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Residents Invited to Submit Nominations for Outstanding Volunteer Awards

Some of the County’s most outstanding community leaders and dedicated volunteers will be honored at the first annual Montgomery Serves Awards Ceremony to be held on April 30 at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. 

Residents are invited to nominate persons for consideration for either or both of the following awards:

  • Neal Potter Path of Achievement Awards.  Two residents, aged 60 and above, will be selected for their lifetime of volunteer service to the County.  This annual award is named in memory of former County Councilmember, County Executive, and longtime civic activist Neal Potter.
  • 2011 Montgomery Serves Awards.  Special volunteer accomplishments during the calendar year 2011 will be presented in three categories: Youth Service Awards (individual youth 18 years and under and/or youth groups); Corporate Service Awards (businesses or corporations that engage their employees as community volunteers); and Community Service Awards (exemplary volunteer service by individuals or community organizations).

Nominations will be accepted up to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 19.  Additional information and nomination forms may be found at www.montgomeryserves.org.

The Montgomery Serves Awards event is hosted by the Fund for Montgomery (FFM), created by County Executive Ike Leggett and the Office of Community Partnerships to raise private funding to continue important community -building events like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, World of Montgomery Festival, Community Service Day, and ethnic heritage events.

The awards program is being organized by the FFM, Montgomery County Volunteer Center and the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 7:00:00 AM |

The Trail that Volunteers Built

Northwood teacher Mike Sauter checks out a sign along the trail. Photo by Jessica Chambers.

Anne Ambler of Neighbors of Northwest Branch and Erol Miller, Northwood teacher, are happy with the work done by their respective groups and all others in the partnership. Ed Murtagh photo. 

Two of southern Montgomery County’s largest green spaces -- Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch Parks -- are now connected thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers who recently completed a half-mile extension of the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail in Breewood Park.

The project was completed by the volunteers under a public/private partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Northwood High School, Neighbors of Northwest Branch and Montgomery County Department of Parks.

The first phase of the trail project was completed in June 2010. In April 2011, volunteers constructed more of the trail, extending it to University Blvd.  Finally, in November, 25 students and community volunteers built the half-mile extension of the trail in Breewood Park

The new segment connects Sligo Creek Park, just below University Blvd. (on the Parkway across from the last playground), to Northwest Branch Park at the Loxford Terrace connector trail.  The new trail section is part of a two-mile trail planned and installed by the partnership over the last three years. 

DEP’s role in the partnership included assisting in the removal of invasive plants and trash to improve the health of the nearby stream.  The agency continues to monitor water quality in the stream near the trail and plans to perform a stream restoration and install bioretention areas in the future.   A bioretention system is a facility that filters stormwater runoff from hard surfaces like streets and sidewalks through a soil bed planted with native plants.  This process removes pollutants and filters water before releasing it downstream.  In partnership with the County’s Department of Transportation, DEP has installed some of its first bioretention systems on nearby Arcola Ave.

For more information about the trail project, contact Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail Project Coordinator Jennifer Chambers at jennifer@hikingalong.com.

POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 5:00:00 AM |


Working Smoke Alarms Critical to Home Safety; Free Installation and Maintenance Assistance Available

Fire Chief Richard Bowers reminds residents that as the winter heating season approaches, it’s critical that every home have working smoke alarms. “I strongly urge every resident to take a few minutes to test their smoke alarms, practice their home fire escape plan and replace any smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. Many people believe that smoke alarms last forever. They don’t.”

Montgomery County Code requires homeowners to install, test and maintain smoke alarms on every level of their home and outside all sleeping areas. Failure to comply with this local law could result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offers residents free assistance with smoke alarm installation and maintenance. Any homeowner who cannot install or test smoke alarms in their homes due to age or physical limitations or cannot afford to purchase a smoke alarm or batteries can call 311 for assistance.

For additional safety information, visit www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe.

An Important Holiday Tradition: Safety Tips from Police

Ready or not…it’s here. Another holiday season. That’s why Montgomery County Police have provided a comprehensive list of tips to help keep residents safe when shopping, walking and just spending time at home.

Below are examples from the complete list.

