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Area churches and organizations in Emmitsburg, Lewistown, Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville and Thurmont are working to provide students in need with school supplies for the 2017-2018 school year.  This program is to assist students attending the Catoctin Feeder Schools. These schools include Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary & Pyramid Program, Sabillasville Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle and Catoctin High.

The Annual Catoctin Community School Supply Drive is going to be held on Tuesday, August 21st  from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Graceham Moravian Church located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont.

If you would like to donate to this program, please drop off school supplies, cash donations or gift cards (Walmart) to the church on August 15th from 9:00 a.m. until Noon.

Any questions or concerns, please contact coordinator, Jennifer Harbaugh at 301-639-9970 or [email protected].

Jim Bittner of Sabillasville is proud of his grandson, Calvin Bittner, son of Aaron Bittner and wife, Linda, of North Carolina.

Calvin is currently dancing and choreographing with a company called Vivid Ballet, in Hartford, Connecticut. He danced at the White House in December. “It was a very last minute, out-of-the-blue opportunity. I was quite nervous, but also very excited to have the opportunity. We had a few moments in the space to rehearse before the event, and the flow of the event was taken from the First Lady’s movements. She was very pleased with the event, clapping and laughing for us at the end.”

Calvin Bittner lifts a ballerina during a dance in the White House. Melania Trump looks on.

James Rada, Jr.

Rifle use has been known to cause hearing damage, but Thomas Worthington’s Armstrong rifle once helped restore Worthington’s son’s hearing.

Worthington, who lives in Sabillasville, was born and raised in Annapolis. His family lived with his grandparents, because a month after Worthington was born, in September 1929, the stock market crashed, heralding the start of The Great Depression.

“We were in bad shape financially, so we all lived together,” Worthington said.

As his family struggled to make ends meet, Worthington’s world was the streets of Annapolis.

His father enjoyed reading outdoor magazines. Once, when Worthington was looking for something to do, he found one of the magazines. The cover showed a man fishing in a beautiful mountain stream.

“I’d never seen anything like it before,” Worthington said. “It was just gorgeous. I’d never seen a mountain before then because I had never been out of Annapolis.”

Worthington decided that he wanted to learn to fly fish like the man in the picture. He asked his father to help him. His father didn’t know how, but he did find a man who was a customer of his insurance business. The man agreed to have the eight-year-old Worthington come to his house twice a month on a Saturday morning. Worthington began to learn to tie flies, cast, and fish.

Once Worthington had learned the skills, the man took him fishing in Frederick County.

“We rode in a Model A,” recalled Worthington. “It took us about four hours. There were no superhighways or anything like that. We rattled along at 35 miles per hour, and usually, there’d be a flat somewhere along the line.”

They went to a spot on Big Hunting Creek at the base of McAfee Falls. They waded into the water, and Worthington started trying to cast where his instructor told him to. The problem was that he kept pulling the fly back before it hit the water. The instructor told him to let the fly land.

“No sooner did the fly hit the water, then the brook trout hit the fly,” said Worthington.

He remembers that his first fish was so red that he thought it was bleeding, but he learned that it meant the trout was a spawning male.

The trip to Frederick County began an annual trip that Worthington would make with the man.

Back in Annapolis, he soon discovered another passion.

Often, he would run errands for people to make a little extra money. Two of the men who he ran errands for were Confederate Civil War Veterans. He would do chores for them and listen to their stories.

At some point, said Worthington, the Veterans “decided to teach me to shoot a musket, in case they had trouble with the Yankees again.”

So they pulled out their old weapons and began instructing the young boy on how to care for them, load them, and fire them. Not that they could fire the weapons in the city, though. For that part of the instruction, the Veterans and Worthington traveled to a farm owned by Worthington’s uncle.

“I was too small to shoot, really,” said Worthington. “I had to stand on a kitchen chair to load the musket.”

Using a reduced charge, the young boy was allowed to fire at a target. He discovered that not only was he good at shooting, but he also loved it. On his fishing trip, he told his instructor about the thrill of shooting a rifle.

Instead of going to Hunting Creek that year, they went to visit the instructor’s friend, who lived in Emmitsburg. They fished on the man’s property. When the man learned of Worthington’s interest in shooting, he told the boy that he thought he had an old muzzleloader in his attic that he would be willing to sell him.

Worthington agreed, and he returned to Annapolis on a mission. He spent the next year running more errands and saving his nickels and dimes. By the time the next year rolled around, he had saved $24.00.

After fishing up in Emmitsburg, the man brought out not one, but two old rifles. One was a flintlock, and the other used a percussion cap. They were covered with soot and years of coal dust. The man offered to sell the percussion cap rifle for $10.00 and the flintlock for $8.00. Worthington agreed and had purchased his first rifles at ten years old.

“They were so long, we couldn’t fit them in the Model A,” Worthington said. “We had to put some sacking on them and put them in the rumble seat.”

When they got back to Annapolis, Worthington and his fishing instructor began cleaning the rifles, exposing the wood curves and metal inlays. They also discovered that the barrels had been filled with beef tallow to keep them from rusting. They held the rifles with the barrels pointed down over a hot stove so that the tallow melted and drained out, leaving the barrels clean and rust free.

In examining the rifles, they determined that Emmitsburg gunsmith John Armstrong made the flintlock. Melchior Fordney, a Lancaster gunsmith, had made the percussion cap rifle.

Worthington held onto his treasures. He never hunted with them, but he did shoot them in competitions. When he was in his late twenties and married with two children, one of his sons had a traumatic hearing loss. He was told that it could be treated, but it would cost $18,000, which was a huge sum in the mid-1950s. He wasn’t sure what he would do until the doctor’s medical partner, heard about Worthington’s rifles.

Worthington showed him the rifles and told him their story. The doctor offered him $4,500 for each one, on the condition that he never tell anyone who the doctor was or the farmer that sold him the rifles. Apparently, there was some bad blood between the families.

Worthington accepted the offer, and he never saw the rifles again. However, with half of the money for the operation raised, the bank was willing to loan the family the rest. The operation was a success, and Worthington’s son’s hearing was restored.

“I’ve always missed that Armstrong rifle, though,” expressed Worthington. “It was such a beauty.”

In fact, he missed it so much that he commissioned a copy to be made that he has hanging in his living room.


Thomas Worthington and his Armstrong rifle replica.


Catoctin Banner Resolution 2017 Spotlight #1

Being a new contest, identifying our resolution contestants has been an adventure. We’re introducing our first contestant in this issue, and we will introduce another in our next issue. Then, we’ll give progress reports through the year to measure progress and capture their story.

