The Catoctin Banner is Set for Transition

Deb Abraham Spalding

I wear a ring that is inscribed with the saying, “Life is happening for us.” This concept has been my motto for several years and reminds me of my belief that our purpose in this life is to learn lessons that allow each of us to become resilient, loving, and kind. When I started my business, an errand service, after resigning my position as Recreation Superintendent with Frederick County Government in August 2002, I didn’t realize that life was happening “for” me.

I knew I was doing good things for others and I felt good about that, but I believed I could do so much more – and make more money. Quickly, I learned that being good at managing recreation programs and volunteers in a service industry is completely different than earning enough revenue to survive in my own business.

Fortunately, life “was happening FOR me.” I just didn’t know it yet because my business wasn’t earning a profit! The nice salary I left at the county didn’t follow me. My business was called Errands Plus. I was shopping for people, taking them to doctor appointments, organizing for them, and unwittingly asking for too little compensation. I had a little office/store in Thurmont where lots of people were driving by, but very few were stopping. I was advertising my business in The Banner.

One day, my dear friend Steve Trout reached out to me and asked if I would put my errand service in the lobby of his grocery store, Jubilee Foods, in Emmitsburg. I accepted – convinced that more people would patronize the store since they were now walking by instead of driving by. From the lobby of Jubilee, the community shaped my future. They wanted a copier, then a color copier, then business cards – along with grocery shopping, and errands. Errands Plus became Errands Plus Copy Center.

While acting as a courier for Lori (Smith) Zentz, the then-publisher of The Banner, I offered to help her with the publication. I had designed and published The Recreater brochure when I worked at the county and soon, I added publishing to my list of business services as I burst into a new role as The Catoctin Banner’s publisher.

Next, my store’s name was shortened to “E” Plus Copy Center since I was doing more printing and less errands. “E” stands for “everything,” by the way. That’s right. I was doing everything PLUS!

Soon, Grace Eyler graduated from Catoctin High School and became my team. I met Grace when I worked at the county. She was a participant in one of my afterschool programs at Thurmont Middle School. Today, I most thank Grace for her support of me, for becoming the first member of my team, and for being my rock every step of the way! She learned everything I knew (plus some) and was willing to commit to the business to help it grow.

New members of my team joined and today, I believe that E Plus and The Catoctin Banner have THE most talented writers (Banner Team), contributors and advertisers (Banner VIPs), and readers (Banner Fans) in the whole world! I’m serious!

If The Catoctin Banner publication was a ship, it would be a Catoctin cruise ship docked in the sunny and warm Bahamas! It’s sunny and warm with all good news that’s presented in a way that celebrates our residents, our successes, our history, our progress. It’s where to find “where the party is being held” with the most comprehensive calendar of events for our area. The whole community “shares their good news” to make The Catoctin Banner come to life every month. It’s an important part of our lives.

I didn’t succeed with The Catoctin Banner and E Plus (now E Plus Graphics and Promotions) on my own. Life happened “FOR” me by presenting me with talented team members. Early on, James Rada, Jr. joined the team as a contributing writer and editor and George W. Wireman (deceased) contributed his journalistic talents to solidify its foundation. Michele Tester joined as the publication’s talented layout artist, and Maxine Troxell created and maintains its web presence. Blair Garrett joined on as a journalist, and John Nickerson, a.k.a. Gnarly Artly, created the Banner’s masthead logo and contributes the monthly cartoon.

The Banner Team grew with very talented columnists – Valerie Nusbaum, Denise Valentine, Buck Reed, and poet (deceased) Frances Smith. My mother, Barbara Abraham (deceased) and her sister Joan Fry volunteered to edit each edition and even helped with distribution.

A host of contributors shared their unique perspectives including Jeanne Angleberger, Dr. Thomas Lo, Michael Betteridge, Carie Stafford, Lisa Cantwell, Jayden Myers, Ana Morlier, Ava Morlier, and Helen Xia. Jack Davis tackles the bulk of the distribution and most recently – it’s been years now – Richard Fulton joined our Team as a journalist. There are more people who served as part of The Catoctin Banner Team. I can’t properly recall all of our team members over the years and for that, I apologize here. Likewise, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge and thank the postal carriers at our Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Rocky Ridge, and Cascade Post Offices for delivering The Catoctin Banner in every kind of weather all of these years!

With all of these individuals handling their part, I can boast that The Catoctin Banner is blessed with a talented and knowledgeable team!

This January edition is my last as the leader of the Banner Team and I pass my keyboard to a new publisher for the February 2024 edition.

Welcome Alisha Yocum! Born and raised in the Catoctin region, she attended our local schools and participated in local sports as a youngster. She brings with her over 15 years of experience in non-profits where she has managed publications, membership, and marketing for multiple associations. Yocum and her husband, Justus, live in Sabillasville with their two children, Eli and Bryce.

