September 29, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

October is the first full month of Fall and full of many events and causes we want you to be aware of. October is Energy Action Month. Each week Montgomery County will be leading the public push to be environmentally conscious starting with Electrify Your Ride Week, which begins on Monday. By the end of the month, we will cut the ribbon at the Brookville Bus Depot which will have a new solar panel canopy and micro-grid that will be the power source for new electric buses.

October is the month when the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation leans on all of us for support. It is hosting a fundraising challenge and hoping you keep count of the distance you travel this month to raise money for the group. You can sign up to participate in the "MCFJC Foundation 13K to Help End Domestic Violence" as an individual, with a team of friends or co-workers or as a sponsoring business. Its mission is to provide wrap-around aid for victims of domestic violence and their children. It also focuses on education—alerting adults and teens to the signs of dangerous relationships. It does not matter if you plan to walk, run or bike your way to 13K—please participate and spread the word.

Court decision paves the way for smoother election in November

October also means we are closing in on another Election Day. I encourage you to make sure you are registered to vote with the State of Maryland by the deadline of Oct. 18. Early voting for the general election begins in a few weeks, on Oct. 27.

Recently, we got some good news that should make counting the ballots not the drawn-out process it was this summer.

A Montgomery County circuit court judge ruled that the Board of Elections can start the process of preparing mail-in ballots for tabulation prior to Election Day. This is great news for voters and candidates.

This decision changes the ballot counting process that was in place for the primary election in July, when the Board of Elections had to wait 48 hours after Election Day to begin its work on mail-in ballots. This resulted in long delays in reporting final election results as the elections workers and volunteers struggled to sort and count tens of thousands of ballots.

The delay was unnecessary. The General Assembly had passed a law allowing the early processing of mail-in ballots before Election Day, but it was vetoed by the governor. The court’s decision last week is an acknowledgment that there is a new normal. Voters expect the process to be convenient and easy, and they expect their votes to be counted quickly.

Sadly, it appears that the Republican nominee for governor has a different view. He has filed an appeal to reverse the court’s decision and once again have our election workers counting ballots for weeks after Election Day.

It is my hope that the Courts will uphold last week’s ruling. I believe the decision is better for Maryland.

Purple Line gets strong support during special event this week

I was glad to see strong community support and focus this week on the Purple Line, specifically on equity and sustained development goals.

Once completed, the Purple Line will have 10 stops in Montgomery County. This project has the potential to touch many lives, from those who seek new job opportunities to businesses eager to find new customers.

It is important to have a report like this come out long before the first trains roll between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. With so many opportunities ahead, we must have a plan so that no group is left out.

I remain highly concerned about the potential impact of speculative real estate investment along the corridor and its effects on affordable housing and commercial rents. That is why the Purple Line corridor may very well be the ideal place to pilot residential and commercial rent stabilization efforts. Many of the neighborhoods along the corridor will face intense gentrification pressure unless we enact policies to protect the people living along that route now.

Businesses also need help. We are engaging our small and locally owned businesses in the impacted commercial areas to ensure that they not only survive construction but thrive afterward.

We cannot forget about the walkers and bicycle users who also need safe access to and from Purple Line stations. We must work hard to make sure our plans are coordinated and user friendly to help get people to work, school and elsewhere across Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

I want to thank the Purple Line Corridor Coalition for the work it has done by thinking ahead on these equity issues and others arising from this massive project. we can make this works for everyone.

South Korean embassy meets with Montgomery County leaders

I joined Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones and Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation COO and President Bill Tompkins this week for a sit-down with embassy leaders from South Korea.

They had many questions about how our government works as topics ran the gamut from economic development to community safety—including how seriously we treat suspected hate crimes. The attaché expressed gratitude for our serious and prompt response to incidents in the county. We also spent time talking about environmental policies and education. I look forward to the partnerships that come from our visit with the Korean consulate.

Montgomery County Schools highly ranked

I’m very proud of how well Montgomery County public schools fared in the latest ranking of schools done by Niche. Poolesville High School was rated number 1 in the State for public schools and seven of the top 10 public high schools in Maryland are in Montgomery County. No school in our County was ranked in the bottom half of the list, which evaluated Maryland’s 232 schools.

These high marks would not be possible without the leadership and guidance from our school leaders and the outstanding teachers we have in our County who have worked hard despite all the challenges we’ve faced in the last two years. Of course, our students deserve a lot of credit too for paying attention, handling adversity, and doing the work.

I’m proud that our County continues to stand out in so many ways, including having the best school system in Maryland. And I am pleased that we are regarded as an example from which to learn.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Art-themed businesses shine

Our Hispanic Heritage Month tour of businesses continued late last week with a trip up I-270.

The first stop was the new Art Gallery in the Kentlands. It is the second space opened by the two women behind RoFa and Beta Galleries. Their original location, La Morada in Potomac, is also open to the public, but by appointment only. The women behind these galleries are proud of the Latin American artists they have been able to showcase here in Montgomery County, giving examples of strong voices and cultural awareness.

I was impressed with the political protest art from the streets of Colombia featured at the new Kentlands location on Main Street in Gaithersburg. When I was there last Friday, it was great to see people browsing and curious about the art inside. Gabriela Rosso has many stories to share. I wish her success as she brings 20 years of art world experience and a love for daring art to Montgomery County.

