Thurmont in 1933. Harry and his daughter-in-law Ruth traveled far and wide buying riding horses that were shipped back to Thurmont on rail cars to be sold at the auction. The auctions continue to this day as generations of Eylers have worked to continue the business.

In September, Nikki Eyler contracted with the long-standing Wolfe Auction family to continue the coveted service. Wolfe Auctions are owned and operated by another local family by the name of Ruby. You may have noticed the now-vacant space the Wolfe Auctions has leased along Route #15 near Lewistown. During Coronavirus, the auction’s owner Caythee Ruby and her son, Joshua Ruby (president), merged the 25-year Wolfe Industrial Auction services near Lewistown into auction space they own in York Springs, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, Joshua, Thurmont born and raised, noticed an opportunity to lease the long-standing Eyler’s Stables auction service and operate the new Wolfe Agricultural Auctions there.

Joshua has always loved Eyler’s Stables. The auction barn and grounds host many memories for him and his family. His parents would go on dates on Friday nights at the stables. He fondly remembers picking out his first horse, his dad buying it for him for his 6th birthday, and riding it for the first time in the riding ring. Throughout his life, Friday nights at Eyler’s Stables were a social event for him and many other local farm folks.

Now, he’s seizing the opportunity to manage the auctions and auction barn to keep the tradition alive. Joshua said, “It’s our opportunity to continue to serve the community. This is near and dear to our hearts. It’s much more than just an auction.”

The Wolfe Agricultural Auction family includes Joshua’s mother, Caythee; Tyler Donnelly, agricultural barn and sale manager; Cathy Little, office manager; and Joshua, auctioneer.

Operations are in place for the buying and selling of quality horses, re-homing horses, horseback riding lessons, and trail riding.

As with tradition, the first Friday of every month will feature an ag auction with livestock, produce, trailers, and anything needed on the farm. The third Friday of the month features a horse sale.

Three to four times a year, the Wolfe’s will host an industrial auction at Eyler’s Stables to sell equipment and trucks. At all other times, the industrial auctions will be held in Pennsylvania.

So far, in the first month of ownership, Joshua said, “Things are going exceptionally well. We had over 65 horses at the first auction held in September. We’re looking to double that number for the New Year’s Sale.”

The Eyler’s Stables New Year’s Day Horse Auction has been a tradition for a very long time. It’s a whole community social event. This year, this auction will be held the Saturday after New Year’s Day. It’s a very large event that draws people from near and far.

Joshua explained how things work: “If you are no longer in need of a horse, bring it in, and we will re-home the horse in responsible homes to give them the best life they can get. Horses come mostly from private individuals who are going through a divorce, moving, or stepping up to a higher performance horse.

Once here, go see Cathy or Caythee at the registration trailer to get a bid number. There’s an inspection prior to the auction. We sell tack the first two hours of the sale while buyers check out the animals on the grounds. You bid in the auction barn. Purchase at a price that’s right for you, pay your bill, and go.”

To learn more and keep up with auctions and events, visit Eyler’s Stable on Facebook, online, call the auction’s main number at 301-898-0340, Tyler Donnelly at 301-712-5176 to consign animals to the sale, or call Joshua at 301-748-2924.

Events include a Halloween Party on October 30 that features a Trot-and-Treat, complete with social distancing. Local businesses get a stall and set-up to hand out candy. There’s a horse in every other stall. Pumpkin carving is $5.00, and there’s a costume contest for both kids and horses.

November will include the regular auction; a mini pony sale; a horse auction; an Open House on Friday, November 20; and Wolfe Industrial Auctions on November 21. Joshua said, “The Open House on Friday night is to show everyone exactly what we’re capable of here at Wolfe Auctions.”

“We really appreciate the local business that we’ve already received,” Joshua explained, “We want to be part of this community, participate in this community as much as possible, and do good for all.”

After New Year’s, call Tyler to sign up for full care boarding at Eyler’s Stables.

