November 26, 2013

New Parking Lot Safety Campaign Unveiled: Behind the Wheel or On Foot it’s “Heads Up!” in Lots and Garages

A Countywide public education campaign to address the growing number of pedestrian collisions occurring in parking lots and garages in Montgomery County has been unveiled by County Executive Ike Leggett.

In 2012, parking lot and garage collisions comprised nearly one-third of all pedestrian collisions in the County. Even more startling is the fact that of those collisions, nearly 20 percent resulted in severe, debilitating injuries -- the same percentage as road collisions. And, overall, 54 percent of the parking lot/garage collisions in 2012 resulted in some type of injury.

The campaign’s slogan, “Heads Up in Parking Lots,” features the message: “Don’t run over people. Don’t get run over.” The campaign consists of Ride On bus ads in English and Spanish; bus shelter ads aimed at pedestrians and drivers; posters in English and Spanish; safety tip cards in English and Spanish available at libraries, recreation and community centers, and stores; distribution of reusable shopping bags featuring a safety message; pavement decals at retail stores, and the 19 County parking garages and 21 County parking lots; two public service announcements: Heads Up in Parking Lots and Don’t run over people. Don’t get run over; and a new website featuring education materials in English and Spanish that can be downloaded and distributed to community, civic, religious and school groups.

Visit the website for more information.

Council Approves Plans for Bus Rapid Transit System

The Montgomery County has unanimously approved the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, the main purpose of which is to establish the routes and possible station locations of the proposed countywide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. BRT is a plan for specially designed buses to travel over mostly dedicated lines throughout the County.

The Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan recommends a network of Bus Rapid Transit lines covering about 82 miles and 110 stations, not including the already master-planned CCT.

The master plan approved by the Council recommends the routes, the station locations and, for each segment, the minimum right-of-way. The recommended plan also states whether there would be dedicated lanes or not and whether there would be up to 0, 1 or 2 lanes added in the road's cross-section dedicated to BRT.

Read more.

Transportation Options for County Seniors and Their Families in Eight Languages

Hot off the presses -- County Executive Ike Leggett and the Office of Public Information have released a two-page fact sheet for seniors and their families about Montgomery County Transportation Options for Older Adults. In addition to English and Spanish, the information is now available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.

Distributing the information is easy. Just select the language you need and share with your neighborhood and faith listserves, friends, neighbors and loved ones. For hard copies, email and indicate how many you need and in what language(s).

Check senior site transportation section for more information.

Annual Thanksgiving Parade Ushers in Holiday Season

A crowd estimated at 20,000 people -- of all ages -- turned out to watch the County’s annual Thanksgiving Parade and welcome the holiday season. As these photos show, parade marchers and observers, alike, seemed to have a good time celebrating the start of the holiday season.

Top. A Montgomery County float represents the historical beginnings of Thanksgiving.

Middle. Baby Smurf -- presented by the Celebrate Downtown Silver Spring Foundation, Inc. -- gets ready to head out along the parade route.

Bottom. Colorful clowns delighted the crowd.

Parade photos by Ken Stanek Photography

A New Home for Wheaton's Rescue Squad

More than 300 people attended the recent Grand Opening of the new Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad station at the intersection of Georgia and Arcola aves., just south of the Wheaton Library.

The new station, at 29,000 gross square feet, is nearly four times larger than the previous station which was at Grandview and Blueridge aves. It is the fourth fire station to open in the County within the past seven years.

Results of Homeless Survey Announced

During the Montgomery County 100,000 HOMES Campaign Registry Week in early November, hundreds of volunteers answered the call and participated in a variety of activities, including canvassing the County and surveying 369 homeless individuals.

Teams canvassed the streets, woods and shelters, and covered "hot spots" in Rockville, Aspen Hill, Gaithersburg, Germantown, White Flint, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Wheaton, Glenmont, Langley Park, Chevy Chase, Hillandale and White Oak. Volunteer teams captured data on health conditions, hospitalizations, length of homelessness, etc.

