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by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

April 2019 Meeting

Town Approved Mandated Cross-Connection Control Program

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the state-mandated cross-connection control program that will help protect the water supply from pollutants. The program requires all properties to have a backflow prevention device installed on the waterline leading into the property. Each device will cost an estimated $150.

Residential properties will need to be re-evaluated every 10 years. The inspection permit will cost about $100. Businesses will need to be inspected every two years, the permit will cost $25 for a new installation and $15 for each renewal.

The commissioners voted to require all properties to have the backflow prevention device installed within five years, but if a property is sold, it will first need to have a device installed.

Some commissioners worried that the costs would harm low-income residents and wondered if something could be done to mitigate the costs for them. However, some of their proposed solutions could prove to be costly as well. It may be something they will consider in the future.

The commissioners also approved three contracts for other state-mandated programs. These were a baseline impervious surface assessment, a standard-operating procedures manual for those doing stormwater management work, and annual inspections for three years.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring these actions for stormwater management improvement. The total cost of the three contracts is $22,900.

Firewood for Low-income Families

The Emmitsburg Commissioners are pursuing a program to help some low-income families in town heat their homes during the winter. The program, if approved, would allow low-income families in Emmitsburg, who use firewood, to harvest downed trees on town-owned property in certain areas.

“This would be of real value and serve our community,” said Commissioner Tim O’Donnell.

Town staff is working to formulate a policy and permitting process by consulting the town attorney, Maryland Forest Service, and other municipalities with similar programs.

New Dump Truck Purchase

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the purchase of a new dump truck to replace the 23-year-old dump truck the town currently uses, which will no longer pass inspection and is not safe to haul material in. They approved a bid of $154,460 from MJR Equipment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

New Wastewater Treatment Plant Building Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the construction of a storage garage at the wastewater treatment plant. It will be used to keep equipment from having to sit outside, where it is exposed to the elements. It should also lower the maintenance costs for those pieces of equipment. The commissioners approved a $35,870 bid from Hanover Building Systems. Although the bid was the higher of the two bids received, the roof can hold a heavier load, it is made from better material, and it comes with a 35-year fade warranty.

Thurmont

April 2019 Meeting

Commissioners Reviewing Changes to Town Subdivision Regulations

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are reviewing proposed revisions to the town’s subdivision regulations. Town Planner Chris Jakubiak said the current regulations, many of which date back to the 1970s, are a “bit outdated,” with some gray areas that needed to be defined.

“In my opinion, the code lacks real guidance to good neighborhood design,” Jakubiak said.

Commissioners Approve New Vehicle Purchases

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved the purchase of a new service bucket truck and transferred $14,466 to the capital reserve fund to have the full purchase amount. The commissioners have been setting aside money for years in the capital reserve fund to be able to purchase the vehicle. The new vehicle will replace a 2002 Chevrolet bucket truck.

The commissioners also approved the purchase of a new police vehicle for the Thurmont Police Department. The new vehicle is needed to replace one totaled in an accident in January. The 2020 Ford Explorer costs $34,034, but the commissioners only needed to set aside $20,984 for the vehicle because the insurance settlement for the wrecked vehicle was $13,050. The electronics from the totaled vehicle can also be reinstalled in the new vehicle.

Trash Collection Contract Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a new trash collection contract with a new hauler recently. The contract is for two years, with a third-year extension option. The new hauler will be Ecology Services Refuse and Recycling in Columbia. Their bid of $134,580 for the first year and $137,945 for the second year was a significantly lower amount than the other bid. The same company currently handles the town’s recycling collection. The switch to a new hauler for trash will not affect the current trash collection days in town.

Commissioners Correct Planning and Zoning Mistake

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners corrected a mistake made when the town’s master plan was updated in 2010. At that time, the Planning and Zoning Commission and Mayor and Commissioners approved a rezoning of the 3.2-acre Hauver property on Eyler Road, from R-1 zoning to R-2 zoning. However, the change never made it onto the zoning maps, which was discovered years later. The change allows 8,000-square-foot lots versus 12,000-square-foot lots. In the case of the Hauver property, it might allow for another lot or two with little additional impervious surface. This would depend on how a subdivision plan is drawn.

The commissioners also reappointed Planning and Zoning Commission members Randy Cubbedge and Bryant Despeaux to the commission for new terms.

Richard Lee was also reappointed to the Thurmont Board of Appeals for a new term.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

As always, May brings a lot with it, both in the expected and the unexpected. None more touching, as expected, than the many graduations: pre-K to kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. The passage of time, a child one day, a youth another, then on to an adult and out to the world that awaits. With each step comes the unexpected sinking feeling that they all happen so quickly. This year, we will see our fourth grandchild off to college.  

On May 1, youwill find me participating as a forum panel member at Hood’s (College) Green Neighborhood Festival. On May 7-8, to the same subject, I will be attending a second two-day State of Maryland-sponsored program on climate change. This program was supposed to have been held in February, but there was the homage that had to be paid to the weather. Here is a catchy phrase for you: “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” The program consists of three, two-day sets. The third set will be held in June on a very interesting topical subject presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers. Our town concentration has been on reducing waste and lowering costs, one of mitigation and re-adaption. We have done so primarily through shifting over 94 percent of town account energy needs to renewable energy. On May 6, at the town’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the town council will deliberate on the Mayor’s 2020 budget.

May 21 is the wrap-up session at St. John’s College Annapolis — Santa Fe Classics program. This year’s topic was: “Tyranny and Democracy.” The readings were from Plato, Chaucer, Hamilton, Shakespeare, Shelley, Kafka, DeTocqueville, and Ursula LeGuin. It’s my fifth year attending. From Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville’s observations of the new American form of democracy in the 1830s, I was captured by one sentence in particular: “There exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart of man to the place where man is born” (My translation).

In April, I attended the spring Mount Athletic Advisory Committee wrap-up meeting for the school year, where members reviewed data on the student athlete academic performance. Competition and winning are important for a Division I School. The Mount has to be commended on its commitment to academics. It’s a delicate emphasis that many institutions lose. Well done.

The town celebrated Arbor Day in Community Park, on Saturday, April 13.  Eight—not just any type, but native-adaptive—trees were planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses in front of the elementary school. Thank you to the town staff, Lion’s Club, the EBPA, and other individual volunteers.

The town was honored by the visit of a dozen University of Maryland grad students, who toured the town’s innovative water systems.

Once but a “unicorn,” our historic area 50-50 grant program genesis 2013, now has grown into over $880,000 of façade improvements in our downtown. Every year, we apply for grant money and our allotment seems to always be $50,000. Please contact our planning department if you have an interest.

Looking forward in the not too distant future for another spectacular Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29; a full slate of summer concerts; and, on August 6, National Night Out, sponsored by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. From the official narrative, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement, while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.” The K-9 team, the SWAT team, and vehicles. Please plan to join us.

The town was recently awarded two grants. One, a $5,000 “Keep Maryland Beautiful” grant to be used for nine recycling bins for our parks, and another for $3,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to be applied to a storm water management project. Thank you to our planner, Zach Gulden.

I hope all had a wonderful Easter. 

