March 27, 2015

Public Health Experts, Police Take On Liquor Privatization

Public health experts have sent a clear message to councilmembers considering privatization of Montgomery's Local Liquor Control system: the system is superior in protecting the public health, combatting underage drinking and striking the balance between the sale of a legal, controlled substance and meeting community concerns and the public interest.

Montgomery’s system, in fact, has blocked the introduction of numerous liquor industry products aimed at underage drinkers, resisting pressure from the liquor lobby.

Montgomery’s Local Liquor Control contributes $30 million annually to the County – keeping dollars spent in Montgomery County and funding education, transportation and social services while keeping taxes down.

Systems such as Montgomery’s, which cover 30 percent of the American population, have been judged by the National Institutes of Health as superior to protecting the public health, a finding supported broadly by scientific research.

“Montgomery County has among the lowest rates for alcohol treatment, alcohol-related crashes and binge drinking in the state,” said David Jernigan, director of the Baltimore-based Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth. “Montgomery County is doing much better than the rest of the State.”

In a detailed presentation, Jernigan cited 17 studies examined by the National Institutes of Health that concluded that alcohol consumption increases 44 percent with privatization. With privatization comes more outlets, more days and sales and longer hours, more alcohol signage and advertising, and more need for increased enforcement.

“In Iowa, Idaho, Maine and Montana, wine consumption jumped between 42 and 150 percent following privatization,” he explained. “Increased consumption means more adverse social impacts – more underage drinking, alcohol-related crashes, vandalism and violence.”

With alcohol in the hands of the market, he said, there are so many pressures to sell. As the price goes down, the adverse effects go up. He explained that alcohol abuse costs America $4 billion annually and is the 3rd leading cause of death and the leading drug for youth.

“There are so many pressures in the other direction,” he said. “If we don’t take intelligent steps to control the liquor trade, we will pay the price.”

Dr. Ulder Tillman, Montgomery County’s health officer, echoed the message. “If Montgomery County has the lowest alcohol treatment rate in the state, among the lowest alcohol-related crashes and the best overall health, I want to keep that.

“When Washington State privatized their liquor system, the number of liquor stores and bars jumped from 328 to 1,415 – a 337 percent increase. There was an increase in consumption, in the average number of drinks consumed at a sitting, in emergency room visits related to alcohol and in nighttime single-vehicle crashes.

“Our Local Liquor Control is a good thing,” said Dr. Tillman. “We can discuss how to make the system more consumer-friendly, but let’s keep what is working to protect the public health.”

Testifying on behalf of County police, Captain Tom Didone hailed the close cooperation between Local Liquor Control and his department in combatting underage drinking and drunk driving. Didone strongly opposed privatization, telling Councilmember Hans Riemer: “Please don’t change the way we do business now. It will make our job harder.”

The Montgomery County Police Department has the only full-time alcohol initiatives section in the State of Maryland, assisted by approximately 200 other police officers who have received specialized training in alcohol enforcement.

Watch the March 27 Ad Hoc Committee session with public health experts and police.

March 26, 2015

Montgomery Ranked Healthiest County in Maryland

Montgomery County ranks as the healthiest jurisdiction in Maryland according to the sixth annual County Health Rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

Overall, the five healthiest counties, after Montgomery, are Howard, Frederick, Carroll and St. Mary's. The five jurisdictions with the poorest health ratings -- starting with the least healthy -- are Baltimore City and Caroline, Cecil, Allegany and Somerset counties.

“This ranking didn't happen by accident," said County Executive Ike Leggett. “The County, working with our many community partners, is focused on making sure that all County residents get access to adequate health care. Through our extensive park system and our recreational activities for young, old and in-between we encourage physical activity and wellness.

“We were a pioneer in assuring smoke-free restaurants and have encouraged businesses to make more information available to customers so they can make healthy choices,” Leggett noted. “Our Local Liquor Control helps us to better protect the public health and discourage underage drinking while also facilitating the sale of a legal product – and making sure dollars stay here in the County to support County services.”