Please note, it should be mentioned that Joshua’s dad, the late Randy (Charles Randolph Ruby), worked at Wolfe Auctions, a Wolfe Family business owned by Gayle and Kathy Wolfe that started in 1976. Randy purchased Wolfe Auctions from Kathy Wolfe in 1983 when her husband Gayle died.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

Auctioneer Joshua Ruby is shown in the auction barn with Tyler Donnelly, agricultural barn and sale manager; Georgia, a registered miniature horse; and Flipper, a Boer goat.

The Town of Thurmont staff hosted a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, October 23, 2020, to welcome Beautiful You Salon & Spa to Thurmont.

The day spa has relocated from Emmitsburg (formerly Emmitsburg Day Spa) to a beautifully renovated space at 9 Water Street in Thurmont (formerly Browns’ Jewelry Store). The spa’s personnel are experienced in microblading, manicures, pedicures, massage therapy, waxing, and hairstyling, with five licensed technicians. Sandy Willis serves as its proprietor.

Courtesy Photo

Pictured from left are Stacey and Mike Hobbs; Thurmont CAO Jim Humerick; Thurmont Commissioner Wayne Hooper; stylist Carmella Devilbiss; massage therapist Loretta Strine; Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird; receptionist (and Sandy’s mother) Yvonne Willis; Owner, Sandy Willis; eye lash and brow specialist Jenny Snuffer; nail tech Lisa Talbert; Thurmont Commissioners Marty Burns and Bill Buehrer. (Not pictured is stylist Katie Anderson.)

Please welcome Dr. Barbara Stastny, DVM & Dr. Becky Arthur, DVM of Thurmont Veterinary Clinic to their new location in the Thurmont Plaza, 224 North Church Street. Thurmont Veterinary Clinic was previously located at 23 North Carroll Street.

Thurmont Veterinary Clinic will be increasing its hours of operation in the new facility, with appointments on Monday and Friday mornings and Wednesday afternoons and evenings, and will be out-patient only. This is the Opossum Pike Veterinary Clinic’s second location, and currently has a four-doctor AAHA-accredited (member of the American Animal Hospital Association) veterinary clinic on Opossumtown Pike in Frederick. They offer medical care for dogs and cats, as well as exotic pets such as rodent pocket pets (mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas), rabbits, birds, and most reptiles, excluding snakes.

You can contact them at 301-271-3212. Check out their services at

Dr. Barbara Stastny and Dr. Becky Arthur will be the attending veterinarians at this location and are two of the four partners of Opossum Pike Veterinary Clinic.

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Thurmont Veterinary Clinic staff are shown during the ribbon-cutting at their new location.

Deb Abraham Spalding

It’s been a while since there’s been a store in Foxville. From 1961 through the early 1980s, a convenience store was located on top of the hill along Route #77 (Foxville Road). That little convenience store was run by the Leahy Family, then the Fogles, then the Prices, then the Connors. Then the space changed in function to house lawnmower repair, a sign shop, a contractor’s building, and then just storage. On August 28, 2020, Chris and Cathy Linetty, along with their canine greeters Raven and Gunner, opened as the new Catoctin Furnace Liquors.

With the lifting of the dry district regulations by Frederick County a few years ago, Chris and Cathy, who live nearby in Washington County, saw an opportunity to open the liquor store. Chris has been in the liquor business for 16 years. He’s managed, operated, and sold several liquor stores, including Country Spirits in Cascade, Village Spirits in Smithsburg, and most recently, he still owns North End Liquors in Hancock, Maryland. Cathy also has background in the industry, working for a local Maryland distributor and as a manager at Country Spirits in Cascade. She’s now learning the role as an owner, but as you can see, there is no shortage of expertise from this husband and wife team.

Cathy named this store Catoctin Furnace Liquors in order to pay homage to the greater area’s iron and metalwork history. Customers will notice this influence in the rustic industrial décor that uses 100-year-old barn wood, old pallet wood, whiskey barrels, and black iron pipe for shelving. Chris explained, “It’s unique, comfortable, clean, and cozy.”