Rachel Mohler is a thirty-nine-year-old artist and mother of three small children (four-and-a-half years, three years, and seven months). She moved to Sabillasville last November and has resolved to paint one tiny painting a day that is inspired by the view out the window of her new home. Each painting is created on a 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” piece of watercolor paper.

She has defined her objectives as: (1) to try and stay creative in the wake of small children, sleep deprivation, and all the chaos that comes with being a mom, wife, and business owner (she and her husband own a land surveying business); (2) to remind her to pause each day and take in the wonder that is nature and to be grateful for such a lovely place to live; (3) to watch the colors of the seasons change and to learn nature’s palette; and (4) to be open to the lessons this resolution has to teach and to have a record to share with her children when they get older.

Rachel has already begun her daily paintings as of January 1 (see samples below) and is looking forward to sharing her progress with the readers of The Catoctin Banner.

Theresa Dardanell

Hundreds of colorful school supplies filled the basement of Graceham Moravian Church on Monday, August 8, 2016. The Catoctin Community School Supply Drive, coordinated by Jen and Laura Harbaugh, collected donations from churches, organizations, and individuals from Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Lewistown, Sabillasville, and Rocky Ridge.

Volunteers from Harriet Chapel and Graceham Moravian Church, along with members of the Harbaugh family, sorted and counted the supplies and purchased additional items with money and gift cards that were also donated. On distribution day, 271 students from ninety-nine families in the Catoctin feeder area chose supplies from tables stacked with backpacks, notebooks, crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, pencils, and more.

According to Jen Harbaugh, students were very excited to pick out their own supplies. “I just like to see the kids get what they need to go to school and their smiles when they get it,” said Laura Harbaugh.
Pictured are volunteers Jen Harbaugh, Don Clabaugh, Pat Plum, Timothy Bentz, Fran Hennessy, and Paige Sweeney.

by James Rada, Jr.
20160808_143927When Raymond Sanders (pictured right) first came to Sabillasville, it was because he needed a bigger house. His family was growing, and the Sanders needed space to expand. They found a two-story home at the end of a dead-end road and set down roots.

“It’s a nice place to live,” Sanders said. “The dead-end road was good for the children, and my wife’s father and stepmother lived nearby.”

His children started attending Sabillasville School when it was still in the building that is now the Walkersville Christian Fellowship Church. At that time, local students up to grade eight all fit into a three-room school. For high school, the students were bussed down the mountain to Thurmont High.

“I didn’t worry about them going down to Thurmont,” Sanders said. “People were careful on the road, and there were no accidents.”

Sanders was born in Iron Springs, Pennsylvania in 1922, but his family moved to Fountaindale, Pennsylvania, when he was six. From there, they would eventually move to Charmain and Highfield.

Although his work would take him far from Catoctin Mountain, to travel to all of his homes is no more than a ten-mile round trip.

“I’ve been working since the time I was twelve,” Sanders said.

His early work was hauling vegetables for a farmer, but he has also been a fruit picker, worked at the pipe and nipple factory, Landis Machine, and a brick factory.
His longest-lasting job was as a truck driver for Fort Ritchie. He worked there for twenty-two years, retiring in 1975 because of a back injury.

“They wouldn’t give me another job, and I couldn’t work anymore because I couldn’t pull rigs.”

Instead, he wound up retiring at age fifty-two. He was also a member of the Maryland National Guard. He was able to continue his service for five more years, before he needed to retire from that as well. Between his service in the National Guard and in the Army, Sanders served thirty-three years in the military.

Sanders is also a Veteran of World War II. He enlisted in the Army on March 18, 1943, and trained with the 8th Armored Division. However, when he shipped out to Europe, he was sent as part of the green troops, being sent to replace the soldiers who were dying in the war.

Once in Europe, though, he never saw combat.

“I was close to being called up a couple times, but it never happened,” said Sanders.

He mustered out after three years and returned home, which at the time, was Highfield. The following year, he “really met” Betty Jane Fox. He had first met her when she was ten and he was fifteen, but that was just in passing because he was friends with the boys in her family.

Sanders was in Waynesboro one time with Betty Jane’s uncle, when her uncle tried to convince Sanders to come to Frederick with him to a dance. Sanders wanted to go, but said he didn’t have a date. Betty Jane’s uncle then fixed her up with Sanders and the two hit it off. They were married on September 13, 1947.

Together, they raised seven children (Debbie, Becky, Rita, Larry, Mary, David, and James), and one grandson (Jeffrey). They also have twelve grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren.

“When we had family picnics, we would have forty-five to eighty people show up,” Sanders said.

He has always enjoyed living in Sabillasville and says that he has pretty much anything he might need nearby. He attends church at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Blue Ridge Summit. He belongs to the Cascade American Legion, Waynesboro VFW, and Knights of Columbus.

“I think we have the nicest people that any community could have up here,” expressed Sanders. “They make great neighbors.”
Betty Jane passed away last year, and while Sanders lives alone now, he still has plenty of family looking out for him and plenty of memories.

by Jim Houck, Jr.
Warren Deardorf Grove Jr.
3rd Class Petty Officer U.S. Navy
Warren (Buddy) Grove Jr. was born in Emmitsburg on August 17, 1926, on Crystal Fountain Road. When he was two years old, he and his family moved to Eyler’s Valley on the Seiss farm.

Warren had two sisters by the time he was ready to start school, and a brother by the time he was ten years old. Warren’s dad didn’t like the school bus that picked up the kids for Emmitsburg School, and their house happened to be on the line (in fact the line was marked by a spring that was piped through the house), between the Emmitsburg school district and the Sabillasville school district. So, his father chose to send him to the Sabillasville school district. They had just built the two-room school house in Sabillasville right before he started there. They could use the two rooms as one if they wanted, because in between the two rooms was a collapsible wall. Later, the W.P.A built a furnace room and bathroom in the school.

Buddy went to the Sabillasville School through the seventh grade, after spending two years in the third grade because the winter was so bad in his third grade year that he missed six weeks of school, thus not passing and having to repeat the year. Warren said that he graduated Sabillasville School with unsatisfactory marks.

When Warren was twelve, the home his family lived in burned down. He remembers that the .22 caliber rifle his dad had given him was one of the few things that survived the fire. His mother was home alone when the fire started, and the fire took the home quickly. His dad had just bought all of the material to put a new metal roof on the house. Warren said that had the roof been put on, the house probably wouldn’t have had as much damage from the fire.

With help, his family ended up building a new house, but not on the same foundation. The old house was built along what was once the main road. It had an outdoor bake oven and a black smith shop. Warren said it was actually used as a stagecoach stop at one time.

The new house was built on what was, at the time, the main road where they raised hogs and goats. The reason they raised goats was that Warren’s brother was allergic to cow’s milk. An old farmer who lived on Flint Road told his father to give him goat’s milk instead, and it would straighten him out. Warren said that, sure enough, the old farmer was right.