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont recently appointed Harold Lawson to the position of Director of Public Works. Harold has been with the Town of Thurmont for 29 years and has served as Superintendent of the Water Department for the last 6 years. Harold is well acquainted with our infrastructure and will serve our residents well in this new position. I congratulate Harold on his appointment and look forward to working with him.

The months of April and May are always busy for our staff and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) as we craft the Town budget for the upcoming year. Our department heads have already submitted their preliminary budgets, and the BOC is in the process of reviewing the budget for each department. There are actually four budgets to be reviewed: the general fund budget covers streets, parks, police, Economic Development, Planning and Zoning, and office staff. The revenue for the General Fund Budget is received through property taxes, permit fees, tax equity refunds from Frederick County, and other user fees. The other three budgets being reviewed are for the Water, Electric and Wastewater Departments. These departments function as Enterprise Funds and are self-sustained by the fees paid for the services each provides our residents. Currently, the BOC has completed a first review of each budget and has recommended several changes in each. The next step will be the official introduction of the budget, at which time addition recommendations can be made by the BOC and public comment will be received during a public hearing on the final budget. Currently, the budgets all show a positive balance of revenue over expenditures. As of today, April 24, 2019, we have based the General Fund budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. This rate is calculated to generate the same amount of Property Tax revenue we received during the current (2018-2019) budget year. If we hold to the Constant Yield Tax Rate, our residents will actually pay a slightly lower Property Tax Rate this coming year. The Tax Rate for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year was 30.41 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value. If the BOC decides to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate, the Property Tax Rate for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will drop to 29.92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This change is due in part to increased property values and the construction of several new residences. Generally speaking, we try to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate as often as we can, but increases in costs for materials and labor will sometimes require an increase in the tax rate, as we experienced last year. I invite you to watch or attend the upcoming budget discussions and public hearing; you will be surprised by the amount of effort that is put into the Thurmont Budget process.

This summer, we will be hosting two Summer Concert in the Park events. The first will be on June 9 and will feature the Spires Brass Band; the second will be on August 25 with our own Gateway Brass Ensemble. The concerts are held at Memorial Park and begin at 6:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and join us for this great small-town tradition!

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com. I hope everyone has a great spring!

Blair Garrett

Tucked away on a quaint 38-acre property in Thurmont lies a little-known winery full of rich experiences, friendly faces, and, of course, plenty of wine.

Links Bridge Vineyards, off Old Links Bridge Road, provides local residents a refreshing getaway from life’s stresses, with a variety of red and white wines sure to please even the pickiest wine connoisseurs.

The small-scale winery is run by Bob and Joan Cartier, a couple who has been creating wine for a decade. While the pair normally focus on dry wines, a rainy 2018 forced the Cartiers to improvise, beginning to make a few sparkling wines for the future.

“We started selling the grapes to Old Westminster, and we’d go over there and help process them, and it was just so interesting what they were doing,” Joan said. “So we decided that maybe we could try making wine ourselves.”

The area is perfectly fit for an intimate setting with friends and family, without the commotion and traffic of a big facility. “We’re right on the Monocacy River, and we have a picnic area and a patio down by the river,” Joan said. “People can bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine, and go down to the river.”

The science of wine making is far from exact, and recipes are often hard to recreate. Many things can affect the taste of a wine from batch to batch, including weather, temperatures, different grape harvests, and many other often unknown factors.

The Cartiers are relatively new to the scene of wine making, with both having previous careers far outside their current field. Robert was an assistant dean at a university, and Joan still does work in Washington D.C. Wine making is a much more relaxing profession than the stresses of running a university. “It’s a nice change,” they both said in unison.

With a small winery, keeping customers aware and interested in events can be a challenge. Links Bridge offers wine tastings on weekends, where you can try numerous different reds and whites with cheese and crackers. But there is more on the horizon for Links Bridge winery. The vineyard plans to host goat yoga, a hot new fad, connecting goats with the relaxation and zen of yoga. Miniature goats will climb onto the backs of participants, who balance the goats in a series of poses and stretches. The vineyard even has plans to have a wine stop for people tubing down the Monocacy River.

The growth of the wine industry has taken off since the rise of social media. Today, people can find something they enjoy and share it with the world; so, naturally, wine fits perfectly into that idea. The exposure of good wines and great food have opened wineries up all over Maryland.

“When we first started growing grapes, there were 15 or 20 wineries in Maryland,” Bob said. “Now there are 90-some wineries in Maryland, and that’s happened in the space of a dozen years.”

With the couple’s passion for making great wines, it’s no surprise that Links Bridge Vineyards has exceeded expectations for a small Thurmont winery. Whether it’s a bottle of wine by the river, or a wine tasting among close friends, Links Bridge has something to offer everyone, and that’s something worth getting excited about.

Links Bridge Vineyards is located at 8830 Old Links Bridge Road in Thurmont. Visit the website at linksbridgevineyards.com.

Bob and Joan Cartier, proprietors of Links Bridge Vineyards in Thurmont.

Photo by Blair Garrett

Saint Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parishes

by Theresa Dardanell

A Pastorate—two churches with one pastor. Saint Anthony Shrine (SAS) in Emmitsburg and Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) in Thurmont began as independent parishes; the dedication of the church in Thurmont was held on June 5, 1859, and the dedication of the church in Emmitsburg was held on October 26, 1897.  However, in 1987, they joined together to become one pastorate, with Father Edward Hemler as the pastor. He was succeeded by Father Leo Tittler in 1992, Father James Hannon in 2001, and Father Colin Poston—the current pastor—in 2016. Each church maintains a historic cemetery; the cemetery at Saint Anthony Shrine includes the graves of several members of the family of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

Both parishes work together as one. The mass schedule gives parishioners the option to attend mass at either church. Mass is celebrated at SAS on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9:00 a.m., and celebrated on Sundays at OLMC at 7:30 a.m. in the church and at 11:00 a.m. in the parish center. The Catholic Mass includes readings, prayers, a homily, a chance to share a greeting of peace, and communion. Music is an integral part of the service, with a choir or a cantor and organist leading the congregation in song. 

Members of both parishes share religious education, social outreach programs, and fundraisers.  Funds donated by parishioners are distributed to organizations, including the local food bank, the Seton Center, the Catoctin Pregnancy Center, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, and Catholic Charities.  Volunteers visit homebound parishioners. Once a month, members provide casseroles to the Frederick Rescue Mission. The parish youth have the opportunity to serve by participating in the Baltimore Work Camp, where they spend a week during the summer refurbishing homes for people in need, in and around the Baltimore area. This program, which is open to youth in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is organized by Saint Anthony Shrine parish.

Religious education includes classes for children and adults.  Students in kindergarten through grade eight meet on Sunday mornings. Students in ninth grade participate in confirmation preparation. Vacation Bible School is open to any student in Kindergarten through fifth grade, and will be held this year in July. Middle school and high school students who are members of the youth ministry meet regularly for faith discussions, as well as social activities like paintball, bowling and ski trips. Adult Bible study is held on Thursday nights. RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is a process for adults to prepare to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith. This process is open to adults who have not been baptized, who have been baptized in a non-catholic denomination and wish to become Catholic, or baptized Catholics who have not received Eucharist and/or Confirmation. 

