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dr harper

by Joseph Kirchner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thurmont Lions Club Sandwich Sales

The Thurmont Lions Club is happy to announce the 2014 Sandwich Sale schedule. Sale dates have changed, so please mark your calendars for April 26, May 24, July 5, and August 30, from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., at Bell Hill Farm, 15202 Catoctin Mountain Highway in Thurmont. View their advertisement on page 9 for more information.

Win Cash at the Bingo Bash

The Emmitsburg Ambulance Company will host a Bingo Bash on Saturday, April 26.  Doors open at 4:00 p.m. and games begin at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are $35.00 in advance and $45.00 at the door.  For tickets, call Mary Lou at 240-285-3184 or Diane at 301-748-6894.  View their advertisement on page 9 for more information.

Easter Egg Hunt at Gateway Candyland

Gateway Candyland will host an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. at their complex that is located at the intersection of U.S. #15 and Franklinville Road in Thurmont. Gateway Candyland has unique Easter novelties, Easter flowers, homemade Easter candies, and Spring gifts.  View their advertisement on page 30 for more information.

Craig’s Mower & Marine Service To Hold Open House

Is your mower ready for spring?  Is your boat worn out from a long winter? Stop by Craig’s Mower & Marine Service at 14713 Mud College Road during Craig’s Open House on April 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for free giveaways and door prizes and to shop a great selection of mower and marine supplies and accessories.  Call 301-271-2196 and view their advertisement on page 3 for more information.

Heartfields Assisted Living Sponsors Easter Egg Hunt

Heartfields Assisted Living at 1820 Latham Drive in Frederick will hold their Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19, 2014, at 10:30 a.m.  Don’t miss the Easter Bunny and a chance for kids—young and old—to be a winner.  Call 301-663-8800 or view their advertisement on page 13 for more information.

Thurmont Thespians Present Smoke on the Mountain

The musical Smoke on the Mountain will be performed at the Thurmont American Legion this coming April on the following dates and times: April 4-5 and April 11-12—8:00 p.m. (April 12: Dinner theater, 6:30 p.m.); April 6 and 13—Matinee at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 each; Dinner theater tickets are $35.00 per ticket. View their advertisement on page 15 for more information.

Community Picnic & Easter Egg Hunt

Christ’s Community Church of Emmitsburg will host a Community Picnic and Easter Egg Hunt in the Emmitsburg Community Park on Saturday, April 19, 2014, from noon to 2:00 p.m. View their advertisement on page 35.

Vigilant Hose Company Seafood Bonanza

The Vigilant Hose Company will hold their annual Seafood Bonanza on April 17 and April 18, 2014, from 11:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m., at the fire hall. There will also be a food/bake sale on April 18. View their advertisement on page 4 for more information.

Tom’s Creek Turkey & Oyster Supper

Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church is holding a Turkey & Oyster Supper on April 5, 2014, from 12:00-6:00 p.m. There will also be a bake table. Tom’s Creek UMC is located at 10926 Simmons Road in Emmitsburg. View their advertisement on page 24 for more information.

Senior Tax Credit Seminar

On April 8, 2014, there will be a Senior Tax Credit Seminar at the Thurmont Senior Center, starting at 1:30 p.m. View their advertisement on page 9 for more information.

At Home Primitives Hosts Grand Opening Celebration

On Saturday, April 5, 2014, from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., At Home Primitives will host their Grand Opening Celebration. At Home Primitives is a new home decor shop, located in the Gateway Candyland Shopping Complex at 14802 N. Franklinville Road along U.S. #15.  Gateway Liquor Store will hold wine tastings and Gateway Candyland will hand out food samplings. You may even win a door prize. View their advertisement on page 8 for more information.

Guardian Hose Company Flower Sale & Chicken BBQ

Come browse the beautiful assortment of hanging baskets, bedding plants, and potted plants at the Flower Sale & Chicken BBQ, being held on May 9 and 10, 2014, at the Fire Station, located at 21 N. Church Street in Thurmont. View their advertisement on page 28 for more information.

5th Annual His Place Car Show

The 5th annual His Place Car Show will take place on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg. Registration will be from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., judging from 12:00-2:00 p.m., and awards at 3:00 p.m. Entry fee is $15.00 at door; $12.00 pre-registration. Flea Market spaces available. View their advertisement on page 10 for more information.

Emmitsburg Lions Club BBQ & Yard Sale

Emmitsburg Lions Club is holding their Chicken BBQ and Yard Sale on May 3, 2014, with Yard Sale starting at 6:00 a.m., and BBQ sale at 11:00 a.m. (until sold out). View their advertisement on page 30 for more information.

