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Check Out What You Need to Know About the FY 2013 Operating Budget

On March 15, County Executive Ike Leggett will announce his Recommended Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget.

Meanwhile, residents can view a variety of information about the Operating Budget from a presentation that is given at each of the public Budget Forums around the County. Included are: the Executive’s goals and fiscal plan, the budget structure, charts on where the money comes from and where it goes, the FY13 fiscal outlook and community participation.

Take a look.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 8:00:00 AM |

Two Remaining FY13 Operating Budget Forums for Residents

Residents wanting to provide input about priorities for the Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget on a face-to-face basis, can attend one of the remaining forums -- both beginning at 7 p.m:

  • January 23 -- BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown
  • January 31 -- Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring

Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request, with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If these or other services or aids are needed to participate in this activity, please call 240-777-6507, TTY 240-777-6505 or email a request to karen.falcon@montgomerycountymd.gov.

CATEGORIES: Community Forum , Budget
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 7:00:00 AM |

The Bag Law Arrives with the New Year

As everyone knows by now, January 1 brought not only football, resolutions and parties to Montgomery County, but the new carryout bag law. Under the law, a five-cent charge is placed on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the County to customers at the point of sale, pickup or delivery. However, shoppers can avoid the charge by bringing their own reusable bags.

The revenues that are collected -- above administrative costs -- will go to the County’s Water Quality Protection Fund that pays for things such as stormwater management, watershed restoration and litter clean-up. Plastic bags are one of the top four items found in County streams and stormwater controls. And, taxpayers bear the financial burden of cleaning up or removing this litter -- more than $3 million a year in Montgomery County for code enforcement, street sweeping and litter clean-up. That’s why the more people who use reusable bags and the less revenue the County receives the better it is for taxpayers who save money on cleanup and for our waterways that can then remain clean and healthy. It’s not about the money, it’s about doing the right thing for the environment.

On January 3, County Executive Ike Leggett handed out hundreds of reusable bags to shoppers at the Safeway in Hillandale, while Council President Roger Berliner and volunteers distributed hundreds more around the County. Throughout that one day, nearly 1,000 bags were given out among sites at: downtown Bethesda, Little Bitts cake and candy supply store in Wheaton, Walmart in Germantown and the Safeway at King Farm. All told, more than 40,000 bags have been distributed so far, with another 30,000 to come.

Various local businesses have stepped up to donate bags which have gone, primarily, to low-income families/individuals and seniors through local non-profits and other organizations serving these populations. Thanks to the retailers who have helped as many residents as possible receive bags and to the volunteers who gave out bags at each site.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 6:00:00 AM |

Why Paper Bags, Too?

From the time the bag law was proposed by the County Executive in March and passed by the County Council in May, residents have come forth with a range of questions, which are now found in the FAQs on the bag website – www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bag.

One question is “Why are paper bags included?”

Short answer is that both paper and plastic bags consume enormous amounts of natural resources and cause significant pollution. Statistics indicate that each year, Americans use about 10 million paper bags and some 14 million trees are cut down annually for paper bag production. In addition, chemicals are used to process wood pulp to paper, and paper that isn’t recycled and ends up in landfills cannot completely degrade due to the lack of water, light and oxygen.

A more detailed, graphic explanation simply entitled “Paper or Plastic?” was presented in The Washington Post’s “More Than Meets The Eye” feature back in 2007.

 See for yourself and decide. 

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:50:00 AM |

How Healthy are Reusable Bags?

Another point raised in some blogs, emails and letters to the editor is about the cleanliness and health of reusable bags.

A study done in June 2010 by the University of Arizona in Tucson and Loma Linda University in California presented evidence of various forms of bacteria such as E. coli in reusable shopping bags.

Not as many people, however, seem to know about a study done by Consumer Reports (CR) in response that reveals some interesting findings about the Arizona and Loma Linda study.

  • For starters, it was funded by the American Chemical Council, the advocacy group for plastics manufacturers.
  • And, CR found no strains of Salmonella and Listeria nor any E. coli that could make one sick. In fact, Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union noted, “A person eating an average bag of salad greens gets more exposure to these bacteria than if they had licked the insides of the dirtiest bag from this study. These bacteria can be found lots of places, so no need to go overboard.”

