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blair Garrett

From small-town journalist to big-time sports director, Dave Ammenheuser, a native of Thurmont, has done it all.

Ammenheuser, 57, is now the sports director for a major news network, USA Today, but his journey began like many of us, humbly, in a small town, shadowed by the Catoctin Mountains.

Developing into a great sportswriter requires time, attention to detail, and intimate knowledge of your sport of choice. Athletes can make great sportswriters, knowing the ins and outs of their particular area of expertise, but a devotion to writing has to be there.

For Ammenheuser, that passion for writing was always there; yet, his entry into the sports world is as unique as his rise to success. “I was the worst athlete ever,” Ammenheuser said. “I always liked the competitiveness of it, and liked to write, so I kind of put the two together. It’s kind of ironic I ended up making my career in sports.”

As a student at Catoctin High School, Ammenheuser cultivated his love for sports as the high school newspaper sports editor and the statistician for the historic ’79-80 basketball team.

The ’79-80 and ’80-81 teams were the two most-successful Catoctin basketball teams at the time, and Ammenheuser’s most-recent visit to the area is to organize a reunion for the players who garnered so much success some 40 years ago.

Although Ammenheuser now lives near the USA Today headquarters in McClean, Virginia, friend and family ties bring him back to where it all began from time to time.

Ammenheuser’s professional writing career took its first steps at the Catoctin Enterprise, a small paper located in Thurmont. He then graduated to the Frederick News-Post, where he wrote and developed while attending Hood College. As a communications major, with a minor in gerontology, Ammenheuser continued to craft sports stories throughout college, gaining valuable experience and laying the groundwork for his future.

In the early 1980s, as a rising young sports editor, Ammenheuser stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime. The Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies were set to face off head-to-head, in a series that will forever remain special to Ammenheuser.

“I got to cover the 1983 World Series when the Orioles won, and that was my childhood favorite team,” Ammenheuser said. As a lifelong Orioles fan, he had the chance to see his team up close and personal as they won the greatest title in baseball, a feat that they have yet to replicate.

From the Frederick News-Post, Ammenheuser was ready for greater challenges. He later became the sports editor for the Carroll County Times, taking on new stories and responsibilities.

Breaking new ground is nothing new for Ammenheuser. Over his career, he has had many highlights, but one sticks out even to this day.

“When I was the sports editor in Carroll County, Maryland, I covered the first college football game ever played in the former Soviet Union,” Ammenheuser said. “Western Maryland College, now known as McDaniel, played there, and I went with the team. That was a cool experience.”

Sports journalists often have to adjust and adapt to each assignment, especially with drastically changing environments, and that is something Ammenheuser has become accustomed to over his 40-year career.

Traveling across the world has proven to be a theme for Ammenheuser, and his ventures have shaped his writing and guided him to where he is today.

After his local positions at the Carroll County Times and Frederick News-Post, he eventually moved on to Charlotte, Connecticut, California, Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville.

Many challenges come with adjusting to a new job in a new city, and Ammenheuser has established himself in many new assignments and cities. This skill, combined with a unique attention to detail, has contributed to his career development tenfold. “People write differently across the country,” he said. “A writer in Connecticut and how you would manage him or her is quite different from how you would manage a writer in Southern California or Nashville.”

Writing styles, tones, and content differs from place to place. Ammenheuser has become an expert at navigating that balance, and it has had an impact inside and outside the office. “Every person I’ve met throughout the way has helped me grow professionally and personally,” Ammenheuser said.

Throughout his career, Ammenheuser has written, developed, and managed content for various publications. He hit his final stop in February of 2019, after decades of hard work.

“Earlier this year [2019], I was named the sports director for USA Today Network, so I’m the sports editor of USA Today, but also our company owned 109 companies across the country, where more than 500 sports journalists report up to me.”

With such great responsibility in managing so many writers and editors, Ammenheuser does not get to write as much as he would like to these days. Instead, he focuses more on big-picture management.

“I was in Tokyo for a week, where we’re coordinating what we are going to do for the Olympics next year,” he said. “We’re taking 65 sports editors across the country to cover the Olympics.”

Part of covering such a massive global event is conceptualizing and eventually executing all of the moving parts that go with it. Ammenheuser plans to get everything set and organized to provide the best coverage possible, and that sometimes includes things one might not expect.

“I was looking at the venues, trying to figure out where our office will temporarily be, hotels for where we’ll put people, and more,” Ammenheuser said. “It’s big-picture stuff and strategizing how all of those people are going to work together.”

While NBC has exclusive broadcast rights over the production of television for Olympic Games through 2032, Ammenheuser and his team of sports journalists have big plans for Olympic coverage in 2020.

“No one covers the Olympics bigger than USA Today other than NBC,” he said.

Ammenheuser’s career trajectory has taken him to a place he may not have expected, but it was certainly a goal for the long-time sports editor. “It’s a dream come true, really,” he said. “This is it until I retire.”

Call it a stroke of circumstantial luck or even fate, but a seemingly innocuous event may have foreshadowed Ammenheuser’s move to USA Today.

“I remember back in 1982, when USA Today started, walking into the 7/11, and grabbing a USA Today,” Ammenheuser said. “It was the very first issue, and today, ironically, that issue is hanging in my office. It’s yellowed in its frame now.”

When all is said and done, Ammenheuser can look back on his career and near endless list of accomplishments fondly. From Olympic coverage to watching his childhood team capture its last World Series, this former local has clearly made a global impact.

Hit the Slopes this Winter

Blair Garrett

Winter is here, the snow is falling, and the ski slopes have never looked better.
Snow may not currently be falling on your driveway, but you don’t have to travel too far to find your nearest winter oasis. With four ski resorts nearby and dozens of trails to hit, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. 

Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular winter sports around, and ski resorts provide different and challenging trails, perfect for first-timers and the most seasoned skiers.
Let’s check out a few excellent local options for you and your friends to take a day off and hit the slopes.

Ski Liberty

Just across the Pennsylvania line in Fairfield is Ski Liberty, a mountaintop known for its elaborate trails and challenging parks. The resort offers skiers and snowboarders 22 different trails for hours of rides and exploration. If skiing and snowboarding are not your cups of tea, tubing is also available. A mountainside plunge on an inflatable tube might be more your speed.
For locals, access to the slopes is nothing more than a short drive away. For the out-of-town crowd, the Liberty Hotel’s Alpine Lodge provides the perfect getaway for a cozy stay, just at the foot of the mountain. 

Liberty offers packages for the casual rider and for patrons who can’t get enough of the mountain. With various learning programs, there is availability for everyone to pick up a new sport at their own pace.

Keep your eyes open for sweet deals, too, particularly if you’re just picking up skiing and snowboarding. January is “Learn to Ski/Snowboard Month,” so every Thursday in January offers a discounted package for beginners, fully equipped with rental gear and programs to improve your abilities almost overnight. 

Personalized learning is vital for kids to develop the skills necessary to carve down the mountain safely. With full-size classes and one-on-one instruction, there are many learning opportunities for everyone.

With dozens of musical guests, taproom takeovers, and multiple mountaintop events, Liberty has everything you could want in a weekend trip and more.

Ski Liberty is located at 78 Country Club Trail in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.


Whitetail Resort

Whitetail is a great spot to find a mix of balanced trails and more difficult ones, with 23 different routes to ride and numerous trails that lead into others. The shift from trail to trail can add a bit of a challenge, as some of the popular, easier trails may peel off into higher-skilled black diamond runs.

Like Liberty, Whitetail provides instruction for learning the basics, along with rails, boxes, and ramps for riders who like to add a dash of excitement to the slopes.

