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The Thurmont business community put its best foot forward for the 11th Annual Thurmont Business Expo, held on April 2, 2015. However, this was the Expo that almost didn’t happen. Thurmont Main Street, the usual organizers of the event, had decided not to hold the Expo this year and canceled it.

Heather Dewees and Rob Renner decided that the event provided too much value to Thurmont businesses and its residents and to cancel it would be a loss.

“I felt like if we lost it, it wasn’t ever coming back,” Dewees said.

The Expo allows residents to come out and discover many of the 260 businesses that are in the town. Business owners can meet potential customers and show off their goods and services.

Dewees and Renner approached the Thurmont Special Events Committee to provide things like liability insurance and to handle money from vendors. Dewees and Renner lowered the cost of sponsorship and didn’t charge extra to businesses that wanted to sell products.

“It involves a lot of coordination, but it was fun,” said Renner.

However, just when things came together and the Expo was ready to go, a late snowstorm closed schools on March 20, which meant that the Expo had to be postponed.

Nearly four dozen of the town’s businesses participated in the Expo, which was rescheduled for a Thursday evening.

“We lost a few vendors because we rescheduled, but this was the only other night available,” Dewees said.

Hundreds of people turned out for the event at Catoctin High School.

John Nickerson is a familiar face at the Expo, with his original Gnarly Artly t-shirts. “Most of my business is done on the internet, so this gives me the chance to meet a lot of people,” Nickerson said.

Stacie Zelenka, owner of Pondscapes, agreed. “We’re a home-based business, so this gives us the opportunity to have a storefront for an evening and meet customers.”

She said the Expo has proven its worth to her because she always gets referrals from it. She also gets the opportunity to meet customers who say that they didn’t know her business existed, so the Expo exposes her business to new customers.

Heather Lawyer with Gateway Automotive said that Gateway doesn’t really advertise so the Expo allows Gateway Automotive to put itself out in front of the community.

“It’s also nice to have customers stop by and talk to us and say, ‘Thank you,’” said Lawyer.

A nice new feature of this year’s Expo was that each visitor was given a vendor map that also included addresses, phone numbers, and websites for each Expo vendor.

Proceeds from the Thurmont Business Expo are donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Candy and Heather Lawyer

Candy and Heather Lawyer of Gateway Automotive behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Niki Eyler, owner of The Eyler Stables Flea Market in Thurmont, at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Folks from the Thurmont Veterinary Clinic are shown at their booth.


Thurmont’s Mayor, John Kinnaird poses next to a drawing of himself done by John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly.



Doris Roman and Antonio C. from the Thurmont Senior Center are shown behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.

Photos by Grace Eyler

Emmitsburg Civilian and Veteran Organizations and Surrounding Communities Join Together to Celebrate the 33rd Annual Heritage Day

Jim Houck, Jr.

The combined planning efforts of civilian and Veteran organizations in Emmitsburg and the surrounding communities will join together to celebrate the 33rd Annual Heritage Day (formerly Community Day) on Saturday June 27, 2015.

The Town of Emmitsburg will open their arms to everyone for a day of fun and games, a parade, and fireworks. The event, until recently, was planned and carried out by The Lions Club of Emmitsburg. The Emmitsburg Lions did an excellent job of organizing and operating this event for years. The event simply outgrew the membership of the Lions Club, and they decided it was time to ask other organizations in the community for their help. The community organizations stepped up and volunteered and are actively involved. The Veterans organizations, in the past, organized and took charge of the parades. I am proud to announce we are again as I, Jim Houck Jr. Commander SAL Squadron 121, have been assigned as coordinator of this year’s parade. I am asking all who would like to participate and have not received an invitation letter and application to please go online at, and print out an application to fill out and mail to the given address, call me at 717-451-1741, or email me at and I will be glad to help you.

We are holding an art contest to start off this year’s event by inviting all Frederick County school age artists, ages six to, and including, eighteen years of age, to submit their art work entitled “The Heart Of The Civil War In Emmitsburg” by 1:00 p.m., Friday, June 15th. The art work will be displayed in the gym at the Town Office and be judged. Cash prizes; 1st prize is a $500.00 savings bond, 2nd is a $100.00 savings bond, and 3rd is a $50.00 savings bond respectively. These prizes will be issued to the winners on Heritage Day. Contest rules and an application form are available online at

The actual Heritage Day festivities start off with a hearty breakfast served by the Vigilant Hose Auxiliary at the Vigilant Hose Company Main Street Fire Hall; Lions Club Annual Bar-B-Q Chicken will be served beginning at 10 a.m.; Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121 will be selling Italian Sausages, and if you had one last year, you know how great they are; a Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will be held at the Community Park with all proceeds supporting the Emmitsburg Baseball and Softball League; a bicycle Safety Rodeo will be held; a Five mile Bike Ride for ages 12 and up, plus a One-mile Bike Ride for kids ages 5 and up; free kids rides and face painting will be offered; a Fitness Boot Camp with Steve Ames; old fashioned field games and a greased pig contest. A Grand Opening for the town’s Multi-User Trails will be held with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Several live bands will play at the bandstands and the sounds will be kept moderate, so if you would like the music louder, get closer. Horseshoe registration will be held at noon with a $5.00 entry fee, games start at one. The kickball tournament will begin at 12:30 p.m., check  for new rules. The town’s community pool will be open free to the public from noon until 7:00 p.m. Vendor and crafter show and a walking history tour of Old Emmitsburg will be available. There are numerous other things under the categories of food, sports, music at the Bandstand, special exhibits and history tours and museums.

