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Nicholas DiGregory

Fort-RitchieMany residents of the historic Fort Ritchie and the surrounding town of Cascade, Maryland, are concerned regarding the manner in which Washington County government’s redevelopment plan for the retired military base was communicated to current residents. The redevelopment plan requires existing buildings at Fort Ritchie to be torn down to make room for a new mixed-use development called Cascade Town Centre. The development is intended to bring new residents and businesses to Cascade.

In mid-July, around ninety families that reside on the grounds of Fort Ritchie discovered that their leases would not be renewed and that they are being forced to relocate when their leases end over the next six months, some as early as September 2016.

The decision to terminate the leases of the residents of Fort Ritchie came on July 12, 2016, when the Washington County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to take the Fort Ritchie property from the current owner, PenMar Development Corporation, and transfer it to Washington County. Arrangements were approved by both parties, stating that ownership of the property would be completely transferred by September 15, 2016, and that redevelopment plans would be put into effect for Fort Ritchie by January 2017.

To many of the residents of the retired military base, the county’s decision to take charge of the property and its redevelopment came as a complete surprise. While the residents understood that redevelopment of their community was likely ever since the base was put up for sale by PenMar in 2015, not one of them anticipated being thrown out of their home so abruptly.

Jodi Gearhart, a single mother who lives in Fort Ritchie with her two thirteen-year-old children, said that she had no idea that the property was being transferred and that leases were being terminated until she read an article online by CJ Lovelace of Western Maryland’s Herald-Mail Media group.

“My initial notification of the issue was my neighbor,” Gearhart said. “He asked if I had read the Herald-Mail. I told him no, and he then told me that we have to be out by September. I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Gearhart said that it was not until July 14 that any written notification of the lease terminations was provided by PenMar or Washington County when some, not all, of the residents received letters.

Gearhart also said that the method by which the information was communicated seemed strange, “Normally, when PenMar has something, they take it and they put it in your door,” Gearhart said. “They come around on a little golf cart with the notifications, and they stick them in your storm door, like if they are having some kind of function or a traffic change. So I’m not sure why they felt like they had to physically mail them, and not just go around and post them, then we would have known the same day.”

Gearhart stated that hers and her fellow residents’ frustrations grew when Washington County officials refused to put anything concerning the redevelopment plan into writing until September.

“One of the biggest issues is that Washington County and PenMar right now are lacking in their transparency,” Gearhart said. “I live in Washington County, I work for Washington County, and I pay taxes to Washington County. This is my county. It’s different when the county tells you that you’re out, and that you have a few months to get out.”
Disturbed by the county’s lack of communication and concerned about the redevelopment plan, the residents of Fort Ritchie and the surrounding town of Cascade decided to take matters into their own hands by organizing a “Save Fort Ritchie” campaign.

Lev Ellian, a resident of Cascade, created the campaign when he built a Facebook page entitled “Save Fort Ritchie.” Gearhart and several other residents joined Ellian and created Twitter and Instagram accounts for the campaign as well. The Facebook page is currently being followed by more than 350 people.

Sterling Sanders, a nineteen-year-old resident of Cascade, helps run the daily social media operations, as well as organizes events for the “Save Fort Ritchie” campaign. Sanders helped to organize and lead a series of protests and prayer circles for the residents of Fort Ritchie to express their concern and to come together as a community.

“The prayer circle, instead of giving a message to the county, is giving a message to the community, letting them know that: we are sticking together, we are still here together, that we are going to fight this, we are going to stay together, and that we are going to put our faith in God,” Sanders said. “On the other hand, the protests send a message to the county that says ‘Hey, we aren’t going to give up on this, we’ve done this before, and we are going to do it again.’”

More than a hundred residents attended the protests held in July. While all present mainly protested the removal of the Fort Ritchie residents from their property, many of the protesters also voiced concerns ranging from distrust of the investors interested in purchasing Fort Ritchie to a fear of crime and pollution increase due to over-development.

In addition to the protests and prayer circles, the residents of Fort Ritchie and Cascade drafted a petition, asking Washington County officials to postpone the redevelopment plan until a public forum is held for residents to voice their opinions.

The petition, which was signed by nearly 200 individuals, was sent to the Washington County Board of County Commissioners, PenMar, Maryland District 2 Senator Andrew Serafini, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

While no written response from Washington County or PenMar officials has been released, Washington County Administrator Greg Murray and PenMar Executive Doris Nipps both said that the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie must proceed in order to bring back jobs and revitalize the Cascade area.

Despite these statements, the residents of Fort Ritchie and Cascade continue to reach out to the residents of surrounding areas and to members of the Washington County government to work toward a compromise to ensure the continued well-being of the displaced families and the historic grounds of Fort Ritchie.

“We can’t all just do this on our own; we’d like all of the people of all surrounding areas to get involved with this issue,” said Sanders. “Even if we don’t win this fight, I think it would really help and really be a great thing for us all to become closer with all of the people in the surrounding areas as a community. So whether or not we win in the end, we will, I think, get closer as a community, and hopefully get closer with our government, to open lines of communication with them and come together.”

