January 29, 2015

Montgomery County’s Independent Transit Authority: What It Is; Why We Need It

Montgomery County is one of the best places in America to earn a living, grow businesses, raise a family and build a better future.

But, great things can always be better. For example, the County needs to become a more walkable and liveable community, which will result in a better quality of life for residents and their families.

That kind of future, however, depends on increased transportation investment to accommodate more residents and encourage job growth within the County.

This is why County Executive Ike Leggett is proposing the formation of an Independent Transit Authority (ITA) in Montgomery County that can: grow jobs and business, foster transit-oriented development and expand transportation choices.

The Authority was recommended by the Executive's Transit Task Force in its report released in May 2012. The Executive highlighted it in his Inaugural address on December 1, 2014.

Among the broad range of supporters of the project are the Coalition for Smarter Growth, The Sierra Club, A Wider Circle, and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Get the facts. Visit the ITA website.

Watch the public hearing on the ITA on Friday, January 30, at 6 p.m. -- live on County Cable Montgomery; Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN; channel 30 for Verizon.

Read The Washington Post article.

Check out the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s fact sheet.

Council Votes to Ban Use, Sale of Certain Polystyrene Products

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously voted to ban the use and sale of certain expanded polystyrene food service products and the sale of certain polystyrene packing materials in the County. The legislation also will require the use of compostable or recyclable alternatives.

Bill 41-14 prohibits the use of foam food service products by food service businesses and the sale of foam loose fill packaging (packing peanuts) and bulk foam food service products. Among the items that the bill covers are containers, plates, cups, trays and egg cartons. Products packaged outside the County before receipt by the food service business, and materials used to package raw meat, seafood or poultry, are exempt from the prohibition.

The bill, whose chief sponsor was Councilmember Hans Riemer and which was co-sponsored by Council President George Leventhal and Councilmember Marc Elrich, will prohibit the use and sale of polystyrene foam food service products and the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (packing peanuts) effective January 1, 2016.

The legislation will also require the use of compostable or recyclable single-use disposable food service ware, such as plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils by the County Government and its contractors effective January 1, 2016 and for private businesses effective January 1, 2017.

Read more in the news release.

Amended Six-Year Capital Construction Budget Released; Contains Full Schools Funding, More Affordable Housing, Road Maintenance

The Executive’s recommended Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Capital Budget and proposed amendments to the FY 15-20 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) have been released.

The $4.665 billion CIP fully funds the Montgomery County Public Schools, boosts investment in affordable housing and accelerates $8.2 million to expedite resurfacing and patching of County roads.
The CIP also includes critical funding for White Flint and Wheaton redevelopment and job growth.

See more details in the news release.

Office of Consumer Protection Featured on NBC “Today Show”

While the production crew sets up, TODAY Investigative Reporter Josh Rossen prepares to interview the Office of Consumer Protection Director Eric Friedman in the OCP office in Rockville.

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) was featured recently in a consumer report on the NBC “Today Show” alerting consumers to the nationwide problem created by certain towing practices and focusing on predatory and aggressive towing practices.

TODAY National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen captured video of vehicles being towed minutes after the owners parked and walked away. Rossen interviewed OCP Director Eric Friedman regarding trespass towing and the complaints handled by OCP’s investigators.

As a behind-the-scenes follow-up to this story, Friedman received high praise from TODAY Investigative producer Josh Davis, who wrote in an email to Eric: “We could never have done our story without you. You went above and beyond the level of courtesy we’ve ever experienced before. ... I hope we can work together again soon.”

OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, Internet services and most other consumer transactions. OCP provides pre-purchase information to consumers, as well as speakers to the community on consumer issues.

For more information and consumer advice, call 240-777-3636 or visit the OCP website.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Leggett Introduces Legislation to Combat Human Trafficking in County

County Executive Ike Leggett has sent legislation to the County Council that will give police an effective tool to combat human trafficking in Montgomery County and protect victims of this devastating crime.

The proposed legislation, supported by the Executive’s Human Trafficking Task Force, will impose regulations on “bodyworks” establishments, which have become a common venue for human trafficking. “Bodywork” establishments are businesses that advertise bodywork services, such as reflexology, acupressure and other practices that fall outside the State definition of massage, or where any employee, agent or contractor performs bodywork on an individual.

