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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Harold Long and Skeeter the groundhog.

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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 www.fcpl.org 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 http://fcpl.org/programs/programs-events/national-park-service-centennial.

                                                                 An Overview of the NPS sites in Frederick County, Maryland
Appalachian National Scenic Trail (www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm)
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
(www.nps.gov/cato/index.htm)
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 (www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm)
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 (www.nps.gov/mono/index.htm)
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 (www.nps.gov/pohe/index.htm)
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.

Beth Watson is ready for her final bow, and when the curtain drops on the final performance of Footloose in the fall, the Thurmont Thespians twenty-year run will come to an end.

“It’s time,” said Watson, adding, “even if it’s going to be hard to give up something you love so much.”

Watson and her husband, Spence, moved to the Thurmont area in 1993 and formed the Thurmont Thespians a few years later. It originally began as an organization to train and inspire young actors and allow them to perform. It eventually expanded into an organization for adults that performed multiple shows each year at the Thurmont American Legion. During that time, it became a cultural staple for Thurmont.

“We both founded it, but it was his genius that got it going, not mine,” expressed Watson.

Watson retired after directing The Fantasticks in March. The performance of Footloose in the fall will be directed by Rosalyn Smaldone, who actually came up through the Thurmont Thespians program, learning her skills first in the children’s workshops, then as an actor with the group, and now finally as a director.

“I think it speaks well for the program that our last production is directed by someone who came through our program,” Watson said.

When Footloose closes, so will the Thurmont Thespians. It will be the sixty-fifth performance staged by the theater group.

“I’m really proud that we produced three original musicals over the years,” Watson said. This includes a play about autism that actually went on tour to Washington, D.C.

Although Watson still loves the stage, she is eighty-one years old and feels it is time to quit. Also, she points out that managing the group has been a heavier burden to run since Spence died in 2014.

Watson’s love of the stage is not surprising. She and Spence met onstage playing opposite each other in a dinner theater in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1980. They were married thirty years.

Out of the sixty-five shows the Thurmont Thespians have performed, her favorite production is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which they produced in the middle of the summer. She knew the author of the book and was able to tie in author events with the performances.

She has acted in, as well as directed, shows. She has even been able to perform with family. She and Spence acted together in Gin Game and Love Letters, and she performed with her daughter in Grace and Glorie.

Her main goal with the Thurmont Thespians, though, has always been to teach children to love the theater.

“I love the theater, and I think it teaches kids a lot,” Watson said. “The Thurmont Thespians was also able to provide something they couldn’t get in school.” She estimates that approximately three hundred children have attended the summer workshops for children held every year. Some children came back summer after summer and fell in love with the theater. Others only attended one summer and decided that it wasn’t for them.

However, keeping the program running requires a lot of time and effort. It also requires a lot of fundraising, which she never liked doing.

Once she retires, Watson said the first thing she is going to do is rest and relax.

Beth-Watson

Nathan Kopit, Emily Cofer, Beth Watson, and Rachel Johnson. Nathan, Emily, and Rachel participated in the Thurmont Thespians summer program and had lead roles in the adult production of The Fantasticks in March 2016. Emily and Rachel were both in productions as preschoolers, as they had older siblings in the program.

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Beth Watson is shown teaching students in the Thurmont Thespians Program, her main goal always being to teach children to love the theater.

James Rada, Jr.

In early March of this year, Mike Fitzgerald’s children performed a sad duty in honor of their father: they made his casket from standing dead trees that Mike had harvested years earlier.

Donald “Mike” Fitzgerald passed away on February 28, 2016, in the log home that he built himself. He was eighty-five years old.

The Shamrock Restaurant, which Mike opened in 1963, closed for a few days when it was learned that Mike had died. It reopened a week later, and now stands as a legacy for Mike’s hard work and love of family.

About Shamrock Restaurant in a 2014 interview, Mike Fitzgerald said, “There were days and nights in a row that I wouldn’t go home. I would be working here doing whatever needed to be done and then I would sleep here.”

The Shamrock was created out of an old dance hall. The walls were stripped and redone, turning the dance hall side of the building into the dining room. Only two rows of tables had tablecloths, originally, and a smaller dance floor was left in place for weekend dances.

On the bar side, Mike raised the price of beers to encourage the troublemakers, who used to come to the dance hall for cheap beer, to go drink elsewhere.

