December 29, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Happy New Year:

2022 was a year of challenges – the tragic shooting at Magruder High School, two residential building explosions displacing residents, turmoil at the Planning Board, distressing Supreme Court decisions, as well as historic high inflation and gas prices making life more difficult for the neediest among us. However, during our most trying times, this County, our government employees and residents responded, assisted and uplifted our neighbors and families most in need while addressing issues where improvement and progress is needed.

2022 was also an election year with lots of historic moments in both State and local elections. I am thankful to have a won a second term as County Executive and am excited for the upcoming term.

But before we turn the page to a new year and a new term, there were a lot of good stories that happened in the County that you may have missed or were so important, they need to be repeated. Above is a link to a video of our “Top 10 of 2022” key achievements and issues. I hope you take a moment to watch.

There were plenty of successes and progress beyond this list, but here is a quick summary of some of our top accomplishments.

10 – Reimagining Public Safety
  • Montgomery County Police Department marked a century of protecting County residents.
  • Our budget includes more money for starting salaries and improved recruitment efforts are resulting in greater interest in our academy.
  • The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service had to respond to two apartment and condo explosions, as well as a plane entanglement in high tension wires.
  • Homicide rate plummeted over the summer, dropping 85 percent from the start of the year.
  • Introduced and began implementing Reimagining Public Safety recommendations with new and updated trainings, more support on calls from our health department’s mobile crisis team, and for officers more mental health support, resources, and increased compensation.
9 – Providing Refuge to Migrants
  • Montgomery County was the first community in the region to assist migrants being bussed by Governors of Texas and Arizona as political pawns.
  • Partnered with SAMU International, a humanitarian relief organization based in Washington D.C., to offer a respite center in Montgomery County to aid with arriving migrants.
  • Since opening in early June, Montgomery County’s contact point for migrants has served and supported more than 1,880 people.
8 – County’s Response to Troubling Supreme Court Decisions
  • Created a $1 million grant fund to help support women’s health and to ensure access to abortion, family planning, reproductive and maternal health providers in Montgomery County.
  • Implemented a new policy for County employees that bars County payment for travel to states with policies that roll back a woman’s right to choose.
  • County Executive signs County Council bill that banned weapons from our public spaces and we will fight in court to uphold our rights to keep our residents safe.
 Montgomery College East County Education Center
  • New academic building operated by Montgomery College that will open in fall 2023 in Eastern Montgomery County, located off Route 29 at 2221 Broadbirch Drive in Silver Spring.
  • The center will feature classrooms, training labs and student advising space, and will offer credit and noncredit courses.
    • MC expects to serve more than 1,000 students there in the first year.
  • Will provide opportunity for programs that focus on the needs of our County’s emerging industries – life sciences, IT, and hospitality.
  • The center will also house “Raptor Central” - the student support services one-stop shop for admissions and enrollment.
  • This campus will enable East County residents to easily access Montgomery College’s award-winning programs without having to drive across the County.
6 – Record Funding for Education
5 – Producing More Affordable housing
  • Advocated for a countywide “No Net Loss” policy to protect residents in older communities that could face steep price hikes due to changes in the housing market. We must protect the affordable housing we already have and not lose it to redevelopment.
  • Created the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund to help us preserve existing affordable housing.
  • Identified 18 County-owned properties offering the potential for new affordable housing projects under consideration or development.
 The Brookville Bus Depot EV Bus Charging Microgrid
  • Brookville Bus Depot Electric Vehicle Bus Charging Microgrid opened in Silver Spring – the largest of its kind in the nation.
  • Montgomery County is just the third community nationally to have solar-powered charging stations for buses.
  • This bus depot demonstrates that Montgomery County is a leader when it comes to sustainable infrastructure.
  • Transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas. We are leading by example with clean, renewable energy being produced onsite and stored in a Microgrid system for when it is needed.
3 – Combatting Climate Change by Passing Building Energy Performance Standards and Decarbonization Bills
  • Signed “Building Energy Performance Standards”– or BEPS - into law.
    • Will expand the County’s benchmarking requirements by setting minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings.
    • Will be one of the most effective ways to reduce energy demand and carbon pollution from the built environment as the County tackles its ambitious climate change goals.
    • Will lead to energy improvements for multifamily residential and commercial buildings that will save money and create new local jobs
  • Established all-electric building standards for new construction projects.
    • Also known as the decarbonization bill, this new law is needed to fight the impacts of climate change.
    • Goal is to ensure that new buildings in Montgomery County are built using modern, efficient electric technology to help achieve our climate goals, save money, and improve health and indoor air quality.
2 – Montgomery County Becomes Nation’s Largest Jurisdiction to Pass 90 Percent Fully Vaccinated Mark
1 – UM3 Institute for Health Computing
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Maryland Medical System, also known as “UMMS,” to establish the “University of Maryland 3—Institute for Health Computing” or “UM3-IHC.”
  • UM3-IHC will be on the leading edge of the growing marriage of computing—data visualization, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence—to biological research that helps advance treatments and cures for a variety of disease.
  • This agreement creates a research facility and academic presence that links our bio-life science corridor and serves as an anchor and attraction to developers and businesses near the North Bethesda Metro Station, formerly known as White Flint, in the Pike District.
  • We are at the center of the fourth largest bio-health cluster in the country, but the only one in the top 10 not anchored by a graduate level research institution.
    • This institute will plug the academic research gap for government institutions like NIH, FDA and local bio-science companies.
  • Will be a catalyst for our life sciences industry, lead to economic growth, and offer new opportunities for internships, experiential learning, and jobs for our students and graduates of Montgomery College and the Universities of Shady Grove.
  • This partnership with the University of Maryland system will be transformational.
    • As University of Maryland Medical System CEO Mohan Suntha stated, “One day the nation will describe Montgomery County as the Silicon Valley of health care computing.”
As outlined above, 2022 was an incredible year for Montgomery County. It was a year when many seeds that we planted in previous years finally started to sprout. And our public health, equity and transportation and infrastructure investments have begun to pay dividends.

