January 26, 2023

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

Sadly, more acts of antisemitism and hate continue to plague Montgomery County. This past weekend, we saw antisemitic flyers distributed in the Kensington area falsely linking ancestors of our Jewish community to slavery. Last week, students at three schools were punished for drawing swastikas on desks.

Last month, it was antisemitic graffiti spray painted outside a high school in Bethesda and some teachers were sent anonymous and disturbing letters. In the fall, we dealt with more antisemitic messages on bus stops and fences near the Bethesda Trolley Trail.

Police are still investigating those incidents and a new $5,000 reward was recently established by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information about these crimes can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS.

It is not just antisemitic incidents of hate. We also have seen vandalisms at historic black churches, hate crimes against our AAPI community and protests from the Proud Boys trying to intimidate or LGBTQ+ residents. This week, a Pride Flag was desecrated at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Wheaton.

There is no easy way to put an end to these acts of hatred. I wish there were, but we are actively working with police, the community and other partners to solve these incidents and prevent future similar acts.

Parent Forum on Fentanyl

At Clarksburg High School on Saturday, Jan. 28, the advocacy group Montgomery Goes Purple is hosting a fentanyl awareness forum for families to provide tools to prevent drug use and help protect our children. It is free and will take place from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the school cafeteria. This forum will also be live streamed on the MCPS homepage. The County also has made it easier for families to reach the school to attend the forum in person by making bus fare free on routes 10 and 75 Saturday morning and early afternoon.

For years, our community has been dealing with the scourge of opioids. We have taken some actions to help. Emergency, anti-overdose solutions are now easy to find on police officers, firefighters, other lifesavers and in all MCPS schools. Now we are seeing more young lives put in jeopardy because of fentanyl.

Earlier this month, a 15-year-old overdosed and died. It is one of eight recent overdose deaths in Montgomery County this winter. Data provided by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service shows an additional 38 people would have likely been killed since December if not for the life-saving drug known as Narcan.

Opioid misuse can lead to overdose, but even more concerning is the proliferation of fentanyl. According to Montgomery County Public Schools, fentanyl is to blame for a 77 percent increase in youth overdoses in 2021.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug intended to mimic opioids. When it is pressed into pill form, it looks like many other drugs. Users taking the pills may not realize the danger they are putting themselves in. Nationally, 71 percent of adolescent overdose deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl.

The more kids experiment with drugs, the greater the risk posed by the presence of fentanyl in the drug market.

Make it a priority to talk to your kids about the dangers of drugs like fentanyl. You can find information on identifying drug use and symptoms of an overdose by visiting the Save A Life section of the County website courtesy of our Department of Health and Human Services.

$30 billion in Private Investment in Montgomery County During 2022

We received some good news this week from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC). It was a record-breaking year for investments in Montgomery County businesses.

Combined assets from initial public offerings (IPO), mergers and acquisitions, private investments and venture capital deals totaled close to $30 billion dollars. That is up from more than $18 billion in 2021 and just over $4 billion in 2020.

This is a reminder that businesses have the opportunity for exponential growth here in Montgomery County. Venture capitalists accounted for $867.88 million of the money spent on local companies, including $242.98 million that went to Robotic Research, which is working on self-driving technology.

Some startup ventures that have been helped by our business incubator programs, like Arcellx, saw an IPO that topped all other Nasdaq-listed public companies introduced in 2022. The biomedical research facility, which is focused on cell therapy and immunotherapies, got two rounds of funding in 2022 totaling more than $235 million.

In terms of mergers, a deal announced last month by Amgen to buy Horizon Therapeutics should keep the building frenzy near the Universities at Shady Grove going.

MCEDC has provided a full list of the Montgomery County companies that received a significant financial boost in 2022.

We have seen tremendous growth in our life sciences industries spark the need for more lab space in our area. That did not happen by accident. The County is making purposeful and deliberate choices to invest in our business environment, communication and customer service to continue to make Montgomery County an exciting place to do business.

Together, we are laser focused on targeting growth industries, encouraging growth whenever possible and making certain our permitting processes are updated so they are not a deterrent to expansion. We have made great progress and will continue to be focused daily on continued improvements.

Concerted efforts like these are critical in making it easier than ever to do business in Montgomery County and I am glad to see it is paying off for many of our local companies.

Kid Museum Honors Middle Schoolers Aiming to ‘Invent the Future’

This past weekend, I helped present awards to innovative students from Farquhar Middle School in Olney whose idea for “Factory Filters” won the Innovation Award as part of the Invent the Future Summit hosted by the Kid Museum. They were just some of the hundreds of students from across Montgomery County who channeled creative problem-solving, teamwork and STEM skills to answer the question: “What will you do to improve life on this planet?”

