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dr harper

by Joseph Kirchner

After thirty-eight years of dedicated medical service to the Catoctin region, Dr. Steven A. Pickert and Dr. William F. Harper retired last year in June and October, respectively. These men share a rather fascinating, parallel history, from their early medical training through their many years of medical practice together at the Catoctin Medical Group in Thurmont. The illustrious doctors came in together, served admirably for almost four decades, and retired just a few months apart.

Pickert and Harper performed their three-year residency together in the Franklin Square Family Practice Residency (Baltimore) at an interesting juncture in medical history—they were in just the second group of family practice residents. Like all young doctors, they were first quite concerned with handling their difficult training, but also with planning for employment when their residency was completed.

In his last year of residency, it happened that Harper decided to take a scenic drive on a fine Sunday afternoon, simply to relax. He drove (for whatever reason) into the small town of Thurmont, only to find there, an answer to his future plans in the form of a large banner that read: “We Need Doctors!” Liking the pastoral setting and noting it would be a good place to raise a family, he then inquired of the town.

Indeed, the mayor of Thurmont at that time, Jim Black, was very interested in bringing qualified doctors into town. Such was his interest that he formed a committee to interview both Harper and Pickert. They passed with flying colors. Remarkably, the town was so interested in them that men from the town actually signed the mortgage papers for the incoming doctors! (In fact, Pickert and Harper were just the seventeenth and eighteenth doctors in Thurmont.)

Pickert and Harper began practicing medicine in a modular home on July 21, 1975, on the same site now occupied by the Catoctin Medical Group. They happily worked in this arrangement for three years, until a more substantial edifice was constructed. In those early days, it was really a family affair: Dr. Pickert’s wife, Dee, was the nurse and Dr. Harper’s wife, Marian, was the receptionist. This was the humble beginning for what would later become a thriving practice in both Thurmont and Frederick.

This writer had the good occasion to interview Dr. James Krantz, who began working at the Catoctin Medical Group in 1988, and who worked for many years with both Pickert and Harper. He calls Harper “a real stand-up guy,” an extremely competent physician who was “not interested at all in tooting his own horn.” Apparently one day, a small boy seemingly drowned in a pail, was pronounced dead, and was taken to the Catoctin Medical Group. Dr. Harper resuscitated him and sent him by ambulance to the hospital, where he fully recovered. The intrepid doctor then finished his afternoon patients, never saying a word about this to anyone. Dr. Krantz would find this out later from the office manager. Dr. Harper not only “talked the talk” but also “walked the walk” every day.

Dr. Krantz greatly enjoyed working with Dr. Pickert and says of him, “Anyone that met him would call him a character!” He “loved to talk, joke around, and he laughed a lot.” Dr. Pickert was often playful and took the time to really get to know his patients well. When I interviewed the quirky doctor, he told me “laughter is an important part of life” and said calling him a “character” was “the nicest thing anyone could call me.” He also reports that he was “famous or infamous” for playfully tapping smokers on the arm to scold them for their choice to smoke. A lifelong owner of Welsh Springer Spaniels, he affixed photos of them on the ceiling above his exam rooms to put his patients at ease, and handed out dog biscuits to his dog-owner patients.

Pickert and Harper are enormously grateful for the wonderful people they were so privileged to work with. While everyone made great contributions to the practice, they are especially indebted to Marion Bennett, “the wonderful receptionist/office manager who really got the ball rolling,” and also to Betty Rickerd, whose professionalism as a nurse for twenty-five years is greatly appreciated. Both doctors are enjoying retirement by spending more time with family, a luxury not enjoyed when they worked long hours to build The Catoctin Medical Group. Doctors Pickert and Harper miss their patients, just as they are greatly missed by one and all, as expressed in a sentiment spoken by Dr. Krantz, “I miss them and wish they were still here.”

The Catoctin Medical Group’s locations are: 100 South Center Street in Thurmont, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-Noon,  301-271-4333; 180 Thomas Johnson Drive, #101, Frederick, MD, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., 301-696-8801.

by James Rada, Jr.

Celebrations Catering - Jim RadaIn the four years since Celebrations Catering opened in Hagerstown, Maryland, it has built a strong reputation as a one-stop catering business. Besides weddings, Celebrations has catered luncheons for General Dynamics, Osh Kosh Corp., Meritus Health, Clarion Hotel, and many more. Now, the company has relocated from Washington County to Thurmont.

“Thurmont is almost like a wedding mecca,” said Celebrations co-owner Tammy Coblentz. “There are so many beautiful venues nearby.”

The other reason for the change, according to co-owner Chip Coblentz, is a change in their business. Celebrations Catering had been the exclusive caterer for the Cortland Mansion in Hagerstown. The business was based there, but it also offered off-site catering.