The results, reported at a community debriefing in mid-November, attended by the County Executive, County Councilmembers and local organizations, included the following findings about the local homeless poopulation:
  • Average age was 45.6 years 
  • 47% reported at least one serious health condition—of this group, 74% were medically vulnerable 
  • 22% of those surveyed received inpatient emergency room treatment at least three times last year -- of those identified as medically vulnerable, more than 50% received inpatient treatment at least three times last year 
  • 31 individuals reported having veterans status 
  • 26% of those surveyed were victims of violent attacks while experiencing homelessness 
Read more about the campaign and findings.

Fire Rescue Service Offers Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Fire Chief Steven Lohr urges residents to enjoy the holiday and to keep safety at the top of everyone’s “to do” list.

“Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same,” said Chief Lohr. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow some simple safety tips [when cooking a turkey the traditional way or frying it] and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.”

County Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving Day

  • County Offices – closed 
  • Libraries – closed 
  • County liquor stores – closed 
  • Recreation – all programs and facilities are closed
  • Montgomery Parks – all facilities are closed on Thursday. For operating schedules on Friday, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Sunday schedule 
  • Metrobus – Sunday schedule 
  • Metrorail – Sunday schedule 
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection* 
  • Transfer Station – closed 
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free 
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed 
  • State offices & courts – closed 
*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Go Green for the Holidays: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Although the winter holiday season traditionally produces extra amounts of waste, the Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS) [Dept. of Environmental Protection] reminds residents that the various festivities and activities taking place actually offer great opportunities for residents to recycle many items generated this time of year. 

Unwanted Mail
In the weeks leading up to the holidays, many households receive larger-than-usual quantities of advertisements, sale flyers and catalogs. Before placing all the unwanted mail into the recycling bin, residents should take a moment to remove their names from the companies' mailing lists. Often, all that is needed is a call to a toll-free number provided in the mailing. Learn more at and

See a wide variety of tips from DSWS on how to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle when shopping, wrapping and entertaining, and what to do with the live Christmas tree after the holidays.

Also check out about Recycling Beyond the Holiday Season.

Shop for Those in Need on #Giving Tuesday

The Office of Community Partnerships reminds residents doing holiday shopping to take a minute and help neighbors in need.

It’s easy to do through #GivingTuesday, a nationwide day of charitable giving that offers the opportunity to remember those less fortunate and make a donation that will help them have a happy holiday season, as well.

Family Fun at Recreation Centers offering a Variety of Holiday Activities

Montgomery County Recreation is offering a wide-range of community events for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season.

Choices range from magic, crafts, cookies and entertainment to being photographed underwater with Scuba Santa.

Take a peek at the holiday activity calendar, then make your pick(s) and register.

“My Montgomery” Online Map Adds Bikeshare Station Locations

The County’s “My Montgomery” website that helps residents locate nearby County facilities and services now includes locations for the County’s new Capital Bikeshare stations.

Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly accessible locations around the County. For more information about the program, go to or call 1-877-430-BIKE (2453).

Launched in 2008, the "My Montgomery" website includes the locations of schools; police and fire stations; health and human services programs; hospitals; regional services centers; Metro and MARC train stations; public parking lots and garages; public libraries; and recreational facilities, including golf courses, parks, senior centers and swimming pools.

County Offers Grants for Food Recovery Activities

Organizations involved in food recovery activities in Montgomery County are invited to apply for one-time grant funding to start, enhance and advance food recovery activities.

Food recovery is the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those in need.

The grants -- ranging from $500 to $9,999 -- will be provided for Fiscal Year 2014 to enhance the work of the Food Recovery Work Group established in October 2012 by the County Council to develop and implement a food recovery system in Montgomery County.

Organizations can receive an email application form and return it to Applications can also be submitted in person to Licensure & Regulatory Services, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, 255 Rockville Pike, 1st floor, Rockville.

Applications must be received no later than Tuesday, December 3 at 4 p.m.

According to studies, Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food produced for consumption, costing nearly $100 billion a year.

See FAQs.

Wednesday, December 11 - Public Meeting on Wheaton Redevelopment

Wheaton High School, 12601 Dalewood Dr., Silver Spring. 7 p.m. An update to the community about progress on the Wheaton Redevelopment project.

To learn more about the project, visit the project page.

