May 30, 2014

County, State Funding Moves New Biomedical Sciences, Engineering Complex at Universities at Shady Grove Forward

Celebrating The Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) growth and progress were (from left): Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan, University System of Maryland (USM) chancellor; State Senator Nancy King; County Executive Ike Leggett; Susan Bateson, chair of the USG Board of Advisors; and Shahina Khan, a 2014 graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park’s Biological Sciences program.
Thanks to County and State funding secured in the Maryland General Assembly this past session for the second-year planning and design for the new biomedical sciences and engineering academic complex at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) will move one step closer to reality.

The new $170 million, 220,000-square-foot building, expected to open in the fall of 2018, will pave the way for the future addition of top biomedical and engineering degree programs from several of Maryland’s top universities.

USG and its University System of Maryland (USM) partner institutions will expand degree opportunities in healthcare and biosciences, engineering, and STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medical) education. The building will feature state-of-the-art laboratories, active learning classrooms, clinical training facilities, academic offices and an expanded level of student services necessary to support program and enrollment growth in these high-demand fields.

County Executive Leggett proposed and the County Council approved $20 million to fund a new parking structure to support the expansion, which will enable USG to serve thousands of additional students in STEMM programs.

Read more about the event/project.

County Breaks Ground for First New Health Facility in 20 Years

2000 Dennis Avenue Silver Spring
Ground has been broken for the new Dennis Avenue Health Center (DAHC) in Silver Spring. The building, the first health facility built by the County in more than 20 years, will be located next to the existing facility, which is at 2000 Dennis Ave. Built in the 1960s, it was used initially as an elementary school.

The current center will be used until the new facility is ready, and then it will be demolished.

There will be two buildings -- one for the Tuberculosis Control program and one for the remaining programs --joined by a common entry lobby. Equipped with the latest technology, the new center will provide approximately 55,000 square feet of space to address a shortage of clinic and office space, as well as provide a state-of-the-art air handling system and medical examination rooms. The building will also include a healing garden.

Straight-from-the-Farm Food Comes to Town

From now through the end of October, Montgomery County’s farmers’ markets will offer customers a variety of fresh, healthful produce at 25 different locations across the County.

The markets feature traditional items like fruits, heirloom tomatoes, cut flowers and preserves. Adventurous shoppers can also find unique items, including free-range meat, micro-greens, layer cakes and even a fish truck that sells Mahi-tacos. Get more information on each market (pdf).

Visit for information about selling produce and the required licenses.

New School Immunization Requirements for 2014-2015 School Year

County health officials have announced that new school immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten and seventh grade will take effect for the 2014-2015 school year. Students entering kindergarten must have two varicella vaccinations, and students entering seventh grade must have one Tdap (Tetanus-diphtheria-attenuated pertussis) and one meningococcal (MCV4) vaccination. Students who do not show proof of the required immunizations will be excluded from attending school at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

School health staff are currently reviewing student health records, and parents of current sixth grade students have received letters advising them of the new requirements.  

Parents should contact their doctor to make sure their child is properly immunized, then submit a copy of the documentation to the child’s school health nurse as soon as possible, but no later than Monday, August 25, the first day of the 2014-2015 school year.

Get information on free immunizations being offered at three local schools – in Silver Spring, Rockville and Clarksburg on June 13 and another in Rockville on August 23.

County Moves to Boost Emergency Preparedness; Public/Private Partners Sought to Develop Energy Independent County Facilities

County Executive Ike Leggett and County Councilmember and Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee Chair Roger Berliner have announced that Montgomery County is moving forward on ensuring that key government operations are prepared for emergencies.

The Department of General Services (DGS) has advertised a Request for Energy Proposals (RFEP) for public/private partners to develop clean energy microgrids that will enable County facilities and campuses to operate during extended power outages.

Microgrids use technologies such as photovoltaic solar; small, efficient, gas turbines; batteries; advanced controls and heat recovery to efficiently produce energy on-site.

The County’s preference is for a partner that designs, builds, owns, operates and finances the microgrid. The RFEP invites private-sector companies to partner with the County and will allow DGS to identify the most qualified firms.