Yocum says she is honored to carry on the mission of The Catoctin Banner by sharing the good news in the Catoctin community. “Being born and raised in this community, I have experienced first-hand all the goodness of the people and organizations that call this area their home,” said Yocum.

You’ll already find Yocum entwined in the community through her volunteer roles where she serves as member of her church council, President of the Board of Directors of Sabillasville Environmental School, Secretary of the Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) Football and Cheer, and actively involved in Thurmont Little League and CYA Basketball. Yocum hopes to use her community connections to keep growing The Banner and make it a “go to” place for businesses and non-profits to promote their services and events.

I believe Yocum will grow this publication to a new potential from which we’ll all benefit.

I am grateful to each and every person who has touched me through this publication over the years. I most greatly acknowledge our Catoctin Banner VIPs – our advertisers! And as we do every month, we thank you, Banner Fans, for reading The Catoctin Banner and we urge you to continue to support the community through this publication by patronizing its advertisers and mentioning their ads in The Catoctin Banner when you do. It is because of our VIPs (advertisers) that The Catoctin Banner exists. I extend a sincere thank you to every advertiser for your continued support!

Life is happening FOR us, folks! Isn’t it exciting? My most recent motto is, “If you don’t do it, you won’t do it.” I’m cheering us all on!

The History of the Publication

The Banner can trace its roots back to 1995 when Lori (Smith) Zentz was asked to take over the newspaper publication from Art Elder at the Chronicle Press in Emmitsburg. From there Lori printed her first issue of The Banner with a new mission, which was to provide a friendly source of community news and information for residents of Thurmont and surrounding communities; and to promote a sense of community pride and spirit. Smith Zentz quickly grew the paper from 8 pages to 20 pages and added spot color blue print. Even as a small community newspaper, she covered national news like when Thurmont Elementary School was the media hub for the Israeli Peace Talks at Camp David in 2000. There, she and the team of writers met reporters from all over the world. They even went to the White House to report the local Challenger League playing baseball on the White House lawn and had a tour of Marine One.

 In 2000 the name of the publication changed to The Catoctin Banner and she continued growing and fulfilling the mission of the publication. In 2007, Zentz transitioned the publication over to Deb Abraham Spalding, who has also put her own touches on the paper for the past sixteen years.

Banner VIP Advertisers

The Catoctin Banner has relied on the support of its advertisers to keep providing a source for community news. The Catoctin Banner would like to thank the following advertisers who, once they started advertising, never stopped. Some have been advertising continuously for over fifteen years!*

*Affordable Self Storage, Baker Tree Services, Carriage House Inn, Catoctin Church of Christ, Catoctin Dental, Catoctin Mountain Flooring, *Catoctin Mountain Orchard, *Catoctin Veterinary Clinic, Charis Realty-Kelsey Norris, Climb Properties-Sandi Burns, D&J Auto Body, Delphey Construction, Doug’s Auto Body, Dynamark Security Centers, Dynamic Automotive, Emmitsburg Tattoo, Frederick County Parks & Recreation, Fort Ritchie Community Center, Frederick County Chimney Sweep, Frederick County Paving, Gary the Barber, Gene’s Towing, Getz Computers & Communications, Graceham Moravian Church, Harriet Chapel, Here’s Clyde’s Family Hair Care, *J&B Real Estate, Jubilee Foods, Keymar Outdoors, KLS Home Improvements, Long & Foster-Ginger Greene, Los Amigos Restaurant, *Main Street Groomers, Main Street Upholstery, McLaughlin’s Energy Services, Melissa M. Wetzel Accounting, Mick’s Plumbing and HVAC, Mike’s Ag Fence Repair, *Mike’s Auto Body & Towing, *Mountain View Lawn Service, Nails By Anne, Nusbaum & Ott Painting, Nutritional Healing Center, Ott House Pub, Palms Restaurant, Pondscapes, Quality Tire and Auto, Re/Max Results-Kim Clever, Real Estate Teams-Little & Moore, Scenic View Orchards, Senior Benefit Services, Slater & Slater PC, Spike’s Auto Care & Tire, Squeaky Clean, Staley’s Onsite Services, Thurmont Ambulance Company, Thurmont United Methodist Church, and Tracy’s Auto Repair.

This list does not diminish the advertising of new and less frequent advertisers who rely on this publication to share their services and news. We thank you, too. If you own a business or run non-profit services or events, please reach out to be a part of the Catoctin community’s favorite monthly publication, The Catoctin Banner!

Deb Abraham Spalding (right) will be transitioning The Catoctin Banner to a new publisher, Alisha Yocum (left) with the February issue.

Pictured above is Alisha Yocum (right), with her family, Eli, Justus, and Bryce.

Covers from the past issues of The Catoctin Banner are showcased above

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