November 18, 2013

County More than Triples Investment in “Small Business Plus!” Program

County Executive Ike Leggett recently announced a tripling -- to more than $35 million -- of the County’s investment in the “Small Business Plus!” program, first established in June 2012 with a $10 million investment.

Thirty-five million dollars in County funds will be invested in participating community banks -- which will commit an equal amount -- with the result that $70 million will be lent to local small businesses to further promote the creation of new jobs.

Banks are eligible to 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.

A participating bank must originate the loans within 12 calendar months of the commitment by the County to make a program related deposit in that bank.

“Small Business Plus!” was developed through a collaboration between the County and community banks headquartered in the County. It is intended to promote job growth through small business lending and to earn a competitive rate of return for the County on its investment.

Read more.

Annual Thanksgiving Parade Kicks Off Local Holiday Season

The local holiday season officially gets underway on Saturday, November 23 when the 16th Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade steps off at 10 a.m. from Ellsworth Dr. and Fenton St. in Downtown Silver Spring. Traveling the same route as last year, the parade will proceed south on Georgia Ave., ending at Silver Spring Ave.

ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff will once again serve as master of ceremonies, introducing more than 100 parade units. In addition to the Washington professional football team’s Marching Band, the parade will feature glittering floats, a wide variety of local marching bands, beauty queens, clowns, fire engines and animal groups. As always, the parade will end with elves, reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

Get more information about the parade, including volunteering and parking.

Party Arty at the Executive Ball, Support Arts Education

The 28th Annual Montgomery County Executive’s Ball Benefitting the Arts & Humanities will be held on Sunday, November 24, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, N. Bethesda.

The ball is administered by The Community Foundation for Montgomery County and is funded solely through corporate and private donations.

Tickets are $125 per person and attire is “creative black tie.” Proceeds will support arts education programs in Montgomery County. For more information and to get tickets, visit or call 301-244-9836.

New Tax Compliance Office Identifies Thousands of Accounts Mistakenly Claiming Homeowner Tax Credits; Over $1 Million in Savings Already Realized

The Department of Finance’s Tax Compliance Office has issued its first quarter report on the results of its property tax compliance efforts which identifies nearly 5,000 accounts that should be corrected which could save the County up to $3.3 million in revenues each year.

Since the program was established in May 2012 by County Executive Ike Leggett, with the support of the County Council, it has generated actual revenues of more than $1.2 million.

“The Homestead Tax Credit program benefits many eligible homeowners every year,” said Leggett. “One of the requirements for eligibility is that the homeowner must reside in the home. Because I felt the County was losing millions of dollars annually due to credits being mistakenly issued, I created the Tax Compliance Office to work with the state to verify that credits are accurately issued.”

See more details about the Tax Compliance program or call 240-777-8860.

For information about the Homestead Property Tax Credit, go to

Live Online Discussion with County Executive

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will hold a “virtual” Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, November 19 from 1 to 2 p.m.  County residents will be able to submit questions to the County Executive before or during the chat at Live Discussion with Ike Leggett.

Questions and answers will be posted both during and after the chat.

For more information, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507.

Recent China Mission Trip Brings Discussions about Investment Opportunities from Visiting Delegation

As a result of the connections developed from last month's China Mission trip led by County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County hosted a visit in November for nearly two dozen Chinese investors as a part of the "Select USA Investment Summit" sponsored by the U.S. government.

Following meetings with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the Chinese business delegation came to Montgomery County, where they focused on investment opportunities in major public-private partnership projects that are strategic to the County's future economic competitiveness, especially the life sciences.

The delegation visited the Food and Drug Administration in White Oak and did a drive-through visit to FDA, LifeSci Village and Washington Adventist Hospital. At the Montgomery campus of The Johns Hopkins University in Rockville, the visitors heard presentations about and discussed investment opportunities in BioHealth Innovations, the Greater Seneca Science Corridor, Global LifeSci Village and other County-based projects, as well as meeting federal, state and local officials.

Vital Living for Residents 50 and Over through Volunteering

Residents aged 50 and above are invited to learn how to give back to their communities during a workshop on November 19 at the Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Rd., from 2-3 p.m. Information will also be presented about the County resources and programs available to help persons get involved.

