Currently viewing the tag: "COVID-19"

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

Thurmont Little League hosts first-ever Family Movie Night in September.

Courtesy Photo

As the leaves continue to fall, the 70th season of Thurmont Little League (TLL) is winding down, bringing another successful year of baseball to a close. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought forth, the league has continued to provide an outlet for the aspiring youth players of the community. On any given night this fall, you could see countless teams in game play, practicing, or utilizing the batting cages. Nearly 200 players participated, making this fall ball season one for the record books.

In addition to a full slate of games, the league has kept its players, volunteers, and the community busy through a variety of other activities. In late September, TLL hosted its first-ever Family Movie Night. Over 250 people showed up on a beautiful fall evening to watch The Sandlot on the outfield grass. Free popcorn was provided, courtesy of J&B Real Estate agent Elle Smith, while the TLL concession stand served up Sauced Savage BBQ and other goodies. Kona Ice was also on hand, delivering ice cream and snow cones to the crowd of families. This event was a huge success and will definitely become a new annual tradition for the league. Finally, TLL ended the season with some Halloween fun. On Sunday, October 24, TLL held its first annual Trunk or Treat event. Almost 30 vendors/families participated in this extremely fun event, decorating their spaces and handing out treats to the kids. TLL passed out free hot chocolate, cider, and cookies. They also provided games and prizes for a variety of costume categories. And last, but not least, TLL joined in on an on-field Trick or Treat event at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Players got a chance to attend the game, run the bases, and meet with collegiate athletes, all while dressing up in their favorite costumes. The season may be ending, but the fun never stops at TLL

The annual Mount Tabor Church Big Picnic and Baby Show was held on Saturday, August 14, at Mt. Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge, after being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. A total of 27 babies—18 girls and 9 boys—participated in the show. The youngest baby was nine-day-old Elijah Pescatore, son of Bryan and Brittany Pescatore of Keymar. Tylee and Leighton Kolb, twin daughters of Krista Kolb, traveled the farthest distance from Leesport, Pennsylvania.  Babies placed in three categories: prettiest girl, cutest boy, and chubbiest baby, in five age categories from 1 day to 24 months old.

There were five babies in the 1-day-to-3-month-old category. The prettiest girl was Saylor Gregory, six-week-old daughter of Danielle and Collin Gregory of Rocky Ridge. The cutest boy was Declan Green, one-month-old son of Travis and Elizabeth Green of Emmitsburg. The chubbiest baby was Kora Potts, three-month-old daughter of Kortney and Robert Potts of Fairfield, Pennsylvania. There was only one baby registered in the 4-to-6-month-old category. The cutest boy was Eli Myers, five-month-old son of Steve and Heidi Myers of Emmitsburg.

Of the six babies in the 7-to-12-month-old category, Addison Staub, 10-month-old daughter of Ashlea and Justin Staub of Thurmont, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Michael Patterson, 11-month-old son of Sandy and Michael Patterson from Sykesville. Jolene Brewster, 8-month-old daughter of Charlotte and Peter Brewster of Keymar, was named the chubbiest baby. In the 13-to-18-month-old category, there were 10 babies. June Muse, 16-month-old daughter of Reanna and Hunter Muse of Middletown, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Jaxton Hanson of Keymar, 16-month-old son of Emily and Nick Hanson. The chubbiest baby was Grayce Stitely, 14-month-old daughter of Hannah and Cody Stitely of Thurmont.

In the 19-to-24-month-old category, there were five babies. Hailey Wagner, 19-month-old daughter of Tammy Stone and David Wagner of Hagerstown, was named the prettiest girl. Mason Robert Lee Baugher, 19-month-old son of Brandy Garner and Curtis Baugher of Frederick, was named the cutest boy. The chubbiest baby was Coleson Mortorff, 23-month-old son of Deana and George Mortorff of Abbottstown, Pennsylvania.

Please come out again next year on the second Saturday of August to Mt. Tabor Park. You may register your baby (or babies) who range in age from 1 day up to 24 months, 0 days.  Watch your local newspaper for more details, including registration time.

Stories of What It’s Like Returning Home After 25 Years

by dave ammenheuser

How do you honor the death of a loved one in the midst of a pandemic?

It’s not easy.

When my parents, John and Elizabeth Ammenheuser, died in the last few months of 2020, our family faced many difficult decisions. Among the toughest: How do you inform family and friends of their deaths?  

 Neither parent died from COVID-19. Dad’s heart gave out on September 1; Mom lost her battle with cancer on December 19. Both left behind clear legal instructions on what they wanted done with their bodies. Per their wishes, they were cremated and their ashes were placed in separate urns.

More than eight months after Dad’s death and more than five months after mom’s, we are finally gathering on June 13 to honor them.

The coronavirus impacted our decisions. Finding a location to hold a service was difficult. Our first choice (and second and third and fourth) were not possible, as policies prohibited indoor gatherings of any notable size. While we don’t expect hundreds of folks to attend the event, even an expected crowd of several dozen is not currently permitted indoors due to safety concerns.

So, we waited until the spring, warmer weather, and the anticipation of vaccinations before deciding on the details of a Celebration of Life (or in this case, Lives) event. 

 Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird offered the perfect solution: A pavilion at the Thurmont Community Park. During a recent visit to my parents’ house (where he bought a paint sprayer from the estate), he told me that the town recently built a new pavilion near the basketball courts. Knowing that the park pavilions are booked far in advance for family reunions, I was astonished to find out the new pavilion was available. But, as we’ve all learned, this hasn’t been a normal year or two.

Thus, we booked the pavilion for June 13 (As a side note, the $50 fee the town charges for the full-day rental is quite the bargain).

Now that the location was chosen, informing folks of the event was the next arduous task. My mother’s address book was terribly out-of-date (her address for me was one in Southern California; my family moved to Nashville in 2012).  

After thumbing through the dilapidated book, I started addressing and stamping the postcards that I had ordered.

Certainly, there are some of my parents’ friends and former co-workers whom I missed. Apologies to them. There hasn’t been a week that’s gone by when I haven’t talked to one of their friends who were surprised to learn that my parents had died. If you’d like me to mail you a postcard to remind you of the event, please email me at AmmenheuserFamily@yahoo.com.

