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Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to those residents who came forth to run for the two open commissioner seats in the town election: two incumbents, Elizabeth Buckman and Glenn Blanchard and challengers Frank Davis and T.J. Burns. How can you lose when you step forward, especially when it is to present your perspective on care for the community? There are no losers.

Thank you to Glenn for the quiet, thoughtful presence he brought to the board of commissioners and the community. Whether in service as a St. Joseph’s board member, as a member of the American Legion and proud veteran, or the years in the classroom, his role is always as that needed steadying hand. Also being a world traveler, he contributed from those experiences and brought a wider perspective and balance to our town meetings.

Thank you to Elizabeth Buckman, a teacher, who often brought an energy centered on representing those in our community who are in need and possibly seldom heard. She also brought to the town meetings a broader perspective from her education and experiences. Congratulations to Commissioner Buckman on acceptance into a University of Pittsburgh graduate program. Her new studies will certainly ready her for the adventures that will be launched from that education. 

The new commissioners will assuredly bring a new energy and verve. 

On occasion, I have received inquiries as to infrastructure improvements during my time as mayor. The following is a recap of most, if not all, of those improvements that have been completed since July 1, 2014, or are anticipated to be completed in the near future.

•Capital Project spending (rounded): $149,000 – town square project town portion; $317,000 – paving and sidewalks; $700,000 – parks and recreation.

•Water: $29,000 – three phases of rip rap at Rainbow Lake; $134,000 – new waterline (North Seton Ave. and Main St.); $39,000 – LG Sonic (solar) – algae control Rainbow Lake; $219,000 – general repairs and maintenance; $13,000 – leak detection since 2017.

•Sewer: $17,000 – Power Star – water treatment; $18,000 – wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); $80,000 – sewer relining (East Main St.); $100,000 – pending sewer relining FY20; $2.5 – $3 million – pending new pumping station; $152,000 – general repairs and maintenance.

Annually, the town is committed to putting aside $65,000 for roads. We are working on another $1,000,000 investment in our water treatment plant that should create significant savings to the town.

The 38th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend was again a successful solemn tribute to the 119 firefighters honored this year. Adding to the tribute this year was the completion of the installation of the William Cochran Glass etching, “Volunteers” in front of the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. Congratulations to the officers of the museum. It was our pleasure in helping to raise funds for the project and assisting when requested. 

As of this writing, the redevelopment of the playground in Community Park to an all-inclusive playground is finishing up. This was a wonderful effort, which could not have been accomplished without support from the state, county, the Civitan Club, and lots of town staff “elbow grease.” It was a pleasure working with the contractor, Playground Specialists, and their field manager, Emmitsburg’s own Tim Boyle. We are very proud of this and a ribbon cutting is tentatively been set for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. Please check the town website, channel 99, and/or Facebook for confirmation of date and time.

Congratulations to Emmitsburg resident Emmy Award-winner Conrad Weaver for his award-winning documentary, Heroin’s Grip. It was screened on Capitol Hill on October 16 in the Cannon House Office Building. Conrad and his team, together with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and others in the Maryland delegation, hosted the event.

Hope you enjoyed the Halloween parade and festivities and are readying for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

We have survived another Colorfest, and my impression is that this was a profitable one for many of our nonprofits. I also spoke to many vendors, all of whom said they were very happy with the turnout. The weather was ideal and that brought out nice crowds of visitors. I want to thank all our residents, vendors, and nonprofits for helping make this a successful Colorfest weekend.

The Thurmont Lions Club is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, and the Lions have been an active participant in our community for each one of those 90 years. With one of the most active memberships of any organization, the Lions have supported a wide range of activities, from their annual Easter Egg Hunt to the amazing improvements they brought to the Trolley Trail. The Lions sandwich sales, Community Show booth, and Colorfest stand allow them to raise funds that stay within our community. The Thurmont Lions Club is one of the pieces that make the Thurmont the community we all love. Here’s to another 90 successful years for the Thurmont Lions Club!

One of the most popular events in Thurmont is Halloween in the Park. This year’s event has been rescheduled to November 2 due to the weather forecast. Halloween in the Park is attended by thousands each year, and we all have an amazing time while raising funds and donations for the Thurmont Food Bank. The two driving forces behind this fun evening, since the first year, have been Jill and Wayne Hooper. Each year, Jill and Wayne are out collecting donations, encouraging volunteers to help, and making sure that everyone knows about the event. Then, during the week leading up to Halloween in the Park, they are working every day to get things set up just right. They always seem to be everywhere at once during the event and make sure we all enjoy ourselves. Sadly, Jill passed away June 10 of this year, and Wayne has taken on the responsibility of organizing this once again. This year’s event is titled “Jill’s Chills and Thrills,” in honor of her love of Halloween. I hope everyone has a great time, thinks fondly of Jill and her love for this event, and that everyone takes a minute to thank Wayne for bringing so much fun to our community.

Christmas in Thurmont will be here on December 7. Be sure to be on the lookout for information about the day coming soon. There will be games, crafts, and prizes for all ages, as well as a visit with Santa! We will have the extremely popular Christmas Train Garden set up again this year. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be hosting the display on each Saturday and Sunday leading up to Christmas. Our thanks to the FCSME and Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge No. 155 for working with the Town of Thurmont to make this possible.

As always you can call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

In light of some recent bicycling events, a general increase in bicycle traffic, and a recent accident involving a bike and a vehicle, I thought it might be helpful to review bicycling laws in Maryland.  The following highlights are provided by the State of Maryland. For complete rules regarding bicycles in Maryland, please refer to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Transportation, Title 21 – Rules of the Road.

Bicyclists fare best when they act like, and are treated as, drivers of vehicles. By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

•Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.

•Ride with traffic, never against it.

•Stop at all red lights and stop signs.

•Use hand signals when turning or stopping.

•Yield right-of-way to pedestrians.

•Pass on the left when overtaking a vehicle.

•Use marked bike lanes or paths when present.

•Use sharrows (markings in the travel lane that indicate where people should preferably cycle) to help guide you in shared travel lanes.

•Use caution when crossing ramps.

•Bikes must be ridden as close to the right side of the road as possible, unless making a left turn, riding on a one-way street, passing a halted/slowed vehicle, avoiding pedestrians or hazards, the right lane is a right turn only lane or the lane is too narrow for a bike to travel safely.

•Never ride more than two abreast.

•Only ride on sidewalks where it is allowed by local ordinance.

•Stay visible when riding at night and during inclement weather.

•All riders 16 and under are required to wear a helmet and wear the helmet correctly.

 Remember, a bicycle weighs 20 pounds; a car weighs 4,000 pounds. Even the slightest mistake on the part of the driver can result in tragic consequences for the bicyclist.

•Expect bicyclists on the road.

•Allow at least three feet when passing bicycle.

•Always keep a safe following distance.

•Yield the right-of-way to bicyclists when turning right.

•Look for bicyclists before opening a car door.

•Stay alert when pulling out of driveways or side streets.

•Watch for children.

•Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to text and use handheld devices while driving.

•Stay alert – avoid all distractions.

Please keep these rules in mind when you are riding a bicycle on our streets and whenever you encounter bicyclists.

As always please contact me with any concerns at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

I was at the President’s ‘State of the Mount’ opening day presentation to the university team. President Tim Trainor delivered an inspiring ramp-up to prepare for the year. First impressions are important, and everyone was readying to help the next day with the first-year student move-ins. The program included the status of major projects. First, a much-needed student multi-purpose building is ready for use. Next, plans for the Frederick Memorial Hospital (FMH) Urgent Care Center, a partnership with the Mount, is at the final conceptual plan phase. Opening may be as early as December 2020. Then, potential development of a county regional park on 130+ acres of Mount property. If that wasn’t enough, the potential development of a Mount School of Health Professionals graduate school program in town.

Alas, the final town pool party of the summer happened with a DJ music, ice cream truck, hot dogs, lemonade, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers. Thanks to Jubilee, Carriage House Inn, and  McDonalds. Over 200 people swam, ate, and danced. Libby, Maddy, Amy, Frank, Don, and Glenn worked the food stand.

After two years of working toward it, there will be a Boys and Girls Club in Emmitsburg this fall. The club will be held at the elementary school when the school is open and at Christ’s Community Church on the other days.

National Night Out 2.0 was special. Over 500 people attended the event in Community Park to enjoy the pleasant evening as guests of the town and Sheriff Jenkins. There was a K-9 team exhibition, the SWAT team members and vehicle, Vigilant Hose fire truck, and for the town’s part, 30 vendors ranging from ice cream, hot dogs, EBPA, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, and many county service departments were on-hand. There were pony rides and a petting zoo to boot.

On the calendar: The 63rd Emmitsburg & Thurmont Community Show weekend is coming up September 6 through 8. Always special, the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend is coming up in October. Ninety-two firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2018 and 27 firefighters from other years who met the inclusion criteria will be honored.

Construction of the William Cochran glass etching commemorating firefighters in action has begun. The etching will be located in front of the Frederick County Fire Museum. Mr. Cochran is nationally known for his public art projects. Locally, he is well-known for the “Community Bridge” a trompe l’oeil mural that spans over Carroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland. The glass etching will be a wonderful addition to what Emmitsburg offers.

Congratulations to Francis E. Smith, who by unanimous board approval and proclamation, became the Town of Emmitsburg Poet Laurate. Francis, who turned 94 years young in August, has lived in Emmitsburg since he built a home for his family in 1971. Professionally, Francis taught high school English and Latin for over 40 years at then Taneytown High School and then Francis Scott Key High School, and has published several books of poems. He is a special person. He contributes monthly to The Catoctin Banner Newzine, and from time to time, his poems will be included on the town Facebook page and website.

Finally, school is back in session; stay alert and be careful.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are at the end of summer; where has the year gone?  School is about to start. I encourage everyone to be especially careful as our children head off to school. Kids will be walking on the sidewalks and getting on and off buses and may not always be aware of their surroundings. Be sure to obey all a speed limits, school crossing guards, and school bus warning devices. I hope all of our children have a great time at school.

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is coming up on September 6-8. This Community Show is one of the largest community agricultural shows in Maryland and provides a wonderful opportunity for the display of crafts, livestock, baked goods, photography, floral displays, fruits, vegetables, and other items. There’s also plenty of delicious food available at the show, including the always popular turkey dinner, BBQ chicken lunch, and the tasty items at the Thurmont Lions Club food stand. I hope to see you all  at the Community Show!

With fall comes the Annual Colorfest weekend. If you are interested in setting up a booth, please be sure to contact the town office about permits and other important information. Colorfest represents one of the best fundraising opportunities for many of our local churches, service organizations, and youth groups. Be sure to visit our local organizations and support them during Colorfest.

Thurmont will be holding elections for two commissioner’s seats this fall. Here are some important dates to remember. The Nominating Convention will be held in the Town Meeting Room at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The last day to register to vote in the town elections is close of business on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. The election will be held on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Guardian Hose Company Activity Building on 123 East Main Street in Thurmont.

Please contact me at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.

Mayor Don Briggs

There are still more of the Emmitsburg ensemble of summer activities!

National Night Out will be held on Tuesday, August 6, from 6:00-8:30 p.m., in Community Park. PLEASE check or recheck your calendar; the town is hosting this event. The event will feature the Sheriff, the Sheriff’s Department Swat Team, Swat Team vehicle, and K 9 team, plus 30-some venders, free hotdogs, Rita’s Ice, and maybe more.

Over 170 people attended the town-sponsored second summer pool party on Friday, July 12. This was a record attendance for a pool party. There will be more DJ music, free while-they-last hot dogs, Rita’s Ice, and lemonade at the third and final pool party on August 16, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The cost is $1.00 for those who do not have a pool membership. 

The disc golf course designers were in town to familiarize themselves with the lay of the land in Community Park. Part of the course layout may go through wooded areas in an ecologically balanced way.

Look for more Parks and Rec Committee concerts in Community Park: Friday, August 2, 6:00-9:00 p.m., with Party Rock from the 70s, 80s, and 90s; Friday, August 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m., with American & Comedy “Christine and the Road King.”

Please heed or assist those in need, “Food 4 Kids” pickups are at Elias Lutheran Church on Wednesdays, 3:00-6:00 p.m., August 7, 14, and 28, and Wednesday, September 18. Also at Elias Lutheran Church, food giveaways from the Maryland Food Bank are Wednesdays, 3:00-6:00 p.m., August 14 and September 18.

The Square, Doughboy, and Emmit House wayside exhibits are now in place after the special Community Day ribbon-cutting with County Executive Jan Garner, our Northern Frederick District County Council representative Michael Blue, and Dr. Denis Onieal, Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, joining us. Our 2020 Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) grant request was approved for four additional wayside exhibits, to include the Vigilant Hose Company, the Chronicle Press building, Carriage House Inn, and the Great Emmitsburg Fire. Our hope is to add wayside exhibits to the town streetscape every year under this grant program. 

