June 30, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends:

As we approach the 4th of July holiday weekend—a time when we should celebrate our nation and our freedoms—we are doing so in the dark shadow of recent Supreme Court rulings. This month has been one setback after another from the decades of progress we have made on civil rights, reproductive rights and public safety. These rights have been upended by the decisions of a right-wing, extremist dominated Supreme Court three of whom were appointed by a disgraced former president who lost the popular vote, but gained the presidency through our antiquated electoral college system. Perhaps no decision was more gut-wrenching than the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the first time ever that the Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right. The ruling jeopardizes women, rolls back fundamental rights, and, ultimately, will significantly impact the health and life of many women in our country. This ruling turns the clock back on the progress that has been made to ensure the right of women to have an abortion.

Responding with actions, not just rhetoric

After this decision was announced, I joined almost 100 people--advocates for women’s rights and elected leaders in Wheaton--to voice our frustration, sadness and outrage.

In addition to taking to the streets to protest, we also need to push back with actions. That is why we announced a plan to allocate $1 million in funding for nonprofits and organizations that provide abortion and women’s health services. This plan for funding was transmitted to the County Council for approval this week.

These funds would allow for grants to be used for the following purposes:
  • Assisting with wraparound services for those who are accessing abortion services, as well as those who choose to have children.
  • Providing grants to organizations in the County that provide abortion services.
  • Supporting organizations focused on comprehensive family planning, reproductive health, and maternal health.
  • Providing aid to organizations that are fighting legal battles on behalf of those seeking access to reproductive rights.
Last week, I announced that the Montgomery County Government will not authorize funding for official travel to counties and states that are restricting abortion. We should not be contributing to the economies of these states. If other counties follow this practice, it will have an even bigger impact.

As Montgomery County’s Chief Administrative Officer Richard Madaleno mentioned in this week’s update with the media, some states, like Missouri, are trying to push the issue even further and penalize people here in Montgomery County for helping women from their state to access health care that is no longer available there.

This is the reason why we are going to reach out to businesses in these states and encourage them to move to Montgomery County—where women’s rights are respected. Places like Austin, Texas may have been “hip” but Texas is waging war on the rights of women. I think there are business owners and employees who will no longer want to live and work in states like Texas and Florida. Our county has a thriving economy, great schools and a great quality of life. We will proactively advertise Montgomery County as a place where a woman’s health is protected.

Thankfully, Maryland passed the Abortion Care Access Act during the last General Assembly legislative session. It will go into effect on Friday. The act allows for training to expand the additional of medical professionals to perform abortions, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives. I supported this during Maryland’s legislative session and this County will do all it can to assist women access all their reproductive health care options.

An attack on our environment

The Court also attacks our environment:

This week’s SCOTUS ruling on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is extremely troubling and jeopardizes necessary efforts to combat climate change and ensure a clean environment for future generations.

This ruling does not change the fact that the widespread use of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to warm abnormally. Human-induced climate change poses grave threats to public health, economic prosperity, and the planet’s ability to sustain the ecosystem services that we depend on. We must continue to take bold climate action at the local, state, and federal levels in order to swiftly bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

We here in Montgomery County are affected by the actions of West Virginia and other states that refuse to take steps to reduce harmful emissions and instead accept higher pollution levels. Our region shares the same air and drinks the same water as these states, and we will all experience the negative impacts on our environment due to today’s ruling.

Montgomery County will continue to do its part. We have a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035. Our Climate Action Plan provides a roadmap for combatting climate change, and we have many foundational climate initiatives already underway:
  • The County is currently implementing Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) for commercial and multifamily buildings.
  • Amended and improved the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program that allows building owners to finance energy efficient upgrades to make our buildings more resilient.
  • The County is developing a Community Choice Energy program that will enable the County to offer more renewable energy supply to customers.
  • The Council is evaluating the Comprehensive Building Decarboninzation legislation (Bill 13-22), which will require all-electric building standards for new construction, major renovations, and additions and limit fossil fuels, which not only impact our climate negatively but create poor indoor air quality for County residents.
  • The Capital Area Solar Co-op, now in its second year, uses collective purchasing power in our region to drive down the cost of installing solar panels.
  • County-owned buildings are pursuing net-zero construction and additional microgrid projects are planned.
  • The County is adding multiple Bus Rapid Transit routes to encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transit.
  • The County is transitioning the County’s fleet of passenger vehicles, Ride-On buses, and school buses to electric vehicles. Ride-On currently operates four battery-electric buses with plans to procure another 96 buses over the next three years.
  • Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) signed a contract to replace 326 diesel school buses with electric school buses over the same period, with 25 received to-date.
  • Montgomery County’s transit fleet is transitioning from diesel to electric power, while reducing lifetime emissions by over 155,000 tons.
  • To encourage private sector EV adoption, the County has begun the process of building our EV charging infrastructure with 40 Level 2 chargers located in County parking facilities and is finalizing a contract to install publicly accessible charging at over 60 additional County locations.
  • The FY23 Operating Budget establishes new positions and programs to prioritize our climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  • Increased funding to improve and expand pedestrian and bike infrastructure (9% increase over the previous 5-year budget).
  • The County increased funding of $18.6 million to the Montgomery County Green Bank—the nation’s first local-level green bank organization. The Green Bank continues to leverage private capital to improve the energy efficiency and resiliency of our built environment and expand renewable energy in the County.
  • The County is an inaugural member of the White House Building Performance Standards Coalition.
We will also continue to work with our regional partners and neighbors to address the urgency of climate change.

See the Climate Action Plan and quarterly updates to the Climate Work Plan for more information on how the County is responding to our climate emergency at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/climate

Fireworks return to Montgomery County after two-year hiatus

I want to wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July weekend. There are celebrations scheduled in communities across the County and it is wonderful that, after a two-year hiatus, the County’s fireworks will return.

On Saturday evening, fireworks will be set off at Einstein High School as part of our “Mid-County Sparkles” event. Music starts at 6 p.m. with fireworks after dusk. On Monday evening, fireworks will be set off from South Germantown Recreational Park following a concert starting at 7 p.m. There will also be fireworks displays in Rockville and Poolesville on Monday night. And I am looking forward to walking in Takoma’s Park 4th of July parade that begins at 10 a.m. on the 4th and I am also looking forward to stopping by a number of celebrations throughout the day.

May the Fourth be safe for you

We also want everyone to be safe this weekend. The 4th of July holiday is one of the deadliest of the year in terms of traffic and pedestrian accidents, including fatalities related to intoxicated driving. In 2020, close to 500 people nationwide were killed in traffic accidents over the 4th of July holiday.