Click on this link for a photo album from the event.

Work on this summit kept participants busy all last semester developing hands-on solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s problems. The program was developed in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools teachers to offer students a deep-dive into making and inventing. These workshops expose students to immersive lessons in engineering design, fabrication, electronics and coding.

To keep up with opportunities available through the Kid Museum, including day camps you can take advantage of when kids are out of school, visit their blogsite that will soon have an update from this weekend’s Invent the Future Summit.

COVID-19 Still Impacting Hospitals

Since September, hospitals in our area have been dealing with a triple threat of RSV, flu and COVID-19. It has put constant pressure on our hospitals for many weeks, straining capacity and prompting a warning from health experts to consider treating mild cases of COVID-19 through your doctor and avoiding the hospital.

This week, our hospitals remain nearly full, but our COVID-19 counts are showing signs of decreasing as RSV and flu cases did before them. That may make it seem like we are out of the woods, but we are not. The percentage of hospital beds devoted to COVID patients remains elevated and keeps our community level status at 'medium.'

Safety measures are as important as ever. Vaccines and boosters are still the best way to protect yourself and your family. Demand for these shots continues to drop significantly even though data shows a far lower percentage of breakthrough cases with the new bivalent boosters introduced in September.

Voluntary facemask use in indoor public places is strongly recommended. Facemasks must be worn in health care and congregate sites like shelters and nursing homes. Washing your hands frequently and staying home when sick are also ways to stop the spread of disease.

Emergency room activity is still high and health experts recommend only using the Emergency Room for life threatening issues until COVID-19 recedes even more.

MCDOT Expanding Public Transportation Incentives Program

Did you know that commuters using public transportation can save up to four times their costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions by half as compared to using a personal car?

The FareShare program allows employees to work with their employers to lower the cost of commuting by using public transportation. The Internal Revenue Service will allow contribution limits to increase from $280 to $300 per month. The money can be used to pay for transit passes, vanpool fares and other 2023 public transportation expenses.

To take advantage of the pre-tax savings, employees and employers must both get on board with the commuting benefits program. Employers pay for the first $25 of a participating commuter's expense then the County will cover—up to $300 in monthly travel expenses. The full subsidy could be as high as $3,600 per year, per employee. There is a maximum payout of $40,000 to each business per year.

The money can be used by commuters using a Ride On bus, Metrobus, Metrorail or MARC train. There are also ways for this program to help with Metro parking expenses.

The idea is to lower the cost of commuting while taking cars off the road and helping the environment. For questions about taking advantage of the program, go to MCDOT’s FareShare page.

Women’s Legislative Briefing on Jan. 29

Montgomery County will host its 43rd annual Women's Legislative Briefing on Sunday, Jan. 29. It will be held virtually from 12:30-5 p.m.

This is an opportunity to update the public on Montgomery County's legislative proposals before local, State and national legislative bodies that address issues of specific concern to women. It will focus on how the importance of advocacy and the protection of democracy.

This year’s theme, “Empowered Women Defend Democracy,” is crucial as we encourage civic action in order to elect leaders who represent solutions for issues affecting women and girls.

Compared to other high-income countries, the U.S. has a much lower percentage of women elected to government office. However, evidence shows that women who are elected to public office have different priorities and see very different results than their male counterparts.

Women introduce many more bills on health care, education and childcare than men do. We know that empowered women can change laws, policies and even those who represent us in office. This year, the Montgomery County Council has its first female majority, and I am excited to work with these historic and trailblazing leaders.

The briefing is organized by the County Commission for Women. There will be panels featuring Board of Education Member Brenda Wolff, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Carmen Larsen, business owners and leaders in public safety, housing and public policy. You can look at detailed information about each panel by following this link.

Montrose ABS Store Reopens

I want to let everyone know there is a newly designed “Oak Barrel & Vine” store in Montrose that opened on Friday Jan. 27.

The Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) store on Rockville Pike has been shut down for months for this redesign. It reopens with more shelf space, a dedicated tasting area, and a better experience for customers.

Our County’s ABS generates about $30-35 million of revenue annually for taxpayers. Upgrading these stores is a great way to increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction. One “Oak Barrel & Vine” store is already open in Cabin John and a third is currently under construction in Gaithersburg.

Congratulations to ABS employees and customers on this good news that we can say “Cheers” to. Please check my social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter for updates from the grand opening event.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 25, 2023

16 Multiple Electric Vehicle Charging Ports Added in County Parking Facilities, Bringing Total to 56 in County Garages and Parking Lots

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has added 16 electric vehicle charging ports in County garages over the last four months, increasing the total of electric vehicle (EV) charging ports to 56 for public use in County parking garages and parking lots.