They bought the goat’s milk from Mrs. Walters at Emmitsburg. At first, she didn’t want to sell it to him, but when she found out it was a matter of life and death, she did.

One day, Warren’s father saw an advertisement for someone selling a milk goat, so he went to see it. The goat had really long ears that stood straight up. It was a genuine Toggenburg milk goat. The goat gave over a gallon of milk each milking when they first got it, so his brother had plenty of milk. From then on, his mom and dad never used any milk other than goat milk. Warren recalled that the goat not only provided the milk they needed, but, also kept the weeds down.

The family went into goat farming and used the goats to cultivate the fields and to pull carts filled with vegetables. Warren had one of the goats as a pet. It followed him everywhere. The goat never needed a harness, except when in the corn field.

Warren said the goat could never be trusted in the corn field without the harness even though it was well trained by him and understood the commands Warren gave to him. One year, Warren and his goat won the first prize in the fireman’s parade in Emmitsburg. He had the goat pulling a wagon they made to look like a tanker truck.

After Warren graduated from Sabillasville School, he went to high school in Thurmont. The only drawback to that was that when school let out in the afternoon, not all the buses went all the way to Sabillasville. So, he had to ride three different buses to get home. When he got off the last bus, he had a little over three miles to walk to get home—Warren got very used to walking.

While in high school, he took vocational agriculture and went to all the different county meets. He also belonged to the Future Farmers of America and figured he could put it to good use after he graduated, but there were no jobs available after he graduated.

Businesses didn’t seem to want to train anyone for the jobs. Young men just graduating from high school were probably going to be drafted into the military. Warren was seventeen when he graduated high school, so he went down to enlist in the Navy, having his dad sign for him.

Warren went to boot camp for about sixteen weeks, and then completed sixteen more weeks of electrical school. Out of the four hundred and twenty-some that started in his class, only two hundred and twenty-six graduated. The course was very tough. Warren hadn’t had any high math—only general math—so he and six others had to take a special math course after class hours. Sometimes the extra course ended at one or two o’clock in the morning. They learned their entire higher math on a slide rule: algebra, geometry, and the works. Warren came out twenty-ninth out of two hundred twenty-six graduates. Warren said if it wasn’t for that slide rule, he would never have made it.

He was third class petty officer (electrician) in the amphibious outfit after he left electrical school. He went overseas to an island called Mauritius, then to Sonora Island, and then Borneo, and as an amphibian, they landed the Australian troops. Warren was then transferred to the SEABEES. They put up Quonset Huts. Warren wired the huts and refers to generators. When the war ended in August of 1945, they stayed until January of 1946. At Christmas, they made snow with ice flake machines. They got the freezers as cold as they could and made snow for twenty-four hours a day and spread snow all around the base—where it was 120 degrees outside. While there, Warren found a guilder piece (which was the currency in use there at the time), and he still has it today. He also brought back a Samurai sword and recently gave it to his son. Warren’s brother, who was ten years younger than him, was the recipient of a Japanese rifle that Warren brought back with him.

The firing pin had to be removed to bring it home, but Warren drilled a hole in the stock and inserted it and put carboline over it. When he got home, he put the original firing pin back in, and everything was original on the rifle.

Warren was on a small carrier vessel that ended up in China for a while. He stayed aboard the ship that was tied up in dry dock. Soon, they left there and headed to Japan. Warren stayed in Japan just about a year as an occupation troop at the Tsukiji Japanese Officers Training School (Japan’s version of an officer’s training school similar to our Naval Academy in the United States). His unit was there to build a radio station in Tokyo Bay. He told his Lieutenant that it was nothing but a sandbar and that it didn’t seem solid enough to use. It turned out that he was right since a bulldozer they were using to level things off sunk into the sand until there was only about four inches of its exhaust pipe sticking above the sand and water. It was stuck. They didn’t even try to get it out because they didn’t have the necessary equipment to remove it.

Warren was still doing generator work when he left there. With a ninety-day leave, he went home. When he went back, they sent him down to Port Hueneme at Oxnard, California. Warren was to teach others about motors and generators.

He thought they were sending him to school for diesel engines, but that wasn’t what it was about. It was about water power, steam power, gasoline engines, diesel engines, and experimenting with new turbine engines. Warren said they could really speed up like jet engines on airplanes. He was only there for a short time when they shipped him down to San Diego, California, where he was discharged.

They told him he had to muster out now or reenlist. The only problem with reenlisting at the time was that they wanted him in the seventh fleet, and promised that he could never get out of it as long as he lived. Warren could have returned home and enlisted, but he would have been shipped right back out.

Having enlisted in 1944, he was discharged then, in 1947, just a couple weeks short of a three year enlistment.

When Warren returned home, he put in for refrigeration school because everywhere he went for an electrical job, they wanted someone with experience in refrigeration. He worked for the State of Maryland and helped open the Western Maryland Hospital at Fort Ritchie, before they eventually moved the hospital to Hagerstown. Warren did everything: he helped whenever a person didn’t show up to work, whether they worked in the ward, the kitchen, or fired the boiler.

During this time, he went to Baltimore and secured his engineer’s license. He worked and waited for a year and a half until he was admitted into the Dunwoody Industrial Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Dunwoody for three years and then he came back to the state job, to get the minimum required time for coming back, by putting in two months there, and that completed his one tour. Warren then got a job at the Letterkenny Army base in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He wasn’t in the labor pool to start with, but they knew that some of the guys really wanted to work and knew that Warren was one of them. So they sent him up to the box factory, where he soon received a promotion.

He was then sent to Warehouse Six—general supply—where they were shipping things overseas. Here, he received a bit of a better promotion. He was supposed to serve six months in training, but in three months school let out and they hired kids out of school. One of the big bosses’ nephews graduated high school and they gave him a job immediately. This was a job that Warren was supposed to get in six months.

Warren told his boss that he would like to go up to personnel that afternoon, but his boss told him he couldn’t. This is where the boss made his mistake. If his boss had told him he would make an appointment for Warren to speak to someone in personnel, there would have been no problem. But, the bosses were eating lunch with several people around, so Warren said, “Here are my witnesses, so you may as well get on the phone now and make me an appointment.” The boss said, “I guess I really goofed, didn’t I?” Warren said, “Yes, you did.”

Each division had their own personnel department, and when Warren explained the situation and got no satisfaction, the personnel person told him he would have to stay there. Warren explained that he did not have to stay and asked to see the chief of personnel. The first thing the chief told him was that they didn’t have a job he was qualified for. Warren called him a liar. The chief told him he could be fired. Warren said, “Go ahead, the sooner the better.”

