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Blair Garrett

Deep in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, is where it is said that country music stars are born.

Yet, in this case, Thurmont has produced a star of its own. Michael Gray (pictured above), a 1979 Catoctin High School graduate, is living the dream in Nashville, playing as the drummer, percussionist, and vocalist with Lee Brice (shown below on stage, left, with Gray, right). Lee Brice is an American singer/songwriter who has been churning out hits for the better part of the last decade and a half.

The group has put together an impressive history of top country songs, peaking at No. 1 in the nation five times over their careers. Their latest hit, “Rumor,” is their most recent top country song in America, reaching No. 1 in late June.

Gray now gets to tour the country, playing shows in America’s biggest cities and meeting loads of great musicians and people along the way. “I love living out of a suitcase because I get to see the entire country and the different parts of the world,” said Gray.

Most musicians get their start or inspiration to pick up an instrument as they develop their taste in music, but for Gray, drumming may have just been something he was born to do.

“It’s in my baby book: pots and pans when I was two years old,” Gray said. “At six years old, [my dad] started buying me drums, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Gray’s affinity for drumming as a kid has lead him to a successful professional career, but it all expanded from his experience jamming around his hometown. “I was a weekend warrior in Maryland,” Gray said. “Any place in the tristate area, I played.” 

When the now 50-something-year-old artist was 42 years of age, and after playing countless local shows, Gray and his wife, Dawne, took a chance and set their sights for Nashville so that Gray could advance his country music career. “When I turned 42, and my wife and I had just gotten married, I said ‘let’s go to Nashville; I think I still have some gas left in me.’”

Gray began making waves in the honky tonks on Broadway, where he eventually linked up with Lee Brice, forming the band we know today.

The group began writing and recording, and finally struck gold with its 2012 album, Hard 2 Love, which featured several top hits, including: “Hard 2 Love,” “A Woman Like You,” and “I Drive Your Truck.”

It isn’t easy making it big in Nashville. Thousands of talented musicians have filled the bars and clubs with beautiful country music, decade after decade. For Gray, Nashville has rejuvenated his drumming career. “I went to one of the hardest cities to keep a gig, and it’s the longest job I’ve ever had,” Gray said.

Since the band’s Hard 2 Love album hit the streets, nothing has slowed down. Gray and company have five No. 1 hits together as a band, with their last topping the charts for several weeks and remaining in the Top 10 for nearly a month.

Despite Gray’s successes touring around the country, he hasn’t forgotten his roots in Thurmont. Gray donated his plaque for the band’s No. 1 hit “I Don’t Dance,” released in 2014, to the Thurmont Historical Society, where it now sits with other merchandise from Gray’s career. You can find those pieces in the Edwin Jr. Room at the Creeger House.

The band returns to Gray’s home state August 22, 2019, rocking the house in the MECU Pavillion in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray’s homecoming will be met by a fleet of friends and family. “A boatload of friends and family are going to come,” he said.

Grab tickets to the 4,000-seat amphitheater soon to support your hometown rockstar.

Cover Page Photo & Stage Photo (top of page) Taken by Jenny Brewer; Other Photos are Courtesy Photos

What’s Afloat on The Monocacy

Blair Garrett

The perfect relaxing day for an August Day Trip lies in the heart of the Catoctin area.

With the sun beating down, not much feels better than sitting on the water surrounded by good people. Fortunately, the Monocacy River is a natural lazy river, which flows from the Mason-Dixon Line around Frederick and all the way to the much larger Potomac River at Dickerson, Maryland. The river bridges Frederick and Carroll Counties, allowing all local kayakers and floaters a short drive for some fun in the sun.

The pace of the river is leisurely to say the least, so for kayakers or those fearful of rapids, the Monocacy is a great place to start learning or adapting to all of your water adventures.

There are entry points scattered throughout nearly every twist and turn, but the farther north in the river that you hop on, the longer the potential float. Popular drop spots include the MD 77 access point, the Creagerstown Boat Launch, Devilbiss Bridge, Biggs Ford Road, and Riverside Park Boat Ramp. Each of these locations grant riders easy access to smooth waters on a sunny day.

The process is easy and a blast with a great group of people. One person parks at an entry point, and one parks at the finish line, so the whole group can hitch a ride at the start on their tubes or kayaks and make it to the end point with a ride back to their cars or back home.

The trip itself can take several hours, or much less depending on where you want to end your ride. Floating is simple, though, and a great way to spend some time with family and friends. Grabbing a few tubes, stringing them together and playing some music while taking an easy stroll down the Monocacy can provide hours of entertainment, and the atmosphere is unbeatable on a nice day.

It’s not uncommon to see families with a big tube in the middle, packed with coolers filled with drinks and snacks, but don’t forget to bring sunscreen and plenty of water to combat those hot August days.

The river flows at an average speed of 2-3 mph, and despite the trees surrounding the river providing shade toward the edges, there is plenty of room in the middle with direct sunlight. So, whether or not you plan on catching some rays, make sure to protect yourself from getting a nasty sunburn.

Depending on recent rainfall, the river may run much faster and may have deeper waters, so it’s important to be prepared and cautious for your day trip on the water. There are few if any rapids at all over the course of the Monocacy, but significant rainfall can and does affect the speed and intensity of the river.

The Monocacy passes plenty of beautiful landscapes and farmlands, but it also runs past a few points of interest that can be seen and heard during a typical floating trip on the northern half of the waterway. The river runs right by the Thurmont Sportsman Club, where they often have competitions and events at their gun range. 

The river also flows under Old Links Bridge, where you may just be able to take a pit stop and grab a bottle of wine from Links Bridge Winery.

Of course, the best part about the Monocacy River float is shutting out the rest of the world and enjoying quality time with loved ones and some of the freshest air Maryland has to offer.

Over the course of the Monocacy’s 58 mile stretch from PA/MD border to the Potomac River, there are plenty of places to fish or swim, so even if a long tube ride isn’t your cup of tea, there’s surely something to do for everyone. The river is also home to several species of bass, trout and sunfish, with each fish posing a different challenge to catch.

With the mountainous and forested landscape covering much of southern Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, there are plenty of rivers, streams and tributaries that offer the public a great way to cool off over the summer. The Monocacy is just one of a few popular floating destinations in the area. For those of us north of the PA/MD border, the Conococheague Creek is another similar experience for adventurers to have a fun day on the water.

The Conococheague is a tributary in the Potomac River system, running 80 miles from start to finish. The majority of the creek lies in Pennsylvania, with prime floating locations near Greencastle, PA. Just 12 percent of the creek resides in Maryland before connecting to the Potomac River.

While both the Monocacy and the Conococheague eventually connect to the Potomac River, many of the sights to see and points of interest on the Monocacy tour are in and around the greater Frederick Area.

Historic locations like the Buckeystown Dam and the Monocacy National Battlefield run with the river, so a quick detour to do some exploring and to take in the history is an option worth checking out.