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the many fundraising events held at both churches. Food and fun are the ingredients of these activities. You can enjoy delicious food provided by the Knights of Columbus at the community breakfasts, the Shrove Tuesday meal, and the Lenten fish bakes. Don’t miss the Colorfest food stand or the Labor Day picnic at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. Try your luck at Bingo or look for hidden treasures at the yard sales that are held at Saint Anthony Shrine at various times during the year. Look for information about upcoming events in The Catoctin Banner.

Father Colin said, “We are a very welcoming community in the Catholic tradition. People who come here seem to enjoy it and find a family here. Everybody is welcome to come here and be a part of our family and to grow in the Lord and experience the beauty of the Catholic Faith.” Deacon Joe Wolf added, “It is a community. It is where you can turn to in time of need and in time of joy. We try to share all of that with each other.”

Saint Anthony Shrine is located at 16150 St. Anthony Road in Emmitsburg; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is located at 103 North Church Street in Thurmont. The parish office is located at SAS, and their phone number is 301-447-2367. Their very informative website at www.sasolmc.org provides additional information about the history of both parishes, the patron saints of each church, the sacraments, religious education, special events, and much more. 

Pictured from left are James (Rex) Davis; Father Collin Poston, holding Otto; Deacon Joe Wolf; Karen Davis; and Cindy Wivell in front of Saint Anthony Shrine in Emmitsburg.

                                                                                                                                Photos by Theresa Dardanell

by James Rada, Jr.

March 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg

Review of Sign Ordinance Changes Continues

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners continued its review of the proposed changes to the town’s sign ordinance. During the March town meeting, the commissioners heard about the proposed changes to what types of signs could be located in which areas of town. They also paid particular attention to lighted signage.

They reviewed off-premise signage, which Town Planner Zach Gulden told them is a “totally new and business friendly section” to the sign ordinance.

Gulden told the commissioners that the new ordinance brings the town up-to-date with new signage technology, into compliance with legal rulings that could lead to future court challenges, and adheres to the best practices recommended by the Maryland Municipal League and American Planners Association.

However, he reassured business owners, “We will not take any signs away if this is passed, unless it was currently not permitted and not legal.”

Town staff also said they planned on taking pictures of all of the signage in town that is non-conforming to the whatever sign ordinance is eventually passed. This will create a visual list to show what signs are grandfathered in under the new ordinance and avoid any new town staff in the future to cause a business owner problems because they have signage not allowed under the sign ordinance.

Commissioners Support Nature Trail Garden

The Emmitsburg Commissioners supported a project proposed by Sandra Adams and Wayne Slaughter to create a half-mile-long walking path surrounding the Community Park baseball field into a nature trail garden.

The project will use volunteers to remove debris and prepare the garden beds. The maintenance costs are expected to be minimal, and they hope to raise the amount through donations.

The commissioners voiced their support of the project, and Adams and Slaughter will start to move forward with it.

Emmitsburg Food Bank Looking to Move

The roof of the Emmitsburg Food Bank building is in need of $40,000 of repairs to stop leaks and mold mitigation.

“I don’t know whether it’s even worth it,” Food Bank Director Phyllis Kelly told the Emmitsburg Commissioners.

Kelly asked the town commissioners if they could help the food bank find a new location. The commissioners directed her to contact the town planner, who could help the food bank with its search.

Commissioners Put Off Passing a Cross Connection Control Program

Emmitsburg must pass a cross connection control program or face fines from the State of Maryland. However, they put off the decision for a month to better understand the ordinance that the state is requiring them to pass. The program is designed to protect the potable water supply from contamination by connecting backflow preventers to water lines. Once passed, businesses will have time to make the changes while residents will only need to make the addition to their home water lines when major changes are made to the home or it is sold.

Thurmont

March 2019 Meeting

Proposal to Extend the Trolley Trail

The .7-mile-long Thurmont Trolley Trail may not be long, but it is well used by residents. The H&F Trolley Association would like to see the trail grow and attract even more users.

Members of the association presented their plan to Thurmont Town Commissioners. The plan calls for extending the trail north to Eyler Road Park and south past the water treatment plant. The hope would be that it might eventually connect up with other hiking and biking trails.

The projected cost to extend the trail to be two miles long would be $190,102.

Donovan Named Thurmont Police Officer of the Year

Thurmont Police Officer First Class Brian Donovan was named the Thurmont Lions Club Police Officer of the Year. Donovan has served in the department for three years and performed many traffic stops. He has also administered Narcan three times to overdose victims, most likely saving their lives. He also serves as the lieutenant of the Guardian Hose Company.

Donovan received a gift certificate to the Shamrock Restaurant and will have a $400 donation made to the charity of his choice.

Commissioners Begin Compiling POS Wish List

The Thurmont Commissioners have begun compiling their wish list of projects that could be funded through Program Open Space grants. The division of funds will emphasize property acquisition. Among some of the suggested projects are to increase the size of Community Park and to create a pocket park in Catoctin Heights. The commissioners also expressed no interest in pursuing a skateboard park, which was on the town’s POS wish list last year, but dropped.

Subdivision Regulations to be Reviewed

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners will be reviewing proposed regulations to the Thurmont subdivision regulations at the regular town meeting on April 9. A public hearing will be scheduled for a later date.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Alas, April. Closer to warmer weather is our earnest hope. Earlier sunrises and later sunsets surely spurs the imagination. But to keep one grounded, and still encouraged, comes the timeless reminder, “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” Then the tempering reality in the warning given to Caesar, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

As I write this, we’ve just passed the Ides of March with no ill effects other than the loss of an hour of sleep and waking up in darkness again for Daylight Savings Time.

That’s not all—how about Lent? Late start this year. Ash Wednesday fell on March 6. A shove, a prod, a nudge…whatever draws my attention that it is time for some moral calculus. Can I give something up that I really like and/or do something for others who are in need? Dauntless, I signed on. Took the ashes to the forehead with a hope that I can do a combination of both. We’ll see how well I did when Lent ends on April 18.

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, fell this year on Sunday. Guardedly, with some trepidation, I welcomed the fete with a tip of my hat to my Irish heritage, knowing full well the celebration brings with it flauntingly many offers of contraband to my Lenten season. At about the same time, I received the book, Lincoln and the Irish by Niall O’Dowd from my daughter. It recounts the key role Archbishop John Hughes of New York played during the Civil War in swaying the strong Democrat Irish support over to the Union cause under Republican President Abraham Lincoln. As if the Civil War did not pose enough trouble, there was still the simmering undertow of the Nativist anti-immigrant feelings in the North. John Hughes, once an impoverished Irish immigrant to our area, worked as a gardener/stone mason at the Mount. After some time, he applied for admission to the Mount and was initially turned down by the Rector Father John Dubois. It was only after the intervention of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton that he was admitted to the school and went on to graduate from the seminary.

On one snow delay day, I joined others from the community at Mother Seton School to be readers as a part of the celebration of National Education Association (NEA) “Read Across America Week.” I read to Mrs. Marr’s third grade class, where sat my beautiful granddaughter amidst other beautiful children. This year, I read a Dr. Seuss book featuring none other than the Cat in the Hat to take us step by step through what it means to live in a free country, and the responsibilities that are granted to, borne by, and gifted to us. Most importantly, to register and vote. It is always an honor and a grace to read with them. It’s the innocence in their eyes that “sticks the landing.” What a future we must build for them. A new pool, dog park, exercise trail, mountain multi-user trail are not enough. We have to lead by example and follow Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat lead to instill in them and preserve for them their freedom. They’re excited about living. Let’s make it so, to the best of our ability, a happening for them. I have always said that my grandchildren and their generation are a major part of my constituency.