The Shamrock was a family business. Mike, his wife Doris Jane, his mother, and his nine children (as they grew old enough), all worked in the restaurant.

Mike had been a machinist with Moore Business Systems, but he had advanced as far as he could without moving out of state. He had grown up in a restaurant family, though. His parents had owned Fitzgerald’s in Emmitsburg until his father died in 1940. Mike and Doris Jane had decided that they could open a new restaurant and make it successful.

The Shamrock was the first restaurant in Frederick County to get a liquor license in 1965.

The restaurant also won a national award years ago for having the best St. Patrick’s Day party in the nation.

Mike’s living legacy, however, is his family. He is survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Doris Jane (Wastler), and nine children: Donna (and TJ) Demmon of Thurmont; Dennis (and Dianne) Fitzgerald of Huntsville, AL; Dawn (and Donald) Knox of Taneytown; Diane (and David) Stottlemyer of Thurmont; Debra Oster of Thurmont; Daniel (and Heather) Fitzgerald of Emmitsburg; David (and Bonny) Fitzgerald of Emmitsburg; Darrell Fitzgerald of Frederick; and Dean (and Cecilia) Fitzgerald of Frederick. He also has seventeen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren who will all remember him.

The Town of Thurmont owes him a debt for helping establish the Thurmont Community Park and donating it to the town while he was president of the Thurmont Jaycees. He also helped in the creation of Catoctin Colorfest, which allows many non-profit organizations in town to raise a lot of money each year. He was the charter president of the Thurmont Colt’s Corral Chapter 12. Fitzgerald and his friend, Vernon Myers, also launched the Catoctin Youth Association.

He was interred in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Cemetery.

Nicholas DiGregory

To the typical wandering traveler, cruising up or down U.S. Route 15, the little town of Emmitsburg does not appear to be a major attraction. While the town’s tourism landmarks—such as the stately National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton and the picturesque Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes—do draw a crowd, Emmitsburg itself can easily be overlooked on maps and guides dominated by more popular destinations in cities like Gettysburg or Frederick. To an unknowing tourist, the little town of Emmitsburg appears to be just that—a little town.

However, looks can be deceiving. Beneath the quaint, small-town look and feel of Emmitsburg is a tightly knit community of friends and neighbors, many of whom have lived in the area for their entire lives. It is the strength of this community that gives the town of Emmitsburg a uniquely vibrant character.

While the quality of the community has always been the primary motivating factor for Emmitsburg’s prosperity, the strength and unity of that community has been challenged over the past few months by an unexpected controversy, which arose from Emmitsburg’s own Mount St. Mary’s University.

In the early autumn of 2015, disagreements between the university’s administration and its faculty reached a breaking point, with the then-president Simon Newman pioneering for changes that many at the university believed to be unethical. When the arguments boiled over into the community, many local faculty members, staff members, students, and alumni picked a side in the increasingly vociferous debate. The debacle at Mount St. Mary’s gained national attention from such sources as The Washington Post and several scholarly societies from across the country.

The resignation of university president Simon Newman, whose policies were at the center of the dispute, indicates that the school desires to move past the controversy; however, the decision has come too late for many members of the Emmitsburg community. Lack of straightforward communication from the university, coupled with sensationalized reports in local and national media, have left the community of Emmitsburg with few facts and many wounds.

We, at The Catoctin Banner, hope that the information that follows helps to resolve many of the questions that may remain regarding the whirlwind of allegations and accusations that have poured out of Mount St. Mary’s University over the past few months. It must be noted that The Catoctin Banner does not support any involved party other than the community as a whole; our efforts to present what transpired at Mount St. Mary’s University are not intended to harm, but to encourage healing among the embittered parties for the good of the community.

What follows is a documented account of the events that transpired at Mount St. Mary’s University over the past few months.

In the fall of 2014, the Mount St. Mary’s University met with three candidates for the university presidency, which was set to be vacated by Thomas Powell after eleven years of service. Upon reviewing the candidates, the university’s Board of Trustees selected Simon Newman as the 25th president. Trustee member and Mount alumnus Francis W. Daily said that Newman was selected primarily for his financial experience, although communication skills and Catholic identity also played a part in the hiring.