Come out and enjoy yourself and see how  proud the people of Emmitsburg are about their heritage. I know I am proud to have spent the first forty years of my life in the Emmitsburg-Thurmont area. I graduated high school at Emmitsburg High and worked as a cook at Mt. St. Mary’s College while in school and for a while after school. I worked at St. Joseph’s College, now the National Fire Academy, as a cook for a few years. I worked at H.O. Toor Shoe and Freeman Shoe Factories, located where the Emmitsburg Antique Mall is located today. I used to know everyone by name within a five mile radius of Emmitsburg and now there are a lot of strangers, but that is good because it gives me an opportunity to make new friends. I sure miss a lot of the “old ones”. Heritage Day is not only a fun and play day, but it gives everyone a chance to meet new friends. In my opinion, you can never have too many friends.

God Bless all of you and have a safe trip to Heritage Day “33”. Stop by the Italian Sausage Stand and say “Howdy!” I may have a National Flag to give you and the kids.

Special Thanks to Clifford Sweeney and Patrick Joy, they are not only on the Heritage Day Committee, but they are proud members of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121. A special thanks to Jennifer Jolly Joy for chairing the committee and to all members and participants.

Mayor John Kinnaird (far right), Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick (center), and Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder (left) pose in front of the new Thurmont kiosk at the Mason Dixon Welcome Center. The kiosk was provided by Frederick County Tourism Special Projects Coordinator Mr. Chris Haugh.

DocAllison Rostad

Just as the sun began to set on Saturday, April 18, 2015, members and friends of the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company gathered to hold their annual banquet in recognition of the Company’s service in calendar year 2014.

A greeting was given by emcee, Brian Boller, who was president of the Company in 2014. Director/Chief of Volunteer Fire Rescue Services Chip Jewell led an invocation prior to guests and members being invited to partake in dinner, catered by Mountain Gate Family Restaurant.Guests such as Mr. and Mrs. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association and Chief of Thurmont Police Department Greg Eyler and his wife attended the banquet in support of the Company’s service over the past year. Boller introduced these guests and handed the stage over to Chief Jim Kilby and Captain Scott Willard.

Kilby first recognized the entire Company for their outstanding work, as they were able to respond to all but 17 calls of their 260 total calls for the 2014 calendar year. The top five responders in the Company were recognized with framed awards: Hilary Blake, Matthew Mckeel, Matthew Moser, Kelly Willard, and Mike Beard.

The Company’s officers were also awarded for their response to calls over the past year: James Boyle, Jim Kilby, and Scott Willard.

Louis Powell Jr. was asked to the stage, where guests were introduced to the new operational officers of 2015: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard. All three officers were given a new, donated shield for their helmets. Following the presentation of the shields, Kilby turned the microphone back over to Boller, in conclusion of the Chief awards.

Boller presented the administrative awards, bypassing the standard top 10 LOSAP awards, as he explained to guests that being a small company means, “Everyone pretty much pitches in, and if you’re considered active out here, you get access to the hall, and we give free shirts out as certain awards [throughout the year].” Boller started the awards off with the Presidents’ Award. A member who has achieved ten years of active status within a company may become a “life-time member.”

Eddie Woods, Jr. was presented the President’s Award for his “on and off” active membership over the past twenty-seven years.

Boller explained that Woods would fall short of active status defined by the bylaws, but his dedication to drive from Riverdale, Maryland, and Hagerstown over the years to respond to calls for the Company was a feat in itself.

Scott Willard was also presented a President’s Award for his dedication to the Company, in addition to being both Kilby’s and Boller’s right-hand-man over the years.

Boller said proudly of Willard, “It’s the unseen little things that we recognize him for.”

Louis Powell Jr. was presented Life Membership, as he was the only member in 2014 to reach ten years of active status.

Just prior to the conclusion of the banquet, Boller asked that Chip Jewell say a few words to the night’s final award recipient, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr.  Simmers was awarded with a surprise party in March for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service, from 1964 to 2015.

Boller had Simmers stand for a round of applause, and awarded him with a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket.

Boller summarized Simmers and his fifty years of service and dedication by saying, “Once it’s in your blood, it’s just kind of there!”

Wrapping up the banquet, Mr. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association performed the Installation of the Officers ceremony.


Administrative Officers: Scott Willard, President; Louis Powell Jr., Vice President; Kelly Willard, Secretary; Hilary Blake, Asst. Secretary; Sterling Seiss, Treasurer; and Jim Kilby, Asst. Treasurer.

Board of Directors: Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr., Brian Boller, Sterling Seiss, George “Junebug” Morningstar, Eugene Grimes, and Eddie Woods, Jr.

Operational Officers: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard.


New operational officers, Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard were given a new, donated shield for their helmets.


During the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company’s Awards Banquet, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. (center) was awarded a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service.


In March, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. was thrown a surprise party for his achievments over fifty years of active volunteer fire service and his recognition by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association.

20150307_100136James Rada, Jr.

The Thurmont Food Bank did what it does best at the grand opening of its new home on March 7…it fed people.

Food trays of hot and cold foods were spread throughout the Thurmont’s former Town Office, as dozens of people crowded the building to see how it had changed now that it is home to the Thurmont Food Bank.

The biggest change is in the office area that once held the cubicles of Thurmont Town staff. The room is now lined with freezers, refrigerators, and deep shelves. Pastor Sally Joyner-Giffin, who manages the food bank for the Thurmont Ministerium, estimated that there is now about fifty percent more storage space.

“The nice thing with having more freezer space is that I can buy ahead when things go on sale, say turkeys, or when it’s hunting season and there’s deer meat offered,” said Joyner-Giffin.