Attendees can also:
  • Explore Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s rich resources for finding volunteer opportunities.
  • Learn about the award-winning Pro Bono Consultant Program to share professional skills on short-term projects.
  • Learn about the challenges that nonprofits face and how to help.
  • Learn about getting involved on a nonprofit Board. 
To request sign language interpretation or other deaf/hard of hearing services for library-sponsored programs, email, preferably with three business days’ notice. To request other accommodations, contact the library hosting the program at 240-777-0970.

Nighttime Economy Task Force Submits Recommendations

Earlier this year, the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Task Force was created by County Executive Ike Leggett to develop a series of policy recommendations that would foster an increased nighttime social life for County residents, employees and visitors.

The group has just released its report/recommendations – entitled “Destination Montgomery: Shining Light on the Nighttime Economy” -- that focuses on specific elements needed to build a strong nighttime economy. The Arts and Entertainment, Business Engagement, Public Safety, Public Space and Amenities, Quality of Life, Transportation, and Venue Operations and Safety.

The task force, with the assistance of the County Executive, his staff, the County Council and the County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly will work to ensure that the main tenets of the recommendations are considered, studied and implemented, as appropriate

See the full report (pdf).

Reductions in Permitting Fees for “Midrise” Construction

County Executive Ike Leggett has announced changes in permitting structure fees for “midrise” woodframe construction in the County, an emerging trend in construction. The reductions, the result of a workgroup between government and industry put together by Leggett, reduces from $8 million to $4.5 million the threshold at which lower permitting fees kick in – a 44 percent reduction.

Overall, it is expected that this will result in an annual reduction of fees in excess of $1 million. This fee reduction is in addition to the Department of Permitting Services' automation fee reduction the County Executive transmitted to the County Council in September  This reduction projected an overall estimated customer savings of $1.5 million. Thus, annually, the collective savings is estimated already to be in excess of $2.5 million.

Read more.

Affordable Health Care Act Education and Enrollment Continue; Saturday Sessions Added

Signed into law in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires legal residents ages 18 to 64 to have health insurance coverage beginning in 2014 or pay a fine.

To assist residents in signing up, weekend enrollment events will be held in Montgomery County on the following dates:

Saturday, November 23 -- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
    8818 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
    12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown
Saturday, December 7 -- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
    8818 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
    12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown 

To find in-person enrollment help, go to and click on the Where Do I Sign Up? flyer. Information about eligibility and documents needed for enrollment, can also be found at

Residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties can sign up for health care coverage at more than 25 sites throughout the community via Maryland Health Connection, the state’s insurance marketplace. Enroll online at or by calling Maryland’s Consumer Support Center at 1-855-642-8572 (TTY 1-855-642-8573).

Open enrollment continues through March 2014, with coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014.

Meters on Tuckerman Lane Bagged for Three Days for Student Concerts at Strathmore

From November 19 to 22, the parking meters along Tuckerman Lane near the Grosvenor/Strathmore Metrorail station will be bagged and reserved to park the school buses that will bring 10,000 County public school second-grade students to The Music Center at Strathmore for a series of free concerts. The concerts are presented by Strathmore in partnership with the Montgomery County Public School System.

For more information on the concerts, contact Bill Carey at Strathmore Music Center at 301-581-5135.

Registration for Winter Recreation, Parks Programs Now Open

The winter issue of the Montgomery County Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs is now available which means registration is open for winter programs and classes. Swim lesson registration will begin on Wednesday, December 11.

Registration is offered online, by mail, fax or in person at the Montgomery County Recreation Administrative Offices at 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

Print copies of the guide are available at recreation centers, park facilities, government buildings and public libraries. Residents who prefer receiving the guide by 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

Forum on Federal Employees Health Benefits Scheduled in Rocvkville

Experts on federal health insurance plans and representatives of health insurance carriers will discuss various health plan options, the impact of the Affordable Care Act, and answer questions during the 11th Annual Forum for Federal Employees Health Benefits that will be held on Wednesday, November 20 at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville,  from 7 to 9 p.m. Parking is available onstreet and in the County Council garage at the corner of Monroe and Jefferson streets.

