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Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Happy Birthday, Emmitsburg! Established (platted) in 1885, we are now 235 years old. Speaking to age… infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure…there are all kinds. Water, sewer, sidewalks, ADA compliance, parks and recreation, schools, youth activities, and seniors, to name a few. Every municipality needs and wants to provide and maintain its infrastructure.

Within the $3 million town square and sidewalk revitalization, unbeknownst to some, was the inclusion of $124,000 of decades of deferred water infrastructure work. Two years ago, we completed the construction of a $19 million+ wastewater (sewer) treatment plant.

Last year, lines under East Main Street were relined, and we’re about to start relining behind the post office to Creamery Road. In addition, a leaking water line under MD 140 at Tract Road will be addressed.

To accomplish all of this work, we have applied for state aid to upgrade water lines at part of North Seton Avenue and DePaul Street.

We have a new dog park, a new all-inclusive playground, a virtually new pool (after years of neglect), 10 sidewalk connections, and a road connection from Brookfield-Pembrook to Irishtown Road, not to mention $4 million solar arrays and first-time renewable energy savings. All of these improvements have been achieved with significant grants sourced by our great staff.

We have a budget, and we have worked within our means to catch up on years of deferred work. We’re on it!

It was good to have the Honorable John Kinnaird, our neighboring Thurmont’s mayor, at the State of the Union address to add dignity that speaks of Northern Frederick County values to the State of the Union.

At our February town meeting, Roger Wilson, the first Frederick County Director of Government Affairs, was honored. Roger, also a Frederick City Alderman, is leaving his county position. He was powerful, and an accessible friend to Northern Frederick County interests. He will be missed. A wonderful, competent person named Joy Schaefer is taking his place.

Like many, I was saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant, the iconic basketball player who died tragically in a helicopter crash with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. The challenges of such a gifted athlete were many. To those challenges of training and playing at the highest level of competition also came those of human frailty to fame and fortune. He wasn’t perfect. Nor am I, but he was a father and a family man. What was most heartfelt for me was, yes, a consummate basketball player had died, but more so, a father with his daughter had died. Like all of us, we will know not the hour. But he and his daughter, with the rest of the family, had the blessing of attending a 7:00 a.m. Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church together in Newport Beach, California, just hours before the crash.

The funeral service was private. A public memorial service was held on February 24, significant as his daughter’s jersey number was 2 and his 24. He left us with his own personal challenge and now tribute, “I want to outwork my potential.” I like that.

Here we are again; the county school board wants to close Sabillasville Elementary School, the only five-star-rated elementary school in the county. Furtively, it seems, only one-week notice was given before the first public hearing. I attended and spoke before the Board of Education to oppose the closing of the county’s only infrastructure improvement in Sabillasville-Harbaugh Valley. The meeting was in the Frederick County Board of Education Headquarters, which is an almost new multi-million-dollar facility, located one block from the $100-million-dollar Carroll Creek Linear Park. Inside was a packed room of supporters for keeping the school open. In my opinion, this is an insane and predatory action. Never has there ever been a peep out of anyone from the valley for anything even in light of what could be readily seen in luxurious-like investment in schools in other parts of the county. The school is the facility hub, serving not only students but also as a place for community groups to meet and hold activities.

Fifty years ago, Emmitsburg lost its high school, a void still felt today by many. In my remarks to the board, I asked if the Emmitsburg Elementary School could be next.

So much more to write about, but I will leave you with, “Enjoy your Lent, and bring it on, spring!”

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The United States Census 2020 is less than one month away! U.S. households will receive 2020 Census Invitations between March 12 and March 20. During this time, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving at houses. It is critical that all residents are counted. Billions of Federal Tax dollars are distributed based on Census information. Any shortage in our count can lead to less Federal spending in local programs. Funding for highway planning, public transportation, Head Start, teacher support grants, special education programs, housing assistance for the elderly, wildlife restoration, school lunches, Pell Grants Children’s Health Insurance, Medicare Part B, Department of Aging, hospitals, and many others depend on accurate Census counts. Each person not counted could cost our community $18,000 in Federal support over the next 10 years.

The invitations will remind respondents to include everyone living in the household, whether they are related or not. This includes young children. It is also essential that household members serving in the military are counted, and marriage relationships are very important to report. Your response will impact communities for the next decade.
“The Census Bureau is ready for the nation to respond next month,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Millions of Americans are applying for 2020 Census jobs, more than 270,000 local and national organizations are engaged, and in less than 30 days, the majority of U.S. households will receive an invitation to respond to help ensure that every person in the U.S. is counted.” “The Census Bureau has successfully tested its data collection systems, has built backup systems to support resilient operations, and is ready to receive responses from all around the country,” added Dillingham.

This invitation will include instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone. By April 1, most households will have received an invitation, delivered either by mail or by a census taker. In areas of the country that are less likely to respond online, a paper questionnaire will be included in the initial mailing to households. Reminder mailings will be sent to households that do not respond; in the fourth mailing, every household that has not yet responded will receive a paper questionnaire.

The best way to fill out the Census will be online. If you do not have a computer at home, you can use the computers at our local libraries. The Senior Centers will also be set up to assist with the Census. Thurmont residents that do not have the ability to go to the library or Senior Center can call the town office at 301-271-7313 or call me at 301-606-9458 for assistance.

Mark Your Calendar with these Important 2020 Census Dates: March 12-20: Initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone. March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.
March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded. April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded. April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded before census takers follow up in person. May 13-July 31: If a household does not respond to any of the invitations, a census taker will follow up in person.

Mayor Don Briggs of Emmitsburg and I will be doing our best to see that all of our residents are counted! We will have a contest to see which community can get the highest percentage of Census participants. It is my hope that we both get over 90 percent participation, and it would be fabulous if we both tied at 100 percent.

Let’s make sure we are all counted!

As always, you can email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com or call me at 301-606-9458 with any comments or suggestions.

Emmitsburg

FEBRUARY 2020 Meeting

by James Rada, Jr.

Baseball will be Played in Town this Summer

The Thurmont Little League will play games in Emmitsburg on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Emmitsburg Commissioner Frank Davis has been working to ensure Emmitsburg baseball players will have opportunities to play locally. He said CYA has been trying to do more in Emmitsburg. “We’re starting to come together as one, which I always hoped we could,” Davis said during a town meeting.

Town May Annex Daughters of Charity Property

The Town of Emmitsburg may consider annexing the Daughters of Charity property to help the town comply with mandated MS4 regulations to aid Chesapeake Bay restoration. MS4 requires an area equal to 20 percent of the town’s impervious land to be used for runoff control measures by 2023.

Town Planner Zach Gulden told the commissioners during a town meeting that one way the town can meet the regulations is to increase tree plantings, but they need more open space to have the room to do this. A combination of annexation and conservation easements of the Daughters of Charity can accomplish most of the need.

Another action that will help meet the MS4 mandate is Silo Hill Stormwater Management Basin retrofit. This could cost as much as $250,000, but it will fix the failing basin while also making it attractive for residents and useful in meeting MS4.

The town is also considering annexing the town-owned land where the wastewater treatment plant is located.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners recently received the results of the annual review done of its finances by an independent auditor. The town received a clean and unmodified audit, which means the town presented its financial information statements fairly.

