October 16, 2014

Montgomery County’s Cybersecurity Center Moves Forward

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) was established in 2012 through a partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, the State of Maryland and Montgomery County. It exists to help “businesses secure their data and digital infrastructure by bringing together experts from industry, government and academia to provide real-world cybersecurity solutions based on commercially available technologies.”

County Executive Ike Leggett said, “The center puts Montgomery County at the forefront of an emerging economic boom that will help the nation meet one if its most pressing challenges."

With the center being located locally, Leggett has said that Montgomery County is well-positioned to be “the nation’s leading location for civil cybersecurity solutions, business growth and job creation.”

Now, the NCCoE will be home to the first federally funded research and development center “solely dedicated to enhancing the security of the nation's information systems.”

Read the NIST news release announcing that the new center will be operated by the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization with three initial tasks totaling about $29 million.

Read more information in The Post’s weekly Capital Business publication (Oct. 13).

Montgomery College Shares in US Department of Labor Grant for Cyber Technology Career Pathways Project

The White House has announced that Montgomery College is one of 14 community colleges in Maryland that will share a nearly $15 million federal grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration that will fund a cyber technology career pathways project at the college.

Montgomery College will receive $5,371,743 -- the most of any of the 14 colleges and more than one-third of the total amount of the grant, $14,957,899 – to focus on training in the cybersecurity economic sector, information technology, professional, scientific and technical, and educational services industries.

The community colleges will work in partnership with key employers and a number of hospitals to develop training pathways for low-income workers with minimal prior education or experience in information technology or cybersecurity.

Unemployment Rate Lowest in State for July, August

The fact that the County’s 5.1% unemployment rate was the lowest in Maryland for July and August is the result of successes within the local diverse business community enhanced by County economic development efforts and initiatives

Learn more about the County’s business climate and the, services and resources available to help businesses be creative and grow in the Department of Economic Development’s digital magazine.

Outstanding Achievements in Arts & Humanities to be Recognized; Free Tickets Available

The County Executive's Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities are the most prestigious honors conferred by Montgomery County on individual artists, scholars, organizations and cultural patrons. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made a difference in Montgomery County through the arts and humanities.

The 13th annual awards ceremony will be held on Monday, October 20 at Montgomery College's Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, beginning at 7 p.m.

Eight awards will be presented this year.

The event is free but tickets are required. Register for tickets online.

New Minimum Wage in Effect for County

County Executive Ike Leggett (at podium) and supporters of the County’s new minimum wage law at the recent announcement. Also participating were (behind Leggett’s right) Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Mark Elrich. 

The County’s Minimum Wage Law that went into effect October 1 raised the local minimum wage to $8.40 per hour. Under the law, the minimum wage will increase each year until it reaches the maximum of $11.50 on October 1, 2017.

The new Minimum Wage Law will be enforced through the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The contact information for inquiries on Wage and Hour Enforcement is: Employment Standards Service, 1100 North Eutaw St., Room 607, Baltimore, MD 21201; call 410-767-2357; fax 410-333-7303; email ess@dllr.state.md.us.

For more information, read the information sheet, visit the MC311 webpage or call a customer service representative at MC311. There is also a document detailing wage/tip calculations (pdf) that can be downloaded.

Enhancements Added to Alert Montgomery Emergency Notification System; Subscribers Should Update Current Accounts

The County's Alert Montgomery system has added new enhancements that will improve the speed, reliability and customization of the alerts subscribers will receive.

To obtain the new enhancements, current subscribers must re-register (update) their Alert Montgomery accounts.  Subscribers have begun receiving emails with a trusted/secure link from Everbridge, the new Alert Montgomery system provider. The link will remain open for 72 hours so subscribers can upgrade to the new system. Current subscribers who do not update their accounts will still receive some emergency alerts but will not have access to any of the new features.

New features include:
  • Selecting alerts as desired for emergencies, weather, traffic, school closings, etc. 
  • Receiving alerts via cell phone, email, text, home land line phone, work phone, or the new Mobile Member app 
  • Choosing to receive alerts for a specific address and for other locations of particular interest 
  • Specifying particular times during the day or night when you would prefer to block incoming notifications 
New notification topics include:
  • Severe weather warnings to include tornado watches/warnings 
  • Traffic disruptions - major collisions, road closures 
  • School emergency notifications - closings 
  • Shelter-in-place and evacuation information 
  • Significant water main breaks and downed power lines and outages 
  • Significant law enforcement or fire rescue incidents impacting the community 

Residents of Takoma Park, Rockville and Gaithersburg should sign up for the cities’ alerting systems through the following links. Some alerts from the County system will automatically be relayed onto the cities' systems. Existing subscribers to any of the systems will receive separate sign-up instructions:
To create a new Alert Montgomery account or learn more about the system go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/oemhs/AlertMontgomery/FAQ.html, call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311, or visit alert.montgomerycountymd.gov.

Residents Encouraged to Take Advantage of Early Voting

The County Board of Elections (BOE) reminds residents that Early Voting for the General Election will occur from October 23 to October 30, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at locations around the County.
See the Early Voting locations on the BOE website at www.777vote.org.

