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James Rada, Jr.    

catoctin breeze 2The Thurmont area is perfect for growing grapes that then can be turned into fine wines, and Alicja and Voytek Fizyta have the awards to prove it.

Over the past five years, the wines of Catoctin Breeze Winery have earned thirty awards at shows like the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Wine Competition and Winemasters Choice Competition.

“The soil here is perfect,” said Alicja Fizyta. “It is absolutely like it is supposed to be, though because it’s stony, a farmer wouldn’t take it for free.”

The soil also contains limestone and other minerals. These minerals are absorbed by the grapes and give them a unique taste.

“It’s all about the grapes,” Alicja said. “You can use the same recipe in different places, and the wines will taste different because the grapes pick up the nutrients in the soil.”

The stony soil also forces the grapevines to send their roots deep into the ground in search of water, creating a stress on the vines that produces grapes of richer flavor.

Alicja and her husband Voytek lived in Montgomery County, but after their children grew up and moved out on their own, they decided to start making wine.

“We decided that we wanted a change of lifestyle, and we had always enjoyed drinking wine with friends,” Alicja said.

They started taking classes and reading books about wine making. They established Catoctin Breeze Vineyard in 2010 in Thurmont when they planted two acres of grapevines. They made their first harvest in 2012. They have also planted another two acres of vines, which were harvested this year for the first time. They now have about 8,000 vines growing.

“We also have a sister vineyard in St. Mary’s County that grows grapes that we don’t have here,” said Alicja.

Catoctin Breeze Winery expects to bottle between 1,200 and 1,500 cases of varietal wines, blended wines, and meads this year under their three labels. The Butterfly Series offers cabernet franc, chardonnay, Syrah, rose, and viognier wines. The Musical Series offers chardonnay, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Bordeaux blend, petit verdot, and merlot. The Mead Series offers amber, dolce vita, and honeymoon.

“The secret to good wine is to have minimal intervention,” Alicja said. “The wine goes through filtration, but we don’t add artificial flavors.”

It’s a recipe that is paying off as appreciation of Catoctin Breeze’s unique wines grows. In 2011, the vineyard won four awards for its wines. This year, Catoctin Breeze Winery earned eleven awards, including a Best in Show-Reds Award at the Winemasters Choice Competition for its 2013 Adagio Petit Verdot.

While running a vineyard has turned out to be a lot more work for the Fizytas than they expected, they very much enjoy meeting the people who come to enjoy their wines.

“We want to make good wine and meet new people,” Voytek said.

Catoctin Breeze is currently building a permanent tasting room to accommodate its growth. You can visit the winery for tastings, tours, and the purchase of the wines. You can also purchase the wines online or at local retailers.

Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours are Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and 5:00-8:30 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 12:00-5:00 p.m.

Catoctin Breeze Vineyard & Winery is located at 15010 Roddy Road in Thurmont. Contact them at 240-449-0677 or by email at

Deb Spalding

MEREDITH2Young Betty Jean Hixen was raised in a family of Polish and Irish descent, who were coal miners in Jordan, West Virginia. Just three miles away, her future husband, William (Bill) Meredith, lived with his family of Welsh and Irish ancestry. They were farmers. The two were destined to love, and met when she was a freshman and he was a senior, on the school bus ride to East Fairmont High School.

Betty joked, “He said it was love at first sight!” Bill parried, “It was very sneaky, if it was.” She invited him to her 14th birthday party, to which he brought her a gift of Whitman’s Samplers candy. They liked each other and started dating that spring. Bill was scheduled to attend college at Fairmont State, located in the same town, so they continued to see each other.

Bill had a pony colt that he sold to get money to buy a ring, and he proposed to her at Christmas, 1954. He doesn’t think she was surprised. They married at their local Presbyterian Church, amid 100 degree heat on August 20, 1955, after Bill had completed his final year at Fairmont State. Betty started Business college that fall.

Graduating with a degree in Biology Education from Fairmont State College, Bill thought he would, “…get a job as a high school teacher and that would be that.” But that spring, a new professor at Fairmont recommended that Bill go to graduate school at West Virginia University (WVU) for free to serve an assistantship there.

The newly married couple moved to an apartment near WVU, where Bill received a stipend of $750 per year. Betty joked, “We went to the 10 cent Saturday Matinee for entertainment. The question was whether we could afford another 10 cents for pizza after the movie.”

While at West Virginia University, their first child arrived—a girl they named Melinda. Soon after, the assistantship came to an end and Bill had no idea how or where to apply for a job. His thesis advisor had heard about a vacancy at Mount St. Mary’s College. Bill applied and was hired right on the spot in 1957.

At Mount St. Mary’s, Bill was an instructor in biology. He said, “They have ranks, and instructor is the lowest, and that’s what I was.” Here, they had two more children, Michael and Fred.

While Bill attended the University of Maryland to obtain his doctorate, Betty raised the kids. The couple then moved to Emmitsburg and settled into the town.

Once the kids were in school, Betty worked at Sperry’s Ford in Emmitsburg, managing business affairs; after a few years, she worked as a teacher’s aide at Emmitsburg School. This job lasted a short twenty-seven years. Betty said, “I knew just about everybody in town, and now know hardly anybody.”

Family trips usually revolved around National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-funded studies. The family went to Colorado for an ecology study, Arizona for a desert biology study, and North Carolina for genetics. The whole family would go, and they met lots of nice people and kept in touch with them.

Bill received the Sears Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990. This was a prestigious national accolade. After forty-one years at Mount St. Mary’s, he retired. “It was my first and only job. I ended up as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.” He retired in 1998.

Bill received another accolade when he was invited to speak at Mount St. Mary’s commencement after he retired—this was the first time since the 19th Century a faculty member was asked to speak.

On the home front, the Merediths have raised a garden since the summer of 1954. Betty started entering the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Community Show with vegetables and baked goods, and won many ribbons. She said, “I could paper this whole house with the award ribbons. It was fun!” Unfortunately, she suffered a broken hip a few years ago and couldn’t enter anymore.

Bill has written his monthly column entitled “The Retired Ecologist” in local newspapers since the 1990s. The column has appeared in the former Emmitsburg Dispatch when Bo Cadle started it, then for the Emmitsburg Dispatch when Ray and Jennifer Buccheister ran it, in the short-lived New Emmitsburg Chronicle, and now, it appears in the Emmitsburg News Journal. About the column, he said, “I hope the reader will know things about ecology by reading that they didn’t realize they learned.” September’s issue will include his 185th column, featuring an interesting story about his and Betty’s wedding and marriage.

Their three children have children of their own now. Melinda and Fred both retired from Verizon, and Mike’s a jeweler. The three youngest of six grandchildren are in college, while a computer specialist, an international economics graduate, and an events coordinator round out the group.

The family gathered at their home on August 23 to celebrate their 60th anniversary.

They’ve led an interesting life together, impacting many by imparting knowledge and nurturing growth. Bill and Betty, we wish you many more years of happiness!

CPT David Lee Burrier, son of Lonnie and Barbara Burrier of Thurmont, recently became Company Commander of the HHC, 127th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. CPT Burrier was a 2004 graduate of Catoctin High School, and a 2008 graduate of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering, attended Airborne School, and then commissioned through ROTC. After graduation from The Citadel, CPT Burrier attended the Basic Officer Leader Course II at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

CPT Burrier was first assigned to the 27th EN BN, 20th EN BDE at Fort Bragg, where he served as a Platoon Leader in the 264th Route Clearance Company and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. During the deployment, CPT Burrier also served as the Executive Officer for the 161st Engineer Support Company, with which he redeployed back to Fort Bragg. In May of 2011, CPT Burrier took over as the Olmsted Division Executive Officer, Louisville District USACE, stationed in Paducah, Kentucky. During his time in the Louisville District, CPT Burrier earned his Professional Engineering Degree in the state of Kentucky.

After serving as the Executive Officer, CPT Burrier attended the Engineer Captains Career Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Upon reporting to Fort Bragg in 2013, CPT Burrier served as the Assistant Brigade Engineer for the 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division. In 2014, CPT Burrier served as the Assistant Operations Officer for the 307th AEB, 3 BCT, 82nd Airborne Division.

CPT Burrier’s awards and decorations include the Senior Parachutist Bade, Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Senior Parachutist Badge.

CPT Burrier is married to his wife, Hunter, for five years, has one son, Mason, and resides in Raeford, North Carolina.


CPT David Lee Burrier is pictured with his wife, Hunter, and his son, Mason.

James Rada, Jr.

Ranger - Jim RadaJeremy Murphy (pictured right) was born and raised in Emmitsburg, graduating from Catoctin High in 1998. He visited both Catoctin Mountain Park and Gettysburg National Military Park on field trips and summer trips, never realizing that he would grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer for the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Murphy, who has been with the National Park Service (NPS) for fourteen years, took over the duties of planning, direction, and execution of programs dealing with law enforcement and resource protection, emergency services, and safety for the park rangers.

“I’m happy to be here,” Murphy said. “My family lives in the immediate area, and my wife’s family is from Taneytown.

Previous to coming to Gettysburg, Murphy was chief ranger for the Visitor Protection and Resource Education Division at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick. He also served in law-enforcement ranger positions at Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, and Delaware Water Gap NRA. Prior to law enforcement, he worked for the resource management division and the maintenance division at Catoctin Mountain Park.