After Joe Wolf, deacon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, offers an opening prayer, we’ll share stories and celebrate John and Liz’s lives.

It’s been a difficult time for all of us. Not just my family. But I’m sure for yours, too.

We all have friends and neighbors who have been impacted by COVID-19. Some have lost jobs; some have been out of work for months; some have lost loved ones. Thankfully, the country appears to be turning the corner. 

However, life will never be the same. At least not in our household. And likely, not in yours either.

Photo by Dave Ammenheuser

New pavilion at Thurmont Community Park.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at the Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Strafford Drive in Thurmont.

Due to COVID-19, masks will be required inside the complex. Social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 6:00 p.m. The anniversary classes this year are those that end in 0 and 5 and 6 and 1, since we did not have a dinner last year. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place. Special scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors, related to Thurmont High School Alumni.

The cost for the evening is $23.00 per person, which should be mailed to Viola Noffsinger, 131 Cody Drive #33, Thurmont, MD 21788 (before May 26). All alumnus of Thurmont High School and Catoctin High School classes (1969-1974), and friends, are encouraged to attend.

Visit the alumni Facebook page: Thurmont High School Alumni Association. Questions, special reports, or other information may be sent to vmnoff@gmail.com or call 301-418-1760.

A new and exciting free baton-twirling course is being offered by the Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. This four-week course is for the beginning baton-twirling student, ages five and up. Batons are available and loaned free for class time and are also on hand for optional purchases. Participation in the course costs absolutely nothing! 

The classes will be held on Wednesday evenings outdoors at the Emmitsburg Antique Mall parking lot, beginning on May 12, 2021, from 6:00-6:45 p.m. (A dance-pom course will also run for four weeks beginning May 12, from 7:00-7:45 p.m. at the same location, open to ages seven and up.) 

All COVID-19 procedures will be in place, with required social distancing throughout all classes. Pre-registration is required.  

During the course, basic twirling skills and marching techniques will be presented in class. Certificates will be awarded at the end of the four-week session. There is no obligation to continue twirling once the course has concluded.

The classes will be taught by the group’s director, Donna Landsperger, who has directed the marching unit in twirling, color guard arts, and pom poms and its competitive teams since 1976. They have captured titles at the local, state, regional, and national levels. 

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Thurmont Little League was excited to kick off its 2021 spring season. As the weather began to warm up and all the snow and ice melted, players and coaches resumed practicing in early March. The response to baseball this year was extremely positive, even with the pandemic, as the league will be fielding 2 Intermediate Division teams, 4 Major Division teams, 5 Minor Division teams, 7 Instructional/Coach Pitch teams, and 7 T-ball teams.

The Major Division kicked off the year by participating in the 3rd Annual Brunswick Little League Garel L. Hauver Memorial Tournament. Its namesake, Mr. Hauver, had a passion for sports, but especially baseball. He wrote about sports in the Brunswick Citizen for over 40 years and was an active member of Brunswick Little League for over 30 years as a player and coach. The tournament took place the weekend of March 27-28 and featured 16 area little league squads. Thurmont was well represented by its four teams, and it was a great way for the players to get back into the swing (pun intended) of things.

The opening day ceremonies will kick off the start of game play for all of the other divisions and will take place on Saturday, April 10. Led by master of ceremonies Brian Mo, formerly of 99.9 WFRE, all players and coaches will receive on-field introductions. This will be followed up by a special performance of the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch by the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Thurmont Little League spirit wear will be on sale in many different styles and sizes, along with the ever-popular discount cards for local restaurants. Great raffle baskets will be available with many valued at over $100 each, as well as a 50-50 cash drawing. Also, on hand for the day will be food from The Sauced Savage BBQ and ice cream from Antietam Dairy. Bring the family out for a fun-filled day celebrating 70 years of Thurmont Little League.

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

While people have been carefully navigating the daring dance with COVID-19, the world has been faced with lockdowns and restrictions.

In the resulting chaos, everyday life changed for us all. The stressful situation took a toll on those who were confined to their homes, sending some into a boredom frenzy and making others feel stir-crazy.

Although still relatively restricted, people have slowly adjusted over time and become very creative with what they do in their free time.

Many have stayed busy by engaging in hobbies, ranging from making face masks to writing stories. Others have committed to helping others during this time by supporting small businesses, supporting the food banks, providing for those who can’t go out, and much more. This has been beneficial to the community and its citizens in this time of need.

Besides supporting the community in various ways, there are other hobbies people have developed for fun. Personally, I’ve started writing more stories, drawing, painting, and trying new recipes. I also found a new hobby of crafting sticks into wands. It gives me a project to focus on that I have fun doing. Not only has this helped me cope with the sweeping lifestyle changes, but it’s helped me discover other interests as well.

Eighth graders Olivia Johnson of Western Heights Middle School in Washington County and Kendall Stuart, a home-schooled student, spoke of how they have occupied their time over the past year.

“I started writing and making TikToks more,” Johnson said. “That’s mainly what I’ve done to keep myself busy.” Although our conversation was brief, she went on to explain that there hadn’t been a whole lot she had become interested in, as writing takes up most of her time. This keeps her occupied during the time she isn’t in school.

Stuart committed time to personally enriching hobbies, “So far, I have started making YouTube videos, TikTok videos, and improving my makeup skills and dancing skills. I mainly focus on improving my makeup and dancing. I’m trying to work toward my goal of being a professional makeup artist.” Stuart agreed that these activities have kept her busy during her out-of-school free time.

Both have found pastimes that they enjoy and that keep them active. 

While randomly asking members of the community about their hobbies, the most popular answers were arts and crafts, such as wreath-making; drawing; painting; making face masks for the community; pursuing outdoor activities; and spending more time with family. It seems people have started doing activities they did not have time for before the pandemic. I feel like people have realized what they were missing before it all started.

The quarantine has given people time to connect with their families and to have more free time to explore creative outlets. It also taught many a lesson like cherishing what they have before it’s too late, and to be grateful.

