March 24, 2014

Everything Old is New Again -- Olney Library Reopens Following Redesign, Renovation


The redesigned and renovated Olney Library opened for business on Saturday, March 15, with a large crowd of eager library customers on hand to celebrate the reopening of the new, larger facility at 3500 Olney Laytonsville Rd.

A major change for the new library is that more hours (19 more each week than before) have been added to the schedule, bringing it in line with the larger libraries in the system.

Although the new structure is dramatically different from the original library that opened in 1981, parts of the old building remain. On the outside, customers will recognize the distinctive “Delights of Reading” mosaic artwork that was transferred from the original building to the portion of the new structure overlooking the stormwater management area. Inside, bricks and wood paneling from the original building were included.

The Olney Library will be open Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

To reach the library, call 240-773-9545. The branch manager is Joseph Eagan. For additional information about the library, programs, etc., visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library/branches/olney.html.

See more information in the news release.

National Conference on Ending Poverty to be Held in Silver Spring


County Executive Ike Leggett will present opening remarks at The National Conference on Ending Poverty on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place.

The conference, sponsored by A Wider Circle, in collaboration with the County’s Office of Community Partnerships, will feature presentations by national and regional experts and community leaders. There also will be a discussion by individuals who have risen out of poverty and understand the challenges firsthand.

Tickets are $20 or $10 for students.

For information or to register, visit www.awidercircle.org or call 301-609-3504.

Free Community Forum on Bullying in Schools


A free community forum and discussion about bullying in schools will be held on Saturday, March 29 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus of Montgomery College, Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave.

Entitled “Bullying in Schools: A Community Symposium on Prevention and Intervention Strategies,” the event is co-hosted by the Office of Human Rights, the Committee on Hate/Violence and Montgomery College.

The keynote speaker and panel moderator will be National Youth Advocate Johnnie Williams III. Panelists will include students from Montgomery County Public Schools.

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 240-777-8450 or email human-rights.administration@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For more information, contact the Office of Human Rights at 240-777-8450.

Public Hearings on Proposed FY15 Operating Budget

Residents can provide input on the County’s Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget at any one of five public hearings, hosted by the County Council, between April 8 and 10. Residents also can offer comments on the FY15-20 County Capital Improvements Program, the FY15 Capital Budget and the WSSC FY15-20 Capital Improvements Program.

The hearings will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville according to the following schedule:

Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, April 9, at 1:30 and 7 p.m.: and on Thursday, April 10 at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

The hearings will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM -- Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ccm.

The number of speaker spots available for the week is limited. To register to speak, residents should call 240-777-7803. The deadline to sign up to testify for 1:30 p.m. hearings is 5 p.m. the day before the hearing. The sign-up deadline for 7:30 p.m. hearings is 10 a.m. the day of the hearing.

In addition to speaking at the public hearings, residents can offer comments on the budget by emailing county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov; via regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

Get more information on the budget and the work of the Council and its committees on the budget.

Council Leaders Urge School Board Support for Healthier Food Options Program

County Council President Craig Rice and Vice President George Leventhal have written to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Joshua Starr urging MCPS to support a program that would provide healthier food options for students.

The letter includes eight recommendations for action by the Board of Education from Real Foods for Kids, a non-profit organization that is committed to educating children and adults about the importance of healthy eating and school food nutrition.

The Council leaders said they “believe these changes would go far in improving student health and would encourage smarter, healthier food choices."

Read entire letter with recommendations.

Panhandling: It’s Not Safe; It Doesn’t Help


With the coming of spring, motorists in the County may notice that panhandlers have returned to local intersections. County officials want to remind residents of the campaign launched last fall to address panhandling in Montgomery County.

The campaign, that asks that those who want to help to “Give a hand up, not a handout,” provides information about how to help panhandlers by donating to local resources that can provide assistance to those in need.

And, while panhandling is legal under the First Amendment, the simple truth is that giving cash to panhandlers doesn’t help. Those who work daily with panhandlers in homeless advocacy and other social service groups know that most panhandlers use the money they collect to support their addictions – drugs, alcohol and tobacco. None of that helps panhandlers solve their problems.

Panhandling also can cause distracted drivers and dangerous intersections.

