Currently viewing the tag: "town hall reports"

December 2018

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

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

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

Town Approved Water Contracts

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

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

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

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

Traffic Should Switch on Bridge This Month

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

Town to Deal with Business Trailers

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

Thurmont

Thurmont Third Safest Town in Maryland in 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Town Receives a Clean Audit

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

Town Enacts Planning and Zoning Fees

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

Colorfest Review

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

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

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

Town Increases Water Reconnection Fee

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

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

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

November 2018

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

New Trees on Main Street

The Maryland State Highway Administration has planted new trees along Main Street. The different species include scarlet oak, columnar sergeants cherry, snow goose cherry, and rotundiloba sweetgum.

Town Awarded Community Legacy Grant

Emmitsburg received a $50,000 Community Legacy Grant for façade improvement and restoration. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development provides half of the grant award, and the property owners match the award amount. The maximum grant amount is $12,500 per property, per fiscal year, as long as the money is available.

You can pick up a grant application in the town office. The completed application is due by January 4, 2019. Contact Town Planner Zach Gulden at 301-600-6309 or at zgulden@emmitsburgmd.gov with any questions or for more information.

ADA Playground Nearly Fully Funded

Emmitsburg received another Community Legacy Grant of $75,000 to help pay for the new ADA-compliant playground in Emmit Gardens. This grant, along with the $125,000 in Program Open Funding previously awarded for the playground, nearly pays the entire cost of the playground.

Commissioners Review New Town Waysides

The Emmitsburg Commissioners reviewed a new set of waysides that will be erected in town to highlight the town’s history. The waysides are designed and written by Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations.

The waysides are funded with a $9,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. The three waysides will be at the Emmit House, doughboy statue, and town square. The long-term goal is to create a historic walking tour through the town.

Tree Ordinance Approved

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved an ordinance for tree care that is needed for Emmitsburg to become Tree City certified. To receive the certification from the National Arbor Day Foundation, a municipality must meet four criteria: (1) Celebrate Arbor Day; (2) Have a team dedicated to tree care; (3) Have at least $2.00 per tree dedicated to tree care in the budget; and (4) Have a law to protect trees.

 

Thurmont

John Dowling Named Volunteer of the Year

The Thurmont Lions Clubs announced its Volunteer of the Year for 2018 during a recent town meeting. The award recognizes volunteers who work in the Thurmont zip code. This year’s nominees were: John Dowling for his work at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and Thurmont Senior Citizens Center; Nicole Orr for her work with Hospice of Frederick County, the Distinguished Young Women’s Program, and the Lewistown Elementary School; and Donna Voellinger for her work with the Thurmont Historical Society.

“They are each passionate about their volunteer work and put their whole heart into what they do,” Lion Susan Favorite told the commissioners.

Dowling was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year. He received a certificate of recognition and a gift certificate to the Shamrock Restaurant. He was also able to designate where a $400 donation from the Thurmont Lions Club would go. Dowling chose to split the money between the Thurmont Senior Center and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.

New Police Dog Introduced

The Thurmont Police Department introduced its new police dog, Majo, to the Thurmont Commissioners in October. Majo is now a nineteen-month-old shepherd chow mix that came from the Czech Republic. He was certified in October and is now on the street with his handler, Cpl. Tim Duhan.

The town had budgeted $10,000 to purchase and train Majo, but the bill came out to be $12,600. However, the Humane Society of Frederick County donated $1,600 and Woodsboro Bank donated $1,000 to make up the difference.

Town Will Continue to Receive County Tax Rebate

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners decided to continue receiving money that the county returns for duplicative services as a rebate rather than the more complicated tax differential. The refund amounts to roughly $685,000 returned to the town annually to help pay for police, parks, and town planning.

Thurmont Food Bank Receives Donations from Town Events

Two recent events netted the Thurmont Food Bank substantial donations just in time for the seasonal increase in demand for services.

The Community Shred Event asked residents to also bring non-perishable food items for each box of paper that was being shredded or to make a cash donation. The event collected 768 items and $235.

Halloween in the Park also asked attendees to bring a non-perishable food item or to make a cash donation. The event collected 820 items and $91.

Arbor Day Proclamation Made

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners made an Arbor Day proclamation as part of their efforts to continue being recognized as a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation. Over the last few years, the town has also planted 224 new trees throughout the town.

October 2018

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

Incumbents Re-elected

The Emmitsburg Town Election was held on September 25, 2018. Incumbents Clifford Sweeney and Timothy O’Donnell ran unopposed for two open commissioner seats. Forty-eight ballots were cast. Sweeney received forty-four and O’Donnell received forty-one. The winners were sworn in for their new four-year terms during the October 1 town meeting.

Following a recommendation from Mayor Don Briggs, the board of commissioners was reorganized. Sweeney became the new president of the board and O’Donnell became the treasurer. Glenn Blanchard became the new vice president of the board. Elizabeth Buckman remained the liaison with the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and Joseph Ritz, III remained the liaison with the Parks Committee.

