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Leggett’s Recommended FY13 Operating Budget Addresses Highest Priorities with Fiscally Prudent Approach

The Recommended FY13 Operating Budget that County Executive Ike Leggett has sent to the County Council strategically restores some of the most critical and important services that were cut back dramatically over the past five years during a time of unprecedented budget challenges.  His approach to this budget attempts to balance the backlog of resident needs with the County’s new economic reality.  

Totaling $4.56 billion, the budget focuses on Leggett’s priorities to fully fund education, increase strategic investments in public safety and the safety net for the most vulnerable, and restore some hours for libraries and services for recreation centers, while maintaining his prudent policies that have put the County on the road to a sustainable economic future. 

The budget keeps property tax revenue at current levels by recommending a level below the Charter limit, increases reserves to the policy level of $300.2 million, allocates funding for PAYGO at 10 percent of planned general obligation bond issue and increases funding for retiree health benefits by $61 million to meet commitments for 2015 made to rating agencies.  

POSTED: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 3:00:00 AM |

Council President Berliner Responds to the Executive’s Budget

Responding to Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s recommended Fiscal Year 2013 operating budget that was sent to the County Council on March 15, Council President Roger Berliner said:

 “The County Executive has submitted his Fiscal Year 2013 Recommended Operating Budget at a time when Montgomery County is slowly emerging from the deep hole brought about by the Great Recession. As we look ahead to this next fiscal year, our Council must bear in mind the steps we have taken to put ourselves on a sustainable path into the future as we make strategic restorations to County services that have sustained deep, deep cuts.

“I commend the County Executive and his staff for submitting a sound budget. It is an excellent framework for the Council as we enter budget deliberations and reflects our shared commitment to being careful stewards of our County’s resources. We will approach this year’s budget with cautious optimism and prudent judgment as we balance the wide array of County needs before us.”

POSTED: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 2:00:00 AM |

Public Hearings Scheduled on FY13 Operating Budget

The County Council will hold a series of public hearings on the recommended FY13 Operating Budget from April 10 to 12 in the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, in the 3rd floor Hearing Room according to the following schedule:

  • April 10 – 7 p.m.
  • Apr 11 and 12 -- 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. both days

Residents wishing to speak should call 240-777-7803 to sign up. Testimony also can be submitted via email at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov, via regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville MD 20850, or by calling the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

The Council must pass an Operating Budget for FY13 by June 1.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 1:00:00 AM |

Chat Online with Executive about the FY13 Recommended Operating Budget

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will hold another “Virtual Town Hall Meeting” on Thursday, March 15, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. County residents will be able to talk with the County Executive and ask questions through the Live Discussion with Ike Leggett link.

The chat will occur after Leggett releases his FY13 Recommended Operating Budget at a noon press conference.

Residents interested in participating can enter questions prior to or during the live discussion. Questions and answers will be available for viewing both during and after the discussion.

For information on the County Executive's FY13 Recommended Operating Budget, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov at noon on March 15.      

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 8:00:00 AM |

Residents Invited to Submit Nominations for Outstanding Volunteer Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Voting Opportunities

County residents can take the opportunity to vote early in the upcoming primary election at five centers around the County on March 24 and 26 – 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, March 25 from noon to 6 p.m.

Early voting centers will be located at:
• Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Dr., Rockville. Free onsite parking.
• Germantown Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Rd.. Free onsite parking.
• Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville. Free onsite parking.
• Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville. One hour of free parking at the garage on the corner of Jefferson and Monroe sts. On-street metered parking spaces are also available.
• Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place. Parking is available in public parking garages or at on-street meters.

For additional information, call the Montgomery County Board of Elections at 240-777-VOTE (8683) or visit www.777vote.org.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 6:00:00 AM |

Police Launch Community Alert System

In a continuing effort to connect to the community via technology, the Montgomery County Department of Police has launched the Community Alert System which is part of the County’s Alert Montgomery program.

