February 24, 2023

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

We all grieve for the life lost in last weekend’s apartment building fire in Silver Spring. The victim was in her 20’s and had just started to make her impact in the world when she died. Her death is a tragedy, and our sympathies are with her family and friends.

Twenty injuries were reported, including some of our first responders. We hope for quick recoveries to all those who were injured. Dozens of fire victims remained in temporary shelter days after the fire. It is heartening to see the outpouring of support for these tenants from neighbors near and far.

I want to thank our partners at Montgomery Housing Partners for managing donations that have been made. More than $23,000 was collected in just a few days. Here is a link to its website if you would like to help. A link also can be found at the top of my Twitter feed.

This fire is a reminder that safety should be of paramount importance during any emergency. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein reminded everyone during my weekly media briefing that smoke inhalation often is the primary reason people die in fires. Having a safety plan, practicing it and leaving a fire as quickly as possible are ways to stay safe.

Chief Goldstein explained that it is good to pull the fire alarm on your way out of the building to alert others to what is happening. Sometimes, like with Saturday’s fire, 911 callers instruct people to shelter in place until the fire is out or the smoke can be cleared out.

Updating codes to require sprinkler systems in older buildings and implementing other safety measures is in the works, but right now, the State timeline for these changes is 10 years away. In the shorter term, we are exploring other improvements and changes that might be important.

I want to thank the County departments, the Red Cross of the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake Region and the owners of the Arrive apartments for getting victims temporary shelter, food and other essentials.

And special thanks must also go to the DoubleTree Hotel, which is located just across the street from the complex. It provided immediate help to victims by opening its lobby to get people out of the cold. It shared breakfast and allowed our partners to use a conference room to help victims.

Please keep the tenants of this building in your thoughts and lend your support if you can.

Hate has No Home in Montgomery County

For the second time in the last four months, we saw a group of Proud Boys try to stop a Drag Queen Story Hour event. The latest disruption happened last Saturday morning outside a bookstore in Silver Spring. Volunteers formed a wall outside Loyalty Bookstore to prevent demonstrators from entering. This led to some shoving, hitting and kicking. This episode was upsetting for several reasons including the abhorrent messaging protesters were trying to deliver, the violence they were willing to use and how it appears these incidents are escalating.

I do not want to see violence come from these and we are looking at ways to protect people from the threat of violence posed by the protesters. If they try to repeat some of the things we saw captured on video this past Saturday, those people will be cited, arrested and jailed. We will protect anyone's right to peacefully protest, but we are not going to allow assaults.

We will not be intimidated by these cowards who ironically call themselves “Proud,” but refuse to show their faces. They epitomize hate, intolerance and misogyny—all values that have no home in Montgomery County.

Hiring Bonuses for New MCPD Officers

We have good news this week in our police recruitment efforts. Montgomery County and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 have come to an agreement to begin offering a $20,000 bonus for new sworn police recruits.

This is a significant signing bonus, matching the highest amounts offered in our region. These bonuses will improve our competitiveness with other police departments to attract the most talented, committed, and diverse upcoming recruit classes to our Police Department.

Funding for the initial part of this effort will come from savings accrued from personnel vacancies within the Montgomery County Police Department. Full implementation of the bonus program would require County Council approval for Fiscal Year 2024 and beyond budgets.

Currently, the Police Department is down 129 sworn officers. Like police departments around the country, Montgomery County Police are struggling to fill positions. When this bonus is paired with the recent pay increase for officers, I believe it will help us start to reverse that shortfall and anticipated losses over the next few years due to retirements and other factors.

Right now, we are working on changes to the police department including revamping our training procedures. Over the last two years, we have worked with the community and a nationally recognized consulting company focused on public safety. They have helped us identify ways to improve how our officers interact with the public and how they are trained.

I believe this bonus money will help us attract some of the best candidates. We want more of our police officers to come from Montgomery County, and if we can help them afford to live here, that will help grow an already effective department.

Family Forum on Fentanyl on Saturday, Feb. 25

Because of the ongoing concern about teen drug use and overdoses, there will be another community forum on Saturday, Feb. 25, on the dangers of fentanyl. It will be at Northwood High School in Silver Spring starting at 9:30 a.m. Some breakout sessions during the two-hour program will be conducted in Spanish.

Earlier this week Spanish-speakers were invited to an online community forum on the dangers of fentanyl that was organized by our Department of Health and Human Services and our Latino Health Initiative.

We hope that no matter the language, the message is clear to all Montgomery County families: No one is immune to the dangers of fentanyl. Please educate yourself, have conversations with children and teenagers and seek support and treatment if you or your loved one needs help. Here is a link to the County’s online resources to help keep families educated and aware of ways to help.

