June 10, 2021

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich



Dear Friends,

We continue to make tremendous progress in our fight against COVID-19. Our test positivity rate and our cases per 100,000 have consistently been among the lowest in the State. More than 60 percent of our residents have received their second shot.

The big news is that Montgomery County is No. 1 in the nation among counties with more than 300,000 residents for vaccinating the 12-and-over population.
 
Percent of population vaccinated: All Counties in US (CDC)

More than 76 percent of adults over 18 in our County are fully vaccinated and nearly 90 percent of our residents 65-and-older are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.

Each week, more is opening around the County.

The County liquor stores are resuming their full hours, including Sundays, at the 26 stores across the County. On Monday, eight more libraries will reopen to the public. In addition, our Department of Permitting Services office will resume in-person service next week.

I also want to remind people that individual businesses and establishments can still require customers and visitors to wear masks. If an establishment requires a mask, you must abide by its rules. While we still have unvaccinated residents, mask wearing and distancing are our best tools to limit the spread of virus. Masks continue to be required on public transportation and in health facilities, schools and camps.

Managed lanes proposal by the State

In other news, this week, the Maryland Transportation Authority Board unanimously approved several measures that pave the way for a public-private partnership that will widen and add toll lanes on I-495 from the American Legion Bridge to Old Georgetown Road and on I-270 from the spur to I-370. I joined with other elected leaders, organizations and residents to highlight some of the major problems with the plan as approved by the Board.

I appreciate the State’s willingness to try to tackle our congestion problems on I-495 and I-270 and the acknowledgment that work must begin at the American Legion Bridge, where the traffic problems begin. The bridge is a crucial link from Virginia up I-270 and connects to the north and west, and it needs to be replaced.

The best solution lies in a partnership with the Federal government, not in a public-private partnership that will cost State taxpayers unnecessary money. We now have a President who is committed to infrastructure investment. The State should ask the Biden Administration to include the American Legion Bridge in its infrastructure plans; it is a perfect project for Federal investment, and it would save taxpayers money and still address a regional transportation problem. That solution must include meaningful transit, which would include rail options and BRT.

We can develop a transportation solution that includes significant transit improvements and addresses the needs from Frederick to Virginia without the pitfalls and costs of the ill-advised public-private-partnership (P-3) plan. The next step in the process is a vote in July by the State Board of Public Works. I urge you to contact the Board members and ask that they not approve the project in its current form. This is a major infrastructure project: we owe it to our residents to get it right from the beginning.

Supporting our vibrant bio and research sectors

This week, I joined Governor Hogan for a tour of the new headquarters site for Novavax in Gaithersburg. Novavax’s growth and investment in Montgomery County is not just great news for us, but is equally important to the State, the entire DMV and for all our bio and life sciences companies.

As companies like Novavax grow, we must build a pipeline of well-trained, highly educated people for their workforces. This is why we are about to begin a landmark partnership between the County, the University System of Maryland and Montgomery College.

This partnership will guide the future of post-pandemic education utilizing existing assets to create an economic development powerhouse for Maryland in life and regulatory sciences. These efforts are an important part of the work I have been doing since I became County Executive to implement intentional strategies to help Montgomery County improve its prior limited job growth.

The last 15 months have highlighted the importance of our bio, life science and related sectors, and we must continue to invest in their success. It is imperative that we grow and provide a workforce with the skills and talent they need to succeed.

In the past, the approach has been to change our zoning, a strategy that has failed to produce the additional jobs and economic development that supporters claimed would happen. More than a decade of insignificant growth in jobs and businesses has demonstrated that zoning and increased density are not the solution. We need to create an environment where businesses thrive and that includes providing them with the talent they need. This partnership will help to ensure that we create a pipeline that will help to bring jobs and opportunity to this County.

Throughout the pandemic, we have not stopped working on a multitude of issues, but now we are able to focus on other priorities and that is exciting. I continue to thank all of you for being patient and enduring the last 15 months.

Thank you for getting Montgomery County to this point. We have much to be proud of. But we still have neighbors, friends, co-workers and family who have not gotten vaccinated and we will maintain our many efforts to get them vaccinated. 

With appreciation,



Marc Elrich
County Executive

COVID-19 Update: County a National Leader in Getting Residents Vaccinated

Navigate the charts with the arrows in the Vaccine Distribution Dashboard.

Montgomery County leads the nation in the percentage of residents 12 and older who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in counties with a population of more than 300,000, according to data made available this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for adolescents ages 12-15-years in May, more than 28,000 youth in the County have received their first dose. There are an estimated 60,000 residents 12-15 in Montgomery.

Those in the 12-15 age group are encouraged to get vaccinated at one of the County-run clinics. In addition, the State website can be used to find pharmacies offering the vaccine and make appointments.

More than 677,000 (64.4 percent) of County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to Maryland statistics released today, Thursday, June 10. More than 586,000 County residents (55.8 percent) have been fully vaccinated.

Statewide, for the first time, Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate has dropped below 1 percent (0.95 percent)—the lowest rate since the health crisis began in March 2020. Half of all Marylanders are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to official CDC data. The State has reached the milestone faster than 42 other states.

More statistics about COVID-19 infections, and details about who has been vaccinated, can be found at the County COVID-19 dashboard at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/#dashboard.

