by James Rada, Jr.
Fewer Residents Paying Water Bills Late
Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets reported to the mayor and commissioners that by changing the due date for the quarterly water bills, fewer people are paying their bills late. The change began with the quarterly bills that went out September 17, 2017, and seventy fewer later notices had to be sent to residents.
This meant that residents saved on late fees and town staff saved on time.
“We can attribute that mostly to changing our due date to the fifth,” Willets said.
Emmit Garden Playground Gets Approved
The proposed Emmit Garden playground—which the commissioners would like to see as a handicapped-accessible one, like the new playground in Thurmont—received state approval for its plans. The next step is to get the town permits for it. The playground is expected to be built in the spring of 2018.
The Thurmont Civitan Club, which spearheaded the new fully accessible playground for special needs children in Thurmont, has expressed interest in creating a similar playground in Emmitsburg. Emmitsburg currently has enough money set aside to build a playground in Emmit Garden. However, since it will be located in a floodplain, the Maryland Department of the Environment needed to approve the project.
Brookfield Subdivision Lots Sold
Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs announced in December that Richmond American Homes had put a contract in to purchase the remaining forty-seven home lots in the Brookfield subdivision. As part of the purchase, the developer will also have to level out a crest on Irishtown Road. Once that is done, there can be two-way traffic between Brookfield and Pembrook.
Cpl. Duhan Promoted
Thurmont Police Cpl. Tim Duhan was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on November 3, 2017. He is the Thurmont Police K-9 officer and has been with the department for five years. Prior to Thurmont, he served as a Frederick City Police Officer.
Power Saver Retrofits Program Update
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were updated on how well the Power Saver Retrofits Program has been doing in the town. The program has been around for five years and was introduced to Thurmont in 2016. Homes in the program are given an energy audit to find where improvements can be made to make them more energy efficient. The program can then provide $7,000 to $10,000 to qualifying homeowners to make those improvements. Currently, fifty-five homes have used the program.
Homes that qualify for this program also automatically qualify for the Green Homes Challenge Program, an online tool to help people save energy. The tool can help estimate energy savings, gasoline savings, carbon emissions savings, and other metrics.
Gateway to the Cure Results
The Town of Thurmont made its presentations from its October fundraising efforts for the Patty Hurwitz Fund.
Catoctin High School Football held its 2nd Annual Pink Out Game. T-shirts were sold during the game, and $1,447 was raised. Five football players from the school made the presentation to Patty Hurwitz.
A number of town businesses participated in the Gateway to the Cure with donations and promotions. For instance, at Gateway Candyland, anytime a special chocolate breast cancer lollipop was sold, a $1.00 donation was made to the fund; next door at Gateway Liquors, anytime a bottle of pink wine sold, a $1 donation was made to the fund.
“It’s always a lot of fun,” said Maggie Doll with Gateway Candy and Gateway Liquors. “The kids always get into it out there, and we get pictures on Facebook with everybody dressed in pink. It’s a good cause, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Nicki Eyler with the Eyler Stables Flea Market said that ribbons were hung throughout the flea market and many vendors donated a percentage of their October sales to the fund.
“We also had a donation jar on our counter, so our customers participated as well, and we actually quadrupled what we did last year,” Eyler said.
Dr. John Moles dyed his beard pink for October and donated $1.00 for every patient who got pink on her braces.
Promotional items such as t-shirts, pinwheels, and tote bags were sold at the Thurmont Town Office.
All of the donations raised by the town and town businesses amounted to $15,000. Total donations over the four years the town has participated in the Gateway to the Cure have amounted to $43,000.
Criswell Gets Site Approval for Expansion
The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission conditionally approved the preliminary plans for Criswell Chevrolet to add a Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership in town.
A major concern about the new dealership is the additional outdoor lighting that it will add to the area and how it will affect residents. However, the lighting also needs to be bright enough for surveillance cameras to function properly. B&R Design Group presented a plan that reduces the intensity of the lights from 150 watts to 104 watts, which is roughly the lighting intensity at the Thurmont McDonald’s.
Town Planner Chris Jakubiak felt that the intensity of the lights over the employee and customer parking area could be further reduced since those areas are empty at night and do not have inventory that needs to be protected.
Town staff will continue working with B&R Design Group to further reduce the lighting and to decide on the trees and shrubs to use for landscaping along the Moser Road frontage. The site plan also includes privacy fences to separate Criswell from the bordering residential areas.
The new dealership will be at the corner of Moser Road and Frederick Road.
Town Gets a Clean Audit Report
The Town of Thurmont received its annual financial audit report from Zelenkofske Axelrod, LLC. The auditor looked at the finances for Fiscal Year 2017. The town’s net position improved by $615,507, while its debt decreased by $737,316. The total revenues for the year were nearly $12.8 million for all government services, while expenses were $12.15 million.
Town Gets Colorfest Update
Hosting Colorfest each year costs the Town of Thurmont tens of thousands of dollars in security costs, sanitation, town staff overtime, and bus rentals. The town pays these costs primarily out of the vendor permit fees, but also from a portion of the parking fees each year.
For Colorfest 2017, permits and parking brought in $63,222. The town paid out 59,570 for all of its expenses. This left the town $3,652 in the black, which is not always the case. Also, Colorfest, Inc. donated $5,000 to the town’s general fund and $1,500 to the Thurmont Police Department out of its earnings.
“The town does not try to make anything,” said Thurmont Commission Marty Burns, during a recent town meeting. “We just don’t want to lose money.”
It was a good year for Colorfest, with seventy-two more permits being issued over 2016. Chief Operating Officer Jim Humerick also pointed out that there appeared to be record crowds on Saturday.
For the most part, things ran well. Friday evening before Colorfest, the town started experiencing some power problems in the park. Town staff fixed it only to have another problem on Saturday that had to be addressed. There was also a minor issue with U. S. Postal Service and Kountry Kitchen employee access to certain areas, but there’s a plan in place to deal with them next year.
The commissioners also discussed whether dogs were causing a problem at the event, but they were split on this.
The most significant problem that needs to be dealt with for this year’s Colorfest is to add some additional port-a-potties at Criswell Chevrolet and Deerfield Church.