 

Rezoning of Emmit Gardens Property Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners held a public hearing during their October 1 public meeting to consider rezoning the property at 600-602 East Main Street Ext. Joseph Baldacchino, representing the Sarah E. Baldacchino Trust, asked that the property be rezoned from low-density residential (R1) to neighborhood commercial (B1). This zoning better represented how the property had been used years ago when it served as a home and dentist office.

The commissioners agreed that a mistake had been made in the original zoning, but they had concerns that B1 zoning would allow a future property owner to install a large sign that was out-of-character with the neighborhood. Another concern was the placement of required fencing would impinge on a utility right-of-way.

After much discussion, the commissioners approved the rezoning, while reserving the right to approve signage and fencing when, and if, it happened.

 

Commission Turns Down Group Asking to Hunt on Scott Road Farm

The Indian Lookout Conservation Club asked to enter into an agreement with the town to allow its group to hunt on the town-owned Scott Road Farm if the group took care of the maintenance of the property. Town staff did not recommend this agreement to the commissioners for numerous reasons, such as making it harder to enforce the no-hunting ban and showing favoritism to a small group of citizens. The commissioners decided to stick with their original decision to re-evaluate its no-hunting rule next August.

Thurmont

Town Sees Big Insurance Savings

The Town of Thurmont entered into an agreement with the Local Government Insurance Trust. The trust is a pooled insurance fund among government entities that allows their combined size to get them better insurance rates.

The Thurmont Commissioners had allocated $100,000 in the current budget for insurance. The town’s insurance provider at the time quoted the town $96,143. However, town staff decided to shop around to see if a better rate could be had. LGIT quoted $60,471 for the same insurance. Chief Administrative Jim Humerick told the commissioners that LGIT also offered an extensive line of online training in different areas of municipal government that LGIT customers can use for free.

Commissioner Marty Burns raised the issue as to whether Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird had exceeded his power by authorizing town staff to change insurance providers without approval from the commissioners.

Kinnaird said, “It’s my duty to see we don’t exceed our stated budget.” It was pointed out that the line item was for insurance and did not state a specific company. Those types of things are typically left to the decision of staff and/or the mayor. Kinnaird also noted that had the insurance quotes exceeded the approved $100,000, he would have brought the issue back to the commissioners to decide what to do.

The other commissioners had no issue with Kinnaird’s decision, particularly since it saved the town more than $35,000. The commissioners unanimously approved the agreement with LGIT.

 

Colorfest Looking Good

A few days before the 55th Annual Catoctin Colorfest, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received an update on the number of permits issued for the festivals.

Last year (which was the record year for permits issued), a total of 764 permits were issued. This year, with three days to go before the festival, 719 permits had been issued with more expected. This is more than either 2016 or 2015. Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners that he expected the 2018 total permits to be at least as many as 2017 and possibly more.

The town issues permits for craft vendors, for-profit-food vendors, non-profit food vendors, information-only booths, parking, and yard sales. Craft vendors make up the majority of the permits, but the for-profit-food vendors pay the most for their permits.

All income from the permits is used to pay for the services that the town provides during Colorfest. This includes staff overtime, security, trash removal, porta-potties, and shuttles.

Emmitsburg

Town to Start Relining Old Sewer Pipes

The Town of Emmitsburg has been noting a problem with wild water getting into the sewers (called inflow and infiltration [I&I]). Once the water is in the system, it winds up being treated for an estimated cost of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons. This covers the cost of chemicals, staff time, power, and wear and tear on the system. It has become a costly problem for the town, costing around $40,000 a month in May and June of this year to treat I&I.

“This year we’ve had a lot of precipitation, which will cause the I&I to spike and cause your costs to spike,” Town Manager Cathy Willets told the Emmitsburg Commissioners in September.

The commissioners approved an $80,575 bid from Mr. Rehab to begin relining sewer pipe on East Main Street and Creamery Road. The money will come from the town’s sewer fund. The process does not require digging or traffic control. Also, it is estimated to take only a week.

This should be the beginning of what is estimated to be a ten-year process to reline the old sewer pipes in town that cracked and are allowing in wild water.

It will work in conjunction with rehabbing the existing sewer pumping station to make it more efficient and allow it to handle more sewage. The commissioners approved seeking federal funds to begin the planning process to rehabilitate the old pumping station. The project could begin in two years if things move along smoothly. The relined pipe, new pumping station in Emmit Garden, and rehabilitated pumping station would work together to significantly reduce I&I problems, saving the town tens of thousands of dollars every year.

 

Welcome Letter Delayed

A welcome letter that would have been sent to new town residents has been delayed because the Emmitsburg Commissioners feared liability issues with some of the information in the letter. The letter lists certain businesses that new residents might need to know about, but it did not list all of the businesses in town. Some of the commissioners thought this might be suggesting favoritism to some business owners and might lead to problems.

Commission President Tim O’Donnell suggested having the Maryland Association of Counties review the letter for any possible ethics problems in the way the businesses are presented.