‘How to Address the Alarming Reduction of Women in the U.S. Workforce Post COVID’ Will Be Theme at Revitalization and Recovery Virtual Town Hall on Friday, June 11


“Pandemic Fallout:  How to Address the Alarming Reduction of Women in the U.S. Workforce Post COVID” will be the theme from noon-1 p.m. on Friday, June 11, when Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Economic Revitalization and Recovery program continues its series of virtual town hall meetings to keep businesses informed on strategies as the County turns the corner toward recovery.
County Executive Marc Elrich initiated the series of town halls held every other Friday to share timely updates on COVID-19 topics of interest to the business community.

The town halls give businesses an opportunity to hear directly from County leaders. Judy Stephenson, the County’s small business navigator, will host the June 11 session. There will be updates on business grant programs and Travis Gayles, the County health officer, and Earl Stoddard, the County’s director of Emergency Management, will update attendees on the status of reopening and the vaccine rollout.

During the June 11 town hall, Ms. Stephenson will host a panel of experts addressing the impact of the pandemic on women in the workforce. She will be joined by Lynne Stein Benzion of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, Jennifer Arnaiz of the Montgomery County Childcare Resource and Referral Center, Morgan Wortham of the Maryland Women's Business Center and Tazeen Ahmad of the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

“We are fortunate to have resources available to help businesses and women develop strategies to ensure everyone benefits equally from the recovery,” said Ms. Stephenson. “This should be an informative discussion on a critical topic.”

To join the broadcast, go to https://zoom.us/j/98584224354?pwd=ekdBd05kT08zRmxCekQzajkwdW9LZz09

Webinar ID: 985 8422 4354, Passcode: 057204. Spanish interpretation is now available.

The town hall will be broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (cable station CCM), which is available on Comcast and RCN (channels 6 and HD996) and Verizon (channel 30). The town hall can be viewed live via County social media at https://www.facebook.com/montgomerycountyinfo.

Town halls are recorded and available through the Montgomery County Business Portal at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/Biz-Resources/covid19/4BizNews.html.

Olney Resident Reflects on His Family’s Special Connection with ‘Juneteenth’ on the Latest Episode of Montgomery County’s ‘What’s Happening MoCo’ Podcast


Reynauld Smith, an Olney resident and board member of the Sandy Spring Slave Museum, shares the experiences of his ancestors’ emancipation from slavery on June 19, 1865, on the latest episode of Montgomery County’s “What’s Happening MoCo” podcast. The date is now known nationally as “Juneteenth.”

In the podcast, Smith offers a unique view of the 155-year-old holiday. He talks about how a slave owner tearfully read Lincoln’s Executive Order No. 3 and describes the first celebrations of Juneteenth in Texas.

In recognition of Juneteenth and as part of its official reopening, the Sandy Spring Slave Museum will offer free tours on Saturday, June 19, from noon-6 p.m. The tours will include lectures on Juneteenth and there will be special presentations from the African, Latino and Caribbean communities. Smith said there will be opportunities for all residents to enjoy themselves—and learn about history.

“We are going to have music. We’re going to have vendors. We’re going to have food. And it’s just going to be a lot of fun,” said Smith.

The new episode is now available. The on-demand video of the newest episode can be viewed via the What’s Happening MoCo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WhatsHappeningMoCoPodcast. The podcast also can be heard via several popular podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts at https://bit.ly/whats-happening-moco, Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, and others.

The Sandy Spring Slave Museum is located at 18524 Brooke Rd in Sandy Spring. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 301-774-4066 or visit https://www.sandyspringslavemuseum.org.

In past episodes, podcast host Derrick Kenny has talked with guests on a wide variety of subjects. The show’s guests have included elected officials, Montgomery employees who specialize in specific aspects of government, business leaders and entertainers who live in the County. New podcasts are released twice a month.

Residents and others interested in asking a question or suggesting a topic to be addressed in a future episode are encouraged to engage via the Facebook page or via e-mail at derrick.kenny@montgomerycountymd.gov.

What’s Happening MoCo podcast episode archives can be accessed by visiting the podcast’s webpage at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/whats-happening-moco-podcast.html.

Eight More County Public Libraries Opening on Monday, June 14


Eight Montgomery County Public Libraries will reopen on Monday, June 14. Together with the six branches that have already reopened, that will bring the total number of libraries reopened to 14.

The Noyes Library for Young Children at 10237 Carroll Place in Kensington will reopen on July 6. The Germantown Library is closed for a refresh project. 

The hours at all branches will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Additional information will be posted on the MCPL website as it becomes available.   

The branches that will reopen on June 14: 
The libraries that previously reopened: 
The 14 branches will follow guidelines that include no appointments, no capacity limits and no social distance requirements. Holds to Go service will be discontinued prior to the reopening of the branches. 

For additional information visit MCPL’s website:  www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library. 

Alcohol Beverage Services’ Retail Stores Will Resume Normal Hours Starting Sunday, June 13




The retail stores of Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) will return to normal hours of operation starting Sunday, June 13. The new schedule includes expanded hours and the reopening of stores on Sundays.

