Currently viewing the tag: "John Kinnaird"

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

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

The New Year comes with traction. On January 3, the first day of business, we had a meeting with the executive director of the Frederick County Boys and Girls Club. We have been working with the club for some time. Things seem to be moving in the right direction for a youth program in Emmitsburg, possibly in the fall. On January 4, I attended the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Memorial Mass and reception at the basilica. The main celebrant was Archbishop William E. Lori of the Baltimore Diocese. The service was a solemn tribute and very well attended. On January 6, Lib and I were among the 245 people who attended the 134th Annual Vigilant Hose Company 6 Banquet, which also included Ambulance Company 26. The banquet was held at the facility on Creamery Road.

Inspirational is the best way to describe how the two companies joined together to better serve our community. The merger that began last July was completed officially on January 1.  From what I have heard, if and when other fire and ambulance companies should choose to merge, this is the county’s official template.

Congratulations to Leo “Mike” Boyle on receiving an award for his sixty-five years of service and support of the company. Well done. Also, congratulations to the company. The 2017 statistics are more than compelling. For the year, Vigilant Hose responded to 534 calls, on average (over 10 a week or almost 1.5 a day). EMS calls for both (including Station 26, up until July 1) totaled 1,139 calls for the year (almost 22 per week or over 3 per day). Since July 1, the dispatch arrival average time to “its first due area response area” (Emmitsburg) averaged 6.54 minutes.

On January 11, I attended the monthly County Executive – Mayor/Burgess meeting. The main topic of discussion was updating all those who attended on the status and priorities of the Maryland State Highway Administration for improvement to U.S. 15 and Interstate 270. The time table has been moved up on the construction of additional lanes south of Frederick to 2025 completion; there will be four lanes each direction, of which two, each way, will be toll. To everyone’s dismay, the widening of U.S. 15 through the City of Frederick has been pushed back to 2030. Upgrading of Biggs Ford Road at U.S. 15 interchange timetable is scheduled for 2040.

On January 13, Lib and I attended the Emmitsburg Lions Club Banquet, commemorating its 35th charter year. It was very well attended. Congratulations to Gene Rosensteel on receiving a special award for assisting in the Emmitsburg Lions Club formation.

Late Christmas present for Emmitsburg and a prize indeed for the community: A fire company-themed glass etching done by nationally renowned artist William Cochran is coming to the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. The three-panel, 15-foot x 8-foot, 120 square-foot etching is presently displayed at the Firehouse Financial Center on W. Church Street in Frederick, the old Independent Hose Company building. It was done in the mid-1980s to commemorate the Independent Hose Company that had moved to its present location on Baughman’s Lane.

This fall, the Mount will field a men’s soccer team, men’s and women’s golf teams, and women’s bowling team to take the university to twenty NCAA teams.

From last December: I forgot to mention that on December 18, Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill visited the Mount to learn more about the Mount’s newest majors: entrepreneurship and cybersecurity. I participated in the meeting with President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., Chief of Staff Wayne Green, Christine Adamow, Director of the Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship, Professors Nick Hutchings and Donald E. Butt, Jr., Jane Graves, DC, Board Chair of Seton Center, Inc., and Sr. Martha Beaudoin, DC, Director of Seton Center, Inc.

Like all, I am hoping for some warmer weather so the State can get back to work on the square. It would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift. Thank you to everyone for your patience for any inconvenience the square/sidewalk project has brought about, but when finished this spring, we will have something special.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

The cold weather not only brings snow, sleet, and rain, but it also causes issues with our infrastructure! I am sure that everyone is aware of the electric and water issues we have had recently, many caused by the weather. The freezing weather can cause residential water lines to freeze and can be a prime factor of breaks in our water mains, both of which we have experienced recently. We have also suffered power outages caused by high winds, freezing precipitation, and circuits under strain, due to increased electric heating demand. When power goes out or water service is interrupted, we encourage residents to call our office at 301-271-7313 and report these issues. After hours, there are instructions for reaching staff during these emergencies. When the office is closed, please listen to the recorded information. The instructions will tell you to dial 1 for emergencies; you will then be instructed to dial option 1 for electric, option 2 for sewer, option 3 for water, and option 4 for streets and parks. When following these instructions, your call will be transferred to one of our staff. Please keep in mind that once an issue has been reported, the person answering the phone is most likely working on the problem and may not be able to respond to all calls. It is a safe bet that once several people have noticed an issue, town staff has been made aware of the situation. You are free to call, but if your call is not answered promptly, it is probably because the staff person is working to repair the problem. You can also check out the Town of Thurmont Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Town-of-Thurmont-390226201124250/) or my page (https://www.facebook.com/john.kinnaird.3) to see if anyone has reported an issue. It is important that our residents are informed of any infrastructure issues we may be experiencing, and we keep an eye on Facebook for reports of questions about issues and we attempt to provide updates as they are available.

