December 5, 2012

Leggett Announces New Open Government Efforts

County Executive Isiah Leggett has announced a major advance in the County’s open government efforts that will significantly improve government transparency, accessibility and efficiency.  Joining him for the December 5 announcement was County Councilmember Hans Riemer who initiated the open government legislation that was passed earlier in the week (Bill 23-12) to support the County’s open government efforts into the future.

Leggett’s announcement included a new digital roadmap that will guide the County’s efforts to deliver better services using modern tools and technologies; a new open data website that will provide constituents with convenient access to a growing variety of information; a new social media platform to encourage public participation on key County issues; and, new mobile versions of the County’s award-winning web portal, MC311 website, and Storm Operations website.  Read more

Council Elects Nancy Navarro as President; Craig Rice as Vice President

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously elected Nancy Navarro as president and Craig Rice as vice president of the Council for the coming year.

Navarro, who represents District 4, is the first Latina president of the Council. In addition to serving as vice president for the past year, she chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee and serves on the Health and Human Services Committee.

Setting the tone for her presidency, Navarro said, “I want to talk about One Montgomery.  To me, One Montgomery means recognizing the differences among us, while emphasizing that however different our backgrounds or our lifestyles may be, we are all connected. We all depend on each other. We all share the same need for a government that encourages economic growth, protects our families, educates our children, and provides a safety net in case we fall on hard times.”

Council Vice President Rice, who represents District 2, was elected to the Council in November 2010. He is the youngest African American to ever serve on the Council and only the second African American man to serve.  He is a member of the Council’s Education Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee, where he serves as the lead member for libraries.

Council Member Roger Berliner Wraps Up One-Year Term as Council President

Click here for the complete text of his remarks.

DFRS to Again Collect Toys for Needy Families

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and local fire and rescue departments will again be collecting toys for needy families and underprivileged children during the 2012 holiday season starting on December 5. For many years various Montgomery County volunteer fire and rescue stations have worked with local community groups, civic organizations and government agencies to make the holiday season a little better for area families.

All Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Stations will serve as drop off sites for new unwrapped toys, including those toys to be used for existing annual local volunteer fire department initiatives supporting neighborhood and local community holiday programs, as well as the regional 2012 Toys for Tots Campaign in conjunction with the United States Marines.

Fire Departments throughout the metro region, including those in Montgomery County, will be collecting toys for children during the 2012 holiday season. Toys may be dropped off until December 18.

Team Announced for Redevelopment of Public Service Training Academy Property

A specialized eight-member team has been selected by the Department of General Services to develop the County’s former Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) property located at Route 28 and Great Seneca Highway in Rockville.

The redevelopment team will be led by Hines, a privately owned firm involved in real estate investment, development and property management worldwide.

Announcing the project and team, County Executive Ike Leggett said, “The next step in the County’s Smart Growth Initiative is the redevelopment of the former Public Safety Training Academy property to create a transit-oriented community adjacent to higher education campuses.”

Under the Smart Growth Initiative, key County properties are redeveloped to support mixed-use, transit-oriented, sustainable developments.

The project is expected to include up to 2,000 housing units to serve a broad range of incomes and needs, along with stores, shops and work places and will move forward Leggett’s Smart Growth Initiative in the County’s life sciences corridor.

Campaigns Unveiled to Promote Safety for Pedestrians, Drivers and Shoppers during Holiday Season

Two education campaigns to improve public safety by encouraging residents to look out for each other during the busy holiday shopping season have been announced by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. Joining them for the announcement was Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers.

The seasonal change back to standard time, typically associated with a rise in pedestrian collisions, combined with increases in both pedestrian and vehicular traffic on roads and in parking lots, make this time of year especially challenging for drivers, pedestrians and shoppers.

To try to reduce collisions and raise awareness, a new Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) pedestrian safety campaign features bus posters showing the eyes of two County students with the slogan, “Hey You, I’m Looking at You.”  The campaign focuses attention on two of the most important factors in reducing crashes – visibility of pedestrians and vigilance by drivers.  

Chief Manger also announced the annual “Shop with a Cop” campaign. Now through December 23, officers in all six Montgomery County police districts will patrol retail areas to provide extra security and remind shoppers to drive and walk safe -- especially in parking lots.

Officers will distribute about 5,000 reusable shopping bags, funded by MCDOT, featuring the “Eyes” campaign photos to remind drivers and pedestrians to watch out for one another. 

County’s Priorities for 2013 General Assembly Session

Montgomery County’s Priorities for the 2013 General Assembly Session were presented at the Montgomery County Delegation’s Joint Priorities Hearing on November 14.

Transportation topped other issues for the municipal, business and community officials and representatives present, while education supporters requested continued funding for schools and projects.

  • Transportation Priorities (pdf)
  • Montgomery County’s Priorities for the 2013 Session “Invest in Montgomery” (pdf)

Register Now for Winter Recreation Programs

Don’t take a holiday from physical or mental activity, just because winter’s coming.

The winter issue of the Montgomery County Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs features hundreds of programs and activities for all ages, interests and abilities that will help keep residents active during the winter months. 

Registrations are now being taken for winter programs and classes, while registration for swim lessons opens on December 12. 
Register online or by mail, fax, or in person at the Montgomery County Recreation Administrative Offices located at 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

Print copies of the Guide are available at recreation centers, park facilities, government buildings and libraries.  Residents who prefer receiving the Guide in the mail can pay an annual subscription fee of $5 and receive a full year of five issues (Summer, Fall, Winter, Summer Camps and Spring). To view the Guide online, or to sign up for a subscription, go to  

For more information, call 240-777-6840.