Next, I traveled to Germantown to a more interactive art experience. We Art Fun is located just a few blocks from the BlackRock Center for the Arts. It was started by Roxana Rojas-Luzon, who enjoyed the paint-your-own ceramics stores in other parts of the County and wanted to bring that experience to Upcounty. In her store, I saw people painting small mementos for their homes and children working on things to hang on the wall. It is wonderful to see a small business owner see their dream realized and impacting the community. I hope you have a chance to check out these businesses and others we highlight across the county.

We are sharing pictures from all our visits through my Facebook and Twitter pages and they are also available on Montgomery County’s Flickr page if you want to see more.

Grant money available for vulnerable groups in need of security help

The County continues to be concerned with the security needs of nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations, especially those that face public criticism for political reasons. It is why Montgomery County has opened a new round of grants through the Office of Emergency Management for groups that could be targeted for hate crimes.

The County has reserved $800,000 in this year's operating budget for the Nonprofit Security Grants program. Organizations have until Oct. 26 to apply. There are three informational sessions remaining to get details about the program and have your questions answered. Here is list of the remaining webinars:
  • Monday, Oct. 3 7-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19 1-2 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 24 7-8 p.m.
The County and the Montgomery County Police Department also have teamed up to help organizations identify security issues and lead training for organizations and places of worship that feel the need for help.

Montgomery County will continue to be an inclusive place to live for our diverse communities and we will work to prevent crimes of hate and bias. Hate has no home here.

Flu shots highly recommended this year

Flu shots are now available at pharmacies across Montgomery County. You may be thinking, ‘I can’t remember the last time I got the flu.’ That’s exactly why making it a priority this year is so important.

One side effect of the pandemic is that we have been spared a significant flu season. We have had our defenses up for so long with the COVID-19 threat that our bodies may not have the resistance to flu that you would expect without a flu shot. We are also more active and around more people again, even compared to last fall.

Consider booking an appointment to get your flu shot. The County will host a few flu vaccine clinics in October and November and you can call 311 to set an appointment through the Department of Health and Human Services. Flu shots are already widely available at pharmacies and doctor offices in our area.

COVID-19 continues to pose ‘low’ community risk

Our COVID-19 case rates continue to fall with fewer than 125 cases per 100,000 people. Our community level status remains at ‘low.’

The main thing we want to stress is the continuing need for people to get vaccines and boosters.

Preventative shots have helped us reach the 'low' level we are at now, and without those protections, we have seen what happens. Mortality and hospitalization rates are not following a downward trend the way cases are. That is because the very small number of unvaccinated people in our County account for most new severe cases we are seeing.

The new bivalent vaccine increases protection against two different variants of Omicron. Since its introduction, we have seen a slight increase in demand throughout the County. We hope that continues and that people realize their best protection moving forward is with vaccines and boosters.

Even if you have not kept up with booster recommendations in the past, there is no need to play catch-up: this new booster is the only one being administered now.

Slowdown in Monkeypox cases

We now have a date set for our next town hall forum on monkeypox. It will be held virtually Monday, Oct. 10, and will focus on the Black community. Recent data indicates that a greater percentage of Black men and Hispanic men impacted by the virus.

We also recently expanded eligibility for our monkeypox vaccine, allowing anyone who is at high risk of contracting the disease to receive a vaccine through the County.

Our case count in Montgomery County remains at nearly the same level it has been for the past three weeks, with around 80 cases reported. That accounts for about 12 percent of the cases across Maryland.

We will continue to provide vaccinations and inform the community about the spread of this highly contagious disease and do our best to make sure the treatment and distribution of preventative education is fair and equitable.

Takoma Park Street Festival this Sunday

Finally, Takoma Park will host its 41st annual Street Festival this Sunday, Oct. 2.

The festival celebrates Washington, D.C.’s first suburb. In 1883, train riders commuted to D.C. from the newly established area. Nearly 150 years later, the town continues to celebrate its independence, diversity, and unique spirit.

The all-day festival expects to have 18 local bands, food trucks, and hundreds of people. Vendors from the area will pack into a three-block stretch of Carroll Avenue that will be closed to cars. The easiest way to get there is by taking Metro's Red Line to the Takoma Station.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

September 28, 2022

Montgomery Parks’ Agricultural History Farm Park to Host Free ‘Fall on the Farm’ Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1

Montgomery Parks’ Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood will host a free “Fall on the Farm” festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Farm Park and will include demonstrations, opportunities to see farm animals up close, music and self-guided tours.

The Farm Park is located at 18400 Muncaster Rd. in Derwood. Free parking will be available on the property.

The activities and demonstrations at the celebration will include hay rides, a sawmill demonstration, a working blacksmith demonstration, wood carvers, scarecrow making (requires a fee) and a tool museum display. There will be live music throughout the day. The park will be open for self-guided tours of the Master Gardeners’ demonstration gardens. Food from vendors will be available for purchase.

Among the animals that will be at the park are pigs, goats, sheep and chickens.

The festival is sponsored by the Friends of the Farm Park and supported by Montgomery Parks of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

More information about the celebration is available at

Applications Now Being Accepted from Nonprofit Organizations for Grants to Support Security Needs

Applications are now being accepted from nonprofit organizations seeking grants from $800,000 in total funding from Montgomery County’s “Nonprofit Security Grants” program. Three information sessions on how to apply will take place in October.

Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and facilities that have experienced, or are at high risk of experiencing, hate crimes. The grants are available to augment costs for security personnel or other security planning measures.

Eligible organizations could include nonprofit community service providers, houses of worship, or other faith-based organizations located in Montgomery County. The funds are administered by the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS).

“Montgomery County is a community of diversity, inclusion and compassion, but we are not immune from hate and vitriol that could become criminal,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “These grants will provide nonprofit organizations with additional resources to enhance the security of their facilities and the safety of our residents. This investment is an affirmation of Montgomery County’s support for our neighbors of every religion, race and ethnicity. We are committed to protect the rights of everyone who lives or visits our County and I encourage all applicable Montgomery County organizations to apply for these grants.”

In approving the County’s Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget that went into effect in July, the County Council approved $800,000 for the program.

“Across our country, we are seeing a rise in hate crimes and violence aimed at people and organizations of all different faiths and ethnicities,” said Council President Gabe Albornoz. “It is vital that we provide the supports they need to remain safe. We must stand with them in this perilous time and support them in every way we can.”

Information sessions on eligibility and how to apply for the program will be offered via a virtual platform on:
To register for the webinars and to access the grant application, visit the OEMHS Nonprofit Security Grants webpage. The application period will close on Oct. 26. Organizations will be notified of award decisions in early December

In addition to the grant funding, OEMHS and the Montgomery County Police Department will continue to provide support to organizations indicating the need for assistance with security. The County provides classes, assessments and trainings specifically designed for nonprofit and faith-based facilities.

To qualify for grant funding, applicants are required to be a Montgomery County-based nonprofit organization or a facility experiencing threats or hate crimes—or at significant risk of being the target of a hate crime. All awardees must be IRS registered 501(c)3, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations or religious institutions in good standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Funds can only be used to provide security support for facilities located within the County.

Virtual Town Hall Meeting on the Impact of Monkeypox on the Black Community Will Be Held on Monday, Oct. 10

Montgomery County health officials, in partnership with the African American Health Program and the Office of Community Partnerships, will host a virtual monkeypox town hall meeting that will focus on how the disease is impacting the Black community at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. It will be the third meeting in a series planned by the County to address the recent spread of monkeypox.

Panelists in the town hall will include James Bridgers, the acting County health officer; Ikenna Myers, program manager for clinical services for the African American Health Program’s; and Kimberly Townsend, senior administrator for Communicable Disease and Epidemiology with the County’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The panelists will update the current monkeypox situation in Montgomery County and Maryland, provide information on the County’s monkeypox vaccine program and answer questions about prevention and treatment.

The virtual town hall will be hosted on Zoom. It will be streamed live on the County’s Facebook page and also simulcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM: Channels 6 and HD 996 on Comcast; Channels 6 and HD 1056 on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon).

Registration for the Zoom meeting is required. Questions can be submitted anonymously prior to the meeting. There will be an opportunity to ask questions virtually at the meeting.

Register for the meeting at

For more information, visit the County’s Monkeypox website or email

 ’Art is Life & Life is Art: In the Studio with Artist Reemberto Rodriguez’ Will Be Presented Online on Tuesday, Oct. 4

The free online series of Silver Spring Town Center, inc. featuring local artists and art projects will continue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, with Art is Life & Life is Art: In the Studio with Artist Reemberto Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez is likely known to many as the former director of Montgomery County’s Silver Spring Regional Services Office. Likely less known is his artistic journey.

He decided to pursue a career in architecture, but became disillusioned with the disconnect of practical architecture to the arts. During his college years, he experimented mostly with charcoal on newsprint, with a particular fascination with rock album covers.

In designing his own two-bedroom, one-bathroom house of 1,000 square feet, he explored how to maximize space for family living.

Recently, he has ventured into placemaking, working with others to celebrate public spaces through artistic expression. His view: “It is the people that make the place."

Reemberto also has delved into stained glass design and photography that capture the sentiments.

To join the event, go to Meeting Registration - Zoom.

Family Justice Center Foundation Is Hosting a 13K Unique Run/Walk to Help End Domestic Violence Oct. 1-23

The Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation, in recognition of its 13 years of helping save lives, is hosting a unique 13K run/walk to help end domestic violence. The foundation is hoping participants will sign up to join the event between Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 23.

This 13K race recognizes the foundation’s 13 years raising awareness and funds in support of the work of the Rockville-based Family Justice Center and victims of domestic violence.

Participants can cover their 13k in any manner and at any time. They can run or walk individually or with others to support the event. Many entrants join as teams. The fee to enter is $35 per person, plus a $3.10 signup fee.

To sign up for the race, go to

The Family Justice Center co-locates multiple agencies in a safe and secure facility to provide coordinated advocacy, government, civil legal services and social services to victims of domestic violence and their children. The center is open to all and all services are free of charge. Victims can be helped in any language. Walk-ins are welcomed and no appointments are necessary.

The center, which is located at 600 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 500, in Rockville has a living room and kitchen facilities for clients, with a specially designed playroom for children.

The center provides victims with support and resources in a non-judgmental manner. Client assistants work with victims to create safety plans to protect themselves and their children. On-site therapists are available to respond to the emotional needs of victims and provide tools and support during the healing process. Counseling is also available for children who witness domestic violence.