The chief told Warren that there seemed to be something wrong, and asked him where he was hired. Warren informed him that he took seven exams on the Philadelphia Register and knew of the openings they had that Warren qualified for, according to the register. Warren told the chief that he couldn’t fire him. He would have to be fired out of Philadelphia. He told the chief that they recently had seven guard openings and had hired two, and that it was too early that day and he hadn’t officially hired anyone yet. The chief told Warren to relax. He got on the phone and told a person over the phone, “I have a man I’m sending up. I don’t know what he does or what he knows or anything, but you are going to have to take him.”

Warren told the people upstairs that he knew he was qualified for the job because he used to pull shore patrol duty and that was the same as MP’s. Warren got the job and stayed there for two and a half years.

Here, Warren was the first one his boss selected to go to the police training. He went through part of the training, and when a job came open, he thought it was Fort Richie, but learned that the job was at Site R (The Tunnel, Harry’s Hole, Under Ground Pentagon). Warren thought he might be there a couple of years, but he ended up working there for twenty-nine years.

He went in just to be an operator and got promoted to diesel mechanic with a pay increase, because when they needed help, he helped them. Then they decided to put foremen in the power plant since they were running fulltime. Warren was one of five who were selected as foremen because he knew refrigeration, diesel, and electrical. Those were the three basic shops that ran things. He was a diesel mechanic for twelve years at Site R, then he was promoted to diesel and machine shop foreman.

In all, Warren served thirty-five years with the government. He was asked what he wanted to do, and, at the time, Warren said he wanted to live equal time to what he worked. During our interview, he said, “Well, it’s happened!” He retired in 1981, thirty five years ago—the official date: August 21. On August 16, 2016, Warren will be ninety years young and has traveled all over the world, been in every state of the United States, and has lived life to the fullest. He has a tremendous amount of knowledge and is a pleasure to be around. I could listen to him tell his life stories for hours. I wish everyone could meet and talk with this man, who is so dedicated to his family and his country. I found out that I graduated high school with Warren’s wife’s brother. What a small world we live in after all.

God Bless Our Country, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.
Warren Deardorf Grove Jr., 3rd Class Petty Officer U.S. Navy

Nicholas DiGregory

Few topics are more shunned by today’s society than the concept of death. In a world where modern science and medicine have prolonged life to considerable lengths, the idea of death has become merely an afterthought, albeit one that inspires a rather vicious response or fear and loathing.

And yet, death is an inevitable part of life. And while it should not be feared, death can bring immense sadness and vulnerability when it strikes a loved one. When a family member or close friend passes away, it can be hard enough to move on; the last thing many people want to think about at such a tragic time is making funeral arrangements.

Few individuals understand this fact better than . The twenty-seven-year-old Sabillasville resident and licensed mortician knows how hard coping with death can be, and with that in mind, he started Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services.

Based out of Westminster in Maryland, Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services provides a uniquely personal and heartfelt approach to the funeral process. As the owner and supervising mortician, Black focuses on providing affordable and unobtrusive care to those grieving the loss of a loved one.

“A casket is a casket, and a funeral is a funeral,” said Black. “It shouldn’t matter who’s providing the service as long as you like what was done and it made you feel good. That’s what it’s about at the end of the day. It’s not about buying the most or least expensive; it’s about what you can afford to make you feel good. And that’s really my goal, to make people feel good because it’s what they deserve.”

While Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services is based out of a brick-and-mortar funeral home in Westminster, Black does not restrict himself or his company to any single location. Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services offers viewings and funerals at places of worship and community venues as well, allowing for funeral arrangements that are less expensive but more personalized.

“We’ve adopted a business model that’s unique to this area,” said Black. “Our business model works off of the principle that we work out of another funeral director’s funeral home, and that contributes to us being able to provide a lower-cost service, since we do not have to deal with the overhead of building a brand-new funeral home.”

Another unique quality Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services offer is in-home consultation. Black stressed that when a person is in mourning, there is no reason for them to have to travel from home to make funeral arrangements.

“We try to meet with people in the home,” said Black. “A lot of funeral directors make you travel all over God’s creation to come in to them, but we don’t think that’s appropriate when someone has lost a loved one. We bring the funeral home to you.”

In their special way, Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services provides all of the traditional funeral services, and then some. In addition to the typical funeral, cremation, and burial options, Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services also provides services for anatomical donation, mortuary shipping, cryonic suspension, and grave relocation. Most services are also available for cases of miscarriage or still birth, even as early as the first trimester.

Blacks Mortuary and Cremation Services is located at 254 East Main Street, Westminster, MD 21157. For immediate contact or to make funeral arrangements, call 443-292-5662 or 301-723-7180. General questions can also be addressed via email to [email protected].

Sabillasville Native is “Nursing” the “Best of” a Love of Olive Oil

Deb Spalding

Sharon (Stottlemyer) Streb’s life has been a balance of education, serving others, and culture. Sharon was raised in Sabillasville, and after graduating from Catoctin High School, started a trek through several educational institutions that culminated in a degree in nursing from Shepherd College. She secured her first nursing job in Hawaii, and decided to stay ​because she got married to a military man. The couple ended up returning east to Virginia Beach, where he was transferred.

After twenty-seven years of nursing, she went back to school to earn a degree in business, then a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in interior design. Sharon secured a great job as a high-end interior designer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and moved there. Her husband had retired from the military​.

Unfortunately, in 2009, her husband passed away. This made Sharon take some time to decide what she wanted from life. She read the book, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and moved back to Virginia Beach.

About to turn fifty years of age, she soon made some choices that took her to Florence, Italy, where she entered a top-notch interior design program. Her classmates joked that Sharon would fall in love with a debonair Italian fellow.

She did fall in love, but not with a man—with olive oil! About her new-found taste, Sharon said, “I spent all my afternoons eating olive oil. I would eat bread and olive oil. I would go to cafes in Tuscan towns and buy some of the many kinds of olive oils.”

She learned of an Olive Oil School—the oldest International school in Imperia, Italy, at O.N.A.O.O. (National Organization for Olive Oil Tasters)—and just before her visa expired in May, she got the lucky break to complete the course when someone dropped out.

People from all over the world go to this school to become an expert in olive oil. In Europe, before something can be labeled extra virgin olive oil, it goes through a sensory analysis (someone actually tastes it) and then a chemical analysis. Extra virgin olive oil has three positive attributes and lots of negative attributes. In Europe, if it has any negative attributes, it can’t be labeled Extra Virgin olive oil.

Back home in the United States, Sharon purchased a franchise called Oil & Vinegar. It’s an established franchise based out of Holland. Presently, there are ninety in the world, only twenty in the United States, and Sharon’s store is the only one in Maryland.