Whatever it is that draws you to the water, the Monocacy River float is a day trip the whole family can enjoy. Check out a location near you and grab a tube before the summer is over!

Wade and Alison McGahen kick back for a day of fun in the sun on the Monocacy River.

A group of friends hits the Monocacy waters with their favorite tubes on a hot summer day.

Accesses & Points Along the Monocacy

The Town of Thurmont is preparing to launch its automated speed monitoring program in an effort to decrease drivers’ speeds in school zones throughout the town. The primary goal is to provide consistent enforcement to make the streets safer for children, citizens, and motorists.

An automated speed enforcement system (ASE) is an enforcement technique with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds above a defined threshold. Images captured by the system are processed and reviewed in an office environment and violation notices are mailed to the registered owner of the identified vehicle.

Transportation Article §21-809 of the Maryland Annotated Code, effective October 1, 2009, authorizes local jurisdictions and municipalities to use automated speed enforcement systems in school zones. The Town passed and adopted local enabling legislation for the use of speed monitoring systems in school zones in February 2019. (Ordinance 2019-02, Chapter 127).

A school zone is a designated roadway segment within up to a half-mile radius of school buildings or grounds, along which school-related activities occur, and/or where there is a school crossing. The speed monitoring system will be in operation Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Town of Thurmont designates the following school zones within the Town: Thurmont Primary School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Thurmont Elementary School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Thurmont Middle School—Portions of East Main Street (Rt. 77), located within one half-mile radius of the school; Catoctin High School—Portions of North Church Street (Rt. 550), located within one half-mile radius of the school.

Appropriate signage designating the school zones shall be erected pursuant to the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and the guidelines for school zones established by the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Violators must be traveling at least 12 mph over the posted speed limit for the cameras to activate. The citations are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle and carry a $40 fine and no points. The citations are not reported to insurance companies. The vehicle owner may elect to pay the fine or contest the citation in court. The citation explains how to pay a violation or how to request a hearing in court.

The Town, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the State Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and State law, may give or cause to be given notice to the MVA of all vehicles registered by the State that are the subject of any outstanding and past due automated speed enforcement citations and request that the MVA suspend the registration, refuse registration, or refuse the transfer of registration of the subject vehicle until notified by the Town that the violation penalty has been satisfied.

A warning period began July 15 and will end on August 23. Once the warning period is complete, actual citations will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The violation is a civil citation, meaning there is no impact on your license status, no points assessed, and no insurance impact.

Senate Bill 350 Speed Monitoring Systems Reform Act of 2014 stipulates that a local jurisdiction that authorizes a program of speed monitoring systems shall designate an official or employee to investigate and respond to any inquiries related to the Speed Monitoring Program within a reasonable time.

The Town of Thurmont has designated Sgt. David Armstrong as the employee who hears and investigates complaints/concerns regarding the program. Sgt. Armstrong can be contacted at 301-271-0905, ext. 118, or at

The Safe Ride Foundation, Frederick County’s only anti-drunk driving nonprofit, has an exciting announcement. The foundation’s local ride program, SOS Safe Ride, the mobile app that promises to get you and your vehicle home safe, recently launched an upgraded membership option known as Safe Ride PLUS! For those who use SOS Safe Ride regularly, the intuitive donation platform is now offering the Frederick community unlimited rides for just $39.00 a month. From Frederick to New Market, Thurmont to Mt. Airy, no matter where you go in Frederick County, it’s free and lightning fast!

The SOS Safe Ride app began operating in Frederick County back in 2015, with The Safe Ride Foundation now celebrating four years of impaired driving prevention. In fighting drunk driving in our area, the foundation recognized that one of the biggest challenges for consumers in using a ride-share service was having to leave their car behind. “When I started SOS Safe Ride here in Frederick, I wanted to fix a problem that I ran into when going out. I may have needed my car the next day, or simply didn’t want to leave it downtown and potentially receive a ticket, or worse, a tow. Most of us living in the area have that issue because we’re pretty spread out here in Frederick County; it’s the largest county in Maryland, after all. So when you go out and wind up leaving your car, trying to get back to pick it up the next day can be a hassle, an annoying one at that,” explains Wayne Dorsey, president of SOS Safe Ride. “As great and convenient other rideshare operators can be, a shortcoming was that they couldn’t solve that issue.”

The SOS model of bringing two drivers provides a safe solution to this problem. Since launching, SOS has given over 9,500 safe rides home to county residents and their vehicles, contributing in part to a 14 percent decrease of Frederick County DUI-related arrests since 2016, according to local law enforcement.

With the upgraded app and unlimited ride program, SOS Safe Ride serves ALL of Frederick County. “Our nonprofit has brought on significantly more drivers. More drivers along with the upgraded mobile app will allow SOS to reach driver numbers we couldn’t have originally anticipated,” said Wayne Dorsey. “This means we’re prepared to expand this program in a big way and effectively double the number of safe rides home, significantly reducing DUI arrests.”

SOS Safe Ride is also well known for putting on various shows and engagements in and around Frederick, such as The “Over the Limit” Comedy Festival at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, the Good Ole Days Fair at Blue Sky Bar & Grill, and of course the Pump Your Brakes Booth that you can find downtown on Market Street every other Friday during the summertime!

SOS Safe Ride is committed to combating driving under the influence by creating easy, safe, and reliable solutions for the Frederick County community. Frederick County residents (exclusively Frederick County residents) can use the low-cost program as they go, or take advantage of Safe Ride Plus, providing unlimited safe rides home for a small monthly donation to the cause. Learn more about the organization, its mission, and how you can volunteer by visiting

James Rada, Jr.

A small group of town and county representatives helped dedicate the three new waysides that are the hoped-for beginning of a historic Emmitsburg walking trail. The dedication took place Saturday morning, June 29, 2019.

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved the development and installation of three markers in town to describe some historic sites in Emmitsburg.

The first is on the southeast corner of the town square and talks about the historical significance of the square.

“Just think for a moment,” Mayor Don Briggs said during his remarks, “We are standing where so many before have stood, moved around in Independence times, the Civil War, both World Wars, the Depression, and waved to President Eisenhower and Mamie on the way to their farm in Gettysburg.”

The other two markers are across the street from the Emmit House and the Doughboy statue. The Emmit House is a historical building with roots back to 1850, when it was known as Black’s Tavern.

The Doughboy is a historical statue erected to honor the town’s World War I Veterans.

Mayor Briggs; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; County Councilman Michael Blue; Emmitsburg Town Commissioners Tim O’Donnell, Cliff Sweeney, and Joe Ritz; and other county representatives were on hand to cut the ribbon, officially dedicating the waysides. Blue also read a proclamation from the county, declaring June 29, 2019, as Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day.

