Currently viewing the tag: "Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird"

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in two new Officers to the Thurmont Police Department in May.

“Officer Hayden Glunt and Officer Brett Sharp recently graduated from the Police Academy and will begin patrolling this week. I want to give a warm Thurmont welcome to both of the Officers and thank them for serving our community,” stated Mayor John Kinnaird.

James Rada Jr.

Last month, Thurmont opened its skateboard park in town. A year ago, it hadn’t been on anyone’s radar, but a group of Thurmont youth committed themselves to making the project a reality.

So, what can you do if you have a project you want to see: a new park, art installation, playground, or something else in your town? What if you are a Scout looking for approval of your Eagle Project?

“The first thing you should do is make a presentation to your elected officials and back it with a large turnout at the meeting when you make the presentation, and have a petition signed by a lot of people,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

You don’t need to be on the agenda. You can sign up to make your initial presentation as public comment. However, be aware there is a time limit for public comment, so you will need to make your initial pitch short. If you back that short presentation with a petition and lots of people in attendance supporting you, it will show the commissioners that residents are interested in the project.

“If the Board likes the idea, then they will either add it to the agenda at an upcoming meeting for more details and approvals or direct staff to work with the person/group on the project,” said Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets.

She added that another option is for the person or group to email the commissioners with their ideas. The commissioners can than decide whether they want to pursue the idea.

Once the interest from town government is sparked in your project, you can do things to help maintain that interest and smooth out any problems that might come up.

Mayor Kinnaird recommends that the person or group needs to commit to making it happen. The Thurmont youth who wanted the skateboard park went out and did fundraising for it and raised a quarter of the costs for the park.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who get a project started,” Kinnaird said. “Then they show up for two meetings, and you never see them again.”

He said over the years, town youth and parents have expressed an interest in having something more in Thurmont for youth to do. However, in those cases, no one took action or committed to making it happen, unlike the group who worked to make the skateboard park a reality.

Another thing to do is watch what is going on with your town government. Sometimes, getting a project moving is all about timing. In the case of the skateboard park, the youth made their presentation at the time when the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were talking about what projects to include in their Program Open Space proposal.

A final tip is to think about the size of the project. The larger it is, the more levels of government are going to be involved. If the project has a footprint larger than 5,000 sq. ft., the State of Maryland requires a stormwater management plan and an erosion and sediment study. This increases the project cost and how long the project will take. The skateboard park didn’t need this because it was a smaller project and the town already owned the land.

“I think for any project to go quickly is to have the plan set, funding set and open lines of communication with the elected officials and staff,” Willets said.

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin Colorfest returned this year after having been canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year’s festival on October 9-10 brought tens of thousands of people to crowd the streets and parks in Thurmont as they shopped for unique crafts and enjoyed their favorite festival foods.

One Chinese food vendor brought 500 lbs. of chicken to use for their offerings, and it was gone by the end of the weekend. The Thurmont Ambulance Company sold 11,000 of their popular apple dumplings. Many visitors could be seen pulling camp wagons filled with items they had purchased at the show.

“It was quite successful this year,” said Colorfest President Carol Robertson. “A lot of vendors told me that Saturday was their single best day since they had been working Colorfest.”

The weather on Saturday was pleasant, which encouraged plenty of shoppers to venture out and begin their Christmas shopping early. Visitors came from all along the East Coast, and one vendor even came from California.

“Saturday was a really good day,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird. “It was easily 40-50,000 people in town.”

Sunday’s weather, however, was damp and threatening rain most of the day. This lessened the number of festival visitors, particularly in the afternoon.

There were no reported problems caused by COVID. People who were worried about it stayed home. Some visitors wore masks, and Colorfest, Inc. made sure hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and disposable face masks were available at information booths in Community Park.

Despite this, there were fewer vendors across all categories, according to the number of permits sold by the Town of Thurmont. In 2019, 720 permits were issued compared to 615 this year, and revenue from the permit fees was about $9,000 less, according to Kinnaird. Permit fees are used to pay for the shuttle buses, porta potties, and extra security needed for the festival.