Similarly, new hobbies such as cooking, storytelling, making online videos, creating music, designing, and far more, have been chosen by people along the way to keep away the lockdown boredom.

As time progresses, many will likely stick with the new hobbies and skills they gained during this difficult time.

James Rada, Jr.

The Town of Thurmont is considering building its own internet service to provide residents faster service at a lower cost.

The Thurmont Internet Commission presented a pilot program to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners in February. The plan would be a gradual build-out of service using the town’s electric company rights of way and water towers to do a fiber-optic build-out.

The idea is not new. Other municipalities, such as Easton, already offer this to their residents. For Thurmont, it would also rectify a problem residents have with current providers, which is they don’t get the service speeds they pay for.

“A lot of our residents only have access to DSL, and the speeds they’re getting on DSL are abysmal. They’re getting 7 megabits, or they’re paying for 15 and only getting 7. They’re still paying $30 to $50 a month and not getting what they’re paying for,” Elliott Jones, commission chair, told the commissioners.

The leading providers in Thurmont are currently Comcast and Verizon DSL. When the Internet Commission surveyed residents, it found that most residents received around half of the speed for which they pay. Residents in remote areas of town can’t even get DSL access right now.

Commissioner Marty Burns, the commissioner liaison, said this needs to change. “With COVID-19, it made it even more critical that we all be connected like never before.”

The proposed plan could eventually be expanded to be 10 Gbps, although it would start at 5 Gbps. The plan also proposes a wireless network initially that would be replaced by a fiber-optic network once enough residents are using the system.

The potential pricing is expected to be significantly lower than Comcast or Verizon. For instance, suggested pricing for 50 Mbps service for residents could be $65 a month, and they would also get a 50 Mbps connection.

The commission projects the cost to build a system to be $506,000 over three years. Afterward, it would cost about $90,000 a year to maintain the system. At this point, the system becomes highly profitable.

The basic idea underlying the plan is to create a wireless system that can quickly provide high-speed internet to most of the town at a minimal cost. Then, as users join the service, the town can save money toward paying for the expensive fiber-optic build-out, and it will know in what areas the fiber network is most needed. It’s all about a gradual build-out.

“It’s like eating a sandwich. You can take one bite at a time. Instead of having to eat the whole turkey, you can eat a turkey sandwich,” Elliott said.

The commissioners are interested in the idea, but they have not yet voted on whether to proceed.

As the 2021 spring season approaches, Thurmont Little League is looking to the future, yet reflecting on the past as well. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the league. Although COVID-19 restrictions will not allow for the grand celebration deserving of such a milestone, the board of directors is still working hard to plan an exciting year for players, coaches, and families. The league is looking for information to recognize any past board presidents from the 1950s-2000s. Additionally, anyone with photos from the 1950s-1990s, especially from league championships, please feel free to pass them along to the current president, Keith Myers (keithmyers07@gmail.com).

After an off-season, filled with field renovations and improvements to the grounds, the league is now moving full-speed ahead for its opening day festivities. This year, opening day will be held on Saturday, April 10. DJ Brian Mo will be on hand once again as Master of Ceremonies, presiding over player introductions, the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch. Throwing out the first pitch this year will be the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Their dedication and service to the town of Thurmont, as well as their constant support of the league, have been greatly appreciated, especially during the pandemic.

There is still lots of other work to be done before the season starts. Evaluations for the minor and major division will be held, along with a draft for each. Fundraising efforts are continuing as well, with the league accepting donations for its annual basket raffle and continuing to sell spiritwear items, such as t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. The league is once again selling discount cards, which are always a popular item. For $10.00, you can purchase a card for unlimited usage at many of your favorite local restaurants, everything from a free drink to 20 percent off your order. Please contact the league on Facebook or by email at tllnetwork@gmail.com for more information.

Finally, a fundraising night will be held at Roy Rogers on Friday, March 19, with proceeds from drive-thru orders going to the league. Come on out for a great meal to support the Thurmont Little League.

As always, the league is continually looking for volunteers to help with coaching, concessions, and umpiring. An umpiring clinic will be held at Leisner Field on Sunday, March 21, at 9:00 a.m., with lunch provided. If you are interested in seeing what is involved, please make plans to attend. This is open to all adults and youth ages 13 and up. It is a great opportunity for retirees who love the game or high school athletes looking to gain some volunteer hours. Please contact Umpire in Chief Blaine Young at beyoungjr@comcast.net for more information.

Everyone is excited for the upcoming season, in hopes of adding a return to normalcy for players and families. Thurmont Little League can’t wait to see everyone at the fields.

Thurmont Little League’s upgraded bullpen area.

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, it has left many establishments and businesses closed down, including schools. Following the closings of schools, students and teachers began using an alternative to in-person classes in the form of virtual school. This has been a hard transition for many, as they were no longer able to meet in person and receive that one-on-one instruction. What was supposed to be only a few weeks of missing school to flatten a COVID curve, has turned into a long-term struggle for nearly a year. Students and teachers alike have been affected, and it leaves the decision of returning back to school questionable in many ways.

Students have their own opinion of online school, whether it be good or bad. As an eighth-grade student at Thurmont Middle School, I understand some of the challenges. One of the main issues that students face—myself included—is the ability to understand material in their classes. In school, learners could receive one-on-one help and get visual examples. Assignments are easier to comprehend when shown in-person rather than over a screen. Another issue that poses a challenge to students learning at home is distractions. As a student with ADHD, I sometimes have a hard time paying attention, and now that I’m home, I have many more distractions than I had at school. This is hard during online classes because my attention can quickly switch from my work over to something else, to the point I stop paying attention and I lose track of what I was doing.

In addition to the academic challenges, the loss of social interaction is also a concern.

The absence of social time greatly affects students. School provides social interaction with people rather than just a computer screen. Eighth-grader Olivia Johnson feels strongly against virtual schooling. “It’s the worst, and I hate it,” she said. “I would rather be in school to socialize, and it’s a lot easier to get help when you’re in school.” Liv continued to say, “It’s also a lot harder to focus because there are so many distractions.”

