August 31, 2022

County Holiday Schedule for Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 5

County Holiday Schedule for Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 5

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will observe schedule and program changes for the observance of Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 5.

Residential Property Owners Must Have Approved Homestead Application on File to be Eligible for $692 Montgomery Property Tax Credit

Residential Property Owners Must Have Approved Homestead Application on File to be Eligible for $692 Montgomery Property Tax Credit

There has been a change in Maryland law that could restrict a homeowner’s eligibility for a $692 Montgomery County property tax credit. The new State law requires all residential property owners to also have an approved Homestead Application on file with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) to be eligible for the County’s Income Tax Offset Credit (ITOC). This credit appears on annual property tax bills.

The one-time application must be completed to keep the ITOC tax credit that was on July 1, 2022, tax bills. If an approved application is not on file by May 1, 2023, State law will require the County to recapture the $692 ITOC that was granted on your tax bill. Additionally, the ITOC tax credit itself will no longer appear on all future tax bills until there is an approved Homestead Application on file with SDAT.

The Homestead Application can be filed online or by mailing an application to SDAT.

To file an application online, a property owner will first need an Access Number issued by SDAT. To obtain an access number, email your name and address with the subject line of “Montgomery County Homestead Tax Credit” to Within a few days, SDAT will send the access number and directions for filing online.

To file an application by mail, complete the application form and mail it to the address listed on the form. The link to the paper application form can be found at

Once an application has been filed, or if you believe you already have a Homestead Application on file with SDAT, check the status of your Homestead Application on the SDAT webpage at

More information about the program can be obtained by emailing or by calling 410-767-2165 (toll-free 1-866-650-8783).

Between October 2022 and February 2023, SDAT will be changing its Homestead Application process and will no longer require the access number for the online application.

Latin Dance with ‘AM Salsa’ and ‘Dance In Time’ Will Highlight Free Twilight Tuesdays Event on Plaza in Silver Spring on Sept. 6

Latin Dance with ‘AM Salsa’ and ‘Dance In Time’ Will Highlight Free Twilight Tuesdays Event on Plaza in Silver Spring on Sept. 6

AM Salsa and Dance In Time will lead an evening of free Latin dancing al fresco on Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The two-hour session will begin with group instruction and then shift into a festive dance party accompanied by a mix of Latin dance songs.

The event, for dancers of all abilities, is part of the weekly Twilight Tuesday series presented by Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Veterans Plaza is located at One Veterans Place, adjacent to the Silver Spring Civic Building.

Barbara Bernstein directs Dance In Time, a Cuban Salsa school that runs classes and has produced shows at venues including the Kennedy Center and the Verizon Center. She has performed and/or taught in the U.S. and abroad.

AM Salsa teaches dance with a focus on developing social dance skills. Its classes are created to help those who are looking for ways to improve their dancing through a creative teaching technique.

More information on the Twilight Tuesdays series and other Silver Spring events is available at

Applications Being Accepted for County's Community Action Board Advocacy Training

The Montgomery County Community Action Board, which is part of the Community Action Agency, is accepting applications for its Community Advocacy Institute (CAI). The CAI is a free eight-month advocacy training program for Montgomery County residents with combined household incomes of $60,000 or less. Conducted in English, with simultaneous Spanish interpretations, workshops will focus on a variety of topics, including how to work with elected officials, storytelling, research, letter-writing, developing testimony and key advocacy issues.

The monthly Saturday program will use a hybrid model, with most workshops conducted virtually and a few sessions held in-person. Participants must attend all workshops and complete an advocacy project to graduate. Additional information and a link to the application are available on the Community Action Agency website. Applications are due Friday, Sept. 2.

The Community Action Board is the County’s Federally designated anti-poverty advisory group. It provides governance to the County Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Action Agency, including Head Start. The CAI was started in 2016 and there are 105 alumni of the program, many serving on County advisory groups and nonprofit boards, along with participating in a variety of advocacy efforts.

For more information, call the Community Action Agency at 240-777-1697. TTY users can call Maryland Relay at 711.

Annual Fall Native Plant Sale by Montgomery Parks Is Now Underway

Montgomery Parks is hosting its annual fall native plant sales at Locust Grove Nature Center in Bethesda and Maydale Nature Classroom in Colesville. The sales seek to bolster native vegetation for native pollinators. The plants help create habitats that are necessary for pollinators’ survival and support the local ecosystem. The online sale for Locust Grove Nature Center runs through Tuesday, Sept. 6, and an in-person sale is scheduled for Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 17-18. The native plant sale for Maydale Nature Center is exclusively online and begins Sept. 6.

The department’s Native Plant Program began 10 years ago at Pope Farm Nursery, which is located at 7400 Airpark Rd. in Gaithersburg. The program was established in 2012 to enhance habitats for native pollinators and has quadrupled since its founding from 12,000 to 50,000 plants produced per year.  

