Posts by: "Maxine Troxell"

Deb Spalding

As a youngster, Thurmont Historical Society Board Member, Robert Eyler, remembers seeing the Creeger House on his visits from his home in Frederick to his great-grandparents Joseph and Anna Mary Eyler’s house in Thurmont. “As a kid, it was the coolest looking haunted house,” recalled Robert.

Robert was enamored with haunted houses then, and still is. He participates in paranormal investigations. He said his interests have “come full circle” since he orchestrated an investigation of the Creeger House by the Gettysburg Ghost Gals last spring, and serves on the Society’s Board of Directors. He first became familiar with the Thurmont Historical Society when he utilized the Society’s volumes of history to research his family heritage. Robert’s fifth great-grandfather, Frederick, settled Eyler Valley. His son, Benjamin, helped build Eyler’s Valley Chapel for the Eyler family and their friends, because they had no place to worship there.

One day last fall, Robert and Board President, Donna Voellinger, were observing the progress of the brick sidewalk being installed at the front of the Creeger House. Oddly, they noticed dust emanating from the bricks on the front of the house. This seemed to be caused by the vibrations of a jackhammer being used on a patio.

The front of the Creeger House is a facade of bricks, encasing the original log cabin. The bricks are old and soft. To explain the current decay of the bricks, Robert said, “Bricks then weren’t made to withstand the road salt, jarring from equipment, and constant traffic.” Donna added, “At one point, the whole house was covered with Ivy and Wisteria, possibly adding to the decay.”

The Thurmont Historical Society Board of Directors have received a $60,000 quote for repairing the brick.

The Creeger House, located at 11 North Church Street in Thurmont, was originally owned and occupied by Daniel Rouzer and his family in the early 1800s. It is named after Edwin Creeger, who purchased the house in 1926. Edwin was the local Chevrolet dealer. His only son, Edward, was a naval aviator who lost his life in World War II. He was the first war casualty from Thurmont and is memorialized in the naming of the American Legion Post. After Mr. Creeger’s death in 1969, his wife, Ethel, left furniture, clothing, and books behind and never returned to the house. It was vacant for twenty years. In 1990, at the suggestion of Sterling Kelbaugh, Terry Best, and Buzz Mackley, she donated the house to the Thurmont Historical Society. Ethel died in the summer of 1995 and never saw the renovations and restorations that have been made to her old home.

Inside the house, the stories of triumphs and tragedies of the families who lived in the Creeger House, and other families of Thurmont, are housed and shared. Carol Newmann, with the help of Liz Stitely, currently manages the Society’s research library. This library has grown from a foundation of information and collections provided by the late Ann Cissel. It now includes many donations of genealogy and history provided by Thurmont resident and non-resident contributions.

“We have a good collection of books and papers. Most are local. Some are from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Carroll County, and Frederick County,” Newmann said. She can lead you to resources for tracing your family’s lineage, or show you historical photos and documents. You can visit the Creeger House on Sundays, between noon and 4:00 p.m., or call 301-271-1860 to make an appointment.

Donna Voellinger takes pride in managing the relics or “physical objects” that are part of the Society’s collection. See a wooden check that was written and cashed (see photo on page 12); stand in Edward Creeger’s bedroom and view his World War II uniform; see a Seatmore Ice Cream and Soda Table Set where people sat to enjoy ice cream at Wisotzkey Brothers Ice and Ice Cream on the square in Thurmont (see photo on page 12).

Carol and John Ford are the unsung heroes at the Society, quietly giving time and talent to various projects that need to be done. New volunteers are always welcome.

With determination and purpose, the current Board of Directors of the Thurmont Historical Society are tackling the next project in the life of the Creeger House. Monetary help is needed to “Save the Creeger House.” An estimated $30,000 will be raised and matched with grant funds. To help, send a donation.

Online donations can be made with PayPal by visiting www.thurmonthistoricalsociety.org, by mailing to Thurmont Historical Society, 11 N. Church Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, or by dropping by the Creeger House on Sundays between noon and 4:00 p.m. Call 301-271-1860 for inquiries.

Pictured is a wooden check that was written and cashed, part of the Historical Society’s collection.