The re-adaption of the Community Park playground to an all-inclusive playground, with the cooperation of weather, will be completed and operable by mid-to-late October. To our grant sources and the wonderful assistance from the Catoctin Area Civitan Club contribution, “thank you.”

The Community Pool will be open through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

The town’s regularly scheduled meeting will be held Tuesday, September 3, at 7:30 p.m.

From the Town to all: thank you for being a part of and contributing to the Emmitsburg Community. Please, please be careful of the heat. If in need, stop by the Seton Center for water and a break.

Mayor John Kinnaird

July is vacation time for many, and this year we are no exception! As I write this, we are traveling in England and Scotland from July 10 through July 28. We started our adventure in London with our uncle Grant and his family and had a great time. We then spent a night and day in Liverpool with our friends Helen and Paul Smith, before heading to their home in Ripon. We spent three days there and then headed for my home town of Aberdeen. A 13-hour ferry ride to the Shetland brought us to where we are today, as I write my column.

 I am writing this morning from the keeper’s quarters at the old lighthouse on Bressay Island in the Shetlands. We got to Bressay by ferry from Lerwick, the capital of Shetland. Lerwick is the Northern most City in Great Britain. We are surrounded by Neolithic sites established 4,000 years ago. The history here is long and complicated and includes Viking invasions. The Vikings arrived in 900, over 2,000 years after the first settlers. We visited Jarlshof, a site that has been in use for 4,000 years, each generation building over previous works. We have been enjoying mostly sunny days, with temps in the 60’s and 70’s.

Meanwhile, back in Thurmont, I hear the weather has been hot and stormy. The paving on Main Street is underway, and I hope it is not causing any unnecessary aggravation or issues. Looking ahead to August, the Commissioners and I will be back to our regular weekly meetings. As always, I invite you to attend our meetings and see how our local government works.

The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is open each Saturday morning from 8:00 a.m. until noon. There is always a great selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, handcrafted soaps, and crafts.

As the saying goes: “No matter how far I roam, no matter what I see, there’s no place like home, it’s where I want to be.” I was born in Scotland but have adopted Thurmont as my home, and I can’t wait to get back!

Please call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any questions or concerns. Better yet, just stop me if you see me out and about.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Summer in Emmitsburg is blooming.

The pool, dog park, exercise trail, multi-use trail, and ball fields are all in use and all busy.

The first pool party was held on June 21. Mark your calendar for the remaining ones: Friday, July 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m., and Friday, August 16, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The cost is $1.00 for all who are not pool members. There will be free hot dogs and cold drinks.

We will be hosting National Night Out on Friday, August 16, from 6:00-8:30 p.m. The Sheriff’s Department SWAT Team, Swat Team vehicle, and K9 team will all be there, along with many vendors, free hot dogs, Rita’s Ice, and maybe more.

Disc golf is coming to the Community Park. We will begin designing the course layout during the next weeks.

Great concert opener in Community Park from Commissioner Ritz and the Parks and Rec Committee. Nothing like Irish traditional music, which was provided by Morningstar to entrance and entertain. Coming up on Friday, August 2, 6:00-9:00 p.m. is Party Rock from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Friday, August 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m. is American & Comedy “Christine and the Road King.” Also, on Saturday, July 27, 10:00 a.m.-noon, will be “Creatures Big and Small,” a traveling petting zoo is coming to town.

Need a little extra food for your kids this summer? Come to Elias Lutheran Church, “Food 4 Kids” Wednesdays, on July 10 and 24, August 7, 14, and 28, and September 18, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. Also, at Elias Lutheran Church, there will be food giveaways from the Maryland Food Bank, Wednesdays, July 24, August 14, and September 18, from 3:00-6:00 p.m.

From Commissioner O’Donnell: 60-100 young bikers and parents are coming to Emmitsburg on Community Heritage Day weekend for a National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) sponsored mountain biking event. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) representatives will be here to monitor Teen Trail Corp mandatory work project on the town multi-use trail on Sunday, June 30. The group will be camping out on the Indian Lookout Conservation Club property.

I attended the Emmitsburg–Thurmont Flag Day commemoration, held this year in Thurmont. The annual event hosting rotates every other year between the towns. Very solemn tribute. Thank you to the sponsors, the Thurmont American Legion, Thurmont AMVETS, Emmitsburg AMVETS Post No. 7, the Emmitsburg American Legion, and Emmitsburg VFW Post No. 6658.

The first three wayside exhibits are in place in the downtown historic district, for the Square, the Doughboy statue, and the Emmit House. This is the first set of what is hoped to be annual additions under a grant for a historic tour. Next year, Vigilant Hose Company, Chronicle Press, and The Carriage House Inn should be added.

A wonderful addition to the downtown square, provided by the town grant program, is the deep red “brick” color of the middle Ott House building.

I also attended the last two-day segment of the state-sponsored climate leadership classes.

The 36th Annual Community Heritage Day is Saturday, June 29. Another wonderful day is planned in the park, on the Square, along the parade route, and the grand finale fireworks display. Wayside signs ribbon-cuttings to dedicate the signs start at the Square at 9:30 a.m., then onto the Doughboy and Emmit House. Thank you to the Heritage Community Day committee, Jenn Joy, and Commissioner Sweeney.

Happy Fourth of July to all. Please, please, relax, kick back, and invite friends over. Enjoy Emmitsburg, the best place to live, work, play, and visit.

 Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from Ocean City, Maryland, this morning! The Maryland Municipal League Summer Conference is being held from June 22 through June 25 at the Convention Center in O.C. The MML holds two Conferences through the year, and this one is by far the best attended—my guess is because it is in Ocean City. We will be attending three days of meetings and discussions that range from the opioid epidemic to planning and zoning tips, from consensus building to infrastructure concern to running well organized meetings, to…well you can see it’s a little bit of everything. The discussions are always very helpful, and it is good to sit with 50 or 60 other elected officials and discuss these topics. There is always someone that has had experience and is able to shed some light on even the most difficult topics. The MML elects a new board of directors and president at the Summer Conference; I have been helping with the voting for several years. When I first started attending the Conference, I was worried that the larger municipalities would hold an undue influence over the MML, but, boy, was I wrong! Two years ago, Jake Romanell was elected president; he served as a councilmember from New Market. This year, Perry Jones from Union Bridge is running for president elect. So, in a short span of four years, our MML President will have come from two of our smallest municipalities. The absolute best thing about attending the Summer Conference is that when we sit in on discussions, we find that every community has similar issues, and it is reassuring to me that most have much greater problems than we have in Thurmont or Emmitsburg!

Summer has arrived, and with it, comes our great Main Street Farmers Market. The Market is held every Saturday morning in the Municipal Parking lot on Center Street. This year’s vendors will have a great selection of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, handmade goods, and delicious baked items. Be sure to stop by early for the best selection!

A reminder that the Guardian Hose Company Carnival will be held the week of July 8. There is still time to get presale all-you-can-ride tickets; be sure to get to the parade to see the best parade in Frederick County.

On Saturday, June 27, we held our First Annual Gateway to the Cure Golf Tournament at Maple Run Golf Course on Moser Road. The event was well attended and has been declared a great success. The proceeds from this, and other upcoming events, will go to our community donation to the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital. To date, the residents of Thurmont have donated over $60,000 to FMH to help with treatment and research. We dedicated this year’s tournament to the memory of Jill Hooper. Jill was always very active in our community and worked hard to help raise funds for the Cure.

School is out and our children will be outdoors playing, riding bikes, and skateboarding. Please keep an eye out for the youngsters as you drive our streets; they may not always be aware of their surroundings.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Class of 2019 at Catoctin High School (CHS) just graduated, and I want to wish all of them the best of luck as they move on to the next phase of their lives. I feel that CHS, and all our feeder schools, provide a rich educational experience for our children. Our communities are very fortunate to have wonderful and dedicated teachers, administration, and support staff, and I want to thank them for their hard work. I also want to say thank you to all the parents; your loving care and support play a big part in your child’s success at school and graduation. I believe that one of the most important lessons we learn at school is how to learn. At some time, someone has probably told you to never stop learning or that you should learn something new every day. Regardless of whether you are going on to higher education or not, it is important to keep learning. Follow this simple rule and you will find a world full of challenges that you can face head on with confidence and the knowledge that you will be successful. Each day will present you with new opportunities to better yourself, increase your knowledge, and to apply what you already know and understand. Again, congratulations to the CHS Class of 2019!

The arrival of June also means that schools will be out for summer break. Please keep an eye out for our youngsters as they enjoy their summer break. They may not always be fully aware of their surroundings outside, as they ride their bikes and skateboards or when they are playing.

The Town of Thurmont is once again hosting the “A Day In The Park” Summer Program. Last year was the first year of this program, and it proved to be a big hit with the kids and parents. The days are filled with lots of outdoor activities, games, learning experiences, and plain old fun! Be sure to check out the details at Thurmont.com, and register your children for this fun summer park program.

This is also carnival season! Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg holds the first carnival of the year and always sets a high bar for the others to match. Carnivals are fun events and allow us to meet friends, have a good time, and get some delicious homemade food. As much fun as carnivals are, they also provide much needed revenue for our fire departments, ambulance services, and schools. I invite you to join me at each of our local carnivals to support these local organizations; they are here for us every day of the year!

The Town of Thurmont just adopted our 2019-2020 budget, and I want to thank our financial staff and department heads for helping craft the budget, and our Commissioners for reviewing, tweaking, and adopting the budget. Our General Fund is dependent on property tax revenue to maintain our police, parks, streets, and administrative staff. I am pleased that we were able to base this year’s General Fund on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. Due to increased property values, this year’s constant yield tax rate actually drops our property tax rate ever so slightly. In the coming year, we will be making several improvement to streets and parks and funding several new police cars and equipment.

If you have any questions, complaints, or suggestions, I can be contacted by phone at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com. I am also happy to speak to you in person, so if you see me out around town feel free to strike up a conversation.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

As always, May brings a lot with it, both in the expected and the unexpected. None more touching, as expected, than the many graduations: pre-K to kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. The passage of time, a child one day, a youth another, then on to an adult and out to the world that awaits. With each step comes the unexpected sinking feeling that they all happen so quickly. This year, we will see our fourth grandchild off to college.  

On May 1, youwill find me participating as a forum panel member at Hood’s (College) Green Neighborhood Festival. On May 7-8, to the same subject, I will be attending a second two-day State of Maryland-sponsored program on climate change. This program was supposed to have been held in February, but there was the homage that had to be paid to the weather. Here is a catchy phrase for you: “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” The program consists of three, two-day sets. The third set will be held in June on a very interesting topical subject presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers. Our town concentration has been on reducing waste and lowering costs, one of mitigation and re-adaption. We have done so primarily through shifting over 94 percent of town account energy needs to renewable energy. On May 6, at the town’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the town council will deliberate on the Mayor’s 2020 budget.

May 21 is the wrap-up session at St. John’s College Annapolis — Santa Fe Classics program. This year’s topic was: “Tyranny and Democracy.” The readings were from Plato, Chaucer, Hamilton, Shakespeare, Shelley, Kafka, DeTocqueville, and Ursula LeGuin. It’s my fifth year attending. From Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville’s observations of the new American form of democracy in the 1830s, I was captured by one sentence in particular: “There exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart of man to the place where man is born” (My translation).

In April, I attended the spring Mount Athletic Advisory Committee wrap-up meeting for the school year, where members reviewed data on the student athlete academic performance. Competition and winning are important for a Division I School. The Mount has to be commended on its commitment to academics. It’s a delicate emphasis that many institutions lose. Well done.

The town celebrated Arbor Day in Community Park, on Saturday, April 13.  Eight—not just any type, but native-adaptive—trees were planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses in front of the elementary school. Thank you to the town staff, Lion’s Club, the EBPA, and other individual volunteers.

The town was honored by the visit of a dozen University of Maryland grad students, who toured the town’s innovative water systems.

Once but a “unicorn,” our historic area 50-50 grant program genesis 2013, now has grown into over $880,000 of façade improvements in our downtown. Every year, we apply for grant money and our allotment seems to always be $50,000. Please contact our planning department if you have an interest.

Looking forward in the not too distant future for another spectacular Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29; a full slate of summer concerts; and, on August 6, National Night Out, sponsored by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. From the official narrative, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement, while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.” The K-9 team, the SWAT team, and vehicles. Please plan to join us.

The town was recently awarded two grants. One, a $5,000 “Keep Maryland Beautiful” grant to be used for nine recycling bins for our parks, and another for $3,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to be applied to a storm water management project. Thank you to our planner, Zach Gulden.