“I am pleased with our ranking as the healthiest county in Maryland,” said Dr. Ulder J. Tillman, County health officer. “Through our community health improvement process, Healthy Montgomery, we have partnerships with our six hospitals, school system and other community-based organizations, and we continue to work diligently to address issues that remain challenging for some residents in our community.

“Our County Executive has made it a priority to make Montgomery County a healthy and sustainable community for all our residents," Dr. Tillman said. “We have reason to be proud, but the work of improving and maintaining the health of a community is a continuing focus for us.”

See the Rankings at

According to the news release from the RWJF, “…this year's Rankings show that the healthiest counties in each state have higher college attendance, fewer preventable hospital stays, and better access to parks and gyms. The least healthy counties in each state have more smokers, more teen births, and more alcohol related car crash deaths. This report also looks at distribution in income and the links between income levels and health.”

The release also notes that “Rankings are an easy-to-use snapshot comparing the health of nearly every county in the nation. The local-level data allows each state to see how its counties compare on 30 factors that influence health including education, housing, violent crime, jobs, diet, and exercise.”

County Leads State in Number of New Residents

More people moved to Montgomery than any other county in Maryland between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. According to the latest figures just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Montgomery County added 10,680 people to its population during the year-long period. Montgomery was followed by Prince George’s County, which grew by 10,231 people, Howard County (4,350), Anne Arundel County (3,785) and Baltimore County (3,042).

Montgomery is the most populous county in Maryland, with 1,030,447 residents, followed by Prince George’s and Baltimore counties.

The information is based on annual population estimates for each of the nation’s counties, county equivalents, metropolitan areas and micropolitan areas since the 2010 Census and up to July 1, 2014.

Special Enrollment Period for Affordable Care Act Health Coverage if 2014 Tax Penalty is Owed

A special enrollment period is open now through April 30 for Maryland residents who owe a tax penalty for not having health coverage in 2014 or were not aware that coverage was required in 2014 and want to obtain health insurance coverage for calendar year 2015.

Residents who enroll from now to April 19 may still owe a tax penalty for the months in 2015 when they did not have health insurance coverage. However, the current special enrollment period is an opportunity to get coverage for the remainder of the year and avoid additional penalty costs.

Residents applying for the special enrollment period must attest that they owe the penalty for lacking health insurance in 2014 or that they became aware of the penalty during the 2014 income tax filing season.

Residents who enroll from now to April 18 will have coverage that begins May 1. They may have to pay a modified annual penalty. Those who enroll from April 19 to April 30 will have coverage that begins June 1. All plans provide coverage through December 31, 2015.

Anyone who is eligible for Medicaid is not affected and can apply for Medicaid at any time.

Additional details in the news release.

Find out where to get in-person sign up help at or call 240-773-8250.

Council Committee to Hold Second Work Session on Pesticides Bill

Council Bill 52-14 that would ban certain pesticides from being applied to lawns and certain County-owned properties has drawn a lot of attention from the community since it was introduced last October. Two public hearings on the bill held earlier this year each had more than 300 attendees.

On March 30, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee, which is chaired by Roger Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Tom Hucker, will meet in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville to continue the discussion begun by the committee in its previous session held on March 16.

The session will allow the committee to talk with pollinator and Chesapeake Bay watershed health experts, turf management experts, and public- and private-sector landscaping professionals.

Chief sponsor of the bill is Council President George Leventhal. Councilmembers Marc EIrich, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer are co-sponsors.

Collectively, the two worksessions should give the committee the information it needs to answer the questions of whether there is a need to further regulate pesticides, why a need exists (if it exists) and how best to meet that need.

See more about the bill, including the committee’s information packet.

Read the County Executive’s testimony.

Celebrate April as Earth Month -- Be a Green Volunteer

In observance of April as Earth Month in Montgomery County, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reminds residents that volunteers are needed to help with stream cleanups that are taking place throughout the County. Volunteers will help remove trash and larger debris while learning about local waterways and enjoying the natural environment.