A Holiday Gift to the Environment – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Residents are reminded that this holiday season is a good time to begin helping the County reach its new goal to reduce waste and recycle 70 percent of the waste stream by 2020. It’s simple -- reduce the amount of waste you individually generate and recycle everything possible.

The Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS), in the Department of Environmental Protection, notes that although the winter holiday season traditionally produces extra amounts of waste, there are many ways to reduce what individual households might generate now and throughout the year.

Get tips about: ridding your household of unwanted mail; how to reduce, reuse and recycle when shopping, wrapping and entertaining; and signing up for electronic holiday collection schedule reminders. 


The Message is Getting Around…Bring Your Bag(s) when Holiday Shopping

To help remind Montgomery County residents and shoppers to keep their reusable bags handy when visiting local retailers this holiday season -- and beyond -- the County has launched a public education campaign featuring the slogan, “Holiday Shopping? Bring Your Bag; Fight Litter.” 

Look for the ads on Ride On buses and at bus shelters and the commercial airing on cable TV.

Wheaton Urban District Unveils New Logo, Website Design

The Wheaton Urban District unveiled its new logo and website design at, which creates a one-stop online destination for the latest news and information on downtown Wheaton. The new site improves navigation and increases focus on engaging users through social networking sites and blogs.

County Cable Offers Improved Format for A.M. and P.M. Traffic Camera Segments

County Cable Montgomery, working with the Department of Transportation’s Transportation Management Center, now offers enhanced traffic camera coverage during the morning and evening rush hours that allows residents to check road conditions more conveniently for their commutes.

Instead of seeing just one camera at a time, you now see views from four cameras at once, with each view organized by category: interstates; major arterials west of and including MD 355; major arterials east of MD 355; and all the remaining cameras. Major traffic incidents are also listed.

This improvement means that residents can view every one of the County’s 200 cameras every four minutes.  Previously, the same viewing took more than 15 minutes.

View the new format on Montgomery County Cable directly or via their website.  Specific camera images can still be called up on the website, as well.

The Civil War in Montgomery County on Your Phone

Thanks to Heritage Montgomery (HM) and some 21st-century technology, that’s entirely possible.

Now, with a new smartphone app, “A Civil War Tour of Montgomery County, Maryland,” you can select and stream or download historic tours of Civil War sites throughout the County to use the next time you’re out exploring the area. The free app is available for both Android and iPhone users.

The app features a wide variety of unique historic locations and tells the story of local life in the 1860s. Interactive GPS maps that include your current location and all points of interest on the tours provide easy navigation. The full-color video and slideshows and compelling narrative share the history of the sites you are seeing. Contact information including websites and phone numbers for each location delivers all the information you need for each tour stop.

To download HM’s free app, visit the Android Market or App Store and search “Civil War Montgomery County.”

Fenton Street Market Hosts Holiday Marketplace

Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring will be transformed into a holiday marketplace on Saturday, December 22 (last Saturday before Christmas) – showcasing the wares of more than 75 local vendors for the convenience of shoppers. 

The market, operated by Fenton Street Market, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Community Use of Public Facilities Office has Moved

The Community Use of Public Facilities Office (CUPF) is now located at 255 Rockville Pike, Suite 201, Rockville MD 20850. Phone numbers will remain the same.

For directions and map, visit

Starting in December, Ride On Customers can Load Monthly Pass onto SmarTrip® Cards

Ride On passengers will be able to load monthly passes onto their SmarTrip® cards, beginning with December’s pass.  The $45 monthly pass provides customers unlimited rides on Montgomery County Ride On buses for an entire calendar month.  Paper passes are being phased out and will no longer be available after January 31, 2013.  Passengers will continue to have the option of paying fares with cash.

Monthly passes can be loaded onto SmarTrip® cards either in person or online.  When adding value online, customers have the option of purchasing monthly passes automatically.  The automatic monthly pass value is then added to a purchaser’s card seven days before the end of every month. 

The Ride On monthly pass represents a 43% savings over paying cash fares on regular Ride On routes.

Students Invited to Enter Literary Competition for MLK Celebration

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Commemorative Committee is seeking entries from elementary, middle and high school students in Montgomery County for its literary arts contest in observance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Entries must be 150 words, or less, in a poetry or essay format.  Entries will be judged on understanding and appreciation of the ideals of Dr. King; clarity and originality of expression; and adherence to the 2013 theme, “HIS dream…iAct…WE change!”  The deadline for submitting entries is Friday, December 14, by 5 p.m.

Participating schools should submit a maximum of three entries per school to the MLK Essay Contest, c/o Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850

The top two winners from all entries will be invited to read their essays and receive an award presented by the County Executive and The Gazette Newspapers as part of the County-wide MLK celebration on Sunday, January 20, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore.
For more information, contact James Stowe, director of the County’s Office of Human Rights, at 240-777-8491 or email

Consumer Protection wants You to Know About...Gift Cards 

Gift cards can be the ideal gift for the person who has everything.

But, how much do you know about them? Money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased, or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. If the expiration date listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.

For more information about gift cards, and tips on how to purchase and use them, read the FTC’s free guide.


Eleven Businesses in County Make Inc.’s Top 500 List

The Department of Economic Development has announced that  Montgomery County has 11 local companies on the 2012 Inc.500 list, designating them as some of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

Of the 11, two are part of the County's Business Innovation Network -- E-SAC in the Rockville Innovation Center is #241 and Special Operations Solutions in the Silver Spring Innovation Center was rated #269.
See more about all the Montgomery County businesses that made the Inc.500 list this year.