I hope all had a wonderful Easter. 

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont recently appointed Harold Lawson to the position of Director of Public Works. Harold has been with the Town of Thurmont for 29 years and has served as Superintendent of the Water Department for the last 6 years. Harold is well acquainted with our infrastructure and will serve our residents well in this new position. I congratulate Harold on his appointment and look forward to working with him.

The months of April and May are always busy for our staff and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) as we craft the Town budget for the upcoming year. Our department heads have already submitted their preliminary budgets, and the BOC is in the process of reviewing the budget for each department. There are actually four budgets to be reviewed: the general fund budget covers streets, parks, police, Economic Development, Planning and Zoning, and office staff. The revenue for the General Fund Budget is received through property taxes, permit fees, tax equity refunds from Frederick County, and other user fees. The other three budgets being reviewed are for the Water, Electric and Wastewater Departments. These departments function as Enterprise Funds and are self-sustained by the fees paid for the services each provides our residents. Currently, the BOC has completed a first review of each budget and has recommended several changes in each. The next step will be the official introduction of the budget, at which time addition recommendations can be made by the BOC and public comment will be received during a public hearing on the final budget. Currently, the budgets all show a positive balance of revenue over expenditures. As of today, April 24, 2019, we have based the General Fund budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. This rate is calculated to generate the same amount of Property Tax revenue we received during the current (2018-2019) budget year. If we hold to the Constant Yield Tax Rate, our residents will actually pay a slightly lower Property Tax Rate this coming year. The Tax Rate for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year was 30.41 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value. If the BOC decides to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate, the Property Tax Rate for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will drop to 29.92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This change is due in part to increased property values and the construction of several new residences. Generally speaking, we try to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate as often as we can, but increases in costs for materials and labor will sometimes require an increase in the tax rate, as we experienced last year. I invite you to watch or attend the upcoming budget discussions and public hearing; you will be surprised by the amount of effort that is put into the Thurmont Budget process.

This summer, we will be hosting two Summer Concert in the Park events. The first will be on June 9 and will feature the Spires Brass Band; the second will be on August 25 with our own Gateway Brass Ensemble. The concerts are held at Memorial Park and begin at 6:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and join us for this great small-town tradition!

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com. I hope everyone has a great spring!

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Alas, April. Closer to warmer weather is our earnest hope. Earlier sunrises and later sunsets surely spurs the imagination. But to keep one grounded, and still encouraged, comes the timeless reminder, “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” Then the tempering reality in the warning given to Caesar, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

As I write this, we’ve just passed the Ides of March with no ill effects other than the loss of an hour of sleep and waking up in darkness again for Daylight Savings Time.

That’s not all—how about Lent? Late start this year. Ash Wednesday fell on March 6. A shove, a prod, a nudge…whatever draws my attention that it is time for some moral calculus. Can I give something up that I really like and/or do something for others who are in need? Dauntless, I signed on. Took the ashes to the forehead with a hope that I can do a combination of both. We’ll see how well I did when Lent ends on April 18.

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, fell this year on Sunday. Guardedly, with some trepidation, I welcomed the fete with a tip of my hat to my Irish heritage, knowing full well the celebration brings with it flauntingly many offers of contraband to my Lenten season. At about the same time, I received the book, Lincoln and the Irish by Niall O’Dowd from my daughter. It recounts the key role Archbishop John Hughes of New York played during the Civil War in swaying the strong Democrat Irish support over to the Union cause under Republican President Abraham Lincoln. As if the Civil War did not pose enough trouble, there was still the simmering undertow of the Nativist anti-immigrant feelings in the North. John Hughes, once an impoverished Irish immigrant to our area, worked as a gardener/stone mason at the Mount. After some time, he applied for admission to the Mount and was initially turned down by the Rector Father John Dubois. It was only after the intervention of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton that he was admitted to the school and went on to graduate from the seminary.

On one snow delay day, I joined others from the community at Mother Seton School to be readers as a part of the celebration of National Education Association (NEA) “Read Across America Week.” I read to Mrs. Marr’s third grade class, where sat my beautiful granddaughter amidst other beautiful children. This year, I read a Dr. Seuss book featuring none other than the Cat in the Hat to take us step by step through what it means to live in a free country, and the responsibilities that are granted to, borne by, and gifted to us. Most importantly, to register and vote. It is always an honor and a grace to read with them. It’s the innocence in their eyes that “sticks the landing.” What a future we must build for them. A new pool, dog park, exercise trail, mountain multi-user trail are not enough. We have to lead by example and follow Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat lead to instill in them and preserve for them their freedom. They’re excited about living. Let’s make it so, to the best of our ability, a happening for them. I have always said that my grandchildren and their generation are a major part of my constituency.

We have a beautiful town. One that was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992. I reference that because we want to protect its nuances, character, and even its quirky inconveniences. New technological changes in lighting capabilities and presentation methods bring almost assuredly that a new type of signage could threaten the historic ambience of our town. To this issue of public concern, the town is revisiting its sign ordinance. We want to get in front of it. Our sign ordinance has not been reviewed in over twenty years. I am familiar on several instances in the past that it seemed the interpretations of a signage request was handled by the town in a darn near arbitrary way. All signs, billboards, and small ones, the criteria is being revisited. I know there is a lot to be said for, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but it may well be broke. Nationally, things are changing. From the strong encouragement of the Maryland Municipal League (MML)—to which the town is a member, along with 156 other municipalities and two special taxing districts—has recommended that every municipality, big or small, revisit their sign ordinances. The American Planner’s Association (APA), of which MML and the town are members, has a tested model for municipalities that choose to protect its streetscape. The basic format is the one recommended by the MML. These ordinances are organic, living rules that need to be reviewed and updated periodically. Public meetings are scheduled. Please call the town office at 301-600-6300 or go to our town social media resources.

Spring, in case you haven’t heard, we’re pulling for ya!

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring has finally arrived, and with it, we will see warmer weather, and the coming months will be filled with lots of outdoor activities and events. As the weather improves, we will start seeing lots of kids out and about, heading to sporting events, playing, and visiting friends’ houses. Please keep an eye open for our youngest residents, as they may not always be aware of their surroundings. I have noticed that Little League has been holding practice as well as soccer, lacrosse, and other outdoor sports. I recommend that if you want to see some dedicated kids playing sports and having a great time, just visit any of our playing fields and see what is going on. The kids will appreciate that you have taken the time to watch them play.

 There are some exciting events coming up in Thurmont during the month of April, including the 2nd Annual Thurmont Green Fest and the Annual Thurmont Business Showcase. The Greenfest will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library on Saturday, April 13, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. There will be nature crafts, games, stories, a rain barrel raffle, composting information, planting instructions for trees and plants, and an electronics recycling drop-off. With the exception of CRT tubes in televisions or monitors, all electronics can be dropped off to be recycled. This event is for kids and adults, so be sure to bring the little ones along for a fun day of learning how we can all improve our environment. The Thurmont Business Showcase will be held at the Thurmont Event Complex on Saturday, April 27, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to find out what kinds of products and services local business and non-profits offer our community. There is always something new to see at the Thurmont Business Expo. Admission is free, and the Showcase is at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex, located at 13716 Stratford Drive in Thurmont. You are also invited to enjoy A Taste of Thurmont Restaurant Week, from April 5 through April 13. Visit any of the participating restaurants to enjoy special meals or discounts. Participating restaurants will be revealing their Taste of Thurmont Specials in the coming week.

The Board of Commissioners was recently presented with a plan of action to extend the Thurmont Trolley Trail, north from East Main Steet to Eyler Road Park. This extension of the extremely popular Trolley Trail will open the north end of Thurmont to a safe and well-maintained trail system for the use of walkers and bicyclists. The trail will connect not only to the existing Trolley Trail but also to the Gateway Trail we establish through a partnership with the Catoctin Mountain Park. This extension will also provide access to a planned bike trail between Thurmont and Emmitsburg. The final route of the north extension to the Thurmont Trolley Trail is still in the planning stages;  volunteers are welcome to contact the H&F Trolley Trail Association on its website if you would like to join the association or help with this community project.

I hope the nice weather gets us all outdoors for some much-needed sun and fun! As always, please contact me at 301-606-9458 (8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) or via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any comments, complaints, or compliments.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs

Teased, better yet, taunted by a 65-degree day, not once, but twice, had me calling out, “Hey, show me some robins!” Alas, none were to be seen, but there were voices, then sightings of returning redwing blackbirds—no wing coloring yet—to join the seasonal regulars: cardinals, titmice, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, mourning doves, and wrens, especially those who winter their nights under the eaves of our porch. Also, the visiting of jays and cameos (unfortunately, not on demand) from area attracted woodpeckers—the downy, hairy and red-bellied. All attracted by Mrs. Lib’s feeding stations here and wherever we have lived. Missed dearly from our farm days are red-headed woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and common flickers. We are anxiously awaiting our summer visitors, the catbirds and mockingbirds drawn to an old mulberry tree and Mrs. Lib’s sliced grapes.

We really miss Zurgables for the convenient purchase of birdseed for Mrs. Lib’s backyard guests, but it was time for Mark to step back. Thank you for your service to our community, and we tip our hats to you. We are still helping keep Jubilee going with ample shelled peanut purchases for the squirrels and jays.

President’s Day marked our annual mid-late national observance to our Aquarian February. So, a good time to add a tribute to the day to the many. This one is from the author of War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, who wrote some forty-five years after the assassination of Lincoln, “The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar, or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln.”

At our last town meeting, our planner, Zach Gulden, introduced an update to our sign ordinance, the first of three planned consecutive presentations. The update is recommended, “Due to modern technological advances and recent Federal Supreme Court cases. The proposed amendment seeks to meet the needs of businesses and other organizations while protecting and enhancing the visual quality and traditional design concepts of Emmitsburg.” The business audience was engaging.

Mr. Gulden also presented the “MS4” town compliance update. MS4 is the handle for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. “The town is identified as an urbanized area and is mandated by the Environment Protection Agency and State of Maryland Department of the Environment to hold a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Our current permit is valid from 2018-2023. This is an unfunded mandate, which means we must meet the permit requirements with no funding help from the state or federal governments. The town may be fined up to $100,000 per day if the permit requirements are not met. The most costly requirement of the NPDES permit is treating at least 20 percent of the town’s impervious surface stormwater runoff every five years. The following are acceptable restoration strategies for receiving impervious area restoration credit: new stormwater ponds, existing stormwater pond retrofits (such as converting a dry pond to a wetland or providing additional water storage), restoring failed stormwater ponds, street sweeping, buffer planting, reforestation, stream restoration, inlet cleaning, shoreline stabilization, and others. Town staff is researching stream restoration projects and grant funding opportunities to meet this term’s permit needs. Staff projects the NPDES permit could cost the Town at least $500,000 every five years. That is certainly imposing as yet another mandate.

To our benefit, as I mentioned last month, is our timber asset and the town will be submitting requests for grant assistance.

New business development: (1) preliminary plans have been received for a Rutters gas and convenience store on part of the 200+ acres undeveloped within town limits on the east side of US 15. Yes, a Rutters may return to town, but this time on a much larger scale. This initial development will bring water and sewer to that area that could open the area to more commercial development. Additionally, there are preliminary plans for a retail commercial building on Silo Hill Parkway next to the car wash. Also the town-owned property on South Seton Avenue is being changed from residential to commercial (as allowed) and now being offered for rent.

We are not losing our mind, prices are rising. From an article in the Saturday, February 16, 2019, Wall Street Journal, “The Price of a Clean House” confirms our suspicions. The article tracked prices of several top-selling brands for everyday use household goods for the January 2018-January 2019 period. Manufacturers cited increased costs of production and delivery. By the way, more cost increases are expected to come this year… Kleenex 160-count tissues rectangular box, price bump 8.4 percent. Bounty Size-a-Super Roll 6 pack, price bump 19.4 percent. Huggies 112-count, size 4, disposable diapers up 1.9 percent. Glad Force Flex 13-gallon kitchen bags, 140 count, price bump 4.5 percent.

Ambivalent in its cadence, is the tempered assurance that spring will “stick the landing” once again. Unpredictable as to specifically when and how, there is always the predictability that it will be. The seasons do come with a wonderful rhythm. Let’s take care of it.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird

Recent snowfall has dashed any hopes of an early spring, but it is coming. In the meantime, a few thoughts when it snows: If you can get your car off the road, please do so, it helps our snowplows; Don’t shovel driveway aprons until our snow plows go past; Do be careful when driving close to snow plows; Keep an eye on your elderly neighbors when it gets really cold or we get snow and ice; Be sure your kids are dressed appropriately for the cold or snow; Make sure your pets are indoors during extreme cold or make sure they have ample shelter with fresh water and food. Snow can be fun, but it can also be very hazardous. Please remember to call 911 for all medical, fire, or rescue emergencies. Thurmont residents should call 301-271-7313 to report any water, electric, or sewer emergencies. Use the same number after hours and follow the instructions for reporting an emergency.