I expect more successes and partnerships in 2023. And I look forward to working with the new, and historically diverse, County Council, a new Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General and General Assembly, as well as our incredible Congressional delegation.

Thoughts and Condolences

Unfortunately, we are ending our year on a few sad notes. My friend and neighbor, Jamie Raskin, let our community know of his Lymphoma diagnosis. As our nation has seen over the past six years, Jamie Raskin is a fighter. We have seen Jamie fight for our County, fight for our State, and even fight for the soul of our nation. And now as he prepares to fight cancer once again, we send him and his family the love, the support, and the hope that they have always given to us.

Additionally, Montgomery County’s Muslim community lost one of its leaders earlier this month. Aquilur Rahman was a founding member of the Montgomery County Muslim Council and the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation. As a community activist and a leading cancer researcher, Dr. Rahman made an impact here at home and across the world. And last week, the Silver Spring community lost longtime business owner and founder of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Hatch Lee, to cancer. Our condolences go out to their families and friends.

Fighting Frigid Temperatures

Last weekend’s frigid holiday weekend was very busy for County first responders and support services. Montgomery County’s Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) responded to more than 2,600 calls for service for an average of about 530 a day. Typically, it averages about 350 calls a day. On Sunday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day, which is historically a slower/lower volume response day, MCFRS responded to 624 calls. And it handled well over 200 calls alone for fire alarms and broken pipes over the three days.

I want to thank the dedication shown by our first responders in the Police and Fire departments, the Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as utility crews that helped restore services as quickly as possible. Their resolve and compassion likely saved lives. They coordinated with community partners like the Red Cross, which was able to make accommodations for families dealing with the power outage, brought them food and offered emotional support.

This was a lot of work and forced people to sacrifice holiday gatherings with their families. I want to again send my appreciation to all who took care of strangers during this very dangerous holiday weekend.

New or Gently Worn Coats Needed

This cold weather has prompted several community groups to launch a coat drive for the Long Branch community. The Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Recreation and the Silver Spring Regional Services Center are coordinating the effort. They are working with Silver Spring Cares and CHEER to collect new and gently worn coats donated by the community.

Coat collection will take place Dec. 27 – Jan. 5 at locations across the County. Individuals can also make a monetary contribution via GoFundMe. Drop off locations include community recreation centers in Germantown, Rockville, Potomac, Wheaton and Silver Spring. The 3rd District Police Headquarters in Silver Spring is also a collection spot.

Free coats will be distributed to those in need on Friday, Jan. 6, from 4-7 p.m. at the Long Branch Community Recreation Center. Coats will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of one coat per person. The recipient must be present to receive coat. Registration is not required.

Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Rockville Among Most Charitable in Nation

A new report analyzing Go Fund Me contributions throughout the year found that Silver Spring ranks third on the list of most generous cities nationwide. It ranked first in 2020. Bethesda ranked 17th on the 2022 list and Rockville took the 20th spot. This is great news to see how well compared to others our community comes together for each other in times of need. We know that community spirit will continue to be strong in 2023 as well.

As this is the last week of the year, it is an important time to remember to give if you can. Many nonprofit organizations count heavily on end of year giving to make it through next year. With costs rising due to inflation and staffing shortages, our nonprofits are more in need than ever before. And if you cannot afford to donate money, please consider volunteering more as a great New Year’s resolution.

I wish you and your family and healthy, safe and prosperous 2023,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

December 28, 2022

County Holiday Schedule for New Year’s Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 31, Through Monday, Jan. 2

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will have schedule and program changes for the New Year’s Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 31, through Monday, Jan. 2.
  • County offices—Closed Dec. 31-Jan. 2.
  • MC 311—Will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30.
  • State offices and courts—Closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.
  • State Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations—Closed Jan. 2.
  • Libraries— Closed Jan. 1-2.
  • Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS)—All stores will be open holiday hours on Saturday, Dec 31, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Stores will be closed Jan 1. Stores will be open regular hours on Jan. 2.
  • County-operated COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Clinics—Clinics at UpCounty Regional Services Center in Germantown, Dennis Avenue Center in Silver Spring and the East County Regional Services Center will be open on Monday, Jan. 2. All sites will be closed for testing and vaccinations Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Montgomery College-Rockville campus and Germantown campus testing and vaccination sites will be closed from Dec. 24-Jan. 2.
  • Department of Permitting Services—All offices, including customer service lobby, are closed on Jan. 2.
  • Ride On—Operates a Saturday schedule on Dec. 31. Operates on a Sunday schedule on Jan. 1-2. All schedules can be found at Routes and Schedules.
  • Ride On extRa and Ride On Flex—Not in service Dec 31-Jan 2.
  • Flash—Will operate on a weekend schedule Dec. 31-Jan 2 (Orange Line only).
  • MARC Train and Commuter Bus—See schedules at
  • TRiPS Silver Spring commuter store—Closed Jan. 1-2.
  • TRiPS Mobile Commuter Store—Closed Jan. 1-2.
  • Metrorail—Operating hours on Saturday, Dec. 31, will be extended until 2 a.m. Sunday. All trips will be free for riders entering after 8 p.m. Saturday. Will operate from 7 a.m.-midnight on Sunday, Jan. 1, and Monday, Jan. 2.
  • Metrobus— Operating hours on Saturday, Dec. 31, will be extended until 2 a.m. Sunday All trips will be free for riders after 8 p.m. Saturday. Will operate on its Sunday schedule on Sunday, Jan. 1, and Monday, Jan. 2.
  • Public Parking Garages, Lots, Curbside Meters—Posted rates and restrictions in effect on Dec. 31. Parking is free on Jan 2.
  • County-provided trash and recycling collections—Regular collection schedules on Jan. 2. 
  • Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center—Jan. 1: Entire facility closed. Jan. 2: Transfer Station and Recycling Center open.
  • Aquatic Centers: Aquatic facilities will be operating on a winter break schedule from Dec. 23 – Jan. 1. Closing at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31 and closed on Sunday, Jan. 1.
  • Community Recreation Centers: All closed Monday, Jan. 2. Germantown, Long Branch, North Potomac, Potomac, White Oak and *Wheaton will be open from Dec. 27-Dec. 30 from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. and on Dec. 31 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. [NOTE: *Wheaton will be open 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Dec. 27-30 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Dec. 31.] All other Community Recreation Centers will be closed Sunday, Dec. 25 – Monday, Jan. 2.
  • Senior Centers: Closed Monday, Jan. 2. Senior centers will be open between Christmas and New Year’s Day with limited drop-in programming.
  • Montgomery Parks—Visit for complete information. Additional schedule changes:

‘Home for the Holidays:’ Montgomery County’s Animal Services and Adoption Center and FMCA Extends Fee-Waived Adoption Event for All Animals Through Dec. 31

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) is extending the “Home for the Holidays” fee-waived adoption event for all animals through Dec. 31. The adoption event is sponsored by Friends of Montgomery County Animals (FMCA).

“Thank you to everyone who has shared our plea, visited the adoption center, and adopted since the beginning of the holiday promotion,” said Adoption Supervisor Faith Koleszar. “We asked for help and our call was answered. We are so grateful for the support we received. Because of our community, we have doubled the number of people coming in through the doors every day and over 100 animals have been adopted. In thanks and celebration, I am so happy FMCA offered to extend this promotion and do more good before the new year.”

The shelter is still full of animals waiting to find their new homes. Many types of animals are available for adoption including birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, reptiles, cats and dogs. Adopting is easy—and even easier with $0 adoption fees.

The adoption process can be started online by filling out the adoption questionnaire and emailing in the required documents. Adopters also can choose to visit the Adoption Center during open hours to start the process in-person. The questionnaire, required documents and more information about the adoption process can be found at

New animals arrive at the shelter every day. Potential adopters are encouraged to view who is available for adoption online at before their visit to the facility.

Adoptions are first-come, first-served by appointment. Walk-in appointments are subject to counselor availability. Adoptions are same-day and animals are not held for adopters so they should be prepared to take an animal home at the time of their appointment.

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, which is operated by the Office of Animal Services, provides high standard sheltering and care to homeless, abused and neglected animals. It is the County’s only open-admission, municipal shelter. Through adoptions, education and outreach, MCASAC serves as a critical community resource to promote and advocate for responsible pet care. Animal services officers are available seven days a week to investigate complaints and respond to animal emergencies 24 hours a day. For more information, visit

Montgomery County Recreation to Host Summer Camps Fairs on Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 22, to Help Plan for Summer Activities

Montgomery County Recreation will host two free summer camp fairs to help families plan for their children’s summer activities. The fairs will be held on Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 22.

The Jan. 7 fair will be at the East County Community Recreation Center, located at 3310 Gateshead Manor Way in Silver Spring. The Jan. 22 fair will be at the Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center, located at 13850 Travilah Rd. in Rockville. Both fairs will take place from 1-4 p.m.

Registration for summer camp programs opens on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Residents will be able to view camp information online and build their own guide beginning Jan. 6. Those who attend the second fair on Jan 22 will be able to register their children for camps at the fair.

Montgomery County Recreation provides hundreds of healthy summer camp programs at locations throughout the County. Parents are encouraged to plan early for the summer months as many camps fill up quickly.

New this year, the fairs will enable parents and children to experience games and activities that will also be at summer camp. The fairs will have gaga pit, arts, crafts, games and snacks.

At the fairs, families can meet with recreation staff members and talk with instructors to ask questions and learn more about the offerings. They also will be able to register for Rec Assist, the department’s financial aid program.

Holiday Schedule Changes for County-operated COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Clinics

The COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics operated by Montgomery County will have several schedule changes during the upcoming New Year’s holiday.

All County testing and vaccination sites will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 31, and Sunday, Jan. 1. The Montgomery College campus sites in Rockville and Germantown also will be closed through Tuesday, Jan. 2.

There will be three testing and vaccination sites open on Monday, Jan. 2:
  • Dennis Avenue Health Center
    2000 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring
    10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • East County Regional Service Center
    3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring
    9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Upcounty Regional Services Center
    12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown
    10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Take-home rapid test kits and masks provided at libraries will not be available when libraries are closed Jan. 1 and 2.

Beginning on Dec. 30, County testing clinics will be walk-in only, unless otherwise stated, and no appointments will be needed.

The County’s COVID-19 email box ( will be discontinued as of Dec. 30. If anyone has a question about COVID-19, they can call the COVID-19 call center at 240-777-2982.

Find out more information on COVID-19 testing and vaccination on the County’s COVID-19 website.

Family Holiday Events, Including Ice Skating Rink, Will Be Available Throughout Winter Break in Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District

Family Holiday Events, Including Ice Skating Rink, Will Be Available Throughout Winter Break in Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District

The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District will have many holiday and winter-themed programs to keep all ages entertained through the New Year. In addition, the outdoor ice skating rink at Veterans Plaza is now open seven days a week.

More than 100 arts and humanities organizations, arts venues, attractions and entertainment businesses are within the Arts and Entertainment District, with many hosting or sponsoring special events during the holiday season and during winter break. Reservations or tickets are required for many of the events.