The following cleanups are hosted and/or supported by DEP during the month:
  • Saturday, April 11 – 9 a.m. to noon at Glenfield Park, 12800 Layhill Rd., Silver Spring
  • Saturday, April 18 – 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at East County Community Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring
  • Saturday, April 18 – 10 a.m. to noon – stormwater pond cleanup, Bethesda 
  • Sunday, April 19 – 10 a.m. to noon – stormwater pond cleanup, Dennis Ave., Silver Spring. 
To register to volunteer for the cleanups, contact Ana Arriaza at or 240-777-7778.

Homelessness Charter Signed by Leggett, Bowser and Baker

As part of the recent Regional Summit on Homelessness held in Silver Spring, County Executive Ike Leggett, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker each signed charters confirming their commitment to work together to eliminate homelessness in the Metropolitan area.

See the charter that establishes a high-level regional coordinating council on homelessness.

Read more about the Summit in the news release.

Residents Invited to Share Thoughts on Public Art Projects – Where, What, How – Through Brief Survey

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County is embarking on a “Roadmap” process to chart new directions for public art in the County – where it should be located, what types of projects should be developed and how it should foster community life, economic vitality and cultural diversity.

The public is invited to share its thoughts via an online survey. The brief survey provides an opportunity for people to identify art projects that they have seen in the County, suggest how public art should impact the County overall and give feedback on priorities for new projects.

The deadline for responses is April 30.

Take the survey.

Help the Literacy Council Help Others

The Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) transforms the lives of approximately 1,500 adults each year by providing educational programs that strengthen language proficiency, build life skills and foster community involvement. Volunteers play an important role in helping the council achieve its mission, contributing countless hours to a variety of jobs within the organization.

Currently, volunteers are needed to:
  • Help LCMC with registration at tutor information sessions that are held throughout the year from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. to noon. The next session will be held on April 16 at the Wheaton Library at 7:30 p.m. Help once or on multiple occasions. Contact Jennifer Szabo by email or by calling 301-610-.0030, ext. 205; or 
  • Serve on the Board of Directors. Applications are now being accepted for LCMC’s Fiscal Year 2016 that runs from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. Board members serve one-year terms and may be reappointed for up to six terms. Read more about the duties of Board members.

Executive Honored for Commitment to Full Inclusion for Persons with Developmental Differences

County Executive Ike Leggett recently received the 2015 Patricia Sullivan Leadership Award from Potomac Community Resources (PCR). Pictured at the annual Benefit Dinner are (from left) are: Chuck Short, special assistant to the Executive; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chairman of the event; Leggett; and Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities and one of the PCR founders.
County Executive Ike Leggett has received the Patricia Sullivan Leadership Award in recognition of his ongoing “commitment, vision and support” for full inclusion for persons with developmental disabilities.

The award was given by Potomac Community Resources, Inc. (PCR), which provides therapeutic, recreational, social and respite care programs for teens and adults with developmental differences, as well as information about community resources for families.

Leggett received the award for “consistently demonstrating [a] strong personal commitment to the civil rights and full inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities into community life.” The Executive was cited for his “innovative policies and programs such as the County’s employment initiative for persons with disabilities….”

Saturday, April 18 -- Master Gardener Grow It Eat It Open House

Montgomery County Extension, Agricultural History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood. Free; donations appreciated. Visit the demonstration garden, meet with Master Gardener consultants, attend class demonstrations, join a seed swap, visit the plant sale, etc. More information at

Wednesday, April 22 – Forum on Poverty: “Raise Your Voice EAST”

Learn about and discuss issues facing low-income community residents. East County Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring. 6 to 9 p.m. Free. Resource fair at 6 will include information and resources from local service providers. Panel discussion at 7:30, followed by focus groups. Attendees can share their experiences and recommendations about issues such as child care, transportation, jobs and housing. Child care and food provided. Sponsored by the County’s Community Action Board, in partnership with the East County Citizens Advisory Board, the East County Regional Services Center, Office of Community Partnerships, Montgomery College and the Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity. Register at or by calling 240-777-1697.

March 18, 2015

Leggett’s FY 2016 Operating Budget Tightens Belt on Spending; Property Tax Rate Cut, Solid Waste Fees Down 4 Percent; Few Increases Cover Economic Development, Schools, Libraries

The Recommended FY 2016 Operating Budget of $5.1 billion submitted by County Executive Ike Leggett increases County government tax-supported spending by only 1.1 percent while cutting the County property tax rate by about one cent. The balanced budget closes an estimated $238 million gap.