 

Community Legacy Grants Are Now Being Accepted

The Community Legacy Program is a partnership between Emmitsburg and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD provides a 50 percent grant for exterior façade and exterior improvements, while the property owner pays the other 50 percent. The maximum grant is $12,500 per property per fiscal year while money is available. If you are interested in applying for the grant, contact town staff at 301-600-6300 for more information.

 

Hunting and Emmitsburg Trail Use Information

Hunting on property owned by the Town of Emmitsburg is allowed Monday through Saturday only. There is no hunting on Sundays. While Maryland Department of Natural Resources allows permit hunting on certain Sundays in certain areas, none of the dates or areas apply to town-owned properties. The last day for hunting is May 23, 2019. Currently, the town trails can be used on Sundays only to ensure there is no hunting going on around them. All-week access will begin on May 24, 2019, after hunting season has ended.

 

Citizens Advisory Committee Appointments

Mark Walker was reappointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee for a two-year term beginning October 20. Brian and Melissa McKenney were appointed to the committee as new members. Their two-year terms began on September 4.

 

Closed Columbus Day

The Emmitsburg Town Office will be closed on Columbus Day, Monday, October 8.

 

Thurmont

Town Gets ADA Curb Update

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received an update on the ADA-compliant curb project that was undertaken this summer. This summer, forty-one ADA-compliant curbs and ramps were installed in twenty locations. Some of the locations include Frederick Road at Moser Road, Summit Avenue at Thurmont Middle School, Community Park at Frederick Road, the municipal parking lot, and Locust Drive at Apples Church Road.

This project cost $87,804, of which $84,000 was paid for with a Community Development Block Grant. With the project’s completion, all of the town’s major pedestrian crossings have been made ADA compliant in the last three years.

 

Town to Pave Weddle Alley

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the paving of Weddle Alley during a recent town meeting. The alley runs behind seven homes from North Carroll Street to Radio Lane.

“It’s our last gravel-based alley in town,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners.

The commissioners debated whether such a small alley was a priority. Mayor John Kinnaird pointed out that this was a project that had been talked about in the past and could be done now with Highway User Revenues. Other projects that were higher priorities were also much larger and would take multiple years of savings to pay for. The commissioners voted 4-1 to award the contract to Frederick County Paving for $27,900, with Commissioner Marty Burns dissenting.

 

Senior Center Carpeting to be Replaced

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation from the Thurmont Senior Center to award Peterson’s Carpeting in Frederick a contract to replace the carpeting in the Senior Center.

The contract is for $8,823.75 and will be paid for by Frederick County. Although Peterson’s bid was not the lowest, it included two items that the other didn’t. It came with a fifteen-year guarantee and included a microbial treatment. In addition, the town will have its cleaning service strip the wax and clean the tiles in the Thurmont Senior Center for an additional $573.

 

Town May Connect Thurmont Boulevard

The Town of Thurmont is looking at connecting two sections of Thurmont Boulevard and creating a through-road that would help ease some of the traffic problems in town. Mayor John Kinnaird said, “It would make traveling through town a whole lot easier for everyone.” Some studies would need to be conducted before any construction could begin, but the commissioners have directed town staff to get preliminary pricing on what each of the studies would cost.

 

Trolley Trail May be Expanded to Eyler Park and Catoctin Furnace

Thurmont town staff is looking to purchase a piece of property that would allow the Trolley Trail to continue to Catoctin Furnace. Meanwhile, another group is trying to secure a way to extend the other end of the trail to Eyler Road Park. The current trail is well used, and the extensions would make it more attractive to walkers and bike riders.

Halloween in the Park Seeking Volunteers

Thurmont’s annual Halloween in the Park will be held on Saturday, October 27 (rain date: November 3). Volunteers are needed to help with set up, children’s games, and scaring people. Contact Commissioner Wayne Hooper at 301-418-8641 or whooper@thurmont.com.

 

Colorfest Traffic Changes

During Colorfest weekend, the Town of Thurmont is prohibiting vehicles to stop, stand, or park at any time on North Church Street and East Moser Road. The width of the roadways has been narrowed, causing a safety issue when vehicles are parked along the street. Vehicles, to include Emergency apparatuses, will not be able to pass freely and safely. State law prohibits vehicles from blocking any portion of a roadway and prohibits obstructing or hindering the free passage of another. The Thurmont Police Department has been directed to strictly enforce these restrictions.

 

New Police Officer Being Trained

Thurmont’s newest police officer, twenty-five-year-old Hailey Leishear, is currently in her seven-month-long training at the police academy in Carroll County. Once she graduates, she will then undergo ten weeks of field training before hitting the streets on her own as a Thurmont Police officer. She is one of two women and eleven sworn officers currently on the force.

