(11/12/03) The town's leaders have
begun the process of troubleshooting its biggest event and
setting up a new group to help manage it.
The board of commissioners on Tuesday
decided to create a town committee to study issues arising
from Catoctin Colorfest, the arts and crafts festival that
draws throngs to Thurmont each October.
While the annual fall festival
provides an economic windfall for some businesses and
residents, it also creates problems, officials said.
The only current committee member is
the board's representative, Commissioner Ron Terpko.
Preferring to have committee input,
the board deferred detailed discussion of problems related to
trash, transportation, permit costs and the sale of
inappropriate items like slingshots and knives to youths.
Though the town was hit with a $3,425
bill for towing services, it made enough money to give some
back to the community. Parent teacher groups affiliated with
Catoctin High School ($2,357.50) and the Thurmont elementary
and primary schools ($1,760) as well as the Thurmont Senior
Center ($165) got to keep the money they collected in parking
The decision to give the $4,282.50
back to the groups left the town with a deficit of $31.15 from
the event. Catoctin Colorfest Inc., the organization most
responsible for festival planning, will cover the loss.
In other matters, the commissioners
unanimously decided to provide a 1.5 percent cost-of-living
raise to town employees. The raise, which will cost the town
about $19,300 this year, will be applied retroactive to July
1, when the new budget year began.
When finalizing the budget for this
fiscal year, the commissioners approved a step increase for
employees that amounted to a 3.5 percent raise. They delayed a
decision to provide more money until they learned how state
budget cuts might affect revenues.
The board also was provided an update
on ARRO Consulting's examination of the town's troublesome
sewer system. Raw sewage has backed up into some homes at
least three times this Year, and town workers have had to pump
sewage from the system several times to prevent other backups.
Gary Dingle, town water
superintendent, said manhole inspections and televised testing
of the system have been completed. The company will begin
smoke testing next week.
That test involves filling parts of
the sewer with non-toxic smoke. If the smoke comes out in
someone's basement, it may mean 'a homeowner's sump pump is
improperly connected to the sewer line.
A testing schedule will be posted on
Channel 99, the town's cable-access station.
During the public comment period,
Carol Hutson informed the board that the Support the Troops
group would be sending out another round of care packages to
troops overseas as part of the peacekeeping effort in Iraq.
She requested that updated information on troops who are
overseas or have been sent home be reported to the town