County Files Lawsuit Against McKinsey & Company Over Its Role in Proliferation of Opioid Abuse

National settlements against drug makers and distributors over opioid lawsuits are expected to bring Montgomery County approximately $34 million over the next 18 years. The same lawsuits are expected to net the State of Maryland approximately $400 million dollars over that period.

These monies are from settlements against pharmaceutical companies that the County joined in 2018. Despite the large monetary amounts, it still is not enough restitution for what these companies did to our nation.

If anyone else in society committed an act that led to thousands of deaths, they would be facing life in prison, not fines. It is frustrating that the people who masterminded the explosion of these drugs have escaped responsibility for their crimes. It is another example of the unequal treatment under the law for white collar criminals—even when their actions kill people.

The fact that they have paid out this money in no way exonerates company leaders from the tragedies they have created.

Montgomery County this week joined other jurisdictions in a lawsuit against McKinsey and Company, Inc.—another culprit for its role in marketing opioids to the public and medical providers. The County Council recently approved a law firm to represent the County in this matter.

The suit alleges that the McKinsey served as a marketing advisor for more than a decade to several opioid manufacturers, and in this role helped counter the “emotional message” from the families of overdose victims. The lawsuit also alleges that McKinsey advised Purdue on how to “turbocharge” the sale of opioids.

I am glad these legal efforts are moving forward. These companies made billions of dollars while families suffered the consequences of drug addiction. They must be held accountable.

COVID-19 Community Health Update

We have had another big drop in COVID-19 cases and new hospitalization numbers have declined to levels we have not seen in more than a year. Our Community Level Status remains 'low."

We remain committed to the providing vaccines and boosters to walk-in patients or by appointment for anyone seeking one. You can schedule those appointments in Silver Spring, Rockville, Germantown and Burtonsville online, by calling 240-777-2982 or by scheduling a visit with your local doctor or pharmacy. Staying up to date on your bivalent boosters is still the best protection for a serious bout with COVID. Most people who have received their booster shot since last September have not been seriously ill.

COVID test kits and facemasks are available for free and at County libraries and other County facilities.

Black History Month: Holly Grove

As we near the end of Black History Month, I would like to highlight an historic corner of Montgomery County. The Holly Grove Freeman Community was established at the end of 1879. Back then, it was just a handful of families on 85 acres of land Ever since, it has become a home for generations of Black families.

The Holly Grove Historical Preservation Association has done a wonderful job of tracing the history of this area. After the Civil War, Quakers were among the few groups that would sell their land to freed slaves. Holly Grove helped establish Montgomery County as one of the first places to receive a primary education with Black teachers working at Sandy Spring School, Sharp Street School and Spencerville School through the early 20th Century. After World War II, families in the area were forced to fight the "community renewal program" to keep their homes from being relocated. It is that tenacity that has led to at least nine generations of family members sharing the same land. The Holly Grove Historical Preservation Association encourages the protection of that long history by fighting for archaeological sites that are important to the area's history.

One of those lifelong residents is Judy Mauldin. Ms. Mauldin is the founder of the Holly Grove Historical Preservation Association. She has been working diligently to make sure that the history of this area is not forgotten. Today, it is an area with native trees and stream valleys that are among the cleanest feeding into the Anacostia River. I want to thank Ms. Mauldin for her work to preserve this important history.

There is a lot of history in Montgomery County that is not always known or shown. It is important to showcase our historic communities and share their history with new generations and visitors.

This weekend I plan on visiting King’s Auto Care, the Breakfast Club and the Sebrof Forbes Cultural Arts Center. At the arts center, a Black Business Expo will be held to talk to Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Even though we only recognize Black History Month in February, highlighting the contributions of Black Americans and learning about their history is something we must be committed to do year-round.

If you missed my conversation with Jim Stowe, director of the County’s Office of Human Rights, to start Black History Month, please click this link.

Governor Moore Visits to Learn About UM-Institute for Health Computing

We met with Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller last week to go over our plans for the future UM - Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda. Along with leaders from University of Maryland-College Park, University of Maryland Baltimore, the University of Maryland Medical System and WMATA, we discussed the project and answered questions. In a press conference afterward, Governor Moore praised the project, saying ideas like this give him hope for Maryland's future.

Gov. Moore and I see this as a transformative project for the Washington region and the State. We are already situated in the heart of the nation's fourth-largest bio health cluster. Adding this research facility focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual and augmented reality will strengthen our ability to draw life sciences companies. The project offers the promise of using the technology and research to improve health outcomes for the nation and the world.

It also will be a strong anchor for the North Bethesda Metro Station. While Metro is important, we also need support in order to put in place the BRT lines that are critical to serving the 355 corridor. There is an enormous potential here for development, but the existing road network will not handle the future growth. That is why the previous governor’s offer to try to attract Amazon included a major investment in the BRT lines that will be necessary to accommodate the future workers who would come here.