Eight ports were added in the NOAA Garage (G58) in Silver Spring this month, four ports were added in the Cordell-St. Elmo Garage (G40) in Bethesda in December and four ports were installed in the Wheaton Market Place Garage (G13) in October.

MCDOT has eight more charging ports planned. Four will be installed in the Bethesda-Elm Garage (G57) later this winter and four ports have been ordered for the Cameron Street Garage (G7) in Silver Spring.

In 2022, Montgomery County reported 19,338 plug-in vehicles registered. Nearly one-third of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles registered in Maryland are located within Montgomery County.

“This is great news to start off the new year—our constituents having been requesting more charging ports and I am glad that we are starting to deliver,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Expanding access to charging stations will encourage more EV ownership. Besides increasing our public use ports, we are also allowing homeowners to apply for a right-of-way permit for their own curbside charging stations. We are moving in the right direction, but we need residents, businesses and policymakers to support these efforts. Combatting climate change requires actions by all of us.”

Since the County’s first public EV charging stations were installed in the Capital Crescent Garage in February 2015, MCDOT has continually worked to grow the number of charging stations in County owned public parking facilities.

“We are making progress, but we still have work to do to ensure EV charging is accessible,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “Transportation is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the County and personal vehicles make up the majority of these emissions. We are working to increase personal vehicle charging capacity to encourage EV ownership. This is an essential step to reach our aggressive County goal of zero emissions by 2035.”

EV charging ports are now available in the following County parking facilities within each of the three County maintained Parking Lot Districts (PLD):
  • Bethesda: Woodmont Corner Garage (G11), Capital Crescent Garage (G31) Woodmont-Rugby Garage (G35), Auburn-Del Ray Garage (G36), Cordell-St.Elmo Garage (G40), Waverly Garage (G47) and Bethesda-Elm Garage (G57)
  • Silver Spring: Bonifant-Dixon Garage (G5), Cameron-Second Garage (G7), Kennett Street Garage (G9), NOAA Garage (G58) Wayne Avenue Garage (G60) and Town Square Garage (G61); Bonifant and Easley Lot (L29)
  • Wheaton: Wheaton Market Place Garage (G13) and Amherst Garage (G45)
Twelve of the new EV charging ports in the Silver Spring (G40) and Bethesda (G58) parking garages, and four ports coming to Silver Spring (G57), have been funded and provided by Pepco. The County has an easement agreement with Pepco to locate the stations within PLD facilities. The rest of the stations have been funded by the County.

In May 2020, MCDOT and the County’s Department of Permitting Services released residential area guidelines for installing electric vehicle charging stations. The guidelines regulate and provide for permitting the installation of privately owned car charging stations in garages, driveways and in the public right of way adjacent to County streets.

For a listing of Montgomery County EV charging stations in public parking garages and lots, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-parking/ElectricVehicle.html.

In addition to the charging ports in the County garages, nearly 600 EV ports are available for public use, as listed on the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center website. This includes 30 ports managed by the County’s Department of General Services at County-owned buildings, such as libraries.

Federal Increase in Pre-Tax Benefits Allotted for Employer Transit Expenses as Part of Montgomery County’s ‘Fareshare’ Program

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation “FareShare” Program will provide employees with additional incentives to use public transportation to get to work. The Internal Revenue Service has increased the pre-tax limit for employer-provided commuting benefits to $300 per month, from $280 last year, including transit passes and vanpool fares for 2023.

With the recent increase in the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-free limit, commuters working in Montgomery County can receive the reimbursement by asking their employers to set up a commuting benefits program.

MCDOT’s “FareShare” program will reimburse employers for all but $25 per month of their employees’ costs for commuting, up to $300 per month. The money is tax-free to both the employee and the employer.

The program covers expenses incurred by commuters using Ride On bus, Metrobus, Metrorail or MARC train. It also covers expenses for vanpools, as long as the employee commutes to and from a workplace within Montgomery County. A separate provision also allows for remote parking, such as Metro parking costs, as a separate covered benefit, up to an additional $300 a month.

"This is a great incentive that I hope all businesses in Montgomery County will take advantage of," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "This employee benefit lowers the cost of commuting to work and takes cars off the road, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas levels."

Businesses looking to implement or expand a transportation benefit program must commit to covering the first $25 per month of travel costs for participating employees. The County will cover commuting costs over the initial $25, up to $300 a month. The full subsidy could be as high as $3,600 per year, per employee. There is a maximum payout of $40,000 to each business per year.

The FareShare reimbursements offset the cost to employers who pay for their employees’ commutes. Employers can also offer a pre-tax payroll deduction benefit at no cost to the employer—or a combination of both.