If you get hungry after a few hours tearing up the snow, don’t fret, there are plenty of options for even the pickiest of eaters. The resort has a pizzeria, café, and a marketplace with a multitude of culinary options.

Whitetail has plenty of great slopes to check out, but you can’t forget their “Ski in the New Year Celebration” event just on the horizon. On New Year’s Eve, riders can ski and snowboard from 2019 into 2020, with lifts staying open until 1:00 a.m. New Year’s Day. The marketplace will also have a DJ and dancing, so there is no shortage of ways to celebrate a brand-new decade.

Whitetail Resort is located at 13805 Blairs Valley Road in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.



Ski Roundtop

Ski Roundtop is the oldest of the three local mountains, celebrating its 55th year in business. Roundtop rounds out the trio, with 20 slopes and parks and multiple excellent amenities available—the makings for a great night are on your horizon.

If you’re new to the mountain life, Roundtop’s sports shop has a variety of services available, including ski and snowboard tuning and expert advice on equipment and brand-name apparel.           

Having programs designed to teach young kids valuable skills to stay safe while riding is a valuable option for any parent leery of their child’s well-being on the mountain.

Roundtop’s Mountain Explorer’s Program is a multi-week course, offered several times throughout the season, designed to get your child from just strapping on the skis to being well on their way to autonomously exploring the mountain. Children get to learn from the same instructor each week and make a few friends along the way, so it’s a great way to get kids into a learning environment that provides them with constructive technique proficiency and a whole lot of fun.

Roundtop Mountain Resort is located at 925 Roundtop Road in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.

wisp resort

The farthest of the four slopes, Wisp Resort lies just inside the Maryland/West Virginia border, but it still draws quite the crowd.

With events offered almost daily, there is always something new and exciting to experience at the resort. Wisp offers a nice balance of trails, with about 33 percent of the runs falling into the beginner category, and a near equivalent number in intermediate and advanced.

Even if skiing and snowboarding is not your style, Wisp also has tubing, ice skating, and a mountain coaster to get your blood pumping on a cool winter day.

Wisp is the only resort in Maryland opened year-round, and typically keeps the slopes running for 120 days per year. 

Wisp Resort is located at 296 Marsh Hill Road in McHenry, Maryland.

For new skiers and snowboarders, one of the biggest deterrents to getting out and enjoying the mountain is the struggle to learn the mechanics of how to ride effectively. All four resort options offer instructional courses with experienced riders to give newbies—young and old—a chance to dive into a fun, new winter sport.

Regardless of which mountain you choose, there are challenging courses tailored to your skill level, ranging from bunny slopes for kids to double black diamonds reserved for pros and the overly ambitious. And don’t forget, tubing is available at all three resorts, with options for a solo ride or a linked tube with you and a handful of friends.

So, if you’re in the market for some winter adventures, zip up the jackets, strap into your ski boots, and hit the slopes for a day packed with snow-filled fun.  

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 5th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 26, 2019.

Principal Jennifer Clements told the audience, “During the past 50 years, the staff at Catoctin High School has always strived to foster learning, character, innovation, compassion, perseverance, and service. Today is a great opportunity for us to celebrate that with some special graduates, and hopefully, it’s an opportunity for us to challenge our current students to aspire to do great things.”

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization 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.

According to Senior Isabel Rozo, the honorees “have made a difference in the state or nation.”

“Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, names from the class of 2020 and 2023 will join this honor group,” Rozo said.

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

Besides the honorees and their guests, the Catoctin freshman and senior classes were in attendance.

Former teacher Carol Forman taught mathematics classes at Catoctin for 30 years, from remedial to A.P. She gave the students some tips for getting through life successfully: (1) Don’t be afraid to change your goals; (2) When opportunities present themselves, don’t be afraid to try new things; (3) When the unexpected happens, do what you can in the situation and pray; (4) When things get overwhelming, consider prayer or at least find someone with whom to share your concerns; (5) It is never too late to do something you like to do in a different way; (6) Be bold, energetic, and stay true to yourself; and (7) Don’t ever give up.

Former teacher and coach George Kuhn was also recognized. He worked as a physical education teacher and athletic director at Catoctin, beginning in 1969. He also had tips for the students about how to live their lives. He also challenged the students to go home that evening, hug their parents, and tell them they loved them. “You’ll be surprised what that will do for your relationship with your mom and dad,” Kuhn said.

Dr. John Chatlos, Class of 1970, was the academics inductee. He is an associate professor of psychiatry at Rutgers University-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. His expertise is dealing with mental disorders and addiction in teens. He is the director of a community outpatient substance abuse treatment program at the university and the medical director for the Wei Ji Point outpatient detoxification program, Human Faith Project.

“I never would have had the confidence to tackle what I did if not for Catoctin High School,” Chatlos said.

Susan Favorite, Class of 1982, was the public service inductee. She has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations over the years and was named a 2011 Wertheimer Fellow for Excellence in Volunteerism. She has also received a number of Lions Club awards for her volunteer service.

Favorite encouraged the students to count their blessings every day. “Not only will this put you in a more positive frame of mind and make you happier with your life, but, as importantly, when you take a little time each day to count your blessings, you realize how much you truly have,” she said.

Kelly Quesinberry, Class of 2000, was the arts and humanities inductee. She is a journalist, currently working with WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her reporting and stories has won her many awards, including two regional Emmy Awards.

Quesinberry thanked her family for encouraging and supporting her. “Learn the importance of asking questions and advocating for yourself,” she said. “Don’t wait on somebody to give you what you want in life. Go after it.”

Pictured arefrom left are Carol Forman, George Kuhn, Dr. John Chatlos, Susan Favorite, and Kelly Quesinberry.

James Rada, Jr.

With the announcement that a Thurmont landmark, the Shamrock Restuarant, will end its 56-year-run on December 30, 2019, The Catoctin Banner thought it would share some of its reader’s memories of the Irish-themed restaurant.

The late Mike Fitzgerald opened the Shamrock in 1963. He said in a 2014 interview that the restaurant had a rough start, “There were days and nights in a row that I wouldn’t go home. I would be working here doing whatever needed to be done, and then I would sleep here.”

The Shamrock Restaurant building has been around since the 1950s. It was originally a dance hall that didn’t have the best reputation, resulting in Fitzgerald being able to purchase it at an affordable price.

It also helped that the Shamrock Restaurant was a family business. Fitzgerald, his wife, his mother, and his nine children (as they grew old enough) all worked in the restaurant. Two of the Fitzgerald children, Dawn Knox and Donna Demmon, took over the business in 2016, but they are ready to retire.

The Shamrock was known for its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and it won a national award for having the best St. Patrick’s Day party in the nation years ago. It was also the first restaurant in Frederick County to get a liquor license in 1965.

The website announcement of the closing reads in part: “We have worked with hundreds of employees, many of whom have been as close as family. It will be very hard to part with some who have worked with us five to thirty years; others who worked here many years ago and came back as the seasons of their lives have changed. And more recent, workmates who already fit into our operation just like the old-timers. What a wonderful gang!! We have met and become friends with thousands of patrons. The warmth and affection that permeates this business is the root cause of our longevity. We cherish the kindheartedness and loyalty we’ve been blessed to know from our staff and customers.”

Shown below are postings on the Shamrock Facebook page of what some had to say about the restaurant closing, sharing their memories and speaking their own personal “goodbye.”

I have been coming to the Shamrock since President Nixon stayed at Camp David as a member of the White House Press. Mike and I became friends, camped, and rode horse back in the mountains. My family and children enjoyed Mike’s cabin and wonderful food at the Shamrock, watching Mike’s family grow up. I have known Donna since she was a little girl and their dogs chased me on top a table.