We have a beautiful town. One that was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992. I reference that because we want to protect its nuances, character, and even its quirky inconveniences. New technological changes in lighting capabilities and presentation methods bring almost assuredly that a new type of signage could threaten the historic ambience of our town. To this issue of public concern, the town is revisiting its sign ordinance. We want to get in front of it. Our sign ordinance has not been reviewed in over twenty years. I am familiar on several instances in the past that it seemed the interpretations of a signage request was handled by the town in a darn near arbitrary way. All signs, billboards, and small ones, the criteria is being revisited. I know there is a lot to be said for, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but it may well be broke. Nationally, things are changing. From the strong encouragement of the Maryland Municipal League (MML)—to which the town is a member, along with 156 other municipalities and two special taxing districts—has recommended that every municipality, big or small, revisit their sign ordinances. The American Planner’s Association (APA), of which MML and the town are members, has a tested model for municipalities that choose to protect its streetscape. The basic format is the one recommended by the MML. These ordinances are organic, living rules that need to be reviewed and updated periodically. Public meetings are scheduled. Please call the town office at 301-600-6300 or go to our town social media resources.

Spring, in case you haven’t heard, we’re pulling for ya!

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring has finally arrived, and with it, we will see warmer weather, and the coming months will be filled with lots of outdoor activities and events. As the weather improves, we will start seeing lots of kids out and about, heading to sporting events, playing, and visiting friends’ houses. Please keep an eye open for our youngest residents, as they may not always be aware of their surroundings. I have noticed that Little League has been holding practice as well as soccer, lacrosse, and other outdoor sports. I recommend that if you want to see some dedicated kids playing sports and having a great time, just visit any of our playing fields and see what is going on. The kids will appreciate that you have taken the time to watch them play.

 There are some exciting events coming up in Thurmont during the month of April, including the 2nd Annual Thurmont Green Fest and the Annual Thurmont Business Showcase. The Greenfest will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library on Saturday, April 13, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. There will be nature crafts, games, stories, a rain barrel raffle, composting information, planting instructions for trees and plants, and an electronics recycling drop-off. With the exception of CRT tubes in televisions or monitors, all electronics can be dropped off to be recycled. This event is for kids and adults, so be sure to bring the little ones along for a fun day of learning how we can all improve our environment. The Thurmont Business Showcase will be held at the Thurmont Event Complex on Saturday, April 27, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to find out what kinds of products and services local business and non-profits offer our community. There is always something new to see at the Thurmont Business Expo. Admission is free, and the Showcase is at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex, located at 13716 Stratford Drive in Thurmont. You are also invited to enjoy A Taste of Thurmont Restaurant Week, from April 5 through April 13. Visit any of the participating restaurants to enjoy special meals or discounts. Participating restaurants will be revealing their Taste of Thurmont Specials in the coming week.

The Board of Commissioners was recently presented with a plan of action to extend the Thurmont Trolley Trail, north from East Main Steet to Eyler Road Park. This extension of the extremely popular Trolley Trail will open the north end of Thurmont to a safe and well-maintained trail system for the use of walkers and bicyclists. The trail will connect not only to the existing Trolley Trail but also to the Gateway Trail we establish through a partnership with the Catoctin Mountain Park. This extension will also provide access to a planned bike trail between Thurmont and Emmitsburg. The final route of the north extension to the Thurmont Trolley Trail is still in the planning stages;  volunteers are welcome to contact the H&F Trolley Trail Association on its website if you would like to join the association or help with this community project.

I hope the nice weather gets us all outdoors for some much-needed sun and fun! As always, please contact me at 301-606-9458 (8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) or via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any comments, complaints, or compliments.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

February 2019 Meeting

Commissioners Begin Sign Ordinance Review

The Emmitsburg Commissioners began a review of the town’s new sign ordinance. The ordinance is undergoing major rework and the review will take place over three meetings.

Free Parking Donations

The Town of Emmitsburg announced that the parking meter revenue collected during the holiday season amounted to a $300 donation to the Community Day fireworks show and the Emmitsburg Food Bank.

Work Contracts Awarded

The Emmitsburg Commissioners voted to award Zest, LLC, of Clarksville a $15,912 contract to perform a hydrologic analysis of the Rainbow Lake dam to determine if work needs to be done on it. The Maryland Department of the Environment is requiring this analysis.

The commissioners also awarded RK&K a $203,380 contract to design the new pumping station. Town Manager Cathy Willets said that the town worked with the company previously on the wastewater treatment plant. They brought that project in under budget and with limited change orders. In addition, RK&K is guaranteeing not to exceed their quoted cost for the pumping station.

Finally, the commissioners chose to award RSV Pools a three-year contract for the pool management. Despite some reservations with RSV Pools, there was only one other bidder and RSV Pools had the lowest bid.

Commissioners Allocate Excess Funds

At the close of the FY2018 budget, the Town of Emmitsburg had a $152,758 surplus. The commissioners voted to allocate these funds to a number of capital projects: 300A South Seton signage, a mandated stormwater management project, a storm drain excavation, park equipment upgrades, sending old documents to Sure Scan, a disc golf course in Community Park, a Rainbow Lake engineering study, parking meter equipment, sled dogs, salt spreaders, and a utility ATV. In some cases, the amount set aside won’t fully fund the project, but either pays the matching part of a grant or starts saving for the project.

Town Trail Work Days

Commissioner Tim O’Donnell selected three days for work on the town trails with volunteers from the town. The days are April 7, May 5, and June 22. The goal is to get the trails in shape for Community Day and for the summer.

Thurmont

February 2019 Meeting

Local Businesses Awarded for Making Thurmont Proud

Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder recognized local businesses who won Frederick’s Best of the Best Contest in the Frederick News Post.

Town Approves Directional Signs

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded Shannon Baum of Eldersburg a $24,600 contract to produce twelve wayfinding signs, which she also designed. The signs, which will be paid for with grants from the Maryland Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area and Frederick County Tourism, are similar to the new “Welcome to Thurmont” signs. Town staff should have the new sign installed by May.

The town will also seek funding for two additional “Welcome to Thurmont” signs.

Nature Trail Planned for Library

A new nature trail will be constructed on the property of the Thurmont Regional Library through the efforts of the Catoctin Forest Alliance, Town of Thurmont, Thurmont Regional Library, Thurmont Green Team, Frederick County Public Schools SUCCESS Program, and volunteers. The ADA-compliant trail will include butterfly habitat, bird houses, and bat boxes. Cameras will also stream video to a screen in the children’s area of the library.

Although the surface is currently planned to be crushed stone, the commissioners are planning to request that the surface be made blacktop and included in Frederick County’s Capital Improvement Plan.

