August 13, 2015

Recreation, Parks Launch New One-Stop Registration System for Classes, Programs; Eliminates Need for Two Accounts

On August 17, Montgomery County Recreation and Montgomery Parks will launch a new registration system called ActiveMONTGOMERY, which will replace ParkPASS and RecWeb, the two separate registration systems currently used by Montgomery Parks and Montgomery Recreation.

The new system allows customers to use one website, one username and one account to register for both Recreation and Parks classes, programs, etc. ActiveMONTGOMERY also has new features such as easier search functionality, mobile-friendly registration access, Google maps location services and convenient credit card registration.

To begin using ActiveMONTGOMERY, users must set up new customer accounts at  Account set-up will take approximately five minutes and will enable customers to view upcoming activities and programs and register.

Log in instructions:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on “Create an Account”
  3. Fill out all forms: Name & Address, Contact Information, Personal Information, Emergency Contact and Account Information
  4. Click Create Account
  5. You will receive a confirmation email. Activate your account by clicking on the link provided in the email.
Questions? Call 240-777-6840.

Back-to-School Safety Tips from Summer of Safety Campaign to be Featured Beginning August 24

While the official last day of summer is September 22, for families across the County the Fall season starts when local schools open on August 31.

That’s why the Public Information Office’s Summer of Safety awareness campaign’s back-to-school tips will be the featured topic the week of August 24.

There will be information to share with students about safe walking, biking and riding the bus to school. There are also reminders about safe driving (don’t forget to stop for school buses with the stop arm out and lights flashing), latchkey kids and required school inoculations. In addition, you will learn how to register, if you haven’t already, for “Alert Montgomery,” the County’s electronic emergency warning system.

Online Pet Licensing Services Now Available

Pet licensing services are now available to County residents online.

The new user-friendly service makes it easier for pet owners to comply with Montgomery County law that requires a pet license for all dogs and cats four months of age or older. All that is needed is a current rabies vaccination certificate and a credit card.

A license is still required even if a pet is always confined on private property, remains indoors exclusively or lives on a farm. The fine for an unregistered/licensed pet is $100. The fine for not having a dog or cat vaccinated for rabies is $500.

In addition to the new online licensing program, residents can obtain a license through the mail or in-person at the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, 7315 Muncaster Mill Rd., Derwood, as long as they have written proof of a current rabies vaccination.

See details about the Love Them, License Them campaign.

Hispanic Gala Funds Futures for Hispanic Youth

The annual Montgomery County Executive's  Hispanic Gala brings together stakeholders and organizations that are committed to assist Hispanic youth to achieve a high level of education while building strong, diverse and united communities in Montgomery County and Maryland.

This year’s event will be held on September 10, from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Fillmore Silver Spring 8656 Colesville Road.

Funds raised this year will provide scholarships for 60 outstanding Latino students enrolled in Montgomery County and Maryland higher education institutions.

Get more information and buy tickets at

Bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Montgomery County

Montgomery County is developing plans for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that can offer a fast, reliable alternative to driving by providing more transit options and shorter commutes. BRT also will connect more people to more jobs, bringing economic growth and expanding the County's tax base.

A similar BRT, called Metroway, recently started running in Alexandria, VA. Soon, it will expand to Arlington.

Take a look at this video about the "public transportation with an exclusive feel," located just across the Potomac River.

A Happy-Ending Story Thanks to Consumer Protection

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) enforces laws to prohibit unfair and deceptive practices and works to ensure integrity in our marketplace. A recent occurrence demonstrates how that happens.

OCP Investigator Michelle Escobar handled a complaint from a Bethesda resident who had signed a home improvement contract for a new roof. The contract did not contain the 3-day cooling off disclosure required by law nor any notice about a “restocking” fee.

Due to an unforeseen financial problem, the consumer had to cancel the contract and postpone replacing her roof. However, the merchant refused to return the customer’s full deposit and stated they were going to impose a “restocking” fee.

OCP Investigator Escobar explained to the merchant that the consumer was entitled to a full refund because the contract was improper.

Thanks to the work of Escobar, this story had a happy ending for the consumer. But, circumstances like this one are why OCP reminds consumers to carefully read all contracts, confirm that the contractor is licensed and obtain more than one estimate.

See the story unfold on the video clip of “Refund Roadtrip” featured on the latest episode of OCP’s “Consumer Compass” on County Cable 6 (Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN; channel 30 for Verizon subscribers).

Satyajit Ray Film Festival at Montgomery College to Feature Works of Award-Winning Indian Director

The works of award-winning Indian director Satyajit Ray will be featured in a film festival to be held at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on the Rockville campus of Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., beginning September 3.

The initial showing in the Satyajit Ray Film Festival will feature Pather Panchali – Song of the Little Road at 7:30 p.m. Other notable works by Ray will be shown from the 4th to 6th and 10th to 13th. The films feature English subtitles.