Highlights include:
  • Funds the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) budget of $2.2 billion – the Maintenance of Effort level required by State law. That represents a $30.7 million increase over last year, or 1.4 percent, and is nearly 98 percent of the Board of Education’s request.
  • Reduces the property tax rate by 0.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation (from 99.6 cents to 98.7 cents). The average County residence, valued at $455,600, would pay $3,805 in FY16 -- an increase of only $15 for the year.
  • Reduces Solid Waste fees by 4 percent across-the-board for families and businesses.
  • Provides $43.9 million for affordable housing creation and preservation:
  • Adds $7 million in funding for senior housing projects in Silver Spring and Glenmont.
  • Increases funding for the Department of Public Libraries by 5 percent – mostly in increased materials.

The full budget and highlights are available on the County’s website at

Read the entire news release.

Watch brief budget announcement video by Leggett.

Council Schedules Public Hearings on FY2016 Proposed Budget

Residents are invited to provide comments and suggestions on the Executive’s Recommended FY2016 Operating Budget at any one of the public hearings to be held in April.

The sessions will be held in the third floor hearing room of the County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, on the following dates:
  • Tuesday, April 14, 7 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, April 15, 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. 
  • Thursday, April 16, 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. 
Residents should call 240-777-7803 to sign up to speak. Comments and suggestions are welcome via email at; via regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

Leggett, Bowser, Baker Issue Call to Action to End Homelessness

County Executive Ike Leggett, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker met at the Progress Place homeless shelter in Silver Spring to sign a “Charter to End Homelessness,” pledging greater regional coordination in the fight against the root causes of homelessness.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker joined forces at the Regional Summit on Homelessness to urge funders, developers, banks, employers, landlords, service providers, schools, institutes of higher learning, and community members to join in the work to end homelessness.

The summit was held at Community Vision at Progress Place, a facility in Montgomery County that provides services for persons experiencing homelessness.

The three leaders each signed charters confirming their commitment to work together to eliminate homelessness in the Metropolitan area; to establish a high-level regional coordinating council on homelessness; to develop and implement an actionable plan to permanently end homelessness in the region, particularly chronic homelessness; and set time frames. They committed to collaborating in four key areas:
  • affordable housing 
  • workforce development 
  • economic development and 
  • supportive services 
Each area offers opportunities for sharing of data and best practices, regional planning and development, collaborative client-focused system of services and joint funding and fundraising

Read more in the news release.

See The Washington Post story.

More than 2,000 Potholes Filled Since January 1

The Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Services (DHS) has filled more than 2,000 potholes since January 1 -- with most having been filled within 48 hours of when they were reported.

Four DHS pothole trucks and crews fill potholes nearly every day of the year. The crews respond to reports of potholes and, if, on their way, they see others that need to be filled, they take care of them as well. Since spring is a peak time for pothole formation, DHS has added 20 additional trucks and crews to fill potholes.

Potholes can also result from significant structural problems in the roads. In these cases, because major repairs to the roads will be necessary, the fixes require more than 48 hours to complete.

Residents can report a pothole online or by calling 311 from within the County or 240-777-0311 from outside the County.

WSSC Opens Office at Department of Permitting Services

A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened the new WSSC office located at the County’s Department of Permitting Services. On hand for the opening were (from left): DPS Director Diane Schwartz Jones, County Executive Ike Leggett, WSSC General Manager and CEO Jerry Johnson and DPS Manager Simin Rasolee.
Another innovative improvement in processing development approvals was announced recently by County Executive Ike Leggett and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC) General Manager and CEO Jerry Johnson when they opened a WSSC office at the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) in Rockville.

The WSSC presence will make it more convenient and efficient for customers to obtain assistance with development and construction approvals from DPS and WSSC. After DPS moves to its new location in downtown Wheaton, WSSC will continue to have an onsite presence.