This new trail can also be connected to the Thurmont Trolley Trail and the Thurmont Gateway Trail. If this happens, people will be able to walk from the library to the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs

Teased, better yet, taunted by a 65-degree day, not once, but twice, had me calling out, “Hey, show me some robins!” Alas, none were to be seen, but there were voices, then sightings of returning redwing blackbirds—no wing coloring yet—to join the seasonal regulars: cardinals, titmice, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, mourning doves, and wrens, especially those who winter their nights under the eaves of our porch. Also, the visiting of jays and cameos (unfortunately, not on demand) from area attracted woodpeckers—the downy, hairy and red-bellied. All attracted by Mrs. Lib’s feeding stations here and wherever we have lived. Missed dearly from our farm days are red-headed woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and common flickers. We are anxiously awaiting our summer visitors, the catbirds and mockingbirds drawn to an old mulberry tree and Mrs. Lib’s sliced grapes.

We really miss Zurgables for the convenient purchase of birdseed for Mrs. Lib’s backyard guests, but it was time for Mark to step back. Thank you for your service to our community, and we tip our hats to you. We are still helping keep Jubilee going with ample shelled peanut purchases for the squirrels and jays.

President’s Day marked our annual mid-late national observance to our Aquarian February. So, a good time to add a tribute to the day to the many. This one is from the author of War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, who wrote some forty-five years after the assassination of Lincoln, “The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar, or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln.”

At our last town meeting, our planner, Zach Gulden, introduced an update to our sign ordinance, the first of three planned consecutive presentations. The update is recommended, “Due to modern technological advances and recent Federal Supreme Court cases. The proposed amendment seeks to meet the needs of businesses and other organizations while protecting and enhancing the visual quality and traditional design concepts of Emmitsburg.” The business audience was engaging.

Mr. Gulden also presented the “MS4” town compliance update. MS4 is the handle for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. “The town is identified as an urbanized area and is mandated by the Environment Protection Agency and State of Maryland Department of the Environment to hold a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Our current permit is valid from 2018-2023. This is an unfunded mandate, which means we must meet the permit requirements with no funding help from the state or federal governments. The town may be fined up to $100,000 per day if the permit requirements are not met. The most costly requirement of the NPDES permit is treating at least 20 percent of the town’s impervious surface stormwater runoff every five years. The following are acceptable restoration strategies for receiving impervious area restoration credit: new stormwater ponds, existing stormwater pond retrofits (such as converting a dry pond to a wetland or providing additional water storage), restoring failed stormwater ponds, street sweeping, buffer planting, reforestation, stream restoration, inlet cleaning, shoreline stabilization, and others. Town staff is researching stream restoration projects and grant funding opportunities to meet this term’s permit needs. Staff projects the NPDES permit could cost the Town at least $500,000 every five years. That is certainly imposing as yet another mandate.

To our benefit, as I mentioned last month, is our timber asset and the town will be submitting requests for grant assistance.

New business development: (1) preliminary plans have been received for a Rutters gas and convenience store on part of the 200+ acres undeveloped within town limits on the east side of US 15. Yes, a Rutters may return to town, but this time on a much larger scale. This initial development will bring water and sewer to that area that could open the area to more commercial development. Additionally, there are preliminary plans for a retail commercial building on Silo Hill Parkway next to the car wash. Also the town-owned property on South Seton Avenue is being changed from residential to commercial (as allowed) and now being offered for rent.

We are not losing our mind, prices are rising. From an article in the Saturday, February 16, 2019, Wall Street Journal, “The Price of a Clean House” confirms our suspicions. The article tracked prices of several top-selling brands for everyday use household goods for the January 2018-January 2019 period. Manufacturers cited increased costs of production and delivery. By the way, more cost increases are expected to come this year… Kleenex 160-count tissues rectangular box, price bump 8.4 percent. Bounty Size-a-Super Roll 6 pack, price bump 19.4 percent. Huggies 112-count, size 4, disposable diapers up 1.9 percent. Glad Force Flex 13-gallon kitchen bags, 140 count, price bump 4.5 percent.

Ambivalent in its cadence, is the tempered assurance that spring will “stick the landing” once again. Unpredictable as to specifically when and how, there is always the predictability that it will be. The seasons do come with a wonderful rhythm. Let’s take care of it.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird

Recent snowfall has dashed any hopes of an early spring, but it is coming. In the meantime, a few thoughts when it snows: If you can get your car off the road, please do so, it helps our snowplows; Don’t shovel driveway aprons until our snow plows go past; Do be careful when driving close to snow plows; Keep an eye on your elderly neighbors when it gets really cold or we get snow and ice; Be sure your kids are dressed appropriately for the cold or snow; Make sure your pets are indoors during extreme cold or make sure they have ample shelter with fresh water and food. Snow can be fun, but it can also be very hazardous. Please remember to call 911 for all medical, fire, or rescue emergencies. Thurmont residents should call 301-271-7313 to report any water, electric, or sewer emergencies. Use the same number after hours and follow the instructions for reporting an emergency.

The next months will bring some great local events to Thurmont, courtesy of Thurmont Main Street. Get a head start on your own wellbeing at the 2nd Annual Zumbathon, being held on Sunday, April 7, at the Thurmont American Legion, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Proceeds from this event will help support Thurmont’s Gateway to the Cure 2019. On Saturday, April 27, be sure to attend the Thurmont Business Showcase, from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at the Thurmont Event Complex. This well-attended annual event features many local businesses and nonprofits and gives you the chance to discover local businesses, services, and products of which you may not have been aware. Bring your family and friends to the Thurmont Event Complex at 13716 Strafford Drive for this wonderful event. If you are looking for some outdoor fun, head out to the 1st Annual Gateway to the Cure Golf Tournament, being held at Maple Run Golf Course on June 21. Keep an eye open for further details on this local golfing event at Thurmont’s own Maple Run Golf Course.

There are lots of projects planned for the Thurmont area this coming year, from a third pavilion at the community park, new lighting in the trolley trail, to new wayfaring signs around town. Cunningham Falls State Park is in the process of making some great improvements to the facilities at the lake and at the Manor area. New restrooms, picnic facilities, beach improvements, enhanced entrance facilities, a new outdoor center, and several other projects are in the works. These improvements may have an impact on park accessibility during the summer, and officials ask for your understanding—the improvements will be worth the inconvenience!

I hope everyone has a wonderful March, and we are all looking forward to warmer spring weather when we can get back outside to enjoy all Thurmont has to offer!

As always, please call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any questions, comments or suggestions. You can also follow my Facebook page for updates on local issues or upcoming events.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

January 2019 Meeting

Emmitsburg Approves Forestry Management Plan

The Emmitsburg commissioners approved a forestry management plan that calls for harvesting select trees and selling them. The first lot of trees will be removed from a 60-acre town-owned parcel and is expected to bring in around $60,000 when sold. “Basically, they are cutting down dead and dying trees,” Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners.

Future lots of trees will also be harvested with a total income to the town expected to be around $223,000. Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners that the money is not earmarked for anything, but she expects the Rainbow Lake Dam to need work to bring it up to MDE standards. She would like to see the money go towards that expense.

Mount Still Planning on Building a Health Care Clinic in the Area

Mount St. Mary’s University and the Frederick Regional Health Care System have been gathering input from the community about a possible new health and wellness center for the area. The health system has already entered into an agreement with the Mount to coordinate student health care on campus.

However, because of the need for a health care center in Emmitsburg, the Mount and health system are planning to expand their role into the community. A 10,000-square-foot facility is expected to be built on the edge of the campus, where it can service both students and the community. The planned-for clinic would have primary and urgent care services, a laboratory, radiology, and physical therapy. Services will be provided that meet the guidelines of the Catholic Church.