The new freezers were purchased with a grant that former Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Bill Blakeslee helped the food bank staff obtain.

The Thurmont Food Bank is currently serving about 310 families, comprised of about 1,200 people, in the Thurmont area.

“This new location gives us the ability to serve more, should we have to,” Joyner-Giffin said.

As the ribbon was cut, officially opening the new food bank, Joyner-Giffin gave Mayor John Kinnaird a dollar bill, representing the food bank’s first year’s rent to the Town of Thurmont. Carol Robertson, President of Colorfest, Inc., also gave Joyner-Giffin a check for $500 to help pay the utilities on the building for a couple months.

Many of the people attending the grand opening were volunteers who help fill the orders and serve the food bank clients. Joe Bailey has been helping out at the Thurmont Food Bank for four years.

“I’m passing it forward,” Bailey said. “I want to give back to the people in the community, because helping others is what God tells us we should be doing.”

St. John’s Lutheran Church had been the previous home for the food bank, but after several years there, it outgrew the space. The new location for the Thurmont Food Bank is at 10 Frederick Road. Although the Thurmont Public Works Department still uses the back offices in the building, all of the front offices, including the commissioners’ former meeting room, is part of the food bank.

Hours at the new location are now: Tuesday, 5:00-7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off any time; please place them in the shopping cart in the entryway of the food bank. Both perishable and non-perishable foods can be delivered during food bank hours or on Tuesday mornings from 11:00 a.m.-noon. Please check to be sure all items are not spoiled or expired before donating them.

The food bank is always looking for volunteers to help out. If you would like to help, you can call the food bank at 240-288-1865 or visit

Thurmont’s Anytime Fitness Newly Remodeled and Expanded

by Joseph Kirchner

Spring has sprung, and, for most of us, that means it’s time to shake off the winter blues and get in shape. Have you put on a few extra pounds? If your response is yes, then joining a quality gym might be the answer for you. Fortunately, Anytime Fitness in Thurmont has everything you need and all you could ask for in a gym membership.

First, Anytime Fitness (the world’s largest 24-hour gym chain) offers the benefit of Anywhere Club Access. With this benefit, you can visit thousands of Anytime Fitness centers for the price of a standard gym membership. Traveling? With almost 2,000 gyms nationwide, you are likely to find an Anytime Fitness gym close by.

Dale Collis, a happy Anytime Fitness member said, “You can go almost anywhere in the country and you will find two or three Anytime Fitness gyms there.” He exercises primarily right here in Thurmont, but has used his Anywhere Club Access in Waycross, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Las Vegas, Nevada; among others.

Have you ever joined a gym with very limited hours that did not fit your schedule? At Anytime Fitness, you will enjoy the convenience of a 24-hour gym, a benefit which fits your very busy lifestyle. Simply use your private security-access key twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, at any Anytime Fitness location. So, now you can’t use the all-too-handy excuse that “the gym is not open!”

Without top-notch equipment, even the benefits mentioned above would hardly matter. At Anytime Fitness, you will find amazing amenities, including the best fitness equipment available. If cardio is your main emphasis, you’re in business; Anytime boasts treadmills, elliptical machines, a Concept 2 Rower, Expresso stationary bikes (the very best available), and a stair climber (coming soon). If strength training is your goal, you will find everything you want: free weights (with three full stations of Power-rack systems), a Smith machine, dumbbells from 2-100 pounds, kettle bells, TRX bands, weighted balls, and a full 16-station circuit of top-of-the-line Nautilus equipment.

George Puvel (club owner) gave this writer a comprehensive tour of the beautifully remodeled gym and proudly asserted, “We are excited to offer a new group exercise room as a part of our recent expansion.” Now Anytime Fitness offers free, unlimited classes—a wonderful benefit! Without additional cost, you can take Pilates, yoga, abs and interval classes, as well as the ever-popular Zumba classes. Moreover, tanning is available, and you will have access to single-use bathrooms with private showers.

Perhaps you require a little instruction or motivation to keep you on track. No problem here, because Anytime has certified, experienced personal trainers to guide you in reaching your fitness goals. The area’s best trainers are invested in your health and make it a point to treat you individually. Moreover, at Anytime Fitness the atmosphere is friendly and supportive—you will definitely enjoy working out here!

The following is a quick review of Anytime Fitness: Anywhere Club Access, 24-hour access, the very best cardio and strength equipment, free unlimited classes, tanning, private bath, the area’s best trainers, a congenial atmosphere, a beautifully remodeled club, and a really supportive environment. Truly everything you could ask for in a gym. Also consider that the Thurmont location ranks in the top one-and-a-half percent of all Anytime Fitness locations (based on corporate evaluations), and the membership is quite affordable. What are you waiting for? Call or visit Anytime Fitness, and they will be happy to give you a tour of their wonderful facility. Ask about the free seven-day pass. Now you have no more excuses not to get in the best shape of your life!

Anytime Fitness is located at 130 Frederick Road in Thurmont. Their staffed hours are Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. For more information or for a tour, call 301-271-0077. Also, check them out on Facebook.

Anytime Fitness2

Melissa Borns is shown in the newly remodeled and expanded club excersie room, featuring group exercise classes, which are included in the membership price.

Anytime Fitness1

Pictured from left are Bette Troxell, Chet Tippen (trainer), George Puvel (owner), Jason Blough (manager), and Melissa Borns (trainer).