For other election information, call 240-777-VOTE, visit www.777vote.org, BOE’s mobile friendly website at m.montgomerycountymd.gov/elections or the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website at http://elections.maryland.gov or follow the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Facebook or Twitter.

Celebrate the World of Montgomery

The diverse cultural heritages which play an active role in the lives of Montgomery County residents and communities will be showcased at the annual World of Montgomery Festival to be held at Westfield Wheaton on Sunday, October 19 from noon to 5 p.m.

The festival showcases the rich local diversity through food, music, dance, traditional arts and hands-on projects for children and families. There will be an international village, a global kitchen with chef demonstrations of traditional ethnic food, a craft market, a Parade of Cultures, two performance stages of traditional dance and music, traditional arts and fun activities for the whole family.

See more about the festival at worldofmontgomery.com.

Community Service Week: Where Will You Serve?

The spirit of Community Service Day, October 25, has been extended to an entire week – the 18th through 26th -- so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and give back to the place you call home. This is a great way for students to earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours and for families and groups to serve together.

Projects are available for the entire week of October 18-26. To get moe information about projects and to sign up, visit www.montgomeryserves.org.

Senior Connection Gala

The Senior Connection will celebrate 20 years of providing free services to seniors in Montgomery County at its Annual Gala on Saturday, October 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place. The event will also celebrate the contributions of Founding Executive Director Sue Dollins as she retires. The gala will include a reception, dinner, dancing, live band, a silent auction and other surprises.

The Senior Connection is the region’s largest provider of free services to senior citizens, including escorted transportation, grocery shopping and bill paying.

For reservations, call the Senior Connection at 301-962-0820, or visit www.seniorconnectionmc.org.

Free Program on Seniors and Driving

A free program about seniors and driving entitled “Keeping Your Keys: To Drive, or Not to Drive?” will be presented at Montgomery County Recreation’s Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center on Wednesday, October 22, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The center is located at 1000 Forest Glen Rd., Silver Spring.

Participants will learn about the effects of aging on the ability to drive and that it is not always inevitable that all seniors will have to stop driving.

Keynote speakers will be Judith Goldstein, O.D., chief of Low Vision & Rehabilitation Services, Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Timothy Jones, certified driving rehabilitation specialist.

Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If these or other services or aids are needed to participate, call 240-777-8086 or email helen.abrahams@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Pre-registration is required. Call 240-777-8085 to register or for more information.

Residents, Business Representatives Sought for Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Advisory Committees

The Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) are seeking volunteers -- residents, businesses and community organizations -- to serve on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor Advisory Committees (CACs). .

Over the next two years, four major corridors will be evaluated for a Rapid Transit System, including Georgia Ave., US Route 29 (Colesville Rd. and Columbia Pike), MD Route 355 (Frederick Rd., Rockville Pike and Wisconsin Ave.) and Veirs Mill Rd. A CAC will be established for each corridor under consideration.

A CAC nomination form, due on November 21, is available online and details the structure, selection procedures, specific tasks, formation process and operating guidelines for the CACs.

Residents along the corridors under study should send nomination forms to the president of the civic/homeowner association that represents them. Each civic group along the corridor will select one representative to serve on the CAC for that corridor.

Businesses along the proposed routes are asked to send nomination forms to their respective Chambers of Commerce, which will make recommendations on proposed business representatives. Links to all the chambers are available online.

Each committee also allows for a number of “at large” representatives who may not live or work directly along the corridor but have an interest in the project. This form, also due November 21, should be emailed to rapid.transit@montgomerycountymd.gov or mailed to MCDOT Director’s Office, 101 Monroe St., 10th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850. Residents may nominate themselves or be nominated by others.

For more information, call 240-777-7155, email rapid.transit@montgomerycountymd.gov or visit the RTS website

Conference and Visitors Bureau has New Name, New Website

The organization formerly known as the Conference and Visitors Bureau (CVB) of Montgomery County, MD Inc. is now Visit Montgomery, with a tagline of “Maryland’s Gateway to the Nation’s Capital.”

In addition to the new name, Visit Montgomery has launched a new website -- www.visitmontgomery.com -- with updated features like a countywide calendar of events, interactive map and a trip builder. The trip builder allows visitors to browse the site, save their itineraries and email them to themselves and friends.

Additional features include suggested itineraries with a built-in map route so visitors can hover over the route to obtain directions and print the itinerary.

Fire Prevention Month Focuses on Working Smoke Alarms

October is Fire Prevention Month and this year’s theme focuses on the importance of working smoke alarms and knowing how old your alarms are.

Most of us pay close attention to expiration dates on food and medicine however many residents are unaware that smoke alarms also have expiration dates. All smoke alarms, hard-wired and battery powered expire and should be replaced every 10 years.

Get more information about the latest smoke alarm requirements.

