Currently viewing the tag: "Featured Articles"

James Rada, Jr.

Fighting fires is dangerous work, and to do it safely, firefighters need to train for every conceivable situation and hope that their responses become second nature.

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, members of the Vigilant Hose Company, Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Mount St. Mary’s University Public Safety personnel, and facilities management staff gathered at the college to review how to fight fires in campus facilities and to train.

Vigilant Hose Company personnel have been working with Mount employees to update fire department “Pre-Plans” to make sure everyone knows who needs to be contacted and how to react to fires on campus. The goal is to assure maximum efficiency and effectiveness for successful resolution, with minimum disruption and adverse effects.

As Mount Vice President Wayne Green said, “If you are prepared for anything like a flood, then you’ll be prepared for everything else.”

Vigilant Hose Chief Chad Umbel has been overseeing this latest round of fire and emergency services preparedness. He said, “The Mount has always been a huge supporter of our efforts in being prepared to handle emergencies. And, this past year, they’ve again been very gracious and helpful to our firefighters, who have been studying campus upgrades, allowing for updating maps, double-checking access points for utility shut-offs, emergency operational considerations like hydrant access, and utilizing and allowing full access to areas of all buildings on campus.

About twenty firefighters began the training with a review of the Mount’s buildings. VHC Lt. Alex McKenna explained to the group how to enter each building, depending on where a fire might be located. They also reviewed which buildings had sprinkler systems and standpipes.

“The most dangerous building for us on campus is the Terrace,” McKenna said. “The biggest hazard in there is really just the confusion of where you are.” This is because the Terrace is made up of different halls, running in different directions.

The biggest point driven home during the review was that firefighters first need to scout out where a fire is located in a building before deploying hoses. He used Sheridan Hall as an example of what could happen if the fire wasn’t located first. “If you do it wrong, you can go up 800 feet for a 200-foot stretch,” McKenna explained.

Green also told the group that modernizing each building’s fire suppression system was a top priority for the college administration.

The two training exercises were scenario-based. The first involved entering the smoke-filled second floor of Sheridan Hall to find a student who was unconscious in a dorm room.

The second exercise was a high-rise hose deployment to the third floor of Pangborn Hall.

Utilizing mitigation evolutions like V.E.I.S. (Vent / Enter / Isolate / Search) with a specific focus on Rapid Intervention Techniques and proper utilization of existing built-in building protection systems, emergency services personnel practiced operational exercises, command and control, occupant location and removal, hose deployment, ventilation, and restoration of normal building functionality.

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, members of the Vigilant Hose Company, Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Mount St. Mary’s University Public Safety personnel, and facilities management staff gathered at the college to review how to fight fires in campus facilities and to train.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

State championship marks only the second time Thurmont has won this prestigious honor in over sixty-six years. Read story on page 27.

Pictured from left: #54 Will Gisriel, #33 Braden Bell, #4 Griffin Puvel, #13 Donovan Baker, #35 D.J. Shipton, #7 Connor Crum, #21 Joe McMannis, #23 Braden Manning, #3 Josh Skowronski, #34 E.J. Lowry, #17 Logan Simanski, and #77 Peyton Castellow. Not pictured: Manager Tim Castellow; Coaches Chris Skowronski and Ed Lowry.

For only the third time in twenty-seven years, a team from Maryland District 2 has won the Maryland State Little League Championship.  This year’s champions are from our very own community: Thurmont Little League. Each year, over eighty Little Leagues from across the State of Maryland compete for the championship. Thurmont Little League punched their ticket to the State tournament by winning the Maryland District 2 Championship.

This State championship marks only the second time Thurmont has won this prestigious honor in over sixty-six years. The last team from Thurmont to win the Little League division State championship was the team in 2005, managed by John Tomasini. This year’s team faced some very tough competition, beating teams from Elkton Little League (11-1); Easton Little League (17-0); and then a very tough Berlin Little League, twice (3-2, 11-5).

