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County Residents Can Give Budget Ideas and Comments via New, Easy-to-Use Link

A new link on the Montgomery County homepage makes it even easier for residents to provide comments and ideas on government restructuring, cost savings and other thoughts about closing the County’s projected $300 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. The link leads to a form where residents can provide feedback.

The information will be used by County Executive Ike Leggett as he prepares his recommended operating budget, which will be presented to the County Council on March 15, and by the Council during its budget deliberations.

The budget form is available directly at montgomerycountymd.gov/budgetcomments.

CATEGORIES: Budget , County Executive
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 10:00:00 AM |

Putting ARRA Funds to Work Transportation Projects Spell Local Improvements

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation has received nearly $15.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding designed to help local governments jumpstart their economies. The funded projects -- designed to help improve the County’s economy and transportation infrastructure -- have either been completed or are underway.

The Division of Highway Services (DHS) received about $6.7 million to improve seven roadways that, due to their deteriorated condition, were designated as high priority projects under DHS’ inventory of Countywide roadway conditions. These paving projects will upgrade:

  • More than 10 lane miles of Shady Grove Road from I-270 to Darnestown Road;
  • Nearly 10 lane miles of Barnesville Road from Mt. Ephraim Road to Maryland Route 117;
  • About four-and-one-half lane miles Randolph Road from east of Nebel Street to Rock Creek Bridge;
  • About 3.6 lane miles of Forest Glen Road from Maryland Route 97 to Brunett Avenue;
  • More than 10 lane miles of Old Columbia Pike from Maryland Route 198 to U.S. Route 29, Columbia Pike on-ramp;
  • Nearly five lane miles of Travilah Road from Dufief Road to River Road; and
  • 3.7 lane miles of Wightman Road from Brink Road to Goshen Road.

Repairs include removing and replacing defective curbs and gutters; removing and replacing defective sidewalks; full-depth pavement patching; removing and replacing pavement surfaces; and installing pavement line markings and raised, reflective pavement markers. All seven projects should be completed in fall 2011.

The Division of Transit Services (DTS) received $6.55 million to replace existing buses with 12 energy efficient, diesel-electric hybrids and one clean diesel bus. The buses will be delivered in September. DTS also received $350,000 to purchase new bid/dispatch software that will increase efficiency in managing work assignments and daily dispatching.

The Division of Traffic Engineering (DTE) received nearly $1.75 million for four projects to improve traffic flow and traffic and pedestrian safety. DTE has:

  • Completed upgrading deficient and substandard guardrail end treatments throughout the County along Federal roads eligible for aid;
  • Completed installing traffic signal power backup units Countywide to minimize the effect of power outages on traffic flow;
  • Completed traffic warning sign upgrades Countywide to improve visibility at night and during poor weather conditions; and
  • Begun installing streetlights along Maryland Route 124 to improve traffic and pedestrian safety. The project is expected to be completed in the spring.

Information about other ARRA funds awarded to the County is available on the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/recovery.

CATEGORIES: Transportation , News
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 9:00:00 AM |

County Extends Online Survey for Residents, Businesses on Pepco Service to February 14

The deadline for the online Pepco feedback survey conducted by the Pepco Work Group appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett has been extended through Monday, February 14.

The survey is designed to obtain information on how the public views Pepco’s service, the extent to which customers have experienced outages, the economic impact of those outages and some insight as to what additional costs customers would be willing to incur in exchange for improved service.

Two different surveys, one for business customers and one for residential customers, are offered. Click on the appropriate link to take the survey that applies:

CATEGORIES: Community Forum
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 8:00:00 AM |

After the Storm is Gone: What to Do

While County crews continue clean up operations in the wake of last week’s snow storm, many residents, too, are dealing with the aftermath of the storm itself and its accompanying power outages.

In order to help guide residents to necessary services relating to cleanup, the County has added a Post Storm Information icon on its home page – www.montgomerycountymd.gov – with links to helpful tips, procedures and phone numbers.