The police will send messages via email and/or text messages to cell phones, pagers and smart phones on a variety of police issues, including crime trends, critical incidents, missing persons, etc.

Anyone who works, lives or has an interest in Montgomery County is encouraged to sign up at alert.montgomerycountymd.gov.  Users will be prompted to select particular geographical police areas known as beats, under the MCPD Police District Alerts tab. 

If you are not sure what beat you live or work in, just email the address(es) you want to receive alerts for to mcpdalert@montgomerycountymd.gov, and Police will provide the beat information you need.  Allow 72 hours for a response.

Read more about it.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 5:00:00 AM |

A Lesson for Drivers: Don’t Pass the Bus

In the words of Police Chief Thomas Manger, “One-hundred-thousand kids ride a bus to school in Montgomery County. Anything that we can do to keep them safe is a worthwhile endeavor.”

Just such a worthwhile endeavor became a reality earlier this month when the County Council unanimously passed Bill 37-11 that authorizes installation of cameras on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses.

“The goal of this bill is to keep our students safe by changing driver behavior,” said Councilmember Valerie Ervin, chair of the Education Committee and chief sponsor of the bill. 

The approximately 1,500 County school bus drivers file an average of 500 reports each about drivers who illegally pass their stopped buses during a school year.

Drivers caught on tape illegally passing a stopped school bus would be subject to a maximum civil fine of up to $250. No points would be assessed to an individual’s driving record.

Read more.

CATEGORIES: Transportation
POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 4:00:00 AM |

Public Discussion on Recommended FY13 Operating Budget for Health and Human Services

The public is invited to attend a briefing on Monday, March 19 to discuss the County Executive’s FY 2013 Recommended Operating Budget for the Department of Health and Human Services. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Children’s Resource Center, 332 West Edmonston Dr. in Rockville. Free parking is available.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia and senior leadership staff will brief attendees on the department’s portion of the recommended budget.

To request sign language interpreter services or other assistance to participate in this meeting, call Alma Laxa at 240-777-1211 (voice), 240-777-1295 (TTY) or email to alma.laxa@montgomerycountymd.gov by March 14.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 3:00:00 AM |


Board of Education Candidates' Forum

Editors from Silver Chips, the Montgomery Blair HS newspaper, will help moderate the Board of Education Candidates’ Forum to be held on March 15 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans' Plaza beginning at 7:30 p.m. The forum is sponsored by the Montgomery County Civic Federation.

For more information, visit www.montgomerycivic.org.

Proposals, Comments Invited on the Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District

Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the re-designation of the Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda.

In 2002, Bethesda was designated as an Arts and Entertainment District for a 10-year period.  Because the designation was highly successful, the County intends to apply for re-designation.

Comments will be heard by representatives from Montgomery County who will submit a recommendation to the County Executive and County Council.  They, in turn, will submit a request to the State to apply for a re-designation.

Those wishing to speak at the public hearing should call Stephanie Coppula at 301-215-6660, ext. 120. Written comments may also be emailed to scoppula@bethesda.org.

New Parking Garage Opens in Silver Spring

A parking garage, located below the new Galaxy Apartments in Silver Spring, at 8025 13th St., brings a total of 368 parking spaces to the area -- 160 of which are available for public parking, while 208 are set aside for Galaxy residents.

The garage is part of a public-private partnership that created a 195-unit, five-story apartment building with 82 affordable units and an underground parking garage on the site of a former County surface parking lot. 

Rates at the new garage, known as Garage 16, will be 75 cents an hour for short-term parking of four hours or less and 60 cents an hour for long-term parking of more than four hours.

Parkers also have the option of using a Parking Convenience Sticker (allowing unlimited parking on any all day meter in Silver Spring), which costs $113 a month, or a Daily Parking Permit for $7.20 a day. 

To view all the public parking options available in Silver Spring, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/parking

More People Leaving the Driving to Ride On 

Ridership on the Division of Transit Services’ Ride On bus system for the first six months in FY12 (July through December 2011) grew by 1.3% compared to the same period in FY11.  The most significant growth occurred in November and December when the system realized growth of 5.4 and 6.1% respectively.