According to The Governors Highway Safety Association, Maryland is one of only five states to receive grant money to help address impaired driving over the holiday. These funds will be used to provide extra patrols by the Maryland State and Montgomery County police.

Montgomery County’s Vision Zero Coordinator, Wade Holland, also wants you to know about the “Sober Ride Program” put together by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Starting at 4 p.m. Monday, resident can get a free ride home (up to $15 in credit) via Lyft if they have been drinking too much. That program goes all night and into early Tuesday morning (4 a.m.) Since 1991, WRAP has provided more than 80,000 safe rides home around the holidays.

I encourage everyone to celebrate responsibly, drive sober, and stay alert no matter whether you are driving, walking or biking on our roads. Additionally, this weekend is one of the busiest times at our emergency rooms due to injuries related to fireworks, sparklers and other accidents. Fireworks start more than 19,000 fires and send more than 9,000 people to emergency rooms each year in this country. Please remember that in Montgomery County it is illegal to possess or discharge all types of fireworks.

Montgomery County Police will respond to complaints about fireworks, but please realize they are considered a low priority call and will not be put ahead of calls that the jeopardize life and public safety.

COVID cases still high; infant and small children vaccination clinics begin

A few weeks ago, we were predicting that our COVID-19 case rates were going to decline, and they have, but they are not bottoming out as low as we have seen in the past. Our rates continue to remain above the 200 cases per 100,000 residents threshold, which keeps our county in the medium community level per CDC guidelines. Our COVID hospitalization rates have also slightly increased in the past week as you can see in the chart above.

I want to thank our Department of Health and Human Services for effectively setting up and launching our vaccination efforts and clinics last week to provide vaccines to children between the ages of 6 months and five years. You can click here to make an appointment for your child. Please remember that private health care providers will also have the vaccines.

We still need, and are asking for more, vaccines for this newly eligible group. We placed an order for more vaccines late last week, but were told to expect the shipment to arrive next week. We have enough for this upcoming weekend’s clinics, but will schedule future clinics only after we are sure we have vaccines in hand. We do nott want to have cancel any appointments.

We continue to remind everyone to please get your vaccines and boosters. As we have mentioned in the past, holiday weekends are good times to take a booster shot to have an extra day to feel better recovering from it. Please visit govaxmoco.com for more information on where to take your shot.

Bravo! Two more Emmys for our ‘Abuelina’ COVID campaign

This past Saturday, Montgomery County won two local Emmys for the team that put together our “Abuelina” advertising and outreach campaign. This program is aimed at Spanish-speaking County residents, encouraging them to get their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. The PSAs were entered in the “Public Service Single Spot" and “Campaign Categories.”

Since the pandemic began, Montgomery County has been proactive in making sure test kits, vaccines and boosters have been distributed in an equitable way. The “Abuelina” videos were the result of a lot of hard work by County employees, community partners and a production team contracted to put together the videos. I want to thank our partners at the Communications Shop for their creativity in developing messaging that is resulting in incredible outcomes for our Latino residents.

“Abuelina” has caught the attention of MSNBC, BBC World News and other national and international media outlets as an example of an effective COVID outreach campaign that has helped achieve positive outcomes. “Abuelina” is not only a great spokesperson and example of our COVID efforts, but also a representative of our intentional emphasis on equity.

Big news for Burtonsville

Over the past week, Burtonsville was the place to be. Last Friday, I joined County Councilmembers and community leaders in unveiling a beautiful, new “Welcome to Burtonsville” sign on Route 198.

This week we were happy to join EDENS, the owner of Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center, to announce that a Sprouts Farmers Market will soon be moving into the center, located at the intersection of Routes 198 and 29. Sprouts is a nationally known chain recognized as one of the finest grocers in America. This location will be easy for many in the DMV to access. The community-focused grocer is expected to kick off the long-awaited revitalization of Burtonsville Crossing.

This is a well-deserved outcome for Burtonsville residents, who for too many years, watched businesses vacate the shopping center, leaving a nearly empty shell of what was once a thriving center of commerce. I look forward to working with EDENS as we continue to develop a plan that integrates adjacent County-owned land with their revitalization efforts. And I want to thank and congratulate community leaders in Burtonsville, who after nearly a decade of fighting for a revitalized Burtonsville Crossing shopping center, can finally celebrate.

He deliberately endangered the lives of employees of this government

I want to express my outrage at the news and findings of the January 6 Committee. Besides this being an attempt by the former president to orchestrate a coup of our government, his actions clearly put lives in danger, and specifically, the officers of the Montgomery County Police Department who were sent to the Capitol as part of the response to the insurrection. Donald Trump’s actions were irresponsible. He deliberately endangered the lives of employees of this government.

I want to thank Montgomery County’s own, U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, for his extraordinary work on this committee. We are grateful that he is a part of this investigation that seeks justice for those who sought to do harm that day. They must be held accountable.

Senior Tax Credit extended from five to seven years

The Montgomery County Council this week approved an extension of the Senior Tax Credit. Its vote extends the length of time that seniors and retired military members are eligible to apply for a 20 percent tax break on their homes. The extension from five years to seven years was made possible by a change in Maryland law during the most recent legislative session.

The Senior Tax Credit is available to homeowners who are at least 65 years old if the property is in their name and it is their main residence. All applicants for any Homeowners Tax Credit must be approved by the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. It applies to a homeowner's property tax bill if the property taxes exceed a fixed percentage of the person's gross income.

For more information on this tax credit and others, please click here.

Police Accountability Board confirmed by County Council

The County Council this week also approved all nine of our nominated members of the Police Accountability Board ahead of its formation on July 1. We received more than 60 applicants for this board, and we appreciate all those who expressed interest in serving.

All the nominees were vetted through my office and selected by me for confirmation by the Council. We selected fair-minded residents who believe in procedural justice, and we believe these individuals will bring increased accountability and transparency that will improve our police department and public safety in Montgomery County

Congratulations and thank you to every member of the new oversight committee and everyone who was considered. To read more about the members of our new Police Accountability Board, please click here.

As always, my appreciation for all of you.

Marc Elrich
County Executive

County to Host Fireworks Shows in Kensington on Saturday, July 2, and in Germantown on Monday, July 4

County to Host Fireworks Shows in Kensington on Saturday, July 2, and in Germantown on Monday, July 4

Montgomery County will host two Independence Day fireworks displays and family gatherings this year, one in Kensington on Saturday, July 2, and the other on Monday, July 4, in Germantown.

"It’s great to be able to gather again and enjoy the fireworks and celebrations," said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. "I know they have been missed by so many. These are the first in several years. We are thrilled to return and we have so appreciated everyone’s cooperation and understanding of the need to protect public health. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.”