The next months will bring some great local events to Thurmont, courtesy of Thurmont Main Street. Get a head start on your own wellbeing at the 2nd Annual Zumbathon, being held on Sunday, April 7, at the Thurmont American Legion, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Proceeds from this event will help support Thurmont’s Gateway to the Cure 2019. On Saturday, April 27, be sure to attend the Thurmont Business Showcase, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at the Thurmont Event Complex. This well-attended annual event features many local businesses and nonprofits and gives you the chance to discover local businesses, services, and products of which you may not have been aware. Bring your family and friends to the Thurmont Event Complex at 13716 Strafford Drive for this wonderful event. If you are looking for some outdoor fun, head out to the 1st Annual Gateway to the Cure Golf Tournament, being held at Maple Run Golf Course on June 21. Keep an eye open for further details on this local golfing event at Thurmont’s own Maple Run Golf Course.

There are lots of projects planned for the Thurmont area this coming year, from a third pavilion at the community park, new lighting in the trolley trail, to new wayfaring signs around town. Cunningham Falls State Park is in the process of making some great improvements to the facilities at the lake and at the Manor area. New restrooms, picnic facilities, beach improvements, enhanced entrance facilities, a new outdoor center, and several other projects are in the works. These improvements may have an impact on park accessibility during the summer, and officials ask for your understanding—the improvements will be worth the inconvenience!

I hope everyone has a wonderful March, and we are all looking forward to warmer spring weather when we can get back outside to enjoy all Thurmont has to offer!

As always, please call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also follow my Facebook page for updates on local issues or upcoming events.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Like everyone, the town started the New Year at full pace. Here are a few things the town is working on.

This spring, through grant assistance, the town will be adding wayside exhibits to our historic district streetscape, describing the role of the Square, the Doughboy, and the Emmit House history of the town. The exhibits are intended to complement the ones situated in front of the post office, which describe the encampment of the Union forces in the town before embarking to Gettysburg in those first days of July in 1863. But, complement in an enhanced manner. The new 24 x 36-inch exhibits will not only contain narrative accounts but also supporting photography and other depictions.

Moving forward, the town is applying for grants for exhibits featuring the Vigilant Hose Company on West Main Street, the Great Emmitsburg Fire on East Main Street, the Chronicle Press – Schoolhouse, and the Carriage House Inn on South Seton Avenue. As an administrative goal, and much dreamed and talked about by many, Emmitsburg will have points of interest identified for a visitor’s walking tour in the near future.

Finally, the four electric vehicle (EV), level two, recharge stations have been installed. At times, it has been a cumbersome journey for the town staff to coordinate work under grant guidelines with the contractor, the power company, and the county. The stations are wired for future level three service and should be operational by the end of February.

Emmitsburg encompasses more than the quaint community, set between and along Toms Creek and Flat Run Creek. It includes over 900 acres of forest land situated, generally, on the north and west faces of College Mountain that are outside of town limits. To be more exact, according to Michael Kay of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the town has 947 acres of forest, 23 acres of fields, and 17 acres of reservoir “up there.” Some of its mountain holdings, 400-450 acres and another 130-140 acres along Scott Road, were given to the town around the year 2000 through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Fund, of which I served as a facilitator. Some twelve years later, after I was elected in 2013, I directed the staff to order a forestry report. The report, once in hand, not only described the holdings but also set out recommendations to protect its health. Deer feeding, invasive plants, gypsy moth defoliation, “oak decline,” and emerald ash borers over time have damaged the healthy regeneration of our forest. The report calls for timbering as a necessary step. Mr. Kay’s recommended action was presented to and approved by the town council during the January meeting. There are various intensities of cutting timber. As recommended, only select-cutting, as opposed to clear cutting, will be permitted. Of the 18 tracts identified in the report, a 60-acre tract near Rainbow Lake will be select-cut later this year. The plan is to timber one or two tracts annually, thereafter.

While bracing for our share of snow, ice, and/or rain, my thoughts are towards an early spring.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

On January 31, 2019, the residents of Thurmont lost to retirement one of the hardest working and dedicated employees they have ever known. On that day, Butch West retired from his job with the Town of Thurmont after forty-one years. In those years, Butch held many positions and worked his way up through the ranks to serve as superintendent of Public Works.

I have known Butch for many years, but it wasn’t until I was first elected that I realized how much he was intertwined in the day-to-day operations of our town. Butch has taught me a lot about the inner workings of Thurmont, our streets, parks, and electric system. On any given day, Butch literally seems to be everywhere at the same time. He spends most days going from one project or problem to another, supervising, providing advice, or getting his hands dirty working alongside our crews. He has never shied away from digging right in and helping get things done. I learned early on that if I asked Butch to do something next week, he was already thinking about how to get it done before I was finished telling him what I wanted, and he usually had it finished that day or the next. He made sure things were completed well in advance of when you expected them to be done. Butch began each day by driving around Thurmont and checking on everything from street lights to trash pickup. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the vast majority of our town’s infrastructure and could pinpoint issues and devise solutions on the fly.

For many years, Butch seemed to forgo vacation time or scheduled days off; only recently, has he started taking the days off he was entitled to. This was a problem for me because I was used to calling him any day of week and he would be right there. I was quite surprised the first time I called him and he said he had the day off. Needless to say, after January 31, I will not have to worry about whether he is at work or off enjoying his free time.

The town employees have a picnic every year, and the commissioners and I have the opportunity to say a few words to the staff. I usually tell them that one of their main jobs is to make the commissioners and I look good, and Butch always laughs about this. As an elected official, I am basically a part-timer, whereas Butch and all of our staff are on the job full-time. It is through the hard work of employees like Butch that our town is the great place that we all love and enjoy.

It is hard to believe, but Butch has been here through ten mayoral elections, and during those terms, he has served our residents and elected officials with courtesy and a level of dedication that is above what anyone could expect. The first time I saw Butch after being elected, he was standing in a ditch manning a shovel to help fix a water-line leak. Last week, I called Butch about meeting me to see about some concrete that had been dropped on one of our streets; by the time I got there, he already had most of it cleaned up on his own. Some things never change! I will miss seeing and speaking to Butch on a daily basis, but it is time for him to start enjoying his days with his lovely and understanding wife, his children, and his grandchildren. On behalf of our residents, I want to thank him for all he has done for us during his forty-one-year career with the Town of Thurmont. I also want to th

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

In our Community Christmas Stocking

Thank you to those who added the trees on the square, and then, decorated them. A spontaneous occurrence and a very nice added touch.

Thank you town staff for the decorations at the square and at the Community Center. Many compliments.

Thank you E&E Trees, Walkersville Tree Farm, Ken and Barbara Willets, for donating the beautiful town Christmas tree.

Thank you third grade class at Mother Seton School, and all the grades from elementary school, for decorating the town Christmas tree in front of the Community Center, adding to the trimming efforts of the town staff.

Thank you to all the volunteers of our churches, organizations, and businesses who participated in the various Emmitsburg events, starting with the traditional town Christmas tree lighting, on the first Monday in December, in front of the town office, Christ Community Church children’s chorus (My error on invitation to Mother Seton School. They will be singing next year.), Santa Claus arriving in a Vigilant Hose truck, the lighting of the tree, then following Santa on foot to the Carriage House Inn for the 30th Annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit.” The weather was kind again to the many who attended.  

The state finished the square and sidewalks project, except for some loose brick work. Just can’t seem to get the state’s contractors out of here.

Things are moving along on the Flat Run Bridge project, with the concrete being poured for the new bridge lanes. If the weather cooperates, the complementary road work could be completed and we could have a lane switch by the New Year.

For the New Year

Lots of New Year’s resolutions to add to pushing away from the table with a little bit more fervor and with more, much more, resolve. Oh well…

Mount St. Mary’s University is moving ahead with plans to enter a venture with Frederick Memorial Hospital affiliate to build a medical facility on its campus. At the facility, primary and urgent care will be available for students, faculty, and community residents. The university will make a presentation on the proposed medical facility at the January 7, 2019, town meeting, at 7:30 p.m.

At the January 30 Green Team meeting, Hilari Varnadore, Director, LEED for Cities and Communities, U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be the guest speaker. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The topic will be: Helping cities and communities use data to drive more sustainable, equitable investments. Hilari was formerly with Star Communities, which recently merged with the USGBC. Before that, she headed up the Frederick County Sustainability Office that assisted the Frederick County Sustainability Commission when I was chairman of the commission.   

With the New Year comes the sad reality that after seventy-four years of service to the community, Zurgables Hardware will be closed. All those convenient planned and emergency stops no more. According to Mark Zurgable, it was time. Mark has owned and operated the store for thirty-nine years. Thank you, Mark, for all the years of service to the community at your store.

To all, hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a wonderful New Year. Emmitsburg, a great place to live.

Thurmont

  Mayor John Kinnaird

Mayor John Kinnaird was as busy as Santa Claus at the time of our deadline for this issue, and we think his column may have been eaten by a reindeer! He wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

This year, Northern Frederick County residents will get a great Christmas present. The Hayward Road-U.S. 15 intersection is closed. Amen. For years—no, generations—this intersection was one of the worst traffic spots in the county. Stop and think of all the trips that you, your friends, or family members whistled by there at 60 mph or merged first south from Hayward Road across traffic to make a “J” to go north in all types of weather, at all times of day. Travel through there was always a chilling reality.

For me, the newly completed and opened overpass of U.S. 15, connecting Monocacy Boulevard and Christopher Crossing, conjured up thoughts of approaching the ANZAC bridge in Sydney Harbor, Australia. That bridge, that trip, was spectacular. So was the opening of the overpass for us from the north who now have safe and easy access to the many shopping and service opportunities on Route 26, as well as to the primary location for county medical services along Thomas Johnson Drive.

Going back some 30 years, when I was a member of the Frederick City Planning and Zoning Commission, there was a deadly automobile accident at the Hayward Road-U.S. 15 intersection. It was not the first accident nor was it to be the last. At that time, frustration was high on the commission and in the community, “Please, State do something.” The Maryland State Highway Administration was requested to send a representative to the commission’s next meeting, and did. At that meeting, the representative made a presentation, and in the end, joined in with our frustration, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do. There are over 1,000 similarly dangerous intersections in the state like the Hayward Road-U.S. 15 intersection.” That is my recollection almost verbatim. And that was that.

Update: The trees are in place along Main Street. We have been assured that they are different varieties from those planted thirty years ago. Not fruit bearing, and the shape and growth will be more controlled.

Thank you to the EBPA for the series of volunteer clean-ups around town. It was a wonderful gift to the town.

There are many wonderful community events planned throughout the Christmas season, so please check our town website and Facebook page.

I hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and from my family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful Christmastide and Happy New Year.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

Thurmont held its annual Gateway to the Cure fundraiser in October. At the Town Meeting on November 20, we presented the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital with a donation of $18,000. These funds were raised by Thurmont businesses, organizations, individuals, the 5K Run, as well as through the sale of pink lightbulbs and other items. The funds will be used by the Patty Hurwitz Fund to help support research and cancer patient services at FMH. I want to thank everyone that participated in this year’s event. With your help, cancer patients now get treatments in Frederick that just a few years ago were not locally available. This year’s donations brings our five year total to $62,000! All of our residents and businesses should be very proud of this accomplishment.

Be sure to visit the model train display at 5B East Main Street, open weekends during December. The display is open Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., and Sundays, from noon-4:00 p.m. The train setup is courtesy of the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers. The Society is partnering with the Town of Thurmont to make this display possible as a part of Christmas in Thurmont. As a special treat, Santa will be at the display on December 15, 16, 22, and 23. Stop in to see this amazing train display!

The New Year is almost here, I find it hard to believe that 2019 is upon us. It will take me at least a month to write the correct date! With the new year comes the annual park pavilion registration. Be sure to watch for the opening date for reserving park pavilions. I am happy to announce that we were just informed that we will be awarded Project Open Space funding for a new pavilion at the Community Park. I hope we can begin construction on this new pavilion in the spring and have it available by summer.

The coming year will bring new projects and infrastructure repairs, and we will be sure to let everyone know when work will be done. New schedules for grass clipping pickup, bulk trash removal, trash pickup holiday changes, and other important dates for 2019 will be sent with your electric bill and posted on the Thurmont Facebook page and website.

On behalf of the town staff and the Thurmont Board of Commissioners, it has been our pleasure to serve the residents of Thurmont, and we wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

Questions, comments, or suggestions are always welcome. Call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

On Monday, October 8, 2018, the Seton Center will hold the 2018 Job Fair for Northern Frederick County at Mother Seton School, located at 100 Creamery Road in Emmitsburg. Please call the Seton Center for further information at 301-447-6102 x18. This is a great opportunity for those looking for a job and those businesses looking for people.