Also, it has proven difficult to determine how the money collected will be spent. Most panhandlers are not homeless. Many come from outside Montgomery County, or even outside the state. For some, panhandling is a profession.

Extensive information about the campaign and how to provide assistance to panhandlers is available at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/panhandling/.

Success of County’s Balanced Approach to Addressing Economic Challenges Cited in Article

How a “balanced approach” to facing the challenges of the recent economic downturn has helped position the County to recover, is among the examples featured in an American City and County article entitled “Blowing up the benefits package.”

In the piece, reporter Robert Barkin notes that “Governments of all sizes are taking a strategic view of their human resource operations to assess how they can fulfill their mission in an era when cutbacks in pensions, wages, benefits and personnel have fundamentally changed the workplace.”

Montgomery County is one of various examples cited by Barkin of actions taken by local jurisdictions across the country.

Read special sidebar on Montgomery County entitled “Large benefit cuts help close budget deficits.” Included are quotes from County Executive Ike Leggett and Human Resources Director Joseph Adler.

Recreation Department Hosts Free Job Fair

Montgomery County Recreation will host a free job fair for summer camp workers and year-round temporary staff on Friday, March 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Dr., Rockville.

Each year, the Recreation Department hires more than 300 summer camp and temporary staff to fill positions that include camp counselors, pool aides and therapeutic recreation assistants. Representatives from aquatics, community centers, summer programs, teen programs and therapeutic recreation will be on hand to discuss the part-time temporary jobs available and offer on-site pre-screening interviews.

The fair targets youth 16 years of age and older, college students and teachers. No pre-registration is required.

For more information call 240-777-6810.

Heritage Montgomery Debuts Documentary on Five Local Historic African American Church Communities; Public Invited to Free Screening

Between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, 40 African American churches were constructed in Montgomery County. It was here where generations of black families created their own spiritual, social and educational opportunities.

Heritage Montgomery (HM) has produced a new 60-minute documentary video featuring five of these historic church communities. Entitled "Community Cornerstones: African American Communities in Montgomery County, Maryland," the video includes reminiscences by church elders whose words explain how these communities developed, illustrate life in segregated times and convey their pride in the accomplishments of their ancestors.

On March 25, HM will host a free public screening of Community Cornerstones at The Universities at Shady Grove, Auditorium, Building I, 9630 Gudelsky Dr., Rockville. A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening at 7:30.

Because seating is limited, attendees must RSVP to heritagemontgomery@gmail.com.

How to “Heart Your Parks” When you Shop

Three parks in Montgomery Parks system, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, have been selected for “Heart Your Park,” a program introduced as part of Macy’s “Secret Garden” campaign that aims to raise awareness and dollars for local parks across the country.

Through March 31, customers can support Cabin John Regional Park, Flower Hill Local Park and Wheaton Regional Park by donating $1 or more at the register of the Macy’s store located in each area. Stores and corresponding parks are listed in the news release. One-hundred percent of the donations will benefit the parks, and Macy’s will match the total customer donations across all stores, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000 in total.

Macy’s stores across the country have each selected a local park or green space in their community to support through the program. Donations will go toward making improvements, such as maintaining trails, playgrounds, and ball fields, and everything in between.

CountyStat Program Earns National Organizational Leadership Award

The County’s CountyStat program has received the Center for Accountability and Performance’s Organizational Leadership Award which honors “outstanding applications of a systems approach to performance measurement that has resulted in a culture change, sustained improvements and demonstrated positive effects on government performance and accountability.”

Recipients are chosen from all levels of public service -- local, state and federal governments, as well as from international and public service nonprofit organizations.

‘CountyStat’ was introduced by County Executive Ike Leggett because he felt residents have the right to expect every County department and employee to be responsive and accountable for every aspect of the services they are providing. The program uses real-time data to focus departments’ efforts, monitor and measure their performance, and ensure that they provide more effective and efficient response to customers

The Center for Accountability and Performance was established in 1996 by the American Society for Public Administration to address the requirement for all levels of government to move to performance-based, results-driven management.

County Cited in “Governing” Article on Relation between Wages and Tax Credits in Fight Against Poverty

An article in the March issue of Governing magazine takes a look at two sides of the issue of how best to fight poverty.