The Independence Day celebrations will take place at the following locations:
The fireworks displays will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. at both celebrations. The timing of the fireworks shows may change due to weather conditions. Low lawn chairs, blankets and coolers are welcome at both events. There will be food vendors at both locations. Alcoholic beverages and pets are not permitted.

“We are excited to bring back our Independence Day fireworks displays this year after having to put them on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Department of Recreation Director Robin Riley. “This is fantastic event to enjoy music, outdoors and time with family and friends.”

Mid-County Sparkles will begin at 6 p.m. on July 2 with a concert by the Joe Falero Band, a Latin Jazz band. Quiet Fire, a soul, rhythm and blues and rock band, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m.

The only parking available on-site at Einstein High School will be for individuals with disabilities. Free parking and shuttle service will be provided from Westfield Wheaton, located at 11160 Veirs Mill Road. Parking at Westfield Wheaton will open at 5:30 p.m. Event goers who park at Westfield Wheaton prior to 5:30 p.m. may be subject to towing by the property owner. Shuttle service will begin at 5:30 p.m. Follow the directional signs for event parking and shuttles.

Germantown Glory will kick off at 7 p.m. on July 4 with music by Quiet Fire, a soul, rhythm and blues and rock band that covers hits from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Follow the directional signs for free on-site parking.

Sign language interpreter services and other auxiliary aids or services will be provided upon request, with as much notice as possible (preferably at least three business days before the event). To request special accommodations, contact a therapeutic recreation specialist at 240-777-6870 or email rec.inclusion@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For more information, call MC311 at 311 or 240-777-0311 or visit the Montgomery County Recreation website.

June 29, 2022

New High-Tech Flood Sensor Program Will Provide Earlier Alerts About Potential Flooding

Montgomery County recently showcased its expanded early warning Flood Sensor Program that can alert residents sooner about flooded roadways, potential dam failures and streams overflowing their banks. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich was among those at a demonstration of one of the 35 high-tech sensors in Germantown. The U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is providing the County with the sensors.

The sensors detect rising water levels and provide early warnings about high water or flooding. They are being installed at flood prone sites across the County. Each sensor is solar powered and has an internal battery to maintain operations during inclement weather. The sensors use a tethered node that is placed underwater. The node detects the amount of pressure placed upon it by the water and calculates the depth of the water. Every five minutes, data is sent from the sensor by a cell phone card to a master display. A small color camera also sends images back to the main display. Every location has pre-determined thresholds for water depths for the sensor to alert that water levels are approaching or exceeding flood stage. If they are, a crew is sent to investigate the potential flooding and whether a low-lying road needs to be cleared, or if an Emergency Action Plan for a dam needs to be activated.

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) led the effort to get the sensors and the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) worked on a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with DHS and Intellisense Systems Inc., the company that makes the devices. The County will share the data gathered by the sensors with the company and DHS to improve sensor design based on user feedback.

“This partnership between DHS and the County is critical to our efforts in warning Montgomery County residents about dangerous and life-threatening floods,” said County Executive Elrich. “Just a few weeks ago, heavy rain caused flash flooding that left several drivers stranded in their vehicles in Bethesda. Flooding also led to road closures in parts of the County. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. The County is no stranger to this kind of weather event, but now that we have these flood sensors, we can notify residents sooner of where flooding is happening so they can avoid danger.”

DHS today provided OEMHS with one more sensor. This one will be installed at Rock Creek Woods Apartments in Rockville where a 19-year-old man died in flooding last September.

County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said the Fire and Rescue Service is among the first to respond when flooding issues occur and threaten the safety of residents.

“Whenever heavy rain and flash flooding are predicted, rescue crews in the County have prepared for the inevitable,” said Chief Goldstein. “In the past, several areas have been susceptible to flooding and have put residents at risk, but now we have tools in our toolbox that can provide us early warning in order to prepare resources to respond to emergencies—and more importantly—alert Montgomery County residents that live and travel in those areas.”

Heavy rains that cause flooding are becoming harder to anticipate due to the impacts of climate change.

“Because of climate change, we are seeing more frequent and more intense rainfall,” said Acting DEP Director and County Climate Change Officer Adriana Hochberg. “These high-tech flood sensors are a crucial tool in managing the effects of a warmer planet.”

The County’s roadways can become danger zones when heavy rain results in flash flooding.

“The Montgomery County Department of Transportation designs, constructs and maintains County roadways,” said Department Director Chris Conklin. “When a flooded County roadway is reported, we close off the road and activate the Storm Operations Center, known as SOC, to get the word out to other departments and the community. These flood sensors will automatically detect rising water levels and provide early warnings giving us a head start on our response. As storms and flooding events have become more aggressive with climate change, early detection is key to protecting critical infrastructure, reducing property losses and most importantly protecting the health and safety of our residents.”

The summer season produces the highest rainfall in the Washington Region. The National Severe Storms Laboratory reports that more people are killed each year in the nation by flooding than are killed by tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning.

“The signed agreement between Montgomery County and the Department of Homeland Security will allow for faster, more-efficient detection of flooding at high-hazard dams and low-water crossings,” said County OEMHS Acting Director Marianne Souders. “This will enable public safety officials to take quicker action to protect lives and property.”

For more information on preparing for heavy rain and potential flooding in the County, visit https://montgomerycountymd.gov/OPI/alerts/flooding.html

For emergency text alerts, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OEMHS/AlertMontgomery/

Sensors have been installed in 22 locations. An additional 13 sensors will be established. The locations of the installed sensors are:
  • University Boulevard pond
  • Wheaton—downstream of dam
  • Olney Oaks Regional
  • Wheaton Pond dam
  • Lake Hallowell
  • Vineyard
  • Christie Estates
  • Great Seneca Creek at Brink Road
  • Rattlewood Golf Course dam
  • 8900 block of Gue Road at unnamed creek
  • 11200 block of Game Preserve Road
  • New Cut Road at Little Seneca Creek
  • Environ HOA
  • Gunners Lake dam
  • Lake Whetstone
  • Pueblo
  • Sligo Creek at Knowles Avenue
  • Hawlings River at Brighton Dam Road
  • Reddy Branch at Brookeville Road
  • Pine Lake dam
  • Hawlings River at Zion Road
  • Burnt Mills dam

