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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(July, 2010) Well, summer is certainly here – too soon as usual and seemingly without a spring! I hope you had a chance to enjoy Community Day sponsored by the Emmitsburg Lions’ Club on June 26. I know the parade and fireworks are the two biggest events of the day and certainly it’s disappointing that the parade couldn’t be held due to the closure of the square. (My hope is that the square is back open before you read this… ) Community Day is often associated with Independence Day because of the fireworks perhaps, but the celebration is meant to honor our town, our neighbors, and our achievements – not just our nation’s birthday. Recent years have highlighted the fiftieth anniversary of locally organized baseball and the 200th anniversaries of Mount Saint Mary’s University and the Daughters of Charity.

Although it seems strange not to hold the celebration of the Fourth of July weekend, we recognize that many people have personal commitments at that time – and from a practical standpoint, the club has come to realize over the years that we just can’t compete for the quality fireworks displays we’ve come to expect on the actual holiday weekend. Please be aware that these fireworks displays are contracted by the Emmitsburg Lions Club and funded by the club and the generous donations of the local business community, the town government, and individuals. Increasing costs make every year a challenge! I believe the cost of this year’s show was over eight thousand dollars!!!

Your local club is a branch of an international organization primarily dedicated to serving the vision impaired. Lions Clubs are common in towns and cities throughout the region, but in addition to providing vision services to the local community or raising funds for the training of guide dogs for the blind, the Emmitsburg Lions also organize a highly successful Health Fair for those with limited access to health services and an annual holiday food drive assisting over eighty local families every year during the Christmas season! If you are interested in learning more about the club, please consider coming to a meeting – they are held at the Carriage House Inn at 6:30pm on the second and fourth Thursday’s of the month (and include a fantastic meal for just $10!).

June 26 also saw over one hundred bike riders come to town on their way to raising money to cure Multiple Sclerosis through the Ride for a Cure. Riders’ are each required to obtain a minimum $150 in pledges, so this is a great fundraiser towards a worthy goal. We all know that many bike riders cycle through and around Emmitsburg every year at this time to explore country roads and the beautiful scenery. It’s great that the Riders for a Cure have accepted the opportunity to use our facilities as a waypoint on their circuit. Although cyclists may not have had an extended stay during the actual event, it’s fair to hope they will have liked what they’ve seen and want to come back on their own time.

In recent town business, the Town Council has approved a Comprehensive Rezoning of the Town meant to better reflect the limited realities of our water and sewer resources and focus development within the existing community with an eye towards expanding our commercial base while protecting the look and feel of the community that we all appreciate. The upcoming fiscal year’s budget was also approved. Tax rates and water and sewer charges remain the same but the general fund budget has declined for the second year in a row due to substantial reductions in other funding sources typically shared by the state or county governments. The latest target date for re-opening the Square is July 2. The Lincoln Avenue sewer and water line rehabilitation project is winding down so disruption should continue to abate. Final paving of Lincoln Avenue will not take place until after the Square reopens - in an effort not to shoot ourselves in the foot again.

Lastly, I would like to compliment Commissioner Tim O’Donnell for his efforts to provide for a rectangular multiuse field for the community. This effort has been attempted in previous years but has always faltered in the face of, shall we say, "institutional headwinds" (or maybe a lack of effective political will…). Tim really took the bull by the horns, continually working to rebut arguments, build a coalition, and move this concept to the point where it can be driven home. Certainly, there are no guarantees yet, but it appears we are now finally on our way to having a site suitable for soccer, football, or lacrosse that may yield local opportunities and remove the need to always commute to Thurmont or Fairfield. This may not seem like it will change the world – but I’ll tell you honestly that having been a commissioner for five years or so, it really is an accomplishment to be able to break the existing town office / administration paradigm! Best wishes for a fabulous July – Chris Staiger

Read other articles by Chris Staiger