The native plants will be available for purchase this year online via ActiveMONTGOMERY and in-person at Locust Grove Nature Center.

The native plant sale for Maydale Nature Center is exclusively online and runs from Sept. 6-21. Maydale staff will contact purchasers to arrange times for pickup on Sept. 24.

Native plants available for purchase include perennial wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and pawpaw trees. The plant sale will feature many well-known native plants, as well as some species that are not grown at other nurseries because they are sourced from wild plants in parks.

All proceeds from the online and onsite sales will fund the nature center’s educational programs and Montgomery Parks’ Nature on Wheels. It is the mobile science field station that travels all over the County and educates the public on the local environment. 

“Through this funding source, we are growing opportunities for the public to learn more about the value of native plants and wildlife and how they can create a sanctuary in our communities,” said Angela Yau, the facility and program manager at Locust Grove Nature Center who runs Montgomery Parks’ seasonal native plant sales.

Rochelle Bartolomei, native plant program manager for Montgomery Parks, collects seeds from parks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and other nearby parks in Maryland and Northern Virginia. The plants are all from Ecoregion 64 in the Northern Piedmont, which means they belong in the local area and will support the local populations of insects that have co-evolved with them.

Staff gather seeds from native plants in the parks, which are cleaned, stored, prepared and planted outdoors in raised beds and also indoors in greenhouses. Plants mature at different rates, from just a few months up to several years.  

Native plants are planted in different areas of the County’s parks, including stormwater management projects, landscaping projects at facilities and for the Weed Warriors program. They also are used for native plant sales at Montgomery Parks’ nature centers and nature classroom.  

Maryland’s native plants include host and nectar plants that provide food for insect larva, such as monarch caterpillars, and can flourish without fertilizer, pesticides or extensive care beyond watering. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil and provide food for wildlife. They are also better equipped to manage insects and diseases, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed guide.  

Climate Action Annual Report Highlights 75 Accomplishments to Reduce Climate-Related Risks

Climate Action Annual Report Highlights 75 Accomplishments to Reduce Climate-Related Risks

Montgomery County has released its first Climate Action Plan Annual Report, a work plan detailing Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) accomplishments and Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) plans to combat climate change. The report highlights 75 accomplishments in the first year since the plan was released in June 2021.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a strategic plan to cut community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035, compared to 2005 levels. The plan also seeks to reduce climate-related risks to the County’s residents, businesses and the built and natural environment.

During the first year of CAP implementation, County departments and agencies actively worked on 75 climate actions out of the 86 actions identified in the CAP. In FY23, County departments and agencies intend to make progress on 77 climate actions.

“This summer has showed us that climate change is already here. Heat waves and storms are becoming more severe, underscoring the need for Montgomery County and other communities around the world to stay laser-focused on climate action,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We will continue to accelerate our climate efforts in the coming year. I recommended, and the County Council approved, record funding for our climate initiatives in the county’s Fiscal year 2023 budget. Our local resources to address climate change will be enhanced by federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.”

Adriana Hochberg, the County’s climate change officer and acting director of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the first year of implementing Climate Action Plan initiatives showed how much could be accomplished in a short period of time.

“Combatting climate change takes all of us. Our accomplishments during the first year of implementing the Climate Action Plan show how much we can achieve when we focus our collective efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our community’s resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said Ms. Hochberg. "Through a tapestry of dozens of actions across multiple sectors, we will continue to drive down emissions and enhance quality of life in the County, with a special emphasis on members of our community who are the most impacted by climate change and have the fewest resources to cope with its impacts.”