I am excited about the future of this project and the State's partnership in bringing it to Montgomery County.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

February 22, 2023

$20,000 Incentives Proposed for Joining County Police Department

Montgomery County and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge No. 35 have come to an agreement to begin offering a $20,000 bonus for new sworn police recruits. Full implementation of the bonus program would require County Council approval for Fiscal Year 2024 and beyond budgets.

Funding for the initial part of the effort would be generated through savings accrued from personnel vacancies within the County Police Department.

Police Chief Marcus Jones, in addressing the Public Safety Committee of the County Council earlier this year, said that the department is currently down 129 sworn officers.

“By increasing the starting salaries for police officers, we have moved Montgomery County into a better recruiting position,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I thank the Montgomery County Police Department and FOP leaders for agreeing to this new bonus because I think it will make Montgomery County more attractive to new recruits.”

The announcement is being made amidst a national recruiting shortage impacting most police departments, including in the Washington region. The plans prepare for the next Montgomery recruitment class scheduled to begin in June 2023 at the Public Safety Training Academy.

“Montgomery County, along with our region, has experienced many challenges over the years that has greatly impacted police recruitment,” said Councilmember Sidney Katz, chair of the Council’s Public Safety Commission. “This is an important step to take to enhance our ability to effectively recruit the complement of officers needed in our County.”

Payments of the bonus would be made in stages. The first the payment would account for 10 percent of the total and would come after a new recruit’s first day as a Montgomery County employee.

“We thank the County Executive for working with Lodge 35 on providing a wage and benefit agreement that both helps recruits and retains police officers in Montgomery County, including the studying of a hiring bonus,” said Lee Holland, president of the FOP. “We hope that the County Council approves these much-needed increases so we can again be a competitive agency when it comes to wages and benefits."

Plaque Unveiled to Recognize the Renaming of Rockville Memorial Library

A plaque has been dedicated at the Rockville Memorial Library recognizing the name change from the original Rockville Library. The name change for the branch of the Montgomery County Public Libraries system was instituted in 2010 at the request of Gold Star families—those who have lost a family member in U.S. military conflicts—and the County Commission on Veterans Affairs.

The plaque is located on the first-floor lobby of the library, next to a digital display honoring the County's Fallen Heroes. The Fallen Heroes digital display honors County residents killed in action dating to World War I

The Commission on Veterans Affairs has a “Fallen Heroes” website with the names of County residents killed in action. Military and private information are part of the tributes, many of which contain photos. The Fallen Heroes website can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/fallenheroes

The words on the plaque include:

“To honor County residents Killed in Action in service to our Country in military conflicts since our County’s founding in 1776, the Rockville Library was renamed the Rockville Memorial Library at the request of Global War on Terror Gold Star family members and the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs.”

Wayne Miller, a Vietnam veteran who chairs the Commission on Veterans Affairs, said it was important that the building in Rockville Town Center have the plaque.

“The Commission on Veterans Affairs is grateful to Montgomery County Public Libraries for collaborating with the Commission to dedicate and honor county service members who were killed in action,” said Mr. Miller. “Sometimes, people enter a building with a name on it and never think about how that name occurred. This wording on the plaque is a powerful tribute to those who lost their lives protecting the freedom this country knows today, and we are grateful to the Gold Star Families who have worked with us on this tribute to our County's Fallen Heroes.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich was on the County Council when it was decided to rename the library.

“The Rockville Memorial Library is one of the finest libraries in our system, and having it named in memory of County residents killed in action is an appropriate tribute,” said County Executive Elrich. “I think this plaque will remind everyone about the ultimate price of war and it will serve as a proper reminder of why this building has its name.”

Council President Evan Glass commended the Gold Star families and the Commission on Veterans Affairs for their efforts to have the plaque created.

"The Rockville Memorial Library represents a powerful tribute to those who have lost their lives while serving honorably in the U.S. Armed and Uniformed services," said Council President Glass. "I want to extend my appreciation to our County's Gold Star families who advocated to bring this tribute to life, and to the Commission on Veteran Affairs for creating a digital archive of our County's fallen heroes, which I encourage all residents to explore."

Anita Vassallo, director of Montgomery County Public Libraries, said the Rockville branch has a special name in relation to the other branches in the system.

“The renaming of the Rockville Memorial Library in memory of County residents killed in military service to their country was a great honor for Montgomery County Public Libraries,” said Director Vassallo. “We are proud of the digital display highlighting each resident and their service. The addition of the commemorative plaque completes the installation, and we encourage County residents to visit the Rockville Memorial Library to learn more about our fallen heroes.”

For more information about the County Commission on Veterans Affairs, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/ADS/CVA/CVAIndex.html.

Gov. Wes Moore, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller Visit North Bethesda for Presentation about UM-Institute for Health Computing

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller met in North Bethesda on Feb. 17 with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Evan Glass and members of the County Council for a presentation and update on the UM-Institute for Health Computing project.

