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County Unveils New Online Map for Residents to Track Progress of Snow Plows

County Executive Ike Leggett and Department of Transportation officials have announced the launch of a new, online tool that will make it easier for residents to decide when to safely venture out following a snowstorm and to monitor snow clearing progress.

The map tool will show the progress of snow plows throughout the County and indicate when emergency roads, primary neighborhood streets and neighborhood streets have been cleared. A zoom feature allows residents to focus on the plow status of their immediate neighborhood and surrounding streets and then zoom out to check on an entire trip route.

Also, during storms, check the Winter Storm and Information Updates page for the latest information about closures, service schedules, etc.

CATEGORIES: Snow , News , County Executive
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 7:00:00 AM |

Public Forums Scheduled on FY12 Operating Budget

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is sponsoring five budget forums throughout the County in coming weeks to seek input from residents about Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget priorities. With a projected $300 million budget gap looming, Montgomery County is again facing a challenging fiscal forecast.

The forums will begin at 7 p.m., on the following dates:

  • January 10, Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown
  • January 13, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring
  • January 18, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Dr., Kensington
  • January 20, Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring
  • January 24, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda

The County Executive announces his recommended fiscal year 2012 operating budget on March 15. The County Council approves the operating budget at the end of May.

Visit website montgomerycountymd.gov/townhall for more information.

CATEGORIES: Budget , Community Forum , County Executive
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 6:00:00 AM |

Ike Leggett Takes Oath of Office for Second Term

Shortly past noon on December 6, Isiah “Ike” Leggett took the oath of office for his second term. Beginning his second term, Leggett spoke about “Continuing to Build A Better County: Moving Beyond Our Challenges.” Below is the full text of his speech. For other details, see The Washington Post article. Leggett, above,with his two grandsons following the Inauguration.

Read full speech from inauguration.

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 5:00:00 AM |

17th County Council Sworn In

In her remarks following the swearing in of the new County Council, President Nancy Floreen urged the 17th Council to find increasing ways to get more people involved in local government. Here are the complete remarks of Council President Nancy Floreen:

CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING - 1

Gaithersburg Interim Library Opens at Lakeforest Mall

The Gaithersburg Interim branch located at Lakeforest Mall is now open for business. The approximately 3,000 square-foot site is located on the second floor of the mall in the Sears wing, immediately to the left when exiting Sears.

The interim branch will provide a collection of approximately 25,000 volumes. Customers can check out and return items, place holds and receive assistance with information questions. The branch will not have a book drop due to its location in the mall and no easily accessible outside exterior wall in which to install it.

Customers are asked to bring all returns into the interim branchduring business hours or return items in book drops at other MCPL branches. There will be two catalog machines but no Internet access PCs.

The hours for the interim branch are: Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; Monday, 5-9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 1-9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.


Olney Library to Close for Major Renovations

Beginning Friday, December 31, Olney Library will be closed for major renovations. The last day service will be provided is Thursday, December 30, until 8 p.m.

The exterior book drop will be open through Friday, January 7 at 5 p.m. After that date, customers may take their returns to any MCPL branch.

While the Olney Library is closed, customers are encouraged to use any MCPL branch. For other branch locations, visit the library branches and hours webpage.

For more information about the project, contact Rita Gale at 240-777-0022. For updates on the progress of the renovations, that are expected to take about 18 months, visit library building projects webpage.

 


 

Shop with a Cop

To help increase the safety of shoppers, pedestrians, and drivers in the county during this active holiday season, Montgomery County Police are offering -- now through December 23 -- the holiday safety initiative, “Shop with a Cop.”

Officers in all six County police districts will be detailed to shopping areas in their districts to provide high visibility, extra security, and to provide reminders about driving and pedestrian safety--especially in parking lots. They will distribute approximately 5,000 bright green reflective and recyclable shopping bags with a driver and pedestrian safety message printed on them. In some locations these bags will also be distributed by shop owners.