“I actually went to school and studied wildlife management and then I shifted to forestry,” Murphy said.

When he graduated from Penn State, Murphy originally tried to get a job with the Pennsylvania Forestry Service, but was turned down because he didn’t live in Pennsylvania at the time.

He had worked as a trail crew member for the NPS, which was seasonal work. He tried to get a job with NPS on a permanent basis through the NPS intake program, but the organization wasn’t hiring biologists. He did find out that they were hiring law-enforcement rangers. He applied and was hired.

“I’ve never regretted it,” Murphy said. “I like that my days are never the same.”

He has kept his work sites near his hometown, which has worked out well. He was involved with the sesquicentennial events for the Civil War sites in the area and the bicentennial events at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. When he was working at Catoctin Mountain Park, he even met President Bush. He is currently the planning section chief for the planned Papal visit this month to Independence National Historical Park.

“Each park I’ve been at has moments for me that stand out,” Murphy said.

His favorite park, however, is the Delaware Water Gap Park.

“It was the first park I was at on a permanent basis, and it was a treasure trove of natural resources,” he said. “I could go out and spend all day just hiking the trails.”

Murphy met his wife, Erin, through a mutual friend while he was working at Harpers Ferry National Military Park. They live in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, with their three children—Wyatt, Ayla, and Tristan.

Thurmont Thespians Hold Auditions for 2015 Fall Show

The Thurmont Thespians are proud to announce auditions for their fall show, God’s Favorite, a comedy by Neil Simon and directed by Matthew Bannister.

Auditions will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, located on 15 N. Church Street in Thurmont, on Tuesday, September 1, at 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday, September 2, at 4:00 p.m. The audition will consist of cold reads from the script and some improvisation scenarios.

God’s Favorite is based on the biblical story of Job and takes place in a Long Island mansion. One night, a messenger from God, Sidney Lipton (with a big G on his sweatshirt) arrives and, as in the biblical story, goes through all manner of temptations to get Joe Benjamin to renounce God. When he refuses, he is visited by all the afflictions imaginable. He stands firm and the messenger has to admit defeat. The household consists of a pious, God-fearing tycoon named Joe Benjamin and his family: a long-suffering wife, Rose; a prodigal son, David; a pair of kooky twins, Ben and Sarah; and the maid and butler, Mady and Morris.

All roles are open. For more information, please contact Matt Bannister at 240-626-8178 or by email

The Great American Wheat Harvest is Nominated for a Regional Emmy Award

Frederick area film maker, Conrad Weaver of ConjoStudios, LLC, just announced that his 2014 documentary film, The Great American Wheat Harvest has been nominated for an Emmy Award! On Thursday, August 7, 2015, the Mid-America Chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences revealed the nominees for the 2015 Regional Emmy Awards, and The Great American Wheat Harvest was nominated in the documentary-cultural category.

The film aired on WQPT (Quad Cities PBS) this past February and consequently qualified to be submitted for the nomination. As one of nineteen regional chapters of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Mid-America Chapter is the standard-bearer for excellence in the television broadcasting industry and the gatekeepers of the prestigious regional Emmy Awards. Mid-America represents the most experienced and talented television professionals from all disciplines of the industry in the region.

“It’s really an honor to be nominated for an Emmy Award; it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and persistence in getting our film to an audience who needs to see it. This nomination is also a tribute to the farmers and harvesters who work hard, year in and year out, to bring food to our tables,” said Weaver.

The 39th Mid-America Emmy Gala will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2015, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, and Weaver hopes to come home with the golden statue.

Weaver is looking for more opportunities to air the film. Any television station programming director who would like to feature The Great American Wheat Harvest, should contact him at 301-606-7794, or email at or on Twitter: @conjostudios. The film is also available on DVD through the website:

Weaver and his company, along with another Frederick company, Archai media, are currently working on another documentary film, Thirsty Land. This film will tell the story about the drought in the American west and its impact on agriculture and communities. Learn more at

Hometown Author to Sign Books at Blue Ridge Summit Library

Hometown Author, Allison B. Hanson, will be signing books on Saturday, September 12, 2015, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., at the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library, located at 15055 Summit Plaza in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

Come out to meet the author as she introduces the first book in the Blue Ridge Romance Series, When Least Expected. Visit her website at



Deb Spalding

barnstormers rebecca pearlThe 9th Annual Barnstormers Tour and Plein Air Paint-Out was held on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Local artist Rebecca Pearl was one of thirty-five artists to participate. The event was sponsored by the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation as a fundraiser to support the preservation of barns in the Frederick County area. The day’s activities gave attention to these beautiful old structures and their importance to our agricultural heritage.

The day had three components: a ticketed barn tour for the general public; an art contest, show, and sale; and various educational demonstrations and displays. Tickets included a guide book and map.

This year, the barns of the scenic Sugarloaf Mountain Region were featured. Artists were sent to various farms, where they each determined a perspective to draw or paint. Rebecca was randomly assigned to paint Moon Shadow Farm, located just over the Frederick County border in Montgomery County. She had never been to that location before.

“It was quiet and gorgeous. It was hot and humid. It usually is. That’s part of the challenge of plein aire (outdoor) painting. You put up with the changing light, the weather, and people talking to you,” said Rebecca.

She walked around for a while when she arrived, looked at a lot of different perspectives and lighting, and finally settled into a fenced pasture and set up. She painted until about 2:30 p.m. and then gathered her supplies and moved to the event headquarters, where a reception would be held that evening. There was no requirement on the size or number of paintings created. Once she arrived at the headquarters, every artist matted and framed their own canvas. All was complete by late afternoon and ready for the reception.

This year, tour headquarters were located at Wildcat Spring Farm in Clarksburg, Maryland. Once the art was displayed, the artists left and a judge was brought in. When the judge’s decisions were made, the artists were invited back. The judge reviewed aspects of each award winner’s art as the winners were revealed.

Rebecca had entered the event five times in the past and won first place one time before. This year, she was surprised when her watercolor was selected for first place.

“I was shocked!” expressed Rebecca. Rebecca recalled that the judge liked the composition of her watercolor, complementing the pattern of light in the painting, and expressing that it had a finished look.

“It was so worth it to put myself out there,” said Rebecca.

Dean Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Inc. purchased Rebecca’s painting. It turns out that his company had completely rebuilt and renovated the barn that Rebecca painted

James Rada, Jr.

20150714_105639 (4)You can be forgiven if you missed the opening of the new Dollar General Store at 501 E. Main Street in Emmitsburg. The doors opened on June 28, the same day that Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day was being held.

“A lot of times we have a soft opening and then have a larger grand opening later,” said James Menees with Dollar General Media Relations. “We haven’t set a date for the Emmitsburg grand opening yet.”

Dollar General has more than 12,000 stores in 43 states and is the country’s largest small-box discount retailer by sales. Dollar General anticipates opening 730 new stores in 2015, and plans to remodel or relocate an additional 875 stores.

“We offer customers convenience and a mix of products that they use daily,” Menees said.

The Emmitsburg Dollar General is a traditional design. It has 7,300 square feet of retail space and 9,100 total square feet. Customers can find frozen foods, household goods, and non-perishable foods. Although the prices are inexpensive, the products aren’t off brands.

Menees said that the corporation looked at customer needs, demographic trends, traffic, and competition before deciding on whether or not to build a store in town.

Besides offering a new shopping venue for residents of Emmitsburg, it is also creating local employment.

Robert Bennett is the store manager

Thurmont High School Class of 1965 celebrated their 50th class reunion on June 5, 2015.

A dinner dance was held at the Thurmont American Legion. The seventy-first class to graduate Thurmont High School was comprised of one hundred seventeen students, of which twenty-nine are deceased.

Thirty-seven classmates returned to socialize with old friends. Some classmates traveled distances from New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah, Montana, Delaware, and North Carolina.

Two teachers were in attendance: Paul Nolan of Thurmont and John Zink of Boonsboro.

THS 50th Class Reunion-2015

Pictured from left are: (front row) Paul Nolan (teacher), Robert Zink (teacher), Arlene Glass Fogle, Pat Nunemaker Flohr, Sharon Moser Billones, Virginia Feeser Hanson, Christine Fuss Shriner, Joyce Wolfe Oakes, Marlene Kolb Cook, Nellie Dayhoff Hall; (second row) Gary Shapiro, Dave Stottlemeyer, Rusty Hauver, Doug Fornwald, Carol Shriner Martin, Paula Marshall Garman, Carol Smith Robertson, Darlene Frye Rickerd, Bill Zentz, Carol Royer, Donald Wastler, Vera Jean Bailey Benchoff, Ilene Whipp Weeks; (back row) Gene Eyler, Connie Myers, Richard Weagley, Ronnie Albaugh, Sandra Hauver Wagaman, Jim Stirling, Pauline Ridge Grimes, Carla Zentz Fitz, Mick Strine, Michael Byrne, Carlotta Smith Robertson, Linda Angel Lewis, Carol Anders Riggs, Janie Fox Sharpe, Denny Black, Leah Radeke, Donna Draper Sweeney, Joe Benchoff, Bonnie Blair Johnson, Richard Mathias, Harvey Wetzel.

At a recent town meeting, Mayor John Kinnaird announced that the family of former Mayor James Black had donated to the town a framed watercolor print of their family home that was created by local artist Rebecca Pearl. James Black served as Thurmont’s mayor for a period of sixteen years (1969-1977 and 1979-1987). Many may be unaware that the new Thurmont Town Office, located at 615 East Main Street in Thurmont, is also the former home of former Mayor Black and his family.

Black’s family presented the artwork to the new Thurmont Town Office along with the following message:

“The James F. Black Family welcomes the opportunity to donate this signed print by local artist Rebecca Pearl to our new town office. Rebecca was commissioned by Ron and Bonnie (Black) Albaugh to create the watercolor for our family’s 2013 Christmas. Please accept this gift from our family for display in a location of your choice in our new town office. May this building protect our elected officials and employees in the coming years as they conduct the important work of our town at the Gateway, just as this home protected our family during our stay here from December 1959 through May 1979. This shall always remain a special place to our family and we trust that you will properly care for it as it now serves as your home.”

The donated artwork now hangs on the wall behind the commissioners’ desk in the public meeting room in the new Thurmont Town Office.

Copies of the print are available for purchase from Rebecca Pearl, 24 W. Main St., Emmitsburg, MD,, 301-447-1911.

Watercolor - Donation to Town -  Photo (07-15-15 Edison Hatter)

Pictured from left are Mayor John Kinnaird, LaRue Black, Dennis Black, Rebecca Pearl (artist), Susan (Black) Hatter, and Bonnie (Black) Albaugh.

Davy Wantz IV                                                        

Emmitsburg hosted the Cal Ripken 12U 46/60 state tournament from July 2nd to July 7th, for the third consecutive year. Emmitsburg was coming off of back-to-back state titles entering the tournament, and was returning eight players from last year’s championship winning team. With these players and the addition of some new talent, Emmitsburg was optimistic to win its third straight championship in front of the home crowd.

On July 2nd, Emmitsburg opened up pool play against UMAC. Emmitsburg had a slow first inning, but Johnny Glass led off the second inning with one of his two homeruns for the game. Glass also dominated on the mound, pitching four innings and allowing just one run on one hit. Bryson Caballero finished the game with two strong innings. Garrett Malachowski cleared the bases on a three-run homerun in the 5th inning, scoring Logan Harrington, Brendan Ott and himself. Lucas Royce, Evan Ott, Johnny Hoffman, and Jayson Howard all had hits as well. Emmitsburg tallied 16 total hits in the opening game, winning 10-1 over UMAC.

In the second game of pool play, Emmitsburg played Smithsburg, who was last year’s runner-up in the state tournament. Dylan Click had two hits, including a homerun. Caballero blasted a homerun as well. Malachowski hit another homerun to add on to his hot hitting performance. Caballero pitched four innings and Glass pitched two innings, combining to allow no runs on just three hits. Emmitsburg improved to 2-0 in pool play with the 6-0 win.

Frederick was Emmitsburg’s third opponent in pool play. Dylan Click started the game on the mound and pitched two innings of no hit ball. Sean Mazaleski and Garrett Malachowski both pitched two innings as well, each getting four strikeouts. Mason Joy drove in two runs in the 1st inning to put Emmitsburg ahead. Noah Oleszczuk added three more runs in the 2nd inning when he launched a three-run homerun. Malachowski hit a grand-slam homerun in the third inning of the game to make it 9-0. Frederick scored one in the bottom half of the inning to make it 9-1. The score remained 9-1 until the 6th inning when the Ott brothers drew back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to add two more runs. Emmitsburg won 11-1, and improved to 3-0 in pool play.

In the last game of pool play, Emmitsburg played Severn. The last time the two teams played against each other was in the 2012 state championship game, where Severn beat Emmitsburg. Emmitsburg has not lost a state tournament game since that loss. The game was a pitching duel, with each team throwing one pitcher the entire game. Emmitsburg’s Bryson Caballero allowed only three hits and struck out nine batters. The deciding factor was an early 1st inning homerun by Emmitsburg’s Noah Oleszczuk. Emmitsburg won the game 1-0 and finished pool play 4-0. Emmitsburg advanced to the title game for the fourth straight year with hopes to win its third straight championship.

Severn beat UMAC in the semi-finals to setup a rematch with Emmitsburg. Emmitsburg started Johnny Glass on the mound. Emmitsburg took a one run lead in the 1st inning when Bryson Caballero drove in Dylan Click. Severn scored in the 4th inning on a two-run homerun, which gave Severn the lead 2-1. In the bottom half of the 4th inning, Noah Oleszczuk answered with a two-run shot of his own. This gave Emmitsburg the lead again, 3-2. After a scoreless 5th inning, Severn tied the game on a solo homerun in the top of the 6th. This sent Emmitsburg into the bottom half of the 6th, needing a run to win. Johnny Glass pitched a strong six innings, striking out 12 opposing batters. In the bottom of the 6th, Severn got the first out and needed just two more to force extra innings. As the intensity of the game was building, Emmitsburg’s ninth batter, Logan Harrington stepped up to hit. Harrington is a great base runner with good speed; if he gets on base then Emmitsburg would be in a favorable situation with the top of the order coming up. Harrington, however, made history. He hit a walk-off homerun to send his team to the Middle Atlantic Regional. It was his first homerun of the season, but he saved it for the right moment. Emmitsburg won 4-3 and were state champions for the third consecutive year.

At the Middle Atlantic Regional, Emmitsburg opened up pool play against Cumberland County, PA. Johnny Glass had two hits and an RBI. Bryson Caballero and Mason Joy also had hits. Emmitsburg lost 4-3.

In the second game of pool play, Emmitsburg played Waynesboro. Dylan Click and Johnny Glass had Emmitsburg’s only hits. Emmitsburg lost 10-0 and dropped to 0-2 in pool play.

In day two of regionals, Emmitsburg played Severn, MD in their first game of the day. Dylan Click and Johnny Glass pitched three innings each, holding Severn to just one run. Dylan Click had two hits, including a homerun with two RBIs. Bryson Caballero had four hits with two RBIs. Johnny Glass and Logan Harrington had two RBIs in the game as well. Jayson Howard had a pinch-hit and RBI. Emmitsburg won 10-1 to improve to 1-2 in pool play.

In the final game of pool play Emmitsburg played Marlton, NJ. A win would advance Emmitsburg into the quarterfinals. Solid pitching from Johnny Glass, Dylan Click, and Bryson Caballero backed Emmitsburg, as they didn’t allow a run. The game was decided by a lone run, coming from an RBI single from Evan Ott in the second inning. Emmitsburg won 1-0 and finished pool play 2-2, advancing to the quarterfinals as the three seed from their pool.

In the quarterfinal, Emmitsburg played Delaware Valley, PA; Delaware Valley was the Pennsylvania state champion. Emmitsburg’s Brendan Ott had a hit and Logan Harrington had two hits. Johnny Glass had a two-run homerun in the third, scoring Emmitsburg’s only runs in a 6-2 loss.

Emmitsburg finished a great season, advancing to a regional quarterfinal for the first time in the league’s sixty-year history.


Pictured in no particular order: Players Jayson Howard, Garrett Malachowski, Johnny Hoffman, Johnny Glass, Bryson Caballero, Noah Oleszczuk, Evan Ott, Mason Joy, Sean Mazaleski, Logan Harrington, Brendan Ott, Lucas Royce and Dylan Click. Coaches: Dave Wantz, Jimmy Click, John Malachowski, and Jacob Fisher.

The Thurmont Little League 9-10 All Star Team went 8-0, outscoring their opponents 104-19, to win the Maryland District 2 and Maryland State Championships. With the State Championship, they will be moving on to represent our communities, Maryland District 2, and the State of Maryland in the 9-10 Little League Eastern Regional in Cranston, Rhode Island, from August 8 through August 14, 2015. Each year, over eighty Little Leagues from across the state of Maryland compete to call themselves State Champion. In winning the State Championship, Thurmont beat South Caroline 10-2, Berlin 18-7, Marlboro 16-2, and Conococheague 17-5. With this honor comes a great cost to their families to provide the team a chance to compete at the Eastern Regional Tournament. As a result, Thurmont Little League is looking to raise $15,000 to help fund the expenses of the team as they represent the State of Maryland. All donations will go directly to the Thurmont 9-10 All Star team to offset the cost of competition and travel. Donations can be made by going to their website at and clicking on the link to donate. These ball players greatly appreciate your donations by Tuesday August 4.

Please visit Thurmont Little League’s Facebook page for information and updates on the team’s status during the tournament.

The league would like to thank you for giving these talented boys the opportunity to further represent our great communities and the State of Maryland.


Pictured from left are: Peyton Castellow, Connor Crum, DJ Shipton, Matt Utermahlen, EJ Lowry, Braden Manning, Braden Bell, Josh Skowronski, Griffin Puvel, Joey McMannis, Will Gisriel, Logan Simanski. Not pictured: Coach Chris Skowronski, Coach Bill Utermahlen, and Manager Tim Castellow. Congratulations Thurmont Little League 9-10’s!

On May 16, 2015, Jim Bittner, Peggy Elgin, and Becky Linton attended an event at Dr. Ronald (Ron) Waynant’s home. They were invited by his wife, Priscilla, for a presentation of a citation awarded him from the President of ASLMS (American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, Inc.).

The award, presented by President of ASLMS Juanita J. Anders, Ph.D., read:

Ronald W. Waynant, Ph.D.

In recognition of your dedication and service to the ASLMS and your accomplishments in optical engineering and laser applications for medical devices.

Through your inventions, research publications and books, international collaborations as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Circuits and Devices Magazine, and educator and mentor, you have had a profound influence of the development of energy-based medical devices.

I am grateful for your appreciation of the potential of Photobiomodulation and the value and joy you felt with engineers, physicists, and biologists working together.

Due to ill health, Ron was unable to attend the 35th Annual Conference of ASLMS in Kissimmee, Florida, in April 2015, so the Presidential Citation was brought to him by Dr. Anders.

If you have had a need for a laser medical device, Ron had something to do with making it happen.

Ron is the son of Naomi (Martin) and Vaughn Waynant (1916-1978) of Sabillasville. Ron attended Sabillasville Elementary School and Thurmont High School, graduating with the class of 1958. His mother taught at Sabillasville Elementary School from 1931-1971. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 101.

Ron Waynant 3

Ron Waynant celebrates receiving ASLMS award with his sister, Deb Lego, and his daughter Marcia Patchan.


Will there be enough water to survive? Thirsty Land is an exciting new documentary that tells the story of drought, its impact on agriculture, communities, and the global food supply.

Two Frederick production companies are collaborating to produce this film. Frederick County filmmaker, Conrad Weaver, is already well-known for his award-winning documentary The Great American Wheat Harvest. His work with farmers and harvesters has led him to turn the focus of his company, Conjostudios LLC, exclusively to agriculture, and now he’s focusing on the drought that’s strangling our landscape.

“Those of us living East of the Mississippi River very rarely think about the amount of water we use. That’s why this story needs to be told! The drought in the American West ultimately impacts all of us, and I want to make the audience think about it every time they take a drink of water, enjoy a shower, or water their lawn,” said Weaver.

Weaver recently collaborated with Archai Media in Frederick to provide production support for the documentary project. Sam Tressler with Archai Media has taken on the responsibilities of Director of Photography for the film that takes the team across the country from the Central Plains to the Central Valley of California.

“I’m excited to be involved in this important project,” said Tressler. “Working with Conrad and helping him capture the story has taken us to some of the most beautiful parts of this country. I’m really looking forward to helping to bring this film to the big screen.”

Weaver is excited to have Archai Media involved, “Tressler’s experience and expertise in shooting in High Resolution 4K is what really made it exciting for me to collaborate with Archai Media. It’s been fun so far to have him along and capturing the story; he’s making my job so much easier,” said Weaver.

Production on the project began in April and will continue throughout the summer and fall months. The film is scheduled for completion in spring 2016. Weaver plans on a Frederick premiere screening once the project is completed. To see the film’s trailer, visit

For more interview requests and for more information on the making of the film, contact Conrad Weaver at 301-606-7794 or email


Sam Tressler (left) and Conrad Weaver (right) look over the dry California landscape on a recent trip.


Deb Spalding

Emmitsburg’s Vigilant Hose Company hosted their 7th annual Spring Fling in the parking lot of Mount St. Mary’s University’s Waldron Family Stadium on May 16, 2015. In past years, the event has been described as our community’s version of a party at the beach; this year’s location was described as a community tail-gate party. No matter how you look at it, it’s a good time. During the event, some families host their family reunion; some pre-arrange gatherings of friends; some play cards or table games, others play corn hole, and still others relax and socialize. All the while, ticket jars and raffle drawings take place.

This year, a storm blew through towards the end of the event, causing many to leave early; however, those who stayed seemed to have a really good time. About those who stayed through the storm, event coordinator Gabe Baker said, “They were crazy and wet.”

The Spring Fling is Vigilant’s main fundraiser during the year. Thousands attend in hopes of winning a large amount of money. The event’s biggest prize award is $4,000, which you do not need to be present to win. This year’s lucky winner of the big jackpot was Warren Zentz. If you were a winner but did not receive your prize on-site, prizes have been mailed. If you did not receive yours, please email Vigilant’s President Tim Clarke at Ticket jar winners are encouraged to visit to view a list of winners. If you are a winner of an unclaimed ticket jar, please stop by the firehouse (call ahead at 301-447-2728 to make sure someone is there to help you) to claim your winnings or call Bill Boyd at 717-642-9717.

The Vigilant Hose Company would like to thank everyone who purchased a ticket or who volunteered, resulting in another successful Spring Fling. Volunteers work hard to set up and break down the event, gather and transport equipment, hand out food and beverages, sell tickets, and grill chicken. Good job to all!

Sam Bigham

Sam Bigham is shown hoping for a big win at the Vigilant Hose Company’s annual Spring Fling, held on May 16, 2015.


In the tent shown slicing meat are Vance Click, Herb Click, and Ed Wantz.


Pictured are Dottie Davis with Shannon and Mike Wetzel.

Wine, Cupcakes, and Art in Thurmont

James Rada, Jr.

It was a nice night for a stroll on the evening of May 8, 2015, and residents took advantage of the pleasant weather to come to downtown Thurmont for the Art & Wine Walk.

Ten downtown businesses shared their storefronts with local wineries, cupcake bakers, and artists for the evening. Visitors strolled along the streets and popped into the businesses to sample a locally made wine, snack on a gourmet cupcake, or speak with an artist. For instance, Gnarly Artly showed off his custom T-shirts at the Thurmont Bar & Grill, while Kathy Larson with Detour Winery offered samples to customers who stopped into Gateway Flowers.

“This is nice. It’s a nice event for the family,” said Dee Carr of Dearbought. She had come to the stroll to support an artist friend who was showing her work at the Creager House.

The participating stores included Brown’s Jewelers, ESP Dance Studio, Gateway Flowers, Heart & Hands, Hobbs Hardware, Mechanicstown Park, Thurmont Bar & Grill, Thurmont Historical Society, Thurmont Kountry Kitchen, Timeless Trends, Thurmont Main Street Center, and Twice Is Nice.

Each of these businesses had guests, such as Rebecca Pearl, who unveiled her latest painting “Springtime at Roddy Road Covered Bridge”; Fine European Catering; Pet Portraits by Nancy Houston, Linda Sandagger, Sharon Crider, Cindy and Russ Poole, who make up The East End Artists; Mountain Gate Restaurant; Gnarly Artly; artist Yemi; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard; Detour Winery; and Thurmont Lions Club. Professional cake makers, Michele Nolan and Joan Hurd, displayed their scrumptious cake flavors with cupcakes. Another addition this year, along with the cupcakes, were performances by ESP dancers in their studio. Great music genres were performed by Paul Zelenka in Mechanicstown Park, while Main Street businesses hosted the attractions.

Mel and Joanne Goble came downtown just to see what the stroll offered, and planned to try to visit all of the stores that were participating.

“It’s a lovely night, and we’re enjoying seeing everything that is here tonight,” Joanne said.

For more information on any of the participants, contact


Kathy Larson with Detour Winery offered samples to customers who stop by Gateway Flowers during the Wine, Cupcakes, and Art Walk in Thurmont on the evening of May 8, 2015.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies Closes After 25 years

James Rada, Jr.

Paul Johnson received his first train set when he was seven months old. The train was set up around the Christmas tree as part of a Christmas train garden that Johnson delighted in every Christmas.

“I looked forward to it every year and when I turned eight, my father showed me how to set it up and take care of it. From then on, it was my responsibility,” Johnson said.

As Johnson got older, he saved the money that he earned from cutting lawns in order to buy new pieces for the train layout. His interest died off when he entered his teens. Like most teenage boys, Johnson found girls and cars more interesting than trains.

“I got interested again in my mid-20s,” Johnson said. “I had visions of a big layout that I wanted to build.”

His interest in trains remained a hobby until he retired from the U.S. Park Police after twenty years. He then decided to open Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies, at 1 East Main Street in Thurmont.

“There was no place in Frederick County that sold trains,” Johnson said.

In its early years, the store had something for everyone. Johnson sold cards, games, puzzles, and other things.

“More and more people wanted the trains, though, so eventually that became the only thing we sold,” said Johnson.

After five years, the store moved to 3 West Main Street. The new store specialized in O-gauge scale trains, although they had some HO- and N-scale trains. Johnson also developed relationships with three men in the area who could repair broken trains. With Johnson attending shows and selling trains and pieces through mail order, the store’s reputation began growing.

“We’ve had customers drive here from two or three hours away,” Johnson said.

Although the Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies was a local business, most of its customers came from out of town.

After twenty-five years in business, Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies closed its doors on March 31, 2015, so Johnson and his wife, Marcia, could retire and enjoy some traveling.

“I enjoyed my time with the store,” Johnson said. “I met a lot of good people.”

While Johnson sold plenty of trains over the years to people across the country, he doesn’t have a large layout in his own home and he never built the grand layout that he had dreamed of in his mid-20s.

“I am more into collecting,” Johnson said. “I have a collection of older trains. Most of them are from the 1940s and 1950s.”

His most-valuable car is a Lionel model of a 1950 Hudson that still has its original box. Johnson said it is worth $3,500.

Now that he is retired and traveling, Johnson may even take some trips on the railroad.

taking down the sign from Marcia Johnson

Pictured are Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies owner Paul Johnson and his wife, Marcia, shown taking down the sign.

Courtesy Photo

Farewell to Cozy

This May 19, 2015, photo shows the rubble of the former Cozy Inn Hotel. The tree in the foreground was removed later in the day. The gazebo still stood several days later but was removed.


The community observed as the former landmark restaurant and cabins continued to disappear as the days went by.


Photo by Deb Spalding

Pam’s Rusty Treasures to Open in Thurmont

Deb Spalding

IMG_20150508_142016_5271The day of June 6, 2015, will be the grand opening of Pam’s Rusty Treasures, next to the CVS in the Thurmont Plaza on North Church Street in Thurmont.

Owner Pam Garber had a similar store that she operated out of her house in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. She closed that shop when she moved back to Maryland (she’s originally from Emmitsburg).

Pam’s Rusty Treasures will carry primitives, candles, scents, and more. Pam operates the shop in memory of her husband, Rusty, who passed away from Melanoma ten years ago.

The grand opening will be held from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on June 6. Normal hours of operation will be Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Sundays, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.; and closed on Tuesdays.

The store is located in Suite M at 224 N. Church Street in Thurmont. Call 240-772-6782 for more information.

Melissa Wetzel CPA Staff and Customers Donate for Emmitsburg Food Bank

Customers and staff at Melissa Wetzel CPA in Emmitsburg have topped last year’s record for collecting food donations in comparison to the annual numbers for the project that started in 2009.

 “With 1,244 food items collected, it’s still catching on. Our goal is to beat the number of cans collected the year before,” said Melissa.

Customers of the accounting office are on board with the collections since they can get up to $5.00 off of their tax return preparation fee for bringing in five food items to support the Emmitsburg Food Bank. To take part in the benefit next year, please call Melissa at 301-447-3797.

This year, Melissa’s receptionist, Jill Ott, is retiring from the company. She started working for the CPA firm in 2008. For Jill’s years at the company and for her commitment, Melissa said, “Thank you for your years of service. You will be missed by all of the employees and our clientele.”

Melissa Wetzel would also like to include a “thank you” to their clients for making the food drive such a success each and every year.

If you would like to donate to the Emmitsburg Food Bank, it is located at 502 East Main Street in Emmitsburg. Food Bank hours are: Tuesday and Wednesday (7:00-8:00 p.m.); Friday (1:00-2:00 p.m.); Saturday (10:00-11:00 a.m.). Email Phyllis Kelly at kellyphy82547@gmail or call 717-642-6963 for more information.

Pictured from left are Melissa Wetzel, Mary Flickinger, and Bobbie Click.

Melissa Wetzel Food bank donation

Photo by Deb Spalding

Golden Statue of Mary Gets Crowned

As hundreds gathered on May 3, 2015, on the grounds of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, the golden 25-foot statue of Mary, which stands atop the 95-foot campanile and stands high above the campus, was crowned with flowers. The crown measured 12 feet in diameter and was elevated by a crane and placed upon the statue’s head.

The event celebrated the Catholic tradition of crowning Blessed Mother Mary with spring blossoms to recognize her model of faith and discipleship. The 12-foot crown was constructed by florist Will Stone, owner of Flower Fashions in Frederick, Maryland.

The crowing of the golden statue of Mary on May 3, 2015.

Grotto Mary gets crown

Photo by Robert Rosensteel, Sr.

Tom’s Creek UMC Message of Hope

Just imagine a tree that is leaning, decaying, and dying, and it is only a matter of time before it falls over and lands on a building, car, road, and so on. So, what do you do if it is on your property?

Most people cut it down and then have the stump removed and the story ends there. However, Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church (UMC) had a different vision. They had a dying tree cut down to a ten-foot stump and then had it carved. They took something that was dead and/or dying, and they gave it new life. Even better, they turned to local artist and businessman, Jason Stoner, to transform it into a message of hope. A member of the church paid to have the stump carved into Jesus Christ, holding a lamb, sending the message of hope to the lost, the wandering, the hopeless, and the unloved. This dead tree that was resurrected to be a message of hope can be found at Tom’s Creek UMC (a couple of miles off of Route 140, by taking either Simmons Road or Tom’s Creek Church Road).

For years, the community has had a gold statue of Mary watching over the area, and, now facing her, is the carving of Christ. If you are out on a ride, stop by and see it.

Courtesy Photos

Tom's Creek -- tree carvingTom's Creek -- tree carving 2

Local Artist Jason Stoner carved the stump of a cut down tree into a message of hope, outside of Tom’s Creek United Methodist Chruch in Emmitsburg.

Drop Your Change for Food

by Deb Spalding

The Emmitsburg Food Bank was founded in the 1980s to help meet the needs of local residents in emergencies (fire, flood, accidents, illness, job loss, divorce, economic recession, job transition, etc.) and to assist citizens with the sustained low incomes.

This food bank serves about sixty families per month, and operates on donations of food and money from the community. The Emmitsburg Business and Professionals Association (EBPA) started a change drop box program several years ago, called “Change for Food.” The coordinator of that program, Bob Rosensteel, Sr., said that donations have been going down in the past year because other charitable entities are vying for change box donations. He wants to make sure donors know how much their contributions are appreciated by the food bank.

“Please tell everyone not to forget to drop one dollar per month in a Change for Food box. That one little dollar makes a huge difference!” said Rosensteel.

Emmitsburg Food Bank Director Phyllis Kelly indicated that the food bank constantly buys meats, eggs, cheese, margarine, and bread with money from the Change for Food donations.

“Organizations, churches, schools, FEMA, and Mount St. Mary’s University have been very generous over the years. The EBPA’s Change for Food collection boxes that are seen around town in stores have helped greatly. Thanks to all of you,” said Kelly.

The Emmitsburg Food Bank requires proof of residence in the Emmitsburg school district area and a photo ID. While a driver’s license qualifies as a photo ID, it may not show a current address. Proof of residence may be in the form of a lease, a utility bill, a car registration, or a piece of mail addressed personally to the client. They will maintain copies of the documents during the calendar year. When a new year begins, clients must re-submit documents showing current address and a photo ID.

The Emmitsburg Food Bank’s policy is to help with food once a month, unless proof of greater need is shown by contacting Social Services in Frederick at 301-600-4575 for services such as Food Stamps, medical assistance, cash assistance, or Family and Adult Services (301-600-2635). They suggest that all clients apply for Food Stamps. If one is denied, they can bring the denial letter to the Food Bank and more help can be provided. They cannot give food from government sources more than once a month. The Frederick County food banks are linked through the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs. One may not use more than one food bank—this is called “double-dipping.” It is unfair to others who are in need.

The Emmitsburg Food Bank has guidelines for the number of items from various food groups, based on family size. They have a “Help Yourself” section of items that don’t fit any category.

Any questions can be directed to the manager, Phyllis Kelly, at 717-642-6963. Food bank hours are: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7:00-8:00 p.m.; Fridays, 1:00-2:00 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Don’t forget to drop your change in the Change for Food boxes at various locations around town! Contact the Emmitsburg Food Bank by emailing

change for food ebg food bank

Pictured from left are Emmitsburg Food Bank volunteers Mary Kate Price, Carson Kelly, Phyllis Kelly, and EBPA Change for Food Coordinator Bob Rosensteel, Sr.

Deb Spalding

Yes, the Kuhns and the Wolfes were out for the Foxville School Reunion on May 17, 2015, at the school house. So were the Brandenburgs, Buhrmans, Hurleys, Willards, Delauters, Klines, and Clines, in addition to members of other homestead mountain families as students of the former Foxville School reminisced while enjoying a lunch of homemade fare. “The reunion has been held since 1986, and since that first gathering, 86 people who were present at the first reunion have passed away,” said reunion coordinator, Don Hurley.

Students shared stories about arriving early to fire up the wood stove; cutting firewood at the school to use when coal rations ran out; sneaky boys putting pencils in a girl’s braids; playing on a big log in the woods behind the school house; and shimmying out a window and running home to avoid staying after school (there was no mention of the escape the next day).

Before the Foxville School was built in 1924, North Franklin School and East Franklin School served smaller groups of school children in the Foxville area. The current Foxville School building was used until June 1961. It was planned that the school would close earlier but there was much organized resistance to the idea. When it finally closed, the entire student body consisting of about 60 students was transferred to Wolfsville.  At that time, Mr. Marshall Leatherman retired from the principalship and Mr. Kenneth Frushour was assigned as principal. Mrs. Virginia K. Draper was assigned as a sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Judith (King) Raun was assigned as a new first grade teacher, and Miss Joan Lawyer (now Spalding) was assigned as a new third grade teacher.

The students from Foxville continued to attend the Wolfsville School until the new Sabillasville Elementary School was built and occupied in September, 1965. Sabillasville Elementary School will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year with special activities this fall. The anniversary will also be honored at the opening ceremonies of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show in September.

For more information about the Foxville School Reunion, please call 301-416-0798 or 301-416-0185.


This photo was taken in the “Little” room of the school where grades 1, 2, and 3 were taught. Pictured left to right front row are Beverley (Hurley) Kolb, Margaret (Buhrman) Sigler, Ethel (Hurley) Fitzgerald, Betty Willard (former teacher at the school), Elva (Weagley) Schultz, Jane (Hayes) Draper, Janet (Wolfe) Monn, Jean (Wolfe) Cline; 2nd row, Diane (Hessong) Vaughn, Carolyn (Brandenburg) Fishack, Ruth “Pat” Willard, Nancy (Hurley) Glass, Evangeline (Willard) Brown, Judy (Kline) Willard, Patty (Jacobs) Willard, Genevieve Delauter, Paul Delauter; 3rd row, Dot McAfee, Henry Buhrman, Sara (Testerman) Hurley, Clarence Lee Willard, Rob McAfee, Don Hurley, Harold “Bill” Brandenburg, Eugene Brandenburg, Karl E. Brandenburg, Rayetta (Willard) Brown, Austin  “Ott” Wolfe, Richard Willard, Jim Kuhn, Ken Cline, and Walter Lantz, Jr.

Photo by Deb Spalding

Foxville School — 1948 or 1949

The photo was taken on the front steps of the Foxville School.

Foxville School Reunion - 1948 or 1949

First row: Cyrus Brown, Gary Kendall, Unknown, Merle Toms, Dick Abraham, Clifton Pryor, Bonnie Kuhn, Joan Fox (?); 2nd row: Kenny or Paul Smith (brothers), Charles Linton, Richard Toms, John Stottlemyer, Leah Willard (also known as Leah (Wolfe), Kay Swope; 3rd row: Bob Testerman, Robert Duncan, Ralph Hurley, Arthur Brandenburg, Frankie Linton; 4th row: Joan Draper, Beverley Hurley, Harold Willard, Leon DeLauter, Josephine Buhrman, Dorothy Stottlemyer, Betty Pryor, Margaret Kuhn; 5th row: Ronald Swope, Julia Brandenburg, Roberta Hauver, Imogene Brown, and Gary Swope.

The Thurmont business community put its best foot forward for the 11th Annual Thurmont Business Expo, held on April 2, 2015. However, this was the Expo that almost didn’t happen. Thurmont Main Street, the usual organizers of the event, had decided not to hold the Expo this year and canceled it.

Heather Dewees and Rob Renner decided that the event provided too much value to Thurmont businesses and its residents and to cancel it would be a loss.

“I felt like if we lost it, it wasn’t ever coming back,” Dewees said.

The Expo allows residents to come out and discover many of the 260 businesses that are in the town. Business owners can meet potential customers and show off their goods and services.

Dewees and Renner approached the Thurmont Special Events Committee to provide things like liability insurance and to handle money from vendors. Dewees and Renner lowered the cost of sponsorship and didn’t charge extra to businesses that wanted to sell products.

“It involves a lot of coordination, but it was fun,” said Renner.

However, just when things came together and the Expo was ready to go, a late snowstorm closed schools on March 20, which meant that the Expo had to be postponed.

Nearly four dozen of the town’s businesses participated in the Expo, which was rescheduled for a Thursday evening.

“We lost a few vendors because we rescheduled, but this was the only other night available,” Dewees said.

Hundreds of people turned out for the event at Catoctin High School.

John Nickerson is a familiar face at the Expo, with his original Gnarly Artly t-shirts. “Most of my business is done on the internet, so this gives me the chance to meet a lot of people,” Nickerson said.

Stacie Zelenka, owner of Pondscapes, agreed. “We’re a home-based business, so this gives us the opportunity to have a storefront for an evening and meet customers.”

She said the Expo has proven its worth to her because she always gets referrals from it. She also gets the opportunity to meet customers who say that they didn’t know her business existed, so the Expo exposes her business to new customers.

Heather Lawyer with Gateway Automotive said that Gateway doesn’t really advertise so the Expo allows Gateway Automotive to put itself out in front of the community.

“It’s also nice to have customers stop by and talk to us and say, ‘Thank you,’” said Lawyer.

A nice new feature of this year’s Expo was that each visitor was given a vendor map that also included addresses, phone numbers, and websites for each Expo vendor.

Proceeds from the Thurmont Business Expo are donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Candy and Heather Lawyer

Candy and Heather Lawyer of Gateway Automotive behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Niki Eyler, owner of The Eyler Stables Flea Market in Thurmont, at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Folks from the Thurmont Veterinary Clinic are shown at their booth.


Thurmont’s Mayor, John Kinnaird poses next to a drawing of himself done by John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly.



Doris Roman and Antonio C. from the Thurmont Senior Center are shown behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.

Photos by Grace Eyler

Emmitsburg Civilian and Veteran Organizations and Surrounding Communities Join Together to Celebrate the 33rd Annual Heritage Day

Jim Houck, Jr.

The combined planning efforts of civilian and Veteran organizations in Emmitsburg and the surrounding communities will join together to celebrate the 33rd Annual Heritage Day (formerly Community Day) on Saturday June 27, 2015.

The Town of Emmitsburg will open their arms to everyone for a day of fun and games, a parade, and fireworks. The event, until recently, was planned and carried out by The Lions Club of Emmitsburg. The Emmitsburg Lions did an excellent job of organizing and operating this event for years. The event simply outgrew the membership of the Lions Club, and they decided it was time to ask other organizations in the community for their help. The community organizations stepped up and volunteered and are actively involved. The Veterans organizations, in the past, organized and took charge of the parades. I am proud to announce we are again as I, Jim Houck Jr. Commander SAL Squadron 121, have been assigned as coordinator of this year’s parade. I am asking all who would like to participate and have not received an invitation letter and application to please go online at, and print out an application to fill out and mail to the given address, call me at 717-451-1741, or email me at and I will be glad to help you.

We are holding an art contest to start off this year’s event by inviting all Frederick County school age artists, ages six to, and including, eighteen years of age, to submit their art work entitled “The Heart Of The Civil War In Emmitsburg” by 1:00 p.m., Friday, June 15th. The art work will be displayed in the gym at the Town Office and be judged. Cash prizes; 1st prize is a $500.00 savings bond, 2nd is a $100.00 savings bond, and 3rd is a $50.00 savings bond respectively. These prizes will be issued to the winners on Heritage Day. Contest rules and an application form are available online at

The actual Heritage Day festivities start off with a hearty breakfast served by the Vigilant Hose Auxiliary at the Vigilant Hose Company Main Street Fire Hall; Lions Club Annual Bar-B-Q Chicken will be served beginning at 10 a.m.; Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121 will be selling Italian Sausages, and if you had one last year, you know how great they are; a Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will be held at the Community Park with all proceeds supporting the Emmitsburg Baseball and Softball League; a bicycle Safety Rodeo will be held; a Five mile Bike Ride for ages 12 and up, plus a One-mile Bike Ride for kids ages 5 and up; free kids rides and face painting will be offered; a Fitness Boot Camp with Steve Ames; old fashioned field games and a greased pig contest. A Grand Opening for the town’s Multi-User Trails will be held with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Several live bands will play at the bandstands and the sounds will be kept moderate, so if you would like the music louder, get closer. Horseshoe registration will be held at noon with a $5.00 entry fee, games start at one. The kickball tournament will begin at 12:30 p.m., check  for new rules. The town’s community pool will be open free to the public from noon until 7:00 p.m. Vendor and crafter show and a walking history tour of Old Emmitsburg will be available. There are numerous other things under the categories of food, sports, music at the Bandstand, special exhibits and history tours and museums.

Come out and enjoy yourself and see how  proud the people of Emmitsburg are about their heritage. I know I am proud to have spent the first forty years of my life in the Emmitsburg-Thurmont area. I graduated high school at Emmitsburg High and worked as a cook at Mt. St. Mary’s College while in school and for a while after school. I worked at St. Joseph’s College, now the National Fire Academy, as a cook for a few years. I worked at H.O. Toor Shoe and Freeman Shoe Factories, located where the Emmitsburg Antique Mall is located today. I used to know everyone by name within a five mile radius of Emmitsburg and now there are a lot of strangers, but that is good because it gives me an opportunity to make new friends. I sure miss a lot of the “old ones”. Heritage Day is not only a fun and play day, but it gives everyone a chance to meet new friends. In my opinion, you can never have too many friends.

God Bless all of you and have a safe trip to Heritage Day “33”. Stop by the Italian Sausage Stand and say “Howdy!” I may have a National Flag to give you and the kids.

Special Thanks to Clifford Sweeney and Patrick Joy, they are not only on the Heritage Day Committee, but they are proud members of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121. A special thanks to Jennifer Jolly Joy for chairing the committee and to all members and participants.

Mayor John Kinnaird (far right), Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick (center), and Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder (left) pose in front of the new Thurmont kiosk at the Mason Dixon Welcome Center. The kiosk was provided by Frederick County Tourism Special Projects Coordinator Mr. Chris Haugh.

DocAllison Rostad

Just as the sun began to set on Saturday, April 18, 2015, members and friends of the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company gathered to hold their annual banquet in recognition of the Company’s service in calendar year 2014.

A greeting was given by emcee, Brian Boller, who was president of the Company in 2014. Director/Chief of Volunteer Fire Rescue Services Chip Jewell led an invocation prior to guests and members being invited to partake in dinner, catered by Mountain Gate Family Restaurant.Guests such as Mr. and Mrs. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association and Chief of Thurmont Police Department Greg Eyler and his wife attended the banquet in support of the Company’s service over the past year. Boller introduced these guests and handed the stage over to Chief Jim Kilby and Captain Scott Willard.

