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James Rada, Jr.

It’s a new year, and with it comes a new beginning. It’s a chance for you to challenge yourself to meet some of the goals you want, whether it’s to lose weight, find a new job, save for a dream vacation, or something else.

We at The Catoctin Banner hope you can achieve all of your goals, and we want to do our part to help. Along those lines, you’re invited to participate in our New Year’s resolution contest (see more information on the right side of this page). If selected as a participant, we’ll provide periodic checks on your progress, and cheer you on throughout the year.

We’ve compiled a list of some tips for setting and completing your New Year’s resolutions so that 2017 is your best year so far.

Keep your resolutions reasonable. For instance, if you want to run a marathon, don’t expect to do it next month. Find a marathon near the end of the year, and lay out a plan that allows you to work your way up to full marathon. If you’re not used to running at all, you might want to plan on running a half marathon this year and a full marathon next year. WebMD suggested thinking of your willpower as a muscle. Use it more, and you will be able to handle more.

Don’t try to do everything at once. We have developed bad habits over time and getting rid of them will take time. If you try and correct all of your bad habits at the same time, you will dilute your efforts. Using the willpower as a muscle comparison, if you have a lot of exercises in your workout, you will find that your energy has fizzled by the time you do the last ones. If you are trying to change a lot of behaviors, you will wind up shortchanging some of them.

Expect setbacks. It is very unlikely that you’ll hit your goal without stumbling along the way. How many people have lost weight only to gain it back? Those who try to exercise more may suffer injuries that cause them to stop their workouts to recover. Keep your eye on the long-range goal. If you have a stumble, refocus your efforts and start again with renewed energy.

Set intermediate goals. Staying focused for a year on a goal can be draining. Set intermediate goals with rewards if you hit them. Before you run that marathon, you may want to set a goal to run a 5K, then a 10K, and then a half marathon. As you hit each goal, you go and buy yourself a small present as a reward for making the goal. In this way, reaching the goal and getting the reward is still fresh in your mind as you pursue the next goal. This technique also helps when you start to feel discouraged. You can look back and see how far you have come in pursuit of your goal and benchmarks that you have hit.

Appeal to your other senses. Some people have photos of the body type they want to have, and they hang them on their refrigerators to remind them of their goal. You might fill water jugs with the amount of weight you lose. As the number of jugs increase, you will feel invigorated since you can see how much weight you are losing. Record a motivational speech for yourself that you can play once a day to remind yourself of why you are trying to reach your goal.

Write your goals down. Put your goals down in writing and keep track of them. It will help keep you focused on the progress that you are making. Place your written goals where you can refer to them each day.

Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or look for support in the pursuit of your goal. This could provide you a new viewpoint that you hadn’t considered and could give you new strategies and ideas to aid you in reaching your set goal. It also helps to have someone to whom you’re accountable. Who wants to admit that they’ve failed? No one. Many of us will work even harder to make progress toward our goal, when someone is holding us accountable, so we don’t have to admit failure.

Compete in The Catoctin Banner’s New Year’s resolution contest. If selected to participate, you will have the community cheering you on as you seek to change your life for the better. Go for it!


The Catoctin Banner’s New Year’s

Resolution Contest

We, The Catoctin Banner Newspaper Team, want you to be the very best you can be in your life. We want to help you achieve! Submit your 2017 resolution to us by January 20, 2017, to enter our Resolutions Contest.

Up to three individuals will be selected to participate in our year-long contest. We will announce our contestants and their resolutions in February, give updates on their progress every couple of months, and cheer them on via Facebook. In December 2017, we’ll announce the winner of our contest and review their progress through the year. The candidate who achieves the most progress wins $100.

Submit your resolution to us via Deb Spalding (The Catoctin Banner) on Facebook, email to, submit a contact form from our website, or stop by to enter in person at E Plus Copy Center in the lobby of Jubilee Grocery Store in Emmitsburg.

A resolution can be a personal challenge to get fit or lose weight, to kick a destructive habit, to do good things for others, or to earn something for yourself. It must be trackable, measurable, and attainable.

December 2016


Emmitsburg Institutes Voluntary Water Curtailment

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners voted on December 6 to implement Phase I water curtailment. This restriction asks residents on the town water system to voluntarily conserve water. It will remain in place until conditions change, and the curtailment can be lifted or more severe measures need to be taken.


