Mayor John Kinnaird
This past week, I have had the pleasure of participating in the Thurmont Middle School (TMS) Kindness Week Challenge. As students arrive for their day, I have been greeting them and wishing them a good day. I am happy to report that every one of the young people I have spoken to are excited to be at school and are, themselves, very polite and considerate of others. The goal of Kindness Week is to encourage an atmosphere of kindness and consideration among all students. It is obvious to me that these goals are being meet by all students and staff at TMS! My thanks to all of the students and staff for allowing me to play a small part in their day.
On January 21, Karen and I had the pleasure of attending the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company Awards Banquet, held in the newly completed Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex. The new building located off Lawyer’s Lane on Strafford Drive is a real gem of a facility. The main room is massive and can seat well over six hundred comfortably, with room for a dance floor. There is a large stage for presentations and concerts, as well as several drop-down video screens. The kitchen is a spacious room, with ample capacity for large banquets, weddings, or meetings. We would encourage anyone looking to rent a large venue to give the Event Complex a look! The banquet was prepared and served by members of the Rocky Ridge 4-H, and it was delicious. The Ambulance Company thanked the Scouts of Troop 270 and the Venturing Crew for installing the stone work on the exterior of the building and for planting over a hundred trees on the property. The Thurmont Ambulance ran a total of 1,258 calls in 2016; although I hope no one requires an ambulance, I can tell you from personal experience that you could not find better qualified, courteous, or professional ambulance personnel anywhere. I want to thank all the members of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service for their hard work in getting this building built, and for their continued service to the residents of Thurmont and our neighbors in Frederick County.
Although we are still not through the worst part of winter, I want to mention a local project that will be worth visiting time and again once the weather warms up. Frederick County is currently making big improvements to the Roddy Road Park. These changes include moving the road away from Owens Creek in order to make pedestrian access to the stream much easier. There are new benches, picnic tables, walkways, dedicated parking, an infant playground, and even a new composting toilet. There are plans to develop a walking trail on the south side of Owens Creek that will wind along the embankment and up across the palisade. Of course, I can’t mention the park without saying something about the Roddy Road Covered Bridge. As everyone knows, the bridge was damaged twice in the last year and suffered major damages during the last incident. I am happy to say that Frederick County has stepped up and is repairing the bridge to a like-new condition. Many of the main frame timbers were damaged and have been replaced with identical woodwork. There are dozens of original supports being incorporated in the sides in the rebuilt bridge, and new steel beams will carry the weight of traffic under the wooden deck. The final touch will be a new metal roof and board siding. As I said, the County has stepped up on this project and it is obvious that they are intent on keeping the beloved Roddy Road Bridge in service. This landmark is a destination for many tourists and local residents, and the improvements will be a welcome addition. I want to also thank Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction for the fine craftsmanship they are investing in the rebuilding of the bridge.
As we get into February, I want to remind everyone that we will probably be seeing snow sometime this month and next. The Thurmont Police Department recently started a project called the Snow Team. Code Enforcement Officer Christy Wood has developed this project as a way to assist elderly and disabled residents with the removal of snow and ice from their sidewalks. The Snow Team is looking for teenage and adult volunteers to sign up to help clear snow for residents that are unable to do so themselves. Student volunteers can use the volunteer time as part of their community service requirements. Please stop by the Town Office or the Police Department to find out how you can help in this effort.
As always, I hope everyone has a safe and healthy month!
Mayor Don Briggs
With the new year came the 133rd Vigilant Hose Company Banquet, an annual event Lib and I are always honored to attend. Over the course of the evening, I could not help but notice the parallel state of readiness and preparedness of the volunteer fire company and the teams that would compete in the upcoming College National Football Championship game. Both Clemson and Alabama and our fireman go through hours upon hours of rigorous training in preparation for yet unknown events and outcomes. Framing the comparison is not difficult. To no surprise, before a big football game, there is an elevated pitch in the locker room. Monday night players will go through a predictable series of steps in preparing for the game. Go to the stadium, tape up, suit up, loosen up, get a pre-game talk, and then go out on the field and play in the game. Looking across the Mother Seton auditorium, I knew that in a blink of an eye, the room could be emptied if a call came in and fire personnel were needed. Every firefighter and company support member would be gone. Gone to the fire house to suit up, but, unlike football, there would be no tape ups, loosening up or pre-game talk before going on to their “field”—on a call with no level field or fixed boundaries. A “field” of unknowns. If asked what it is like to be a volunteer fireman, knowing every day and every night that a call could come in, is only met with a shrug of the shoulders and a smile. Amazing people.
So what is the circle of care in Emmitsburg? One example is the first level of care: The volunteer Vigilant Hose Company responded to a call at a residence on East Main Street, where a fire would soon be extinguished, with limited damage and no personal injuries; but as a result, the family is now displaced. Hearing this, Sharon Hane and another concerned resident contacted Pastor John Greenstone, who manages the Emmitsburg Council of Churches fire fund, and told him of the family’s situation. The good Pastor concurred with the need and wrote a check. To accommodate the father’s schedule, one evening before Christmas, I gave him the check at the Community Center, where he was waiting to pick up his child from the town-sponsored after-school program. Volunteer Fire Company to concerned citizens to charitable resources and to town-sponsored childcare program is one way of how the circle of care works.
More “Green.” During the current drought conditions, predictably, the water levels at Rainbow Lake dropped. Unpredictably, though, was a natural consequence of algae levels that rose quickly, in part with more exposure to sunlight. Currently, the increased algae level necessitates more backwashing, which is expensive and exacerbates the water shortage by using and wasting water in the process. The town administration has proposed to the town council installing a solar powered “Advanced Ultrasonic Algae Control System.”
Soon there could be charging infrastructure for electric vehicles coming to Emmitsburg. From Shannon Moore, director of the Office of Sustainability: “As part of a settlement with the federal government, Volkswagen (VW) committed $2 billion over ten years to help advance the Electric Vehicle/Plug-In Electric Vehicle infrastructure in the United States. As a part of this settlement, VW is soliciting applications, due by January 16, 2017, from those interested in helping advance said infrastructure. The COG (Washington Council of Governments) team is seeking project partners to receive the financial assistance to install chargers at host sites, either public or private. The team also is seeking partners to assist with education and outreach as well as vocational training.” To keep things moving, the town has expressed an interest in becoming a partner and possibly installing two charger stations. More to come on this.