Based on the responses from this first RFEP, DGS will develop a more comprehensive second-stage RFEP and may ask the top companies to provide a cost proposal.

Proposals are due by June 30.

Learn more about the microgrid proposal.

Summer Reading Program Begins June 1 in Public Libraries

Children and teens are invited to participate in this year’s Summer Reading Program to be held at Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) from June 1 to August 9. Participants can sign up for the programs and keep track of the books read using a designated computer in the library, or a computer at home or elsewhere.

Magicians, musicians, and storytellers are among the entertainers that will perform for children at all MCPL branches this summer. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) events will be featured, complementing the Summer Reading Program’s themes of “Fizz, Boom, Read” for infants to 12 years of age and “Spark a Reaction” for teens..

To register (beginning June 1), see the recommended reading lists and/or receive more information about Summer Reading events, including the kickoff program at Olney Library on June 7, visit

The programs are funded by the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Inc. (FOLMC) and by local FOL chapters. Summer Reading t-shirts are on sale at the FOLMC bookstores. For questions, call 240-777-0020.

To request ADA program accommodations for any of the Summer Reading programs, call the library hosting the program at least five work days in advance.

Tax-aid Volunteers Made A Difference

Volunteers in the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program were recently honored for their dedicated service. Attending the ceremony were (from left): Molly Callaway and Kathleen Meaney Stobie of the County's Volunteer Center, volunteers Harry Weil, Sonia Leon Reig, State Coordinator John Lawrence, County Executive Ike Leggett, volunteers Bob Stearns, District Coordinator Dick Getzinger, Lynn Kinch, Anne Gavin, and Bob Bridgeman.  

The returns are in…and it was a successful season for the County’s dedicated tax-aid volunteers.

Check out these numbers: 130 volunteers worked more than 16,000 volunteer hours at 30 locations throughout the County, completing and filing 4,500 tax returns, resulting in $4,281,076 in total refunds.

Despite the repeated snow storms this season resulting in multiple cancellations, volunteers prepared more tax returns than last year. And, the volunteers rose to the occasion to add more hours and days later in the season to accommodate the demand, in partnership with MCPL and the UpCounty Regional Services Center. Another note, 60 percent of returns were for seniors age 60+.

County Ranks Fifth for Local Government Green Power Purchases

The Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group has been ranked fifth largest among local government purchasers of clean energy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The group also ranked 41st among all national purchasers -- which includes some of the largest governments and corporations in the country.

Spearheaded by County Government, the buyers group includes Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Chevy Chase Village, Chevy Chase Village Section 5, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Takoma Park, Kensington and Somerset.

Collectively, the County agencies and municipalities purchase an average of 26 percent of their electricity from clean and renewable sources. Montgomery County Government purchases 30 percent, 10 percent beyond the amount mandated by County Council Resolution.

To further reduce the County’s greenhouse gas emissions, the County is planning a comprehensive initiative to install clean energy generating photovoltaic systems on its facilities where feasible.

The Department of General Services recently established the Office of Energy and Sustainability to coordinate green strategies across County operations.

Visit the Office of Energy and Sustainability website to learn more.

Get information on the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership at

Program on Money Matters for Women

The County’s Commission for Women will present “A Woman’s Guide to Money Matters” at the Rockville Memorial Library on June 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. The library is located at 21 Maryland Ave. Parking is available in garage A located in the Rockville Town Center.

Women can learn strategies about topics such as: taking control of your finances in five easy steps; setting specific, realistic, achievable and measurable financial goals; preparing for retirement – now; and paying for a child’s or grandchild’s education.

The program will be presented by Financial Advisor Nick Martinez of Edwards Jones, Inc. Pre-registration, at $10, is available at At-the-door cost is $15 (cash or check only).

For more information, call 240-777-8300.

May 9, 2014

Transit Center Update: Leggett Directs Contractors to Begin Final Fixes to Silver Spring Transit Center to Ensure Safety and Durability

Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has directed contractors constructing the Silver Spring Transit Center to move forward on the final fixes needed on the facility to make it safe and durable. Read the County’s update to the County Council delivered on May 8 (pdf).