Executive Receives Humane Society Award 

Photo caption: Presenting the award to Leggett at the 14th annual Love Ball were Joanne Hoffman, chair of the MCHS board of directors (left) and Cris Bombaugh, president and CEO of MCHS.
County Executive Ike Leggett has received the 2012 Humane Award from the Montgomery County Humane Society (MCHS) in recognition of his efforts to make construction of a new animal shelter a reality.

Groundbreaking for a new Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center at the intersection of Muncaster Mill and Airpark roads in Derwood, took place in January.  Expected to open in late summer 2013, the new facility will replace the current shelter built in 1975.

The new complex will expand the County’s ability to care for animals safely and hygienically, as well as serve as a public adoption center and community education resource for animal advocacy and care issues.

Leggett is a two-time winner of the award from MCHS, the first received in 1993. 

Office of Human Resources Receives Honors from Local Government Personnel Association

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) was recently recognized by the Local Government Personnel Association (LGPA) of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area for its public service and delivery of quality services.  The awards were presented at the Professional Development Conference and Awards Luncheon at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in Washington, D.C.

The County’s Rewarding Excellence/Gainsharing Program received the LGPA’s “Best and Brightest” personnel award.  The bonus incentive program, launched in January 2010, is designed to encourage and promote new, innovative ideas, concepts and strategies for the cost-effective delivery of County services and products.  Employees are rewarded for implemented recommendations that improve efficiency, increase productivity, reduce costs, streamline operations and enhance customer satisfaction.

The LGPA Board of Directors also announced that Kaye Beckley, manager, Business Operations & Performance Management in OHR, has been appointed as the incoming LGPA president.

A certificate of appreciation was presented to Human Resource Specialist Laetitia Gnago for spearheading the completion of the LGPA annual Benchmark Salary and Comprehensive Benefits Survey.

For more information about the award, or about the Gainsharing Program, contact Melissa Boone-Miller at 240-777-5016.

November 8, 2012

The Holiday Season Marches into Town

The local holiday season officially gets underway on Saturday, November 17 when the 15th Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade steps off at 10 a.m. from Ellsworth Dr. and Fenton St. in Downtown Silver Spring. The parade will proceed south on Georgia Ave., ending at Silver Spring Ave.

ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff returns as master of ceremonies, introducing more than 120 parade units, starting with pilgrims, turkeys and Thanksgiving floats and ending with elves, reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. There will be a variety of bands, including the Washington Redskins Marching Band. The Washington Nationals Baseball Club, dancing groups, beauty queens, clowns, fire engines and rescue animal groups will also participate.

The parade will be held rain or shine and will be broadcast live on NewsChannel 8. The telecast will be repeated on Thanksgiving Day.

See more details about the parade and parking or call 240-777-6821.

Parade Volunteers Needed

The Thanksgiving Parade organizers are looking for volunteers to be gingerbread men, elves and pilgrims on floats or to lead giant helium balloons. Volunteers, age 10 and older, can hand out candy to the crowd, dress up in costume and ride on the floats or act as unit leaders.

Hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (volunteers need to be present the whole time) on Saturday, November 17. Volunteers meet at the Silver Spring Civic Building at One Veterans Place at Ellsworth Dr. and Fenton St.

For questions about volunteering, call 240-777-6821.

Public Meetings on Bus Rapid Transit Plan for County Roads

Planners at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission are working on a plan exploring bus rapid transit (BRT) on the county's main roads.They will unveil their preliminary recommendations and seek input from residents at three public meetings in mid-November. BRT is similar to light rail, but runs on County roads, often in ultra-modern buses.

Residents can receive information on topics such as the results of an assessment of whether existing travel lanes should be used for new transit lanes or whether more lanes should be built.

The meetings will be held, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., according to the following schedule:

  • Tuesday, November 13 -- Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Blvd. East, Silver Spring;
  • Wednesday, November 14 -- Shady Grove Training Facility, 16641 Crabbs Branch Way, Rockville; and 
  • Thursday, November 15 -- Wheaton Library, 11701 Georgia Ave. 

Residents may drop in any time or view the formal presentation at 7 p.m. Written comments can also be submitted at

Ride On to Operate on Modified Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day Monday Holiday

Bus passengers are reminded that Montgomery County Ride On service will operate on a modified holiday schedule on the Veterans Day holiday, Monday, November 12.

Service on each route – except for Route 94 which will have no service -- will have fewer trips during the day, but will start and end at about the same time as a regular weekday schedule.

Twelve routes will operate on a regular weekday schedule with no changes. These routes include Routes 4, 7, 32, 36, 44, 52, 63, 66, 67, 81, 93 and 98.

For more information about the modified holiday schedule for each route, visit Ride On’s website.

Hit the Ice this Winter Season around the County

Silver Spring Ice Rink; Veterans Skate Free through November 11

The outdoor Silver Spring Ice Skating Rink in Downtown Silver Spring at Veterans' Plaza is open for the season now through March 25, 2013.

As a special “thank you,” Montgomery County and Tri-State Ice Management invites all military veterans to come and skate free now through Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11. Vets will get a free skating pass, including skates.

A variety of restaurants and shops, plus plenty of parking are nearby. Parking is free after 8 p.m. on weeknights and all day on weekends.

Rockville Town Square Rink

The Rockville Town Square Ice Rink is now open for its 2012-13 season.

Also operated by Tri-State Ice Management, the 7,200 square-foot rink is the largest outdoor ice skating rink between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Located on the square between Maryland Ave. and Gibbs St., the rink is surrounded by shops and restaurants suited for a variety of inetersts and tastes.