The County’s Human Trafficking Task Force is recommending two bills intended to address loopholes in the current law, making Montgomery County a less attractive location for human traffickers and improving collaboration and enforcement ability between the departments of Health and Human Services, Permitting Services and Police.

The other piece of legislation will amend the zoning code to require that all land uses be appropriately licensed where required by state or local law. As a result, operating a massage or bodyworks establishment without a license will also be grounds to revoke a Use & Occupancy Permit.

See more information in the news release.

Read The Washington Post article.

Free Tax Preparation Available for Low -Income Residents

County residents earning less than $53,000 in 2014 may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) free tax preparation service that is provided at locations throughout the County.

Volunteers certified by the IRS will e-file taxes that will provide direct deposit of federal and state tax refunds.

The service is offered at sites around the County according to various schedules – either by appointment or on a walk-in basis.

For more information and to see a list of locations and times, visit the Community Action Agency (Department of Health and Human Services) website.

See more information about free tax preparation (pdf).

Remembering Nancy Dacek: A Video Memorial Tribute to the former Councilmember

A true champion for the Upcounty, a hard worker and dedicated public servant are various ways to describe former County Councilmember Nancy Dacek who served on the Council from 1990 to 2002 and died on January 12.

In a three-minute+ video tribute entitled “Remembering Nancy Dacek”, produced by County Cable Montgomery’s Susan Kenedy, Council colleagues recall working with her.

Watch the tribute.

Registration Open for Summer Camps, Programs

Registration for Montgomery County Recreation’s summer camps and programs is now open. Hundreds of affordably priced offerings, including arts, nature, science and sports are featured.

Camps and summer programs are available for tots to teens and all skill levels at locations throughout the County. Early registration is encouraged because space is limited and signups are handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Printed copies of the Summer Camps Guide are available at Recreation Department facilities throughout the County. The guide can also be seen at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec.

Individuals can register one of four ways: online via RecWeb at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec, by mail or in person at the Recreation Department Administrative Offices, 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring 20902 or by fax at 240-777-6818.

For more information, call 240-777-6840.

Woodmont Avenue, New Capital Crescent Garage Now Open; Free Parking Until March 1

Woodmont Ave. between Bethesda Ave. and Leland St. and the County’s new Capital Crescent Garage at Woodmont and Bethesda avenues are now both open.

The underground garage, part of a public-private, mixed-use development that contains 250 residential units and ground level retail, has approximately 960 public spaces and 290 private parking spaces for tenants.

The garage has entrances on Bethesda and Woodmont avenues. Three pedestrian exits lead to the east and west sides of Woodmont Ave. and directly onto the Capital Crescent Trail.

So customers can get to know the new garage, parking will be free until March 1.

See more details in the news release.

Environmental Artists Take Note: Storm Drain Art Contest Announced

Montgomery County residents, ages 13 and above, who are artistic and want to help educate the public about the connection between local storm drains, streams and the Chesapeake Bay, are invited to submit entries to the inaugural Storm Drain Art Contest.

Check the news release for details about submitting art.

Entries are due by February 23 at 2 p.m. EST. The winning pieces of art will be painted on storm drains in the County for Earth Day 2015.

The contest is hosted by the County Department of Environmental Protection and Rock Creek Conservancy.

For more information on the contest, including photos of some storm drain art and how to submit entries, visit www.mygreenmontgomery.org/art.

Health Literacy Program for Adults with Low Literacy, Limited English Proficiency

A health literacy program for adults with low literacy and limited English Proficiency will be presented by the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC), thanks to a grant from the National Library of Medicine.

“English for Health” will begin in February at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 pm to 8 pm, and at Community Clinic in Silver Spring on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 12 pm.

Classes run for 12 weeks and will cover topics such as health and wellness information, introduction to health insurance, making appointments, understanding prescriptions, talking to doctors, and filling out health forms.

For more information, contact Carol Woodside at carol@literacycouncilmcmd.org or 301-610-0030, extension 217.

