September 29, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

October is the first full month of Fall and full of many events and causes we want you to be aware of. October is Energy Action Month. Each week Montgomery County will be leading the public push to be environmentally conscious starting with Electrify Your Ride Week, which begins on Monday. By the end of the month, we will cut the ribbon at the Brookville Bus Depot which will have a new solar panel canopy and micro-grid that will be the power source for new electric buses.

October is the month when the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation leans on all of us for support. It is hosting a fundraising challenge and hoping you keep count of the distance you travel this month to raise money for the group. You can sign up to participate in the "MCFJC Foundation 13K to Help End Domestic Violence" as an individual, with a team of friends or co-workers or as a sponsoring business. Its mission is to provide wrap-around aid for victims of domestic violence and their children. It also focuses on education—alerting adults and teens to the signs of dangerous relationships. It does not matter if you plan to walk, run or bike your way to 13K—please participate and spread the word.

Court decision paves the way for smoother election in November

October also means we are closing in on another Election Day. I encourage you to make sure you are registered to vote with the State of Maryland by the deadline of Oct. 18. Early voting for the general election begins in a few weeks, on Oct. 27.

Recently, we got some good news that should make counting the ballots not the drawn-out process it was this summer.

A Montgomery County circuit court judge ruled that the Board of Elections can start the process of preparing mail-in ballots for tabulation prior to Election Day. This is great news for voters and candidates.

This decision changes the ballot counting process that was in place for the primary election in July, when the Board of Elections had to wait 48 hours after Election Day to begin its work on mail-in ballots. This resulted in long delays in reporting final election results as the elections workers and volunteers struggled to sort and count tens of thousands of ballots.

The delay was unnecessary. The General Assembly had passed a law allowing the early processing of mail-in ballots before Election Day, but it was vetoed by the governor. The court’s decision last week is an acknowledgment that there is a new normal. Voters expect the process to be convenient and easy, and they expect their votes to be counted quickly.

Sadly, it appears that the Republican nominee for governor has a different view. He has filed an appeal to reverse the court’s decision and once again have our election workers counting ballots for weeks after Election Day.

It is my hope that the Courts will uphold last week’s ruling. I believe the decision is better for Maryland.

Purple Line gets strong support during special event this week

I was glad to see strong community support and focus this week on the Purple Line, specifically on equity and sustained development goals.

Once completed, the Purple Line will have 10 stops in Montgomery County. This project has the potential to touch many lives, from those who seek new job opportunities to businesses eager to find new customers.

It is important to have a report like this come out long before the first trains roll between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. With so many opportunities ahead, we must have a plan so that no group is left out.

I remain highly concerned about the potential impact of speculative real estate investment along the corridor and its effects on affordable housing and commercial rents. That is why the Purple Line corridor may very well be the ideal place to pilot residential and commercial rent stabilization efforts. Many of the neighborhoods along the corridor will face intense gentrification pressure unless we enact policies to protect the people living along that route now.

Businesses also need help. We are engaging our small and locally owned businesses in the impacted commercial areas to ensure that they not only survive construction but thrive afterward.

We cannot forget about the walkers and bicycle users who also need safe access to and from Purple Line stations. We must work hard to make sure our plans are coordinated and user friendly to help get people to work, school and elsewhere across Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

I want to thank the Purple Line Corridor Coalition for the work it has done by thinking ahead on these equity issues and others arising from this massive project. we can make this works for everyone.

South Korean embassy meets with Montgomery County leaders

I joined Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones and Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation COO and President Bill Tompkins this week for a sit-down with embassy leaders from South Korea.

They had many questions about how our government works as topics ran the gamut from economic development to community safety—including how seriously we treat suspected hate crimes. The attaché expressed gratitude for our serious and prompt response to incidents in the county. We also spent time talking about environmental policies and education. I look forward to the partnerships that come from our visit with the Korean consulate.

Montgomery County Schools highly ranked

I’m very proud of how well Montgomery County public schools fared in the latest ranking of schools done by Niche. Poolesville High School was rated number 1 in the State for public schools and seven of the top 10 public high schools in Maryland are in Montgomery County. No school in our County was ranked in the bottom half of the list, which evaluated Maryland’s 232 schools.