FY22 Climate Action Accomplishments include:
  • Clean Energy: Many solar projects were installed, including a total of 1,027 new residential solar installations and two community solar projects for low- and moderate-income residents. Legislation that funds the Montgomery County Green Brank to expand its clean energy work was passed by County Council.
  • Buildings: The County Council unanimously passed Building Energy Performance Standards legislation, which requires minimum energy performance thresholds for existing covered buildings and drives them to improve their energy efficiency over a set time period, thus reducing carbon emissions.
  • Transportation: Ride On service levels were restored to 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels by January 2022. Free fares have been made permanent on Ride On for those under 18, seniors and persons with disabilities. The first 25 electric Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) school buses have arrived as part of a plan to replace 326 diesel buses with electric school buses over four years. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates that plug-in vehicles made up 9.5 percent of new vehicle registrations in the last year.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Tree Montgomery planted 1,700 trees in FY22, for a cumulative total of more than 7,450 shade trees planted through the spring 2022 planting season.
  • Climate Adaptation: The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) completed the construction of Glenmont Forest Green Streets, with 53 rain gardens, bio-retention gardens, and tree boxes installed. DEP and the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) began installing 35 early warning flood sensors that can alert residents sooner about high water or flooding events.
  • Governance: DEP, the Office of Innovation, and the Office of Human Resources sponsored five climate training programs for 75 County government staff from 20 departments and developed a comprehensive set of resources for the new Climate Change Ambassador Training Program to build understanding and engagement among County government staff about climate change.
  • Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: The MCPS Board of Education unanimously passed a Sustainability Policy, committing MCPS to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035 compared to 2005 levels, in line with the CAP.
  • Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: DEP organized climate storytelling workshops, facilitated by Climate Stories Project that had community members develop, record and share their personal and community relationships with climate change. The project focused on amplifying the voices of under-represented and frontline community members. Montgomery County also co-launched the Maryland Coalition of Counties and Cities for Climate Action.
Actions planned for FY23 include:
  • Clean Energy: Solar panels will be installed at four MCPS schools and at multiple other County locations including maintenance yards, landfills, parking lots and the animal shelter.
  • Buildings: DEP will launch an Electrification Incentive Program in partnership with the City of Takoma Park. The Department of General Services will complete the Holiday Park Senior Center net-zero building retrofit.
  • Transportation: Ride On will operate a total of 14 electric buses in FY23. The Department of General Services (DGS) will procure an additional 100 electric Ride On buses over three years, including approximately 45 electric buses in FY23. DGS awarded a contract to install publicly accessible EV charging stations at approximately 65 libraries, recreation centers and swimming pools; installation will get underway in FY23. MCPS will continue testing and increasing its electric school bus fleet.
  • Carbon Sequestration: DEP, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Montgomery Planning and Montgomery Parks will continue tree planting efforts across the County, including reforesting some areas.
  • Climate Adaptation: DEP and OEMHS conducted an Urban Heat Mapping Campaign with community volunteers in early August. Through assistance from Thriving Earth Exchange scientists, the County will analyze the data gathered to identify communities to target for shade tree plantings on private property and along streets. The County also will continue developing a comprehensive Flood Management Plan.
  • Governance: DEP will launch a pilot program to provide climate resilience funding for low- and moderate-income housing to fill funding gaps in existing programs that these households may benefit from.
  • Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: MCPS will begin implementing its new Sustainability Policy. DEP, other County departments and the Montgomery County Racial Equity Network on the implementation of the Community Justice Academy are working with “Community Ambassadors” who will co-create integrated health, equity and quality-of-life solutions that center on the needs and desires of low-income and Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color communities in the County.
For more information, see:
For questions or comments about the County’s climate action, email

Residents Encouraged to Be Prepared for Emergencies as September Is Recognized as ‘National Preparedness Month’

September is “National Preparedness Month” and Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) are joining with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) in encouraging residents to be prepared for all emergencies.

This year’s national preparedness campaign theme is “A Lasting Legacy: The life you have built is worth protecting. Prepare for disasters to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.”

Preparing before an emergency is one of the best means of protection from the financial and emotional effects of an emergency.
Residents Encouraged to Be Prepared for Emergencies as September Is Recognized as ‘National Preparedness Month’

During National Preparedness Month, residents should build an emergency kit, make a plan, educate and involve young family members in preparedness and know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas in your home.

National Preparedness Month also is a good time to check insurance policies for what types of coverage are included. Residents should know the levels of coverage they have for possible incidents such as floods, earthquakes, extreme heat and tornadoes. Flooding is the most common hazard in Maryland. The best financial protection is to be properly insured for property owners and renters. Typically, flood damage is not covered by property insurance.

OEMHS recommends four steps for emergency preparedness:
  • Stay Informed: Know what kind of hazards you are susceptible to, and how to get information about emergencies that are occurring in your area. Subscribe to Alert Montgomery, which sends emails and texts to cell phones so that you stay informed about severe weather, traffic disruptions, power outages and floods.
  • Make a plan: Take time to figure out how to reach your family in times of disaster. Do you have an in-town contact, as well as an out-of-town contact? These are important because it may be easier to reach someone out of town during an emergency due to potential overloaded phone lines in the affected area. Have two places for the family to meet in case you need to evacuate—one outside the home in a safe location and one outside the neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Be sure the plan considers children, older adults, pets and those with access and functional needs. More information about emergency planning can be found on the OEMHS Planning for Emergencies website.
  • Make a Kit: Think about needs for basic survival and make an emergency supply kit to have those needs readily available in case of the need to evacuate or shelter in place. Items that should be in the kit include water, batteries, flashlight, food, clothes and shoes, can opener, hygiene products, medication and others. For a more complete list, Check the OEMHS Make a Kit website.
  • Get Involved: Help others prepare. Once your plan and emergency kit are ready, contact older relatives, neighbors and friends to assist them with emergency preparations. Plan to check on them after an event. Support neighborhood associations that are involved in emergency response or join an emergency volunteer association. Getting CPR and first aid certified are good ways that could help in an emergency. More information about community preparedness can be found on the OEMHS Get Involved website.
Throughout the month, emergency preparedness tips will be provided on County and OEMHS twitter feeds and County and OEMHS Facebook pages.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program Offers Free Tax Help for Income-Eligible Residents

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program Offers Free Tax Help for Income-Eligible Residents

The Montgomery County Community Action Agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is offering free tax help through the end of October for current year (2021), prior years (2018-2020) and amended tax returns. Virtual and in-person appointments are available for County residents with household incomes of $58,000 or less.