“This is a very special group of young men,” commented Ed Lowry, Thurmont Little League president and assistant coach on the team.  “Each of these boys accept their respective roles on the team, and are willing to do whatever for the greater good of the team. They represent our communities with such pride, dignity, and class, it’s just a privilege for our coaching staff to work with these fine young men.  The success on the field is great, but the comments we get about their character is even more rewarding.”

With this victory, Thurmont Little League has earned the right to represent the State of Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament in Bristol, Connecticut, this coming August 5-12. All of those games are televised on the ESPN family of networks.  Thurmont will play their first game on Monday, August 7, at 4:00 p.m., versus the winner of the Pennsylvania/Delaware game. Our Banner readers can watch that game on ESPN3.

With this success comes some financial challenges for the team’s families. The team just recently spent the week of July 14-21 on the Eastern Shore in Maryland, participating at the State tournament. The families incurred a collective expense of nearly $19,000 to participate at the State-level tournament. “We were very fortunate to receive a donation from the Town of Thurmont in the amount of $1,500 to help offset some of the cost. Mayor Kinnaird and Board of Commissioners from Thurmont have been staunch advocates and supporters of our program over my tenure at Thurmont Little League. Other than their generous donation, our families picked up the rest of the expenses,” Lowry commented.

The road ahead doesn’t get any easier for Thurmont Little League, both on the field and making the preparations to get to the Bristol, regional tournament in August.

“Unfortunately, Little League doesn’t contribute to the expenses of the families to get to Bristol. It’s a real financial burden in some cases.  We estimate the expenses somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000,” stated Lowry. Thus, the Thurmont Little League players and families are in active fundraising mode. If you would like to donate, you can do so via their “GoFundMe” page at:, or go directly to their website at and click on the “donate” link.

“The great part about this is that everyone in the community can be a part of this. You will get to watch the team play on ESPN and know that your donation helped get them there,” said Lowry.  “We have adopted the hashtag #SmallTownBigDreams for this team, and I can assure you that this group of boys will make you proud to say that they are a team from your hometown community.” The Thurmont Little League 11-12 team leaves for Bristol on August 4.



by James Rada, Jr.


East Street Parking Concerns

Thurmont residents who live along East Street have expressed the parking concerns they have to Mayor John Kinnaird and the town commissioners. Because of a lack of defined spaces along the street, parking can be “a little bit jumbled.” Many residents would like to see the parking spaces along the street marked.

Commissioner Wes Hamrick expressed concern that cars might not be able to turn around at the end of the street, but this can be solved with the elimination of a parking space or two at the end of the street closest to the carnival grounds.

Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick also stated that a stop sign will be placed on Center Street at East Street, which will turn the intersection into a three-way stop.

Per citizen suggestions, “one way” signs will be placed on Center Street and at the top of Church Street and East Street. Also, a “Do Not Enter” sign will be posted at Center Street and East Street.


Thurmont Helps Little League Champs

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recognized the Thurmont Little League team for winning the District 2 championship. They went 4-0 in the district and hit 22 home runs. The team’s expenses to compete in the state championship is about $20,000. The commissioners agreed to contribute $1,500 to the effort.


Update on Mural Project

Artist Yemi showed the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners the preliminary drawings for the mural project that he is painting for the town. He told the commissioners that it is still on track to be unveiled in the spring of 2018. Fundraising for the project is ongoing, and Yemi will be using local residents as models in the mural.


Town Approves Purchase of New Pumps

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the bid of C. Schultes of Maryland to replace the well No. 7 pumps for $32,200. This was an item for which the Water Department had been budgeting.


Commissioners Get Merger Update

Vigilant Hose Company Chief Frank Davis and Emmitsburg Ambulance Company President Mary Lou Little updated the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners on the progress of the two companies. Members from both companies voted unanimously to proceed with the merger. Since Saturday, July 8, ambulances have been operating out of the Vigilant Hose Company building on West Main Street.