Flat Run Bridge Work

Work on the Flat Run Bridge began on December 5, and continues. The work necessitates that the shoulder of Route 140 be closed; flaggers may direct traffic at times, which could create slowdowns.


Wi-Fi Concerns

The Emmitsburg commissioners and community deputy expressed concerns during a recent town meeting of people sitting in the lobby of the town community building to use the library’s free Wi-Fi after hours. The deputies have received complaints about loud music and marijuana smoking by some of the Wi-Fi users. The deputies plan to pay attention to the area and, if needed, send those people who are acting inappropriately away. They have the authority to do this because the area has no loitering signs posted.

Dog Park Site Selected

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners selected a wooded site behind the tennis courts of Community Park to serve as the site of the town’s new dog park. The site is still considered part of Community Park and should address most of the concerns that residents have expressed over past months about different proposed locations of the park.


Pavilion Fees Set

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners voted to charge residents $50 to rent the pavilions in the town park. Non-residents will be charged $100. On top of these fees, there is an additional $25 refundable security deposit required. The money from the reservations will be used to purchase the maintenance supplies needed for the parks.


New Town Clerk Hired

Madeline Shaw has been hired as the new town clerk for Emmitsburg. She will take over the position left vacant when Cathy Willets became the town manager. Shaw was chosen from among more than seventy candidates who applied for the position.

In addition, Amy Naill and Terri Ray both received promotions when their current responsibilities were expanded. Naill is now the parking and code enforcement officer, and Ray is the town office manager.



Open Burning Permits Change

The Thurmont Town Office no longer issues open burning permits. The permits must now be obtained through the Frederick County Health Department at 350 Montevue Lane in Frederick, or you can call 301-600-1717.


New Traffic Signal

The traffic signal on the square is being replaced and upgraded. Rather than four poles holding the lights up, there will now be two poles with 50-foot-long arms. Pedestrian crossing assistance devices will now be on all four corners of the intersection. All wiring for the lights will now be underground.

The project could cause traffic delays at times, and there may be flaggers at the intersection directing traffic. Use caution when traveling through the intersection.


$13,675 Raised for Hurwitz Fund

The Catoctin High football, cheerleading, and student spirit groups recently donated $750 to the Patty Hurwitz Fund. The group sold t-shirts and collected cash donations during the October 14 game.

Local businesses also helped raise funds during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Gateway Candy and Gateway Liquors had employees wear pink on Fridays and donated $1.00 from every pink bottle of wine sold. The candy store sold lollipops with pink breast cancer awareness ribbons and pink ice cream.

Dr. Jon Moles of Gateway Orthodontics donated money from every patient who got pink braces during October.

Eyler Flea Market Stables donated 10 percent of their sales of Fridays in October to the Hurwitz Fund.

The town also sponsored a 5K race and some other breast cancer-related activities. All in all, Thurmont raised $13,675 for the Hurwitz Fund.

Mayor John Kinnaird

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone! This past year, we had a lot of things going on in Thurmont, and I am happy to say that many improvements were made for the good of our residents. We completed another year’s worth of I & I infrastructure upgrades, including several new manholes and replacing and relining several damaged main waste water lines.  This long-term project is helping ease the burden on our waste water plant, and has made a significant dent in the inflow issues we have been working to resolve. The sidewalks on Main Street, Water Street, and North Church Street are now in great shape, and the new street light project is completed. You will notice that we have added to the Christmas decorations on the new street lights as well. There is a new gazebo in the Mechanicstown Square Park ready to welcome visitors as they take a break from the day’s business. The town has also purchased new work trucks this year, including a new pole/auger truck for the Electric Department, with the capacity to handle the longer poles required with the increasing electric loads. The Waste Water Department purchased a new high-pressure truck, with a vacuum system for cleaning our manholes and lines. Streets received a new dump truck with snowplow and salt spreader, as well as a new pickup and plow. We are very proud of the quick response all of our employees give when it snows, and these new vehicles will help insure that our streets are open as soon as possible for our residents when bad weather hits. The Water Department also got a new service truck, and they installed a generator at one of our wells, so in an emergency, the well can keep producing water. I want to note that all of our employees are doing a great job and all of our departments work together in emergencies to make sure repairs are made in a timely manner.