Liv’s days with virtual learning are challenging to say the least. “Every day, I have my main classes: E.L.A, science, history, and math. The days transition between A or B. On A days, I have one of my selected gym classes and tech. On B days, I have one of my extra classes and an extra help class for my last period,” she said. She explained that it switches every day, which makes it more difficult to follow her schedule. While this is just viewed through my perspective and Liv’s perspective, everyone feels differently about it, but the difficulties are apparent.

The in-school break has been tough for teachers, too.

For Michael Brown, a technology education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, virtual teaching is all new, and it hasn’t been easy. “One of the issues that I and other teachers have has been the plan on how to deliver instruction effectively,” Mr. Brown said. “Teachers also had to look at how to provide coherent instruction that was easily navigated and understood by all.” Mr. Brown continued, “The teachers had to think about how they would collaborate and plan together, especially for those who teach the same courses.”

These were just a few concerns that Mr. Brown and other teachers had as they began the journey into virtual instruction. As time goes on, the idea of returning back to school continues to be discussed, laying the foundation for new plans to be made for a safe return.

Mr. Brown also spoke of some of the aspects of returning to school. He talked about the safety measures and rules that students and teachers would need to follow in order to keep everyone safe and schools open, when the time comes.

Life Skills teacher Vanessa Yost added to our discussion. “We must make sure students, both online and in-person, have their individual needs met,” she said. Mr. Brown added on to that, “Things are changing quickly, and it’s adding more instructional complexity.” They both agreed that the transitions will be challenging. “However, we have great faith in our FCPS students to transition smoothly and continue to make excellent growth.”

Teachers have not been blind to their students’ struggles. Mr. Brown and Miss Yost agreed that virtual learning has been tough, with isolation, focus challenges, and time management pressures. They also noted that building relationships between students has been challenging.

Students will be meeting one another for the first time in many cases and will have to get to know one another on a more personal level, not behind a screen.

Since the start of virtual school, students and teachers have faced many transitions and have risen to these challenges with positivity. Although the road ahead in returning to school will have its bumps along the way, we will continue moving forward. As you can see, the issues students and teachers have faced are complex, but we are all learning and we will continue to get better each and every day. As this uncertain time progresses, teachers and students will still face challenges, and they will meet them head-on to the best of their abilities.

In Frederick County, as of January 21, 2021, over 12,000 residents have received their first vaccination for COVID-19. Currently, the county is vaccinating people in group 1A and those who are 75 years and older who live or work in Frederick County. Residents who are interested in receiving the vaccine must visit the website at www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/CovidVaccine, and complete the “Vaccine Interest Form” located in the blue box.  Please note, completing this form does NOT make an appointment for you to get the vaccine.

They will contact people who have registered on this form by priority group as they receive more vaccines.

You will be contacted by the email you provide in the form. When you are contacted, you will need to register for your appointment online.

You only need to complete the form once.

It may be several days, weeks, or longer until you are contacted since it depends on vaccine availability.

If you are unable to complete the form online, you may call the Frederick County COVID-19 Appointment line at 301-600-7900, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please note that this call center is specifically to help people make appointments if they cannot do so themselves online. They are asking our community to please check on friends, family, or neighbors who may not be able to make their appointment online and help them with that process so that the call center can help those most in need. Appointments slots continue to be limited, but more will be available each week.

The Thurmont Lions Club had another great opportunity to hold a fundraiser to help in giving back to the community to support local and charitable organizations during COVID-19.

The club conducted its first fudge fundraiser on December 19, 2020, just in time for the holidays. They sold vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, maple, eggnog, and peppermint fudge. It was a big success, with 145 pounds sold and a sizable profit for the club.

Peanut butter and chocolate were the best sellers, followed by maple. The club would like to thank the community for helping to make this a successful fundraiser. All the profit will go back to the community.

The Thurmont Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Due to COVID-19, the meetings are held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, located on Church Street in Thurmont, or virtually. 

For more information, visit www.thurmontlionsclub.com or call 301-271-4020.

A Clean Slate

by Valerie Nusbaum

Happy New Year! I’m hoping that 2021 will be a great year for all of us. I know a lot of you were miserable in 2020. Many people we know suffered job losses, business closings, and illness.  Randy and I were fortunate that, so far, we haven’t been visited by COVID-19, but we know many people who weren’t so lucky. My hubby and I didn’t mind staying at home, although there were times when I know we got on each other’s nerves.

I trust that every one of you had as good a holiday season as possible given the circumstances.  With that being said, it’s time now to take a deep breath—which is difficult when wearing a mask—and figure out what the heck we can do to make this new year better than the last one.

We probably all ate way too much over the holidays. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about how they’ve gained a lot of weight due to quarantine-eating and depression. Maybe that’s where we start: an exercise plan and diet regime. I’ve never been a big fan of dieting, and I haven’t really needed to do it. If I notice that I’ve put on a pound or two, I give up desserts for a while or do a little extra on the treadmill. Or buy larger pants.

Since I know that losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, I had planned to tell you about the night Randy met Richard Simmons; however, that isn’t going to happen. In mentally writing that story, I realized that there’s no way I can tell it without incriminating myself and my friend, Roxann. It’s a shame, too, because it’s a great story. But since it involves a romantic dinner for two at The Quail Ridge Inn, a fit of hysteria, a spinning toilet, and a drive back to Frederick where something illegal occurred, I can’t go any further. I will tell you that I have a lovely photo of Randy being hugged by Richard Simmons, both of them grinning maniacally. And I can still hear Richard yelling, “the thingie, the thingie…” There was even a brief uninvited peek inside Richard’s limo, which only happened because one of us made a friend of the security guard.  Don’t judge me. This happened in 1991 or 1992, and “Sweating to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons was a huge hit. 

So, if I can’t write about diet and exercise, I think I’ll talk about snow since we’re heading into the timeframe where blizzards are possible. The hubby has a snow blower. It’s not the kind of snow blower one would normally use for a smaller property such as ours. Granted, we do have a lot of sidewalks, both surrounding our yard and leading from the front door to the back door to the basement door and crossing the patio, which needs to be plowed, too. Randy also likes to make a path leading back to his workshop, because if he doesn’t do that, I can see his footprints and I know he’s in there hiding from me. 