Briggs said that the square wayside dedication marked the end was nearing for the square revitalization and sidewalks projects. The town square revitalization efforts started in 2011. Since then, trees were planted, attractive brick work replaced cement, a town clock was erected, an informational kiosk installed, ADA-compliant curbing installed, and more. Briggs called it an “eight-year overnight success.”

“Once again, the square is pedestrian attractive, safer, and friendly,” Briggs remarked.

The waysides are designed and written by Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations.

The waysides are funded with a $9,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. The long-term goal is to create a historic walking tour through the town.

On June 29, 2019, Emmitsburg Town, Frederick County dignitaries, and community members gathered to dedicate the new wayside signs on a historic Emmitsburg walking trail through town.

Christine O’Connor

Poison Ivy

Most of us have heard the saying “leaves of three, let it be.” That oversimplification might cause some to dodge strawberry, clover, and many other attractive, innocuous plants.

Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy, is a widespread noxious plant, notorious for causing allergic skin reactions in the majority of humans that come into contact with this plant.

Poison ivy contains urushiol, an odorless, oily substance emitted by the plant when it is disturbed.  Urushiol is also found in poison sumac and poison oak, as well as a variety of nut trees and others.

Urushiol causes varying degrees of skin irritation, depending on an individual’s sensitivity. Reactions range from mild dermatitis and itching to large patches of painful, blistering skin.  

Poison ivy is not picky as to growing conditions, thriving anywhere from shady woodlands to sunny flower beds. It can resemble a shrub or imitate a tree-like habit, using hairy aerial roots to scale all manner of objects, from trees to power poles, stone fences, and masonry walls.

Many species of birds and mammals consume its high fat berry clusters or “drupes” when it fruits during the growing season and throughout the fall and winter. So, it’s no wonder these plants pop up in unexpected places from seeds that have passed through animals’ digestive tracts.

All parts of the plant contain urushiol, even after the plants have been dead for years, so great care must be exercised to safely dispose of yard waste. Extreme caution is required when burning brush, for errant poison ivy branches or wood with poison ivy vines clinging to it will result in urushiol being carried in the smoke and potentially into lungs of humans. Open burning of poison ivy is so dangerous, it’s against the law to do so in many states.

Domestic pets exposed to poison ivy can harbor urushiol on their coats, so its advisable to bathe pets after romps in the fields and trees.  Launder towels and wash collars,  leashes, and any pet toys that may have gotten urushiol on them. Urushiol can also be transferred to the skin if it’s left on clothing, footwear, gloves, and tools, so it’s important to thoroughly clean them after using. Rubbing alcohol is effective in removing urushiol, so keep a bottle or two handy when enjoying outdoor activities.

Some people have minor reactions to urushiol and will benefit from topical applications of  a variety of over-the-counter remedies; there is also a benefit to calamine lotion, baking soda paste, oatmeal baths, and cool compresses.

People who have a severe reaction to urushiol should seek medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, those include folks who have the rash on their face or genitalia, have blisters that show signs of infection by oozing pus, have a fever of over 100 degrees, or have a rash that persists for more than a few weeks.


Knowing what poison ivy looks like and the vast places it could be hiding allows us to give poison ivy a wide berth, avoiding the noxious plant. However, it’s a bit more challenging to stay off the menu of female mosquitoes that need human and animal blood to nourish their eggs’ development.

A significant number of mosquito-borne diseases have shown up in the United States, including encephalitis; yellow and dengue fevers; and West Nile virus, Zika virus, and the lesser known chikungunya virus. Reduce the odds of vulnerability to the bitey female’s needle-like proboscis by using some simple precautions.

Following a number of blood meals, the female mosquito lays her eggs in any amount of stagnant water. It can be a puddle or water in a cup left outdoors. Other typical offenders are buckets, saucers under flowerpots, clogged gutters, tarps, garbage cans, and a host of other places in the average yard.  Water troughs, water buckets, and birdbaths should be emptied and refilled every few days to prevent eggs from developing into “wrigglers,” the larval stage of mosquito metamorphosis.  Otherwise, add a device such as an appropriately rated pump to keep the water moving.

Female mosquitoes are known to be drawn to exhaled carbon dioxide, body heat, movement, and lactic acid exuded by sweat glands, especially during exertion.  Mosquitoes generally prefer moderate temperatures, around 80 degrees Fahrenheit; moderate to high humidity; and after a rain.  They are also a nuisance at dusk, dark, and dawn, but will avoid the hottest time of day when they can easily dehydrate and perish.

The first line of personal defense is to cover up as much as possible in light-colored clothing, for it is believed that the females are attracted to dark colors. And, as mosquitoes are notoriously weak fliers, save some outdoor pastimes for windy days. When sitting outdoors, an oscillating fan may be sufficient to mimic windy conditions and discourage the mosquitoes’ flight.

And, like with poison ivy, shower as soon as possible after exposure and treat any itching that might be present with any number of home or over-the-counter remedies.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.  

July 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg National Night Out on Aug. 6

Emmitsburg is planning a large celebration of National Night Out on August 6. The events will take place in Community Park at 201 West Lincoln Avenue, from 6:00-8:30 p.m.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is hosting its county-wide event in Emmitsburg. There is no admission. Enjoy hot dogs, ice cream, music, face painting, vendors, fire truck, SWAT teams, police K-9 demonstrations, McGruff the Crime Dog, and more.

National Night Out is a nationwide event, held annually on the first Tuesday in August, with the goal of making communities safer places to live by bringing police and the public together under positive circumstances. Emmitsburg has been hosting an annual National Night Out event since 2017.

All-Inclusive Playground Ready to be Installed

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the final funding for the new all-inclusive playground to be installed at Community Park. The $302,350 playground will be paid for with funds from a Community Legacy Grant, Program Open Space money, Emmitsburg capital funds, and the Civitan Club. Playground Specialists of Thurmont will do the installation.

The new playground is based on the all-inclusive playground design in Thurmont and is ADA compliant.

Cross Connection Control Contractors Approved

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved its recommended contractors for installing state-mandated backflow preventers.

Kelco Plumbing & Backhoe Services of Sabillasville is Emmitsburg’s approved residential low-hazard, non-testable backflow preventer contractor. Tri-County Plumbing & Heating of Rocky Ridge is the town’s approved commercial/industrial high-hazard, testable backflow preventer contractor.

Although these contractors are town recommended, homeowners and business owners are not required to use them.

Town Purchases Mini-Dump Truck

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the purchase of a new mini-dump truck from MJR Equipment. The new truck will replace a 2002 mini-dump truck and will be used for plowing, salting, hauling dirt and stone, work in the parks, and water line repairs. The cost of $73,950 was budgeted in the FY2019 capital projects budget.

MJR Equipment was one of three bids. Although it wasn’t the lowest bid, staff recommended it because of other factors, one of which is that MJR will come to town to pick up equipment and make repairs and bring any necessary parts.

Farmer’s Market Postponed

The 16th Annual Emmitsburg Farmer’s Market has been postponed indefinitely because too few vendors planned on offering their goods. It may return later in the season if enough vendors decide that they want to participate.

