April 12, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich

 

Dear Friends,

Each week, we work and live among hundreds and thousands of people and, many times, hardly realize they are there. Then we have an event like the partial solar eclipse.

On Monday afternoon, for at least an hour or so, our eyes were fixed on the sky. The solar eclipse brought people together with others working in their building or living nearby to marvel at the event. People were sharing solar eclipse glasses, swapping stories and smiling.

You could infer we were meant to be out in the sun more.

We appreciate our environment this month as we mark Earth Day on Monday, April 22. In Montgomery County, April is Earth Month. The County will host this year’s Energy Summit on Monday and Tuesday, April 15 and 16, in Silver Spring. The summit provides a forum for the commercial building community to prepare for compliance with energy benchmarking, building energy performance standards, and emerging building codes. Visit mcenergysummit.org for detailed event information, education session descriptions and other updates.

These changes are being made because it is important for all of us to help address climate change. Our reliance on fossil fuels must end, and that means we must do all we can to use solar, green hydrogen and other forms of clean energy.



Our Department of General Services monitors the County-owned solar panels and their energy generation and storage. You can see from this graphic above how the partial solar eclipse impacted our microgrid system panels at the solar-powered Brookville bus depot. The readings suddenly dropped way down and bounced back strong after the eclipse.

The sun is one of our most powerful tools for helping us attain a more climate-friendly future. I am glad that our County is making the strategic moves and investments that need to be embraced both here and across the globe.

Maryland General Assembly Session Ends 



The 2024 Maryland General Assembly is over, and I want to extend my gratitude to the Montgomery County House and Senate delegations for their dedication and support of the priorities of the Montgomery County government and the 1.1 million residents we serve. Throughout this session, the General Assembly navigated complex issues, debated important legislation and worked collaboratively to find solutions that would benefit our communities.   

Plenty of progress was made during this session. I am pleased that we continue to see State support for our Flash buses, the County’s Bus Rapid Transit network. The Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs will consider creating regional transportation authorities and local enabling legislation to expand financing options and help provide much-needed infrastructure funding.  We also received $500,000 in State capital funds for our life sciences biohub, a critical component of our growing life sciences industry.

I want to thank the State for $6 million in operating costs and $3 million in capital costs for the University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing. This partnership the County and the University of Maryland is creating at the North Bethesda Metro Station is the future of healthcare research and innovation. The graduate-level research center will help us continue developing private sector interest and investment in life sciences here.

I also was happy to see the State provide a way for all Marylanders, regardless of their immigration status, to be able to buy health insurance on the State’s health exchange. They also put in safeguards to help schools protect books from being banned without proper process and oversight.

The Legislature passed several affordable housing bills and thoughtfully addressed rising concerns about juveniles committing violent crimes and dangerous and reckless driving. The State followed Montgomery County’s lead and passed a bill to create a grant funding program for reproductive health clinics to bolster security at their facilities. They also bolstered community safety by passing the Melanie Diaz Act, which will establish new requirements for landlords to share essential fire safety information with tenants.

While there is still much work to be done, I am confident that our work with the delegation will continue to lead to a brighter future for our Montgomery County residents and our fellow Marylanders. You can read a review of the entire legislative session in the 90 day report which is here.

County Council Hears from the Public Regarding the Operating Budget



The public testified this week before the County Council on my recommended Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget. Around 250 residents registered to speak during the five sessions over three days in Rockville. Many of them testified in support of programs in this $7.1 billion budget.

We have come a long way — in a good way — since I sent my first recommended budget to the Council. I have been involved in building budgets for a long time – for 12 years as an at-large Councilmember, and now this is my sixth recommended budget as County Executive. When I took office in December 2018, I faced a $90 million deficit in the first year, and our reserves were below the 10 percent target. In fact, we had never achieved 10 percent reserves. Six years later, we have been ending our budget years with reserves of more than 10 percent. This year, we reached 15 percent in reserves. 