                          –Ron Bennett

I was so happy to have the opportunity to eat there last month…and am so glad I bought my t-shirt as a remembrance. The first time I ate there was at our EMI class graduation dinner back in 2009. Living in Texas, it took a decade to get back again. My husband and I were traveling in the area, and I couldn’t wait to introduce him to a place that held such a special place in my heart.

                          –Deb Doyle

I read this with mixed emotions. Sorry to lose an icon in Frederick County but am happy for you, Donna and Dawn. You have worked hard. Your parents would be so proud of you both.

                          –Nancy Ferrell Piper

So sad to hear this, but it is time for you to get to relax and enjoy quality time together. Will miss being able to talk with you, Donna, about Ireland and Irish relatives. And the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant. Also the delicious food.”

                          –Kathleen Cogan

What a wonderful place! We always stop by there and eat on our way up to PA. Will be missed! Always had great fresh food and wonderful service! Bought several baubles over the years in the front part of the restaurant.”

                          –Gail Glassmoyer

Great place! I will always remember the good times at the Shamrock when I lived in Thurmont during the 1970s. Happy retirements!! Who gets the crab cake recipe?

                          –Marty Madden

May you all enjoy your new lease on life! My husband and I discovered the Shamrock a few years ago as we drove to Herndon, VA; it was the best discovery we ever made. Whenever we made that trip, we would plan our time so we were at the Shamrock by afternoon or mid-day. We certainly agree that you all have done wonderful work and we do appreciate your hospitality!

                          –Judith Hansen

Start 2020 with 20/20 Vision

A Vision Board Workshop will be held for business professionals at the Thurmont Bar & Grill at 10 E. Main Street in Thurmont on January 7, 2020, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. There is a $25.00 fee to participate.

For questions about the workshop, contact Mary Ellen Mitchell at me@allowmeconsulting.com.

James Rada, Jr.

On December 2, 2019, Emmitsburg residents celebrated its annual “Evening of Christmas Spirit,” sponsored by the Carriage House Inn, the Town of Emmitsburg, and the EBPA.

 The evening began with the lighting of the town Christmas tree at the Community Center. Before and after the illumination, youth choirs from Emmitsburg delighted attendees with their Christmas songs.

Following the short tree-lighting ceremony, the crowd moved down to the Carriage House Restaurant for the rest of the evening.

 A line of children quickly formed at the entrance of the restaurant to meet with Santa. Other children were inside in a dining room, making Christmas decorations.

Tina Ryder of Emmitsburg came with her niece, Vivienne Weiant, age six. It was Ryder’s first time attending. “It’s pretty cool. We really like the hayride,” Ryder said. “This is a good event. It gets all the kids to come out.”               

Outside, people could take a hayride or enjoy hot dogs, hot chocolate, and cookies. More food was upstairs in JoAnn’s Ballroom, as were the musical performances by area groups. Each year, around 800 hot dogs and 30 gallons of hot chocolate are served at the event.

Katelyn Mills of Thurmont was attending for her second time with Kristen Mills, age 10. Kristen said her favorite things about the evening were talking to Santa and taking the hayride.

Chris Fluke of Emmitsburg brought his children to the event. “This is a great event,” he said. “We really like riding around town on the hayride and seeing the lights.”

Ellie Fluke, age six, said she cried the first time she sat on Santa’s lap, but now she really likes coming to see him.

The Carriage House Inn sponsors the Evening of Christmas Spirit each year as a tribute to JoAnn Hance, who was the wife and mother of the Carriage House founders, Bob Hance and his father, Jim.

Local children dress up as angels for the Nativity scene at the Carriage House Inn during the annual An Evening of Christmas Spirit.

Everyone enjoys the musical entertainment in Joanne’s Ballroom at the Carriage House Inn during An Evening of Christmas Spirit.

Grace Eyler

Thurmont’s annual Christmas in Thurmont is a magical time each year for so many reasons, and this year was no different. The event was held on December 7, 2019, and people flooded the streets to bring holiday cheer and to celebrate the season of giving. From face painting to horse and carriage rides, to a Christmas Train Display and pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, to the award-winning ESP Dance performance, a wonderful time was had by all.

Elle Smith, and her boys, Jack and Sam, enjoy the day out, along with their Aunt, Teresa Covell. Dylan Owen (back) enjoys chatting with families and educating kids about model trains.

Volunteer Wendy Martyak gives directions and maps to eager participants, Morgan Gipe, Grant Zimmerman, Autumn Long, and Mason Knott, who look forward to the festivities of Christmas in Thurmont!

From left, Wayne Stackhouse, Pam Fraley, Linda Davis, Lori Brown, and Peggy White take a quick break for a photo opportunity with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Looks like Guardian Vol. Hose Co. made it to the nice list!

Model train conductor, Ed Maldonado from Frederick County Society of Model Engineers kept his train busy on Saturday entertaining children and adults visiting during Christmas in Thurmont.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Here we are again at the end of another year, which always seems to bring reflection on the pluses and minuses for the year. In the plus column is the Catoctin Cougars bringing home the State Division 1A Football Championship, with a convincing 31-8 win over Dunbar High of Baltimore. The win is a valuable time capsule for the community’s strong bond with the school, meshed with the hard work and sacrifices of the kids, the families, the administration, the teachers, and the coaches, win or lose. We are so fortunate to have a school that provides a safe and competitive environment for a wide range of sports to offer students, to balance out with their educational curriculum demands.

As a minus, still on the heels of absorbing the Zurgables Hardware closing, comes the announcement that at the end of this year, the Shamrock Restaurant will close. After 57 years of lore and Celtic traditions comes the loss of another sliver of the Northern Frederick County personality. Places where you could step back in time to another generation’s template, the family-owned businesses, and they are disappearing. These are not just businesses, they are people. We are now all in a hurry, a pace that pushes us to chains and franchises as substitutes. I know this is not a new paradigm. We have a few of these special places left up our way. Use them; they are exceptional. To remember, “For everything has a season; and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Eccl 3:1).

With the Fiscal Year 2020 Community Legacy Grants Award to Emmitsburg comes the milestone that we will have reached $1,000,000 in grant funds and matching owner investment into downtown properties. We have only been in this program six years. Remember, our downtown is the foyer of each of our homes and businesses.

As we enter the winter months, please be careful on the roads.

On behalf of the town commissioners, the town staff, and my family is a wish to all for a Happy New Year.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a safe and happy New Year. Here we are in 2020; where does the time go? The Town of Thurmont had an excellent year in 2019, and I am looking forward to 2020!

A big part of our duties as mayor and commissioners is to plan ahead for our future; you can play a role in planning our future by participating in the upcoming Thurmont Master Plan Update.

This year, the Thurmont Planning Commission will be updating the Thurmont Master Plan. The first chance to get involved in the process will be at a public workshop on Thursday, January 16, 2020, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Thurmont Municipal Office, located at 615 East Main Street.

Your participation in the process is important! Please join us on January 16 and help us better understand the needs of the Town of Thurmont and plan for its future. The Thurmont Master Plan guides the Town’s growth, development, and conservation, and has been updated almost every ten years since the 1970s. The Planning Commission is seeking your input.

1. What would Thurmont look like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted?

2. What would you preserve about the Town, and what would you change about it?

3. Imagine you are in a future generation of Town residents. Tell us what would impress you most about the vision of today’s citizen planners?

Beginning in the spring of 2020, as part of the plan update process, the Planning Commission will publicly study and consider petitions from property owners who seek to change the zoning classification of their property. If you are interested in seeking a new zoning classification for your property, as part of this comprehensive Master Plan and rezoning process, please contact the Town Office for an application. Applications for rezoning consideration will be accepted through March 15, 2020. Rezoning applications will not be accepted or discussed at the January 16 workshop. Please keep watch for additional information regarding the Thurmont Master Plan Update.