The space is well-designed with wine and liquor in the main shop space complemented by a giant, 12-door walk-up and self-service walk-in cooler in a connected room. Here, you’ll find the latest and greatest products in the beer industry. Pumpkin beers and Oktoberfest beers are out in full force now. Nearby, a licensed tasting bar waits empty until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The Linettys are tuned in for customer feedback about brand preferences and essential stock. Chris assured, “Look around. If you don’t see what you want, and if we can get it, we will get it.”

The location provides a closer alternative for convenience runs by local military, park service employees, and tourists. There is interest in scheduling food trucks for lunch in the future and stocking pre-packaged food items. Locally owned food truck, The Sauced Savage BBQ, was on-site for the store’s grand opening on Saturday, September 5, and did extremely well. So well, in fact, that they asked to return again to serve the community both lunch and dinner. Future dates for food service are in the works. Updates to food availability will be on Catoctin Furnace Liquors Facebook page.

Cathy stated, “It’s important for folks in the area to know we’re here for them, and building our inventory based on their demand.” The application for the state lottery is in process.

Connect with Catoctin Furnace Liquors on Facebook and the Nextdoor app. Stop in Mondays through Thursdays, 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Call 240-356-1997 for more information.

The building that houses Catoctin Furnace Liquors received a facelift for the new business.

Customers can enter the walk-in or access several self-serve coolers for products.

Catoctin Furnace Liquors owners, Cathy and Chris Linetty are shown with Gunner and Raven (dogs) inside the new liquor store.

James Rada, Jr.

Corn mazes have become a popular fall attraction over the years, and Thurmont is home to the largest corn maze in the state. Taylor Huffman with Winterbrook Farms said their maze was also one of the first in the area.

In 2000, Jan Lawyer climbed on a skid load and cut Winterbrook Farm’s first corn maze. It was a way to introduce agritourism to his family farm. It was a random design, but visitors who tried out the maze had fun.

The following year, Jan and Kristen Lawyer hired a small company in Idaho called Mazeplay to design and cut that year’s corn maze. Mazeplay introduced a map and checkpoints to the design.

Each checkpoint has a uniquely-shaped hole punch to use to punch a hole on the map. You can try to make it through the mazes on your own, or you can use the map that shows the maze’s design from above, and try to find the checkpoints within the maze.

“Mazeplay allowed us to do more intricate mazes,” Huffman said.

Cutting the maze continued annually until last year. Some of the designs have featured Iron Man, Drink Milk, and Support Our Troops

“Last year, we started to do GPS planting of the corn maze instead of cutting,” said Huffman.

The maze is open on weekends in the fall.

“We get about 15,000 over the 16 days we’re open,” said Huffman, who is Jan and Kristen’s daughter.

Once the maze closes for the season, the corn is harvested.

“The yield is down a bit because of the trails, but we crossplant the field so it has double the normal amount of corn,” Huffman explained. “It makes sure the corn is thick for the maze.”

Crossplanting means the corn is planted in two directions. This leads to less maze damage from people cutting through the corn walls and less time putting up barricade tape or netting.

By the end of the year, Huffman and her family start planning for the next year’s maze. Mazeplay will then plant the corn the next spring, and once it grows, the trails are already there. No cutting is needed.

This is the 21st season for Winterbrook Farms offering a corn maze to visitors. This year’s maze is actually four separate mazes and more than five miles of trails that form a picture when seen from above. The maze covers 15 acres of cornfields.

Winterbrook Farms is a fourth-generation, 327-acre family farm, and farming continues on the rest of the farm while tourists enjoy the corn maze and other attractions at the farm.

Find out more about Winterbrook Farms corn maze by visiting their website at View their advertisement on the back page.

The Farm Market at Winterbrook Farms, featuring over 20-plus varieties of pumpkins and gourds, straw bales, corn shocks for decorating, local honey, goat soap and goat milk lotion, bottled BBQ sauce, freshly made apple cider donuts, apples, and much more.

James Rada, Jr.

When Tracie Stull-Miller was a young girl, her father operated a barbershop from the basement of his home in Yellow Springs. So, it is safe to say that barbering is in her blood.

Although her father is deceased, his picture still looks out over Tracie’s House of Hair in Thurmont, as if giving his nod of approval. Tracie opened her business in July at 7 Water Street in Thurmont. She offers a variety of services, including haircuts, beard maintenance, perms, coloring, keratins, and waxing.