We are using some of those reserves to fund critically important programs and services, including feeding the hungry, helping people experiencing homelessness, fighting climate change, improving transit, investing in affordable housing and improving education. Even after funding those programs, my recommended budget includes 11.6 percent reserves, well over the 10 percent target.

We allocate some of the surplus above the 11.6 percent to support one-time spending and some for recurring expenditures. Part of this is driven by a Council decision last year to direct the school system to pay for ongoing expenses, $33 million, out of one-time Federal funds. This resulted in costs for that staff in this budget without revenues to support those positions.  We are also compensating for the last two years of dramatic decreases in transfer and recordation taxes that are expected to recover once the Federal Reserve ends its current fiscal policies that are strangling the housing market by driving up the cost of borrowing. High-interest rates impact builders and buyers. We expect—and hope—that the current situation will end soon.  

I write this because there is a memo from the Council President to the Council that asserts there is a $115 million hole to fill when there is not. We have more reserves than we require. We continue to earn AAA ratings from all three bond-rating agencies and positive comments. Our reserves exceed those of the State and some of the other local AAA jurisdictions.

Another criticism is that this budget requires too much—both fair compensation for our employees and the services our community needs.



The chart above, from a staff memo to the Council, details expected additions to compensation in Fiscal Year 2025. It compiles a list of benefits, all of which the Council has already agreed to except for the category of “net new positions,” and these positions include many things that the Council wanted. 

These salaries reflect the nature of this region. As other businesses and governments raise wages, we must remain competitive to retain and attract employees. If our pay does not attract the needed employees, we cannot deliver the services our residents need and want. Many of these new positions reflect needs derived from council priorities and legislation. If these agreements with labor are broken, it will break the trust that will not be easily repaired because these agreements were negotiated in good faith and with good reason.

This is a fiscally sound, reasonable budget with no tax increases and substantial reserves that continue to exceed our targets.

The tough choices were made after 10 community meetings in preparation for this budget and months of work with each department.

This proposal meets our needs and addresses our area’s biggest concerns, like schools, public safety and affordable housing. It does so without raising the tax rate. I urge you to review it with our interactive open budget tool at montgomerycountymd.gov/budget.

Donate Life this April



April is National Donate Life Month, an effort to encourage more people to sign up to be an organ donor. Today, more than 103,000 people are waiting for life-saving transplants across the United States and 16 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

Sadly, there are disparities apparent in the need for organs. Roughly 60 percent are minorities with nearly 30,000 Black patients waiting for a transplant.

On Saturday, April 13, Divine 9 Black Fraternities and Sororities and Maryland Delegate Pam Queen will host an event at The People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and transplantation.

This event will feature panel discussions with living donors, recipients, and medical professionals, information tables featuring Infinite Legacy, the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, the County’s African American Health Program and on-site health screenings.

Organ donors have saved lives through the gift of donation, and you can register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Access to Affordable Housing is a Key Concern of Marylanders

A new poll shows that finding an affordable place to live is on the minds of more and more people across Maryland. Nearly 20 percent of those polled called it their top concern, trailing only crime in the rankings and ahead of public education, taxes and jobs. 

We are working diligently to produce and preserve more affordable housing. In the current fiscal year, of all the units that we have funded, or are committed to fund through production and preservation, we have generated 69.5 percent of affordable units. We have preserved a higher percentage of existing affordable units because new housing construction is so expensive—33 percent of newly built units in FY24 are affordable.

We continue to prioritize protecting naturally occurring affordable housing. For years, more affordable units were lost to new development than replaced. The County started with around 42,000 naturally occurring affordable housing units in 2000 and now has fewer than 22,000 remaining. We are likely to lose another 10,000 or more by 2030, which is why we are taking action.

We are trying to stop that trend by working with community partners in new ways. Last month, we celebrated changes to our “Right of First Refusal” law that will help keep long-term tenants from being priced out of their homes. You can watch that press conference here. Looking back over the last several years, the Right of First Refusal was an option in hundreds of transactions, but was only exercised a handful of times because of costs. The new law eliminates the cost of holding a property, which will protect more affordable housing.

