Jeffries Farm: focusing on faith, family, farm and flowers

The Garrett County Republican

SWANTON — Jeffries Farm is a family business that started in 2020 on a small budget and a dream.

“Our focus through it all is faith, family, farm and flowers,” said Nicole Jeffries, who tends the farm with her husband, Dalton. “We are still so new at all of this, but we are so excited to dive in, work hard, grow and look back in 30 years and say, ‘Remember when our little girl was 1 and we started this business with pretty much nothing?’”

The couple grows fresh-cut flowers and fillers to put into spring and summer bouquets.

“It’s all started here on the farm, from seed, and when I say there is blood, sweat and tears involved, I’m not kidding,” Jeffries said.

She grew up on the farm where they currently live, and the couple actually met when they were children showing animals at the Garrett County Fair.

“That’s a true Garrett County love story,” Jeffries said.

She noted that she came out of high school ready to head to college and into a pre-vet program. Soon after she started, she realized it wasn’t for her, but she knew she wanted to be involved in agriculture.

When Jeffries became a stay-at-home mom, she said she knew that while she wanted to raise her kids, she also needed something for herself.

She started researching “jobs in agriculture” online, and “flower farmer” popped up.

“I thought, ‘That sounds cool,’ so I started researching … and convincing my husband … and that’s really how it all came to be,” Jeffries said.

She noted that she originally learned about growing plants in horticulture classes in college, which she thought were “super boring” at the time.

Jeffries did more research and started following flower farmers from other areas on social media.

“I joined a page on Facebook filled with other flower farmers from around the world that has been an amazing source of knowledge,” she said. “I really have little to no experience or knowledge of running a business, but my dad has been running his own business for years now and my mom also owned a small business here in Garrett County called June Bugs Party Rentals, so to some extent it comes naturally. And they have also been there with advice and guidance along the way.”

Currently, Jeffries’ family volunteers time to help out, but she hopes to continue to grow and bring on employees in the near future.

“We want more than anything to bring joy to people,” Jeffries said. “We want the flowers to speak life and love into people.”

She noted that her time in the field is usually her only time alone and usually her prayer time.

“Most of the time, each flower is prayed over, not only that it will do well in the vase for the customer for my good, but that it will make a difference in someone’s day,” Jeffries said.

She also said she wants people to feel relaxation and fun when they come to the farm.

“We are really excited to host more people and hopefully turn this farm into a place that people love to visit,” Jeffries said.

To read the full article click here.

Garrett County’s sesquicentennial celebration kicks off

From WV News

OAKLAND, Md. — A kickoff to Garrett County’s sesquicentennial celebration took place last week at the Garrett County Courthouse.

The 150th anniversary commemorates the incorporation of Garrett County on Dec. 4, 1872. It was formed from neighboring Allegany County and was the last county to be created in the state of Maryland.

The event was held as part of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners public meeting Dec. 6.

The program included a proclamation by the commissioners and special guest speakers Robert Boal of the Garrett County Historical Society and Albert Feldstein, a local historian.

“This is going to take obviously a year to celebrate, so everyone that has had a hand in everything that is going on thus far and moving forward, we appreciate it,” Commissioner Paul Edwards said before reading the proclamation to kick off the year of celebration.

“I am honored to speak on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the county I love and have stayed in for 61 years,” Boal said.

He noted that as far as the creation of Garrett County goes, very little was done before the Civil War.

“There were rumblings of discontent up here in the mountains that we didn’t have enough representation. We were sort of the weak sister, but no movement ever occurred,” Boal said. “With the end of the Civil War, that changed.”

He stated that the region began to boom with the arrival of the B&O Railroad in the 1850s, with agriculture, timber and coal.

“Garrett County felt our wealth and our resources were being taken out of here and we should have more control over all of this,” Boal said.

He mentioned several key players and developers who started the movement.

“It caught on slowly because this was a very remote area,” Boal said. “The awakening in GC started about 1870, and some very powerful locals picked up on it. These men lit the spark that brought the fire.”

He noted that the group started having community barbecues where they met, shared a meal and talked about what this area should be. It turned into a movement that was very strong.

In April 1872, the General Assembly passed a bill to allow for an election, which took place on Nov. 4, 1872. Dec. 4, 1872, was the date set for the county to become the newest in the state.

Feldstein stated that the reasons listed on the petition for creation of a new county included the substantial distance from far Western Maryland to the existing county seat in Cumberland, greater representation in the state’s General Assembly, greater opportunities for local tax revenue and more appropriate expenditures of public funds.

Two possible names were proposed for the county: Garrett and Glade.

He noted that the new county was established by the Maryland State Legislature on April 1, 1872, but it was a requirement that it be left up to the voters.

The vote on Nov. 4 resulted in 1,297 in favor of a new county and 405 opposed.

“Congratulations to Garrett County, and we should all look this good after 150 years,” Feldstein said.

To read the full article click here.

Western Maryland Scenic 1309 receives FRA approval

From Trains.com

RIDGELEY, W.Va. — The Federal Railroad Administration Thursday approved Western Maryland Scenic Railroad 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 for service, officials of the Cumberland, Md.-based tourist railroad tell Trains News Wire. The last Baldwin built for domestic service in 1949 immediately becomes the world’s largest operating Mallet on a 17-mile mountain railroad that was once the Western Maryland main line, including iconic Helmstetter’s Curve.

The locomotive will immediately begin its testing and break in period, leading up to its operation on Polar Express trains next month and regular service and special events next winter and spring. The former Chesapeake & Ohio engine only operated in regular service for six years before retirement and was displayed at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore for years before Western Maryland Scenic bought and moved it in 2014. The engine and three cars were running this morning.

The $3.5 million restoration of the large articulated was a monumental task for a tourist railroad of modest means and working in a former Western Maryland car shop. Workers last December pushed to get the engine to the point where it could move on its own for the first time in 64 years and debuted it on Dec. 31. Since then, the shop crew has been chasing down thousands of final details, rebuilding the stoker, and acquiring parts that were difficult to come by during the Covid-19 pandemic. The railroad, which had not run since the 2019 season, also worked to reopen during 2021, which made No. 1309’s restoration a close but still second priority.

The Mallet, which uses its steam twice, was the fabled Baldwin Locomotive Works’ last domestic product in 1949 and is thus a major landmark in U.S. steam locomotive manufacturing.

Crews from railway preservation came from across the U.S. to assist in the final weeks of reassembly, a painstaking and difficult process for a locomotive that received little maintenance in its working life, spent years on display in a humid environment, and was disassembled by a different restoration crew. Its restoration was slowed earlier by an employee’s theft of parts, significant funding challenges, and the immensity and complexity of such a large locomotive.

steam locomotive outside depot
Western Maryland Scenic 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 begins test runs today following FRA approval of the locomotive after an extensive 7-year, $3.5 million restoration. Here it is outside Cumberland Depot. (Walter Scriptunas II photos)
When it begins regular operations, No. 1309 will be the only articulated rod engine in action in the eastern U.S., and the largest steam power in the East. Union Pacific’s Big Boy operates on UP tracks and is a simple articulated, meaning it feeds high-pressure steam to all four cylinders.

No. 1309 will be operated on 17 miles of the former Western Maryland Railway main line from Cumberland, Md., via famous Helmstetter’s Curve, to Frostburg, Md.

Stalled for funding at the end of 2019, the project was at a standstill. In February 2020, Trains Magazine launched the “Steam the Last Baldwin” campaign to raise money to restart the project. Readers responded with more than $275,000 in donations, and the John Emery Rail Heritage Trust made a special mid-year grant of $50,000 to keep work moving forward. The engine was set on its drivers in June 2020, and final reassembly began.

You can read about the final restoration efforts in our special edition, “Steaming the Last Baldwin,” and a companion DVD. Both are available online at the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

Board of Public Works Approves Community Parks and Playgrounds Funding

Maryland Department Of Natural Resources

The Board of Public Works today approved the last of 31 Community Parks and Playground projects for this fiscal year, totaling $5 million in grants for new and upgraded outdoor facilities in communities across Maryland.

Governor Larry Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget included funding for these projects, through which the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides flexible grants to municipalities to rehabilitate, expand, or improve existing parks, create new parks, or purchase and install playground equipment.

“The Community Parks and Playgrounds Program funds important investments across Maryland,” said Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “These projects create greater access to outdoor recreation including nature trails, accessible playgrounds, skate parks, splash pads, and gathering spaces that connect us with our community and our natural surroundings.”

The following Community Parks and Playgrounds Projects were included in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and have now been approved by BPW:

Allegany County

Barton
Meadow Park Pavilion
$80,000

Cumberland
Allegany College Outdoor Volleyball Courts
$98,000

Frostburg
East End Park
$26,250

Midland
Church Street Playground Improvements
$185,000

Lonaconing
Town Parks Improvements
$80,310

Calvert County

North Beach
Wetlands Overlook Park Nature Center
$110,000

Caroline County

Denton
Fourth Street Park
$197,262

Carroll County

Hampstead
War Memorial Park Revitalization
$245,050

Manchester
Christmas Tree Park
$52,000

Mount Airy
Watkins Park Playground Phase II
$172,949

New Windsor
Town Park Renovations
$50,825

Dorchester County

Cambridge
Cornish Park Revitalization
$343,784

Hurlock
North Main Street Park
$253,300

Vienna
Vienna Playground Upgrade
$137,040

Frederick County

New Market
New Market Community Park Basketball Court Renovation
$31,450

Thurmont
Woodland Park Playground Replacement Phase 2
$160,000

Garrett County

Mountain Lake Park
Leo Martin Memorial Park
$252,469

Oakland
Broadford Park Multi-Use Trails/Stage Amphitheater
$275,000

Harford County

Aberdeen
Rock Glen Park
$400,000

Bel Air
Office Street Pocket Park
60,464

Kent County

Chestertown
Wilmer Park
$209,394

Galena
Galena Elementary School Walking Path
$90,000

Montgomery County

Rockville
Potomac Woods Park Playground Replacement
$185,000

Prince George’s County

Cottage City
Cottage City Tot Lot
$50,000

Riverdale Park
Field of Dreams Park
$177,750

Upper Marlboro
Upper Marlboro Community Playground Phase 2
$199,000

St. Mary’s County

Leonardtown
Leonardtown Alley Network
$225,000

Washington County

Hancock
Widmyer Park Splash Park
$200,000

Williamsport
Byron Memorial Park Interactive Playground
$202,000

Wicomico County

Salisbury
Salisbury Skate Park – Final Phase
$162,801

Worcester County

Berlin
Stephen Decatur Park Restrooms
$99,000

Since its inception, the Community Parks and Playgrounds program has provided more than $79 million in grant funding for about 800 projects.