The outdoor ice skating rink at Veterans Plaza is open daily, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Skating sessions are for one hour. Reservations are available up to two weeks in advance. To purchase tickets, visit The rink has more than 400 pairs of skates available to rent, sized from toddler to adult.

A list of dining and retail options in Silver Spring can be found at

Upcoming special events in the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District will include:
Designated as an Arts and Entertainment District by the State of Maryland in 2001, the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District is a hub of performance venues, restaurants and nightlife, festivals and community celebrations and family friendly fun. An Arts and Entertainment District helps develop and promote community involvement, tourism and business revitalization through tax-related incentives that attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises.

December 22, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

Severely cold temperatures will arrive in Montgomery County this holiday weekend. A “Cold Emergency Alert” will be issued by the County and is expected to last from mid-day Friday through Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service that means we can expect temperatures to dip into the teens and single digits with wind chills reaching below zero. Temperatures should rebound a bit on Sunday with wind chill not being as big a risk but below freezing temperatures will stick around through Monday or Tuesday.

It is good to remember some things ahead of this arctic blast to keep your family and your home safe. First of all, I encourage everyone to sign up for Alert Montgomery through our County website. It will keep you up to date on all public safety threats.

Please bundle up when you go out, and do not go outside for extended period of times unless you must. These expected temperatures are potentially dangerous to people and pets. Our Homeless Information Line is available 24/7 to help anyone in need of a warm place to stay. Callers will also take reports from the public and attempt to locate anyone in need of support and resources. The number is 240-907-2688. The County began preparing for this Cold Emergency Alert ahead of the storm by proactively reaching out and encouraging homeless men and women to take a spot in our shelter, where there is space available.

During extreme weather events, Montgomery County offers libraries and recreation centers as options for warming shelters. These facilities keep their normal hours of operation, which means you can visit County libraries Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Libraries will be closed, however, Sunday and Monday, due to the Christmas holiday. Residents concerned about the well-being of a homeless individual can call the 24-hour Line at 240-907-2688.

We have already seen cold temperatures impact WSSC water pipes. The company has had numerous reports of water main breaks in December. To report a water main break call 301-206-4002, email the company or use the WSSC app.

The non-emergency police number can be used to report pets that are left out in the cold without anyway to stay warm - 301-279-8000 and press Option 2.

Hypothermia can occur even in what we consider normal cold temperatures, typically what we see during the overnight hours at this time of year. During this Cold Emergency Alert, the temperatures will drop even further below what we are used to, and the wind will also contribute to dangerous conditions.

Please be on the lookout for signs of hypothermia like bright red skin on infants and fumbling hands, memory loss and slurred speech in adults. I hope you check in on elderly neighbors and friends over the weekend to make sure they are staying warm safely. Please keep an eye on our social media through this event for the latest information and how it may impact you.

Homicide in Downtown Silver Spring

I was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of a man Wednesday night in Downtown Silver Spring. Police said he was out with his family for dinner and returned to his car to drop off leftovers before returning to his family when he was fatally attacked in the stairwell of the Wayne Avenue Garage.

This death is tragic and appears to be different than other shootings that take lives in Montgomery County in which victims and suspects know each other. An investigation is underway and a motive for the deadly attack has yet to be determined but this appears to be the kind of random violence that is most worrisome to the community. On top of that, the incident is unsettling because it happened in an area where many people are moving around at stores and restaurants. The garage where it happened is one that I and hundreds of people frequently use. Our Regional Services Center will coordinate with residents and business leaders in the area to address questions and concerns about the incident and provide updates on the investigation.

We have seen a reduction in violent crimes in this area. Montgomery County Police will be increasing the number of officers patrolling the area over the next few weeks to help residents and visitors to feel safer. Police are asking the public for any information about activity around the Wayne Avenue Garage that night that could help them find the responsible. If you can help, please call the tip line at 1-866-411-8477 (TIPS.) 

Standing Up to Antisemitic Vandalism

There was a swift response to another incident of antisemitic vandalism this past week. Last weekend an unwelcome message was spraypainted on the sign for Walt Whitman High School. I applaud the Walt Whitman High School principal for acting quickly and decrying what is truly unacceptable behavior. The hate message was quickly removed, and a letter was sent to students and parents condemning the act.

I appreciated joining other elected officials and community members at an event organized by the Glen Echo volunteer fire department and Chabad of Bethesda to commemorate the first night of Hanukah, acknowledge the most recent acts of antisemitism and stand united against hatred and intolerance. It’s a sad development that even as we celebrate this holiday tradition we must still address such abhorrent acts against minority groups like this.

This was the fifth major act of antisemitic vandalism we have witnessed this year, and it made national news. We have also had reports of other antisemitic incidents as well hate crimes and actions against other communities such as the recent vandalism of the historically Black church of Scotland AME, the anti-Asian hate crime that occurred in Rockville over the summer, and the protesting and attempts of intimidation by the Proud Boys at Drag Time Story hour.

Unfortunately, most of the time when these acts of vandalism occur, it is very difficult to find the culprits. However, we still need to do everything in our power to catch and stop these acts from happening.

No one should feel unsafe in their own community. And those who peddle this sort of hate need to know that we don’t accept or tolerate this type of behavior in Montgomery County.

This problem is not going to be solved by our police department or Jewish community alone – we must be more intentional and deliberate in how we collectively address acts of hatred like this. It is imperative that we educate our children and all people. I believe that through education and understanding, people can come to understand that we are far more alike than different.

Sadly, just last week, right before this incident happened, Whitman’s Jewish Student Union led efforts to confront antisemitism because of a national rise in the antisemitic rhetoric and incidents. We could all learn a lesson from that group of Whitman students and those outreach efforts.

One of my favorite historians is Howard Zinn, he famously said, “If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. If you were born yesterday then any leader can tell you anything.”