After the purchase, it took two years to find a location. Sharon opened her Oil & Vinegar Store in the Westview Promenade (between the movie theater and Champions Billiards) in Frederick in July of 2014.

She sells over fifty oils and vinegars. There is a tasting bar, where true and wannabe oil and vinegar connoisseurs may sample the products.

The store theme is Seven Worlds, with sections for herbs and spices, sweets, starters and sauces, pasta, and a newly added Mediterranean (Moraccan and Turkish) section with spices that are trending right now. Buyers will notice all kinds of rubs, pastas and pestos, rissotos, saffron, and papaya throughout the store, and thirteen different kinds of olives! The merchandise is nicely displayed in glass or tin containers that are colorfully arranged among cook books, and crockery from Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

Sharon’s store earned a Best of Frederick Award 2015 in the Artisan/Specialty Store section. Sharon’s sister Cindy Ecker, brother ​Robert Stottlemyer, mom Nancy Stottlemyer, and niece Jessica Stottlemyer, as well as a few part-time employees, help out at the store. Oil and Vinegar is open Mondays through Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6:00 p.m. It is located at 5231 Buckeystown Pike in Frederick. Call 240-439-4447 for more information.

Photo by Deb Spalding

oil and vinegar

Oil & Vinegar owner, Sharon Streb (right), is shown with her sister, Cindy Ecker, in her store located in Westview Promenade in Frederick.


Thurmont Smiles Making Sure Thurmont is Smiling

James Rada, Jr.

Dr. Mansi Oza knew from the time that she was in kindergarten that she wanted to be a doctor. She just didn’t expect to be a dentist. “I like helping people smile,” she said.

Oza took over Dr. Dexter’s practice at 100 S. Center Street in Thurmont, and has since renamed it Thurmont Smiles.

Thurmont Smiles offers comprehensive dental care for the entire family, from a simple cleaning to a complicated root canal. Her practice has state-of-the-art equipment. For instance, x-rays are now done digitally to reduce the amount of radiation by ninety percent.

“It’s a fine line between what a specialist offers and what we can do,” Oza said.

From the moment patients walk in, they are greeted with a very warm, family atmosphere that helps put them at ease, even when they might be hesitant to visit a dentist.

“I spent hours picking out the colors on the walls and the paintings in order to help take the patients’ minds off their treatment,” Oza said.

Her staff is skilled at helping children not be afraid of getting a dental check-up.

Another way she helps put her patients at ease is by providing them information about their procedures and answering any questions they might have. She doesn’t want anything she does to come as a surprise to her patients.

Thurmont Smiles will work with most insurance companies and will submit claims for the patients. They have financial aid and discount plans for patients who qualify, and they are currently running a promotion where patients can pay as little as $20 for a visit, with the money going to charity.

For more information, patients should call 301-271-4400 or visit to schedule a visit. The hours change week to week in order to have time slots available to suit everyone’s needs.


Recycled Granite Solutions

Deb Spalding

What do outdoor fire pits, patio pavers, split stone walls, and cheese boards have in common? They can all be created with Recycled Granite Solutions. This business was the idea of a former Thurmont resident and 2005 graduate of Catoctin High School, Kayla Burkett Strong, and her husband Kenny Strong.

With backgrounds in the industrial industry and construction, Kenny and Kayla opened Recycled Granite Solutions in Boonsboro in January of 2015. The idea for the business took root when Kenny noticed dumpsters full of unwanted pieces of granite and thought there could be a new use for all the beautiful material, instead of it just being sent to the landfill. Now, the couple works with granite manufacturers from many sources and repurposes the material, creating a win/win/win situation for all involved: the business gets to help repurpose their waste; Recycled Granite Solutions has an economical product to use in different ways; and the customers have an affordable, yet elegant and beautiful, product.

Imagine your patio pavers, your flooring tile, your granite split stone as a back splash in your bathroom or kitchen—all created from solid one and a quarter inch recycled granite! And don’t forget to add the outdoor fire pits, which come in many different sizes, heights, and shapes, as well as flower planters and a cheese board!

Call Recycled Granite Solutions to schedule an appointment to visit their showroom or schedule a consultation for a large project. Mention this article in The Catoctin Banner to receive $100 off of your purchase of a project.

Recycled Granite Solutions is located at 210 Maple Avenue, Unit B, Boonsboro, Maryland. Call 888-966-0809 or visit for more information.

Photo by Deb Spalding


Kayla and Kenny Strong are shown with daughter, Kylee, in the showroom of their business, Recycled Granite Solutions in Boonsboro. Not pictured are sons, Matthew and Trenton.


Diane Miller of Dee’s Hair Stylist Retires After Forty Years

Deb Spalding

Diane (Spalding) Miller recently closed the doors of her shop, Dee’s Hair Stylist, located on North Center Street in Thurmont, to retire after forty years of cutting and styling hair. Diane said she’s been cutting and styling hair for some of her customers for the entire forty years.

She remembers hanging around her mother’s shop—in the same location—when she was a youngster. Diane was seven or eight years of age when her mom, Kelly Spalding, closed Spalding’s Beauty Salon.

Diane was a shampoo girl at age sixteen. Later, she attended the College of Beauty Culture in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She worked two years at Marie’s Beauty Salon and Jodi Lawyer’s salon, both in Thurmont. After a managers test and barber school, she opened Dee’s Hair Stylist on February 7, 1978.

Diane has seen children grow into parents, and even grandparents, and has shared all of their special occasions along the way. Diane said the best part has been, “…seeing people feel good about themselves after a good cut and style.”

She extends heartfelt thanks to all of her customers. She said, “They have all been a part of my family.” She sends a special thanks to her father, Charles “Jake” Spalding, and her sister, Victoria Mathias. Her father has been her bookkeeper and handy man for all of these years; her sister has been on hand to help whenever needed.

Photo by Victoria Mathias

oct 2015 093

Pictured are Diane Spalding Miller and her father, Charles “Jake” Spalding.

by Chris O’Connor

Sabillasville’s Northwestern Frederick County Civic Association

Mountain FestThe year’s annual Mountain Fest Festival in October, sponsored by the Northwestern Frederick County Civic Association (NWFCCA), was attended by local residents and repeat visitors from as far as Baltimore and Annapolis.

Founded in 1974, the positive effects of the NWFCCA are palpable, far beyond the picturesque hills that surround Sabillasville Elementary on what was a picture-perfect October weekend.

George Kuhn, current president of the NWFCCA, explained that Mountain Fest is the organization’s sole fundraiser that benefits the scholarship fund, which includes the John A. Cliber Memorial Scholarship, the Automotive Industry Scholarship, and a scholarship intended for an individual returning to the workforce or re-training for a new career.