Thurmont is seeing some growth in residential capacity, with the town house project on Park Lane and several infill residential projects. I also want to welcome a new business to Thurmont, with the arrival of Playground Specialist to their new facility on Apples Church Road. Criswell Chevrolet continues to make amazing improvements to their recently acquired property on Frederick Road. I want to thank all of the businesses in Thurmont for investing in our town! A strong business base helps to insure the success of our community. As part of Thurmont’s commitment to insure a healthy business climate, we are establishing a new Economic Development position within our staff. This person will work to help promote our town to new businesses and will work with all of our existing businesses to help strengthen our community.

As always, I can be reached by phone at 301-606-9458, email at, or by mail at Mayor John Kinnaird, P.O. Box 17, Thurmont, MD.

As the new year starts, I look forward to working on many projects and opportunities to help our town be the best it can be, and I hope everyone enjoys the new year!

Mayor Don Briggs

During the month of December, Emmitsburg lost an outstanding member of the community when Bob Hance of the Carriage House Inn passed away. The Hance family has hosted the Annual Evening of Christmas Spirit in Emmitsburg the first Monday evening in December for the past twenty-eight years.

Mayor Briggs wrote the following letter to his friend, Bob, after attending the Evening of Christmas Spirit on December 5, 2016.


Robert “Reds” Francis Hance (March 19, 1961–November 23, 2016)

Dear Bob,

For Emmitsburg this was another special Christmas. To tradition on the ordained first Monday evening in December, the square was aglitter and again poised for the lighting of the town tree.  Under a canopy of uncertain skies, collars up to meet the crisp night air, our focus gathered on the stairs of the old hotel for the cherubim-like voices of the children’s chorales of Christ Community Church and Mother Seton School. Signaled by a visit by Santa arriving on a 1940s Vigilant Hose fire truck, three of our wisest, drawn from our youth, Jacob, Joshua, and Jeremy Talcott, then lit the tree before leaving for the Carriage House Inn for the 28th Annual Evening of Christmas Spirit. There, seemingly endless lines to see Santa, go on a hay ride, or for hot dogs and hot chocolate waited excitedly. On the second floor, all enjoyed comfort and local group entertainment. Your dream, your gift to the community.

Since taking office, our schedules seldom meshed, but a beep or a wave was enough for those many years of working together. Whether it was for the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA), working to support FEMA/Fire Services, or supporting your great love—the Emmitsburg Lions Club, there was always joy and laughter when working with you. 

With time, Lib and I came to eat out less and missed the comforts of the Carriage House Inn, so instead made it a practice of ordering carryouts, as the Carriage House food quality was special.

Thank you for the tireless energy and humble persistent nudge you brought to serving the community. Always there, always willing. You will be missed.

We’ll do our best to keep things going.


Vickie Grinder has been named as the new Economic Development Manager for the Town of Thurmont. Grinder has recently served as Thurmont’s Main Street Manager, a part-time position, since 2013. During her tenure as Thurmont’s Main Street Manager, Grinder has overseen many popular events, including Christmas in Thurmont, the Thurmont Business Showcase, the Main Street Farmers’ Market, and the annual Art and Wine Strolls.

Grinder’s new responsibilities will include the promotion and marketing of business and economic development interests within the town, providing guidance to existing businesses, attracting new business opportunities to Thurmont, and continuing to oversee the Thurmont Main Street program.

“We’re looking forward to increasing our economic development efforts in Thurmont. Vickie’s professional contacts and her determination for the success of Thurmont’s business community will prove to be invaluable as we move forward,” stated Thurmont Commissioner and Main Street Liaison Bill Buehrer.

Grinder, who resides in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, is scheduled to begin working in her new position on January 17, 2017.

The Town of Thurmont is inviting all interested parties to bid on the following surplus equipment:

  • 1999 Chevrolet C-7500 Dump Truck. Unit comes with snow plow and salt spreader; 5 speed hi-lo transmission. Mileage: 36,241. Minimum bid is $500.
  • 1982 GMC 7000 Dump Truck. 5-speed manual transmission. Mileage: 85,741. Minimum bid is $500.