I cannot say it enough, congratulations to the Catoctin High School and Catoctin Youth Association fall sports teams; all the pre-season practices and scrimmages are paying off. Across the board, results attest to well coached and prepared teams that are taking the “field” and “court.” Congratulations.

As of this writing (mid-September), preparations are well underway for the 37th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, October 6-7, 2018. The weekend events are attended by approximately 6,000 visitors to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty during 2017 and previous years.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, Emmitsburg will have a William Cochran public artwork. The glass etching depicts firemen boarding a fire truck, setting out on an emergency run. Again, Mr. Cochran is best known for his interpretive painting on one of the bridges that span the City of Frederick Carroll Creek Linear Park. Through generous gifts, funds have been raised to construct a lighted case outside the Fire Museum, located on South Seton Avenue, to house the 9-feet-high by 15-feet-wide work. The hope is to have a groundbreaking at the museum Sunday afternoon after the Fallen Firefighters Memorial service.

It is, perhaps, the “hurry up and wait” acceptance that I, and many others, developed as a description of our service in the military that has helped me survive the town effort to complete the two electronic-vehicle charging-stations project. Now, we have been told, that it is only a right-of-way agreement from the power company that is holding up things, and the stations should be installed by no later then November 1.

Emmitsburg was recently honored as a recipient of the 2018 “Infrastructure & Large Project” Award by the Frederick County Department of Business and Economic Development. The award was in recognition of the town developing a 50 percent matching grant program for historic district property owners. To date, over $500,000 of improvements have been added to our downtown streetscape. The town has applied for more grant money for 2019.

Mark your calendar and follow up for details on the town and the Emmitsburg Lions Club websites for the Emmitsburg Annual Halloween Parade and Party at Vigilant Hose Company on Wednesday, October 31. The parade is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored is by the Lions Club and supported by most of the local businesses and civic organizations.

Thank you to incumbent commissioners O’Donnell and Sweeney for running again for the two open town commissioner seats.

Happy fall and stay dry.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Town of Thurmont is once again helping raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and support. Through the ‘Gateway to the Cure’ program we are inviting residents and businesses to join us as we work together to fight this terrible disease. As in previous years, we are encouraging everyone to purchase a pink light bulb for your porch light and turn it on each evening in October as a sign of your support. The bulbs are $3.00 each and are available at Cousins Ace Hardware, Hobbs Hardware and the town office. The town office also has magnets, tote bags, t-shirts, vinyl clings, water bottles, and vo-tive candles. All proceeds from the sales of these items is added to our total donation. Local restaurants will be offering to make a donation to the Gateway to the Cure when you order certain items from their menu. If you like wine, please visit Catoctin Breeze Vineyard where $1.00 will be donated for each bottle of Mead purchased. Gateway Liquors will donate $1.00 for each bottle of pink wine sold, while Towne & Country Liquors will be donating $1.00 for each bottle of pink or red wine. Please help us by visiting participating businesses!  Last year the town donated $15,000.00 to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital, every dollar received goes toward research and patient care.

While we are talking about cancer, please be careful while you are outdoors and do not allow your children to get sunburned. Sunburn is a leading cause of skin cancer and you can reduce your chance of developing skin cancer by following these simple guidelines. Wear a hat while outside for extended periods of time, apply and reapply a good SPF sunscreen to exposed skin, wear long sleeves and long pants if you are outdoors working and do not allow your children to get sunburned. They will thank you later in life. Please remember that you can get sunburn even in cooler temperatures. Always wear protective clothing or sunscreen!

Colorfest is just a few days away and Thurmont will be ground zero for tens of thousands of visitors each day. Remember to apply for Colorfest permits if you are planning to hold a yard sale on Saturday or Sunday. A yard sale permit is required on those days only. Be sure to allow for extra time if you are running errands or driving through town during Colorfest. Remember that Water Street, South Center Street and Frederick Road will be closed to traffic both days. Street parking will be prohibited on many streets during Colorfest weekend, so be sure to check for no parking signs before you stop somewhere. Colorfest weekend represents the single biggest fundraising opportunity for many of our service organizations, churches, non-profits, Girl and Boy Scouts and many other groups. Why not get out and support them by stopping at their booths while you enjoy Colorfest weekend.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any question, comments or recommendations.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

The new signs about the square, “Old Main Streets,” are part of the State of Maryland Tourism program. Its promotional anthem is: “Vibrant streets invite visitors to explore history, heritage, and architecture, while savoring the flavor of local shops, eateries, and lodging.” The signs accurately reflect the vibrancy enfolding in our downtown. The square is special again, not just something left to speed through. Embellished now with enhanced crosswalks, the Mount four-faced clock, flowers blooming, and the commemorative centerpiece to the fountain where it was once set. New businesses, possibly a new restaurant, and new homes are coming to our town. To the square sidewalk revitalization, “If you build it, they will come.” Our grant request from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area for three interpretive signs for the old square fountain, Doughboy, and Emmit House was approved. The signs will be like those in other historic towns, on a stand that will contain a picture and a narrative for each landmark. Walk, walk, walk…the town is connected, so let’s get out of the cars and walk to the downtown and the parks.

Good to see landscaping going in around the square, and this fall will come the trees to complete the revitalization taking place up and down Main Street. Green soon will line our downtown. Our community parts of Pembrook Woods and Brookfield to the west are now connected by sidewalks, as are the homes along Route 140 west of the Doughboy. The approach coming into town from the west, looking up Main Street, now paralleled with sidewalks on both sides, is inviting.

The Farmers Market opened in June with thirteen vendors, fresh vegetables, and more. Stop by the farmers market on South Seton Avenue through September, Fridays, from 3:00–6:30 p.m.

Great initiative of the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association on a trash pick-up brigade. Much appreciated. Thank you to that lady who weeds, waters, and picks up trash around the square. She’s back at it for, what, the sixth year?

Great to have a pool. Great to have a new pool. In all, 437 swimmers used the pool on Community Heritage Day in the first month. Over 5,700 sun lover’s made trips to the pool, almost tripling the 2016 same period of use. Thank you to those who choose to make those anonymous gifts so that families can use the new pool this summer. Also, thank you to our town staff for all the hard, high-pressure work needed to make sure the pool was finished for the summer season. With a pool and a 14-mile multi-use trail, exercise trail, and dog park, very few towns offer the passive and active recreational choices of Emmitsburg.

Final Pool Party will be Friday, August 17, from 6:00–8:00 p.m. Cost is a $1.00 admission. The party will feature a DJ, free hot dogs, lemonade, and maybe McDonald’s hamburgers.

We had wonderful summer visits from the Frederick Rescue Mission summer campers. All forty-eight strong. The first visit started off in the Community Park pavilion with a magic show by our Michael Cantori, pizza from Stavros for lunch, and then up to the pool. On the second visit, there was a stop at the Carriage House for lunch and dining etiquette lessons, then up to the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum and National Fire Heritage Center. One more visit is scheduled for an August swim.

The Town election is coming up at the end of September, with two, three-year term council member seats. The deadline to file is 4:00 p.m. on August 27.

Farewell to our planner Sue Cipperly. After a decade with the town, she is retiring. Her role as an umpire calling the balls and strikes for development expanded to grant writing and being a part of the Square-sidewalk project. Job, well done! Her attention to detail will be hard to replace.

Welcome to Zachary R. Gulden, our new town planner. Zach holds a B.S. and MPA degrees.

It’s summer. Enjoy. Be careful in your travels.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

We have been having wild weather so far this year. Recently, two sets of thunderstorms managed to knock out some of our electric service. These outages can be very inconvenient, regardless of how quickly power is restored. When power goes out, you can call the town to report the outage by dialling 301-271-7313. After regular business hours, you will be instructed as to how to speak to an electric department employee. Please keep in mind that after power goes out many people are calling to report the outage, and, more than likely, our crew is aware of the situation. It can take some time for our crew to come in and get their trucks out, then it can take some time to identify the problem and repair the damages. I am happy to report that outages in Thurmont are repaired fairly quickly due to the size of our service area and our hardworking crew. We have also had several heavy rains recently that caused flooding of several streets. This flooding is something we have little control over, other than to close flooded roads to traffic. If you come upon a flooded road, especially one that has barricades, please do not attempt to drive through the water. Remember, when you encounter flooded roads: Turn around, don’t drown!

The summer brings with it long outdoor days, working or playing. When you are outdoors, please wear sunscreen and a hat. Be especially careful with children, and make sure they have sufficient sunscreen while outdoors playing or swimming. A childhood sunburn can lead to skin cancer later in life. When we were young, sun block was not as available as it is today, and many of us now suffer from skin cancers that were preventable. Do your kids a favor and make sure they are protected while outdoors;they will thank you for it later in life.

The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning, from 9:00 a.m.-noon. There is always a great selection of locally grown produce, fruit, locally raised Red Angus beef, local pork products, fresh cut flowers, delicious baked goods, jams, and many handcrafted goodies. Be sure to get there early for the best selection, and bring your friends!

This summer, there will be two carnivals in Thurmont, something we older residents remember from years ago. The Thurmont Community Ambulance Service will be hosting a carnival at its Events Complex, located on Strafford Drive in Thurmont. The carnival will be held from August 21 through August 25, and will feature live entertainment, nightly. Kids will enjoy all-you-can-ride fun for one low price each evening. There will be a nightly buffet, homemade food, games, and raffles. I hope to see you there.

As always, you can contact me with questions, concerns, or complements at 301-606-9458 or at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

Emmitsburg
Mayor Don Briggs

With the arrival of our timid spring, all the hard work of the town staff is finally evident. I mean, hours and hours of hard work, planning, grant writing, and construction administration: the new dog park, the renovated pool, and the entire streetscape of Main Street, Seton Avenue, and the square. Not to forget in April, we held our first Arbor Day community tree-planting celebration. Scouts and the Mount men’s rugby team were there to assist the community in the planting of twelve native – adaptive trees along the Willow Run winding channel through Community Park. Guests included County Executive Jan Gardner and Roger Wilson; Government Affairs and Public Policy Director (and also a Frederick City Alderman); Tonya Hoover, Superintendent of the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy (NFA); and Sister Martha with Seton Center Outreach. Also, representatives from the town council and staff, Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association, FEMA, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, Council of Churches, Mother Seton School, Emmitsburg Elementary School, and residents all pitched in. We are now a Tree City USA town.

On the first Saturday of May, Catoctin High School student Aedan Myles had the honor of cutting the ribbon to open the new dog park. It was her drawing three years ago that prompted its development. Amid gifts, treats, and the music, “Who let the dogs out” and Elvis’ strumming, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog,” thirty-plus canines of all varieties—to one person’s count—joined in. Another great community interaction event.

The renovated (really new) community pool will open on Saturday, June 2, at noon. It was very hard not having a pool last year. It is planned to be a special occasion, with County Executive Jan Gardner on hand for the ribbon-cutting.  Included in the renovations are landscaping, fencing, and a new roof for the changing-rooms building. There will be no charge for swimming on opening day.

Mid-Maryland baseball and the town present summer United Baseball Academy’s “Schools Out” Summer Baseball Camp, Monday, June 18, through Wednesday, June 20, from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (each day); lunch from 12:00-12:45 p.m. *Lunch is not provided; pack a lunch* Drop-off is 9:00 a.m., sharp; Pick-up is 3:00 p.m., sharp. Camp will be held at Emmitsburg Community & Memorial Parks. The cost is $130. This camp is free to residents of Emmitsburg (address verification required). Camp is for ages eight to fourteen. Registration: mmubaseball.net (click on the Schools Out Camp tab in the upper right corner). If you have questions about the clinic, please email them to mmumanager2023@gmail.com or call 267-664-5059.

In May, I presented to the council the 2019 budget of $3,147,116. The council is obligated to approve a budget by no later than June 30.
In June, predicated on staff investigation, I will propose to the town council that we install four electronic vehicles (EV) charging stations at the Community Center parking lot.

The four-faced clock, the gift of Mount St. Mary’s University, is now set on the square. We are almost there. Again, thank you to everyone for your patience; we are getting great reviews on the brickwork and refreshed facades of buildings and the new setting. Rededication of the square will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, by the new town clock. This is also Community Heritage Day, a great day of food, vendors, entertainment, parade, and fireworks.

The first Pool Party will be held July 15, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Admission is $1.00. We will have a DJ, free hot dogs, and lemonade.

Thank you to Mayor John Kinnaird and Thurmont Main Street Economic Development Manager Vicki Grinder for a second season of developing a north county description insert for the Frederick News-Post. It was, again, a privilege for me to write, and for Emmitsburg to be a part of it. We look forward to working with Thurmont on the fall edition.

