Currently viewing the tag: "community Park"

James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg could have its own disc golf by next spring. The town commissioners approved the design of an 18-hole disc golf course in Community Park during their October meeting.

Disc golf is played similar to golf. Instead of hitting a golf ball into a hole, players throw Frisbees into baskets. Its popularity has soared in recent years because it is an inexpensive sport for both the player and the course owner.

A $14,000 Community Parks and Playground Grant will fund the cost of the course. Fredrock Disc Golf, the group that designed and built the Woodsboro disc golf course, designed the Emmitsburg course to use some of the unused park area in Community Park. Also, the design does not require any mature, healthy trees be removed. Only dead and diseased trees and invasive species of plants will be removed.

“Disc golf is an activity that everybody can participate in,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners. “If you can walk, if you can be in a wheelchair, if you can get around, you can participate in disc golf.”

Town Clerk Madeline Shaw came up with the idea for the disc golf course and did the research to determine its feasibility. She said she was looking for an idea that would utilize more of Community Park (roughly only half of the park acreage is used now) and promote walkability and healthy lifestyles.

Woodsboro, Walkersville, and Middletown have disc golf courses, and Willets talked to staff at those towns to find out how they liked their courses. She said one town manager told her he was “amazed by how many people get out and just walk and get the exercise.” The length of Emmitsburg’s course is estimated to be about two miles.

The commissioners had some concerns over the placement of some of the holes and whether they would be in water when it rained. Fredrock representatives said if water becomes an issue with a hole, it can be relocated to a dry fairway within a few hours.

Although the Town of Emmitsburg will provide minimal weeding and clearing, volunteers with Fredrock will maintain the course in a similar way to how the town’s mountain biking trails are maintained.

If things go as planned, the town could host a ribbon-cutting for the course in April. Commissioner Tim O’Donnell suggested it might even be possible to have a tournament during Community Heritage Day.

The commissioners approved the course 4-1 with the understanding that the layout could be modified if needed. Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, was the dissenting vote.

Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. held its annual banquet in November at Simply Asia in Thurmont. This yearly meeting serves as a wrap-up for the Colorfest annual festival.

The weather for the festival was not optimum this year, with cold temperatures on Sunday, some rain, and plenty of mud. Crowds still turned out in large numbers to enjoy the offerings from hundreds of vendors. The festival was also able to avoid the power outages that plagued last year’s event.

During the meeting, annual donations are made to various organizations in Thurmont, in an effort to give back to the community. This year, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. donated $20,339.22 to the following organizations:

  • $5,100 to Town of Thurmont
  • $4,500 to Catoctin High Scholarships
  • $3,500 to Thurmont Food Bank
  • $1,500 to Guardian Hose Company
  • $1,500 to Thurmont Ambulance Company
  • $1,500 to Thurmont Police Department
  • $696 to Catoctin High School FFA
  • $500 to local victims of a fire
  • $500 to Thurmont Ambulance Company (value of two vendor spaces at the festival used by the company at no cost)
  • $383.22 to Town gardens
  • $225 to Thurmont Library Fun Day
  • $190 to Town of Thurmont for flag lighting
  • $150 to Family Christmas meals
  • $75 to Mechanicstown Park Christmas decorations
  • $20 to American Heart Association

The Town of Thurmont issued 798 vendor permits for the event this year, of which 244 were for the Colorfest, Inc. vendors in Community Park. Among the other stats Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. listed were: 5,120 pounds of trash were generated in Community Park during the event; 72 bales of straw were delivered to combat the mud; and 9,600 apple dumplings were sold by the Thurmont Ambulance Company.

The 56th Annual Catoctin Colorfest will be held on October 12 and 13, 2019.


The Emmitsburg Heritage Day event will be welcoming the addition of a 6K Race in 2018. Lace up your sneakers and hit the road on Saturday, June 30, 2018, for the Inaugural Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day 6K Race. Beat the heat with an early start at 7:30 a.m. on this 6K (3.7 mile) course.  The race begins at the Emmitsburg Community Center on South Seton Avenue and meanders through the rolling outskirts of town, finishing at the Community Park, where the Community Heritage Day festivities will take place. Don’t forget those furry, four-legged friends who have faithfully run by your side. Register your dog to run with you and receive a special bandana for it to wear proudly. The race is open to young and old alike, and promotes good, healthy competition for walkers and runners. Awards will be given to the top overall male and female runner, as well as medals to the top three finishers in each age group category.