“That has been the explosive part of our business and the majority of it is in Frederick,” Chip said.

From their location at 425 N. Church Street in Thurmont, Celebrations Catering travels to venues within a 50-mile radius, offering everything from full-service catering to “drop and go” service.

“A lot of caterers will offer a low price for food and then everything else is an add-on price,” Tammy said. “We are all inclusive. You get everything in your price up front.”

However, because Celebrations Catering is aware that different people have different budgets, package deals tailored for weddings are offered. Clients can also order customized service that is not all inclusive.

What sets Celebrations Catering apart from many other catering services is the tasty food, prepared by executive chef and co-owner Alex Whitlow and sous chef Colin Snyder. This includes making wedding cakes if the client wants.

“We only sell fresh foods,” Chip said. “Nothing is frozen and we have a mobile kitchen to prepare food on site.”

He pointed out that while many caterers use powdered potatoes to make mashed potatoes and save money, Celebrations peels, cuts, and mashes their potatoes to create quality dishes. Also, if something like asparagus is kept warming too long because of the travel time involved in getting from the kitchen to the venue, it may no longer be green when it is served.

Celebrations Catering can service sit-down meals or buffet meals. Serving stations, where a person can watch their meal being prepared in front of them, are growing in popularity.

“I love to see the interaction between the people as they pick out their ingredients, and the chef who prepares it right there in front of them,” Tammy said.

Besides a kitchen, the new location in Thurmont offers a showroom where clients can come in and select from table linens in 400 different colors and patterns. The linen can be placed on a table so that the client sees how it looks in use. China, glassware, and flatware can also be selected from a variety of patterns.

Chip said that they are seeing a lot of clients bringing in pictures that they found on Pinterest of meals and settings. The staff at Celebrations Catering then uses the pictures to select matching linen and place settings.

Celebrations Catering has six full-time employees and numerous part-time employees, who range in age from 16 to 62.

“We have a good mix,” Tammy said. “Every one of them is trained and knowledgeable about the food, and we try to have them certified in alcohol awareness.”

Celebrations Catering is part of the Frederick Area Bridal Network. For more information, contact Celebrations Catering at 301-271-2220 or 301-766-4747. Visit their website at

by Joseph Kirchner

visitor ctr galleryThe National Shrine Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes enjoys a fascinating, rich history. In 1805, Father John Dubois (a refugee from France) came to Emmitsburg via Frederick, and settled.

According to legend, Fr. Dubois was attracted to “a light on the mountain” and found a blessed spot, one of the loveliest in the world, and there erected a crude cross to symbolize the work he had undertaken. He then built “St. Mary’s on the Hill” church in 1807, on the site of the present Grotto parking lot, and founded Mount St. Mary’s College in 1808 on the slopes below.

Today, this beautiful pastoral shrine devoted to Mary attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year from all over the world. It features one of the oldest American replicas of the Lourdes shrine in France, being built just twenty-one years after the apparitions of Mary to St. Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858. Even before then, this picturesque mountain setting was a site for prayer and devotion, beloved by many notable American Catholic leaders and saints, among them were St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Rev. Simon Brute, who later became the first bishop of Vincennes, Indiana.

visitor ctr bldgJust recently, in June of last year, an impressive Visitor’s Center was erected at the Grotto, the fulfillment of President Thomas Powell’s vision from nearly a decade ago. He clearly saw the potential to evangelize this unique spiritual place and to make the Grotto a place of welcome hospitality for all visitors. Due to the generosity of many benefactors, President Powell’s dream is now realized. The Richard and Mary Lee Miller Family Visitor’s Center is named for Richard Miller (Mount St. Mary’s College class of ’74) and his wife Mary Lee, to whom he proposed at the Grotto. The bench on which he asked Mary Lee to marry him is now in the vestibule of the Center, named in their honor.

Just outside the Visitor’s Center, you will find the cornerstone of the old church on the hill laid by Father Dubois, marking the continuity of the rich past with the present moment. Once inside the gallery, you will surely admire the majestic wooden beams above, which provide a historical significance of their own; many of them were the felled trees on the Grotto property from devastating Hurricane Sandy. Everything in the Miller Family Visitor Center is done with great care.

In addition to offices, a temporary sacristy, and restrooms, the Visitor’s Center features the magnificent Gallery and St. Bernadette’s Shoppe. The Gallery highlights the four pillars of Mount St. Mary’s University (Faith, Discovery, Leadership and Community) and holds six display cases, each presenting important artifacts in Mount history. You will also find a detailed timeline dating back over two centuries, focusing on Mount history and including important moments in American history. In addition, many historical photos from Mount history adorn the walls of the scenic gallery.

visitor ctr st bernadettes gift shopWhen at the Visitor’s Center, you will surely want to visit St. Bernadette’s Shoppe, which has unique custom items of the Grotto found only there. This charming shop also offers many items from Lourdes, including Lourdes statues, prayers cards, and, of course, Lourdes water, among many other items. Pam Sielaff, manager of this lovely store, relates “we offer holy reminders and gifts which help visitors increase their faith and show their love for the blessed Mother.”