In January 2012, ridership again trended higher by about 2 to 3% compared to the same month in 2011.  And, February’s preliminary ridership figures were up about 3.5% compared to February 2011 levels.

For information about the nearest Ride On route to you, visit Division of Transit Services’ website or call 311 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Your Chance to Serve: Openings on Boards, Committees and Commissions

Public participation contributes to the work of County government and provides an important service to the community when a variety of issues, concerns and viewpoints are presented. Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply.

Currently, there is an opportunity to serve on any one of the following County boards, committees and commissions:

  • Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs
  • Library Board

The deadline for applying is March 19Get details about each group.

An application, consisting of a brief cover letter and resume, should be mailed to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe St., 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD  20850, or emailed to countyexecutive.boards@montgomerycountymd.gov. Home and employment addresses, as well as contact phone numbers and email addresses should be included. If appropriate, applicants should indicate the position for which they are applying.

Still Time to Provide Feedback on Streamlining the Development Process  

County Executive Ike Leggett recently announced a new cross-agency effort that will further streamline County government operations by making meaningful changes to the development application process. 

The objective is to improve the process and be more user friendly without compromising substance.  For example, an initial step consolidates construction inspections currently being done by the Department of Permitting Services and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services. This will save time and money for businesses needing these inspections.

Meanwhile, the County is seeking input from stakeholders on where plans, permit reviews and inspections can be consolidated, redundant reviews minimized and inconsistencies eliminated. Staff from multiple agencies will receive the comments, observations and recommendations about experiences with development approvals in getting a project from idea to occupancy.

A dedicated website has been created to provide each stakeholder a place to submit open ended comments to identify problem areas in the development process. Comments may be posted on the site through March 31.

CATEGORIES: Arts , Transportation , Community Forum
POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 2:00:00 AM |


March 27 -- Absentee ballot deadline.  Written requests must reach the Elections Office by 8 p.m. or, if already registered, may be faxed to 240-777-8560 or e-mailed to absentee@montgomerycountymd.gov no later than 11:59 p.m. The absentee ballot application may be found online at the Board of Elections website at www.777vote.org or www.montgomerycountymd.gov/elections.  Follow all instructions, and return the completed, signed application by mail, fax, or e-mail.  Ballots will be mailed within three business days.  For more information, call 240-777-8550, or e-mail absentee@montgomerycountymd.gov.

April 23 – Town Hall Meeting with County Executive Ike Leggett. 7:30 p.m.  Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 S. Park Ave., Chevy Chase.  For more information, call 240-777-6507. 

POSTED: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 1:00:00 AM |

Budget Input Invited

County Executive Ike Leggett will release his Recommended Operating Budget for FY 13 on March 15 at noon at the Executive Office Building lobby level auditorium in Rockville.

The County Executive and the Council need to know what County programs and services are most important to you and your family – and where County resources ought to go.
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 9:00:00 AM |

Council Responds to State’s Proposed Shift of Pension Funding to County

In response to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposal to shift half the cost of teacher and other pensions from the state to the counties, the County Council issued the following statement: 

“Maryland's counties and school systems face a serious problem in Annapolis right now. Governor O'Malley has proposed shifting half the cost of teacher and other pensions from the state to the counties. The County Council, County Executive Ike Leggett and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), as well as our employee organizations and our counterparts throughout the state, strongly oppose this shift. As Board of Education President Shirley Brandman said on Feb. 14, the shift ‘will have an immediate negative impact on the important services that our local governments provide.’

"For Montgomery County, the proposed pension shift would cost $47 million in Fiscal Year 2013 and $315 million over the next five years. The measures proposed to help counties pay the cost are inadequate and may not be enacted in any event.

"How much is $47 million? It pays for the jobs of nearly 500 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other vital County personnel. It is more than the County's general fund budgets for housing, transportation, and environmental protection combined. Our entire budget for libraries is less than $30 million.