“Since these mergers have started, we have not failed on a single call,” Davis said.

The goal is for the merger to be completed by January 1, 2018.


Protecting Utility Lines

Ashley Shiwarski with Utility Service Partners, Inc. spoke to the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners recently about the National League of Cities Service Line Program. The program partners Utility Service Partners with municipalities and participating residents to protect water and sewer lines that break that are on their property. Typically, if there is a line break on private property, it is the responsibility of the property owner to pay for the repairs. Those insured by the program can receive up to $8,500 per incident.

“This could really benefit Emmitsburg, because we have a lot of residents who don’t have a lot of money to pay for stuff,” said Commissioner Cliff Sweeney.

Three different types of policies would be offered, and each one would cost less than $10.00 a month. The commissioners are considering offering the program in Emmitsburg. Thurmont and Taneytown already offer the program to their residents.


Emmitsburg Multi-User Trail Work Day

There will be a work day on the Emmitsburg Multi-User Trail on August 5, from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Volunteers should dress for work, and tools will be provided. Volunteers will also be provided coffee, orange juice, bagels and cream cheese, fruit, and more. After the work session, volunteers will be provided lunch. For more information, contact Commissioner Tim O’Donnell at


Yard Waste and Recycling Drop-off

The next yard waste and recycling drop-off for Emmitsburg will be on August 19, beginning at 9:00 a.m. This event is held every third Saturday. Items can be dropped off at the site on Creamery Road. Recycling is available to any Frederick County resident, but the yard waste drop-off is only available to people who have an ID or driver’s license that shows they live in the 21727 zip code.


Last Town Block Party for the Summer

The last of the three block parties that the Town of Emmitsburg has been sponsoring this summer will be held on Friday, August 18, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The party will be held at the Community Park and is free for everyone.


Deadline to Register to Vote Approaching

August 28 is the last day that you can register to vote in the upcoming Emmitsburg Town Election. You can register at the town office.

Mayor John Kinnaird

Summer is here and, with it, the hot and humid weather. Please be careful while outdoors and be sure to keep hydrated and pace yourself while working. Also, keep an eye out for your elderly neighbors and offer assistance when needed.

The Thurmont Fun Fest is coming on August 5, 2017, to the Eyler Road Park, hosted by the Town of Thurmont and CYA Football and Cheer Teams. The day starts at 11:00 a.m. and features a full day of fun and games, including Punt Pass and Kick Competition, games, food, giveaways, volleyball, NFL cheerleaders, vendors, fire/EMS demonstrations, Police K-9 demonstration, car seat inspections, bike rodeo, pet-friendly activities, music, and more. Bring the kids and your dog for a fun day at Eyler Road Park!

This past weekend, I attended the Fun Fair at the Thurmont Regional Library. The day was full of educational fun and games for everyone. Outside, there were town trucks and a Guardian Hose Company Brush Truck to look at. There also was an amazing soap bubble demonstration. Inside activities included games, Cuddles Cat Rescue with kittens, the National Park Service with wild animal pets, service dogs, a very friendly Alpaca, and many other fun displays and activities. If you didn’t manage to get there this year, be sure to attend next year’s event. My thanks to the Thurmont Regional Library and staff for supporting our community by offering a wide range of interesting and educational activities for children and adults.

The month of July typically serves as a break in the schedule for the Thurmont Board of Commissioner (BOC) meetings. We will resume our regular Tuesday evening meeting on August 1 at 7:00 p.m. Regular BOC meetings are open to the public; you are welcome to attend and to participate in public comment during discussions or at the close of the meetings.