But, read more about the Consumer Reports study and make up your own mind.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:40:00 AM |

Seattle Gets on the “Bagwagon”; Bans Plastic Bags, Charges a Nickel for Paper Grocery Bags

Long known as a pioneer in environmental issues, the City of Seattle, in late December, passed a new law that bans all plastic single-use bags and institutes a five-cent charge for paper grocery bags.  Like Montgomery County’s law, the Seattle legislation applies to grocery, retail and convenience stores.

An earlier version of the legislation that carried a 20-cent fee for paper and plastic bags was defeated.

Read about the Seattle law.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:30:00 AM |

Will Shoppers Change Their Habits and Bring Reusable Bags?

According to a WJLA-Channel 7 online poll “Montgomery County bag fee: Will it change your habits?” nearly 78% percent of those who responded said they would bring their own bags, while 22% said they’d pay the nickel per bag.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:20:00 AM |

Leggett Announces Cross-Agency Effort to Streamline Building and Land Development Process

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has announced a major cross-agency effort that will make meaningful changes to the development application process by streamlining reviews and inspections.
As an initial step, the County is consolidating construction inspections currently being done by the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS). The Montgomery County Planning Board (MCPB) is kicking off this effort with a change in how it reviews DPS-issued building permits
Leggett explained the need for the initiative. “Currently, it takes from one to three years to get through development review and zoning approvals, and obtain building permits. This lengthy time frame ultimately impacts the costs of housing and commercial space and affects residential and commercial end users. Our objective is to eliminate redundant and inconsistent reviews and to shorten the time it takes to navigate the process without compromising quality.”
Photo. Joining Leggett  (at podium) were (from left) Council member and PHED Committee Chair Nancy Floreen, County Council President Roger Berliner, Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier, Director of Department of Permitting Services Diane Jones and Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers.
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:15:00 AM |

Leggett Unveils Proposed 2013 Capital Budget

County Executive Ike Leggett has introduced his Fiscal Year 2013 Capital Budget and six-year FY 2013-18 Capital Improvements Program that strikes a careful balance between meeting capital construction priorities and the continued need to put the County’s fiscal house in order.

View the proposed Capital Budget for FY13 and the FY 2013-18 CIP.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 5:00:00 AM |

A New Year’s Resolution Never Too Late to Make: Be Fire Safe in 2012

Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) suggests making one that can truly benefit you and your family - -  resolve to be fire safe in 2012.

Fire risks increase as the temperatures decrease and recent fire deaths across the country are tragic reminders that people need to take action now to be safe during the winter months.

Two basic “must haves,” according to MCFRS, are working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, in combination with a home escape plan.

Read tips regarding Fire Safety, Heating Equipment and Cooking.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 4:00:00 AM |


Registration Open for Recreation’s Summer Camps and Programs

Montgomery County Recreation began accepting registrations for its popular summer camps and programs on  January 17.

The 2012 Summer Camps and Programs guide is filled with affordable and exciting camp programs designed to serve a wide range of interests.

Early registration is encouraged, because space is limited and registrations are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals can register one of four ways: by mail, fax, online or in person at the Recreation Department Administrative Offices, 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring. The easiest and most convenient way to register is through RecWeb, the on-line registration link at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

The Summer Camps guide is available at all Recreation community and aquatic centers or online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

For more information, call 240-777-6870.

Public Hearing on School Bus Cameras to Monitor Vehicles Illegally Passing Stopped Buses

The County Council will host a public hearing on January 24 on Bill 37-11 that would allow cameras to be installed on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses. The hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor hearing room of the Council Building at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville.

Under the bill, the County’s Chief of Police, after consulting with the Board of Education, would be authorized to install cameras on Montgomery County Public School buses to monitor traffic.

According to a Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) survey released in March 2011, on a single day in February, more than 7,000 drivers overtook stopped buses in Maryland. The survey also reported that in Montgomery County 1,645 drivers ignored the stop arm activated on buses when they were stopped and students were entering or leaving the bus.

For more information on the proposed legislation, see the Council's press release. For information on the public hearing, visit the Council's website or call 311, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information on pedestrian safety and safe routes to schools, visit MCDOT's pedestrian safety site.

Let’s Talk Recreation: Public MeetingSet for Damascus

Montgomery County Recreation Director Gabriel Albornoz invites residents to share their thoughts, suggestions and ideas about programs and services that the department offers at “Gabbin’ With Gabe,” a public meeting to be held on Thursday, January 26 from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at the Damascus Community Recreation Center, 25520 Oak Dr.