All You Can Eat Italian Night

Rocky Ridge Fire Company is holding an Italian Night on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. All you can eat Spaghetti, pizza, salad, and more! Proceeds benefit Rocky Ridge Junior Fire Company. View their advertisement on page 18 for more information.

TMS Longaberger Basket & Thirty-One Bingo

The Thurmont Middle School PTA will sponsor a Longaberger Basket & Thirty-One Bingo on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at the Lewistown Fire Hall.  Doors open at 12:30 p.m., and games begin at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 in advance or $25.00 at the door.  For advance tickets, please call Missy Worth at 301-730-8412. View their advertisement on page 20 for more information.

Rocky Ridge Cash Bingo

The Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company will be holding a Cash Bingo on Sunday, May 4, 2014, featuring twenty regular games and two special games, jackpots, door prizes, and more. Tickets are $20.00 in advance or $25.00 at the door. View their advertisement on page 16 for more information.

1st Annual Ladies Day

Join Catoctin Church of Christ for their 1st Annual Ladies Day on April 26, 2014, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The topic will be: Women as Gatekeepers, with speaker, Jeninne Hale. There will be prayer, songs, food, and more. View their advertisement on page 4 for more information.

Old Field Woodworking Open House

See what Old Field Woodworking can create for you at their Open House on May 3, 2014, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Show them their advertisement on page 5 at the Open House and receive a 10% discount.

Vigilant Hose Company’s Spring Fling

The Vigilant Hose Company’s Annual Spring Fling will be held on Saturday, May 17, 2014, at Mount St. Mary’s University Echo Field in Emmitsburg. This annual event features horseshoes, great food, live music, 50/50 tip jars, and much more! Tickets are $60.00 each (good for two people).

Easter at Weller United Methodist Church

Weller United Methodist Church will be offering Contemporary Service, Sunrise Service, and Traditional Service, as well as music by their choir, handbell choir, and guitar ensemble. View their advertisement on page 37 for more information on dates and times of the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter services.

CYA Football & Cheerleading Wing Feed

On May 3, 2014, Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) Football and Cheerleading will host a Wing Feed at the Emmitsburg Fire Company, from 6:00-10:00 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The event features music by “Light, Camera, DJ” Charles Estelle. Tickets are $20.00 per person. View their advertisement on page 18 for more information.

St. Joseph’s Church Charity Golf Event

The Emmitsburg Knights of Columbus is sponsoring the 2nd annual St. Joseph’s Church Charity Golf Event on Saturday, June 21, 2014, from 7:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. View their advertisement on page 11.

Sportsmans Drawing & Dinner

A Sportsmans Drawing and Dinner will be held on May 10, 2014, at the Graceham Fire Company. Doors will open at 4:00 p.m. A $25.00 donation admits one person. Event features cash and gun jars, ticket raffles, and dinner and dessert. View their advertisement below for more information.

Cougar Basketball Camp

Aaron Meekins’ 1st annual Cougar Basketball Camp will be held June 23-27 (mornings) and July 7-11 (afternoons). Camp is for boys entering grades 4-9. View his advertisement on page 25 for more information.

Elias Lutheran Church

On April 11, 2014, join Elias Lutheran Church for their Coffee House Special at 7:00 p.m., featuring Seventy X Seven. They are also holding an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday at 9:15 a.m. View their advertisement on page 25 for more information.

by James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by James Rada, Jr.

EXPO massageThurmont businesses put their best foot forward to celebrate the 10th annual Thurmont Business Expo at Catoctin High School on Friday, March 21, 2014. People began lining up to enter the birthday-themed event about half an hour before the doors opened. As they entered the school, they were greeted by the sight of birthday decorations and the live music by Rick Galloway.

Inside the two gymnasiums, about sixty Thurmont businesses had displays set up to show off their goods and services.

Many businesses have been attending the event since its start ten years ago in the American Legion. Nancy Rice attended the first business expo in the Legion hall. “It was really packed that first year,” she said. “Here, people have room to mingle.”

People were doing just that, strolling around the gym, visiting with the vendors, sampling food from local restaurants, and chatting with friends.

“There’s a lot more businesses in Thurmont than people might realize,” Rice said.

For the businesses, it was a chance to introduce themselves to their local customers. This is a benefit particularly to businesses that might be off the beaten path.          “We come to let people know we’re here,” said Bob Black with Catoctin Mountain Orchard. “We always have new people moving into the area, and a lot of them never come north, they only go south to Frederick.”

R.S. Kinnaird Memorials used the birthday theme of the expo to celebrate its own 50th anniversary.