Last year, I signed a rent stabilization bill into law that provides renters with legal protections against rent gouging in response to a sharp rise in rent hikes. The new law will provide a comfortable margin for property owners to keep up with maintenance and make needed repairs to get a return on their investment.

Montgomery County made historic investments in affordable housing during my first five years as County Executive. This budget continues that record investment. A record $169 million is assigned to affordable housing, including $65 million in new funds.

I thank Governor Wes Moore and other State leaders for prioritizing affordable housing in this year’s legislative session. I appreciate the cooperation and partnership of the executive and legislative branches, but there is more work ahead.

Maryland's Secretary of Housing Jake Day joined me during my weekly media briefing. We discussed the progress made in this session and how it helps make Maryland a place for everyone. I encourage you to watch our conversation on Montgomery County’s YouTube page.

Federal Dollars Coming to the Montgomery Green Bank



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named Montgomery County a partner in financing climate and clean energy solutions. The Montgomery County Green Bank is among the sub-awardees for EPA grants awarded to the Coalition for Green Capital to invest in clean energy projects.

The money comes from the historic $27 billion reserved in the Inflation Reduction Act to tackle greenhouse gases, and the Coalition for Green Capital—a collection of green banks from around the nation—has been awarded access to apply toward the $5 billion set aside.

The Montgomery County Green Bank plans to use the funding to support Building Energy Performance Standards readiness programs. Once implemented, our BEPS regulations will help attack one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions—our buildings. Decarbonization efforts are some of our most important moving forward.

The grant money will support the County’s Solar Power Purchase Agreement and help residents install more solar panels. It also provides money for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to help residents who want to switch to EVs.

Award money will bolster our electric vehicle charging infrastructure to help more residents looking to switch to EVs.

This grant will allow for new investments throughout the County. It is especially important in our low-income and disadvantaged communities where half the money will be spent.

We appreciate and are grateful for the financial support and partnership of the Biden/Harris Administration, the Montgomery County Congressional Delegation, the EPA and the Coalition for Green Capital. I want to extend a special thanks to U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who has championed the capitalization of a national green bank with public capital for the last 15 years.

These funds will help us reach our climate goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and by 100 percent by 2035 and will create new clean energy jobs here. Visit mcgreenbank.org to learn more about how the Montgomery County Green Bank impacts our community.

Driveway Repair Scam Alert



Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection is warning residents of potential scams involving driveway paving scams.

This scam can involve anyone unlicensed for home improvement work. They generally knock on your door and agree to fix your driveway but leave with your money before the job is done. Some victims have also had such lousy work done that a reputable businessperson needed to repair it immediately.

Our Office of Consumer Protection is sharing some tips that can help you from becoming a victim as well:
  • Be cautious if an estimate is made before you request one
  • If there is not a contract for the job shared with you before they want to begin
  • If you do see a contract, make sure it contains a Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) license number
  • Check that number with the state before approving the work
  • Don’t be forced into a quick decision
  • An offer that is presented as cash-only is a red flag
  • So is a contractor with out-of-state plates or using an unmarked truck
  • Don’t trust that just because your neighbor’s driveway turned out fine, you can ignore these precautions
If you suspect a scam, share that information with the Office of Consumer Protection. Over the past year, the OCP has helped several victims of this scam. Their work has led to civil and criminal charges, and they’ve also managed to permanently or temporarily suspend all websites associated with these criminals.

For more consumer tips or to file a complaint with OCP, visit their website or call (240) 777-0311.