Anyway, the snow blower is an industrial-sized monster of a machine. Calling it a snow “blower” is such an understatement. I’d say it’s more of a snow “hurler.” If a person is ever unlucky enough to be walking down the public sidewalk in front of our house, he or she would be buried and frozen solid in a matter of seconds. Randy can accomplish this feat while standing at least 100 yards away from said person.  This snarling metal behemoth will also hurl rocks, dirt, and porch furniture, and it makes a growling sound much like an angry hippopotamus, or maybe I mean a rhino. It’s scary, that’s all I’m saying.

The snow blower used to belong to Randy’s dad, who bought it to plow out a driveway that was 150-yards long, and to manage my in-laws’ five-acre property. It was never intended for use in our cozy neighborhood. Consider yourselves warned. If the blizzard that Randy is praying for arrives, you’d do well to avoid us until the walks are cleared. It is kind of funny to watch, though, because the machine tends to get away from Randy. Once, he got his scarf caught in it. Winters are long, cold, and hard. I take my jollies where I can get them. 

Did I mention that I’m not allowed to use the snow blower?  Nope. That’s a job for a big, manly man. I really don’t have a problem with that because I much prefer staying inside where it’s warm and being in charge of the hot chocolate and cookies. Yet, I’m pretty sure Hubby keeps me away from his monster machine because of the incident with our riding lawn mower. Actually, there were several incidents, but maybe I’ll tell you about those in the spring.

Here’s wishing all of you good health, prosperity, and much happiness in the year to come.  And laughs—lots of laughs. Find them where you can, and if you can’t find them, call me. I’ll tell you the Richard Simmons story over the phone.

Counting Our Blessings

by Anita DiGregory

In celebration of the last day before an extended holiday break, my daughter’s lovely and very talented tutor had created a “Grammar Bingo” game for the class. Each child chose their own card from her stack of handmade bingo cards.  My daughter chose hers and then proceeded to win grammar bingo not once, not twice, but five times!  As we climbed into the car with all her candy winnings, I joked on our way home from our homeschool cooperative that maybe she should try her luck with a lottery ticket.  Her homemade cards made me think, though: Can you imagine if we all had bingo cards for the year 2020?  Who would have had murder hornets for the win? How about toilet paper hoarding?

I think we could probably all agree that if 2020 had a motto, it would be the year when everything was out of whack and nothing went as planned. For many, it was a year of tragedy, of loss, of division, of suffering, of sadness, of isolation.  Many have fallen ill; many have lost friends and loved ones. And all of us, even those fortunate enough not to personally be infected, have been impacted by the reverberations of this pandemic. And, as a result of the very nature of the beast, we have been denied of the very things that would bring us any semblance of solace: church services, gyms, restaurants, and even each other. 

Last Thanksgiving, my family lost not just one but two beloved family members. I recently read somewhere that the human body remembers trauma. As these anniversaries drew closer, I could feel my anxiety grow.  And, as the 2020 holiday season drew closer, I so deeply desired to be with all of my loved ones. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. My parents and brothers and their families couldn’t be here. Even my son, my expectant daughter-in-law,  and our granddaughter couldn’t be with us, care of COVID-19…the gift that keeps on giving.

I may never get “the big picture” or understand why things happen the way they do, but I do trust in God and His perfect love for each and every one of us. Even as COVID-19 threatens to follow us deep into 2021, we can still choose to make this a wonderful year and strive to become our best selves. I think the challenge lies in becoming the best version of ourselves, not because of all life presents us with, but in spite of it. One of the keys to this may be cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  For example, instead of thinking of all 2020 as ruined, perhaps it would be helpful to count the blessings it brought. I have a friend who shared that she chooses to remember 2020 as the year she had her husband at home, a year that brought them closer as a family and as a couple.  Personally, 2020 brought much of my family back under one roof again. I am thankful for the gift of time with my loved ones, and I find myself even more grateful for and appreciative of those times when we are all together. I am also thankful for all those working on the frontlines, for the doctors; nurses; police; fire, rescue, and EMTs; priests; teachers; and the parents who have added homeschooling tutors to their long list of responsibilities this school year.

Gratitude reminds us of those things we may have taken for granted and helps us focus on all the blessings in our lives. Cultivating gratitude isn’t always easy; it is a skill worthy of developing and practicing each day. 

Overwhelming amounts of research show that gratitude is the most powerful way to increase happiness. Simply developing the habit of writing in a gratitude journal for five minutes a day has been proven to have substantial health benefits. Furthermore, in a research study that examined those who counted their blessings and those that counted their burdens, it was noted that the grateful group reported increased well-being, had better health, exercised more, felt life was better, and had increased optimism. But that is not all. In over 50 studies on gratitude, it was observed that grateful individuals experienced improvements in their health, personality, and career, as well as personally, socially, and emotionally. Some specific benefits included improved health and sleep, increased energy, optimism, altruism, self-esteem, better relationships, and feeling happier, more relaxed, and more resilient. 

So here’s to making 2021 different. Let’s make it a year to become the best version of ourselves, to be present and intentional in every moment. Let’s put what really matters most first. Let’s work hard but strive to love and pray harder. Let’s perform random acts of kindness, help others, give more than we get, say “I love you,” go to church, say “I am sorry,” and not put off until tomorrow what we should get done today. Let’s not take one second for granted, but count our blessings and strive to be grateful for all the beautiful moments, big and small. It may sound like a tall order, but can you imagine what this world would be like if we all strived to become the best version of ourselves?  I pray that you and yours have a safe, wonderful, and blessed new year.

Blair Garrett

For frontline workers, the approach to each workday remains the same. While the world changes rapidly around us with global pandemics and novel vaccines, the essential workers who have put the time in day after day have realized a new normal.

It’s going on ten months since COVID-19 reached the United States, and there is still not quite an end in sight. When put in situations of great adversity, individuals find ways to adjust to survive or push past a difficult time. It’s been a period of great challenge for an entire nation and beyond, from top to bottom.