Mayor Don Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2019 Meeting

Commissioner Deal With State-Mandated Energy Changes

The State of Maryland is requiring electric companies to double the amount of renewable energy they use from 25 percent to 50 percent. In particular, the amount of renewable energy from solar polar is increasing from 2.5 percent to 14.5 percent.

These changes could drastically increase the electric bills of customers on the Thurmont power system. Currently, Thurmont has the second-lowest electric rates in the state, but these increases could potentially increase the cost of energy for Thurmont by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Under law, if a power system is not generating renewable energy, then the system must pay offset credit. These credits were costing $10 per megawatt hour. However, because the changes in state law instantly increases demand without creating additional sources of renewable energy credits, the cost of those credits has jumped to $60 per megawatt hour.

Commissioner Marty Burns was very upset with the changes, saying they weren’t sustainable and that they negatively impact residents.

The commissioners are pursuing a two-pronged approach right now to deal with the changes.

First, they want to lock in the current energy rates if possible. Energy costs have been dropping since the last time the town negotiated an energy contract. These savings could offset the increase energy credit costs for a couple of years.

Second, the town will work with the Town of Easton and other small energy companies to lobby elected officials to try and get some relief.

Town Uses Outside Electric Company to Supplement Town Staff

The Town of Thurmont has seen an increase in after-hours calls to deal with power outages, but it currently does not have enough trained staff to fully handle the calls. Because of this, the town has entered into a contract with Diamond Electric in Keedysville to supplement town staff when after-hours power problems happen. The goal is to get enough town staff trained to handle things, but this will take time. In the meantime, Diamond Electric will keep town staff from being over-worked.

Year-End Budget Adjustments Were Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the year-end budget amendment to balance out the fiscal year 2019 budget before it closed at the end of June. These included income increases due to interest on accounts and grants received. On the expenditure sides, various amounts were moved from one line item to another. The adjustments were small, with none of them causing concern among the commissioners.

Mayor John Kinnaird

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deb Abraham Spalding

Scott and Michelle Calderon have opened the new Country Corner Thrift Store, located at 224 North Church Street, Unit C2 (where old Blockbuster and Curves were located), in Thurmont. Having formerly run a thrift store in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, the Rouzerville, Pennsylvania couple proclaim—in unison— that their store is, “…NOT A CONSIGNMENT STORE. We’re a discount store. We give a discount coupon to every person who brings us a drop-off of goods.”

Scott further explained, “Because you get a discount coupon every time you bring in goods, it’s wise to bring in a few grocery bags of goods, rather than trash bags of goods. It’s also wise to space out your drop-offs.”

This process allows the Calderons to keep their prices truly thrifty. In fact, Country Corner prices are unbelievably low because there are no consignment fees to pay out, no staff time spent to figure out percentages, and no hidden costs. Scott stated, “We are not non-profit, we will never be non-profit.” They get their products from shopper drop-offs and from bulk overstock discounted purchases from stores.

At Country Corner Thrift Store, you’ll find a wide variety of media, clothing, household items, housewares, books, bedding, tools, and so forth. They also buy video games at 60 percent of the price they would sell them. Michelle said, “We sell anything and everything. No…I’ll rephrase that…we consider selling anything and everything. There are some things we can’t sell.”

The couple sells some antiques, but most of those have a functional use. Because they operate a true thrift store, their goal is to eliminate the need to wheel and deal and bicker about prices. Things are just unbelievably cheap. Please note that Country Corner will not accept mattresses, upholstered items, or pillows. Drop-offs should be laundered and/or cleaned before being dropped off.

To drop off goods, please carry your items in grocery bags into the store. Please don’t leave bags at the door. Call 301-524-3615 for more information.

Thurmont Town Commissioner Wayne Hooper (left), Mayor John Kinnaird (second from right), and Commissioner Bill Buehrer (right) welcome business owners Scott and Michelle Calderon (middle) of the Country Corner Thrift Store in Thurmont.

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held at Catoctin High School, 14745 Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, on September 6-8, 2019. 

On September 7,  the annual Pet Show’s registration begins at 10:00 a.m. on the front lawn of the school. The Pet Show will begin at 10:30 a.m. Entries will be accepted from any person in the Catoctin High School feeder area. All pets must be handled by their owners. 

New this year will be the addition of premium money for winners in each class: 1st —$5.00; 2nd—$4.50 ; 3rd—$4.00. Premium checks will be mailed to exhibitors by November 15. Champion and Reserve Champion awards will be selected from the first-place winners of all 12 classes. There is only one entry per person in each class, and you may enter as many classes as you wish. 

Pet Show Classes: Class 1—Cat with Prettiest Eyes; Class 2—Cat with Longest Whiskers; Class 3—Cutest Cat; Class 4—Best Trained Pet; Class 5—Dog with Waggiest Tail; Class 6—Prettiest Dog (25 lbs. and under); Class 7—Prettiest Dog (26 lbs. and over); Class 8—Best Costumed Pet; Class 9—Pet with Most Spots; Class 10—Largest Pet (by height); Class 11—Most Unusual Pet; Class 12—Smallest Pet.

Additional Important Pet Show Information: An ant is not a pet, animals are not allowed in the school, and please bring your own lawn chairs to enjoy watching the Pet Show.   

Before the Pet Show begins, Thurmont Police Department’s Cpl. Tim Duhan will give a K-9 demonstration with the department’s police dog, Majo.

The Community Show’s admission and parking are free. Please stop by the hospitality booth at the high school’s entrance and sign up for door prizes, which will be drawn each evening. Also, a silver offering will be received to benefit the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks.  

The Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC) has kicked into high gear this summer in its effort to educate the public about the dangers of addiction and to sponsor activities that promote awareness and healthy living.

At the end of May, a showing of the documentary Heroin’s Grip was held at Catoctin High School to a large audience and featured a guest panel discussion.  In June, TAC presented an Overdose Response Training workshop at the Thurmont Library, which also provided instruction to administer Narcan. 

The FUSE Teen Center recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and what a busy year it’s been. A handful of FUSE’rs traveled to Washington D.C. for a guided tour of the White House. In addition, a FUSE Fun Day took place on June 8 for area teenagers, with a great response from local establishments. 

On July 16, TAC hosted a “Hands on Addictions Advocacy Workshop” in the back room of the Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont. This event was free and open to the community. On July 24, FUSE hosted the ‘Kick-IT for FUSE Kickball Tournament,” in conjunction with Potter Baseball Tour, at the Thurmont Little League field. The event was open to all ages. There was also a movie shown on the baseball field that evening.

Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 3, will be a day of volleyball fun and good times at the “Spike for a Cause” Volleyball Tournament. This event will be held at Libertytown Park. If you are an adult and interested in joining a team, contact Mike Schilling at 301-305-5529.