 

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

No Hunting on the Scott Road Farm

Although hunting has been allowed on the Scott Road Farm in the past, the Town of Emmitsburg has said there will be no hunting on the property this year and possibly for the foreseeable future. The town has had problems with trespassing, people riding four-wheelers on the property, erecting tree stands, and fishing in the pond, all of which are not allowed. To curb the trespassing and enhance safety in the area, the town has made the farm a “no hunting” area. The policy will be reviewed again next year to decide on whether it should be continued.

 

Phase 1 of Flat Run Bridge Should be Complete this Fall

The Maryland State Highway Administration updated the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners on the progress of the new Flat Run Bridge, east of town. The original completion date had been expected to be August, but delays in signing documents, weather, and water line changes pushed the date back to the fall of 2019.

However, phase 1 is expected to be completed this fall. This will mean that two-lane traffic will be able to travel across the new bridge, allowing the state to remove the old bridge without having to deal with traffic.

 

Community Market Garden

The Town of Emmitsburg is considering starting a community market garden. Unlike a community garden, produce is raised and typically sold. One location being considered for the garden is near the farmers market, which would provide a possible sales location. Another possible location is near the baseball outfield and walking path.

The commissioners are generally supportive of the idea, but insurance and liability issues could be possible roadblocks. The commissioners are having town staff look into this and make some recommendations.

 

After School Club House Gets Funding

The Town of Emmitsburg had hoped to get a Boys and Girls Club in town for this school year. Money was transferred to an account in the town budget to help fund it. Things didn’t work out for this year, though, so $10,000 was transferred back to the Parks Department to continue funding an After School Club House. Efforts to get the Boys and Girls Club in Emmitsburg are still being pursued.

 

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Coming Soon

The town approved its plan for four electric vehicle charging stations on the parking lot behind the community center. The stations are funded through a grant from the Electric Vehicle Institute.

The town was required to sign a five-year agreement with the Electric Vehicle Institute. The stations will not cost the town anything. Electric consumption used by the charging station will be paid for by the driver charging the vehicle.

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

Thurmont

Town Makes Annual Donations

The Town of Thurmont made its annual donations to the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, Thurmont Senior Center, and Thurmont Food Bank on July 24. The fire and ambulance companies each received a check for $30,000. The Thurmont Senior Center received $20,000, while the food bank received a check for $6,000.

Guardian Hose Company President Wayne Stackhouse said that the fire company’s money will go towards the $500,000 needed for a new pumper engine.

Commissioner Marty Burns pointed out that if the town had to pay for a fire and ambulance company, rather than having a volunteer fire company and partially volunteer ambulance company, “our taxes would be double what they are today.”

Judith White accepted the check on behalf of the ambulance company, and Dick Lee accepted the food bank check.

Thurmont Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder premiered an economic development video about the town on July 24.

“It’s a video that is intended to last in the long run and produce results in the long run, not in the short run,” Grinder said. “The objective of this video was to attract future businesses, future residents, and tourism.”

It accomplishes this in three minutes and was created by Digital Bard.

The video was shown and the commissioners were pleased with the result.

 

New Date for Gateway to the Cure 5K

The annual Gateway to the Cure 5K had to be rescheduled. It is usually held in October, but this year’s event will be on Saturday, September 15, beginning at 8:30 a.m. If interested, you can register online at: https://runsignup.com/Race/MD/Thurmont/GatewaytotheCure5K. You can also sign up at the town office. The cost is $35.00 and pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt. All proceeds are donated to the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital for breast cancer research.

Emmitsburg

Town Gets $30,000 Grant

During the July meeting of the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners, Town Manager Cathy Willets announced that the town had received a $30,000 grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The grant was awarded because the town had been able to keep its nitrogen and phosphorus in the water to less than one part per million gallons. The money will be used to continue to improve and optimize the town’s water system.

ADA Playground Complete

The ADA-compliant playground in Emmit Gardens is complete, except for an ADA-compliant pathway to the park. The playground is designed to allow children with disabilities to enjoy activities in the park.

Cipplerly Retires

The July meeting of the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners was the last one for Town Planner Sue Cipperly.

“Your work here has been a catalyst for our ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of life in Emmitsburg,” said Tim O’Donnell, president of the Board of Commissioners.

The new town planner, Zach Gulden, introduced himself to the mayor and commissioners. Gulden lives in Gettysburg and was the Freedom Township manager and Upper Allen Township planner. He has a master’s degree in public administration.

 

POS Projects Get Funding

Mayor Donald Briggs announced that Emmitsburg had received $191,000 out of $391,000 that the Frederick County municipalities had to share for Program Open Space (POS) projects.

Briggs said that the all-children play lot will receive $120,000 (77 percent of what the project could get), and the pool bathhouse renovations will receive $71,000 (100 percent of what the project could get).

Thurmont

For more information on the Town of Thurmont, visit www.thurmont.com or call the town office at 301-271-7313.
Note: The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners did not meet between June 26 and July 24.