Holiday Schedule for Independence Day on Monday, July 4

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will observe schedule and program changes for the formal observance of Independence Day on Monday, July 4. In some cases, services also will have schedule changes on Sunday, July 3.
  • County offices—Closed.
  • State offices and courts—Closed.
  • State Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations—Closed.
  • Libraries—Closed.
  • Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS)—All stores will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • County-operated COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Clinics—Closed.
  • Ride On—Will operate on a Saturday schedule. All schedules can be viewed at RideOnBus.com.
  • Ride On extRa and Flex—Not in service.
  • Flash—Will operate on a weekend schedule (Orange Line only).
  • MARC Train and Commuter Bus— No rail service on the Camden or Brunswick Lines. The Penn Line will operate on a Sunday schedule
  • TRiPS Silver Spring commuter store—Closed
  • TRiPS Mobile Commuter Store—Closed.
  • Metrorail—On Sunday, July 3, Metrorail will operate additional service. Metrorail will operate from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Trains will operate on a regular weekend schedule every 12 minutes on the Red Line and every 15 minutes on all other lines until 4 p.m. On Monday, July 4, trains will operate on a Sunday schedule. Metrorail will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. Trains will run every 12 minutes on the Red Line and every 15 minutes on all other lines until 8 p.m., then every 15 minutes on the Red Line and every 20 minutes on all other lines until closing.
  • Metrobus—Will operate on a Sunday service schedule on Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4 (observed holiday). Check timetables for details. MetroAccess customers can make reservations to travel during the holiday; however, subscription trips will be canceled both days.
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters—Free.
  • County-provided trash and recycling collections will not be made on July 4. Collections will slide one day during the week, with the last pickup on Saturday, July 9.
  • Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center—Closed.
  • Recreation: County outdoor aquatic facilities will be open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. Indoor aquatic facilities will close at 6 p.m., except for the Germantown Indoor Swim Center, which will close at 3 p.m.
  • Community recreation and senior centers—Closed.
  • Montgomery Parks—Visit www.MontgomeryParks.org for complete information.

Tickets for County Recreation’s Seven Outdoor Pools Now Available for Monday, July 4

Tickets to Montgomery County Recreation’s seven outdoor pools this year are available online for pre-purchase. Tickets for the holiday on Monday, July 4, are now available. Tickets are available at a discounted rate of $5 per person.

Online tickets will be available for purchase through midnight on Friday, July 1. Regular gate admission will be available at full cost on Monday, July 4.

The seven outdoor pools include the following:
  • Bethesda Outdoor Pool, 301-652-1598, 6300 Hillandale Road, Bethesda
  • Germantown Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8067, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown
  • Long Branch Outdoor Pool, 301-431-5700, 8700 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring
  • Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8066, 1201 Jackson Road, Silver Spring
  • Sara E. Auer Western County Outdoor Pool, 301-349-2217, 20151 Fisher Avenue, Poolesville
  • Sergeant Hector I. Ayala Wheaton/Glenmont Outdoor Pool, 301-929-5460, 12621 Dalewood Drive, Wheaton
  • Upper County Outdoor Pool, 301-840-2446, 8211 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg
Outdoor pool hours for July 4 are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. Tickets will be valid for the session selected and are nonrefundable. Residents can purchase up to 10 tickets. Tickets will be scanned at the door and a valid photo ID is required. The primary purchaser must present the ticket upon entry for the entire group. Once the ticket is redeemed guest are not allowed re-entry. Buy tickets here.

For additional information about pool passes, amenities and hours of operation at all swimming pools, visit the Montgomery County Recreation website.

‘Silver Spring Thursday Night Concerts’ Return for Summer to Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring

Thursday nights are alive with music this summer in Downtown Silver Spring as the free “Silver Spring Thursday Night Concerts” series continues on Veterans Plaza. Concert series are scheduled for 7-9 p.m. each Thursday evening through Aug. 11. The next performance, on July 7, will feature Baltimore-based rockabilly artist Josh Christina.

Veterans Plaza is located at 1 Veterans Place, adjacent to the Silver Spring Civic Building. The outdoor series has eight concerts scheduled.  

 Attendees can bring chairs, but they do not have to do that. Food and drinks are available from the many nearby downtown eateries. No alcohol is permitted on the plaza. 

Josh Christina, a Baltimore native, is a throwback phenomenon is leading a rock n’ roll revival that has been praised by some of the genre’s founding members.

In 2015, Christina caught the ear of famed producer Kent Wells (Dolly Parton), and his sophomore project Good Old Love—featuring the radio charting single “Kayla Ann”—served as his official introduction to Nashville.

Following the release, Josh Christina toured overseas and made his international television debut on Ireland's Late Late Show.

The lineup for the Thursday night concert series: 
  • July 7: Josh Christina, Rockabilly. Baltimore-based rockabilly artist Josh Christina inherited his musical chops from his father (a drummer), his mother (Baltimore-area singer Patti Christina) and his grandmother, who was a big band singer in the 1940s and '50s. Josh spent the past 15 years honing his sound—a combination of the country, classic rock, big band and rockabilly. 
  • July 14: Ocho de Bastos, Latin Pop. Ocho de Bastos (Eight of Clubs) blends powerful drums, Latin percussion and catchy brass riffs with a unique guitar sound. 
  • July 21: Guys in Thin Ties, ‘80s Alternative. The alternative ‘80s band plays your favorite, hard-driving tunes from the era of MTV and rad music videos. 
  • July 28: Route 66, Classic Rock and Country. Route 66, also known as Club 66, plays everything from rock and roll, classic rock, blues, Motown, boogie woogie and old school country.   
  • Aug. 4: Elliot Levine, R&B and Funk. The R&B and funk pianist has toured with Wilson Pickett, Heatwave and Brian McKnight. 
  • Aug. 11: Gary and the Groove, Rock and Roll. Their rock and roll music covers all decades from the 1950s to the ‘90s—and even some hits from today.   
Performances are canceled due to weather only if it is raining at 7 p.m. For more information about the series, visit silverspringdowntown.com. 

‘The Breakaways Band’ Highlight ‘Evenings in Olde Towne’ Free Thursday Series in Gaithersburg on July 7

The free, family-friendly “Evenings in Olde Towne” concert series will have performances on Thursday nights in June, July and September at the City Hall Concert Pavilion in Olde Towne Gaithersburg. All concerts will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. The next show will feature “The Breakaways Band” on Thursday, July 7. 

The concerts offer the opportunity to wind down Thursdays with great music in a casual, outdoor setting. Attendees can bring food and drinks to the concerts. They should also bring a blanket or low-back chair for lawn seating. 

The concert pavilion is located at 31 South Summit Ave. in Gaithersburg. 

The Breakaways Band has covered more than three million tour miles and over 4,000 gigs. It has performed in all 50 states of the USA and in more than 40 countries. It has sold thousands of albums has had hundreds of thousands of songs streamed online. The Breakaways Band opened for, recorded with and has written songs with countless music industry legends.