The Institute for Health Computing is a planned research facility and academic near the North Bethesda Metro Station that will serve as an anchor and attraction to developers and businesses. The institute will include research in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

Joining the presentation were representatives from the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland Medical System; and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority.

Here is a Power Point presentation from the event.

“This project is a perfect example of how Maryland can become more economically competitive by creating opportunities through innovative partnerships,” said Gov. Moore. “I am proud our higher education institutions are working together to make it a success.”

Montgomery County is the epicenter 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. According to a recent report by CBRE, the region is home to the second largest life science workforce in the nation.

The Institute for Health Computing also will boost the County’s hospitality industry. Montgomery County is home to companies representing 50 percent of the national hospitality market including Marriott International and Choice Hotels.

“As a Montgomery County resident, I am excited for the possibility of a project that will further the County and State’s goals for equity and transformational economic development,” said Lt. Gov. Miller.

The new institute’s location in North Bethesda’s Pike District, near the NIST, NIH, FDA, Walter Reed, the Henry Jackson Foundation, and the Naval Medical Research Center, will provide an opportunity for the area to emerge as the prime location for this novel and urgent cutting-edge research. The new facility will bring together world-class researchers from the University System of Maryland’s partner institutions prominent in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the virtual/augmented reality fields with researchers and clinicians at the UMMS.

“We are very appreciative that Governor Moore and Lt. Governor Miller visited us to learn more about the Institute for Health Computing and the potential it has for the State economic development, job creation, education, and equity goals,” said County Executive Elrich. “We learned firsthand through the process of competing for the Amazon HQ2 process how important it is to provide an educated workforce and an academic presence to attract companies to Maryland. The technologies and synergies that the UM-Institute for Health Computing will provide to our life sciences, as well as our hospitality sector, is a game changer for our State and County.”

The Institute is expected to open in leased space in early 2023, with final completion of laboratory and office space at the North Bethesda Metro location in 2028. The combined new County, university and Federal commitments amount to $68 million over the next five years.

"This transformative partnership highlights Montgomery County's rising status as an epicenter for the biohealth and technology industries," Council President Glass said. "This project will stimulate growth and business development, strengthen our workforce and benefit the entire state of Maryland."

Montgomery County committed $40 million to the Institute, which will be the anchor for development of a new biotech cluster in North Bethesda. The initial $15 million from the County has already leveraged a $3 million earmark from the Maryland Congressional Delegation.

“The UM-Institute for Health Computing will provide additional opportunities for world-class research and help train future workers to thrive in our modern, innovation-driven economy,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “This new institute will be driven by partnerships and will lead to countless new ones, bringing another growth engine to North Bethesda and further bolstering one of Montgomery County’s greatest strengths. Team Maryland worked hard to deliver a new direct Federal investment to advance this effort and looks forward to its future success.”

“Montgomery County is a leader in health innovation, and through the partnership they have forged with the University of Maryland to create the Institute for Health Computing,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. “They will reach even greater heights as they discover groundbreaking treatments and cures. That’s why I was pleased to help deliver a direct Federal investment for this new institute to purchase the cutting-edge equipment it needs, which will help drive medical breakthroughs that save lives while bringing new jobs and opportunities to our State.”

During the 2022 Maryland General Assembly session, the Montgomery County delegation secured $16 million toward the project. The Universities and UMMS have already made significant early investments in AI, VR and health data informatics that will benefit the project. They have committed an additional $25 million over the next five years to match the County’s operating commitment over that time.

“This institute is a big deal for Montgomery County and our entire State,” said State Senator Ben Kramer, chair of the Montgomery Senate delegation. “Montgomery County is a leader for innovation and life sciences. Creating this institution in the County will ensure that our County continues to lead on this critical issue to cure diseases, improve health outcomes, and reduce disparities for generations to come.”

A significant aspect of life sciences research involves using technology to discover meaningful patterns hidden in huge data sets. For example, the nation’s rapid discovery of a vaccine for COVID-19 during the pandemic was reliant on AI to accelerate advances in the underlying lab research. AI also is being used for now to improve public health through prevention strategies using the analysis of patient data on chronic diseases, risk factors, and outcomes.

"Life science in a core ecosystem of Montgomery County, and the Institute for Health Computing will increase our region’s competitiveness throughout the industry," said State Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr, chair of the Montgomery’s House delegation. "I appreciate the Governor coming to our County to hear from our government and university partners as we work together to bring this important project to fruition."

Entries Can Now Be Submitted for Seventh Annual Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival Poster Contest

Entries are now being accepted for the Seventh Annual Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival poster contest. The winning design will be used on all promotional materials for the parade and festival, which will take place in Downtown Wheaton on Sunday, Oct. 15. The winner will receive a $500 commission.