Bikers on the Move: Local Bikeshare Program Exceeds First Year Expectations

Montgomery County’s Bikeshare program celebrated its first year of operation in fall 2014 and exceeded participation projections with 35,000 trips taken.

The Department of Transportation launched its Capital Bikeshare network in October 2013 with 14 stations. Over the following months, the program ramped up to install a total of 51 stations in three geographic areas: Bethesda/Friendship Heights along the east leg of the Metrorail Red Line; Silver Spring/Takoma Park along the west leg of the Metrorail Red Line; and Rockville/Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center.

Peak Bikeshare ridership occurred during the morning and evening weekday rush hours. The Bikeshare stations at or near Metrorail stations were the most popular.

More information about Montgomery County’s Bikeshare is available online.

Read the news release.

County’s Award-Winning Web Portal Sees Record Usage in 2014

Usage of Montgomery County’s award-winning Web portal and mobile website both soared in calendar year 2014 as residents continue to take advantage of numerous online programs and services provided by the County.

In 2013, as part of the County’s openMontgomery initiative, the County’s Department of Technology Services (DTS) launched a mobile version of its award-wining Web portal. The site provides County residents and other constituents the ability to access a mobile-friendly version of the web portal on their handheld devices, including iPhones and Android devices.

In 2014, the number of Page Views on the mobile site increased by 315%, to 1.6 million compared to 2013. Similarly, the number of “Sessions” (group of interactions that take place on a website within a given time frame) and Users both jumped by approximately 300% compared to 2013.

In 2014, the number of Page Views on the County’s Web portal increased by nearly 90%, to 33 million compared to 2013. Similarly, the number of Sessions and Users increased by 81% and 73%, respectively compared to 2013.

See more in the news release.

Eight Local Nonprofits Receive Grants from United Way of National Capital Area

United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) announced that it is awarding eight Community Impact grants totaling $100,678 to eight nonprofit member organizations serving Montgomery County. Each of the grants directly addresses United Way NCA’s focus areas of education, health and financial stability.

The Montgomery County grantees are: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington; Community Ministries of Rockville, Inc.; Gaithersburg HELP, Inc.; Manna Food Center, Inc.; The Reading Connection, Inc.; Spanish Catholic Center, Inc.; The George B. Thomas Sr. Learning Academy, Inc.; and WUMCO Help, Inc.

All United Way NCA donors have the option of directing their workplace giving pledge to the Community Impact Fund for any of United Way NCA’s eight regions, including Montgomery County. The funds help United Way NCA solve critical challenges facing various local communities that no one person, nonprofit or company can address alone.

See the news release for more information.

Wednesday, February 18 -- 2nd Annual Montgomery County Energy Summit.

Hilton Rockville Hotel, 1750 Rockville Pike. 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Who should attend? Anyone interested in Energy! Special opportunities for benchmarkers. Non-residential building owners with properties 50,000 square feet or larger; sole tenants of these buildings; local government officials; energy efficiency service providers; nonprofits and associations that support the energy and/or building community; anyone interested in learning about the Montgomery County benchmarking law. Hosted by the US Green Building Council-National Capital Region’s Montgomery County Branch and sponsors Pepco, Siemens, Washington Gas, Boland, and EnergyCAP. Learn more and register today.

Saturday, March 28 -- First Annual Montgomery County GreenFest.

Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring and Jesup Blair Local Park. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Free. Educational, entertaining activities for people of all ages; workshops and demonstrations on conserving energy, improving local waterways and reducing waste. Hear from national and local environmental experts, participate in informational panels and how-to sessions, and enjoy music and outdoor entertainment. More information at www.montgomerycountygreenfest.org. Share the hashtag #MCGreenFest on social media.

January 15, 2015

Testimony on Behalf of County Executive Isiah Leggett on Bill 52-14, Pesticides – Notice Requirements –Non-Essential Pesticides – Prohibitions

January 15, 2015

Good evening. My name is Kathleen Boucher. I am the Acting Director of the Department of Environmental Protection. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of County Executive Leggett regarding Bill 52-14, which proposes to restrict the use of certain pesticides on lawns in Montgomery County.