Montgomery County is mentioned both for its recent action to raise the minimum wage and for its matching a portion of the federal earned income tax credit.

Read full Governing article.

Embracing the Village Concept for Seniors Aging at Home

An article in the Washington Jewish Week explores and explains the village concept for aging in one’s own home.

Written by Judith Welles, former chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Aging, the piece includes information on how to start a village. There are, Welles writes at least 15 “villages” operating or starting in the County “where neighbors help neighbors to remain in their homes as they age.”

She also refers to a study of neighborhood villages in the County co-authored by two members of the local Commission on Aging which found that the most requested service among all village members is transportation.

More information is available at the County’s Senior Resource line, 240-777-3000.

Read the Washington Jewish Week article.

March 7, 2014

Leggett Testifies in Annapolis for Addition School Construction Funding; Joins Advocates at Evening Rally


County Executive Ike Leggett joined Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in testifying before the House Appropriations Committee on March 6 to urge the House of Delegates to pass HB1323/SB 927, the Supplemental Public School Construction Matching Fund Program.

The bill could provide critically needed additional funding for school construction to meet the County's unprecedented increase in enrollment, which is the highest in the State.

In his testimony, Leggett said, “Our Senators and Delegates in Annapolis have fought the good fight and won increased State capital funding. But our enrollment wave and resultant capacity needs mean that we -- and the State – must do more. That’s why Montgomery County, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County are here today to send a very simple message: Our kids and families can’t afford for any of us to play ‘catch up.’ We already have major capacity challenges. If we don’t invest now, we won’t be able to create the capacity we need to handle what’s ahead.”


The Executive also joined elected and school officials, parents and teachers at an evening rally on the Mall outside the State House sponsored by the Montgomery County Council of PTAs to support the County’s school construction initiative.



See the video on school construction funding produced by the County Council.

More details at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/schoolfunding.

Hundreds Celebrate Opening of New Animal Services and Adoption Center



County Executive Ike Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger were among a large group of elected officials and organizational representatives who cut the ribbon marking the grand opening, on March 1, of the new Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC). Located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Rd. in Derwood, the MCASAC opened for walk-in business and adoptions on March 2.

In his remarks, Leggett thanked those who worked with the County to make the center a reality, including the non-profit MCPAW ( Montgomery County Partners for Animal Well-Being) that is continuing to raise funds to enhance the center.

The 47,193 gross-square-foot, three-building complex enhances the County's ability to safely and hygienically care for animals and serves as a public adoption center and community education resource for animal-care issues. The Police Department's Animal Services Division operates the facility.

The first floor of the one-and-a-half story building has navigable corridors to accommodate all animal care and housing areas and includes a community room and an onsite veterinary clinic. Three public entrances – one each for adoptions, animal services and educational activities -- are located along the south fa├žade. Staff and volunteers have a walking trail and outdoor screened exercise runs to provide adoptable animals with access to fresh air and exercise.

The center is accessible via Ride On bus routes 57, 58 and 90. The closest Metro stop is Shady Grove (Red Line).

To reach the center’s main line, call 240-773-5900.

New Flyer Lists Resources to Help Caregivers of Adults


One out of four adults helps a family member with a physical or cognitive disability, is ill or is frail due to older age. If you are a caregiver for another adult, the best way to help is to recognize it is not all up to you.

In Montgomery County, local government, non-profit organizations and private businesses can help caregivers and their loved ones live well in the community.

A list of these resources is contained in a new flyer for caregivers, produced by the County, that also can be found in County facilities, including public libraries, senior centers and the five regional services centers -- Bethesda/Chevy Chase, Eastern Montgomery, Mid-County, Silver Spring and Upcounty.

Download English version.  Download Spanish version.

Visit County's Senior Site at montgomerycountymd.gov/seniors

Executive’s Visit to China Fosters New Biotech Agreement in Rockville

BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) and China Fortune Land Development Co., Ltd. (CFLD) recently announced that they have signed an agreement to jointly manage a newly created Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) position to be located at BHI headquarters in Rockville.