Whether it is Jewish oppression, the lingering impacts of systemic racism, colonialism, or subjugation of indigenous peoples, we must teach our factual history, the good and the bad, to discover the underlying basis for the racism, sexism, and religious intolerance that still permeate our society. Montgomery County is a welcoming, progressive, and compassionate community and we can’t allow incidents like these to cause fear or be normalized.

DPS Permitting Changes Help Business Owners

As County Executive one of my priorities has been to figure out how to make it easier for companies to do business here in Montgomery County. We've made progress yet again with a new policy within the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) that makes it easier for business owners to move in and get to work.

This comes in response to complaints I heard from business owners directly during listening tours with County Councilmember Sidney Katz after I was first elected. There were concerns about the lag time between a completed final inspection and receiving notice from inspectors. That gap has been eliminated because Use and Occupancy (U&O) certificates will now be electronic. Once the final inspection is complete and approved, the primary applicant will automatically receive an email with the U&O certificate attached. We have also added U&O certificate printing options to the County's Permitting Services website.

These changes also apply to newly constructed homes as well. We will still make sure all building, electrical, mechanical and fire safety measures are in place for new construction but now, rather than waiting days for word of a decision to become finalized, business owners and homeowners will be able to plan better knowing that there won't be that added delay built into the opening process. I appreciate DPS responding to the needs of businesses and residents.

Covid Hospitalizations Put Montgomery County Back in ‘Medium’ Status

Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Community Level Status is once again considered “medium.” It’s due to the percentage of hospital beds now dedicated to patients testing positive for COVID.

Recommendations for keeping yourself safe remain the same: Boost, mask, wash, test. These four steps still work after almost three years of dealing with this pandemic.

The best way to prevent a serious bout with COVID-19 is by being vaccinated and getting a bivalent booster.

Only 28 percent of our County residents have received the bivalent booster thus far. With each “wave” of vaccinations--from initial and second doses to the boosters to the current bi-valent boosters—we are seeing fewer people show up to get their shots. When you look at the breakdown, children and Black and Latino adults are the furthest behind.

Those who are not vaccinated are being hospitalized and still dying, at far higher rates than those who are vaccinated. Getting these shots are still vital to saving lives and preventing illness. So, if you are not vaccinated or boosted, get your shot. It works. These preventative measures also help keep flu and RSV numbers down as well.

On Saturday, hundreds of people turned out at Westfield Wheaton Mall for our fourth Boosterama and flu shot clinic. At the event, 197 people received their COVID booster vaccine and 143 got their flu shot. I am encouraged by these numbers and thank the Department of Health and Human Services for helping more of our community get protected.

I am glad to see more people wearing masks. Wearing a mask in crowded indoor places with poor ventilation is strongly recommended as well as during nursing home visits, on public transportation and around people who are at high risk of having serious complications from COVID.

It is also important that residents continue to test. We have free rapid tests still available at our libraries and the federal government is also providing another round of rapid tests by mail.

I hope everyone will consider the health of others during this holiday season. The holidays will be much more enjoyable when we gather safely, and people don’t have to stay home because they are sick. If you are not feeling well, please stay at home. It’s better to miss out on something than to get a loved one seriously ill.
Fighting High Drug Prices

This week I joined the County Executives from Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore, and the Mayor of Baltimore in sending a letter to the Chair of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. In the letter we indicate our strong support for setting upper payment limits on prescription drugs in our State.

This is a health equity issue and one of the key reasons I supported the Board and the authority given to it in 2019. Drug prices continue to escalate and impact many Marylanders, painting some into a corner when it comes to choosing between their health and other necessities.

In addition to the letter, I joined a video call on Monday asking the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to ask the General Assembly to broaden the group's authority. The goal is to make medications affordable. I also participated in one of several forums this fall held across the state by the Maryland Health Care For All! coalition and AARP Maryland. They helped Marylanders understand how the Board can work for them and were critical in obtaining testimonials, which reinforce the need for reform.

A recent survey found almost half of all Maryland adults between 20 and 60 use some kind prescription drugs. The percentage skyrockets when you look at older adults. The State must do all it can to keep these costs from getting out of control. High drug costs also impact county budgets here and in our surrounding communities.

Allowing companies to continue pushing the limit of what the market can bear has created a dangerous situation for housing in Montgomery County. If we continue to allow that with prescription drugs lives will be lost. I hope the General Assembly will act on our request and give Maryland's Prescription Drug Affordability Board the tools it needs to fight the rising cost of medicine.

Holiday Giving Project

I hope that all residents enjoy their holiday break with friends and family. We also want to be mindful of those who do not have family, support networks and resources that we take for granted.

Our County charities and nonprofits are pivotal to our efforts to help the people, issues and challenges that impact all of our communities but with increasing demand and rising costs, county charities need help.

Please donate your time, money or resources. It is a great way to get an end of the year tax write-off. More importantly, you are providing critical lifelines and opportunities to those in need.

Montgomery County employees help by contributing through our Employee Giving Campaign. This year we wanted to exceed last year’s record-high fundraising total of $291,038. Program leaders tell us based on initial results we surpassed that amount and still have a chance of meeting my goal of $300,000 by the time calculations are finalized early next year.