And finally, I wanted to let you know that on Saturday, April 20, the Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network, a multi-denominational coalition supporting reduction of firearms that may be used in violence, domestic incidents or suicide, will be hosting a gun buy-back event in Germantown from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley (13421 Clopper Road). Community members can turn in their unwanted, but functional firearms in exchange for gift cards. This will be a drive thru only event. For more information, please visit: https://daviscenter.org/event/montgomery-county-gun-buyback/

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

 

Marc Elrich
County Executive

April 10, 2024

Office of Consumer Protection Warns Homeowners of Rise in Driveway-Paving Scams

Office of Consumer Protection Warns Homeowners of Rise in Driveway-Paving Scams

As the warm weather approaches, the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is warning homeowners about driveway-paving scammers who typically look to exploit them in spring. These scammers are a common problem not only in Montgomery County, but also across Maryland. Homeowners should be aware and take appropriate measures to avoid falling victim to it.

In the last year, OCP has been taking measures against individuals who performed unlicensed home improvement work, particularly those who conducted driveway paving. As a result, civil and criminal charges have been issued against them, and several have been issued arrest warrants. OCP also has managed to suspend all websites associated with these criminals, either permanently or temporarily, through their actions.

"As a community, we must remain vigilant and take appropriate measures to prevent ourselves from being deceived by fraudulent activities," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "It is essential for residents to be aware that the Office of Consumer Protection is an excellent resource available to them whenever they suspect they are being scammed, particularly in cases related to driveway paving.”

The scam often starts with a knock on the door and with someone offering to repave or seal a driveway or do some other type of concrete work. It is usually presented with a sense of urgency, as the scammer explains there is some type of deal for cash on the spot or claims to have leftover material from a nearby project.

“These scams involve driveway pavers who aren’t properly licensed as home improvement contractors as required under Montgomery County or Maryland law, or who might be soliciting against County policies,” said Lee Glass, an investigator with OCP, “They knock on people's doors and defraud them out of money, fail to complete work, perform exceedingly sub-standard work or take their deposits and run. People have relied on the fact that others in their neighborhood have worked with a company, but that is not a fool-proof method of protecting yourself, your property or your assets.”

The quality of work of unlicensed scammers is often unsatisfactory, and their final cost generally is much more than the quoted price. Some scammers may ask for a deposit, bring equipment to the property or even start the job, only to abandon it midway and leave with the property damaged. There is often no warranty or responsible party to make repairs or to honor the “warranty” that was sold with the project. These scams can result in civil or criminal violations and, in the worst-case scenarios, fraud, theft, property destruction or elder abuse.

A resident of Silver Spring recently reported being a victim of a driveway scam. She mentioned that several people in her neighborhood had been working with a certain "company," which made her feel more comfortable working with it as well. However, she ended up with a poor-quality product and felt that she had been scammed.

OCP also has been working with a victim from Gaithersburg. “I was lied to about what they were going to be doing, and I have had three other reputable licensed concrete businesses say it was the worst job they have ever seen, and the whole job has to be ripped out,” she said. “They also damaged my property by not fixing a window which was broken and washed cement down the storm drain, damaging the environment."

To avoid becoming a victim, OCP advises to look for the following red flags that may indicate you were approached by a scammer rather than a trustworthy professional contractor:
  • The offer is unsolicited. Most scams begin when an individual appearing as a contractor goes out of their way to offer an estimate that was never requested.
  • There is no written contract up front. The absence of a written and signed contract before any work is done is a dead giveaway that a homeowner is about to be the target of a scam or about to get a job of very poor quality. Contracts are in place for the protection of the business and the customer.
  • They do not have a Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) license number. In the case that a contract is presented, homeowners must check for a MHIC number to ensure the proposal has been presented by someone licensed to do the work. If the homeowner is unsure, they should contact OCP or the MHIC before approving the work to be done.
  • They push you to make a quick decision. Trusted contractors provide written estimates that remain valid for a specific period of time. Be cautious of contractors who insist on on-the-spot hiring.
  • The offer presented is cash-only. Most reputable contractors accept checks or credit cards and do not require cash-only terms.
The individual is from out of state or has an unmarked truck. Roaming scammers often drive unmarked trucks or have out-of-state license plates.