The agreement was fostered by County Executive Ike Leggett’s four-city mission to China in fall 2013 designed to promote Montgomery County as a premier location for Chinese investors and businesses, and to open doors for County-based businesses in China.

 See full story.

County Enhances Role as Cybersecurity Leader



The County’s position at the forefront in the field of national cybersecurity was enhanced recently when County Executive Ike Leggett joined state and federal officials to sign a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) to operate the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in Rockville.

The agreement expands on the collaboration outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding – signed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the State of Maryland and Montgomery County in February 2012 – establishing the NCCoE.

A public-private partnership, the NCCoE was created to accelerate the broad adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies. Through the National Cybersecurity Excellence Partnership, 16 companies – including Cisco Systems, McAfee, Microsoft, RSA and Symantec – have agreed to provide hardware, software and expertise to the center’s efforts to advance the rapid adoption of secure technologies.

County Executive Leggett’s statement.

See news release and County’s eBiz Alert coverage.

Video of signing ceremony.

Ten County Biotech Companies to Receive Half Million Dollars in County Support

County Executive Ike Leggett has announced that investors in 10 local biotech companies will receive $500,000 in return for investing more than $7 million in local companies that qualified for the County’s local biotech tax credit supplement program.

Forty-six unique investors will receive a supplement for 2013 from Montgomery County in addition to more than $3.5 million – or 39.5 percent of the total tax credits awarded by the state – they received from the Maryland Biotech Tax Credit Program.

News release with list of companies.

Washington Business Journal article.

County Crime Down by Nine Percent in 2013; Seven-Year Trend Shows 33 Percent Reduction in Serious Crime


Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, along with State’s Attorney John McCarthy and County Council President Craig Rice, recently announced that total crime for 2013 in Montgomery County decreased nine percent from 2012 – part of a seven-year trend that totaled a 33 percent reduction in serious crime and a 26 percent decrease in all crimes.

The 33 percent drop was more than twice the decrease in crime nationally over the same time period -- and eight times lower than the rate of decrease for the previous seven years in the County (2000-06).

Budget funding over the past seven years has financed portions of the Chief’s Three-Year Staffing plan – to include staffing of Public Community Action Teams (PCAT) and District Community Action Teams (DCAT), more police District investigative positions to include the establishment of a separate 6th District Police Investigative Unit, and a Centralized Criminal Street Gang Unit.

Despite the trying economic times, the County was able to increase the full-time positions in the department – sworn and civilian – by more than 100.

More details in news release.




Watch videos of County Executive Leggett and Chief Manger.

Smart Meters in Bethesda


The 840 on-street parking meters in Bethesda have been replaced with new “smart” parking meter heads that expand payment options.

The new meters accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards in addition to coins or pay-by-cell phone.

The meters use a solar-powered battery system with a highly visible expiration time indicator. They have real-time communication capabilities, allowing web-based identification of broken meters and instant processing of credit card transactions that use the highest level of security. Information in the meter window displays parking rates, hours and days when payment is required and notes parking restrictions.

The changeover to new meters reused existing meter poles and the lower part of the meter head. The display portion of the meter and its internal workings were replaced with the new technology.

Notice to the South Germantown Community: Emergency Preparedness Exercise at South Germantown Recreational Park on March 18; Volunteers Sought

County public safety personnel and partnering organizations will participate in a Maryland-National Capital Region full-scale emergency preparedness exercise at the South Germantown Recreational Park in Boyds on Tuesday, March 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Much of the scenario activity will take place on the grounds of the SoccerPlex and in the Discovery Sports Center building at 18031 Central Park Circle.

Community residents and businesses are advised that the sounds, activities and equipment with large-scale public safety response that might be seen and heard on March 18 are for proactive training purposes only and not based on any specific threat to our region. Surrounding neighborhoods should expect very minimal disruption and limited additional noise.

The Germantown Indoor Swim Center and the Montgomery Tennis Plex will remain open for their scheduled activities. However, the Discovery Sports Center and all other facilities, programs and recreational activities in the park will be closed to the public during the exercise.

For additional information about the exercise, contact, Lucille Baur at 240-777-6547 or Jim Resnick, 301-500-7048.