Locations selected for the Shop with a Cop initiative include: the Congressional Shopping Center on Rockville Pike in Rockville, the central business districts of Bethesda and Silver Spring, the Westfield Wheaton Shoppingtown in Wheaton, the Milestone Shopping Center in Germantown, and the Lake Forest Mall, Gaithersburg Square and Off-Price Shopping Center in Gaithersburg.

The Shop with a Cop program and the free shopping bags are primarily funded by revenue raised from Safe Speed automated photo enforcement, which is dedicated to improving public safety in Montgomery County.

Learn morefrom police press release.

 


 

Volunteer Center Spreads the Word about Holiday Opportunities

The Montgomery County Volunteer Center links people and groups who want to volunteer with nonprofits and government agencies needing volunteers, professional services, and in-kind contributions. It promotes volunteering and recognizes exemplary volunteer service, in addition to helping nonprofits effectively utilize and retain volunteers. In the County’s organizational chart, the Center falls under the Office of Community Partnerships in the County Executive’s Office.

During this special time of giving, the center helps spread the word about how residents, groups, businesses, faith-based groups, etc. can carry out the spirit of the season. Below are just two of many opportunities available in the County. For more information on opportunities available year round, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/volunteer.

Meanwhile, check out these holiday specials:

For over 30 yearsMontgomery County's Holiday Giving Project, now coordinated by Interfaith Works, has helped low-income families in our community by collecting and distributing food and gifts during the holiday season.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate new toys
  • Organize a food, toy or gift card drive
  • Sponsor a family in your area
  • Make a Holiday Food Basket
  • Donate grocery cards

For more information, go to www.iworksmc.org/holidaygiving.html or email giving@iworksmc.org or sklavon@iworksmc.org.


A Bit of Home in a Far Away Land

County resident Tejas Patel, who is currently serving in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, recently sent holiday greetings home along with a photo of himself with the flag that County Executive Ike Leggett (inset photo) sent him in September at Patel’s request.
In a letter to Leggett, Patel said, “It means a great deal to me that you took the time to fulfill my request. As a Montgomery County citizen for my entire life, I was born and raised to cherish our country. Having served with the US Marine Corps, the sense of pride in our Nation, our State, and our County is very strong. In the meantime, I will display the colors proudly.”

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 3:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING - 2

Board of Elections Closed December 23 – 27, and December 31

 

The Montgomery County Board of Elections will be closed on December 23 and 27 to allow staff to utilize mandatory furlough hours. In addition, the office will be closed on December 24 and 31 to observe Montgomery County Government holidays. The Board of Elections will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 28 to 30 and will reopen following the holidays on January 3 at 8:30 a.m.

During office closings, the public may obtain information from our 24 hour information line by calling 240-777-VOTE (8683) or may send e-mails to elections@montgomerycountymd.gov for response during normal business hours.


A Green Holiday Message: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

With the arrival of holiday season, the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), in the Department of Environmental Protection, reminds residents that although this time of year traditionally produces additional amounts of waste, there are many ways to reduce the amounts generated by individual households not only now, but beyond.

DSWS has compiled a list of tips for: reducing unwanted mail; how to reduce, reuse and recycle when shopping, gift wrapping and/or entertaining; when and how to recycle Christmas trees; collection service reminders; where and how to recycle holiday lights; and recycling beyond the holidays.

More information on press release.


Deck the Halls Safely this Holiday Season

Recent incidents have prompted Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (DFRS) officials to remind residents that the best way to fight a fire is to prevent it from happening.

Fire Chief Richard Bowers urges residents to make safety a tradition this holiday season. “With the holidays and winter weather fast approaching, it is important for all residents to take steps to prevent fires. By taking a few extra precautions, you can make your home fire safe for the holiday season and for the rest of the year,” said Chief Bowers.

Check out the DFRS list of safety tips that can help families reduce the risk of fire during the busy holiday season.


New Year, New Law: A Reminder from the Sheriff’s Office to Drivers with Tickets

The County Sheriff’s Office reminds local drivers of a new State law that becomes effective in the new year. Beginning January 2, 2011, a driver who receives a payable traffic ticket in Maryland will no longer be given an automatic trial date to appear in court. Instead, any driver wanting to go to trial to dispute a ticket will have to request a trial date from the District Court of Maryland.