Victims are provided with referrals to agencies that can directly assist with shelter, food, clothing and other basic needs. Attorneys provide pro bono legal assistance for protective orders and family law matters.

Police detectives and staff from the State's Attorney's Office assist victims seeking to file criminal charges.

More information about the Family Justice Center is available at or by calling 240-773-0444.

‘Walktober’ Events Promote Walking and Pedestrian Safety Throughout October

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is partnering with the State of Maryland and local municipalities to celebrate “Walktober” with a series of activities in October promoting the State’s official exercise: walking. The month-long campaign highlights the safety and health of pedestrians. Walktober also highlights the importance of County pedestrian infrastructure projects.

“Walking is healthy, good for our environment and is a great way to get out and see Montgomery County in the fall,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Montgomery County is home to numerous ​cherished walking trails such as the C&O Canal, Black Hills Regional Park trails and the Matthew Henson Trail. ​Walktober is a great reminder for residents and visitors to explore these and other locations around the County, dine at some of our wonderful restaurants and plan a visit to a local farm for apple or pumpkin picking.”

MCDOT will be hosting a series of outreach events throughout the County designed to highlight the importance of walking. Walktober events will include:
  • Walk to School Day. The internationally recognized event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 12. The MCDOT Safe Routes to School (SRTS) team will be at Wheaton Woods Elementary School to promote biking and pedestrian safety and encourage all students who have a safe path and live near their elementary school to walk to school on this date. Find information on setting up a Walk to School Day event at your school here.
  • Pedestrian Safety Outreach. The SRTS team will be at various locations throughout the month to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety and talk with residents about recent safety improvements, including infrastructure projects and pedestrian hybrid beacons. View details on the calendar here.
  • Walk Maryland Day. On Wednesday, Oct. 6, Marylanders are encouraged to participate in registered walks. Residents can become Walk Maryland Day “Sole Mates” by joining one of the official walks across the State
MCDOT aims to improve walkability by making improvements in pedestrian safety so that walkers and bikers get to their destinations safely.

“Walktober is a good time to take stock of the importance of the work we do,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We have completed an analysis of sidewalk gaps around our public schools and are developing a school sidewalk prioritization program. We have also received multiple grants to support pedestrian focused infrastructure projects. We know there is still a lot of work to be done and we look forward to working with the County Executive, County Councilmembers and our residents to make sure that pedestrian safety improvements remain a priority.”

MCDOT was recently awarded the Kim Lamphier Bikeways grant for advancing the design of the Bethesda Trolley Trail connection to the Twinbrook Metrorail station. Funding from the Transportation Planning Board also was granted for the design of the Walter Johnson Road shared-use path connection to the Germantown MARC station as part of the Transit Within Reach program.

MCDOT routinely does outreach to educate on new infrastructure projects. In the County’s Fiscal Year 2022, the Pedestrian Safety team engaged more than 40,000 residents and students about pedestrian, bicycle and driver safety behaviors and introduced them to new beacons, sidewalk improvements and traffic calming measures.

Walktober partners include MCDOT, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of Health, the Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Planning, AARP Maryland, America Walks and jurisdictions and organizations across Maryland.

‘The Nurse and the Midwife: The Story of Clara Barton and Emma Jones of Gibson Grove’ Will Be Montgomery History Presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 4

Clara Barton touched many lives as the Civil War's "Angel of the Battlefield" and later as president of the American Red Cross. Behind the scenes, others supported her efforts and kept her household running smoothly. Among the many Black people Barton employed over the years, none maintained a closer, longer-lasting relationship with Barton than Emma Jones of the Gibson Grove community in Cabin John. The story of their relationship will be the subject of a Montgomery History online presentation at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

In “The Nurse and the Midwife: The Story of Clara Barton and Emma Jones of Gibson Grove,” researcher Paige Whitley traces the relationship from its beginnings and Jones' own successful career as a midwife in lower Montgomery County.

To register for the free presentation, go to

Clara Barton, who was born in 1821, was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher and a patent clerk. Since nursing education was not very formalized at the time and she did not attend nursing school, she provided self-taught nursing care.

On April 19, 1861, the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the American Civil War. The victims, members of the 6th Massachusetts Militia, were transported after the violence to the unfinished Capitol Building in Washington D.C., where Barton lived at the time. Wanting to serve her country, Barton went to the railroad station when the victims arrived and nursed 40 men. Barton provided crucial, personal assistance to the men in uniform, many of whom were wounded, hungry and without supplies other than what they carried on their backs. She personally took supplies to the building to help the soldiers.

Ms. Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work and civil rights advocacy at a time before women had the right to vote. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973.

In 1975, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, located at 5801 Oxford Road in Glen Echo, was established as a unit of the National Park Service at Barton's home. She spent the last 15 years of her life at that home.

EveryMind To Host Virtual Town Hall Meeting in Spanish on Tuesday, Oct. 4, on Providing Healthy Support Systems for Latino LGBTQ+ Youth

EveryMind will host a virtual Spanish language town hall meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, for parents, caregivers, educators and mental health professionals who care for LGBTQ+ youth. The event is being held as part of activities recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month.