At the time, Mount St. Mary’s was dealing with considerable debts; Newman’s financial expertise was a necessity for the struggling university. A fifty-one-year-old from the United Kingdom, Newman held almost thirty years of experience in the financial sector, specifically in private equity, strategy consulting, and financial operations. During that time, he led several businesses from the brink of bankruptcy, coordinating for more than $200 million in profit improvement.

Newman took charge of the university on March 10, 2015, five months earlier than expected. In an editorial piece, the editing staff of the Mountain Echo student newspaper welcomed Newman to his new position. While the authors of the article cited that Newman would have “his work cut out for him” in improving and increasing the campus’ living spaces and other facilities, they also affirmed that there was “utmost faith” in his ability to “guide the university through these times of concern.”

Newman’s program for improving the university, deemed Mount 2.0, outlined several key changes in the university’s programs and functions. Newman, with the support of the Board of Trustees, implemented several changes to the university’s academic development and marketing. Among other major changes were a re-evaluation of the core curriculum and the addition of two new financial programs: Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management.

While Newman’s financial decisions were originally lauded by the majority of those at the university, he came under fire for one particular decision in October 2015. On October 29, 2015, Mount St. Mary’s administration notified its employees of the elimination of the university’s long-held retiree health care benefits. Prior to this announcement, retired employees of the university that had served before 1996 were allowed to remain on the university’s health care plan. After Newman’s adjustments, these employees were removed from the program, as well as spouses of current employees. Retirement fund benefits for current employees were also cut in half.

While many retired and current employees of the university acknowledged that these benefits could not be funded forever, they criticized the way that Newman and the university administration went about implementing the changes. In a letter from three retired professors addressed to members of the university community, it was stated that the retired professors were “shocked” by the “very abrupt termination of the retiree health benefit.” The letter also stated that Newman implemented the changes behind the backs of many of the retirees.

“We were also shocked by the way we were informed—by receiving a letter in the mail or an email, and in some cases, not being informed at all,” the letter read.

While the administration assured that the benefit cuts were necessary for the continued operation of the university, members of the university community began to distrust Newman’s methods. This distrust reached its climax on January 19, 2016, when the Mountain Echo reported that Newman’s newly-created student retention plan was engineered to ensure the dismissal of twenty to twenty-five of the university’s worst-performing students. Additionally, the article referenced a conversation between Newman and Professor Greg Murray, where Newman allegedly referred to poorly-performing students as “bunnies” that needed to be drowned or have a “Glock to their heads.”

The university’s administration responded swiftly to the article, condemning it as “grossly inaccurate.” A subsequent statement from John E. Coyne, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, confirmed that Newman used the “inappropriate metaphor” but denied that Newman’s new retention program targeted unintelligent students for dismissal. Coyne’s statement blamed the misinformation on an “organized, small group of faculty and recent alums working to undermine and ultimately cause the exit of President Newman.”

Opponents of Newman and the administration were further inflamed in February, when Newman ordered the termination of two university faculty members, one of which was tenured. Professors Thane Naberhaus and Edward Egan were escorted off campus by security, and their university equipment was seized. Newman himself did not address the men about their termination, but rather had letters delivered to the professors, stating that their termination was due to unspecified violations of university policy.

The majority of the faculty members believed that the terminations were retaliatory, as both men had objected to Newman’s policy changes. While the university offered later that same week to reinstate both professors, the damage had already been done. Articles about the university’s termination of the professors—one of whom still had tenure—were published in several local newspapers, as well as The Washington Post. Letters to the editor of the Mountain Echo poured in from current and past members of the university community; some stood with the faculty while others sided with Newman.

In light of the national publicity, the university faculty members voted overwhelmingly in favor of asking for Newman’s resignation. Despite the 87-3 vote, Newman insisted that he had no intention to resign.

On February 29, 2016, Newman did step down from the presidency. The Board of Trustees appointed Karl Einoff as the acting president.

 

Deb Spalding

The Catoctin FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) Alumni sponsored an educational butchering fundraiser to raise money that will fund their annual banquet in May. The event took place on Friday, February 12, 2016, in the Catoctin High School agricultural area. It brought together an eagerness to learn the butchering process by as many as thirty-five students, paired with the talents and traditions taught by fifty-six volunteers from local farming families.

The day started at 6:30 a.m., when the hogs arrived already cut into halves from Horst Meats in Hagerstown. Pre-orders determined the number of hogs butchered. The number of hog’s butchered was up to twenty, from eighteen last year. From the point of pulling the halves off the truck, stations were set up where the various parts of the process were completed.