The scenario simulation will be based on an incident in a large public area which results in multiple “casualties.” An organizing agency, the Maryland Emergency Response System, is looking for community volunteers to participate in a variety of role-playing positions during the exercise between 9 a.m. and noon.

To volunteer or receive more information about volunteering, email mwarner@miemss.org.

Annual Japan Fair at Bauer Drive Community Center

Montgomery County Recreation and Sakura Educational Exchange USA will co-host a student-presented “Japan Fair” on Saturday, March 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bauer Drive Community Center, 14625 Bauer Dr., Rockville.

The free annual event is presented by students from Yokohama Hayato High School in Yokohama, Japan who will demonstrate and teach various Japanese arts, games and customs.

Adults and children will be able to observe an informal Japanese Tea Ceremony and listen to Japanese songs. There will be a martial arts demonstration and traditional Japanese dances. Visitors will also learn how to create origami and calligraphy, play Japanese games and see Anime/Manga (Japanese cartoons).

For more information, call Alex Taylor at 240-777-6922.

"Grow It Eat It" Open House Hosted by Master Gardeners

Montgomery County Master Gardeners are holding the first in a series of “Grow It, Eat It" Open Houses on March 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Montgomery County Extension Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Rd. in Derwood.

Workshops will provide gardening advice and answer gardening questions. There will be a plant sale and seed swap, plus a class on growing small fruit (berries), as well as tree fruit (apples, peaches, etc.). There also will be demonstrations of winter vegetable cooking and garden tool maintenance.

For additional information, email MCMGConference@gmail.com or visit the Grow It Eat It web page.

Senior Spelling Bee

Seniors (55 or over) who love words and like to spell are invited to sign up for the Senior Spelling Bee to be held April 5 at 11 a.m. at the Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave.

The registration fee is $25 per competitor. Registration ends Monday, March 31, but slots are limited. Download the registration form.

The event is sponsored by Friends of the Library Montgomery County, MD and Montgomery County Public Libraries.

Maryland Second in Nation for LEED Certifications

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced that Maryland placed second among the Top 10 States for LEED certifications.

The list highlights the regions around the country leading the movement for sustainable building design, construction and operation. Utilizing less energy and water, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

Among the notable projects certified in Maryland in 2013 were the following LEED Gold projects in Montgomery County: White Oak Community Recreation Center in Silver Spring and Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

A Wider Circle Founder Honored as a 2014 CNN Hero


Mark Bergel, founder of A Wider Circle -- the Bethesda/Silver Spring-based non-profit that helps countless local children and adults lift themselves out of poverty -- has been named a 2014 CNN Hero. Watch the video and read the article here, then see Mark and learn more about A Wider Circle on CNN Heroes Facebook page.

The staff says considering that more than 10,000 individuals from around the world were nominated in the past year for CNN Hero, for A Wider Circle's work to be honored in this way is “absolutely incredible. Those of us who get to work with Mark every day are excited about this well-deserved honor - and about this unique opportunity to spread the word about the movement to end poverty.”

Poolesville High School Teams Place Second in National Design Challenge Competition

The annual AbilityOne Design Challenge competition encourages students to develop technologies that empower people with disabilities to break through barriers to employment. Students or teams research, design and develop systems or devices to assist people with disabilities so they can become more productive in the workplace or assume a new job. Students must build a functioning prototype of their assistive technology device in order to be considered for contention.

Over the past few years, teams from Poolesville High School have established a winning tradition in the competition, placing 2nd and 3rd last year and claiming first place honors in 2012.

The streak was kept alive this year as two of the schools’ three teams received 2nd place honors for the “Best Engineering Design” (The Nexus) and “Best Use of Assistive Technology” (Die Cast Guide). And, Poolesville’s third team in the finals earned runner-up recognition (Multipurpose Sealing Device).

Five teams – three from Poolesville -- were selected as finalists from among 88 teams from across the country that competed for 2014 honors.

The competition is sponsored by SourceAmerica, a national nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for nearly 125,000 people with significant disabilities.

County Scores a Sweep on Top Ten Best Places to Live in Maryland

A recent ranking by Movoto, a California-based online real estate brokerage, placed all of the Top Ten Best Places to Live in Maryland in Montgomery County.

See which local neighborhoods made the Top Ten – and why.