In-person appointments are available from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Community Action Agency office, located at 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 320 in Rockville. Walk-in appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis in Rockville from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Virtual appointments are available from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. Assistance with individual tax identification number (ITIN) applications is available on Thursdays. Visit the CASHBACK scheduling page to schedule an appointment or call 240-777-1123.

VITA helps ensure that resident receive all the credits for which they are eligible. This brings individuals and families thousands of dollars in refunds and credits, including the Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit and County’s Working Families Income Supplement (WFIS). County residents filing with ITINs are newly eligible for the State EITC and County WFIS.

Information is available on the CASHBACK website in English, Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean and Vietnamese.

Community Action VITA is currently recruiting volunteers to serve as tax preparers, schedulers, greeters, interpreters and quality reviewers for the upcoming tax season. Learn more and complete a volunteer application online.

Monkeypox Vaccine Remains in Short Supply; Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Latino Community to be Held on Monday, Sept. 12

Monkeypox Vaccine Remains in Short Supply; At-Risk Residents Encouraged to Pre-register for Vaccinations

There are currently more than 3,000 at-risk Montgomery County residents pre-registered for a monkeypox vaccination. The County is now following revised Federal and State guidance that is expected to make vaccinations available quicker to those on the pre-registration list than in the past. Vaccinations are currently recommended for those most at-risk of contracting it.

Anyone can get monkeypox. However, the majority of cases have occurred within the LGBTQ+ community. 

The County will transition from a two-dose subcutaneous (in the fat layer under the skin) regimen of JYNNEOS (given 28 days apart) to a smaller dose of JYNNEOS given intradermally (under the top layer of skin) in two doses. The regimen of doses also will be 28 days apart. With this new method, it is expected that the County will be able to offer vaccinations to those on the pre-registration list much faster. Updates will continue to be shared via social media.

As of earlier this week, Maryland had recorded more than 460 cases of monkeypox.

A virtual monkeypox town hall meeting for the Latino community will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12. The town hall will be streamed live on County Cable Montgomery and on Facebook.

More information is available here.

Monkeypox is spread through: 
  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids. 
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex. 
  • Touching items that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids (such as clothing or linens). 
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta. 
  • Infected animals. It is possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal. 
From the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two-to-four weeks. 

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. 

More information on monkeypox and a link to the vaccine pre-registration survey is available at 

Applications Can Be Submitted for Retail Business Rental Assistance Grants Through Sept. 30

A new $2 million Small Business Rental Assistance (SBRA) grant program for Montgomery County retail service establishments is accepting applications through Sept. 30. The program can provide each eligible business with a grant of up to three months of rent based on its current lease or $10,000, whichever is less.  

A business could be eligible to receive assistance from this program if it:   
  • Has its physical location(s) only in the County, or its County-based locations account for more than 50 percent of the business’s total number of employees or 50 percent of the business’s gross sales.  
  • Received $500,000 or less in annual revenue prior to the COVID-19 health crisis.   
  • Is classified as a retail or service-related business, but is not a restaurant or food service business, medical practice, professional services business, religious organization or licensed childcare program.   
  • Has a commercial lease in the County.  
  • Can demonstrate a revenue loss due to the health crisis.   
The SBRA program application, eligibility requirements and frequently asked are available at Montgomery County Small Business Rental Assistance Program - Phase 2.   

“Our retail businesses were hit hard by the pandemic,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “We are fortunate to be able to access this Federal funding to provide support to these businesses that employ 12 percent of our County’s workforce. I encourage all eligible County retail service establishments to apply for this newest round of grants.”    

Montgomery County is working with one of its community resource partners, the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), to deliver the funding to eligible businesses. LEDC will be administering the program on behalf of Montgomery County, but the funds are available to all eligible businesses including those operated by Asian Americans, African Americans, Blacks, Latinos and others.  

"With the pandemic still hurting small businesses in Montgomery County and bearing witness to entrepreneurs draining their personal savings to keep their businesses afloat during the past two years, we are excited to collaborate with Montgomery County Government to help qualified businesses receive the assistance they need to keep their businesses operating within the county,” said LEDC Executive Director and CEO Emi Reyes.  

This is the second round of SBRA grants provided by the County using American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds provided by the Federal government.  To date, more than $910,000 has been distributed. Retail service establishments that received the business rental assistance in 2021 will not be eligible to receive more funding from the second round of the program.   

Businesses are encouraged to check their status with the State of Maryland before applying as awards cannot be made to businesses that are not in good standing.  

Informational webinars about the program are available online:
Questions about the program should be sent to: or

‘County Schools’ Coming of Age: Bethesda as the Textbook Example’ Will Be Focus of Montgomery History Presentation Starting Monday, Sept. 5

‘County Schools’ Coming of Age: Bethesda as the Textbook Example’ Will Be Focus of Montgomery History Presentation Starting Monday, Sept. 5

Montgomery County Schools Coming of Age: Bethesda as the Textbook Example will be a featured online presentation in the Montgomery History series of stories on the County’s past. The presentation will be available anytime online from Sept. 5-11.

This richly illustrated talk, in partnership with Bethesda Historical Society, will detail the ways that Bethesda schools set the pace for education in Montgomery County Public Schools. The discussion traces the history of County public schools to the early 1900s.

There is no charge to view the presentation. Advance registration is not required.

Starting on Monday, Sept. 5, the video can be seen at

August 25, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

President Biden visited Montgomery County this week. It was exciting to host him at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. I want to extend my thanks to his administration, and our Congressional Delegation, for the landmark legislation that has been passed so far to help Montgomery County families recover and rebound from the COVID-19 health crisis. They will also help us reach our goals for combatting climate change, improving our transportation infrastructure, expanding broadband, and investing in health care and education.

President Biden helped us all by clearing the way for the widespread distribution of vaccines once they were available. His American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) put nearly $2 trillion dollars to work, making it easy for counties across the nation to get shots into arms, distribute treatments for COVID, and expand testing capabilities for all Americans.

In a recent county audit of ARPA funds, we determined that we have spent $193.1 million of the $204.1 million dollars allocated to Montgomery County. That includes $25 million for the Working Families Income Supplement Program, $13 million for minority health programs, and $8 million that helped businesses keep up with rent when revenues were lagging.

Receiving and allocating this much money so quickly is a difficult endeavor. I am proud of the collaboration between the County and our State and Federal partners to ensure that the money we received went to those most in need.

The American Rescue Plan was also behind remarkable job growth across the country. Last year, 6.5 million jobs were added nationally due to ARPA. Here in Montgomery County, we are seeing some of that growth in the life sciences industry. In the span of just a few months, about 3.5 million square feet of commercial space has been earmarked for labs and other biohealth purposes. We are now fourth in the nation for life science businesses and second in the nation for life sciences research talent, according to a recent report from CBRE.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided historic investments in efforts to curb the impacts of climate change. This week, the Office of Management and Budget reported that the IRA “could cut the social costs of climate change by up to $1.9 trillion by 2050.” These Federal funds are critical to our county’s Climate Action Plan goals.

I am proud that, earlier this year, we were invited as an inaugural member to White House Building Performance Standards Coalition and were recognized for our aggressive efforts and legislative success regarding Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS). I hope we find similar success this fallwhen the County Counciltakes up our new building electrification legislative efforts.

President Biden this week announced a financial relief program for student debt for low- to middle-income borrowers. Student loan debt has skyrocketed, making it difficult for an entire generation to buy their first homes and to generate wealth and income. Student debt disproportionally impacts lower income and minority communities. It also discourages many people from going into public service careers such as teaching, nursing, social work or being a first responder. I applaud this effort to bring some Americans significant relief and I encourage qualified County residents with student debt to be aware and apply for these benefits.

President Biden, along with our Congressional Delegation of Senator Cardin, Senator Van Hollen, Representative Raskin, Representative Sarbanes, and Representative Trone have delivered time and time again for Montgomery County. We are honored to have the President visit, but, more importantly, we look forward to his administration’s continued support, engagement, and partnership on issues that reflect our values, our diversity, and our future.

New school year starts on Monday

The new school year starts Monday, making it a busy and exciting time for our schools, students, parents, teachers, and staff. When I was teaching, the week before school began was a busy time of preparation and anticipation to meet and work with new students. Ensuring that our schools and children are prepared for this transition back to the classroom is very important. This back-to-school checklist for parents from is a handy resource for all families with children heading back to school.

This will be Superintendent Monifa McKnight’s first full school year as the new Superintendent. She and her administration, principals, teachers, and employees have been hard at work this summer developing a plan that adds reading specialists at every school and expands early education efforts to get more kids ready before kindergarten.

Dr. McKnight and her team have been working hard to address staffing shortages that have impacted every school system throughout our region, the State, and the nation. They have also continued to address school safety and the learning loss incurred by the students over the past two years because of missed time in class. They have reported that they will be assessing students and teachers to identify and address student needs through class instruction and targeted small group instruction.

I look forward to working with Dr. McKnight this year and joining her on a tour of some of the schools returning to class this coming Monday, including the new Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Gaithersburg. (pictured above)

This year, parents should know that there will be less emphasis on quarantines. If outbreaks occur (as they have the last two winters), the plan is to quickly identify positive cases, deal with them, and limit the disruption to classrooms and schools. I want to encourage all parents to vaccinate their children.

This Saturday is the County’s annual Back to School Fair at Westfield Wheaton from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services will host a free COVID-19 vaccination and immunization clinic. Many of the required immunizations to attend school, including Tdap and MCV4, will be available. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.

MCPS will offer free transportation to the fair from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to and from the following high schools: Gaithersburg, Montgomery Blair, Paint Branch and Richard Montgomery.

COVID-19 community level status ‘low’ again

COVID-19 case rates once again are just over the 150 cases per 100,000 people mark, so we remain in the ‘low’ community level for the second week in a row—which is good news. When the previous school year ended in June, our case rate was nearly double what it is today.


There has also been a slight decline in our hospitalization rates in the last week. Week after week, I remind everyone about how important it is to be vaccinated and boosted. It helps lower hospitalization and mortality rates. Data shows the unvaccinated are three to four times more likely to need a hospital stay compared to the fully vaccinated. Boosted individuals are even more protected.


According to the CDC, 89 percent of our total population is fully vaccinated—which is the highest in the nation for a jurisdiction of our size and diversity. This has been an incredible accomplishment and we must continue to be vigilant and not give up on those who continue to refuse this protection.

The newest vaccine option—a protein-based vaccine developed by Novavax—is now available. It has been tested and deemed safe by Federal regulators. It differs from all the other vaccine options in that it is not based on mRNA technology. Please consider asking for it at your doctor’s office or sign up for an appointment on our website.

Our booster rates remain below 60 percent. This is a number that frustrates me. Getting boosted is easy, it is free at our health clinics, and usually there is no out-of-pocket cost for insured individuals who choose to go to pharmacies and other clinics. There are few jurisdictions in this region and State that continue focusing and messaging this as much as we do every single week, but we must not give up. In January—which is not that long ago--our hospitals were overwhelmed and it could happen again. Spikes in cases and hospitalizations are a result of new variants. The virus continues to mutate and evolve, which means being boosted and vaccinated is your best defense.

I do hope that the FDA approves the new booster shots created to address Omicron and its variants as soon as possible. It was good news this week that Pfizer and BioNTech announced they have asked the FDA to authorize an updated version of their COVID-19 vaccines. These new boosters are going to be critical in ensuring we do not see our healthcare system overwhelmed for a third winter in a row.

Monkeypox questions answered

Monkeypox, or MPX, cases have continued to rise with more than 400 now being reported in Maryland and more than 16,000 cases nationwide. On Monday, we held the County’s first virtual town hall on MPX to give the public more information about the County’s response and to answer questions from the community. Approximately 200 residents participated. I want to thank our DHHS team for putting together a successful and informative information session. We are still answering some of the questions we could not get to answer at the town hall. There are plans for more virtual town halls in the future.

Monkeypox continues to be considered a rare but contagious disease that is passed along most often from heavy skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. Kissing, cuddling, or sex have been known to spread monkeypox. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle or backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and bouts of exhaustion. Another telltale sign: a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. People are most contagious when the rash or lesions appear, typically lasting two to four weeks. Please take precautions and avoid being around people who are ill and symptomatic. Also avoid sharing items like towels, clothes, or blankets because that is another way the virus can spread.

Montgomery County is following CDC guidelines that were adjusted earlier this month to adopt a new vaccination method called intradermal. It is proven safe and effective and will allow more people to benefit from our vaccine supply. Close to three times the number of people seeking vaccines will be able to get them, and our supply has already been shipped. More than 2,800 people have pre-registered for the vaccine and we are in the process of training nurses and setting up clinics.

Please continue checking for the most current monkeypox information and details for future townhalls on our website.

The return of polio

In just the last few days, we learned that polio has returned to the U.S. after health experts declared it eradicated in 1979. In July, a New York City man was infected and paralyzed by the virus. Sewage samples taken following that diagnosis found that the virus had probably been spreading there for months.

I was among the first kindergartners lined up for a polio shot back in the 1950s. I remember looking back at the devastating impact polio had on families and communities and how important it was for everyone to get vaccinated when it was such a huge threat.

Polio’s 43-year absence was attributed to a global vaccination campaign. The incurable disease is preventable, but only by vaccination. Health experts believe the recent increase in anti-vaxxers has led to polio’s re-emergence. And there are pockets of America that are already resistant to vaccines and health care, leading experts to predict sporadic outbreaks of polio are possible.