James Rada, Jr.
2016-07-12_JAK_1496Early Tuesday morning, July 12, 2016, a line of tour buses pulled into Thurmont’s Community Park. About 250 rock musicians and roadies spilled out of the buses, stretched, and got ready to work.

They separated into groups and spread out throughout the community, not to sing and play instruments, but to help beautify the area.

They were part of the Vans Warped Tour, a traveling rock revue, featuring dozens of bands. Not only have members of the tour helped beautify communities, but they have also helped out in the wake of big disasters such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

This year, the group is helping out along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the historic and scenic byway between Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Working with Shuan Butcher, director of communications for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the group identified places where they could be of some help.

“It’s a great activity, and they came ready to do some hard work,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

By 7:00 a.m., groups had divided up to help out in the park, the Catoctin Furnace, the Thurmont Historical Society, Cunningham Falls State Park, Owens Creek Campground, the Emmitsburg watershed, the Appalachian Trail, and Catoctin Mountain Park.

Donna Voellinger, president of the Thurmont Historical Society, said that eighteen people came to assist historical society volunteers with outdoor work to the grounds.

“They didn’t need a lot of direction,” Voellinger said. “They just needed a task.”

She added that both the Warped Tour volunteers and the Historical Society volunteers seemed to have a lot of fun while they worked.

A group of artists painted a mural on the basketball court wall in Community Park.

“It’s a great piece of art,” Kinnaird said. “It adds a lot to the basketball courts and the park.”

The groups met back at the park for lunch around noon and headed out of town after that. A few of them stayed later to finish the mural, but even those stragglers were gone by 6:00 p.m. They left behind not only a more-beautiful area, but a piece of art that will remind residents of their generosity for years to come.

The day of service for the Warped Tour volunteers came between concert days in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Photos Courtesy of
Mayor John Kinnaird (fourth from right) stands with a group of talented artists of the Vans Warped Tour in front of the awesome mural they painted on the wall by the basketball courts in Thurmont Community Park.

Deb Spalding

This year, the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Event was spectacular for visitors and town residents. The volunteers who worked on the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Committee planned all year to make the day a success. The weather was beautiful, the people were happy, and the fireworks were fabulous. Volunteer Jim Houck, Jr., said, “All (members) of our committee are truly dedicated to helping our community, especially the kids, enjoy a day of fun and games.”

Although it was originally an Emmitsburg Lions Club event, it is now a cooperative effort among multiple organizations. It is hoped that the festival will continue in the future with even more involvement from the community. Jennifer Joy, Heritage Day Committee chair, said, “It was a wonderful day because of the involvement and support of all of the town’s civic organizations, businesses, and churches that make this event possible each year. Through their generosity and commitment, we are able to provide fireworks (Emmitsburg Professional Business Association), parade (Sons of the American Legion), music (Knights of Columbus), food (SAL and Lions), field games (Lions), and kids activities (Christ’s Community Church) at the festival.”

Jim Houck and Mike Hartdagen coordinated the parade that followed the traditional route from the Doughboy on West Main Street to the square, then down South Seton Avenue. Houck boasted, “The turnout was great and we had some last-minute surprises in our line up.” The Parade was well attended and had more than forty organizations participate.  Most enjoyed were the ponies and the Harmony Cornet Band, who also regaled with their talents before and after the Memorial Event.

Through a grant from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, a History Art Contest was held. Coupled with donations from local organizations and donors, $1,100 in prizes was distributed to nine winners in three categories. Art Contest Winners: Elementary Division—1st Prize, Arianna Calhoun, 2nd Prize, Darren Fry, 3rd Prize, Lynzee Davis, and Honorable Mention, Abigail Mae Turner; Middle School Division—1st Prize, Gabrielle Lee Archie, 2nd Prize, Emily Grace Williams, 3rd Prize, Shae Lynn Archie Fuller, and Honorable Mention, Marques Miller; High School Division—1st Prize, Eli Fryer.

A beach week raffle was also held as a fundraiser for next year’s event, and the winner was local resident, Kendall Moore, from Pembrook Woods. Thanks to all who participated and congratulations to the Moore family!

At the Memorial event, all were touched by guest speaker, Brenda Sheaffer’s, story as someone with severe learning disabilities who struggled to make a living and be considered a contributor to society. With the help of Melwood, a non-profit organization, she has now been able to hold a position as a custodian at the National Zoo and the Auditors Building, before earning a security clearance to work at the White House complex. Also at the Memorial event, responders to Emmitsburg’s three major fires were honored and thanked for their service. Parade awards were given to “Best In” categories, and Art contest awards were given out to winners.

At the Bandstand, Miriam Warther of Fairfield, Synergy (a girl group from the Let there be Rock School of Frederick), Screaming Melina’s from Pennsylvania, and Jellyfish Jam Band (from Emmitsburg) entertained the crowd.