February 2018

Emmitsburg

Homes Taken Off Town’s Water System

Town staff had to do an emergency fix to the town’s water lines. Four homes outside of town limits, but on the town water system, received their water through a water line that was installed in the 1930s. Over the decades, 200 feet of the 8-inch line has been exposed to the elements. Because of the extended subzero temperatures that the region had this winter, a major break occurred in the line on January 8. Temporary fixes to the line could not be maintained.

In one instance, a temporary pump placed on the water line malfunctioned, and one home’s basement was flooded.

Town staff evaluated the situation and determined that the old water line was unrepairable. It would need to be replaced, which would cost $1 million to restore service to the four homes.

Since this would be too expensive, an alternative solution was sought. It was discovered that one of the homes could be connected to an existing 10-inch water line. The other three homes were too far away for this solution to work for them. For these homes, the town reached an agreement with the homeowners to drill wells that could service the homes and take them off the town’s water system. The estimated cost for this solution is $50,000 per connection or $150,000.

 

Transfers to Capital Projects

When fiscal year 2017 ended, the Town of Emmitsburg had excess money in its general fund. The excess needed to be transferred to capital projects per audit requirements. Town staff put together a list of projects and amounts that they recommended be funded with the excess.

  • $66,300 towards the Community Park Pool and its grounds. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $17,245 for the dog park. The commissioners modified the dog park plan to include no leash stations (for now) and four benches instead of seven. (Approved with modification.)
  • $15,000 for the general streets fund. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $14,000 for curbs, gutters, sidewalks, roads. The commissioners asked that the St. Joseph’s Lane pedestrian walkway become a future agenda item. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $10,000 for the general planning fund. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $6,526 for building maintenance at 140 South Seton Avenue. (Unanimously approved.)
  • $4,500 for building maintenance at 22 East Main Street. (Unanimously approved.)

The total transfer amount was $133,571.

 

Town Starts Monthly Street Sweeping

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willetts announced that town staff will now perform monthly street-sweeping in Emmitsburg, which is required for the MS-4 permit that the town is seeking.

 

Community Day Race

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously approved a 6K race on Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day, June 30, 2018. The Catoctin-Ettes will run the event as a fundraiser.

 

Appointments

Conrad Weaver was appointed to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for a two-year term, from November 4, 2017, to November 4, 2019.

Wendy Walsh was reappointed to serve on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, from February 20, 2018, to February 20, 2020.

Thurmont

Town Gets Grant for LED Lighting

As the Town of Thurmont moved to increase its sustainability and reduce costs, one of the changes it has been working on is switching over to LED street lights downtown and in subdivisions. The Maryland Energy Administration recently awarded the town $34,650 for this project. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted unanimously to spend $28,035 of that amount to have Catoctin Lighting replace the street lights in Catoctin Heights. The remaining balance will be used to purchase additional lighting fixtures for a yet-to-be-determined location.

 

Curb Side Grass and Leaf Pickup

Curb side grass and leaf pickup will resume in Thurmont on April 2. Residents should have received notice of all the pertinent information and dates with their utility bills.

 

Work Continues on Employee Manual

Town staff has been crafting an employee policy manual for town employees for the past few months. “It’s something that would be able to assist our supervisors and managers, assist our employees, and assist in the overall management of our staff here,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the mayor and commissioners.

A draft of the manual was presented to the mayor and commissioners during a workshop meeting, where they went through the document to address any questions and concerns. These will then be used to make changes to the final manual.

 

Mid-year Budget Review

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received a mid-year budget review in January to see how close they were staying to the approved fiscal year 2018 budget. According to Chief Financial Officer Linda Joyce, at the halfway point in its budget, the town was 15 percent under budget.

 

Thurmont Addiction Commission

The Thurmont Addiction Commission is now up and running. The group has a Facebook page, where interested parties can be kept up to date on meeting times and topics. One topic that has been discussed between the commission and Frederick County Health Department is a needle exchange program. Commissioner Marty Burns pointed out that this was a presentation being made by the Health Department to gather input. It did not mean the program would happen.

January 2018

by James Rada, Jr

Emmitsburg

Snow Removal Reminder

Given the snow that has fallen this winter, the Emmitsburg town staff reminded residents that all basketball hoops and other items need to be removed from the street before a storm, and vehicles need to be removed off snow emergency routes. After the storm has ended, residents have 24 hours to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks that border their property. Snow should not be blown or shoveled into a cleared street. These items are part of the town municipal code and can result in citations if not followed.

 

Sidewalk Do’s and Don’ts

Now that Emmitsburg has new sidewalks connecting different areas of the town, there are things that residents can do and shouldn’t do to ensure those sidewalks continue looking good. Don’t use any product containing salt or any type of chloride to melt snow and ice. Chloride reacts with the aggregate in the concrete to scale and delaminate it. Instead, use kitty litter, sand, or fireplace ashes for de-icing. Wash or sweep (if cold) any concrete that gets salt deposited on it from your car.

 

Recycling Schedule

Emmitsburg will continue to follow the Frederick County recycling schedule this year. The schedule can be found on the town website. Pickups will be every other Thursday. Your recycling should be placed at the curb by 6:00 a.m. on scheduled pickup days and at least four feet away from trash cans, cars, and mailboxes.