The Breakaways are led by Phil Kominski (vocals/guitars), who formed the band Lloyd Dobler Effect, and Elizabeth Coyle Kominski (vocals/acoustic guitar), also is a member of the jazzy pop trio Guys And Doll. Other band members are Chris Brooks (keyboards), Javi Godinez (violin/vocals), Dan Perriello (drums), Joe Brotherton (trumpet/vocals), Dan Gallagher (bass/vocals) and Dan Wolfe (bass/vocals).

The concert lineup schedule: 
  • July 7: The Breakaways
  • July 14: Moxie Blues Band 
  • July 21: Juliet Lloyd Band 
  • July 28: Billy “T” Wilde Band 
  • Sept. 8: Quimbao Latin Band 
  • Sept. 15: Pebble to Pearl 
Concerts are weather-dependent. Check the City’s website or social media for updates. 

The Evenings in Olde Towne Concert Series is funded in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). To discover more about MSAC grants and how they impact Maryland's arts sector, visit https://www.msac.org/.

‘Let Freedom Ring’: Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center and FMCA to Host Fee-Waived Adoption Event for Big Dogs and Small Animals from June 30-July 7

Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) is holding a fee-waived adoption event for all dogs 40 pounds and over and small animals from Thursday, June 30, through Thursday, July 7. The “Let Freedom Ring” event is sponsored by Friends of Montgomery County Animals (FMCA).

The summer months are a wonderful time to bring a new family member home. Adopting is easy—and even easier with the fees waived.

The adoption process can be started online by filling out the adoption questionnaire and sending in the required items listed on the website. More information can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/animalservices/adoption/howtoadopt.html.

New animals regularly arrive at the shelter. Patrons are encouraged to view adoptable animals at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/animalservices/adoption/index.html.

Adoptions are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and by appointment only. Appointments can be reserved by filling out an adoption questionnaire on the website.

Patrons who submit the questionnaire and all required documents during the event, but who are unable to schedule an appointment, will receive a voucher for waived fees valid through Thursday, July 14. Potential adopters can also walk-in to adopt during the shelter’s published hours of operations and will receive a voucher if no counselors are available. Adoptions are same-day, so patrons should be prepared to take home an animal on the day of their appointment.

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center provides high-standard sheltering and care to the homeless, abused, and neglected animals. It ensures the safety and welfare of the County’s residents. It is the County's only open-admission, municipal shelter. Through adoptions, education, outreach and more, MCASAC serves as a critical community resource to promote and advocate for responsible pet care. Animal Services Officers are available seven days a week to investigate complaints and respond to animal emergencies 24 hours a day. For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/animalservices.

‘The Life and Hats of Milliner Mae Reeves: A Conversation with Her Daughter, Donna Limerick’ to be Presented by Montgomery History on Tuesday, July 5

One of the many extraordinary exhibits in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is Mae’s Millinery Shop. Lifted nearly complete from its original home in Philadelphia, it is now recognized as a historical treasure. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, “The Life and Hats of Milliner Mae Reeves” will be featured in a free online presentation from Montgomery History.

Mae was a pioneering milliner who was famous for her custom-made hats. She was active in her field from 1940 until 1997. She passed away in 2016 at age 104.

At age 28, she opened "Mae's Millinery Shop," located at 1630 South Street in Philadelphia. By so doing she became one of the first African American women to own her own business in downtown Philadelphia.

Her clients included celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Marian Anderson and socialites from illustrious families, including the duPonts and the Annenbergs. Women from many professions and from churches also came to purchase hats from Ms. Reeves. She made trips to New York City and Paris to procure materials for her custom-made hats.

Mae’s daughter, Donna Limerick, a longtime resident of Montgomery County, will join Montgomery History's collections manager, Elizabeth Lay, in the presentation to discuss Mae’s entrepreneurial spirit. They also will share memories of her waiting on customers in the shop and reveal cherished family photographs.

To register free and join the presentation, go to » WATCH (montgomeryhistory.org).

Applications for Hotel Relief Grants to Open on Friday, July 1

A new Hotel Relief Grant Program is set to launch on Friday, July 1, for Montgomery County hotels with 10 or more rooms and Bed and Breakfasts with five or more rooms. The ownership of these facilities must be based in Maryland and be able to demonstrate a loss of revenue of 25 percent or more from September 2021 through January 2022 compared to September 2019 through January 2020. Up to $500 per room in Hotel Relief Grant money is available.

Applications, when available, can be found online at the Montgomery County Business Portal. Applications will be accepted through July 22. The business portal will include program details, including eligibility requirements and frequently asked questions.

“There are few industries that have been impacted as significantly from the pandemic as our hospitality businesses,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our leisure and hospitality businesses employ approximately 12 percent of our County’s workforce and the World Tourism Organization has predicted that this sector will not recover fully until 2024. It is imperative that we continue to assist this industry’s recovery efforts in order to help them support their workforce. I encourage all County hotels and B and B’s to apply for this newest round of grants.”

This is the fourth round of the Hotel Relief Grant Program provided by the County using ARPA funds provided by the State of Maryland. To date, more than $6.8 million has been distributed. In this round, the total grant funding available is $2,690,000.

The Hotel Relief Grant Program is administered by Visit Montgomery, in partnership with the Montgomery County Business Advancement Team.

“Visit Montgomery is pleased to see the County’s support for the local lodging industry,” said Kelly R. Groff, president and CEO of Visit Montgomery. “The pandemic resulted in a dramatic downturn in travel. The recovery for the business transient, meetings and conference sectors has been slower than originally anticipated. These grants will provide needed support to the lodging sector through a full recovery.”

Businesses are encouraged to check their standing with the State of Maryland before submitting an application. Awards cannot be made to businesses that are not in good standing.

Questions about the program should be sent to: info_@visitmontgomery.com

New ‘Welcome to Burtonsville’ Signs Unveiled

Montgomery County Executive Elrich, County Council President Gabe Albornoz and Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Will Jawando recently joined with other County officials to unveil one of two newly installed “Welcome to Burtonsville” signs. The County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Neighborhood Revitalization Section facilitated installation of the signs in the community in the northeastern part of the County.

The sign unveiled in the official ceremonies is located on the north side of Route 198 and in the 15000 block of Old Columbia Pike, adjacent to the Burtonsville Town Square Shopping Center. The other sign is located on the south side of Route 198 and in the 3100 block of Spencerville Road, directly across from the Idara Jaferia Islamic Center.

“These new signs not only enhance the sense of community in Burtonsville, but also serve to brand the area and help establish Burtonsville as a desirable destination in the County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Additionally, they are a reminder of the truly transformative improvements made to the façades and sites of several properties located along Route 198 thanks to the County’s Façade Improvement Program. On July 1, we are launching our new Countywide Façade Improvement Program. The program makes available $3.5 million in funding through Fiscal Year 2028 to support commercial property and business owners in transforming their buildings—like those here in Burtonsville—with new, visually appealing exteriors.