The towns of Emmitsburg and Thurmont are in the process of discussing the possibility of bringing limited, circulating bus service to our communities. We are working with Frederick County to iron out details for this proposal, and we will be discussing the plan during an upcoming Thurmont Town Meeting. If you are interested in seeing a form of public bus service come to Thurmont, please watch for information about the date of the public discussion and join in the discussion. The success of this proposal depends on community support!

As always, if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact me via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com or by phone at 301-606-9458.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

DECEMBER 2019 Meeting

Town Wants to Connect Rutter’s to Emmitsburg

The Town of Emmitsburg wants to ensure that the new Rutter’s store, being built on the east side of Rt. 15, is connected to the town via sidewalks. The sidewalks would allow truck drivers, parking overnight at the site, to be able to walk into town to shop and eat without having to walk on the roads. The town is pursuing a variety of ways to get this accomplished by negotiating with the property owners, talking to state representatives, and withholding planning commission approval.

New Wayside Exhibits Announced

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners recently viewed draft versions of the proposed 2020 wayside exhibits that will become part of the historical walking tour the town is developing. Ion Design and Grove Public Relations are developing the waysides using a FY2020 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant awarded to the town. The four waysides, portraying the Great Fire of 1863 (North East Quadrant of Town Square), Vigilant Hose Company, Chronicle Press building, and Carriage House Inn building, will cost $12,032.

Town Committee Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners made the following appointments to town committees: Glenn Blanchard to Parks and Recreation Committee (term ending December 3, 2021); Sandy Umbel to Parks and Recreation Committee (term ending December 3, 2021);     Steve Starliper to Parks and Recreation Committee (term ending December 3, 2021); Amanda Ryder to Parks and Recreation Committee (term ending December 3, 2021); Shannon Cool to Parks and Recreation Committee (term ending September 21, 2021); Dianne Walbrecker to Board of Appeals (term ending December 15, 2022).

Forest Conservation Plan Updated

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to forward changes to their forest conservation plan to the planning commission for review and recommendations. The plan needs to be reviewed whenever the State of Maryland updates its forestry laws to make sure the town plan remains in compliance.

In a related move, the commissioners also forwarded recommended changes to the town’s buffer zone to the planning commission for review and recommendations.

Town Sells House

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a contract to sell the house at 140 South Seton Avenue for $165,000. The house is on a larger piece of property, and the town is only selling 9,906 square feet that include the house. Besides putting the house back on the tax rolls and relieving the town of landlord duties, the income from the sale will go towards paying off the amount the town owes for the entire property.

Thurmont

DECEMBER 2019 Meeting

State Plans to Demolish Frank Bentz Pond Dam

The Maryland Department of the Environment Dam Safety Division has deemed the Frank Bentz Pond dam unsafe. Perry Otwell, director of engineering and construction at the Department of Natural Resources, told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners that the state is planning to demolish the dam, probably in 2022. The dam is over 100 years old and was initially used to provide hydroelectric power to the town. Although it hasn’t been used that way for many decades, the pond created by the dam is a popular fishing spot.

The state also plans to build a small park on the land if the Town of Thurmont agrees to maintain the park.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

Independent auditor Zelenkofske Axelrod, LLC, conducted the annual audit of Thurmont financial statements for Fiscal Year 2019 and gave the town an unmodified—or clean—opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given. The auditors had no difficulties performing the audit or have any disagreements with the management.

New Board of Appeals Members Sworn In

Ken Oland was sworn in as a member of the Thurmont Board of Appeals, and Elliot Jones was sworn in as an alternate member of the Board of Appeals.

Town Planning Colorfest Workshop

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are planning a workshop to figure out how to deal with the decreasing revenues from Colorfest. Although this year’s Colorfest was successful, the town provided its services at a small loss of $530. The commissioners were not so much concerned about the $530 as they were about the decreasing number of vendors, particularly the commercial food vendors that pay the highest permit fees. The commissioners also acknowledged that the $530 loss did not take into account donations to the town from Colorfest, Inc. or the town’s donation of some parking space to the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. These more than makeup for the deficit.

Good teachers are not hard to come by. The profession by trade is dedication of time and energy into shaping the future and guiding youth to be healthy and educated adults. Jessica Valentine Derr’s efforts for Frederick County Schools have not gone unnoticed. Valentine Derr was awarded the Simon A. McNeely Award for her outstanding contributions to health education for Frederick County Public Schools.

Valentine Derr has spent years developing an opioid prevention program and creating consistent and uniform curriculum content for health education for schools across Frederick County. She hopes to launch her opioid program in the coming year.

Simon A. McNeely Award winners must demonstrate teaching excellence in health or physical education, innovations in health or physical education, be actively involved in school and community affairs, and much more. Frederick County Public Schools are lucky to have such a dedicated professional.

Jessica Valentine Derr receives the Simon A. McNeely Award.

Sparkles the Therapy Dog visited Catoctin High School in December and received a warm welcome from students.

Sparkles volunteers with Wags for Hope, which uses therapy dogs in a variety of programs, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), Hospice of Frederick County, Rock Creek School, and Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the Washington Post Principal of the Year award until Friday, January 10, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. The Washington Post Educational Foundation sponsors the award, created to recognize principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. The person chosen as The Washington Post’s regional Principal of the Year will receive a $7,500 monetary award, a trophy, and a half-page feature spot in The Washington Post.

The FCPS Public Affairs Department is coordinating the nomination and selection process before forwarding the FCPS finalist materials to The Washington Post. Nominees must be full-time principals, with at least five years of experience as a principal, the most recent three of which must be at FCPS. They must also serve as an administrator during the coming 2020-21 school year. Desired criteria include: skills in effective management; creativity and innovation; fostering cooperation between the school and community; maintaining a continuing dialog with students, parents, and staff; keeping abreast of developments in education; encouraging team spirit; demonstrating leadership and commitment; continuing to play a role in the classroom; and maintaining the position as principal through the 2019-20 school year.

Nominations are welcome from current and former students, teachers, support staff, parents, community members, administrators, and supervisors. The nomination package and details are online at www.fcps.org/centraloffice/wapo-principal.

BOE Honors Literacy Specialist Pamela Adams-Campbell

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) announces the 2019 Veteran in Education Service Award winner, Catoctin High School Literacy Specialist Pamela Adams-Campbell. In its third year, the award was created to honor an FCPS employee who has served our nation in the armed forces and provided exemplary service to FCPS and the community.

A committee of FCPS staff, community members, and Veterans reviewed this year’s seven nominations and chose the award winner. Nominees were Veterans who demonstrate exemplary service to FCPS and the community by showing integrity and trustworthiness, perseverance in overcoming challenges, selflessness in helping others, and teamwork and loyalty. In addition to Adams-Campbell, nominees were Melanie Baldwin, Kevin Jaye, Paul Lebo, Perry C. Lewis, Lisa Martell, and Isaac Patterson.

Pamela Adams-Campbell served in the United States Marine Corps before becoming an educator. “I am certain that her commitment to her fellow Marines and to her work in that role was no less than one hundred percent, as that is what she gives to our school, students, and staff every day,” said Catoctin High School Principal Jennifer Clements. “When she identifies an area of need—for an individual student or for the entire school—she works furiously and collaboratively to identify a solution. She is the first to volunteer to do the work to effect positive change…she works hard every minute that she is here.”