A long table was the center of the operation, where men and women were intent on cutting the large parts of the hog halves into smaller parts. The various parts were then taken to other stations for continued processing, weighing, and bagging.

Catoctin students, Madison Feltner and Lizzie Devilbiss, sorted rib and loin cuts into four-pound bags. Volunteers Steve Smith, Shea Smith, and Daryl Poffenberger bagged loose sausage. Catoctin students, Mackenzie Henderson, Carley Flora, and Josh Hubbard ground lard that would later be boiled in fired kettles to make cracklin’. Volunteer, Bernie Hobbs, and students, Cody Harmon and Megan Millison, separated cuts of lean meat and fats, passing them on to ground into sausage that would be sold loose or stuffed in casings.

Dave Shriver (Catoctin FFA Alumni member) volunteered his skills by cutting pork loins with bone into chops and cutting ribs into manageable pieces.

Outside, Bob Norwood and Rob McAfee, among many others, worked to tend fires under several cast-iron kettles, stirring the contents.

“We work with head meats and bony meats. Once meat leaves the bone, we strip it and grind it into puddin’ and scrapple,” explained Norwood.

Brian Hendrickson, Catoctin’s Ag Education Instructor, said, “Butchering is, for sure, an educational activity that teaches the science of butchering and the various parts of the process.”

This butchering event has been held annually at Catoctin for twenty-six years. The idea was suggested by then-FFA Alumni president, Gene Bollinger, and coordinated for many years by Catoctin’s former Ag teacher, Robert Beavan.

Denise Shriver, Catoctin FFA Alumni volunteer, has coordinated the butchering since 2010. Denise’s husband, Dave Shriver, who was manning the saw, gestured to the organized crowd of volunteers and said, “Many farmers just show up and volunteer. With a piece of mail they know to come on this day.” The butchering is always held on the second Friday in February.

The event was indeed an educational process, during which, generations of farmers passed along the process and traditions. Several families had as many as three generations represented at the event. Ashley McAfee (2012 Catoctin graduate, former FFA Ambassador, and former Maryland State FFA Officer), was there with her brother, Justin McAfee (current Catoctin senior), her father, Jeff McAfee (Catoctin FFA Alumni member), and her grandfather, Rob McAfee. Daniel Myers (2010 Catoctin graduate, former FFA Ambassador, and former Maryland State FFA Officer) was there with his father, Bobby Myers (Catoctin FFA Alumni member), and grandfather, Rodman Myers (Catoctin FFA Alumni member).

Shelby Hahn, a 2011 graduate of Catoctin, is now a junior at Penn State University, majoring in Animal Sciences. She said, “I’m happy to see that the program has grown. It’s something we use to educate the public, but it’s something that brings the community together and makes us special at Catoctin.”

Catoctin is the only school in the state of Maryland to host a full butchering. Maryland Public Television was on hand filming the butchering all day. The footage will be aired December 2016 in their Farm to Harvest series that highlights various unique agricultural events.

Matt Dellinger, FFA Alumni Association Vice President, was outside learning the kettles from “the older generation.”

“It brings community together with tenured farmers, community members, students, and businesses,” expressed Dellinger.

Much appreciation is extended to all of the volunteers who contributed to the success of the event.

Special thanks to the following: Hillside Turkey Farm and Jubilee Foods for donating the use of refrigerated trucks, Norman and Sandy Shriver for donating the bags used for packaging the meat, Mrs. Ruth Lenhart for the use of her family’s equipment, Robert Wiles for use of his equipment, and Paul Dennis for the use of his equipment.

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Mackenzie Henderson, Carley Flora, and Josh Hubbard are shown volunteering during the Catoctin FFA Alumni Educational Butchering Fundraiser.

Nicholas DiGregory

The record-breaking winter storm that struck the eastern United States in late January has gone by many names: , Snowpocalypse, Snowzilla, Snowmageddon. But whatever one is inclined to call it, Winter Storm Jonas, as meteorologists at the Weather Channel have officially deemed the storm, has made history across the East Coast, with record-setting snowfall, wind speeds, and low temperatures.

While Winter Storm Jonas had already begun to affect the East Coast as early as January 20, the bulk of its damaging effects were felt during the weekend of January 22-24. This was due primarily to what CNN meteorologist Chad Myers referred to as to as anything but the H&F.