Read the press release

Mikulski, Leggett Discuss Help for Maryland Families, Communities to Get Ahead, Not Just Get By

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski met recently with County Executive Ike Leggett to discuss working together to support jobs and opportunity for Maryland families, including building up Montgomery County’s unique federal assets as well as the state’s dynamic private sector. Montgomery County is home to 34 federal facilities that employ more than 50,000 federal employees.

Go Green in Silver Spring at Inaugural GreenFest

The inaugural Montgomery County GreenFest will be held in Silver Spring on Saturday, March 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – rain or shine - at Jesup Blair Local Park and Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring.

The festival will feature educational, entertaining and family-friendly activities,more than 80 exhibits, plus workshops suitable for all ages. View the full schedule at

Food will be available for purchase at the event by Montgomery College’s caterer, Chartwells, and will include sustainably sourced lunch items and snacks with vegan options. Attendees who bring a reusable bottle can also receive a discount on drinks, such as lemonades and iced tea.

Attendees are encouraged to use public transit, walk or bike to the event. The City of Takoma Park is sponsoring a free shuttle between the event and the Takoma Metro Station.

Jesup Blair Local Park is located at 900 Jesup Blair Dr., Silver Spring and the Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring Cultural Arts Center is at 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. For directions, visit

Read the news release.

Montgomery Parks Athletic Fields Opening Delayed until April 1 due to Harsh Weather Conditions

The opening of all Montgomery Parks’ park and elementary/middle school athletic fields (excluding synthetic turf fields) will be delayed until April 1, at the earliest, due to this year’s extremely harsh winter weather conditions.

Field conditions will be assessed on a daily basis beginning April 1 to determine if they are suitable for use. Until then, teams are not permitted to play or practice on fields due to the risk of destroying surfaces as well as the ground underneath.

For additional information and updates about fields, contact the Montgomery Parks and Community Use of Public Facilities athletic field rainout line at 301-765-8787 or register for Montgomery Parks ALERT notifications at to receive updates on field conditions. Updates regarding field status will also be available at

State Highway Construction Project on Great Seneca Highway at Kentlands Intersection

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is resurfacing a section of MD 119 (Great Seneca Highway) in Gaithersburg as part of a $765,000 project at the Kentlands Boulevard/Orchard Ridge Drive intersection.

SHA designed the project to increase the left turn lane vehicle capacity to address current and future traffic demands along westbound Orchard Ridge Dr., improve left turn movements from MD 119 onto Orchard Ridge Dr. and enhance pedestrian safety across MD 119.

Pedestrian traffic will be maintained at all times during construction. Signs will direct pedestrians to safe crossings within the project limits. SHA may use electronic message boards, construction cones, barrels, arrow boards and a flagging operation to direct motorists through the work zone.

Weather permitting, improvements should be complete by late fall 2015.

Read more about the project.

Silver Spring Library Closes its Doors and Turns a Page

When the lights were turned off for good and the doors locked for the final time at the Silver Spring Library on March 15 at 5 p.m. it meant the ending of one era, but signaled the beginning of new chapter in the long history of the library that has called 8901 Colesville Road home for 58 years.

At a special reception which led up to closing time, hundreds of long-time customers, staff and library representatives mingled with local elected officials and community leaders. Participants celebrated and reminisced about the legacy the library was leaving behind while they anticipated the opening of the new building at 900 Wayne Avenue.

See the lights off video with County Executive Leggett and his helpers from the East Silver Spring Elementary School, Anna and Madeline Seelke, that was posted by Montgomery County Public Libraries.

Ride On Pilot Project Tests Turn Warning System

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Ride On bus system is testing a turn warning alert vehicle on four of its buses that notifies pedestrians of a turning .

When a bus operator turns the steering wheel 45 degrees in either direction, an audible warning is heard outside of the bus in the direction of the turn announcing that the bus is turning. An optical sensor installed inside the steering column is triggered when the vehicle turns. The volume of the warning can be adjusted.

The system is manufactured by Clever Devices.

County Seeks Volunteers to Work with Victims of Sexual Assault

Volunteers are needed to assist sexual assault victims and their families through the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP) of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Interviews are currently being conducted for an April 2015 training session.