Thank you to our wonderful employees for helping to contribute to the wonderful community service organizations that work year-round to improve lives in Montgomery County. This thoughtfulness is a testament to the character and goodwill we have within our county workforce.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

December 21, 2022

Holiday Schedule for Christmas Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 24, Through Monday, Dec. 26

Holiday Schedule for Christmas Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 24, Through Monday, Dec. 26

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will have schedule and program changes for the Christmas Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 24, through Monday, Dec. 26.
  • County offices—Closed Dec. 24-26.
  • MC 311—Will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23.
  • State offices and courts—Closed Dec. 26.
  • State Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations—Closed Dec. 24 and 26.
  • Libraries—Closed Dec. 25-26.
  • Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS)—All stores will be open Saturday, Dec 24, on a holiday schedule of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Stores will be closed Sunday, Dec 25. Stores will be open regular hours on Dec 26.
  • County-operated COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Clinics—Clinics at UpCounty Regional Services Center in Germantown, Dennis Avenue Center in Silver Spring and the East County Regional Services Center will be open on Monday, Dec. 26. All sites will be closed for testing and vaccinations Dec. 24-25. Montgomery College-Rockville campus and Germantown campus testing and vaccination sites will be closed from Dec. 24-Jan. 2.
  • Department of Permitting Services—All offices, including customer service lobby, are closed on Dec. 26
  • Ride On—Operates a Saturday schedule until 10 p.m. on Dec. 24. Operates on a Sunday schedule on Dec. 25-26. All schedules can be found at Routes and Schedules.
  • Ride On extRa and Ride On Flex—Not in service Dec. 24-26.
  • Flash—Will operate on a weekend schedule Dec. 24-26 (Orange Line only).
  • MARC Train and Commuter Bus—See schedules at
  • TRiPS Silver Spring commuter store—Closed Dec. 25-26.
  • TRiPS Mobile Commuter Store—Closed Dec. 25-26.
  • Metrorail—Will operate from 7 a.m.-1 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24, from 7 a.m.-midnight on Sunday, Dec. 25, and from 7 a.m.-midnight on Monday, Dec. 26.
  • Metrobus—Will operate on its Sunday schedule on Sunday schedule on Sunday, Dec. 25, and on Monday, Dec. 26.
  • Public Parking Garages, Lots, Curbside Meters--Posted rates and restrictions in effect on Dec. 24. Parking is free on Dec 26. 
  • County-provided trash and recycling collections—Regular collection schedules on Dec. 26.  
  • Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center—Dec. 25: Entire facility closed. Dec. 26: Transfer Station and Recycling Center open.
  • Aquatic Centers— Will close at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. Will be closed on Sunday, Dec. 25. Open on Monday, Dec. 26.
  • Community Recreation Centers—Will close at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. Closed on Dec. 25-26.
  • Senior Centers: Closed Monday, Dec. 26.
  • Montgomery Parks—Visit for complete information.

Decorated ‘Flash’ Buses Are on the Move in the County

Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Bus Rapid Transit buses, known as Flash, are all decked out for the holidays. Residents will see them throughout December running along Colesville Road and Columbia Pike (US 29) on the route from the Silver Spring Transit Center to Briggs Chaney and Burtonsville, with stops along the way.

The buses run every 15 minutes all day seven days a week—more frequently during rush hour. In addition to great service, the decorated buses are offering a spectacular view for residents. Three buses have been decorated for the holidays and can be seen in the corridor each evening. Details on routes here.

Just like all Ride On buses, the Flash is $1 to ride. Rides are free for seniors, members of the disability community with a senior or reduced fare SmartTrip Card, and children with a Youth Cruiser card (obtained through the school or at County libraries).

Flash is a fast bus service that is currently planned for four additional corridors in Montgomery County. The projects will transform mobility options by offering high-frequency bus services along predetermined corridors. The projects also will bring bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the corridors to make it easier to get to Flash stations. Where possible, Flash buses will run in dedicated lanes to bypass existing traffic congestion.

Learn more about how to ride the Flash, and future corridors, at

Process for Delivery of Use and Occupancy Certificates Streamlined by Permitting Services

Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) has streamlined the process for delivering use and occupancy (U&O) certificates to ensure customers are provided the document as soon as their newly constructed home or commercial space passes final inspection. Once the final inspection is complete and approved, the primary applicant will automatically receive an email with the U&O certificate attached.

In addition, customers now have the ability to print out an approved U&O certificate by visiting the DPS website, logging into their eServices account and selecting the queue for “Print Use and Occupancy Certificate.” Customers could then enter the building permit number for new homes, and the use and occupancy permit number for commercial projects.

“When I began this administration four years ago, one of the first things I did with County Councilmember Sidney Katz was a listening tour with our business community,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We often heard about frustration with the speed and efficiency of our permitting process. Since then, we have been committed to improving our process. I appreciate DPS staff for continually looking for ways to improve the customer experience.”

The U&O certificate is required before a building or space may be occupied. It is issued after the building or space has passed final inspections for building, electrical and mechanical and fire safety. The purpose of the U&O certificate is to document that the use is permitted, and that all applicable safety code and health code requirements have been met. If a building has a variety of uses, each use must have a separate U&O certificate.

“This is a game changer for our customers who no longer have to wait days or request the certificate to receive it,” said DPS Acting Director Ehsan Motazedi. “If the U&O for a new home is approved late on a Friday afternoon, the certificate is instantly emailed to the applicant, and they don’t have to wait until Monday when the office reopens. This saves time and money. Self-service is a key component of this change as customers can also download the certificate directly from the website once it is approved.”

DPS issues hundreds of U&O certificates each year to business owners and new homeowners.

For more information about the permitting process, visit the DPS website. For additional information, contact MC 3-1-1 or call 240-777-0311.

Virtual Public Forum on Proposed Ride On Bus Route Extension Between Glenmont Metrorail Station and ICC Park and Ride Lot to be Held on Thursday, Jan. 5

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Division of Transit Services will hold a virtual public forum at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, to discuss the proposed Ride On bus route 51 extension that would provide service to the ICC Park and Ride lot. The new proposed extended route 51 will operate between ICC Park and Ride lot and Glenmont Metrorail Station with no additional changes to the current stops.

As part of the County’s commitment to engage the public prior to any changes, a virtual public forum is being conducted on the proposed new route. This process allows MCDOT to receive input and feedback regarding the proposed new service change so it can implement a successful service.