When shopping: 

  • Do not become distracted by your shopping.  Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Park in well-lit parking lots and park as close to the mall or store as possible.
  • Lock your car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk or under the seats of your vehicle.

When out walking:

  • Wherever you are, on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, or waiting for a bus or the subway, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
  • Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.

When at home:

  • If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they could be seen.
  • Make sure to lock doors and windows.
  • If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone pick up your mail and newspapers.

“Respect The Space”: Keep Accessible Parking Spaces Open for Those Who Need Them

With the start of the busiest shopping season of the year, County Executive Ike Leggett has introduced a new education and enforcement initiative entitled “Respect the Space.”  The program will raise awareness about the proper use of accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities. 

“During the holiday season, parking lots fill to capacity, making close-in accessible spaces particularly tempting,” said Leggett.  “But I urge everyone to think very carefully about who those spaces are intended for …. We all need to respect the space and help ensure that reserved parking spaces are available for those who truly need them.”

“Respect the Space” is a cooperative effort involving the Police Department, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Permitting Services, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger outlined the kinds of enforcement that his officers will be conducting.  “I am encouraging our officers to issue citations to all vehicles that do not have disabled placards or plates and are parked in accessible spaces.”

Anyone who sees a vehicle without an accessible placard or plate in an accessible space, should report it by calling the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.

 Information about how to apply for disabled parking placards and permits, as well as laws and requirements regulating them can be found on the MVA website: www.mva.Maryland.gov

More information about the Respect the Space initiative is on the County’s website -- www.montgomerycountymd.gov. Click on the Respect the Space icon.

Volunteers Sought to Assist Residents with Free Tax Help

Volunteers are needed to assist eligible residents with free income tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) partnership, sponsored by the County Community Action Agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

VITA volunteers work 16 or more hours a week during tax season, from late January to mid-April, as tax preparers, greeters, screeners, interpreters and resource navigators. Flexible hours are available at convenient locations in East Silver Spring/Takoma Park, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Wheaton.

Free training is provided on-site and online. Volunteers who successfully complete the training will receive certification as a tax preparer by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

To volunteer, call 240-777-1123, go to http://volunteer.truist.com/mcvc/org/opp/10494470271.html or email VITA@montgomerycountymd.gov

For more “free tax” volunteer opportunities, visit Maryland CASH Campaign, www.mdcash.org and Montgomery County’s RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program.

Turn Over a New Leaf in the New Year -- Literally

Montgomery County residents interested in learning environmentally sound gardening practices and sharing the information with others can apply now to join the 2012 Montgomery County Master Gardener training program.

The course begins January 24 and continues through March 9 (depending on possible snow days). Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of Maryland Extension, Montgomery County office, at the Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood.

The $300 training fee includes a training manual and other materials. Faculty and staff of the University of Maryland Extension, as well as other experts in the green industry, present horticulture lectures that cover ornamental plants, fruits, vegetables and herbs; identifying common pests and diseases; and proper fertilization and watering practices.

To become a Master Gardener, you must attend a mandatory, two-hour orientation, complete course work and a final exam, and perform 45 voluntary service hours in the first year. Participants should have access to the Internet. Once qualified, Master Gardeners maintain active status by completing 10 hours of advanced training and 25 hours of volunteer service annually. 

Registration deadline is December 30, 2011. Class size is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

To request an application, or for more information, call 301-590-2836.

Commission on Common Ownership Communities Releases Updated Manual and Resource Guide

The Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) has produced an updated “Common Ownership Community Manual and Resource Guide” for the operation of condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations. 

Information in the manual includes annual and special meetings, employee hiring and firing, capital replacement reserves, stormwater management, setting and collecting assessments, and financing.

Copies of the manual are available for $15 each.

For more information, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636.

CATEGORIES: Code Enforcement , Worth Noting , Volunteer , Public Safety
POSTED: Friday, December 09, 2011 | 2:00:00 AM |

Community Service Week -- Silver Anniversary Provides Golden Opportunities for Service

The World of Montgomery Festival will also serve as the kick-off event for Montgomery County Community Service Week celebrating its 25th anniversary with volunteer opportunities available beginning on Sunday, October 16 and occurring throughout the week.