The Visitor’s Center is a wonderful place to start your experience of the Grotto. Lori Stewart (Director of the Grotto) explains the main purpose of the center, saying it is a ”means of welcoming guests, tells the rich history of the Grotto, and helps visitors experience their own spiritual journey in this very special spiritual place.” Begin your pilgrimage at the Visitor’s Center by picking up a brochure (complete with a detailed map of the grounds) and other important information about the Grotto. Lori invites frequent visitors and those who have never seen this magnificent place. “Our Lady blesses thousands of believers who come from all over the world to visit this wonderful shrine and pray for her intercession. May you soon be blessed with a visit to this holy and newly renovated, sacred place. It’s beautiful during all the seasons!”

The Richard and Mary Lee Miller Family Visitor’s Center is open daily, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Note that the gate closes at 5:00 p.m.) Phone: 301-447-5318.

Call to rent the Gallery for group retreats and seminars with up to fifty-three people. St. Bernadette’s Shoppe is open daily, from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Phone: 301-447- 5444. Email:; website:

by Randy Waesche

Sterling H. Kelbaugh, 77, died on March 2, 2014. His self-written obituary of only five sentences was a contradiction to the prolific wordsmith that he was, but within these sentences was a statement of his greatest pride: he “was a fourth generation resident of the Thurmont area.”

He both lived and appreciated local history, and had the literary skill to commit a lot of it to writing. In one essay describing his 1940s childhood, he answered his own question of: “What did a kid do for fun?”  “For one, the old train station was a kid magnet. There was the most friendly group of railroad men you could ever hope to meet.”  Within the context of his prose were lots of names:  “Thurmont’s own Mr. Howard E. Danner would work the 3rd trick; former Mayor S. E. ‘Barney’ Barnhart was the agent, Richard Valentine, another of Thurmont’s own, was 2nd trick man.”  He was sure to mention local landmarks, many long gone:  “Down toward the shoe factory was Mr. and Mrs. Albert Zentz’s Sunrise Cafeteria, known to all railroad men as the best eatery on the Hagerstown Division.”  Soon, a picture emerged of the time: “(The trains) were near the heart of day-to-day life in our little town: milk cans to Baltimore, mail from everywhere else, trunks for the kids going to Camp Airy, bottled spring water for the city folks, a mom and her kids going to visit grandma in the city, some snakes for the Snake Farm, and coins for the bank.”

The rails could also be a source of boyhood mischief. One yarn related that junk weapons and military hardware from the war were temporarily sidelined in Thurmont, exposed in open gondolas and “there for the rooting. I guess the biggest item that I ever dragged away was a machine gun. At the Farm Shop Bobby Knott put a 50-caliber tracer in a vise, took the projectile out with a pair of gas pliers, and ignited it – what a sight! Then Mr. Milton Lawyer asked us all to leave.”

Small towns usually keep their children in check, even when they are a little too old to be considered just kids. After being newly licensed to drive, Sterling ponied up $16.48 so he wouldn’t trouble Summit Avenue neighbor and court magistrate, Paul M. Little, with his reckless driving charge.

After his 1954 graduation from Thurmont High School, his youthful fancy took him to the deep South for about a decade. By the mid 1960s, Sterling was back in Thurmont with new wife Juanita (Skeeter), where in their Victor Drive home, they raised two sons in the hometown Sterling loved.

He was active in the PTA when his boys were of age, was a member of the Edwin C. Creeger Jr. American Legion Post 168, served in the Thurmont Lions Club, led the Thurmont High School Alumni Association, and was the chairman of the Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission. He ran unsuccessfully for town commissioner in 1974—I think Thurmont missed something that time. Probably his greatest civic contribution was the key role he played twenty-five years ago, with the creation of the Thurmont Historical Society, where he is still listed as its President Emeritus.

Usually of good cheer, he was provoked if his beloved Thurmont was disparaged. For example, as part of a scathing letter to the editor in a Frederick newspaper he stated,  “The tone of Roy Meachum’s column was in poor taste, incorrect, somewhat snobbish and in need of editing by a responsible newspaper. Thurmont is a truly great place, not the cultural backwater that Mr. Meachum seems to intimate. Maybe Mr. Meachum could come up here and nose around for a while. Who knows, he might even pick up a few facts.”