For more information about the Inaugural Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day 6K or to download a Race Registration Form, visit

As night fell in Thurmont on October 28, 2017, the gates to Community Park creaked open, and ghouls, ghosts, and monsters swarmed inside for the annual Halloween in the Park event.

Ashley Wivell of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, has come to the event with her children for four years. “It’s different,” she said. “The younger kids were scared at first, but now they enjoy it.”

The night’s activities included magic shows, face painting, and a Halloween egg hunt. A non-scary children’s area featured games and activities, such as Ring-a-Monster, Apple Dip, and Candy Corn Ball Toss. Plenty of food and drink was available, all for the cost of admission ($3.00 and a canned food item for the Thurmont Food Bank).

“We collected a couple truckloads of food last year and were able to make a $1,000 donation to the food bank after expenses,” said Thurmont Commissioner Wayne Hooper, who chairs the town’s special events committee, which has been putting on Halloween in the Park for years.

The event started around twenty years ago, far different from the elaborate production that it is now. “It started way back as pumpkin carving and storytelling,” Hooper said.

It continues to grow every year. The most popular events are the Haunted Hayride, Haunted House, and Little Shop of Horrors. Attendees are more than willing to wait in long lines for a chance to be scared.

“It’s different every year, but I love how they keep some of the same stuff,” said ten-year-old Star Wivell.

All of the events are put together and run by approximately one hundred volunteers.

Nikolene Cole and her daughter, Annika Cordier, were in town from Mechanicsburg. They were wondering what they would do while Annika’s father was getting a tattoo, when they saw a flyer advertising Halloween in the Park. They put together a costume for Annika with items from the Dollar Store and headed out for fun.

“It’s a great event for kids,” Cole said. “We really like the Halloween Egg Hunt.”

Hundreds of attendees were in agreement. They came decked out in costumes to enjoy a fun evening in Thurmont.

Just two of the dozens of awesome customes seen at Thurmont’s Annual Halloween in the Park on October 28, 2017.

Work is ongoing to try and save as many of the Community Park ash trees as possible. The trees were damaged by the emerald ash borer.

The town was able to get good pricing on the preservation of the trees, because the town piggybacked on other contracts for other municipalities.

Last year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources identified 270 ash trees in the park. Of this amount 74 were determined to be “hazard trees” due to the damage that was caused to them by the emerald ash borer.

“It’s not the feeding on the leaves by the adults that damage and kill the trees, it’s the egg-laying process and then the nymphs when they hatch and they’re feeding under the bark and cambium tissue,” said Chris Klimas, with the Davy Tree Expert Company. The damaged trees can’t get enough water to replace what they lose due to evaporation, and so they die.

Not all of the hazard trees need to be removed. Forty-four trees were initially recommended for treatment, which involves injecting trees with Arbormectin. It takes about three days to disburse through the tree and will protect it for two years. Klimas said that the 44 trees that were treated are “looking very good.” They won’t need to be reinjected in 2018.

Some trees still need to be removed, but far fewer than originally expected. “A lot of the other trees are still hanging in there pretty good, which really amazed me because of the mortality on the other side of Route 15 on the mountains,” Klimas said.

However, he pointed out that the trees will soon start dying. The town has a six-month window once the trees start dying to remove the trees with climbers, rather than removing them with more-expensive means. So far, 48 trees have been removed.

Treatment will also be expanded to another 73 trees that can be treated and possibly saved. These trees will need to be retreated in 2019.

Some trees will eventually need to be removed, but treatment also helps with these trees by delaying their deaths. This will allow the town time to spread out the costs of removing the trees.

Klimas also recommended that the replanting of the lost trees start this fall. It was pointed out that the town has already replanted 75 trees in the park.

“I would definitely go with very diverse species,” Klimas suggested.

Some of the species he suggested include red oak, pin oak, maple, and tulip poplar. He said that two-inch to four-inch diameter trunks would probably be the best size, because these smaller trees survive transplant shock better.


Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont celebrated Arbor Day on April 22 by planting more trees in the Community Park.  This planting was undertaken by the Thurmont Green Team, as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure a clean environment for our current and future residents. The damages inflicted on our Ash trees by the emerald borer resulted in many of the mature trees having to be removed from the Community Park. The planting of new trees will, over time, replace the cooling canopy we enjoy in the park. The Green Team also sponsored a Hunting Creek Clean Up Day and managed to remove 690 pounds of trash from the steam and its banks. The Green Team also wants to remind everyone that garden spots are still available in the Community Garden. Many thanks to Thurmont’s Green Team for their hard work!