Kilby first recognized the entire Company for their outstanding work, as they were able to respond to all but 17 calls of their 260 total calls for the 2014 calendar year. The top five responders in the Company were recognized with framed awards: Hilary Blake, Matthew Mckeel, Matthew Moser, Kelly Willard, and Mike Beard.

The Company’s officers were also awarded for their response to calls over the past year: James Boyle, Jim Kilby, and Scott Willard.

Louis Powell Jr. was asked to the stage, where guests were introduced to the new operational officers of 2015: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard. All three officers were given a new, donated shield for their helmets. Following the presentation of the shields, Kilby turned the microphone back over to Boller, in conclusion of the Chief awards.

Boller presented the administrative awards, bypassing the standard top 10 LOSAP awards, as he explained to guests that being a small company means, “Everyone pretty much pitches in, and if you’re considered active out here, you get access to the hall, and we give free shirts out as certain awards [throughout the year].” Boller started the awards off with the Presidents’ Award. A member who has achieved ten years of active status within a company may become a “life-time member.”

Eddie Woods, Jr. was presented the President’s Award for his “on and off” active membership over the past twenty-seven years.

Boller explained that Woods would fall short of active status defined by the bylaws, but his dedication to drive from Riverdale, Maryland, and Hagerstown over the years to respond to calls for the Company was a feat in itself.

Scott Willard was also presented a President’s Award for his dedication to the Company, in addition to being both Kilby’s and Boller’s right-hand-man over the years.

Boller said proudly of Willard, “It’s the unseen little things that we recognize him for.”

Louis Powell Jr. was presented Life Membership, as he was the only member in 2014 to reach ten years of active status.

Just prior to the conclusion of the banquet, Boller asked that Chip Jewell say a few words to the night’s final award recipient, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr.  Simmers was awarded with a surprise party in March for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service, from 1964 to 2015.

Boller had Simmers stand for a round of applause, and awarded him with a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket.

Boller summarized Simmers and his fifty years of service and dedication by saying, “Once it’s in your blood, it’s just kind of there!”

Wrapping up the banquet, Mr. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association performed the Installation of the Officers ceremony.


Administrative Officers: Scott Willard, President; Louis Powell Jr., Vice President; Kelly Willard, Secretary; Hilary Blake, Asst. Secretary; Sterling Seiss, Treasurer; and Jim Kilby, Asst. Treasurer.

Board of Directors: Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr., Brian Boller, Sterling Seiss, George “Junebug” Morningstar, Eugene Grimes, and Eddie Woods, Jr.

Operational Officers: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard.


New operational officers, Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard were given a new, donated shield for their helmets.


During the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company’s Awards Banquet, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. (center) was awarded a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service.


In March, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. was thrown a surprise party for his achievments over fifty years of active volunteer fire service and his recognition by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association.

20150307_100136James Rada, Jr.

The Thurmont Food Bank did what it does best at the grand opening of its new home on March 7…it fed people.

Food trays of hot and cold foods were spread throughout the Thurmont’s former Town Office, as dozens of people crowded the building to see how it had changed now that it is home to the Thurmont Food Bank.

The biggest change is in the office area that once held the cubicles of Thurmont Town staff. The room is now lined with freezers, refrigerators, and deep shelves. Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, who manages the food bank for the Thurmont Ministerium, estimated that there is now about fifty percent more storage space.

“The nice thing with having more freezer space is that I can buy ahead when things go on sale, say turkeys, or when it’s hunting season and there’s deer meat offered,” said Joyner-Giffin.

The new freezers were purchased with a grant that former Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Bill Blakeslee helped the food bank staff obtain.

The Thurmont Food Bank is currently serving about 310 families, comprised of about 1,200 people, in the Thurmont area.

“This new location gives us the ability to serve more, should we have to,” Joyner-Giffin said.

As the ribbon was cut, officially opening the new food bank, Joyner-Giffin gave Mayor John Kinnaird a dollar bill, representing the food bank’s first year’s rent to the Town of Thurmont. Carol Robertson, President of Colorfest, Inc., also gave Joyner-Giffin a check for $500 to help pay the utilities on the building for a couple months.

Many of the people attending the grand opening were volunteers who help fill the orders and serve the food bank clients. Joe Bailey has been helping out at the Thurmont Food Bank for four years.

“I’m passing it forward,” Bailey said. “I want to give back to the people in the community, because helping others is what God tells us we should be doing.”

St. John’s Lutheran Church had been the previous home for the food bank, but after several years there, it outgrew the space. The new location for the Thurmont Food Bank is at 10 Frederick Road. Although the Thurmont Public Works Department still uses the back offices in the building, all of the front offices, including the commissioners’ former meeting room, is part of the food bank.

Hours at the new location are now: Tuesday, 5:00-7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off any time; please place them in the shopping cart in the entryway of the food bank. Both perishable and non-perishable foods can be delivered during food bank hours or on Tuesday mornings from 11:00 a.m.-noon. Please check to be sure all items are not spoiled or expired before donating them.

The food bank is always looking for volunteers to help out. If you would like to help, you can call the food bank at 240-288-1865 or visit

Thurmont’s Anytime Fitness Newly Remodeled and Expanded

by Joseph Kirchner

Spring has sprung, and, for most of us, that means it’s time to shake off the winter blues and get in shape. Have you put on a few extra pounds? If your response is yes, then joining a quality gym might be the answer for you. Fortunately, Anytime Fitness in Thurmont has everything you need and all you could ask for in a gym membership.

First, Anytime Fitness (the world’s largest 24-hour gym chain) offers the benefit of Anywhere Club Access. With this benefit, you can visit thousands of Anytime Fitness centers for the price of a standard gym membership. Traveling? With almost 2,000 gyms nationwide, you are likely to find an Anytime Fitness gym close by.

Dale Collis, a happy Anytime Fitness member said, “You can go almost anywhere in the country and you will find two or three Anytime Fitness gyms there.” He exercises primarily right here in Thurmont, but has used his Anywhere Club Access in Waycross, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Las Vegas, Nevada; among others.

Have you ever joined a gym with very limited hours that did not fit your schedule? At Anytime Fitness, you will enjoy the convenience of a 24-hour gym, a benefit which fits your very busy lifestyle. Simply use your private security-access key twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, at any Anytime Fitness location. So, now you can’t use the all-too-handy excuse that “the gym is not open!”

Without top-notch equipment, even the benefits mentioned above would hardly matter. At Anytime Fitness, you will find amazing amenities, including the best fitness equipment available. If cardio is your main emphasis, you’re in business; Anytime boasts treadmills, elliptical machines, a Concept 2 Rower, Expresso stationary bikes (the very best available), and a stair climber (coming soon). If strength training is your goal, you will find everything you want: free weights (with three full stations of Power-rack systems), a Smith machine, dumbbells from 2-100 pounds, kettle bells, TRX bands, weighted balls, and a full 16-station circuit of top-of-the-line Nautilus equipment.

George Puvel (club owner) gave this writer a comprehensive tour of the beautifully remodeled gym and proudly asserted, “We are excited to offer a new group exercise room as a part of our recent expansion.” Now Anytime Fitness offers free, unlimited classes—a wonderful benefit! Without additional cost, you can take Pilates, yoga, abs and interval classes, as well as the ever-popular Zumba classes. Moreover, tanning is available, and you will have access to single-use bathrooms with private showers.

Perhaps you require a little instruction or motivation to keep you on track. No problem here, because Anytime has certified, experienced personal trainers to guide you in reaching your fitness goals. The area’s best trainers are invested in your health and make it a point to treat you individually. Moreover, at Anytime Fitness the atmosphere is friendly and supportive—you will definitely enjoy working out here!

The following is a quick review of Anytime Fitness: Anywhere Club Access, 24-hour access, the very best cardio and strength equipment, free unlimited classes, tanning, private bath, the area’s best trainers, a congenial atmosphere, a beautifully remodeled club, and a really supportive environment. Truly everything you could ask for in a gym. Also consider that the Thurmont location ranks in the top one-and-a-half percent of all Anytime Fitness locations (based on corporate evaluations), and the membership is quite affordable. What are you waiting for? Call or visit Anytime Fitness, and they will be happy to give you a tour of their wonderful facility. Ask about the free seven-day pass. Now you have no more excuses not to get in the best shape of your life!

Anytime Fitness is located at 130 Frederick Road in Thurmont. Their staffed hours are Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. For more information or for a tour, call 301-271-0077. Also, check them out on Facebook.

Anytime Fitness2

Melissa Borns is shown in the newly remodeled and expanded club excersie room, featuring group exercise classes, which are included in the membership price.

Anytime Fitness1

Pictured from left are Bette Troxell, Chet Tippen (trainer), George Puvel (owner), Jason Blough (manager), and Melissa Borns (trainer).

Photos by Deb Spalding

The Furnace Bar and Grill Now Open for Dining

Deb Spalding

A new restaurant opened on March 8, 2015, in Catoctin Furnace near Thurmont. It’s called The Furnace Bar and Grill, and is located in the former Dale’s Place Bar. The Furnace is visible from Route 15, but you won’t notice any difference from the former business until you walk inside. There, the memory of Dale’s Place ends abruptly when faced with the fact that the interior of the building has been completely renovated. Where a pool table and dividing walls once existed, a new open and airy floor plan welcomes diners. The floors, the bathrooms, the dining room, the bar, and the kitchen have been stripped and replaced with upscale accents.