Admission is free but tickets are required. Call the Box Office at 40-567-5301, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Festival highlights will include a reception on the 4th with Michael Jack, professor of film history at George Mason University and former programmer for the American Film Institute at the Kennedy Center.

Regarded as one of India’s top three most important directors, Satyajit Ray’s first movie, Pather Panchali  (1955), won several International Awards and helped establish his reputation as a world-class director. Ray, who died in 1992, was named the 25th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly and in 1992 received a lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards.

Happy Birthday Silver Spring Civic Building

County Executive Ike Leggett signs the anniversary timeline reflecting the length of his involvement 
with the building—from its conception to grand opening to the present day.
A large gathering of Silver Spring residents joined local elected officials to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Silver Spring Civic Building, located at Veterans Plaza, on the corner of Ellsworth Dr. and Fenton St.

County Executive Ike Leggett and District 5 Councilmember Tom Hucker join the crowd
celebrating the Civic Building’s fifth anniversary.
Read more about the building in the original news release.

AFI Silver Theatre in Some Good Company

See the National Review’s mention of the AFI Silver Spring’s showing of Bugs Bunny cartoons in celebration of the famous “wabbitt’s” 75th anniversary.

Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter both have pieces on the 25th anniversary re-release of the 1990 Oscar nominated film “Metropolitan” that mention the upcoming showings in New York, Los Angeles and Silver Spring.

August 4, 2015

National Night Out

Communities around the County will demonstrate their commitment to keeping their areas free from crime during the annual National Night Out observance on Tuesday, August 4.

National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), is designed to generate neighborhood support and participation in crime prevention efforts and to enhance police and community relations.

In addition to the traditional display of outdoor lights and front porch vigils, many communities celebrate with a variety of events to help neighbors get to know one another and to build community spirit.

See the complete list of activities throughout the County.

Silver Spring Civic Building Celebrates Five Years of Service to Community

There’s a big birthday celebration coming up in Downtown Silver Spring on Thursday, August 6 when the community is invited to gather at the Civic Building to celebrate its first five years of service to the community.

Residents are asked to convene in the Great Hall at 6 p.m. prepared to share stories, pictures and artifacts about the building. Following the reminiscences, the public is invited to attend the final Thursday Night Summer Concert of the season right outside the building on Veterans Plaza, featuring the Rock and Roll Relics (Oldies).

“Celebrate and Educate” – It’s Fair Time in Montgomery County

It’s the time of year when the country comes to town and the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair sets up shop at the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.

This year, the fair runs from August 14 to 22 with exhibits, food, rides, entertainment, (gates open from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday through end of Fair), animals (can be seen beginning Sunday through end of Fair from noon to closing) and loads of friendly people.

Cost is $10; children 11 and under are free. There’s also free same day re-admission if you get your hand stamped at the gate before departing.

Everything you’d ever need to know about what’s happening at the Fair can be found at

Consumer Protection Joins US Postal Inspection Service to Shut Down Company Mailing Deceptive Letters

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), the Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland (BBB) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division, Maryland Property Review Board, a private company, was stopped from mailing deceptive letters soliciting Maryland homeowners to pay a fee to petition a review of their property taxes.

The letters, which gave the impression they came from the State, began reaching homeowners a month ago and advised recipients their property taxes were $1,346 higher than comparable homes and encouraged them to pay a filing fee of $99 to “reduce your Property Tax Bill.”

Because OCP and BBB representatives had received nearly 1,000 complaints from homeowners since the mailings began, they contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division. The Service immediately investigated the mail-drop location in Cockeysville, MD, identified the operators of the deceptive campaign and executed enforcement efforts to terminate the activity.

Read more in the news release.

Read other coverage from WTOP Radio and Bethesda Magazine.

For more information about OCP, or to check a merchant’s complaint record, call 240-777-3636 or visit

Mental Health Court: A Consideration for Montgomery County

The trends are there throughout the country – all too often local jails are becoming home for those suffering acute mental illnesses – and there is evidence that it’s happening in Montgomery County.

According to figures from local officials provided for a recent Washington Post article, the number of those booked at the Detention Center in the past three years who need immediate mental health services has risen from 1,011 to 1,626, a 61 percent increase. At the same time, the total number of people being booked at the jail has fallen.

Now, some Montgomery County criminal justice leaders -- including State’s Attorney John McCarthy and County Police Officer Scott Davis, head of the department’s program that trains patrol officers to respond to mentally ill people in the field -- are speaking out in favor of establishing a mental health court in the County.

Robert Green, director of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, said one of the keys to any mental health court’s success will be to equip people with awareness and treatment they can use well after coming into contact with the officer or a jailer.

“This is a lifelong issue for many of these individuals,” he said. “The minute we open our doors, their challenges don’t go away.”

