by James Rada, Jr.
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 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.
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.