He said of visiting presidents “we feel like we’re one of the boys.”  In 1976, President Gerald Ford attended Easter service at Harriet Chapel. Sterling took part in the holy processional, along with nine- and eight-year-old Rule and Keeffer, who reported that in presidential presence they stumbled on their gowns, but not their dad. He had tripped over his the week before.

Nearly thirty-eight years later, in that same historic Catoctin Furnace sanctuary, a packed congregation heard Sterling H. Kelbaugh eulogized as “part country bumpkin, part scholar,” now at peace, “with a book in one hand and a Budweiser in the other.”

His deep voice is silenced, but his written word will keep him among us for another lifetime, probably more. “Sometimes, late at night, through the wind, the rain, and the years, I think I can hear an eleven hundred lumbering through, blowing for the Carroll Street crossing. Still just another reminder that the past is truly gone.”

by James Rada, Jr.

Officer Tim Duhan and his partner, Buddy, approached the car with the intent on investigating if drugs might be hidden in the vehicle. However, Buddy suddenly veered off toward a white SUV parked nearby. Duhan followed, trusting his partner’s nose.

Buddy sniffed around the exterior of the vehicle and then stuck his nose into the wheel rims. He then pulled back and sat down. Duhan reached into the rim and pulled out a small bag of marijuana.

Buddy is a two-year old black lab and a valued member of the Thurmont Police Department. He is one of about a dozen police dogs that serve in Frederick County, Maryland.

“Dogs can only be trained to find drugs or bombs, not both,” Duhan explained. Whichever items they are trained to sniff out, they are very effective at finding. “They can smell easily fifty times better than we do,” Duhan said.

In addition, some dogs can also be trained as a patrol dog. This “bite work” is left to dogs with a temperament for it and a reputation for being tough, such as German shepherds or Doberman Pinschers.  It’s not the type of work for Buddy, who behaves like a beloved family pet when he’s not on the job.

Buddy came to the department from Washington State in June 2013. It can cost around $10,000 to get a trained and certified drug dog, but Duhan knew a trainer who offered him a deal. The town commissioners approved the deal to give the police another tool to help fight the town’s drug problem. Duhan says that Buddy has been a big help in regard to drug crackdown, because once drug dealers find out that there is a narcotics dog in town, they look for easier places to sell their goods.

“Now we have people telling us that you can’t get anything good in town,” Duhan said.

Although Buddy came to the department certified, he and Duhan still have to participate in twice-monthly training exercises to maintain that certification.

Finding hidden narcotics is Buddy’s only job. “A close bond forms between a handler and his dog,” Duhan said. “When you think about it, I spend more awake time with Buddy than I do my wife.”

Duhan also has to make sure that Buddy is cared for at home and work. Buddy has a kennel beside Duhan’s desk, with a sign on it that reads: “Buddy’s Jail.” Duhan makes sure to take his partner outside occasionally to get some exercise.

When on the job, Buddy rides in the rear of Duhan’s vehicle, which is equipped with a heat alarm for Buddy’s protection.

When Buddy isn’t on the job, he is at home with Duhan and his family. The Duhans have another younger—though larger—dog at home. She and Buddy get along like best friends. This gives Buddy both a human and a canine friend.

Unusual pet - PHOTO

Officer Tim Duhan of the Thurmont Police Department is shown with his partner, Buddy.

I don’t have to tell you mothers out there how hard it is to raise three children in today’s world. But with a strong hand and the help of God, I believe I’ve done a wonderful job. So, of course, it fell on me to do the children’s devotional tonight. So, children, scoot up to the edge of your pew. This is for you,” says Vera Sanders, one of the lead characters in the Thurmont Thespian’s upcoming show, Smoke on the Mountain.

Those who know Anna Perry, who will be playing Vera Smith, could easily hear those same words coming from her at any time. Anna has three children, is a faithful Christian woman, and can be heard singing professionally at any number of local venues, both Christian music and rock and roll. One thing that may not be as well known is that her daughter, Annabelle, is also a musician and will be performing along side her in Smoke on the Mountain. Annabelle, who is in the 7th grade at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, will be playing the role of Denise, a guitar playing, motion-picture loving young lady, who sometimes, “has a little too much time on her hands,” and  is Vera and Stanley’s youngest daughter.

Rounding out the cast is Joshua Flanick (Dennis, Denise’s twin brother); Lori Hockley (June); Norm Gibat (Stanley Sanders); Steve Hess (Burk Sanders); and Travis Sanders (Pastor Oglethorpe).

Opening night for Smoke on the Mountain is Friday, April 4 at 8:00 p.m. Performances will continue that weekend on Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m. The show will resume on Friday, April 11 at 8:00 p.m., with a Dinner Theatre on Saturday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m., and a closing show on Sunday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now by calling Becky Urian, Box Office Manager, at 301-271-7613. Tickets are $15.00 each; Dinner theater tickets are $35.00 and include dinner and the show.



by Joseph Kirchner

Dating back to approximately the ninth or tenth century, people in Ireland have observed the feast day of Saint Patrick on March 17, since Saint Patrick is believed to have died on this date back in 461. Interestingly, the first parade to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland, but in the United States, way back in 1762. Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The mythology surrounding Saint Patrick has become ingrained not just in Irish culture, but all over the world.