This was the peak of Maryland’s trolley age. In 1922, the price of Henry Ford’s Model-T had fallen from approximately $950 in 1910, to around $348, the storm’s “supercharging:” when Winter Storm Jonas’ eastern edge reached the jet stream in the Atlantic Ocean, the winds and water temperatures of the ocean significantly increased the storm’s power, turning it into the lumbering behemoth of a snowstorm that buried much of the eastern United States.

As of January 25, Winter Storm Jonas had affected over 85 million people and dropped an average of almost 23 inches in major cities along the East Coast. Here are some statistics that illustrate the winter storm’s tremendous impact:

  • Approximately 22 million people were still snowed in as of January 25.
  • Associated Press reports from January 25 blame as many as 30 deaths on the storm. Causes of death ranged from traffic accidents to heart attacks while shoveling snow.
  • From January 22-25, more than 12,000 flights were canceled, as record-setting snow accumulation blocked runways at the Ronald Reagan Washington National, Baltimore-Washington International, and Washington Dulles International, airports.
  • Conservative estimates from utility companies highlight more than a million people without power.
  • The following ten states had declared a state of emergency as early as January 22: Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. Washington, D.C. declared a snow emergency.
  • Sustained wind gusts in some areas reached as high as 76 miles per hour, which would classify the storm as comparable to a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Federal buildings were shut down throughout the eastern United States; even the United States Post Office announced disruptions in service in Maryland and Virginia.

As of January 25, several major cities were still reeling, as city officials struggled to direct snow clean-up efforts. On January 24, Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser led more than 2,000 volunteer snow shovelers in an attempt to clear the vital roadways of the Nation’s Capital. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on January 24 that clean-up of the city’s many minor roads and alleyways may take up to two weeks.

Winter Storm Jonas’ heavy snowfall caused several adverse scenarios across the East Coast. On January 23, in Stafford County, Virginia, a man was forced to deliver his child at home when the heavy snowfall prevented emergency responders from reaching his home. Later that same day, a similar scenario occurred in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Emergency dispatchers guided both new fathers through the delivery process, and reports from local news sources say that both babies are doing well.

The winter storm’s wrath was also felt by thousands of attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 22. A national event, the March for Life is an annual protest attended by thousands of anti-abortion activists who march through the Nation’s Capital in objection to the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion in America. Despite the impending storm, the organizers of the march elected to go through with the protest. While the march occurred without incident, hundreds of attendees were stranded in their buses on the way home. One notable large group was composed of several hundred college students from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, who were trapped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the evening of January 22 until the morning of January 24.

Despite all of the negative effects of Winter Storm Jonas in other parts, locally, the massive snow was handled with patience and perseverance. Many people found ways to turn the event into fun. One such method, deemed the Snow Challenge, involves wearing nothing more than a bathing suit while jumping into a snow pile. The craze, which has gone viral on social media websites, has contributed to many laughs during the seriousness of the winter storm.

The record-breaking winter storm that struck the eastern United States in late January has gone by many names: Blizzard 2016, Snowpocalypse, Snowzilla, Snowmageddon. But whatever one is inclined to call it, Winter Storm Jonas, as meteorologists at the Weather Channel have officially deemed the storm, has made history across the East Coast, with record-setting snowfall, wind speeds, and low temperatures.

While Winter Storm Jonas had already begun to affect the East Coast as early as January 20, the bulk of its damaging effects were felt during the weekend of January 22-24. This was due primarily to what CNN meteorologist Chad Myers referred to as the storm’s “supercharging:” when Winter Storm Jonas’ eastern edge reached the jet stream in the Atlantic Ocean, the winds and water temperatures of the ocean significantly increased the storm’s power, turning it into the lumbering behemoth of a snowstorm that buried much of the eastern United States.

As of January 25, Winter Storm Jonas had affected over 85 million people and dropped an average of almost 23 inches in major cities along the East Coast. Here are some statistics that illustrate the winter storm’s tremendous impact:

  • Approximately 22 million people were still snowed in as of January 25.
  • Associated Press reports from January 25 blame as many as 30 deaths on the storm. Causes of death ranged from traffic accidents to heart attacks while shoveling snow.
  • From January 22-25, more than 12,000 flights were canceled, as record-setting snow accumulation blocked runways at the Ronald Reagan Washington National, Baltimore-Washington International, and Washington Dulles International, airports.
  • Conservative estimates from utility companies highlight more than a million people without power.
  • The following ten states had declared a state of emergency as early as January 22: Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. Washington, D.C. declared a snow emergency.
  • Sustained wind gusts in some areas reached as high as 76 miles per hour, which would classify the storm as comparable to a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Federal buildings were shut down throughout the eastern United States; even the United States Post Office announced disruptions in service in Maryland and Virginia.