 

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

 

Thurmont

Donation from Halloween in the Park

The Town of Thurmont recently donated $2,520.78 to the Thurmont Food Bank. This amount came from the excess of the admission charged at the annual Halloween in the Park event, once the expenses were paid. This was in addition to a truckload of nonperishable food items that were also donated to Thurmont Food Bank at the event.

 

Water Capacity Study Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid of $15,200 from Arro Consulting in Hagerstown to perform a water-capacity study of the town’s water system. The study will look at the condition and capacity of the water system and evaluate water sources, treatment systems, transmissions, distribution mains, storage, pumping systems, and system losses. It will also look at the town’s current and projected demands on the water system, identify any excess capacity, outline alternatives for sharing of infrastructure, and make any recommendations. The town has worked with Arro Consulting before and has found their work excellent.

 

Mayor Pro-tem Chosen

Following the re-election of Mayor John Kinnaird last fall, the commissioners had to choose a mayor pro-tem. The mayor pro-tem duties are to serve in the place of the mayor if the mayor is unable to attend a meeting. Commissioner Bill Buehrer was the most recent mayor pro-tem and Commissioner Wayne Hooper served before him. Commissioner Wes Hamrick was elected to the position with a 4-0-1. Hamrick abstained from voting.

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

September 2017

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

Creamery Road to be Closed for VHC Spring Fling

Anticipating that the Vigilant Hose Company and Emmitsburg Ambulance Company will be combined by the end of this year, next year’s Spring Fling for Vigilant Hose Company will be held at the ambulance company building on Creamery Road. In the past, this event has taken place at Mount St. Mary’s University and has drawn crowds up to 2,000 people.

Vigilant Hose Company President Frank Davis asked the commissioners to close Creamery Road from Quality Tire to Creamery Way from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the day of the event next spring. It is felt the closure is needed to deal with the amount of traffic that will be in the area for the Spring Fling.

Maryland State Highway Administration has already given their approval since the closure is far enough away not to impact traffic on the state roads.

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the temporary closure.

 

Employee Handbook Changes

The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved recommended changes to the town employee handbook. Because it has been some years since it was last updated, the handbook needed to be brought into compliance with current state and federal laws. It also incorporated some best practices and was made easier to read and understand.

 

New Water and Sewer Truck Approved

The Emmitsburg Commissioners voted in September to replace a GMC Sonoma used by the water and sewer department. The Sonoma was fourteen years old and had 110,000 miles on it. The new truck will be a Chevy Silverado with a snow plow attached. The winning bid of $46,996 came from Wantz Chevrolet in Taneytown.

 

Work Continues On Dog Park

The grading for the new Emmitsburg dog park has been completed. The town has also received all bids to install the fencing for the park, but has not yet accepted a contractor to do the work.

Thurmont

Vote in the 2017 Town Election

October 3 is the last day to register to vote for mayor and two commissioners in the upcoming town election. Absentee ballot applications will be available on October 6, and the election will be held on October 31 at the Guardian Hose Activities Building, located at 123 East Main Street. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Anyone in line at the time of closing will be permitted to vote.

 

Colorfest Parking Restrictions and Road Closures

Colorfest will be held on October 13-15. With it, comes a lot of traffic that the town must accommodate. No parking will be allowed on the east side of Apples Church Road, from Carroll Street to Eyler Road, during the weekend. Thurmont Police have been directed to strictly enforce these restrictions. No parking will be allowed on East Moser Road, North Church Street, North Carroll Street, and all ramps leading onto and exiting Route 15. The “No Parking” areas will be marked with signs.

The following streets will be closed from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday: Frederick Road (from Moser Road to Water Street); Water Street (from Summit Avenue to Main Street); S. Center Street; Park Lane; Municipal Alley; Polley’s Alley.

 

Commissioners Look to Spur Growth in Thurmont

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners have begun speaking about ways to provide developers with “a little incentive for them to come to Thurmont and do some development.” The town hasn’t seen any significant growth since 2007.

Currently, home builders have to pay $12,660 in fees when they make their application to the town to build. Mayor John Kinnaird suggested that some of the fees could be delayed. Some of these deferred fees could be the impact fee, the wastewater impact fee, the roads fee, and the parks fee. These could be deferred until settlement since that is when the new home starts to have an effect on these items.

The connection fees would still need to be collected up front because the town spends money to have its crews make the connections to the town’s water and sewer systems.

Commissioner Bill Buehrer said that the town’s Economic Development Committee has also been considering similar things to promote development, and will be making some recommendations to the town.

 

Colorfest Services Approved

Each year, the Town of Thurmont incurs costs related to Colorfest. These services are security, trash, port-a-potties, and buses. They are paid for with the permit fees that the Colorfest vendors pay.

This year, only one company submitted a bid for each service, and they are businesses that have worked with the town in the past.

“They’ve always provided an excellent service for us, and they are very dependable; they know Colorfest in and out,” said Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick.