Starting on June 13, stores will be open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and open noon-5 p.m. on Sundays. Given its spirits-only format, the Poolesville store will be open noon-7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and will be closed on Sunday. The earlier closing time for the Poolesville store is consistent with the business model that will be followed for smaller format, lower volume stores.

Stores will follow newly adjusted procedures that include no capacity limits, voluntary mask wearing and no social distance requirements.

For additional information, visit ABS’ website: https://montgomerycountymd.gov/ABS/stores/

ABS is the alcohol wholesaler of beer, wine, and spirits for Montgomery County and operates 26 retail stores throughout the County. In addition, ABS manages alcohol licensing, enforcement, and education for more than 1,000 businesses. Generating more than $35 million in net income annually, its profits are used to pay down County debt with a large portion deposited in the general fund to pay for resident services that would otherwise be funded by County tax dollars.


School All-Purpose Rooms, Cafeterias and Gyms Will Again Be Available for Public Use on Weekends in Summer; Reservation Requests Can Be Filed Starting Friday, June 11


All-purpose rooms, cafeterias and gyms in many Montgomery County Public Schools will again be available for public use on weekends from June 20 through Aug. 15. Reservations can be booked starting Friday, June 11.

The County’s Department of Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF), in partnership with MCPS, will accept reservation requests via ActiveMontgomery starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Space will be available in three-hour blocks based on the following schedule:

Available hours of use on Saturdays and Sundays:

Elementary schools:
  • All-purpose rooms/cafeterias (7-10 a.m., 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 3-6 p.m., 7-10 p.m.)
  • Gymnasiums (7:30-10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 3:30-6:30 p.m., 7:30-10:30 p.m.)
Middle schools:
  • All-purpose rooms/cafeterias (7-10 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4-7 p.m.)
  • Gymnasiums (8-11 a.m., 12:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5-8 p.m.)
High Schools (access only through July 31)
  • All-purpose rooms/cafeterias (7-10 a.m., noon-3 p.m., 5-8 p.m.)
  • Main gymnasiums (8-11 a.m., 1-4 p.m., 6-9 p.m.)
  • Auxiliary gymnasiums/Gym 2 (9 a.m.-noon, 2-5 p.m., 3:30-6:30 p.m., 7-10 p.m.)
All reservation requests will be considered on a first come, first served basis.
  • All groups must self-book online; payment is due at time of reservation request.
  • No user group may book more than one block of time per day, at any single school building all-purpose room/cafeteria. A group may use one block of time for either the gymnasium or the all-purpose room/cafeteria. Reservation requests received for two blocks of time on the same day at the same school building will be denied. This ensures greater opportunities for accessing space by as many groups as possible.
  • A maximum of 50 chairs and two tables will be set up in the all-purpose room/cafeteria if requested. If the number of tables and chairs requested is more than this, the school may provide the equipment but will not set it up or put it away. The permit holder will be responsible for doing so and must be completed within the three-hour permitted time period. No additional time will be provided to the group to accommodate this.
  • User group set up and clean up must be completed within the three-hour permit time.
  • User group storage is not permitted in school buildings.
  • Kitchen access is not permitted.
  • Tables and chairs are not permitted in gymnasiums.
  • Use of school scoreboard equipment is not permitted at this time.
  • Food or drink will not be permitted at this time to reduce cleanup by building services staff.
  • Audio-visual equipment rentals are not permitted at this time.
  • Due to limited space being available, reservation requests must be for appropriate use of the space requested (sports activities should only request gymnasium facilities; meetings or seated gatherings should only request the cafeteria/all-purpose room facilities, etc.).
  • Classroom use is not permitted at this time—no exceptions.
  • User groups that do not comply with the guidelines may be subject to cancellation for the summer.
CUPF is not accepting applications for large events currently. A public announcement will be sent out once it can begin accepting applications.

Maryland Residents Who Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations Can Win $40,000 in Daily Drawings and $400,000 on Fourth of July Via State Promotion with Maryland Lottery 


The effort to administer COVID-19 vaccines and end the health crisis has made significant strides as more residents have become vaccinated. To reward those who have been vaccinated, and encourage others to get vaccinations, the State of Maryland is giving out daily awards to vaccinated individuals each day through July 4, with a major prize of $400,000 being awarded on Independence Day. 

Governor Larry Hogan, the Maryland Lottery and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) have launched the $2 Million VaxCash Promotion, which will award at total $2 million in cash prizes to a total of 41 Maryland residents who have been vaccinated. 

A $40,000 winner will be chosen each day. Maryland residents 18 and older who have received a COVID-19 vaccination in Maryland at any time are eligible to win. No registration or entry is needed. 

The VaxCash Promotion wraps up on the Fourth of July when a final drawing will award one winner a grand prize of $400,000. 

Each Maryland resident age 18 or older who has been vaccinated in Maryland will be randomly assigned a number in a secure system maintained by MDH, which serves as the custodian of Maryland’s vaccination records. Separately, the Lottery will use a random number generator to select a winning number each day from the total number of people who have been vaccinated. 

MDH will notify the winners, who must provide written consent of their willingness to accept the prize. The Lottery will contact the winners with instructions on how to claim prizes. Winners will be permitted to remain anonymous, but will be encouraged to share their stories. 

Prizes will be paid directly from the Lottery’s marketing budget, and will not diminish the Lottery’s contribution to the Maryland General Fund.  