Sack Race winners were: Singles—Andy Walters and Addy Dodson (ages 1-4), Landon Miller and Blake Cool (ages 5-8), Joshua Wantz and Deondre Febus (ages 9-12), Josh Maze and Jayson Howard (ages 13-16), Jack McCarthy/Dave Zentz (tie) and Davey Ott (ages 17 and older); Doubles—Addie Dobson/Tierney Burns and Alyse Scarzello/Andy Walters (ages 1-4), Josh Hahn/Savannah Phebus and Robert Upchurch/Annelle Upchurch (ages 5-8), Deandre Febus/Adrian Febus and Helen Hochschild/Violet Walker (ages 9-12), McKenna Stambaugh/Alexis Cool and Cheyene Marsee/Carmella Ogle (ages 13-16), and Nathan Fritz/Brittany Fritz and Kacie Boyle/Wendy Gray (ages 17 and older).

Egg Toss winners were Kimberly Shields and Kathy Shields.

Water Balloon Toss winners were Steve Wantz, Sr. and Steve Wantz III, who tied with Dave Shields and Dave Shields Jr.

Pie Eating Contest winners were Andy Walters and Felicity Phelan (up to 4 years), Robert Upchurch and Lucien Ridenour and Josh Hahn (ages 5-8), Nate Snyder and Krystal Lane (ages 9-12), Jordan Ebaugh and John Lane (ages 13-16), and Jack McCarthy (ages 17 and older).

Watermelon Eating Contest winners were Cassie Click and Cora Krom (up to 4 years); Sarah Lagare, Thomas Love, and Robert Upchurch (ages 5-8); Krystal Lane, Matthew Know, Deandre Febus, and Nate Snyder (ages 9-12); Danielle Wilson, Hannah Kaas, and Caeley McVearry (ages 13-16); and Jack McCarthy and Jared Suit (ages 17 and older).

Casting Contest winners were Trinity Mahon (up to 4 years), Charlie Scarzell (ages 5-8), C.J. Upchurch (ages 9-12), and Jared Suit (ages 17 and older).

Car Show winners were: Best In Show Overall—Brenda Titman; Truck Division: 1st  Place—Steven Kimmel, 2nd Place—Jean Eyler, 3rd Place—Paul Best; Motorcycle: 1st Place—Robert Droneburg, 2nd Place—Wade Droneburg; Car Division: 1st Place—Stephen Kupick, 2nd Place—Greg Parry, 3rd Place—Brenda Titman, and 4th Place—Jim Hoover.

The Friends of the Emmitsburg Library held their annual book sale.  The Friends raised over $560 to support library programs and the Summer Reading Program.

Next year, the committee hopes to have a carnival and some additional attractions during the event. If anyone is interested in participating or getting involved in the planning of next year’s event, please contact Jennifer Joy at 301-447-6467 or Clifford Sweeney 301-447-1712 or email

Brandon Burris, Savannah Phebus, and Jayson Howard were some of the game winners during Emmitsburg Heritage Day on June 25, 2016.

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Participants in the Pie Eating Contest enjoyed the game and the sweets.

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Around 5:15 p.m., families began lining the streets, eagerly awaiting the parade to begin, a much-anticipated event each year.

Photo by Gracie Eyler

Emmitsburg Sons of the American Legion’s Mike Hartdagen presented the Vigilant Hose Company’s Jimmy Click with a plaque of appreciation for their quick response to the house fires in Emmitsburg this past year.

Photo by Gracie Eyler


Greased Pig Chase winners were Savannah Phebus (ages 1-6 years), Mathew Knox (7-11), Jayson Howard (12-16), and Brandon Burris (17 and older).

Photo by Stephanie Freniere


Group shot of some of the riders from Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), who participated in the mountain bike group rides on the Multi User Trail on Community Heritage Day.

Courtesy Photo





James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg’s version of Cape Canaveral is Memorial Park. Once a month this summer, Frederick County deputies and youths will meet to build model rockets and send them soaring into the air over Emmitsburg.

“It’s a great project and a lot of fun,” said Deputy Travis Rohrer, one of Emmitsburg’s resident deputies.

The rocket club is called the Jim Moxley Memorial Rocket Club, and is named after a former Emmitsburg resident deputy who died last year. Moxley ran a model rocket club from 2003-2005. The club would meet an hour a week to work on their rockets and then they would be launched on Heritage Day.

“DFC Whitehouse and I decided to bring back the rocket club as a special project directed towards the kids in the community, and to honor Moxley’s service,” Rohrer said.

The new rocket club meets once a month on Sunday afternoon for three hours. During that time, youths, eight to twelve years old, build their rockets and launch them. The Emmitsburg deputies pay for all the materials to build the rockets.

The first meeting of the club was on May 22, 2016, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Eight children attended. Older and younger participants are allowed, although parents need to stay for the meeting to help their younger children.

“It was a huge success despite the rainy weather,” Rohrer said. “I believe we shot off a total of ten rockets.”

Not only do the youths get to have fun, Rohrer said it was a good way for the children to interact with law enforcement in the right light. They come to see the deputies as friends they can trust, rather than someone to be seen as unapproachable or scary.

Information on future meetings can be found on the town’s website at Click on Government and then Community Deputies. Questions can be e-mailed to

The Jim Moxley Memorial Rocket Club, named after a former Emmistburg resident deputy who passed away last year, is pictured with Dfc Whitehouse and Deputy Travis Rohrer

Allison Rostad

It has been said before that true heroes never die. These words were proven during a memorial for Marine Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell of North Carolina. Cpl. Ferrell grew to call the Thurmont community his second family, as he was assigned to the naval support facility at Camp David.