As of January 25, several major cities were still reeling, as city officials struggled to direct snow clean-up efforts. On January 24, Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser led more than 2,000 volunteer snow shovelers in an attempt to clear the vital roadways of the Nation’s Capital. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on January 24 that clean-up of the city’s many minor roads and alleyways may take up to two weeks.

Winter Storm Jonas’ heavy snowfall caused several adverse scenarios across the East Coast. On January 23, in Stafford County, Virginia, a man was forced to deliver his child at home when the heavy snowfall prevented emergency responders from reaching his home. Later that same day, a similar scenario occurred in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Emergency dispatchers guided both new fathers through the delivery process, and reports from local news sources say that both babies are doing well.

The winter storm’s wrath was also felt by thousands of attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 22. A national event, the March for Life is an annual protest attended by thousands of anti-abortion activists who march through the Nation’s Capital in objection to the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion in America. Despite the impending storm, the organizers of the march elected to go through with the protest. While the march occurred without incident, hundreds of attendees were stranded in their buses on the way home. One notable large group was composed of several hundred college students from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, who were trapped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the evening of January 22 until the morning of January 24.

Despite all of the negative effects of Winter Storm Jonas in other parts, locally, the massive snow was handled with patience and perseverance. Many people found ways to turn the event into fun. One such method, deemed the Snow Challenge, involves wearing nothing more than a bathing suit while jumping into a snow pile. The craze, which has gone viral on social media websites, has contributed to many laughs during the seriousness of the winter storm.

The record-breaking winter storm that struck the eastern United States in late January has gone by many names: Blizzard 2016, Snowpocalypse, Snowzilla, Snowmageddon. But whatever one is inclined to call it, Winter Storm Jonas, as meteorologists at the Weather Channel have officially deemed the storm, has made history across the East Coast, with record-setting snowfall, wind speeds, and low temperatures.

While Winter Storm Jonas had already begun to affect the East Coast as early as January 20, the bulk of its damaging effects were felt during the weekend of January 22-24. This was due primarily to what CNN meteorologist Chad Myers referred to as the storm’s “supercharging:” when Winter Storm Jonas’ eastern edge reached the jet stream in the Atlantic Ocean, the winds and water temperatures of the ocean significantly increased the storm’s power, turning it into the lumbering behemoth of a snowstorm that buried much of the eastern United States.

As of January 25, Winter Storm Jonas had affected over 85 million people and dropped an average of almost 23 inches in major cities along the East Coast. Here are some statistics that illustrate the winter storm’s tremendous impact:

  • Approximately 22 million people were still snowed in as of January 25.
  • Associated Press reports from January 25 blame as many as 30 deaths on the storm. Causes of death ranged from traffic accidents to heart attacks while shoveling snow.
  • From January 22-25, more than 12,000 flights were canceled, as record-setting snow accumulation blocked runways at the Ronald Reagan Washington National, Baltimore-Washington International, and Washington Dulles International, airports.
  • Conservative estimates from utility companies highlight more than a million people without power.
  • The following ten states had declared a state of emergency as early as January 22: Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. Washington, D.C. declared a snow emergency.
  • Sustained wind gusts in some areas reached as high as 76 miles per hour, which would classify the storm as comparable to a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Federal buildings were shut down throughout the eastern United States; even the United States Post Office announced disruptions in service in Maryland and Virginia.

As of January 25, several major cities were still reeling, as city officials struggled to direct snow clean-up efforts. On January 24, Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser led more than 2,000 volunteer snow shovelers in an attempt to clear the vital roadways of the Nation’s Capital. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on January 24 that clean-up of the city’s many minor roads and alleyways may take up to two weeks.

Winter Storm Jonas’ heavy snowfall caused several adverse scenarios across the East Coast. On January 23, in Stafford County, Virginia, a man was forced to deliver his child at home when the heavy snowfall prevented emergency responders from reaching his home. Later that same day, a similar scenario occurred in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Emergency dispatchers guided both new fathers through the delivery process, and reports from local news sources say that both babies are doing well.

