August 15, 2012


FROM THE LAST ISSUE, READERS ASKED ABOUT: All That Tree Debris at the Transfer Station

For instance, one wanted to know: How does the amount of debris compare to “normal” times (obviously, it is greater but how much)?   How is it reduced to mulch?  Where does it go from the Transfer Station? And, why is it -- or is it not -- burned along with other trash at the Dickerson power plant?

Peter Karasik, the Section Chief for Central Operations at the Transfer Station responded:
"On an annual average basis, the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station receives about 350 vehicles per day of all sizes delivering yard waste and tree debris.  There are, however, normal seasonal variations. So, a busy day in the spring or early summer may result in 600 to 700 vehicles with yard waste/tree debris coming to our facility, while January and February may have fewer than 100 vehicles per day.

"In the first week after the June 29 storm, we received 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles most days with a record-setting 4,300 vehicles on Tuesday, July 3.

"The Division of Solid Waste Services owns three large horizontal grinders with approximately 1,000-horsepower engines that can grind almost all tree debris except for large stumps which need to be broken up first.  Each of these machines can process more than 100 tons per hour of natural wood waste.

"Our contractor, Grant County Mulch, picks up the mulch, so it is not burned. They pay us about $5 per ton, so we recover some of our processing costs."
Another reader suggested: Why don’t you make all this hardwood available to residents as firewood, rather than turning it all into mulch?  I would be willing to pay for it and load it myself. 

Peter replied:
"Other residents have asked the same question. However, we have some concerns with respect to letting residents come onsite with chain saws and cut up and load bulky wood waste.

"First, we’re concerned about general safety. People would be climbing around piles of wood and shifting logs trying to get at the better material.  It would be a difficult situation to safely manage.

"We also have a very limited amount of space onsite, so we could not keep things moving after a major storm if residents parked in our lot and spent an hour or so cutting wood and loading up their trucks. If we had more space, we could have a professional tree trimming contractor cut up the wood waste and prepare bundles or cords of firewood for sale.

"So although we agree with the concept, we currently just don’t have the space to do it."

Thanks to our readers for their insightful questions. 

MC311 Customer Service Center Extends Hours of Operation

Under the extended hours that recently took effect, the County’s MC311 Customer Service Center (CSC) is now operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

An analysis conducted last April (when the center operated until 5 p.m.) indicated that from 5 to 7 p.m. between 135 and 175 calls came in to the center. This means that an additional 700 to 800 customers a week, or more than 3,000 additional customers a month, could be served in the extra two hours. 

Shortly before MC311’s launch in June 2010, a decision was made to operate 10 hours-a-day, five days-a-week until there was a better understanding of call volume and staffing needs.  Over the past two years,  increased portal usage and significant improvements in the call center operations have created greater efficiencies in the operation. 

For those who prefer online contact, the self-service website,, is available 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Read more.

Board of Elections Seeks Help on Election Day

Judges with Spanish-Speaking Fluency

Montgomery County Board of Elections is seeking individuals with Spanish speaking fluency to serve as election judges at polling places on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Election judges must be: registered to vote in the State of Maryland, 18 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen. In addition to Spanish speaking fluency, election judges must also be able to speak, read and write in English. All election judges will be compensated for training and for Election Day service.

Anyone interested in serving should contact the Montgomery County Board of Elections at 240-777-8532, download an election judge questionnaire from or e-mail Dr. Gilberto Zelaya at

Student Election Aides

School-age students, grades 6-12, are needed to serve as Election Day student aides.

Students and their guardians must attend mandatory training to serve on Election Day and, if applicable, to receive Student Service Learning (SSL) credits.  Students are placed in neighboring precincts according to their home addresses. 

Students within a public, private, independent, religious or home-school setting in Montgomery County are eligible to apply.  U.S. citizenship is not a pre-requisite to participate.  Students with bilingual and American Sign Language skills are encouraged to apply.

Interested parents/guardians can register their student(s), before October 1, online by visiting

For additional information, email

New Look, Enhanced Features for Board of Elections' Website

Montgomery County Board of Elections website -- -- has been redesigned with a fresh look, new and enhanced features, and easier and more straightforward navigation tools.

The new site, designed in coordination with the Department of Technology Services, was upgraded in response to requests for improvements and greater accessibility for disabled and non-English speaking constituents.

Visitors to the site should take note. Some of the links within the page have changed.  Voters are encouraged to enter the site via the home page rather than through the utilization of previously bookmarked links.

Give the Gift of Literacy

The Literacy Council of Montgomery County will hold an information session for volunteers interested in helping adults learn to read, write, or speak English on Wednesday, August 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockville Memorial Library.

Once volunteers have completed the orientation, they can select a two-part training session that fits their schedules.  No foreign language skills are necessary. Tutors work one-on-one or with small groups and typically meet with students in libraries or community centers at mutually convenient times.

For complete details, call 301-610-0030, email or visit

Fall Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs Now Available

The fall issue of the Montgomery County Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs is out, and residents are advised to register now for programs, classes and swim lessons.

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 all 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.

Nominations Open for Human Rights Hall of Fame

The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights (OHR) is currently accepting nominations for its Seventh Hall of Fame.  Nominations should be individuals – either living or deceased – whose ongoing work, service and contributions have positively impacted human and civil rights in the County.  The deadline for nominations is September 10.

A select number of nominees will be recommended for the Hall of Fame by a panel of community judges.  The induction ceremony is planned for Sunday, October 28, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

The OHR Hall of Fame began in 2001 and is held every other year.  More than 70 individuals have been inducted over the years. 

For a complete listing of inductees, go to  

Nomination forms are available online, or by calling the Office of Human Rights at 240-777-8456.

“Small Business Plus!” is Here

Developed through a unique collaboration between Montgomery County and community banks headquartered in the County, “Small Business Plus!” will promote job growth through small business lending and earn a competitive rate of return for the County on its investment.

Ten million dollars in County funds will be invested in participating community banks that will, in turn, commit an equal amount.  This means that $20 million will be lent to local small businesses to further promote the creation of new jobs.

Banks may participate if they: are headquartered in Montgomery County; have assets greater than $200 million and less than $5 billion; and meet certain safety and soundness standards established by the County.

Read more.

Consumer Protection Tip: Save on Energy Bills 

This summer is setting heat records!  To keep energy bills down, consider investing in a new, energy-efficient heating and cooling unit. You can also seal air leaks in your home, improve insulation and simply set your thermostat higher in the summer.

For more suggestions, visit Maryland Energy Administration’s webpage on Energy Efficient Cooling Systems