The biggest drop in vendors was in the craft category. Compared to 2019, 89 fewer permits were issued. There appear to be a number of different reasons for this, depending on the vendor: family issues, retirement, unable to hire people to man a booth, and fear of COVID, to name a few.

Work has already started for Colorfest 2022, and Robertson received her first application for the event on October 14.

“I’m already getting calls from new vendors who want to be a part of next year’s Colorfest,” Robertson said.

While the festival takes over all of Thurmont during the second weekend in October, the actual Colorfest Craft Show is in Community Park, where hundreds of regional artists must be juried to have a spot. It is a popular show with artists and has been ranked in the top 35 arts and crafts shows in the country, according to the trade publication, Sunshine Artists Magazine.

Overall, Kinnaird said things went very well for the weekend and there were no glitches.

“On Monday, after the street sweepers went by, you wouldn’t have even known we had just had Colorfest, except for a couple of tents that were still up,” he said.

The 58th Annual Catoctin Colorfest will be held October 8-9, 2022.

A Colorfest shopper looks at colorful wooden flowers at the D&M Wooden Flowers booth in the official Colorfest, Inc. vending area in Thurmont Community Park. D&M vendors, Dee and Mike Miller, are long-time Colorfest vendors from Michigan.

Photo by Francis A. Tortoro, Jr.

The Arbor Day Foundation named the Town of Thurmont a 2018 Tree City USA in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.  This is the third consecutive year that Thurmont has received this recognition.

Thurmont achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick accepted the recognition from Becky Wilson, Western Region Coordinator of Urban and Community Forestry, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  “Trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained.  Thurmont has once again demonstrated their belief in the importance in preserving and maintaining trees in the community,” stated Wilson.  

The presentation took place during Thurmont’s annual Green Fest on April 13.

Becky Wilson, Western Region coordinator of Urban and Community Forestry, presents Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird (left) and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick (right) with Thurmont’s third consecutive Tree City USA recognition.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird

This summer has been one we will remember for many years to come, thanks to the efforts of the Thurmont Little League 11-12 All Stars! The outstanding accomplishments of winning the District 2 Championship, followed by the Maryland State Title, then an amazing run at the Eastern Regional Playoffs in Connecticut, was a thing of wonder. It seemed that the majority of local residents were following the team, as they fought through each step of the way. Surprisingly, the team had followers from all over our state and across the nation. In speaking to them after they returned from the regionals, each of them expressed disappointment at the final loss, but all of them handled that outcome with the same grace and sportsmanship that they displayed on the field. We will judge future teams against the 2017 All Stars for seasons to come; but, win or lose, the Little League has taught these fine young men—and those that will come in the following years—that fair play and courtesy are both attributes we should aim for in our lives. It was a pleasure for Karen and I to follow the team in the playoffs, and we were overjoyed to see the support our communities showed them. I asked the team to autograph a dozen balls and two bats. These are being auctioned to the highest bidders. The minimum bid for a ball is $25.00 and the minimum for a bat is $50.00. You can bid by emailing me at; in the subject line, please indicate whether you are bidding on a ball or a bat. All proceeds will be used to reimburse travel expenses from the playoffs.

This next couple of months will bring us the return to school for our children, the Community Show, and Colorfest. Please be careful while driving; as the children return to school, they may not always be on the lookout for vehicles. School starts on September 5, and with it, comes school buses on our roads. Always stop when a bus is displaying its red lights and watch for kids crossing to get on the bus.

The Community Show will be held the weekend of September 8-10. Be sure to come out to enjoy all the agricultural displays, artwork, home grown vegetables and fruit, great food, and the cake auction, as well as the annual livestock sale.

We are getting ready for Colorfest and for all the visitors that the event brings to Thurmont. Colorfest provides many of our churches, service organizations, and nonprofits with their single-biggest fundraising event of the year. Be on the lookout for updates leading up to Colorfest, outlining any changes to traffic patterns and road closures.