Information on the new Post Storm Information site will be adapted according to the time of year and particular issues associated with the seasons.

POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM |

Protecting Consumers: County Takes Legal Action Against Plumbing Company

The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has filed a lawsuit against All State Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. and its master plumber, Wayne E. Garrity, for charging extra for permit fees but failing to obtain permits and inspections when installing hot water heaters.

The lawsuit, filed through the Office of the County Attorney, is based upon an OCP investigation documenting that more than a dozen consumers were charged $90 to $150 for a permit from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). However, All State failed to apply for or receive permits, and consequently no inspections were conducted by WSSC upon completion of the installations. Between January 1, 2009 and May 15, 2010, All State installed approximately 100 water heaters in Montgomery County as the plumbing contractor for a home warranty program sold by American Home Shield.

The Office of Consumer Protection urges consumers in Montgomery County who have recently paid a contractor to install a new gas water heater to contact them or WSSC if they believe the work was not performed with a permit and not inspected by WSSC. An improperly installed gas water heater can cause unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in a home.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636 or email consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov. Consumers should call WSSC at 301-206-4004 if they are concerned that their gas water heaters were not inspected

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 6:00:00 AM |

Leggett Releases Roadside Solicitation Report; To Ask State for Authority to Ban All Solicitation without a Permit

As the result of a number of residents and businesses conveying their concerns to County Executive Ike Leggett about how roadway soliciting impacts public safety on local roads, the Executive convened a Roadway Solicitation Task Force in January 2010. The group’s mission was to examine the practice of solicitation on roads in the County and develop recommendations for practical and appropriate ways to deal with the problem.

In its just-released report, the Task Force noted that roadway solicitation is often hazardous to both panhandlers and motorists and can potentially undermine the County's comprehensive efforts to promote pedestrian safety. The report said that while some panhandlers are homeless, appropriate services exist in the County to serve these individuals, and panhandling can often be counterproductive to addressing homelessness, as well as addiction problems.

Leggett has asked the State legislators who served on the Task Force to introduce a bill in the 2011 Session that would authorize the County to establish a permit system for roadside solicitation (i.e., State enabling law). Under the bill, solicitation from a median strip or sidewalk adjacent to a roadway without a permit would be prohibited.

See the entire proposal (PDF).

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 5:00:00 AM |

County Executive Launches Pledge 25 Campaign to Encourage Increased Volunteerism

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

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

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

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

POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 4:00:00 AM |


Leggett Announces “Safety & Health” Provisions for New County Construction Contracts

County Executive Ike Leggett has announced that all solicitations for County construction contracts are factoring in company records on employee safety and health – and the existence of strong workplace safety programs.

This means that contractors seeking to be qualified to construct County facilities will lose “points” for inadequate safety and health results or for the lack of strong health and safety prevention programs.

In addition, Leggett rolled out a new County website -- http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/workersafety -- to provide informationm tothose working in the County about workplace safety and health, as well as information and forms necessary to lodge complaints with the Maryland Office on Safety and Health (MOSH).

The Executive also appointed an ongoing Commission on Workers Safety and Health to advise him on further policy changes as part of the County’s Workers Health and Safety Initiative.

“Pay-by-cell” Program a Success; More Meters to be Added this Spring

In early 2010, the Division of Parking (Dept. of Transportation/MCDOT) began a pilot project to test a “pay-by-cell phone” system at selected parking meters in Bethesda. The test was successful, and now, MCDOT has decided to expand the system this spring to 11,000 meters in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Montgomery Hills and North Bethesda.

A great feature of pay by cell is the ability to receive a text message reminder when your parking time is about to expire. If this happens and you need more time, simply extend the parking session by phone, as long as the maximum parking time on the meter is not exceeded. There is a 35 cent transaction fee for each parking session.

For more information on the pay-by-cell initiative or to register for an account, visit the Division of Parking's website.