Further details are available at www.mdcourts.gov/communications/trafficticket/index.html.


Council Approves Mid-year Savings Plan; Reduces County Spending by $32 million for Rest of FY2010

The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved a mid-year operating budget savings plan that will reduce spending for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 by $32.3 million. The savings plan will help address a projected $300 million budget gap in Fiscal Year 2012 caused chiefly by a sharp decline in projected revenue.

On December 2, County Executive Ike Leggett proposed a $36.2 million savings plan. The Council’s six committees reviewed the plan and recommended approval of most items but disapproval of several items totaling $3.9 million.

The Council supported the Executive’s proposed savings for Montgomery County Public Schools ($19.2 million), Montgomery College ($1 million) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission ($0.2 million). The Council reluctantly approved many other proposed savings, such as reduction of $632,000 to eliminate 21 filled administrative positions in Local Fire and Rescue Departments.

Among the Council’s actions that differed from the Executive’s proposals were the following:

  • Do not cut nine police officers in the schools (School Resource Officers) mid-year, but instead manage vacancies department-wide to achieve the same savings amount of $518,650.
  • Do not stop the energy rebate program for low-income households on Jan. 1, 2011 to save $239,750.
  • Do not eliminate 11 ambulances in the Fire and Rescue Service to save $3,560,000.
  • Do not reduce spending for pedestrian signal timing (to save $50,000) and road patching materials (to save $200,000), but instead save $253,000 by deleting planning for a road project.
  • Do not reduce meal service at three senior centers to save $23,400.

Office of Consumer Protection Issues Alert about Buying New and Used Mattresses

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) advises consumers to be aware of industry-wide deceptive advertising used by mattress retailers. OCP also recommends caution when purchasing used mattresses.

Consumers are subjected to extensive advertisements for mattresses allegedly being sold at “sale” prices. These prices are advertised as being available for a limited period of time and retailers generally proclaim that they will beat the price offered by competitors.

Representations that retailers will “beat the competitor’s price by 20 or 25 percent or it’s free,” are deceptive because different product names are used to identify mattresses made by the same manufacturer.

OCP has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) summarizing its concerns and suggesting that the FTC initiate an investigation into what appears to be a nationwide advertising issue.

Consumers are also warned to be cautious when purchasing used mattresses. Recent reports about bed bugs have generated concern related to used bedding products. Currently, there is no State law requiring used mattresses to be disinfected. OCP recommends that consumers avoid purchasing used mattresses without a written guarantee that they are disinfected and urges the public to never re-use mattresses that have been abandoned or are being given away by strangers.

Consumers with complaints or questions should contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636 or email consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov.


Commission for Women’s December Newsletter now Online

The December issue of the Commission for Women’s newsletter is now online.

Included in this issue are introductions to the new commissioners and a Save the Date reminder/review of the 2011 Women’s Legislative Briefing to be held on January 30 at the University of Maryland, Shady Grove Campus.


Seniors Today Show Marks 100th Show

Montgomery County’s “Seniors Today” cable show is currently airing its 100th episode which features clips of some of the nearly 500 guests interviewed over the past 10 years.

This month, host Austin Heyman interviews Chuck Short, special assistant to County Executive Isiah Leggett. Short proposed funding “Seniors Today” when he served as director of the County’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“Seniors Today” is seen weekly on Sundays at 2 p.m., Tuesdays at 6 p.m., Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m., Thursdays at noon and 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. on County Cable Montgomery (CCM)--channel 6 for Comcast and RCN subscribers and channel 30 for Verizon subscribers.

To watch on-line, go to “Seniors Today” at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/seniors.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 2:30:00 AM |

MAKING NEWS

Montgomery County Public Libraries Receives Star Rating

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) has been selected one of America’s 3-Star Libraries by Library Journal (LJ).
The national rating of more than 7,407 public libraries identified 258 “star” libraries from throughout the United States. Libraries within the same per capita expenditure are ranked by the following per capita service outputs: visits, circulation, program attendance and public Internet terminal use.