As always, you can reach me at or by phone at 301-606-9458.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs

Seems like yesterday we bid farewell to graduating seniors from the Mount and Catoctin High…blink, and now we are welcoming incoming freshmen and returning upper-class students. Alas, the days are getting shorter and there is a changing of the guard of birds at our feeders.

A wonderful summer of youth baseball was provided by both the Cal Ripken League and the Little League. Congratulations to the Thurmont Little League team and coaches! Emmitsburg’s contribution includes Little League President and Coach Ed Lowry, players E.J. Lowry, Joe McMannis, Braden Manning, Donovan Baker, and Braden Bell. The team made it to the Little League Baseball® Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament Championship game in Bristol, Connecticut, which was televised on ESPN. This is a time capsule event.

Catoctin High fall sports are in full swing, with Cody Staley and Will Bingman on the varsity football team, along with a JV team loaded with the talent and verve of Dylan Click, Jason Howard, Josh Maze, and Collin Martin. In another update, freshman granddaughter Aedan Myles and Kasia Bokinsky made the Catoctin JV volleyball team.

What a summer for town activities. Three Block Parties, a Family Fun Night, our deputies National Night Out, Christ Community Church “Back to School” party, and Community Heritage Day. We have a lot to look forward to next summer, with a new pool, a new dog park, and the completion of town connecting square revitalization-sidewalks project. The bridge will join the effort in late fall 2018.

To our neighbor to the northwest, Ronald J. Harris, Mayor, Borough of Carroll Valley: Congratulations on receiving the 2017 Pennsylvania State Mayors’ Association (PSMA) “Mayor of the Year” award.

A “work well done” pastoral farewell to Father John Holliday of St. Joseph’s Parish from the Emmitsburg Council of Churches and his parishioners. The good padre has been reassigned to be the student-chaplain at St. John’s University in New York. Peace and blessings.

After years of pleading with the county for more public transportation to Frederick City, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and I are working together in a change of tactic, asking for only one additional round trip during the noon hour. One round trip to complement the one existing round trip, down in the morning and back in the evening. The service would be far more attractive to users if they could return within four hours, instead of spending the day waiting for return service. I believe we are earnestly getting some traction this time around.

Quickly coming upon us is 36th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend on October 7-8, 2017. As in the past, thousands are expected to visit our town. It is an honor to be a part of this tribute, so let’s welcome all for this solemn event.

There they were, seventy-plus cyclists cruising through town during a scorcher of a weekend in late July, toward a respite at the 70th mile marker of their 100-mile trek, the Fire Heritage Center and Fire Museum, on South Seton Avenue. There, Wayne Powell and Frank Schmersahl, again for the fourth straight year, served water and other goodies, provided by the Pleasant Valley Fire Department in Carroll County. Annually, this fire department conducts, as a fundraiser, bike rides of 25 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles through Western Carroll County and Northern Frederick County. Thank you, Wayne and Frank.

We are getting a lot of positive feedback after receiving the Maryland Green Registry “Leadership Award.” We will be doing more. More “Leadership” is on the way.

With Labor Day falling on the first Monday, the September town meeting will be held Tuesday, September 5, at 7:30 p.m.

Mark the calendar for the 61st Emmitsburg-Thurmont Community Show, September 8-10, at Catoctin High School.

New service to the area: Narcotics Anonymous. If you are recovering or temptations are mounting, you have friends, every Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at Christ Community Church, located at 303 W. Lincoln Avenue.

Emmitsburg Recovery Run 5K is September 16 at Emmitsburg Community Park. “Heroin Lies Recovery Run” contact /information:

Town Election Day is Tuesday, September 26, at the deputies building on East Main Street.

Have a wonderful Labor Day holiday!  Emmitsburg is a great place to live.


Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from the Maryland Municipal League Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City. This is my eighth time at the summer conference, and it looks like this trip will be as exciting and informative as all the others. The four days are filled with meetings, discussion groups, and classes, all of which help our elected officials better understand the responsibilities and mechanics of serving our communities. One of the best things I have found is that we get the chance to speak with others and see how they address issues in their communities; but more importantly, we see firsthand that other communities generally have much bigger issues than we have to contend with. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of our elected state officials and the heads of State agencies is another advantage of attending these conferences. This gives us a direct line of contact with those that can have a positive impact on how Thurmont fares when dealing on the state level, as well as with the many grants and funding opportunities of which we take advantage. My thanks to Commissioner Hamrick, CAO Jim Humerick, Kelly Duty, and Vickie Grinder for attending this year’s conference and expanding their knowledge of governmental issues and for increasing their networking contacts.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with representatives of seven Frederick County municipalities to help assign Project Open Space (POS) funding to our communities. POS funds are monies granted to counties by the State of Maryland to be used to enhance open space or park lands. Typically the money is split 50-50 between Frederick County and the municipalities. This year, a little over $507,922 in funding was available to municipalities in Frederick County. Of that amount, $126,981 was available for the acquisition of park land and $380,941 was available for improvements to existing parks.  I am happy to announce that Thurmont was able to garner a total of $107,000 for two projects we applied for: $89,000 will be used to help complete the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park (more about that later), and $18,900 will fund the installation of an ADA-compliant restroom facility at the East End Park. It is always an interesting evening when we get together to discuss the POS funds. As you can imagine, there is never enough funds to satisfy everyone’s requests. This year, there was almost $800,000 in requests from the seven municipalities, so it was obvious to the seven of us that we could only fund 50 percent of the proposals. Given this, it would seem to be a real problem. But as I have seen repeatedly, the municipalities are always willing to take less so that others can get funding for their special projects. This year, the Town of Thurmont benefited from this practice and was awarded almost 30 percent of the money available! In past years, we have cut back on our request during the discussions to assist others, and this year we benefited from that courtesy.

Earlier, I mentioned the All Inclusive Playground at the East End Park. This project is a joint venture between the Town and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club. The Civitans made a proposal to establish an All Inclusive Playground last year, and I am happy to say that with funding from both the town and the Civitans, the project is moving forward. The town portion of the initial funding came from Project Open Space; and now with the recently awarded POS funds, we will be able to move the project closer to completion. The first phase of this amazing park has been dedicated and is now open. Be sure to stop for a look and remember that this playground is designed to be used by children with all levels of physical and emotional capabilities. All the equipment can be accessed by children in wheelchairs and walkers, so they can enjoy the thrill of outdoor fun with their friends and family. I want to thank the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for their vision and help in establishing this playground right here in Thurmont.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Guardian Hose Company Carnival, and I hope you have a great time watching the Annual Fireman’s Parade!

As always, I can be reached by email at, by phone at 301-606-9458, or on Facebook.


 Mayor Don Briggs

In June, the Town of Emmitsburg received the Maryland Green Registry 2017 Leadership Award. Due to a lot of “sweat equity” from lots of people in a body of work, we are very proud of receiving the reward. “Green” is shorthand for living in a more natural way, with a determination to reduce waste, use renewable energy, and enhance walkability through community connectivity. A simple, workable definition of Green is: “use what you need today and save what you don’t need for future generations.” Green is shorthand for sustainability. Sustainability, boiled down, is to keep, hold, or maintain for an extended period of time. Sustainability is nothing new to the crop farmers working the land around us, who plant, grow, reap, and replenish, to then plant again, all the while taking care of their soil. These farmers, like farmers for thousands of years, are renewable energy reliant on the seasons, sun, and water—surface, ground, or rain, and do everything they can to reduce waste. Now is the time to bring that consciousness to our uses.

As a strong impetus to and validation for our sustainability goals, the town was honored to host on separate days the 4th-grade classes of Mother Seton School and Emmitsburg Elementary School. Our special guests moved in small groups throughout the office to meet with staff in four stations: accounting, receptionist–office manager, the town clerk, and mayor’s office, before moving on to the council meeting room. Every student sat in the mayor’s and/or council member’s seats and introduced themselves over the microphones. A mock hearing was conducted before a visit to the Frederick County Fire Museum and Fire Heritage Center, where they climbed aboard.