Silver Spring Parking Garage Partially Closed for Repairs

The Bonifant-Dixon Garage (Garage 5) in downtown Silver Spring is partially closed for approximately12 months for deck restoration. The Dixon Avenue Entrance will be closed during construction. More than 950 parking spaces remain open and can be accessed using the Bonifant Street Entrance. Just follow detour signs to the BonifantStreet Garage Entrance.

The garage serves the Silver Spring Metro Rail Station as well as surrounding businesses.

Lunar New Year and Black History Month Programs at Public Libraries

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) welcomes the Year of the Golden Rabbit and celebrates Black History Month with a variety of programs throughout February.

Lunar New Year began this year on February 3. According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.

Programs at various branches include an introduction to customs behind the Lunar New Year, traditional dances, hands-on art activities, storytelling, shadow puppet shows, arts and crafts activities, Chinese yo-yo demonstrations, workshops and traditional Chinese lion dance performances.

Black History Month is a nationwide observance that provides an opportunity to reflect on the significant contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. history.

Local speakers and authors will discuss the history of African Americans in Montgomery County in a five-part series of community discussions entitled, “Journey through African American History” to be held at branches around the County.

Other programs include Discovery Theater’s live performances of “Black Diamond: Satchel Paige and the Negro Baseball League” for young audiences about the struggles and triumphs of early African American baseball players, and African dance and drumming by the Soul in Motion Ensemble

For complete schedules of Lunar New Year and Black History Month programs, visit “Spotlight” at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library.

Spring into Activity with Recreation, Park Classes: New Guide Now Out

Registration for the Recreation Department’s spring classes will begin Monday, February 14, followed by registration for swim classes on the 16th. The new Spring Guide of Recreation and Park Programs lists a wide variety of classes from yoga and Zumba to pottery, cooking and ballroom dancing. Copies of the Spring Guide are at public libraries and community, recreation, aquatic and senior centers throughout the County.

Register in any one of four ways: by mail or fax (240-777-6818), online or in person at the Recreation Department offices, 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

For more information, call 240-777-6840 or visit the Recreation Department website.

County History Book Updated Online

What is the County’s official bird? Blossom? Who was Richard Montgomery? And, why does our County bear his name? What was the original name of the County Seat (now, of course Rockville)? Which Washington, DC neighborhood was once part of Montgomery County?

The answers to these and just about any other questions you might have about any aspect of Montgomery County’s history are found in “Montgomery County, Maryland Our History and Government,” a 30-page booklet, just updated, following the most recent election. From the earliest days to the present, it’s a handy, brief look at what and who has shaped Montgomery County.


Caregiving, Finances, Nutrition featured on latest “Seniors Today”

County Cable Montgomery’s (CCM) latest “Seniors Today” features discussions on three topics of special interest to seniors and their families -- caregiving, financial management and nutrition.

Hosted by Austin Heyman, “Seniors Today” is seen weekly on Sundays at 2 p.m., Tuesdays at 6 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.,and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. on CCM -- channel 6 for Comcast and RCN subscribers and channel 30 for Verizon subscribers. To watch online, go to “Seniors Today” at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/seniors.

The show is produced by Montgomery County’s Office of Public Information and the Commission on Aging.


Applicants Sought for Charter Review Commission

The County Council is accepting applications for membership on the County's Charter Review Commission. Applications for the four-year appointments are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2.

The commission researches and evaluates Charter issues raised by the County Executive, County Council, other government officials and the public. Commission reports are submitted no later than May 1 of every even-numbered year. These reports contain recommendations concerning any proposed Charter amendments.

Get more details or call 240-777-7979.


Online Application Makes Applying for Rainscapes Rewards Rebate Program Even Easier

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has streamlined its RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program application by creating a new, online interactive format that is more user-friendly and provides a faster rebate turn-around time.

The program is designed to reduce the effects of stormwater pollution on the County’s streams and waterways.

Residents interested in the latest information about RainScapes can sign up to receive the RainScapes Gazette by visiting the County’s e-subscription page.