Waysides Get Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved changes to one of four new historical waysides that will become part of the town’s historical walking tour. The commissioners had delayed their approval because of a couple factual changes that needed to be made to the wayside about the Chronicle Press building. The cost of the waysides is paid for with an FY2020 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant of $12,032. The other waysides will explain the history of the Great Fire of 1863, Vigilant Hose Company, and Carriage House Inn building.

Defensive Driving Course Added to Employee Handbook

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the addition of policies offering a defensive driving course, preventative maintenance for vehicles, and hand-held cell phones to the employee handbook. Much of what was added was already being done, but the formalization of the policies should allow the town to receive credits on its insurance costs, which could save the town a few thousand dollars.

The defensive driving course policy requires all employees who operate town-owned vehicles to take a four-hour-long online course when they are hired and every four years. The cell phone policy follows Maryland law regarding the use of cell phones while driving.

Thurmont

FEBRUARY 2020 Meeting

Town Considers Options for New Press Box

Members of Thurmont’s CYA organization presented revised plans for a new press box at Eyler Field. The new 30-foot by 80-foot building would serve as a storage facility and press box. The field and building are used for CYA soccer, cheerleading, lacrosse, and football teams that serve hundreds of local children. Estimates of the proposed building will cost around $200,000, and CYA only has $10,000 set aside for building. The CYA organization is hoping to get help from the town, and the Thurmont Town Commissioners are considering how they might be able to help.

Special Activities Committee Donates to the Thurmont Food Bank

The Thurmont Special Events Committee presented Rev. Sally Joyner Giffin with a check for $2,585.04. This is the amount collected during the town’s Halloween in the Park event for the food bank.

Help Needed

The Town of Thurmont is forming a new Internet Commission. If you are interested in volunteering to serve on this commission, please contact Elliot Jones at 240-831-7749.

The town is also seeking volunteers to serve on the Special Events Committee, Board of Appeals, and Police Commission. If interested, please contact the town office.

Yard Waste Drop-Off Permit Needed

Anyone using the Moser Road yard waste drop-off site must have a Yard Waste Permit issued by the town. Permits were mailed out with the last town electric/water/sewer bill. If you do not have the permit when you go to the site, you will be asked to show your driver’s license to verify town residency.

New Sewer Lateral Inspection Policy Being Enacted

The Town of Thurmont is implementing a new sewer lateral inspection policy. The policy allows town staff or its contractors to inspect lateral sewer lines on private property. It also requires property owners to make required repairs within a set amount of time. The policy protects the integrity of the town sewage system, as well as helping the property owner avoid paying for sewage leakage.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

JANUARY 2020 Meeting

Pedestrian Bridge Over Flat Run Closed

The pedestrian bridge along MD 140 over Flat Run is now closed. The contractor will remove it soon. This means that pedestrian traffic on eastbound MD 140 will be closed until the spring. All pedestrian traffic has been moved to the sidewalk along westbound MD 140.

Town Seeking Small Business Tax Credit

The Town of Emmitsburg is seeking state authorization to implement a small business tax credit. The proposed credit lasts six years and is based on the increase in real property tax assessments due to a business’ expansion. To be eligible, the business would need to add at least 2,500 square feet of space and employ at least five full-time employees for two years after the expansion.

Ballfield Fees Approved

The commissioners approved a set of ballfield usage fees for 2020. For next year, there is no charge for ballfield usage. The mayor and commissioners can extend this fee schedule at the end of that time. If they choose not to, the new fees will be as follows.

For single-day use, non-profits will pay $10 an hour, which is fully refundable if the area is left in good condition. Residents will pay $10 an hour, which is 50 percent refundable if the area is left in good condition. Non-residents will pay $20 an hour.

Resident leagues will pay $50 per team, per field, per season. Non-resident leagues will pay $100 per team, per field, per season.

Youth tournaments will pay $50 per day, and adult tournaments will pay $75 per day.

Historic Wayside Approval Delayed

The Emmitsburg Commissioners postponed approval of the new set of historic waysides in town to make edits to one of them.

Emmitsburg received a FY2020 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant of $12,032 to create four new waysides that will be erected at historic spots in town. The waysides are about the Great Emmitsburg Fire, Vigilant Hose Company, Chronicle Press building, and the Carriage House Inn building.

At the January meeting, Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III, raised a factual issue with the Chronicle Press building wayside and also with what information was presented on the waysides.

Commissioners Give Approval

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved amendments recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission to the town forest conservation ordinance and other areas of the code affected by it.

Logging stand 6 also received approval from the commissioners. This 45-acre group of white oak, red oak, and tulip poplar trees are expected to earn the town $45,000 to $50,000 when harvested. The request for bids will go out in May, and harvesting should begin in July.

The commissioners also approved the creation of a sewer and water connection fee payment plan.

Finally, they approved a $1,000 fine against anyone who connects to a town fire hydrant for a non-emergency purpose.

Thurmont

JANUARY 2020 Meeting

Town Plans to Purchase Radio Lane Property

The Town of Thurmont will purchase an 11.87-acre property at 99 Radio Lane for $285,000. The property, which contains a house that the town will rent, was listed as $300,000 initially. The main reason for the purchase is that when the electric substation is decommissioned, a location for a new larger station will be needed. The property could also be used for a stormwater management facility to alleviate some of the flooding in the area. If the Thurmont Trolley Trail is extended to the north, it could come through this property without needing to negotiate a right of way.

Commissioner Liaison Appointments Made

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird recommended new commissioner liaison appointments for 2020, which the commissioners approved. They will be as follow:

•    Commissioner Wayne Hooper—Thurmont Senior Center, Planning and Zoning Commission back-up.

•    Commissioner Bill Buehrer—Police Commission, Parks and Recreation Committee

•    Commissioner Marty Burns—Planning and Zoning Commission

•    Commissioner Wes Hamrick—Thurmont Addictions Committee, Economic Development Commission

•    Mayor John Kinnaird—Board of Appeals

New Police Officer on the Job

Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler introduced Officer Nathan McLeroy to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners during a recent town meeting. McLeroy is the newest Thurmont Police Officer. He worked formerly with the Frederick County Highway Department. He is a native of Rocky Ridge, but he currently lives in Pennsylvania. He is currently in the Sykesville Police Academy, as he prepares to work in Thurmont.

“I like to do a lot of community policing,” McLeroy said. “I served three years in the army as a police officer, and police work seems to be my niche.”

Thurmont May Get State Solar-Energy Exemption

The Frederick County legislative delegation plans to introduce a bill to exempt Thurmont from Maryland’s solar energy mandate. The mandate requires the state to provide 14.5 percent of its energy from solar energy by 2030. The mandate is part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It capped the percentage from electrical cooperatives at 2.5 percent. This did not apply to municipalities like Thurmont, which operate their own power companies. Without the cap, costs could increase $250,000 for Thurmont residents. This is because Thurmont would have to purchase solar energy credits to reach 14.5 percent.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Infrastructure comes in many stripes. Sewer lines, water lines, sidewalks, streets, power lines, the list goes on. The number one infrastructure priority of town staff and elected officials right now is the discolored water service experienced by some of our residents. Our attention to this concern has remained unaltered. To our efforts and our lab testing, we have invited the assistance of the county and state.

Other infrastructure needs include mitigating the effect of flash flooding occurrences at the North Seton Avenue, Federal Avenue, and Provincial Parkway intersection. Flooding has occurred at this point forever. I have seen an old photo of the intersection flooded long before Provincial Parkway was opened and the development of the Northgate subdivision (late 1980s-early 1990s). Town staff is working on a grant to fund a street conceptual plan to reduce the stormwater runoff discharged along the stretch of North Seton Avenue that slopes toward the intersection with Federal Avenue and Provincial Parkway.