For more consumer tips or to file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OCP or call 240-777-0311.

‘Project Prom Dress Giveaway’ Will Take Place Saturday, April 13, at Praisner Community Center in Burtonsville

‘Project Prom Dress Giveaway’ Will Take Place Saturday, April 13, at Praisner Community Center in Burtonsville

Montgomery County Recreation will host the third annual “Project Prom Dress” giveaway from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at the Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville. Any high school student with their school I.D. can shop, try-on and receive a free dress or suit and shoes and accessories during the event. The items were donated by community members earlier this year.

The Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center is located at 14906 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville.

Project Prom Dress seeks to eliminate the financial obstacle of attending prom, which for many students, turns out to be one of the most memorable days of high school.

Recent garments that were cleaned were collected for distribution to this year’s students.

More than 160 students attended the event in 2023. View photos from last year’s event through Montgomery County Recreation’s Flickr album.

Department of Environmental Protection Is Celebrating April as ‘Earth Month’ with Countywide Activities and Events


The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating April as “Earth Month” with activities and events aimed at taking action and fostering environmental awareness and stewardship across our community.

Throughout April, residents can participate in activities to promote sustainability, conservation and eco-conscious living. From educational workshops to community clean-up events, DEP is working with the community to make a positive impact on the local environment. Earth Month will cap off on April 27 with “GreenFest,” the largest annual environmental festival in the County.

"I encourage everyone in our community to act now and join us in celebrating Earth Month and as we renew our commitment to protecting the environment," said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Take a composting class, join a neighborhood cleanup and come to GreenFest. By engaging in these meaningful activities and promoting sustainable practices, we can make a difference in our County today and for generations to come."

Earth Month activities will include:
  • Earth Month Clean-Up Events: Join DEP staff and community members for neighborhood cleanup efforts at various county locations. The events will provide an opportunity to take an active role in preserving the natural beauty of the surroundings.
  • Composting and Recycling Workshops: DEP will host a series of workshops covering topics such as composting, energy efficiency and sustainable gardening. These sessions will empower participants with practical knowledge and tips for reducing their environmental footprint.
  • Food Waste Prevention Week Education: As part of the effort to reduce food waste in the County, DEP will have information about food waste prevention at grocery stores throughout the County during April.
  • Illumination Stations: Shine a light on energy savings and keep more money in your pockets. DEP is hosting a series of events where people can apply for energy assistance and exchange old incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs for new energy-efficient LED light bulbs.
  • GreenFest 2024: DEP and a coalition of public and nonprofit partners will host this annual event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
“Simply put, Earth Month is about individuals, communities, schools and other partner organizations taking action to help our environment,” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “I hope you will join in community cleanups, Earth Day fairs, composting workshops and other events and ways to learn more about how we can individually and collectively take action as stewards of our planet.”

For a full calendar of Earth Month events, visit the Montgomery County DEP website.

Annual Sweeping of 4,100 Lane Miles of County Roadways Now Underway

Annual Sweeping of 4,100 Lane Miles of County Roadways Now Underway

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) annual Street Sweeping Program began this week. The effort will run through June and will sweep more than 4,100 lane miles of residential roadways.

Last year, more than 800 tons of debris were collected and removed by crews. Sweeping routes are prioritized based on their proximity to sensitive watershed areas that are identified by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.

MCDOT will post “No Parking” signs a few days in advance of sweeping operations. Residents can find the sweeping schedule online by calling MC311 or visiting MCDOT’s Residential Street Sweeping website at montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Highway/streetsweep.

These efforts help to promote the health and vibrancy of local watersheds and the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain to Address 2024 County Energy Summit on Tuesday, April 16

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain to Address 2024 County Energy Summit on Tuesday, April 16

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain will provide the keynote address at the 2024 Montgomery County Energy Summit on Tuesday, April 16. The summit will be held at the Silver Spring Civic Building, located at 1 Veterans Place in Downtown Silver Spring.