Although a final location hasn’t been chosen yet, it will be a site that is primarily convenient for students and safe for them to reach. The center could open as early as mid-2020.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Installed Behind Town Offices

Emmitsburg’s four electric vehicle charging stations on the parking lot behind the Community Center have been installed, although they haven’t been connected with electrical service yet. The stations are funded through a grant from the Electric Vehicle Institute. The town was required to sign a five-year agreement with the Electric Vehicle Institute. The stations will not cost the town anything. Electric consumption used by the charging station will be paid for by the driver charging the vehicle.

The commissioners also had to approve an addendum to their lease with Frederick County, which is the owner of the Community Center. The addendum change allows the charging stations to be installed. The four charging stations will be marked, and the parking spaces in front of them will only be for the use of cars being charged. Vehicles will be allowed to park in the spots for up to six hours, and overnight parking is not allowed.

Commissioners Approve New Town Waysides

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved three waysides that will be erected in town to highlight the town’s history. 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 three waysides will be at the Emmit House, doughboy statue, and town square. The long-term goal is to create a historic walking tour through the town. They are expected to be erected in the spring.

Town Square Lights Using New Signal Sequence

As part of the town square renovation, the traffic signals and crosswalks are using a new sequence. North Seton Avenue will now proceed first after Main Street. South Seton will move second. This allows the crosswalk signal on the west side of the square to come up as soon as the Main Street light turns red.  The crosswalk on the east side of the square will then come up with South Seton Avenue’s turn signal.

Thurmont

January 2019 Meeting

Town May Use Speed Cameras Near Schools

Following a recommendation from Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are considering using speed cameras near the town schools. The equipment will be provided and maintained by Insta Traffic and won’t cost the town anything.

Cars speeding in school zones will be photographed, the photos reviewed by police, and a $40.00 citation sent to the registered owner of the vehicle.

“I strongly believe the cameras will make motorists be more cautious and think twice before speeding through a school zone,” Eyler said.

He said that the deterrent was needed because of close calls that both students and crossing guards have had crossing the busy streets.

Commissioner Marty Burns opposed the decision, feeling that it was more of a way to generate revenue than to keep children from being hit by vehicles. The other commissioners seemed to feel that if the cameras cause vehicles to slow down that will increase the safety of both students and crossing guards.

The commissioners will review the proposed contract and vote on it at a future time.

New Community Park Pavilion Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid from Playground Specialists of $79,975 to build a 30 x 60-foot steel pavilion on a concrete slab in Community Park. The project will be funded with a $90,810 Program Open Space grant that will pay for 75 percent of the cost.

The pavilion will be constructed west of the basketball courts in an open area that will require no trees to be removed and no grading.

Because the POS grant covers more than needed for construction costs, the difference will be used to purchase picnic tables for the new pavilion. The grant will also pay for 75 percent of the cost of the picnic tables.

Commissioner Bill Buehrer said that the new pavilion will help reduce the backlog of pavilion rental requests that the town receives each year.

Trolley Trail Lighting Bid Approved

Thurmont received a $17,640 Program Open Space grant to purchase nine lights for the Thurmont Trolley Trail, from Park Lane to Water Street. Town staff will install the lights 120 feet apart along the trail. The town received three bids for the seven lights. The low bid was $13,230 from Catoctin Lighting in Thurmont.

Because the grant amount exceeded the amount of the bid, the town will purchase an additional three lights to use for the next phase of lights along the trail from Water Street to Moser Road. This means that the town will only need to purchase seven lights for that stretch of the trail rather than ten.

Board of Appeals Alternate Appointed

The Thurmont Board of Commissioners recently appointed Vince Testa as an alternate member of the Thurmont Board of Appeals.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

Like everyone, the town started the New Year at full pace. Here are a few things the town is working on.

This spring, through grant assistance, the town will be adding wayside exhibits to our historic district streetscape, describing the role of the Square, the Doughboy, and the Emmit House history of the town. The exhibits are intended to complement the ones situated in front of the post office, which describe the encampment of the Union forces in the town before embarking to Gettysburg in those first days of July in 1863. But, complement in an enhanced manner. The new 24 x 36-inch exhibits will not only contain narrative accounts but also supporting photography and other depictions.

Moving forward, the town is applying for grants for exhibits featuring the Vigilant Hose Company on West Main Street, the Great Emmitsburg Fire on East Main Street, the Chronicle Press – Schoolhouse, and the Carriage House Inn on South Seton Avenue. As an administrative goal, and much dreamed and talked about by many, Emmitsburg will have points of interest identified for a visitor’s walking tour in the near future.

Finally, the four electric vehicle (EV), level two, recharge stations have been installed. At times, it has been a cumbersome journey for the town staff to coordinate work under grant guidelines with the contractor, the power company, and the county. The stations are wired for future level three service and should be operational by the end of February.

Emmitsburg encompasses more than the quaint community, set between and along Toms Creek and Flat Run Creek. It includes over 900 acres of forest land situated, generally, on the north and west faces of College Mountain that are outside of town limits. To be more exact, according to Michael Kay of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the town has 947 acres of forest, 23 acres of fields, and 17 acres of reservoir “up there.” Some of its mountain holdings, 400-450 acres and another 130-140 acres along Scott Road, were given to the town around the year 2000 through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Fund, of which I served as a facilitator. Some twelve years later, after I was elected in 2013, I directed the staff to order a forestry report. The report, once in hand, not only described the holdings but also set out recommendations to protect its health. Deer feeding, invasive plants, gypsy moth defoliation, “oak decline,” and emerald ash borers over time have damaged the healthy regeneration of our forest. The report calls for timbering as a necessary step. Mr. Kay’s recommended action was presented to and approved by the town council during the January meeting. There are various intensities of cutting timber. As recommended, only select-cutting, as opposed to clear cutting, will be permitted. Of the 18 tracts identified in the report, a 60-acre tract near Rainbow Lake will be select-cut later this year. The plan is to timber one or two tracts annually, thereafter.

While bracing for our share of snow, ice, and/or rain, my thoughts are towards an early spring.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

On January 31, 2019, the residents of Thurmont lost to retirement one of the hardest working and dedicated employees they have ever known. On that day, Butch West retired from his job with the Town of Thurmont after forty-one years. In those years, Butch held many positions and worked his way up through the ranks to serve as superintendent of Public Works.

I have known Butch for many years, but it wasn’t until I was first elected that I realized how much he was intertwined in the day-to-day operations of our town. Butch has taught me a lot about the inner workings of Thurmont, our streets, parks, and electric system. On any given day, Butch literally seems to be everywhere at the same time. He spends most days going from one project or problem to another, supervising, providing advice, or getting his hands dirty working alongside our crews. He has never shied away from digging right in and helping get things done. I learned early on that if I asked Butch to do something next week, he was already thinking about how to get it done before I was finished telling him what I wanted, and he usually had it finished that day or the next. He made sure things were completed well in advance of when you expected them to be done. Butch began each day by driving around Thurmont and checking on everything from street lights to trash pickup. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the vast majority of our town’s infrastructure and could pinpoint issues and devise solutions on the fly.