Whoa! What a couple of days of 60-degree weather in January can do for you. It was a good break for those among us who are restless from TV football fatigue and possibly girth expansion. To wit, I took our youthful yellow lab, Finn, out on an expedition through Community Park. Perhaps sparked by an equal genesis, the park was busy with plenty of old and new friends for both Finn and me. A good “pack” seemed to be enjoying the new dog park: several families and tots at the new all-inclusive playground, both pick-up baseball and basketball games, joggers, and walkers—what an excellent resource for the community.

At the January board of commissioners meeting, we were honored to host the State Champion Catoctin High School Cougars football team and coaching staff. First, for hotdogs (as many as they could eat and some did), cold drinks, and other treats. Thank you to Mrs. Umbel for the use of the senior center. Then, introductions and presentation of a proclamation from the town was received by Head Coach Doug Williams. Thank you to Commissioner Frank Davis’ family for providing the food and service for the team.

After Christmas, I was honored to attend the Boy Scout Troop 727 awards dinner. Wonderful event. Congratulations to Matthias Buchheister, Thomas Lowe, and Joseph Legare on earning the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. We will honor the lads at an upcoming town meeting. Troop 727 has done many service projects for the town; there is a scout project planned for Community Park this spring.

With spring comes a whole host of youth sports, including baseball again in Emmitsburg. Bring ’em on.  Also, don’t forget, Lent and Easter are on the way.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

The Town of Thurmont has started our 2020 Master Plan Update. The current plan has been in effect for about eight years and needs to be reviewed. The Master Plan guides the Town’s growth, development, and conservation, and has been updated about every ten years since the 1970s. This update will take six to nine months to complete, and residents are encouraged to get involved in the process. The first public workshop took place on Thursday, January 16, with 50 or so residents attendance.

During this first workshop, there was an introduction to the Master Plan, followed by an exercise where the participants broke into smaller groups to discuss several questions. The questions were: 1.—What would Thurmont look like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted?; 2.—What would you preserve about the Town, and what would you change about it?; 3.—Imagine you are in a future generation of Town residents and tell us what would impress you most about the vision of today’s citizen planners?

After discussing the questions, everyone got back together to read each group’s answers. Not surprisingly, the answers were very similar. Most want to keep our small-town feel; to plan future development so that it benefits our residents; to provide more public amenities such as parks, trails, and community centers; and to improve roads and other infrastructure. The results from these discussions will be complied, presented at a future meeting, and incorporated in the update.

Future meetings and workshops will discuss land use, planning, zoning changes, the growth boundary, and other related topics. There will also be public meetings, where maps and other parts of the plan will be displayed for residents’ review and comment. As part of the update, there will also be a Comprehensive Zoning Review. This review allows residents and property owners to apply for a change in zoning for their property.

The requests will be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission; applications for zoning changes must be received by March 15, 2020.

I encourage you to get involved in this process by attending the meetings and workshops or by watching the meeting on Cable 99 or via stream video from the Streaming Video page on www.thurmont.com. This can be a long and involved process, but is worth every minute spent on it. As an active participant, you will be able to take pride in being a part of the 2020 Thurmont Master Plan Update.

The 2020 United States Census will be underway in the month of March. Everyone needs to participate in the census! Among other things, the census will determine the distribution of Federal Funds. Any shortage in census figures for our area can hurt the Federal Programs and services on which many of our residents depend. The census can be taken online, or you can provide the information to Census workers that will be canvassing the community. Be on the lookout for more information as the date for the census approaches.

Please contact me at 302-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

DECEMBER 2019 Meeting

Town Wants to Connect Rutter’s to Emmitsburg

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

New Wayside Exhibits Announced

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

Town Committee Appointments

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

Forest Conservation Plan Updated

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

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

Town Sells House

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

Thurmont

DECEMBER 2019 Meeting

State Plans to Demolish Frank Bentz Pond Dam

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

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

Town Receives a Clean Audit

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

New Board of Appeals Members Sworn In

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

Town Planning Colorfest Workshop

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

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

Free Parking for the Holidays

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved not charging for metered parking in town from December 13, 2019, to January 2, 2020. Because some people still put money in the meters during this time, any money collected will be donated to the Emmitsburg Food Bank (50 percent), Lions Club Community Day fireworks (25 percent), and the Friends of the Emmitsburg Library youth programs (25 percent).

Dunkin’ Donuts Moving Forward

A plan for a Dunkin’ Donuts on the site of the Silo Hill Car Wash has been conditionally approved by the Emmitsburg Planning Commission. The commission put 26 conditions on their plan approval.

According to Town Planner Zach Gulden, most of the conditions aren’t major and are generally small items that are in the town code but were missed when the plan was put together.

More Sewer Relining Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved having Mr. Rehab, Inc., of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, to reline sections of the town’s sewer system to decrease incidents of inflow and infiltration. Mr. Rehab was the lowest price among three bidders, and the company relined the sewer lines on East Main Street earlier this year. Mr. Rehab is charging $35.35 per linear foot for 8-inch pipe and $37.80 per linear foot for 10-inch pipe, and the approval locks in this price for three years.

For 2020, the relining projects are West North Ave. through Creekside Dr. to the creek, and from behind the post office to behind the school at manhole 33. This portion of the project is expected to cost around $107,419, which will be paid from the town’s sewer fund.

Town Approves Social Media Management Policy

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved a policy guiding how the town’s social media accounts are managed. The town website remains Emmitsburg’s primary means of digital communication, but the town also has Facebook and Twitter accounts.

A policy was needed because public officials and government bodies have been running into problems recently over what can be posted on their sites, who can be blocked, and what is considered a public document. The policy also includes an attachment that outlines what visitors to the town’s social media accounts can say in a posted comment.

Long Appointed to Sustainable Communities Board

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously appointed Mark Long to the Sustainable Communities Board. He is also a current member of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission.

Thurmont

Don Ely is Volunteer of the Year

The Thurmont Lions Club announced its Thurmont Volunteer of the Year during a recent meeting of the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners. The club received five nominees who were selflessly serving the Thurmont community. They are: Renae Coolidge, Paul Echard, Don Ely, Kyra Fry, and Rachel Mosiychuk.

“It is people like our five nominees who keep our community strong,” said Julie El-Tahir with the Lions Club.

Ely was selected as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year for his work helping the Thurmont Food Bank. He received a Shamrock Restaurant gift certificate, his name on a plaque listing volunteers of the year, and designating where a $400 donation from the Lions Club will go. Eli chose to have the Thurmont Food Bank get the donation.

The Lions Club has been recognizing Thurmont’s Volunteer of the Year since 2006.

Commissioners Sworn In

Mayor John Kinnaird swore in Commissioners Wes Hamrick and Bill Buehrer to serve new terms on the Thurmont Board of Commissioners. Hamrick and Buehrer were re-elected on October 29. Thurmont’s voter turnout for its municipal election was 11 percent, with 531 people casting 1,022 ballots. These numbers include 14 absentee votes.

Hamrick thanked the other candidates who ran for election and added, “It’s a very humbling privilege to be up here.”

Buehrer echoed those comments and said, “I am disappointed that only 11 percent of the people that are registered to vote in this community thought it as worthwhile to come out that day.”