Many of the businesses exhibiting, such as Mountain Gate Restaurant and ACE Hardware, have also been long-time attendees of the expo. They attend to thank their customers and meet new residents. However, new businesses in town like Catoctin Breeze Winery and Celebrations Catering used the event to introduce themselves to the entire community.

“I like to come and check out the new businesses and sample the food,” said Eric Bonsby of Thurmont. “There’s always something good to see.” He has been attending the event every year since he moved to Thurmont seven years ago.

This was the first year that exhibitors were allowed to actually sell items at the expo, which many of them took advantage of. Black said that since Catoctin Mountain Orchard was still closed for the season, it gave him the opportunity to sell some of his items in preparation for his May 1 opening.

While many of the exhibitors were businesses, others were non-profit organizations who sought to make the community aware of what they do.

Girl Scout Hannah Barth was at the Thurmont Historical Society table, seeking flowers donations for a project she is doing for her Gold Award. She is going to clean out the gardens around the historical society and replant them with flowers that would have been typical in the 1800s.

Thurmont Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder was pleased with the turnout. “It’s going great and everybody is having a good time,” she said.

EXPO carver

Joseph Stebbing Jr. of Thurmont displays his chainsaw carvings at the Thurmont Business Expo.

by Joan Bittner Fry

One Mountain Foundation -sent in by JoanA spaghetti dinner followed by an auction was held on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at Cascade Legion Post 239. The One Mountain Foundation, located at Fort Ritchie Community Center, sponsored the function. Josephine Buhrman Willard (pictured right) was chosen as One Mountain’s Community Pillar for 2014.

Josephine has been involved in Help Hotline since its inception and is now chairman of the organization.  Help Hotline, a mountaintop organization, assists people in need of food, clothing, fuel, rent, and other necessities, within two states (Pennsylvania and Maryland) and four counties (Adams and Franklin in Pennsylvania and Frederick and Washington in Maryland).  Donations are stored in the basement of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration at Blue Ridge Summit.

Due to the generosity of individuals, local churches, and other groups, it has always been a volunteer organization. Your help is continually needed to keep it that way. Nonperishable foods are collected at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sabillasville and Hawley Memorial Church in Charmian, Pennsylvania.  Cash donations (possibly the easiest way to donate) are used for meats, milk, and other perishable foods, and for emergency financial assistance.

In 2013, Help Hotline provided a total of 608 transactions for food, assistance for rent, electricity, water and sewer, fuel, and gasoline. A total of 69 Christmas gifts, 32 Easter dinners, 36 Thanksgiving dinners, and 49 Christmas dinners were furnished.

Josephine was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker, and later worked as a cook for Washington County’s Outdoor School. She also worked for the Mid Atlantic Coalition of Housing, helping low-income families and individuals find affordable housing. She was a natural for becoming involved with Help Hotline and has been a part of it since its inception. We would be remiss not to mention the efforts of the late Inez Lewis, who was instrumental in beginning Help Hotline.

Josephine’s granddaughter, Kelsie, spent part of her summer repainting and replacing old shelving and continues to help unload donations and restock shelves, along with any friends she can summon for assistance.

Josephine has always been active in Germantown Church of God near Cascade, where she is pianist for one of the Sunday services and teaches a Sunday school class there. She thanks everyone for partnering with Help Hotline for those who are in need, and believes the generosity of the community is truly a blessing.  She prides herself on being a savvy shopper, always looking for a good bargain.

Besides the chairman, other members of the committee are Dorothy Buhrman, Carol Schorn, Lou White, and Jerry Campbell.

by Joseph Kirchner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Randy Waesche

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unusual pet - PHOTO

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

50th Anniversary of Sabillasville Elementary School

This year, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the present Sabillasville Elementary School.  If you know names and positions of any former employees, please contact Angie Hahn at 301-573-1498 or or Joan Fry at  Hopefully, these names will bring back memories for students who passed through the school.  An announcement will be made if a celebration is planned.

MSS Announces Recipient of Teaching Award

On February 9, 2014, Catholic educators from around Frederick County gathered at Duchess’s Daughter in Frederick to honor the best among the best. For Mother Seton School (MSS), that honor was bestowed upon second-grade teacher Melaney Mullineaux, who was nominated by her peers at MSS as their Friends of Catholic Education (F.O.C.E.) Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Melaney transforms her young students into self-confident and eager readers and writers and mathematicians, trained to habits of reflection, respect, and reverence for the things of God,” said Sr. JoAnne Goecke, D.C., Principal of Mother Seton School. “Her kind, consistent, and creative leadership of her second grade students permeates the classroom.” In addition to her commitment in the classroom, Mrs. Mullineaux also takes the time to mentor new teachers, serve as the Language Arts coordinator, and participate on the Green School Committee.