Kuhn expressed that one of the most fulfilling aspects of his role as president of the association is seeing the positive effects on the lives of over fifty individuals who have benefited from the scholarships. And, of course, the scholarships wouldn’t be possible without the innumerable volunteers who help. Kuhn expressed special thanks for these efforts, citing life’s fast paced commitments as zapping some of the organizations volunteer base in recent years.

Despite dwindling membership, NWFCCA remains responsive to citizens in innumerable ways by providing residents a sounding board for any of their concerns. Their brochure describes their efforts: “…neighbors serving the social, recreational and environmental needs of the Sabillasville community and surrounding Catoctin Highlands while preserving and protecting its rural legacy.”

Just a few of the ways the NWFCCA helps neighbors on the mountain include providing assistance for local projects, education on issues that affect individuals and families, speakers on pertinent state and local issues, and candidate forums. Some of the speakers have included Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, our own publisher of The Catoctin Banner, Deb Spalding, and many others.

Kuhn adds that the association is there to react and respond to issues that concern local residents, filling a vacuum and giving a voice to the folks who sometimes feel somewhat forgotten or invisible in the larger context of Frederick County. He is concerned with the shrinking membership and hopes residents will join the association.

Additional philanthropy by the NWFCCA includes financial aid to local families in need, disaster relief donations, and funds to local schools, fire and rescue, and libraries.

Attention to maintaining the health of beauty of the environment is also of interest to association members. Members and volunteers conduct an annual roadside cleanup each spring, and strive to monitor the health of the creeks and streams.

For further information on becoming a Mountain Fest vendor or to join the NWFCCA, contact George Kuhn at 301-241-3997. You can also attend a NWFCCA meeting, held the first Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at Sabillasville Elementary School.

The Thurmont Little League (TLL) All-Star season is still underway, but TLL is gearing up for an exciting season of fall baseball. Thurmont Little League is open to players from Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Woodsboro, Rocky Ridge, Taneytown, and Union Bridge.

“Thurmont Little League and Little League International thrives by building virtues of character, courage, and loyalty to the community, which is why the board of directors here at TLL feel so strongly about the Little League mission and the benefits it provides to our servicing communities. When we extended our league’s boundary to the outlining communities, we broadened the Little League virtues and exposed our players to those qualities with the intent of bettering the overall communities in our region. Our goal is to make these youth athletes successful on the field and, more importantly, successful off the field,” said Ed Lowry, president of Thurmont Little League.

The TLL fall baseball season is a great opportunity for players to continue and enhance their baseball skills. We strongly encourage players to sign up for the division they wish to play in the 2016 spring season, so they can get a better idea of the game rules and procedures of that division.

You may register online at (through August 23). In-person registrations are now taking place every Monday evening through August 17 at the Thurmont Little League clubhouse, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Our fall baseball season will begin late August and run through the end of October and cost $60.00 per player (players can receive a $10.00 discount if they register before July 31). Visit for more details. If you have questions, please call league President Ed Lowry at 267-664-5059 or email [email protected].

On May 16, 2015, Jim Bittner, Peggy Elgin, and Becky Linton attended an event at Dr. Ronald (Ron) Waynant’s home. They were invited by his wife, Priscilla, for a presentation of a citation awarded him from the President of ASLMS (American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, Inc.).

The award, presented by President of ASLMS Juanita J. Anders, Ph.D., read:

Ronald W. Waynant, Ph.D.

In recognition of your dedication and service to the ASLMS and your accomplishments in optical engineering and laser applications for medical devices.

Through your inventions, research publications and books, international collaborations as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Circuits and Devices Magazine, and educator and mentor, you have had a profound influence of the development of energy-based medical devices.

I am grateful for your appreciation of the potential of Photobiomodulation and the value and joy you felt with engineers, physicists, and biologists working together.

Due to ill health, Ron was unable to attend the 35th Annual Conference of ASLMS in Kissimmee, Florida, in April 2015, so the Presidential Citation was brought to him by Dr. Anders.

If you have had a need for a laser medical device, Ron had something to do with making it happen.

Ron is the son of Naomi (Martin) and Vaughn Waynant (1916-1978) of Sabillasville. Ron attended Sabillasville Elementary School and Thurmont High School, graduating with the class of 1958. His mother taught at Sabillasville Elementary School from 1931-1971. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 101.

Ron Waynant 3

Ron Waynant celebrates receiving ASLMS award with his sister, Deb Lego, and his daughter Marcia Patchan.


Registration for the 2015 Spring Thurmont Little League (TTL) is now open. Online registration is available at their website until Friday, February 20, at

Players for Thurmont, Sabillasville, Emmitsburg, Rocky Ridge, Woodsboro, Taneytown and Union Bridge are welcome to register. Come be a part of the Little League experience.

At the T-ball, Instructional, Minor, and Major divisions, all of their games are played in-house at the Thurmont Little League Complex. This provides families the convenience of not having to travel around the county during school nights for games. Each division’s coaches follow a strict core of coaching objectives developed by their program to ensure all children are taught the same basic skills to develop their baseball talents.  The TLL Coaching Coordinator oversees the implementation of this program at all levels. Each level provides flexibility with respect to age, so players advance according to their ability. Young players who master the skills are able to advance and are not held back simply because of their birth date.

Additionally, they have undergone major improvements to their facilities to ensure their ball players get to take advantage of the best facilities their program can provide. More improvements are on the way come spring.

All games are played at the Thurmont Complex: T-Ball (ages 4-6):  typically 7-10 teams; Instructional League (ages 5-8): typically 6-8 teams; Minor League (ages 7-11): typically 6-7 teams; Little League Major (ages 9-12): new this year, they will field 6 teams.

If you cannot sign up online, please visit them for the following in-person registration dates: Saturday, February 7, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.; Sunday, February 8, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Minor and Major tryouts will be conducted on February 21 and February 28. First-time Minor or Major players must attend one tryout.

Both in-person registration dates will take place at their Clubhouse, located at 275 Westview Drive in Thurmont. The Thurmont Little League looks forward to seeing your player on the Little League ball fields.

Feel free to call 267-664-5059 with questions or email them at [email protected] You can find them on Facebook at Thurmont Little League and on Twitter/Instagram at theTLLnetwork

Thurmont Grange Presents Community Citizen Award

Donna Voellinger, dedicated volunteer at the Thurmont Historical Society, was awarded the Thurmont Grange’s Community Citizen Award during a Grange dinner held on November 24, 2014, at the Grange Hall in Thurmont.  In addition to her commitment to the Thurmont Historical Society, Donna is a compassionate and dedicated individual who would help anyone in need, and does so in a variety of roles within her reach. The adage, “If you want something done, you ask a busy person to do it,” seems to fit Donna perfectly. She most often anticipates the needs of others in their time of illness, shut-in, hospital, doctor visits, or bereavement, offering assistance before being asked.  She is always ready to help at her church, especially with the food committee, by serving meals and making potato salad.