As part of the façade improvement program, DHCA worked with property owners, including Katz & Company Property Management and Site Realty, to help transform the outdated exteriors and remove prior signage.

“Through the new, Countywide Façade Improvement Program, DHCA will work with property and business owners across the County to improve and transform their properties,” said Aseem K. Nigam, director of DHCA. “We are targeting initial outreach in Glenmont, Hillandale, Layhill, Long Branch, Montgomery Village and Wheaton, but will work to enhance properties in other targeted areas throughout Montgomery County.”

Property owners in Burtonsville participated in the County’s Façade Easement program. Through a contribution of funds up to 50 percent of the cost for façade improvements, the program significantly transformed the appearance of buildings and the site of the Burtonsville Village Center and its roughly 20 businesses.

Board of Elections Installs 55 Ballot Drop Box Locations for Upcoming Gubernatorial Primary Election

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has posted online a list of 55 ballot drop box locations available to voters for the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election. The ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, July 19. Voters can submit their completed mail-in ballots in any drop box located in Montgomery County.

Three of the drop boxes will be located in senior living facilities limited to residents in Asbury Village, Leisure World and Riderwood.

Eligible voters in Maryland have been mailed applications for mail-in ballots. Applications for mail-in ballots must be received by July 12. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters via first-class U.S. Mail beginning June 13.

To be counted, mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than July 19, and the oath on the postage-paid return envelope that arrives with the ballot must be signed. Those who choose to cast their votes using ballot drop boxes must submit their completed ballots by the final collection time—8 p.m. on Tuesday, July—for their ballot to count.

To identify the nearest ballot drop box and post office locator, text BOX plus zip code (example: BOX 20879) to 77788 or visit 777vote.org.

To request a Mail-in ballot, text VBM to 77788 or visit 777vote.org.

The locations of the ballot drop boxes (NOTE: * Denotes senior living communities with drop boxes only for residents of those respective communities):
  • Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
  • Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Mill Road, Kensington, MD 20895
  • *Asbury Methodist Village, 201 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877 (limited to residents)
  • Bauer Drive Community Rec Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville, MD 20853
  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Bette Carol Thompson Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center, 7700 Scotland Drive, Potomac, MD 20854
  • Clarksburg High School, 22500 Wims Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871
  • Col. Zadok Magruder High School, 5939 Muncaster Mill Road, Rockville, MD 20855
  • Damascus Community Recreation Center, 25520 Oak Drive, Damascus, MD 20872
  • Damascus High School, 25921 Ridge Road, Damascus, MD 20872
  • East County Community Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring, MD 20904
  • Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850
  • Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
  • Gaithersburg High School, 101 Education Boulevard, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
  • Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown, MD 20874
  • Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Recreation Center, 2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • James Hubert Blake High School, 300 Norwood Road, Silver Spring, MD 20905
  • Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center, 4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
  • John F. Kennedy High School, 1901 Randolph Road, Silver Spring, MD 20902
  • *Leisure World of Maryland, 3701 Rossmoor Blvd., Silver Spring, MD 20906 (limited to residents)
  • Longwood Community Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Avenue, Brookeville, MD 20833
  • Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring, MD 20906
  • Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Boulevard East, Silver Spring, MD 20901
  • Montgomery County Board of Elections, 18753 North Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20879 (Drive-up Box)
  • Montgomery County Conference Center Marriott Bethesda North, 5967 Executive Boulevard, North Bethesda, MD 20852
  • Nancy H. Dacek N. Potomac Community Recreation Center, 13850 Travilah Road, Rockville, MD 20850
  • Northwest High School, 13501 Richter Farm Road, Germantown, MD 20874
  • Northwood High School, 919 University Boulevard West, Silver Spring, MD 20901
  • Paint Branch High School, 14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866
  • Poolesville High School, 17501 West Willard Road, Poolesville, MD 20837
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center, 11315 Falls Road Potomac, MD 20854
  • Quince Orchard High School, 15800 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
  • Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Drive, Rockville, MD 20852
  • *Riderwood Senior Living, 3140 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904 (limited to residents)
  • Robertson Park Youth Center, 801 Rabbitt Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
  • Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850
  • Rockville High School, 2100 Baltimore Road, Rockville, MD 20851
  • Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Dept., 17921 Brooke Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860
  • Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown, MD 20874
  • Sherwood High School, 300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860
  • Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • Springbrook High School, 201 Valley Brook Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20904
  • Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912
  • Thomas S. Wootton High School, 2100 Wootton Parkway, Rockville, MD 20850
  • Upper County Community Recreation Center, 8201 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
  • Walt Whitman High School, 7100 Whittier Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20817
  • Walter Johnson High School, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Watkins Mill High School, 10301 Apple Ridge Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20879
  • Wheaton High School, 12401 Dalewood Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20906
  • Wheaton Library and Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902
  • White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20904Wilson Wims Elementary School, 12520 Blue Sky Drive, Clarksburg, MD 20871
  • Winston Churchill High School, 11300 Gainsborough Road, Potomac, MD 20854
For election related information, call the 240-777-8500, go to www.777vote.org or visit the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website at https://elections.maryland.gov.

Free Tax Help Available for Income-Eligible County Residents Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

The Community Action Agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Montgomery County’s only year-round VITA program, is offering free tax help for the current year (2021), prior years (2018-20) and for amended returns. Virtual and in-person appointments are available for County residents with household incomes of $58,000 or less.

Now through the end of October, in-person tax appointments are available from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Community Action Agency office, which is located at 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 320, in Rockville. Virtual appointments are available from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. Assistance with Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) applications is available on Thursdays.

As part of VITA’s free tax help, the program links residents with valuable tax credits that can provide critical support to households. This year’s historic expansion of the Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit and the County’s Working Families Income Supplement (WFIS) added thousands of dollars in tax refunds that may be available for individuals and families. This included ITIN taxpayers who were eligible for the State EITC and the County WFIS for the first time.

It is not too late for residents to claim these credits. VITA helps ensure that taxpayers receive all credits for which they are eligible.

Information about post-season appointments is available on the CASHBACK website in English, Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean and Vietnamese. Eligible residents may schedule an appointment by calling 240-777-1123 or by visiting the CASHBACK scheduling page.

Visit the Community Action Agency’s website for more information.

MCAEL Will Award $1,345,000 in Grants to 23 Organizations in Fiscal Year 2023 to Support Adult English Literacy Programs

The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL) will distribute a total of $1,345,000 in grants in Fiscal Year 2023 to 23 organizations to support adult English literacy programs across Montgomery County. The grants will help equip the organizations in their efforts to host adult literacy classes and work with some of the more than 125,000 adults in Montgomery County who report that they speak English “less than very well.”