Photos by Deb Spalding

The Furnace Bar and Grill Now Open for Dining

Deb Spalding

A new restaurant opened on March 8, 2015, in Catoctin Furnace near Thurmont. It’s called The Furnace Bar and Grill, and is located in the former Dale’s Place Bar. The Furnace is visible from Route 15, but you won’t notice any difference from the former business until you walk inside. There, the memory of Dale’s Place ends abruptly when faced with the fact that the interior of the building has been completely renovated. Where a pool table and dividing walls once existed, a new open and airy floor plan welcomes diners. The floors, the bathrooms, the dining room, the bar, and the kitchen have been stripped and replaced with upscale accents.

The renovated interior is a nice surprise, but it is exceeded by the taste of the food. It’s worth your time to try this new dining opportunity. Bring the family!

Sandy Copenhaver stopped in to pick up her to-go order during her lunch break at Renovations and said, “I’m excited to have a new place to eat!”

Greg Martinez, General Manager, is delighted to be part of this new venture. He’s worked with owner Ron Chen, who also owns Liberty Road Seafood near Libertytown, for two years, growing from a part-time cook at Liberty Road to full-time management. When Dale’s Place came available about a year ago, Chen and Martinez dug into the new project and followed it through as it morphed into the exceptional presentation that now welcomes diners.

Furnace Sauce, the signature sauce at The Furnace Bar and Grill, is Martinez’s baby. He’s been working on the recipe for six years. He takes great pride in this “kick it” sauce and his dough. He gives credit to co-workers and to Sue Whitmer who have helped with several recipes on the menu like beer cheese, BLT flatbread, and stuffed jalapenos.  The Furnace Cheeseburger is hand-paddied and fresh. The salads are really good. All menu items feature good sized portions with reasonable prices.

The Furnace presents a pub food menu. The Furnace Dog is a foot-long hot dog stuffed with pickled jalapeno, cheddar cheese, wrapped in bacon then fried. The order is accompanied with a side of Furnace Fries. Martinez said, “If you’re looking to kick back, enjoy a game and have a beer, this is perfect.”

Parties are welcome. Dining groups over ten people should call to make a reservation. There are several television screens and artwork of local landmarks on the walls. “We do everything we can to make sure everyone is comfortable and has a good time,” Martinez added. This summer, an outdoor deck will be open to diners, and entertainment will be scheduled on some weekends.

Martinez is reaching out to local organizations in order to spread the word about the new restaurant and to show their support of the local community.

Visit The Furnace on Facebook or in person at 12841 Catoctin Furnace Road, Thurmont. Call 240-288-8942 for more information. Hours are Sundays to Thursdays 11:00 a.m. to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

furnace bar and grill pic

The Furnace staff pictured from left are Lauren Silverman, Bev Wyke, Greg Martinez, and Bryan Holland.

Photo by Deb Spalding

Red’s Tavern Under New Management

Visit Red’s new “Team Tavern” in Emmitsburg. They would like to give a special thanks to former managers, Tina and Danny. The Tavern will miss you both!

Red's Tavern

Pictured from left are: (top row) Raeann Wagerman, Sandy Miller, Bryant Hoffman, Raina and Randy Roser, Erin Valentine, and Tyler Hollinger (manager); (bottom Row) Justin Forsythe and Bob “Reds” Hance.

Grace Eyler

On March 7, 2015, members of Guardian Hose Company joined together to celebrate their accomplishments of 2014 during their annual banquet. Invocation was provided by Chaplin Rev. James Hamrick, followed by a home-cooked meal served by GT’s catering. Family and friends mingled until Wayne Stackhouse drew all attention to the podium, where he introduced special guests from other organizations who aided the company throughout the year.

Floral tributes were presented during the memorial service, in memory of Linda Duble, Franklin Keeney, and James Spalding, who all passed in 2014. The entire room bowed their heads while the Chaplin said a pray for the families who lost a loved one.

After the memorial service took place, Chief Chris Kinnaird shared the chief’s report with the audience. Kinnaird started off thanking everyone for their attendance, and for all of their support throughout the year.

“Our company volunteers 364 days of the year; this is our only night off. A huge thanks to Smithsburg and Walkersville Fire Companies for filling in.”

Kinnaird explained that it had been a very busy year. Guardian Hose Company ran 544 more calls than in 2013. Members partook in 528 hours of training, including Fire 1 and 2 classes. It was estimated that Guardian saved an approximate 1.8 million dollars in damage. On the average, eight volunteers respond to a call.

Kinnaird was proud to announce that this year every firefighter will be provided with a “Bail Out Kit,” which includes a 30-foot rope, carabineer, and escape hook. This will enable the firefighter to safely exit from a second-story window. Other expenses incurred included new tools, upgrades, and maintenance to the company’s apparatuses.

“It is better to be over prepared then under,” stated Kinnaird. “That’s a part of our job. We ride around in big tool boxes!” joked Kinnaird.

Guardian runs on three well-prepared engines, but could soon drop down to two apparatuses. The next big expense they foresee will be replacing one of the apparatuses, in roughly two to three years, which will cost approximately $500,000. Another change the fire company foresees will be overnight crews who will stay at the fire house, awaiting any calls that may come in during late hours. This will quicken response time to a call.

Top responders were recognized by Assistant Chief Carroll Brown. This year’s top responders were: Dave Sanders—145 calls; Steve Strickhouser—184 calls; Christopher Kinnaird II-202 calls; Chad Brown—246 calls; and Brian Donovan—278 calls. Top five drivers included Steve Yingling Larry Duble, Mike Duble, Wayne Stackhouse, and Terry Frushour.