For additional information prior to the public forum regarding the proposed changes, access the Ride On website at

To join the virtual public forum, using the following options:
  • By computer: Click here to join the meeting on MS Teams (Meeting ID: 290 091 989 29, Passcode QuPDqV).
  • By phone: 1-443-692-5768. Phone Conference ID: 982 317 640#
Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to speak at the public forum are requested to provide their request via email on or before Tuesday, Jan. 3. The request should include the individual’s name, home address, telephone number, e-mail address and organization (if they are representing one) to Individuals who have signed up to speak must provide a copy of their testimony for the record via email before Jan. 4.

Sign language and interpreter services will be provided upon request. Requests must be received no later than five business days prior to the date of the forum. Large print format will be available upon request. All comments are welcomed and will be considered before any changes are finalized.

Comments on the proposed service changes also can be written, faxed or e-mailed to the Division of Transit Services by 5 p.m. on Jan. 15. Comments can be mailed to Division of Transit Services / Ride On Public Forum /101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor / Rockville, MD 20850. Comments can be faxed to 240-777-5801. They can be sent via email to

For additional information, call 240-777-5800.

Montgomery Parks Unveils Concept Plan for New South Silver Spring Park

Montgomery Parks has unveiled the concept plan for the new South Silver Spring Park planned for 1110 East-West Highway in Silver Spring. The park will be on the site of the former National Tire and Battery business.

Montgomery Parks is now working on refining the park concept plan and anticipates demolishing the building on site in the spring of 2023.

The concept plan for the new park was developed based on recommendations in the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan and extensive community feedback gathered through an open house and online surveys.

Many of the amenities specifically requested by the community are incorporated in the concept plan, including a promenade, picnic area, fitness area, stage, dog run, bocce, multi-sports court, drinking fountain, age-specific playgrounds and nature play areas and games.

Plantings will include street trees, shade and flowering trees, bioretention areas and landscape beds for pollinator-friendly plants.

“We are excited to be creating a first-class urban park in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, where nearby residents can gather with their friends and families to enjoy a variety of activities and amenities,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks, “We recognize the important role this park will play for this community, and we are moving swiftly to get it built and open to the public.”

The South Silver Spring concept plan is posted on the project page on Montgomery Parks website.

December 15, 2022

Message from the County Executive


Dear Friends,

We were reminded this week that winter is here. Although we were not significantly impacted this time, we must expect more bad weather over the upcoming months. I want to thank our Montgomery County Department of Transportation employees for their hard work to prepare for this potential weather event.

The old joke in this region about the weather has always been: “Don’t like the weather around here? Just wait 15 minutes.” Weather can turn very bad on us at any moment, and we must always be prepared for the worst.

As a government, we plan, budget and train to handle winter weather events and their impact throughout the County. Having residents prepared is critical and communications is key. Everyone should follow the latest County weather and traffic by signing up for “Alert Montgomery” texts and email messages or should use our winter weather portal for the latest information.

Be Salt Wise

Our Transportation and Environmental Protection teams are reminding all residents to be “Salt Wise.”

During winter, we often use salt to melt ice, and while it helps prevent slips and falls, oversalting can lead to disastrous environmental impacts. Salt runs off into storm drains, local streams, and eventually, to the Potomac and Patuxent rivers that are drinking water sources for 1.8 million residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Salt also can corrode concrete and masonry, harm pets and damage surrounding plants and lawns.

We are asking you to be “Salt Wise.”
  1. Shovel ice and snow early and often.
  2. Use one 12-ounce cup of salt for 10 sidewalk squares or for a 20-foot driveway.
  3. After storm events, sweep up excess salt for reuse.
By being careful and deliberate with salting, you can ensure your family’s safety AND be eco-conscious.

We Need the State to Help with Rental Relief Assistance

I joined county executives from Anne Arundel, Baltimore County and Howard County; the mayor of Baltimore; and a number of advocacy groups this week in sending a letter to Governor Hogan that requests emergency funding for rental assistance. In our letter, we asked the State for $175 million in additional rental relief funds that would prevent the eviction of approximately 17,000 households. Inflation and highs costs are hitting the poorest among us especially hard, and we have asked the Governor to use some of the State budget surplus to help. So far, in Montgomery County alone, we have approved $91.3 million to nearly 12,000 households and I want to thank our Department of Health and Human Services teams who have been working tirelessly on this program for more than two years. A lot of residents have been helped, but there are still plenty in trouble with rising housing and rent costs. Of all calls currently to our HHS department, 11 percent are still regarding rental relief inquiries.

Federal funds for rent relief is disappearing. That is another reason why rent stabilization is urgently needed. I discussed this during my speech at the inauguration earlier this month.

I hope you will lend your voice and advocacy to the State to provide these emergency funds to help prevent evictions. Helping prevent dislocation and homelessness now is more cost effective and is absolutely the right thing to do for our families.

Ending Homelessness

During these holidays, we often take time to appreciate the good fortune of having family, friends and shelter. Unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable neighbors do not have these basic support systems. I am grateful for the work of the County’s Interagency Commission on Homelessness, and all our nonprofit partners, for the progress they are making on our region’s goal to end homelessness.

This week, I spoke to the Interagency Commission on Homelessness at its community-wide meeting at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville. This meeting continued our work of identifying strategies and strengthening coalitions between the government and our nonprofit partners to combat homelessness and support individuals with affordable housing options.

Our bottom line is to leave no one out in the cold.

During the COVID-19 health crisis, we expanded our offerings, giving shelter year-round to as many people as possible. We had to use some of our recreation centers, and when it was time to return those centers to their intended uses, we knew that we needed to do something.

Within 20 months, we funded, found a location, designed, constructed and opened a new homeless shelter on Nebel Street. This facility more than doubled our year-round shelter capacity and enabled our shelters to maintain social distancing.