Both vehicles are available for viewing. Please call 301-748-5748 for questions or to schedule an appointment for viewing the vehicles. Bids will be received until 3:00 p.m. on January 13, 2017, at: Town of Thurmont, PO Box 17, Thurmont, MD 21788.

dsc_3324-1Congratulations to this year’s winner of The Catoctin Banner newspaper’s 5th Annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest!  This year’s winner receives $50.00 (please call 301-447-2804 to claim your prize). This beautifully decorated home in Thurmont is adorned with thousands of lights and festive lawn decorations, so much so that it was hard to capture all the beauty in one photo!

For years, we have wanted a mascot character to represent this good-news community newspaper at events and parades. At one point a few years ago, John Nickerson (AKA Gnarly Artly, who draws our monthly cartoon) created a newspaper character as a mascot for us, but it was not used due to the cost of creating it as a costume.

Now, we’d like to reach out to our greater community to submit your ideas and artistic renderings of a fun character that can fill this role. What will it be? An animal, a cartoon character, an object? You choose it, create an artistic rendering, and submit your entry to us by April 30, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. The winner will receive a cash prize and the artistic credit for the creation.

Submit your art to us via Deb Spalding (The Catoctin Banner) on Facebook, email to, submit a contact form from our website, or stop by to enter in person at E Plus Copy Center in the lobby of Jubilee Grocery Store in Emmitsburg. We know there is an abundant amount of talent throughout our communities. Let your talent shine!

Anita DiGregory

With a chill in the air, twinkling lights illuminating shops and homes, and decorations going up all over, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Catoctin area.

The town of Emmitsburg started decorating for the holidays with wreaths the week before Thanksgiving. They added new garland around the square this year, and, of course, the annual Christmas Tree adorns the bank corner on the square. Three of Emmitsburg’s Public Works crew—Chris Wantz, Darrell Lambright, and Davy Wantz Jr.—put up the decoations. Davy Wantz said, “Some people were asking why we were putting the decorations up so early. I told them we wanted to get it done while the weather was good.” Emmitsburg resident, Boyle ????? said, “I enjoy the decorations and look forward to the holiday activities that take place every year.” Emmitsburg residents Bev Adams, Frankie Fields, and Audrey Glass, all recall fond memories of the fresh pine swag decorations that were created by ladies in Emmitsburg. That project was spearheaded by the late Ann Dingle.

The town of Thurmont started decorating before Thanksgiving in order to get everything beautiful in time for the Christmas season. The Electric Department, comprised of four employees, was tasked with hanging all the decorations and lights in Thurmont. According to Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick, it takes approximately 240 man hours over the span of a week and a half to get everything decorated for the holidays. With last year’s introduction of the new streetlights on Main Street, new decorations had to be purchased. In an effort to spread the cost over a three-year period, the town opted to purchase and introduce the decorations over time. The new decorations, which included garland and wreaths, were introduced last year. Of the 62 new streetlights, 48 now are complete with the new decorations. The angels, which had been used with the old, taller streetlights, have been moved to the Thurmont Community Park.  “Last year was the first year the angels were relocated to Community Park, and the community really liked it. It makes a nice ambience for Christmas,” stated Humerick.

For several years, Thurmont Electric Supervisor Gary Hodges has been part of the staff charged with decorating Thurmont. Having been with the town for ten years, Hodges happily added, “There is never a dull moment when decorating for Christmas in Thurmont. But everyone works together to get it done in a timely manner, and in the end, it is all worth it.” In addition to all of their other responsibilities within town, the electric department staff must hang all the decorations. This task includes checking all the bulbs and replacing dead bulbs. Although the task may sound overwhelming at times, Hodges stated, “It is a great thing, very rewarding knowing everyone and all the kids enjoy it!”

Although the decorations were hung before Thanksgiving, the lights (minus those on the town Christmas tree), were not scheduled to be lit until the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. In addition to our towns’ celebrations and decorating, the community has also gotten into the spirit of the season.