These high marks would not be possible without the leadership and guidance from our school leaders and the outstanding teachers we have in our County who have worked hard despite all the challenges we’ve faced in the last two years. Of course, our students deserve a lot of credit too for paying attention, handling adversity, and doing the work.

I’m proud that our County continues to stand out in so many ways, including having the best school system in Maryland. And I am pleased that we are regarded as an example from which to learn.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Art-themed businesses shine

Our Hispanic Heritage Month tour of businesses continued late last week with a trip up I-270.

The first stop was the new Art Gallery in the Kentlands. It is the second space opened by the two women behind RoFa and Beta Galleries. Their original location, La Morada in Potomac, is also open to the public, but by appointment only. The women behind these galleries are proud of the Latin American artists they have been able to showcase here in Montgomery County, giving examples of strong voices and cultural awareness.

I was impressed with the political protest art from the streets of Colombia featured at the new Kentlands location on Main Street in Gaithersburg. When I was there last Friday, it was great to see people browsing and curious about the art inside. Gabriela Rosso has many stories to share. I wish her success as she brings 20 years of art world experience and a love for daring art to Montgomery County.

Next, I traveled to Germantown to a more interactive art experience. We Art Fun is located just a few blocks from the BlackRock Center for the Arts. It was started by Roxana Rojas-Luzon, who enjoyed the paint-your-own ceramics stores in other parts of the County and wanted to bring that experience to Upcounty. In her store, I saw people painting small mementos for their homes and children working on things to hang on the wall. It is wonderful to see a small business owner see their dream realized and impacting the community. I hope you have a chance to check out these businesses and others we highlight across the county.

We are sharing pictures from all our visits through my Facebook and Twitter pages and they are also available on Montgomery County’s Flickr page if you want to see more.

Grant money available for vulnerable groups in need of security help

The County continues to be concerned with the security needs of nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations, especially those that face public criticism for political reasons. It is why Montgomery County has opened a new round of grants through the Office of Emergency Management for groups that could be targeted for hate crimes.

The County has reserved $800,000 in this year's operating budget for the Nonprofit Security Grants program. Organizations have until Oct. 26 to apply. There are three informational sessions remaining to get details about the program and have your questions answered. Here is list of the remaining webinars:
  • Monday, Oct. 3 7-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19 1-2 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 24 7-8 p.m.
The County and the Montgomery County Police Department also have teamed up to help organizations identify security issues and lead training for organizations and places of worship that feel the need for help.

Montgomery County will continue to be an inclusive place to live for our diverse communities and we will work to prevent crimes of hate and bias. Hate has no home here.

Flu shots highly recommended this year

Flu shots are now available at pharmacies across Montgomery County. You may be thinking, ‘I can’t remember the last time I got the flu.’ That’s exactly why making it a priority this year is so important.

One side effect of the pandemic is that we have been spared a significant flu season. We have had our defenses up for so long with the COVID-19 threat that our bodies may not have the resistance to flu that you would expect without a flu shot. We are also more active and around more people again, even compared to last fall.

Consider booking an appointment to get your flu shot. The County will host a few flu vaccine clinics in October and November and you can call 311 to set an appointment through the Department of Health and Human Services. Flu shots are already widely available at pharmacies and doctor offices in our area.

COVID-19 continues to pose ‘low’ community risk

Our COVID-19 case rates continue to fall with fewer than 125 cases per 100,000 people. Our community level status remains at ‘low.’

The main thing we want to stress is the continuing need for people to get vaccines and boosters.

Preventative shots have helped us reach the 'low' level we are at now, and without those protections, we have seen what happens. Mortality and hospitalization rates are not following a downward trend the way cases are. That is because the very small number of unvaccinated people in our County account for most new severe cases we are seeing.

The new bivalent vaccine increases protection against two different variants of Omicron. Since its introduction, we have seen a slight increase in demand throughout the County. We hope that continues and that people realize their best protection moving forward is with vaccines and boosters.

Even if you have not kept up with booster recommendations in the past, there is no need to play catch-up: this new booster is the only one being administered now.

Slowdown in Monkeypox cases

We now have a date set for our next town hall forum on monkeypox. It will be held virtually Monday, Oct. 10, and will focus on the Black community. Recent data indicates that a greater percentage of Black men and Hispanic men impacted by the virus.

We also recently expanded eligibility for our monkeypox vaccine, allowing anyone who is at high risk of contracting the disease to receive a vaccine through the County.