Town to Acquire Moser Road Property

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to purchase a 10-acre parcel next to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The town will use Program Open Space fund for the $150,000 purchase. This property will allow the Thurmont Trolley Trail to be extended outside of the town to the south. The commissioners’ hope is that the trail can become a much larger trail, extending to Frederick.

Electric Department Purchasing a Wire Trailer

The Thurmont Electric Department will purchase a specialized trailer that allows town staff to make temporary aboveground connections during an electrical service outage. Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners that using the trailer allows the town to get customers’ service back quicker, while also allowing town staff to work on the problem in safer conditions.

The town received two bids for the trailer. It awarded the bid for the trailer to Comstar Supply in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, for $13,147. The cost of the wire for the trailer is $2,000. The town has allocated $23,000 for the trailer and wire, so the equipment is costing $7,853 under budget.

Town Sponsors Model Train Display

Thurmont is sponsoring a free model train display at 12 East Main Street in Thurmont every weekend through December 22. The display is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers and the Town of Thurmont are sponsoring the display.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

With a prompt from a timely spike of cold weather—perhaps, an awakening to the holiday season—and the closeout of the 2019 year, it’s a good time to look back at some of the things we did over the last year. 

•  With County Executive Jan Gardner, town staff, commissioners, Boy Scout Troop 727, arborists, and residents, we held our second Arbor Day tree planting (April). We planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses through the elementary school grounds.

•  With County Executive Gardner and the renewable energy-minded residents, we held the ribbon-cutting for the four electric vehicle charging stations (May). The stations are located at the town office/community center.

•  With town staff, we hosted three pool parties (June 21, July 12, August 16), drawing record attendance (for the whole season). The pleasant weather, food, Rita’s Ice, and new pool served as additional inducements.

•  With County Executive Gardner, the town held ribbon-cuttings for the first set of three wayside exhibits: the Doughboy, Emmit House, and town square (June). Next year, we’ll be adding exhibits for the Great Emmitsburg Fire, Vigilant Hose Company, Chronicle Press, and the Carriage House Inn.

•  Completion of replacing lighting in all town-owned buildings with LED lights. More energy efficiency, more savings.

•  Another spectacular Heritage Day (June).

•  The town purchased an electric powered vehicle (June), saving money.

•  The town hosted a shred event for paper, electronic recyclables, and old paint (June).

•  With Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, the town hosted National Night Out, featuring a SWAT vehicle, K-9 demonstration, and petting zoo (August). Over 500 attended.

•  Boys and Girls Club has come to Emmitsburg Elementary School (September).

•  County Executive Gardner and Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum officers attended a ribbon-cutting for William Cochran glass etching (October).

•  Construction of the disc golf course in Community Park began (October). Completion is scheduled for the spring 2020.

•  With County Executive Gardner, town staff, and commissioners, a ribbon-cutting was held for new all-accessible playground in Community Park (November). 

•  Hope you didn’t miss the EBPA-sponsored Turkey Trot run/walk Thanksgiving morning (November). So timely. A good way to bank some calorie-burn for the cascade of calories awaiting you later that day.

Not to mention:

• The town was awarded Tree City USA certification.

• The town was honored to receive the People Loving and Nurturing Trees (PLANT) award.

• The pool house interior renovation is planned to commence (waiting on contract from contractor).

• Proclamation—recognizing Francis Smith as the town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate (August).

• Proclamation—Frederick County Goes Purple (September 2019); we decorated the town purple and had staff wear shirts.

• Proclamation—Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).

At The Catoctin Banner deadline, Catoctin Cougars just blasted Brunswick to move on into the football playoffs. Keep it up Cougars!

Hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Don’t forget our food bank.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving; time passes so quickly, it will soon be Christmas.

I want to invite you to join us on Saturday, December 7, 2019, for Christmas in Thurmont. The day’s event will be held at the Guardian Hose Company Fire Station at 21 North Church Street. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck at 9:00 a.m. to start the day. Kids can stop by throughout the day and enter their names for the prize drawing. Adults can pick up a stamp map to visit businesses for a chance to win prizes. There will be free photos with Santa from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and Santa will be reading a story at the Thurmont Regional Library at 1:00 p.m. The Gateway Brass Ensemble will be performing from 8:45-9:15 a.m. The CHS Jazz Band will be playing sounds of the season at 4:00 p.m., and the ESP Dance Studio will perform at 4:45 p.m. There will be horse and carriage rides on December 7; call the town office at 301-271-7313 for reservations.

The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be hosting the Second Annual Model Train Display at 12 East Main Street, starting at 10:00 a.m. on December 7. The Thurmont Lions Club Christmas Tree will be dedicated at 4:45 p.m., and prize drawings will begin at 5:00 p.m. Refreshments will be provided by the Guardian Hose Company throughout the day. This will be a fun day for everyone!

The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers train display will be open to the public on Wednesday evening, December 11 (up to Christmas), from 5:00-8:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.; and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 p.m. Our thanks to the FCSME and Acacia Lodge No.155 AF & AM for sponsoring this wonderful event. This is an amazing train display, and kids of all ages will enjoy visiting.

November 30 is Small Business Saturday. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and provide a great local source for the services and products we all need and use daily, as well as provide local employment opportunities for our residents. I encourage you to shop local every time you can; our local restaurants and stores are owned by our neighbors and they return a lot of value to our community. Join the national Shop Local celebration by shopping locally on Saturday, November 30, and let our local businesses know that we support them!

As you may know, the Town of Thurmont recently made a $21,000 donation to the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Awareness Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital. This is the fifth year our residents and businesses have joined forces to support this vital effort. This year’s donation brings our five-year total to over $80,000! This year, we held several public events, including a Zumbathon, Golf Classic, our Annual 5K, a Pumpkin Decorating Contest, and the pink light bulb sales. Over forty local businesses participated in this year’s event, and countless residents helped by making direct donations or by visiting supporting businesses. I would like to express my personal gratitude to the members of the Team United U-13 Soccer Team for raising $4,000 by winning all their soccer matches in October. The kids from Team United, all our residents and businesses helped us realize this amazing milestone and are true Thurmont Heroes!

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

Victory Tabernacle, Thurmont

by Theresa Dardanell

“A hand of friendship will be extended. A heart of worship will be found. A Biblical message will be heard.” 

My recent visit to Victory Tabernacle confirmed the quote that was in the handout I received before the service.  The church, originally named Catoctin Gospel Tabernacle, was established in 1961 as an independent Pentecostal Church by Reverend Arnold Gooden. Pastors David and Hope Reynolds have served the congregation since 1983. Pastor David said that the church is currently a fully chartered member of the Pentecostal Church of God and that, “Victory Tabernacle serves as the Capital District Church, serving nine churches in the tri-state area. We also serve 69 military chaplains all across the globe as an Assistant Ecclesiastical Endorser.”

Their uplifting Sunday worship service begins at 10:00 a.m. The musical team leads the congregation in joyful contemporary music throughout the service, which includes a Scripture reading, a message, and prayers. The congregation participates with prayer requests and thanks for blessings received; there is also plenty of time to greet one another with handshakes and hugs. A special children’s church is held during the worship service. Communion is offered at Christmas and Easter.

There are plenty of opportunities for study and social interaction during the week. Men meet for Bible study on Thursday mornings; women gather for Bible study on Wednesday evenings; grandparents are invited for “table talk” to support and help one another.