Former Catoctin High School Principal Bernie Quesada agrees. He explained that Adams-Campbell “has taken the students—first as a special education teacher, then as literacy specialist—who have struggled the most academically, and never given up on them and their potential. She is an inspiration to her colleagues an example of selflessness and dedication. She is truly among the very best in FCPS and very worthy of this honor.”

Also supporting the nomination for Adams-Campbell, colleague Kate Mills described her as warm and caring, with unmatched devotion to students. Mills added that Adams-Campbell has a relationship with each department to promote literacy among all subject areas. “She checks in with teachers regularly to ensure that they understand how best to utilize reading strategies in their classrooms.”

The Board of Education recognized Adams-Campbell at their November 25, 2019, meeting, where she received an engraved plaque and gift sponsored by Woodsboro Bank. FCPS also honored Adams-Campbell at her school and in the school system’s Veterans Day celebrations and recognition ceremonies.

Pictured from left are Woodsboro Bank CEO Steven Heine, Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel John Fer, 2019 Veteran in Education Service Award winner Pamela Adams-Campbell, FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban, and BOE President Brad W. Young.

I have been on the job as the Principal of Catoctin High School for just under six months. In this short time, I have quickly come to appreciate how special the Northern Frederick County community is. There do not seem to be many places left where the school is such an integral part of the community; that is the case here at Catoctin, and that connection makes us all stronger.

The recent State Championship win by our football team has served as a very positive event around which our community has rallied. The support shown to our team and our school was incredible. The donations of food and other items for the players, the huge crowd at the game, the local showing of the game at the Ambulance Complex, and the reception for the team upon their return to town (including the ambulance and fire truck escorts) was nothing short of amazing. I was incredibly proud of our team, but I am also proud to be a part of this great community.

I have also been impressed with the amount of service that our students provide to our community. Catoctin students welcome opportunities to serve our community; they do so happily and frequently and with great benefit to those they are serving.

Catoctin High School has a 50-year history of great things. There are, however, many opportunities for us to build on that history and tradition to forge an even brighter future. I am confident we will do that with the service of our students and the support of our community as the foundation of that work.

As the principal of Catoctin High School and on behalf of our school, I want to say thank you to our community for your past and future support. We are committed to reciprocating that support as we also do the important work of educating and preparing the future of our community.

Mark your calendars for the Catoctin High School Talent Show on Wednesday, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. Many talented and creative students and staff will be performing, and the audience gets to decide the winners! Tickets are $5.00 each and will be sold at the door.

The Catoctin-Aires Twirling Corps has captured the title of Advanced Majorette Corps under the sanction of the Capital Area Marching Association.  The championship contest was held in October 2019 at the Hagerstown Junior College Sports Complex.

The group has earned the title consecutively for many years though this year they have won with over a 100-point margin from the second place competitor.  In addition to the advanced group title, the marching group also won first place for its Complimentary Unit and Tiny Tot section, as well as achieving the highest point value for its seniors, juniors, and juvenile twirling units.

Each leader of the group was named the top advanced leader in group competition. Receiving medals for this prestigious award were Lily Marquette as Tiny Tot Leader; Katie Gaffigan, Juvenile Leader; Rachel Bechler, Junior Leader; and Kelly Reed, Senior Leader.

During individual competition, Katie Gaffigan earned the title of Miss C.A.M.A. for her three-part performance in the beginner 10-12 division. India Mitchell won in the Novice 10-12 division. Both girls competed in modeling, twirling, and strutting to be determined the all-around winner of their respective divisions. They received their divisional championship trophy, crown and sash.

Miss Caitlyn Purdum was recognized by the Catoctin-Aires as the year’s Most Valuable Player for having worked in three of the five competing sections of the group.

For more information about the group or for registration for the upcoming season, please contact Donna Landsperger at donito@aol.com.

Free Twirling Classes: Contact The Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. for information about its free twirling classes, set to begin January 27, 2020, from 6:45-7:30 p.m. at Emmitsburg Elementary School. It’s not too late to join the fun! Contact Donna Landsperger at DONITO@aol.com or 301-271-4326.

Westwood Books Publishing announced the availability of a book by Catoctin-area resident and author Patricia Owens for her book, Where’s Michael’s Brother: The American Family Under Attack.

Where’s Michael’s Brother: The American Family Under Attack is the story about the author’s journey in challenging both state and federal laws regarding the removal and later adoption of children by non-biological family, even when the biological family is ready and willing to raise these children. The author notes how these newly adopted families are compensated financially until these children reach adulthood and sometimes beyond.

Owens experienced this within her own family. She saw firsthand when the brother to the grandchild she was raising was removed by the child welfare system and hidden from the family, who was willing to adopt the child. Watching the situation unfold empowered her to action.

“I saw an injustice, and I worked to right the wrong,” explains Owens. “I was successful not only in changing Maryland state law but also instrumental in making sure federal law was passed to stop this practice. The new law now mandates that all states must notify and give preference to the biological family before adopting children out to strangers. The book is about my journey to make that change happen.”

Where’s Michael’s Brother: The American Family Under Attack is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Better Days Ahead

by Valerie Nusbaum

Happy 2020!  To clarify, I’m talking about the new year and not my failing vision.  It’s too early to judge, but I’m hoping this year will be a great one for each and every one of you, and for me and my family, too.

Now, go stand on one foot.  Seriously.  This is an experiment.  Did you do it?  If you follow directions easily and didn’t stop to think about it, chances are that you stood on your non-dominant foot.  This means that if you’re left-handed, you stood on your right foot. This phenomenon is the brain’s way of helping you maintain your balance.  Randy and I tried it.  I am left-handed and I did, in fact, stand on my right foot.  He’s right-hand dominant, and he stood on his left foot without giving it a thought.  Then he did a little dance and fell over.  I’m kidding.  Don’t accuse me of picking on him.  He enjoys his role.

Randy’s theory is that one’s brain doesn’t hear, “Stand on one foot.”  It hears, “Lift one foot,” and therefore the dominant foot is raised so that a step forward will be on the right side (or left if that’s the way one leans).

This little exercise has no bearing on this month’s column, but it did give you something to ponder, and I got the chance to picture you standing up and looking like a flamingo. Well done!

Next, I would like to touch on the subject of shopping.  I’m guessing that we’ve all done our share of shopping recently with the holidays so close behind us.

Does it ever seem to you that going shopping has become both a mental and physical challenge?  Randy and I took a day off to go to Frederick to try to finish our Christmas shopping, and it seemed to take me an extra half hour to gather up all the things I needed:  sale papers, coupons, gift cards, membership cards, not to mention the shopping list.  I had a whole handful of paper to drag along with us, and found that I had to go through my stash at every stop because we needed the coordinating coupons and cards in order to receive our shopping discounts.  Remember when stores just had sales?

Having to drag along all this “stuff” necessitates my needing a large purse or tote bag, which I’m continually fishing around inside.  The stealthy store clerks don’t think I notice them watching me, in case I’m trying to pilfer a tube of lipstick or pair of socks and stash them in my huge bag.  And how many times has another shopper accidentally rammed a shopping cart into your shins?

I know, I know. I could have done all my shopping online. The problem with that for me is that there are some things I actually need to see and touch. If you’re able to buy shoes or slacks without trying them on, then you are one of the lucky ones! There are times when the whole shopping thing is too much for me. I’ve never been a woman who enjoys the experience of shopping. I’m not a looker or browser. I loathe trying things on, but I have to do it sometimes. My personal preference is to go to a store and be in and out in ten minutes. It’s all but impossible to do that these days. Maybe that’s why I love Dollar Tree so much. That store has what it has. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is, and I don’t need coupons or sale papers. I already know what the price of an item will ring up.  If only I could buy my underwear there, I’d be in heaven.