On August 31, from 7:00-8:00 p.m., there will be an Overdose Awareness Luminary and Program at Mechanicsburg Park in Thurmont. This event is open to the public.

Momentum is building to turn Frederick County Purple in September for National Recovery Month, to bring awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and to celebrate those living in recovery.  More information can be found at or on Facebook at There are many opportunities for the public to get involved. We encourage you to get involved and help Turning Frederick County Purple!

TAC is always looking for volunteers or individuals that want to help combat addiction in our communities. Those interested may email or on Facebook at

Come to the Shrine and pray for servicemen and women at the Annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in Emmitsburg. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the Patroness of the Sea Services, which include the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Public Health Service. The late Cardinal John J. O’Connor advocated for her designation as the Patroness of the Sea Services in 1977, when he served as the Navy Chief of Chaplains. The Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, SJ, the current Bishop of Oakland, California, and who also served for many years as a chaplain in the Naval Reserve.

“It will be a very special honor to have Bishop Barber, who recently retired from the Navy Chaplain Corps with his broad background of military service, join us for the annual Pilgrimage,” said retired Admiral William J. Fallon, chair of the Pilgrimage Sponsoring Committee. “Bishop Barber has served with our Navy and Marine Corps in many places around the world, including a deployment to the Middle East during the war in Iraq and also on aircraft carriers and with Marine units. He’s provided spiritual guidance to numerous deployed servicemen and women in a variety of circumstances, and we will be so pleased to welcome him to the Pilgrimage.”

“We’re grateful for all of the servicemen and women who’ve taken part in the Pilgrimage over the years,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the Seton Shrine. “It’s a prayerful and moving time for them to join with their family members and others in thanking Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for her protection and to ask for her continued intercession on their behalf as they serve our country.”

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, and a co-sponsor of the Pilgrimage said “This annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine is to be commended. With two sons serving in the Sea Services, Elizabeth Ann Seton is a fine example of sacrifice, service, and love for our country and its people.”

The Pilgrimage Mass will take place at 3:00 p.m. on October 6, in the Basilica at the Seton Shrine, located at 339 South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

A complimentary dinner will be provided afterward to all in attendance. If you would like to attend, please contact Rob Judge at 301-447-6037 or through email at

Over the past 100 years, Roger Atkins has been on quite the adventure!

Roger was born in the big city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1919. Roger recalled his first job, which was making nuts and bolts, followed by working at the Pittsburg Steel Mill.

Roger is a graduate from Perdue, with a degree in metellurgy. He also worked a summer as a lumber jack up north, and then settled down for a career with the U.S. Government, retiring in his mid-60s.

Roger is a Veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in both World War II and Vietnam. He has been a resident of his favorite little town, Detour, for 50 years. He has three children—two sons and a daughter—plus two grandchildren. He enjoys getting his exercise at physical therapy, and spending time calling and speaking with his sweetheart of 35 years, Darleen.

The Fort Ritchie Community Center has been robbed! Gold recovered from a sunken Pirate ship on loan to the Community Center’s summer program has gone missing. Luckily, participants in the summer camp program are on the case collecting and deciphering clues as part of the Crime Scene Investigators theme week.

“We know one of the staff took the gold,” said a seven year old male camper, adding the gold would be too heavy for his bookbag. Participants will get some professional guidance to help break the case from the Washington County Special Response Team comprised of local law enforcement officers this week. A field trip is planned to see a local courtroom. Video surveillance of the room where the gold was on display will also help the campers identify the culprit.

“The CSI week was the first week to sell out in terms of registration this year,” said Buck Browning, director of the Community Center. “Our staff does a great job planning the activities for each theme week and then the involvement from agencies and other groups really help make the experiences memorable and exciting for the campers,” he added.

Browning credits the summer camp staff with designing the activities so campers use a broad range of critical thinking skills to collect clues and work together to identify suspects and then ultimately decide who they think took the gold.

The Community Center located in Cascade provides nine weeks of summer camp activities for local children between the ages of 6 and 13. Each week features a theme, such as Crime Scene Investigators, Sports, Outdoor Adventure, Robotics, and the Arts. Guest presenters, specialized activities, and field trips are incorporated into the traditional summer camp schedule.

The Fort Ritchie Community Center is located on the former Fort Ritchie property. In addition to summer camp activities, the Community Center features a fitness center, exercise classes, two gymnasiums, and a museum highlighting the history of the property. Programs offered through the Center include job skills for youth, senior citizen activities, and various community events such as craft shows and holiday celebrations. For more information regarding the Community Center, visit its website at

Emma Ginn, Finley Brodsky, BreElla Guildoo, Isabel Brodsky, Mitchell Hundley, Jaylyn Etter (staff), Sarah Henry, Hunter Stockslager, Casey Lowe, and Gabe Riling look over the crime scene as part of the CSI Week at the Fort Ritchie Community Center summer camp.

Community Heritage Day was held on June 29, 2019, at the Emmitsburg Community Park. This much-anticipated annual event is enjoyed by the whole community and features many fun activities, shows, crafts, fireworks, and many more, as well as many contests, including sack races, art contest, egg toss, and more. A list of winners for each contest is listed below.

Up to 6 years—Wyatt Droneburg; Ages 7-11—Blake Cool; Ages 12-16—Lexi Cool; 17 and older—Jess Miraballe.

Sack Races (Singles)

Up to 4 years: 1st—Emma Blair, 2nd—Easton Beck; Ages 5-8: 1st—Savanah Phebus, 2nd—Layton Black; Ages 9-12: 1st—Madison Ball, 2nd—Jeremy Talcott; Ages 13-16: 1st—Joseph Larrivee, 2nd—Michael Legare.

Sack Races (Doubles)

Up to 8 years: 1st—Layton Black/Kaleb Wolfe, 2nd—Bridget Ball/Brielle Calhoun; Ages 9-12: 1st—Bella Tramma/Sarah Keifer, 2nd—Madison Ball/Aubrey Calhoun; Ages 13-16: 1st—Tessa McKenzie/Aria Calhoun, 2nd—Michael Legare/Joseph Larrivee; Ages 17 and up: 1st—Nicodemus Powell/Chankiri Franco, 2nd Tie—Barrett Turner/Issac Mills, 2nd Tie—Becca Corbeol/Theresa Buchheit.

Egg Toss

1st—Thomas Legare/Matthias Buchheister.

Pie Eating Contest

Up to 8 years: 1st—Lily Coblentz, 2nd—Cora Krom; Ages 9-12: 1st—Curtis Heath, 2nd—Grady Abruzzese; 13 and older: 1st—Jason Krom, 2nd—Phil Abruzzese.

Watermelon Eating Contest

Kids: 1st—Curtiss Heath, 2nd—Lynzee Davis; Adults: 1st—Gary Suit, 2nd—Jessi Miller.