Montgomery County soon will have the technology to monitor sewage water for traces of viruses like COVID-19 and polio. We are currently finalizing a wastewater detection program with the University of Maryland and other partners. This new system will allow us to respond quicker and alert the public earlier than we can now. This will be an important step for our public health efforts.

Update on ‘Streeteries’

As Labor Day approaches, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation is preparing to close two of our area Streeteries.

Streeteries have provided a practical solution to a pandemic-related problem. They served as much needed gathering spaces for restaurant customers during the height of the pandemic and provided a creative solution to community safety and social distancing issues. As the situation has changed, we have worked with the communities in each area to decide whether these spaces should continue to operate and in what capacity.

The Streetery on Newell Street in Silver Spring will reopen to cars after Labor Day. However, it will close to vehicular traffic for scheduled public events throughout the year. Plans for a new park have begun at the nearby former National Tire and Battery 1 acre site. A survey offers opportunity for community feedback on the design elements The Woodmont Avenue Streetery in Bethesda also will be suspended and partially reopened to traffic after Labor Day. That is needed for the construction of the long-planned and partially finished Woodmont Avenue Cycle Track.

Streeteries on Price Avenue in Wheaton and Norfolk Avenue in Bethesda will remain in operation after Labor Day.
‘Dog days’ of summer

“National Dog Day” will be observed on Friday, Aug. 26. It is a good time to remind you that our Montgomery County Animal Services & Adoption Center needs help to find loving homes for pets in need. All adoption fees will be waived for all animals through Aug. 31 during the annual “Clear the Shelters” adoption event.

Interested adopters can start the process by filling out a questionnaire online or in person. They will then be asked to email some items required for adoption or submit them in person. All adopters are required to provide a photo ID and rabies certificates for any currently owned cats, dogs, or ferrets (or County pet licenses, if applicable). For more information on how to adopt, visit

Applications are processed in the order they are received. Once reviewed, interested adopters will be sent a link to schedule an appointment to meet potential new family members or, if completing the process in person, an appointment will be made. Walk-ins are accepted based on adoption counselor availability. If no counselors are available to meet with an interested adopter during the event, a voucher will be provided that will be valid through Sept. 8.

I want to thank NBC4/Telemundo 44 for its partnership with our shelter and its efforts to help these pets find families to care for them.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

August 24, 2022

Free ‘Back to School Fair’ Will Be at Westfield Wheaton on Saturday, Aug. 27

Montgomery County Public Schools students and their families are invited to kick off the new school year at the annual “Back-to-School Fair” from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Westfield Wheaton. The event provides an opportunity to learn about the school system and County programs and services, while enjoying family-friendly activities, entertainment, a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic and more.

Westfield Wheaton is located at 11160 Veirs Mill Rd. in Wheaton.

MCPS will offer free shuttles to the event from the following MCPS high schools:
  • Gaithersburg
  • Montgomery Blair
  • Paint Branch
  • Richard Montgomery
The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services will host the free COVID-19 vaccination and immunization clinic at the fair. To sign up for appointments for immunizations, go to

School Supplies Will Be Available Free at ‘Back to School Giveaway’ on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Fairland Recreational Park

Students in need of school supplies can get free items on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the “Back to School Giveaway” at Fairland Recreational Park in Fairland. The event, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., is open to all.

Among the items to be distributed are backpacks, notebooks and pencils.

In addition to the distribution of school supplies, the event will have free sports physical assessments, music, Assurance wireless free phones and service, a moon bounce, food and refreshments.

The event will be at the picnic area of Fairland Recreational Park, which is located at 3928 Greencastle Rd. in Fairland. The Back to School Giveaway is being sponsored by CTO Health Services, a behavioral health agency in Silver Spring.

The event will be held rain or shine.

For more information about the Back to School Giveaway, call 240-455-6584.

Updates Provided on Four ‘Streeteries’ for Fall

Four “Streeteries” were created in early 2020 by Montgomery County as a temporary concept to support businesses struggling from the economic impacts of COVID-19 and allow residents to gather freely on public streets closed to cars. They are now being reevaluated for fall as the pandemic continues to ease. The County’s Streeteries include Newell Street in Silver Spring, Price Avenue in Wheaton and Norfolk and Woodmont avenues in Bethesda.

The County has been working with communities around each location to establish a long-term plan for each space. The Streeteries will continue in some fashion, although some will change their concept.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has managed the closing of streets to vehicles as part of the Streeteries plans. The closed streets have allowed residents and businesses to use public spaces for in-street activities such as biking, walking, outdoor dining and retail activity. Management of the spaces and collection of community feedback has been led by the County’s respective Regional Service Centers (RSCs).