The “star” libraries were announced in the November 15 issue of Library Journal. The LJ Index 2010 gives three, four or five stars to the top-rated libraries. Rankings are based on 2008 data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Read more from press release

CATEGORIES: Making News
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 2:00:00 AM |

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Through January 1, 2011 -- 2010 Winter Lights Festival hosted by the City of Gaithersburg at Seneca Creek State Park to benefit local charities. More than 380 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through the park on Clopper Rd. Theme areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, North Pole, Toyland, and Penguin Cove. Sunday to Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m; Friday and Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m.  Closed on Mondays and December 25. Admission, cash only as follows: Tuesday to Thursday $12 per car; Friday to Sunday $15 per car; $20 for 15-19 passenger limousines and vans; $30 for 20-passenger vans; $70 for buses. More information at http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/winterlights/10_main.html.

Check county's public information calendar for more information.

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 1:00:00 AM |

Executive Transmits Latest Budget Impacts, Projected Cuts to County Employees

On December 2, County Executive Ike Leggett shared the latest budget updates and the possible impacts on County departments in the following letter to  all County Employees. Also see The Washington Post article.

Dear Fellow County Employee:

I write to you today about the latest updates in our County’s fiscal challenges.

Together, over the past few years, we have done much in reducing County spending in response to the most serious downturn since the Great Depression — while, at the same time, doing our best to protect vital County services and programs. We have closed budget gaps of an unprecedented $2.2 billion over the last four years.

County government tax-supported spending this year is 7 percent less than last year. None of us are getting raises – whether cost-of-living or steps. And all of us, including myself, are taking furloughs.

I wish I could say to you that our difficulties are easing, but this is not the case. I know we will see that day but it has not yet arrived.

State income tax revenues, paid to the County, are coming in tens of millions below our already downwardly adjusted projections.

Due to repeal of the County’s ambulance reimbursement law in the November election, we have an immediate $14 million shortfall in our Fire & Rescue budget this year – and will lose $170 million over the next ten years in premiums already paid that insurance companies will now pocket.

The State of Maryland is facing a $1.6 billion deficit. The realignment in Congress may dampen our regional economy. And President Obama’s just-announced two-year freeze on federal salaries will also adversely affect County tax revenues.

We estimate that the resulting budget shortfall in this current fiscal year will be about $100 million. Our current estimate of next year’s gap is an additional $250 million – for a total shortfall of $350 million to be filled between the remainder of this fiscal year and the next.

In October, to help close this year’s gap, I sent a $14 million reduction in County government spending to the Council. That is still pending. Later today I will forward to the Council an additional $22 million in needed reductions, including $19 million from the Montgomery County Public Schools and reductions from Montgomery College and Park & Planning.

Today, I forwarded to my Department Directors my first guidance for next year’s budget, Fiscal Year 12, which begins on July 1, 2011. This is the first step in determining the FY12 operating budget I will announce next March.

I have asked all Public Safety departments, Health & Human Services, and Transit to propose reductions totaling 5 percent from this year’s budget.

I have asked all non-Public Safety departments to propose reductions totaling 15 percent.

These target reductions are starting points for discussions that may be adjusted as conditions change or as policy decisions are made and refined.

Given all the cuts we already have made over the past four years, these reductions will be very painful. There is no more “low-hanging fruit.” There will be things County government will do differently. And, yes, there may be things we do not do at all.

As we move forward, I will continue to communicate with you on the budget and other issues you care about.

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions at ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov.  Last year I found a number of employee suggestions worth pursuing and many were implemented as part of the adopted FY 2011 budget.

There are hard choices ahead. Please know that I appreciate all you have done and all you will do to help us weather these difficult times and emerge a stronger County.

Sincerely,

Ike Leggett
County Executive

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 8:00:00 AM |

White Flint Financing Plan to Spur Revitalization of North Bethesda Area

A plan from the County Executive that would help pay for major infrastructure improvements required by the White Flint Sector Plan has been approved by the County Council. This action will spur a revitalization effort transforming the North Bethesda area around Rockville Pike into a more urban and denser community strongly supported by public transit and designed to make residents and workers less dependent on automobiles.