May Security of Frederick will provide twenty-nine security guards and a supervisor for both days of Colorfest at a cost of $13,224. This represents no increase over 2016.

Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide the toilets at a cost of $9,936, and trash service at a cost of $2,264. This also represents no change over 2016.

Rills Bus Service of Westminster will provide eight standard buses and one wheelchair accessible bus on Saturday and six standard buses and one wheelchair accessible bus on Sunday at a cost of $12,464. This is an increase of $576 over 2016.

The commissioners unanimously approved the bids.

 

Board of Appeals Vacancies

Thurmont has openings for a regular member and an alternate member on its board of appeals. Anyone interested in serving should contact the Thurmont Town Office at 301-271-7313.

 

Volunteers Needed for Halloween in the Park

The Town of Thurmont is seeking volunteers to help with the annual Halloween in the Park event. This year’s event will be held on October 28. If you would like to help, please contact the town office at 301-271-7313.

MAY 2017

Emmitsburg

No Changes in Tax Rate Expected

Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs gave the town commissioners their first look at his proposed FY18 budget. The constant-yield rate as calculated by the State of Maryland will be 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is the rate that will bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year.

He also noted that the preliminary budget does not include a cost-of-living adjustment for employees, but they will receive any step increases that they are due.

Revenue in the general fund is expected to increase $56,571 or 3.35 percent.

The water fund will decrease, in part, due to conservation efforts. The capital fund is expected to increase from $121,812 to $218,341.

The commissioners will now begin their review of the budget. It must be approved by June 30.

 

Algae Control Working Well

The preliminary data for Emmitsburg’s new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake looks good, according to Town Manager Cathy Willets. The new system, which cost the town $38,650 for setup and $13,000 a year for calibration, was installed in April. The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. Willets said that once data is available to present, she will do so, but she is pleased with the preliminary data so far.

 

Emmitsburg Extends Reciprocity to Waynesboro

Because of the Borough of Waynesboro’s generosity in allowing Emmitsburg residents to pay the Waynesboro resident rate to use their town pool this summer, the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners have returned the favor. Should Waynesboro need to close its pool for renovations in the future, residents will be able to swim in Emmitsburg’s new pool and pay the Emmitsburg resident admission.

Thurmont

Meeting the State’s Recycling Goal

The State of Maryland has set a 90 percent recycling goal by 2040. Frederick County has a group that is looking into how the county will be able to meet this goal.

“It’s going to take until 2030 to even intersect with the goals that the state has set for everybody,” said Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick. “Luckily, we’re way ahead in actual recycling of plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and those sorts of items, but this organic is going to be the big issue.”

To meet the state goal, Humerick said that it seems that single-stream organic collection is going to be the answer. He expects the county to institute a pilot program next year in Frederick City and the public schools to move toward this.

It also seems like a countywide program would involve fourteen local composting sites. The part of the county between Emmitsburg and Thurmont would have at least one, maybe two, sites. Each site would need five to six acres and would be able to compost up to 10,000 tons a year.

Humerick said that while he believes this is going to happen, cost will be an issue. Projections right now are that it would cost between $6 and $10 a month per household, and $500 to $700 per month for restaurants to pay for pickup and processing of organic material.

While the program would be voluntary at first, most likely it would become mandatory in the future.

Mayor John Kinnaird said that if the county doesn’t hit its 2040 target, the county could start withholding building permits.

While nothing has happened yet, Kinnaird said that he wanted to make the commissioners aware of what was in the works. “It’s going to impact every one of us, so it’s in our best interest to keep an eye on what’s going on with that,” he said.

 

Asphalt Overlays Approved

East Street, Lombard Street, and Shipley Avenue will be getting new asphalt overlays. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently awarded the project to L. W. Wolfe of Myersville. The project costs $95,453.75 and should be complete by the end of the month.

 

Commissioners Get Draft Budget

With the budget workshops complete, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners got to see the proposed FY18 budget that will go into effect on July 1. It is based on a $3,547,982 operating fund and a $425,000 capital budget. This represents a 3.1 percent increase to the general fund.

The commissioners still need to review and approve this latest draft by June 30.

 

Tree Saving Efforts Recognized

The Town of Thurmont is in the midst of replacing the dying ash trees in Community Park. With roughly 40 percent of the trees needing to be replaced, it is a labor intensive and expensive project.

The town recently recognized volunteers who have helped plant seventy-five new trees in the park. Thurmont’s Green Team, Venture Crew 270, Girl Scout Troop 81200, Boy Scout Troop 270, Cub Scout Pack 270 Den 1, the Catoctin High Leo Club, and the Frederick County Forestry Board received a Certificate of Appreciation from the town.

The town also received a national award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the work it has been doing to preserve and replace the trees in Community Park. Becky Wilson with the Maryland Forest Service presented the Tree City USA Award.

A town has to meet four criteria to receive the award: (1) Celebrate Arbor Day; (2) Have a team dedicated to tree care; (3) Have at least $2.00 per tree dedicated to tree care in the budget; (4) Have a law to protect trees.