On September 29, 2015, Ferrell was a victim of a hit-and-run while pulled over on Route 15 north bound to lend his assistance to a stranded motorist in a heavy rain storm.

On the morning of June 11, 2016, just four months shy of one year since Ferrell’s death, the Thurmont community, along with Ferrell’s family, friends, and his North Carolina hometown community, gathered for a dedication ceremony at Memorial Park in Thurmont, hosted by the Thurmont American Legion.

During the ceremony, guest speaker, David Wood, expressed with admiration, “That day, Cpl. Ferrell wasn’t ordered to pull over and help, but he did what any non-commissioned officer of the Marine Corps does: He led by example.”

This same notion echoed through every word spoken about Ferrell during the ceremony.

Congressional Candidate Daniel Cox said, “We understand that this Marine is a hero, because not only did he serve when not required to, he paid the ultimate sacrifice for it.”

Prior to the completion of the ceremony, a pin oak tree had been planted and dedicated to Ferrell in Memorial Park, along with a new highway sign revealed, dedicating the Catoctin Furnace Trail footbridge to Ferrell in honor of his selflessness, kindness, and dedication to helping those in need. His parents, Dan and Donna Ferrell, were also given a smaller, exact replica of the dedication sign to be taken home with them to Carthage, North Carolina.

Following the ceremony, a pig roast was held at the American Legion, from which all proceeds were donated to the Carthage Police Department in North Carolina, in Ferrell’s name.

Just as Emily Potter once said, “Heroes never die. They live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who would follow in their footprints,” so will Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell live on eternally in the hearts and minds of his loved ones, the Thurmont community, and those who travel Route 15 northbound through Thurmont.

Photos by Allison Rostad

Sgt. Tyler Bergeron, who served with Cpl. Ferrell, presents Cpl. Ferrell’s parents, Dan and Donna Ferrell, a scale replica of the dedicated footbridge sign.

The sign reveal for the Catoctin Furnace Trail footbridge that spans across Rt. 15, in honor of Cpl. William Kyle Ferrell.



June 2016

by James Rada, Jr.


FY2017 Budget Approved

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners approved a $3.2-million budget that went into effect on July 1. The budget includes $1,687,388 in the general fund, $621,618 in the water fund, and $921,792 in the sewer fund. The general fund includes $247,950 for police protection, $355,492 for public works for streets, $136, 996 for trash collection, and $184,358 for parks.

The budget is available for review at the town’s web site or at the town office.

Burning Ban In Effect

The annual burning ban went into effect on June 1, and will run through August 31. During this time, no outdoor burning is permitted. For additional information about the ban, call Frederick County Community Services at 301-600-1717.

Food Bank Summer Drop-Offs

The Emmitsburg Food Bank at 502 East Main Street has scheduled its monthly food drop-offs for the summer. The drop-offs happen from 3:00-6:00 p.m.: Wednesday, July 13; Wednesday, August 17; and Wednesday, September 14.

The food bank also needs volunteers. If you are interested in helping, call 717-642-6963.

Haller Retires

Town Manager Dave Haller retired at the end of June. At his final town meeting, he was presented with a plaque, recognizing his eighteen years of service to Emmitsburg.

For more information on the town of Emmitsburg, visit or call 301-600-6300.


Commissioners Approve Budget

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a $12-million budget for FY2017. The budget went into effect on July 1. Nearly half of this amount comes from the electric fund, while the town’s general operating expenses make up $3.4 million. The water and wastewater funds make up the difference.

“I believe that we have a workable budget that we just need to approve,” Mayor John Kinnaird said during the meeting to approve the budget.

Moser Road Bridge Closed

The Moser Road Bridge has been closed to allow for the final improvement work to be done. Signs are posted near the route, indicating detours around the bridge. Please be aware of these changes.

Board of Appeals Member Appointed

Richard Lee was appointed to the Thurmont Board of Appeals by a unanimous vote.

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


Nicholas DiGregory

The men of the Mount St. Mary’s Rugby Football Club became national champions on May 1, 2016, with a 26-19 victory over the Claremont Colleges at the National Small College Rugby Organization’s (NSCRO) National Championship Final in Glendale, Colorado.

The national championship victory was the culmination of a duo of closely contested matches played by the men’s rugby team. A massive 56-5 win over Duke University placed Mount St. Mary’s University in the semifinals of the national championship, where the men’s rugby team proceeded to beat the University of Southern Indiana and the Claremont Colleges to secure the title of national champions.

Mount St. Mary’s University’s run for the national championship began after defeating the University of North Florida and Duke University in the Region 2 championship. The men of the Mount crushed both teams, outscoring their opponents 139-10. As the Region 2 champions, Mount St. Mary’s University advanced to the semifinals of the national championship.

While the Mount easily pummeled their opposition in the regional championship, the two teams they faced in the final four proved to be considerably more tenacious. In addition to the formidable opposing teams, the men of the Mount were also forced to struggle against inclement weather during their semifinals and finals matches, both of which were held at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado—also known as Rugbytown, USA.