Volunteers provide 24-hour crisis counseling and companion services at Montgomery County hospitals and police stations for victims of rape and sexual assault. Bi-lingual volunteers are encouraged to apply.

All potential volunteers must attend a training program, which covers crisis intervention skills and the specialized knowledge of the emotional, medical and legal issues that victims face. Volunteers must commit to serve for one year, in an on-call capacity, for one 12-hour shift or two six-hour shifts per week. All volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, reside in Montgomery County, and have a valid driver’s license and immediate access to transportation.

For more information or to arrange an interview, call the Montgomery County Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program at 240-777-1355 or go to

Keter Betts Photo Exhbition Debuts in Silver Spring

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) has announced the world premiere of an exhibition of photographic works by the late internationally renowned jazz bassist – and Silver Spring resident -- Keter Betts to be held Friday, March 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery & Music Room in the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place.

Bassically Yours: The Jazz Photography of Keter Betts will remain on display at the gallery through May 29. The exhibition features historic portraits of notable musicians, singers and other important figures of the Greater Washington jazz scene of the 1950s and 1960s.

AHCMC has mounted the exhibition in cooperation with Keter Betts daughter, Jennifer Betts, who hopes it will bring increased awareness to her father’s vast contributions to jazz music. Known for his long stint with Ella Fitzgerald, William Thomas “Keter” Betts was also a major contributor to the Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz' “Jazz Samba” album, which introduced American jazz audiences to the sounds of bossa-nova in 1962.

Historic Preservation Awards to be Presented

Montgomery Preservation Inc. will honor individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to the preservation of Montgomery County historic resources at the 2014 Montgomery County Awards for Historic Preservation to be held on March 27, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the restored Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station, 8100 Georgia Ave.

Construction and Restoration Awards will be presented to two 18th- century, two 19th- century and two 20th-century structures, and one engineering reconstruction. Three special achievement awards will go for heritage education, events and lifetime achievement.

The event is free (with a suggested donation of $15) and will include refreshments. Parking is available at the Fenton St. garage across Georgia Ave.; handicapped parking is available on-site.

RSVP by March 23 to

Learn more about Montgomery Preservation Inc.

Infrastructure and Growth Forum Looks at Long-time Issues, Questions

A couple hundred residents and elected officials gathered recently at a Saturday forum to address the area’s ability to provide the infrastructure necessary to keep pace with the County’s growth. The forum, held at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was organized by Councilmember Roger Berliner.

Watch the brief video overview.

Lockheed Martin is Top Government Contractor

According to the latest Federal Scorecard report from Govini, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin was awarded approximately $14 billion in contracts for fiscal year 2014, earning it the top contractor spot.

Read more.

Homegrown Success: Woman-Owned Environmental Management Services Inc. Marks 25 Years

Environmental Management Services Inc. (EMSI) recently celebrated 25 years of success as a woman-owned, minority firm in Montgomery County.

In late 1989, Shobhana Sharma, president & CEO, founded the full-service environmental company that performs chemical, biological, and radioactive waste disposal services and 24- hour emergency spill incident response and cleanup. Sharma was joined by her sister Angela Sharma, vice president, in 1991.

Read more about EMSI.

March 2, 2015

Personal Experiences from Local Civil Rights Activists

Six long-time Montgomery County residents whose activism on civil rights and social justice issues played key roles in the Civil Rights movement in the County are featured in a special video that was part of the Black History Month Commemoration hosted by the County Council on February 24.

Christine "Tina" Clarke, Warren Crutchfield, Ruby Reese Moone, James Offord, Odessa Shannon and Harvey Zeigler were among those sharing their historical experiences with councilmembers, invited guests and the public.

County Cable Montgomery producer/editor Barbara Grunbaum and videographer Mike Springirth compiled the recollections into the 14-minute video entitled “A Century of Black Life History and Culture in Montgomery County, Maryland.”