The bill establishes a White Flint Special Taxing District and authorizes the levy of an added property tax on commercial properties that would go toward specific transportation infrastructure improvements in the area. The improvements would include creating street grids, streetscaping and bike lanes. Existing residential properties would be excluded from the tax district.

As the plan unfolds over the next couple decades, it is expected that an estimated 9,800 new residences will be added to thee approximately 2,300 residences currently in the plan area. Approximately 2,600 affordable housing units will be included. . A key element of the plan will be the way it incorporates the Bethesda North Conference Center and Hotel into the transformed neighborhood. The plan provides for public gathering space and local parks. The long-term vision suggests civic or entertainment uses, such as a community playhouse or theater.

Under the financing plan formulated by the County Executive, the County would provide advance funding to ensure that the improvements are made early in the project rather than relying on piecemeal development to drive the delivery of the needed improvements. The County’s investment would be repaid through funds collected from the taxing district. According to the plan, the tax district will expire when sufficient revenues have been raised to pay for all of the infrastructure items on the list.

CATEGORIES: Economy
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 7:00:00 AM |

Council Supports Executive’s Proposal to Sell Former Peary High School to Berman Hebrew Academy

Supporting a recent proposal presented by County Executive Ike Leggett that the County sell the former Peary High School property in Aspen Hill to the Berman Hebrew Academy, the County Council has voted to approve the sale. The purchase price, which ratifies the terms of the 1996 lease, is $1,914,860.

Peary closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment and deteriorated while vacant. In 1996, then-County Executive Douglas M. Duncan negotiated a lease agreement with the Berman Academy that included an option allowing the school to purchase the property. The proposed sale terms include a provision that would allow the County to repurchase the school if it is needed for public school use. 

The Academy’s use of the site is limited to school uses, and the public will still be able to use the fields, gymnasium and auditorium during non-school use times. The County may reclaim the school for public school use through a legal condemnation proceeding at the repurchase price plus relocation costs. Through this proceeding, the County could retake possession of the property five years after the condemnation action is final and non-appealable.

The Berman Academy has estimated that it has spent more than $9 million to refurbish the property that is surrounded by a residential neighborhood in Aspen Hill. There are about 700 students enrolled at the Academy.

The County Planning Board recommended approval of the sale in November and at a subsequent public hearing, a substantial majority of the approximately three dozen speakers supported the sale. Among those supporting the sale was the Aspen Hill Civic Association.

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 6:00:00 AM |

Council Approves Leggett Plan to Proceed with Glenmont Fire Station Relocation; Georgia Ave./Randolph Rd. Interchange can Move Ahead

Glenmont residents, area commuters or anyone else whose travel routes take them through the Georgia Ave./Randolph Rd. intersection with any regularity will agree, the intersection has long needed improvement.

However, before the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) could proceed with plans to build a new grade separated interchange at the intersection, the current Fire Station No. 18, located at Georgia and Randolph, needed to be demolished and relocated.

Action on November 30 by the County Council now clears the way for a 19,000 gross square-foot replacement fire station to be built on the approximately 2.61-acre WMATA site adjacent to the planned parking garage on the west side of Georgia Ave. across from Glenallan Ave. Getting the relocation project on track, thus enabling the state to begin work on the interchange, has been one of County Executive Ike Leggett’s top priorities.  “Not only will there be a new Station #18, located on a better site, but the interchange project will improve pedestrian and vehicular safety in this densely populated area of the county,” Leggett said.

The recommended station is designed to meet current operational requirements and accommodate modern fire fighting apparatus. The project includes living and administrative areas, gear storage, decontamination, electronic equipment rooms, and three apparatus bays.

Total estimated cost for this project is $13,032,000. The project will be funded from General Obligation Bonds.

The property acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The design phase of the project is expected to take approximately 15 months with construction to start in summer of 2012. The County anticipates completion of construction by the end of 2013.