Mount St. Mary’s University’s first match was played on April 30 against the University of Southern Indiana. Throughout the match, both teams struggled with the weather conditions on the pitch, which continuously shifted between snow, rain, and wintry mix.

The Mount took an early lead, thanks to senior Travis Bewley, who scored two tries in the first twenty minutes of the match. Mount St. Mary’s University held a 17-point lead for much of the first half, but University of Southern Indiana reentered the competition late in the first half by scoring their own set of 17-unanswered points. The two teams traded points throughout the rest of the match, but Mount St. Mary’s came out on top, thanks to a late penalty goal by graduate student Tito Miranda. The final score was 25-24.

With the victory over University of Southern Indiana, Mount St. Mary’s advanced to the national championship final against the Claremont Colleges, who had beaten Eastern Connecticut State University 14-7 to secure their own spot in the final match.

Claremont took an early lead only three minutes into the final match with a try and conversion to make the score 7-0. The men of the Mount quickly responded with a penalty goal in the eighth minute, followed by a try by freshman Luis Turbyfield to make the score 10-7. The Mount maintained the lead for the remainder of the match, a last-minute try by sophomore Jack Spera closing out the 26-19 victory.

With the victory over the Claremont Colleges, Mount St. Mary’s University secured their first national championship title after their third straight appearance at the final four in Rugbytown. In addition, Mount senior Travis Bewley was selected as the MVP for the tournament.

Over two hundred students, faculty members, and alumni of Mount St. Mary’s University traveled to Glendale for the tournament, and the rest of the university community celebrated the team’s success upon their return to campus. The university’s acting president, Karl Einolf, congratulated the team on their victory.

“Congratulations for a hard-fought and well-deserved victory,” said Einolf. “Winning the national championship title is a testament to your dedication to excellence, and we applaud your accomplishment.”

As the NSCRO national champions, the men of Mount St. Mary’s University’s rugby team were invited to take part in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 4-5, 2016. The annual tournament showcases the best collegiate teams in rugby, and will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports.

Courtesy Photo


Members of the Mount St. Mary’s Rugby Club are shown celebrating their national championship success. The victory capped off a first-place season and put the Mount at the top of the NSCRO Men’s Top 50 teams.

Rick Slade was born and raised in Kansas and was accustomed to seeing far and wide across the prairie. Nowadays, when he looks out his office window, he has to crane his neck to look up the steep hillside through a heavy forest of trees to see the sky.

Slade became the superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park at the beginning of May of this year. He replaced Superintendent Mel Poole, who retired last year after a thirty-seven-year career with the National Park Service.

Slade began his career with the National Park Service in 2003. After graduate school, he was working with the federal government, reviewing GAO programs.

“I realized that I was more interested in conservation work, and a friend encouraged me to apply for the National Park Service,” recalled Slade.

He applied, but he didn’t hold out a lot of hope for getting in because the National Park Service has a reputation of being a tough federal department to enter.

He was accepted for a position with the Amistad National Recreation Area.

“I liked it because it was jointly run by the United States and Mexico,” Slade said.

The area is created by the Amistad Reservoir in Mexico, but the result is a beautiful area in two countries.

He enjoyed the work. His wife worked as a midwife and spoke Spanish and English.

He moved back east and took a position with the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia in 2003. In 2013, he became the superintendent of Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick.

Moving to Catoctin Mountain Park is a step up in responsibility for Slade. He is managing double the staff, with double the budget, in a park that has three times the acreage.

“There are layers of history here,” Slade said. “It’s endlessly fascinating.”

While Catoctin Mountain Park and Monocacy National Battlefield have different characters, he finds them both beautiful parks.

“This park [Catoctin Mountain Park] is a gem within the park service, though,” stated Slade. “I don’t think it gets the national recognition it deserves.”

He pointed out that Catoctin Mountain Park has the high level of customer satisfaction of any park in the Capital Region.

“That quality needs to be maintained,” added Slade.

While he is still learning the ins and outs of his new park, he is enjoying the process. One of the changes that he expects visitors will see is new exhibits that are being planned for the visitor’s center. Behind the scenes, Slade said that some of the park’s infrastructure dates back to the 1930s and needs to be updated.

“The park has good bones,” Slade said. “We need to keep doing well what we do well.”

Courtesy Photo


Rick Slade, new superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park.

2016-CHS-Vans-Custom-CulturCatoctin High School was chosen as one of the Top 50 schools for Vans Custom Culture Contest, a nationwide art competition where students design Vans shoes in four themes

Catoctin High art teacher Laura Day had a “dream team of artists” this year who strutted their artistic talents and placed the school in the top 50 among 3,000 schools nationwide.

The students submitted four different designs of Vans canvas shoes for the Vans Custom Culture Contest. The competition, which is open to public and private high schools, has teams design blank Vans shoes. Four pairs of shoes are submitted that portray four different themes: music, art, local area, and active sports.

Sid Beavin designed the Maryland-theme pair of shoes that feature a lighthouse seagull and sailboats.