Mullineaux is a native of Frederick County, a parishioner of St. Peter’s in Libertytown, and graduate of Linganore High School. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Bridgewater College in Virginia, and her masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Maryland College in Westminster. This is Mullineaux’s thirteenth year of teaching, her first six spent in Frederick County Public Schools and the past seven working at Mother Seton School.

Mullineaux expressed great appreciation for the award. “It is a very special honor for me to have been nominated by my fellow teachers for the Excellence in Teaching Award,” she said. “I feel so blessed to be part of the legacy of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, by teaching young students at the school she started over 200 years ago.”

Pictured from left are Sr. JoAnne Goecke, D.C., Principal of Mother Seton School; Carol Hinds, President of F.O.C.E.; Melaney Mullineaux, Award Recipient; and Caroline Pugh, Executive Director of F.O.C.E.

Fired Up Friday Provides Positive Impact for Students at Catoctin High

by Ashley McGlaughlin

Ashley pic for cougar pride videos2Every Friday, at Catoctin High School (CHS), students watch motivational videos to pump up their cougar pride. These videos approach all subjects, from homeless people to millionaire athletes doing outstanding things for their community, to simple acts of kindness like giving their jacket to somebody without one.

With spring season sports underway for Catoctin athletes, such as softball, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, and track, these videos deliver a taste of not only what goes on in the real world, but even advice on what to do in negative situations on the playing field. The clips can be long, but they are used to promote positivity among players and students. Most videos contain a different, special meaning to each student, as they interpret their own meaning and apply it to their situation. Some videos really touch home with students, because they show what the student has experienced themselves. “I look forward to Fridays,” said 9th grade student athlete, Kirsten Willhide. “These videos remind me of the paper we have to sign in the beginning of the season, so we are nice to our teammates. Just like in the videos, it reminds me that it’s not all about winning; it’s the effort you put toward the sport.”

The videos don’t interrupt a teacher’s daily lessons, since the teacher can choose how long the video is and still have enough time to get through their course objectives. CHS teacher and Baseball Coach, Mike Franklin, said, “I like that it’s the kids day; it’s their ideas. They say to me ‘Coach, I want to pick the video, I want to be in control.’ The motivational clips are just a reminder of how the person watching it could react to situations, and consider the target’s perspective. It’s amazing what limitations certain people were born with, yet they conquer what most can’t.”

We need to set goals in life, to understand progress, to be committed. Most athletes have been committed all year to prepare themselves for the upcoming spring sports. They know that the only thing standing in the way of conquering a goal, is themselves. A team normally practices together at least five days a week, so they’re not only a team, they’re a family.

Fired up Friday can change one person, and lead to a chain reaction. This can lead to changing the world, and making every-day news become more positive. A simple act of kindness can go a long way. At Catoctin High School, students have already started.

On Friday, March 14, 2014, Catoctin’s health and fitness class gathered to watch Fired Up Friday videos. The videos ranged in topics from athletic trainers to homeless people, but ended with very positive outcomes.

Catoctin High School SHOP Blood Drive

The Catoctin High School S.H.O.P. (Students Helping Other People) Club will be hosting their annual Red Cross blood drive on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Please contact Rebecca Scott at or 240-236-8170 if you would like to donate or have any questions.

Thurmont Lions Club Awarding Three Scholarships

The Thurmont Lions Club is pleased to announce that the TLC Foundation will award three $1,000 scholarships to graduating Catoctin High School seniors again this year. These scholarships are awarded competitively based on academic achievement, participation in activities, and financial need.

Information and applications for these scholarships are available at the Catoctin High School office and on the Thurmont Lions Club website, Completed applications and all documentation must be submitted by April 1, 2014.

EHS Alumni Association Offers Scholarships

The Emmistsburg High School (EHS) Alumni Association is accepting scholarship applications.  Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students.  Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate who is enrolled in an institution of higher learning is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21788, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on route 140). Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution of higher learning.

Selection is based on having a 3.0 or higher grade point average, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, and pursuing higher education (technical school, four-year college, or community college).

Applications may be obtained by contacting the guidance department at Catoctin High School at 240-236-8082. All applications must be received by May 1, 2014.