MCDOT Commuter Services staff offers free assistance in setting up a commuter benefits program that is tailored to each business and their employees’ needs.

Participating employers also are eligible for a State tax credit of 50 percent of their $25 contribution per enrolled employee each month, reducing their State tax payment. This credit is available to for-profit and nonprofit organizations. For more information on tax credits, visit Commuter Choice Maryland here.

Depending on how many employees participate in the commuting benefits program, and the amount they incur for their commute, an employer participating in FareShare and the State tax credit program may be able to save thousands of dollars per year in combined payroll and State income tax payments.

“It is good to see more resources being put forward to encourage the use of public transit,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “This increase has the potential to assist a lot of people who have now returned to the office in some capacity. This is a good opportunity for employers to provide an impactful benefit to their employees.”

Transportation benefits help raise employee satisfaction, help businesses recruit and retain employees and help present the organization as an employer that cares about its workforce and the environment.

In addition, each year MCDOT’s Commuter Services Office partners with County businesses to help them apply for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Employer Recognition Awards. Now is the time to work with Commuter Services to bring recognition to a company for its commuter benefit programs through these awards.

Last year, Montgomery County Commuter Services partner Ellumen, Inc. received the 2022 Employer Recognition Award for the marketing of its commuter benefits program. The small, privately held healthcare IT company based in Silver Spring reduced employee vehicle miles traveled by 512,080 miles and saved an estimated annual 23,276 gallons of gas through marketing efforts geared toward employees.

For more information and to request free support to implement or increase a transportation reimbursement program, visit the MCDOT website here.

Summer Camps Registration Now Open

Montgomery County Recreation is hosting safe, fun and exciting camps that promote children's active and healthy lifestyles this summer. Camp registration is now open.

A digital guide to the available programs can be viewed online.

Montgomery County Recreation camps offer a broad range of summer programs located throughout the County. Campers will spend most their time outdoors with an emphasis on safety and fun.

Applications are currently being accepted for 2023 Rec Assist, which provides eligible County residents an opportunity to receive a scholarship to use toward Recreation programs.

Registration is available by mail or drop-off. For more information about registration, visit the website or call the customer service team at 240-777-6840.

Montgomery Parks Summer Camps Open for Registration Including for Meadowside, a ‘Sense-sational’ Camp for Children of Different Abilities

Montgomery Parks is now accepting registrations for its 2023 Summer Camps season. There are more than 40 summer camps available this year for a variety of interests including sports, nature, adventure outings and archaeology. Camps will be held at multiple locations for ages 3-18.

Camps run from June through August. Those who register by Sunday, April 9, can save $25 off select camps by entering “EarlyBird” in the coupon field on ActiveMontgomery.

Meadowside, a “Sense-sational Summer” camp designed to accommodate children of different abilities, is being offered June 26-30. The camp will have a low staff-camper ratio of 1:2 with a small camp size. Campers will hike, learn about ecosystems and habitats, meet the nature center animals, explore Rock Creek and make crafts.

The Meadowside camp is designed to help differently abled children make friends and enjoy the great outdoors. Each camper’s needs will be identified at the outset of camp, so activities can be designed to support all abilities. Sense-sational Summer is a half-day camp, running 1-4:30 p.m. for ages 6-8.

A complete list of summer camps is available in the Montgomery Parks Summer Camp Guide at 2023 SUMMER CAMPS (montgomeryparks.org)

For a complete list of special events and programming, visit the Winter 2022 Montgomery Parks Program Guide to the Montgomery Parks event calendar.

Recreation Center Membership Passes Will Be Free in 2023

Montgomery County Recreation Center membership passes will be free for County residents in 2023. A free pass will provide access to fully equipped fitness rooms, open gym (drop-in) activities and game rooms at any community recreation center during regularly scheduled hours.

The free pass does not include access to aquatic centers. For aquatic center pass information and prices, visit Aquatic Passes - Department of Recreation - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov).

“We are pleased to be offering this service free to our residents in 2023,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “As we head into the new year and many are renewing their fitness goals, I encourage our County residents to take advantage of these great spaces. Make sure to head to a community recreation center near you to check out all they have to offer. Thank you to the team at Montgomery County Recreation for helping make this happen.”

Membership makes it easy for residents to work out close to home, near their office or at any center location that is convenient for them. Passes include both the gym and weight room.

Non-County residents can purchase a pass for $20 for one month, $80 for six months and $150 for one year. Visit the website for more information.