For many years, Butch seemed to forgo vacation time or scheduled days off; only recently, has he started taking the days off he was entitled to. This was a problem for me because I was used to calling him any day of week and he would be right there. I was quite surprised the first time I called him and he said he had the day off. Needless to say, after January 31, I will not have to worry about whether he is at work or off enjoying his free time.

The town employees have a picnic every year, and the commissioners and I have the opportunity to say a few words to the staff. I usually tell them that one of their main jobs is to make the commissioners and I look good, and Butch always laughs about this. As an elected official, I am basically a part-timer, whereas Butch and all of our staff are on the job full-time. It is through the hard work of employees like Butch that our town is the great place that we all love and enjoy.

It is hard to believe, but Butch has been here through ten mayoral elections, and during those terms, he has served our residents and elected officials with courtesy and a level of dedication that is above what anyone could expect. The first time I saw Butch after being elected, he was standing in a ditch manning a shovel to help fix a water-line leak. Last week, I called Butch about meeting me to see about some concrete that had been dropped on one of our streets; by the time I got there, he already had most of it cleaned up on his own. Some things never change! I will miss seeing and speaking to Butch on a daily basis, but it is time for him to start enjoying his days with his lovely and understanding wife, his children, and his grandchildren. On behalf of our residents, I want to thank him for all he has done for us during his forty-one-year career with the Town of Thurmont. I also want to th

by James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont’s Part in the 50th Gettysburg Reunion

Three hundred cavalrymen rode through Thurmont on June 25, 1913. They arrived on Western Maryland Railroad from Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. They unloaded their mounts from the train and rode through the town on Wednesday morning.

They were part of the second invasion of Gettysburg.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Civil War Veterans were aging into their sixties and seventies when the average lifespan of an American was around forty-seven years.

Acting on an idea from Henry Shippen Huidekoper, who had been wounded during the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Governor Edwin Stuart urged the state legislature to remember the Veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg during the 50th anniversary.

Gettysburg had hosted battlefield reunions before, but they were relatively small events. For this milestone reunion, people envisioned an immense event with an abundance of people in town and the surrounding countryside as hadn’t been seen since the battle itself.

State legislatures responded positively and appointed representatives to participate in the planning. They would serve as liaisons between their states and the Pennsylvania Battle of Gettysburg Commission.

Seeing the nationwide interest in the event, the U.S. Congress appointed a committee of three U.S. senators and three congressmen to assist the Pennsylvania Commission in June 1910.

Much of the federal assistance came in the form of U.S. Army personnel to plan how to run the camp and army equipment. The cavalrymen from Fort Myer were part of the federal support of the Gettysburg reunion. Capt. Dean, adjutant of the troop, and Lt. Surles, quartermaster, were the first to arrive in Thurmont. They made the arrangements with Col. John R. Rouzer to occupy Camp Field along Hunting Creek.

The men were members of the 15th U.S. Cavalry with Troops A, B, C, and D under the command of Maj. Charles D. Rhodes. Then the food and horses arrived.

“Nearly a carload of feed was shipped to Thurmont over the Western Maryland railroad for the use of the horses and about half a ton of meat and provisions for the men while in camp here,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The cavalrymen stayed one night before reboarding the train and heading to Gettysburg the next day.

The reunion lasted for a week, with nearly 57,000 Veterans returning to Gettysburg. They stayed in a temporary military camp the army erected. Although the Veterans were grouped by their states, they mixed during the day as they walked miles each day covering the battlefield where they had once fought.

During the reunion, monuments were dedicated, the cyclorama opened for the first time, and a silent film about the battle premiered. Senators, congressmen, governors, and the president attended as special guests.

A group of Civil War Veterans from Thurmont also attended the reunion. The men from the Jason Damuth Post No. 89 of the G. A. R. left town on July 1 to be part of the reunion. They were Rev. W. L. Martin, John Tomes, William Jones, Jacob Freeze, Jeremiah Dutrow, Charles Carrens, W. T. Miller, George Elower, C. I. Creager, Charlton Fogle, William Freeze, Maj. George A. Castle, and George W. Miller.

The Gettysburg reunion was the largest reunion of Civil War Veterans ever held.

Confederate survivors of Pickett’s Charge re-enact the charge at the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Survivors of Pickett’s Charge shake hands across the wall where they fought so desperately fifty years earlier.

A Union and Confederate veteran goof around showing they can still fight at the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Veteran encampment at Gettysburg housed around 57,000 Veterans at the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

December 2018

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

Mount Still Planning on Building a Health Care Clinic in the Area

Simon Blackwell, with Mount St. Mary’s University, spoke to the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners during their monthly meeting in December. He said that the university is in negotiations with the Frederick Regional Health System to bring a health and wellness clinic into the area. It is needed to help “improve the quality and access to healthcare” for Mount students, according to Blackwell, but it would also be available to area residents. The planned-for clinic would have primary and urgent care services, a laboratory, radiology, and physical therapy. As part of the process, university staff have been meeting with the members of the community to get their input.

Town Approved Water Contracts

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved water agreements for two property owners outside of town. Years ago, Emmitsburg bought a small water company that serviced property owners outside of town. Over the years, most of those properties have been easily serviced on the town system. However, an 8-inch water line that serviced only three properties was discovered to be unrepairable. One of the properties was close enough to a 10-inch water line that the town owned that it could be connected to it.

The town then faced a decision: Either spend an estimated $1 million to build a new water line to service the two properties or find a way to terminate service to properties.

The town chose the latter and offered the property owners to either drill a new well on the property or pay the property owners the equivalent amount ($11,655).

One property owner took the buyout, and the other will have the town pay to have a new well dug on his property.

Traffic Should Switch on Bridge This Month

According to information that Emmitsburg town staff received from the Maryland State Highway Administration, the deck of the new East Main Street bridge over Flat Run was to be poured in mid-December. Following the concrete deck, a layer of asphalt was applied. This needed to set for 28 days before traffic could be rerouted onto it, which puts the date into mid-January.

Town to Deal with Business Trailers

The Emmitsburg Commissioners are expected to approve changes to the zoning laws that will allow large storage trailers to be used on industrial properties. The changes will allow a trailer used to collect tires for recycling to continue to be used at Quality Tire, while not creating an eyesore for adjacent residential properties.

Thurmont

Thurmont Third Safest Town in Maryland in 2018

Thurmont recently received recognition from Safewise as the third safest city in Maryland. Safewise looks at the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics and population of cities with more than 3,000 residents. They look at violent crime and property crime that occurs per 1,000 residents.

According to Safewise, Thurmont has .92 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 10.45 property crimes per 1,000 residents. It is the only city in Frederick County to make the top ten.

This is a big jump from the 2016 report that listed Thurmont as the ninth safest town in Maryland. Between 2016 and 2018, Thurmont violent crime increased from .92 incidents per 1,000 residents, but property crime decreased from 11.76 incidents per 1,000 residents.

The safest cities in Maryland are: 1. Hampstead (Carroll); 2. Manchester (Carroll); 3. Thurmont (Frederick); 4. Bowie (Prince Georges); 5. Glenarden (Prince Georges); 6. Ocean Pines (Worcester); 7. Taneytown (Carroll); 8. Frostburg (Allegany); 9. Bel Air (Harford); and 10. Easton (Talbot).