Cabin John Ice Rink; Special Veterans Day Skate        

Located at 10610 Westlake Drive, Rockville, the indoor Cabin John Ice Rink is open year round but has a variety of seasonal events planned for skaters of all ages.

Cabin John Rink is a Montgomery Parks facility.

There will be a Veterans Day Skate on Sunday, November 11 from 8:30 to10 a.m.; 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This means free skating and skate rentals for all military personnel (veterans and active duty) and their families during these times.

Wheaton Ice Arena; Salute to Veterans with Free Skate for Military Personnel

The other one of the two ice skating facilities owned and managed by Montgomery Parks, Wheaton Ice Arena, is located at 11717 Orebaugh Ave.

In a special salute to veterans, Wheaton Ice Arena is offering free skating and skate rentals for all military personnel (veterans and active duty) and their families on Sunday, November, 11 from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.

Open year-round, the NHL-size rink offers sessions for all skating abilities and interests. Programs are offered for recreational, freestyle, hockey and speed skaters. Other amenities are a warming room, party rooms, pro shop, and snack bar and workout facility.

Two Vietnam Veterans to Share Experiences in Programs at Public Libraries

Two Vietnam veterans will share their experiences in programs to be held at Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) branches in November.

Entitled “Back to Vietnam” and “Reflections of an Army Nurse on Serving in Vietnam,” the programs are hosted by MCPL in partnership with the County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs.

“Back to Vietnam” 

Presented by Mike Marceau, a Purple Heart recipient and vice president of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. In April 2012, a group of U.S. military veterans returned to Vietnam for a "Peace and Reconciliation" tour to see the country and meet with groups who support victims of Agent Orange spraying.

Marceau will show and discuss a 45-minute film he made during that trip at the following libraries:

  • November 13, 7:30 p.m. Bethesda7400 Arlington Rd. Call 240-777-0970, TTY 301-657-0840;
  • November 26, 7:30 p.m. Rockville Memorial, 21 Maryland Ave. Call 240-777-0140, TTY 240-777-0902; and
  • November 29, 7:30 p.m. Twinbrook, 202 Meadow Hall Dr., Rockville. Call 240-777-0240, TTY 240-777-0904.

“Reflections of an Army Nurse on Serving in Vietnam

Presented by Jane McCarthy who served in the Army Nurse Corps at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang, South Vietnam, in 1971 and in the Gulf War in 1991. A founding commissioner on the Montgomery County Veterans Commission, McCarthy is interested in helping returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) issues.

Her program, including commentary and a slide show, will include her experiences with PTSD. She will present programs at the following libraries:

  • November 15, 4 p.m. Twinbrook, 202 Meadow Hall Dr., Rockville. Call 240-777-0240, TTY 240-777-0904; and
  • November 16, 4 p.m. Rockville Memorial,, 21 Maryland Ave. Call 240-777-0140, TTY 240-777-0902.

Holiday Shoppers: Don’t Leave Home Without… Reusable Bags!

When you set out for holiday gift shopping at the mall, the town center or wherever you prefer to shop, there are certain items you never want to leave home without -- shopping list… car keys…cash and/or credit cards…purse or wallet…and these days, your cell phone.

And, for County residents, there’s one more item to add to the list this year – a supply of reusable shopping bags.  In addition to the traditional reusable bags sold in stores these days, there are various kinds that roll up and fit conveniently in pockets and purses.

As the 2012 holiday shopping season comes round, the message is simple:   “Bring Your Bag; Fight Litter.”


Marathon Tribute to Veterans on County’s Public Cable Stations

Montgomery County’s public cable television stations on Sunday, November 11 and Monday, November 12 will broadcast a 13-hour marathon tribute to veterans to help in the County’s recognition of Veterans Day. The tribute will include the first-ever broadcast of extended interviews with 14 local veterans from World War II.

County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) will begin broadcasting the tribute each day at 9:30 a.m. and continue to 10:30 p.m.

The marathon will open with the rebroadcast of the September 19 event in Silver Spring in which Montgomery County saluted area World War II veterans and will continue at 11:20 a.m. each day with the series of interviews with World War II veterans. The tribute will conclude with a contrast of generations as Montgomery College student Alex Cole interviews veteran Dee Paris, 97, whose World War II experiences include being a tank commander in the Battle of the Bulge.

The marathon is a cooperative production of the County’s PEG (Public-Education-Government) organization of public cable television stations.

See more details and check the viewing schedule for individual interviews.

Seminar on Legal Process of Separation and Divorce

Two seminars – one in English and one in Spanish - that focus on the legal process of separation and divorce in Montgomery County will be held on Thursday, November 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave.

Entitled “When a Marriage Ends:  Financial, Property and Practical Issues Both Wife and Husband Must Consider,” the programs will include topics such as: grounds for divorce; types of divorce; what to expect in court and alternatives to court; alimony; domestic violence; and child custody.

The seminar is presented by the Montgomery County Commission for Women in partnership with the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Family Law Section; the Montgomery County Women’s Bar Association; and the Montgomery County Divorce Roundtable.

The fee is $10 per seminar if pre-registering and $15 at the door. To pre-register, go to

For more information, call 240-777-8300.

Intercounty Connector Bike and Pedestrian Path Information Available Online

Information about bicycle and pedestrian paths near the Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200 is now available on the ICC's Project Website.  Maps indicating current trails and trails expected to be completed by Montgomery and Prince George’s counties at a later date are included.

The counties are still developing some segments of the bicycle/pedestrian plan.  Once completed, the ICC bicycle/pedestrian route will allow cyclists to travel from the Shady Grove Metrorail station to the Muirkirk Commuter Rail Station.