Entitled “Open Season: Choosing the Right Federal Health Benefits Plan,” the forum is presented by Congressman Chris Van Hollen in cooperation with the Maryland Federation of Chapters of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

For more information, including directions, call 301-424-3501.

Resident Feedback Sought at Open Data Town Hall

Montgomery County is hosting its first Open Data Town Hall on Thursday, November 21, offering residents an opportunity to speak up about the kinds of data they would like to access online. The meeting will be held from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Bethesda/Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda.

Following a presentation to introduce open data and familiarize the audience with datamontgomery, Town Hall participants will be able to move around the room to individual data theme tables to discuss their thoughts and suggestions in smaller groups with facilitators. The facilitators will compile information during the Town Hall and report back to the group at the end of the evening. The reports will also be posted on the Innovation Program website at

The expanding datasets are part of Montgomery County’s digital government strategy (pdf) and its open government website, both launched last December.

Volunteering: Always in Season

On the heels of another successful Community Service Day in October, the County’s Volunteer Center is encouraging residents to keep alive the spirit of giving back by getting involved with the annual Holiday Giving Project.

Learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities in the Volunteer Center’s newsletter or visit their website.

Free Bike Registration for Riders Parking at Metro Facilities

Metro Transit Police offer a free online registration service for bike riders who park their bikes at Metro facilities. Providing the make, model, serial number, color and frame size of the bike will assist Transit Police in identifying and recovering a bicycle if it is stolen or lost.

Police urge riders to practice basic security measures, such as locking their bike to an authorized rack (not a sign post or fence), keeping a copy of the bike’s serial number on hand, and hiding a business or index card with the owner’s name and phone number inside the bike frame.

Public Forums on MCPS Proposal to Change Starting, Ending Times at Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is offering the community multiple opportunities over the coming months to provide feedback on proposed changes to school starting and ending times, also known as bell times.

Upcoming public forums will give residents an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback on Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s recommendation that MCPS consider moving high school start times 50 minutes later (from 7:25 to 8:15 a.m.); moving middle school start times 10 minutes earlier (from 7:55 to 7:45 a.m.); and keeping elementary school start times at the current 8:50 and 9:15 a.m.), but extending the school day by 30 minutes.

The following community forums will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Monday, December 16: Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Dr., Rockville;
  • Monday, January 6: Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Dr., Germantown; and
  • Monday, February 10: Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Blvd., East, Silver Spring.
Free child care (ages four and older) and interpretation services will be provided.

For more information, visit the Bell Times website.

Gaithersburg Library to Re-open January 4

The newly renovated Gaithersburg Library will celebrate its Grand Re-opening on Saturday, January 4, beginning at 9:30 a.m., with the ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. County Executive Ike Leggett and other elected officials will join Montgomery County Public Libraries and Department of General Services representatives, and local residents to mark the re-opening of the library located at 18330 Montgomery Village Ave.

Special programs, presented by the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Inc. and the Friends of the Library, Gaithersburg Chapter will be held throughout the day. There also will be entertainment, refreshments and tours of the building.

Updated announcements about the re-opening activities will be posted on the Gaithersburg Library page  as the day draws closer.

Local Veterans Day Message Part of New York City Parade

A 60-second taped Veterans Day Greeting from Montgomery County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs and County Executive Ike Leggett was aired during the New York City Veterans Day Parade on November 11, along with greetings from other jurisdictions across the country. Commissioners participating were (left to right): Bill Gray, Mike Subin, Wayne Miller, Kris Kumaroo, Randy Stone and Jerry Godwin.

County-based Business Recognized by Inc. Magazine Among Top Job Creators in Private Sector

DMI, a leading provider of mobile enterprise and big data solutions and services headquartered in Bethesda, generated 1,009 new jobs from January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, placing it among the top nine private business job creators in the United States and the number one private job creator in Maryland.

This growth earned it Inc. Magazine's Hire Power Award, recognizing private businesses that have created the most jobs in the past 18 months. DMI was also ranked first nationally for job creation among IT services companies.

Read more about the recognition from the piece.