Naturalist Kerry Wixted Will Discuss ‘Maryland’s Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species’ in Next Session of Montgomery Parks’ Virtual Speaker Series on Monday, Jan. 30

Naturalist Kerry Wixted will talk about “Maryland’s Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species” from 11 a.m.-noon on Monday, Jan. 30, in the next virtual session of the Montgomery Parks Speaker Series. The session is free to view.

The presentation will discuss the more than 1,200 species that have been listed as rare, threatened or endangered in Maryland and how the Maryland Natural Heritage Program ranks and manages rare species across the State. Ms. Wixted also will cover ways to help with the conservation of rare species and their habitats.

Ms. Wixted is a naturalist with more than 15 years of experience studying the flora and fauna of Maryland. She has previously worked for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and has taught classes for Nature Forward’s Natural History Field Studies Program. She is a graduate of the Wildlife and Fisheries Management program at Frostburg State University and has a masters degree in biology from West Virginia University.

To register for the session, go to Montgomery Parks Speaker Series - Montgomery Parks.

‘Land of Enchantment’ Will Be Next in Virtual Arts Salon Series on Monday, Jan. 30

"Guardians of the Andes" by artist Pepe Piedra Inkarasta. 

Artist Camila Bryce-LaPorte will host “Land of Enchantment,” the next in the Arts Salon free virtual series presented by Silver Spring Town Center, inc. (SSTCi). The program, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30, will explore “Is the land or a special place your muse?”

Artists, poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and others are invited to share their work inspired by the land or a special place in the world.

SSTCi's quarterly Arts Salon strives to be an inspiring space highlighted by sharing and performance-oriented.
Ms. Bryce-LaPorte is a folklife specialist and community scholar who helps people rediscover the value of their history, their cultural traditions, their community and themselves through the art of cultural documentation. She trains people to capture and preserve the history of and traditions of their community and their culture bearers. Ms. Bryce-LaPorte has worked on folklife-related projects for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance.
Land of Enchantment will be available via Zoom at Meeting Registration - Zoom.

For more information about the series or to RSVP participation, contact Lisa Martin at lisa@silverspringtowncenter.com.

Applicants Sought to Serve on New County Sports Advisory Committee

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is seeking applicants to fill 17 public and organizational vacancies on the newly established Montgomery County Sports Advisory Committee.

The committee, staffed by Montgomery County Recreation, will study sports participation and opportunities in the County, make recommendations to the County Executive and the County Council and recognize outstanding teams and athletes. Members will help conduct research, advocate for enhanced sports opportunities and identify and address discrepancies found in youth sports to raise the quality of life for residents.

The deadline to apply to serve on the committee is Wednesday, Feb. 1. For more information, or to apply, go to the website.

The committee will prepare and submit to the County Executive and the County Council an annual report regarding factors that affect sports participation in the County including the availability of and access to athletic fields, facilities and sports. It will offer recommendations to improve the quality, quantity and variety of sports opportunities and facilities. The committee also will recognize teams and athletes in the County who win State or national championships or represent the United States in international competition.

Members of the committee will serve three-year terms (initially staggered). Public members will serve without compensation, but are eligible for reimbursement for travel and dependent care for in-person meetings attended. Committee meeting dates and times will be determined. Committee meetings may be held virtually.

Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, genders, geography, abilities, ethnicities and ages are encouraged to apply. Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. Members must complete training on the Maryland Open Meetings Act, Montgomery County Ethics Law and basic parliamentary procedure.

Bill 6-22 establishing the committee can be found here.

Alcohol Beverage Services to Celebrate Conversion of Montrose Store to Upgraded ‘Oak Barrel & Vine’ Brand at Grand Re-Opening on Friday, Jan. 27

Alcohol Beverage Services to Celebrate Conversion of Montrose Store to Upgraded ‘Oak Barrel & Vine’ Brand at Grand Re-Opening on Friday, Jan. 27

Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) will re-open its Montrose store under its upgraded retail concept, “Oak Barrel & Vine,” at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 27. The celebration and ribbon cutting will occur in front of the store, located at 12015-B Rockville Pike in the Montrose Crossing shopping center in Rockville. County Executive Marc Elrich, other elected officials and alcohol industry representatives plan to attend the opening.

The Oak Barrel & Vine branded stores feature handpicked items with a focus on spirits and local products. The upgraded store will have 25 percent more shelf space, a dedicated tasting area, queue lines for faster checkout and wayfinding signs for a more inviting shopping experience.

For the grand opening, and in the days that follow, some rare and allocated items will be available for purchase. Each specific highly allocated item will be limited to one bottle per customer. No more than two highly allocated bottles can be purchased per customer, per day. The items will be available for purchase when the doors open at 10 a.m.

The grand opening also will include tastings from two local manufacturers between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Customers will be able to sample unique, flavored spirits from Bethesda-based Butterfly Spirits, as well as craft beers from Silver Spring-based Silver Branch Brewing Co. These products will be available for purchase at the opening and throughout the weekend.