Yet, the people who continue to provide the rest of us with essential services head to work every day with the same attitude. Just keep going, and one day we won’t need so many limitations, precautions, and restrictions on where we can go. But until then, the reality is that we don’t know who could have the virus, and we don’t know its long-term effects. People who have to work through this situation have to take a risk each day, and that can be tough to manage when you don’t know how it’s all going to play out.

“At first, it was scary,” UPS Driver Alex Serpi recalled. “We really didn’t know what was going on.” But like the rest of the essential workers, Serpi found a new normal in an abnormal world. “After a couple of months of it, we became numb to it,” he said.

Had the panic of the pandemic ended in early summer like many anticipated, we would be looking back on the chaos that was the start of 2020 with strong disdain. Unfortunately, it has dragged on throughout the rest of the year, and it’s now been long enough to make what was at one point a brief nightmare feel like just another day.

“Now, it’s the same situation because we’re tired and numb from it,” Serpi said. “There’s an unknown to it. The sentiment of a new, masked normal has permeated our everyday lives. “Where we’re going, who we’re seeing, what’s going to happen. You get to the point where you become desensitized to it.”  

We are now heading into winter with our hopes set for spring for small businesses, bars, restaurants, and even sports to return to the old normal. This winter will be more of the same social distancing, masks, and limited-capacity public spaces. Still, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, even if we haven’t seen much of it this year.

The notion of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is something grocery store workers, in particular, have had to deal with throughout 2020. At Jubilee Foods, Margaret Burns has effectively navigated the scary unknown that followed the initial pandemic announcement what feels like an eternity ago.

“In 35 years of me working in retail, I’ve never experienced anything of this magnitude,” Burns said. “We just went at it head-on, tried to listen to the information and take it one day at a time.”   

No matter what happens, everywhere from small mountain towns to big cities will keep plugging away because of the efforts and consistency of those who connect with the public every day. 

The ‘just keep swimming’ approach from millions of Americans in essential business has been admirable, and they certainly have not received enough recognition for it.

Whether you are a frontline worker who deals with the public on a day-to-day basis, or you have family or friends who do, we all need to be mindful and appreciative of these everyday heroes whose continued efforts provide the country with things they need to keep a sense of normalcy alive.

“You just keep it going; that’s all you can do,” Serpi expressed. We all need to just keep it going, and eventually, businesses and individuals affected by this situation most will be back on their feet.

George Tuggle, Emmitsburg Council of Churches Secretary

What a year! How many events have been canceled? How much fellowship postponed?

The Emmitsburg Council of Churches (ECC) regretfully cancels the 2020 Christmas Tour of Churches. The Tour would have placed tour participants and congregations at an unacceptable risk for COVID-19.  Our greatest priority is the well-being of each and every person. We consider each person a child of God, a sister or brother.

Even in the cancellation, we remember with fondness and warmth the 2019 Emmitsburg Christmas Tour of Churches.

December 29, 2019, dawned a rainy, gray day outside. Yet, at the appointed time, each church demonstrated the gracious hospitality so important to all who follow Jesus. The tour brought out a cheerful company of visitors to each church. Many were members from one of the participating congregations.  Each church visited displayed how they celebrate Christmas. Following the tour, Trinity United Methodist Church hosted a hearty soup, sandwich, and dessert meal that warmed up the “tourists.”

Carols, good cheer, and Christian love were all present in abundance during the 2019 Tour. The Emmitsburg Council of Churches thanks everyone who participated in the 2019 Christmas Tour of Churches and looks forward to the 2021 Tour.

May the Lord bless and keep everyone during these difficult times.

As the leaves turned colors and the temperatures began to drop, Thurmont Little League brought an end to a season that will not be forgotten any time soon. With COVID-19 bringing about the cancellation of the spring season, an extended fall season, jam-packed with raffles, spirit wear sales, sandlot games, and a Fall Showcase Tournament, made sure that the players and their families ended the year on a memorable note.

The T-ball and Instructional divisions wrapped up their seasons in late October. Several evening games were held to give these up-and-coming stars of the future the chance to shine on the big field under the lights. Despite the cold weather, everyone always has a good time with these games, and it is great to see the progress that they have all made throughout the season. Developing these players at a young age is what helps Thurmont Little League stand apart and build a great program for the future.

It was an incredibly competitive Minors Division this year, as all four teams ended up with winning records against those outside of the league. The top three teams all finished within a game of each other, which made for an intense end-of-season playoff. Ultimately, the Nationals, managed by Jeff Kuhn, were crowned the champions. They defeated the Angels in a back and forth matchup to finish things off. An end of season All Star game was also held. Players recognized by their coaches to participate in this game were: Brayden Rickerd, Noah Bradbury, Mason Fry, Logan Holden, and Devin Youngerman (Angels); Tucker Bryant, Bracen Webb, Myles Kuhn, Marcus Kuhn, and Tyler Creel (Nationals); Grayson Strobel, Reed McCauley, Seamus Riddle, Ethan Tokar, and Ayden Merritt (Orioles); Colton Warner, Jeremy Veronie, Tristan Van Echo, Gibson Main, and Parker Hahn (Braves). It was a great season, overall, and many of these players will be moving up to the next level in the spring.

Not without its fair share of excitement was the Major Division, which saw both Thurmont teams representing the league with excellent performances in the first-ever Fall District 2 Showcase Tournament. Several rounds of pool play were held, and eventually the Thurmont Twins and Orioles wound up playing each other in the semifinal round of the American Division. After the Orioles jumped out to a big early lead, the Twins battled back to win in walk-off fashion. The next day, they relied on timely hitting and a dominating pitching performance by Brennan Conrad to defeat the Frederick American Elks 10-1 for the Championship. Many of these players are aging out of the league, so it was wonderful to see them going out on top in their final season for Thurmont Little League.

With the season wrapping up, it was time for the league to take on another initiative that was in the works for quite some time. For over a year now, the Board of Directors has been planning a makeover on the two main fields, Nicholson and Leisner. On Sunday November 1, work began to have the fields scraped and torn up from behind home plate to about 10 feet into the outfields. The final result will be a more even and level playing surface, significantly better drainage for those rainy baseball days, and a far smoother playing surface. This will give our players a better opportunity to make even more great plays in the field. This project will be completed during the off-season, and they will be ready to go for opening day 2021.