Thurmont
Mayor John Kinnaird

If I told you that I could see into the future, many people would question my sanity, but I know it is possible to see our future if we just take the time to look. No one can see specifics of what is to come, but I have met with and spoken to the very people that will craft our future, and I am impressed! Of course, I am referring to the next generation of residents currently attending our schools.

It has been my honor to speak to students at all of our local schools, and I can assure you that they are up to the task ahead. Several weeks ago, I spent a morning talking with students at the Thurmont Elementary School about a wide range of topics, including our local government and immigration. Every student was very attentive, and they asked many thoughtful questions. As part of the fourth grade program, I invited the students to write an essay, describing what they would do if they were mayor. After careful consideration, the teachers selected two essay winners: Lily Winn and Chase Jackson. As essay contest winners, Lily and Chase were invited to our meeting on May 22 to read their essays and to participate in the meeting. I thank all the students for participating in this contest and want you to know that every essay was wonderfully written and expressed a genuine interest in our community.

I also had the opportunity to speak to some of the third-term Honor Roll students at the Thurmont Middle School (TMS). It was surprising to see how many students qualify for inclusion in the Honor Roll at TMS. My congratulations to each of the TMS Honor Roll students, their parents, and their teachers! It is obvious that the student body at TMS is determined to enter adulthood as well-educated and socially responsible individuals.

I encourage all adults to take advantage of any opportunity to visit our schools and to see how positive our youngest residents are about our community and their future in it. I want to express my thanks to all the teachers and staff at the schools for their amazing compassion and dedication to the education of our youth. Finally, thanks to the parents for investing in the future of our community by raising these considerate and well-rounded future leaders.

While I am thinking about our youth, I want to remind everyone that the Town of Thurmont is hosting a Summer Park Program, “A Day in the Park.” The program will be held at the Thurmont Community Park on July 23-26, and again on July 30 -August 2; hours are 8:30 a.m.-noon. A different theme will be featured each day, and the cost is $10.00 per day or $35.00 per week. Activities include crafts; hiking; games; a visit by Fire, EMS & Police personnel; baseball; and local history. Be sure to register for this great summer program, so your children can join in on the fun! You can stop at the town office to register or call 301-271-7313 and ask to have a registration form sent to your home.

With the school year coming to an end, I want to encourage everyone to be extra careful while driving in our neighborhoods. Children are not always aware of their surroundings, and as they adjust to summer break, please be on the lookout as they play with their friends and cross our streets.

If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird.thurmont.com

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Finally, spring is gaining some traction. Thank you to the town staff for promptly taking care of the late March snow—a great job done. And, thank you to Vigilant Hose Co. for feeding them when all the restaurants were closed.

With spring comes the new and renewed. McDonald’s will be getting a redo; design renderings are attractive.

Now at the Frederick County Fire and Rescue and National Fire Heritage Center shared museum on South Seton Avenue is the glass etching of nationally renowned public artist, William Cochran, depicting firemen and a fire truck responding to an emergency. The etching was in place at the old Independent Hose Company, No. 1 (IHC) building, located on West Church Street in the Frederick City Historic District. Thirty years ago, the building owner, who had purchased the property from IHC, commissioned Mr. Cochran to do the etching to commemorate the history of the fire company presence at one time on the site. Recently, the building was resold, and the new purchaser had no further use for the etching and approached IHC, which had space limitations. So, the glass panels were offered to the museum board. All of this has been going on during the 200th anniversary of the IHC.

Professional services were needed to bring the etching to Emmitsburg, as the work consists of three glass pieces together, weighing 1,500 pounds. It was our Emmitsburg Glass Company that provided those services. Thank you Emmitsburg Glass for ever so delicately doing whatever it took to deliver the etching to the museum, safe and sound.

Mr. Cochran has several public artworks in Frederick, including three wall murals and most notably his, “trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye)” stone bridge that transforms an otherwise standard bridge spanning the Carroll Creek Promenade into a spectacular tourist attraction.

I have known William for many years. Soon after being elected to my first term, I approached him about painting a wall mural in town. Unfortunately, at that time, other public efforts were unfolding that took precedence.

To have a William Cochran public artwork here is a tourist attraction asset for our community. It will complement not only our fire emergency services attractions, but also our green efforts. William and his wife, Teresa, specifically do artworks, “…to contribute to sustainable cities and healthy communities.” And we are one sustainable-oriented community.

The goal is to have the etching installed in a protective manner outside the museum. The museum boards, along with the town, are seeking grants and donations.

The Emmitsburg Dog Park ribbon-cutting is scheduled for May 5, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. (rain or shine). There will be drawings for pet-related prizes. The park is located in Community Park, behind the tennis court. There will be separate areas for small and large dogs and water stations for each, to boot. Handlers will have nifty benches to relax and enjoy while their pets romp. With the opening comes a stepped-up responsibility for the users to take care of the park and leave it as you would like to find it. Clean up any mishaps and respectfully share the use of the dog park with others. Remember, we all love our special friends. Thank you to our donors. Through their tributes, benches and signs in the dog park were made possible. If you would like to have a similar tribute to one of your cherished pets, please call the town at 301-600-6300.

The community pool will open on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 26, at noon, and remain open through Monday. The pool grand opening will be held the following weekend, on Saturday, June 2, at noon. The pool will open on a weekly basis, starting on Friday evening, June 15.

Congratulations to Emmitsburg based Mid-Maryland United baseball 10U, 12U and 13U teams. All were big winners in early outings, defeating teams throughout the state and also in Pennsylvania. All this success before the teams even got onto our fields for their first practice on April 10. Three, and possibly four, baseball/softball programs are using our fields. Look for tournaments and clinics in June.

There is a wonderful feature article in the April edition of Frederick Magazine, “Emmitsburg the Green Town,” written by our own Jim Rada.  Thank you, Jim.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

With spring here in full bloom, we are all thinking about the great outdoors! First and foremost, on most of our minds is getting outside for some fun and games. Thurmont has many great neighborhood parks, spread throughout town, that offer great facilities. These neighborhood parks feature basketball hoops, tot playground equipment, and picnic tables. The Community Park has a great walking trail, basketball courts, tennis courts, exercise stations, picnic tables, grills, two pavilions, and lots of wide open space to have fun. The Eyler Road Park has two great playgrounds; a pavilion; football, soccer, and lacrosse fields; and is a wonderful park for walking and running. The East End Park features a pavilion with picnic tables and an amazing all-inclusive playground, where children of all physical abilities can enjoy the opportunity to play outdoors. New ADA restroom facilities are currently being constructed at the East End Park, and paved walkways provide easy access to the playground and facilities. A new addition to our parks this year will be our summer program at the Thurmont Community Park. This program will feature organized games, activities, and maybe even day trips to local attractions. Be sure to be on the lookout for further details about this new program.

Thurmont is again sponsoring the Concert in the Park series at Memorial Park. The current schedule for the concerts feature the Thurmont Brass Ensemble for the Memorial Day Ceremony, and the Frederick Spires Brass Band on Sunday, June 10, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The concerts are a great, early evening event for the entire family. Bring along a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy an hour of great music with friends and family.

Another outdoor activity we will all be doing is yard work! For those that would like to dispose of your grass clippings in an environmentally positive way, the town offers grass clipping pickup every Monday morning, from April 2 through November 26, with the exception of October 15. Place your grass clippings at the curb in paper bags on Sunday evening for pickup early Monday. Clippings in plastic bags will not be accepted, and we ask that the bags weigh 40 pounds or less. The town also offers yard waste drop-off at the Moser Road location next to the Regional Library. The days are on Saturday, May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 20, November 10, and December 8. We accept a variety of yard waste, including grass clippings, leaves, small branches, flowers, vegetable plants, and other items, but no tree limbs over 6” in diameter and no tree trunks or root balls.

I am looking forward to a great spring and summer, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming season as well.

Any questions or comments? You can reach me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com or by phone at 301-606-9458.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

In a late February journey to Annapolis, Commissioner Tim O’Donnell and I met up with representatives of other Frederick County municipalities to demonstrate our support at a hearing before a House of Delegates subcommittee on our earned share of highway user revenues (HURs). In 2009, just this side of absconding, the State of Maryland reduced our earned share of HURs funds, substantially. HURs are created from gasoline taxes. We need our share back. The funds are needed desperately for road repairs. So, if you don’t like your potholes or deteriorating road surfaces, I encourage you to please contact our state representatives: Senator Ron Young (ronald.young@senate.state.md.us, 301-858-3193); Senator Michael Hough (michael.hough@senate.state.md.us, 301-858-3713); and House of Delegates Kathy Afzali (kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us, 301-858-3184).

We are gearing up for the annual spring visit by fourth-grade students to the town office. This year, students from Mother Seton School will not only visit us to observe, but also participate in town department activities. The day will end with students being posed questions and speaking from the mayor and board of commissioners’ dais.

I attended the Black History commemoration at the FEMA/National Emergency Training Center campus. The commemoration started with the presentation of the colors by our VFW Honor Guard. C. Lilian Virgil, Chief Mitigation Branch, Acting Chief, Preparedness Branch, Emergency Management Institute, gave a gracious welcome. Dr. Denis Onieal, Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, U.S. Fire Administrator, and Steven Heidecker, Acting Deputy Superintendent, Emergency Management Institute, gave moving tributes. Interspersed were musical selections by renowned Gospel singer, Patricia Jones. Our very good friend to the needs of Emmitsburg, Roger Wilson, Government Affairs & Policy Director at Frederick County Maryland, Office of the County Executive, and also a Frederick City Alderman, was the keynote speaker. When our town has “irons in the fire” (which we do now), he has and always is there in support.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have put in hundreds and thousands of hours of service to our community. Backpacks for kids, food bank, pregnancy center, churches, Seton Center, and our scouts, to name a few, and now we welcome the new volunteers for our youth baseball. This year, three different groups will be using our fields, one of which is a girls’ softball team. The primary impetus for this change in use is homespun. We have a town resident with an excellent perspective and the successful experience to grow baseball here again. The refresh button has been pushed. The torch has been passed from one wonderful generation of volunteers to another. Fields are being prepped; clinics and games are being scheduled. A strong base is being redeveloped. Thank you to all who have volunteered over the years—baseball is coming back.

Coming up is our Community Arbor Day Tree Planting Celebration on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.-noon at Community Park in Emmitsburg. Twelve trees will be planted. Planting will be done by a representative from community service groups and institutions, myself and town commissioners. Five River Birch, two Swamp White Oaks, and five Red ‘Autumn Flame’ Maples. Joining us will be Dr. Tim Trainor, President of Mount St Mary’s University, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Becky Wilson, Western Region Coordinator for Urban and Community Forestry and Mike Kay, Project Manager for DNR Forest Services. From the celebration, the town will become certified as a Tree City USA town in 2018. Light refreshments will be available. We plan to have a fall planting at a date to be announced.

In early March, we had a burst water line emergency along Flat Run, near the bridge construction area, and on a cold and damp weekday afternoon, no less. Perfect timing, too, right when the kids are coming home from school and the commercial area of town is starting to bustle with after-work activity. The inconvenience with a water shut-off would be immense, affecting all the businesses and residences east of Flat Run, but it would have to be done. Without hesitation, staff members in both the town office and field responded immediately and adeptly; town staff in notifying the affected businesses and residents by all means of social media, notices, personally or phone, and the field staff by going out and fixing the problem. The water service was back on in two hours, by 5:30 p.m., before dinner. Thank you, town staff.

The square revitalization and sidewalk project is approximately 80 percent complete. When we get beyond freezing weather, tree plantings and landscaping will begin.

Hoping that everyone has a wonderful Easter.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

As I write this, we are just recovering from the unexpected snow storm on March 20 and 21. What a surprise it was to have the biggest snowfall of the year on the first day of spring! I want to take this opportunity to thank all the hardworking men and women of the state, county, and our municipalities for their hard work and long hours keeping our roads clear during this snow storm. Hopefully, we can now move on to spring.

With spring comes a lot of new outdoor opportunities, and our children will be out there playing, skateboarding, and riding their bikes. Please be on the lookout for our children as they get back outdoors. They may not always be aware of their surroundings, so we need to be especially careful driving in our neighborhoods.

I want to invite everyone to try one or more of the many amazing restaurants we have during Thurmont Restaurant Week. This Thurmont Main Street event will be held April 13-22, 2018. Be sure to try something new or enjoy your favorite menu items at any number of local restaurants. Experience Thurmont’s locally owned restaurants and enjoy the prix fixe menu special or some of their signature dishes! Main Street is also hosting the Annual Thurmont Business Showcase on April 28, 2018, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The Showcase will be at the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company Event Complex on Stratford Drive. Be sure to attend and see all the local businesses on display. There are always a few surprises and new businesses to learn about.