Displayed at the Creeger House is a Seatmore Ice Cream and Soda Table set, where people sat to enjoy ice cream at Wisotzkey Brothers Ice and Ice Cream on the square in Thurmont

Whether it’s the Weis Pharmacy robbery, the rebuilding of Roddy Creek Covered Bridge, or the deterioration of the Creeger House, they have all caught the attention of Thurmont’s newest newsman, Warren Schaefer.

Warren brings a new perspective to local news: a kid’s perspective. The Thurmont Elementary School third-grader has started a YouTube channel called Thurmont News – a kid’s perspective. The first episode was posted on January 23 and a second episode was posted on February 6, with more on the way.

“After the first one, I had a giant positive response,” Warren said.

The idea for Thurmont News was born out of Warren’s early efforts of filming himself broadcasting weather reports whenever a major weather event hit the area, according to Warren’s father, Steve Schaefer.

Warren wants to be a news reporter, so this was a natural extension of that idea.

Warren comes up with the stories that he wants to write about and then researches them using newspaper and online resources.

“I also ask the mayor (John Kinnaird) if anything is going on,” Warren said.

Warren then goes out with his father to take pictures and interview people. Once he has all of his information, he writes the script, which he said is “pretty hard.” His parents then review it to tighten it up and make sure it reads well.

Then it’s into the spare bedroom in his house, which has been set up as a studio. Steve Schaefer films Warren reading his script until they are satisfied with the result. Steve then edits in photos and the beginning credits.

“It is fun and challenging,” said Warren. “Sometimes we have to film takes over and over, and it gets frustrating.”

“I love being able to work with him and help him explore his passion and ideas,” expressed Steve.

The response to Thurmont News – a kid’s perspective has not only encouraged Warren to continue, but he has expansion plans. He announced in his second episode that his next episode will have a new segment called “Have You Noticed.” Warren plans on going out and finding things in town that adults tend not to notice. He may also expand the length of the shows, which are under five minutes currently.

“I’d like to have my friends on as guest stars and do the weather,” Warren said.

You can find his program by searching for Thurmont News – a kid’s perspective on YouTube.com or visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdP0UKlNcmN4f2-PaGW7INA/videos.

Young broadcaster, Warren Schaefer, is shown in his home studio.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg

Town Approves a New Pool

A pressure test of the Emmitsburg Community Pool plumbing has revealed that it should be replaced. Also, the beams beneath the pool are showing damage and need to be replaced.

This is not entirely surprising. The pool is forty-five years old, and during that time, no significant work has been done to it.

The commissioners had authorized renovation work, but this may prove only a temporary fix that might not be worth the money. Replacing and reconfiguring the plumbing in the filter room, repairing the beam, running a leak detection test, and having a structural engineer examine the pool will cost at least $260,000. A new pool will cost around $369,500.

“If we’re going to do this thing, we might as well put the new one in and be done with it,” said Commissioner Cliff Sweeney.

The rest of the commissioners seemed in agreement, but they need to find the best way to fund the project. The unused funds allocated for the renovations can be applied to the project, and money that is usually paid to a management company for the summer could also be reallocated. They decided to take the balance needed to fund the project from the fund balances in other capital projects so that no money will need to be borrowed to fund the project.

The new pool is expected to be less expensive to run, primarily because water and chemicals won’t be leaking from the pool.

The company making the renovations, Makin’ Waves, is also the company installing the new pool.

Because of the extent of the repairs needed, the pool will not be able to open this summer.

 

Voluntary Water Restrictions Continue

Although rains in the area raised the level of Rainbow Lake, Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners that the town wells are still forty-one feet below their optimal levels from May 2011.

“Although all this rain brought our lake up, it hasn’t had much effect on our wells,” Willets said.

Because of this, the voluntary conservation of water in Emmitsburg will continue.

An Emmit Garden Playground?

A group of citizens asked the Emmitsburg Commissioners to consider building a playground in the Emmit Gardens areas. Currently, the closest playground is in Silo Hill, which requires Emmit Garden users to cross MD 140.

The citizens are asking for a baseball field, swing set, slide, and monkey bars.