For more information, go to mdlottery.com. 

County Policing Advisory Commission to Hold First Public Hearing on Monday, June 14, with Focus on Drug Enforcement


The Montgomery County Policing Advisory Commission will hold its first virtual public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 14, to hear from the community regarding the issue of drug enforcement.

The hearing will focus on drug possession arrests and interactions that resulted in stop and frisk or search for drugs in which no drugs were found, and the issuance of civil citations for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.

Community members are invited to register to provide live testimony during the public hearing or to submit written, audio, or video testimony. They are asked to limit live testimony to no more than three minutes and to one speaker per organization (if applicable).

Written, audio and visual testimony submitted prior to the public hearing may be longer, if needed. The deadline to register to speak at the public hearing is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 13.

The following are examples of questions for members of the public to reflect on and address via their testimony:
  • Were you stopped and searched by the police? What happened? How did you feel?
  • After the police stopped you, what officially happened? Were you taken into custody? Were you let go? Were you given a citation? How was the encounter ultimately resolved?
  • If arrested, have you attempted to have the arrest or conviction expunged? If so, how would you describe that experience?
  • Have you experienced long-term consequences – such as suspension from school, loss of employment, loss of housing, family breakup, imprisonment?
  • Looking back on this encounter, what was the effect of this encounter on your relationship to the police or with other government agencies?
  • Would your experience in this encounter affect your willingness to go to the police if you were a crime victim or witnessed a crime?
  • If you needed treatment for a substance use disorder, did your experience with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) expedite, delay, or otherwise affect your ability to get appropriate treatment?
  • Do you or your organization have a view on the public safety, public health, economic, social or other value of MCPD drug arrests—both for marijuana and for other drugs?
The Policing Advisory Commission was created in 2019 by the Montgomery County Council in response to the ongoing public dialogue around policing practices and as an effort to increase community involvement in matters of public safety. The commission’s mission is to advise the Council on policing matters and recommend policies, programs, legislation or regulations with regards to policing.

The commission is composed of 11 public voting members and two non-voting, ex-officio members—the police chief (or his designee) and the president of an employee organization.

The current members of the commission:
  • Shabab Ahmed Mirza (chair)
  • Dalbin Osorio (vice chair)
  • Cherri Branson
  • Caroline Fredrickson
  • Jenn Lynn
  • Jerome Price
  • Justice Reid
  • Vernon Ricks
  • Nadia Sandi
  • Eric Sterling
  • Robin Gaster
  • Alicia Hudson
  • Jasmine Williams
  • Chief Marcus Jones (ex officio member)
  • Sergeant Cate Brewer (ex officio member)
To learn more about the Policing Advisory Commission, go here.

For more information on the public hearing, contact Carlos Camacho at carlos.camacho@montgomerycountymd.gov or Susan Farag at susan.farag@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Free Online Workshops for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs Available in June


Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) is offering free online workshops and one-on-one sessions geared toward assisting job seekers and entrepreneurs throughout June. All workshops are free and offered virtually. An internet connection and a device (such as a smartphone, tablet or computer) is required for participation.

The sessions will include the following:

Throughout June: Every Monday 9:30-11:30 a.m. H.I.R.E. (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) Sessions

Sign up to meet virtually/confidentially one-on-one with a career counselor for advice and assistance with job searches.

Register:
Tuesday/Thursday, June 15, and June 17, 5:45-7:45 p.m. LinkedIn Boot Camp (Part I / Part II)

Two-session/two-day workshop focuses on the mechanics and strategy of using LinkedIn as a tool to conduct a successful job search

Register: https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/4760612

Wednesday, June 16, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. How to Apply for Jobs with Montgomery County Government

Find out everything about applying for jobs with Montgomery County Government.

Register: https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/4842046

Tuesday, June 29, 12:30 p.m. Proctored Northstar Assessment Test; Assess your Digital Literacy Skills

Demonstrate your digital literacy skills by taking a proctored Northstar Assessment test during a scheduled test session.  Scoring 85 percent or higher earns individuals a Northstar Digital Literacy Certificate to share with employers. Tests will be administered and monitored remotely, allowing them to be taken from home.  Registration is required.  

Register: https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/5126177

Department of Transportation Wins National Technology Award for Customer Service

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has received a technology award from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) in the category of Customer Service.

The Computing Technology Industry Association is a leading voice and advocate for the estimated 75 million industry and tech professionals. Through education, training, certifications, and market research, CompTIA promotes industry growth and encourages opportunities and benefits made possible through technology.

With the onset of the COVID-19 health crisis, MCDOT’s Sidewalk Program was immediately faced with the seemingly insurmountable problem of how to advance important infrastructure projects while meeting the requirements of a public hearing and community testimony with social distancing requirements in place. When the health crisis threatened to delay those projects, MCDOT turned to technology to meet requirements and keep projects on track. Those efforts earned recognition from CompTIA.

“MCDOT employees have been actively supporting the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic from free bus service, including vaccination transportation, to virtual hearings,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “This nationally recognized program exemplifies the amazing job MCDOT employees are doing to advance services for Montgomery County residents.”

The public hearings were previously held in elementary schools local to the community in which sidewalks were proposed. Transitioning to virtual hearings presented new challenges, particularly concerning sound output and the sharing of complex project information and detailed displays.