Service Awards were presented to Charity Wivell; Cody Wivell; Christopher Kinnaird, II and Chad Brown for five years of service. Ten years of service awards were presented to Matthew Black and James Kilby. Twenty years of service awards were presented to Robert Dailey, Jr.; Blaine Schidlt, Sr.; and Christopher Kinnaird. Thirty five years of service awards were presented to Ray Brown; Donald Doughtery, Jr.; and Larry Duble. Life membership awards were given to Troy Angell and Lori Brown.

Wayne turned the microphone over to Robert Jacobs to swear in the 2015 Administrative and Operational Officers: President—Wayne Stackhouse; President Emeritus—Donald Stitely; Vice President—Terry Frushour; Secretary—Lori Brown; Assistant Secretary—Tisha Miller; Treasurer—Russell Shantz,  Assistant Treasurer—Pam Fraley; Trustees: Brian Donavan, Jody Miller, Steve Yingling, Joe Ohler and Steve Strickhouser. Operational officers include: Chief—Chris Kinnaird; Assistant Chief—Carroll Brown; Captian—Blaine Schildt; Lieutenants—Sean Donovan, Will Gue, and Chaplin Rev. James Hamrick.

Wayne Stackhouse closed the evening with, “May you take a part of your company’s operation, big or small—it takes us all. Our company’s success will be measured by your efforts. All of your efforts are always appreciated.”

Lori Brown_Life Member

Wayne Stackhouse presents Lori Brown with Life Membership Award.


Operational Officers_GHC

Operational Officers

Pictured from left are: (back) Blaine Schildt and Will Gue; (front) Chris Kinnaird and Charlie Brown.

James Rada, Jr.

Walk into the science classrooms at Thurmont Middle School on Wednesdays after school and prepare to be amazed. Alyssa Malasky (6th grade) and Joey Risser (6th grade) built a rocket nearly as tall as they are that is powered by water. Mikaila Risser (8th grade) builds simple machines and tests what they can do. Anthony Southmuye (8th grade) and Silas Nickerson (8th grade) test their rubber-band-powered car.

Out in the hallway, Kallan Lathan (7th grade), Kariana Strickhouser (7th grade), and Sophia DeGennaro (6th grade) have built two devices designed to use air pressure to launch ping-pong balls at precise distances.

Down in the gymnasium, Isaac Dodson (6th grade) tests his balsa-wood airplanes to see which design stays in the air the longest.

These students are all members of Thurmont Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team. The seventeen students pair off in small teams to train in some of the twenty-three Science Olympiad events. Each student competes in three or four events, and the team as a whole has a team to compete in each event.

“Science Olympiad is a hands-on K-12 program to teach students STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Jilicia Johnson, one of the team’s advisors and a Thurmont Middle School science teacher.

“They get to experience science outside of classroom, and some of them go beyond what they are learning in the classroom.”

Johnson is assisted by fellow teacher, Susan Mize; Jesse Rose, a retired engineer; and Melissa Carter, a Fort Detrick scientist.

Mikaila said she joined the team last year because, “You get to go more in-depth with science and things.”

Her younger brother, Joey, is also a member of the team.

“He wanted to join mostly because I convinced him that it was fun,” Mikaila said.

She and Joey even compete together in an event called Write It, Do It. One team member goes into a room and writes instructions for building what he or she sees. The instructions are then given to the other team member to see if he or she can follow directions to build the original device.

Another event is a lot like participating in an episode of CSI. Sydney Hafler (7th grade) competes in Crime Busters. In this event, she is given a crime scenario, along with evidence that is a combination of liquids, powders, and fibers. She then has to test the materials to identify them and use them to determine who committed the crime.

“For instance, if a powder at the crime is baking powder, then the person is probably a cook rather than a drywaller,” Hafler said.

The team placed fifth out of seventeen teams at the Frederick Invitational in February. The school also placed in fifteen of the twenty-three events. Regionals are held at the University of Maryland in late March; if the team qualifies, it will go on to the state competition at Johns Hopkins University.

“Thurmont Middle School had a team that won the states in 2008, and went on to compete in the nationals at George Washington University,” Johnson said.

Although the students love the thrill of the competition, they are also enjoying the journey to get ready for competition as they test designs and ideas, evaluate what happens, and adjust their designs and ideas and search of the winning entry.


Thurmont Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team members, Alyssa Malasky and Joey Risser, build a rocket that is powered by water.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

John Kempisty, Catoctin FFA Reporter

During the week of February 22-28, 2015, FFA chapters across the nation celebrated National FFA Week. The Catoctin FFA Chapter celebrated every day of the week, hosting events for members and alumni.

On Sunday, the Catoctin FFA chapter ate brunch, along with chapter Alumni, at the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant. After brunch, the chapter sold emblems and popcorn at the Tractor Supply Co. store in Walkersville. On Monday, the chapter gave back to the community, making blankets to donate to the Emmitsburg Women’s Center. On Tuesday, the chapter made and served homemade ice cream in appreciation to the hard-working staff of Catoctin High School. On Wednesday, the members wore their camo to school. On Friday, the members, along with alumni, had fun dancing and playing games at a game night. On Saturday, members went skating at Cosmic skate and had dinner out in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, March 3, students from all over Frederick County traveled to Walkersville High School for the regional Creed Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Agriculture Mechanics competitions. Members from Catoctin competing in the Creed Competition were Mackenzie Hendrickson, Tiffany Lenhart, Stephanie Moreland, and Kaitlynn Neff. The creed involves new members in ninth grade, giving a speech called the Creed, and answering questions from the judges. Catoctin members competing in the Extemporaneous Speaking competition were Hannah Barth, May Cruz, and Ashley Grimes. In the Extemporaneous Speech competition, members were given an agricultural-related topic, and had thirty minutes to prepare a speech about the topic. The members were then judged on the quality and duration of their speech. Members on the Catoctin Agriculture Mechanics team were Dusty Hahn, Johnny Kempisty, Rob Reaver, Daniel Wolf; individually competing were Zach Milbourne and Jimmy Kempisty. The Agriculture Mechanics competition involved members demonstrating their proficiency in small engine knowledge and repair, welding, electrical systems, electric motors, and other agricultural technical systems.