Home Savers:  A Specialized Foreclosure Prevention Program

Low- to moderate-income families in Montgomery County who are having trouble paying condo/HOA fees or seniors with reverse mortgages who are struggling to pay their property taxes should know about the Home Savers program.

Sponsored by Asian-American Homeownership Counseling, Inc., Home Savers rescues homes from foreclosure due to homeowners condo/HOA fees or property tax defaults.

See information flyer.

Residents with questions should speak with a counselor -- or sign up for an orientation session -- by calling 301-760-7636 or emailing

The Season of Giving: Volunteer Opportunities Abound

The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving.  But for many of our neighbors in Montgomery County, the need is great but the “receiving” may be sparse.  That’s why there’s no time like the present to give of your time and volunteer to help ensure that those less fortunate have a bright holiday season.

If you have a few spare moments and want to volunteer in the weeks ahead, check out the Volunteer Center website that will lead you to wide variety of opportunities for all ages and interests during the holidays…and beyond.

Volunteer. It’s time well spent.

Consumer Protection Wants You to Know about…Safely Shopping Online

With the coming of another holiday season, shopping online or by phone is a convenient way to buy gifts and never leave home.  However, the Office of Consumer Protection reminds residents that buying online is also a convenient opportunity for scammers to take advantage of consumers.

When shopping, do business only with companies you know to be legitimate.  Don’t give out personal information such as your social security number on websites.  Make sure to keep a record of your purchase, and print out the confirmation page after a sale.  Take advantage of item tracking, and be aware of the merchant’s return policy.

Learn more.


Thursday November 15 -- 10th Annual Federal Employees Health Benefits Forum.  9 - 11 a.m. (panel at 9:30 a.m.)  Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Dr., Wheaton. Congressman Chris Van Hollen will hold the forum in cooperation with National Active and Retired Federal Employees. Experts on federal health insurance plans and representatives of health insurance carriers will discuss various health plan options and the impact of new health care reforms, plus answer individual questions. See more details.

Saturday, Sunday, November 17-18 -- Holiday Gifts & Decor Workshop (2-days).  10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Glen Echo Park, Art Glass Center, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.   Instead of looking for that special gift, make it yourself. Choose any two of the following items -- business card or napkin holders, small 5”x5” candy dishes, votive candle holders or a small 5”x7” mirror. Supplies included. $250. To register or receive more details for this class and others, visit Also,

Wednesday, November 28 -- 10th Annual Federal Employees Health Benefits Forum.
7 - 9 p.m. (panel at 7:30 p.m.) Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville. Congressman Chris Van Hollen will hold the forum in cooperation with National Active and Retired Federal Employees. Experts on federal health insurance plans and representatives of health insurance carriers will discuss various health plan options and the impact of new health care reforms, plus answer individual questions. See more details.

November 2, 2012

Another Media Endorsement FOR Question B

The Washington Examiner has joined The Washington Post and The Gazette in endorsing a FOR vote on Question B.

It’s Time: Set Clock Back, Put Batteries in Detectors

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, the Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) urges all residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working when they change their clocks this weekend.  

“Home fires injure and kill thousands every year,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. I encourage everyone to test their smoke alarms, replace any alarms that are 10 years or older and conduct a home fire drill this weekend.”

MCFRS will provide and install smoke alarm batteries at no cost to residents and will provide and install smoke alarms for residents who cannot afford them.

Call 311 for information and bookmark the MCFRS website -- -- for year-round safety information.

Watch a short public service announcement reminder about changing the batteries.

General Election Returns on County Website

Up-to-the-moment election results for the November 6 General Election will be accessible on the Board of Elections website at

Early Voting returns will be tabulated on Election Day and will be available as soon after 8 p.m. as possible.

Election Day returns will be available beginning at 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday and will be updated every 20 minutes.  

Residents who do not have internet access are invited to visit the Board of Elections in Gaithersburg at 18753 N. Frederick Ave. Suite 210. Election results will be displayed in the lower-level training room as the votes are counted.

An election-related logo on the Elections’ website – – will provide a link directly to the return page, as well as links to the Prince George’s County, state, and national election returns. 

Coming up: Vacuum Collection of Leaves

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Division of Highway Services (DHS) will conduct its annual vacuum collection of leaves in the southern part of the County from November 5 through mid-December. Two collections are made on every street in the vacuum leaf collection district during the fall.

The leaf vacuum collection district is bounded by I-495, I-270, the Rockville City limits, Norbeck, Bel Pre and Bonifant roads, Northwest Branch Park, and the District of Columbia and Prince George's County lines.

Residents should look for signs posted along the streets announcing the collection dates in their neighborhoods. Green signs indicate the first collection, and red signs marking the second and final collection.

Collections are restricted to leaves only. Tree debris, sticks, branches or coarse garden debris should be placed in containers or tied in bundles not more than four feet long and placed where household trash is regularly picked up.

Get more information on the collections, such as how and where to place the leaves, how to find when your street will be vacuumed and what to do if you miss a collection. 