Currently, the Town of Thurmont is making sewer line repairs to Rouzer Court, and will be working in the coming weeks on repairs and improvements at locations on Apples Church Road, Mantle Court, and Moser Road. Please be aware of these ongoing projects and be careful while driving where sewer line work is being completed.

This summer, we are planning to start work on waterlines on North Church Street, between Emmitsburg Road and Rt. 15. This project will see the replacement of water mains and the installation of new service lines. The work is expected to cause disruption to traffic, with narrowed or closed travel lanes. During this project, be sure to allow more time if you are passing through the work area or plan on taking alternate routes. There will be flagmen directing traffic and, as always, be sure to pay close attention to the directions they are giving traffic.

Finally, I want to thank our residents for your patience and understanding during the recent water and electric issues we have been addressing. Our staff is dedicated to restoring service as quickly as possible whenever there is an outage or loss of services.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at jkinnaird@thurmont.com, by calling me at 301-606-9458, or through my Facebook page.

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am so blessed to live in Northern Frederick County.

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.

John Kinnaird has called Thurmont home since he was seven years old. He loves it and couldn’t imagine calling anywhere else home. Still, he occasionally feels the pull toward the land of his birth. He recently had a chance to visit Scotland once again with his wife and two of his grandchildren.

His last visit to Scotland was three years ago. He was able to take his mother back to visit relatives in Aberdeen one last time.

“When she died, I realized that I had aunts in their nineties, and I thought I had better go back and see them before they are gone,” said Kinnaird.

He also decided to take along his granddaughters, Megan and Madison. They were about the same age his own daughters had been years ago when he took them on a trip to Scotland. “They are old enough to be able to appreciate what they were seeing.”

The two-week trip saw them visiting Aberdeen, where Kinnaird had been born, including the house where he was born. They visited other towns, boated on a river, toured castles, and kept an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster. They saw rolling hills and cliffs that fell away into the North Sea.

The number of his family members has never been large, and he only has two aunts and a cousin who still live in Aberdeen.

One place that Kinnaird got to visit that he always wanted to see was Beamish. It is called an open-air, living museum because the town is set in different periods of the region’s history to show its growth and industrialization.

At Loch Ness, Kinnaird got his granddaughters excited when he told them he was going to show them where their mother had seen the Loch Ness Monster. They were let down when he only showed them an old replica of Nessie floating in a lake.

All in all, they traveled 1,800 miles during the trip, trying to squeeze in as many sights and memories as they could.

This was Kinnaird’s fourth trip back to Scotland, and he doesn’t plan on it being his last.

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Urquhart Castle sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland.

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While visiting Aberdeen, Scotland, John Kinnaird and his wife, Karen, stand in front of the house where John was born.

Deb Spalding

The History of Orchards in Thurmont with Elmer “Lee” Black

Interview date September 14, 2015:

Lee and his wife, Frances, came up to Thurmont from North Carolina to make his funeral arrangements. He had purchased grave sites at Eyler’s Valley Chapel years before. He seemed excited that this would be a beautiful place to be put to rest. Lee’s grandson is a mortician in Westminster. Lee said he sat down with him and went over the whole process and costs. He said, “It’s all planned out. I want a natural stone out of the mountain. I found one where I used to live. John Kinnaird will engrave it.”

Elmer “Lee” Black, 92, passed away on November 9, 2015, in Burlington, North Carolina, following a brief illness.

Elmer “Lee” Black was born January 31, 1923, near Thurmont. He was the son of the late Willis G. and Maude Baker Black. He had a brother, Harry, and a sister, Betty. Due to the untimely death of their father when Harry was 16, Lee was 14, and Betty was 12, they all learned to work hard to help their mother during the 1930s when times were tough.

Many days were spent picking green beans at the Zentz Farm (now Rodman and Bobby Myers farm). Lee and Harry built a small chicken coop to raise and sell chickens and eggs. They took care of several bee hives to get honey for themselves and sold or bartered it. They cut, split, and sold cords of wood during the winter months for some income.

The boys would trap and skin small wildlife to get money for the pelts. When trapping skunks, you had to keep the skunk’s feet off the ground or it could spray. Lee remembered one time, when he was getting a skunk out of a trap, he held it by its tail while working the trap, but accidently got its back feet back on the ground and, got sprayed!  When he got home his mother had to scrub him down in vinegar and tomato juice to get the smell off of him!