The Board of Commissioner (BOC) recently approved a bid for street improvements within town. The work includes blacktop overlays of East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue. This work will be completed during the summer months; please be aware of these projects and, as with all of our street repairs, please be careful when driving through the construction areas.

The BOC is currently working on the 2017-2018 Budget. I am hopeful that we will use the Constant Yield Tax Rate for the upcoming year.  This means that we will be collecting the same amount of taxes as during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With recent increases in property values, everyone should realize a very small decrease in property taxes. We hope to adopt the final budget in May.

In recent weeks, you may have noticed underground work being completed at the intersection of Rouzer Lane and Rt. 550. This work is part of the ongoing effort to ensure dependable electric service for Catoctin High School and the Catoctin Heights subdivision.  Currently, Catoctin Heights is at the end of a service line that starts on the Emmitsburg Road and crosses Rt. 15. The improvements will include new underground service lines, as well as a new loop connected to Sandy Spring Lane, to provide a backup circuit should there be a problem with the current feed line.

I was recently appointed to serve on the Frederick County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC). SWAC is charged with reviewing the County Solid Waste Plan, and we have been following closely the What’s Next initiative, established by County Executive Gardner to investigate improved recycling options for our residents. The State of Maryland has mandated a recycling level of 90 percent for organic waste, including food waste and grass clippings, by the year 2040. This goal will require a massive undertaking within Frederick County to start a program of collection and composting to realize these levels of recycling. The current recommended plan calls for as many as 10-14 small composting facilities across the County and new methods of collection. Ultimately, all residences, businesses, schools, and other facilities will be included in this plan. I encourage all of our residents to pay attention as this plan moves forward and to get involved! For more information about What’s Next, visit

Please take the time to enjoy the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, as well as the improvements to Roddy Road Park and Loy’s Station Park!

I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at


 Mayor Don Briggs

In April, I was given the opportunity to speak at three events.

On April 8, at the Doughboy statue, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the town commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. Commissioner Blanchard and I spoke. Thank you, Commissioner Blanchard, for putting this event together.

In addition to a quote of General Douglas MacArthur, I referenced, in a humble tribute to the soldiers who fought in WWI: “There, for those soldiers, in the prime of their lives, it was a hope for a tomorrow and a prayer for their – now. For us, because of them and what they did and gave, we have a tomorrow of tomorrows and prayers for our now and those nows to come.”

Also on April 8, I joined the  more than two hundred people who attended the dedication of the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue, sharing in awe of the live-burn demo, which used a “Side-by-Side Burn Trailer.”

“Welcome. They say every story has a protagonist, a leading character. The good person, the good people. In our town, there are many protagonists for the many stories that form our community story. And what a story it is, with a rich history that includes both an emphasis on education and spiritualty… Today, we gather for one such story to recognize the collaborative efforts of suppliers, installers, fire service personnel, and all levels of government, to bring about the installation of the sprinkler system in the Fire Museum and National Fire Heritage Center…But underlying this effort has been the quiet efforts of a group of amazing people, lifelong fireman, rooted here in Frederick County and from all over the country… To these founders, it is an honor and pleasure to know and work with you,” I said during my remarks.

On April 10, Libby and I dined with Korey Shorb and Conrad Weaver. Korey is doing great things for the county to educate and understand addiction through his “Up & Out” Foundation. Our Emmy-Award-winner Conrad is producing a documentary on drug addiction, with a focus on Frederick County. More to come on the town’s collaboration with these gentlemen.

On April 12, Libby and I, along with Commissioner Buckman, attended the presentation on addiction at Catoctin High School, sponsored principally by the Schildt family: “CHRIS for Family Support in Recovery.” It was a moving program that touched all the sensibilities of those in attendance, in the nearly packed-full auditorium. I am blessed to have coached young men, in either football or rugby, over a span of five decades, during which I attended funerals for five of my players. Recently, I have been blessed to be mayor of Emmitsburg for the past five years, and during this time, I have already attended five funerals for drug-related deaths.

It is written, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure is our families. In the face of this insidious onslaught, put away petty distractions, and, yes, everything is petty when it comes to our families, as well as our friends and community.

They say that our grandparents—and for some, great-grandparents—were the greatest generation in what they did during WWI. We need another greatest generation in this fight for our children. We can be the next greatest generation—we have to be the next greatest generation.

I am so blessed to live in Northern Frederick County.