“That was so popular that he is still getting requests from people who want to buy a pair,” said Day.

Casey Hanvey designed the jazz-music-theme shoes. Her sister, Lily Hanvey, designed the art-themed shoes.

“These two sisters are the most talented artists I have ever taught,” stated Day.

Jared Pawlus, Devan Buffington, and Alyssa Baker designed the action-sports-theme shoes that highlight skateboarding and snowboarding.

Brittney Fogle served as the researcher and assistant for all of the groups.

Vans pared down the entries from 3,000 schools to nominate 10 schools in five different regions for the regional competition in April. Catoctin’s entries won one of the spots in the Northeast region. This put the shoes into a round of competition that combined popular voting and internal scoring by Vans. Each regional winner would go on to compete in the finals in California. The grand prize winner takes home $50,000 for their school’s art program.

Catoctin High was not among the regional winners announced on May 12.

“It’s disappointing, especially because we didn’t get beat by the school in New Jersey that we thought would give us the most competition,” Day said.

She is pleased with how far the students did go with their designs, though, especially since they had to turn the project around in little more than a month. They received their blank shoes at the end of February and had to submit the finished shoes in early April. The students spent about two weeks brainstorming designs before beginning the finished pieces.

“They did a phenomenal job,” expressed Day. “We were the only school in Frederick County to get this far, and one of two in Maryland.”

This was the school’s first year in the competition, so the students were a bit overwhelmed by what was required. Since the theme stays the same from year to year, Day said that she can have her students start the planning now or at least much earlier than they did, leaving more time for painting the shoes.

“We’re proud of our work and so happy that we had the community behind us,” said Day.

Mike Franklin, a health and physical education teacher at Catoctin High School (CHS), was formally presented the 2016 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award by Hood College during its graduate school commencement on May 14, 2016.

Sponsored by Hood College, this award is presented each May to a Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) teacher who has had a significant impact on young people.

Franklin learned that he is this year’s honoree when the FCPS “Prize Patrol,” led by Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Markoe, visited him at Catoctin High School. The central office and school administrators and staff, as well as students, were present to congratulate him.

Principal Bernard Quesada nominated Mr. Franklin for the award on behalf of Catoctin High. He cited Mr. Franklin’s twenty years as a “shining example for all children that he works with, either in his classes; as a baseball coach; or in his youth camps, working with elementary school students,” adding that Mr. Franklin’s “leadership and positive impact in our school is immeasurable….His ethical foundation has influenced thousands of children in our community,” wrote Mr. Quesada. “Mike Franklin is a driving positive force for students long after they leave the halls and fields of Catoctin High School.”

Catoctin school counselor Dana Brashear agreed that Mr. Franklin is an extraordinary teacher.  “Mike Franklin is the backbone of Catoctin High School. He has been a teacher and coach for twenty years and has impacted thousands of students….He combines lessons with character-building opportunities.”

Mr. Franklin has spent his entire teaching career, since 1996, at Catoctin High. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University, and completed his master’s in exercise science from McDaniel College. He is taking education administration courses from the University of Phoenix.

He has been the head coach of CHS baseball since 2000, and is on the Virtual School leadership team, the Frederick County PE Council, and PBIS Leadership team. He is the CHS baseball summer camp director, and formed the Frederick County Baseball Coaches Association in 2012. He also started the CHS Fired Up Friday program.

The late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg, Maryland, established the Tressler Award to recognize Dr. Tressler, a Giles professor emeritus of early childhood education, who taught at the college from 1964 to 1990. Dr. Tressler chaired Hood’s Education Department for eighteen years and served on the school’s graduate school council for twelve years.


Mike Franklin is pictured with FCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Markoe (left) and FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban (right) at Catoctin High School, after learning that he is the 2016 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award honoree.

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.

Having a groundhog as a pet wasn’t part of Harold Long’s plan when he took up the hobby of trapping groundhogs and selling them over ten years ago while working a dairy farm.

Trapping them has helped curb the damage that the groundhogs—considered rodents—can cause to farmland, crops, and farm equipment. It also serves to meet a demand for the consumption of the meat that is a common practice in some cultures.

“Some people came up from Montgomery County and asked if we had any groundhogs,” Long said. “I didn’t. I didn’t have time to be trapping them.”

The idea stayed with him, though, and when he retired from the dairy farm, he decided to start trapping groundhogs. He now has twenty-five traps in Thurmont, Woodsboro, and Walkersville, that he checks twice a day. Last year, Long caught three hundred sixty-one groundhogs.

He has eight clients to whom he sells the groundhogs. The customers travel to Thurmont from Montgomery County just to buy groundhogs. They will buy ten to twenty groundhogs at a time from Long.

His customers use groundhog meat in recipes. Their meat can be used in any recipe calling for small game, and in many other wild game recipes, too. Groundhogs are vegetarians and their meat is considered tender and tasty. However, groundhogs have a scent gland (as do rabbits and raccoons) that needs to be removed as soon as possible to keep from tainting the meat.

A side benefit of Long’s trapping is that gardens near the areas where Long places his traps are free from at least one invader. Harold Long was trapping groundhogs last year when he caught a nice-sized female that he thought his customers would like.