“The Streeteries have provided a practical solution to a pandemic-related problem,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “They served as much-needed gathering spaces during the pandemic and provided a creative solution. Now as the situation has changed, we worked with the community in each area to decide how these spaces will continue to operate. The Streeteries showed new possibilities and I would like to see how we might continue some form of these activities as we move beyond just trying to accommodate the activities within the constraints of the pandemic.”

Streeteries generally, have had hospitality businesses involved and allow for alcohol consumption in public areas that were off limits previously.

“The Streetery model proved an effective and popular option in some areas and licensed businesses successfully ensured responsible alcohol service,” said Alcohol Beverage Services Director Kathie Durbin. “Alcohol Beverage Services is committed to ongoing collaboration with license holders so that communities can continue to enjoy the Streeteries safely.”

Future plans for the four Streeteries for fall, as determined by input from their respective communities:

Newell Street, Silver Spring

Newell Street will reopen to cars after Labor Day. However, it will close to vehicular traffic for scheduled public events throughout the year.

Price Avenue, Wheaton

Price Avenue will remain in operation as a Streetery for the foreseeable future.

The Mid-County RSC has indicated that it is looking to expand the Streetery to be more inclusive of bicyclists and walkers. A community meeting regarding the Streetery is planned for late September or early October to gather additional community feedback on ways to better accommodate pedestrian traffic.

This fall, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has planned repairs to its facilities that run under Price Avenue. The work may require WSSC to temporarily close the Streetery for a few days.

Norfolk Avenue, Bethesda

Norfolk Avenue will remain in operation as a Streetery, and closed to vehicles, for the foreseeable future.

Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda

The Woodmont Avenue Streetery will be temporarily suspended, and partially reopened to traffic after Labor Day during construction of the long-planned and partially constructed Woodmont Avenue Cycle Track. Construction is expected to commence after Labor Day.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase RSC is circulating a survey to gather feedback from residents and businesses. Survey results will be used in developing long-term plans for the Streetery. The owner of the adjacent properties (Federal Realty Investment Trust) is planning a privately funded redesign to increase outdoor dining capacity. Long-term design decisions have not been made, and the County will continue to work with the community to keep the area as a hub for outdoor dining while potentially restoring traffic movement through the block.

Streeteries were part of MCDOT’s Shared Streets program, which included smaller pockets designated for recreation during the pandemic and allowed businesses to use streetside parking spaces and sidewalks.

Many of those businesses have already returned to normal operations. Businesses that are still operating with COVID-19-related accommodations, without the Streetery designation, will need to have County permits after Labor Day to ensure accessibility requirements are met. Streeteries have accessibility requirements built into their designs.

“During the pandemic, we relaxed the permitting requirement on the use of tents and café spaces on sidewalks in support of businesses,” said Department of Permitting Services Director Mitra Pedoeem. “Although we will work with businesses after Labor Day, they will need to reach out to the Permitting Services Office if they have not yet secured tent and outdoor café permits to ensure they comply with accessibility requirements.”

Over the winter months, Streetery locations may be suspended if significant winter storm conditions occur.

"Streeteries have undeniably changed how we look at the public right of way,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “Working with the RSCs, Urban Partnerships and Parks—in the case of Newell Street—we have developed a process where the community determines the capacity of their local Streetery long-term. We are optimistic that these streets will continue to serve the public well.”

‘Gun Buyback Event’ to be Held on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Police Headquarters in Rockville, With Policies of No ID Required and No Questions Asked

The Rockville City Police Department (RCPD), in partnership with the Montgomery County State’s Attorneys Office and Montgomery County Public Schools, will host a gun buyback event on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug, 27, in the parking lot of Rockville Police Headquarters. All firearms will be accepted with no identification needed and a no-questions-asked policy by law enforcement.

Rockville Police Headquarters is located at 2 West Montgomery Ave. in Downtown Rockville.

Community members will be able to voluntarily turn in their firearms and receive a $100 Visa gift card for functioning handguns, rifles and shotguns and $200 in Visa gift cards for functioning assault-style weapons and privately manufactured firearms (ghost guns).

RCPD will maintain the ultimate determination on the eligible firearms for gift card issuance.

Participants must remain in their vehicle at all times. Firearms must be unloaded and transported in the trunk. No ammunition in guns is allowed. No walk-ups will be allowed.

For the issuance of the gift card, weapons must be functional. The event organizers reserve the right to limit the number of gift cards given to an individual, regardless of the number of weapons surrendered.

An unserviceable firearm is a firearm that is incapable of discharging a shot by the action of an explosive and is incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition.

Non-functioning firearms and ammunition will be accepted with no exchange of compensation. Gift card quantities are limited and subject to availability.

Every gun turned in is one less gun that could be used in a serious crime, suicide, or domestic violence incident or accidentally discharged by a child.

Guns that are collected will be destroyed.