“I have made it clear that we would not open the Transit Center until it was safe to do so. The County will deliver a facility to Metro that is safe and will meet its projected 50-year life," said Leggett. "The County will ensure that any additional costs incurred because of faulty construction, design or inspection are borne by the responsible private parties, not by the County taxpayers.”

Leggett’s instructions followed the concurrence of the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority (WMATA) (for whom the transit center is being built) to proceed with additional repairs (read WMATA’s letter) recommended in an April 21 report from an independent advisory committee appointed by Leggett and led by County resident and former Lockheed Martin Chair and CEO Norman Augustine.

“Today, I directed County contractors to move ahead on the final remediation work at the Silver Spring Transit Center necessary to address shear and torsion issues and ensure that the Center will not only be safe but also meet its projected 50-year life span – consistent with our Memorandum of Understanding with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA),”  Leggett said.

“I have directed KCE, the County’s contract engineering team, to meet on Monday with Parsons Brinckerhoff, the project’s engineer of record, to finalize the remediation plan consistent with concerns raised in the Augustine report. I have given the go-ahead to bring equipment on site to begin preparation for the remediation work.

“WMATA, the ‘customer’ for whom the facility is being built, is in agreement with the County Executive to undertake the remediation to address concerns raised about the possible effects of shear and torsion on the structure."

Read statement from WMATA presented at the County Council briefing by Charlie Scott, Senior Government Relations Officer (pdf).

Updates on the project, will be posted on the County’s Transit Center website.

Council Introduces Executive’s Pay Equity Bill

Lending support to County Executive Ike Leggett’s discussion of his pay equity bill that was introduced by the County Council on May 6 were (from left): Reggie Oldak, senior counsel and director of Government Relations for the National Women’s Law Center; Chandra Walker Holloway, president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women; County Councilmember Nancy Floreen; Leggett; and County Councilmember Nancy Navarro.

On “National Equal Pay Day,” April 8, County Executive Leggett joined President Obama’s call for equal pay for equal work and vowed to introduce legislation in Montgomery County that would address the “pay secrecy” that often keeps workers from seeking more equitable compensation.

On May 6, the County Council introduced Bill 29-14 that would: require certain County contractors to report summary data, including data by gender and race, paid to their employees who work on County contracts; prohibit certain County contractors from retaliating against certain employees that disclose salary information to another person or employee; and generally amend County wage requirements law for contractors.

A public hearing on the bill will be scheduled at a later date.

State Highway Emergency Repairs to Begin on Route 29 on May 12 -- Lanes Closed in Both Directions

Due to damage to a portion of US Route 29 (Columbia Pike) in Montgomery County from the recent heavy rainstorms, the State Highway Administration (SHA) will begin emergency repairs on Monday, May 12, from Southwood Ave. to Lockwood Dr. The work will require extended lane closures in both the northbound and southbound directions.

Repairs will take place Sunday through Saturday, 24 hours a day until the work is complete. At least one lane in each direction will remain open to traffic at all times. Weather permitting; the work should be completed by late May.

More information is available on SHA’s website.

Summer Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs Now Out

The summer issue of the Montgomery County Guide for Recreation and Parks Programs is now available. Registration for summer classes opens on Monday, May 12 and for swim lessons on May 14.

Among the many offerings are aquatics, art classes, sports, therapeutic recreation services and active adult senior programming.

Registration is available in one of four ways:  by mail or fax, online or in person at the Montgomery County Recreation Administrative Offices at 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

Print copies are available at recreation centers, park facilities, government buildings and public libraries. Residents who prefer to receive the guide by mail can subscribe for $5 and receive a full year of 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.

Free Deck Inspections Offered in May for Building Safety Month

As part of the observance of Building Safety Month, the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) is once again offering free deck inspections throughout May to help avoid injuries from faulty deck construction.

All County residents in single-family detached homes, townhouses and duplex dwellings, (except those in the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg) can schedule a deck inspection.

Just call 311, or send a fax to 240-777-6258. Homeowners will be contacted before the inspection is performed.