Thurmont is the only Frederick County town listed among the safest towns in Maryland.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently received the results of the annual review done of its finances by an independent auditor. Not only did the town receive a clean audit with no findings, but the town also did not have to file for an extension in order to have it done on time.

Town Enacts Planning and Zoning Fees

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to enact planning and zoning fees to recover the cost of using town resources to review development plans. The fees are based on those used in other nearby municipalities. A concept plans submission and review will cost $250, plus the invoiced cost of professional services, such as advertising, legal, and engineering fees. A preliminary site plan, category 1, residential, will cost $350, plus $25 per lot and the invoiced cost of professional services. A preliminary site plan, category 1, non-residential, will cost $500, plus professional services for projects smaller than 25 acres; and $500, plus $25 an acre and professional services for projects over 25 acres. A preliminary site plan, category 2, will cost the zoning certificate fee and professional services. An annexation and review will cost $500, plus $25 an acre and professional services.

Colorfest Review

The Town of Thurmont is starting to dig itself out of a deficit from hosting Colorfest, after making some changes to the permit fees. For Colorfest 2018, the Town of Thurmont received $68,578 and spent $61,289 for sanitation, trash, buses, and security.

While this proved to be a year the town was in the black, it was not the case in 2014 and 2015. Those two years left the town $24,237 in the red. The commissioners made changes to the fees and trimmed some expenses, which has helped the town show positive numbers since 2015. The town is now showing a deficit of $10,147 over the past five years.

The Colorfest revenues have also been helped by the increasing number of permits sold. For Colorfest 2018, 798 permits were sold, up 101 from 2016. This includes a jump from 21 to 32 permits for commercial food vendors, who pay $500 for their permits.

Town Increases Water Reconnection Fee

After reviewing the cost of reconnecting a property to the town’s water system after it has been disconnected for non-payment, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently voted to increase the fee to $75.

This came about after the town reviewed all of the costs associated with reconnecting a property and found that it cost slightly more than $73. The town was only charging $6. The $75 is also equal to or less than the amount charged by surrounding municipalities.

Chief Administrative Office Jim Humerick told the commissioners that disconnecting a property is a last resort for the town. Before that point is reached, the town will have offered the property owner an option to pay the debt back on a payment plan and give the property owner contact information for agencies that might be able to help the property owner pay the bill.

Emmitsburg

 Mayor Don Briggs

In our Community Christmas Stocking

Thank you to those who added the trees on the square, and then, decorated them. A spontaneous occurrence and a very nice added touch.

Thank you town staff for the decorations at the square and at the Community Center. Many compliments.

Thank you E&E Trees, Walkersville Tree Farm, Ken and Barbara Willets, for donating the beautiful town Christmas tree.

Thank you third grade class at Mother Seton School, and all the grades from elementary school, for decorating the town Christmas tree in front of the Community Center, adding to the trimming efforts of the town staff.

Thank you to all the volunteers of our churches, organizations, and businesses who participated in the various Emmitsburg events, starting with the traditional town Christmas tree lighting, on the first Monday in December, in front of the town office, Christ Community Church children’s chorus (My error on invitation to Mother Seton School. They will be singing next year.), Santa Claus arriving in a Vigilant Hose truck, the lighting of the tree, then following Santa on foot to the Carriage House Inn for the 30th Annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit.” The weather was kind again to the many who attended.  

The state finished the square and sidewalks project, except for some loose brick work. Just can’t seem to get the state’s contractors out of here.

Things are moving along on the Flat Run Bridge project, with the concrete being poured for the new bridge lanes. If the weather cooperates, the complementary road work could be completed and we could have a lane switch by the New Year.

For the New Year

Lots of New Year’s resolutions to add to pushing away from the table with a little bit more fervor and with more, much more, resolve. Oh well…

Mount St. Mary’s University is moving ahead with plans to enter a venture with Frederick Memorial Hospital affiliate to build a medical facility on its campus. At the facility, primary and urgent care will be available for students, faculty, and community residents. The university will make a presentation on the proposed medical facility at the January 7, 2019, town meeting, at 7:30 p.m.

At the January 30 Green Team meeting, Hilari Varnadore, Director, LEED for Cities and Communities, U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be the guest speaker. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The topic will be: Helping cities and communities use data to drive more sustainable, equitable investments. Hilari was formerly with Star Communities, which recently merged with the USGBC. Before that, she headed up the Frederick County Sustainability Office that assisted the Frederick County Sustainability Commission when I was chairman of the commission.   

With the New Year comes the sad reality that after seventy-four years of service to the community, Zurgables Hardware will be closed. All those convenient planned and emergency stops no more. According to Mark Zurgable, it was time. Mark has owned and operated the store for thirty-nine years. Thank you, Mark, for all the years of service to the community at your store.

To all, hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a wonderful New Year. Emmitsburg, a great place to live.

Thurmont

  Mayor John Kinnaird

Mayor John Kinnaird was as busy as Santa Claus at the time of our deadline for this issue, and we think his column may have been eaten by a reindeer! He wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

James Rada, Jr.

There was a time in Frederick County when workers needed to follow the work. Every year, a couple thousand workers would journey up the East Coast to work on farms and in factories in the county. They lived in migrant camps in Thurmont, Frederick, and Araby.

Galen Hahn was among them. He didn’t travel with them or work the jobs they did. He ministered to them in the 1960s.

Born and raised in Frederick County, Hahn is the son of John and Helen Hahn. He was confirmed and ordained into Christian ministry at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ in Frederick.

While in high school, Hahn spent a couple summers working with the pastors who served the migrant communities in the county. He initially served as a guide, getting a pastor who wasn’t local to the different places he needed to go, but he continued volunteering and serving the migrants. After he graduated college, Rev. Hahn returned to the county as the migrant pastor.

“It wasn’t just a meeting on Sunday,” Hahn said. “I had to go day to day, week to week. The bulk of the people I worked with were children and a few women.”

This is because the men, and most of the women, were in the county to work, and they worked seven days a week. In the Thurmont area, they worked in a canning factory owned by J. O’Neill Jenkins.

The migrant camp was a set of run-down barracks that were “falling apart,” according to Hahn. For these poor accommodations, the families paid $2.00 per person, per week. The camp, which was near the Weller Church cemetery, no longer exists.

Hahn has written a book about his time as a migrant pastor, called Finding My Field. It includes pictures, which he has since donated to the Maryland Room in the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick.

The book is the story of the migrant ministry in Frederick County and the people who cared enough for the migrant farm workers to pursue justice for them.

“Toward the end of my life, I am enjoying the opportunity of revisiting some of my early days of involvement in ministry before ordained ministry became my life,” Hahn said. “I was early affected by race, poverty, justice, and ministry to children where these were issues. These issues stayed with me throughout my ordained ministry.”

Although he now is retired and living in North Carolina, Rev. Hahn previously served as pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Reformed United Church of Christ and the Sabillasville United Church of Christ. He has also served as a chaplain at Stauffer Funeral Home, Victor Cullen Center, and Victor Cullen Academy.

You can purchase his book online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Copies are also available to check out in county libraries.

Thurmont Migrant Camp

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Before Migrants Arrived in 1963

Connie  Stapleton at the Thurmont Camp Garbage Area.

Thurmont Camp Barracks Family Room.

Photos Courtesy of the Maryland Room, Frederick County Public Libraries