The Volunteer Center has a goal of 25,000 volunteers working on projects around the County. It's easy to sign up and be part of the Silver Anniversary of Community Service Day -- which began as the brainchild of Bruce Adams, now director of the County's Office of Community Partnerships, and has been picked up over the years by other communities around the country, under various names.

For more information on Community Service Week and how to get involved, visit the CSW website. Also, download the event flyer in English or in Spanish.

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011 | 6:00:00 AM |


Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrations

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month -- September 15-October 15 -- Montgomery County is hosting numerous local events geared for all ages. Programs include musical presentations, book discussions, poetry readings, a health fair, mortgage foreclosure prevention counseling and a Latino Festival.

See the complete calendar listing in English and in Spanish.

Calling All Teens: "Picture It @ your library®"

Begun in 1998, Teen Read Week (TRW) is now barely a teen itself.

But in its 13 years of existence, TRW -- sponsored by the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association -- has presented special events and programs that encourage teens to read for pleasure and to visit their libraries for free reading materials.

TRW is celebrated this year from October 16 to 22, and, through the theme "Picture It @ your library®," teens are invited to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, seek out creative books or imagine the world through literature, just for the fun of it.

TRW is also a great chance to let your school or your public library staff know how important teen services are.

Get specific information about TRW in Montgomery County Public Libraries.

"Where's Ike?"

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) announces the launch of "Where's Ike?", an online, interactive campaign to increase awareness of and appreciation for the amazing public art pieces located around Montgomery County.

Each week through October, AHCMC will release a new snapshot of County Executive Ike Leggett and a piece of public art on the AHCMC Facebook page (http://facebook.com/creativemoco). Visitors will be invited to guess where the public art piece is and share any personal stories they have about the piece.

At the end of the week, AHCMC will reveal the location and details about the piece by posting an updated picture of "Ike's Public Art Passport."

Germantown Indoor Swim Center Reopens after Renovations

The Germantown Indoor Swim Center at 18000 Central Park Circle in Boyds, has reopened after being closed since early May for renovations. Repairs included removing old paint and repainting the ceiling over the center's three pools.

For more information on this facility or on classes and programs, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

A Healthy Way to Start the Day

Join thousands of students, parents and community members throughout Montgomery County in celebrating the simple act of walking and bicycling to school on International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, October 5.

International Walk to School Day brings community leaders and children together to promote more walkable communities, safer streets, healthier habits and cleaner air. For those who live too far from school to walk, drive part of the distance, park and walk the rest of the way.

For more information about Walk to School Day or organizing an event at your child's school, contact Nadji Kirby, 240-777-7169, email nadji.kirby@montgomerycountymd.gov, or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/saferoutestoschool.

How the Changing Face of Montgomery Impacts Local Government's Service Delivery

Anyone who has lived in Montgomery County for any length of time realizes the face of the community is changing in many ways. Basically, we know how these changes affect us personally, but do any of us stop and consider how our local government is affected?

A recent power point presentation to the County's Quarterly Leadership Forum entitled "The Impact of Changing Demographics on Service Delivery in Montgomery County" shows in charts, graphs, tables and text how the County looks today and will look in the future. It is a bellwether for the County and a basic guideline for elected officials and administrators as they plan appropriate programs and services.

The Quarterly Leadership Forum provides an opportunity for discussion and professional development among County managers, the County Executive and the Chief Administrative Officer.

County Cable Montgomery's New "No Boundaries" Show Features Local Leaders

Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker are both from military families. They are also both originally from the southern parts of the U.S. Both are now influential leaders in Maryland.

In the second episode of County Cable Montgomery's (CCM) new show, "No Boundaries," Ervin and Baker talk about how their upbringings led them to devote their lives to public service, why they share a passion for improving education opportunities and the importance of their two counties working together on key issues.

The 30-minute show is broadcast on CCM on Sundays at 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. throughout September and October.

County Cable Montgomery (CCM) -- Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon -- created the show to allow local leaders to express their views in an informal atmosphere.

A New Website Address -- and More -- for the Volunteer Center

The County's Volunteer Center website has a new address, www.montgomeryserves.org, a new look and some new features.