Another building safety reminder comes from DPS Director Diane Schwartz Jones. “We are also entering storm season when tree limbs can damage homes. If a home is damaged during a storm, the homeowner should call 311 so we can inspect the damage to determine if it is safe for occupancy.”

Watch two PSAs on home safety: Part 1 on fire protection systems; Part 2 on how to weather the storm.

For more information about DPS operations, visit

Dates and Deadlines for Voters for Upcoming 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election

The County Board of Elections (BOE) reminds residents that the 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election this year is on Tuesday, June 24. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Leading up to that time, here are other dates residents should keep in mind:
  • June 3 -- deadline to register to vote, update registration (i.e., change party affiliation, name, address etc.) 
  • June 12 through June 19 -- early voting; 
  • June 17 – deadline for applying to receive absentee ballot by mail; if delivering or mailing the application, it must be received at the local BOE by 8 p.m.; if faxing or emailing the application, it must be received by 11:59 p.m.; 
  • June 20 – deadline for applying to print the absentee ballot from the State Board of Elections website. If delivering or mailing the application to the local BOE office, it must arrive by 5 p.m.; if faxing or emailing the application, it must be received by 11:59 p.m. Absentee ballot info.
For more voting/election information, visit

New ePlans and ePermits Online System – Good for People, Business, and the Environment

County residents and businesses can now use “ePlans” and “ePermits” to apply online and electronically file plans to obtain electrical, deck, new home and right-of-way permits. Customers can do this from their homes or businesses – saving significant time, money, fuel and paper. Later this year, home additions and commercial plans and permits will be added.

Last year, DPS issued 4,339 permits for new homes and residential additions. In just two months this year, 35 percent of applications for new home permits have been submitted as ePlans and 50 percent of all electrical permits issued were ePermits.

Learn more about how ePlans and ePermits benefit customers and the environment. See graphic about the impact of 3,000 permits being filed online.

Verizon Displays New Solar Panel Installation for Officials

Local officials recently received a tour of Verizon’s massive Silver Spring complex which now features one of the largest clean energy investments by a private company in Maryland. A major local employer, Verizon invested more than $100 million in 2013 as part of its sustainability initiative that included the installation of 5,500 solar panels – its largest such installation company-wide. 

The company’s Chesapeake Complex on Route 29 houses some 2,200 management and associate level employees working in engineering, marketing, sales, IT and three call centers. Verizon plans to expand its workforce at the complex in the near future.

Leggett Attends Signing Ceremony for State’s New Minimum Wage Law

County Executive Ike Leggett joined Governor Martin O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch at the signing for the Maryland Wage and Hour Law. The State’s new minimum wage law phases in increases from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period.

Leggett, a long-time advocate for increasing the State minimum wage, was a strong supporter of the State’s law, as well as the County’s minimum wage law that was enacted in the fall.

The local law increases the County’s minimum wage to $8.40 on October 1, boosting the rate over four years to $11.50 an hour. When signing the County’s bill, Leggett stated that he believed it is appropriate, given Montgomery County’s higher cost-of-living, to have a higher minimum wage than other parts of the State.

County Executive’s Online Chat

County residents will be able to submit questions to County Executive Ike Leggett before or during his next online chat on May 14 from 1 to 2 p.m.

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.

Bike to Work Day

Montgomery County Commuter Services, Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association are sponsoring this year’s Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 16. More than 10,000 area commuters are expected to participate in the free celebration of bicycling as a fun and healthy way to get to work.

Drop in at one of the County’s morning pit stops in Bethesda, Fallsgrove Village Center, Friendship Heights, North Bethesda, Rockville Town Center and Silver Spring and, for the first time, an afternoon pit stop in Silver Spring. All of the pit stops will feature a raffle with the grand prize being a bicycle. Free tee shirts will be distributed at the pit stops to the first 14,000 registered participants.

Cyclists are encouraged to register online.

Get more details on the pit stops and more information about Bike to Work Day online.

Free Training on Opioid Overdose Response

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) invites the public and County law enforcement personnel to one of two free training sessions on recognizing and responding to an opioid overdose. Opioids are prescription pain medications and heroin. Residents 18 years of age and above who are concerned about a friend, family member or an associate with an opioid addiction are urged to attend.