Enough about shopping. Let’s discuss something we all enjoy.  Eating. It’s a new year, and I’m betting that some of you have resolved to eat more healthfully and also to get more exercise. It’s the same here at the Nusbaum house.  Too many cakes and pies have wreaked havoc on my waistline, and too little time for exercise has made me sluggish and crankier than usual. Things need to change around here. I’ll have to subsist on the memory of that melt-in-your-mouth delicious flourless chocolate cake and all those other treats and goodies that popped up in our house during the months of November and December.

My mom will celebrate her 88th birthday on January 19, and I’m sure we’ll use that as an excuse for celebratory food and desserts, but I do plan to curb my enthusiasm for a tasty buffet. I’m resolving here and now to do better so that I feel better.

Did you make any resolutions?  Polls show that the number one resolution people make is to get more exercise and eat healthier.  Most people give it up by February, so we’ve got a few more weeks of this torture and deprivation ahead of us. I’m heading to the treadmill now. That oatmeal I had for breakfast is fueling me. It didn’t taste a thing like dessert, but with any luck, in a few months, I’ll be able to fit into the tiny little underwear for sale at Dollar Tree.  Dream big, I always say.
Happy New Year everyone; and a very happy birthday, Mom!

by James Rada, Jr.

January 1920, 100 Years Ago

Fine Auto Smashed

Last Friday night about 2 o’clock a,m a large Paige Touring Car, said to be about as complete as ever seen in this section of the county, smashed into the concrete side of the bridge over Owen’s creek on the State Road at Franklinville two miles north of Thurmont.

From what could be learned, the car belong to some party in Brunswick, everything done to conceal the identity of the owner. It is stated that there were three men in the car at the time of the accident, and all were injured.

A car following close was forced to turn from the road and plow its way through a bed of large stones near the bridge to avoid trouble.

From reports of those who live near and visited the scene, considerable blood was found in the car, and hat pins, hair pins, quart bottles, and other articles found in and about the wreck.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, January 1, 1920

Death Still A Mystery

During the past week officers of Carroll county have been trying to solve the cause of the death of Miss Mertle Marie Staub whose body was found along the B. & O. railroad at Sykesville, Carroll county, Md., on Wednesday morning of last week, her head and right arm being severed from her body.

Miss Staub for the last several months had been employed as a domestic to the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Hughes of Sykesville. It is stated that the girl was in very good humor all the day previous.

On Wednesday morning when the Hughes family arose they found that the girl was not about the house, and on going to her room found that she had not occupied her bed during the night.

Sometime later her body was found along the railroad.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, January 1, 1920

January 1945, 75 Years Ago

Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Hobbs Married 50 Years

Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Hobbs celebrated their golden wedding day last Saturday, Dec. 30, at their home on Water street.

The day was spent quietly with their children present throughout the day. In the evening the three-tier bride’s cake was served, with other refreshments to the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs received sixty cards and many beautiful and useful gifts as well as gifts of flowers and money.

Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs were married in Emmitsburg at St. Joseph’s rectory by Father White, and lived on a farm at Tom’s Creek until 1920 when Mr. Hobbs retired from farming and moved with his family to Thurmont.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, January 5, 1945

Severely Injured 12-Year-Old Girl

Janet, 12-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin S. Lohr, north of town, is suffering from a severely lacerated scalp, sustained last Thursday morning in a sledding accident.

Janet and Betty Ross Smith were sledding back of the Smith home, on a crust almost as smooth as glass, when Janet’s sled headed for the turkey pen. Because of the speed which she was traveling and the smoothness of the ice, she was unable to guide her sled and she ran under the pen. As she did so, her head struck a plank above, which cut a gash across her scalp. Eleven stitches were required to close the wound.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, January 5, 1945

January 1970, 50 Years Ago

12-Inch Snow Paralyzes Area

Frederick County Saturday began the Herculean task of digging out a snowbound populace and several hundreds of miles of primary and secondary roads, some of which had drifted shut by a 50-mile-an-hour wind that piled up snow in some places 12 feet high. One-way traffic was maintained for several days on sections of county and state roads.

All state and county owned equipment was brought into service and several private firms were engaged to complete the task of digging out. One break in the “blizzard” was that power lines and telephone service remained practically intact.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, January 2, 1970

Four Homeless After Fire

A fire left four members of an Emmitsburg area family homeless late Saturday, when their two-story dwelling on Bull Frog Rd., four and a half miles east of Emmitsburg, was extensively damaged.

They were Douglas Soper, his wife, 12-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son. Soper rented the house from Archie Sipe of Kensington, Md.

Approximately 60 firemen, led by the Vigilant Hose Co. of Emmitsburg, assisted by Harney and Taneytown fire companies, responded at 4:40 Saturday afternoon with eight pieces of equipment.                                      

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, January 1970

January 1995, 25 Years Ago

Tower Truck Arrives

Fire service in the Emmitsburg area has been enhanced with the addition of the new tower truck recently purchased by the Vigilant Hose Company. Chief Frank Davis and several company members went to Wisconsin to bring the truck home.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, January 1995

Multi-Service Center Planned for Emmitsburg

The Town of Emmitsburg, Up-County Family Center, and the Frederick Community Action Agency are working together to build and operate a new Emmitsburg Multi-Service Center in downtown Emmitsburg, MD. Construction for this new building will begin this summer.

This facility will be built and operated by the Town of Emmitsburg. It will house a variety of nonprofit human service agencies including Up-County Family Center, Catholic Charities, an outreach office for the Frederick Community Action Agency, and others. The new Multi-Service Center will offer “one-stop shopping” for families. It will be the center of a wide range of services that address crises and emergencies. There will also be facilities for teaching preventative skills, adult education, and job training.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, January 1995

by James Rada, Jr.

Things That Go “Boom” In the Night

January 2, 1887, was a cold day in Frederick County. Thermometers hovered around eight degrees. Fireplaces and stoves were stoked with roaring fires to fight back the cold that was pushing its way through every crack and crevice of a home.

Several inches of snow, hardened with a covering of ice, covered the ground, and sheets of ice coated the roofs of buildings. Moonlight reflected off the frozen snow, giving it a slight glow even at midnight.

“A young gentleman returning home in his sleigh about this time, says the cracking of the ice on a roof, by which he passed, was so loud and forcible, that it scared his horse,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

Although few people reported feeling anything, doors swung open, and objects toppled over “as if burglars were doing the houses,” according to the Clarion.

Many more people described hearing sounds that sounded like explosions. The Emmitsburg Chronicle compared it to the sound of a well being excavated.

“But mostly the sounds were above, as some describe them—like unto the clatter of tearing off a roof,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

The Catoctin Clarion reported, “At this point the report was sufficiently loud to suggest to Mr. J. W. Weast, a merchant at that point, that his safe had been blown up and he hurriedly dressed himself and visited his safe, only to find it intact.”

Reports came in from all over Frederick County and parts of Carroll County. Westminster residents seem to have felt the earthquake and experienced damage.

The Frederick Daily News reported that because no one in Emmitsburg felt any tremors, no one actually considered it an earthquake.

The Emmitsburg Chronicle offered a scientific reason for the noises not being an earthquake, writing “to one suddenly awaking in the night, and considering that there have not been received any accounts of clocks being stopped, or household things displaced, as in earthquake manifestations, together with the simultaneousness of the occurrences at points, miles apart, we infer the who matter was purely electrical. Indeed a writer not long ago undertook to prove that seismic phenomena were but electrical manifestations, on the earth’s surface and not from the interior.”