As we are all aware, the opioid and addiction epidemic continues to impact our communities and has touched all of our lives. The Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC) has been created to help educate and inform our residents on three important pieces of the addiction puzzle. Education and Awareness, Support & Recovery, and Prevention & Outreach are the three pillars the members of TAC are helping address. Please visit the Facebook page to see when the next presentation will be held, and attend to learn about the signs of addiction and what you can do to help in this critical battle.

This past March 15, I attended the first meeting of a new group, intent on helping our youngsters choose a healthier and safer path through their teen years and into young adulthood. Abandon Teen Center will be hosting events and get togethers to help our youth set a path free of drug use and the many peer-pressure pitfalls they face. Please support this worthwhile organization, and take the time to discover if this group is an option for your children.

The nice weather will be bringing some road work and infrastructure improvements to our streets. Be aware and drive carefully whenever you see a construction site.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

My February calendar started off with the Maryland Municipal League Winter Mayors Conference. Featured speakers included Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., President of the Senate; Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House of Delegates; Secretary Mark J. Belton, Department of Natural Resources; and, Secretary Kenneth C. Holt, Department of Housing & Community Development. Though I did not attend all of the events this year, I did attend grant programs and small group discussions. On everybody’s mind was the status of the state giving back to the municipalities its earned share of the highway user revenue.

Like most months, February comes with opportunities and, oh yes, often obstacles to those opportunities. The foremost obstacle, understandably, has been the intractable cold, damp weather affecting everything, in particular, delays and inconvenience to all with regards to the sidewalk – square revitalization project. I know, ‘tis the season, and we come into it disarmed and lulled by the mild late fall weather, but the state contractors cannot do concrete work when the temperature is below 32 degrees and cannot lay bricks when there is high moisture content in the air, as it affects the application sand seam bonding material. Patience. We are doing something special for the town. The town “scape” is improving.

But, spring is out there, and the first gate to it has been Lent. My Lent this year, besides the usual girth/related abstinence issues, will include a commitment to visit the aged and a ramp-up in seasonal-related readings and gatherings. Lent always reminds me that, if I have worries, get above them and in front of them through giving, caring, and prayer for others.

The Mount Relay for Life, sponsored by Mount St. Mary’s University, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, will be held on March 23, 2018. To donate or enter a team, go to the Mount St. Mary’s University website, then to “Mount Relay Page.” Great time, great event, and great cause.

The second to the gate is St. Patrick’s Day. And what is St. Patrick’s Day without Irish poetry?  To that, here are a couple Irish quotes/poems:

 

There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.

— W.B. Yeats

 

I composed habits for those acres

So that my last look would be

Neither gluttonous nor starved.

I was ready to go anywhere.

 

— “Land” Seamus Heaney

From Ireland: Failte and Slainte

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

The Maryland Legislature is currently in session, and I recently attended a House Hearing on a bill that would restore the Highway User Revenue (HUR) funding to our municipalities. Simply stated, HUR funding is collected by the state through gasoline and diesel taxes, tag renewals, and other sources related directly to the use of our streets and roads. These funds are then distributed to Baltimore City, the counties, and municipalities. In 2008, almost $45 Million in HUR funds were distributed statewide; it fell to $1.6 Million in 2010. This year, we are expecting to receive $27 million, almost 50 percent short of the funding from 2008! The HUR funds help us repair and improve our streets and are an important source of funding for our community. Since 2008, Thurmont has seen as much as $1 million in reduced HUR funding. This has caused us to delay the repair and maintenance on our streets. The funds are being collected at the state level, but are not being returned to our communities to help repair our streets. I hope that this year the Legislature will correct this issue and restore the HUR funding we need.

There are some great events coming up soon in Thurmont. Be on the lookout for the Annual Business Showcase and A Taste of Thurmont, featuring many local restaurants. The Thurmont Green Team will be hosting the Thurmont Green Fest on Saturday April 21, 2018, at the Thurmont Regional Library. This event will feature over twenty-five exhibitors and vendors, as well as music, tree planting, live demonstrations, kid-friendly activities, and more. The Green Fest is the place to learn about living sustainably while having fun. It will soon be Farmer Market season. The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is the place to be for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh cut flowers, jams, fresh eggs, and other goodies!

As the weather improves and we get back outdoors, you will notice that more of the damaged ash trees in the Community Park have been removed. The town has successfully been treating a number of the ash trees, and we will continue this program in an effort to retain as much of the mature canopy in the park as is possible. As you walk through the park, you will notice the large number of new trees that have been planted. There are a wide variety of trees, including flowering trees and others, that will replace the ash trees. The trees are being planted with the help of the Thurmont Green Team and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

As always, I can be reached via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com and by phone at 301-606-9458. I hope everyone has a great month.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

The Emmitsburg Christmastide started with the traditional town Christmas tree lighting on Monday, December 4, in front of the Community Center. DJ lead-in Christmas music, caroling by the Mother Seton School and Christ Community Church choruses. Santa Claus arrived in a vintage Vigilant Hose truck to light the tree. Then, it was on to following Santa on foot, north two blocks, to the Carriage House Inn for the 29th annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit.” The weather was kind, and the crowd, like the one downtown for the Halloween parade, was the largest in memory. Thank you to town staff for decorating, planning, and managing the tree lighting and also to the Carriage House Inn staff.

In our community Christmas stocking:

  • Thank you to all the volunteers who have made Emmitsburg such a wonderful place to live over the last year. This would include individual volunteers, groups, and local churches.
  • Thank you to Alenjandro Canadas for accepting the invitation to be a Trustee of the Community Foundation of Frederick County. The Community Foundation is a pillar of the greater Frederick County community. The Foundation manages at least five scholarship funds for Emmitsburg area organizations and individuals. Canadas, PhD, an associate professor of economics at the Mount, and his bride, Cynthia (also a PhD), live with their family in Emmitsburg.
  • Thank you to our town staff, State Highway Administration staff, and the contractors. The square revitalization sidewalk project connected the west end Pembrook and Brookfield subdivisions for the first time. Coming into town from the west, the viewscape has certainly changed. Lots of compliments.
  • Thank you to the uptick in home building in Frederick County. It has been heard that Ryan Homes intends to build 900 homes in Frederick County in 2018. In Emmitsburg, the remaining 47 residential lots in Brookfield subdivision are now under contract of purchase by Richmond America. The recent sightings of the men doing test borings, etc., is a normal part of their due diligence prior to purchase. With the build-out, the builder will be responsible for modifications to Irishtown Road to improve sight distance issues that then would allow two-way traffic in and out of the two subdivisions on Brookfield Drive.
  • Thank you County Executive Jan Gardner and her staff. Emmitsburg now has midday bus service to and from Frederick. The service started on Tuesday, December 5, and will continue every Tuesday (only on Tuesdays) as a complement to morning and evening return trips from Frederick. Estimated arrival of bus service at DePaul Street is 1:03 p.m. and at Jubilee is 1:07 p.m., arriving at the Frederick Transit Center at 1:42 p.m. This is a six-month to twelve-month pilot program. Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and I worked very closely for this additional service. Finally, you will not have to wait all day. Please call the town office if you need additional information.
  • I attended the Frederick County Association of Realtors (FCAR) legislative breakfast, at which I had the opportunity to speak on the merits of our town and also to hear what our state representatives are intending to propose as bills when in session next spring 2018. There was a lot of across-the-aisle agreement, led by our District Councilman Kirby Delauter and State Senator Ron Young, on tax credits for senior citizens, to keep them in Maryland. Presently, Pennsylvania and other states offer tax credits to make it more attractive for seniors to retire there. We want seniors to stay here because this is where they want to live, and their strong commitment to volunteering in the community.

Emmitsburg is a great place to live. Hoping you all have a wonderful New Year.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are at the end of another amazing year in Thurmont. Looking back on 2017, it seems that there was something going on every day of the week, and as we enter the new year, I am sure it will be as busy, if not more so.

We made several improvements this past year, including new sidewalks on Moser Road, the inclusive playground at East End Park, a new playing field at the Eyler Road Park, improvements to the Moser Road intersection, paving the Trolley Trail, improvements to our electric distribution system, paving Eyler Road Park driveways, and many other projects.

The coming year will bring several new projects, including water and sewer line repairs and street work. As always, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to bring these improvements to our residents.

In the next few weeks, we will be welcoming two new businesses to Thurmont. Nu-Way Cleaners will be opening at 12 East Main Street in January, offering home pick-up and delivery, as well as an on-site seamstress. Images Of U Hair Studio will be opening at Thurmont Plaza; appointments and walk-ins will be welcome at this full-service hair salon for the entire family.

There is much to look forward to in 2018, and Karen and I hope that the New Year brings you good health and happiness.

Question, concerns, or comments? Contact me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com or call me at 301-606-9458.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

October brings a lot of activity to Thurmont! The month of October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and Thurmont is participating with our Annual Gateway to the Cure Fundraiser. During the entire month, residents are encouraged to burn pink light bulbs in their porch lights to show support for this effort. Pink bulbs are available at ACE and Hobbs Hardware. The 3rd Annual Gateway to the Cure 5K will be held on Saturday, October 21, beginning at 8:00 a.m., at Eyler Road Park. Be sure to come out to participate or to cheer on all the walkers and runners. Many local businesses will be running specials this month, with a portion of the sales being donated to the cause. Help make this a successful fundraising event by making a donation at the Town Office. All proceeds from this month-long program are going to help the Patty Hurwitz Fund at FMH.

Colorfest is fast approaching and will be held October 14-15. As always, yard sales will be a draw for Thursday and Friday, October 12-13. The big days are Saturday and Sunday, and with good weather, we could be hosting upwards of 50,000 or more visitors each day. Be sure to visit all the craft areas and enjoy the good times, amazing crafts, delicious food, and friendly crowds of Colorfest! Be on the lookout for some new parking restrictions and be careful driving through Thurmont on Colorfest weekend.

Town Elections will be held on October 31, 2017. Three positions are up for election this year: two commissioner seats and the mayor. Be sure to come out and vote for the candidates of your choice on Tuesday, October 31, at the GHC Activities Building, from 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Remember these important dates: October 3 is the last day to register to vote, absentee ballot applications will be available on October 6, and the Election will be held at the GHC Activities Building on October 31. Remember, your vote counts, so be sure to come out and cast your vote for the candidates of your choice. Let’s get as many registered voters out as possible!

As you may have noticed, the trolley trail has been blacktopped and new bollards installed at the intersections. This is an amazing improvement to the trail and will allow all residents to utilize the trail, including those in wheelchairs or walkers. If you have not been on the trail recently, be sure to take a walk and check out the improvements!

We recently installed crosswalk warning signs on several crossings on East Main Street, Frederick Road, Poplar Avenue, and Moser Road. These are bright yellow signs, placed in the center of the road, to remind drivers that they are required to STOP for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Since the installation, I have noticed that many more drivers are extending the right of way to pedestrians.

I recently attended the Spirit Ride ceremony at the GHC Carnival Grounds. This event is meant to draw attention to the nationwide Slow Down, Pull Over laws, now adopted by all 50 States. There are over 100 deaths per year on our roadways involving first responders, tow truck drivers, and public works employees. These workers are assisting with accidents, fires, medical emergencies, vehicle break-downs, and public service calls; they deserve your full attention as you pass by them. The law requires that you Slow Down when approaching emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and service vehicles working at the side of the road and, if possible, Move Over one lane. One death is one too many for our first responders; let’s make our roads safe for these brave men and women as they assist others.

Questions, suggestions or comments? You can call me at 301-606-9458 or drop me an email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com. I hope everyone has a safe and healthy October.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

With a blink, the cascade of fall sports, activities, programs, and the 61st Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show were all seamlessly underway to the all-too-quiet and assuring backdrop of Catoctin Mountain and the proud fall crops below. Unseen in the alchemy were the months of behind-the-scenes work by administrators, teachers, coaches, students, and volunteers. Congratulations and thank you. All is vibrant and exciting. It’s no wonder Catoctin High School, for the fifth time, received the Maryland “Character Education” award. If that wasn’t enough, the school was also recognized for its sportsmanship of not only its teams but also its fans— students, families, and friends.

With the exciting reality of the school events, to our youth in action also came a somber reality. Almost unnoticed is the suffering in other parts of the country hit by Harvey and Irma. There they were, back and forth to the locations hit, from the different states, moving south along US Rt. 15, the caravans of power company trucks with their boom lifts—solemn, sobering processions.

The Seton Center held its third “Getting Ahead” program graduation, with six program participants. Congratulations. The program centers on making participants aware of the different resources available to them to enhance their lives.