Our case count in Montgomery County remains at nearly the same level it has been for the past three weeks, with around 80 cases reported. That accounts for about 12 percent of the cases across Maryland.

We will continue to provide vaccinations and inform the community about the spread of this highly contagious disease and do our best to make sure the treatment and distribution of preventative education is fair and equitable.

Takoma Park Street Festival this Sunday

Finally, Takoma Park will host its 41st annual Street Festival this Sunday, Oct. 2.

The festival celebrates Washington, D.C.’s first suburb. In 1883, train riders commuted to D.C. from the newly established area. Nearly 150 years later, the town continues to celebrate its independence, diversity, and unique spirit.

The all-day festival expects to have 18 local bands, food trucks, and hundreds of people. Vendors from the area will pack into a three-block stretch of Carroll Avenue that will be closed to cars. The easiest way to get there is by taking Metro's Red Line to the Takoma Station.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

September 28, 2022

Montgomery Parks’ Agricultural History Farm Park to Host Free ‘Fall on the Farm’ Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1

Montgomery Parks’ Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood will host a free “Fall on the Farm” festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Farm Park and will include demonstrations, opportunities to see farm animals up close, music and self-guided tours.

The Farm Park is located at 18400 Muncaster Rd. in Derwood. Free parking will be available on the property.

The activities and demonstrations at the celebration will include hay rides, a sawmill demonstration, a working blacksmith demonstration, wood carvers, scarecrow making (requires a fee) and a tool museum display. There will be live music throughout the day. The park will be open for self-guided tours of the Master Gardeners’ demonstration gardens. Food from vendors will be available for purchase.

Among the animals that will be at the park are pigs, goats, sheep and chickens.

The festival is sponsored by the Friends of the Farm Park and supported by Montgomery Parks of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

More information about the celebration is available at

Recreation’s Youth Basketball Registration Begins Monday, Oct. 3

Registration for Montgomery County Recreation’s Youth Basketball programs will open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 3.

Online registration will be available at Programs are currently available for viewing only. Registration is also available by mail. If you have additional questions about registration, call 240-777-6840 or visit any Montgomery County Recreation facility.

For more information about youth basketball registration, call 240-777-6840.

Montgomery County Recreation is still accepting applications for 2022 RecAssist, which provides eligible County residents an opportunity to receive a scholarship to use toward most programs. County residents who currently receive public assistance from any of these programs are eligible for RecAssist: Temporary Cash Assistance; Supplemental Security Income; Housing Assistance from a Shelter; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Free and Reduced Meal Status through Montgomery County Public Schools; Maryland Medicaid; Care for Kids; Maryland Energy Assistance; Montgomery County HHS Rental Assistance Program; and WIC.

Follow Montgomery County Recreation on Facebook and Twitter for program updates.

Applications Now Being Accepted from Nonprofit Organizations for Grants to Support Security Needs

Applications are now being accepted from nonprofit organizations seeking grants from $800,000 in total funding from Montgomery County’s “Nonprofit Security Grants” program. Three information sessions on how to apply will take place in October.

Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and facilities that have experienced, or are at high risk of experiencing, hate crimes. The grants are available to augment costs for security personnel or other security planning measures.

Eligible organizations could include nonprofit community service providers, houses of worship, or other faith-based organizations located in Montgomery County. The funds are administered by the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS).

“Montgomery County is a community of diversity, inclusion and compassion, but we are not immune from hate and vitriol that could become criminal,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “These grants will provide nonprofit organizations with additional resources to enhance the security of their facilities and the safety of our residents. This investment is an affirmation of Montgomery County’s support for our neighbors of every religion, race and ethnicity. We are committed to protect the rights of everyone who lives or visits our County and I encourage all applicable Montgomery County organizations to apply for these grants.”

In approving the County’s Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget that went into effect in July, the County Council approved $800,000 for the program.

“Across our country, we are seeing a rise in hate crimes and violence aimed at people and organizations of all different faiths and ethnicities,” said Council President Gabe Albornoz. “It is vital that we provide the supports they need to remain safe. We must stand with them in this perilous time and support them in every way we can.”