Although the county is not prone to earthquakes and doesn’t sit on a fault line, it was an earthquake—albeit an unusual one—that hit the county that night. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, east of the Rocky Mountains, fault lines are a poor indicator of where earthquakes will hit. The USGS website states, “In contrast, things are less straightforward east of the Rockies because it is rare for earthquakes to break the ground surface. In particular, east of the Rockies, most known faults and fault lines do not appear to have anything to do with modern earthquakes. We don’t know why. An earthquake is as likely to occur on an unknown fault as on a known fault, if not more likely. The result of all this is that fault lines east of the Rockies are unreliable guides to where earthquakes are likely to occur.”

Whatever the reason for the earthquake, it was a disturbing way for Frederick County residents to welcome in the new year on January 2, 1887.

by Anita DiGregory

“A Tribute to Horrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Years”

Have you ever had one of those years when you literally could not wait for the clock to strike midnight, the ball to drop, and the year to be officially over?

Well, 2019 has unmistakably been one of those years for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were beautiful moments sprinkled throughout: sacraments made, memory-making trips taken, heartwarming firsts experienced, celebrations of children’s successes enjoyed. But even so, 2019 will definitely not go down in history as one of my favorite years. 

On top of all the regular stressors, the medical visits, the stacking bills, the unplanned car expenses, the children leaving the nest, we suffered the unimaginable loss of five close family members. I witnessed my faith-, family-, and life-loving cousin lose his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. I said goodbye to two beloved aunts and one gentle and kind uncle. And, then, shockingly, over Thanksgiving break, we suffered the tremendous loss of my brother-in-law, Sam. 

Only 55 when he passed away, Sam was outgoing, full of life, hardworking, and seemingly healthy.  He left behind a wife and two beautiful children, not to mention a mother, three brothers, three sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and many, many friends. Sam was the kind of guy who knew everyone, and everyone knew him. At his viewing, the funeral home remained packed with people waiting to pay their respects, the line often reaching out of the room, down the hall, and to the entrance.

I was only 16 when I met Sam. The new girl in town, I was happy to make a new friend. He had an infectious smile, and I’d swear he’d get this glint in his eyes when he was about to break the rules just enough to make things interesting for everyone. My friend, my co-worker, my brother-in-law, godfather to my daughter, beloved uncle to my children, and practically twin to my husband, how do you say goodbye when it is way too soon, completely unexpected, and hurts deep down in your soul?

So here I sit, trying to wrap my brain around 2019 and its tremendous losses. Forgive me as I think out loud, trying to make some sense of it all. This year has knocked me over the head and taught me some hard, painful, and priceless lessons.

During Thanksgiving break, when we learned of the passing of my aunt and then my brother-in-law, as we were all walking around in a teary daze, my children looked at me through their pain and asked that hard question: Why?

Why was this happening, and why even when they prayed? Why? Why? Why? This is what I said to them: I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t understand the reasons. But what I know deep down in the core of my soul is that I love my family, my children, with all of my being. Now, if I can love them so much that I feel it in every fiber of my being, so much so that it controls every single decision I make, and I am a very, very imperfect being, then how much more does the perfect God love each and every one of us? And, I know if God loves us this much, then He wants only the best for each of us. So I trust in that. I may never know “the big picture” or understand why things happen the way they do, but I trust in God and His perfect love for all of us. But, even with this, somehow in the thick of it, we still feel alone or abandoned.

Here again I fall upon that which I know…my role as a mother. One day, when my youngest was still quite little, he was attempting to climb the stairs by himself. I quietly tip-toed closely behind him as he teetered and tottered up the steep steps. I did not physically reach out or help him; in fact, he probably never even knew I was there. But whether he realized it or not, I was there, and the minute he needed me, I would have been there. About halfway up the stairs, I realized that this is how it is with God. No matter how we may feel, He is always there with us deep in the trenches…in the joy and in the sadness…guiding us and helping us.

British writer and lay theologian C.S. Lewis was no stranger to pain, having lost both his mother and wife to cancer. After losing his beloved wife, Joy, he fell into deep sorrow, which left him grappling with his perceptions. From the pit of darkness, his journal, later titled A Grief Observed, is raw and honest about his doubts, his fears, his pain, and his journey through grief. In it, he writes, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”

We aren’t promised the next tomorrow or even the next moment.  I know that. Still, I always somehow thought I would have the time to go back and dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s. This year has taught me that sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, you don’t get to say “I love you” one last time.

So, here’s to making 2020 different. Let’s make it a year to be intentional; to put what really matters most first; to work and play hard but to love and pray harder; to be kind; to say “I love you”; to go to church; to say “I am sorry”; to not put off until tomorrow what we should get done today; and to be thankful for all the beautiful, little moments. 

I pray that you and yours have a wonderful and blessed new year.

“Farm Boy to Combat Engineer”

by Priscilla Rall

Robert “Bob” Clifford Mount, the son of Clifford and Violet Mount, grew up milking cows by hand and plowing with a team of horses, named Dick and Queeny. He lived in a home without electricity, phone, or plumbing. Bob was a farm boy, born in 1931 in the Great Depression. He went to a one-room school and knew little about what was going on in the world, as the family could only use their radio when they charged its battery at his grandmother’s house.

In 1948, Bob left school when he turned 18 and joined the U.S. Army.

He went to Fort Belvoir for training at the Heavy Equipment Mechanic School. Then he was sent to Hawaii, where he was able to complete his high school classes and get his diploma. In June 1950, the Korean War erupted unexpectedly, and Bob was sent to Korea in July. His unit, the 72nd Combat Engineer Company, was in the Pusan Perimeter, where the Americans were desperately holding onto a patch of land on the southeast Korean peninsula. When the company was in review one day, the commanding officer asked if anyone could type. No one raised their hand. So, the commanding officer asked again, and this time, Bob raised his hand, breaking the first law in the Army: NEVER volunteer for ANYTHING!
Bob then raced to the camp’s office and yelled, “Does anyone know how to type?” He managed to get a book on learning to type, and he was ready in a few days to become the company’s regimental clerk! But, soon, the company was sent to make roads, sweep for mines, etc. They didn’t have a demolition man, and Pvt. Mount ended up with that job, too.

Once, when they were checking a bridge for explosives, they descended a ravine by the bridge and, without warning, became the target of North Korean snipers. The GIs promptly called for artillery, which quickly ended the snipers’ attack.

Another time, they were passing through a deserted village on a lane with stone walls on both sides when the enemy opened fire on them from behind the walls, resulting in several casualties. The danger was never far away, even in the Pusan Perimeter.

After the successful invasion at Inchon, near Seoul, the troops in the Pusan Perimeter broke out and headed north. Pvt. Mount’s company was part of the 5th Regimental Combat Team that worked with the Turks, the British, the Greeks, the South Koreans, the 1st Cavalry, and the U.S. Marines. Again, they were making roads and also building pontoon bridges. The troops were buoyed by the pronouncement from Gen. MacArthur that they would be “home for Christmas.” The soldiers made their way north with few difficulties until those in on the west side made it to the Yalu River, which divides North Korea and China.

It was mid-November and getting colder by the day. Bob remembers standing guard one night; in the morning, when he was relieved, he got to camp just as the chow truck got there with tasty hot pancakes—the best meal Bob claims he ever had!

Tragedy loomed as the Chinese crossed undetected into North Korea and attacked the Allied troops, just as the soldiers had finished savoring their Thanksgiving dinner. The soldiers located on the east of the Chosin Reservoir and the Marines on its west took the brunt of the enemy’s forces. The northernmost troops in the west were decimated as well. Frederick County lost Cpl. Paul Carty from Thurmont, Sgt. Roy Delauter, Sgt. Joseph Trail (who was captured and died in a POW camp), and Sgt. Norman Reid. Washington County lost PFC Herene Blevins, Cpl. Kenneth Ridge, and Marine PFC Daily Dye, all at the Chosin.