As a long-time member of the Thurmont Historical Society, Donna has most recently been serving as president.  Through her efforts and enthusiasm, the Thurmont Historical Society remains strong, and she continues to seek ways to expand its mission to preserve the rich history of Thurmont.  She is also involved with the Frederick Historic Sites Consortium, the Gale House, the Heartly House, Thurmont’s Halloween in the Park, Thurmont Main Street, the Frederick County Historical Society, and some local and state-wide political campaigns.

In earlier years when her children were in Thurmont schools, Donna was very much involved in Little League sports, SHOP, and Safe and Sane.  It was evident that many students and their parents felt comfortable working with “Mrs. V” in accomplishing whatever task was at hand.

It was noted humorously by several at the dinner that Donna has earned a reliable reputation for using her big snow blower to clean her neighbors’ driveways.  Deb Spalding with The Catoctin Banner said, “Donna and her husband were my CYA girls’ basketball coach in middle school. She had an early influence on several of us who earned state semi-final championships in high school basketball for three years.  Donna always smiles when she remembers the first practice, where stand-out Tammy Joy showed her abilities. Donna has had an impact in many areas and in many people’s lives.”

For more information about the Thurmont Grange, please call Rodman Myers at 301-271-2104.

TM Grange Community Citizen of the Year

Donna Voellinger (center) is presented the Thurmont Grange’s Community Citizen Award on November 24, 2014, by Helen Deluca (left) and Rodman Myers (right).

Photo by Deb Spalding


EBPA Awards Portier its Extraordinary Service Award

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA) awarded Dr. Bonita Krempel-Portier its annual Extraordinary Community Service Award on Friday, December 5, 2014, during the EBPA annual dinner.

“I can’t think of anyone else who has served this community more so quietly,” said Mayor Donald Briggs.

The audience of approximately fifty people gathered in Joann’s Ballroom in the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg.

Following dinner and entertainment provided by Knight Time Impressions and the Fairfield High School Show Choir, the audience watched a video of local residents talking about Dr. Portier. They spoke of her kindness and quality care and how she was a role model to those around her of how to serve others.

“People through service bind a community,” Briggs noted.

Portier runs the Emmitsburg Osteopathic Primary Care Center (EOPCC) on West Main Street in Emmitsburg. The center has 5,700 patients visit a year, and one out of four of the patients seen at the Care Center have no health insurance. Portier also does all of her work at the Care Center for free.         

The EOPCC website notes that, “In 2008, EOPCC donated $29,000 in services for the uninsured alone. This does not include donated medications. Nor does this include services at severely reduced re-imbursements such as medical assistance programs.”

Portier, who was awarded the 2006-2007 Maryland Osteopathic Physician of the Year by the Maryland Association of Osteopathic Physicians, is a 1991 graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her residency at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore in 1995.

The EOPCC began in Thurmont in 1999, and expanded to a Gettysburg office two years later. The current and permanent site for the EOPCC opened at the end of 2005, where it continues to provide quality health care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

EBPA awards Dr. Bonita Krempel-Portier with its Extraordinary Community Service Award during its annual dinner on December 5, 2014.


Photo by James Rada, Jr.

St. Mark’s Welcomes New Pastor

Spastor miket. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville welcomed its new pastor, Rev. Mike Simane, on November 1, 2014. Rev. Simane holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In addition to serving at St. Marks, Rev. Simane also works as a chaplain at Hospice of Washington County.

Pastor Mike, as he likes to be called, lives in Smithsburg, Maryland, with his wife of twenty-five years and two daughters. Pastor Mike enjoys reading and spending time working in the yard.

“There is a peace that comes when you’re mowing the lawn or tending the garden,” said Pastor Mike. Although, he jokes, “It’s not too peaceful shoveling snow.”

Please welcome our new pastor at St. Mark’s. Worship service is at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings. For more information, please visit

Officers Elected at Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club Banquet

An election of officers was held at the November 2, 2014, Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club Banquet.

The new officers for 2015 are: President—Ashley McAfee; Vice President—Margo Sweeney; Secretary—Lauren Schur; Treasurer—Ashley Ridenour; Reporters—Caroline Clark, Laura Dutton, Logan Long, and Karianna Strickhouser; Recreation Leaders—Nikita Miller and Jason Baust; County Council Representative—Olivia Dutton.

The Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, religion, age or national origin.

by Chris O’Connor

A Snapshot of my Friends at the Farm

It was kismet that I met David and Marge Harman of Sunnyside Hill Farm in Sabillasville, around fifteen years ago. My daughter attended school in Emmitsburg; but, after two years, we made the fortuitous choice to transfer her to Sabillasville Elementary.  One day, I happily noticed that the Harmans had round hay bales for sale, and so began our friendship.

Driving to the new school was down Route 550 that dissects the Sunnyside Hill Farm’s picturesque farm fields like a lazy river at an amusement park. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the road has become more like a Grand Prix race course, where most don’t heed the speed limit or the signs that indicate a farm entrance just over a blind hill.

After meeting the Harmans, I broke my leg.  Marge Harman would drive me to the doctor in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, then we’d go eat at the former Waynesboro Mountain Gate Restaurant. Then it was on to rehab in Thurmont after the cast was removed until I finally regained some function of my busted wheel.  Marge would haul me down there, then back to the farm where she’d fix me something to eat, then she’d run me back to the house where I strived to limp another day.

Very early one summer morning, I went to their farm to spend a few hours on the front lawn to view the Perseid meteor showers. David and Marge got up at the crack of dawn and went into town, returning with fresh donuts. I went inside shortly after, and David fixed me bacon and eggs. Bacon and eggs are especially delectable when one is covered in morning dew.

When I go for hay, David ties the bales down with quick-release knots. Knot-tying is one of many lessons David learned during his formative years climbing the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America. He was inspired to a life of service and hard work then, earning innumerable badges while helping build camp sites and the lake for the scouts at Camp Tuckahoe near Biglerville, Pennsylvania. He often aided the camp’s cook by “bugling” in the scouts for chow time.

David became an Eagle Scout, honing many life skills, including swimming and lifesaving. Few know that David saved a boy’s life when the boy panicked and found himself in too deep in a pond.

David and Marge became acquainted in 1955 while he was a produce manager at Acme Grocery store in Gettysburg. Marge happened in one December evening with members of her family.

Marge is the second to the youngest of Pauline and Walter “Buck” Lantz’s five kids. David strived to visit the farm to join in the celebration of Marge’s sixteenth birthday, but was unable to find the farm that her parents acquired in 1942.