The youth group meets on Fridays, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Along with Bible study, they enjoy games and snacks and work on community service projects.

Family events include grandparents night, gingerbread night, paint night, and more. A new College and Career Group for young adults has just formed,  and they will begin their community service with a nursing home visit in December. 

Outreach to the local community includes donations to the Frederick Rescue Mission, Thurmont Food Bank, Hospice, Catoctin Pregnancy Center, and a prison ministry.  Operation Christmas Child is one of the international organizations supported by Victory Tabernacle. Boxes of personal care products, toys, and craft items, along with personalized objects made by the children of the church, are packed in boxes and sent to children around the world by the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief organization. Missionaries in the Philippines are also the recipients of the generosity of the congregation.

Victory Tabernacle is located at the corner of Kelly’s Store Road and Catoctin Furnace Road in Thurmont. Paul Jenkins said that the members feel like family and that, “we look after each other. Guests are always welcome to become part of this family of God.”  Pastor David Reynolds shared the hope that, “people know that Jesus is alive and he loves them, and we love them and we want to worship together.”

Members of Victory Tabernacle.

Emmitsburg

Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to those residents who came forth to run for the two open commissioner seats in the town election: two incumbents, Elizabeth Buckman and Glenn Blanchard and challengers Frank Davis and T.J. Burns. How can you lose when you step forward, especially when it is to present your perspective on care for the community? There are no losers.

Thank you to Glenn for the quiet, thoughtful presence he brought to the board of commissioners and the community. Whether in service as a St. Joseph’s board member, as a member of the American Legion and proud veteran, or the years in the classroom, his role is always as that needed steadying hand. Also being a world traveler, he contributed from those experiences and brought a wider perspective and balance to our town meetings.

Thank you to Elizabeth Buckman, a teacher, who often brought an energy centered on representing those in our community who are in need and possibly seldom heard. She also brought to the town meetings a broader perspective from her education and experiences. Congratulations to Commissioner Buckman on acceptance into a University of Pittsburgh graduate program. Her new studies will certainly ready her for the adventures that will be launched from that education. 

The new commissioners will assuredly bring a new energy and verve. 

On occasion, I have received inquiries as to infrastructure improvements during my time as mayor. The following is a recap of most, if not all, of those improvements that have been completed since July 1, 2014, or are anticipated to be completed in the near future.

•Capital Project spending (rounded): $149,000 – town square project town portion; $317,000 – paving and sidewalks; $700,000 – parks and recreation.

•Water: $29,000 – three phases of rip rap at Rainbow Lake; $134,000 – new waterline (North Seton Ave. and Main St.); $39,000 – LG Sonic (solar) – algae control Rainbow Lake; $219,000 – general repairs and maintenance; $13,000 – leak detection since 2017.

•Sewer: $17,000 – Power Star – water treatment; $18,000 – wastewater treatment plant (WWTP); $80,000 – sewer relining (East Main St.); $100,000 – pending sewer relining FY20; $2.5 – $3 million – pending new pumping station; $152,000 – general repairs and maintenance.

Annually, the town is committed to putting aside $65,000 for roads. We are working on another $1,000,000 investment in our water treatment plant that should create significant savings to the town.

The 38th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend was again a successful solemn tribute to the 119 firefighters honored this year. Adding to the tribute this year was the completion of the installation of the William Cochran Glass etching, “Volunteers” in front of the Frederick County Fire Rescue Museum. Congratulations to the officers of the museum. It was our pleasure in helping to raise funds for the project and assisting when requested. 

As of this writing, the redevelopment of the playground in Community Park to an all-inclusive playground is finishing up. This was a wonderful effort, which could not have been accomplished without support from the state, county, the Civitan Club, and lots of town staff “elbow grease.” It was a pleasure working with the contractor, Playground Specialists, and their field manager, Emmitsburg’s own Tim Boyle. We are very proud of this and a ribbon cutting is tentatively been set for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. Please check the town website, channel 99, and/or Facebook for confirmation of date and time.

Congratulations to Emmitsburg resident Emmy Award-winner Conrad Weaver for his award-winning documentary, Heroin’s Grip. It was screened on Capitol Hill on October 16 in the Cannon House Office Building. Conrad and his team, together with Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and others in the Maryland delegation, hosted the event.

Hope you enjoyed the Halloween parade and festivities and are readying for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thurmont

 Mayor John Kinnaird

We have survived another Colorfest, and my impression is that this was a profitable one for many of our nonprofits. I also spoke to many vendors, all of whom said they were very happy with the turnout. The weather was ideal and that brought out nice crowds of visitors. I want to thank all our residents, vendors, and nonprofits for helping make this a successful Colorfest weekend.

The Thurmont Lions Club is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, and the Lions have been an active participant in our community for each one of those 90 years. With one of the most active memberships of any organization, the Lions have supported a wide range of activities, from their annual Easter Egg Hunt to the amazing improvements they brought to the Trolley Trail. The Lions sandwich sales, Community Show booth, and Colorfest stand allow them to raise funds that stay within our community. The Thurmont Lions Club is one of the pieces that make the Thurmont the community we all love. Here’s to another 90 successful years for the Thurmont Lions Club!

One of the most popular events in Thurmont is Halloween in the Park. This year’s event has been rescheduled to November 2 due to the weather forecast. Halloween in the Park is attended by thousands each year, and we all have an amazing time while raising funds and donations for the Thurmont Food Bank. The two driving forces behind this fun evening, since the first year, have been Jill and Wayne Hooper. Each year, Jill and Wayne are out collecting donations, encouraging volunteers to help, and making sure that everyone knows about the event. Then, during the week leading up to Halloween in the Park, they are working every day to get things set up just right. They always seem to be everywhere at once during the event and make sure we all enjoy ourselves. Sadly, Jill passed away June 10 of this year, and Wayne has taken on the responsibility of organizing this once again. This year’s event is titled “Jill’s Chills and Thrills,” in honor of her love of Halloween. I hope everyone has a great time, thinks fondly of Jill and her love for this event, and that everyone takes a minute to thank Wayne for bringing so much fun to our community.

Christmas in Thurmont will be here on December 7. Be sure to be on the lookout for information about the day coming soon. There will be games, crafts, and prizes for all ages, as well as a visit with Santa! We will have the extremely popular Christmas Train Garden set up again this year. The Frederick County Society of Model Engineers will be hosting the display on each Saturday and Sunday leading up to Christmas. Our thanks to the FCSME and Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge No. 155 for working with the Town of Thurmont to make this possible.

As always you can call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

by James Rada, Jr.

October 2019 Meeting

Thurmont Welcomes Two New Police Officers

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in two new Thurmont police officers in October.

Mike Mentzer had more than 20 years on the job with the police in Washington D.C. before he retired. He said he looked for something outside of law enforcement to do after he retired, but “There wasn’t anything I really wanted to do other than be a police officer and work in law enforcement.”

Brandon Boyle was formerly with Loudon County Fire and Rescue before taking a position with the Thurmont Police. He started his academy training in October.

Senior Center to Get Funding for a Part-Time Assistant Coordinator

Unlike the other senior centers in Frederick County, the Thurmont Senior Center receives very little of its funding, if any, from the county. The Town of Thurmont usually contributes $20,000 to the center’s funding; however, this year, it provided $23,000 so the center coordinator could get a raise.

