Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs
Teased, better yet, taunted by a 65-degree day, not once, but twice, had me calling out, “Hey, show me some robins!” Alas, none were to be seen, but there were voices, then sightings of returning redwing blackbirds—no wing coloring yet—to join the seasonal regulars: cardinals, titmice, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, mourning doves, and wrens, especially those who winter their nights under the eaves of our porch. Also, the visiting of jays and cameos (unfortunately, not on demand) from area attracted woodpeckers—the downy, hairy and red-bellied. All attracted by Mrs. Lib’s feeding stations here and wherever we have lived. Missed dearly from our farm days are red-headed woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and common flickers. We are anxiously awaiting our summer visitors, the catbirds and mockingbirds drawn to an old mulberry tree and Mrs. Lib’s sliced grapes.
We really miss Zurgables for the convenient purchase of birdseed for Mrs. Lib’s backyard guests, but it was time for Mark to step back. Thank you for your service to our community, and we tip our hats to you. We are still helping keep Jubilee going with ample shelled peanut purchases for the squirrels and jays.
President’s Day marked our annual mid-late national observance to our Aquarian February. So, a good time to add a tribute to the day to the many. This one is from the author of War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, who wrote some forty-five years after the assassination of Lincoln, “The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar, or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln.”
At our last town meeting, our planner, Zach Gulden, introduced an update to our sign ordinance, the first of three planned consecutive presentations. The update is recommended, “Due to modern technological advances and recent Federal Supreme Court cases. The proposed amendment seeks to meet the needs of businesses and other organizations while protecting and enhancing the visual quality and traditional design concepts of Emmitsburg.” The business audience was engaging.
Mr. Gulden also presented the “MS4” town compliance update. MS4 is the handle for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. “The town is identified as an urbanized area and is mandated by the Environment Protection Agency and State of Maryland Department of the Environment to hold a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Our current permit is valid from 2018-2023. This is an unfunded mandate, which means we must meet the permit requirements with no funding help from the state or federal governments. The town may be fined up to $100,000 per day if the permit requirements are not met. The most costly requirement of the NPDES permit is treating at least 20 percent of the town’s impervious surface stormwater runoff every five years. The following are acceptable restoration strategies for receiving impervious area restoration credit: new stormwater ponds, existing stormwater pond retrofits (such as converting a dry pond to a wetland or providing additional water storage), restoring failed stormwater ponds, street sweeping, buffer planting, reforestation, stream restoration, inlet cleaning, shoreline stabilization, and others. Town staff is researching stream restoration projects and grant funding opportunities to meet this term’s permit needs. Staff projects the NPDES permit could cost the Town at least $500,000 every five years. That is certainly imposing as yet another mandate.
To our benefit, as I mentioned last month, is our timber asset and the town will be submitting requests for grant assistance.
New business development: (1) preliminary plans have been received for a Rutters gas and convenience store on part of the 200+ acres undeveloped within town limits on the east side of US 15. Yes, a Rutters may return to town, but this time on a much larger scale. This initial development will bring water and sewer to that area that could open the area to more commercial development. Additionally, there are preliminary plans for a retail commercial building on Silo Hill Parkway next to the car wash. Also the town-owned property on South Seton Avenue is being changed from residential to commercial (as allowed) and now being offered for rent.
We are not losing our mind, prices are rising. From an article in the Saturday, February 16, 2019, Wall Street Journal, “The Price of a Clean House” confirms our suspicions. The article tracked prices of several top-selling brands for everyday use household goods for the January 2018-January 2019 period. Manufacturers cited increased costs of production and delivery. By the way, more cost increases are expected to come this year… Kleenex 160-count tissues rectangular box, price bump 8.4 percent. Bounty Size-a-Super Roll 6 pack, price bump 19.4 percent. Huggies 112-count, size 4, disposable diapers up 1.9 percent. Glad Force Flex 13-gallon kitchen bags, 140 count, price bump 4.5 percent.
Ambivalent in its cadence, is the tempered assurance that spring will “stick the landing” once again. Unpredictable as to specifically when and how, there is always the predictability that it will be. The seasons do come with a wonderful rhythm. Let’s take care of it.
Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird
Recent snowfall has dashed any hopes of an early spring, but it is coming. In the meantime, a few thoughts when it snows: If you can get your car off the road, please do so, it helps our snowplows; Don’t shovel driveway aprons until our snow plows go past; Do be careful when driving close to snow plows; Keep an eye on your elderly neighbors when it gets really cold or we get snow and ice; Be sure your kids are dressed appropriately for the cold or snow; Make sure your pets are indoors during extreme cold or make sure they have ample shelter with fresh water and food. Snow can be fun, but it can also be very hazardous. Please remember to call 911 for all medical, fire, or rescue emergencies. Thurmont residents should call 301-271-7313 to report any water, electric, or sewer emergencies. Use the same number after hours and follow the instructions for reporting an emergency.
The next months will bring some great local events to Thurmont, courtesy of Thurmont Main Street. Get a head start on your own wellbeing at the 2nd Annual Zumbathon, being held on Sunday, April 7, at the Thurmont American Legion, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Proceeds from this event will help support Thurmont’s Gateway to the Cure 2019. On Saturday, April 27, be sure to attend the Thurmont Business Showcase, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at the Thurmont Event Complex. This well-attended annual event features many local businesses and nonprofits and gives you the chance to discover local businesses, services, and products of which you may not have been aware. Bring your family and friends to the Thurmont Event Complex at 13716 Strafford Drive for this wonderful event. If you are looking for some outdoor fun, head out to the 1st Annual Gateway to the Cure Golf Tournament, being held at Maple Run Golf Course on June 21. Keep an eye open for further details on this local golfing event at Thurmont’s own Maple Run Golf Course.
There are lots of projects planned for the Thurmont area this coming year, from a third pavilion at the community park, new lighting in the trolley trail, to new wayfaring signs around town. Cunningham Falls State Park is in the process of making some great improvements to the facilities at the lake and at the Manor area. New restrooms, picnic facilities, beach improvements, enhanced entrance facilities, a new outdoor center, and several other projects are in the works. These improvements may have an impact on park accessibility during the summer, and officials ask for your understanding—the improvements will be worth the inconvenience!
I hope everyone has a wonderful March, and we are all looking forward to warmer spring weather when we can get back outside to enjoy all Thurmont has to offer!
As always, please call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at email@example.com with any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also follow my Facebook page for updates on local issues or upcoming events.