Of the teams and individuals who competed at the Region 2 judging, those who placed were: Creed Speaking—Mackenzie Hendrickson;  Extemporaneous Speaking—May Cruz; and Agriculture Mechanics—the Catoctin Agriculture Mechanics team, which placed first.

These members will move to compete on the state level at the 85th Maryland State FFA Convention this coming June. Also, the state Agriculture Mechanics competition will be held in April at College Park.

Creed Speaking

Creed Speakers

Pictured from left are    Stephanie Moreland, Kaitlynn Neff, Tiffany Lenhart, Mackenzie Hendrickson, and Mrs. Poffenberger.

Ag. Mechanics

Ag mechanics

Pictured from left are    Coach Jason Green, Zach Milbourne, John Kempisty, Dusty Hahn, Jimmy Kempisty, Daniel Wolf, and Rob Reaver.

Extemporeneous Speaking

Exemporeneous Speaking

Pictured from left are Ashley Grimes, May Cruz, Hannah Barth, and Mrs. Poffenberger.

Mid Maryland JV Girls Team Wins Championship

The Mid Maryland JV girls basketball team won their league and tournament championships. They finished with a 19-0 record and an undefeated season.   Team members include Madison Tobery, Chayney Barnhart, Allie Thomson, Kallan Latham, Courtney Eyler, Rachel Fox, Hailey Crawford, Jaida Snider, Phoenix Staub, Madison Flohr, Alana Harris, and Lily Smith. Coaches were Jason Smith, Scott Thomson, and Chris Barnhart.

mid maryland JV girls basketball

The Mid Maryland JV girls team finished their successful season undefeated, and moved on to win their league and tournament championships.

Division 1 – 6th Grade Catoctin Boys Basketball Team

The Division 1 – 6th grade Catoctin Boys Basketball team played in the 2nd Annual Max Exposure Winter Championship on February 8, 2015, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The team won their division championship game in overtime.

D1 Cougars 02082015

Christine Schoene Maccabee

The Inevitability of Change

While everyone else is sleeping in on this beautiful early spring morning, I am standing outside listening to the ecstatic songs and calls of birds. I know I am the privileged one, the lucky one, for I get to hear those songs and to see the sun rise on this gorgeous day. I also witnessed the honking of a flock of geese, heading north mind you, not south, while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face.

“No snow in sight!” announced the reporter on my radio yesterday, and a thrill had gone right up my spine! Finally, the change I have been waiting for is beginning.

This has not been an easy winter for anyone. Last fall, I sensed it was going to be a hard one, and so I was dragged kicking and screaming into the cold weather months. Of course, I had no choice but to adjust, as I am entrenched here in the mountains (sort of like reporters who are entrenched in war zones). Flying to Bermuda was not an option, so there was nothing to do but accept the changes in the temperature and the radical moods of the weather patterns. If you got to go to Florida, all I can say is, “Lucky you!”. However, here is a contradiction that  you may find peculiar : I wouldn’t want to live without all these amazing seasonal changes. Once a Maryland girl, always a Maryland girl, complaints and all!

The Ecclesiastic philosopher of the Old Testament lived around 900 B.C., a time when writing one’s thoughts down was beginning to become all the rage. He did not use the word “change,” but that was what he was thinking. I have been thinking a lot about change, too, and its inevitability; and so I am writing about it now in 2015. The “Preacher” as we call this mystery man, was a good bit more grim about life in his book than I am (it is not really a great read). Perhaps if he knew what scientists have revealed to us in this day and age about the nature of life, his mind might have been more at ease. We now know that changes are occurring at every second of our lives, as well as the life of our planet, not to mention the universe. In fact, with no change, there would be no life, at least not as we know it. Without change, much like the changes of chords and keys in music, there would be no creativity and very little of interest or beauty.

Chord changes in music, though hard to learn for some people, come easily to me. However, some changes in life’s circumstances have come very hard. There have been times in my life when I could not sing a love song if you paid me. Loss of love relationships can nearly kill a person. I call this bad change. As well, the unexpected death or disappearance of a loved one can leave a hole in  one’s heart that may not easily be recovered from, if ever. Ambiguous loss (such as not knowing if your son or brother who went off to war is dead or alive (popularly called “missing in action”) can be a tragedy that may be impossible to transcend, and creates a wrenching change for loved ones. Even a divorce can create similar feelings of loss and change, that only time can heal. Unexpected calamities such as fires and floods, auto accidents, twisters, tsunamis, earthquakes, war, and illness also create difficult circumstances that inevitably require heroic adaptation and tons of faith.

A couple of years ago, a fire destroyed my little house and many precious items. This was a most unwelcome change, to say the least.  A time of mourning ensued and my recovery has taken a while, as many of my plans were shattered, as well as my peace of mind. However, due to that setback, among others, I have become a more empathetic person. I see now that we are all bound together by a single thread, that thread being change, and there is no avoiding it. It takes perspective to attain wisdom, and after so many changes in my life, I must admit, I am still not wise. So who is? Your spouse? Your minister? A teacher? Your best friend? Count yourself lucky if you have at least one such person in your life; for no matter how hard the adjustment, there is usually at least one person who cares enough to help see you through with their love and understanding.