Anita DiGregory

colorfest-photo-by-georgiAs in year’s past, the metamorphosis began slowly early in the week. With steady deliveries of port-o-potties, new tents being constructed, and signs going up around town, the temporary makeover was gradually taking shape. By the morning of October 8, 2016, the conversion was complete.  Thurmont’s quaint and quiet Community Park, and surrounding areas, were recreated into a bustling hub of fun and festivities, as residents, vendors, and guests celebrated the 53rd Annual Catoctin Colorfest.

This year’s Colorfest took place on October 8 and 9. It was a rainy, dreary day on Saturday, but the overall mood of crafters, vendors, presenters, and visitors could not be dampened.  With talk of Hurricane Matthew in the air, vendors and visitors alike happily ventured out on Saturday looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  Suited up with umbrellas, raincoats, and boots, friends and guests visited Thurmont’s Community Park on Frederick Road and surrounding areas to find delicious treats, creative crafts, and unique, one-of-a-kind finds, and they were not disappointed.

Carol Robertson, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc., president, was very pleased with the turnout.  “The crowd has been steady and all the vendors have been very happy.  In spite of the weather, everyone who has been coming out is in a good mood and wants to be here,” Robertson added.

The crowds on Saturday seemed a little less than years past due to the weather, but everyone was very happy to be there despite the rain.  Penny Jurchak, organizer and volunteer of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Anthony’s Shrine’s Crab and Sausage Stand, agreed.  “Business is good. We have been constant probably because we have a pavilion, but also because our food is awesome and we have great volunteers!” Jurchak stated.  In spite of the rain, sales seemed to be steady as pleased Colorfest visitors filled their tummies with delicious treats and their carts and wagons with their prized purchases wrapped in bags to protect from the weather.

On Sunday, Thurmont saw the return of the sun and the cheerful and excited crowds. Vendors were happy to visit with returning customers, some of whom have been loyal patrons for years, and meet new ones.  “Every year, people come to the Colorfest…year after year.  It is always fun to get reacquainted with those individuals.  They are usually the first customers,” stated Robertson.  Organizers of the Colorfest were happy to see many returning vendors, as well as several new faces.  Many vendors have been very happy with the turnout, friendly customers, and inviting community that the Colorfest offers.  “As soon as the show is over, vendors turn in their applications for next year!” Robertson added.

More than 200 hand crafters were located within the community park area.  Additionally, there were several vendor demonstrations such as broom-making and decorative candle-designing.  The Colorfest committee worked year-round to make the event a success; while the Town of Thurmont worked hard to help facilitate the event.  “We appreciate the support from the town and the guys with Parks and Electric.  They are all terrific!” stated Robertson.  Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird was happy to be among those helping out and in attendance. “It was an amazing weekend.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we enjoyed having them here,” Kinnaird enthusiastically stated.

Originally started in 1963 as a nature walk, the Colorfest has grown immensely from its humble beginnings and historically has been a very popular event, with vendors and visitors from near and far attending.  It has become one of the largest arts and crafts festivals on the east coast.  Attendance has been noted to reach well over 100,000 earning the event quite a favorable reputation.  In 2005, Sunshine Artists Magazine named the Catoctin Colorfest as one of the top 35 arts and crafts shows in the United States.

Photos by Anita DiGregory


(above) Carol Robertson stands outside her booth at Colorfest on Saturday.


Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird gives a “thumbs up” at Colorfest on Sunday, sitting on his “Think Pink” mobile.


Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Anthony Shrine’s Crab and Sausage stand organizer and volunteer, Penny Jurchak (right)is shown with her granddaughter, Harley Ruttinger.

by Theresa Dardanell

Emmitsburg Public Works Department

Before I met with the Director of the Emmitsburg Public Works Department, James Click, I thought I knew all of the responsibilities of the department. I was amazed at what I didn’t know.

According to the website, the public works department “consists of the following public services: water and sewer, streets, lights, maintenance to all parks and recreation facilities, and snow removal, as well as operating the yard waste and recycling site.”

That might not sound like a lot until you find out more. One example is “streets,” which includes keeping streets clean, repairing and replacing street lights, painting crosswalks and curbs, repairing and replacing signs, trimming trees, and putting up banners and flags for holidays and events. There are 12 miles of roads/streets and 350 street lights in Emmitsburg.

“Parks and Recreation facilities” consists of the Community Park, Memorial Park, Silo Hill, and Emmit Gardens—a total of 70 acres of parkland. Some of the work at these locations includes mowing; weed killing; and maintenance of playground equipment, pavilions, picnic tables, ball field fences, and restroom buildings.