On April 22, 2020, the Sidewalk Program within the Division of Transportation Engineering held its first virtual public hearing via Adobe Connect. Residents of all levels of technical experience were able to log or call into the platform using their computer, cellular, or landline telephone.

The virtual public hearing provided the same full-service experience as the live, in-person hearings, sharing detailed GIS mapping displays, making exhibits available for download, posting detailed contact information and pertinent upcoming dates, all while answering questions and receiving testimony.

Attended by 37 residents, the program's first virtual public hearing was a resounding success. Twelve successful virtual public hearings followed.

“These virtual public hearings have kept our County moving forward during a difficult time,” said Director Conklin. “The program provided cost savings, increased participation, and prevented unnecessary travel.”

County’s Department of Permitting Services Will Begin to Welcome Walk-in Customers to Its New Offices in Wheaton Starting on Monday, June 14


Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) will be welcoming walk-in customers to its new offices at 2425 Reedie Dr. in Wheaton starting on Monday, June 14.

DPS offices will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DPS offices were previously located in Downtown Rockville. The relocation to the new 14-story office building that is part of the Wheaton Revitalization Project and part of the County’s efforts to consolidate many of its departments into a single location. However, the new building was dedicated in October during the COVID-19 health crisis when most County facilities were closed for safety reasons.

The new DPS offices are on the seventh floor of the new building.

“In response to the pandemic, the Department of Permitting Services transitioned quickly and efficiently from in-person to online services,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I want to thank Director Mitra Pedoeem and all of the employees at DPS, as well as our residents and businesses, for their adaptation and patience to our online permitting process. As we move back to in-person services, I am confident that the resilience and innovation that DPS displayed over the past year will help enhance the level of customer service the department provides to residents and businesses for years to come.”

DPS has implemented a new queueing app to allow customers to “wait in line” virtually before coming into DPS offices for service. The link to the new app will be available on the DPS website on June 14. Alternatively, a barcode can be scanned at the greeting point of the seventh-floor offices.

“We are excited to welcome back our customers to our new office,” said DPS Director Pedoeem. “We are working to provide the best customer service so that DPS becomes ‘Your Project Partner’ in the success of your project.”

Among the services customers will be able to obtain at the DPS offices are Same Day (Fast Track) Permitting for residential decks, small-scale interior alterations of existing commercial and residential buildings and license renewals.

County Executive Elrich and County Councilmember Glass Commemorate June as Pride Month with Pride Flag Raising



Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, Councilmember Evan Glass and other Councilmembers joined together this week to commemorate June as Pride Month in Montgomery County by raising the Progress Pride Flag outside of the Executive Office Building in Rockville.

Since 2019, Councilmember Glass has led the annual commemoration and organized numerous community events to promote acceptance and inclusion across the community.

“Our LGBTQ+ residents of Montgomery County are woven within the fabric of who we are as a County,” said County Executive Elrich. “I am proud of our County’s progress on ensuring equity for our LBGTQ+ community; but we still have more work to do to reduce hate, bigotry and discrimination. I wish our LGBTQ+ community a joyous Pride Month celebration and look forward attending events throughout this month that will honor their contributions as we recommit ourselves to create a more equitable future for generations to come.”

Councilmember Glass said: “For this year’s flag raising, we will be flying the Progress flag, which includes colors and stripes to highlight trans individuals and communities of color –– for whom much progress remains to be made. There are a wide range of identities within the LGBTQ+ community, and as we have witnessed racial violence across the country, it’s more important than ever to create positive change for all of us, not some of us. The LGBTQ+ rights movement has made tremendous strides over the past few decades, but there remains much more work to do. I believe that by bringing us all together, we can continue marching toward progress and healing.”

Council President Tom Hucker said: "While we're celebrating Pride Month, it's not enough to make sure all our residents feel welcome, valued and safe. After a year that has exacerbated existing health and employment disparities, we have an opportunity now to stand together with our neighbors and LGBTQ community members and double down on our commitment to equity and social justice. Together, we can better protect our LGBTQ+ residents, but it will take all of us embracing our community and using our voices to make a difference."

View video of the flag raising event here.



Survey Seeking Opinions on County’s Draft Vision Zero 2030 Action Plan Will Close on Monday, June 21

A survey seeking public input on Montgomery County’s Draft Vision Zero 2030 Action Plan and Fiscal Years 2022-23 Work Plan will close on Monday, June 21. The survey has been open since April when County Executive Marc Elrich released the draft of the plan. It builds on the County’s previous Vision Zero and Pedestrian Safety plans and lays out the work ahead to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

In addition to the survey, five virtual listening sessions were held to gather input on the plan since it was released.

A copy of the plan and access to the survey are available at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/visionzero/2030plan.html.

“We have made progress since adopting the first Vision Zero plan in late 2017, but there is much more we can do. The number of serious and fatal injuries remains higher than we can accept,” said County Executive Elrich. “We need to be innovative in using more low-cost interventions to improve more roads and intersections every year. This plan does that by expanding Vision Zero into more of the County’s maintenance programs. We need to hear from County residents to make the Vision Zero Plan stronger and meet the needs of everyone regardless of how they get around the County.”