"The recessionary County budgets of the past three years required painful cuts that have seriously affected our residents and employees alike. For the coming year, we face a further budget gap of $135 million and more hard decisions. If we now have to absorb another large burden from the state, there will be real damage to all our vital services -- our schools, college, police, fire and rescue, safety net, libraries, parks, housing, transportation, recreation and many others.

"We understand that the state, too, must balance its budget and faces hard choices. But it is the state that sets the basic structure of pension benefits. In 2006 the state raised pension benefits by 29 percent, retroactive to 1998, but failed to provide sufficient funding. In fact, the state's financial support for the pension fund has fallen short for many years. Counties should not be asked to assume financial responsibility for costs not of their making. We have cut services to the bone, and we have reached our limit on taxes.

"Elected officials and concerned organizations throughout the state, including the Maryland Association of Counties, the school community and employee organizations have joined together to convey this message to the Governor and the General Assembly. The coalition's web address is www.stoptheshiftmd.com/. There you can learn how to make a difference.

"The General Assembly will make its decision on the pension shift soon, probably by mid-March. The stakes for all our County residents are very high."

CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 8:00:00 AM |

Carbon Monoxide -- The Invisible Killer; Protect Yourself and Your Family

Carbon monoxide, the most common cause of death by poison in the United States, kills more than 500 people every year. It is one of the most dangerous poisons, because you often aren’t aware of its presence until it’s too late.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) reminds every resident that the best way to protect themselves and their families from carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy a carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to as CO) detector for the home.

Learn more by reading CO facts and tips for prevention from MCFRS.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 7:45:00 AM |

Community Input Invited Regarding the Future of Comcast Cable Television Services

Comcast’s current 15-year franchise agreement with the County expires on July 1, 2013, and this summer, the County will begin negotiations for a new franchise agreement which will address past performance, customer service and new technologies.

Meanwhile, the County is seeking community input -- via a series of focus groups planned for the week of March 19-24 -- to help determine what kinds of cable services the public is interested in receiving as part of a new cable television franchise agreement with Comcast.

For more information, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cable  or contact Marjorie Williams at 240-777-3762;e-mail  Marjorie.Williams@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov .  Please  RSVP to attend a focus group.

CATEGORIES: Consumer , Communtiy Forum
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 7:30:00 AM |

National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence to be Established at NIST

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, to be established at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, will serve as a gateway for public-private partnership in developing cyber technology and advancements in cyber security.

County Executive Ike Leggett joined U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), NIST Director Patrick Gallagher (far right) and Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown in announcing the partnership that will establish the center.

As chairwoman of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NIST, Senator Mikulski won $10 million to fund the new Cyber Center of Excellence.

Read more.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 7:00:00 AM |

Alert Montgomery: Know What’s Coming


There’s no need, figuratively speaking, to be in the dark about weather-related or other emergencies.  Have information you need on-the-go and at your fingertips

Simply register for Alert Montgomery and receive emergency alerts about weather, roads, emergency situations  --or all three -- from one or more of your devices: including computer, cell phone, Blackberry or other PDA.

Residents who register will receive only the most urgent alerts (e.g. water main break, tornado warning) if they do not register for other optional groups. Alert Montgomery can deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates on all of your devices at once:

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 6:00:00 AM |

The Trail that Volunteers Built

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judges Needed for 2012 Elections

Montgomery County’s Board of Elections is seeking individuals to serve as election judges at polling places for the elections to be held on April 3 and November 6.

Voters will be casting ballots for President, U.S. Senate, Congressional representatives, Circuit Court and Court of Appeals judges, Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee delegates, and members of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Judges must be registered to vote in the State of Maryland.  They must also be able to speak, read and write the English language, and while acting as a judge must not hold, or be a candidate for, public or party office.  In addition, election judges may not serve as a campaign manager for a candidate or as treasurer for any campaign financial entity.

Judges bilingual in Spanish and election judge alternates are needed throughout the County.  Training will be provided and all judges will be compensated for their services.

To apply, or to receive more information, visit www.777vote.org and select the Election Judge Program link. 

POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 4:00:00 AM |


County Negotiates Three-Year Contract with County’s General Government Workers

A $2,000 bonus and a 3% longevity increase for individuals with 21 or more years of service would be coming to County employees under the tentative three-year agreement reached between the County and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union/Montgomery County Government Employees Organization) covering 5,000 of the County’s general government workers. The contract calls for no cost-of-living increase and no steps or incentives for County employees.

The pact also:

  • Establishes a path toward health care cost containment and sustainability; and
  • Creates a process for consideration of “hybrid” pensions to blend the stability of Defined Benefits and the cost predictability of Defined Contribution plans without increasing costs to the County. 

The agreement must be ratified by the MCGEO members and approved by the County Council.

Contracts have been completed, as well, with the Police and Firefighters’ unions, pending ratification by union members.



WSSC Seeks County Residents to Serve on Customer Advisory Board

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is looking for Montgomery County residential customers of WSSC to serve on their Customer Advisory Board that provides input to the commission’s staff on policies and programs. 

Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. at WSSC’s offices in Laurel. 

For more information, contact WSSC at 301-206-8233 or kknox@wsscwater.com.

Start of Construction for Olney Library Marked with Community Event

A ceremony marking the start of construction for the Olney Library renovation project was held on February 26.  Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Public Libraries Director Parker Hamilton and Department of General Services Director David Dise greeted attendees and offered brief remarks.

The library renovation is expected to take about 18 months and will expand the 16,825 square-foot structure by 4,260 square feet, replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; bring all building systems up to building and energy codes; replace the windows and doors; install a new roof and new interior finishes; improve pedestrian safety and walkways; and improve exterior lighting and stormwater management.

The renovation will provide an expanded children’s room, new teen space, group study rooms and a children’s program room. The number of tables and chairs will be increased and all seating upgraded to include access to electric outlets for use of electronic devices.

During the renovation, a “kiosk library” will be located at the Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave., Brookeville.
The kiosk will open in March and operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. It will be closed on Fridays and Sundays.

Project updates will be available on the Department of General Services website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/neighborhoodprojects and the Library Department’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library (click on the Building Projects link).

Comments and questions may also be sent to Ask-a-Librarian at askalibrarian@montgomerycountymd.gov.

New Video Presents Bethesda Lifestyle: “A Big City in a Small Town”

The advantages of living, working, relaxing and getting around in downtown Bethesda are featured in a new video presented by the Bethesda Urban Partnership.   

The 11 ½-minute video includes the many unique and independently owned and operated shops and restaurants, as well as the exciting visual and performing arts and public transportation options available to residents and visitors.  

Downtown Bethesda’s beautifully maintained landscaping, vibrant street scenes and architecture are featured, as well. Local residents and business people talk about the amenities that enhance the community for people of all ages and interests.

“Bethesda’s outstanding mix of shops, neighborhoods and services -- all in walking distance to Metro -- make it the perfect place to live and for business,”  said Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Director Ken Hartman.

Watch the video and see for yourself what Ken is talking about. 

Businesses Take Note: It’s Easy Being Green

Montgomery County is celebrating the two-year anniversary of the Green Business Certification Program, launched through a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) and Montgomery College. 

The program helps County businesses by providing them with a “greenprint” for introducing sustainability into their day-to-day operations and supply chain decisions.

To become a certified green business, an organization must demonstrate its commitment to environmental stewardship, conservation of energy and water, carbon footprint reduction, waste reduction, and recycling and environmentally responsible purchasing. 

Among the 35 organizations certified so far are a bank, IT consultant, religious institution, beverage company, orthodontist, furniture company and international hotel chain. Also included are a law firm, accounting firms, non-profit organizations, and an architect, engineering firm and defense contractor.

Montgomery College provides on-going courses to assist businesses in “going green” so they can get certified. While not required for certification, many businesses have found the courses to be extremely helpful in getting started.

For information about Montgomery College’s Green Business Certification Crash Course, as well as other sustainability courses, go to “Green Training Programs” in their Schedule of Noncredit Classes at Here.

For more about the Green Business Certification Program, visit http://mcgreenbiz.org/.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Video , County Council
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 3:00:00 AM |


Good Grades Pay Off

In recognition of their scholastic achievement, honor roll students from all Montgomery County public schools can receive an hour of free skating -- and skates -- at the Silver Spring Skating Rink at Veteran’s Plaza, 8523 Fenton St. through March 8. Students must show a copy of their (honor roll) report card and their student ID.

The offer of appreciation is presented by Tri State Ice Management which operates the rink and the County’s Community Use of Public Facilities-Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza.

For more information, visit www.silverspringiceskating.com.

Your Chance to Serve: Openings on Boards, Committees and Commissions

Public participation contributes to the work of County government and provides an important service to the community when a variety of issues, concerns, and viewpoints are presented. Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, gender, geography, disability and ethnicity are encouraged to apply.

Currently, there is an opportunity to serve on any one of the following boards, committees and commissions:

  • Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board
  • Cable and Communications Advisory Committee
  • Cable Compliance Commission
  • Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board
  • Workforce Investment Board

Get details about each group.

An application consisting of a brief cover letter and resume should be mailed to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe St., 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD  20850, or by email to countyexecutive.boards@montgomerycountymd.gov.  Home and employment addresses, as well as contact phone numbers and email addresses, should be included. If appropriate, applicants should indicate the position for which they are applying.

The deadline for applying for these openings is March 9.

Residents Beware of Pigeon Drop Schemes and Distraction Thefts

As warmer weather approaches and outdoor activities increase, the Montgomery County Police Department warns residents to be aware of Pigeon Drop schemes and distraction thefts  that typically occur in parking lots and in grocery or other retail stores respectively.

Remaining alert to your surroundings and being aware of the people around you are keys helping to ensure that you don’t become a victim.

There’s a New Galaxy in Silver Spring

The rental housing market in downtown Silver Spring is brighter now by nearly 200 units with the opening of the Galaxy, a new five-story, 195-unit, mid-rise rental apartment building on 13th Street.

Leased and managed by Hercules Real Estate, the building contains 82 affordable apartments (already all taken) and 113 market units.

 “The Galaxy team is fulfilling its promise to bring affordable and market rate housing as well as additional parking to downtown Silver Spring,” said Richard Y. Nelson, Jr., director of the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs. “This public-private initiative demonstrates the opportunity we have for win-win-win developments in Montgomery County. The Galaxy is a win for residents of many income levels, a win for the County in bringing additional parking for a 24-7 neighborhood and a win for a development team that is opening the right product at exactly the right time.”

Amenities include a large, luxurious clubroom with pool table, flat screen televisions and a Wii™ station, a cyber café with a Wi-Fi Hotspot and a fully equipped private fitness center. Apartments are designed with condo-grade finishes, from custom cabinetry to granite countertops and stainless steel appliances to ceramic floors, full-size washers and dryers, walk-in closets, patios and balconies.

For more information, visit www.TheGalaxyApts.com.

New Park and Ride Lot on Georgia Avenue Served by Intercity Buses

A new Georgia Avenue Park and Ride lot, west of Georgia Avenue (Maryland Rte. 97) and just south of the InterCounty Connector (ICC), is now open.  The lot, which has more than 200 parking spaces and two bus shelters with benches, was part of the ICC/MD200 project and was built by the State Highway Administration.

With the opening of the new lot, the Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) intercity buses for routes #201 and #202 has discontinued service to the Norbeck Park and Ride lot.

Consumer Protection Wants You to Know

Many consumers don’t know their rights when it comes to debt collectors. For example, they are unaware that they have the right to not be sued when it comes to old debt.  Debt collectors have a limited number of years to sue you and collect their money; this is known as the statute of limitation. It varies by state and circumstance, but after that time has passed, your unpaid debt is classified as “time-barred” and is no longer collectible. 

Debt collectors may still try to collect on a time-barred debt; however, the decision to pay is yours. You can choose to not pay anything, make a partial payment or pay off the debt completely.  Each option has its consequences and you may want to talk to a lawyer before you make a decision. To learn more about how to deal with Time-Barred Debts read the Federal Trade Commission’s article, Time-Barred Debts.

The Office of Consumer Protection investigates thousands of complaints each year involving new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, automotive sales and repairs, retail sales, Internet services and most other consumer transactions.

For additional information on consumer issues, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636 or e-mail consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Consumer
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 2:30:00 AM |


Local Farmers Inducted into Maryland’s Agriculture Hall of Fame 

Montgomery County farmers Bob and Drew Stabler were recently inducted into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame, the 43rd recipients of the prestigious recognition and the first from Montgomery County to be honored. The Stablers were inducted by Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland’s Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance before more than 700 agricultural leaders and legislators from across the State during the annual “Taste of Maryland” agriculture event in Glen Burnie.

The brothers began farming with their father in 1958 and raised their families on Pleasant Valley Farm, which grew to 4,000 acres. In 2001, to simplify estate planning, Drew retired from Pleasant Valley and began a new partnership with Fred Lechlider (Bob’s son in law) and his son, David, to create Sunny Ridge Farm, which raises corn, wheat, soybeans and cattle on 1,800 acres. Bob and son Randy continue to operate Pleasant Valley, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and cattle on 2,650 acres. Both farms have a history of using the latest best management practices and their average yields are consistently among the highest in Central Maryland

“It is my honor to stand beside the Stabler brothers tonight to recognize their outstanding accomplishments, commitment and contributions to agriculture, family, resource conservation and community,” said Secretary Hance. “They represent not just the best in agriculture and environmental stewardship, but also in business innovation. In honoring the Stabler brothers, we honor the dedication and hard work of every farmer in this state.”

Hear and see the Stabler brothers talk about their lives in farming and the benefits they have derived from agriculture or read more about their induction into the Maryland Agriculture Hall of Fame. 

The Stabler family is also committed to the preservation of Montgomery County farmland.  Both Drew and Bob Stabler have permanently protected their farmland by participating in State and County preservation programs.

In late January, Drew Stabler, became part of another first in local agriculture when County Executive Ike Leggett announced the Building Lot Termination (BLT) preservation easement acquisition of the 200-acre W. Drew Stabler/Sunny Ridge Farm, the Stabler family’s home farm in the Laytonsville/Damascus area.  This is the County’s first BLT easement under its new plan.

The primary purpose of a BLT Easement is to preserve agricultural land by reducing the fragmentation of farmland resulting from residential development by restricting residential, commercial, industrial and other non-agricultural uses.

Finance Department’s Chief Operating Officer Honored with National Government Leadership Award 

Karen Quinlan Hawkins, chief operating officer for Montgomery County’s Department of Finance, has received this year’s Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

Hawkins has worked in Montgomery County’s Department of Finance for 16 years and is responsible for planning, developing, implementing and evaluating policies and work programs for the department. She was cited by AGA for her commitment and contributions to local government, as evidenced by Montgomery County’s consistent awards for excellence in financial reporting and Triple AAA bond rating over the past 16 years.

The AGA is a 15,000 member professional association that serves government accountability professionals by providing quality education, fostering professional development and certification, and supporting standards and research to advance government accountability.

Montgomery County has received the Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting more often than any other county in the nation – 49 times – as early as 1951 and consecutively for 39 years, since 1972.

POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 2:00:00 AM |


Sunday, March 11 – Sister Cities Reception and Soccer Match -- Maryland Terps vs. El Salvadoran Olympic Team. Maryland Soccerplex, 18031 Central Park Circle, Boyds. Reception at 1 p.m.; kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Tickets include food, music and the game.  For tickets and more information, contact Karla Silvestre at 240-777-2525 or karla.silvestre@montgomerycountymd.gov.

POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 1:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010