The winter storm’s wrath was also felt by thousands of attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 22. A national event, the March for Life is an annual protest attended by thousands of anti-abortion activists who march through the Nation’s Capital in objection to the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion in America. Despite the impending storm, the organizers of the march elected to go through with the protest. While the march occurred without incident, hundreds of attendees were stranded in their buses on the way home. One notable large group was composed of several hundred college students from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, who were trapped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the evening of January 22 until the morning of January 24.

Despite all of the negative effects of Winter Storm Jonas in other parts, locally, the massive snow was handled with patience and perseverance. Many people found ways to turn the event into fun. One such method, deemed the Snow Challenge, involves wearing nothing more than a bathing suit while jumping into a snow pile. The craze, which has gone viral on social media websites, has contributed to many laughs during the seriousness of the winter storm.

pic cover maybe

Thanks to those of you who sent blizzard photos to our Facebook page (The Catoctin Banner is hosted under the name Deb Spalding on Facebook for the time being). We picked just one photo from the masses to post here. The kids at Miss. B’s Family Child Care make snow memories during the blizzard of 2016!

James Rada, Jr.

Training Center,Besides helping residents before and after the fires in Emmitsburg, the American Red Cross and Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) set out to stop fires from happening again.

Beginning on December 12, 2015, volunteers began going door to door to offer smoke alarm checks.

“Emmitsburg’s all-volunteer fire department, the Vigilant Hose Company, was challenged, to say the least, in terms of firefighting and rescue efforts, but, in spite of significant challenges, managed to accomplish what many locally, all across Northern Frederick County and surrounding counties, continue to say was amazing,” stated Wayne Powell with Vigilant Hose Company.

Vigilant Hose Company has offered installation of free smoke alarms for years, but with the two fires in town in December, residents’ interest in having their smoke alarms checked increased. The first fire occurred on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, mid-afternoon, at Paul’s Pit Stop on South Seton Avenue and the apartments above it. The second fire occurred on Monday, December 7, 2015, at 112 West Main Street, a few doors west of the Vigilant Hose Company fire station. In the second fire, two residents died from injuries, and one person was seriously injured.

“For years, VHC has installed free smoke alarms, but the men and women of the VHC knew they had to take full advantage of public attention—or ‘window of opportunity’ as it’s known,” said Powell.

Homeowners who had previously turned away volunteers doing smoke alarm checks were suddenly interested in having their alarms checked. First responders, community leaders, Mount Saint Mary’s University staff and students, and employees from the National Emergency Training Center, all pitched in to cover as many homes as possible.

Powell pointed out that the smoke alarms were free only as long as the volunteer teams were allowed to install them.

“We have found that if we give them away without installing them, they wind up in a drawer and people forget about them,” Powell said.

He also said that some people took the batteries out and used them for other things. The smoke alarms that Vigilant Hose Company installed now have a ten-year long-life battery built into them that can’t be removed.

Despite years of Vigilant Hose Company public fire education and year-round smoke alarm promotion, teams found a number of homes with no smoke alarms at all, many non-working units, and others well over ten years old, plus a few with one alarm in homes with more than one sleeping level.

The initial results from the December home fire safety visits and smoke alarm checks was: seventy-eight homes visited and two hundred seventeen smoke alarms installed within three hours. Volunteers were broken into seventeen on-the-street “Safety Teams.” Their goal was to check and see if a smoke alarm was installed on each level and each sleeping area of a residence. A “Go-Team” at the fire station provided smoke alarm expertise from a smoke alarm expert of the U.S. Fire Administration staff, as well as additional literature and alarms as needed, plus handling other normal duties including fire calls.

“Phone call requests for VHC visits have been coming non-stop from across the community ever since,” Powell commented.

As of January 10, 2016, two hundred forty-eight smoke alarms had been installed.

Vigilant Hose Company has carried smoke alarms on its emergency vehicles for years in order to install them whenever possible. They routinely conduct safety presentations to any and all groups who allow it.

Those seeking further information or wish to schedule a visit, contact the Vigilant Hose Company via its website at www.vigilanthose.org or call the fire station at 301-447-2728.

Red Cross 121215 on TV

A Safety Team hit the streets in Emmitsburg on December 12, 2015; they were welcomed by residents, with many others now asking for visits.