When Lee was a kid in the 1920s and 1930s, there were two places to get fruit around Thurmont. The first was a big orchard owned by Hooker Lewis on the hill behind where Cozy stood and before the highway went through. That land is now developed. About the same time, Johnny Kelbaugh had an orchard where Gateway Candyland is now. Harry Zentz was known for making cider at the time. Lee said that before he was born, most farmers and homesteaders had a small orchard of their own.

After graduating from Thurmont High School in 1940, Lee enlisted in the Army Air Corps. While serving with Headquarters Squadron 21st Air Service Group, he served as a photographer. During WWII, he was sent to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, and was stationed in Australia and then New Guinea. He took thousands of photographs from the ground and air for Public Relations and History Reports in locations from New Guinea to Tokyo.

Discharged in 1945 after earning the rank of Staff Sargent, Lee then started a photography business in Thurmont and Emmitsburg.

Lee met his wife Frances, at the Monterey Tea House on New Year’s Eve. She was born and raised in Baltimore City. She said, “My prudish and strict mother left me with my promiscuous aunt and she took me along to a drinking place.” Frances was 16 at the time, Lee was 10 years her senior. Within three months, they were engaged and married. The year was 1949.

With a chuckle and glance at his wife, Lee said, “We’ve been together ‘off and on’ for 67 years.” This comment earned him a thump on the shoulder from his ‘Fannie’. Still smiling, he added, “I’ve had interesting things happen to me.”

Wanting to spend more time outdoors, Lee and Frances bought Hooker Lewis’ Strawberry Field in 1950 and started Blacks Hilltop Orchard. Hooker Lewis had several little orchards around Thurmont. Lee said, “During World War II and right after – nearly everyone who had an apple tree could make money from it. But after the war, you had to be good at making an orchard to stay in business.”

Lewis’ Orchard, Pryor’s Orchard, and the original Kelbaugh Orchard were the main orchards in the area. Over the years, different people bought parts of Kelbaugh’s Orchard. Russel Flanagan, who had been a mason, quit and went into the orchard business. Right after the war, Hooker Lewis’ son-in-law opened an orchard that is now Pryor’s Orchard. Galen Pryor of today’s Pryor’s Orchard is a great-grandson.

Lee enjoyed the independence of owning an orchard. All of his and Frances’ six children – two girls and four boys – worked the orchard by picking and thinning fruit.

Ira Kelbaugh, son of Kelbaugh Orchard’s originator, Johnny Kelbaugh, originally planted the orchard along Kelbaugh Road. Lee’s brother, Harry, worked for Ira during the war. When Ira semi-retired, he told Harry he would sell him the orchard. For years, Harry took care of the orchard for half the profit and eventually bought it.

This purchase included the road-side market that was very small at the time. Lee said, “When Kelbaugh first started, he didn’t sell fruit along the road. It wasn’t until the highway came through that the market (a smaller version of today’s Catoctin Mountain Orchard Market) was built around 1948.”

The two brothers, Harry and Lee, now owned orchards. Harry said to Lee, “You take care of the picking, and I’ll take care of the selling.” Lee reminisced, “We added pick-your-own black raspberries that he (Harry) raised and strawberries that we raised. There were a lot of problems along the way, I’m sure he disagreed with me and I disagreed with him, but we never had an argument.”

A regional University Of Maryland Extension man named Charlie Dunbar told Harry to build a retail market and to pack baskets with “good fruit!” Most fruit stands or “hucksters” at the time would place seconds (bruised or spotty fruit) in the bottom of a basket and top it off with good fruit! Lee and Harry used good fruit throughout and that is how it made both of their farms successful businesses.

Lee said there wasn’t any place that sold good peaches and apples between Thurmont and Washington, D.C. So, when they first opened, they had more business than they could handle. People canned at the time and would load up bushels at a time. The biggest apple growers were in Adams County, Pennsylvania, but, Lee said, “That fruit was all bruised up — the workers didn’t care.”

Business was up and down because of the economy and the weather. Lee said that at one point the orchard business was so bad that they started to raise broiler chickens.

Blacks Hilltop Orchard was, and Catoctin Mountain Orchard still is, known as “conservation showcase” orchards. Harry’s family and Lee and Frances’ family worked closely with the State of Maryland to implement smart ideas. In doing so, things changed with orchard procedures and standards.

They started to grow smaller trees to save on costs of picking and spraying; while they always used pesticides of some sort, the pesticides became more effective and made better; over time, the types of fruit were made stronger and more vibrant in color. Lee did some budding on trees, but didn’t do any genetics like the Catoctin Mountain Orchard Black family (Harry’s son Bobby’s family, Harry’s daughter, Pat) does today…

Read Part II in January issue.

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Pictured left to right are Pat Black, Frances and Elmer “Lee” Black, and Bobby Black.