County Holiday Schedule for Veteran’s Day

Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Veterans Day on Monday, November 12:
  • County Offices – closed 
  • Public Libraries – closed 
  • County liquor stores – open 
  • Recreation – aquatic and community centers are open as scheduled. Aquatic classes and programs will meet as scheduled. All other classes, administrative offices, senior centers and all senior programs will be closed 
  • Ride On – Special modified holiday schedule (, click on “Holidays” to see specific schedules) 
  • Metrobus – Saturday supplemental schedule 
  • Metrorail – Saturday schedule (5 a.m. to midnight) 
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed 
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – regular collection 
  • Transfer Station – open 
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free 
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – open 
  • State offices & courts – closed 


Second Annual Homeless Resource Day

County residents experiencing homelessness are invited to participate in the second annual Homeless Resource Day on Thursday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Bohrer Park Activity Center, 506 South Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg

Sponsored by Montgomery County and the City of Gaithersburg, the event will offer a wide range of resources for homeless residents.  More than 30 organizations will provide information and resources for individuals and families such as free medical screening, legal services, financial counseling, employment services, tax assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and social services.
Free transportation will be provided from seven locations throughout the County.  Registration is not required and the event is free. 

Volunteers are needed to assist in a variety of roles.  For more information or to register as a volunteer, go to or call Gloria Huggins at 240-777-4565.

Recreation Department Winter Coat Drive

Montgomery County Recreation is collecting coats to support the Montgomery County Government/City of Gaithersburg Homeless Resource Day.  Interfaith Works, which provides shelter, clothing and food to community members in need, is coordinating the coat drive. There is a lesser need for children’s coats, but they will also be accepted.

Gently used winter coats can be dropped off at the following Recreation facilities through November 8:

  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver Aquatic Center, 5900 Executive Blvd., N. Bethesda;
  • Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Dr., Wheaton;
  • Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center, 4301 Willow La., Chevy Chase;
  • Long Branch Community Recreation Center/Senior Center, 8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring;
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Swim Center, 1201 Jackson Rd., Silver Spring;
  • Olney Indoor Swim Center, 16605 Georgia Ave., Olney;
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center, 11315 Falls Rd., Potomac;
  • Upper County Community Recreation Center, 8201 Emory Grove Rd., Gaithersburg; and
  • Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center, 5311 Friendship Blvd., Chevy Chase.
For more information about the Interfaith Works Coat Drive, call Christine Hong, 240-498-7727. 

For information about the Recreation Department donation sites, call Judy Stiles at 240-777-6875.  For information about the second annual Homeless Resource Day, visit

Free Presentation for Public about Affordable Care Act

The public is invited to a free discussion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Monday, November 12, from 6 to 7 p.m., at the Silver Spring Civic Building in Downtown Silver Spring. 
The Department of Health and Human Services’ director, Uma
Ahluwalia, will present an overview of the ACA and how it will impact Montgomery County and Maryland. A question-and-answer period will follow.

Among the questions that will be addressed are: What additional changes are authorized by the ACA?  How is Maryland preparing for ACA implementation?  What impact will the ACA have within Montgomery County?

For more information, contact Dourakine Rosarian at 240-777-4397. To request sign
 language interpreter services or other assistance to participate in this meeting, call
Shantee Jackson at 240-777-1058 (voice), 240-777-1295 (TTY) or email  by November 8.

Help Seniors Help Themselves

The Senior Connection of Montgomery County, Inc. links older adults to services and resources so they can live as independently as possible while remaining integral members of their community.
Volunteers can help by:

  • Escorting an individual or couple to the store; assisting them with reading labels, reaching items from the shelf, delivering them home and helping put them away; or
  •  Shopping for someone who may not be able to go to the store.

Senior Connection volunteers are matched with a senior for regularly scheduled grocery shopping assistance and find that fitting in a weekly or bimonthly grocery shopping trip can be accomplished even with a full time job. 

To learn more and/or to download an application, visit or contact Marcia Custer at 301-962-0820, ext.14 or email

Consumer Protection Wants You to Know about…the County’s Domestic Worker Law 

Do you have a nanny…a housekeeper… or a companion for a sick or elderly family member?  If you answered “yes,” Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) wants to remind you of the County’s Domestic Worker Law.    

If you employ someone as a nanny, housekeeper, cook or a companion, you may be required to offer that individual a written employment contract and abide by state wage and workers’ compensation laws.  Failure to comply with the county’s law may result in a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation.  The Domestic Worker Law applies if the worker:
  •  works primarily in a Montgomery County residence
  •  works at least 20 hours per week for at least a 30 day period
  •  performs primarily childcare, housekeeping, cooking, cleaning or laundry-type work
  •  works as a companion to a sick, convalescing, disabled, or elderly individual
  • has an employer that is an individual or an employment agency

To learn more about the Domestic Worker Law, contact OCP at 240-777-3636 or visit for additional resources. 

October 26, 2012

Preparedness Tips for Arrival of Hurricane Sandy

With Hurricane Sandy approaching the Washington DC region, officials remind residents that they should prepare for the possibility of high winds, power outages and flooding.

Some general tips:
  • Anyone who has not already signed up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system is encouraged to do at Select the types of emergency alerts you are interested in receiving, along with the devices to which you would like the messages sent (cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails).
  • During severe weather and all other times, residents are reminded to call 911 only in emergencies that threaten life or property, which include any type of fire or serious medical condition, when there is fear for personal safety or the safety of others, or during a crime in progress
  • For non-emergency County government issues, call 311 or 301-777-0311.
  • For non-emergency police assistance, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.

Important Utility Numbers:

  • Pepco: 1-877-737-2662
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123
  • Potomac Edison (Allegheny Power): 1-800-255-3443
  • Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
  • WSSC: 1-800-828-4002

Get specific tips for being prepared before, during and after the storm.

Also, check out additional general emergency preparedness information.

For? or Against?: State and Local Ballot Questions and What They Mean

The November election is filled with candidates and issues on all levels that require our focused attention. For example, in Maryland and Montgomery County, alone, there are nine questions that deserve careful scrutiny. But, in many cases, after reading the language on the ballot, we’re left thinking: “What does that really mean?” And, “If I support the question, do I actually cast a For vote, or an Against vote?”