The parade and festival will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 15 in and around the Marian Fryer Town Plaza in the Wheaton Triangle Business District. The theme for the 2023 parade is "Art to Action: Before we can make our world a better place, we need a vision of the future that inspires us to act."

The poster contest is open to anyone who lives or works in Montgomery County. Entries must be an original design that “celebrates art and Wheaton's diverse cultures and communicates the fun-filled spirit of a parade and art festival."

The deadline to submit entries is Friday, April 14.

The winner will receive a $500 commission. An additional $100 will be awarded to a Montgomery County school for art supplies. The winner gets to select the school. The prize is donated by Wheaton Arts Parade founding sponsors IHOP Wheaton and Los Chorros Restaurant.

If the winner is a student, they will have an opportunity to work with a professional graphic designer to turn their design into the image that will be used for the parade’s poster, t-shirt, flyers and program.

Click here for details and the application form to enter the poster contest.

For more information about the Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival, go to https://www.wheatonartsparade.org/.

Climate Action Quarterly Progress Report Highlights Countywide Accomplishments to Reduce Climate-Related Risks

Montgomery County has released the second-quarter update of its Fiscal Year 2023 Climate Work Plan, highlighting ongoing work on the County’s Climate Action Plan. In the second quarter of FY23, progress was made on more than 50 actions to help reach the goals of the plan.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP), unveiled in 2021, is a strategic plan to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and by 100 percent by 2035. The plan seeks to reduce climate-related risks to the County’s residents, businesses and the built and natural environments.

The quarterly progress report summarizes the efforts undertaken by County departments and agencies to implement the CAP through innovative and collaborative projects in clean energy, building, transportation, carbon sequestration, climate adaptation, climate governance, public engagement and zero waste.

“In 2021, we launched one of the most aggressive Climate Action Plans in the nation with the goal of eliminating 100 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2035,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Some of our actions are nationally recognized – like our Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot – the largest solar bus charging infrastructure project in the country. And just last week President Biden gave a shoutout to Montgomery County, highlighting our work to purchase new hydrogen fuel cell buses and build a new hydrogen fueling station. I am proud of our work and the commitment to climate action by the County Government and all the people we serve.”

Adriana Hochberg, the County’s climate change officer and acting director of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said the County is moving swiftly to address recommendations made in the CAP.

“To achieve the County’s climate goals, we need to continue to accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings, transportation and energy sectors, and to take steps to become more climate resilient,” said Ms. Hochberg. “The actions in the Q2 report reflect a Countywide effort to address climate change head-on. This quarterly report demonstrates the County’s commitment to transparency and accountability to our community, the County and the planet.”

The quarterly progress report summarizes the efforts undertaken by County departments and agencies for the period of Oct. 1-Dec. 30 (Quarter 2 of FY23) to implement the CAP. Quarterly progress reporting on the status of CAP implementation fosters public transparency and accountability.

Highlights of Quarter 2 progress include:
  • Clean Energy: Phase I of the Brookville Smart Energy Depot was completed in October. This bus depot includes a 6.5 MW microgrid to charge the County’s growing Ride On electric bus fleet and is the largest solar bus charging infrastructure project in the U.S.
  • Clean Energy: The Montgomery County Green Bank closed on loan to fund a 2.1 megawatt (MW) solar project at the 684-unit Seneca Village apartments in an Equity Emphasis Area in Gaithersburg.
  • Buildings: The Building Performance Improvement Board began meeting bi-weekly to develop their recommendations on BEPS Method 2 regulations, due to be issued in late 2023.
  • Transportation: The Department of Environmental Protection organized an inter-departmental “Charge Montgomery” Electric Vehicle Planning Workgroup to coordinate across County Government and other local jurisdictions on strategies to expand community EV charging.
  • Transportation: Montgomery County was awarded two Congressional earmarks to assist with expansion of its Active Transportation and Micromobility Network, including $400,000 for an e-cargo bike pilot program and $428,000 for the construction of secure bicycle parking facilities.
  • Carbon Sequestration: DEP received a grant through the Chesapeake Bay Trust/Maryland 5-Million Tree Initiative to plant shade trees in Equity Focus Areas and identified more than 350 planting sites.
  • Climate Adaptation: The Department of General Services completed construction on the Scotland Recreation Center resilience hub with a grant from the Maryland Department of Energy. The small microgrid is has a PV solar roof, batteries and a generator.
  • Governance: CountyStat analyzed the impact of increased telework on greenhouse gas emissions in the Montgomery County Government. Overall, the commute-related emissions avoided through telework was equivalent to the CO2 removed from the air by 268,214 trees.
  • Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: In partnership with the Latin American Youth Center, Montgomery Energy Connection piloted Project Porchlight with Manor Lake Civic Association where students helped residents switch incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs at 392 homes.
  • Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: Montgomery County Public Schools held an online symposium on the Electric School Bus Project on Dec. 7. More than 340 students and staff attended the webinar to learn about MCPS' rollout of electric school buses and how the buses reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Zero Waste: The Department of Environmental Protection’s single-family residential curbside recycling pilot program has helped recycle 370,000 pounds of food scraps.
To view the Quarter 2 FY23 Climate Work Plan progress report, click here.