“ABS is an incredible County government service, having contributed more than $35 million of revenue last year alone to the taxpayers of Montgomery County and more than $306 million over the last 10 years, in addition to the health and safety benefits through safe alcohol distribution,” said County Executive Elrich. “Under the leadership of Director Kathie Durbin, our ABS employees have been working hard to update their facilities and systems in order to better serve their customers and increase efficiencies. I am impressed with the improvements made at the Montrose location and look forward to more ABS stores being updated in the near future.”

The Montrose store is one of the oldest and busiest ABS stores and is popular because of its central location and ample parking. It is the second ABS store to be upgraded to the Oak Barrel & Vine brand.

The first Oak Barrel & Vine store, located in the Cabin John Village Shopping Center, opened in 2021 and has become a customer favorite. A third Oak Barrel & Vine store is currently under construction in the Gaithersburg Square shopping center and is expected to open in spring 2023. ABS intends to upgrade its remaining retail stores to the Oak Barrel & Vine brand over the next several years.

“We are excited to introduce a second Oak Barrel & Vine store to Montgomery County,” said ABS Director Kathie Durbin. “This is our store of the future, and it is designed to reflect our community by showcasing local products, providing tastings and events and offering a dynamic shopping experience.”

Beginning on Jan. 27, the Montrose store will be open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon-5 p.m. on Sundays. For a full list of ABS store locations and hours, visit the ABS website.

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

Commission for Women to Host Its 43rd Women’s Legislative Briefing Virtually on Sunday, Jan. 29, with Theme of ‘Empowered Women Protect Democracy’

Commission for Women to Host Its 43rd Women’s Legislative Briefing Virtually on Sunday, Jan. 29, with Theme of ‘Empowered Women Protect Democracy’

The Montgomery County Commission for Women (CFW) will host its 43rd Annual Women’s Legislative Briefing (WLB) virtually from 12:30-5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29. The theme of this year’s event is “Empowered Women Protect Democracy.” 

The annual event brings together advocates, allies, policymakers and emerging leaders to empower, engage and mobilize Marylanders around issues affecting women and girls. Attendees will hear from, and engage with, members of the Maryland General Assembly, community leaders and representatives of organizations that advance the status of women and girls.

The opening session, “Women Who Empower Through Advocacy,” will include Adrianna Hopkins, a news anchor from WJLA ABC 7. She will serve as the moderator of a panel that includes:
  • Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO, League of Women Voters
  • DeAnna Hoskins, CEO, JustLeadershipUSA
  • Susan Jin Davis, Social Impact Officer, Al Roker Entertainment
Their national viewpoints will provide a unique perspective of how empowerment looks throughout the United States and how advocacy can lead to a career in many fields.

“This year’s Women’s Legislative Briefing theme is ‘Empowered Women Defend Democracy.’ This is an important message at a crucial time as we encourage civic action in order to elect leaders who represent solutions and protections for issues affecting women and girls,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The Montgomery County’s Women’s Commission Legislative Briefing reflects issues where empowerment is essential in our health, safety, education and economic justice. Last year, Montgomery County voters elected the first-ever female majority to our County Council and I look forward to serving the next four years with all of these new members. Together, along with the Women’s Commission, we are going to ensure that Montgomery County is a place where all women and girls can be supported and thrive.”

Following the opening panel discussion, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions focused on how empowered women and girls can influence critical legislation and policies to protect, access and secure women’s right to health care, public safety, economic justice and education.

An important component of the WLB is its signature Emerging Leaders sessions for middle and high schoolers. The interactive workshops focus on civic engagement and pathways to leadership for young women and men. This year’s topics include “Feeling Safe Everywhere: Home, School, Community” and “How to Express My Mental Health.” Students may earn up to three Student Service Learning hours by participating in the program.

Major sponsors supporting the event include AARP Maryland, Kaiser Permanente, The Universities at Shady Grove and Montgomery College. Approximately 50 community organizations also are supporting the event.

To participate in the Women’s Legislative Briefing, register at the WLB website.

For more information, call 240-777-8300 or visit the CFW website. Follow the event using the hashtag #MoCoWLB via Twitter and Facebook.

Energy Assistance Programs and Energy Savings Information Tables Will Be Available at Montgomery County Public Libraries Through April

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will offer staffed information tables to learn about energy assistance programs and energy saving resources on seven select days through April. The resource tables will be staffed by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Pepco.

The displays will offer customers the opportunity to pick up applications for energy assistance and have questions answered about the program.