The public meeting is part of the community outreach efforts offered by Montgomery Recreation that encourage residents to be actively involved with Recreation programs and activities. “Gabbin’ with Gabe” will take place quarterly at community centers around the County.

For more information, call 240-777-6875.

School-age Students Sought to Serve as Aides on Election Day

Montgomery County Board of Elections is seeking school-age students, grades 6-12, to serve as Election Day student aides during the 2012 Presidential Primary Election, Tuesday, April 3.

Students and their guardians must attend mandatory training to serve on Election Day and, if applicable, to receive Student Service Learning (SSL) credits. Students are placed in neighboring precincts according to their home addresses.

Interested parents/guardians can register their student(s) before January 27 online by visiting the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ website. For additional information, email future.vote@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Read more information.

Free Children’s Program at Germantown Library Kicks Off Friends of the Library, Montgomery County’s 30th Anniversary Celebration

Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC), will kick off a year-long celebration of its 30th anniversary with a free concert featuring the award-winning children’s musical band, Hot Peas ‘N Butter on Saturday, January 28 at 11 a.m. at the Germantown Library, 19840 Century Blvd.

The band is regularly seen on Nick Jr. and is a three-time winner of the “Parent’s Choice Awards.” Their interactive performance features elements of traditional Latin music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and jazz, folk and rock and is suitable for all ages.

The concert is free, but seating is limited and tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up at the library starting on Tuesday, January 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Learn more about the celebration.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Community Forum , Election
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 3:30:00 AM |


32nd Annual Women’s Legislative Briefing – January 29

The Commissions for Women of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will co-host the 2012 Women’s Legislative Briefing on Sunday, January 29, from 12:30 to 6 p.m., at the Universities at Shady Grove, Building II, 9630 Gudelsky Dr., Rockville.

This year’s event will include a panel discussion addressing women’s issues in the U.S. Congress, moderated by Catherine Leggett, senior vice president of Human Resources at ICMA – Retirement Corporation. Panelists include U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen and U.S Congresswoman Donna Edwards. The conference will open with remarks by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; and Md. Delegate/President of the Women’s Legislators of Maryland Susan Lee.

The briefing will include seminars on a variety of topics: Effective Legislative Advocacy; Health Care and Health Care Reform for Women; Advocating for Older Women’s Issues; Victories for Women in the 2011 Maryland General Assembly; Women in the Public Realm; Work and Women; Women, Families and Poverty; and Safety, Justice and Human Rights. The program will conclude with a reception with County and State elected officials.

Admission is $15 and includes refreshments. To pre-register, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw. For more information, call 240-777-8333.

Office of Human Rights Co-Sponsors Civil Rights Historic Bus Tour

The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, in collaboration with Montgomery County Public Libraries, the African American Employees Association, the Lincoln Park Historical Foundation and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is again this year hosting a civil rights historic bus tour that retraces the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights heroes.

The bus tour leaves Rockville on April 2 and returns on April 7.

The cost of the tour for a group of four is $445 per person including hotel, transportation, some meals and snacks, and all museum/tour fees. For smaller groups, the fee is slightly higher. All tour costs are paid for by participants’ fees. A deposit for half the fee is due on February 4 with the balance due on March 4.

A pre-tour meeting will be held on Thursday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Human Rights Conference and Mediation Center, Suite 330, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville. At least one member of each group is required to attend this meeting. Interested individuals and groups should contact Beverly Marshall in the Office of Human Rights at Beverly.marshall@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For more information about the tour, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/humanrights.

County Offers Resources for Seniors and Caregivers

Caring for an older adult with a disability? The best way to help is to recognize that it is not all up to you. Ask for help!

Montgomery County’s Aging and Disability Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has a variety of resources available to support seniors, residents of long term care facilities and those who care for them.

Read more about specific services and get details.

For more information about services for seniors and caregivers in Montgomery County, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/senior.

Applicants Sought for Council Representative on Investment Policy Boards

The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for the position of Council representative on the Board of Investment Trustees for the Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans and the Board of Trustees for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust. The Boards set investment policy, hire investment managers and monitor investment performance for the Trust Funds.

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

The Board of Investment Trustees oversees the investment of approximately $4 billion in assets for nearly 11,000 active and retired members of the three retirement plans: defined benefit, defined contribution and deferred compensation.

The Board of Trustees oversees the investment program for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefit Trust.