For more information about the Climate Action Plan, visit the Climate Action Portal.

Centenarians Will Be Honored at Special Montgomery County Recreation Celebration in May

County residents who are ages 100 and older or will turn 100 in 2023 will be honored in May at a special celebration. Montgomery County Recreation is now seeking to identify those residents so they can be invited to the event.

Family or friends of a centenarian living in the County who wants to be part of the celebration are asked to fill out this online form or contact the senior programs team at rec.seniors@montgomerycountymd.gov.

In filling out the form, include the centenarian’s name and address and the contact person’s name, email and telephone number.

The deadline to submit information is March 10.

‘James and the Giant Peach’ Will Be Presented March 10-26 at Gaithersburg Arts Barn

James and the Giant Peach, a musical based on the book by Roald Dahl with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and book by Timothy Allen McDonald, will be presented from March 10-26 at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. The show, recommended for ages 5 and older, follows James and his new friends as they roll their peach into the ocean and embark on a fantastic voyage that crosses paths with seagulls and sharks and lands them on top of the Empire State Building.

The show, presented as a collaboration of the Rockville Musical Theatre and Gaithersburg’s Arts on the Green, will have performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. An additional matinee performance will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 25.

The Arts Barn is located at 311 Kent Square Road in Gaithersburg. Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for students ages 15-21 and $15 for ages 14-and-under. Purchase tickets online here

On their journey, instead of chopping down the tree like his conniving aunties ask, James discovers a magic potion that makes an old peach grow to an enormous size. Climbing inside, James meets a group of outrageous oversized insects who have made the peach their home. James and his newfound friends decide it is time to leave his aunties behind in search of an incredible journey and a new life.

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

Free Spring and Summer Concert Series at Good Hope Recreation Center in Silver Spring to be Presented by Bloom by Strathmore and Montgomery Recreation

A free spring and summer concert series at the Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center in Silver Spring will return this year as a partnership between Bloom by Strathmore and Montgomery County Recreation. The Bloom at Good Hope concert series will open on Saturday, March 11, with Standards Reimagined with Christie Dashiell.

The Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center is located at 14715 Good Hope Rd. in Silver Spring. All concerts will be on Saturdays and start at 5 p.m.

Arts access has been an important part of Strathmore’s mission since its founding. In 2016, Strathmore expanded its commitment to taking the arts beyond its walls, particularly in the eastern part of Montgomery County.

“Strathmore is such an important part of the identity of Montgomery County, and it is such a special place,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “But we know the arts are not equally accessible to all members of our County. The ‘East County Initiative’ of Bloom by Strathmore is a creative way to bring a variety of music to community members who might otherwise never have this opportunity. We are happy that Strathmore and Montgomery County Recreation are again partnering in this innovative program.”

More information about Strathmore’s Bloom program can be found at Bloom By Strathmore.

The scheduled lineup for this season’s Bloom at Good Hope concert series:
  • Saturday, March 11. Standards Reimagined with Christie Dashiell
  • Saturday, April 8. Nistha Raj and Chris Bacon: Indian Music Meets Beatbox
  • Saturday, May 13. Latin Jazz with Taisha Estrada
  • Saturday, June 10. The Jogo Project featuring Elijah Jamal Balbed
  • Saturday, July 8. An Evening of Spirituals with Dante’ Pope
  • Saturday, Aug. 12. An Evening of Urban Latin Music with Chris Urquiaga
For more information about the concert series, contact Martita Galindo of Strathmore at 301-581-5249 or mgalindo@strathmore.org.

February 17, 2023

Message from the County Executive


Dear Friends,

As many of you know, crime and safety concerns have been increasing locally and nationally. Last year I met with business leaders, community members and other elected leaders to discuss concerns in Downtown Silver Spring over crime and safety. Since then, my administration and the Montgomery County Police Department have developed new methods and strategies to help strengthen safety efforts and address concerns.

On Monday I announced a new proposal that would establish business safety plans for late-night businesses in areas of Montgomery County that draw crowds after midnight. This bill would be another tool to help keep the community safe by engaging our businesses that cater to a late-night crowd to be part of the solution. We’ve appreciated the efforts of some business owners who have already implemented a safety plan, and the results have been good. These proposed changes include improving lighting, adding security and requiring handheld metal detectors and security cameras for some businesses. We have also been adding better lighting and security cameras for Silver Spring as well as additional mental health support to assist our police officers when they answer calls for service.