Finally, a comment about Thurmont Little League (TLL). Unless you have been living in a cave, you must know about the TLL teams playing in the Little League playoffs. The 9-11 TLL All Stars team took the District 2 Championships and are currently playing for the State 9-11 Championships. The Thurmont Little League 11-12 All Stars won the District 2 Championship and went on to clench the State 11-12 Championship. The 11-12 Champs are now going to play in the Regional Playoffs in Bristol, Connecticut, with the series beginning on August 5. The Regional Playoffs will be broadcast on ESPN3, and if they move onto the World Series games, you will be able to watch on ESPN. That two of the Thurmont Little League teams have moved through the District 2 playoffs, and on to the State playoffs, speaks volumes of the quality of the Little League program, the determination and sportsmanship of the players, the dedication of the coaching staff, and encouragement and support of the team families! Please be sure to congratulate both All-Star teams and support their journey through States and Regional play. Both teams will be holding fundraisers to help cover the costs of attending the playoff games, and they will appreciate any help we can provide.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at

Mayor Don Briggs

Once again, thank you to the Community Heritage Day organizers, vendors, entertainers, and town staff for their behind-the-scenes support. The event continues to grow bigger and better every year. The fireworks show was fantastic.

Thank you to the town Parks and Recreation Committee for a wonderful, well attended “Evening in the Park” on July 15. Magician Michael Cantori left a lot of us gasping. Everyone should visit his store on West Main Street, near the Square. Following his show, hot dogs, refreshments, and other entertainment filled the evening schedule.

Thank you to Sherry Waselchalk, the Maryland State Highway project manager, for the bridge replacement; also the Square revitalization and sidewalk projects. We were supposed to have the Square closed for three days and nights, but the work was completed in one evening.

There are a lot of projects happening around town, so here are some updates and estimated dates of completion (EDC):

Pool: Building permit received. Hold up: resubmitted plans for underwater lighting. Now waiting for Frederick County Health Department approvals. EDC: May 2018 (to be open for next summer season).

Dog park: Site behind tennis/ basketball court is cleared. We have applied for a second grant to cover costs. Bidding going out for fencing. EDC: June 2018.

Square revitalization and downtown sidewalk project. EDC: June 2018. Trees to be replaced at locations approved by (fronting) home owners. Different tree varieties, all with no fruit droppings.

Flat Run bridge: delicate work around creek bed. EDC: Fall 2018.

The town was awarded $221,907 from a FY2018 Energy-Water Infrastructure Program (EWIP) grant through Maryland Department of the Environment. The grant funds will be used to replace the pumps at the Creamery Road Pump Station with two energy efficient pumps, a new generator, flow meter, and circulator. The equipment could save the town $6,007 annually in electricity costs.

We are in the process of applying for $100,000 +/- grant for a field for soccer, lacrosse, and rugby.

I had the pleasure to introduce new Congressman, James Raskin, at a recent meet and greet in Emmitsburg. It was good to have Frederick County Council Member Kirby Delauter and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins in attendance. The congressman likes to hike, so I think he will be coming up our way again (and soon).

Congratulations to Vigilant Hose Comapany No. 6 volunteer firefighter Elyssa Cool on being awarded the 2016 Silver Spring Trophy by Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA). The MSFA presented the award on behalf of the sponsor, Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. It is presented each year at the MSFA Annual Convention to an individual who does the most in fire prevention for his/her community. Elyssa received an individual plaque for permanent possession and will hold the trophy for one year and then pass it on. The award is administered by MSFA Fire Prevention Committee and Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office. Thank you, Elyssa, for your service to our community. For more: Link on the MSFA Website –

From what we already know and have felt, but only mused as to why: (from the Wall Street Journal Jan. 17, 2016) bacon prices are up and up 80 percent. Nationwide, we bought 14 percent more bacon in 2016 then 2013. No longer only for BLTs and breakfast sides, bacon is now a standard in a salad mix, as a sprinkling on a cup of soup, or piled regularly on burgers. Move over salmon. The price to wholesalers for pork bellies has risen to $2.10 per pound. Bacon is becoming more of a specialty food item. Look for thinner strips and/or higher prices in restaurants.