Vision Zero Coordinator Wade Holland said much was learned from the five listening sessions, but he believes members of the public may still have more to contribute. Filling out the survey will be a big help to those working on the plan.

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed to building this plan to date,” said Vision Zero Coordinator Holland. “We have had many residents across the County tell us through a series of community interviews, surveys, focus groups and letters what they need to make our communities safer for everyone walking, rolling, biking and driving. Let’s work together to end traffic deaths this decade.”

The Vision Zero concept for roadway safety originated in Sweden in 1997 and is credited for making that country’s roads some of the safest in the world—even with increases in driving, walking and biking. Vision Zero has been adopted by more than 40 jurisdictions in the United States. Montgomery County is one of the first counties in the United States to adopt a Vision Zero initiative.

Ride On Flex Service to Return to Operations on July 19


Ride On Flex, a unique on-demand transit service that was piloted in 2019 into early 2020, will be returned to operation by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) on Monday, July 19. The service has been suspended due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Flex operates in defined zones in Rockville and Glenmont/Wheaton.

Flex offers transit on demand. The service without a fixed route and without a fixed schedule was the first of its kind in the Washington Metropolitan Region. The Flex fleet of 11 passenger buses provides service within the defined geographical zones at specific times of the day. Riders can request trips from a designated pickup location to a drop off location within the same service zone using the app or the call center.

Curb-to-curb service also is available for those with disabilities. Riders will be given an estimated time for pick up and drop off and will be directed to a nearby point of pickup.

MCDOT’s free fare policy remains in effect at least through September 2021.

“MCDOT innovative transit-on-demand program, Ride On Flex, was very popular during its pilot stage and I am pleased to see it return after being put on hiatus due to the pandemic,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “In Montgomery County, we are ensuring that our public transportation system is efficient, equitable and easy. As we continue to reopen and recover from the pandemic, we are encouraging our residents to continue to keep their cars at home and utilize more sustainable forms of transportation. Ride On Flex helps us better serve our current users and attract new customers.”

Flex will operate in the Rockville zone from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and in the Glenmont/Wheaton zone during peak periods (6-9 a.m. and 3:30-7 p.m.). The zones offer connections between households, transit hubs, commercial centers and public services.

Details about the service zones can be viewed at RideOnFlex.com. While residents cannot book rides until service resumes on July 19, they can download the app from the Apple or Google app stores to familiarize themselves with the interface.

A new feature of the Ride On Flex service this year is the addition of a call center option for booking rides. Riders who choose to use the call center to schedule rides rather than mobile apps can call 240-301-3842.

“Ride On Flex is reshaping the way residents use bus services and was gaining popularity while in operation before March 2020,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. We are happy to be able to restore this innovative service that provides a direct connection between residential neighborhoods, transit centers and other destinations.”

For the safety of Ride On customers and employees, all riders using MCDOT’s public transportation system—including all Ride On buses, the Flash, and Flex—must wear face coverings for the duration of their trips. To further MCDOT’s safety commitments, all buses are equipped with free masks for the use of riders. This supports the Federal masking mandate and MCDOT’s commitment to keep riders and employees safe.

Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County’s Department of General Services on a nightly basis with hospital grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems are also treated each night.

County Asks for Participation in Survey Seeking Feedback on Installing Solar on Commercial Properties


The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is seeking feedback from solar developers and commercial property owners in the County to help DEP better understand the barriers, challenges and opportunities for installing solar on commercial properties. While there has been impressive adoption of solar on residential properties, barriers remain for installing solar on commercial properties.

DEP is asking commercial property owners, tenants and solar installers to fill out the Commercial Solar Market Survey and share experiences, opinions and concerns. The survey can be found at https://forms.gle/xi3ruxHT8MtfSFZ46.

The survey will be open until June 30.

DEP hopes the survey will help to better understand the business community’s concerns about solar. Generally, there appears to be a lack of awareness of the benefits, confusion over how to find a qualified installer, questions about costs and concerns over long-term performance that may contribute to the underutilization of solar on commercial properties.

“Electricity in Montgomery County accounts for nearly 30 percent of Countywide greenhouse gas emissions,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “For us to meet the County’s goal of zero emissions by 2035, we must work together to reduce demand on electricity from our current grid. Solar is a great way for us to achieve our goals.”

DEP Director Adam Ortiz said: “Commercial-level solar installations can turn hot, barren parking lots into solar-covered sheltered areas that power buildings with clean electricity. With the business community, we can cover commercial building rooftops in solar panels, turning all that empty space into an energy provider and at the same time, helping us meet our shared climate goals.”

Questions about the survey or commercial solar can be sent to energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

June 3, 2021

Message from the County Executive    

 

Dear Friends:

I hope you had safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend. For many of us, it was the first time in more than a year that we were able to interact more freely with friends, family and neighbors.

This week marked the beginning of the Montgomery County Public Schools high school graduation season, and it is great that we can return to in-person ceremonies. I remember my own graduation from Einstein High School many years ago, and I remember what an exciting day that was. I want to congratulate all of the graduates and their families. I know how it important it is, and how nice it is, to be able to do this in-person again.