CATEGORIES: News , County Executive
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 5:00:00 AM |

Holiday Impaired Driving Task Force Begins Operations

Law enforcement agencies within Montgomery County have begun a multi-agency task force designed to help ensure that everyone enjoys the upcoming holiday season while remembering the importance of not driving while impaired.

The 2010 task force is comprised of members of the Montgomery County Police Alcohol Initiatives Unit, along with officers from each of the six Montgomery County police districts. They are joined by law enforcement officers from across the County and the Maryland State Police to devote their full time and attention to detecting alcohol-related offenses.

Several techniques and initiatives that will be utilized during the Holiday Task Force are: saturation patrols, compliance checks, controlled dispersal of underage drinking parties, covert surveillance of alcohol establishments and sobriety checkpoints. Get more details.   

 

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING

County Leaf Collection Continues Through Mid-December       

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Division of Highway Services (DHS) is conducting its annual vacuum collection of leaves in the southern part of the County now through mid-December.

The leaf vacuum collection district is bounded by I-495, I-270, the Rockville City limits, Norbeck, Bel Pre and Bonifant roads, Northwest Branch Park, and the District of Columbia and Prince George's County lines.

Residents should look for signs posted along the streets announcing the collection dates in their neighborhoods. Green signs indicate the first collection, and red signs indicate the second and final collection.

For more details, including do’s and don’ts regarding leaf collections, or to determine if your residence is within the boundaries of the leaf vacuum collection district, call 311, or go to the Department of Transportation’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcdot  and click on “Highway Services.”  


Winter Guide for Recreation and Park Programs 

Registration is now open for the Department of Recreation winter programs and classes.  Swim lessons registration opens on December 8. Register in any one of four ways --by mail, fax, online or in person at the Recreation Department Administrative Offices at 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

Copies of the Winter Guide are available at public libraries, as well as community, recreation, aquatic and senior centers around the County, or view it online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec. For more information, call 240-777-6840.


Turn Over a New Leaf; Become a Master Gardener

Montgomery County residents interested in learning environmentally sound gardening practices and sharing the information with others can apply now to join the 2011 Montgomery County Master Gardener training program.

 The five-week course begins on January 25, 2011, and continues through March 4 (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, located at the Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood.  The training fee is $290 and includes a training manual and other materials.

The requirements to become a Master Gardener are: attending a two-hour orientation, completing course work and a final exam, and performing 45 hours of volunteer service in the first year. In addition, participants must have access to a computer to download university fact sheets. Once qualified, Master Gardeners maintain their status annually by completing 10 hours of additional training and volunteering at least 25 hours.

Registration deadline is December 31. Class size is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To request an application or receive more enrollment information, call 590-2836.


Ride On Customers can Add Bus Passes to SmarTrip Cards

Ride On customers who purchase a 7-Day Bus Pass can now load the pass directly onto their SmarTrip® card. Bus passes on SmarTrip® are valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited travel, not only on Ride On, but also on Metrobus, ART, DASH, DC Circulator, CUE, Fairfax Connector and TheBus.

The pass is activated the first day a customer uses it, regardless of the day, and then is valid for seven consecutive days. As an added convenience, customers may load two bus passes at a time onto their SmarTrip® card.

The cost of the 7-Day Bus Pass on SmarTrip® is $15 for the regular bus pass and $7.50 for the senior/disabled bus pass, the same cost as paper bus passes. Bus passes cannot be loaded onto a SmarTrip® card that has a negative balance.

The last available paper bus pass expires Saturday, January 1, 2011.

Customers may add the 7-Day Bus Pass to their SmarTrip® card at any Metro sales office, regional transit store or select retail outlets. For a complete list of locations, visit www.wmata.com or call 202-637-7000.


Sign up for Electronic Holiday Trash/Recycling Collection Reminders

With the holiday season approaching, residents who receive County-provided pickup of refuse or recycling materials are reminded that they can sign up to receive electronic reminders about holiday collection schedules.