TLL -9-10 District Champions- 2013by Joseph Kirchner

This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Little League Baseball in the United States, a great American institution. Thurmont Little League celebrates sixty-one glorious years of playing America’s pastime, with expectations for a great 2014 season! From its humble beginnings way back in 1953—when they played on just one field located near the old shoe factory on Apples Church Road—to today’s beautiful Thurmont Little League Complex with five fields, this enterprise owes a great debt of gratitude to its founding fathers, namely Daniel Waybright, Ray Felix, Paul Hahn, Doug Buchanan, Paul Schaefer, John Strine, and Charles “Hamp” Spalding. Today, President Mike Randall and Vice-President Ed Lowry provide enthusiastic, dedicated leadership to build upon the strong foundation laid by their predecessors.

Thurmont Little League has a very rich history. It is currently the largest youth sports association in Northern Frederick County, boasting active spring and fall seasons and a membership of over three-hundred area boys and girls, ranging in age from 4-18 years old. Not only does it offer a wonderful opportunity to develop teamwork, sportsmanship, and a strong sense of community, the Thurmont Little League also enjoys a great tradition of success, having won numerous District Titles, as well as its most recent State Title in 2005.

Mike Randall and Ed Lowry have had an extremely busy “off-season,” making countless capital improvements to the clubhouse and to the playing fields, as well as organizing registration for what is certain to be the biggest year ever. With the help of generous volunteers (who are always greatly appreciated by the hardworking officers), new electrical services are in place and several completed clubhouse projects now make this venue both safer and more attractive. The playing fields are also greatly enhanced by the completion of many major renovations, including upgrades to the batting cages, 1,500 pounds of clay added to the Minor/Major Fields, drainage added to the Minor Field, re-cuts on both the Major/Minor infields, newly installed home plates and bases, and newly built pitcher’s mounds and batter’s boxes on the Minor/Major Fields. All in all, the Complex is in great condition for the upcoming 2014 season.

Both Ed and Mike are quick to point out that as important as these capital projects are, the heart and soul of Thurmont Little League is the wonderful friendships it encourages. With a sixty-one year history, many of today’s players are the third and fourth generations to participate in the rich tradition of Thurmont Little League. Here is where cherished, lifelong memories are made. Mike proudly proclaims, “This is an exciting opportunity where you can come with a four-year-old child to play T-ball, and play the sport of baseball until you’re eighteen years old, all here in your hometown with great competition and your friends right here in your backyard.”

Significantly, the officers make sure that no one is turned away from Thurmont Little League. All are invited and all are guaranteed the wonderful opportunity to play baseball. The Thurmont Little League is a proud partner with the District 2 Challenger League, which provides support for players with physical or developmental disabilities to participate in baseball to the maximum of their individual abilities. In fact, the 2006 Thurmont Civitan Challenger team was selected by President and Mrs. Bush to play T-ball at the White House with Willie Mays as Commissioner. Moreover, in 2012, Thurmont was proud to host the Maryland State Challenger Jamboree.

Whether you are a native to this area or a newcomer, Mike and Ed invite you to sign up for the 2014 season. Opening Day on Saturday, April 12, 2014, will be an all-day affair, marked by many festivities at the Thurmont Little League Complex. Of course, if you would like to coach or volunteer to help in any way, Mike and Ed would love to hear from you.

Online registration is available at their websites: for Little League and for Babe Ruth. You may contact President Mike Randall by phone at 301-271-3958 or by e-mail at

Also visit “Thurmont Little League and Babe Ruth” on Facebook.

On March 29, 2014, from 8:00 p.m.-midnight, the Emmitsburg Lions Club will sponsor an evening of music and dancing at the Emmitsburg Ambulance facility, located on Creamery Road.  Highlighting the evening will be the great sounds of the Rock and  Roll Relics band. The cost of tickets are $15.00 if purchased in advance, and $20.00 if purchased at the door.

Don’t miss the popular Celtic Concert on Monday, March 17, 2014, at the Marion Burk Knott Auditorium at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg (on the west side of US 15). Seating begins at 6:30. Admission and parking are free. The concert features Lúnasa, a world-renowned Irish instrumental band. Tickets are required for entry. Pick up your free tickets in advance at Thurmont and Emmitsburg libraries beginning March 1.

The annual Thurmont Business Expo will be held at Catoctin High School on Friday, March 21, 2014, from 6:00-8:30 p.m. Come on out and support Thurmont businesses. For more information, contact Diana Stull at or 301-271-7565.

Primitive is characterized by simplicity or simple by design, which is the perfect definition of the style in the new At Home Primitives store in Thurmont. At Home Primitives is a store specializing in country primitive-style home décor, hand-crafted wood furniture, hand-sewn treasures, table-top arrangements, repurposed one-of-a-kinds, and much more.

by Joseph Kirchner

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

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

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

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

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