Coming up are several town-sponsored events in the park. Please check the town website and Facebook page for descriptions, dates, times, and specific locations. Please note on your calendar Tuesday, August 1, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for National Night Out (NNO) at the field behind the town office. NNO is an annual event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. This is a new event to Emmitsburg, “but across the nation, different communities host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events, with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and much more.”

What is the Impact Club? And what is Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick?

Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was started by educator Hermine Bernstein, who literally stumbled on the problem in Frederick County of over 11,000 children that are on FARM (Free And Reduced Meals). Hermine saw a greater calling in helping these kids, so she started Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick for children in strained family situations.

The Impact Club is a group of people wanting to contribute to the good of the community. Every quarter, Lib and I, along with 230-plus other residents in Frederick County, donate $100. Every quarter, members nominate community causes from which one is selected by membership vote. For this quarter, Blessings in a Backpack to Frederick was selected and received a $23,600 check.

Community Heritage Day 2017: Thank you to the Lions Club, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Christ’s Community Church, and many businesses and civic organizations in Emmitsburg, for working together to provide a day full of fun and activities, ending with Independence Day Fireworks. Please go to for details on a great day of fun.

Finally, the Square revitalization and sidewalk project has begun on the west end of Main Street.

The Town of Thurmont and the Catoctin Area Civitan Club hosted a dedication of the East End Park Inclusive Playground on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Community members, club members, and town and county representatives gathered at the playground, where Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird gave a welcome and announced the completion of Phase I of the playground’s installation. He also announced that funds for Phase II are already in place, as well as funds for an ADA-compliant restroom in an existing building at the playground.

Catoctin Area Civitan Club members attended a town meeting and proposed the project, which took about a year and a half to complete to this point. The playground provides a space where physically and developmentally challenged individuals, as well as those without physical challenges, can have fun and play in the same place. Club President Ginger Malone explained that the Civitans help people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The national organization is celebrating its 100th year of service this year. Malone thanked the team who made the inclusive playground project come to life, including Jeff Barber, president of Playground Specialists, the company that installed the playground.

The totally inclusive playground is one of the first for the Frederick County region. Phases II and III will add a glider for children in wheelchairs, a cocoon for children with autism, and a music station. Malone thanked the residents of Thurmont for supporting the Civitans with fundraising from the blue toilet campaign. “If you get the traveling blue toilet, please make sure the recipients support it,” said Malone.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner had a good time trying out the zip line. Gardner said, “I think this is a great accomplishment for all of you, because it’s really important to the children of this town and Frederick County.” She presented a certificate of appreciation to the Catoctin Area Civitan Club for taking the lead to find the funding.

Mayor Kinnaird prompted Jeff Barber to express how great the town of Thurmont is. Barber explained that Phases II and III will tie in the pavilion with the playground. Barber explained, “Inclusive playgrounds feature pieces of equipment that are accessible to everyone and can be accessed at transfer height. So both challenged individuals and non-challenged individuals can play together.” He added, “The playground pieces need to be ‘cool’ enough to be fun for everyone. This will actually be one of the coolest and best playgrounds in all of Frederick County for all kids.”

Julie DeRoner, a Thurmont resident, is a parent of children with disabilities and works with children with disabilities at the Frederick County Developmental Center. She expressed that the playground, “is an excellent opportunity for inclusive play.”

Town of Thurmont officials, Frederick County officials, and members of the Catoctin Civitan Club are shown cutting the ribbon for the official opening of the Inclusive Playground in Thurmont.

Alex Uphold’s State Farm Insurance Office has relocated to 31 Water Street, Suite A, in Thurmont. She is officially open for business in this brand new space. Stop by for an insurance quote today. Store hours are 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Call 301-271-3113 for more information.


Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird is shown (center left) along with other well-wishers at the official ribbon cutting for the opening of Alex Uphold’s (center right) new State Farm Insurance office location in Thurmont.