According to Wilson, only about 37 communities out of 147 eligible Maryland towns receive this award annually. This was Thurmont’s first year to receive the award.

 

Town Helps in Creeger House Restoration

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to donate $15,000 from the town’s unreserved fund balance to the Thurmont Historical Society “to use that funding solely for the purpose of restoring damage to the building that was uncovered to make it whole.”

 

Food Bank Update

Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, who manages the Thurmont Food Bank for the Thurmont Ministerium, recently updated the mayor and commissioners on the work that the food bank is doing in the area.

In 2016, the food bank filled 3,691 requests for food from 528 households. During this year, from January through April, the food bank filled 1,065 requests for food.

Because of refrigerators and freezers that the food bank was able to purchase with Community Development Block Grants, families can receive fresh and frozen foods, as well as packaged goods and canned items.

“To be able to give out fresh food has been a real gift to us,” Joyner-Giffin said.

The food bank gives out an average of 5,080 lbs. of frozen food and 3,000 lbs. of fresh food a month.

March 2017

Emmitsburg

by James Rada, Jr.

Town Square Improvements Will Begin this Month

Maryland State Highway officials told the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners that the $3.5 million improvements to the town square and Main Street will begin this month.

The project will focus on Main Street, from Creamery Road to Timbermill Run, and a block north and south from the Seton Avenue intersection with Main Street. This includes two weekends when the Seton Avenue – Main Street intersection will be closed for waterline work.

The project will build new brick sidewalks that have curb ramps, to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. New crosswalks and resurfacing of the town square intersection are also included in the project. Parking on the Square will be reconfigured. Other improvements include gutters, the traffic signal, and landscaping. The Bradford Pear trees along Main Street will be replaced with either snowgoose cherry, scarlet oak, or rotundiloba sweetgum trees.

There will be temporary road and sidewalk closures and restrictions of on-street parking while the project is ongoing. Officials will work with property owners to minimize their inconveniences.

  1. Romano Construction will be in charge of the project, which should be completed next summer.

 

Dog Park Fundraising Approved

The location for the new Emmitsburg dog park has been staked out west of the tennis courts in town. The location is relatively flat. It is an 80-foot by 200-foot site that will include a park for large dogs and one for small dogs.

The town has a $13,000 Project Open Space (POS) grant to use for construction, but the commissioners also approved a brochure that will be used to solicit donations to help fund the park amenities, such as benches, signage, water fountains, trash cans, and pick-up bags. These are things that the POS grant won’t pay for.

 

New Algae-control System Being Installed

The new algae-control system that the Town of Emmitsburg purchased last month will be installed at Rainbow Lake this month. The new system is expected to save the town money by making the filtration of the water easier.

The LG Sonic system uses ultrasound to destroy the algae, causing it to sink to the bottom of the lake. The cost of the system is $38,650, which not only pays for the system but gets it up and running. After that, the town will pay $13,000 a year for calibration, interactive monitoring to adjust the sonic waves for the different types of algae, and on-site servicing.

 

Pavilion Rental Fee Modified

Responding to concerns from citizens, the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners modified their pavilion rental policy to waive the rental fee for non-profit organizations.

 

Boys and Girls Club for Emmitsburg?

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs has been talking with the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County to get a branch open in Emmitsburg that would complement the after-school program at Emmitsburg Elementary School.

 

Thurmont

Town Enters into Mutual Aid Agreement

The Town of Thurmont entered into a mutual aid agreement recommended by the Maryland Municipal League and the Department of Homeland Security. The agreement is a formal recognition that if any municipality experiences an emergency or catastrophic event, other municipalities will respond with help as needed.

“Honestly, we probably would do that now, but this just really kind of formalizes the agreement,” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners.

The agreement does not force the town to respond to another municipality’s emergency. It is left to the town to determine how to provide aid. The municipality is also indemnified from liability under the agreement.

 

Gene Long Week

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners proclaimed that March 5-11, 2017, was Gene Long Week in Thurmont. The proclamation recognized the many contributions that Long has made as a life-long resident of Thurmont. He has encouraged the preservation of agriculture in the county, volunteered with many Lions Club projects, helped create the Thurmont Trolley Trail, and proven himself a friend of Thurmont.

 

Program Open Space projects

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are in the process of deciding on what their priorities will be as they seek Program Open Space funding this year. The state funding for parks is highly sought after among municipalities.

The commissioners decided that their two major projects will be getting additional funding for the East End Park special-needs playground, and converting the concession stand there to an ADA-compliant bathroom. The second project will be to get solar-powered lighting for the Thurmont Trolley Trail.

Another two or three projects will be added to the list before it is submitted on May 5. The representatives from the different county municipalities will meet to decide how to divide the pot of money that Frederick County gets from the state.

They do not expect to get money for all of their projects or even all of the funding for the projects that do get POS money. However, the projects that do get funding will be greatly helped.