In his October 22, 2014 memorandum to other Councilmembers regarding this bill, Council President Leventhal noted that “This issue is among the most technically complex which the Council has ever faced. Therefore, it is critical that we approach this in a thoughtful manner and that we consult with a variety of experts who are knowledgeable in the field so we can make a well-informed decision regarding this important public health issue.” After extensive discussion with a range of Executive branch departments, including the Departments of Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, General Services, and Recreation, the County Executive concurs with Mr. Leventhal’s assessment of the need to consult with experts in the field. Among the complex issues addressed by this bill are the effects of pesticides on human and environmental health, and the science of turf grass management. The specialized nature of these topics necessitates input from outside experts because individuals with detailed knowledge in these areas are not available within the County government. The bill also deals with a major philosophical issue – society’s perceptions about what constitutes a healthy and attractive lawn. Fundamental changes in lawn care practices in the County will be difficult without addressing this subject.

Bill 52-14 would prohibit the use of certain “non-essential” chemicals on lawns in the County except under certain prescribed circumstances. The definition of “lawn” is broad, including not only the grass areas around homes and other buildings, but playing fields as well. The County Executive’s initial reaction is that playing fields should be treated differently than other types of lawns. He has heard from opponents of the ban that organic-only options may have implications on the quality of lawns and the cost of lawn care services. Nonetheless, he believes that accepting these outcomes may be appropriate if the science regarding the risk from the use of pesticides is compelling enough to justify a ban on the use of certain chemicals on residential lawns. For playing fields, where the quality of the turf is critical to the availability and playability of the field, he is sympathetic to the concerns raised by those responsible for the management and operation of such fields in the County that synthetic chemical treatments are necessary to ensure high-quality playing fields. Therefore, he believes it is appropriate to exempt playing fields from the ban in the same manner that golf courses are exempt.

The County Executive also wants to ensure that careful consideration is given to how the proposed bill is implemented. If the County were to adopt a ban, our residents and businesses must understand the full implications of the ban, and be able to clearly identify which products and practices are allowable and which are not. For example, the bill would allow for the use of a banned pesticide for the control of designated invasive species. The average resident may not have the knowledge to determine the species of a particular weed to ascertain whether it is subject to the ban. Addressing issues of this nature will be critical to successful implementation of the proposed bill.

The County Executive appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed bill, and is confident that the knowledge we all gain during the upcoming work sessions will help ensure that we are, as Mr. Leventhal suggests, making a “well-informed decision” regarding further regulation of pesticides. DEP staff, as well as other Executive staff from HHS, DGS and Recreation, look forward to participating actively in the Council’s consideration of this bill.

Thank you.

January 14, 2015

County Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday with Two Events

Following the tradition of past years, Montgomery County will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with two major events on Monday, January 19 – the Day of Service and the annual birthday tribute.

Day of Service activities will take place at several sites throughout the County. Locations, times and registration information can be found at www.montgomeryserves.org/mlk-day-service-2015.

The Volunteer Center will coordinate indoor, family-friendly service projects from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd. Other sites with multiple service projects for all ages include the Seneca Creek Community Church located at 13 Firstfield Rd. in Gaithersburg, from 9 to 11 a.m.; and the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, from 10 a.m. to noon. The locations will also be collection sites for non-perishable food donations for the Manna Food Center. In addition, the Bethesda Marriott and Silver Spring locations will accept new and gently used sleeping bags, blankets and new socks for the homeless.

As part of another Day of Service project, Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), will hold volunteer park and stream cleanups and non-native invasive plant removal projects throughout the weekend of January 17 to 20 at parks around the County.

Student Service Learning (SSL) hours are available at all of the volunteer events. Gloves and bags will be provided at all events and volunteers are encouraged to wear sturdy closed toe shoes and long sleeves and pants. Volunteers under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

Details on dates, times and locations of cleanups, as well as how to sign up are available at www.MontgomeryParks.org/MLK.

Montgomery County’s celebration continues with the annual birthday tribute in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held at the Music Center at Strathmore at 3:30 p.m. The free event will feature local artists, and the master of ceremonies will be WJLA News Anchor Leon Harris.

Tickets (free) are required and can be reserved at www.strathmore.org.  For anyone unable to secure advanced tickets, a standby line will form outside the Music Center at 2:30 p.m. on the 19th; unclaimed tickets will be released to the public at 3:15 p.m. See more in news release.