Perhaps the most well-known legend of Saint Patrick is that the saint explained the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of a native Irish clover: the shamrock. Adherents of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) adopted the four-leaf clover as a symbol of Irish luck due to the fact that clovers are abundant in the hills of Ireland. A very old Irish verse describes why: “One leaf is for fame, and one leaf is for wealth, and one is for a faithful lover, and one to bring you glorious health, and all are in the four-leafed clover.” The four-leaf clover is only but one of the many “good luck charms” that are woven into every culture. We love our good luck charms and superstitions!

Many good luck charms and superstitions relate to animals. Crickets are considered good luck in Asia. Ladybugs are considered good luck. A ladybug in your house means you will soon find money, and if a ladybug lands on you, you have received good luck. Dolphins are considered lucky in many different cultures, including the ancient cultures of Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Tortoises are considered a good luck symbol in Feng-Shui decorating. Tigers are considered lucky in Chinese astrology, and elephants are widely-considered good luck in most cultures. Pigs are considered a symbol of good luck in Germanic cultures, a sentiment shared by Jaime Andrew of Emmitsburg. She has kept a small stuffed pig, given to her by her daughter, hanging from the rear view mirror in her car for the past ten years!

However, it seems that not all animals are considered lucky. Brenda Sites of Emmitsburg makes sure to make the sign of the cross on her windshield whenever a black cat crosses her path.

Of course, in addition to animals, many objects—like the previously mentioned four-leaf clover—are considered to be good luck. In Norse culture, both the acorn and its bearer, the oak tree, bring good fortune. Rainbows are considered lucky, because we all know that if we find the end of the rainbow, we will find a pot of gold. Horseshoes are thought to bring good fortune when they are hung on the wall of a home or above a doorway. The “lucky rabbit charm” was incorporated into American culture by African slaves who were brought to the Americas. Barnstars (prevalent in these parts) bring good luck, and nautical stars are thought to provide guidance and bring good fortune to sailors.

No discussion of good luck charms or superstitions would be complete without mentioning lucky/unlucky numbers. The number seven is widely considered to bring good luck, and is considered a “perfect number” in Christian circles. The number eight (which sounds like the Chinese word for “fortune”) is considered good luck in Chinese culture. And most of us have heard that the number thirteen is considered unlucky; some hotels don’t even have a thirteenth floor. And, of course, we all know about “Friday the thirteenth.” However, one man I spoke to told me that he bowled his high game on lane thirteen and that three times he lived at addresses of “113,” so it seems the number thirteen is good luck for him.

Apparently, we possess a nearly infinite number of superstitions. For example, if you blow out all of the candles on your birthday cake with the first breath, you will get whatever you wish for (I hope so!), and, likewise, if you make a wish when you see a falling star. Athletes and sports fans are notoriously superstitious. I know a serious (very serious) Redskin fan whose family absolutely prohibits his daughter from watching any “Skins” games with them, because every time she has in the past, the team made terrible mistakes. Some intrepid folks, like Dr. Michael Hargadon of Emmitsburg, create their own superstitions. It seems he had to give an important political speech and was quite nervous about it. Remembering being at the shore and how relaxed he felt with his feet in the sand, he decided (ingeniously) to put sand in his shoes before his speech to feel more relaxed, and the speech was a great success.

In closing, on St. Patrick’s Day (and beyond), I wish all of you the Luck o’ the Irish and sand in your shoe!

by Carie Stafford

John and Brenda Seiss of Graceham, and long-time members of the Thurmont community, have been crafting gifts for family and friends for over twenty years. The gifts were unique and appreciated, so the recipients suggested the couple grow their hobby into a business. Now with years of craft shows and consignments under their belt, and their two children making their way into adulthood, they have ventured on their own to open the store.

They thoroughly enjoy bringing their customers something special. Their goal is to help their customers turn their place of dwelling into a warm and cozy home of which they are proud. Custom requests are especially welcome, so they can provide what suits specific needs and wants.

Are you looking for something particular and can’t seem to find it? Are you considering having something made and want a special character to it that you cannot find in the regular retail stores? Stop by and see what John and Brenda can do for you. Their genuine enjoyment of what they do will make you feel at home.

If you’re looking to rid your home of unwanted household items such as decorations—or good ole’ junk—without the hassle of setting up a yard sale, call or take it by the shop and let Brenda’s imagination work for you. If she is able to transform or repurpose it, she’ll make you an offer.