Summer reading suggestion: History of My Own Times with a subtitle, The Life And Adventures of William Otter, Sen. Comprising a Series of Events, And Musical Incidents Altogether Original, Emmitsburg 1835, written by William Otter, an English emigrant. Emmitsburg is spelled several ways including “Emmitsburgh” and “Emmettsburg.”It’s a very interesting read.

The third and final “pool party” in Community Park will be held Friday August 18, from 6-8 p.m., featuring hot dogs, drinks, Rita’s Italian Ice, DJ music, and games. Start the weekend off in the park.

“Back to School Day” will be held on Saturday, August 5, from 12:00-3:00 p.m., and will feature school supplies, lots of food, games, and entertainment. Sponsored by Christ’s Community Church.

Groundbreaking for the new Seton Center is August 18 at 3:00 p.m., off E. Lincoln Avenue, west of the Mother Seton School.

This is a great place to live.

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the mayor and commissioners that the town’s new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake is proving effective so far.

The new system, which cost the town $38,650 for setup and $13,000 a year for calibration, was installed in April of this year. The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. Willets presented the results of the first three months of operation of the system.

The first data looked at was the presences of chlorophyll in the water. Willets said that this is the biggest indicator that shows algae is not growing. The amount of chlorophyll has dropped from 20 ug/L to 5 ug/L.

The next item examined was phycocyanin, which causes taste and odor problems in the water. It has dropped from 4-5 ug/L to near 0.

Water turbidity, which affects how clear the water is, has dropped from 4.0 NTVs to <1 NTO. Willets pointed out that town staff have received multiple comments from fisherman using the lake that the water is noticeably clearer.

Coagulant usage and backwash water usage are both down.

“We are doing more backwashes, but the gallons used are less,” Willets said.

The water usage is down from 1,292,250 gallons to around 600,000 gallons. This is saving the town 85 water taps.

Willets also told the commissioners that since the system has been installed, there has been no unexpected filter-related overtime.

Two items that have not shown any noticeable difference is the usage of soda ash and chlorine. Usage of these items is expected to be reduced as the new system continues to operate.

Also, while the system has been operating as expected, the satellite uplink that will allow LG Sonic to monitor the system hasn’t been able to be established yet, which is something that is being worked on.

“Staff is very pleased with what they’ve seen so far,” Willets said.

Data from August and September will be examined with interest because this is the time when the lake has historically had its largest algae growth.

The Town of Thurmont Main Street Program has once again received the National Main Street Accreditation for 2017.  Thurmont’s Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder, who also manages the Thurmont Main Street program, was notified of the recognition last month.

In a release from Main Street America, Thurmont received notification stating “Thurmont Main Street, in June of 2017, has been designated as an accredited Main Street America Program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.” Thurmont Main Street hosts events and programs throughout the year, including the Main Street Farmers’ Market, the Business Showcase, Christmas in Thurmont, the Thurmont Business Bucks program, and Art and Wine Strolls, along with operating the Thurmont Main Street Center.

“Main Streets are the heart of any community and the catalyst for future growth within any town. Thurmont is proud and honored to be recognized as an elite member of the 828 Nationally Accredited Main Street America communities, and one of the twenty eight in the state of Maryland. A special thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers who make this possible,” stated Grinder.

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners received a report about how well their social media efforts are doing in reaching people.

Office Manager Terri Ray collected the data and put together a PowerPoint show that Town Clerk Madeline Shaw presented to the commissioners.

The Emmitsburg Facebook page now has 945 followers, which is up about 225 people in the last seven months. The page only had 150 followers about two years ago. Women, ages 35-49, make up 21 percent of the town’s followers.

Each post on the page reaches an average of 370 people. Some reach many more:

  • A photo of the beginning of the dog park construction was seen by 1,600 people.
  • Construction updates are seen by about 2,600 people.
  • The announcement of the Green Registry Award was seen by 1,600 people.


“We are starting to get more comments,” Shaw told the commissioners.