The Allied troops retreated in haste, and most of those killed in the north still lie in that frozen wasteland. Bob recalls that his general ordered a retreat even before MacArthur did. The 8th Army fled in confusion, as did all the Allied troops. His unit finally stopped in Seoul, and they built a bridge next to the destroyed one across the Han River. He could hear friendly howitzers firing north all night long. Ironically, another Maryland boy, Rupert Spring from Dickerson, was with a company illuminating the area to help the engineers building the bridge.

Finally, Bob was sent home and discharged at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in August 1951. Unbeknownst to Mount or the military doctors, he had contracted a case of malaria that didn’t flair up for two months. Few local doctors were familiar with this tropical disease, and it was some time until it was properly diagnosed and treated.

Bob soon crossed paths with a beautiful young lady, Winnie, who he had known slightly before the war. They were married in March 1952 and had two children. The GI Bill helped them buy their first home. Later, they lived on Fish Hatchery Road. Bob realized that to get ahead in business, he had to get as much education as he could. With the help of the GI Bill, he took classes at several different colleges and eventually became the Senior VP Auditor with the Bank of America. Pretty good for a boy who grew up without even electricity!

Bob doesn’t regret his time in Korea. The GI Bill helped him in his career, and his ambition did the rest. Bob has been very active in the KWVA Chapter 142, and he and Winnie now live in Country Meadows, enjoying a peaceful retirement that they have both earned. Bob, thank you for your service!

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at priscillarall@gmail.com.

Robert Clifford Mount

by Buck Reed

New Year, New Cooking

So, here we are again; we made it to a new year. And, if we can put politics behind us, we can go about the business of forgetting the past and looking forward to a new year. All we really have to do is make a proper New Year’s resolution.

Most people make the mistake of making their resolution too strenuous. We won’t talk about people who make it too easy. The important thing is to make your New Year’s resolution attainable. Instead of saying you are “going to cook every day,” which is a noble goal, try something like “becoming a better cook.” Assess your current skill-set and find a skill or some skills that will add to your culinary prowess.

Here are a few ideas of some skills I think every good cook should have.

Knife skills. Every good cook has a special relationship with their knives. Learning how to keep them sharp and storing them is a good start. After that, you should get comfortable holding your knives correctly and using them to make uniform cuts.

Make soup. Don’t learn how to make just one soup, but learn the techniques it takes to make any kind of soup. Making soups will help you experiment and use new ingredients, as well as help you to learn how to bring out the flavor in your finished dish.

Learn a new way to cook eggs. A chef’s hat, called a toque, has a hundred folds in it to represent the number of ways a cook can prepare an egg. Start with making a perfect omelet and work your way around the toque.

Cooking with a cast iron skillet. Although cast iron skillets seem to be challenging to deal with, once you get them set up, they can be a joy to work with. They are great for pan-frying, roasting, and even putting a new spin on your baking. The good news is that once you get your skillet seasoned, it is easily maintained with a minimum of work.

Bake a cake from scratch.  Taking the time to measure each ingredient for a cake carefully, and then mixing it all together correctly, can seem a tedious task, but it can teach you valuable skills. After that, learn how to decorate the cake without a pastry bag. Think of all the occasions you could use a made-from-scratch cake.

Prepare a hot breakfast. Preparing a morning meal in a timely manner can be an impressive skill for all sorts of situations (enough said).

Becoming a good cook isn’t about finding the perfect recipe, but rather mastering the techniques and expanding on those techniques to create good food.

If you put a little time and effort into enhancing your culinary prowess, it could be a tasty year.

MorningStar Family Church, Thurmont

by Theresa Dardanell

“Feeling welcome” does not begin to describe my visit to MorningStar Family Church.  I was greeted with hugs as soon as I walked in the door. As more members arrived, they also welcomed me warmly. During the service, the members unhurriedly spent time greeting one another with handshakes and hugs. 

Pastor Donna Sandridge and several members met with me before the service.  When asked what they wanted people to know about their church, everyone was eager to share their thoughts. 

Diana Wetklow said, “I love my church. It’s a place where you can come and be with everybody and know Jesus is there.”

Harry Wetklow considers everyone in the church as members of a family. 

Debbie Reckley said, “If you are sick or going through a hard time, let us pray with you and let us help you. When somebody comes here, we welcome them, we disciple them, put our arms around them, and help them anyway we can.” 

Dave Reckley added that the church demonstrates that God’s word is relevant in today’s world.

Mark Olson said, “We are a big family. We love people and are here to serve.”

Jamea Gouker talked about the thank-you cards and phone calls they have received from grateful people who have come to the church and felt so much better when they left. 

Rick Sanders, a member for 20 years, said that he loves the church because they are a family.

Pastor Donna said, “We are a loving, giving church. We endeavor to preach the word and reach the community to let them know that Jesus loves them and that we love them, and that this is a place that they can come and feel at home and feel welcome and feel loved.”

The Sunday service begins with songs of praise, led by a talented group of musicians, and continues with announcements by Pastor Donna. Everyone is then invited to request prayers for those in need or give thanks for blessings received. Songs of thanksgiving are followed by a scripture reading and a sermon.  During the sermon, the children move to another room to participate in children’s church with a Bible story, activities, and a snack. Everyone enthusiastically joins in the final song. 

Bible study, open to everyone, on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m., is led by members of the congregation, with active participation by all. The Ladies Ministry meets on a Saturday once a month for a meeting, together with a brunch. Along with their charitable work, Diana Wetklow said that they “lift one another up and have a really good time.” Their annual dinner in the spring includes skits, music, and a fashion show. Once a month, everyone is invited to a fellowship dinner after the Sunday service.

Although the congregation is small, their generosity is abundant.  Local organizations that they support include: Catoctin High School Safe and Sane, Thurmont Food Bank, Catoctin Schools supply drive and summer lunch program, Care Net Crisis Pregnancy Center of Frederick, Faith House, and the Thurmont United Methodist Church Clothes Closet. They also help individuals and families in need with food, gas, shelter, and home and vehicle repairs.  During the Christmas holiday, members deliver cookies, candy, gifts, and meals. The Annual Giveaway Day on the first Saturday in June is like a yard sale, but everything is absolutely free. 

International aid includes donations to several of the Samaritan’s Purse outreach programs:  disaster relief, wells for clean water, gifts of livestock to communities in need, and help for injured Veterans through Operation Heal Our Patriots.  Shoe boxes full of small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies are sent to Operation Christmas Child, which distributes them to children affected by war, poverty, natural disasters, famine, and disease.  Several of the members create feminine hygiene products for Days for Girls International, a global project that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health products to girls in over 100 countries where these items are not readily available. The church has provided support for mission trips to Russia, Venezuela, Philippines, Nigeria, Haiti, Belize, Portugal, Mexico, and Brazil, and financial aid to a considerable number of charitable organizations around the world.  Military personnel receive special care packages when they are deployed overseas and during the holidays. 

The church has an interesting history. The Reverend Wade Sandridge and Donna Sandridge began by preaching during a meeting in 1979 at the Blue Mountain Inn. As the congregation expanded, they met in many different locations, including a home, a tent, a schoolhouse, and a basement. The church was officially established in 1981. After the current property on Albert Staub Road was purchased, construction of the church began in 1996. The first service in the new building was held in 1999. After Pastor Wade passed away in 2005, Donna became pastor. 

MorningStar Family Church is located at 14698 Albert Staub Road in Thurmont.  Sunday morning worship at 10:45 a.m. follows morning prayer at 10:00. Everyone is welcome to attend services, Bible study, and all activities and events.

Members of MorningStar Family Church.