“I took her out, and three little ones came out of the hole after,” Long said. Long took pity on the cubs. They would have died without their mother. Young groundhog cubs are dependent on their mother for at least six weeks.

Long fed the cubs milk from a syringe and, when they got older, grass and ginger snaps. He kept them in a cage in the house. Two of the cubs eventually died, but the third one had a strong will to live and survived.

Long named him Skeeter, and he is now his “pet.” Skeeter sleeps in a cage when he’s in the house, but he is usually in the barn. Long built the groundhog a fort in the barn, where it could hibernate through the winter.

“He will stand on my leg and wait for me to pet him,” Long said. “I’m the only one he will go to. He’ll snap his teeth if anyone else gets close to him.”

Even when Skeeter is in the barn, he will come to Long because he knows that Long is the one who raised him and still feeds him.

Having a groundhog as a pet is not recommended in general. Though they appear cuddly and cute, they are wild animals and they will take action to protect themselves when they feel threatened.


Harold Long and Skeeter the groundhog.

Courtesy Photo

James Rada, Jr.
National-Park-Service-logoYou don’t have to travel out west to visit a national park; you can find five National Park Service sites in Frederick County, Maryland (described below), plus the Gettysburg National Military Park located to our north just over the Pennsylvania state line. This year would be a great year to visit these parks because the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial!

“America’s national parks are beautiful, emotional places,” Ed. W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, said in a park news release. “Places like Gettysburg National Military Park, Flight 93 National Memorial, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail tell us more about who we are and help us understand history. Many parks are natural wonders that offer scenic getaways, wildlife viewing, and other adventures. The centennial is about celebration, discovery, and making new connections.”

The National Park Service (NPS) began when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” on August 25, 1916. This legislation not only created the NPS, but it give the NPS the job “…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

“It had far-reaching ramifications, which continue to impact 6,815,195 park visitors per year in Maryland alone. Even individuals who have never visited a park, if such people do exist, are impacted by the tourism dollars that are derived from NPS sites in their communities,” said Mary Mannix, Maryland Room Manager with the Frederick County Public Libraries.

In 1916, there were 35 parks and monuments under National Park jurisdiction; today there are over 400. They are located on over 84 million acres of land throughout our 50 states, along with DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Maryland is home to 16 of these national parks. More than 300 million people visit national parks in the United States annually. This is roughly 1,000 times the number of people who visited U.S. national parks in 1916.

With such a large anniversary for the NPS, you can be sure that more than the parks will be holding celebrations in its 407 national parks. Many individuals will host cookouts and celebrations, and in Frederick County, the Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) is hosting a series of talks and activities in conjunction with the NPS.

“To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this momentous act, Frederick County Public Libraries is partnering with several of Frederick County’s NPS sites for a year-long celebration of events, unique programs, and informational displays,” said Mannix.

Patrons can join in storytime walks in Catoctin Park; hear a talk about James “Snap” Rouzer, a 19th century bounty hunter; brush up on outdoor skills; or learn about moonshining in the area.

In Emmitsburg, patrons can view the art of Catoctin Artists in Residence and come face-to-face with some of the birds and animals from Catoctin Mountain.

To encourage participation in these events, the library system and NPS are offering a free overnight stay in the Canal Quarters at Point of Rocks (Lockhouse 28).

For every NPS/FCPL Centennial partnership program you and your family attend in 2016 in the parks and libraries, you will have a chance to enter into the drawing for the overnight stay.

Visit for more information. The drawing will take place on December 31, 2016, and the winner will be notified.
Find out more about what’s going on to celebrate the National Park Service anniversary in your local library at

                                                                 An Overview of the NPS sites in Frederick County, Maryland
Appalachian National Scenic Trail (
This 2,180-mile-long trail traverses all types of terrains along the Appalachian Mountains. It runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It passes through our area from Harpers Ferry National Historic Park to Caledonia State Park, east of Gettysburg, PA.

Catoctin Mountain Park
Home to Camp David, this park’s land has served multiple uses over the years: Native Americans quarried rhyolite there; its trees were used to fire the charcoal and iron industry; moonshiners hid their stills there; the Works Progress Administration and the Civil Conservation Corps created the nation’s first Job Corps Center.

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (
This 184.5-mile-long canal runs from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, along the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The canal is no longer used, but there are still stretches that are flooded and where you can ride a canal boat through a lock.

Monocacy National Battlefield (
In 1864, General Jubal Early and Confederate forces were approaching Washington, D.C., with the intent of capturing it. General Lew Wallace and his outnumbered Union troops met the Confederate troops at Monocacy Junction. Their battle delayed the Confederates long enough for Washington to reinforce its defenses.

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (
This is a series of trails that connect the Potomac and Upper Ohio river basins. You can explore routes traveled by George Washington on foot, bicycle, horse, and by boat, contrasting landscapes between the Chesapeake Bay and the Allegheny Highlands.

Deb Spalding

wyatt-fire-housewyatt-birthday-cakeWe all catch a cold or a flu bug now and then, but at the end of February of this year, 15-year-old Wyatt Black of Thurmont caught a very serious infection: bacterial meningitis.