Along with offering their own crafted items, their goal for the shop is to consign antiques of the primitive nature, provide other craft items, and provide those hard-to-find craft supplies that are not available in big-box chain stores. If you are interested in consigning, please call.

At Home Primitives is located in the Gateway Market complex (on the left side when facing the building), at 14802 N Franklinville Road in Thurmont. Phone: 301-271-2524. Hours: Monday–Closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-5:00 p.m. (hours subject to change with the seasons). Visit them on Facebook at

by Joseph Kirchner

Doug @ Commodore Recording StudioIn October 2013, Doug Benson (a professional recording engineer and musician) opened Commodore Recording Studio in Thurmont, the capstone achievement of twenty years of service in the Catoctin area. Back in 1992, Doug opened Harvest Recording, a two-room studio that he ran successfully for ten years, engineering and producing over one-hundred independent CD releases, and establishing a loyal client base. He moved the studio in 2003 and changed the name to Catoctin Mountain Recording. Known internationally for his audio restoration/remastering work, Doug has also taught college-level music courses, worked as a full-time musician and a videographer, and gained extensive experience in all aspects of arranging, recording, and music production.

Commodore Recording Studio is the fruit of over thirty years of experience. The studio provides an affordable, professional environment that is both comfortable and performance-friendly. First, Commodore’s unusually shaped recording rooms are designed specifically with sound in mind. From the symmetrically-splayed walls and ceiling of the control room to the non-parallel surfaces of the live room (a spacious 390 square feet) and booths, the wonderful acoustics inspire great performances and facilitate more accurate playback. The floor plan accommodates a 30 square ft. vocal/amp booth, a 68 square ft. drum/vocal room with gorgeous vintage Vistalite kit, a 170 square ft. control room with Neumann monitors and reclining sofa and the expansive live room, featuring a 12’ ceiling, oak floor and Yamaha grand piano. In addition, Doug provides a separate lounge area with cable TV and a rehearsal piano. This beautiful, comfortable environment will inspire musicians to produce their best recordings!

The facilities are top-notch, but most importantly Doug brings to the table over thirty years of recording experience that no amount of equipment could make up for. He offers a full range of services, including  audio recording (both standard and multi-track), on-location recording of live and session-style events, excellent mixing, editing and mastering, transfer of material from obsolete formats to digital, voice-over work and commercial production, MIDI track production and sequencing, custom song arrangements and CD/DVD replication. In addition, Commodore offers world-class audio restoration; historical and family heirloom recordings can be digitized, cleaned and enhanced with remarkable clarity. Many people own records and magnetic tapes that have degraded just from being stored, and Commodore has the expertise to rescue them while they’re still playable.

Commodore Recording Studio offers an affordable mid-ground option between “budget” recording studios and ultra-studios. Doug provides a world of expertise and great equipment in a comfortable, performance-friendly environment that assures great recordings. Commodore’s rates are very reasonable as well. For your recording or audio restoration needs, call Commodore first.

Commodore Recording Studio is located at 204 East Main Street in Thurmont. Phone: 301-271-2435; Web: Also find Doug on Facebook.

by James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont resident Jim Humerick will now be running the day-to-day operations of Thurmont as the new chief administrative officer.

Mayor John Kinnaird expressed that he expects Humerick to fill the position with skill and dedication, just like the other chief administrative officer and town clerks who have come before him.

“Jim’s a good guy,” Kinnaird said. “He’s a hard worker and he’ll do a good job for the town of Thurmont. He lives in Thurmont. He understands what life is like in Thurmont, and he’ll offer an honest and caring ear to listen to people when they come in.”

Kinnaird said that he was impressed with Humerick’s experience with budgets, grants, and personnel.

More than forty applications—including five from Thurmont residents—were received throughout the region from people interested in filling the position.

Humerick worked for the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning, which is funded by Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. He worked there twenty-eight years and served as a regional operations manager and an administrative manager. Prior to that, he worked for Frederick County government for a short time. “I’m actually going to be retiring to come to work for Thurmont,” stated Humerick.

Humerick was hired to fill the position left open when Bill Blakeslee left the position in October 2013. Blakeslee ran an unsuccessful campaign to be a town commissioner.

Humerick said that he will start off in his new job observing and learning how things work in the town’s operations. He has done some of that already and noted, “I’m impressed with the efficiency and effectiveness of the town staff. My goal is to not get in their way and help them continue their high-quality work.”

Humerick began his new position on February 24, 2014.

The evening of January 27, 2014, was one of celebration by the Thurmont Grange, as they announced the recipient of their annual Community Citizen Award. Norman Shriver, Jr. of Shriver Meats in Emmitsburg was the recipient of this award. Shriver Meats is well known for quality beef throughout Maryland and neighboring states. They harvest corn, barley, and hay, and raise beef cattle.