It is incredible that after 15 months, we are finally re-emerging from the COVID-19 health crisis. We tied our reopening to vaccination rates, and thanks to tremendous efforts by so many, more than 58 percent of our total residents have received both doses of Pfizer/Moderna or a single dose of the J & J vaccine, according to CDC data. Almost 75 percent of adults over age 18 have had both doses, and 89 percent of our residents 65 or older have received both doses. That is amazing progress.

While this is great news and it has enabled us to return to a more interactive way of life, our fight to beat COVID-19 is not over.

We continue to make every effort to bring the vaccine to people. We are setting up clinics in churches, at schools and other places where people are. We are partnering with the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown to set up a vaccination clinic there for this upcoming weekend. We are sending text messages and have volunteers in the streets talking to people about getting vaccinated. We even sponsored a video contest for students to encourage their peers to get vaccinated for cash prizes. We will continue our efforts as long as they are needed.

I am also happy to report that our libraries and senior centers are reopening. While some of our facilities are still being used for other purposes, many have reopened or will be reopening soon. I stopped by the Silver Spring Library earlier this week and it was great to see library patrons inside, and the staff was excited to be returning to their pre-pandemic work.

As we reopen, we will continue our focus on economic recovery.

From business and nonprofit grants to food resources to rental relief payments, I am proud of the work we have done to assist Montgomery County families, businesses and workers.

I was very disappointed with this week’s announcement from Governor Hogan to put an early end to enhanced Federal unemployment benefits. This Federal money has been an enormous help to many of our unemployed workers, including those in the gig economy who would not usually qualify for unemployment benefits. This decision is especially concerning because the American Rescue Plan provides funding for the benefits through Sept. 6—in other words, the State is refusing federal dollars for our residents.

Many of our residents, by no fault of their own, lost their jobs and earnings to this pandemic. They still have families to feed and bills to pay. Additionally, these dollars do not cost the County a penny and they help our residents. I am not the only one who finds this decision problematic: a host of State and Federal legislators are understandably alarmed by the unnecessary suffering this could impose. You can learn more here.

I will continue to urge the Governor to reconsider this decision and extend this benefit to Maryland workers and families that need this additional help as we reopen.

We need more time for our economy to continue to recover, and we see glimpses of that happening in Montgomery County.

Earlier this week, I visited Truebill, a company located in Downtown Silver Spring. Truebill is a personal finance app company that relocated from San Francisco to Silver Spring months prior to the pandemic. Truebill’s founders are graduates of Montgomery Blair High school in Silver Spring and we are glad to welcome them back. I was at their offices earlier this week as their employees returned, and I was able to congratulate Truebill for receiving $45 million dollars of additional venture capital funding, which will help Truebill continue to grow and add jobs to our economy. Companies like Truebill are an example of the possibilities and opportunities we offer to growing companies here in Montgomery County.

As we pivot from COVID response to COVID recovery, we are continuing to support our businesses and residents who are still reeling from the pandemic effects. Last week, we concluded our Phase 3 round of business grant applications and are optimistic that the vast majority of the 116 applicants will be approved for $10,0000 grants. Additionally, more than 750 previous grant recipients from Phase I and Phase II should receive $5,000 grants. To date, we have provided more than $80 million in business grants.

We have also already provided $115 million in rental assistance and we are providing another $100 million in direct assistance to individuals and families. The County’s Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget that was approved last week adds $25 million to the Working Families Income Supplement. These funds match the State’s increased tax refund for low-income families and expanded eligibility. We are the only jurisdiction in the State that matches the state’s contributions to provide additional help to our families in need. We are able to do this in partnership with the County Council and thanks to support from our Congressional and State leaders.

I want to close by noting that June is Pride Month. I look forward to this month’s events that will honor the contributions made by LGBTQ+ members of our County.

Montgomery County is an inclusive community. We are proud to have welcomed, and continue to welcome and embrace, our LGBTQ+ community. We understand that it makes us stronger and better. There are Pride Month events happening throughout the County this month, and I hope you will be able to attend these events and support our LGBTQ+ community.

As always, thank you for everything you have been doing.



Marc Elrich
County Executive

COVID-19 Update: County Scheduling Vaccines for Those 12-and-Older



More than 663,000 (63.1 percent) of Montgomery County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to Maryland statistics released today, Thursday, June 3. More than 554,000 County residents (52.8 percent) have been fully vaccinated. County-operated vaccine clinics are now making appointments for those 12-and-over.

On Tuesday, only five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Montgomery County. That was the lowest one-day total since the health crisis began in March 2020.

County-operated vaccine clinics are now making appointments for those 12-and-over. Information about how to get a vaccine is available at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/.

More statistics about the state of COVID-19 infections, and details about who has been vaccinated, can be found at the County COVID-19 dashboard at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/#dashboard.


Senior Centers Will Soon Be Reopening for Programs, Classes, Work Outs and Other Activities



The Damascus Senior Center and Holiday Park senior centers in Silver Spring will reopen on Monday, June 14. A variety of programs and activities will be available for pre-registration, as will drop-in activities such as the weight room, library and pool tables.

The North Potomac, Schweinhaut, Wheaton and White Oak senior Centers will open one or two days a week.

The reopening of the Long Branch Senior Center is delayed, but programming for residents 55-and-over will take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, in the grassy area outside the Long Branch Pool (weather permitting).

More details about programs available at each facility will be available soon at www.mocorec.com.