Wyatt is an active, fun, farm-grown teenager. He plays sports, loves baseball, trains, and fire trucks, and is quick with a joke to brighten your day.

His extended family is well-known in the area as the proprietors of Catoctin Mountain Orchard. For generations, members of the Black family have proven themselves to be valuable members of the community and stewards of the land. That tradition continues today, with the youngest generation of Blacks, including Wyatt and his younger brothers, Nathan and Eaves, contributing to the orchard operation.

His parents, Christopher and Kiona Black, often show up to community functions with fresh fruit, a pie, or some other orchard-grown offering of good will. You could say, they’ve “got your back” regarding your sweet tooth. As of late, the entire Catoctin Community now has “got their back,” too!

Wyatt-Fill-the-Bootwyatt-catoctin-softballWhen Wyatt began his fight against meningitis, he was taken to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he received exceptional care. From the beginning of his battle, his parents took to social media to give updates about Wyatt’s condition.

What they didn’t foresee was that those updates, via social media, would spread to thousands of people. The updates served to “rally the troops,” so to speak, for community members and friends to join together and flood the cosmos with prayers, community good-will, community spirit, and energy—all directed towards Wyatt’s battle against the infection.

The volume of action people have taken for Wyatt is astounding. People chanted “Wyatt! Wyatt! Wyatt!” at a fundraiser at the Furnace Bar & Grill in Thurmont; local students sent him drawings for his birthday; “Wyatt Strong” t-shirts are being sold; a “Fill the Boot” fundraiser was held; “Wings for Wyatt” is on-going on Wednesdays at Bollinger’s Restaurant in Thurmont; “Wioters Unite!” wristbands are being sold; and Catoctin High School Baseball is “Team Wyatt.” Catoctin FFA sponsored “Miles for Meningitis,” where participants were able to “beat” meningitis by taking a sledge hammer to a vehicle; a TES Talent Show featured Erin Bollinger, Hayley Bollinger, and Austin Ridenour “Whippin For Wyatt”; Kountry Kitchen Restaurant and Cousins ACE Hardware in Thurmont and Harrington & Sons in Emmitsburg posted messages for Wyatt on their marquis or store windows; a parade was held; raffles, auctions, and ribbon drives have been held; signs and banners state support; cookies were sold for Wyatt; lemonade was sold for Wyatt; food and gifts have been donated; and let’s not forget the many families, individuals, churches, and communities who continue praying for Wyatt.

Wyatt-3Wyatt-1We are sure we have missed naming many additional wonderful efforts and people here. Two upcoming events that we’ve learned about include “Wheels for Wyatt Car Show” at the Thurmont Carnival Grounds on April 9, 2016, and an All-You-Can-Eat Benefit Breakfast for Wyatt Black at Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont on April 16, 2016.

If a community can unite to heal a person, Catoctin’s community is doing it!

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that protect the spinal cord and brain. When these protective membranes become inflamed, it has a harmful impact on every part of the body. At times our bodies can combat the bacteria and move on as if it were a common bug; yet, sometimes, it is a serious infection that sometimes leads to impairment or fatality.

In mid-March, after successfully breathing on his own and having his intubation tube removed, Wyatt was transferred to Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, also located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Since arriving there, rehabilitation therapies have shown that he is able to write to communicate, but some skills need further development. Chris gave an update on Monday, March 28, “Today makes one week at rehab, they are anticipating another 3-5 weeks till he comes home. He receives speech, physical and occupational therapy daily. He needs to work on walking. He is getting better every day with swallowing. They are saying that he cannot open his eyes yet because the infection is still present in that part of his brain.”

Lemonade-for-Wyattwings-for-WyattEvery day, our community has stood by Wyatt and his family, and continues to do so. The social loop on the internet has provided a fluent portal to communicate support and prayers.

While the medical doctors have not given a clear answer as to the magnitude or speed of Wyatt’s recovery, the Blacks have been assured by former patients that, “Wyatt will be just fine. It just takes time.” But, the fight is not won yet. It is a long recovery process for meningitis.

One friend on Facebook posted, “Thank you to all that have been praying. He’s been making great improvements and will continue to get back to the old Wyatt with all of your prayers, positive thoughts, and energy. This kid is truly a class act. We need more Wyatts in this world!!”

Owyatt miles for meningitisn March 24, Kiona posted, “Every day I am thinking of new ways to help Wyatt recover. Today he showed signs that he has both retrograde and anterograde amnesia when it comes to certain topics… Please post a favorite funny story that I can share with Wy and his brothers to help him rebuild his memory bank and to create an activity that the Brothers Three can do together. Having the Middle and Little involved in the story telling should help all of them start to move forward…together.”

wyatt whippin for wyattThe Blacks graciously thank everyone for their generous donations. There are not words to express gratitude for all of the support and caring that the Catoctin Community has shown!

About Wyatt, Chris and Kiona expressed, “We know in our hearts that he will make a full recovery. He has shown so much fight since day one.”

See Kiona’s (Wyatt’s mom) “Love Letter to my Sons” on page 31.