Capital Crescent Garage in Bethesda Now Charging for Parking

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation's Division of Parking is now charging for parking in the 960-space Capital Crescent Garage located at the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues. Parking has been free since the garage opened on January 20 to give parkers time to become acquainted with the new garage. The hourly rate at the garage is $0.80 an hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Garage patrons should insert their tickets into centrally located pay machines prior to returning to their vehicles. The pay machines in the garage’s three pedestrian lobbies accept credit cards and cash. Customers can also pay at garage exits with a credit card.

Detailed information on using this “pay-on-foot” payment system is available online.

More information on parking in Montgomery County’s public lots and garages is available online.

Local Liquor Control: The Facts

It contributes $30 million in annual profit to the County – helping fund schools, transportation, aid for the vulnerable in our midst, and more.

It helps to keep taxes lower.

Lower alcohol consumption and higher revenue for public purposes than other jurisdictions.

There are no liquor stores on every corner.

The system makes it harder for underage individuals to purchase alcohol and provides more education for the public and for servers as well.

Control of local sales better protects the public health, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Read about the benefits of local control.

Learn about the public health benefits.

Visit Department of Liquor Control for more information.

Experience Counts: Nominate Local Businesses that Hire Workers 55+ Years of Age

Older adults are a great asset for businesses and communities because of their knowledge, experience and work ethic.

The Montgom­ery County Department of Economic Development, the Workforce Investment Board and the Jewish Council for the Aging annually recognize best practices of employers in the County who bring skills and diversity to their workforce by hiring and using the talents of workers 55 and older.

Businesses honored in 2014 for their exemplary practices were: the National Institutes of Health, Adventist HealthCare and Sandy Spring Bank. Awards for 2015 will be presented at the Jewish Council for the Aging’s Annual 50+ Employment Expo on June 1.

Nominations for 2015 recipients are now open and will be accepted until March 27.

To receive more information about the award program, to submit suggestions for company nominations and/or to access nomination forms, visit

Another Kind of Madness in March: Book Battles Now at a Library Near You

Local book lovers are invited to participate in Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) second annual “March Book Battle.” Simply go online to and vote for your favorite children’s, teen and adult books. Choose from eight pairs each of children’s and teen/adult titles.

Each week throughout March, new book pairings will be posted for voting. Displays of titles and authors included in the voting will be featured at MCPL branches.

The champions will be announced on the library website on Monday, March 30.

For more information, visit

Nominations Sought for Community Action Awards; Due March 16

The County’s Community Action Board is seeking nominations for several awards that recognize individuals and organizations that have made a difference in reducing poverty or by advocating for low-income residents.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, March 16. Nomination forms are available online. For more information or for a paper copy of the nomination form, call the Community Action Agency at 240-777-1697.

The following awards will be presented at the board’s annual Community Action Month Celebration and Volunteer Event on Tuesday, May 19:
  • Henry L. Dixon Community Action Award for an Organization – for promoting self-sufficiency for adults in the County.
  • Gerald J. Roper, Sr. Community Action Award for a Youth Organization – for helping to improve future success for youth and develop leadership skills. Youth-led organizations receive extra points in the review process.
  • Marcia Plater Community Action Adult Volunteer Award – recognizing an adult whose volunteer services or advocacy efforts help lower-income County residents move towards or achieve self-sufficiency.
  • Marcia Plater Community Action Youth Volunteer Award – honoring a youth volunteer whose services or advocacy efforts help lower-income County residents move towards or achieve self-sufficiency.

Home Tree Care 101

Mature trees have been called the "work horses of the environment." They provide cooling shade, filter air and water pollution, provide psychological benefits and increase property value. Increasing and sustaining tree canopy in Montgomery County is a priority for residents and for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

About 85% of the County’s tree canopy is on private residential or commercial property. Because of the importance of tree canopy in sustaining communities, Conservation Montgomery and DEP have partnered to offer “Home Tree Care 101” (HTC101) workshops in County neighborhoods.

Classes are held outdoors with hands-on demonstrations of tree pruning, mulching and other tips on home tree. A long-term goal is to preserve mature tree canopy in the County by improving maintenance of larger trees – keeping these work horses vital and beautiful.

Learn more about HTC 101, including how to sign up for or to organize a class.