Curbside transportation is available for any resident 55 and older who resides within the centers’ service area (approximately a three-to-five-mile radius). Transportation will be offered five days a week for the Damascus and Holiday Park locations. All other locations will have modified transportation. Long Branch and Schweinhaut participants may request transportation to nearby Holiday Park.

Residents 60 and older can join Montgomery County Recreation’s (MCR) onsite lunch program by calling 240-777-4925. A spouse of a qualifying participant, or an adult with a disability, also may be eligible.

Arrangements for transportation or reserving lunch at Damascus or Holiday Park can be made by calling the respective center or MCR’s main office at 240-777-4925.

To register for a class or program, or sign up for a fitness membership, visit www.mocorec.com. For any questions or to speak with someone on the senior programs team, call 240-777-4925 or email recreation.customerservice@montgomerycountymd.

The hours at senior centers at this time will be the following:
  • Damascus: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 14.
  • Holiday Park: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 14.
  • Long Branch Outdoor Pool: Tuesday and Thursday, 9-11 a.m. beginning June 15.
  • North Potomac: Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 15.
  • Schweinhaut: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning June 19.
  • Wheaton: Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 22.
  • White Oak: Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 15.


Six County Public Libraries Have Reopened, with Eight More Opening June 14



Seven Montgomery County Public Libraries reopened on June 1 and eight additional branches will reopen on Monday, June 14.

The Noyes Library for Young Children at 10237 Carroll Place in Kensington will reopen on July 6. The Germantown Library is closed for a refresh project.

The hours at all branches will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Additional information will be posted on the MCPL website as it becomes available.  

The libraries that reopened on June 1:
The branches that will reopen on June 14:
All open branches will follow guidelines that include no appointments, no capacity limits and no social distance requirements. Holds to Go service will be discontinued prior to the reopening of the branches.

For additional information visit MCPL’s website:  www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library.


Montgomery Parks Now Accepting Applications for Permits to Use Park Buildings and Local Picnic Shelters


Montgomery Parks is now accepting permit applications to reserve park activity buildings and picnic shelters at local parks for nominal fees. The amenities will be available beginning on June 12.

Applications may be submitted to the parks permits office immediately. The department closed all park activity buildings and stopped permitting local park picnic shelters in March 2020—at the start of the COVID-19 health crisis. Regional park picnic shelters were made available to permit at the beginning of 2021.

“We are thrilled to reopen our park activity buildings and begin offering reservations for picnic shelters at local parks now that the County has lifted all COVID-19 capacity restrictions,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks. “We know how excited people are to reconnect with their family and friends and there is no better place to do so than at a park. I’m certain there will be a great demand for these locations in our parks, so I suggest people submit their applications as soon as possible.”

Montgomery Parks, which is part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, manages 19 Park Activity Buildings at locations across the County. Each park activity building features a kitchen, refrigerator, warming oven and restrooms. The buildings are often used for birthday parties, bridal showers, family reunions, meetings and other gatherings. The department has 88 picnic shelters available for permitting. Picnic shelters may be used on a first-come, first-served basis. However, permit holders are given priority at all times.

For more information about how to reserve park amenities, including park activity buildings and picnic shelters, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org and click on the “Permits, Rentals and Request” tab on the top navigation menu.

As Economic Recovery Continues, Maryland to Discontinue Enhanced Pandemic Unemployment Benefits—But Montgomery County Executive Elrich Disagrees With Move

Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the State of Maryland will discontinue enhanced pandemic Federal unemployment benefits and reinstate work search requirements early next month. However, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said he disagrees with the decision.

To date, 24 states have announced that they will discontinue enhanced pandemic Federal unemployment benefits. According to recent U.S. Department of Labor data, there are a record 8.1 million job openings nationwide.

County Executive Elrich said at his weekly news conference on June 2 that he disagreed with the Governor’s decision and thinks many people will need the additional benefits well past July. The County’s Executive’s comments can be viewed as part of his news conference at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9x71GRHeOM.

Earlier this week, Maryland provided the Federal administration with the 30 days’ written notice required by law for opting out of the following programs—effective Saturday, July 3:
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $300 per week
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Discontinuation of Enhanced Benefits: Claimants will no longer be able to submit new applications for the Federal programs after the end date on July 3. The Maryland Department of Labor (Labor) will process all Federal claims received prior to July 3. If claimants are waiting to receive an eligibility determination for any of these four Federal programs, the department will ensure that they receive all payments owed to them for all weeks prior to July 3 that they are determined eligible for.

Reinstatement of Work Search Requirements: Beginning the week of July 4, Labor will reinstate the standard requirement for all regular State unemployment insurance claimants to actively search for work by engaging in three reemployment activities each week. If claimants do not complete three reemployment activities each week, they may be determined ineligible to receive regular State unemployment insurance benefits. Examples of reemployment activities include submitting a job application through the Maryland Workforce Exchange, completing a workshop at an American Job Center, attending a job fair and more. Additional employment opportunities and services can be found by visiting labor.maryland.gov/employment.

In addition to these actions, Maryland has urged Federal officials to make more H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas available to help the State’s seasonal businesses. The State has also prioritized the reopening of child care centers: as of Monday, 92 percent of licensed providers in Maryland are open and operating.