Objectives of the town hall meeting will include:
  • Defining common language and acronyms to convey inclusive language.
  • Recognizing risk factors that increase the chances LGBTQ+ youth will experience a mental health disorder.
  • Identifying ways family members, school staff and mental health professionals can support the mental wellness of LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Highlighting local and national resources available to support LGBTQ+ youth.
The event will be streamed live on Facebook. To view the meeting, go to

For more information about the meeting, go to LGBTQIA+ YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH TOWN HALL SERIES (

Residents Could Win a $100 Gift Card by Taking ‘Ride On Reimagined’ Customer Satisfaction Survey

Current, former and potential Ride On bus users are being asked by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to participate in its “Ride On Reimagined” Customer Satisfaction Survey, which will be available online through Friday, Oct.7. Those who participate will be entered into a sweepstakes to win $100 gift cards.

The survey is available in English, Spanish, Amharic, Simplified Chinese, French, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.

The Ride On Reimagined study is a comprehensive, forward-looking assessment of the bus network that may result in significant recommended changes to how bus transit (including Ride On and Metrobus) operates in the County based on current and future needs.

The related survey is a vital part of the Ride On Reimagined study. It will provide MCDOT with a clearer understanding of bus riders’ needs, impressions and transit experiences. MCDOT wants to learn what is being done well, and what areas need improvement. Feedback from the survey will lead to future investment in the Ride On bus network.

Take the survey here.

Fare collection resumed on all Montgomery County Ride On buses on Aug. 1. The one-way pre-pandemic fare, which was $2 per ride, is now $1 for all Ride On buses including the Flash. Monthly passes, which were $45 per rider, are now $22.50.

Passengers are encouraged to wear a mask but are no longer required to wear them. Masks are available on all buses for riders who need them. Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County's Department of General Services with hospital-grade disinfectant. Bus filters and ventilation systems are also treated regularly with disinfectant.

September 22, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

There is a lot to update you on this week as we transition from summer to fall. First of all, this Sunday marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, a two-day celebration of the Jewish New Year. It’s the first of several Jewish holidays this fall. We hope that our Jewish community is able to celebrate safely with loved ones. May the new year be filled with great health, happiness, joy, and prosperity.

Shanah Tovah to all who are celebrating.

This week I attended the grand opening of the newly renovated Henry Jackson Foundation (HJF) conference facility in Bethesda. This organization does not get a lot of media attention, but it is critical to America’s future. It is a collaboration between the public and private sector focused on using military experience to enhance medical research.

I think the HJF is a hidden gem in the County. I don’t know how many of you know that the organization is among the largest bioscience employers in our region. It is responsible for research work being done in 36 different countries working on almost 1,500 projects at a time. It is also an innovator in prostate cancer research.

The renovations made to the labs and conference center will help expand the HJF's ability to do further good for the world by allowing more collaboration both in person and virtually on projects meant for public use, the private sector and academia.

I welcome you to have a look at some of the pictures we were allowed to take inside the new facility. We anticipate this being a great opportunity to fully realize the potential of our goal of working with WMATA and the University of Maryland system to bring a graduate level program to the North Bethesda area focused on artificial intelligence, life sciences and medical research. Having nearby partners like the Henry Jackson Foundation, Walter Reed, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health only strengthens our resolve to continue producing the talent that will fill these jobs in the years to come.

I’m also excited to welcome Marriott International to its new home in downtown Bethesda. On Monday, the company officially moved into the brand-new $600 million facility along Wisconsin Avenue.

Montgomery County is proud to be the home to Marriott and we are very grateful that they kept their headquarters, employees, and presence in our county and state.

It was also good news to hear how well Marriott has recovered following the hardships they faced during the pandemic. Their occupancy rates are now approaching pre-pandemic levels.

During my conversations with the Marriott family and corporate leaders they provided positive feedback about some of the new measures we’ve taken to make a massive project like this a little easier to complete than it was before. I’m proud of our efforts as a county to cut out some of the red tape that stood in the way of progress.

Every week, we receive more good news about companies – large and small - opening, expanding, or relocating to Montgomery County. I encourage everyone to please follow information from our Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation at, follow their social media and sign up for their newsletters.

Our economic success is critical to providing the revenues and funds that our County is going to need for our infrastructure, health and human services, public safety, environmental, and education system needs.


The passage of Zoning Text Amendment 22-05 by the County Council is a significant legislative step as we continue implementing Montgomery County’s Speed to Market initiative recommendations to improve our processes for businesses.

It’s the first significant update of the sign section of the Zoning Code to reflect changes requested by me and the Department of Permitting Services and will create more flexibility for menu board signs associated with drive-through and service windows and increasing the frequency allowed for messages to change on digital signs. These zoning changes are expected to save 45 to 60 days compared to our current guidelines.

These zoning changes are the first of the recommendations made by our Economic Advisory Group (EAG) to be passed by the Council.

At the beginning of my administration, Council President, at the time, Sidney Katz and I conducted a listening tour with County businesses. The feedback we heard from businesses led us to convening an EAG. Our goal was to try to bring together a diverse group of leaders to provide us assistance in better serving our business community. Their input was critical as we had to pivot quickly to develop economic recovery plans from the COVID-19 health crisis.

The EAG’s “Economic Roadmap to Recovery & Long-Term Success” focuses on several things including how to support growing industries. We've made great progress since these recommendations were published in late 2020. We are currently securing life sciences companies in Montgomery County with more than 3 million square feet of lab space in development right now as businesses announce relocation and expansion plans.

A recent industry report ranked our area as number 2 in the nation for our pool of life sciences talent. We want to expand on those efforts to help attract new life sciences businesses to Montgomery County. Last summer we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Universities at Shady Grove, Montgomery College & the University Systems of Maryland to provide students with career and educational experiences in our life science and hospitality industries.

Additionally, we continue to work with the University of Maryland to bring a post graduate artificial intelligence, or “AI,” campus to the North Bethesda Metro station area. Merging AI technology and innovations with our life science companies will change the way research can be done and advance the speed of discovery and implementation of new treatments, like COVID vaccines, that will improve our health and our lives.

Another goal is to help businesses recover from the pandemic. Specifically, we are focused on access and availability of capital, especially so small businesses can stay afloat during hard economic times. We helped distribute state and federal funds and earlier in the pandemic it was County money helping people and businesses. Additionally, we're using our position to help small businesses identify grants and work with financial institutions to leverage favorable terms for our local businesses. Support has also been given to key quality of life industries like restaurants, entertainment and hospitality.

We’ve also seen growth in our hospitality industry with more restaurants coming on board than the number we lost because of the pandemic. Our liquor permitting records show that there’s been a resurgence in eateries and hotel occupancy is now rebounding.

Businesses like these will undoubtably benefit from our Speed to Market initiatives, which are led by business professionals in our community. The Chair of our EAG, Doug Firstenberg, joined me for my weekly media briefing on Wednesday and talked about how great it is to see the follow through on some of the great ideas they developed. Doug is a Founding Principal of Stonebridge Real Estate Development and Investment as well as a Bethesda resident. I highly recommend that you listen to his comments by clicking here.

Doug noted that while the sign ordinance changes may seem to be a small tweak, they signify a key foundational change in the way the County is willing to be more business-friendly moving forward, recognizing the need to scrap parts of a 30-year-old law to adapt to the changing needs of businesses today.

These are efforts we must do to make sure we don't stumble over our own feet. We are focused on increasing our higher education opportunities here in Montgomery County, expanding our tax base and finding new ways to ensure our quality of life continues to improve. I look forward toward more positive outcomes from our Speed to Market Initiative.

New website focuses on flood safety

Montgomery County has unveiled a new website to educate and inform the public about flooding issues that may affect residents and businesses throughout the County. The website provides information about frequently flooded roads, steps residents can take to prepare for potential flooding and the availability of flood insurance to all properties in the County. On this site residents can fill out a survey that will help develop our Flood and Management Plan.

Over the summer we installed our first flood water sensors to help stormwater experts monitor rising water levels on flood-prone days. Now we’re hoping to add protective measures using results from a large-scale survey we’re conducting to get your perspective on flood-prone areas we don’t see in the data.

Flooding is the most frequent severe weather event and the costliest natural disaster that impacts most families. Just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage. Flash floods have also taken lives in the past and we want to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Montgomery County is committed to addressing adverse flood impacts to residents and businesses in the County.

Please visit our flooding information page or attend the next in-person flood management plan presentation being held this Saturday September 24 at the Germantown Flea Market or on Saturday, October 1 at 12 p.m. at Lotte Plaza Market in Germantown. Two virtual forums will be held Wednesday and Thursday October 12 & 20, respectively.

County surpasses 90 percent of residents “fully vaccinated,” nearly 60 percent boosted

This week in a nationally broadcast interview on 60 Minutes President Joe Biden drew a lot of attention by saying that the pandemic is over. However, he also noted that “We still have a problem with COVID.” I would say COVID-19 no longer has us in crisis mode but there is more work to do.

COVID is still more deadly than the flu – especially for those who aren’t vaccinated. We need to continue to work to protect our families and communities.

Our COVID case rates are down but our hospitalization and mortality rates from the virus continue to be a concern. Those who stopped at just the first two doses of the vaccine are 2 and a half times more likely to be hospitalized by COVID than people who are up to date on their vaccinations and boosters.

The news is even worse for the unvaccinated. Their rate of an illness serious enough to cause a hospitalization is 10 and a half times higher than those who are boosted as recommended.

Just this week we saw the percentage of fully vaccinated Montgomery County residents hit 90 percent. We are the first large jurisdiction in the United States to accomplish this feat and according to this New York Times graphic, we are the least vulnerable jurisdiction in the United States to COVID. These are accomplishments that we should be very proud of.

However, being “fully vaccinated” only means receiving your first two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You really need to get your booster, and the new bivalent booster is designed to deal with both the original form of the virus, as well as the omicron variant.

Although we are outperforming virtually all other jurisdictions in the country in our booster rates, only 58 percent of county residents have received their additional booster shot so far. And that is just not good enough. Additionally, we continue to see our booster rates among younger populations significantly lag.

I got my bivalent booster this past weekend at a local Giant pharmacy– there are appointments available all around the county at pharmacies and health care providers –we need everyone eligible to take this new shot.

We want to make sure everyone continues to take COVID seriously but especially those who are the most vulnerable to falling severely ill. If you’re more than 50 years old, immunocompromised or in poor health booster shots can help protect you from the worst of this virus. It’s true that variants can cause breakthrough infections, but vaccines still prevent serious illness and death, and even more so with boosters. So, Max Your Vax. You can find our clinic schedule at

Honoring Hispanic Businesses: Maspanadas in Rockville

As part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I am visiting Latino-owned companies and business. Last week, I visited Maspanadas in Rockville. This business makes, bakes, and freezes empanadas to sell in grocery stores across the East Coast.

Maspanadas started in owner Margarita Womack’s kitchen in 2017 and has now grown to over 60 employees with more plans for expansion. Ms. Womack, who was originally from Colombia, has been able to get her products in the freezer sections at Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway and elsewhere

Additionally, we began recognizing our Hispanic and Latino employees on our social media channels. I am proud of how diverse our government employees are and the backgrounds they bring to their jobs. This government will continue to strive to reflect the diversity of our communities.

I want to thank all our Hispanic and Latino employees for their service to this County government and our communities and wish them all a Happy Hispanic Heritage Month. We’ll have more updates from my tour of Hispanic-owned businesses as the month continues.

Burtonsville Day this Saturday

There are a lot of great things happening in Burtonsville. Over the summer, we dedicated a new sign for Burtonsville and announced the re-development of Burtonsville Crossing with the addition of Sprouts – a brand new grocery store for the area.

This weekend is the Burtonsville Day Celebration on Saturday. It starts at 10 a.m. with a parade from Paint Branch High School to Praisner Community Center. Following the parade, I’ll be on hand to present trophies to this year’s winners and enjoy the festival at the Marilyn J. Praisner Community Center.

I hope you’re able to make it out for food, games and live music. Please follow this link to learn more about the schedule for the day.

PANAFEST returns to Silver Spring this Saturday

On Saturday, PANAFEST will be held at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring. PANAFEST gives our community a chance to celebrate the rich diversity of Africa during African Heritage Month. This year’s theme focuses on unity and bringing together people with African ancestry from all over the world. This will be the 11th annual gathering in Montgomery County with African cuisine, fashion and music on display from noon until 9 p.m.

PANAFEST is one of the largest festivals in our region recognizing the communities of the African diaspora. Please attend and enjoy the wonderful entertainment, great food and shopping options. It will be quite a festive atmosphere in Silver Spring.

As always, my appreciation for all of you.


Marc Elrich
County Executive

September 21, 2022

‘Kids Day Out’ Will Offer a Day of Fun for Elementary-Aged Students When School is Out Throughout the Year, Starting with Monday, Sept. 26

Montgomery County Recreation will offer out-of-school programming for elementary school students throughout the 2022-23 school year, including on Monday, Sept. 26. Kids Day Out is a day filled with fun, supervised activities, planned with an emphasis on kid-friendly, healthy recreation.

Programs will take place at various locations across the County. The cost to participate in the program is $25 for one day or $120 for a package that includes all dates (September-April). Each day of programming will take place from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Students should bring their lunch.

Kids Day Out locations include:
Registration is available at For more information, call 240-777-6840.

September 20, 2022

Updated Sign Ordinance to Allow More Flexibility for Menu Boards and Increase Change Frequency Time Period for Digital Signs

The Montgomery County Council on Sept. 20 approved the first significant update of the sign section of its Zoning Code to reflect changes requested by County Executive Marc Elrich and the County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS). Among the changes to be allowed by Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-05 will be to create more flexibility for menu board signs associated with drive-through and service windows and increasing the frequency allowed for messages to change on digital signs.

The changes approved in ZTA 22-05 represent the first comprehensive rewrite of the County Sign Ordinance in the past 25 years. The provisions of ZTA 22-05 will go into effect Monday, Oct. 10.

Prior to approval of the new ZTA, owners of digital sign boards were legally limited to changing the messages on digital signs to once every 24 hours unless they obtained a variance. The new regulations will allow changes once every 30 seconds.

“Rewriting the Sign Ordinance was a complex project and an important step forward for our business community,” said Montgomery County Executive Elrich. “The Economic Advisory Group requested this update to streamline business development and growth in the County. I want to thank the Council, our dedicated staff, partners and representatives from the business community who helped make this happen. We believe this update of the Sign Ordinance will have long-lasting benefits in our post-COVID economic recovery.”

Highlights of the changes that will be implemented by ZTA 22-05 include:
  • More flexibility for menu board signs associated with drive-through and service windows. The current sign ordinance does not allow these signs by right and would require a variance from the Sign Review Board. The update alleviates this issue, allowing freestanding signs associated with a drive-through lane by right.
  • Increasing the frequency allowed for messages to change on digital signs from once every 24 hours to once every 30 seconds.
  • Merging limited duration and temporary signs into a single “temporary sign” category for more efficiency.
  • Allowing canopy signs in the commercial areas to be modified without the need of amendments to the site plan.
  • Adding a provision that would allow entrance signs to subdivisions approved by the Planning Board to not require a sign variance provided that the details of the sign location, height and area are shown on the site plan. By deeming these signs code compliant, applicants are not required to request a sign variance from the Sign Review Board, which saves up to 60 days.
  • For businesses that abut a major highway, arterial or business district road, the one customer sign that could previously only be placed at a direct customer entrance can now be placed at a different location without the need for a variance.
  • Amendments to the provisions governing DPS’s role in issuing a permit for a sign erected on a historic resource or in a historic district.
“I am very pleased to see the County continue to move forward with its commitment on the Speed to Market recommendations of the Economic Advisory Group and other efforts to advance economic development in the County,” said Economic Advisory Group (EAG) Chair Doug Firstenberg.

The EAG, which is composed of elected officials, business representatives and residents, convened in late 2020 to create an action plan that would identify short and long-term strategies to address COVID-19-related and long-term historic barriers to sustained, diverse economic prosperity across the County. As part of the effort, it recommended that a comprehensive review and revamping of the County’s sign ordinance be conducted with the goal of updating it to reflect development and urbanization patterns of the past 30 years.

The process to update the sign ordinance began with the forming of a public-private partnership of participants composed of representatives from the business community and staff from DPS, the County Department of Transportation and Montgomery Planning.

“Revamping the County’s sign ordinance began with a comprehensive review of the sign ordinance with the goal of updating it to reflect current development and urbanization patterns of land use in the County,” said DPS Deputy Director Ehsan Motazedi. “This update is the latest example of how DPS is working to make the permitting process more efficient for our customers.”

A sign permit is required before any exterior sign—as defined by the Zoning Ordinance—may be installed in the County. A sign variance is required when the sign does not conform to the Zoning Ordinance.

For more information about the permitting process and signs, visit the DPS website or call MC 311 at 240-777-0311.

New Website Highlights Flooding Issues, Concerns and Solutions; Also Includes Links to Flooding Survey and Outreach Events

Montgomery County has unveiled a new website to educate and inform the public about flooding issues that may affect residents and businesses throughout the County. The website provides information about frequently flooded roads in the County, steps residents can take to prepare for potential flooding and the availability of flood insurance to all properties in the County.

Montgomery County is committed to addressing adverse flood impacts to residents and businesses in the County.

The web address is The page can be found on the County’s homepage.

Flooding is the most frequent severe weather event and the costliest natural disaster. Floods not only affect high-risk coastal areas, but according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low-risk areas like Montgomery County. Just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage.

Montgomery County is developing a comprehensive flood management plan to better understand the causes and impacts of flooding—and potential strategies to eliminate or minimize the risks of flooding. In June, the County announced a new high-tech flood sensor program to provide earlier alerts to residents about potential flooding.

“We know that climate change impacts Montgomery County primarily in two ways; heat and flooding,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We are addressing both areas head-on. We have begun to map heat islands in the County to identify potential areas where we can take action to protect vulnerable neighborhoods. Through the flood management plan, we will be identifying flood-prone areas and identifying potential strategies to minimize flooding.”

The County is seeking assistance from community members to help identify flood-prone areas. The new website includes a short, confidential survey that residents can use to provide feedback on flooding experiences and insight.

The new website includes a calendar of in-person and online events where County teams will explain the Comprehensive Flood Management Plan to community members and help them fill out the survey.

Events include:
Hard copy maps and translated educational flyers will be available during the events.

For more information on the flood sensors go to:

For questions on the Comprehensive Flood Management Plan, email Stan Edwards, DEP division chief, at

31st Annual 'Burtonsville Day' Parade and Festival Returns on Saturday, Sept. 24, with Theme of ‘Discovering East County’

The 31st Annual “Burtonsville Day” parade and festival is returning this year on Saturday, Sept. 24, focused on the theme of “Discovering East County.” The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and the festival at the Marilyn J. Praisner Library and Community Recreation Center will be in full form from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Marilyn J. Praisner Library and Community Recreation Center is located at 14906 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. The parade will lead to road closures in the area, so attendees are encouraged to stake out positions early. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is among those expected to attend Burtonsville Day.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. .at Paint Branch High School, with the line of march ending at the Praisner Center.

At the festival, there will be food trucks and vendors representing a variety of hometown favorites, international cuisines, craft, and exhibitors. Games and fun activities for all ages will be part of the activities. Two stages will provide continuous live performances of music, dance, and martial arts.

Musical performers scheduled include:
  • DuPont Brass: A unique, soulful brass ensemble hailing from the D.C. Metropolitan area got its start when five Howard University music students began playing in local Metro stations to raise money for tuition during the Christmas season. Since then, they have grown to a nine-piece ensemble featuring brass, a rhythm section and vocalists. The group has developed a sound that mixes genres including jazz, hip-hop and R&B. DuPont Brass has performed in conjunction with the D.C. Jazz Festival, the Washington Performing Arts Society and on the prestigious Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
  • Ayo: Born in Atlanta and raised in Nigeria, Ayo has been a Strathmore-in-Residence 2020 artist who has previously performed with Chance the Rapper, Andra Day and Common. Ayo’s smooth pop vocals channel messages of empowerment and address important political issues of the times.
  • Be Steadwell: The Washington, D.C. singer-songwriter redefines the love song in a modern context with jazz, a cappella and folk roots. Steadwell draws her inspiration from less-known, underground artists.
The festival also will offer the opportunity to learn about services offered by Montgomery County Government and area nonprofits. Festival booths will have health screenings, public safety details and information on constituent services.

For the event, Old Columbia Pike will be closed from Old Briggs Chaney Road (Paint Branch High School) to the Marilyn J. Praisner Library from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m. Perrywood Drive will be closed from Carson Drive to Old Columbia Pike from 9:30 am until approximately 11 a.m.

More information on Burtonsville Day is available at