David recalls how folks he approached to get directions were confused when he referred to Marge’s father as Walter Lantz. 

The second time David came to Sabillasville looking for directions to Walter Lantz’s place, someone asked if he was referring to “Buck” Lantz. Bingo! David finally found the farm and the girl of his dreams.  They learned they shared a sense of morals, work ethic, humility…and a sense of humor.

The rest is history.

David and Marge married in June 1958. He shipped out to Army boot camp in New Jersey for six months, before transferring to radar school at Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma.

David, home on leave for their first wedding anniversary, brought Marge a dozen roses. Then they packed a ’55 Plymouth to the gills.   Soon, it was pedal to the metal, westward-bound for the high desert of Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, a marked contrast to the verdant hills of north central Maryland. At Ft. Carson, David was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Upon discharge from the Army, David secured a position at The Thurmont Bank as consumer loans manager. He spent a few decades there, during which time the bank changed hands in succession by Suburban, Sovran, CNS Sovran, then Nations bank. He played all positions in the bank: manager of consumer loans, teller, and head teller, until being promoted to manager in 1981, where he remained until his retirement in 1993.  

All the while, David helped his father-in-law, Buck, with the farm.  David would milk the dairy cows in the morning, then clean up and go to work at the bank. He urged Buck to acquire a baler to help streamline the hay harvest. At that point, they were harvesting using one of two mules and storing hay in loose stacks in the mow.

These days, Marge and David, their sons, extended family, and good friends throw in together, whether its time to sow or harvest or help is needed with the endless chores. 

They raise crops to feed livestock, which has included dairy cows, mules, hogs, chickens, goats, cattle, and their pet donkeys. Now they market beef, hay, straw, corn, and soybeans.

Generations of accumulated knowledge, work ethic, modern farm equipment, newer outbuildings, and mechanical acumen has been integral to the success of a farm. Common sense, mathematical ability, and team work are important—especially now considering the increasingly demanding regulatory environment that requires ever-mounting paperwork and accountability as to any farmer’s methods and practices.

The Harmans strive to maintain their way of life while balancing the vagaries of nature and considering the complexities of all the external variables.  

That being said, visiting my adopted home place is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.   

And I’ve never left hungry.


Marge and David Harman

Photo by Deb Spalding

Mountain Talkby Chris O’Connor

Party Planning in Sabillasville

Thanksgiving reminds me of the gifts I’ve enjoyed, including thoughtful advice and support from others. I have an ever-expanding list of folks that I’ve neglected to adequately thank for their kindness and generosity of spirit over the years.

One neighbor on this list is Vickie Willard of Special Event Services in Sabillasville. She was a stranger who came to my rescue in the final stages of my daughter’s wedding planning a few years ago.

Planning a wedding reception was way outside my wheelhouse. I lacked a storied history of planning anything but kid’s birthday parties. But I had time, determination, horticultural knowledge, and a creative bent.

While planning for the wedding, the flowers were left on the back burner until a few days before the wedding. Perhaps I was mistakenly confident regarding the flowers. It doesn’t much matter why, except I had other fish to fry. The procrastination nearly caused me to meet with my personal Waterloo.

Enter, one of my soon-to-be heroes on the Mountain, Vickie Willard, floral designer extraordinaire.

I called her on the advice of friends and explained my predicament. She said there wasn’t enough time to obtain rare wedding flowers. I wondered aloud that if we provided the flowers would she consider working her magic. Thankfully, she consented.

Dad of the Bride (DOB) scooped up a variety of fresh flowers on his way home from work, while I gathered foliage and flowers from our yard that might satisfy the bride and groom’s color scheme. Then, I delivered them all to Miss Vickie. I was stunned by the beautiful bouquets she had displayed in her shop. We chatted about the bride’s hopes and desires for her bouquet, and I departed, confident that Vickie would come through.

Less than two days later, DOB picked up the beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres and delivered them to the venue, with time to spare. All was right with the world and the wedding took place without another worry.

Fast forward to Autumn 2014.

A trend in men’s boutonnieres is that a flower’s stem be encased in an empty rifle shell casing. Vickie says it’s the latest thing. She would know, since she’s been the owner of her event planning business in Sabillasville for over seven years. She’s also noticed that grooms are becoming increasingly involved in wedding planning.

Her own wedding to Paul Willard in 1976 resulted in her move from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania to become our long-time neighbor on the Mountain. Three children and six grandchildren later, she continues to follow a path of entrepreneurial spirit with great energy and enthusiasm. Anyone who over-thinks hosting Thanksgiving, throwing a dinner party, or any other celebratory occasion, can’t help but marvel at Vickie’s creativity, easy-going nature, sense of humor, and gift for logistics.

Vickie is humble about her business acumen and creative versatility in design. Her goal is to meet as many needs that her clients desire and to provide the best service she can to plan any event, be it prom, a party, or a full-scale wedding planning. Weddings are of special interest to her, an interest that grew during the thirteen years that she and her business partner, Pam Fox, ran the now defunct, A Touch of Country Store, in Sabillasville.

The event planning business developed gradually after A Touch of Country closed. Individuals began contacting Vickie to inquire if she’d design flowers and centerpieces for their respective events. After about a year, one event led to another, which evolved into the current incarnation of a thriving full-service event planning business.

Special Event Services is a “soup to nuts” operation, providing everything from invitations, to planning, and on-site supervision of the entire event. Or she may provide as little as what I needed, with the bouquets that Vickie designed and fashioned at the eleventh hour for my daughter’s wedding. She also provides an extensive variety of rental items for the church, party, or reception venue, including chair covers, linens, and backdrops for the head table.

Choosing a venue for any gathering is a top priority before considering hosting an event. Vickie points out that most popular venues book a year ahead of time. An unusual piece of advice Vickie offers is that although a wedding is inarguably an exciting and special day, it is just one day with many, many, more to follow, so there is no need to break the bank. She provides strategies, alternatives, and suggestions as to how to economize and still host a beautiful and memorable gathering for family and friends.

There’s something to be said about hiring an event planner like Vickie. She brings something more to the party. She, her daughters, and longtime friend, Pam Fox, are all about providing all aspects of accomplishing a successful event, whether it is making deliveries, floral design, decorating, or simply providing rental items to the client or venue.

Vickie especially enjoys wedding planning. She says it’s just plain fun. It’s about meeting strangers who stay in touch long after the event for which she’d originally been hired. Clients frequently share the joy of their firstborn child’s arrival and continue to share news of other milestones in their lives. The original relationship grows into something deeper over time.

Strangers are friends Miss Vickie has yet to meet.

For more information, contact Vickie Willard at 301-241-3041 or email [email protected]