Information sessions on eligibility and how to apply for the program will be offered via a virtual platform on:
To register for the webinars and to access the grant application, visit the OEMHS Nonprofit Security Grants webpage. The application period will close on Oct. 26. Organizations will be notified of award decisions in early December

In addition to the grant funding, OEMHS and the Montgomery County Police Department will continue to provide support to organizations indicating the need for assistance with security. The County provides classes, assessments and trainings specifically designed for nonprofit and faith-based facilities.

To qualify for grant funding, applicants are required to be a Montgomery County-based nonprofit organization or a facility experiencing threats or hate crimes—or at significant risk of being the target of a hate crime. All awardees must be IRS registered 501(c)3, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations or religious institutions in good standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Funds can only be used to provide security support for facilities located within the County.

Child and Adult Used Bicycles Can Be Donated at Annual Department of Transportation Event on Friday, Oct. 14, in Rockville

Bicycles that are no longer being used by some can make a big difference for others. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s annual Bicycle Donation Drive on Friday, Oct. 14, will make it easy to donate previously owned bikes and ensure they will have a continued impact.

MCDOT is sponsoring the collection of child and adult bikes in partnership with Rockville Bike Hub and Bikes for the World. From 7 a.m.-2 p.m. on Oct. 14, bikes will be collected (rain or shine) outside of the Montgomery County Council Office Building Garage at East Jefferson and Monroe street in Rockville.

Rockville Bike Hub volunteers will refurbish the bikes and MCDOT will place them with low-income children and adults in the County through the MCDOT Bike Match Program or through the Rockville Terrific Kids program.

MCDOT’s Bike Match program started in June 2020. To date, the program has received nearly 600 bike requests and has placed nearly 300 donated bikes. However, that still leaves a need for about 300 bikes in just that program.

The bike donation event also will be accepting donations. Checks can be made out to the Rockville Bike Hub and left with staff at the donation site. Donations may be tax-deductible.

To enhance the theme of the drive, community members can organize a bike collection at their school, place of worship or within their neighborhood and bring the bikes to Rockville on Oct. 14. For drives that collect 10 or more bikes, MCDOT will arrange to pick them up at a prearranged location.

For more information about the bike donation event, visit

Virtual Town Hall Meeting on the Impact of Monkeypox on the Black Community Will Be Held on Monday, Oct. 10

Montgomery County health officials, in partnership with the African American Health Program and the Office of Community Partnerships, will host a virtual monkeypox town hall meeting that will focus on how the disease is impacting the Black community at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. It will be the third meeting in a series planned by the County to address the recent spread of monkeypox.

Panelists in the town hall will include James Bridgers, the acting County health officer; Ikenna Myers, program manager for clinical services for the African American Health Program’s; and Kimberly Townsend, senior administrator for Communicable Disease and Epidemiology with the County’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The panelists will update the current monkeypox situation in Montgomery County and Maryland, provide information on the County’s monkeypox vaccine program and answer questions about prevention and treatment.

The virtual town hall will be hosted on Zoom. It will be streamed live on the County’s Facebook page and also simulcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM: Channels 6 and HD 996 on Comcast; Channels 6 and HD 1056 on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon).

Registration for the Zoom meeting is required. Questions can be submitted anonymously prior to the meeting. There will be an opportunity to ask questions virtually at the meeting.

Register for the meeting at

For more information, visit the County’s Monkeypox website or email

COVID-19 Remains a Community Concern and County Continues to Distribute Free Vaccines, Rapid Test Kits and Masks 

Montgomery County continues to be in the “low” community transmission rate for COVID-19. However, COVID remains a major concern as new strains become prevalent. Updated vaccines are now available as boosters.

Montgomery County has done very well in terms of the number of residents vaccinated, but there is still work to do on getting every eligible resident to get the latest booster vaccines. Those who have stopped at just the first two doses are two and a half times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than people who have received booster shots.

County-sponsored clinics have the vaccine, as do many pharmacies and retailers. Anyone 12 and older who had their last vaccine dose at least two months ago should get the booster shot. Make an appointment for a County-sponsored clinic at  Maryland’s vaccine locator shows other sites in the community offering the vaccine.  

The County Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following:       
The County continues to provide free rapid tests and N-95 masks at many library locations.  

For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website.   

 ’Art is Life & Life is Art: In the Studio with Artist Reemberto Rodriguez’ Will Be Presented Online on Tuesday, Oct. 4

The free online series of Silver Spring Town Center, inc. featuring local artists and art projects will continue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, with Art is Life & Life is Art: In the Studio with Artist Reemberto Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez is likely known to many as the former director of Montgomery County’s Silver Spring Regional Services Office. Likely less known is his artistic journey.