Read about how to apply.

Consumer Protection Wants You to Know

Be careful next time you go through your mail! What might appear to be junk mail may actually be a check for $18.

As part of the Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation case, more than 10 million checks valued at $18.04 are going out to credit card holders to settle claims over the improper setting and disclosure of foreign currency conversion fees. Consumers who filed claim forms and provided documentation may be entitled to more.

The problem? The envelope looks like junk mail, making it likely that many consumers may unknowingly toss the check in the garbage. What does the mailer look like? Click here for information from abc news.

For questions, contact the Office of Consumer Protection, 100 Maryland Ave., Suite 330 Rockville, MD 20850; call 240-777-3636, email consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Consumer , Senior
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 3:00:00 AM |


County Police Officer Receives Congressional Badge of Bravery Award for Response to 2010 Discovery Building Incident

There is a saying popular among the public safety community, “When others run from trouble we run to it.”

On September 1, 2010, Montgomery County Police Officer Edward E. Paden Jr. did just that when he realized that an armed suicide bomber had taken hostages inside the Discovery Communications Building in downtown Silver Spring. His actions, without regard for his personal safety, contributed to saving innocent lives. This incident would later be recognized as one of the most dangerous situations encountered by the public safety community of the Washington Metropolitan region.

In early January, County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmember Phil Andrews joined Police Chief Tom Manger and the three Assistant Police Chiefs at a special ceremony at the Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville. There, Officer Paden received the Congressional Badge of Bravery Award from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Maryland U. S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.

Officer Paden was off-duty and had just completed a water training session in the Chesapeake Bay for a triathlon. He had several jellyfish stings and had dropped by the 3rd District Police Station, to which he is assigned, when the call went out for “Shots fired, man with a gun at 1 Discovery Place in Silver Spring.”

Paden recalls, “The alert tone went off on the radio, and I just jumped in the car and said, ‘Let’s go’.” The officer was familiar with the layout of the building and didn’t hesitate to respond even though he was in shorts and a tee shirt. He was first on the scene, entered the building at great personal risk and took a position about 25 feet from the suspect. Although the position concealed him from the suspect, it didn’t protect him from gunfire, flying shrapnel or over-pressure from an explosion.

Officer Paden kept his rifle trained on the suspect as he dispatched vital tactical information. He also determined a safe route for other responding officers to enter the building and assume other strategic positions. Paden credited police training and the combined efforts of all the other responders for an outcome where no innocent lives were lost.

Chief Manger remarked, “He’s giving us all the intel…what the bomb looks like, where he is. He [Paden] was also in a position where Mr. Lee [the gunman] was not going to be able to get further into the building.”

County Executive Leggett said, “He went well above and beyond what would have been expected, and in so doing, put himself at tremendous personal risk. His actions, along with those of many others, can be credited for helping to save the lives of over 1,000 people in Montgomery County that day.”

Senator Cardin said, “I was amazed not just by his bravery but by his instincts.”

The Congressional Badge of Bravery award was created by Congress in 2008 to honor local, state and federal law enforcement officers who have distinguished themselves for exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty. This year is the first year that the award has been presented.

Officer Paden previously received the Gold Medal for Valor at last spring’s Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Awards luncheon and the Police Department’s Medal of Valor. The veteran officer, who has more than 12 years with the Montgomery County Police, joins 20 other law enforcement officers from across the nation in receiving this special honor.

Photo. Participating in the award ceremony for Officer Paden (second from left), were County Executive Ike Leggett (far left) and (to Paden’s left) U. S. Senator Ben Cardin, U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and County Councilmember Phil Andrews.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 2:00:00 AM |


Saturday, February 4 -- “Bullying in Schools: A Community Symposium on Prevention and Intervention Strategies.” Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza, One Veterans Place. 2 to 4 p.m. Free. Presented by Montgomery County’s Office of Human Rights and the Committee on Hate/Violence. Moderated by County Councilmember Valerie Ervin. Keynote speaker, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chair Martin Castro. Panelists include representatives of Montgomery County Public Schools, National Association of School Psychologists, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Gay-Straight Alliance of Walt Whitman High School. Youth advocate Johnnie Williams will also join the panel discussions. A reception will follow. Sign language interpreter services provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. To request these or other services or aids needed to participate or to receive more information, call 240-777-8450 or email human-rights.administration@montgomerycountymd.gov.

POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 | 1:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010