The Montgomery County Energy Summit, hosted by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), will share the latest information on energy benchmarking, building energy performance standards and emerging building codes through hands-on learning experiences and case studies from various commercial and multifamily buildings.

Secretary McIlwain
Secretary McIlwain will emphasize Maryland's Climate Pollution Reduction Plan and underscore the crucial partnership between the business community and government in achieving both the state of Maryland’s and Montgomery County's climate objectives. Secretary McIlwain will address the commercial building community highlighting efforts to reduce the cost of energy efficiency and electrification projects in commercial, multifamily, institutional and other types of buildings. She also will talk about creating jobs, driving innovation and promoting healthier communities.

“Maryland's Climate Pollution Reduction plan requires our State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2031 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045,” said Secretary McIlwain. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment that requires all of us—government and the business community—to work together to reach our environmental goals. I am excited to attend the Montgomery County Energy Summit to share insights from the State and engage in constructive dialogue on how we can collaborate to make environmental sustainability in Maryland a model for the nation.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Secretary McIlwain will be part of an outstanding lineup of speakers at the summit.

“The Energy Summit provides the opportunity to learn from each other, so we can develop best-in-class strategies and set the standard for local counties nationwide. I am thankful to all our speakers and attendees for prioritizing this important event,” said County Executive Elrich. "I would like to express my gratitude to Secretary McIlwain for accepting our invitation to the Montgomery County Energy Summit, and I look forward to hearing her perspectives on the role of government and business partnerships in achieving our ambitious climate goals.”

The two-day summit is scheduled for Monday, April 15, and Tuesday, April 16. Secretary McIlwain will speak during the Day 2 Opening Plenary, alongside County Executive Elrich, DEP Director Jon Monger and County Climate Change Officer Sarah Kogel-Smucker. Montgomery County Council President Andrew Friedson, Department of Permitting Services Director Rabbiah Sabbakhan and Director Monger will address attendees on Day 1.

“I am looking forward to taking part in this year’s Energy Summit as the Montgomery County Council has played a pivotal role in enacting policy to help us meet our County’s climate targets,” said Council President Friedson. “In 2022, we passed the Montgomery County Green Buildings Now Act to provide historic levels of funding to the Montgomery County Green Bank, which have been leveraged to advance energy efficient and green retrofit projects throughout our County’s building sector and particularly in our Equity Emphasis Areas. Additionally, the Council has supported the building sector by enacting a green building tax credit program for new and existing buildings as well as other financial incentives to help offset the costs of converting from fossil-fuel-powered equipment to electric. I was proud to sponsor these initiatives and look forward to continuing to work alongside colleagues toward a greener future for our community.”

The Energy Summit showcases Innovation Alley, where exhibitors present solutions related to building energy efficiency, renewable energy, electrification, building decarbonization, healthy building practices and zero-emission vehicles.

WorkSource Montgomery’s (WSM) Mobile Job Center will be on-site both days to connect employers and job seekers. WSM provides local job seekers with comprehensive employment and training services to promote economic sufficiency while assisting employers to meet the talent needs of today and tomorrow.

Registration for the Energy Summit is open until April 9 and costs $75 ($40 for a single day). Registration includes access to keynote speakers, educational sessions, hands-on demonstrations, panel discussions and the opportunity for building owners to receive technical support for new requirements. Contact energy@montgomerycountymd.gov for a limited number of scholarships to the Energy Summit if cost is an issue.

The full schedule is available at MCEnergySummit.org. Email questions to energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Archaeology Tours, Sunday Serenades and Plant Sale Among April Special Events to be Hosted by Montgomery Parks

Archaeology Tours, ‘Acoustics and Ales’ and Sunday Serenades Among April Special Events to be Hosted by Montgomery Parks

Archaeology tours, a plant sale at Brookside Gardens and Sunday serenades are among the many special events that will be presented by Montgomery Parks in April. The schedule of programs also will include tours at Kingsley Schoolhouse and Oakley Cabin and several offerings for people ages 55-and-over.