Virginia LaRouche, owner of Timeless Trends Boutique on Main Street began around Halloween decorating the shop with her staff.  “Every year we close for a week, cover the windows so no one can peak, decorate for the holidays, and open for our Holiday Open House,” stated LaRouche. LaRouche and her daughter, Mary Guiles, choose a new theme for each holiday season. Once settled on this year’s theme of “home for the holidays,” the five staff members set out to magically transform the shop into a beautifully decorated home away from home. With the focus on family and being home for the holidays, the boutique is filled with holiday décor suitable for every style home, from primitive to modern to Victorian. This year, the shop houses no less than twenty-one decorated Christmas trees, in addition to furniture for the holidays, and loads of unique decorations. Regular customers, along with the community, have come to look forward to this official kick-off to the holiday season. Much time and care is spent decorating the store for the holidays, especially the shop window.  “I get so excited…worse than a little kid on Christmas Eve. I love taking down the paper and revealing the window,” stated LaRouche. The twinkling lights and magical store transformation delights customers and residents alike. Everyone seems to look forward to the introduction of the season.

Nick Kinna, manager of the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, agrees. Having been with the Mountain Gate since 1992, Kinna has witnessed how their regular customers, and the community at large, enjoy the restaurant’s kickoff to the holiday season, when they officially open their life-size Nativity Scene and light their Christmas trees. “The regulars look forward to it being opened. We always get calls to see if we have opened it yet. People are glad to see it,” Kinna added.

“I think it is awesome that they do that. I love it. It is really gorgeous!” stated Teresa Williams, a Brunswick resident and regular customer, who has been coming back to the Mountain Gate for twenty years.

Area residents Bern and Terry Sweeney also decorated early this year. “I am ready for it. I get excited this time of year when we get to decorate and put the trees up,” said Terry Sweeney. With five daughters and eight grandchildren, the Sweeney home is always full for the holidays. “I have always gone all-out for Christmas. I like to turn out the lights and just look at the Christmas lights.”

Frank and Jody Kurtz, who have lived in their current home since 1996, also decorated a bit earlier this year. “We missed it last year because we were busy traveling a lot, and I was not going to miss it this year,” stated Frank Kurtz. “I like Christmas. It is a way to look back and see what you are thankful for and a reflection of why we are here.” The Kurtz’s, together, coached youth league and high school cross country and track for eleven years in the community.

During a time when many in the country are struggling to find hope, and in spite of the barrage of negative news dominating the nation, it is a gift and blessing to be a part of such a close-knit community, spreading the joy of the season.

“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”  —Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street.


Photos by Anita DiGregory

A fire above Thurmont between Route 550 and Kelbaugh Road consumed seven acres on Sunday, November 21, 2016. The fire started around 2:00 p.m., was contained by 5:00 p.m., and fully extinguished by 8:00 p.m. It was started by downed power lines.

Ironically a new fire broke out around 1:00 a.m. the following morning near the same area. It is believed that the second fire started when a spark from the first fire was carried by the wind to the new location.

Initially, Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Company responded to the second fire, and by 7:30 a.m. fifty to seventy-five fire fighters were involved. Responders from Thurmont, Graceham, Emmitsburg, Rocky Ridge, Wolfsville, Smithsburg, Leitersburg, Frederick City, Camp David, Lewistown, Greenmount, Middletown, Blue Ridge Summit, Raven Rock, and more reported to help. Route 550 was closed to traffic during these fires.

Graceham Fire Company’s Assistant Chief, Louie Powell, was in command at the base of the mountain on Route 550 where water, gas, food, and holding tanks were set up. A canteen truck was brought in from Independence Fire Company to feed the responders.

Powell explained that to pump water up the mountain to fight the fire, a fire truck from Rocky Ridge had a 5” supply line pumping from the holding tanks to an engine from Vigilant Hose Company, and then that engine pumped through to another engine, and so on, to reach the fire higher up the mountain. He said, “It’s a neat operation.”

Neither of these fires resulted in a threat to human life, nor was there damage to homes or buildings. The second fire consumed approximately ten more acres of forest before being fully extinguished sometime in the afternoon on Monday.

Thanks to the many residents who provided assistance to the firefighters by opening access routes, allowing access to your property, and allowing the use of your private ponds for water. Good job to everyone who pulled together to successfully beat these fires!