Mr. Shriver graduated from Emmitsburg High School in 1959. While in high school, he enjoyed playing soccer and basketball and also participated in FFA. He was president of his school’s FFA his senior year. He married Sandy Pittinger, and they recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.  They have three children and four grandchildren. Mr. Shriver gives credit to Mr. Walter Simpson as the person responsible for sparking his interest in the meat processing business. Mr. Simpson asked Norman to help him part-time in 1963, and Norman started his own business in 1964 in a summer house.

In his first year in business, he processed fifty cattle. The Shrivers built a processing and packaging facility on the farm in 1975. Today, they process 1,600 cattle per year, which includes slaughtering, cutting, wrapping, and freezing. The Shriver Meats have several dedicated employees who, along with their son David, have many years of meat processing experience. The Shriver’s grandchildren also work on the farm and in the facility. The Shriver family has often happily assisted our local community, schools, and agricultural programs.

During the Thurmont Grange Banquet, Bob Wiles, Cliff Stewart, Bill Powell, and Jacob Shriver (Mr. Shriver’s grandson), spoke about Mr. Shriver and lightly “roasted” him. Bob Wiles spoke highly of Mr. Shriver as a neighbor, supporter of FFA, and businessman; Bill Powell shared a humorous encounter that he had with him; Cliff Stewart spoke highly of Mr. Shriver as a neighbor, supporter of FFA, and business owner; and grandson, Jacob Shriver, said that he and his sister, Elizabeth, have been blessed with agriculture in their lives as third generation farmers. Jacob added that he looks forward to carrying on the family tradition of providing quality services for the customer.

Mr. Shriver and his wife, Sandy, both expressed appreciation at being recognized. Each referenced their loyal family—which includes Shriver Meats’ long-standing employees—for the success they’ve had.

Also during the banquet, members shared letters from community members expressing thanks and appreciation. Thurmont Grange membership awards were presented by Grange Master Rodman Myers to: Peggy Royer with 50 years, Roger Troxell with 40 years, Dallas McNair with 55 years, and Marie McNair with 55 years.


Grange Community Citizen Award

Grange Shriver Community Citizen Award

Pictured from left are Helen Troxell, Barb Maley, Sandy Shriver, Jacob Shriver, Norman Shriver III, Norman Shriver, Jr., and Bob Wiles.


Grange Membership Awards

Grange Membership Awards

Pictured from left are Jane Savage, Peggy Royer, Rodman Myers, and Roger Troxell.

The Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. held its annual Awards Banquet on January 23, 2014, at the Rocky Ridge firemen’s activity center in Rocky Ridge, Maryland.

Various fire companies from around the county sent representatives as guests. Members of the Rocky Ridge 4-H Club served the banquet. The Master of Ceremonies was Company President, Dale Kline. Chief Alan Hurley presented awards to the top 10 responders and introduced his line officers for the year.

Top 10 Responders

1. Leon “Buddy” Stover Jr., with 101 calls; 2. Christina Hurley; 3. Alan Hurley; 4. Matt Moser; 5. Kevin Albaugh; 6. Bonnie Hurley; 7. Luke Humerick; 8. John Reese; 9. Jim Rice; 10. Donnie Kaas.

2014 Officers

Administrative Officers include: President, Dale Kline; Vice President, Dennis Mathias; Secretary, Paulette Mathias; Assistant Secretary, Melissa Mathias; Treasurer, Bun Wivell; Assistant Treasurer, Heather Mathias; Directors: Robert Eyler, Ronnie Eyler, Jamison Mathias, Andrew Mathias, Donnie Kaas, Charlie Riggs, and Alan Brauer.


The Honor Member of the Year was awarded to Leon “Buddy” Stover, Jr. The President’s Award was presented to the Rocky Ridge 4-H. The Charles Mumma Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Captain Kevin Albaugh, and the Robert Albaugh Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Christina Hurley. The Ladies Auxiliary presented a check to the Fire Company in the amount of $13,000. Junior member of the year was Josie Kaas.

Rocky Ridge Administrative OfficersRocky ridge officers

Pictured from left are Jamison Mathias (Director), Melissa Mathias (Asst. Secretary), Heather Mathias (Asst. Treasurer), Andrew Mathias (Director), Donnie Kaas (Director), Charlie Riggs (Director), Dale Kline (President), Denny Mathias (Vice President), and Paulette Mathias (Secretary). Not pictured: Directors, Robert Eyler, Ronnie Eyler, and Alan Brauer; Treasurer, Bun Wivell.

Rocky Ridge Junior Firefighters

rocky ridge jr firefighters

Pictured from left are Josie Kaas, Kelly Kaas, Sadie Finnyfrock, Kelsey Mathias, Breezy Combs, Robert Albaugh.