Signing up for the Division of Solid Waste Services' (DSWS) email notification list is as easy as visiting www.montgomerycountymd.gov/solidwaste.

Residents who have private contracts for trash collection, either individually or through their community/homeowners associations, should check with their collectors or associations about holiday schedules.

To determine if you have County-provided or private collection service, call the DSWS Customer Service Line at 240-777-6410 or use the online Collection Day Lookup at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/solidwaste; click on “Collection Services.”


Recreation Department Holding Holiday Food Drive

Between now and December 10, the Recreation Department is collecting canned and non-perishable food for the benefit of Manna Food Bank.  Customers and friends may drop off donations at any Montgomery County community, senior or aquatic center.   

Let’s help all those good people at Rec make the holidays brighter for many in our community.


Sunday Liquor Sales in County-Operated Stores on Trial Run

Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control’s (DLC) 24 County-owned liquor and wine stores are now open on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. for a six-month trial period.

During this time, DLC will closely monitor costs, revenues, customer satisfaction and community response, and impacts on privately-owned and operated licensed businesses. Montgomery County currently allows Sunday alcohol sales in privately-owned beer and wine stores and on premise at licensed restaurants.

The Department of Liquor Control is a non-tax supported enterprise fund, and its operations generate net profits which are contributed to the County’s General Fund. Currently, it contributes $27 million in net profits to County coffers. The pilot program is not designed to generate any specific estimated amount of additional revenue but is being introduced more as a customer-friendly, consumer convenience initiative. Sundays are traditionally the second or third busiest retail shopping day, along with Fridays and Saturdays.

Currently, 38 states (including Maryland and Virginia) allow Sunday sales of distilled spirits.

For more information about the Department of Liquor Control, call 240-777-1917.


“Don’t Leave it Running” Police Remind Drivers

Each year as temperatures consistently get colder, many drivers want to start their vehicles to warm them up before driving in the morning. Or, they will leave them running while they run into a convenience store to quickly purchase a cup of coffee. 

However, detectives from the Police Auto Theft Section want to again remind local drivers not to leave their vehicles unattended while they are running/warming up.

The “Don’t Leave it Running” public safety campaign makes the public aware how quickly a vehicle can be stolen when it is left running and unattended.  The goal is to reduce the number of cars that are stolen in this fashion and to reduce related crimes.

Leaving a vehicle running and unattended is a violation of the State of Maryland Transportation Code, Article 21, Section 1101.  The penalty for this violation is a $70 fine and one point on the license.  If it contributes to an accident, the fine increases to $110 with three points on the license.  The Maryland Vehicle Law requires that a driver turn the engine off, lock the ignition, remove the keys and set the brake before leaving a car.  Also, if your vehicle is stolen with the use of a key, it could result in sanctions by the vehicle’s insurer.  These penalties can range from a premium increase to failure to renew the policy.


Israel-based Alvarion to Move North American HQ to Montgomery County

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Governor Martin O’Malley recently announced that Israel-based Alvarion, a global leader in the wireless broadband market, is moving its North American headquarters to Montgomery County from California and will create 25 new jobs by 2013.

 To assist the company with the relocation, the State and Montgomery County have agreed to provide $95,000 in conditional loans that are contingent on job creation at the new location, which is yet to be determined.

The Alvarion announcement comes on the heels of other recent successful Montgomery County company openings, expansions and attractions this year, most recently Choice Hotels’ relocation and expansion of its world headquarters to Rockville by 2013.

Others include the expansion of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission into a new 362,000 square-foot building in North Bethesda, the National Cancer Institute’s new 575,000 square-foot, $200 million satellite campus at the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center in Rockville and QIAGEN’s 117,000 square-foot North American headquarters and manufacturing facility expansion in Germantown. In addition there are EDF Inc.’s new 16,000 square-foot North American headquarters in Chevy Chase and International Baccalaureate’s new 36,000 square-foot Americas Global Center headquarters in Bethesda.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 3:00:00 AM |

MAKING NEWS

The Face of the “Voice of Ride On”

Although most Ride On commuters may not know the name Everett “Bink” Plummer, they certainly know his voice. It’s Plummer’s voice that you hear making the stop announcements. And, that role recently earned Plummer (seated and shown with Broderick Kelly, chief of Ride On’s Service Operations) coverage in The Washington Express, thanks to a rider who works for the paper and sought out Plummer for an interview.