Festival Celebrates Area’s Salvadoran Community Life

County Executive Ike Leggett and some young Salvadoran friends were among more than 7,000 people who enjoyed the festival
that commemorates Salvadoran-American Day in the United States.
A variety of colors, entertainment, food, crafts and educational programs highlighted the 6th annual Salvadoran-American Day Festival held in Wheaton on August 2. The free, family-oriented festival also included a Latino health fair where residents participated in free, confidential health screenings.

Correctional Facility’s Job Training Program Hailed by President in Recent National Speech

As part of President Obama’s speech to the NAACP Conference in Philadelphia in mid-July that focused the ills of the country’s criminal justice system, he cited the Montgomery County Correctional Facility’s (MCCF) American Job Center, one of a network of such centers across the U.S., formerly called One-Stop Career Centers.

The centers offer an array of services including job search assistance, training opportunities and classes related to seeking employment. Eligible populations include veterans, youth, dislocated workers and ex-offenders. MCCF was one of the first centers in the country to operate within a maximum security correctional facility.

A driving principle of the MCCF center is the acknowledgement that ex-offenders have different needs than typical job seekers; they often have many more barriers to employment success. Specialized interventions are required for this population to compete on a level playing field among other job seekers. The program design, staff training and physical lay-out are all key factors that contribute to the effectiveness of the center.

The President said, “Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help them find a job, not train them to become more hardened criminals.

“Look, I don’t want to pretend like this is all easy. But some places are doing better than others. Montgomery County, Maryland put a job training center inside the prison walls -- (applause) -- to give folks a head start in thinking about what might you do otherwise than committing crime. That’s a good idea.”

Participants in the MCCF program are called “customers.” This language signifies a shift in thought from traditional service delivery. Customers are equal partners in the process; not recipients of services due to personal deficits. Staff members are referred to as “coaches.” The coaches provide training, guidance, and drill exercises while the customer is responsible for putting in the effort needed toward measurable success. This approach encourages independence and personal empowerment versus dependence on staff members.

See the MCCF website for more information about the MCCF American Job Center.

Baltimore County to Establish Ambulance Fee; Charge Insurance Companies

Baltimore County will soon become one of the last jurisdictions in the State to charge a fee for ambulance services. Depending on the kind of care provided, the fee will be either $700 or $750, plus $10 per mile and will be charged to the patient’s health insurance provider, Medicare or Medicaid.

Montgomery County’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Insurance Reimbursement Law went into effect on January 1, 2013. Revenues generated from the program provide equipment, enhancement and training for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

See details on the County’s program.

Officials say every other jurisdiction in Maryland except Calvert County currently charges some fee for ambulance services. In lieu of an ambulance fee, Howard County has a separate tax for fire and rescue services.

The Baltimore County plan could bring in as much as $26 million annually to the County’s general fund, with some directed to volunteer fire companies to help pay for the cost of providing emergency medical and ambulance services.

See Baltimore Sun article.

Montgomery Rated Second among U.S. Large Population Digital Counties

The 2015 Digital Counties Survey, conducted by e.Republic's Center for Digital Government, highlights counties across the country that are digital leaders.

This year, Montgomery County tied with San Diego, CA for second place among counties with populations of 500,000 and above. The survey called the County “a perennial high achiever….”

Among the noteworthy accomplishments that earned the County a second-place ranking for the second consecutive year were:
  • upgrading of its final mainframe-dependent applications -- tax assessment, health and criminal justice;
  • increasing the County’s financial transparency efforts with new tools such as the Interactive Fiscal Plan that lets residents test their skills at balancing the budget and see the complex consequences from any one decision; and
  • taking a data-driven approach to improving online customer satisfaction, including visitors to the primary website, the 311 site and the County Council website. 
Locate/read about the country’s top digital counties.

The Digital Communities program is an initiative of the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine and is especially designed to help local government professionals improve public service delivery through the efficient and effective use of information and communication technology.

Saturday, September 12 – Public Hearing on List of Early Voting Centers for the Upcoming Presidential Election

Executive Office Building, Lobby Level Auditorium, 101 Monroe St., Rockville. 10 a.m. Each local Board of Elections in Maryland is required to review its list of early voting sites every two years and make recommendations to the State Board of Elections. In addition, public comments will be heard during the August 31 meeting of the Board of Elections to be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Board of Elections, 18753 N. Frederick Avenue, in Gaithersburg. See details on testifying. Testimony also may be sent to until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16.

Tuesday, September 22 – Online Chat with County Executive Ike Leggett

The Executive will respond to questions from residents on topics of interest. 1- 2 p.m. A primary focus of this chat will be questions and comments concerning what residents would like to see in future libraries in the way of services, programs, technology, materials collections, etc. Submit questions/comments now or on the 22nd. Library comments and questions will be addressed at the Library of the Future Summit on September 24.