The April schedule of special events will include:
  • Archaeology Tour. Saturdays, April 13, 20, 27. 11–11:30 a.m. Josiah Henson Museum and Park, 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Learn about the features and artifacts that inform our understanding of the Rev. Josiah Henson’s life at Riley Plantation. Ages 6 and older. Tickets available at the front desk on the day of the tour. $3 per person (fee does not include museum admission).
  • Sunday Serenade. Sundays April 14, 21, and 28. 10–11:30 a.m. Cabin John Regional Park, 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. The amphitheater will host a different live music performance each Sunday. Bring seating or a blanket. Pastries will be available for purchase. Eric Scott Band (April 7. R&B/Funk); Zachary Smith and the Mardi Gras Kings (April 14. Louisiana/New Orleans styles); Geno Marriott (April 21. Smooth Jazz); ZADIA and Jeremiah Miles (April 28, Neo-Soul). Free.
  • History Hour. Thursday, April 18. 6–7 p.m. Josiah Henson Museum and Park, 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Cassandra Michaud, Montgomery Parks archaeologist and lead archaeologist of the excavations at Josiah Henson Park, will present for Maryland Archaeology Month. Refreshments provided. Arrive early (doors open at 5 p.m.) and take a self-guided tour of the museum. Ages 12 and older. Registration required. $5 per person.
  • Brookside Gardens Plant Sale. Saturday, April 20. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Choose from a wide selection of plants, including native varieties of perennials, shrubs and small trees grown at Montgomery Parks’ Pope Farm Nursery. Also get advice from staff horticulturists for the best plants for your garden.
  • Electric Landscape Equipment Exhibit. Saturday, April 20. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Learn the latest in eco-friendly landscaping tools, including electric mowers, trimmers, and blowers and Montgomery Parks’ efforts to replace gas-powered equipment with electric. Engage with Brookside Gardens’ staff during hands-on demonstrations. All ages. Free.
  • The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek: Spring Open House. Sunday, April 21. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. 14500-A Clopper Road, Boyds. Nestled on 26 acres of wooded parkland, The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek is ideal for special events of all occasions. Meet with venue staff and professional area vendors including caterers, event planners and designers, hair stylists, makeup artists, DJ’s and more. No registration required (guests may RSVP using the form on the event page). Free.
Programs for residents 55-and over:
Attractions opening for the season in April include:
Go to Montgomery Parks event calendar for a complete list of special events and programming and to learn how to sign up using ActiveMontgomery. Visit the Spring 2024 Montgomery Parks Program Guide.

Department of Permitting Services’ Newest Podcast Guides Homeowners Through Permitting Process for Home Projects

Department of Permitting Services’ Newest Podcast Guides Homeowners Through Permitting Process for Home Projects

The spring and summer months are typically the busiest at the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) when it comes to permitting residential projects. The 14th episode of the DPS podcast series, “Home Improvements and Permits,” provides homeowners with an overview of when residential projects need and do not need a permit.

“If you are sprucing up the inside or outside of your home, we encourage you to listen to this 15-minute podcast for guidance to help you complete your project, from start to finish, successfully,” said DPS Customer Support and Outreach Division Chief Gail Lucas, who hosts the podcast. “We get a lot of questions from DPS customers wondering if they need a permit or not. We try and provide the answers to those questions in this episode.”

Providing expertise and guidance on this topic, alongside Division Chief Lucas, is DPS Residential Program Manager Dave Burch, who is a field supervisor.

“We want homeowners to know that a permit is required prior to reconstruction or renovation to an existing structure other than a repair,” said Field Supervisor Burch. “A permit is not required for painting, wallpapering, replacing cabinets, installing flooring or windows as long as no structural changes are made.”