“I always wanted a shop of my own,” she said. “Now, I’m living my dream.”

With 31 years of haircutting experience, Tracie last worked at a barbershop in Emmitsburg. However, the opportunity to go out on her own arose, and things “fell into place.” She signed a lease for the Thurmont location, and her husband built her workstations.

Since she would be spending many hours in the shop, Tracie decorated it with items of interest to her. In particular, it’s hard to miss the music theme. Instruments, some signed, are mounted on the wall, as are album covers and pictures of bands.

She chose the name Tracie’s House of Hair because it was neutral sounding. She believes barbershops skew more towards male customers, and hair salons skew more towards females. House of Hair doesn’t have any gender resonance. Also, the name is a tribute to the radio show The House of Hair, hosted by Dee Snider, who was a member of the rock band Twisted Sister.

It wasn’t the best time to open a barbershop because coronavirus had all the barbershops shut down at the time. Once they were allowed to open, though, Tracie found herself with plenty of business since many of her regular customers from Emmitsburg followed her to Thurmont.

“If they like you, they will follow you,” she said.

Some customers even brought Tracie flowers to congratulate her on her new business. She displays them in her store windows.

“You need to be a people person in this job,” she said. “If you care about people, it makes a difference.”

It certainly has for Tracie, as she is staying busy with both regular and new clients. She does take walk-ins, but she recommends that you call for an appointment at 301-556-6119.

Tracie’s House of Hair is open Tuesday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to noon.

On August 8, 2020, a team of more than 35 volunteers came together for the first “Ritchie Revival” event at the former Fort Ritchie Army Base property in Cascade. The event was organized by John and Joyce Krumpotich, who are in negotiations with Washington County to purchase and restore the property. 

Volunteers of all ages came out to help with beautification efforts at the Fort, including mulching, weeding, trimming, and trash removal.

John noted his appreciation at the large turnout, saying, “We are very grateful for the tremendous community support we have received. The community recognizes the significance of this great property, as well as the potential it has to be a centerpiece of the area. They genuinely want to be a part of it. The Fort has a rich history, and there is a real need and desire among the people of Cascade and the surrounding areas to restore and preserve it.” 

While legal delays have extended the timeline for the purchase of the property by the Krumpotich family, they remain optimistic that those issues will be resolved.

“We really appreciate the special connection the Cascade community has with the Fort, and we want to honor that and build upon it as we move forward,” Joyce noted.

Another community cleanup day is being planned. Anyone interested in participating in future events can visit the Ritchie Revival page on Facebook or call the Fort Ritchie Community Center at 301-241-5085 for more details.

Helpers of all ages participated in the first “Ritchie Revival” event on August 8 at Fort Ritchie in Cascade

Members of the Fort Ritchie Community Center can win a free T-shirt if they can properly guess their temperature upon entering the facility.

The Community Center has established a COVID-19 prevention protocol based upon guidelines from the CDC, State of Maryland, and Washington County. The protocol includes each member answering a series of questions related to their possible exposure to the virus, as well as having their temperature taken by a Community Center staff member.

“We came up with what we hope is a fun way for our staff to approach each member,” said Buck Browning, executive director of the Community Center. “It can be intimidating to have someone hold an infrared thermometer to your forehead, so we are trying to make it a little less awkward for both people,” he added. 

The Community Center features a fitness center, weight room, gymnasium, and multi-purpose athletic room, along with other amenities.  Equipment such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, and strength machines have been aligned so that they are at least six feet apart. Some machines have been closed off to improve the social distancing among members Browning said. 

The T-shirt initiative has been well-received by members. We had ten members guess correctly on the first day we offered the T-shirts,” Browning said. “I thought we might do this for a month or so, but at this rate, we will run out of shirts in a week or two,” he laughed. The initiative will continue while supplies last.   

The Community Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization, located in Cascade on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army Post. In addition to the fitness center and weight room, the Fort Ritchie Community Center offers group exercise classes, youth programs, and a wide variety of community events, such as craft shows, holiday celebrations, and speaker presentations. 