Speaking of 2021, the board of directors is already hard at work with planning for next year’s season. Registration for spring begins on January 1! Thurmont Little League will be celebrating its 70th anniversary, so there will undoubtedly be a huge celebration planned, as long as COVID-19 restrictions will allow it.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering, or signing your child up to be a part of this wonderful organization, please visit www.tllbaseball.com.

Courtesy Photo

Thurmont Little League Minor Division All Stars.

jEanne Angleberger

The year 2020 will go down in history as a time of staying healthy and preventing COVID-19. Honestly, it made us pay closer attention to our health and body. Let’s always be aware of our health. It shouldn’t take a world-wide coronavirus to get our attention. We’ll recap this year’s healthy tips and move into 2021 with the hopes of a healthier nation.

Starting the New Year with a plan to improve your health is a great start. Specifically, what do you want? What are healthy and unhealthy habits?

 Boosting your immune system is essential. Shaklee has four different multivitamin and mineral formulas to help strengthen the immune system, in addition to their vitamin C formula.

A daily tasty and healthy breakfast fuels the body. Muffin-Pan Egg Bites is a grab-n’-go breakfast. The recipe is available upon request.

Shaklee Immunity Defend & Resist Complex can help stimulate the body’s natural resistance during seasonal changes when it needs extra defense.

Make America Healthy Again defines why Americans become unhealthy. Dr. Nicole Saphier spells out why Americans need to take better care of themselves.

Skin requires nourishment from the inside. Skin health is dependent on dietary choices.

Do traditions and values play a role in aging well? The 80’s and 90’s population believe they grew up in kinder times. Relationships were developed over time. Socializing is vitally important to your physical and mental health.

Staying properly hydrated keeps body temperature regulated, joints lubricated, and organs functioning. Certain fruits and vegetables can help you stay hydrated and energized.

Vitamin D3 plays a major role in protecting your health and immune function. Support your body with the nutritional needs year-round.

May 2021 begin with healthiness that follows you and your family throughout the new year.

Many non-profit organizations throughout Frederick County are continuing to help the public and their members (at least to some degree) during the coronavirus pandemic. Partners In Care is one of those organizations, although COVID-19 has adversely affected their overall efforts.

“We are continuing to drive people to their doctor appointments, the grocery store, the food bank, and elsewhere,” said Frederick County Partners In Care Site Director Randy Gray. Since their members are isolated (due to COVID-19), it has amplified the need for their “Phone Buddy” service. A Phone Buddy is a volunteer who calls a member who may be lonely or in need of some cheering up. The handyman service also remains active, although it’s limited to outdoor work at this time. “The pandemic may have added to the stress levels of some folks, but it doesn’t keep us from calling and trying to comfort our members,” Gray added.

Partners In Care, which has been located in Frederick for more than 20 years, moved to a new location at the beginning of 2020. The non-profit is in the Willowtree Plaza off Route 40 (the Golden Mile). Not only is there an administrative office, but there is also a beautiful, upscale resale boutique.

“The Upscale, Resale Boutique opened in late May observing protocols to keep our volunteers, customers, and staff safe by social distancing, requiring masks to be worn, and frequently using disinfectant,” said Boutique Manager Diana Modelski. “We gratefully accept donations of new and gently loved ladies and men’s clothing, jewelry, artwork, housewares and furniture. Donations are accepted Tuesday through Saturday during business hours (10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.). We are so appreciative of our donations, which we sell to support our heartfelt mission,” said Modelski. “Please help us get the word out!” For more information, please call 301-732-7110 or email FrederickBoutique@partnersincare.org.

Partners In Care is based in Pasadena, Maryland, and was founded in 1993 as a way to help older adults remain independent in their homes. The organization deploys a unique model of “service exchange,” where all members are expected to chip in to help the good of the cause. There are no fees for membership or services. In addition to Frederick and Pasadena, Partners In Care also has an office in Easton, Maryland, and will soon begin operations in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Before COVID-19, the organization would send volunteers into members’ homes to fix leaky faucets, replace batteries in smoke detectors, and take care of many other minor handyman tasks. Partners In Care also hosts presentations and group events for members on various “older adult” topics when not in pandemic lockdown. The Frederick office of Partners In Care recently brought on board Office Coordinator Dawn Hessler and Site Director Randy Gray. For more information about their services, to volunteer, or to make a donation, please call 301-682-7433 or email dawnhessler@partnersincare.org.

Cuddles Cat Rescue Needs Your Help

Our rescue is facing difficult challenges. We’ve been at our location for six years due to the generosity of the owner in allowing us to utilize our space rent-free while paying only utilities.

Earlier this year, we had exciting plans to expand into a space within the building, where we could offer an adoption center open to the public. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated our fundraising efforts, making our plans to expand no longer possible. The building we occupy has now been listed for sale.

We’re unsure of our future and how soon we will be required to move. We desperately need a new location for our rescue so that we can continue our life-saving work for cats. So many residents in our community are aware of the wonderful services we offer for stray and feral cats/kittens that may have never had a chance for survival without our dedicated volunteers.

If anyone knows of or has a space in Thurmont (even a room in a building) that is available for little or no rent where we could relocate our rescue, please let us know. We’d greatly appreciate it if you could help us save Cuddles Cat Rescue of Thurmont by asking around and sharing this news with everyone you know.

Contact us by email at cuddlescatrescue@gmail.com.

~ Thank You, from all of us at Cuddles Cat Rescue

jEanne Angleberger, Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life

We know that a strong immune system can help us stay healthy during the upcoming cold, flu, and COVID-19 season. The purpose of your immune system is to protect your body from harmful invaders: germs, viruses, bacteria. The immune system plays a vital role in your health. If it’s not working properly, your body will let you know it.

How can we be assured that we have a healthy immune system? There are many measures we can take to strengthen our immune system and stave off illnesses, one being taking supplements.

Shaklee offers a Sustained Release Vita-C (500 mg.). A Chewable Vita-C has a sweet, lemon cream-flavor, suitable for children or adults. We know that a strong immune system starts with Vitamin C.

Vita-D3 plays a major role in protecting your health and immune function.