Commission President Tim O’Donnell passed the request onto the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee to consider the request and any possible options.

 

What Brown Water Means

In February, some residents saw brown water coming out of their faucets. It was reported to the town office, and staff investigated.

Brown water is caused by a sudden spike in water pressure, which comes from unauthorized access to the water system. In this case, it came from an unauthorized access to a fire hydrant. It is illegal to tap into a fire hydrant without approval from the town. Not only does it cause brown water, it can damage the water pipes.

Please notify the town immediately at 301-600-6300 if you see any individuals, other than town staff and the fire department, using fire hydrants.

 

Algae Control System Approved

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved a new algae-control system that will destroy algae in the water of Rainbow Lake.

LG Sonic uses ultrasound waves to destroy algae. It modulates the ultrasound frequency to target different types of algae to prevent them from rising to the surface to reach sunlight. Without sunlight, the algae die and sink to the bottom. Most of the systems use solar panels to power the technology, so there is little energy consumption.

The cost of the system is $38,650, which not only pays for the system, but gets it up and running. After that, the town will pay $13,000 a year for calibration, interactive monitoring to adjust the sonic waves for the different types of algae, and on-site servicing.

If the system doesn’t live up to the commissioners’ expectations, Kershner Environmental Technologies will buy the system back for $15,000.

 

Town Gets Clean Audit Report

The Town of Emmitsburg received an unmodified opinion (good) in its annual audit of town finances, conducted by Draper and McGinley of Frederick. The audit is required of all municipalities, to be conducted annually to make sure that they are following the best financial practices, and if they are not, alert them to changes that need to be made.

 

Commissioner Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Commissioners appointed Joyce Rosensteel to a five-year term on the town Planning Commission. The alternate member position is still vacant.

The commissioners also appointed Dianne Walbrecker to a three-year term on the Board of the Appeals. Ronald Lynn was also appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Larry Pavek, who resigned from the board, and a three-year term following the end of the unexpired term. This still leaves two vacancies on the board: one for a regular member and one for an alternate member.

 

Thurmont

Thurmont Police See Jump in Calls for Service

In 2014, the Thurmont Police Department’s calls for service were 8,465. Last year, that number was 12,482.

“I’ve been here eleven years, and that’s the highest I’ve seen it since I’ve been here,” Chief Greg Eyler told the commissioners.

He attributed some of the increase to more crime, but he also noted that citizens were being more proactive in reporting suspicious activity. Answering a question from a commissioner, Eyler also noted that some of the crime increase could be from crimes, such as vehicle break-ins, that people are committing to fund drug habits.

He pointed out that despite the increase in calls for service, Thurmont has a low level of serious crime.

Some citizens were concerned about the number of calls that took Thurmont Police officers out of town to assist other law enforcement agencies. This came about from some misinterpreted data in the Frederick News Post. According to Eyler, of the 12,482 calls for service, only 252 were to assist other agencies, and of that number, only 110 required a Thurmont officer to leave Thurmont. This is less than one percent of the calls for service that Thurmont Police answered in 2016.

 

Creeger House Needs Repairs

Members of the Thurmont Historical Society told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners that the home of the Thurmont Historical Society Creeger House is desperately in need of repairs. Ethel Creeger donated the house to the historical society in 1989. The original portion of the house is a log cabin built in the 1920s. Col. John Rouzer, a state senator and Civil War soldier, called the building home. It is not only a historical structure, but it contains artifacts, documents, and genealogy of local interest.

The building has “big problems,” according to Historical Society President Donna Voellinger.

The exterior bricks are deteriorating, and, in some cases, turning to sand. The brick cladding on the log cabin is also threatening to pull away in some places. The roof has holes in it that sunlight can be seen through.

The Historical Society is seeking donations to help pay for the needed repairs. The funds will go toward a matching $30,000 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust. This means that for each donated dollar, the historical will get another dollar.

“The Creeger House does not belong to us,” Voellinger said. “It belongs to the community, and we’ve lost a lot of buildings already; we don’t want to lose this one.”

The Town of Thurmont is considering adding a donation to the town’s budget to help the Historical Society. Work on the Creeger House would not start until at least July.