For more information about the program, including projects and resident eligibility or to apply, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rainscapes or contact RainScapes Rewards Coordinator Ann English at 240-777-7759 or RainScapes.application@montgomerycountymd.gov.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Senior , Environmental , Library , Transportation
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 3:00:00 AM |


Success of Consumer Protection Volunteers Told in Post Article

In carrying out its mission to enforce consumer protection laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business acts or practices, the County’s Office of Consumer Protection has found success in using volunteers to support the work of its staff investigators.

The story of some of these volunteers and the cases they have worked on was detailed in a recent Washington Post article.

For more about the award-winning Office of Consumer Protection, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.

Maryland Senior Olympics Website Earns Top Award

For the second straight year, the website of Maryland Senior Olympics (MSO) has been named the nation’s top Senior Games website by the National Senior Games Association (NSGA).

The site is produced by veteran sports journalist, editor and former Recreation Department employee Dennis Tuttle of Silver Spring who develops, writes and designs the content and images on www.mdseniorolympics.org.

MSO Executive Director Ted Wroth said, “Our athletes love the newspaper-quality combination of human interest storylines, news, information, results, records and historical perspective. It’s obviously a winning formula.”

Montgomery County has administered the State games since 2008.

The Maryland Senior Olympics is a non-profit organization for proactive residents aged 50 and above.

County’s Volunteer Center Receives State Grant

The Montgomery County Volunteer Center has received a $25,000 Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant from the Governors Office on Service and Volunteerism to increase the ability to recruit and retain volunteers in a range of  opportunities.

The center will use the state grant to increase volunteerism through the new "Pledge 25" initiative which encourages residents to volunteer 25 hours between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January and Make a Difference Day on October 22. Montgomery County will also use funding for website updates and to transition to the new HandsOn Connect database.

Montgomery County’s Volunteer Center was one of six centers throughout Maryland to receive a grant passed through the state from the Corporation for National and Community Services Volunteer Generation Fund.

The funds will support activities through the end of this year.

CATEGORIES: Making News , Senior , Health
POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 2:00:00 AM |


February -- Library Lovers Month. Stop by your local public library branch to pick up a bookmark or pencil and a postcard to let everyone know why you love libraries. Stop by any of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County’s three bookstores to pick up a customizable amount gift card as the perfect book-lover’s present. Let the book worm in your life find new titles to devour and support Montgomery County Public Libraries at the same time. For more information, visit www.folmc.org.

February-April – Job Hunting Workshops featuring High Impact Resumes, Interviewing for Success, How to Apply for a Federal Job and Effective Strategies for the Internet Job Search. Various branches of Montgomery County Public Libraries. Workshops are free but registration is required. Visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library (Spotlight section).

February 20 -- County's Black History Month Celebration. "Conversations Across the Middle Passage: Dialogue and Music of the African Diaspora." BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown. 4-7 p.m. Dialogue among local African American, African and Caribbean leaders. Music of the diaspora by The Washington Revels Jubilee Voicesand lyric soprano Abiodun Koya. Black History Month proclamation presentation by County Executive Ike Leggett. Diaspora-inspired hors d'oeuvres served. Presented by the County Executive's African American, African Affairs and Caribbean American Advisory Groups. Contact Rev. Tim Warner or Daniel Koroma at 240-777-2570 or visit www.blackrockcenter.org.

February 26 -- Community Clean Water Summit. Presented by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection for watershed groups, the general public and anyone interested in the health of Montgomery County’s streams.Silver Spring Civic Building at Veteran’s Plaza, One Veteran’s Place, Great Hall, Room 1. 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Attendees will learn about challenges to stream water quality, what environmental groups are doing to prevent pollutant impacts and how to get involved in the Clean Streams Movement. To register, visit: http://clean-water-summit.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Ryan Zerbe at Ryan.Zerbe@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-7744.

POSTED: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 1:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010