I appreciate the efforts of our community and business leaders working with our police officers, and one key issue that I recognized several years ago was pay for police. Nationwide every department is dealing with attrition and burnout impacting recruiting and retention numbers but for too long Montgomery County was also at a disadvantage due to low starting pay that were not in line with what our competitors were offering. That has changed now, and I believe the raise in pay will help us fill the officer shortages we are experiencing.

President Biden Commends Montgomery County’s Environmental Work

Earlier this week, I joined county leaders from across the country to hear President Joe Biden speak, and I was delighted to hear him highlight Montgomery County and how we’ve created a model to be followed when it comes to our efforts to electrify our public transit buses.

Last fall when we opened the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot, we received national attention. So far, the microgrid electric bus charging infrastructure has allowed us to operate 4 electric Ride On Buses with 10 more to be delivered soon. We will also be purchasing an additional 100 electric buses for Ride On. And we have been working with the school system to support their efforts to electrify their school bus fleet. The schools plan to replace 326 diesel buses with electric buses by 2025 and they will have an entirely electric fleet within the next 10 years.

The President amplified our message that action at the local level can make a difference –counties can figure out the financing and partners and move forward on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He recognizes that local actions can be an important environmental win for the nation.

Electrifying our bus fleet is only one of many actions we are taking to achieve our Climate Action Plan goals of 80% carbon emission reduction by 2027 and 100% by 2035. We have plenty of reasons to be proud of our environmental record in Montgomery County.

Other accomplishments include work done by the Montgomery County Green Bank on a 2.1-megawatt solar project at Seneca Village apartments in Gaithersburg. This project will serve more than 680 units and is located in an equity emphasis area. A 6-megawatt solar panel project at the Oaks Landfill is nearly complete. There is another microgrid project at the Animal Shelter, and MCPS is working to add 8 solar panel projects on its properties. The newly formed Building Performance Improvement Board is working on new recommendations for carbon reduction and there are also efforts underway to plant thousands of trees and improve water quality in our area. Progress on all of our projects can be found here in the County’s progress report for FY2023 Q2.

I want to thank our Climate Change Officer Adriana Hochberg for her work this week at the National Association of Counties Conference. She was on a panel that focused on energy and climate changes measures that could be tied into the President’s Inflation Reduction Act. I’m very proud of how our County has become an example of how to incorporate action on climate change as part of our core values and policies.

Safety Change Following Apartment Explosion

It’s been nearly one year since a human error caused an explosion at the Friendly Garden apartments in Silver Spring. The blast injured 14 people but more than 150 were impacted. Nearly $500,000 in donations was given by our community and others to help the victims.

The explosion was ultimately found to be accidental, caused by a contractor mistakenly cutting a gas pipe instead of a water pipe. Once that was discovered, I instructed my staff to work with our colleagues at WSSC Water to see what could be done to prevent a similar tragedy.

This week WSSC Water leaders adopted new gas code language that mandates the marking of any new gas pipe to prevent incidents like this in the future. I want to thank the WSSC for their collaboration and urgency to adopt this new code.

I am glad this change is being made because while we cannot enact laws to eliminate accidents, I am committed to doing everything we can to prevent dangerous situations that threaten lives and destroy homes.

Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Commission

I am pleased to have partnered with Councilmember Gabe Albornoz to improve the lives of the developmentally disabled and their families. This new bill would establish the Intellectual Developmental Disabilities or IDD Commission in Montgomery County.

This Commission proposal would help identify the unique needs of people with IDD, foster dialogue and improve information sharing with parents and caregivers, and help state and county government understand and meet the needs of this special population.

As the parent of an adult foster child with IDD I know how difficult it can be to find and access services. It is a frustration that many other families share too. Establishing this commission will help meet the needs of this special population and support their caregivers.

Friday is National Caregivers Day and I want to acknowledge all the people who are assisting a family member or friend. Caregiving is hard work, but those of us who assume this role do it with love.

There are many adults living with disorders like Autism that rely on both family and the support they get from groups like the Madison House Autism Foundation and the Jubilee Association of Maryland. In the County we launched the Leap 4 MCG program to help those with disabilities find the right kind of job for them. We are proud of these efforts and the community groups that play such integral roles for so many in our community.

Teenage Girls Survey Reveals Disturbing Information

This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day and were crushed by a new report from the CDC about the state of teenage girls in our nation. It clearly shows that we need to do a lot more to address the violence and abuse that far too many young women, as well as adult women, experience in our communities – here and across the country. We need a zero-tolerance approach to righting this injustice. Here are some of the statistics from the survey:
  • Nearly 1 in 3 high school girls reported in 2021 that they seriously considered suicide.
  • That’s up 60 percent from a similar survey 10 years ago.
  • 3 in 5 teenage girls reported feeling sad so often that it impacted everyday life.
  • There are also twice as many girls feeling that way compared to boys.
  • 15 percent of teen girls said they were forced to have sex. This is the first time the CDC has seen a rise in girls reporting forced sex since they began tracking it.
  • 1 in 10 girls report being raped, which is also the highest level the CDC has ever recorded.
In Maryland, 1 in 10 high school students reported experiencing physical or sexual dating violence.