The sessions will be held in Rockville on Tuesday, May 20, from 6 – 8 p.m. in the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St. and on Wednesday, June 18, from 1– 3 p.m. at 401 Hungerford Dr.

Participants will learn how to identify an opioid, recognize and respond to an opioid overdose and administer Naloxone, a prescription medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Registration is required. Call 240-777-4723 or 240-777-3969.

Read more.

Public Libraries “Report to the Community” Online

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) has released its 2013 “Report to the Community” which is available online (pdf).

The report offers an overview of the activities of Montgomery County Public Libraries for the past year, including a numerical breakdown of the more than 24 million uses of the 21 branches during 2013.

For example
  • nearly 10,500,000 items were used (borrowed, downloaded or used in the branches); 
  • library customers used electronic and office resources in more than 6,390,000 ways (visiting the website, using the library computers, downloading articles from databases, printing/copying materials in the branches); 
  • more than 4,700,000 visits were made to MCPL branches; and 
  • more than 2,300,800 questions were answered in person, by phone, through the website, email, chat, social media or by mail. 
The report also includes Strategic Plan accomplishments, plus budget and other financial figures related to library operations.

New Nonprofit Advocates for Renters

Tired of high rents? Unreasonable rent increases? Abusive or neglectful landlords? Not being heard as a renter? Help is available in Montgomery County.

The Montgomery County Renters Alliance -- a new, independent, nonprofit organization advancing renters’ rights and security -- provides advocacy, education and support for renters on a range of issues. Included are: forming tenant associations, improving renter-landlord relations, and fair and predictable rent increases. It also addresses just-cause eviction and advocates for greater support from the County and State governments.

The alliance was founded in 2011 in response to the County’s Tenant Work Group Report, which called for the creation of an organization dedicated to advancing renters’ rights and advocating on behalf of renters.

Learn more about the Renters Alliance.

County’s Make Office Vacancies Extinct (MOVE) Program Signs First Tenant

The Make Office VacanciesExtinct program (MOVE) is part of the County’s Economic Development Fund and is designed to attract cybersecurity, green technology, IT and life science businesses to Montgomery County by providing businesses with financial assistance to reduce rent costs for the first year.

Now, the program has signed its first tenant, L-Soft International, Inc. which will relocate from Landover to Bethesda. According to its website, L-Soft provides email list management and email marketing solutions to more than 3,700 customers worldwide.

A story in The Washington Business Journal by Daniel J. Sernovitz, states that the County will pay L-Soft about $20,000 to move to the new location at 7550 Wisconsin Ave.

DED Director Steve Silverman has said he is encouraged by the more than two dozen queries that have been received since the program was announced in March.

Bethesda Ranked Fourth Best Place for College Grads in US

A recent ranking of the Top 10 Best Cities for New Grads has placed Bethesda as #4.

Bethesda has the lowest unemployment rate (1.3 percent) among the top 10. The area is also cited for having more than 83 percent of all residents between the ages of 25 and 34 with at least a bachelor's degree.

According to its website, explores what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work and visit. They examine issues related to livability such as walkability, cultural amenities, transportation, urban planning and sustainability through exclusive research and discussions on their blog.

Saturday, May 17 -- Community Day and Strawberry Festival

Good Hope Community Recreation Center, 14715 Good Hope Rd., Silver Spring. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Held rain or shine. Bulk strawberry sales, refreshments, business exhibits, craft vendors, kids’ games, face painting, entertainment and an auction. Also, the “Montgomery’s Got Talent!” competition with prizes awarded for first, second and third place. For information about the talent competition, or to register, contact Robin Riley at by May 14. For information about the event, call Jack Sherman, 301-384-8071. Prospective vendors, call Carol Hudson, 916-812-1470.

Saturday, June 28 & Sunday, June 29 – 17th Annual Heritage Days

At 40 sites throughout Montgomery County. Noon – 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County (Heritage Montgomery). Highlighting local history and culture, outdoor recreation, family activities, music, food ... and fun! Programs and activities for visitors of all ages. For example, distinctive musical performances; re-enactments; games, crafts, plus other activities for children. More information at