If you are looking for a job or an employer looking for workers, mark your calendar for the Seton Center “Job Fair” on Tuesday, October 9, 2017, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Another opportunity to get ahead. Call Missy Miller at 301-447-6012 ext. 11 or 12.

Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources Program Coordinator Lisa Orr made a presentation to the town green team. Lots of good information on how the town can make residents aware of more innovative ways to reduce their home energy costs was provided. Soon, we hope to be posting information on new programs on the town website and Facebook.

On September 18, I had the privilege to be a part the “U.S. Constitution Day Celebration” that the Mount St. Mary’s University Office of the Institute of Leadership (iLead) program held in the Patriot Hall student dining area. My part was to read the Preamble of The Constitution.

Libby and I attended the Town EBPA-sponsored breakfast for town businesses (forty-five businesses) and the Mother Seton School grandparent’s day.

As mentioned last month, coming up is the 36th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, held October 7-8, 2017. As in the past, thousands of people will be visiting our town. It is an honor to be a part of this tribute, so let’s welcome all. For a schedule of events, Google “National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.”

Mark your calendar and follow up for details on the town website for Emmitsburg’s Annual Halloween Parade and Party at Vigilant Hose on Tuesday, October 31. The parade will start at 7:00 p.m. The annual event is sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

There are many community project updates. Pool construction is back on track and steadily progressing. The Square revitalization and sidewalk project is moving at a good pace (weather permitting), along the south side of East Main Street. We were not awarded the second grant for the Dog Park, so we are in need of donations. With the site cleared, we will probably install the perimeter fence this fall. Flat Run Bridge has seen slow, difficult work around a Chesapeake Bay feeder. The State Highway Administration is working with their contractor about the location of town water line.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from the Maryland Municipal League Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City. This is my eighth time at the summer conference, and it looks like this trip will be as exciting and informative as all the others. The four days are filled with meetings, discussion groups, and classes, all of which help our elected officials better understand the responsibilities and mechanics of serving our communities. One of the best things I have found is that we get the chance to speak with others and see how they address issues in their communities; but more importantly, we see firsthand that other communities generally have much bigger issues than we have to contend with. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of our elected state officials and the heads of State agencies is another advantage of attending these conferences. This gives us a direct line of contact with those that can have a positive impact on how Thurmont fares when dealing on the state level, as well as with the many grants and funding opportunities of which we take advantage. My thanks to Commissioner Hamrick, CAO Jim Humerick, Kelly Duty, and Vickie Grinder for attending this year’s conference and expanding their knowledge of governmental issues and for increasing their networking contacts.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with representatives of seven Frederick County municipalities to help assign Project Open Space (POS) funding to our communities. POS funds are monies granted to counties by the State of Maryland to be used to enhance open space or park lands. Typically the money is split 50-50 between Frederick County and the municipalities. This year, a little over $507,922 in funding was available to municipalities in Frederick County. Of that amount, $126,981 was available for the acquisition of park land and $380,941 was available for improvements to existing parks.  I am happy to announce that Thurmont was able to garner a total of $107,000 for two projects we applied for: $89,000 will be used to help complete the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park (more about that later), and $18,900 will fund the installation of an ADA-compliant restroom facility at the East End Park. It is always an interesting evening when we get together to discuss the POS funds. As you can imagine, there is never enough funds to satisfy everyone’s requests. This year, there was almost $800,000 in requests from the seven municipalities, so it was obvious to the seven of us that we could only fund 50 percent of the proposals. Given this, it would seem to be a real problem. But as I have seen repeatedly, the municipalities are always willing to take less so that others can get funding for their special projects. This year, the Town of Thurmont benefited from this practice and was awarded almost 30 percent of the money available! In past years, we have cut back on our request during the discussions to assist others, and this year we benefited from that courtesy.

Earlier, I mentioned the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park. This project is a joint venture between the Town and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club. The Civitans made a proposal to establish an All Inclusive Playground last year, and I am happy to say that with funding from both the town and the Civitans, the project is moving forward. The town portion of the initial funding came from Project Open Space; and now with the recently awarded POS funds, we will be able to move the project closer to completion. The first phase of this amazing park has been dedicated and is now open. Be sure to stop for a look and remember that this playground is designed to be used by children with all levels of physical and emotional capabilities. All the equipment can be accessed by children in wheelchairs and walkers, so they can enjoy the thrill of outdoor fun with their friends and family. I want to thank the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for their vision and help in establishing this playground right here in Thurmont.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival, and I hope you have a great time watching the Annual Fireman’s Parade!

As always, I can be reached by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com, by phone at 301-606-9458, or on Facebook.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

In June, the Town of Emmitsburg received the Maryland Green Registry 2017 Leadership Award. Due to a lot of “sweat equity” from lots of people in a body of work, we are very proud of receiving the reward. “Green” is shorthand for living in a more natural way, with a determination to reduce waste, use renewable energy, and enhance walkability through community connectivity. A simple, workable definition of Green is: “use what you need today and save what you don’t need for future generations.” Green is shorthand for sustainability. Sustainability, boiled down, is to keep, hold, or maintain for an extended period of time. Sustainability is nothing new to the crop farmers working the land around us, who plant, grow, reap, and replenish, to then plant again, all the while taking care of their soil. These farmers, like farmers for thousands of years, are renewable energy reliant on the seasons, sun, and water—surface, ground, or rain, and do everything they can to reduce waste. Now is the time to bring that consciousness to our uses.

As a strong impetus to and validation for our sustainability goals, the town was honored to host on separate days the 4th-grade classes of Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School. Our special guests moved in small groups throughout the office to meet with staff in four stations: accounting, receptionist–office manager, the town clerk, and mayor’s office, before moving on to the council meeting room. Every student sat in the mayor’s and/or council member’s seats and introduced themselves over the microphones. A mock hearing was conducted before a visit to the Frederick County Fire Museum and Fire Heritage Center, where they climbed aboard.

Coming up are several town-sponsored events in the park. Please check the town website and Facebook page for descriptions, dates, times, and specific locations. Please note on your calendar Tuesday, August 1, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for National Night Out (NNO) at the field behind the town office. NNO is an annual event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. This is a new event to Emmitsburg, “but across the nation, different communities host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events, with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and much more.”

What is the Impact Club? And what is Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick?

Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was started by educator Hermine Bernstein, who literally stumbled on the problem in Frederick County of over 11,000 children that are on FARM (Free And Reduced Meals). Hermine saw a greater calling in helping these kids, so she started Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick for children in strained family situations.

The Impact Club is a group of people wanting to contribute to the good of the community. Every quarter, Lib and I, along with 230-plus other residents in Frederick County, donate $100. Every quarter, members nominate community causes from which one is selected by membership vote. For this quarter, Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was selected and received a $23,600 check.

Community Heritage Day 2017: Thank you to the Lions Club, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and many businesses and civic organizations in Emmitsburg, for working together to provide a day full of fun and activities, ending with Independence Day Fireworks. Please go to Emmitsburgevents.com for details on a great day of fun.

Finally, the Square revitalization and sidewalk project has begun on the west end of Main Street.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

The months of April and May are budget-crunching time here in Thurmont. Our department heads have submitted their department budgets and capital project requests, and our CFO has been busy organizing the requests and reviewing the recurring funding needs for the operation for the town. Beginning in April, the Board of Commissioners will be discussing our Draft FY2018 Budget, with the input of our staff and department heads. Budget workshops will be held on April 4, 11, and 18. The final budget will be introduced on May 2, with a public hearing on the tax rate and proposed budget on May 16. The tax rate and budget will be adopted on May 30. Residents are welcome to attend any or all of the budget workshops or hearings. Public comment will be welcome during the May 16 public hearing.

I am happy to announce that Frederick County is planning a dedication ceremony for the newly rebuilt Roddy Road Covered Bridge, and the vastly improved Roddy Road Park. The ceremony will be held at 3:00 p.m. on April 17 at the Roddy Road Park. I want to thank Frederick County for stepping up and repairing our covered bridge to its original appearance. There are three covered bridges in Frederick County, all of which are maintained by the Frederick County Department of Public Works. The County has demonstrated time and time again that they are interested in maintaining these historic structures so future generations can enjoy the living history embodied in these cherished bridges. There are new truck-height warning devices installed at both ends of the bridge to warn drivers of the height limitations. There is also a new truck turnaround being placed on the South side of the bridge for those drivers not deterred by the warning signs at the intersection of Apples Church and Eyler Road. The County is also installing new signage, intended to direct truck traffic back onto Rt. 15 to help keep trucks from getting to the covered bridge.  The improvements to Roddy Road Park will bring a new appreciation to the bridge and Owens Creek. There is a new parking lot with playground, picnic facilities, and even a new restroom! Roddy Road has been moved away from Owens Creek, so visitors can walk along the creek and enjoy the view of the covered bridge without worrying about dodging traffic. I look forward to the dedication ceremony and to visiting the bridge and park for many years to come.

The nice weather will mean that our children will be spending more time outdoors in the coming weeks. Be sure to watch out for children, and remember that they may not be watching out for you. I am sure everyone remembers what it was like when we were kids and the weather improved enough that we could get out on our bikes, play ball, ride skateboards and scooters, and walk to our friend’s houses! We were not always aware of our surroundings and would occasionally cross the street without looking both ways. Please be aware of our speed limits and watch out for pedestrians in the many crosswalks in Thurmont.

As always, I welcome your phone calls, emails, and text messages! I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or jkinnaird@thurmont.com, and on my Facebook page. Enjoy the nice weather before it gets too hot!

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Warm weather, blooming flowers…and then eight-plus inches of “Robin’s snow.” No alarm, instead it was a quiet respite, a beautiful settled gesture to coax a slowdown to enjoy.

On the way to the town office last week, there, at the far edge of the parking lot, was a man and woman with two goats on lead lines and a group of children. The man, as it turns out, was a dear friend, Sam Castleman of Thorpewood, and the lady was his associate, giving Head Start program children the opportunity to learn, hands-on, and to lead the goats on the grassy school grounds behind the town office. Several years ago, Sam and I were two of the three founders of the Catoctin Land Trust (CLT), a conservation group, formed to preserve land in the Catoctin Mountain area. Through CLT efforts, a green belt of over 1,300 acres surrounding Emmitsburg has been preserved.

Spring weather or not, on Saturday, April 8, at noon at the Doughboy, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and town, will conduct a service to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the United States declaring war on Germany and entering World War I. (The actual date is April 6, but the commemoration will be held on Saturday, April 8.) Please join us.

Also, on Saturday, April 8, at 11:00 a.m., the sprinkler system at the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum National Fire Heritage Center on South Seton Avenue will be dedicated. This is a celebration of the two-year private and public collaborative effort. An effort of donated sprinkler industry materials and equipment and local installers labor working with town, county, state, and national elected officials and administrators. The National Fire Sprinkler Association intends to conduct a live-burn demo, using one of their “Side-by-Side Burn Trailers.” The unit then will go on directly to New Jersey for statewide public education use there. An identical unit will shortly be donated to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association for use across Maryland. That time is of the essence is never truer then when there is a home or building fire. Sprinkler systems can provide that time that saves lives. Vigilant Hose Company Chief Chad Umbel has approved fire company apparatus and personnel being on-hand in support of the live-burn demo.

Please note that even though the pool will be closed this summer for a major makeover, the town will still be hosting the Mayor’s pool parties. The venue will be the Community Park pavilion. Please join Lib and me for free hot dogs and lemonade, a DJ, and more! The dates for the pool parties are as follows: Friday, June 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Friday, July 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Friday, August 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

All this will be going on while the $3.5 million State-Highway-Administration-funded downtown streetscape–square revitalization and sidewalk project should be underway. At the March town meeting, the State Highway Administration (SHA) staff made a presentation and took questions from a resident-packed room. The project is scheduled to start the first week of April, with work beginning at the entrance to the Brookfield subdivision.

Renewable energy is provided using the natural sources the sun, wind, or hydrology. The town is committed to the renewal source of solar energy, now and in the future. Through this commitment, the town is doing its part not to compete with town residents for energy and driving up their energy bills. The town has twenty electric accounts. Currently, our solar production is outperforming our professional-supported expectations. By agreement, the excess is repurchased by our provider at wholesale costs, so there is a gap from our retail purchase. The gap is in the neighborhood of $1,300 a month. We have new accounts to bring on that should level this out, but we are currently not permitted to do so until after December of this year. Our goal is to provide the energy needed for the excess capacity of the state-mandated new wastewater treatment plant. Alas, growing pains.

Lent, in the past, seemed to always be attached to some form of mortification in giving something up. Today not so much; more so, it is the time to do things for those in need. In some ways, it seems to becoming the season of giving. The residents, the town, Lions, EBPA, churches, Knights, and Masons, are all contributing to the richness of the Lent and Easter season. Happy Easter.