Other topics covered in this episode include electrical work, hiring a contractor, inspections, plumbing, swimming pools and properties in a historical district.

This episode of the Permitting Services Podcast is now available on the DPS website and various podcast platforms including Amazon, Apple and Spotify. It also is available at https://permittingservicespodcast.buzzsprout.com/. Subscribe to the podcast by tapping the “plus” or “follow” sign on the podcast provider’s platform. This episode is also available on video to watch on-demand on the County’s YouTube channel.

Previous podcast episodes have covered building safety, accessory dwelling units, deck permits, the Design for Life program, use and occupancy certificates, fences, fire code compliance, GIS maps, the public right-of-way, septic systems, urban farming and zoning. Listeners are encouraged to send questions and ideas for future podcast episodes to dps.podcast@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The Department of Permitting Services is located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Seventh Floor, in Wheaton. The customer service lobby is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. No appointment is necessary to get in-person assistance. Customers may also reach out to DPS staff by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311.

For more information about the permitting process, visit the DPS website at montgomerycountymd.gov/dps.

Antique Cars and Trucks, Live Farm Animals and Hay Wagon Rides Will Be Featured at Annual Gas and Steam Engine Show at Agricultural History Farm Park on April 27-28

Tractors of all types, antique cars and trucks, live animals, pony rides and hay wagon rides will be among the many activities on Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, when the annual free Gas and Steam Engine Show returns to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood.

The Agricultural History Farm Park is located at 18400 Muncaster Road in Derwood. In addition to free admission, there is no charge for parking. The show will operate from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on April 27 and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 28. The event is hosted by Friends of the Agricultural History Farm Park.

Activities on both days will include a craft show, hay wagon rides, pony rides (there will be a fee for the pony rides), a kiddie tractor pull, wood carving and old-time saw-mill demonstrations and a chance to see live animals up close. Chickens and goats will be among the animals at the show. There will be food for sale on-site. Music will be present in the afternoon on April 27.

The show will be held rain or shine. Pets on leashes are welcome.

The Agricultural History Farm Park is a scenic 455-acre park that features rolling hills, open fields, an apple orchard and a variety of farm animals. It offers a unique perspective on the County’s rich farming heritage. The park has barns, historic buildings, a modern farming activity center and other facilities.

For more information about the Agricultural History Farm Park, go to https://montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/agricultural-history-farm-park/.

Newest Episode of ‘50+ in Montgomery County’ Highlights Joys and Benefits of Dancing

Newest Episode of ‘50+ in Montgomery County’ Highlights Joys and Benefits of Dancing

The joys and benefits of dancing could apply to just about everyone, and in the latest episode of County Cable Montgomery’s (CCM) “50+ in Montgomery County,” the show focuses on how moving to music can particularly benefit older residents. The show can now be viewed on cable or online via the County's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/montgomerycountymd.


Montgomery County’s cable station produces numerous shows that can help residents or that better explain how County Government is using the funds in its budget. This show is co-produced by the County’s Commission on Aging.

In this episode, host Katie Smith of the Commission on Aging leads the discussion about where seniors can find opportunities to dance, different types of dancing available to County seniors and how dancing can enhance lifestyles.

Guests on the show include Sara Swarr from Montgomery County Recreation, Janine Tursini from Arts for the Aging and Judith Bauer from Quicksilver Dance Company.

“50+ in Montgomery County” can be viewed online on demand at https://youtu.be/l2jFGZ6MFn0.

Residents with cable can view the show at numerous times throughout April on CCM. The show can be seen on Comcast Channels 6 and 996 (HD), RCN Channels 6 and1056 (HD) and Verizon Channel 30 at the following times: Sunday (7:30 p.m.); Monday (10 a.m.); Tuesday (1 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.); Wednesday (7:30 p.m.); Thursday (2:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.); Friday (10:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (2 a.m., 1 p.m.).

The show also is available from the CCM website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/fifty-plus.html.

For more information about senior services in Montgomery County, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/senior