New to the site are:

  • A Share Your Story feature that invites volunteers to relate their experiences with a paragraph and a photo that tell how they are making an impact in our community. Stories will be displayed throughout the website; and
  • A Volunteer Toolkits site that provides step-by-step instructions about how to plan and lead a volunteer project from the participants' experience.

The center's online database also has a new look. You can still search by location, interest area or organization to find opportunities that interest you. Volunteer accounts were not moved to the new database. If you used to log on to the old system to express interest in opportunities, you still can, you just need to create a new account on the new database. Create a new account or start searching.

Organizations already registered with the Volunteer Center that are wondering how these new changes can benefit them are invited to attend the upcoming October information session to learn more about how to use the new database and other features of the website. See the Orientation schedule for details.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Volunteer , Library
POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011 | 3:00:00 AM |

Noteworthy Notes - 1

“It’s Udderly Terrific”

It’s the 63rd Annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, running from August 12 through 20 at the Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. It’s loaded with free entertainment, animals, KidZone, 4-H demonstrations, arts and crafts, agricultural education, photography, shows and more.

New this year are some exciting entertainment, food and items Lawn Mower Racing, Michelle’s Magic Poodles, StatueViva, Draft Horse Pull, Fudge Puppie Waffles, Cheese Bites, Loaded Ribbon Chips, Alice in Wonderland, Jr. theater performance, and themed events. Additional grandstand events include the Monster Truck Madness and Demolition Derby's “Night of Destruction.

For more information, visit www.mcagfair.com.

Get Around Bethesda on New Circulators

The Bethesda Urban Partnership has launched new vehicles that will replace the former trolley-style vehicles and become the new Bethesda Circulator fleet.

Montgomery County and Bethesda Urban Partnership officials, including County Executive Ike Leggett, recently introduced the new vehicles at a special event at Veterans Park, corner of Norfolk and Woodmont Aves. in downtown Bethesda.

The new Circulators contain 29 seats (including ADA accessible seating) and run on clean burning diesel fuel.

The free Bethesda Circulator’s route makes a 2.1 mile loop throughout downtown Bethesda and arrives at each of the 20 stops every 10 minutes. It connects downtown Bethesda’s public parking facilities and Metro as well as restaurants and retailers for easy navigation of downtown Bethesda.

A map detailing the Circulator’s route and hours, as well as the County’s public parking garages, is available at www.bethesda.org or by calling 301-215-6660.

Fall Guide to Recreation, Parks Programs Available

The Fall 2011 Guide to Recreation and Parks Programs is available at public libraries, as well as community, recreation, aquatic and senior centers around the County. The Guide is also now available online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

The Guide will offer hundreds of classes and programs, including water aerobics, pottery, ballroom dancing, cooking and much more. Registration will begin on August 15.

For more information about the Department of Recreation, call 240-777-6840 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

The Fueling Station of Tomorrow is Here Today

ATR Solartech photo.

The future came to Montgomery County in early August when Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR), an engineering and manufacturing firm based in Columbia, MD, debuted its Solar Power Pole -- Maryland’s first high-efficiency, sun-tracking electric vehicle (EV) solar charging station – in Bethesda at 10401 Old Georgetown Rd.

The Solar Power Pole is a sun-tracking system that moves with the sun to fully capture its clean power throughout the day and can fuel two electric vehicles at a time. Solar power is converted into electric power and stored in the utility grid.

The pole features an 18-foot tall elevated 1,410 watt, six-panel solar array that utilizes GPS-based sun-tracking technology for efficiency gains of 30-45% over conventional fixed solar arrays. The pole-top mount keeps the solar panels well overhead and the curbside footprint very small, aiding in its placement in urban and densely populated areas

County Executive Ike Leggett joined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Assistant Secretary Joel Szabat, Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm Woolf, Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman, Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative Executive Director Jill Sorensen and Alvin L. (“Tripp”) Aubinoe, III, the first purchaser of the ATR Solar Power Pole and owner of the Bethesda site.

Read more about the Solar Power Pole debut event and ATR.

New Website for Youth Curfew Information

A new website on the County Executive’s proposed youth curfew has been added to the County’s homepage, www.montgomerycountymd.gov. Just look for the moon clock icon and “Proposed Youth Curfew” headline.