Funding for the grants is provided in partnership with the Montgomery County Government, with the support of County Executive Marc Elrich and the Montgomery County Council.

“We are excited to work with the grant recipients this upcoming year, in addition to all of the community members who participate in our trainings,” MCAEL Executive Director Kathy Stevens. “Through the work of the entire coalition, more and more adults in Montgomery County are gaining the English skills they need to speak English, read news or writing skills to fill out a job application.”

The 23 organizations receiving grants will provide 31 overall adult literacy programs in Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on July 1.

Recommendations for funding were made to the MCAEL Board of Directors by a 12-member volunteer Grant Review Panel comprised of community members.

The FY23 grant recipients include, in alphabetical order:
  • Ana A. Brito Foundation, Inc.
  • Association of Vietnamese Americans
  • Briggs Center for Faith and Action
  • CASA
  • Catholic Charities
  • Chinese Culture and Community Service Center
  • Chinese American Parent Association of Montgomery County
  • Community Reach of Montgomery County
  • Covenant Life Church
  • Ethiopian Community Center
  • Family Services, Inc.
  • Francophone Africans Alliance, Inc.
  • George B. Thomas Learning Academy
  • Hughes United Methodist Church
  • Identity, Inc.
  • IMPACT Silver Spring
  • Kings & Priests Court International Ministries Inc.
  • Literacy Council of Montgomery County
  • Mill Creek Parish United Methodist Church
  • Rockville Seniors, Inc.
  • Seneca Creek Community Church
  • Vietnamese American Services
  • Washington New Covenant Fellowship Church
The goal of the MCAEL grants program is to increase the availability of adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and literacy services that support identified community needs and diverse populations. New this year, MCAEL introduced a subcategory of “Access Grants—Access Small Grants” to encourage more community- and faith-based organizations to offer adult English classes.

“This is an especially important time for our coalition as many are emerging from pandemic isolation and looking for work. More opportunities to collaborate are out there, and our entire community should be able to participate both personally and professionally,” said Ms. Stevens. “With the continued work of these 23 grant partners, even more adults in Montgomery County will now have access to opportunities that could change their lives.”

More information about the FY23 grant awards can be found in the “Grant Awards for FY23” page available on the MCAEL website at https://www.mcael.org/grant-recipients.

MCAEL is a community coalition of public, nonprofit and business partners that support nearly 60 adult ESOL and literacy service programs, more than 1,000 instructors and staff and approximately 11,000 adult learners. The Coalition works to help adults gain the English literacy skills needed to reach their potential as parents, workers and community members. By advancing a coalition of organizations dedicated to enabling all County residents to achieve their full potential,

For more information on MCAEL, visit www.mcael.org.

‘Funding Support for Nonprofits’ and ‘Encuentre Sus Recursos’ Will Be Next Seminars in County Economic Development Corporation’s Series on ‘Getting Things Done’

“Funding Support for Nonprofits” and “Recursos para Hacer Crecer Su Negocio” will be the next online seminars in the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation’s series of webinars on “Getting Things Done in Montgomery County.” The seminars will be presented Thursday, July 7, and Wednesday, July 13, respectively.

The seminar on funding sources for nonprofits will be moderated by Nicole Merlene, an MCEDC economic development specialist. Scheduled guest speakers include Kim Jones, a consultant for Montgomery College’s Nonprofit Training Institute; Lavontte Chatmon, the interim executive director of Nonprofit Montgomery; and Anna Hargrave, executive director of The Community Foundation in Montgomery County.

“Encuentre Sus Recursos,” the Spanish-language webinar on resources for small businesses, will be moderated by Daniel Parra, MCEDC director of business diversity and inclusion. Scheduled guest speakers include María Godoy, senior small business instructor and trainer at the Latino Economic Development Center; Marisela Villamil, a senior business consultant with the Maryland Small Business Development Center; and Mauricio Vasquez, director of programs for the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

To register to participate in the nonprofit seminar on July 7, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwrdOyvqjMqGtJdVN4uELUhm6lCMYObXScE.

To register to participate in the Spanish-language small business on July 13, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUtfuyrrD4tGt2O027xAcQ7g9srQQ3mHxfd.

June 23, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe it has already been a year and a half since we began to distribute vaccines to help combat the COVID-19 virus. This week, we hit a major milestone as our last age group – babies from 6 months to young children 5 years old – are now eligible for their vaccine.


The County is offering clinics specifically for this age group. However, the vast majority of the vaccine doses are being distributed to private providers, which is why we’re asking families to make appointments with their health care providers if they are available. There will be limited appointments (no walk-ins) at the county clinics, and we will get everyone vaccinated, but it may require some patience. There are online tools from the Federal government and on the County website (https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/) to help guide you to the nearest available vaccines.

We have also set up a Frequently Asked Questions page to help. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for changes to our plan or updates to our vaccine scheduling.

This is an exciting time and potentially a great boost for our community safety. With this latest wave of COVID-19 infections, we have seen that even though many of our neighbors are vaccinated and boosted these variants can still break through and lead to outbreaks. We have been hearing from parents of daycare and school-aged children who only in the last month or so have had to deal with quarantines to control outbreaks in classrooms.

Remember that while these shots are not a shield that blocks all infection, they are important to shield you from severe impacts. 

Montgomery is most vaccinated, but we must do better with boosting

We want to stress that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from a serious illness from COVID-19. It’s also helped keep our mortality rates low. This graph shows how vaccinations can reduce the chances of hospitalization as compared to the unvaccinated.

Throughout this pandemic, the unvaccinated have been hit much harder. Even recently unvaccinated people were three times more likely to be hospitalized than the fully vaccinated. During the winter Omicron surge, the rate of hospitalization for unvaccinated patients eight times higher than for fully vaccinated patients. Montgomery County’s COVID-19 community level determined by the CDC remains Medium.

Montgomery County residents have done an incredible job of showing up for vaccines. According to the CDC, 88 percent of our total population is fully vaccinated. That is 21.2 percentage points higher than the national average of 66.8 percent. This is one of the main reasons why our County has two-thirds of the national death rate from COVID-19.

Last December, The Washington Post wrote, “Perhaps the most highly vaccinated large county in America, according to New York Times data, is Montgomery County, Md.” Last week, stacker.com ranked all the counties in each state by the percentage of fully vaccinated people. Not only are we the most vaccinated county in Maryland, but the report also found that our vaccination rate was 15 percent higher than the state average and that our death rate was close to 20 percent lower than the state’s death rate per 100,000 people.