Parade Winners

Scouts BSA Troop 727; Catoctin Aires; Emmitsburg Lions Club; REM Ranch (Rodney Myers – 6 Horses); Catoctin Baseball; Superstar Twirlers; Miss B’s Family Day Care; Emmitsburg Council of Churches; Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company #13; Race Car; SS Car (#19).

Horseshoes Contest Winners

Dave Miller; Gilbert Luckenbaugh; John Smith; Tom Weller; Bill Klunk; Mike Love Joy; David Wantz, Jr.; David Wantz III; Josh Weikert; Wade Droneburg; Donnie Kaas, Sr.; Robert Dewees; Robert Dewees, Jr.; Rick Wivell.

Art Contest Winners

Prizes are: $150 (1st), $100 (2nd), $50 (3rd), $25 (4th), $10 (5th); a total of $945 in prizes this year.

Division 1 (1st-3rd Grades): 1st—Kendall Crutchfield, 2nd—Presley Green, 3rd—Lucy Mae Whittington, 4th—Evan Zachary Ryder, 5th—Robert Lee Koontz; Division 2 (4th-6th Grades): 1st—Ripleigh Maring, 2nd—Chelsea Reifsnider, 3rd—Aiden Shranatan, 4th—Blake Smith, 4th—Elena Grace Crutchfield, 4th—Sascha Zurawski, 5th—Annabelle James; Division 3 (7th-8th Grades): 1st—Arianna Calhoun, Michael LaGare.

Theresa Dardanell

Thurmont Primary

Open House and visitation for all students and parents will be on Thursday, August 29, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Please come to meet your teacher and tour the school. 

Kindergarten parent/guardian orientation will be held on Thursday, August 22, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for parents only (no children, please). 

Thurmont Elementary

Thurmont Elementary is excited to announce that they will once again have an opportunity for your child to meet his/her teacher before school starts. Last year, they had quite a successful turnout and students seemed excited to meet their teachers and classmates. On Thursday, August 29, from 3:40-4:40 p.m., the school will have “The Great Reveal” again, which will allow you to find your child’s classroom and hear about the new school year, as well as meet his/her teacher. “We’re so looking forward to opening a new school year with you and your children. Enjoy the remainder of the summer with your children. Be sure to mark your calendar!” —Debbie O’Donnell, Principal

Sabillasville Elementary

Back-to-School Night will be on Thursday, August 29, at 6:00 p.m.

Lewistown Elementary

Back to School Open House Night for all grade levels, pre-K through fifth grade, will be on Thursday, August 29, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. The Open House begins in the cafeteria, with staff introductions and ice cream treats. Visit the classrooms and meet the teachers. Join the PTA and purchase spirit wear.

Thurmont Middle

Open House will be on August 21, from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and 1:00-4:00 p.m. Pick up your schedule and take a self-guided tour. Chromebook payments can be made by cash or check. T-shirts will be available for sale (also cash or check only). Come and meet your teachers during Back-to-School Night on August 29, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Catoctin High

Back-to-School Night will be Thursday, August 29, from 6:00-7:45 p.m.  Pick up your schedules, learn about clubs, visit the classrooms, and meet the teachers. Also, meet Jennifer Clements, Catoctin High School’s new principal.  

Area churches and organizations in Emmitsburg, Lewistown, Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville, and Thurmont are working to provide students in need with school supplies for the 2019-2020 school year.

This program is to assist students attending the Catoctin Feeder Schools.   These schools include Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary & Pyramid Program, Sabillasville Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle, and Catoctin High.

The 2019 Annual Catoctin Community School Supply Drive is going to be held on Tuesday, August 20,  from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., at the Graceham Moravian Church, located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont. 

If you would like to donate to this program, please drop off school supplies, cash donations, or gift cards (Walmart) to the church on August 14 from 9:00 a.m. until noon. 

Any questions or concerns, please contact Coordinator Jennifer Harbaugh at 301-639-9970 or

Blair Garrett

Teachers are an integral part in the development of youth today.

Over the course of the school year, they work day in and day out to give children a well-rounded education. But what about over the summer months when kids are out of school?

Teachers like Missy Kearchner, who teaches fifth grade at Emmitsburg Elementary School, continue the push to strengthen the curriculum and prepare new teachers for the upcoming year.

“I’m working with rewriting the curriculum and making sure we’re touching all the indicators that are important in sixth grade, and then I build the website for teachers for the entire county,” Kearchner said.

Kearchner archives resources like videos and worksheets for other teachers to use during the school year. “I’ll do that throughout the summer, and then during the school year I’ll keep editing and revising it.”

The work doesn’t end on the official last day of school each June for teachers. Much evaluation and development is done to adjust specialized subjects like math and science to better suit students as they continue on with their education into middle school and high school.

Kearchner then spends weeks over the course of June and July focusing on curriculum writing for the county, editing and making changes to ensure the upcoming school year’s academic goals have a foundation to build toward. With the curriculum paired with the website, teachers now have resources designed to cut down on extra time needed to spend putting together teaching plans.

The work done to provide strategies for new teachers across the county is a major focus for Kearchner, but her main focus over the remaining weeks of summer is on improving Emmitsburg Elementary.  

“We are also looking at our school, specifically, making sure we make it the best for this upcoming year,” Kearchner stated. “We’re brainstorming new ideas: how can we get the kids excited to be coming to school and how can we make sure while we’re keeping them excited, we’re still getting the math and reading scores up and closing that achievement gap.”

Much of the work teachers do across all grades is behind the scenes, but it’s necessary to best prepare students for the next step in their schooling, whether that’s the jump to middle school or the jump to college.

The involvement with parents has been a key in improving the parent-teacher and parent-student relationships. “This week, we’re actually making videos for parents of teachers to show them how their kids are learning at school,” Kearchner explained. “We’re working on a video for parents with an example showing them how to solve problems, and we’re showing parents that we can send these out with newsletters throughout, so hopefully then parents will be able to help their students.”

The countless hours required to be put in by teachers to bring success to their students may sometimes fly under the radar, but the impact absolutely reflects on the students’ school experience. “I haven’t had a day off since school ended,” Kearchner said.

Kearchner’s actual summer break lasts for just two weeks before new teacher orientation kicks off, where she shows teachers fresh out of college how to set up and prepare their classroom for the upcoming year. After orientation, the cycle repeats as soon as kids once again flood the halls at school for a fresh, new year.

It’s hard to quantify just how much effort teachers like Kearchner pour into their craft, but nobody benefits more than the kids who move in and out Emmitsburg Elementary.

Six graduating eighth graders took home Mother Seton School’s (MSS)highest honors for both academic achievement and outstanding character. Beckett Tayler of Frederick received the President’s Award for Educational Excellence due to his maintaining an average above 92 throughout grades 6-8, as well as ranking in the top 10 percent of the nation on standardized tests. Beckett was also selected as one of two recipients of the Mother Seton School Spirit Award for Outstanding Christian Character.