Included in the information found on the site is the original proposed legislation and testimony by MC Police Chief Thomas Manger presented at the County Council’s public hearing in late July.

Excerpts from the chief’s testimony appear below:

“We have an issue and we need to manage and curtail it. Despite budget hardships, we have retained many positive youth programs. However, our programs will not prevent youth displaced by curfews in other jurisdictions from coming to our downtowns and creating problems….”

“…crimes against juveniles occur throughout the County and are not concentrated in one or two Districts or locations. Similarly, arrests of juveniles are also spread throughout the County. Between 2009 and 2010, juvenile arrests increased from 2,035 (16% of all arrests) to 3,222 (25% of all arrests).

“A curfew law may not be a panacea for these problems but it would be a valuable law enforcement tool, and, given current police intelligence and the existence of such laws in our neighboring jurisdictions, this law would make the County a less attractive place for curfew-displaced youths from neighboring jurisdictions.

"Perhaps nothing we do in law enforcement is as important as working to increase the safety of our juvenile population. Studies show that juveniles who are the victims of crime are more likely to have difficulties later in life.

“We know we can’t ‘enforce’ our way out of every problem, but we also know that effective enforcement tools coupled with police discretion can help us remove a juvenile or a group of juveniles from a situation that could potentially turn violent or result in illegal or harmful conduct.

“As a parent and a Police Chief, I do not want to limit the legitimate opportunities for entertainment and interaction for our young people. Nor do I want to stand idly by and not have at our disposal a tool which can help us manage situations before they turn ugly.”

Read the entire testimony.

Literacy Volunteers Needed; Information Session Coming Up

The Literacy Council of Montgomery County will hold an information session for volunteers interested in helping adults learn to read, write, or speak English on Thursday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Asbury Methodist Village, Rosborough Hall,  201 Russell Ave., Gaithersburg.

Once volunteers have completed the orientation, they can select a two-part training session that fits their schedules. No foreign language skills are necessary. Tutors work one-on-one or with small groups and typically meet with students in libraries or community centers at mutually convenient times.

For complete details, call 301-610-0030, email info@literacycouncilmcmd.org, or visit www.literacycouncilmcmd.org.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Transportation , Code Enforcement , Public Safety , Volunteer
POSTED: Friday, August 12, 2011 | 2:30:00 AM |

Replenishing Mother Earth One Tree at a Time

Photo of volunteers and Mr Leggett during Earth Day during a reforestation project at Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville.

Hundreds of volunteers turned out on Earth Day to launch the first part of a major reforestation project at the Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville. The project was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to the Montgomery Soil Conservation District.

The corps of volunteers, that included County Executive Ike Leggett, students from local high schools, Master Gardeners and other residents of all ages, planted 600 trees on a portion of the 10-acre site adjacent to the landfill that operated from 1982 to 1997. Eventually, the entire 10 acres is slated for tree planting.

Taking time out from planting, Leggett talked with various volunteers. Among them were Sonia D’Agnese and her children, Ugo and Enia.

Read more about the project.

CATEGORIES: County Executive , Volunteer
POSTED: Friday, April 29, 2011 | 6:00:00 AM |

County Executive Launches Pledge 25 Campaign to Encourage Increased Volunteerism

County Executive Ike Leggett kicked off Montgomery County’s 25th anniversary celebration of service and engagement by announcing the new “Pledge 25” challenge, which encourages County residents of all ages and abilities to identify a cause they strongly support and use their time and talents to give 25 hours of volunteer service between now and Community Service Day on October 22.

Each person can track his or her hours on the Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s website, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pledge25 and be recognized at a Celebrate Montgomery event in Downtown Silver Spring on October 22.

In remarks at the Martin Luther King Day musical celebration at The Music Center at Strathmore, Leggett identified alleviating poverty as a major goal of Pledge 25. “Today and for the remaining days of my service as your County Executive, I am going to call on every single one of us to step up to this challenge. What will you do? Where will you serve? How will you help?”

Pledge 25 is a project of the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. Anyone interested in volunteering throughout the year can find volunteer opportunities with more than 850 local organizations at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/volunteer.

POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 4:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010