Holiday Schedule for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday on Monday, January 19:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – aquatics programs and facilities open; all other classes and programs canceled; Administrative office, senior centers and community centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks - all Parks facilities are open. For operating schedules, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.
  • Ride On – Modified holiday schedule
  • Metrobus – Saturday supplemental service
  • Metrorail – Saturday holiday 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 and courts – closed

*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Leggett’s Six-Point Economic Development Plan

In his inaugural speech last month, County Executive Ike Leggett presented his six-point program created “to spur economic growth and position our County for the future.”

The plan is a mixture of proposals for high-speed fiber optics, new processes to streamline approval of projects, tax considerations and closer relationships between the County, the business community and the non-profit sector.

See details of the Six Point Plan.

Public Budget Forums Underway throughout County

Public budget forums are held each year to get feedback from residents about their priorities, concerns, issues and questions about the recommended Operating Budget that County Executive Ike Leggett will present in March to the County Council.

The forums for the FY2016 Operating Budget -- all begin at 7 p.m.-- are being held throughout the County during January at the according to the following schedule:
See the Power Point presentation (pdf) that is part of each forum.

Join Montgomery County’s conversation about the FY16 Operating Budget on social media and help raise awareness by using #MontCoFY16budgetforum.

New Safe Sidewalks Campaign Launched

Joining Leggett for the campaign announcement on the steps of the County Council Office Building in Rockville were Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, Hans Riemer and Sidney Katz.

A Safe Sidewalks initiative designed to remind residents they are required by law to clear sidewalks in front of, and alongside, their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm has been introduced by County Executive Ike Leggett.

All single-family households in the County received a mailer from the Office of Public Information and the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The campaign also will include bus signs, posters, blow-up signs in County libraries and recreational centers, outreach to civic associations and community organizations, and social media.

The County has also rolled out a comprehensive new website -- www.montgomerycountymd.gov/safesidewalks – that includes the County law on sidewalks, details about the slightly different requirements in some municipalities and a “Frequently Asked Questions” section.

A Look at State Aid to Local Governments

An overview of State aid to local governments was presented by Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch at the recent Winter Conference of the Maryland Association of Counties.

The 13-part power point presentation offers graphic looks at topics such as general fund spending, state aid to local governments and education, school construction, median household income and population.

It’s a good way for residents to see what the County gets from the State.

Executive Talks about Priorities for Seniors on County Cable’s “Seniors Today” Show

County Executive Ike Leggett sets forth some of his priorities for seniors for the next four years and specifically, calls for a second senior summit during an interview on the current edition (show #144) of “Seniors Today.”

Leggett’s interview with host Austin Heyman is the third segment of the show that can be seen online.

County’s First Protected Bike Lane (Cycle Track) Installed

The Department of Transportation’s Division of Transportation Engineering (DTE) recently completed the County’s first protected bike lane -- also referred to as a “cycle track.”

The on-road bike lane is about 1,500 feet long and is adjacent to the curb on the west side of Woodglen Dr. between Edson and Nicholson lanes. It provides an important connection between the Bethesda Trolley Trail to the south and Rockville destinations to the north. Eventually, the lane will link directly to the White Flint Metro Station, which is located one block north.

The two-way, eight-foot-wide cycle track protects bicyclists from both through traffic and parked vehicle door openings, because it is located between the curb and a two-to-three foot buffer bordered by flexible posts. Next to the buffer are the parking lane and three travel lanes of traffic.

View a video of the restriping process.

Ban the Box Legislation Now in Effect

January 1, 2015 marked the date that the County’s new Ban the Box legislation went into effect, which helps ensure that employers make hiring decisions based on relevant work qualifications without improperly considering a person’s criminal record.

The law restricts the timeframe during the application process when an employer may inquire about someone’s criminal history.

Get more information at the Ban the Box website.

Office of Consumer Protection Receives Kudos for Info on Timely Topics

Eric Friedman, director of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), recently shared some “…nice feedback we received to our most recent Facebook posting.”