The senior center board of directors is now asking for $10,140 more each year to fund an assistant coordinator position for 15 hours a week. The commissioners feel this burden should be shared by the county since roughly half of the attendees to the senior center live outside the borders of Thurmont.

Frederick County stopped funding the center several years ago, primarily over the issue of lunches. The Department of Aging required the center to serve food it provided through a grant. However, the food arrived cold and mushy to the center, according to Commissioner Wayne Hooper. The poor food quality was causing seniors to stay home and the senior center wanted to make its own arrangements for lunches. The county told the center it had to abide by county rules to receive funding. The board of directors chose to run the center itself.

The county has provided a small amount of funding in the past, but it cannot be depended upon.

The commissioners voted to fund the amount needed for the position, less any additional funding the county can be convinced to pay.

Thurmont Changes How Corner Lots are Defined

The Town of Thurmont changed how corner lots were defined in its planning code in 2017. However, the change caused unforeseen problems with many existing corner lots in the town, putting them out of compliance with planning and zoning regulations. The mayor and commissioners unanimously voted in October to change the code back to the way it had been where corner lots are concerned.

This should take care of the problems some property owners have been having.

In light of some recent bicycling events, a general increase in bicycle traffic, and a recent accident involving a bike and a vehicle, I thought it might be helpful to review bicycling laws in Maryland.  The following highlights are provided by the State of Maryland. For complete rules regarding bicycles in Maryland, please refer to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Transportation, Title 21 – Rules of the Road.

Bicyclists fare best when they act like, and are treated as, drivers of vehicles. By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

•Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.

•Ride with traffic, never against it.

•Stop at all red lights and stop signs.

•Use hand signals when turning or stopping.

•Yield right-of-way to pedestrians.

•Pass on the left when overtaking a vehicle.

•Use marked bike lanes or paths when present.

•Use sharrows (markings in the travel lane that indicate where people should preferably cycle) to help guide you in shared travel lanes.

•Use caution when crossing ramps.

•Bikes must be ridden as close to the right side of the road as possible, unless making a left turn, riding on a one-way street, passing a halted/slowed vehicle, avoiding pedestrians or hazards, the right lane is a right turn only lane or the lane is too narrow for a bike to travel safely.

•Never ride more than two abreast.

•Only ride on sidewalks where it is allowed by local ordinance.

•Stay visible when riding at night and during inclement weather.

•All riders 16 and under are required to wear a helmet and wear the helmet correctly.

 Remember, a bicycle weighs 20 pounds; a car weighs 4,000 pounds. Even the slightest mistake on the part of the driver can result in tragic consequences for the bicyclist.

•Expect bicyclists on the road.

•Allow at least three feet when passing bicycle.

•Always keep a safe following distance.

•Yield the right-of-way to bicyclists when turning right.

•Look for bicyclists before opening a car door.

•Stay alert when pulling out of driveways or side streets.

•Watch for children.

•Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to text and use handheld devices while driving.

•Stay alert – avoid all distractions.

Please keep these rules in mind when you are riding a bicycle on our streets and whenever you encounter bicyclists.

As always please contact me with any concerns at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

by James Rada, Jr.

SEPTEMBER 2019 Meeting

Colorfest Services Contracts Awarded

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved contracts to provide additional services during the 2019 Colorfest. The total cost of the contracts is $3,075 over the cost of the 2018 Colorfest contracts.

Security services: May Security of Frederick will provide 29 guards, 1 supervisor, and 1 relief guard during Colorfest weekend for $4,694.

Bus services: Rill’s Bus Services of Westminster will provide 10 standard buses and 1 wheelchair-accessible bus on Saturday, and 8 standard buses and 1 wheelchair-accessible bus on Sunday for $17,440.

Portable bathrooms: Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide 128 regular portable toilets, 17 handicapped-accessible portable toilets, and an on-site pumping truck for $16,850.

Trash services: Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide a special trash pick-up after 6:30 p.m. each evening, 2 dumpsters, and a recycling truck on site for $2,750, plus tipping fees.

Thurmont Town Election on October 29

The election to fill two commissioner seats will be held on October 29 at the Guardian Hose Company Activities Building on 123 East Main Street. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. The last day to register to vote in the election is close of business Oct. 1. Absentee ballot applications will be available on Oct. 4.

Commissioners Hear Road Improvement Estimates

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners heard from Arro Engineering about the probable cost to improve Carroll Street and Woodside Avenue. Mayor John Kinnaird said the improvements were a “long time coming” for roads that are “in dire need of repairs.” Doug Smith, senior project manager for Arro Engineering, said that 20-30 percent of the roads would need to be fully rehabilitated. He provided two estimates to the commissioners. One was the cost of road improvements with storm drains included ($5.3 million) and one estimate was without storm drains ($3.149 million).

Bamboo Added As Invasive Species

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners amended the town code to include bamboo as an invasive plant species. This will give the town some control over having property owners eradicate the plant if it moves onto a property outside of the person who owns the bamboo.

Halloween in the Park will take place on October 26 at Thurmont Community Park at 6:00 p.m. Rain date: November 2.       Trick-or-Treating: 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Scouting for Food is an annual food collection, orchestrated by Boy Scouts of America as a community service project since 1985.

Cub Scouts, Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts will be placing bags/notes on doors on November 2, to remind people to donate on November 9 (when the Scouts will come by and pick up any donations from your porch). All donations collected stay local and are delivered to the local food banks in the Thurmont, Emmitsburg, and Lewistown areas. The food banks do not accept expired items.

Not sure what you should donate? Here are some of the most highly needed items: non-perishable food items; canned protein (tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter); soups and stews (beef stew, chili, meat-based soups); 100% fruit juices (all sizes); grains (pasta, whole grain pasta, rice, brown rice, boxed macaroni & cheese); cereals (multi-grain, cheerios, cornflakes, raisin bran, grape nuts, oatmeal); canned vegetables; canned fruits; condiments; hygiene products (diapers, toilet paper, tissues, soap, toothpaste); baby essentials (wipes, food, diapers); pet foods (cat and dog—canned and dry).

Thurmont

Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are at the end of summer; where has the year gone?  School is about to start. I encourage everyone to be especially careful as our children head off to school. Kids will be walking on the sidewalks and getting on and off buses and may not always be aware of their surroundings. Be sure to obey all a speed limits, school crossing guards, and school bus warning devices. I hope all of our children have a great time at school.

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is coming up on September 6-8. This Community Show is one of the largest community agricultural shows in Maryland and provides a wonderful opportunity for the display of crafts, livestock, baked goods, photography, floral displays, fruits, vegetables, and other items. There’s also plenty of delicious food available at the show, including the always popular turkey dinner, BBQ chicken lunch, and the tasty items at the Thurmont Lions Club food stand. I hope to see you all  at the Community Show!

With fall comes the Annual Colorfest weekend. If you are interested in setting up a booth, please be sure to contact the town office about permits and other important information. Colorfest represents one of the best fundraising opportunities for many of our local churches, service organizations, and youth groups. Be sure to visit our local organizations and support them during Colorfest.

Thurmont will be holding elections for two commissioner’s seats this fall. Here are some important dates to remember. The Nominating Convention will be held in the Town Meeting Room at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The last day to register to vote in the town elections is close of business on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. The election will be held on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Guardian Hose Company Activity Building on 123 East Main Street in Thurmont.

Please contact me at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.