For more information on the Fort Ritchie Community Center, please visit online at    

A Fort Ritchie Community Center staff member checks a member’s temperature upon entering the facility.

Q&A with Emmitsburg Mayoral Candidates

Why Should Residents Vote For You?

Don Briggs: I put my neighbor first, and I do what I say. I have had a business and/or have lived here over 25 years. I love the Mount. I am a former coach and graduate. While I’ve been mayor, taxes have been reduced 14 percent. The town has received $593,000 in grants to revitalize the Square, the “Foyer to all our homes.” Sidewalks were put in connecting the town for the first time. The pool was rebuilt, the dog park opened, Brookfield Drive onto Irishtown Road was opened, renewable solar energy was added, we switched to LED street lighting, and we purchased an electric car for the town. The Boys and Girls Club is also here.

Jim Hoover: Experience and knowledge. As mayor, I established several programs, events, relationships, and projects. I established the pool parties, farmers market, concerts in the park, BBQ competition, the After School Program, and a partnership with Mount Saint Mary’s University allowing town residents to attend University programs. Also during my time as mayor, we replaced the sewer and water lines on South Seton Avenue and Mountain View Road, relined sewer lines under Tom’s Creek and Flat Run, cleaned the water line from the town’s reservoir to the treatment plant, connected the town’s water service with Mount Saint Mary’s water service and secured a long-term agreement for emergency water service as needed, secured state grant funding of 74 percent of the total cost to replace the town sewer plant. The town needs a mayor that is proactive in protecting and planning for the town’s future.

Cliff Sweeney: I have 23 years of experience running the town of Emmitsburg. I have held every position on the board except mayor. I would like to take Emmitsburg to the next level to be the best small town in Maryland.

Why Should Residents Vote For You?

Don Briggs: I put my neighbor first, and I do what I say. I have had a business and/or have lived here over 25 years. I love the Mount. I am a former coach and graduate. While I’ve been mayor, taxes have been reduced 14 percent. The town has received $593,000 in grants to revitalize the Square, the “Foyer to all our homes.” Sidewalks were put in connecting the town for the first time. The pool was rebuilt, the dog park opened, Brookfield Drive onto Irishtown Road was opened, renewable solar energy was added, we switched to LED street lighting, and we purchased an electric car for the town. The Boys and Girls Club is also here.

Jim Hoover: Experience and knowledge. As mayor, I established several programs, events, relationships, and projects. I established the pool parties, farmers market, concerts in the park, BBQ competition, the After School Program, and a partnership with Mount Saint Mary’s University allowing town residents to attend University programs. Also during my time as mayor, we replaced the sewer and water lines on South Seton Avenue and Mountain View Road, relined sewer lines under Tom’s Creek and Flat Run, cleaned the water line from the town’s reservoir to the treatment plant, connected the town’s water service with Mount Saint Mary’s water service and secured a long-term agreement for emergency water service as needed, secured state grant funding of 74 percent of the total cost to replace the town sewer plant. The town needs a mayor that is proactive in protecting and planning for the town’s future.

Cliff Sweeney: I have 23 years of experience running the town of Emmitsburg. I have held every position on the board except mayor. I would like to take Emmitsburg to the next level to be the best small town in Maryland.

What Are Your Qualifications To Be Mayor?

Don Briggs: My experience in business and in local government. I love sports and education. I am an innovator, and I believe in God. I have coached football or rugby over a span of five decades. I have been awarded the Mount St. Mary’s University President’s Medal, and have been inducted into the Mount Athletic Hall of Fame. I served in the National Guard. I love our country and Emmitsburg.

Jim Hoover: As the previous mayor from 2002 through 2011 and as a town commissioner from 1998 through 2002, I have the relative experience and knowledge of the town government. Additionally, I have over 30 years of management experience. This includes project management, managing and overseeing over 400 employees, and managing multimillion-dollar budgets. I have over 30 years of work experience in state government, county government, and municipal government. I have and can create working relationships that benefit the town.