Last year, more than two hundred people visited the Creeger House from twenty different states.

 

Thurmont Receives Clean Audit

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received their annual audit during the February 7 town meeting. McLean, Koehler, Sparks and Hammond of Frederick conducted the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. Megan Baker and Barbara Walker of MKS&H presented the highlights of the audit to the commissioners and answered any questions.

“This audit is probably one of the best we’ve ever had,” Walker told the commissioners. The town received a clean audit report, which means that the town is handling its money and assets and reporting it in a proper way.

 

Commissioners Want to Turn Railroad Bridge into Art

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently discussed how to improve the old Midland Railroad bridge over Church Street and turn it into something attractive.

Commissioner Marty Burns wants to spearhead the effort and form a citizen’s committee that will make recommendations to the town about what can be done with the bridge.

The 1936 bridge shows some rust and worn paint on the metal bridge, while the abutments show wear and water staining.

Mayor John Kinnaird supported Burns’ efforts and showed some pictures of what other communities have done with their railroad bridges. They have used the abutments to paint murals and painted the bridges with attractive colors.

Both Burns and Kinnaird said they would like to see the bridge painted with the word “Thurmont” or “Welcome to Thurmont.”

Kinnaird said that he believes that the bridge wouldn’t need to be sandblasted, which would save a lot of money. He said that he believed a fish-oil paint could be used on the bridge, and it would hold up well.

“It is quick, instantaneous,” Burns said. “People will see it change to the positive just with paint on it. It doesn’t cost us a lot of money.”

It would also allow the town time to see if a grant could be found to make improvements to the bridge. It is estimated that it would cost about $13,000 to refinish the abutments and prepare them to be painted.

 

Food Bank Parking Lot Expansion Approved

The Town of Thurmont had purchased the home at 8 Frederick Road with the idea of expanding the parking lot at the Thurmont Food Bank. The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a bid of $33,925 from R. L. McNair and Sons to demolish the house, grade the property, and apply asphalt to expand the parking lot.

 

Appointments Made

New Thurmont Police Officer Richard Gast was sworn in during a recent town meeting.

Also, the commissioners reappointed Board of Appeals members Kirby Delauter and Carol Robertson to the commission. They also appointed alternate member Jason West to a new term as a full member of the board.

 

Mayor John Kinnaird

March is upon us and brings with it the hope of nice weather! With this in mind, the Thurmont Green Team is currently taking applications for the Community Garden on Carroll Street. This project was started last year by the Green Team as a way for residents to have small garden plots for growing vegetables, flowers, or fruit. The Community Garden was a big hit, and I am sure this year will be as well. Be sure to stop at the town office to reserve a spot before they are all gone. I thank the Green Team for starting this project, as well as many others, including the planting of wildflowers along the Maryland Midland tracks.

Speaking of the Maryland Midland railway, Commissioner Burns has once again brought forth the idea of getting the Church Street railroad bridge painted and having Thurmont added to the steel bridge to welcome visitors to our town. Once we get permission from the parent company, Genessee Wyoming, to move forward with the project, we will be asking for volunteers to help establish a committee to help guide the process. Several years ago, Karen and I approached the railroad but could not get a commitment from them to allow any work to be done. We had made a proposal based on a plan to paint the steel bridge, repair the abutments, and then add a mural to each of the abutments. I had proposed painting a mural of the Western Maryland Railway Station, with a steam locomotive on the West abutment. On the East abutment would be a mural of the Hagerstown and Frederick station, the adjoining substation and a trolley car. It is my hope that we can at least get the steel painted and have Thurmont, our town seal, and the Genessee and Wyoming logos placed, and have the abutments repaired and coated. The murals can be added as we get funding or donations of time. The murals may be a good way to get art students at Catoctin and local colleges involved in community service. Once we get going, please think about helping us with either a donation or hands on assistance with the work.