If my death (the ultimate change) is inevitable, which it is, then I will again be dragged kicking and screaming ‘til then; none of that mellowing into end of life antiquity for me! As philosophical as I try to be about all the changes—good, bad, and difficult—my plan is to drink deeply from that Fountain of Youth, and, springtime is the best time of year to do just that. Nature is “the gentlest mother” said Emily Dickinson, and, I agree, since my problems tend to melt away as soon as I walk out the door into the wonderful wildness of the little mountain valley I call home. Today, the birds are going crazy trilling their tunes for  mates. In time, babies will be hatching, warmer breezes will be blowing, Easter eggs will be hunted by our next generations, and resurrection feelings will come as naturally as the crocus and daffodils emerging from the once frozen soil. I can handle spring changes. They are great changes!

So, thank God winter is over! Let us now all join in singing a lusty chorus of “Alleluias” for the wonder, and inevitability, of change (and don’t forget the chord changes that create those heavenly harmonies)!

James Rada, Jr.

Five young Labrador retrievers bounded into the Frederick Youth Center on a cold Thursday night, pulling their trainers behind them. Still puppies, they wanted to romp, play, and explore. They slid on the wooden floor, as they strained their leashes to visit nearby people or other puppies.

This wasn’t a play-date for them, though. Pretty soon, they were calmed down and one-by-one they were asked to show their mastery of basic commands. They had to go to their rug and lay down on command and come to their trainer on command. They were also walked around the room to experience different smells and tactile sensations.

These puppies are destined for bigger things than chasing squirrels around a yard. They are only puppies now, but in a couple of years they will help blind people lead independent lives. These puppies are part of the Guiding Eyes For The Blind Program.

“Our job is to raise the puppies to be sent to New York, where they can be trained to be guide dogs,” said Beth Propps of Emmitsburg.

She and her family have raised three dogs, from approximately eight weeks old until they are eighteen months old. Propps first got involved with the program in 2009, when she saw a newspaper ad asking for volunteers.

“We do miss the puppies when they leave—they’re all such characters—but we know going in we’re only going to have them for a short time,” Propps said.

Guiding Eyes has been around since 1954, so they have developed a program based on seeing what has worked in the past. Since all of the puppies that the organization trains each year can’t be trained in New York, where the Guiding Eyes headquarters is, local organizations like Guiding Eyes Catoctin have been set up to handle the pre-training of puppies.

“They tell you exactly what needs to be done each day,” Propps said. “Then the puppies are evaluated weekly to see how they are doing.”

The pre-training involves things that are good for every dog to know. House manners. Obey voice commands. Control their youthful exuberance. The local families also make sure to expose the dogs to a variety of stimuli, such as train noises, crowds, and farm animals.

Not all dogs are cut out to be guide dogs, though. When the dogs are eighteen months old, they are evaluated for the New York program, and again upon completion of the program. Those dogs that don’t make the cut are often used as companions for autistic children or police dogs to be trained to sniff out drugs or bombs. A few might be used in a Guiding Eyes breeding program. If none of those options work, then the dog is adopted out to a loving family.

Guiding Eyes depends on volunteer puppy raisers to provide the love, support, and direction the puppies need to prepare them for formal training as future guide dogs. No prior experience is necessary, as Guiding Eyes provides training and support for raisers; raisers attend local classes and puppy evaluations. 

For more information or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer puppy raiser or simply want to learn more, take a look at these websites: Guiding Eyes Catoctin: and Guiding Eyes For the Blind:


Puppy-in-training, Endora, is shown with her raiser, Susan Allen.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.


James Rada, Jr.

You may notice some new road signs in Thurmont indicating that you are on The Gateway Trail.

The signs were approved by the Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners in January, as a way to start promoting the new hiking and biking trail before the weather turns warm.

Thurmont Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder told the commissioners that the idea was “to create a buzz” about the trail.

In 2012, Catoctin Mountain Park had nearly 250,000 visitors, but only a small portion of those visitors extended their visit into Thurmont, according to Grinder. She believes that The Gateway Trail will help encourage visitors to come into town after their visit to the park.

The trail begins at the Trolley Trail in town. From Memorial Park, it runs along Park Lane to Frederick Road to South Altamont and west along West Main Street. At that point, the trail will tie in with a trail that the National Park Service is developing down to the Lewis Property. Once complete, visitors will be able to hike from Thurmont up onto Catoctin Mountain and back.

Eventually, the goal is to run the trail through Community Park and build a bridge at the back of the park that crosses the highway and ties into the Lewis Property from that direction.

The mayor and commissioners approved $350 for up to twelve signs to mark the trail. This would allow people to start using the trail this season. Grinder said that it would put the trail “on the map” for possible funding for trail improvements next year.

“This can work,” Grinder told the commissioners. “It will work. It is just going to take a concerted effort by all parties.”

The Palms Restaurant Adds New Hours

Deb Spalding

Terry (Orndorff) Ryder and Doug Long, proprietors of The Palms Restaurant, located at 16-20 West Main Street in Emmitsburg, will now open the restaurant on Tuesdays, from 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

Customer hours the rest of the week remain the same: Wednesdays through Saturdays, 7:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; Sundays 7:30-11:30 a.m., with only breakfast served; Closed on Mondays.

Terry has a long history at the restaurant. She was hired in 1981 by Adam Mott, and worked there full-time for seven years. She left for a job at the Provincial House.

“In 1999, Frank Davis talked me into coming back full-time,” said Terry. His mother, Dot Davis, needed the help, so she worked with Frank and his wife, Julie, to run the establishment. In August of 2001, Terry and Doug purchased the business.