The resource tables will be implemented on from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at the following library locations:
For more information about the energy savings display tables, contact Clotilde Puértolas at Clotilde.puertolas@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Funding Opportunities to Build Community Capacity Available Through County’s Asian American Health Initiative’s New Asian American Center of Excellence

Montgomery County’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), part of the County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), recently announced the launch of the Asian American Center of Excellence (AACE) and the release of a micro-grant funding opportunity. The goal of AACE is to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)-serving community-organizations in developing and increasing their capacity to successfully provide health, wellness and social support programs and services.

AACE serves as a resource to AAPI community organizations to improve technical skills related to organizational sustainability, such as strategic planning, data collection and analysis, program planning and evaluation and partnership building among others.

AAPI community-based organizations, faith institutions, and other nonprofits play a vital role in responding to the health, wellness, and social support needs of AAPIs in Montgomery County. Such organizations provide essential and supportive services to the most vulnerable AAPI community members. By working with and supporting community organizations, AAHI has had significant success in reaching and serving the diverse AAPI community. To improve the health status of AAPIs, it is critical to invest in grassroots, community organizations.

To build community capacity, AACE offers a suite of services including micro-grant funding to build organizational capacity; a curated bi-weekly email digest that captures and shares opportunities for growth; networking opportunities to bring together local AAPI leaders; data roundtables to engage leaders in discussions around data challenges and community-led solutions; technical assistance workshops to strengthen skills related to nonprofit management, business operations, data collection and public health best practices. AACE also offers one-on-one strategy consultations to guide integration of best practices into existing operations.

To learn more about AACE and to stay updated on its services, visit the AAHI website.

AACE micro-grants are now available, and AAHI is soliciting applications from eligible organizations to improve capacity, sustainability and infrastructure of organizations that provide health and wellness programs and social support services to the County’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Micro-grants will be awarded in three funding categories: purchase of equipment, professional development and consultants. AAPI-serving organizations can apply for micro-grants of $5,000 across each of the three funding categories, with a maximum of a $15,000 award per organization. The total funding available is $70,000. Smaller AAPI-serving organizations are encouraged to apply.

The micro-grants are administered by the Primary Care Coalition (PCC). To learn more, read the request for proposals, and apply for the funding, visit the Asian American Health Initiative’s website. Applications for funding will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12.

For more information about AACE and the micro-grants, email AAHI@montgomerycountymd.gov.

‘Old Roads, New Histories’ Will Be Featured in Montgomery History Online Presentation Starting Monday, Jan. 30

Montgomery County’s Rustic Roads Program has protected the historic and scenic roadways that reflect the County’s agricultural character and rural origins or 25 years. An update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan is currently in progress. This free online presentation from Montgomery History can be viewed starting at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 30.

“Old Roads, New Histories” will be led by historian Kacy Rohn. It will describe the work underway to bring new roads and new histories into the program that reflect the diversity of the County’s past with previously underrepresented stories of women, freedom seekers. It also will look at early African American communities that enrich the historic landscapes traversed by these roadways.

Pre-registration to view the presentation is not required. To view “Old Roads, New Histories,” go to » WATCH (montgomeryhistory.org). The presentation will be available through Sunday, Jan. 29.

Traffic Study Results for Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project Will Be Presented at Virtual Meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 15


 A virtual public meeting will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, to present data from traffic studies conducted on Little Falls Parkway between Arlington Road and Dorset Avenue.

The Montgomery Parks’ meeting will take place on Zoom. Participants have the option to register online for the meeting to receive project updates.

The traffic counts were conducted during May, July, September and December of 2022 as part of the Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project, The pilot project was initiated to address concerns with cut-through traffic in adjacent neighborhoods associated with the weekend closures of Little Falls Parkway, while retaining space for recreation on the parkway.

“We initiated the Little Falls Parkway pilot project to study whether two lanes between Dorset Avenue and Arlington Road could adequately accommodate vehicle traffic and potentially create more space for park users,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks. “Now that the analysis is complete, we want to share this information with the public.”

After the public meeting, Montgomery Parks will present the findings of the traffic studies to the Montgomery Planning Board in a hearing during which members of the public will have the opportunity to testify. The Planning Board will then review the Parks Department’s recommendations and the public testimony and determine whether to proceed with the pilot project in a subsequent meeting.

The Planning Board public hearing and meeting dates are yet to be determined, but will likely be held in late March and early April. Once the dates are set, they will be publicly announced and posted on the Parks Department’s website on the project page.