July 2019 Meeting

Commissioner Deal With State-Mandated Energy Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town Uses Outside Electric Company to Supplement Town Staff

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

Year-End Budget Adjustments Were Made

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

Mayor John Kinnaird

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

Note: The below article “Thurmont’s Oldest Citizen Turns 102” was featured in the July 2018 issue of The Catoctin Banner. Beulah Zentz passed away on June 23, 2019 at the age of 103. Our community has lost a friend in Beulah Zentz, and she will be missed. Turn to page 60 to view her Obituary.

Beulah Zentz may not have been born in Thurmont, but the town’s oldest resident has become a part of the town’s history.

She was born on May 26, 1916, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Fresh out of high school, she met Ethel Hockensmith. Beulah went to help Ethel with housework at her home in Zullinger, Pennsylvania. Beulah stayed with her about a week before Ethel asked her, “Do you want a job?”

Ethel’s brother owned and operated the Munshour Dairies in Thurmont. So, Beulah made the move to Thurmont in 1932. She lived with the Munshours. Her work included milking sixteen cows twice a day, washing glass milk bottles, and bottling milk. Munshour Dairies delivered milk by horse and wagon to locations throughout Thurmont. Sometimes, Beulah would ride along.

“The only place she got to go while she was living there was the Lutheran church,” said Viola Noffsinger, Beulah’s daughter.

It was there that she met Albert Zentz, a local farmer. The two got along well, but before their relationship could really develop, Beulah moved back to Chambersburg. A friend of hers invited Beulah to come work at a factory in Chambersburg for $7.50 a week. Beulah was only making $3.00 a week at Munshour Dairies, so she jumped at the new job.

This complicated her growing relationship with Albert, who had to travel from Thurmont to Chambersburg to visit her. He finally told her that it was too far to travel.

Beulah had a choice to make, and she chose Albert over her job. She moved back in with her family, who were living in New Franklin, Pennsylvania. Once she did, Beulah said, “He started visiting more often.” They married on February 24, 1936.

Albert had taken over his family’s farm in 1934, and Beulah moved into the farmhouse at 158 North Carroll Street in Thurmont. “We had animals of all kinds,” Beulah said. “Hogs, calves, beef cattle, chickens.” They also grew vegetables to sell in town.

The farmhouse also became quite crowded. Albert’s parents, Wendell and Florence, continued to live in the house, and Beulah and Albert started their family. Jean (Heims) was born in 1939, Viola (Noffsinger) in 1940, Mary (Eyler) in 1942, and Wendell in 1954.

As the town grew, factories began building in town.

Meanwhile, Albert not only worked his farm, but he helped anyone in town who needed help. Albert got a reputation of being the person to go to if you needed a helping hand.

Beulah did her part to assist the family. She worked for a time at the shoe factory in town, but then she found a better way to help out.

The Zentzes owned a building next to the railroad tracks and near the shoe factory. The upstairs rooms were rented out as apartments, but the Zentzes had another idea for the ground floor.

“The shoe factory wanted something so people could have snacks and eat,” Beulah said.

And, so, the Sunrise Cafeteria was born. Employees at the shoe factory would place orders, and one employee would walk over to the cafeteria to pick up the order of milk and sandwiches that the employees would eat on their break.

The Western Maryland Railroad passenger trains also stopped at the cafeteria. “They made it a point to stop there and eat,” Beulah said.

The cafeteria operated for years until bureaucracy began interfering. Insurance rates climbed because the cafeteria sold fresh milk, not pasteurized. Then the health inspector told Beulah that they would need new coolers to hold the milk, which were too expensive. The cafeteria closed in the early 1950s.

Beulah continued working with companies like Claire Frock and Hillside Turkey.

Albert died in 2002. He and Beulah had been married for sixty-seven years.

Beulah is now 102 years old, making her Thurmont’s oldest citizen. However, she has had health issues this year, including pneumonia. When asked what her secret to long life is, Beulah said, “I never gave it much thought. I just went along and did whatever needed doing.”

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

For more information on the Town of Emmitsburg, visit www.emmitsburgmd. gov or call 301-600-6300.

June 2019 Meeting

New Sign Ordinance Moves Forward

The Emmitsburg Commissioners sent the new proposed sign ordinance, with changes incorporated to the town’s planning commission, in early June. The commission then undertakes a 30-day review of the plan.

The commissioners’ action followed four community outreach meetings to get feedback on the proposed ordinance. One of the most significant changes to come out of those meetings was to allow neon signs in downtown businesses. Each business is allowed one sign, up to 2-square feet in size, that has a steady light source.

The planning commission will review the ordinance and recommend it for approval, approval with changes, or denial.

The Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association has also seen the proposed ordinance and supports the version sent to the planning commission.

Town Applies for $75,000 in Community Facade Grants

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved a resolution to apply for a $75,000 facade grant from the Community Legacy Program.

The town has applied for this grant every year since 2013. Over that time, $820,491 have been invested in the town’s facade from the state grants, resident matching payments, and in-kind donations from the town.

Two Appointed to Parks and Recreation Committee

The Emmitsburg Commissioners appointed Carolyn and Martin Miller to serve on the town parks and recreation committee. Their terms run from March 15, 2019, to March 15, 2021.

Thurmont

For more information on the Town of Thurmont, visit www.thurmont.com or call 301-271-7313.

June 2019 Meeting

Town Purchases Property for Public Works Department

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners agreed to purchase the property at 115 Water Street for $152,000. The .21-acre property is adjacent to the Thurmont Public Works Department, and it will allow the department to expand in the future. Until that time, the town will rent the home that is on the property.

Town Expects Full POS Funding

The Town of Thurmont expects to receive its full funding request from Program Open Space. There was enough funding this year to fund all of the requests from Frederick County’s municipalities: $60,000 for the Thurmont Trolley Trail extension; $30,000 for the Community Park playground update; $22,500 for a half-court basketball court at the ice plant.

Town Makes Annual Donations

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners made their annual contributions to organizations that provide services to the town: the Guardian Hose Company received $30,000; the Thurmont Community Ambulance Company received $30,000; the Thurmont Food Bank received $6,000.

Thurmont Receives National Main Street Accreditation

For the fourteenth straight year, the Town of Thurmont has received National Main Street and Maryland Main Street accreditation. This recognizes outstanding commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization.

“We are proud to acknowledge this year’s 840 nationally accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to strengthen their communities,” Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center, said in the release. “Main Street America Accredited communities are part of a powerful movement of changemakers, and their dedication to improving quality of life in these places is inspiring.”

The National Main Street Program is a subsidiary under the National Trust for Preservation, with 45 states participating in the Main Street Program. The State of Maryland has 27 National Main Street Accredited Main Streets. The Main Street Maryland program strives to strengthen the economic potential of Maryland’s traditional main streets and neighborhoods. The program provides designated communities with support for economic planning, marketing, promotion, and education administered by the Department of Community Housing and Development.

Thurmont Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder manages the Main Street program in town. She said, “I am very proud that we have been accredited for 14 straight years. This says a lot about our municipality, our residents, and our community leaders.”

Town Can’t Help Parkview Townhomes

Representatives from the Parkview Townhome Community on Moser Circle asked the Town of Thurmont to take over maintenance services the homeowner’s association provide in the hope of disbanding the HOA. The HOA has had to deal with bad contracts they are locked into and home foreclosures that have reduced the HOA’s income.

“We would like to get away from the association altogether,” said HOA officer Joe Kelley.