Rocky Ridge Ladies Auxiliary

Rocky ridge ladies aux

Pictured from left are Patt Riggs, Nancy Baker, Betty Ann Mumma, Nancy Summers, Betty Lee Mumma, and Emily Grant.

Hold onto your seats because the Thurmont Thespians are preparing for a rousing Saturday Night Gospel Sing with their latest production of Smoke on the Mountain, set to be performed the first two weekends in April at the American Legion in Thurmont.

Smoke on the Mountain is set in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1938, and tells the story of the Sanders family, a traveling bluegrass group, who are enlisted by the local pastor to bring his tiny congregation into “the modern world.” Between songs, each family member tells a story about an important event in their life, often revealing their true and hilariously imperfect natures.

Continuing the Thurmont Thespians mission of bringing all aspects of community theatre to Thurmont, Smoke on the Mountain is being directed by long-time Thurmont Thespian, Kelli Donaghue of Woodsboro. Donaghue has performed, worked back stage, or choreographed countless Thurmont Thespian shows. “When Beth (Watson) caught me after church and asked me to take over directing the show for her, I answered a yes without hesitation, which was most unusual for me,” said Donaghue. Smoke on the Mountain is being dedicated to the memory of Dr. Spence Watson, co-founder of the Thurmont Thespians and husband of Beth Watson, who died suddenly in December 2013. “When Spence died, our happy, escape from the world and into Thurmont Thespians work also died. It stopped for a bit. I wondered, as well as did all of my former cast and crew mates: what will happen now? We are still wondering and will undoubtedly be searching and feeling lost for quite some time,” continued Donaghue.

Joining Donoghue are cast members Joshua Flanick, Norman Gibat, Steve Hess, Lori Hockley, Kathy Jenkins, Harriette Mathews, Anna Perry, Annabelle Perry, Travis Sanders, and Taylor Wiles. Musical Director is Matt Albright, Set Designers are Rich Friis and Michael Brown, and Lighting Designer is Michael Brown.

Opening night for Smoke on the Mountain is Friday, April 4 at 8:00 p.m. Performances will continue on Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m. The show will resume on Friday, April 11 at 8:00 p.m., with a Dinner Theatre on Saturday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. and a closing show on Sunday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 each and are on sale now by calling Becky Urian, Box Office Manager, at 301-271-7613.

TT Smoke on the Mountain Cast

Smoke on the Mountain cast (from left): Anna Perry, Joshua Flanick, Travis Sanders, Lori Hockley, Norman Gibat, Steve Hess, and Annabelle Perry, (front) Matt Albright, Musical Director.

by James Rada, Jr.

With the high rate of unemployment and millions of people who have simply given up looking for work, job seekers need all the help they can get to find a job.

In Thurmont, they can find that help at the Thurmont Regional Library. Once a month, Goodwill of Monocacy Valley offers free job counseling at the library. Patie Elsberry runs the program on the third Wednesday, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. “We used to have them weekly, but we cut back to once a month when the weather got cold,” Elsberry said. “Hopefully, when it warms up again, we can go back to weekly.”

The program allows people to come to the library and get help with resume writing, filling out applications, hunting for jobs, and interviewing.

“Patie came to us initially and asked if we would be interested in having job assistance at the library, and we were happy to do it,” said Library Manager Erin Dingle. “For many years, people needed to run to Frederick for everything, but by having a Regional Library in the community, they can now find what they need right here. And we’re always seeking other opportunities in the community for partnerships,” added Dingle.

The library has been hosting the program for about two years, and job hunters have found it helpful.  “Patie will work with someone until they find a job, and she doesn’t consider it a success until the person does find a job,” stated Dingle.

One of the useful things that Elsberry does is help attendees put together a master resume, a generic resume that the person fills out and then Elsberry reviews and types. This aids the job seeker in having something to refer to when they are filling out a resume that contains all of the needed information. She will also guide them through the process of filling out an online application and conduct mock interviews. “If they get a job, I follow up to see how they are doing,” Elsberry said.

She has seen success in helping people not only find jobs but upgrade their work or even switch careers. “It’s nice to know there’s someone out there to help you through the process,” Elsberry said.

If you are interested in getting job assistance, but can’t make it out to the program, Elsberry leaves job assistance packets at the library that can be picked up during library hours. You can also call her for more information at Goodwill of Monocacy Valley at 301-662-0622, x209.

Related to the job assistance program, the library also offers a monthly computer basics class.

“People can learn how to use computers, set up e-mail accounts, and take care of computers,” Dingle said. The class is taught by Mike Mathis, a computer programmer who lives locally. The workshops are held the first Wednesday of each month. You can call the library at 301-600-7172 to find out more about the workshop.