Photo of fire by Donna Sweeney,


photo of basecamp by Deb Spalding

img_0296On October 29, 2016, the bridge spanning U.S. 15 on Maryland Route 140 in Emmitsburg was proudly dedicated to the memory of U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Robert Seidel III.

Seidel, along with three others, lost their lives on May 18, 2006, when their Humvee hit an IED during combat operations in Iraq. Seidel was an Emmitsburg native, who loved his home town. At an early age, he knew he wanted to become a soldier. After graduating from Catoctin High School in 2000, he attended West Point, graduating with the Class of 2004. While serving our country, Seidel earned many awards and decorations, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal, and War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Ranger Tab, and the Parachutist Badge.

The bridge dedication ceremony was hosted by Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter, a military Veteran from northern Frederick County. This is the second memorial bridge dedication Delauter has hosted in District 5 since legislation was recently passed enabling it in Maryland under Delegate William Folden’s Hero’s Highway Act.

Signs located on each side of the bridge designate Seidel’s name and rank. One was uncovered (pictured right) during the ceremony that was attended by many special guests, elected officials, veteran motorcycle club members, and military comrades. Local musician, Jimmy Rickerd, played the National Anthem. The American Flag, provided by Vigilant Hose Company #6, flew high over the ceremony.

Touching remarks were shared by Seidel’s mother, Sandy Seidel; his cousin, Sgt. Emily Seidel; and his West Point classmate, Dave Strickler, among others.

Seidel’s West Point graduating Class of 2004 had more soldiers killed than any other class at the academy. In honor of those brave soldiers, the Class of 2004 wrote a book titled, The Strong Gray Line. Also, a charity fund has been established in Seidel’s memory. The 1LT Rob Seidel Wounded Soldiers Fund is held at the Community Foundation of Frederick County.

Seidel loved his hometown of Emmitsburg. He chose to be buried there. Now, we can all acknowledge his sacrifice, and remember the sacrifice and service of others, every time we cross the bridge in Emmitsburg.


Photo by Deb Spalding, portrait is a courtesy photo

James Rada, Jr.



Free Parking in Emmitsburg

Metered parking in Emmitsburg will be free from December 16, 2016, to January 2, 2017. However, since the parking meters are not covered during this time, visitors will still often feed the meters. Emmitsburg Commissioner Cliff Sweeney proposed splitting and donating the proceeds collected during this time between the Emmitsburg Food Bank and the Community Day fireworks show. The commissioners unanimously approved this measure.


Contract for Pool Repair Awarded

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners approved a total rehabilitation of the Emmitsburg town pool by Makin Waves, a company owned by a former Emmitsburg resident. The town will use a $217,000 grant to pay for complete renovation, which will also include a resurfacing of the pool. The contract was for $123,000.

Two items could not be priced yet—fixing any plumbing issues and repairing any structural damage to the pool. These will have to be identified and then bid out separately. Should there be any money remaining in the grant after all of these items are completed, the remainder will be put towards renovating the bath house.

All work is expected to be completed before June 1, 2017.


Town Approves Renting Wastewater Lagoon

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners voted unanimously to rent out an unused wastewater lagoon that the town owns to Enviro Organic Technologies (EOT). The lagoon has not been used since the new wastewater plant went into operation. EOT currently hauls the town’s sludge, but it is in need of a place to store food process residuals from mid-November until the beginning of March. The material comes out of a food-processing plant and is eventually applied to fields. New regulations in the state do not allow this to be applied during the winter, so it must be stored.

The $80,000 rental would offset some of the operating costs of the new waste-water treatment plant, at least for the first year.


Town Approves Employee Benefit Changes

The Emmitsburg mayor and commissioners are reviewing making changes to benefits for future full-time employees. The need for these changes was brought to the fore when former Town Manager Dave Haller retired. He had a lot of unpaid vacation time that he had accrued over the years and was paid out at his rate of pay when he retired. It was apparently a large expense for which the town hadn’t planned.

Under the proposal, unused vacation and sick time will be paid out at half the rate of pay at retirement. Also, the maximum amount of time that can be carried over from year to year will be 300 hours. Vacation time will be accrued to only 120 hours a year, which is a reduction from 160 hours.