The repairs on the Roddy Road Covered Bridge are nearly complete, and Frederick County plans on it being open to traffic sometime in mid-March. One of the final improvements to be completed prior to the opening is the installation of height warning devices at both ends of the bridge. These will consist of two structures made of wooden posts, with a cross beam and a metal plate hung to the 8’ – 6” maximum height allowed over the bridge. The warning devices will be set far enough from the bridge that they will have little visual impact on the bridge itself. There is also going to be a truck turnaround area on Roddy Road, to the South side of the bridge. The town will be working with the County to improve the truck route signage within Thurmont to help guide trucks safely to Rt. 15. The bridge is looking great and looks almost exactly as it did before the truck damaged it last year. The County has also made vast improvements to the Roddy Road Covered Bridge Park. Roddy Creek Road has been moved away from the bridge and a small park with parking, picnic facilities, and nice walkways will now greet visitors interested in stopping at the bridge.

As a resident, and now Mayor of our community, I have always been very proud of our Police Department, and I am pleased to welcome our Force Officer Richard Gast. Officer Gast comes to us with many years of experience in the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and as a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His duties will include investigations, traffic enforcement, and patrol. Please be sure to welcome Officer Gast to our community!

As always, I look forward to speaking to our residents and remind you that I can be reached via email at jkinnaird@thurmont.com or by cell at 301-606-9458.

Mayor Don Briggs

With the winter banquet season now drawing to a close and the Super Bowl behind us, there is not much left to blur the stark reality of winter. Left to a sullen impatience is the unsettled longing for spring. While heartened by the unhurried longer daylight hours, it was the surprise guest of a few warm days that gave a nod to the hope of an early spring. Also stirred by the elixir of warmer temperatures so obliging to my anxious imagination, was the restless ambition of Lib’s perennials pushing up throughout the backyard to confirm the possibility. Oh, so tempting the signals be.

If I seem particularly attentive to the signs of spring, it is because this is the spring the Square – Main Street revitalization project is to begin. Yes, finally after four years of plotting and planning, that seems to us at times to be moving at a glacier pace, but to our development partner the State Highway Administration (SHA), as moving along at an unimpeded rush. This project along with the now underway East Street – Flat Run Bridge replacement, a 100 percent SHA project, when complete, will, for the first time, provide connected sidewalks through the downtown along Main Street, from the Brookfield and Pembrook Woods subdivisions to the west and the Silo Hill commercial area to the east.

All of this has been done as a compatible part of a State of Maryland Sustainable Communities Program. One of the first decisions I made when I came into office was to go with the Sustainable Community Program, and not the state Main Street program, a decision I haven’t regretted for a minute. Private property façade grants under the program, together with our own initiatives, have exceeded expectations. To the five consecutive years of matching grant awards, totaling $250,000, results in $500,000 invested in the town historical property façades area. During the same period, pedestrian connectivity and safety has been enhanced, with eight sidewalk connections throughout the town. Now with the downtown revitalization project about to start, it is all coming together. We are moving to a goal of a more walkable town. Thank you for your patience.

On April 6, 1917, the United States, through joint congressional action, declared war on the German Empire. On April 8, 2017, the American Legion and VFW will recognize the 100th Anniversary of this declaration at noon at the Doughboy.

Working through the State House is a blighted properties bill. Though giving much-needed attention to a municipal problem, the bill seems to give a pass to banks and their foreclosed-on properties. The bill might have to be accepted as at least a step in the right direction.

Another pending bill is Senate Bill 141 that would require Maryland’s local board of elections to establish polling places at each public and private college and university in the State that awards baccalaureate or graduate-level degrees and has campus housing. The local election boards must pay a reasonable fee to cover the costs of the space. Imagine everyone in Emmitsburg having to go to the Mount.

My response: If public schools need to take back a normal closing day, Election Day, the Town of Emmitsburg has an optional location for polling. Moving the polling site to the Mount would be inconvenient and expensive for the town residents, and particularly devastating to our senior residents. More to come on the progress of this bill.

 

CHS Class of 2017 Safe & Sane has many not-to-miss upcoming events, including a Cash Bingo on March 5 at Lewistown Fire Hall; a Spring Bazaar at CHS on March 25, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., with Easter Bunny and face painting for kids; and more! View the advertisement on page 20 for more information.

Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Company is holding a Bingo Bash on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Doors will open at 4:00 p.m., with games starting at 7:00 p.m. View the advertisement on page 17 for more information.