And, it’s easy.
Beginning January 1, 2012, bring your reusable bags when you shop. You fight litter, help the County save money on cleaning up litter from local waterways and save yourself the 5-cent charge on any plastic or paper bag you receive to carryout purchases from stores in the County.
It’s not only time to turn the calendar and go green, it’s time to say “Thank You!” to the many retailers and environmental, community and civic groups that have stepped up and offered to help us spread the word about the “what,” “why,” “how” and “when” of the bag law to their employees and/or members, as well as the general public.
You can see pictures of some of the bag activities that have been held, get answers to your questions about the bag law and see the impressive list of outreach campaign partners online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bag.
Also check out Facebook for photos and updates on the bag outreach campaign and follow us on Twitter.
The County Council voted 6-3 to table Expedited Bill 25-11 that would have established a youth curfew in Montgomery County, refusing to allow the measure to come to an up or down, yes-or-no vote.
In July, County Executive Ike Leggett proposed establishment of a youth curfew for minors that would prohibit certain activities during the curfew hours for those under 18. Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday and from 12:01 a.m. until 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, a minor would have been prohibited from remaining in any County public place or establishment.
The proposed bill contained numerous exceptions. For example, a minor could have lawfully remained in public areas during curfew hours if they were: 1) accompanied by a parent or an adult authorized by the minor’s parent to accompany the minor; or 2) attending or returning home from an official school, religious or other recreational activity sponsored by the County, a civic organization or similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor. Other exceptions included returning home from a place of employment or from attending “an event at a place of public entertainment.”
A minor could have been cited for a curfew violation only after a police officer has told the minor to move along and the minor refused.
The Council had been considering the bill since July and Leggett had urged action on the measure to protect County youth from being victims of or becoming involved in late-night crime. The measure drew strong support from the Montgomery County Police, the Greater Silver Spring and Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase chambers of commerce, and several Community Citizen Advisory Boards, as well as editorially from The Washington Post and The Gazette.
“The County Council’s refusal to even take a yes or no vote on the proposed youth curfew is a failure of leadership,” said Leggett.
“Leadership means stepping up to the plate and deciding – yes or no – on critical issues that face our County. The youth curfew legislation has been before the County Council since July. It has been discussed exhaustively. We don’t need more talk – we need action.
“Our Police very much need this critical tool in order to deal with situations such as happened recently in Silver Spring and Germantown. I cannot believe that the Council denies our police officers this added help. I think it is unfortunate when politicians ‘second-guess’ our law enforcement professionals.
“I have heard that some Councilmembers are ‘afraid’ to vote for fear of offending one side or the other. I have heard others say, ‘Let’s wait until another late-night youth crime incident happens and then we’ll vote on it.’
“That’s not leadership. That’s the opposite of leadership.”
Leggett also emphasized that he “… will continue to work even harder to enhance public safety, especially for our young people. Our Police need and want a youth curfew which would help them perform their jobs and better protect our public. Our young people need the added protection a curfew brings.”
To hear the reaction of WTOP’s Chris Core on the Council’s failure to vote on the youth curfew bill, click on http://media.dev-cms.com/wtop/23/2321/232153.mp3.
To help inform retailers about the carryout bag law (Bill No. 8-11) that begins January 1, 2012, Montgomery County is continuing to offer free webinars with County staff. To participate, a retailer will need a computer connected to the internet to view the presentation and a telephone to connect toll-free to hear the audio portion.
There is one more in December and two in January (additional sessions will be added if needed):
- Tuesday, Dec. 20, 10:30 a.m.
- Thursday, Jan. 12, 1:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Jan. 24, 10:30 a.m.
For more details on how to participate in the webinars, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/BAG and click on the Retailers page.
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.
- 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.
“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 email@example.com, or visit www.literacycouncilmcmd.org.
New code enforcement laws designed to help protect and maintain the residential character of neighborhoods are now in effect in Montgomery County. The new laws deal with home-based businesses, off-street parking and paving of front yards. Two other laws to protect residential areas went into effect in July 2009 and April 2010.
The new laws were proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett two years ago based on recommendations from a Code Enforcement Work Group that he appointed. Thegroup reviewed a number of police, housing and zoning code issues that were causing adverse impacts and public safety issues in residential neighborhoods.
A website to educate residents about these new zoning laws is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/goodneighbors.
The Montgomery County Police Department is once again supporting the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Litter Enforcement initiative, which runs through May 7. During this time MCP officers, along with many other local law enforcement agencies, will be particularly vigilant in identifying litter violations and enforcing the applicable criminal, traffic and civil statutes.
All those who live, work and travel through Montgomery County are reminded that throwing litteror dumping on any public highway or property (other than personal property) without the owner’s permission is illegal. Anti-littering and dumping laws can be found in Maryland State law, Maryland Motor Vehicle law, and the Montgomery County Code.
The Montgomery County Police Department encourages the public to report violations of these laws by calling the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.
Residents are invited to learn more about the new zoning laws that will go into effect on April 24 that are designed to help protect and maintain the residential character of neighborhoods by checking out the new “Being Good Neighbors” website.
From there, you can connect to:
- the informational brochure with information on each of the news laws, plus enforcement procedures
- the legislation and
- more than half a dozen resources with links to more information on the various new laws
Also, see the brochure in Spanish.
Prince William County, VA recently approved, with the support of its volunteers, an Ambulance Reimbursement program like the one that was approved by the County Council and signed into law this year in Montgomery County.