Mackenzie Orndorff of Emmitsburg was the other recipient of the Mother Seton School Spirit Award for Outstanding Christian Character. Awardees are chosen each year from among the graduating classes by faculty and staff members.

“This year’s recipients were unanimously chosen,” Sister Brenda Monahan, D.C., principal, said. “Normally we have to go through a few rounds of votes, but Beckett and Mackenzie have exemplified what it means to embody the Christian spirit during their years at MSS.”

Four of Beckett and Mackenzie’s classmates were also recognized for outstanding achievement. Jameson Doll of Emmitsburg, Brendan Guinan of Rocky Ridge, Helen Hochschild of Emmitsburg, and Grant Kelly of Emmitsburg each received the President’s Award for Educational Achievement for maintaining an A/B average throughout grades 6-8 and scoring in the 80th percentile on standardized testing.

by Buck Reed

Stir Fry Guidelines

Stir-frying is a great way to prepare a quick main course or meal. These dishes are low in fat and taste fresh, and the textures are very appealing. However, getting them to turn out right can be a little challenging. Using the following guidelines and practice can help.



A heavy skillet can do the job properly; you really should investigate purchasing a wok. The design of the wok helps to distribute the heat, which is needed to cook the ingredients properly and evenly. This shape also keeps the oil from splattering, and it prevents the contents from spilling over the sides as you stir or toss them. A wok can work well as a regular fry pan or even a deep fryer.

Wooden Spoons

Use wooden spoons to keep your ingredients moving in your wok. Using two of them will also help you pick up and turn the ingredients.



You will need an oil with a high “smoke point,” that is, one that you can heat to a high temperature without it burning. Peanut, sesame, safflower, vegetable, and even olive oil or a combination of any two, will make excellent choices. NEVER use butter or margarine as these will not work well under the kind of heat that you need to generate.


Choose vegetables that are fresh, and clean them under warm water. Cut each vegetable into the same size pieces so they will cook uniformly. Some canned vegetables are acceptable, such as water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, but try to stick to fresh whenever possible.


Most any kind of meat, poultry, or seafood can work well. Cut into a uniform size.


Be Ready With All Ingredients

Since this is a very quick cooking method, make sure all of your ingredients are prepared and ready to go into the pan.

You will not have time to find that one essential ingredient as your stir fry burns away.

What to Add First and Last

First, add the oil to your heated wok. Pour it in so that it covers the sides. After the oil heats, add any aromatic ingredients: onions, garlic, ginger. These will help flavor the oil and transfer that flavor to the rest of your dish. Stir them around a few seconds, but do not allow them to burn.

Then, progressively add the other ingredients, starting with the ingredients that require the longest cooking time. Meats or poultry would probably be your first choice, as you will want to get a fast sear on them before they start to cook.

If you are cooking seafood, such as shrimp and scallops, you may want to sear them and cook them most of the way, then remove them. Add them back to the stir fry towards the end to heat them back up and finish cooking them.

Then, denser vegetables like carrots and celery should go into the wok, followed by softer things such as green beans, zucchini, and bell peppers. Then, you’ll want to add leafy vegetables, like spinach, near the end of the cooking time. Also, this is a good time to add any canned vegetables or nuts you may be using.

Finally, add any sauces or flavorings that the recipe requires, and, in some cases, thicken with corn starch. As you are cooking and adding your ingredients, use your wooden spoon to toss and stir them. You want to get every part of the stir fry into contact with the base as evenly as possible, so they cook properly.

All kinds of ingredients are good for stir fry, so do not be afraid to experiment. You can make a different one each time, experimenting with different sauces and vegetables and meats.

If you follow the guidelines and practice often, you will soon be making stir fry dishes that you and your family will thoroughly enjoy.

The Anger of Innocence

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

Part 2: The Power

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Sarah Adelsberger’s hand trembled as the 14-year-old reached for the bottle of Coca-Cola on her aunt’s kitchen table. She grasped the glass bottle with both hands and gulped down most of the soda until she thought a giant belch would explode from her throat.

Had she really seen thousands of birds attack another student from Thurmont Middle School? If not, then what had happened to Christine Weber? The birds had surrounded and covered her, and when they had left, Christine had vanished.

Sarah shivered and then smiled. It might be a terrifying image to recall, but Christine, her school tormentor, was gone.

A macaw landed on the table in front of Sarah. She jumped. It was just Francis, her Aunt Anna’s pet bird. Unlike any pet bird Sarah had ever seen, Francis wasn’t kept in a cage. He was allowed to fly around the house wherever he wanted. Amazingly, he always seemed to do his business in a sink or toilet. Aunt Anna insisted the bird wasn’t trained, but birds didn’t do that on their own, did they?

“Sarah, what’s wrong?”

Her aunt had stood up from the table to get herself a piece of apple pie. Now she stared at Sarah from the counter.

“I saw something today…I think it was horrible, but I’m not sure,” Sarah said.

“Tell me.”

So Sarah explained how she had followed Christine home after school to confront her and end Christine’s bullying. Sarah had been standing behind a tree, working up her courage to confront Christine, when the birds had attacked, and Christine had vanished.

“Marvelous,” Aunt Anna said when Sarah finished.

“Marvelous? Didn’t you listen? Christine vanished!”

Aunt Anna nodded. “I heard you. It was your power protecting you.”

Sarah shook her head. “My power? What power? What are you talking about?”

Aunt Anna pulled a chair near Sarah. She sat down across from her niece and held her hands. Anna Whitcomb was only 10 years older than Sarah, so they were more like friends than aunt and niece.

“I’ve been telling you that you have power. It runs in our family. If you have it, it makes itself known during puberty,” Anna said.

Sarah’s brow furrowed. This is what her aunt had been talking to her about since the school year had started? Sarah had just thought her aunt was a women’s libber, talking about the power of women in the 1970s.

But, this…this was unreal. Yet, Sarah had seen it happen.

“Christine was a bully,” her aunt said. “You told me so yourself.”

Sarah nodded slowly. “Christine had been picking on me again in school, calling me a cow.”

Sarah was pudgy, while Christine had hit puberty early and wore make-up so she looked like a high school prom queen. People said Sarah, her aunt, and Sarah’s mother all looked like sisters. Sarah only hoped that in 10 years she would look like her aunt with her shapely figure.

“Your power acted to protect you from Christine,” Anna said.

“But what about Christine?” Sarah asked. “All I found was a little bit of blood and a piece of her book bag.”

Sarah pulled the piece of blue canvas out of her pocket. She held it up for her aunt to see.

Anna smiled and nodded. “In that moment, you must have hated Christine for what she did to you, and your power worked through the familiars to take care of it for you.”

“My familiars?”

“Your spirit animal. Familiars can use our power to aid us when we need it. In our family, birds are often our familiars.”

Sarah glanced at Francis, who was still sitting on the table seemingly following the conversation. He even nodded when Sarah looked at him.

“But how?” Sarah asked.