However, despite this incredible performance in being fully vaccinated, only 56.1 percent of our residents have received their booster and this number has remained stagnant for weeks. Although this rate is 8.9 percentage points higher than the national average at 47.2 percent, we should be doing better, and we need your help. If you are already boosted, remind your family and friends to do so and please share our website GoVaxMoCo.com with your social media networks.

Vaccinations and boosters are critical and are saving lives. Let’s continue to take our shots!

Food, fun, and festivities with our seniors at 55+BBQ

Earlier this week I got a chance to celebrate our seniors with the 55+ BBQ Bonanza. Our Recreation Department hosted more than 400 people at Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg for a fun-filled day of great food and activities like games, crafts, nature walks, softball, and line dancing.

One reason I wanted to be there was to thank everyone for their vigilance, patience, and the sacrifices they have made since March of 2020. Until we had vaccines available, many seniors went months without visits from their loved ones during the pandemic. When the County needed to be shut down, our Recreation Department and Health and Human Service departments found new ways to get meals delivered to hundreds of seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition Program. When the senior centers were closed and there were no dances--dancing went on via Zoom meetings. When it was safe to go outside, but not gather inside buildings, parking lots became the dance floors.

We prioritized our senior population during this pandemic, and our seniors did what they needed to do to keep themselves safe. Since the vaccinations arrived last year, we have consistently held the highest vaccination rates in the nation for our 65+, and these efforts have helped us have two-thirds of the nation’s death rate when it comes to COVID-19.

The pandemic made things very challenging for our older residents – but it is wonderful that we can be back together and participate in events like this one.

New report moves DMV to  No. 2 in nation for life sciences research talent

Not only are we topping the nation in getting COVID vaccines into the arms of residents, we also boast some of the top talent in the life sciences businesses--whose employees are working to keep us safe. I'm excited to share news from a study published this month that ranks our region as one of the top talent clusters for Life Sciences Research Talent in the nation.

CBRE is an international company that looks at commercial business trends. It has determined that the Washington, D.C. Baltimore Region is the second-best area in the nation for life sciences research business behind Boston at No. 1 and San Francisco, New York and San Diego just behind us. During my weekly media briefing this week, Ian Anderson, senior research director with CBRE, explained some of the many factors we have working in our favor.

We are close to many government organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which are headquartered in Montgomery County. We also have the advantage of being close to several higher education institutions that are putting many life sciences graduates into the workforce, including the University of Maryland, Howard University and Johns Hopkins University. These graduates are becoming medical scientists, data scientists and biologists.

The reason this is important for Montgomery County is because of our successful efforts to reap the benefits of this booming industry which has seen 131 percent growth over the last 20 years. And we are committed to growing this life sciences talent pool.

Last year, we signed an important MOU between the County, Montgomery College, the Universities at Shady, the University System of Maryland, and our life science companies that will help connect our students to this industry – providing them incredible education experiences while ensuring we are providing well-trained and well-educated potential workers for this industry.

Just this month, we have welcomed the expansion of Regenxbio biohealth company, which specializes in gene therapy, and Montgomery County-based Novavax had its COVID-19 vaccine approved by Federal regulators for Emergency Use Authorization. Additionally, Montgomery County currently has a record 3 million square feet of lab space in development, is home to the developing Global Pandemic and Biodefense Center. It is also growing our artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biotech sectors that are also critical to the life sciences. Please take a read of this interview I did last year with BioBuzz that highlights many of these efforts.

Last week to apply for COVID rental relief funds

The deadline for emergency rental relief meant to help people who have fallen behind because of COVID-19 is June 30. Applicants must complete their applications by this upcoming Thursday in order to receive the help. We know hundreds of people have started the application for emergency rental assistance, but did not finish. So far, we have received more than 2,400 applications for the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program with 95 percent coming from the tenants themselves, and 5 percent being submitted directly by landlords.

To apply for these funds, households must meet the following minimum eligibility requirements:
  • Have experienced COVID-19 financial hardship.
  • Have a household gross income from either their 2020 or 2021 tax return or the previous 30 days that is at or below 50 percent of area median income, which is around $110,000.
  • Have resided in Montgomery County since at least August 2021.
  • Have an obligation to pay rent, formally or informally.
  • Be behind on their rental obligation by at least two months.
Besides immediate rent relief, we also need to move on the temporary rent stabilization bill that would limit annual rental increases to 4.4 percent for residential landlords countywide. We are hearing of extremely high rent increases that renters cannot afford especially with the higher grocery prices, gas prices, and inflation. While this is a national problem, we can do something locally.

We have heard from some people who have told us they have been given notice that their rent will soon jump by 20 percent if we do not put these protections in place. We must pass this legislation quickly to protect renters in Montgomery County from being priced out of their homes.

'A sad time in American history'

The Supreme Court is currently ruling on many important issues this month ranging from reproductive rights to gun control to immigration and affirmative action.

This week’s Supreme Court ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen is a blow to our nation’s efforts to keep us safe from gun violence. It is not a surprise that a Supreme Court packed with dangerous, right-wing idealogues would rule this way.

As Justice Breyer noted in his dissent, “Since the start of this year, there have been 277 reported mass shootings – an average of more than one per day. Gun violence has now surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.”

In Montgomery County, we will continue to use all our legal authority and every policy proposal and innovative approach possible to keep our residents safe from gun violence. We will also continue to advocate for needed changes at the state and federal levels.

When we recently experienced the scourge of “ghost guns,” I, and other elected leaders in this County joined our Attorney General and General Assembly to ban them. The Supreme Court ruling today has undermined our ability to keep people safe.

This Supreme Court is clearly politically motivated on the most important issues facing our society. They are not doing the right thing. It is a sad time in American history.

RIP Reggie Felton: First Black president of the County Board of Education

This week, we lost a true champion for education and a well-respected community leader. Reginald “Reggie” Felton served on the MCPS Board of Education for 10 years between 1994 and 2004 and was the first Black person to serve as president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. In 2007, Reggie took his leadership skills and expertise to higher education when the Governor appointed him to serve on the Board of Trustees for Montgomery College.

Reggie was a passionate fighter for Montgomery County students and families, always prioritizing equity and dedicated to ensuring all children received a quality education. Our sympathies are with his wife of 52 years, Dianne, and the entire family.

Show your Pride this Sunday in Silver Spring

Pride Month is celebrated again with one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for some in Montgomery County. Pride in the Plaza returns to downtown Silver Spring on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. This is an all-day festival celebrating LGBTQ+ artists, businesses, and supportive nonprofits.

The celebration also includes several Saturday events at the newly renamed Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library and Woodside Urban Park in Silver Spring, as well as youth events leading up to the weekend. Festival tickets are free and help you plan for the weekend, so you can get an idea of what is in store. I look forward to attending and seeing this County show its pride.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive