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James Rada, Jr.

Inflation rising. The Middle East in turmoil. Sections of the U.S. witnessed a solar eclipse. Paul McCartney played in groups that had one of the top songs of the year.

And so it was when a 23-year-old Greg Eyler became a police officer with Thurmont in 1979, and so it is as he retires on December 1, after 44 years as a police officer, the last 18 of which were as the chief of police of the Thurmont Police Department.

“It’s time,” Eyler said. “I’ve been here 18 years, which is really unheard of for a police chief.”

Eyler is believed to be the longest-serving police chief in Thurmont; although, for some reason, no one is able to verify the service dates for Chief Herman Shook, who happened to be the chief who hired Eyler as a police officer in 1979.

It was Eyler’s dream job. He grew up on Church Street in Thurmont and would see Thurmont Police pass by while he was out playing ball with his friends.

“I always heard and saw that they did a great job, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

Eyler graduated from the Montgomery County Police Academy in August 1979. He served as a police officer in his hometown until November 1980, when he transferred to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

As a sheriff’s deputy, he trained in many areas over his 25 years with the sheriff’s office. In September 1990, he was the first ever to receive the Department Commendation for Valor. He attended and graduated from The FBI National Academy in 1994. He retired from the sheriff’s office as a major in 2005.

He retired because then-Mayor Marty Burns and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee visited him to ask if he would consider becoming Thurmont’s chief of police. He thought it over for about a week before he accepted.

“I like challenges,” Eyler said. “This was a challenge, and I never regretted any of it.”

When Eyler took over as chief, the Thurmont Police Department had seven sworn officers and two civilian employees. They worked out of 500 square feet at the back of the old town office building.

“We had an I-bolt that went through the wall to the outside,” Eyler said. “That’s how we held our prisoners.”

Today, the department has fourteen sworn officers and six civilian employees in a modern building on East Main Street.

While Eyler and the department had many achievements during his tenure (see sidebar), he is most proud of how he improved the relationship between the police, the citizens, and the town staff.

“They did not get along back then, but you need to because that’s how you solve crimes when you all work together,” Eyler said.

He encouraged his officers to get out in the community and get to know the people they were protecting. As they did, respect between the community and the department grew.

As he prepares to retire, Eyler has no regrets.

“I think I did everything I could for the town, and they were appreciative of that,” Eyler said. “I’m a hometown boy, and this is what I wanted to do here in the town of Thurmont: Make this department one of the best that I can and make this town as safe as I can.”

Eyler has no plans for retirement. “I’m going to do what my wife, kids, and grandkids tell me,” he said.

He knows retirement will require an adjustment, beginning when he gets up in the morning and has to decide what to wear since his closet is full of uniforms. “I think I have to go shopping now because I don’t have anything to wear,” he said.

“Chief Eyler has served our community and the residents of Thurmont in an exemplary manner.  I can’t thank Greg enough for his professionalism and dedication to the Town of Thurmont. Our residents’ safety has always been his highest priority, and for that, we are sincerely thankful and appreciative,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.  

Lt. David Armstrong will succeed Eyler as the new chief.

Mayor Terry Best swears in Thurmont’s newest Police Officer in 1979.

Chief Herman Shook welcomes Greg Eyler to the Thurmont Police.

The Town of Thurmont listed a number of achievements of the Thurmont Police Department under Chief Greg Eyler’s leadership when it announced his retirement after 18 years as the chief of police. During his years as chief, he has:

Initiated and managed the design, construction, and transition to the current TPD headquarters.

Expanded the department from 7 to 14 authorized sworn police officers and 6 civilian employees and expanded the Department training program to include specialized training.

Created and implemented a Detective/Investigator Position, Narcotics Detection K-9 Program, and Code Enforcement Officer Program.

Developed the TPD Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Values Statement, website, and social media account.

Expanded and redesigned the TPD vehicle fleet and department logo.

Developed and implemented first-ever Department Rules and Regulations and Job Descriptions for all employees; civilian and sworn; TPD’s first Disaster Plan for potential terrorist incidents and weather-related incidents; Special Operation Plans for Active Assailant Response, Police Involved Shooting Response, and COVID Response Plan.

Implemented state-of-the-art technology systems to allow for integration with other police agencies, including mobile data computers, in-car video cameras, LPR (license plate readers), E-TIX software, and body-worn cameras.

Enhanced community policing efforts by providing training from The Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute for all sworn personnel. 

Created and implemented a TIPS line for anonymous tips from citizens and Thurmont’s automated speed monitoring program.

Joined the National Child Safety Council, which provides educational material relating to drug and alcohol issues, senior citizen scam assistance, missing and exploited children, and school safety.

Presented and received approval of the first-ever departmental pay scale and LEOPS program.

Coordinated, implemented, and managed Response Plans for large events, including G8 Summit, demonstrations, rallies, and the annual Colorfest event.

Expanded community outreach programs to include National Night Out, Safety Pup, traffic-calming initiatives, bicycle safety, and child safety seat installations.

He is a member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, The Maryland Municipal Police Executive League, and the FBI National Academy Associates.

He has been recognized as CHS Distinguished Graduate for Public Service; Lions Club/Shumaker Roofing Officer of the Year and received the Enforcement Commendation medal presented by The Sons of the American Revolution.

During his tenure, the Town of Thurmont has been recognized as one of the safest communities in Maryland numerous times.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 8th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 21.

Principal Jennifer Clements welcomed the students and guests, expressing pride in the school’s plentiful distinguished alumni.

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization was formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s alumni were honored for achievements in academics, public service, and arts and humanities, who have made a difference in the state or nation.

The ceremony also recognizes former Catoctin High staff who have had a significant impact on students.

Susan Weaver was one of the Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductees. She worked as a school counselor for 32 years, about half of that at Catoctin High School. She also coached JV basketball, varsity volleyball, and softball. She also worked at the ticket gate with colleagues, officiated athletic events, and enjoyed pep rallies. Susan recently moved to Delaware and enjoys biking the Eastern Shore bike paths, golfing, walking on the beach, and has recently started playing pickleball.

Brian Persse (Class of 1999) was the Public Service Inductee. He is a senior analyst with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, where he leads high-visibility audits of the National Highway Traffic Safety and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials administrations.

Jeff Barber (Class of 1994) was the Business Inductee. After graduation, Jeff pursued a career in farming and construction. He started Playground Specialists Inc. in 1998 at the age of 22. Through the past 25 years, while keeping the company located in Thurmont region, Playground Specialists has installed large custom playgrounds all over the region, totaling almost $250 million in revenue, and becoming one of the leaders throughout the world in the recreation market. He also opened Thurmont’s first ice vending machine, Twice the Ice, and purchased Maple Run Golf Course.

William Delawter (Class of 2004) was the Athletic Inductee. As a sophomore at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, he pitched on the state champion baseball team before transferring to finish his high school career at Catoctin the following year. He continued playing baseball at UMBC at the Division 1 level.

He has been named a Frederick County’s Player of the Year, earned a spot on the Brooks Robinson All-Star Team, was a Team Maryland Selection, a JUCO All American, UMBC Pre-Season All-American, and 1st Team All-Region, just to name only a few. In 2009, Will was inducted into the Chesapeake College Hall of Fame.

Will earned an associate degree from Chesapeake College and a bachelor’s degree on a full scholarship to UMBC, where he played baseball at the Division 1 level. He also obtained his master’s degree from Frostburg University.

He is now a teacher at Whittier Elementary School, but he has been an assistant baseball coach at Catoctin High since 2015.

Jeff McAfee (Class of 1982) was the Arts and Humanities Inductee. After graduating Catoctin High in 1982, Jeff started working for the State of Maryland in the division of Maryland Environmental Service as a Water Plant Operator for 10 years. From there, he moved to the Maryland Park Service and worked at South Mountain Recreation area as a Park Technician for 11 years. Jeff then transferred to Maryland Wildlife Division and is currently a Wildlife Technician.

Robert Viti is the second Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductee. Robert started his educational career as a Social Studies teacher at Dundalk Middle School and eventually transferred to Frederick County Public Schools, where he continued teaching Social Studies. He then became an assistant principal with Frederick County Public Schools and eventually landed at Catoctin High School, where he also took the role as Behavior Support Specialist. In 2016, he was inducted into the Frederick County Soccer Hall of Fame. He is also a lifetime member of the National PTA, as well as an honorary chapter FFA member of Catoctin High School.

Distinguished graduates are shown (left to right) Susan Weaver, William Delawter, Jeff McAfee, Robert Viti, Brian Persse, and Jeff Barber.

Photo by Keith Bruck

Richard D. L. Fulton

Readers of November 27, 1897, issue of The Baltimore Sun, were greeted by this: “A fire, which at one time threatened to sweep away the whole town of Taneytown, Carroll County, began this evening (November 26) about 7 o’clock (p.m.)…”

Those who resided in the Taneytown area at large were likely already aware of the blaze, as the reflection of the flames in the sky and the rising smoke were reportedly seen as far away as Emmitsburg, and Hanover, Pennsylvania, more than 15 miles away, according to The Democrat Advocate.

Although the cause of the costly fire was never ascertained, a number of newspapers, large and small, reported on much of the details of the event, which The Advocate summed up in their headline, “Taneytown Narrowly Escapes Destruction.”

Three factors aided in the spread of the flames:

    The majority of the businesses and homes in Taneytown at the time were wooden-framed structures, as was the case in most of the rural Mid-Atlantic towns and communities dating back to their founding. Trees were common then. Bricks were more expensive.

    The second issue was the lack of a water supply system and its associated pipeline infrastructure. Construction of a waterworks had been previously begun, but had not yet been completed, according to The Baltimore SunThe Democrat Advocate noted that, fortunately, there was plenty of water available (mainly in the form of local wells, but …

    The third factor contributing to the spread of the fire came into play – Taneytown did not have a “regularly organized” fire department at the time that could have delivered and utilized the water from the wells.  As a result, The Baltimore Sun reported, “every citizen responded to the call for help,” no doubt through the employment of bucket brigades, wherein people form a chain, passing buckets of water hand-to-hand from the source of the water to where it is needed, and then passing the empty buckets back to the wells.

While, as previously stated, the cause of the fire was never determined during, or in the wake of the inferno. Where it began was known almost immediately.

According to The Democrat Advocate, the fire started in a wooden “hay packing warehouse,” belonging to Tobias H. Eckenrode around 7:45 p.m. on the evening of November 26. The Baltimore Sun, which gave the time of the fire as having been 7:00 p.m., also stated that the warehouse was also storing hay, grain, and other items at the time of the fire.

Destructive fire was no stranger to Eckenrode property in Taneytown. In 1889, a blaze broke out in his coal and lumber sheds, fanned by high winds, according to The Baltimore Sun. That fire was also described as posing a threat to the town, as well as to the warehouse, which was ultimately leveled by the 1897 fire.

As far as the 1897 blaze, the Baltimore newspaper reported that “in a short while both warehouse and the adjoining buildings were in the flames.” So quickly was the fire gaining ground and potentially threatening the town, that help was sought to combat the fire from as far away as Littlestown, Pennsylvania (whose fire department reportedly arrived by 9:00 p.m.). The Baltimore Sun, however, reported that by the time the Littlestown hose company arrived, the fire was essentially already under control, although a “number of the buildings were still in flames.”

The Democrat Advocate reported that it was clear from the start that the Eckenrode warehouse was “doomed,” and, thus, the citizens endeavored to protect nearby property,” further noting the intensity of the heat had quickly spread the fire to a building housing the local newspaper.

The Democrat Advocate further reported that local authorities had also sought help from the Hanover firefighters but were told the Hanover firemen could not take their apparatus out of Hanover “without the permission of the burgess, and before he could be found, the last train had departed.”

Also arriving were multitudes of interested observers. “Great crowds of people from the vicinity and surrounding county were at the fire, as the blaze could be seen for (10-15) miles (in all directions).” The Advocate reported that “the flames were fierce, leaping high in the air.”

The next notable structure which had succumbed to the inferno was a wooden, three-story building, belonging to E. E. Reindollar, which contained the office and printing operations of The Carroll Record, according to The Sun.

All of the newspaper’s machinery, lead type, and other equipment were destroyed in the fire; arrangements were subsequently made by Editor P. H. Englar with The Frederick News to publish The Carroll Record in their offices, until The Record’s office in Taneytown could be restored, The Sun reported. The Record had only been in business for about four years.

From the building that had housed the newspaper, the fire had quickly spread to Stanley Heaver’s saddler shop, a dwelling owned by Eckenrode and was being rented by Josiah Snyder, and a double dwelling owned by John Davidson.

The fire was essentially declared under control before midnight, The Sun stated. Most of the fire-fighting effort was the result of citizen volunteers, who had extinguished the worst of it by hauling water from wells, before Littlestown firefighters could arrive at the scene.

Damage to the buildings that were affected by the flames amounted to some $20,000, by early estimates, but the value of the business and personal contents of each of the buildings that had burned remained undetermined at the time, according to several newspapers. Those included (according to The Sun):

The loss suffered by the burning of the Eckenrode warehouse, which included a dwelling, other structures, and the stored grain and hay, was given as being $8,500, of which only $5,600 was covered by insurance.

    The loss of the Carroll Record Printng Company(the newspaper) and the saddlery shop amounted to $5,000. The loss of the contents of the newspaper was listed as $2,000, of which only $1,000 was insured.

    F. S. Stakey’s cigar shop (located in a building owned by Stanley Reader) sustained an estimated $900 in cigar stock, of which $500 was insured.

    John Davidson’s dwelling, including contents, sustained a loss of $4,000, of which $3,400 was insured.

Other buildings in the town were also damaged by the fire, but their sustained damages were “very slight.”

That there were no noteworthy injuries or deaths associated with the fire-fighting effort was remarkable, given that it was largely brought under control by citizen volunteers.

But five miles out of Taneytown at Bruce Mill Junction, another devastating fire had destroyed Hammond’s Mill, located along Little Pipe Creek, on December 3, only a week after the Taneytown fire.

The outcome was not so fortunate. 

Miller George Biehl was last heard from when he was calling for help from within the burning building.

According to The Democrat Advocate, “After the fire, his bones were found in the ruins of the mill and taken to his residence… They were interred later.”

  Richard D. L. Fulton

“Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.”  How many readers have heard that often-spoken form of good night over the decades?

It can actually be kind of humorous… until it’s not.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all consider bed bugs a public health pest, even though the creatures are not known to spread or transmit diseases.

Nevertheless, an infestation of bed bugs can adversely impact the quality of life.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are insects belonging to a family of insects that feed upon mammalian blood—that of bats, birds, and notoriously, humans, depending on the species. 

Because bed bugs do not fly, they tend to rely on a means of transportation such as on clothing and furnishings involving cloth as part of their effort to promulgate the species.

Britney Bishop, formerly of Adams County, spending 16 years in upper hotel management in the Gettysburg area, to serving as hotel operations manager in Pasco County, Florida, provided much insight regarding the “nature of the beasts.”

Bishop said bed bugs can lay from one to five eggs each day, and may lay up to 500 eggs within a lifetime.

“If you see an adult, it means they have been there for quite a while, as it takes a bedbug 21 days to reach maturity,” Bishop said, adding, “Bed bugs can live four to six months.”

Detecting Bed Bugs

Finding and correctly indentifying an infestation early is important. The EPA suggests various ways to determine if bed bugs are present:

    Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.

    Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.

    Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale-yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.

    Live bed bugs.

Also, the EPA lists a number of places where bed bugs can be found:

    In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains.

    In drawer joints.

    In electrical receptacles and appliances.

    Under loose wallpaper and wall hangings.

    At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.

    In the head of a screw.

Treating Bugs in the Single-Family Home or Office

Aside from contacting a qualified exterminator, some measures can be taken at home and/or office to combat a bed bug infestation. suggests the following:

    First and foremost, if bed bugs are detected in the home, contact a qualified exterminator.  In the interim, suggests washing bedding and clothing in hot water for 30 minutes. Then, put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.

    Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.

    Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day that reaches 95°F (35°C) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take 2 to 5 months to kill sealed-up bugs.

    Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17.78°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least 4 days. For additional guidance, visit

Treating Bed Bugs in the Multifamily Residences

Multifamily residences can include apartment buildings, townhouses, hotels, and dorms.

Using hotels as an example, Bishop said a hotel she managed in Florida employed the following to deal with bed bugs:

Preventive measures were taken in the form of weekly, random inspections by a licensed exterminator (hotels would generally have a higher turnover of occupancy than an apartment complex or dorms, thus possibly requiring more frequent inspections).

Housekeeping was educated to report potential bed bug activity to management.

In addition, Bishop said, that guests will report possible bed bug activities that all other measures might have missed or that occurred between exterminator inspections.

“Employing an exterminator to perform routine inspections is the first line of defense,” Bishop stated.

For additional information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

I’ve always found it amusing how there is no apparent “Thanksgiving season.” We transition from carved pumpkins and spider webs to Christmas songs and garlands as soon as Halloween ends. In stores, shelves quickly go from bags of trick-or-treating candy to candy canes and gingerbread men. With brands adopting festive packaging and wrapping products in green and red foil, Christmas is linked closely to consumerism.

The materialistic aspect of Christmas never quite dissipates. It begins early—children pen letters to Santa and circle images in magazines for what they want to receive under the tree. Unlike most other occasions, the holiday season never loses its splendor with time. Adults, too, are excited to snag deals on Black Friday and embellish their homes with decorations. It must be something in the air.

Christmas shopping is far from inexpensive! Forbes expects holiday sales to top 957 billion dollars this year, and this incredible total will likely only increase as each year’s spending outdoes the previous year by around 4 percent. Most of this money goes toward gifts, constituting 65 percent of Christmas spending. 20 percent goes toward gift cards and vouchers—perfect presents for those who claim not to want presents. On an individual level, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spend an average of 997 dollars each Christmas.

Businesses understand well how receptive consumers are to supplementary spending during the holidays. Stores are promoting Christmas shopping earlier and earlier with each passing year, it seems. Companies release seasonal products and offer holiday discounts, all while playing Christmas tunes to encourage gift-giving. (Did you know “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song?)

Interestingly, some claim this commercial tendency diminishes the magnificence of Christmas: What used to be special and short-lived now lasts for two months, and the excessive commercialization of the holiday causes it to feel more like an obligation or a chore, as opposed to a merry tradition.

Although many report feeling stressed about holiday shopping, usually, delivering and accepting presents “[activate] pathways in the brain that release oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that signals trust, safety, and connection” (American Psychological Association). Not only do gift-receivers feel rewarded, but gift-givers do, too! Perhaps this shared essence of generosity is what’s floating in the air amid these times. Gift-giving has undoubtedly become an integral characteristic of Christmas.

Speaking of presents, it may be challenging to identify what to give a teenager. I am one and still struggle to purchase the perfect gift for my friends. Therefore, this month, I decided to ask peers what they think the best and worst gifts to receive are!

Multiple individuals prioritized the usefulness of their presents. “I guess my worst Christmas present would have to be a bow my dad bought,” somebody answered. “It was a pretty sick bow that had some cool arrows, but where am I going to use a bow? My best Christmas present would have to be [the] viola I have now. [I named it] Charlotte.”

Comparably, a friend explained, “I would say the best is practical things. This year, [I’d like] things for college, clothes, shoes, or electronics. The worst is things I wouldn’t use, like makeup. That’s a tough question, though.”

Another overarching theme within the sample population was how students spotlighted the amount of thought invested in their gifts. “I think the best are sentimental or handmade gifts. I don’t think there are any ‘worst’ gifts, but I would say clothes because that’s more boring.”

This is where I fall when it comes to presents as well. Nothing beats a heartfelt, handwritten card alongside something functional and fun to try, from a gift card for an unfamiliar restaurant to a new perfume.

A few emphasized the surprise element behind the gifts. “The best gift you could receive is a puppy because who doesn’t love puppies? I can’t really think of the worst gift you could get. Maybe something underwhelming like coal, but then again, coal is pretty useful sometimes.”

Some appreciated the versatility of their gifts. “Money would definitely be the best—you could use that for anything,” someone shared. “Pencils would be the worst for me.”

On the flip side, interestingly, several respondents weren’t fond of receiving cash for Christmas. “I think money is more of a birthday gift than a Christmas gift,” somebody remarked. Another commented, “Money is one of the worst gifts I could receive. My mom ends up taking my money.” Similarly, another friend revealed, “I’d say money or a gift card isn’t something I like because it’s not meaningful. [The] best would be jewelry and stuffed animals because you can keep [them] forever and they’re more meaningful.”

There you have it: some input from teenagers like myself about what they prefer receiving as gifts. Evidently, we all like different things, which adds to the thrill and difficulty of gift shopping. Rest assured: As long as the gift was given with love, we will be grateful! The saying “It’s the thought that counts” has never been so true (and has never felt so comforting)!

Richard D. L. Fulton

For the bicyclist enthusiast who has no issue with braving the winter months enjoying bike trails, Mountaindale appears to offer several challenging options in any season.

Mountaindale, itself, is located in Frederick County and has been described as a “log cabin community.”  The community remains in a generally rural area of Frederick County.

The first trail system established in Mountaindale and the surrounding county lands was essentially established as game trails by prehistoric nomads thousands of years ago, before the Native American tribes with which everyone is generally equated even existed.

Archaeologists have even discovered prehistoric spearheads, so unique that they bear the name Mountaindale points, dating from the Middle Archaic Period (4,000 to 6,000 B.C.).

Even though prehistoric inhabitants were well acquainted with the area, very little information about Mountaindale has yet to make it to the 21st century internet.

However, information regarding a number of Mountaindale biking trails has been reported.

All of those in the trail systems noted below are located wholly or mostly within the City of Frederick Municipal Forest and Watershed and/or Gambrill State Park, according to, and the trails below also employ the names as given on that website. described the trail systems within the Municipal Forest and Watershed as being “a virtual labyrinth of interconnecting trails.”

Just a few are noted below.

Salamander Trail (also known as the Skink and Salamander Trail):

The length given for Salamander (loop) Trail is 3.7 miles and is classified as suitable for mountain bikes and hiking, according to 

The trail begins on Gambrill Park Road, a short distance to the north from the intersection of that road and Tower Road, and then continues in a circuitous loop until it returns to its starting point, according to, who also rates the trail as “moderately challenging,” and takes a little over one hour to traverse. The trail also leads past a geographical feature known as Salamander Rock (also known as Salamander Mountain).

Gambrill Yellow (loop) Trail (apparently also known as the Yellow Poplar Trail):

The length given for the Gambrill Yellow Trail is 7.2 miles, and is listed by as appropriate for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and is described as “moderately challenging,” and can take some three hours to complete the trek. Dogs are welcome but must remain leashed. 

This loop trail begins and ends in the parking lot of the Gambrill State Park Trail System parking lot.  The trail passes several landmarks, including the Middletown Overlook, Bootjack Springs, and North and South Frederick viewpoints.

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail:

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail is a loop-trail system, which begins and ends in the area of Hamburg Road Parking Lot.

The loop is given as being 2.8 miles in extent, according to (note: for just using the Knuckle Buster Trail alone, refer to the references listed at the end of this feature). The loop can take from a little over an hour to an hour and a half to complete and is classified as being “moderately challenging.”

The trail may be used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. reports that dogs are welcome but must remain leashed, further noting, “The trail is not well marked in places, so downloading the map ahead of time is recommended.”

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop:

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop is a 4.1-mile trek, according to, which also classifies the trail as “moderately challenging.”

The trail has its access located off where Gambrill State Park begins, and ends on an access road off Gambrill State Park. noted, “this is a popular trail for mountain biking.”

Dogs are welcome, and may be off leash in certain areas. 

For maps and information on other Mountaindale trails, visit and

by James Rada, Jr.


New Commissioners Sworn In

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in newly elected commissioners Marty Burns and Bob Lookingbill during the November 4th town meeting to serve four-year terms.

Connection and Impact Fees Raised

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners raised impact fees for the town, and they are expected to increase the connection fees. Connection fees are the cost new development pays to connect to the town’s water and sewer systems. The impact fees are fees that new development pays based on the development’s impact on various things in town. The fees must be spent on the items they are paid for.

The new impact fees are:

Water — $3,935, up from $2,885.

Wastewater — $5,575, up from $2,275.

Sewer Pumping Station — $1,000, up from $250.

Roads — $2,760, up from $1,500.

Parks — $1,840, up from $1,000.

The proposed connection fees that the commissioners are expected to pass are:

Water — $4,145, up from $2,500.

Sewer — $5,065, up from $2,500.

Easements Released

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to release easements the town holds on two parcels because they are no longer needed for a public purpose. The easements were on a property on Clark Drive and the Mountain Gate Business Park. The property owners will now have the property with encumbrances.


Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed former mayor and commissioner Jim Hoover to fill the unexpired term for the commissioner seat that was left vacant when Frank Davis was elected as Emmitsburg mayor during the recent town election.

The commissioners also appointed Patricia Galloway as a member of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission, with a term running from November 6, 2023, to March 1, 2026.

Board Reorganized

In a change from years past, rather than putting forth recommendations for which board members should serve in which positions, Mayor Frank Davis allowed the board to decide among themselves which roles the board members would serve.

President: Amy Boehman-Pollitt

Vice President: Jim Hoover

Treasurer: Valerie Turnquist

Parks and Recreation Committee Liaison: Tim O’Donnell

Planning Commission Liaison: Valerie Turnquist

Citizens’ Advisory Committee: Jim Hoover

Town Gets Some Water Fund Relief

Emmitsburg received almost $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money in two payments in 2021 and 2022. It is money designated to help towns and states deal with losses due to the COVID pandemic. Town staff determined that it lost $300,000 from one of its largest water users, FEMA, during the COVID restrictions. Town staff proposed using $300,000 from the ARPA money to fund operating and maintenance costs in the water fund for fiscal year 2024. The hope is that it lessens the impact of the water rate increases the town needed to make recently.


Mayor Frank Davis

My first few months as mayor have passed quickly. It has been busy and I’m constantly learning something new. The behind-the-scenes operations that keep our town running are impressive. I have gained a new appreciation for the workload and time required to meet the needs of our citizens. Sometimes, it may seem like your concerns are not being heard, but I can assure you that is not the case. Our team, both employees and elected officials, are here to listen and will do our best to respond to these concerns promptly.

I would like to welcome Jim Hoover to the Emmitsburg Board of Town Commissioners. Mr. Hoover is a former mayor and town commissioner and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the council. Mr. Hoover will fill the remaining 11 months of my vacated commissioner term. I would also like to thank all the citizens who expressed an interest in the position; it is evident how many people truly care about making a difference.

Over the last month, I attended many meetings and met many new people, but two events stand out. I was invited to Emmitsburg Elementary School to take part in “Starts with Hello Week.” I was able to meet and speak with each student as they arrived to begin their school day. Their smiles and handshakes were a fantastic way to start the day. I also had the opportunity to speak with the fourth-grade class of Mother Seton School. I spent time speaking about what it was like to be mayor. As most of you know, kids of that age keep you on your toes, and you never know what the next question might be. My time spent interacting with those students gives me hope that the future is bright and there are good things to come.

Be on the lookout for a groundbreaking around Creamery Court. Federal Stone (currently located in Thurmont) is scheduled to begin construction of their new building in the first part of December. The construction process should take about six months, with hopes of moving into their new home in July of 2024. In addition, the remaining building lots on Creamery Court have been sold and are in various phases of pre-construction.

Please check the town website for holiday hours, as they may change in the month of December. Even with the reduced hours, know that we have staff on call, and I can be reached if there are emergency situations.

Let us cherish family and friends this holiday season. From my family to yours: Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected], and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


Mayor John Kinnaird

Christmas is upon us, and Karen and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

On December 1, Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler retired from the Thurmont Police Department. Chief Eyler served our community for 18 years and in those years, he brought the department from a small town force to a professional police department. Greg began his police career right here in Thurmont, under the guidance of Chief Herman Shook. He moved on to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department, where he came up through the ranks and retired as a Major before returning to the Thurmont Police Department. During his time here, our department has grown in size and moved into a new headquarters building. His leadership brought new technology, an increase in the number of sworn officers, and a new standard of community policing. One of the chief’s most recent accomplishments was instituting the switch to a dedicated retirement benefit for his officers. His service has created a police department that our community is very proud of, and we all thank him for his service. We wish Greg and Brenda all the best as they head off on a new adventure in life.

Please consider donations to the Thurmont Food Bank and Clothes Closet in the coming weeks and months. The winter months bring additional hardships to our friends, neighbors, and family members who are less fortunate than ourselves. Donations of non-perishable food, decent cold weather clothing, or cash to these organizations can make a real difference in the lives of many.

It is with great sadness that I talk about the death of former Thurmont Commissioner Bill Buehrer. Bill lost his battle with cancer last Wednesday. I have known Bill for about fourteen years, having met him while attending Thurmont Town meetings. We sat in the back row and shared our thoughts on the future of the town. Bill ran for office in 2011 and was elected as commissioner of the Town of Thurmont. Commissioner Buehrer was extremely proud to serve our community and would often state that Thurmont was the best municipality in Frederick County. He truly believed that we live in the best town possible and worked hard to make sure our residents received the best possible municipal service. As a commissioner, he was very supportive of all events in town and volunteered to help at many of them. He was proud of the sense of spirit in our community and was active in Economic Development, Main Street, and was an active supporter of the Gateway to the Cure fundraising. Bill was very supportive of all of our staff and police officers and helped ensure they got the equipment necessary to do their jobs professionally.

It was my pleasure to serve with Bill over the past 12 years. We did not always see eye to eye on every topic, but we worked to do what was best for our community. Bill and I found ourselves at the radiology department at Johns Hopkins, where we both underwent radiation therapy for our cancers. He was keenly aware of how impactful illness could be on families and was very considerate of those impacted by cancer. This is why he was such a dedicated supporter of the Gateway for the Cure campaign. We spoke often about our illnesses, and he had a very encouraging and positive outlook. I am sorry to see Bill pass, but I will be forever grateful to have known him. Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Bill’s wife Colleen and their family.

Here are some thoughts from others who served with Bill.

Former Commissioner Wes Hamrick:

“It was my honor and privilege to first meet Bill several years ago when I was hired as a staff member with Stauffer Funeral Home. He and his wife, Colleen, recently transferred from South Carolina to work the pre-needs and aftercare for the Stauffer Funeral Home. I instantly connected with both of them. Bill, along with prompting by Colleen, convinced me to run for commissioner. It was their encouragement, faith in my ability, and support that I made the decision to run.

For 10 years, I served with Bill. His personality and that of the other board members provided a nice balance on the dais. Although Bill could have a sometimes gruff and tough-minded exterior, underneath was a very kind and gentle spirit. He truly had the heart of servitude for his community and only wanted the best for Thurmont.”

“The next to the last time I saw Bill was at my last meeting as commissioner.  I went to each one and hugged and thanked them for their support and for the privilege of serving with them. Since Bill sat at the furthest end of the dais, he was the last one for me to thank. We hugged and he held on to me and we said I love you to each other. He truly was a gentle bear in the truest sense. He will be missed and my prayers are with Colleen and his family.”

May God keep you in His protective arms, my friend.”

Commissioner Wayne Hooper:

“Bill loved our community and served with the best interest of Thurmont at the heart of his work. He was always quick to say that Thurmont is the best municipality in Frederick County, and he truly believed it was.”

CAO Jim Humerick:

“I think Bill was a man of great integrity who loved Thurmont. I sincerely appreciate his support of the town employees and our endeavors to improve operations over the years.”

CFO Linda Joyce:

“I am sorry to hear about Bill. I would like to mention he was receptive to moving the town forward and embraced positive change.”

Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder:

“I will always remember and love Bill for his compassion and support for the Gateway to The Cure campaign. He was a driving force for the Gateway To The Cure Golf Classic, and was a huge reason for its success. Even when he wasn’t feeling his best, he was always there to help with the tournament, no matter the task he was given. Bill was also a huge supporter of all of our Thurmont small businesses and their owners and could be found patronizing them all. I will greatly miss him and his ambition to bring home a larger check each year for our Gateway to The Cure for the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. I sure hope he is looking down and smiling because this year was the largest total collected in our 10-year history of the campaign. I will miss you, Bill.”

Comments, concerns, or compliments? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at [email protected].


Burgess Heath Barnes

I hope each of you had a very happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Blessed New Year. If you can volunteer at a place in the community or help with Christmas for a family that doesn’t have the resources, I encourage it. I promise you; it is very rewarding.

On November 4, 2023, we opened the bidding process for the new town hall. Within three days, we had six contractors reaching out with interest in bidding on the project. All prospective bids are due in the town office by noon on December 4, 2023. All received bids will be presented to the town council on December 12, 2023, and a vote to select the contractor will take place at the January 9, 2024, town meeting. We are all very excited about this next step in getting the construction of the town hall started soon.

As many noticed, water bills for this quarter went out late. This was due to 12 residents not having completed the water meter change upgrade. Billing could not be completed until all were updated. The town had to spend extra money and bring in a new plumber on October 20 to complete these final 12 upgrades, as the contractor’s time in town was only for September. We have finally completed the upgrade. This will make billing much smoother; in January, we will be able to start taking electronic payments, which has been a request for a long time now.

Santa Claus (aka the burgess) will make an appearance at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 17, riding around town with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department. This year, we will be going down all the town streets and possibly up toward the New Midway area as well. After the Santa run, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Santa will be back at the firehouse for pictures until 4:00 p.m. All are welcome to come out and say hello.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at [email protected] or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or by phone at 301-401-7164.If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or by phone at 301-401-7164. Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Planning and Zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Ritchie Revival’s John Krumpotich was pleased to announce that the new Nisei Gallery on Fort Ritchie is now open in one of the finger buildings.

“Every time we turn the lights on in a building that has been dormant for 25 years, it renews the excitement,” said Krumpotich.

Visitors can’t help but notice the long line of identical buildings, set along the main street that is straight ahead upon entering the former Army base’s gate. Krumpotich said they’ve started a new “finger building” project that is a combination of boutique apartments, overnight rentals, and small commercial shops. 

He said renovations and leasing are going faster than they thought they would. The salon is open, an automotive shop is opening on January 1, and two additional buildings are leased with businesses coming soon.

Fall on the Fort wrapped up with Fall Fest. This event was entertaining for everyone, with arm wrestling competitions, pumpkins, hayrides, bands, and tours of the museum and gallery. 

There is plenty to see at the Ritchie History Museum and the new Nisei Art Gallery. Stop by soon or call Ritchie Revival at 301-241-2009 for leasing information.

The new Nisei Gallery is open for shoppers on Fort Ritchie in Cascade.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

The following are the statuses of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg from the town planner’s report:

Federal Stone (Creamery Road, east side of U.S. 15) — A preconstruction meeting was held on October 18.

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn (Silo Hill Parkway) — A preconstruction meeting is pending.

Seton Village — The subdivision application has been received. The town is waiting for the forest conservation application.

Emmitsburg Distillery (East Emmitsburg Industrial Park II Lot 4) — The site plan and improvement plan applications have been received.

Development Pipeline/ Applicant Interest

Frailey Property Annexation — A meeting has taken place with a potential traffic engineer for this development of single-family homes/duplexes.

Emmit Ridge — Interest in developing 48 single-family homes.

Rodney McNair Property Annexation — Residential and Neighborhood Commercial potential zoning.

The U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) presented a thank you certificate in November to Dan Hanagan of Spike Auto Care & Tire Center in Emmitsburg for supporting NFA/ATF Fire Investigations classes on campus.

The commendation was presented to Dan Hanagan in recognition and appreciation of his support of the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy and the U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Fire Investigation and Arson Enforcement Division, recognizing his ongoing assistance to investigators from law enforcement and fire agencies attending the Fire Investigations training classes to have access to vehicles for use in hands-on scenarios.

Pictured from left are Kevin Oliver, NFA Fire Investigations Training Specialist; Dan Hanagan; and Eriks Gabliks, NFA Superintendent.

James Rada, Jr.

Frederick County’s covered bridges are a beautiful part of Northern Frederick County. Utica Mills, Loy’s Station, and Roddy Road covered bridges are all within 12 miles of one another, and they are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, being historic has also caused problems for the bridges because they aren’t designed for modern vehicles.

The Utica Mills Covered Bridge was damaged earlier this month by an unknown vehicle. The bridge is currently closed for an indefinite period of time until it can be repaired. Traffic is now detoured from Old Frederick Road to Lewistown Road to Hessong Bridge Road.

Because the size of a covered bridge limits the size of vehicles that can pass over it, signage is posted listing the maximum height for a crossing vehicle.

This is not the first time the bridge has been damaged. In June 2021, a truck trying to cross the bridge damaged it, and it was closed for six months.

Roddy Road Covered Bridge has also suffered its share of damage. One incident was caught on video in 2016. A rental truck forced its way over the bridge and kept going with part of the bridge hanging on the truck. It only fell off the truck when it braked before turning onto US 15. The person taking the video pursued the truck and called the police.

Sadly, the damage was extensive enough that the bridge had to be rebuilt.

After that incident, the Frederick County Department of Highway Operations installed clearance bars on either side of the bridge to warn drivers if their vehicles were too tall to enter the bridge.

The Frederick News Post reported that the country is considering doing the same for Utica Mills Covered Bridge. While this would alert drivers of large vehicles if they are too large to cross, there is no place for the vehicles to turn around if that is the case.

Loys Station Covered Bridge has suffered a different type of damage from the other bridges. In 1991, a pickup truck was set on fire while on the bridge as part of an insurance fraud scam. The bridge did not burn down, but it needed extensive reconstruction and did not open again until 1994.

It helps that these bridges are on lesser-traveled roads or roads that don’t typically see large vehicles, but drivers need to pay attention to clearance and weight signs for older bridges like these. They aren’t suggestions. They are warnings that need to be heeded.

Deadline is January 26, 2024

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the school system’s 2024 Support Employee of the Year Awards. The awards recognize outstanding members of the FCPS support staff.

Examples of staff classified as support employees are bus drivers and bus assistants; custodial, maintenance, and warehouse staff; instructional assistants, community liaisons, user support specialists, secretaries, and resident substitutes; as well as those working in business-support positions.

Nomination eligibility, criteria, and process information are online at Nomination packets are due Friday, January 26, 2024, to the FCPS Public Affairs Department, 191 S. East Street, Frederick, MD, 21701.

The Board of Education of Frederick County will recognize one finalist from each of eight broad job classifications at the April 10, 2024, board meeting. During the recognition, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl L. Dyson will present one of the eight finalists the overall 2024 Support Employee of the Year Award. Finalists and the Support Employee of the Year are chosen by a panel of FCPS staff across a number of departments.

Daniel Genemans is shown with some of the approximately 1,000 pumpkins and gourds collected from the town of Thurmont in the Second Annual Great Pumpkin Pick-Up event on November 25.

Sponsored by the Thurmont Green Team to prevent pumpkins from going into the landfill and feed area farm and zoo animals, the pickup was made possible by 20 volunteers, from ages 8 to 81, combing  the town streets collecting pumpkins and gourds placed on the curb by Thurmont residents. Once collected, they were dropped off at The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, Rise and Shine Farm, Catoctin Mountain Farm, and Deer Run Farm, to provide food for bison and other hoofed zoo animals, pigs, and chickens.

Most Original

1st Place — Barbie by Shannon Poehler (241)

2nd Place — Mac & Cheese by Deliah Herrell (112)

3rd Place — Spider by Cooper Carter (367)


1st Place — Semba Baby by Lyla Green (215)

2nd Place — by Enora Ridenour (213)

3rd Place — by Emmy White (231)


1st Place — Skeleton in Coffin by Wyatt Ridenour (36) (pictured right)

2nd Place — by Jonas Ruby (249)

3rd Place — by Gracie Abel (363)


1st Place — Hairy Styles by Jonah Hillman (10)

2nd Place — Monk by Linus Queale (2)

3rd Place — Venus Fly Trap by Owen Day (108)

Best Group

1st Place — Addams Family by Burns & Dodsons (398)

2nd Place — Bugle Gees by Insley Carter (2)

3rd Place — Bears Blow up by Greyson Ridenour (245)

The Volunteer for Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Northern Frederick County group of volunteers will again offer free preparation of Federal and MD tax returns this coming spring.

Starting January 23, 2024, you can call 301-471-5757 (the same phone number as last year) to make appointments for the first week in February 2024 or later. The group, working under IRS guidelines and certified by IRS to prepare certain types of returns, will follow the same general process for making appointments and preparing tax returns as last year. For example, when you call for an appointment, a volunteer will ask you several questions about your 2023 income, filing status, and other tax factors to determine if IRS allows them to prepare your taxes. If IRS does, the volunteer will give you an appointment time at the Thurmont Regional Library, located at 76 E. Moser Road in Thurmont, that is convenient to you. The volunteer will also ask you to bring several documents to the appointment, including a photo identification for all individuals listed on your returns, last year’s Federal and MD returns, and your social security card or number. At the appointment, the volunteer will prepare your tax returns while you wait and may ask you questions that help them better prepare your returns.

Dianne L. Walbrecker

Here are the brief details about my terrible experience. I already reported this to Target, to the Frederick County Police, to my bank, to Xfinity, and to the FTC, but thought the community might want to know as well, to encourage others to be careful.

It can happen to all of us. I had seen the warnings about people getting scammed, but I never thought it could happen to me. On a Wednesday morning in late October, I called Xfinity to complain about my bill. They didn’t answer, so I hung up after a good 15 minutes of waiting. So, I wasn’t surprised to get a call from Xfinity about an hour later. The man on the phone said he wanted to offer me a promotional deal. “Since you have been a good customer since 2001, we have a deal for you,” he started off. He introduced himself as Sean and continued, “Since you are paying more than $200 a month for your internet, television, and mobile phone, we want to see your payments reduced.”

Who wouldn’t like that, I thought?

He pulled me in, bit by bit. Since he knew so much about my account, I really thought he was with Xfinity.

Sean said, “We can lower your payment to $175 a month for all three, and give you two free months if you just pay us upfront for 10 months.” I hesitated, and said that sounds like too good a deal to be true. He continued, “And we have a special deal with Target. If you pay us using Target gift cards, we will also throw in an iPhone 15.”

I had to pick up a friend who needed a ride to a doctor’s office, so I agreed, and listened impatiently as he told me what to do next. Hurriedly, I took down the notes and told him I would do it. Before I hung up, Sean said the deal would be off unless I called a certain number by 8:00 p.m. to give them the gift card numbers.

Annoyed by now, I wrote down the number and then took my friend to the doctors. On my way back home, I thought, “Wow, I could really use the savings, and it would be cool to have an iPhone 15.”

So, I went to CVS and bought the Target gift cards for $1,750. The cashier at CVS asked me if I knew why I was buying the cards. Sean had warned me that she would do so. I gave her the answer he had told me to: They were for my personal use. I brought them home and told my husband what I had done and that I was going to call the number and report the gift card numbers. He’s aware that I tend to be gullible, and he said, “Think about it, Dianne.”

Wow! I had almost lost a lot of money. I did call the number before 8:00 p.m. that night. A very pleasant-sounding man named Bob picked up the phone and asked me to report the numbers. I asked him, “How many people have you scammed today? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” He replied, with his voice really nasty now, “Lady, I’m not ashamed at all. I make more money in one day than you will ever make in your entire lifetime.” And then he laughed before I slammed the phone down. 

After two weeks of reporting the scam and sending paperwork to Target, the company sent me a check for the entire amount I had spent on the gift cards. I sure hope my story can keep others from falling victim. These operators are very smooth, and they know much more about you then you would imagine.

In a triumph of storytelling and social impact, the groundbreaking PTSD911 Documentary has been honored with the prestigious Award of Excellence for Best Documentary Feature at the 2023 November Vegas Movie Awards. This recognition underscores the film’s powerful narrative and exceptional filmmaking, highlighting the profound impact it has had on both audiences and critics alike.

The Vegas Movie Awards is renowned for celebrating exceptional cinematic achievements and recognizing filmmakers who push the boundaries of storytelling. The Award of Excellence for Best Documentary Feature is a testament to the documentary’s unparalleled ability to delve into the complexities of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effects on individuals and communities.

In addition to the Best Documentary Feature accolade, the PTSD911 Documentary has also been bestowed with the highly coveted SOCIAL AWARENESS AWARD. This distinguished honor acknowledges the film’s commitment to shedding light on critical social issues and fostering awareness, sparking crucial conversations about mental health, trauma, and the resilience of the human spirit.

PTSD911 Documentary is an emotionally charged and deeply resonant exploration of the challenges faced by those living with PTSD. Through intimate interviews, poignant narratives, and stunning visuals, the film transcends traditional documentary boundaries, delivering a powerful message of empathy and understanding.

The film’s director and Emmitsburg resident, Conrad Weaver, expressed gratitude for the recognition, stating, “Receiving the Award of Excellence and the SOCIAL AWARENESS AWARD is a humbling acknowledgment of the film’s impact. Our team poured their hearts into bringing this important story to life, and we’re thrilled that it’s being recognized on such a significant platform. This honor is not just for us; it’s for the brave individuals who shared their stories, and for everyone who battles with PTSD. We hope this film continues to raise awareness and foster compassion.”

As the PTSD911 Documentary continues to make waves on its film tour, this double honor from the Vegas Movie Awards solidifies its place as a vital and influential piece of documentary filmmaking. The film stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to create meaningful change and promote understanding on critical societal issues.

Eleven-year-old Emily Roberts of Thurmont recently decided to do a mission project at Weller United Methodist Church. 

Emily decided to make beaded bracelets and earrings and sell them to raise funds for the Thurmont Food Bank. She was able to raise $407, which was  phenomenal! Weller United Methodist Church is very proud of Emily for coming up with this concept all on her own!

Pictured are Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, Chairman of Thurmont Ministerium/Thurmont Food Bank, Emily Roberts, and Pastor Mark Eyler of Weller UMC.

Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater will hold a public hearing regarding fiscal year 2025 Operating and Capital Budgets and the fiscal year 2025-2030 Capital Improvement Program at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 4. The public is invited to offer their suggestions and priorities for the upcoming budget year, which begins July 1, 2024. People can participate in person, by phone, or by submitting comments online.