The resident noted the useful postings with information on:

1) choosing charities and donating carefully (also noted in the last Paperless Airplane) and

2) calling attention to recent changes to the popular Turbo Tax Deluxe tax prep software program, plus

3) supporting a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post written by OCP Director Eric Friedman in response to an article about "Uber pressures regulators by mobilizing riders and hiring vast lobbying network.” The resident said it was, for him, “one of the more relevant county info sheets….”

Check out the OCP website for more information of use to consumers.

County Leads State in Affordable Health Care Enrollments

As of early January, more than 156,300 Marylanders have enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage for calendar year 2015, since the 90-day open enrollment period began November 15. Of that total, Montgomery County had enrolled just over 36,000, leading the state.

Marylanders can enroll by January 18 for coverage effective February 1 and, if eligible, for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC), to immediately lower their monthly insurance bills.

Maryland residents enrolled for 2014 should re-enroll by January 18 for an Advanced Premium Tax Credit that begins February 1. They will receive any tax credit owed for January 2015 when they file their federal income tax return in 2016.

Open enrollment for 2015 for Maryland Health Connection ends February. 15.

Check for more enrollment facts and figures and general information from the Maryland Health Connection.

County’s Successful Efforts to Address Suburban Poverty Cited in Article

Why the Poor Are Struggling in America's Suburbs is the crux and title of a detailed article in CityLab’s recent issue. Writer Alana Semuels looks at poverty as an increasing problem in the suburbs throughout much of the United States.

However, later in the article, she writes: “Some regions have begun to address the problems created by suburban poverty, but they're finding the work is slow going.
“But some regions are succeeding. Montgomery County, Maryland, for instance, established a network to reach low-income residents who might not have been aware of the benefits available to them, with volunteers knocking on far-flung suburban doors to check in on residents, according to [Elizabeth] Kneebone and [Alan] Berube,” authors of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, an in-depth look at the fact that in the US suburbia is home to the largest and fastest growing poor population.
Previously known as The Atlantic Cities, CityLab, according to its website, “is dedicated to the people who are creating the cities of the future—and those who want to live there.” Articles focus “on the biggest ideas and most pressing issues facing the world’s metro areas and neighborhoods.”

Saturday, January 24 -- 9th Annual Montgomery County History Conference

8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Johns Hopkins University, Shady Grove Campus, Gilchrist Hall, 9601 Medical Center Dr., Rockville.  Anyone interested in local history – from history professionals to volunteers and the general public – needs to check this out. Everything from archaeology and emancipation to trolleys and treasures from local museum collections. The day will conclude with rousing Civil War songs. Presented by the Montgomery County Historical Society. Get all the details about the conference and register.

Sunday, January 25 -- 2015 Women’s Legislative Briefing

The Universities at Shady Grove, Building II, 9630 Gudelsky Dr., Rockville. 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Keynote speaker, Ann F. Lewis, senior White House staffer from 1997 to 2000. The conference will open with remarks by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Senator Ben Cardin, Congressmen Chris Van Hollen and John Sarbanes, and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Two workshops for teenage girls focusing on leadership, community engagement and advocacy. Also, seminars on a variety of topics, including: Advocacy: The Pitch for Your Legislators; Economic Empowerment for Women; Health and Safety for Women and Girls; Immigrant Women; Senior Women in Long-Term Care; and Women in Leadership. The program will conclude with a reception with County and State elected officials. Admission, including refreshments, is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To pre-register, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw. For more information, call 240-777-8302.

Wednesday, January 28 -- Raise Your Voice! Poverty in Montgomery County

Free public forum. Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 South Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg. 6 p.m. Forum and resource fair to learn about issues facing low-income community residents. Attendees can share their experiences and recommendations about issues such as child care, transportation, jobs and housing in small focus group sessions. The resource fair will include information and resources from local service providers. Free child care and food provided. Register online or call the Community Action Agency at 240-777-1697. Bi-lingual Spanish-speaking volunteers on site. Requests for interpretation in other languages should be made at least three business days before the event. Those requiring special aids or services to participate in this event should call 240-777-1697 or 301-251-4850 or Maryland Relay at 711 with at least three business days advance notice. Sponsored by the County’s Community Action Board in partnership with the City of Gaithersburg.