Contractor Named to Redevelop Park & Ride Lot in Burtonsville

County Executive Ike Leggett has marked another milestone in the County’s plan to revitalize Burtonsville with the announcement that EDENS has been selected to enter into exclusive negotiations with the Department of Economic Development to redevelop the six-acre Park & Ride lot on US Route 29.

EDENS is a nationally recognized developer with regional offices in Bethesda. The firm is known locally for the epicurean mecca, Union Market, near NoMa – a growing neighborhood in the District of Columbia between Union Station, the U.S. Capitol, Shaw, and the H Street, NE corridor -- and the LEED Silver-certified, two-million square-foot Mosaic District in Fairfax.

The strategically located six-acre Park & Ride parcel will help define the larger “village center,” which includes Burtonsville Crossing, an adjacent shopping plaza owned by EDENS. Together, the two properties create a catalyst for the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan adopted by the Montgomery County Council in 2012. The plan outlines the community’s goals for 190 acres near US 29 and MD 198 and advocates for pedestrian connectivity, high-quality design, investments in businesses and preservation of the environment.

Read more in the news release.

Placemaking Initiative for Downtown Silver Spring announced by Councilmember Riemer

To gather community input and ideas and develop a vision for the enhancement of public spaces in downtown Silver Spring, County Councilmember Hans Riemer has announced a “placemaking” initiative to be led by the County’s Planning Department in partnership with the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, residents and business owners.

Two mini-charettes will be held on October 25 and November 9 that will provide a framework for future development proposals, public and private investments and planning processes, as well as cultural and community efforts for public spaces in downtown Silver Spring. Potential short-term and long-term strategies that will address the placemaking aspirations of the community will also be identified.

Residents are invited to attend the charettes and bring their own ideas to discuss. The placemaking website, www.silverspringplacemaking.com, has additional details ,informatin about the two remaining workshops and an online sign-up form (advance sign up is not required but encouraged) and a place to submit comments
relating to the topics.

Public Forum on Proposed Additions to Ride On Service

Montgomery County will hold a public forum on proposed Ride On service additions on Wednesday, October 29 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end after the last speaker presents remarks. In case of inclement weather, the public forum will be held on October 30.

Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to speak at the public forum are requested to furnish in writing, on or before October 27, their name, home address, telephone number, e-mail address and organization to the Division of Transit Services, 101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850;
240-777-5801, (fax) 301-251-4850. 

Individuals who have signed up to speak must provide two printed copies of their testimony for the record.
Get more information on procedures from the news release.

Report Issued on Cultural and Linguistic Diversity of MCPS Students, Staff

Students of color and English language learners make up two-thirds of Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) enrollment while White educators account for roughly three-fourths of all school-based professionals.

At the County Council’s direction, the Office of Legislative Oversight compiled a report on how the demographic alignment between MCPS students and educators and use of language assistance services varied across the school system.

The final report has been issued and four findings emerged:
  • The demographic mismatch between MCPS students and school professionals mirrored state and national trends. 
  • Student subgroups tended to be concentrated in schools with other members of their subgroup. 
  • Schools with high concentrations of student subgroups tended to have more professionals from that subgroup, but often had the widest demographic mismatch between students and staff. 
  • Schools’ requests for central office language assistance services (interpreter and language line services) generally aligned with their ESOL-eligible and Latino student enrollment. 
See the entire report.

Money Flowing, Businesses Growing in Montgomery County

It has been said that there is no money for start-ups here. NOT TRUE! Montgomery County is proud to shine the spotlight on local success stories from our business community

During 2013 and through this year, Montgomery County businesses from targeted growth sectors have received local and state investments to support their ongoing growth and success.

From grants, loans and tax credit incentives, to targeted funding programs and competitive investment awards, local companies continue to contribute to the growth of the innovative economy in the County.

Read about a few examples of local businesses receiving key investments to help support their strategic growth.

Innovative Technology Project puts County on Cover of State Tech Magazine

The County made the cover of the latest StateTech magazine, as part of the article that explains how the Internet of Things technology was used on the SmartAmerica program designed to help make residents of low-income housing safer.

Basically, the SmartAmerica project involves sensors in public housing units that will alert the resident and public safety officials of hazardous conditions, such as smoke, hazardous gases, air-quality, etc.

Chief Innovation Officer Dan Hoffman is featured and quoted in the article entitled “Better Living Through Technology.” Projects in San Jose, CA and Kansas City, MO are also featured.

All three projects are outlined in the From the Editor column by Editor-in-Chief Ryan Petersen.

See the entire article.

County’s Recycling Coordinator Receives Green Champion Award

Alan Pultyniewicz, the County’s recycling coordinator in the Division of Solid Waste Services ( Dept. of Environmental Protection), has been named as a Green Champion “for his work toward the County’s goal of recycling 70 percent of collected trash by 2020.” He has been working on the County’s recycling program since 2000.

Alan was one of five recipients of the 2014 Green Awards sponsored by Bethesda Magazine and Bethesda Green, a local nonprofit and incubator that promotes sustainable living. The honorees received their awards at the recent annual Bethesda Green Awards Gala.

Read more about the winners and the awards.