Attend In Person

Come to Winchester Hall, located at 12 East Church Street in Frederick. Parking is available on the street or in downtown parking decks. Transit’s fare-free buses also stop nearby. The 51 and 61 Connectors serve Market Street and Church Street, less than two blocks from Winchester Hall, and the 40, 50, 60 Connectors and the Brunswick/Jefferson and Emmitsburg/Thurmont Shuttles operate nearby. American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand.

Watch the Live Broadcast

The public hearing will be broadcast live on FCG TV, and can be viewed on the following platforms:

Cable Channels 19 and 1085. Closed captioning is available in English and Spanish.

Web-streamed from Closed captioning is available in English.

Web-streamed from Live translations in multiple languages are available from this broadcast, using the “translate” button on that web page.

Listen and Comment Via Phone

To join the meeting by phone, call toll-free 855-925-2801 and enter meeting code 10042. Press *1 to listen to the meeting, press *2 to record a comment for playback during the public hearing, and press *3 to be placed in a queue to speak. You will continue to hear the meeting while you wait for your turn to speak. Comments also may be submitted online at

Additional budget listening sessions will be held in each of the county’s five council districts, beginning in January. Dates, times, and locations will be announced in December.

All meetings are open to the public. If anyone needs auxiliary aids or services for effective communication, please contact the ADA Coordinator at [email protected] or by calling 301-600-1063, preferably at least three days before the meeting. To request an interpreter, please call 301-600-1208.

Rodman Myers (shown left), president of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, presented a check to Sabillasville Environmental School Principal Dawn Getzandanner, totaling $2,250, from cakes sold at the Community Show Youth Department: Grand Champion Misc. Baked Product by Caroline Clark and Junior Dept. Grand Champion Misc. Baked Product by Jeremiah Matthews, as well as several decorated cakes baked by students. A check was also presented for $150 from the silver offering at the Community Show.

Members of the Thurmont Grange #409 recently presented dictionaries to all Northern Frederick County third-grade students. This is a community service project called “Words for Thirds,” and all of the third-grade students in the Catoctin feeder system received dictionaries (Sabillasville Environmental School, Lewistown, Thurmont, and Emmitsburg Elementary Schools).

The Grange is an agricultural organization, which is deeply rooted in the community. Many of its members are farmers, businessmen and women, and its focus is on community service, legislation, education, and agriculture. Many of our local members hold local, county, and state offices to promote the Grange.

Every year, the Grange helps at events such as the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, the Frederick Fair (where they put in an exhibit at the Farm and Garden Building), the Catoctin Colorfest, and the annual Cookie Walk in December, to name a few. The Grange holds a Veterans’ Appreciation Night, and has also donated funds and items to the Thurmont Food Bank, Catoctin FFA, Boy Scouts, Catoctin Safe & Sane, and so forth. 

The dictionary has many features, such as the history of the Presidents of the United States, the solar system, sign language, and also the longest word in the United States.

Sabillasville Environmental School

Pictured from left: (back row) SES Principal Dawn Getzandanner, Grange members Rodman Myers, Helen Troxell, and Jim Royer; (front row) third grade students Emma Beil, Garret Troxell, Parker Hahn, and Grange member Jane Savage.

Thurmont Elementary School

Pictured from left: (back row) Grange members Cathy Little, Sue Keilholtz, Jody Eyler, Sidney Moser, and Russell Moser, and Principal Karl Williams; (front row) third graders, Taylor Zais, Damien Miller, Jayce Oden, Lily Tankerlsey, and Kiley Little.

Scholarships to help pay for winter athletic and sports activities or athletic camps are available to students in kindergarten through grade 12. The scholarships are funded by The Luke Clemens Bartlett Memorial Athletic Scholarship Fund, one of more than 790 component funds of The Community Foundation of Frederick County.

The application and related information can be found at The online application is open through December 15. Scholarships support participation fees only, and payment will be made directly to the youth athletic organization and/or as a reimbursement to the parent/guardian with proof of payment. Applicants must be Frederick County residents.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County is a recognized leader in providing scholarships to area students, made possible by generous donors who establish funds or add to existing funds.

For more information about creating or adding to an existing scholarship fund, visit

The National FFA convention is held every year and attracts FFA members from every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. The 96th National FFA Convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from November 1-4, 2023. The convention theme was “Evolve.” 

While at the convention, 16 Catoctin FFA members joined over 72,900 other FFA members, advisors, and guests from across our nation. The National FFA Convention and Expo is one of the largest student conventions in the world, with a mission to develop, educate, and inspire. Throughout the week, members were able to participate in sessions, contests, workshops, and a career expo.

The chapter made several industry stops on the way to Indianapolis. They visited the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis Missouri. They were able to move through the self-pace museum to learn about how the arch was built and why it was built. Students were able to ride the tram 630 feet to the top (the tallest monument in the United States) to see the stunning views, stretching up to 30 miles to the east and west. Students were also able to see the Mississippi River.

They also visited Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois. The museum tour started with a short video in the bed of a massive two-and-half story Cat 797F Mining Truck.  They learned how Caterpillar is built on the foundation of innovation and customer focus. FFA members were able to test their skills on simulators to see firsthand what it is like to operate equipment the way operators do. 

At Building SS, they were able to visit the factory floor and watch Cat employees assemble, test, and paint Caterpillar’s medium and large track-type tractors, including the D7E electric-drive tractor and pipelayers. 

At the National Convention, some FFA members competed in Career Development Events/Leadership Development Events, more often referred to as CDEs and LDEs. To complete a CDE/LDE, each team or individual contestant extensively learned their subject and rehearsed their task in preparation for state convention. Every state gets to send one winning team per CDE/LDE to advance to nationals. This year, Catoctin FFA’s Agricultural Issues was eligible to compete at the National Convention. 

Agriculture Issues: The Agriculture Issues team presented a 15-minute skit.  The question they presented was: Should Agriculture Education be a Graduation Requirement in the State of Maryland? Each member of the team played a part of the skit. The team had to present the facts in an unbiased and creative way. The team had to present the skit a minimum of five times before the MD state convention. The team earned a bronze placing. Members include: Annalise Abruzzese, Kaitlynn Bentz, Alyssa Costa, Drew Potter, Carly Ridenour, and Savannah Ridenour.

American FFA Degree recipients: Less than 1 percent of FFA members receive this prestigious degree. To be eligible to receive the American FFA Degree, members must meet qualifications such as receiving a State FFA Degree, holding active membership for the past three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program, and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program. This year, Catoctin FFA had one member earn and receive this highest honor: Cadin Valentine. Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone for all of the support in helping Catoctin FFA to participate in the 96th National FFA Convention. These students have gained skills and memories that will last a lifetime.