by James Rada, Jr.
Colorfest Services Approved
Shentel Will Offer Fiber Optic Service
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a franchise agreement with Shentel. The agreement, similar to the one the town has with Comcast, will provide the town with a 3 percent franchise fee. Shentel will be allowed to build a fiber-optic network in town that will allow residents another option for high-speed internet, television, and telephone service. The service speed is expected to be faster than residents currently get. “We don’t have the speed that they’re talking about right here, right now,” Mayor John Kinnaird said.
The commissioners approved the agreement 3-1, with Bill Blakeslee voting against it and Wes Hamrick abstaining.
Hammaker Hills Phase 2 Documents Approved
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently unanimously approved the homeowner’s association documents and easements needed for construction on phase 2 of Hammaker Hills. This will be 22 additional single-family homes added to the existing 38 homes approved in phase 1 of the subdivision.
WWTP Roof to be Replaced
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid from P.J. Roofing in Frederick to replace the roofs on the two blower buildings at the wastewater treatment plant for $21,725. It was one of three bids and came in significantly lower than expected.
Police Commissioner Candidates Approved
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved re-appointing three members of the Thurmont Police Commission: Greg Seymoure, Shawn Martyak, and Cathy Maddox. The commission is an advisory body to the Thurmont Board of Commissioners on matters relating to the Thurmont Police Department.
A week before Colorfest, the number of permits issued for the annual festival exceeded those issued in 2022. Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners that 677 permits had been issued for Colorfest, bringing in $49,510, with more expected to be issued in the last week before the show. In 2022, 568 permits were issued, generating $49,480. Humerick said he would have a recap of how Colorfest went for the town at a future meeting.
Road Paving Approved
The mayor and commissioners approved a bid for $314,067 from C. J. Miller, LLC, of Westminster, to mill and asphalt a set of roads in Thurmont. The roads are Blue Ridge Drive, Locust Drive, Weil Drive, Hammaker Street, East Hammaker Street, and West Hammaker Street. “You could throw a rock and where it landed on a road would probably need to be replaced,” said Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick.
The project is part of on-going road repairs the town is doing. This work is expected to be done by November 22.
Impact Fees Increased
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to increase impact fees for new construction in the town. The town adopted the Construction Cost Index proposed fees, except for the sewer impact fee, which was increased to $1,000.
The report on the impact fees conducted by Smart Utility Management found that, “Due to the significant rise in inflation/costs, particularly over the past three years since the pandemic, the Town has expressed a need to update these fees for new Water & Sewer applications to be based [on] today’s costs.”
New construction in town must pay a water connection fee, water impact fee, sewer connection fee, wastewater impact fee, sewer pump station fee, roads impact fee, and parks impact fee. Impact and connection fees for a new home now total $24,320.
Davis and Turnquist Take Office
County Clerk swore in Frank Davis as the new mayor of Emmitsburg, and Mayor Davis swore in Valerie Turnquist as a new town commissioner during the October town meeting. Davis and Turnquist replace former Mayor Don Briggs and former Commissioner Joe Ritz, III, both of whom chose not to run for re-election.
Davis said he would take a team approach to leading the town. “We either win or lose as one,” he said.
Town Honors Mayor Briggs
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a proclamation honoring Mayor Don Briggs for his 12 years of service to the town during the October town meeting. Briggs chose not to run for re-election during the September town election.
“Your heart is with this town,” said Commissioner Amy Boehman-Pollitt.
Briggs was first elected in 2011 and served four consecutive terms as mayor. During his time as mayor, he promoted projects such as “ADA-compliant sidewalks, ADA playground, numerous green initiatives (LG Sonic, EV chargers, solar panels), construction of a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, as well as welcoming many new businesses.” This helped the town receive awards that included Sustainable Maryland, Tree City USA, MML Banner City, and Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award.
“I love the town,” Briggs said. “I know you all love the town. It’s in good hands.”
Some Water Fund Relief
Mayor Don Briggs announced during the October Emmitsburg town meeting that the town had gotten approval to use up to $300,000 from federal American Rescue Plan Act money that towns received to help offset revenue losses during the COVID crisis to add to the water fund operating revenues.
Briggs noted that the money just “scratched the surface,” but it will help offset some of the revenue needed for the water. It might also be able to lower the 36 percent increase in the FY24 water rates. The commissioners will discuss it during the November meeting.
McNair Property Applicants Need to Initiate Annexation Request
Peter Koutsos would like to have the 23-acre Rodney McNair property, northeast of town, to initiate the annexation application for the property instead of the applicant. The property is within the town’s growth boundary. Town Attorney Clark Adams said this is unusual. The commissioners voted to initiate the request. Koutsos can request that the property be annexed, but he will have to go through the process of filing the application.
Town Gets Parking Meter Grant
The Town of Emmitsburg received a grant from the USDA for parking meter replacement in town. The grant of $31,100 required a $33,900 town match to replace 125 parking meters with 80 new dual payment (coin and card) meters on Main Street and three new multi-space meters at the community pool.