Anna stroked Sarah’s hair. Their hair was the same color, but Sarah thought hers was stringy compared with her aunt’s lustrous, raven-black hair. “That doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that judging by the number of birds that responded to your need, you are very powerful, and that power will take care of any problems that threaten you.”

Sarah knew her aunt meant to comfort her, but the comment scared her.

When Sarah’s mother picked her up after she finished work, Sarah said nothing about what had happened to Christine. Aunt Anna had warned her that people who didn’t understand the power would not believe her or even fear her.

At the dinner table with her parents, Sarah stared out the window at the birds eating from one of the feeders that her mom maintained in the backyard.

“It’s late in the season for so many birds to be around,” her mother said when she noticed Sarah staring out the window.

“Is it?” Sarah said, barely paying attention to what her mother was saying.

“It’s November,” her mother said. “Most of them should have flown south to warmer places.”

“Why not all of them?”

“I guess they have a reason to stay. They’re lovely, aren’t they? I love to watch them fly. They are so free when they are in the air, gliding along on nothing but an air current.” Her mother sighed as she turned to watch three starlings hopping around on a bird feeder.

Later, after Sarah finished washing the dinner dishes, she put on a jacket and walked into the backyard to get closer to the birds.

She comes.

Sarah looked around but saw no one. “Who’s there?”

Will you make us act?

She realized the voice was in her head, but it wasn’t her voice. Then she saw a cowbird sitting at her feet. She held out her hand to the bird, and it flew up and landed on her palm. Sarah leaned closer and stared at the bird.

What would you force us to do this time?

“Is that your voice I’m hearing?”

Let us leave.

“Us? What? The birds?”

You are bad.

Sarah frowned. “What are you talking about?”

You force us.

“I don’t force you to do anything.”

You made us take the other one.

The other one must have meant Christine. She was the only one the birds had taken.

“I didn’t make you take her. The power did.” Sarah realized that she was arguing with a bird, but she couldn’t help it. She felt a surge of anger come from nowhere.

You are bad.

“Then go!” Sarah yelled. “If you want to leave so much. Go!”

The cowbird flew off of her hand, its wings flapping furiously. Sarah thought it would fly away, but it flew full force into the side of the house. She heard a sickening thud, and then the bird fell to the ground.

The anger vanished.

Sarah ran over and scooped up the bird in her hands. It didn’t move. She stroked its head gently.

“Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.”

The bird’s head turned at an awkward angle. Its wings flapped, and suddenly it was standing in her hand.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

The bird stared at her, and Sarah realized that instead of black, the bird’s eyes were a smoky white.

Fly now.

Sarah heard the voice, but it wasn’t the same as the voice she had heard earlier. This one was deeper and sounded scratchy.

“It that you?” she asked.


The bird flew off.

Had she brought the bird back to life? What was happening to her?

The Getaway

by Valerie Nusbaum

Randy and I haven’t been able to do much traveling over the last several years, and we both miss our excursions and adventures, particularly the road trips to places unknown. Since we can’t take those long vacations any more, we made a bargain with each other to find new places to visit that are closer to home and can be reached in a few hours. Day trips can be fun and spontaneous, with no reservations required and no deposits to be lost if the trip has to be cancelled.

Not too long ago, we were spending a lazy morning having breakfast and reading the newspaper. I mean the actual newspaper, not the internet news.  We’re dinosaurs, remember?  Anyway, I saw an ad for Seven Springs Resort somewhere in Pennsylvania, and I was curious about it. This was a Saturday morning and still early, so we looked at each other and said, “Why not?” The ad I’d seen advertised a food truck festival and a grand and glorious fireworks display at dusk. Over 30 food trucks were promised and 3,000 brilliant explosions lasting forty minutes. How could we go wrong?

We got ready, grabbed our go-bags and some water bottles and headed out the door. We gassed up the truck, got some cash (again, we’re dinosaurs), and decided to swing through the McDonald’s drive-thru for some sustenance and Diet Cokes. I ordered the oatmeal and Randy got an Egg McMuffin, along with our drinks. We pulled up to the pay window and the nice lady said that our order had been paid for by the person in front of us. Wow! What a nice thing to have happen, and we’re very grateful to our unknown benefactor. Randy looked like a deer caught in the headlights, because he’d had a previous experience with the “pay-it-forward” thing and it hadn’t gone well. I nudged him and told him to ask the cost of the order behind us. It wasn’t much at all and we were happy to pay for it. An even better thing was that we recognized the folks in the car behind us. We don’t know them, per se, but we’ve seen them around town, and we were glad to do something for them.

The Nusbaums headed out of Thurmont feeling good about things and excited to be out and about.  I always enjoy being on the road with Randy because we have some of our best conversations during those times. We sight-see and we aren’t on the clock, so if we want to pull over and explore something, we can do that. I did remind him that the food truck festival started at 3:00 p.m., but we had plenty of time and the trip would only take three hours at most.

Seven Springs Resort is in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, not far from Somerset. That’s an area we’d wanted to visit anyway, so we took note of things that we’d want to look at in more detail on a possible future trip there.  Breakfast had been early, and we’d skipped lunch in order to be hungry enough to visit several of the food trucks. Don’t judge us. It was an adventure.

Along the way, we did notice a restaurant in Somerset called Eat & Park. The place was packed, and I’m sure we’ll stop there if we go back up that way again; but, it did beg the question: Shouldn’t the order of the name be reversed? I’d definitely park first.

We finally found the resort nestled way, way back in the mountain. We parked and went looking around. We found it to be a very rustic place, with lots of activities. Of course, the ski slopes weren’t in use, but the lifts were, and there were toboggan rides.  The weather was actually a bit chilly and drizzly, but it felt good to us after the heat wave we’d been experiencing.

We purchased our tickets for the festival, and were waiting at the gate with a lot of other hungry people at 3:00 p.m. It became a blur after that. The best empanadas ever—I’m still dreaming about them. Then, a chili-rice bowl and lasagna-stuffed eggrolls. The list goes on and on. We ate a s’mores crepe and then some pizza. Randy and I shared everything so that we could taste more dishes. I didn’t care for the smoked mac and cheese, and I’m still not sure what the Venezuelan platter was all about. I do know that the three meats were delicious, but I honestly don’t know if I ate plantains or French fries.

 Luckily, I had some Tums in my go-bag. Incidentally, old people carry go-bags when we take day trips. Extra underwear and a toothbrush are always a good idea.

The hours flew by, and since we had planned to see the fireworks, we decided to see if we could get a room for the night. Yes! We were pretty tired, so we sat on our balcony in our make-shift pajamas and watched the gorgeous display.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it, but I did point out that it only lasted twenty minutes—not the forty minutes we’d been promised. 

We went inside our room and stretched out on the bed. It was 10:00 p.m. We’d had a full day, stuffed ourselves, and we were tired. Then the second act of the fireworks started. We didn’t care.  We just opened the curtains and watched through the window.