As our administration begins this new term, I want to reaffirm the County’s commitment to end homelessness for all. We want homelessness in Montgomery County to be rare, brief and one-time only.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Freedom is meaningless if people cannot put food in their stomachs, if they can have no shelter, if illiteracy and disease continue to dog them.”

Please consider our homeless population during this holiday season and into the new year by donating your time, food, clothes or funds to help those who are down on their luck or need help. For more information on how to access resources or assist in these efforts, visit our “Ending Homelessness in Montgomery County” website.

Public Health Update

Dr. Kisha Davis started her work as the County’s new Health Officer this week. We welcome her and look forward to her contributions to our public health efforts.

Dr. Davis is beginning her tenure with the County at an important time as we begin the winter season with a “tri-demic” of converging health issues—COVID, RSV and the flu.

While we are seeing a reduction in RSV cases, both our flu and COVID rates are climbing. Additionally, our hospitals remain under stress, especially in their ER departments.

We remain in the “Low” community level for COVID, according to the CDC. However, our COVID case rate is comparable to the same time last year. We are encouraging everyone to “test before you go” to your holiday gatherings. It is better to cancel plans than to get friends and family sick.

I want to thank President Biden and his administration for their COVID Winter Preparedness plan, as well as for funding for a new round of at-home rapid test distributions through the mail.

All households can order a total of four at-home COVID-19 tests that will be mailed directly to them for free. More information can be found at this website:

In the absence of Congress providing additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the White House used existing funding to add more at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation’s stockpile and support this round of ordering ahead of continued increases in COVID-19 cases.

Orders for this round of testing will begin to ship starting the week of Dec. 19.

We continue our own take-home rapid test distributions at County libraries, but it is helpful when families also take advantage of these Federally-distributed tests so we can have our local supply last longer. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a third round of free at-home tests.

Free Flu and Bivalent Booster Shots at Westfield Wheaton Saturday

The most important thing everyone can do is to get bivalent booster and flu shots. I am pleased that 57 percent of our residents 65-and-over have received the new booster because this age group is the most vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID. Unfortunately, more than 70 percent of eligible County residents still need their bivalent booster vaccines

Sometimes the easiest way to find those who need these shots is to go to them instead of waiting for them to come to us. As we mentioned last week, this Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. is our fourth “Boosterama” at Westfield Wheaton mall. This weekend will be the busiest shopping weekend of the year, so we expect heavy traffic, and hopefully, lots of interest in getting needed vaccines. Westfield Wheaton will once again be raffling off mall gift certificates to anyone who rolls up their sleeves.

I want to thank our Department of Health and Human Services team, including our Latino Health Initiative “Salud y Bienestar,” Westfield and Proyecto Salud for their continued collaboration and outreach. Creative ideas like Boosterama, and partnerships like the one with Westfield, help Montgomery County continue to lead the nation in vaccination rates.

This will be our first Boosterama that also will offer flu shots and I am interested to see the results. Our flu rates are nearing a record high and we are just about to get into the full swing of the flu season. There have already been 10 deaths across the State this year due to the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual flu shot.

Free in 2023

It is that time of the year for making New Year’s Resolutions. One of the most common resolutions is to get in better shape and lose weight. The Montgomery County Recreation is here to help with “Free in 2023,” its initiative that will offer a full year of free access to all recreation centers for County residents.

Starting Jan. 3, the free pass will provide access to fully equipped fitness rooms, open gym (drop-in) activities and game rooms at any recreation center during regularly scheduled hours. The free pass does not apply to County aquatic centers. Go to this website or to any recreation center starting Jan. 3 to get your free passes.

We have noticed over the last couple of weeks how popular this news is. I want to thank Department Director Robin Riley and all our Montgomery County Recreation employees for this gift that can be enjoyed for an entire year. Recreation activities and exercise are the keys to healthier and happier lives. I hope you take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit

Leaders from African nations were in Washington this week to meet with White House and Congressional officials. The last time our nation hosted these leaders was in 2014 and a lot has changed since that time including new political leadership, the pandemic and the rise of Russian and Chinese interest on the continent of Africa.

These meetings are important to the more than 54,000 Africans who live in Montgomery County, making up 15 percent of our immigrant population. In fact, statewide, African immigrants have increased 42 percent in the past 10 years.

Montgomery County has been home to a thriving African diaspora for decades and continues to make global impact on society in the County and the State. Africans have, and continue to, contribute in very significant ways to society and our cultural fabric.

The African diaspora also plays a critical part in our County efforts to be a global partner in building and strengthening world peace and maintaining global relations through its Sister Cities ties with Gondar, Ethiopia, and strong commitment to inclusion through government funding and support to many African community-based programs and services.

I want to thank President Biden for announcing his Executive Order on establishing the President’s Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States. This effort will further strengthen our ties and provide a platform for members of the African Diaspora to contribute and engage on issues of their homeland.

For more information on resources and events on County’s outreach efforts to our African communities, I encourage you to contact the Montgomery County African Community Liaison, Harriet Shangarai, and follow the African Affairs' Advisory Group on Facebook.

Happy Hannukah

I want to wish our Jewish community a Happy Hannukah, which begins on Sunday evening. I hope everyone who celebrates has joyous gatherings with their family and friends.

Sadly, this has been a tough year for our Jewish community as we have seen a rise in antisemitism. Last week, I attended the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington breakfast gathering and talked about the increase in hate toward Jewish residents. I am glad that Montgomery County provides security grants to our institutions in need of assistance. It is sad that we must spend money to protect people from those who hate rather than using this money to help with other pressing needs. However, we will continue to provide the funding as needed, and we stand unified against this hatred. 

We are one of the most diverse jurisdictions anywhere; we embrace our diversity, and we will continue our work for better days ahead.

As always, my appreciation for what you do,

Marc Elrich
County Executive