He decided to pursue a career in architecture, but became disillusioned with the disconnect of practical architecture to the arts. During his college years, he experimented mostly with charcoal on newsprint, with a particular fascination with rock album covers.

In designing his own two-bedroom, one-bathroom house of 1,000 square feet, he explored how to maximize space for family living.

Recently, he has ventured into placemaking, working with others to celebrate public spaces through artistic expression. His view: “It is the people that make the place."

Reemberto also has delved into stained glass design and photography that capture the sentiments.

To join the event, go to Meeting Registration - Zoom.

Family Justice Center Foundation Is Hosting a 13K Unique Run/Walk to Help End Domestic Violence Oct. 1-23

The Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation, in recognition of its 13 years of helping save lives, is hosting a unique 13K run/walk to help end domestic violence. The foundation is hoping participants will sign up to join the event between Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 23.

This 13K race recognizes the foundation’s 13 years raising awareness and funds in support of the work of the Rockville-based Family Justice Center and victims of domestic violence.

Participants can cover their 13k in any manner and at any time. They can run or walk individually or with others to support the event. Many entrants join as teams. The fee to enter is $35 per person, plus a $3.10 signup fee.

To sign up for the race, go to

The Family Justice Center co-locates multiple agencies in a safe and secure facility to provide coordinated advocacy, government, civil legal services and social services to victims of domestic violence and their children. The center is open to all and all services are free of charge. Victims can be helped in any language. Walk-ins are welcomed and no appointments are necessary.

The center, which is located at 600 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 500, in Rockville has a living room and kitchen facilities for clients, with a specially designed playroom for children.

The center provides victims with support and resources in a non-judgmental manner. Client assistants work with victims to create safety plans to protect themselves and their children. On-site therapists are available to respond to the emotional needs of victims and provide tools and support during the healing process. Counseling is also available for children who witness domestic violence.

Victims are provided with referrals to agencies that can directly assist with shelter, food, clothing and other basic needs. Attorneys provide pro bono legal assistance for protective orders and family law matters.

Police detectives and staff from the State's Attorney's Office assist victims seeking to file criminal charges.

More information about the Family Justice Center is available at or by calling 240-773-0444.

‘Wheaton Urban District’s Baila4Life ‘Dance for Life’ Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Will Continue on Saturday, Oct. 1, with Focus on Merengue

The Wheaton Urban District will continue its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with three consecutive Saturday events on Marian Fryer Town Plaza in Downtown Wheaton. The “Dance for Life” events will emphasize “Hispanic Culture through Dance and Music.” The next event, from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, will have the culture focus of Merengue.

The Baila4Life events will feature live music by local artists, dance lessons and performances by local students. At each event, information will be available on important County resources and programs. The Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar Initiative and the Gilchrist Center will be on site with opportunities for community to receive vaccines, health services and resource information during the events.

The series will conclude on Saturday, Oct. 15, with culture focus on Salsa. County Executive Marc Elrich and members of the Montgomery County Council will be special guests and provide remarks on the closing evening of the heritage month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15-Oct. 15 by commemorating the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Montgomery’s Hispanic population is the fastest growing group, almost quadrupling in size since 1990, reaching 217,409 people or 20 percent of the County’s population in 2020. Hispanics became the largest group among people of color in 2010.

The series is a collaboration between the Wheaton Urban District and Baila4Life, After School Dance Fund. The After School Dance Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that brings Latin dance lessons and dance clubs to public schools in Montgomery County and throughout the Washington, D.C. area. The program aims to strengthen the social-emotional development of youth by promoting health, exercise, heritage and unity through Latin dance education.

The scheduled ‘Dance for Life’ events:
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: Merengue
  • Saturday, Oct. 8: Bachata
  • Saturday, Oct. 15: Salsa and awards ceremony
The format for each event:
  • 5 p.m. Music by DJ begins
  • 5:30-6:30 p.m. Free dance lessons begin
  • 6:30-6:45 p.m. Opening remarks from special guests
  • 6:45-7:15 p.m. Community dance competition
  • 7:15-8 p.m. Live music and social dancing fiesta
For more information visit or