The restaurant stands on a solid reputation for good food. “Everything is homemade,” said Terry.

Customer favorites include soups, crab cakes, the crab & cheddar melt, the real hot turkey sandwich with fries, and the desserts. Despite the chilly weather, the soft ice cream machine is up and running for hot fudge brownie sundaes and pie a-la-mode. Breakfast is also popular at The Palms Restaurant.

“On Sundays, if you get in before the door locks, you will get your breakfast,” said Terry.

The bar at The Palms is also open. Stop by for the popular Orange Crush that also comes in Ruby Red Grapefruit, Orange Cranberry, and Watermelon flavors. When the restaurant is open, The Palms’ bar is also open. Stop in until 10:00 p.m. on Wednesdays; 11:00 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Specials this month include Roast Turkey on Thursdays and Pan Fried Chicken on Wednesdays.

Call 301-447-3689 for carryout.


Pictured are Terry Ryder and Doug Long, owners of The Palms Restaurant in Emmitsburg.

Photo by Deb Spalding

Main Street Groomers Open Shop in Emmitsburg

Deb Spalding

Judy Cochran opened the first Main Street Groomers shop with her twin sister, Cindy Grimes, in Thurmont a few years ago.

Since that first opening, Cindy has shifted her attention to her real estate business, while Judy has opened additional shops on several Main Streets: Taneytown, Walkersville, Middletown, and, most recently, Emmitsburg.

Greta Gray is the full-time groomer at the Emmitsburg location. She’s been grooming for over a year, having completed her training at the Thurmont shop.

Main Street Groomers is a full-service groomer for dogs and cats. They will give your pet a bath, a shave, a haircut, a clipping, a nail trim, clean their ears, brush their teeth, and so on.

“Most people will choose their groomer by location. We have a great reputation for being a full-service, friendly groomer. We take very good care of our dogs and cats,” said Gray.

Shop owner Judy Cochran said, “It’s important to me to ensure that our customers receive the best of care. Our pets are members of our families, and we treat them as part of our family while they visit.”

Customer, Eric Lewis of Emmitsburg, took his boxer named Koolie to the Emmitsburg Main Street Groomers, because he received their colorful flier in the mail. “I chose this groomer because of location. Greta is doing a great job,” said Lewis.

Emmitsburg’s Main Street Groomers is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. until the last appointment. Appointments are requested for all services, except nail clipping. Walk-ins are accepted for nail clippings for $10.00 (mornings are recommended).

Please ask about their Bath Therapy program for dogs with allergies or skin issues!

Pets of all sizes, colors, breeds, and temperaments are welcome to the shop. All pets will be pampered equally. Services start at $25.00, but specific prices will be determined when the scope of services is defined.

Stop by 321 West Main Street, Suite 1, in Emmitsburg, or call 301-447-3100 for more information. Find Main Street Groomers on Facebook and online at


Greta Gray at Emmitsburg Main Street Groomers with Shay Gray and Koolie Lewis.

Photo by Deb Spalding 

Seton Village Now Fully Leased

James Rada, Jr.

It didn’t take long for the new Seton Village Apartments in Emmitsburg to fill up. The apartments were open for occupancy in November 2014 and the last of the forty-three units was occupied in early February 2015.

“The people who are moving in love the property, and they love the community,” said Karen Williams, the community manager for Humphrey Management, who handles the leasing of the apartments.

Homes for America, a non-profit housing development corporation, redeveloped one wing of the Daughters of Charity Provincial House and converted the A wing into forty-three senior apartments. The apartment sizes range from 600 square feet to 900 square feet. They include a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and handicap-accessible designs.

Homes for America is based in Annapolis, Maryland. It specializes in creating affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households, in particular those that include seniors or people with special needs. Since 1994, Homes for America has created 67 housing communities that contain 5,258 rental units in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware.

Williams said that the apartments and its residents have integrated well with the other non-profit and business operations in the building. The apartments share their building with the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Daughters of Charity Archives, and St. Joseph’s Ministries.

While some of the residents in Seton Village already lived locally and simply relocated, other residents moved into the community from out of state.

“We have residents from Massachusetts, Florida, and Texas,” Williams said. “With the family from Texas, their family lived locally and was able to relocate them here when they heard about the apartments.”

Seton Village, which began two years ago, received a federal loan to help purchase the property. As long as the community continues to meet certain conditions, the loan will not have to be repaid.

Getz Computers and Communications Opens in Emmitsburg

Deb Spalding

Getz Computers and Communications is now open to service all of your IT needs at 402 West Main Street in Emmitsburg. Proprietor, Brian Getz, of Emmitsburg, has eighteen years of experience in basic networking and cabling, personal computer repair, laser printer repair, laptop repair, virus removal, spyware removal, operating system upgrades, and just about anything to do with a personal computer.

Before opening the store, Brian worked out of his house. He had two reasons for moving into a retail space: (1) Internet service—he did not have good service in his home; (2) Retail inventory—he’d like to sell retail computer items such as mice, keyboards, HP computers, print cartridges, and the like.

Call Brian Getz at the new Getz Computers and Communications shop for all of your IT needs at 301-447-4292. Brian can also help to dispose of old equipment, but he cautions customers that there may be a cost involved, especially when the customer would like the data on the hard drives to be erased or shredded before a computer is junked.

Brian can also coach computer “dummies” with the basic use and function of their computers. He will go to your location or you can stop by the shop.

There is convenient free parking on both sides of the street outside of his shop.


Pictured are Brian Getz and his son, Zachary.

Photo by Deb Spalding