In an effort to clarify the ballot questions, The Paperless Airplane is sharing a document we received that presents the questions -- and an accompanying explanation of a For and Against vote for each  – in the most succinct, easy-to-understand language that we’ve seen.

Take a look and feel free to share it with others who may find it helpful.


1 & 2 – Applies only to Prince George’s County (1) and Baltimore (2) but must be approved statewide.  A vote for supports requiring Orphans' Court Judges to be members of the Maryland Bar in good standing.   Vote against keeps the existing law which does not require Maryland Bar membership.

3 – A vote for means that an elected official is suspended from office immediately upon being convicted of certain crimes and is removed from office when the conviction is final or the official pleads guilty.  A vote against keeps the existing provision that an elected official is suspended and removed from office only when the conviction becomes final.

4 – A vote for would allow certain non-documented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland Community Colleges and after meeting certain requirements be eligible for in-state tuition rates at Maryland 4-year public colleges and universities.   A vote against would require they pay out-of-state rates.

5 – A vote for accepts the new Congressional redistricting boundaries. A vote against rejects the new plan and requires a redrafting of the boundaries.

6 – A vote for allows same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in Maryland and provides that religious organizations are not required to sanction this kind of marriage if it is against their beliefs.  A vote against would not allow same-sex civil marriage licenses to be issued in Maryland.

7 – A vote for supports the expansion of table games and slots in the State and slots in Prince George's County.  A vote against opposes any expansion.


A – A vote for would allow the County to hire individuals with severe physical and mental disabilities on a non-competitive basis.  A vote against rejects a non-competitive hiring process and requires the County to use the existing process.

B – A vote for supports the County law that continues traditional collective bargaining with the police union on customary issues (wages, benefits, and working  conditions) but enables police management to exercise other management rights without having to bargain their effects.  A vote against requires every management decision to be bargained with the police employees' union (effects bargaining).

Question B: It Just Makes Sense

There’s a question on the November ballot in Montgomery County that has garnered the endorsement of the County Democratic and Republican parties. The latest is an endorsement by Montgomery County's Hispanic Democratic Club.

             That would be Question B on “effects bargaining.”

            Learn more about Question B at

            Read The Gazette's editorial in support of Question B.

Early Voting Centers around the County

For the convenience of residents, Montgomery County will have five Early Voting Centers open from October 27 through November 1, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

The Early Voting Centers are located at the following sites:

  • Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Dr., Rockville
  • Germantown Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Rd.
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville
  • Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville
  • Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veteran’s Place

Instructions will be available at the centers to familiarize voters with the ballot. Election judges can explain the procedure for voting, but residents must cast their ballots alone, unless they are unable to do so due to a disability or they cannot read or write the English language.

Voters may experience lines during early voting and at their polling places on Election Day, particularly during peak hours -- immediately before work (7-9 a.m.), during the lunch hour (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and immediately following work (5-7 p.m.). To facilitate the voting process, the Board of Elections encourages all voters to mark their sample ballots before arriving at their polling places.

For information about the elections, or the voting process, contact the Elections Office at 240-777-VOTE or visit the website at

Respect the Space. They need it. You Don’t!

There’s a new state-of the-art tool available to law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland in the fight against the illegal use of disability parking placards. Changes to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MVA) vehicle registration database now provide police with information regarding disability parking privileges.

Since August, law enforcement officers across Maryland have been able to access the Motor Vehicles Administration’s (MVA) database which allows them to stop offenses when fraud, theft and the abuse of disabled parking privileges occur. With that information, law enforcement can see the vehicle records and determine to whom a disabled parking privilege belongs. Included in the information is a photo of the person to whom disabled parking access has been granted.

Joining County Executive Ike Leggett for the announcement of the new procedure were MVA Administrator John Kuo and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.  

In November 2011, Leggett announced the Countywide “Respect the Space” initiative created to raise awareness about the proper use of accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities.  The initiative was suggested by the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities whose members were concerned about non-disabled people parking in reserved accessible spaces and the abuse of disability parking placards.

Get more information about obtaining a disability parking placard and guidelines for its legal use., click on and look under “Vehicle Services” - Disability Placards. 

Learn more about the “Respect the Space” initiative.


Free Seasonal Flu Vaccinations Offered through December

The Department of Health and Human Services reminds residents that free seasonal flu vaccinations are available in the County through the end of the year and appointments may be made online.

In addition, there will be three nasal spray (FluMist) clinics for healthy Montgomery County children three to 18 years of age, by appointment, on Monday, November 5.

No preservative-free injectable vaccine will be available this year at the County clinics.

Check the schedule for remaining vaccination clinics.

Make an appointment for a vaccination.

Your Chance to Serve: Openings on County Boards, Committees, 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 for vacancies on the numerous  County boards, committees and commissions.

Included among the organizations with current vacancies are the:
  • Cable and Communications Advisory Committee
  • Community Action Board
  • Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board
  • Victim Services Advisory Board

      The deadline for applying is November 14, 2012.

      Get details about each group with current openings, plus deadlines.

      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

      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.

      Pilot Program Created for Financial Assistance for Use of Silver Spring Civic Building

      The County has much to be proud of when it comes to the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza.  It has become one of the “go-to” destinations in downtown Silver Spring for a variety of community- and government-sponsored programs.

      However, during these difficult economic times, members of the community have concerns about affordability regarding public use of the building.

      To address this need, the County Executive is piloting a program during FY13 designed to provide financial assistance and increase opportunities for non-profit groups that meet the eligibility criteria.