“Water and sewer” includes reading, repairing, and replacing water meters; repairing water leaks and sewer backups; and staffing the wastewater treatment plant and monitoring it every day, around the clock. There are 7 miles of sewer pipe, 10 miles of water pipe, and 133 fire hydrants in town.

In 2005, James Click combined the Department of Public Works and the Water/Sewer Department so that the employees could work together as a team for a more efficient operation. There are only eight employees to handle all of the jobs in both departments.  Along with James Click, the Public Works department members are: Steve Fissel, Building Maintenance; Dave Wantz, Public Works; Chris Wantz, Public Works. The Water/Sewer Department members are: Dan Fissel, Water and Sewer Superintendent; Wayne Sharrer, Senior Operator; Matthew Desmond, Lead Operator; Jacob Fisher, Operator. The town benefits from this working relationship; when snow removal requires additional help, the crew works together to get the job done as quickly as possible. They also take turns working at the yard waste and recycling drop-off center at the wastewater treatment plant on Creamery Road; this service is available to residents all year on the first and third Saturday of every month, from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Because they share the responsibilities, members of the crew need to know how to operate the many different vehicles in the fleet, as well as how to use all the various equipment. Along with the 4×4 trucks, there are trucks for plowing, salting, and hauling; a sludge truck for cleaning sewer lines and septic tanks; a backhoe; a pull-behind trailer lift; several mowers; as well as other equipment.

According to James Click, the members of the crew enjoy their work and want to do a good job for the community. “We look out for the townspeople whatever they may need.  That’s the biggest thing.”


Emmitsburg Public Works Department crew: Chris Wantz, Dave Wantz, James Click, and Steve Fissel.

James Rada, Jr.

colorfest 7The incessant rain on Saturday morning, October 11, 2014, gave way to a cloudy day in the afternoon, transitioning into a sunny, more pleasant day on Sunday for the 51st Annual Colorfest weekend in Thurmont.

The crowds picked up as people turned out for unusual food like Southern-fried Snickers and one-of-a-kind gifts like robot sculptures made from scrap metal by Don Rea. In between, they browsed yard sales or listened to live music being played in front of the town office.

“The crowd started out light because of the rain, but people still came carrying their umbrellas and wearing their ponchos,” said Carol Robertson with Catoctin Colorfest.

The heart of the festival is the 240 juried exhibitors in the Community Park, although booths and vendors could be found throughout Thurmont, along roads, at the carnival grounds, around the American Legion, among others.

Janet Randall and her friend, Rusty, each pulled a collapsible wagon through Community Park looking to fill them with gifts. Randall’s big purchase had been an antique sewing machine that was decorated so that it was more of a craft item than an antique.

Randall said she comes to Colorfest from West River, Maryland, because of all the different crafters who display their goods. She calls all of the craft shows near her home “yard sales” in comparison.

colorfest 4“We’ll have to sneak all this stuff into the house so our husbands won’t see,” Randall said.

While Colorfest was a destination for Randall, Greg Teague and his wife, Beth, just happened to stop in.

“We were going to Gettysburg and were passing by and my wife said that it didn’t look too crowded,” Teague said.

So they parked and began shopping. For Teague, who lives in Frederick, it was his first visit to the festival.

“They have a lot of stuff here,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than it looks.”

Beth added, “You can get visual overload from everything there is to see.”

It was author Bob O’Connor’s first time at the festival, too, and he was selling his historical novels and history books in Community Park.

colorfest 2“It’s a big crowd here, and they seem like they’re in a spending mood,” O’Connor said. “I mean when you see people walking around with wagons and carts, they are obviously looking to buy.”

Sharon Dustin is a regular visitor to Colorfest. Although she lives in Bowie, she’s been visiting each year for thirty years. It’s a family outing for them. In fact, her granddaughter, Alexis, first came to Colorfest when she was only three weeks old.

“I really like looking at all the stuff that people make,” Dustin said.

Set up for Colorfest begins during the week leading up to the event, with much of it taking place on the Friday before.

“It’s like a little city gets built here in a couple days,” Robertson said. “There are banks with ATMs. The post office is here. The food vendors are restaurants and the other vendors are the businesses.

On average, about 100,000 people visit Colorfest each year.

“The atmosphere of the quaint town of Thurmont, with a population of 6,000 residents, changes every year during the second weekend of October when the festivities of the annual Catoctin Colorfest take place,” states the Catoctin Colorfest website.