Town Manager Cathy Willets pointed out that many long-time employees have accrued a substantial amount of time that would need to be paid for when they retire. One employee has 1,100 hours (nearly seven months), two have 900 hours, and others have accrued 500 hours.

The mayor and commissioners approved limiting the accrual of vacation time of new employees to 120 hours a year. They will address the other items in the future.


Further Water Restrictions a Possibility

Although the level at Rainbow Lake has stabilized somewhat, Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the mayor and commissioners that the water level is still two to three feet below the spillway. If the town doesn’t see significant rain, it is possible that voluntary water restrictions will need to be instituted.

“We are trying not to put a burden on residents for the holiday season,” Willets said.


Close Your Garage Doors and Lock Your Car Doors

Frederick County Sheriff’s Office community deputies in Emmitsburg continue to caution residents to lock their car doors and lower their garage doors. Both of these are invitation to thieves to take items with little effort. They also cautioned that once successful, a thief will continue to visit the area in the hopes of finding other opportunities.


Citizen’s Advisory Committee

During the Emmitsburg Citizen’s Advisory Committee discussed: 1) How to get information and activities to all persons in the town and decided to post news to every location people can in addition to the Town’s website; 2) Compiling a working list of all locations where citizens can volunteer and donate items. This information will be shared with schools, so students can contribute community service hours; 3) Compiling a list of organizations people can join, so more can be part of a group. This will be posted on the town website soon; 4) The idea of placing a memorial plaque in the park with four benches to commemorate some of Emmitsburg’s outstanding citizens was introduced. 5) Initiating a school incentive to decorate/design colorful fire hydrants throughout the town. The Eagle Scouts are painting some hydrants, but the remaining hydrants will be used for a school-wide competition. Drawings will be selected to decorate hydrants by one of the town organizations. The competition rules are still in the works, along with investigation of the legal issues; 6) Improving the lighting on the Christmas tree in the front of the library to make a statement for people who pass through. Members will look into making the lamps in town more decorative; and 7) Compiling a “Welcome to Emmitsburg” packet to new residents.

The next Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting is January 15, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. in the town offices. Please get involved in making Emmitsburg great.



Town Bans Use of Crossbows and Bows in Town

The Thurmont mayor and commissioners, and also the town police, recently realized that it was legal to hunt with a crossbow or bow within town limits. Not only was it legal, but it was happening within fifty yards of the Thurmont Trolley Trail.

Mayor John Kinnaird presented an emergency ordinance to the commissioners on October 18 to address this issue. Kinnaird consulted with the town attorney and chief administrative officer to put together the ordinance. He also pointed out that Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler was also working on legislation to ban all hunting within town limits.

The emergency ordinance not only bans hunting within the town limits, but also prohibits the use of certain weapons, even for non-hunting purposes, such as air rifles and slingshots. The ordinance also outlined exceptions, such as police using their weapons in the line of duty, putting down a wounded animal, or use at a school event.

Depending on the type of weapon discharged, it may carry a penalty of up to six months in prison and/or a $50 or up to a $1,000 fine.

The commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance with the understanding that they needed to address the issue again in the near future to clarify some items.


Police Officers Recognized

Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler recognized the officers in his department who sprang into action after the August 3 pipe bomb explosion under one of the police cars. Det. J. Maybush, Cpl. Kyle Minnick, Officer Jim Donovan, Officer J. Morales, Officer Brian Donovan, Cpl. V. Testa, Officer G. Bowen, Officer D. Armstrong, and Officer Fair were recognized for the response to the detonation of a pipe bomb under the vehicle assigned to Officer Tim Duhan, and the following investigation. This led to an arrest of a suspect three days later. Eyler awarded each person a commendation award.

Brad Condon and Taylor Lee Cannon were also given certificates of appreciation for their assistance in the investigation.

Cpl. Kyle Minnick’s promotion to corporal was also recognized.


New Wastewater Treatment Plant Garage Approved

The Thurmont mayor and commissioners approved the construction of a 18 x 40 foot garage at the waste-water treatment plant. It will be attached to the existing garage and house the new Jet Vac truck. The item was budgeted in the current fiscal year for $38,000. The commissioners accepted a bid of $27,950 from CHA Pole Barns of Paradise, Pennsylvania.