      A Review Committee will evaluate applications for the program.

      Learn more about the pilot.

      Consumer Protection Wants You to Know about…No More Telemarketers

      No one likes getting calls from telemarketers -- persistent salespersons trying to sell you products you don’t want are something you expect to escape from once you get home, but telemarketers continue to call.

      Did you know there is a way to keep telemarketers from calling you?  Visit the Office of Consumer Protection’s (OCP) A-Z Consumer Advice:  Do Not Call List for more information.

      OCP is the Montgomery County agency responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive business acts to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses. The office was established in 1971 and since then, has earned national recognition for its accomplishments.


      Six Local Business Leaders are First Inductees into Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame

      Six Montgomery County business leaders, past and present, were recently honored as the first inductees into the Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame.

      The 2012 honorees are: Norm Augustine, formerly of Lockheed Martin; Cliff Kendall, formerly of Computer Data Systems, Inc.; Sid Kramer of Kramer Enterprises; Aris Mardirossian of Technology Patents LLC; J. Willard Marriott Jr. of Marriott International;  and Carol Trawick of the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation.
      Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, were among the 300 in attendance at the event held in mid-October at the Universities of Maryland Shady Grove.

      The net proceeds for the first year exceeded $250,000 and will benefit the scholarship programs at The Universities at Shady Grove, one of the regional educational centers of the University System of Maryland.

      County Named a Citizen Engaged Community 

      Montgomery County has been designated as a 2012-2014 Citizen Engaged Community (CEC) by Public Technology Institute (PTI) for its MC311 online and phone information system.

      The annual designation program recognizes excellence in multi-channel contact centers and best practices for the use of Citizen Relationship/Records Management (CRM) systems, 311 services, web portal technology, telephone systems and mobile communications infrastructure.

      Montgomery County was one of nine jurisdictions with populations of more than 300,000 to be selected for this distinction.
      Read more.

      We Like Bikes:  Bethesda, Rockville Honored for Being Bicycle Friendly

      Bethesda and Rockville have been named bicycle-friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists for their commitment to biking as an alternate form of transportation, particularly for commuters. In the Bicycle Friendly Community Program, each was named a bronze-level award winner, the highest award given to any communities in Maryland.

      According to the League’s website, “The Bicycle Friendly Community Program (BFC) provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.”

      “World of Montgomery” Festival Brought Worlds of People Together

      Against the backdrop of a perfect fall day, several thousand people took advantage of the weather to taste their way around the globe in downtown Wheaton at the 2012 "World of Montgomery Festival."

      If you didn’t get there this year, check out the link below and see what you missed. Read The Post article.


      Saturday, November 3 – Maryland Emancipation Day. Oakley Cabin African American Museum & Park, 3610 Brookeville Rd., Olney. Noon to 4 p.m. From 1 to 3 p.m., performances by the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices, the Sherwood High School Chamber Singers and “Music on the Rise.”  Maryland’s Emancipation Day marks the historic November 1, 1864 new state constitution freeing enslaved persons living in Maryland.  Activities: guided hikes allowing visitors to experience the Underground Railroad at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park; tours of the cultural history afforded by Oakley Cabin; and tours of the Josiah Henson Park. Free.  RSVP to or call Melissa Chotiner at 301-650-2866.

      Wednesday, November 7 -- County Council Town Hall Meeting -- Potomac area. Pre-reception, 7:30 p.m.; meeting at 8 p.m. Potomac Community Recreation Center, 11315 Falls Rd.  Major topics of the evening are expected to include potential growth and development in the area, schools, budget issues, taxes, traffic and the performance of power utilities, including Pepco, following storms. The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM - cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). Susan Kenedy, a CCM producer, will moderate the meeting. For more information, call 240-777-7931.

      Tuesday, November 13 -- Issues of interest to the immigrant community, panel discussion. 7 to 9 p.m.  Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place. The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights (OHR) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) will co-host the discussion that is a follow-up to a “listening session” held by the commission in June with various members of the County Executive’s advisory groups. A question-and-answer session will follow the panel’s presentations. For information, call James Stowe, director of the Office of Human Rights, 240-777-8450.

      Thursday, November 15 -- The Legal Process of Separation and Divorce in Montgomery County. 7  to  9 p.m. Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave. Suite 330. Two seminars -- one in English and one in Spanish -- will be offered.  Discussions will present information on financial, property and practical issues that both wife and husband must consider. Pre-Registration is $10. Visit Cost at the door is $15 (cash or check only).  More information, call 240-777-8300.

      Thursday, November 15 -- Public meeting on Potomac Community Center Roller Rink Modification Proposal.  7 p.m. Potomac Community Center (Social Hall), 11315 Falls Rd. The meeting will include a short narrative presentation of the project background and concept, followed by an open question/discussion session. The Recreation Department will use public input to continue a preliminary review and evaluation of the community proposal. Sign language interpreter services or other accommodations provided upon request, preferably at least three business days in advance. E-mail , or call 240-777-6870 (voice); 240-777-6974 (TTY). For additional information about the meeting, contact Jeffrey A. Bourne, 240-777-6800.

       Saturday, Sunday, November 17-18 -- Holiday Gifts & Decor Workshop (2-days).  10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Glen Echo Park, Art Glass Center, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo.   Instead of looking for that special gift, make it yourself. Choose any two of the following items -- business card or napkin holders, small 5”x5” candy dishes, votive candle holders or a small 5”x7” mirror -- to make. Supplies included. $250. To register or receive more details, visit or call 703-623-4300.