The renovated interior is a nice surprise, but it is exceeded by the taste of the food. It’s worth your time to try this new dining opportunity. Bring the family!

Sandy Copenhaver stopped in to pick up her to-go order during her lunch break at Renovations and said, “I’m excited to have a new place to eat!”

Greg Martinez, General Manager, is delighted to be part of this new venture. He’s worked with owner Ron Chen, who also owns Liberty Road Seafood near Libertytown, for two years, growing from a part-time cook at Liberty Road to full-time management. When Dale’s Place came available about a year ago, Chen and Martinez dug into the new project and followed it through as it morphed into the exceptional presentation that now welcomes diners.

Furnace Sauce, the signature sauce at The Furnace Bar and Grill, is Martinez’s baby. He’s been working on the recipe for six years. He takes great pride in this “kick it” sauce and his dough. He gives credit to co-workers and to Sue Whitmer who have helped with several recipes on the menu like beer cheese, BLT flatbread, and stuffed jalapenos.  The Furnace Cheeseburger is hand-paddied and fresh. The salads are really good. All menu items feature good sized portions with reasonable prices.

The Furnace presents a pub food menu. The Furnace Dog is a foot-long hot dog stuffed with pickled jalapeno, cheddar cheese, wrapped in bacon then fried. The order is accompanied with a side of Furnace Fries. Martinez said, “If you’re looking to kick back, enjoy a game and have a beer, this is perfect.”

Parties are welcome. Dining groups over ten people should call to make a reservation. There are several television screens and artwork of local landmarks on the walls. “We do everything we can to make sure everyone is comfortable and has a good time,” Martinez added. This summer, an outdoor deck will be open to diners, and entertainment will be scheduled on some weekends.

Martinez is reaching out to local organizations in order to spread the word about the new restaurant and to show their support of the local community.

Visit The Furnace on Facebook or in person at 12841 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont. Call 240-288-8942 for more information. Hours are Sundays to Thursdays 11:00 a.m. to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

furnace bar and grill pic

The Furnace staff pictured from left are Lauren Silverman, Bev Wyke, Greg Martinez, and Bryan Holland.

Photo by Deb Spalding

Red’s Tavern Under New Management

Visit Red’s new “Team Tavern” in Emmitsburg. They would like to give a special thanks to former managers, Tina and Danny. The Tavern will miss you both!

Red's Tavern

Pictured from left are: (top row) Raeann Wagerman, Sandy Miller, Bryant Hoffman, Raina and Randy Roser, Erin Valentine, and Tyler Hollinger (manager); (bottom Row) Justin Forsythe and Bob “Reds” Hance.

Grace Eyler

On March 7, 2015, members of Guardian Hose Company joined together to celebrate their accomplishments of 2014 during their annual banquet. Invocation was provided by Chaplin Rev. James Hamrick, followed by a home-cooked meal served by GT’s catering. Family and friends mingled until Wayne Stackhouse drew all attention to the podium, where he introduced special guests from other organizations who aided the company throughout the year.

Floral tributes were presented during the memorial service, in memory of Linda Duble, Franklin Keeney, and James Spalding, who all passed in 2014. The entire room bowed their heads while the Chaplin said a pray for the families who lost a loved one.

After the memorial service took place, Chief Chris Kinnaird shared the chief’s report with the audience. Kinnaird started off thanking everyone for their attendance, and for all of their support throughout the year.

“Our company volunteers 364 days of the year; this is our only night off. A huge thanks to Smithsburg and Walkersville Fire Companies for filling in.”

Kinnaird explained that it had been a very busy year. Guardian Hose Company ran 544 more calls than in 2013. Members partook in 528 hours of training, including Fire 1 and 2 classes. It was estimated that Guardian saved an approximate 1.8 million dollars in damage. On the average, eight volunteers respond to a call.

Kinnaird was proud to announce that this year every firefighter will be provided with a “Bail Out Kit,” which includes a 30-foot rope, carabineer, and escape hook. This will enable the firefighter to safely exit from a second-story window. Other expenses incurred included new tools, upgrades, and maintenance to the company’s apparatuses.

“It is better to be over prepared then under,” stated Kinnaird. “That’s a part of our job. We ride around in big tool boxes!” joked Kinnaird.

Guardian runs on three well-prepared engines, but could soon drop down to two apparatuses. The next big expense they foresee will be replacing one of the apparatuses, in roughly two to three years, which will cost approximately $500,000. Another change the fire company foresees will be overnight crews who will stay at the fire house, awaiting any calls that may come in during late hours. This will quicken response time to a call.

Top responders were recognized by Assistant Chief Carroll Brown. This year’s top responders were: Dave Sanders—145 calls; Steve Strickhouser—184 calls; Christopher Kinnaird II-202 calls; Chad Brown—246 calls; and Brian Donovan—278 calls. Top five drivers included Steve Yingling Larry Duble, Mike Duble, Wayne Stackhouse, and Terry Frushour.

Service Awards were presented to Charity Wivell; Cody Wivell; Christopher Kinnaird, II and Chad Brown for five years of service. Ten years of service awards were presented to Matthew Black and James Kilby. Twenty years of service awards were presented to Robert Dailey, Jr.; Blaine Schidlt, Sr.; and Christopher Kinnaird. Thirty five years of service awards were presented to Ray Brown; Donald Doughtery, Jr.; and Larry Duble. Life membership awards were given to Troy Angell and Lori Brown.

Wayne turned the microphone over to Robert Jacobs to swear in the 2015 Administrative and Operational Officers: President—Wayne Stackhouse; President Emeritus—Donald Stitely; Vice President—Terry Frushour; Secretary—Lori Brown; Assistant Secretary—Tisha Miller; Treasurer—Russell Shantz,  Assistant Treasurer—Pam Fraley; Trustees: Brian Donavan, Jody Miller, Steve Yingling, Joe Ohler and Steve Strickhouser. Operational officers include: Chief—Chris Kinnaird; Assistant Chief—Carroll Brown; Captian—Blaine Schildt; Lieutenants—Sean Donovan, Will Gue, and Chaplin Rev. James Hamrick.

Wayne Stackhouse closed the evening with, “May you take a part of your company’s operation, big or small—it takes us all. Our company’s success will be measured by your efforts. All of your efforts are always appreciated.”

Lori Brown_Life Member

Wayne Stackhouse presents Lori Brown with Life Membership Award.


Operational Officers_GHC

Operational Officers

Pictured from left are: (back) Blaine Schildt and Will Gue; (front) Chris Kinnaird and Charlie Brown.

James Rada, Jr.

Walk into the science classrooms at Thurmont Middle School on Wednesdays after school and prepare to be amazed. Alyssa Malasky (6th grade) and Joey Risser (6th grade) built a rocket nearly as tall as they are that is powered by water. Mikaila Risser (8th grade) builds simple machines and tests what they can do. Anthony Southmuye (8th grade) and Silas Nickerson (8th grade) test their rubber-band-powered car.

Out in the hallway, Kallan Lathan (7th grade), Kariana Strickhouser (7th grade), and Sophia DeGennaro (6th grade) have built two devices designed to use air pressure to launch ping-pong balls at precise distances.

Down in the gymnasium, Isaac Dodson (6th grade) tests his balsa-wood airplanes to see which design stays in the air the longest.

These students are all members of Thurmont Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team. The seventeen students pair off in small teams to train in some of the twenty-three Science Olympiad events. Each student competes in three or four events, and the team as a whole has a team to compete in each event.

“Science Olympiad is a hands-on K-12 program to teach students STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Jilicia Johnson, one of the team’s advisors and a Thurmont Middle School science teacher.

“They get to experience science outside of classroom, and some of them go beyond what they are learning in the classroom.”

Johnson is assisted by fellow teacher, Susan Mize; Jesse Rose, a retired engineer; and Melissa Carter, a Fort Detrick scientist.

Mikaila said she joined the team last year because, “You get to go more in-depth with science and things.”

Her younger brother, Joey, is also a member of the team.

“He wanted to join mostly because I convinced him that it was fun,” Mikaila said.

She and Joey even compete together in an event called Write It, Do It. One team member goes into a room and writes instructions for building what he or she sees. The instructions are then given to the other team member to see if he or she can follow directions to build the original device.

Another event is a lot like participating in an episode of CSI. Sydney Hafler (7th grade) competes in Crime Busters. In this event, she is given a crime scenario, along with evidence that is a combination of liquids, powders, and fibers. She then has to test the materials to identify them and use them to determine who committed the crime.

“For instance, if a powder at the crime is baking powder, then the person is probably a cook rather than a drywaller,” Hafler said.

The team placed fifth out of seventeen teams at the Frederick Invitational in February. The school also placed in fifteen of the twenty-three events. Regionals are held at the University of Maryland in late March; if the team qualifies, it will go on to the state competition at Johns Hopkins University.

“Thurmont Middle School had a team that won the states in 2008, and went on to compete in the nationals at George Washington University,” Johnson said.

Although the students love the thrill of the competition, they are also enjoying the journey to get ready for competition as they test designs and ideas, evaluate what happens, and adjust their designs and ideas and search of the winning entry.


Thurmont Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team members, Alyssa Malasky and Joey Risser, build a rocket that is powered by water.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.