Cliff Sweeney: I have 23 years of service for the town, and 35 years working in water and sewer, storm drain, and road repairs. I have been president of the Lions Club, commander of the Sons of the American Legion, and president of the EOPCC. I devote all my free time and community service to the town.

Why Are You Running?

Don Briggs: People. We have more to do to provide innovative grant-driven, cost-saving services and activities for our residents.

Jim Hoover: I love living in Emmitsburg, and I want Emmitsburg to be the best small town to live and raise a family in. I’m concerned that the town is not properly maintaining or planning for the replacement of its critical infrastructure. I also want Emmitsburg to have a more user-friendly government.

Cliff Sweeney: I want to bring Emmitsburg to the next level with new businesses and more jobs for our town folks. I want to bring back our youth and community involvement with neighbor getting to know neighbor.

What Is The Biggest Issue You See Emmitsburg Facing?

Don Briggs: Infrastructure. We need to ramp up replacing decades of ignored work on underground pipes. We also need to do more for our children.

Jim Hoover: The town’s deteriorating infrastructure is not being addressed. For several months, the town has experienced brown water. The town needs to re-establish a short- and long-term plan to replace and upgrade the deteriorated sewer and water lines. In particular, the oldest sewer and water lines are on DePaul Street and North Seton Avenue. A plan needs to be put in place to make the funding and replacement of these sewer and water lines a priority.

Cliff Sweeney: Right now, COVID-19, repairing the old water and sewer lines, new pumping station on Creamery Road, the new water clarifier at the water plant for the lake water, finishing our developments out, and keeping our current businesses and bringing new ones to town.

What Are The Town’s Strengths?

Don Briggs: Seton Shrine, FEMA, the Mount, and Fallen Firefighter Memorial. We are an award-winning sustainable town. We are friendly people with a good work ethic. Emmitsburg is a great place to live, grow jobs, and attract tourism.

Jim Hoover: Community pride and character. Emmitsburg residents have a lot of pride in where they live. Many families have lived here for multiple generations. Emmitsburg is a town that still has that small-town atmosphere and character. While many cities and towns have seen a decrease in volunteering, Emmitsburg has seen an increase in volunteering, many being new residents and Mount St. Mary students. Seeing new residents and students from Mount Saint Mary’s University volunteering and getting involved demonstrates Emmitsburg’s pride and character.

Cliff Sweeney: Coming together in a time of crisis to help each other. Our first responders are the best in the state. I think we are the best small town in the USA.

What Is Your Vision For The Town?

Don Briggs: I want to keep the small-town feel and maintain our heritage. I want to add things to do using grants to make Emmitsburg a better place today and for future generations.

Jim Hoover: Improve the town’s infrastructure. Put a plan in place to update and replace town equipment and infrastructure as it ages, not after it fails. Work with other municipalities, counties, state and federal governments to obtain funding and programs to enhance Emmitsburg. Re-established more youth- and family-oriented activities.

Cliff Sweeney: I want to finish out all the empty development lots, to upgrade the water lines and sewer lines ASAP, especially the brown water ones, and to bring our youth activities and new businesses to town.

How Do We Get Back To Normal After COVID-19?

Don Briggs: Business is back, and new businesses are on the way. Ryan Homes is back in Brookfield. We need to protect our most vulnerable and children. Accept the new “normal,” take a deep breath, and play on.

Jim Hoover: The truth is nobody knows what the “new normal” will be yet. The full effects of COVID-19 are not yet known. We also don’t know the length of time it will last as we see it today. As a municipality, we must follow state, county, and federal mandates, but, at the same time, we need to do as much as we are legally allowed to do to provide the services and support to the Emmitsburg residents and businesses. The town is required to follow county, state, and federal mandates, but we’re not necessarily required to follow suggestions or recommendations. Suggestions and recommendations made by other government agencies need to be considered, but the best interest of Emmitsburg also needs to be considered before we apply any suggestions that are made by other government agencies.

Cliff Sweeney: Everyone has to follow the CDC guidelines. Wear a mask, social distance when possible, do what the doctors say, and we will get back to school and work and normal life sooner than later.

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