Shaklee’s Defend & Resist Complex is my choice for supercharging the immune system. It contains echinacea, black elderberry, larch tree, and zinc. It helps stimulate the body’s natural resistance during seasonal changes.

Consult with your health provider for his/her advice in getting a flu shot. It is very important to understand why you should get it, as well as when the best time is to do so.

We are going into the time of the year when we, like never before, need to continue to keep our immune system as strong as possible. And to stay clear of people who are sick or not feeling well.

Support your body with the nutritional needs year-round.

Keeping your immune system strong is crucial to your good health, not only in fighting off illnesses, but also fighting fatigue, improving digestion, increasing energy, and much more.

Members of the Fort Ritchie Community Center can win a free T-shirt if they can properly guess their temperature upon entering the facility.

The Community Center has established a COVID-19 prevention protocol based upon guidelines from the CDC, State of Maryland, and Washington County. The protocol includes each member answering a series of questions related to their possible exposure to the virus, as well as having their temperature taken by a Community Center staff member.

“We came up with what we hope is a fun way for our staff to approach each member,” said Buck Browning, executive director of the Community Center. “It can be intimidating to have someone hold an infrared thermometer to your forehead, so we are trying to make it a little less awkward for both people,” he added. 

The Community Center features a fitness center, weight room, gymnasium, and multi-purpose athletic room, along with other amenities.  Equipment such as treadmills, stationary bicycles, and strength machines have been aligned so that they are at least six feet apart. Some machines have been closed off to improve the social distancing among members Browning said. 

The T-shirt initiative has been well-received by members. We had ten members guess correctly on the first day we offered the T-shirts,” Browning said. “I thought we might do this for a month or so, but at this rate, we will run out of shirts in a week or two,” he laughed. The initiative will continue while supplies last.   

The Community Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization, located in Cascade on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army Post. In addition to the fitness center and weight room, the Fort Ritchie Community Center offers group exercise classes, youth programs, and a wide variety of community events, such as craft shows, holiday celebrations, and speaker presentations. 

For more information on the Fort Ritchie Community Center, please visit online at www.thefrcc.org.    

A Fort Ritchie Community Center staff member checks a member’s temperature upon entering the facility.

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont Commissioner Marty Burns entered politics when he was elected as a Thurmont Town Commissioner in 1999. In August, the Maryland Municipal League recognized his 21 years as an elected official in Thurmont by inducting him into the MML Elected Official Hall of Fame.

The announcement came at the end of the town meeting on August 4. Inductions are usually made during the MML annual conference in Ocean City, but because this year’s conference was virtual due to COVID-19, the certificate was sent to the town office.

Mayor John Kinnaird nominated Burns for the honor and read the certificate into the record. At one point when Kinnaird said Marty was being recognized for his “long, exemplary service,” Burns jokingly asked, “Can you say that one more time?” Kinnaird replied, “Exemplary? That’s a typo.”

The back and forth joking and banter among everyone present showed not only how well the board of commissioners get along now—which at times during the past 20 years could get contentious—but that everyone present felt Burns deserving of the honor.

Former MML President Jake Romanell said that Burns receiving the honor shows, “Marty loves Thurmont, its residents, and his neighbors.”

Burns served two years as commissioner before serving three terms (12 years) as mayor. He has served as commissioner for the last seven years.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner also proclaimed August 4, 2020, as Martin Burns Day. In her proclamation, she noted some of the things Burns has accomplished during his time as an elected official, including creating the Charter Review Committee, overseeing a new town charter, getting a new police station built, helping the town become a Main Street Maryland Community, and forming the Thurmont Addictions Committee. Some of the people in attendance, including Mayor Kinnaird and Commissioner Bill Buehrer, pointed out that Burns was the person who pushed them to run for office.

As commissioners and audience members came forward to speak about Burns, jokes were made about his tendency to speak at length and to use Pentagon jargon, but they all praised his goal as trying to do what is best for Thurmont.

“You always have the best interests of our community at heart,” Kinnaird said.

“You certainly add balance to this dais and this board,” Commissioner Wes Hamrick told Burns.

Burns thanked his family for the sacrifices they had made to allow him the time to serve. He also said that his current term would be his last. He said it has been rewarding to serve on the board but also a burden because he has always tried to do the right thing. He thanked the residents of Thurmont for allowing him that opportunity.

“You saw through my flaws, saw all the bad parts of me, and still said, we want that person on the board,” Burns said.

Marty Burns, his family, and the commissioners are shown on August 4, Martin Burns Day in Frederick County.

The Guardian Hose Company, Inc. has decided to cancel the James H. Mackley Golf Day that was scheduled for September 26, 2020, at the Maple Run Golf Course. The event is held to raise funds for graduating seniors from Catoctin High School who plan to continue their education in the emergency services field. This would have been the 10th year for this event. But, with COVID-19 and cases beginning to rise again, it was decided not to hold the event this year for the safety of our first responders and also the public.

The Guardian Hose Company is pleased to announce that the scholarship was awarded to Emma Ford this past year, and they were also able to renew scholarships for Lauren Ames and Caitlyn Naff again this year.

The Guardian Hose Company thanks all the businesses that supported this fundraising event, and all of the golfers that always came out to make this a fun-filled day. They are looking forward to holding the James H. Mackley Golf Day next September 2021 and hope to see everyone then.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club awarded scholarships to the following students: Michael Staley, UNC School of Arts; Sabrina Poore, Shepherd University; Douglas Isanogle, American University; Allison Rippeon, Shippenburg University; William Ochs, Frederick Community College; William Anderson, William and Mary College; Aaron Matlock, Shepherd University; Sahel Kargar-Javahersaz, University of Maryland; and Allison Howard, Anne Arundel Community College. 

Due to the COVID-19, the annual picnic to award these scholarships was canceled. The funds for these scholarships were derived through Lewistown Ruritan fundraisers.

The Lewistown Ruritan will have two more chicken BBQs, scheduled for Sunday, September 13, and Sunday, October 4, for carryouts only, beginning at 10:30 a.m., near Lewistown on Rt. 15, northbound near the intersection of Fish Hatchery Road.