The commissioners said they sympathize with the residents of the community, but it was doubtful the town could take over the HOA duties. Mayor John Kinnaird pointed out that the road is probably not up to town standards.

“We would be taking on a large headache and a liability,” he said.

The commissioners said that they were willing to help where they could, but taking over for the HOA was not an option.

 Mayor John Kinnaird

I am writing from Ocean City, Maryland, this morning! The Maryland Municipal League Summer Conference is being held from June 22 through June 25 at the Convention Center in O.C. The MML holds two Conferences through the year, and this one is by far the best attended—my guess is because it is in Ocean City. We will be attending three days of meetings and discussions that range from the opioid epidemic to planning and zoning tips, from consensus building to infrastructure concern to running well organized meetings, to…well you can see it’s a little bit of everything. The discussions are always very helpful, and it is good to sit with 50 or 60 other elected officials and discuss these topics. There is always someone that has had experience and is able to shed some light on even the most difficult topics. The MML elects a new board of directors and president at the Summer Conference; I have been helping with the voting for several years. When I first started attending the Conference, I was worried that the larger municipalities would hold an undue influence over the MML, but, boy, was I wrong! Two years ago, Jake Romanell was elected president; he served as a councilmember from New Market. This year, Perry Jones from Union Bridge is running for president elect. So, in a short span of four years, our MML President will have come from two of our smallest municipalities. The absolute best thing about attending the Summer Conference is that when we sit in on discussions, we find that every community has similar issues, and it is reassuring to me that most have much greater problems than we have in Thurmont or Emmitsburg!

Summer has arrived, and with it, comes our great Main Street Farmers Market. The Market is held every Saturday morning in the Municipal Parking lot on Center Street. This year’s vendors will have a great selection of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, handmade goods, and delicious baked items. Be sure to stop by early for the best selection!

A reminder that the Guardian Hose Company Carnival will be held the week of July 8. There is still time to get presale all-you-can-ride tickets; be sure to get to the parade to see the best parade in Frederick County.

On Saturday, June 27, we held our First Annual Gateway to the Cure Golf Tournament at Maple Run Golf Course on Moser Road. The event was well attended and has been declared a great success. The proceeds from this, and other upcoming events, will go to our community donation to the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital. To date, the residents of Thurmont have donated over $60,000 to FMH to help with treatment and research. We dedicated this year’s tournament to the memory of Jill Hooper. Jill was always very active in our community and worked hard to help raise funds for the Cure.

School is out and our children will be outdoors playing, riding bikes, and skateboarding. Please keep an eye out for the youngsters as you drive our streets; they may not always be aware of their surroundings.

As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com.

The Catoctin Banner is distributed via direct mail to approximately 8,500 households in Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Sabillasville, Cascade, Lewistown, and Rocky Ridge, Maryland. It is placed for free pick-up in surrounding towns in high-traffic areas. Those towns include Woodsboro, Taneytown, Detour, and Smithsburg in Maryland and Blue Ridge Summit, Waynesboro, and Fairfield in Pennsylvania.

by James Rada, Jr.

May 2019 Meeting

FY2020 Budget Introduced

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received the proposed budget for the town for fiscal year 2020 in May.

It is proposed to adopt the property tax constant yield rate of 29.92 cents per $100 of assessed value. The constant yield rate is the rate the town needs to adopt to generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year. As property assessments rise, the constant yield rate drops.

Under the proposed budget, the general fund revenues are expected to be $4,197,027, with $3,733,555 in expenditures and $449,594 in capital expenses.

The water fund is expected to have $980,825 in revenues, with $853,481 in expenditures and $51,000 in capital expenses.

The wastewater fund is expected to have $1,633,010 in revenues, with $1,479,853 in expenditures and $147,500 in capital expenses.

The electric fund is expected to have $6,704,881 in revenues, with $6,410,268 in expenditures and $249,000 in capital expenditures.

Copies of the budget can be viewed at the town office or online at the town’s website.

Road Paving and Patching Contract Awarded

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded Tibbs Paving, Inc., of Manassas, Virginia, a $35,638 contract to do roadway patching and paving on Hammaker Street, West Moser Road, Locust Drive, Summit Avenue, Ironmaster Drive, Collier Drive, Carroll Street, Rouzer Lane, and Eyler Road. Tibbs was the low bidder among the five bids received. The money will be paid from the town’s highway user revenues paid by the State of Maryland.

Cindy Poole Recognized

Thurmont resident Cindy Poole was recognized for her efforts coordinating and organizing the Thurmont GreenFest.

“You are a spectacular volunteer,” Mayor John Kinnaird said. “You’re everywhere. You do a lot of stuff for our community, and we appreciate it.”

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

The Thurmont Code Enforcement Office has been receiving complaints of residents feeding wildlife. Please don’t feed wild animals, for their health and your safety. For more information why you shouldn’t, visit dnr.maryland.gov/Pages/plants_wildlife/Feeding-Wildlife.aspx.

Help with A Day in the Park

The Town of Thurmont is seeking volunteers to help with the town’s summer program for youth, A Day in the Park. The program will run Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to noon, on July 22-25, July 29-August 1, and August 5-8. You can volunteer one day or every day to guide children, divided into small groups, through organized activities.

For more information, contact Michele Maze at maze.michele07@gmail.com.

A Thurmont Family’s Dangerous Ride on the National Road

On June 1, 1915, the Brenamans drove their Ford along the National Road, which had passed its first century of service a few years before. The road had improved a lot since the days of it being a graded dirt path, but it was still a rough ride.

William and his wife, Cora, rode up front as they drove home to Thurmont from Baltimore. William was a cigar salesman, who had previously lived in Baltimore and still had many family members living in the city. Two-year-old Omar sat in his mother’s lap. He didn’t mind the rough ride. He enjoyed seeing the landscape pass by.

The car started to slide. Suddenly, a rear tire blew out while the family was in Howard County. The back corner of the car dropped and rolled along the hub, which was ripped apart by the weight of the car pressing it against the road surface.

“The accident was caused by the machine skidding on the slippery road, which had just been oiled a few hours previously,” The Frederick Post reported. “The front wheel broke off (left rear wheel we are told) and the car turned turtle into a yard of a farmer.”

Residents who lived nearby heard the crash and rushed to the scene of the accident. They heard the Brenamans crying and yelling and lifted the car off of them. William was badly bruised across his thighs, and he had cuts on his head. Sarah was bruised on one of her legs. Omar was worse off.

“The skull of the child was fractured and the side of its head laid open,” The Frederick Post reported.

Dr. John Hebb was one of the residents who heard the crash and came to see what had happened. He treated Omar and wrapped the child’s head so that he could be taken to the Frederick City Hospital.

Doctors at the hospital rushed the boy into an operating room and worked on him for over an hour before admitting nothing could be done to save Omar’s life. One doctor said it was remarkable that Omar had survived as long as he did.

Omar’s 17-year-old brother, Charles, was attending Class Day at the Thurmont Town Hall when he was told the news. L. R. Waesche took him to Frederick to meet his family. Two other Brenaman boys, Cheston, who was 14, and Stuart, who was 8, stayed home to await news. Their sister, 20-year-old Sarah, was notified of the accident where she was staying with family in Baltimore.

The Brenaman Family left for Baltimore on the following day to take Omar to Loudon Park Cemetery for burial in a family lot.

“The accident was a shock to the community,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

Photo shows a stretch of the National Road in Maryland during the early 20th century.

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!