Since the Phase 2 lane conversion in November, the Little Falls Parkway pilot project area has provided 24/7 open space for community use, while maintaining two lanes open for vehicular traffic. This section of Little Falls Parkway, between Arlington Road and Dorset Avenue, was previously part of Montgomery Parks’ Open Parkways program extending between River Road and Arlington Road (1.3 miles). If the lane reduction is made permanent, the next phase of the pilot project will include public outreach and implementation of a temporary linear park with amenities including seating, games, programmed activities. It also would have space for biking, skating, running, and walking.

The Open Parkways program launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis to provide more outdoor space for recreation and exercise by closing portions of three parkways to vehicles on weekends. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of visitors have used the Open Parkways and the program. The other two open parkways, on Sligo Creek Parkway and Beach Drive, will not be affected by the Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project.

For more information on the Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project, go to Little Falls Parkway Linear Park Pilot Project - Montgomery Parks.

Ride On Bus Will Be Increasing Frequency on 31 Routes Starting Sunday, Jan. 29

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will increase service on 31 Ride On bus routes starting Sunday, Jan. 29. The increases are part of the adjustments to 44 routes overall to improve efficiency based on ridership.

Throughout the year, ridership data and on-time performance are monitored regularly to identify routes that could achieve increased efficiency with schedule updates.

“Public transit that is reliable and on time is critical to the people who count on it,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “It is a best practice to regularly evaluate and adjust bus service to ensure needs are being met. Dependable and reliable bus service leads to increased ridership which supports our sustainability efforts, reduces congestion and increases the quality of life for our residents.”

Montgomery County bus route changes starting Jan. 29 will include:
  • 31 routes will have increased frequency due to ridership: 1, 2, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 22, 25, 29, 31, 33, 34, 36, 39, 47, 48, 51, 57, 63, 70, 76, 83, 98, 100, 101 and Metro Bus routes L8, T2; Three of these routes also have slight time changes: 18, 48, 76
  • Four routes have decreased frequency due to ridership levels: 45, 46, 75, 96
  • Nine routes will have time changes for accuracy, but no changes in frequency: 9, 10, 30, 37, 38, 43, 44, 66, 67
  • Additionally, 20 of the above-listed routes will have a change in overall hours of operation: 1, 5, 14, 18, 22, 25, 29, 31, 33, 51, 57, 63, 66, 67, 70, 75, 83, 98 and Metro Bus routes L8, T2
  • One route has a slight route change with no bus stop, time or frequency changes: 51

Updates that will be made, listed by individual route:
  • Route 1: Increased trips on weekdays and Sundays. Significant span changes on Sundays.
  • Route 2: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 5: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Route 8: Increased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 9: Schedule time was adjusted seven days a week.
  • Route 10: Trip time changes were made on weekdays.
  • Route 11: Increased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 12: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 14: Increased trips on weekdays and Saturdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 15: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 17: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 18: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes were made on Saturdays, and running time was adjusted on Sundays.
  • Route 22: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 25: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 26: Metro Station name change on the route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route 29: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Modest span changes seven days a week.
  • Route 30: Trip time changes were made on weekdays.
  • Route 31: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 33: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 34: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 36: Increased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 37: Trip time changes were made on weekdays.
  • Route 38: Trip time changes were made on weekdays, and Metro station name change on the route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route 39: Increased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 42: Metro Station name change on the route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route 43: Trip time changes were made seven days a week.
  • Route 44: Trip time changes were made on weekdays.
  • Route 45: Decreased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 46: Decreased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Metro Station name change on the route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route 47: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Route 48: Trip time changes were made on weekdays. Increased trips on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Route 51: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays. Now extended to terminate at Georgia Ave ICC Park and Ride.
  • Route 57: Increased trips on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Modest span changes seven days a week.
  • Route 63: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 66: Trip time changes were made on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 67: Trip time changes were made on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 70: Increased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 75: Decreased trips on weekdays. Modest span changes on weekdays.
  • Route 76: Increased trips on weekdays. Trip time changes were made on Saturdays.
  • Route 81: Metro Station name change on the route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route 83: Increased trips on weekdays and Saturdays. Modest span changes on weekdays and Saturdays.
  • Route 96: Decreased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 98: Increased trips on weekdays and Saturdays. Modest span changes on weekdays and Saturdays.
  • Route 100: Increased trips on weekdays.
  • Route 101: Increased trips on weekdays. Metro Station name change on route - White Flint to North Bethesda.
  • Route L8: Increased trips on Saturdays and Sundays. Modest span changes on Sundays.
  • Route T2: Increased trips on Saturdays and Sundays. Modest span changes on Saturdays and Sundays.
Riders can get County bus schedule and trip planning information by visiting the Ride On Real Time webpage here.

“Being dependable is our priority,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We are continually making data driven changes to improve consistency and reduce travel times.” 

All County buses have a fare of $1 to ride, reduced from the $2 pre-pandemic fare.