Both counties now have programs that recover the costs of emergency transports from individual insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid and use those proceeds to save lives – at no additional cost to County residents.
Nearly all local jurisdictions have successfully enacted EMS transport reimbursements including Fairfax County, Frederick County, Prince George’s County, the District of Columbia, Arlington County, Anne Arundel County and the City of Alexandria. There is no evidence from jurisdictions that have successfully implemented a user fee that it deters anyone from calling for needed emergency medical transport assistance, negatively impacts volunteers, or increases health insurance premiums.
“In Montgomery County, we know that the EMS transport fee will save lives because we will be able to better meet the growing emergency services needs in our community,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Council passage of the bill this year means that this County will initially recover $14 million from funds already set aside by private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid for transports. In 10 years, we expect to recover nearly $170 million in costs for EMS transports. That is significant.
“Our neighboring jurisdictions are collecting tens of millions of dollars and using those monies to save lives – with no adverse effects; we should do the same. And, it won’t cost County residents one additional dime.”
Get the facts. Click here for “It’s About Saving Lives” flyer and/or the “Ambulance Reimbursement” brochure. Download, forward and spread the word.
For even more information about Montgomery County’s EMS transport fee, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/emstransportfee .
For the next few days while the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) repairs a major water main in Montgomery County, water supplies will be reduced by about 30 percent. There will be enough water for most indoor water uses. However, it is essential that WSSC customers conserve water whenever possible so that fire and rescue services, hospitals and other emergency services will be unaffected.
Residents who get their water from the Rockville and Poolesville municipal systems or those who have well water are not affected.
Until the mandatory restrictions are lifted, here’s what you need to know:
Outdoor Water Use is Banned
- Lawn watering
- Homeowner car washing
- Filling or topping off private pools
- Washing outdoor paved surfaces
Conserve Water Indoors
- Use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
- Decrease shower time.
- Turn off the water while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Take this opportunity to check all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks and repair them. Leaks can waste 10 percent of a household’s water use.
- Install a low-flow shower head if you don’t already have one to save water and energy.
Here are answers to some questions you might have:
If the problem is in Potomac, why do all customers need to conserve?
The 96-inch main is a major transmission main within WSSC’s distribution system. If customers do not conserve, some users could experience a drop in water pressure.
Will the quality of my water be affected?
No. WSSC will continue to supply safe, clean drinking water while repairs are made.
Could this affect fire protection?
Yes, if people don’t conserve and water pressure drops. WSSC is in contact with local fire departments so they can take appropriate measures.
Are swimming pools affected? Yes. All pools are included in the restrictions; public, private and commercial should not be topping off and should refrain from any non-essential use of water.
How do I report a violation of the restrictions?
In Montgomery County, call 311. Your call will then be referred to the appropriate enforcement agency for follow up.
Where can I get more information?
Check the County website www.montgomerycountymd.gov for updates (remember to refresh your browser) or call the WSSC Emergency Call Center at 301-206-4002; Toll free: 1-800-828-6439; TTY: 301-206-8345.
Like the other seasons, summer is filled with all sorts of pleasures, but those pleasures can come with problems, as well – warm weather/heat waves; cookouts/grill problems; pool fun/pool accidents; picnics/unsafe foods.
The County’s homepage contains a number of Summertime Safety Tips for you, your family and your pets.
And, with the approach of the July 4th Holiday, the Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) reminds residents that ALL fireworks are illegal in Montgomery County. MCFRS says that in spite of recent changes in Maryland law that allows the sale, possession and use of "ground-based sparkling devices" in many parts of Maryland, no change has occurred in the law in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore City.
Possession or use of fireworks is unlawful and subject to a $500 fine upon conviction. Selling of fireworks is unlawful and subject to $1,000 fine upon conviction. If anyone has knowledge of a crime associated with arson, fireworks and explosive devices they are asked to contact the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service at 240-777-2263.
The safest way for you and your family to celebrate the holiday is to take in one of the many fireworks displays planned for the area.
For additional safety information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcsafe.
Because he had heard from many residents who were concerned about code enforcement issues in their neighborhoods, County Executive Ike Leggett appointed the Code Enforcement Work Group to study such issues and make recommendations. The 74-page report recommended sweeping changes that will ultimately result in a better quality of life for residents and safer streets and neighborhoods.
Earlier in the year, another bill supported by Leggett was passed that prohibits parking heavy commercial and recreational vehicles on public roads in residential areas.
Four measures from the County Executive were introduced last May at the County Council.
One measure, Bill 23-09, which limits the storage of inoperable, unused and unregistered vehicles in residential neighborhoods to 30 days, was enacted by the Council on October 6.
The remaining three measures awaiting Council approval are:
- Bill 22-09 -- gives an enforcement agency the authority to issue a notice of violation that cannot be appealed to the Board of Appeals.
- Bill 24-09 -- requires certain detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses to obtain an approved final inspection within 18 months after the Department of Permitting Services issues the initial building permit.
- Zoning Text Amendment 09-03 restricts the encroachment and expansion of home occupations into residential neighborhoods, as well as limits the paving of front yards and limits heavy commercial vehicles in residential zones.
Read the final report of the Code Enforcement Work Group, as well as information about the four legislative proposals and the commercial and recreational vehicle brochure (pdf).
News and Information from Montgomery County Government, Public Information Office.
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