In the article, Bink said he is continually surprised that some people recognize his voice. Of course, he has his share of fun- loving ribbing from his colleagues but in his usual easygoing style, he takes it in stride.

To see the piece and the man behind the voice that literally tells riders where to get off, go to http://www.expressnightout.com/content/2010/10/everett-plummer-voice-montgomery-county.php.


Long-term Care Ombudsman Honored for Outstanding Advocacy

Eileen Bennett, a Long Term Care Ombudsman with the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, recently received the 2010 Howard Hinds Memorial Advocacy Award for outstanding advocacy on behalf of residents of long term care facilities. The award was presented last month at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care’s annual meeting in Orlando, FL. Bennett, who has worked as an ombudsman for 21 years, is responsible for the program’s volunteer recruitment and training. In addition to her work locally, she has been a leader in the National Association for Local Long Term Care Ombudsmen and currently serves as its president.

The Hinds Award is given annually to a local ombudsman who exemplifies the characteristics of Howard Hinds, a champion for long-term care residents of Tennessee, as a well as a passionate advocate on national issues.


Literacy Council’s Video Sends a Winning Message

The Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) has won the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s “Power of 8” Video Contest, which was open to all nonprofits that have been featured in the Catalogue or will be in the 2010-11 issue. The award was presented at the Catalogue’s Inspiration to Action event in early November at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, DC.

Videos had to contain an action word ending in “-ate.” The LCMC’s entry featured adult literacy student Milton Whitley of Gaithersburg, who spoke about the power of literacy to “liberate.” You can view the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXHDkJQron0.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington connects effective local nonprofits with individuals who want to contribute to, and make a difference in, their community. An independent nonprofit organization, the Catalogue has helped groups featured in its annual publication raise more than $9.7 million since its inception in 2003.

Established in 1963, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to helping adults learn to speak, read and write English. For more information about Milton Whitley and/or the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, contact Shelley Block at 301-610-0030 or shelley@literacycouncilmcmd.org.

CATEGORIES: Making News
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 2:00:00 AM |

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Friday, December 10 -- Human Rights Day program. Presented by the Office of Human Rights. 8:30 a.m. to noon. Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place. The event is part of OHR’s year-long commemoration of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission’s 50th anniversary. See News Release for more info.

Sunday, December 12 -- Holiday celebration with the U.S. Navy Band Brass Quintet.   BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown.  3 p.m. Free. Musical selections from the 16th to 20th centuries. Following the concert, attend the first annual Germantown Town Center Tree Lighting on the front lawn. Guests are asked to bring a canned good or clothing item to donate to local families in need. Tickets are required and will be available starting December 1. Tickets not available online. Call 240-912-1058 for reservations (limit 4 per person).

Monday, December 13 – “What’s in Your Loan?”  Home loan forum, presented by the Office of Human Rights and Civil Justice, Inc. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Council Office Building, First Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. The program will feature a panel of attorneys from Civil Justice, Inc., a coalition of volunteer attorneys with expertise in foreclosure prevention, refinancing, reverse mortgages, short sales, buying foreclosed properties and many other real estate issues. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and set up appointments for individual consultations. Informational materials will be available. To request ADA program accommodations, at least five working days in advance, contact Cecelia Hatton in the Office of Human Rights at 240-777-8468.

Through January 9 -- "Garden of Lights" at Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton. Close to one million twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. Walk along the easily accessible paths and you’ll see what sets this light show apart from others; it’s the hundreds of wrapped trees and shrubs, beautifully lighted gazebos, cascading fountains, and the individually formed displays in the shapes of blooming flowers and wild animals. Look for moving displays such as a flock of geese, or an 11-foot giraffe covered with 9,000 lights. For hours, admission, etc. see Information about Garden of Lights.  
CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 1:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010