When people visit the town’s website, they spend a little over two minutes on the site, on average, and about two-third of the visitors are first-time visitors.

Visit the town’s website at, and check out their Facebook page:

Wayne Powell

There’s a house in our small community that’s more than just a house. Even though it’s a house right along Main Street, in fact, many pass it by, never thinking about its importance.

In some ways, it may seem to be a house not all that different than your home. However, it’s a house that is very different than most others in Emmitsburg and beyond.

It’s a house where you can hear the phone—a rather special phone, it is at that—and you can’t escape its ring no matter where you might try to hide, for you always have to answer it, even at dinner time.

The nature of the chores in this house are, at times, pretty much just like everyone else’s: wash the floors, clean the sinks, dust the shelves, run the washer, scrub the toilets, put away pots and pans, shop, keep records, pay the bills;  yet, it’s a house where training videos—not DVD or VHS movies—line the shelves on either side of the television.

For those who reside there, it’s their “Home away from Home,” as they say. And, it’s about the only house in greater Emmitsburg where the announcement “fire” does not lead to panic. In fact, that term, “fire” just means it’s time to go to work.

But, in this house, there’s something very special…no, it’s not a collection of photos—albeit, some of those old pictures take the folks back, just like photos in your albums do—and it’s not the computers or the TV’s or even the super large red machines that fill much of the first floor. No, it’s the people there who make it so special. The fact that they’re committed to helping others is what makes this house so very special, indeed. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing place, especially in these interesting times in which we all now live. As you’ve likely already figured out by now, we’re talking about a house that is actually YOUR house, too. Yes, that’s right, the community’s firehouse!

Those at this house, the firehouse, certainly are “family,” and just like everyone else’s family, they have some interesting characters, too. Plus, just like you, they take pride in their home and all that’s in it—especially the people!

Little ol’ fire station number 6 runs with the pace and precision of a beehive. The long-ago Norman Rockwell-like image of those who inhabit houses like this community’s firehouse no longer sit around playing cards or checkers all day—an image of a by-gone era.

In fact, sometimes they feel they have enough to keep them busy even if they never got called out—with training and paperwork, and fundraisers and paperwork, and cleaning and paperwork, vehicle maintenance and paperwork, and the endless certifications and equipment checks, and, of course, in case it wasn’t mentioned, there’s all that paperwork, too.

Their radios blare, yet they all seem to block out most of the routine buzz, unless it’s something close or unusual or profound; then, yes, they listen intently. And, they always listen for Number 6 to be called upon when it’s their turn to help others in danger. They are proud to do their duty, just like firefighters in our country have been doing for more than 375 years—yes, all the way back to Peter Stivincent in New Amsterdam, or New York as it’s called today.

What’s amazing is that those in that house do what they do for free. Yep, no pay! No stipend, no fee per call, not even an honorarium for preparation time or travel time.  And, oh yes, they still make house calls!

If you’re a person who doesn’t like to be woken up from a sound sleep, or someone who just can’t handle working outdoors on bitter cold winter nights, or for that matter, blistering hot summer afternoons, or perhaps you are just one of those who needs time to ponder, plan, sort, think, re-think, then review your options before initiating an action, then this sometimes hectic pace necessary for the required rapid-fire decision-making may be a bit much to handle.

But, thank goodness there are those who somehow take all these and many other challenges in stride and are willing to do the right thing. In fact, a review of history of this region finds that there’s been these type of folks here for well over 135 years, who have been, and still are, there when the community calls upon them for help.

That house, and those in it, routinely make a difference in the lives of others, even those they don’t know. The men and women of this particular house stand ready—on a moment’s notice—to help when and where needed. And, the rest of us are so very lucky they do.

If you would like to better understand the critical role that volunteer ‘First Responders’ in communities just like ours do every day to help others, I encourage you to watch this superb 5-minute animated video ( that tells those in the community the value of their volunteer fire and emergency services personnel.