New Funding Opportunity for Artists, Cultural Nonprofits in Wheaton’s Arts District

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) has announced a new funding opportunity – called the Wheaton Cultural Grants -- that will support creative and cultural projects in Wheaton.

Nonprofit arts and humanities organizations and individual artists and scholars are invited to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for Wheaton cultural projects. Grant applicants must be based in Montgomery County, and proposed projects must take place in Wheaton between May 15, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The application deadline is April 9, 2015.

To view the complete Wheaton Cultural Grants Guidelines, visit

Bethesda-Rockville Area Rated Tops in Country for STEM Salaries

The top-paying jobs in the country for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are found in the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick corridor.

According to the website, the average salary for STEM jobs in the area is $100,787, which tops California’s Bay Area average STEM salary of $100, 324. Washington, DC ranked third. listed the following as “Notable STEM Employers” -- National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Human Genome Sciences, Lockheed Martin and Bethesda Softworks.

See the article about the ranking in Bethesda Magazine’s “Bethesda Beat.

County Public Schools have Country’s Highest Graduation Rate for African American Males

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) have the highest graduation rate for African American males in the country according to a report released recently by The Schott Foundation for Public Education entitled Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males. [see p. 24]

The report calculates the MCPS graduation rate for African American males at 74 percent—highest among districts with more than 10,000 African American male students.

The national graduation rate for African American males is 59 percent, according to the report. The remaining top five systems were Cumberland and Guilford counties in North Carolina, Baltimore County and Fort Bend, Texas.

Read more in the MCPS news release.

See the “Bethesda Beat” article.

Bikesharing is Big in the Metro Area

How big is bikesharing locally?

According to the Greater Greater Washington blog, Washington's Capital Bikeshare has “regained its crown as largest overall network, growing from 305 stations to 347 stations,” unseating New York City.

The post by Dan Malouff stated that “Overall, the number of bikeshare stations nationwide increased about 20%, from 1,925 in 2013 to 2,345 in 2014. Thirteen new bikesharing systems opened nationwide last year, and four small existing ones closed, bringing the US total up to 49 active systems.”

Read the entire piece, including the chart of U.S. rankings.

Saturday, March 21—Alzheimer’s Disease – Know the 10 Signs: Early Detection Matters

Aspen Hill Library, 4407 Aspen Hill Rd., Rockville. 2-4 p.m. Free. Topics include: How to tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and typical aging; Steps to take if you recognize a warning sign; and Process to receiving a diagnosis. Presented by the Alzheimer’s Association. Register with the association at 1-800-272-3900. To request sign language interpretation or other deaf/hard of hearing services for library-sponsored programs, email, preferably with three business days’ notice. To request other accommodations, contact the Aspen Hill Library at 240-773-9410.

Tuesday, March 24 -- Community Meeting Update: Wheaton Redevelopment Project on Lot 13

Wheaton High School Auditorium, 12601 Dalewood Dr, Silver Spring. 6:30 p.m. The Department of Transportation will provide an update on the latest sketch plans for the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission building and the public town square to be located on parking lot 13. More information, visit

Saturday, March 28 – Montgomery County GreenFest.

Montgomery College, Takoma Park campus and Jesup Blair Local Park, Silver Spring. The new GreenFest website features a schedule of activities, directions to the event, a listing of exhibitors and kid-focused activities. As part of GreenFest’s commitment to reducing its footprint and paper usage, the website was designed for mobile devices so attendees can easily view the schedule on their phones without needing a printed schedule. Sustainably sourced lunch items, including snacks and vegan options, will be available for purchase through Montgomery College’s foodservice provider, Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services. Attendees who bring a reusable bottle can also receive a discount on drinks, such as lemonades and iced tea.

Monday, June 1 – 50+ Employment Expo: Retool, Recharge, Reinvent.

Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd., Bethesda. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Easy access via the Metro Red Line --White Flint Metro stop. Free admission, parking. Over 50 and looking for a job? Talk with recruiters from dozens of employers, including non-profits, government, healthcare, retail, technology, etc. Keynote speaker: Tom Kierein, meteorologist with News4’s weather team. He can be seen weekdays on News4 Today, News4 Midday and on Email or call 301-255-4209.