New Power Supply Contract Approved

The Thurmont mayor and commissioners approved a new power supply contract with First Energy Solutions for $51.60 per megawatt hour. This is slightly lower than the current contract rate. This contract rate is good for five years, beginning next year.


Anita DiGregory

“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling. There is an adage which says that, ‘Nothing can be destroyed except by fire.’ We strive to preserve from destruction the wealth of the world which is the product of the industry of men, necessary for the comfort of both the rich and the poor. We are defenders from fires of the art which has beautified the world, the product of the genius of men and the means of refinement of mankind. But, above all; our proudest endeavor is to save lives of men—the work of God Himself. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even at the supreme sacrifice. Such considerations may not strike the average mind, but they are sufficient to fill to the limit our ambition in life and to make us serve the general purpose of human society.”

— Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910

Photo Courtesy of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

The Memorial Service at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg on Sunday, October 9, 2016

On October 7-9, 2016, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) held its 35th Annual Memorial Weekend to honor all firefighters who died in the line of duty. The national tribute, which included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, family activities, a vigil, and a candlelight service, culminated with the public Memorial Service on Sunday at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg.

During the memorial weekend, the U.S. Fire Service honored the lives of seventy-nine firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2015, and thirty-three firefighters who died in previous years. According to the NFFF, the number of firefighters honored this year was higher than in recent years; however, the number of line-of-duty deaths that occurred in 2015 was actually lower. As a result of the new ruling that Public Safety Officer Benefits recognize deaths caused by illnesses from 9/11 as line-of-duty, those who suffered these deaths were also honored. “The Federal Government conducted a thorough review to ensure that deaths related to 9/11 illnesses can now be recognized as line-of-duty deaths, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is very pleased with this decision,” said Chief Dennis Compton, chairman of the NFFF Board of Directors. Due to this, the names of twenty-four FDNY members who died before 2015 and two who died in 2015 from 9/11-related illnesses were added to the memorial.

Sunday’s Memorial Service was attended by approximately 5,000 people, including family members, co-workers, friends, and the public, who gathered to honor the life, service, and ultimate sacrifice of these heroes. Other honorable guests included Chief Ernest Mitchell, U.S. Fire Administrator; the Honorable W. Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator; the Honorable Don Briggs, Mayor of Emmitsburg; and the Honorable Jan H. Gardner, County Executive, Frederick County.

The tribute included several time-honored traditions important to firefighters and their families. For the sixth year, the memorial incorporated Bells Across America. Numerous fire departments and places of worship across the nation joined the NFFF in this ceremony, ringing their bells in honor of those firefighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The public ceremony also included a traditional honor guard and bagpiper procession. Each family of the fallen was presented with an American flag. These 112 flags, which flew over the U.S. Capitol, were presented to the NFFF by the Congressional Fire Service Caucus, which included Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., Chairman (D-NJ) and Congressman Steny Hoyer, Co-Chair (D-MD). The service concluded with the unveiling of the memorial plaques, listing the names of the 2015 fallen heroes and those who died in previous years.

The Annual National Firefighters Memorial Weekend is intended to help pay tribute to those lost in the line of duty, while also helping survivors in healing. Serving as the official national tribute to America’s fallen firefighters, this ceremony has become extremely important to families and their communities in acknowledging and honoring the lives of these heroes.

“Firefighters possess an extraordinary blend of courage and compassion, which allows them to willingly face tremendous risks to help those in need,” said Chief Compton. “Each fall, we gather to reflect on the sacrifices of those who died in the line of duty and to let their families, friends, and co-workers know they will never be forgotten.”

A music video titled, “The Fallen and the Brave,” by Dave Carroll, was produced by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation at the National Emergency Training Center and was shown for the first time on October 20, 2016, during Opening Ceremonies of the Annual Firehouse Expo Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, with thousands in attendance from across the nation.

The song talks about “going home to Emmitsburg,” as Emmitsburg is the location of the Fallen Firefighter Memorial where the annual ceremony is held to honor our nation’s fallen firefighters. The 4:52 TRT Music Video Production shows scenes from Emmitsburg and Vigilant Hose Company’s all-volunteer fire department.

Visit to view.