These findings are disturbing, and the numbers are alarming. Our teenage girls as well as boys and those who do not gender identify are impacted by these stresses and traumas, which can lead to alcohol and drug abuse or self-harm.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This week I joined the County Council along with MCPS, the Family Justice Center, County Commission for Women, the Domestic Violence and Coordinating Council, and the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation for a proclamation ceremony and to talk about these issues. We are also raising awareness about teen dating violence throughout the end of February by lighting Veterans Plaza orange each night.

The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council also sponsors the “Choose Respect Montgomery” Initiative, which teaches teens, parents, and others about healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs, how to help a friend and more.

They also created events like “RespectFEST” and organized the Choose Respect Video Contest to reach thousands of teens and families in Montgomery County. This prevention initiative offers awareness and education programs for teens through videos and public service campaigns. Virtual “RespectFEST” is April 10-14, and the in-person event is April 16 from 1-4 p.m. at the Wheaton Community Recreation Center. The deadline to enter a video for year’s event is March 13. Students can earn 10 SSL hours for entering and following the rules.

Last year, 346 entries were turned in and more than 500 students had a hand in putting those videos together. We know that the most influential communicators to teens are other teens. I hope these peer-to-peer messages help to highlight warning signs and deliver messages so that students recognize they are never alone and there are people who are here to help.

As a government, we must continue to support, expand and routinely communicate about the resources we provide as the government, such as the Family Justice Center and our non-profit partners.

Every family in the County should know the number to our Crisis Center. It is 240-777-4000. The Crisis Center provides free crisis services 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year. They also provide services in person at their location in Rockville with no appointment needed. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available nationwide 24 hours a day.

Our Mobile Crisis Team provides emergency crisis evaluations for individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Crisis assessments and treatment referrals are provided, and we offer temporary crisis beds as an alternative to hospitalization for those who are uninsured or are insured within the public mental health system.

As a parent and grandparent, myself, I understand how tough these subjects are to talk about with kids but even worse is doing nothing. Teenage girls must hear loudly and clearly that they are not alone, and they have our support.

We need to remember that the impact of abuse on a young person, can last a lifetime. We need to do whatever we can to prevent that.

Community Health Update

There are good signs this week when looking over case rates and hospital beds devoted to Covid-19 patients. Both are lower than last week’s metrics and our community level status remains ‘low’.

The only demographic that remains a concern is older residents. They account for most of the 122 people hospitalized and fighting Covid according to this week’s DHHS Pulse Report.

The best way to stay out of the hospital is to be up to date on your vaccines and bivalent booster, but we continue to see fewer people each week getting their shots. We’re down to less than 3,000 booster shots distributed per week across Montgomery County. In October the County averaged 25,000 per week.

Within the next few months our County is likely to lose the Covid-19 overflow hospital opened in response to the pandemic. It allowed us to manage the quick rise in RSV and flu cases a few months ago and keep bed spaces open for the rise in Covid cases this past December. We still saw a strain on our resources. Our hospitals are just not equipped to deal with massive amounts of people who have had to be hospitalized. It’s up to us to help protect ourselves, our families and our communities by spreading the word that boosters and vaccines are effective and remain necessary.

Moving to other health concerns, two fentanyl awareness forums have been set up to close February. The first, exclusively for Spanish speakers, will be Tuesday, February 21. It will be virtual and start at 7 p.m. I encourage everyone to sign up early through our Montgomery County en Espanol Facebook page.

The second community forum is being held by Montgomery County Public Schools and the group Montgomery Goes Purple. It will be a hybrid event on Saturday, February 25. The in-person portion of that meeting will be at Northwood High School starting at 9:30 a.m. You can follow this link to RSVP or learn more information.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

February 15, 2023

Holiday Schedule for Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 20

Holiday Schedule for Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 20

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will have schedule and program changes for Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 20.
  • County offices—Closed.
  • MC 311—Closed.
  • State offices and courts—Closed.
  • State Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations—Closed.
  • Libraries— Closed.
  • Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS)—All stores open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • County-operated COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Clinics—Currently, no County-operated clinics are held on Mondays.
  • Department of Permitting Services—All offices, including customer service lobby, will be closed.
  • Ride On, Ride On extRa, and Ride On Flex—Will operate a holiday schedule.
  • Flash—Orange Line operates a holiday schedule. The Blue Line will not operate.
  • Ride On—All holiday schedules can be found at: Special Holiday Schedules - Division of Transit Services - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov)
  • MARC Train—Operate on "R” schedule” on all three lines. This is a reduced level of service. Only trains with an "R" under the train number in the Camden and Penn Line timetables and Brunswick Line trains will operate. In addition, some trains will make additional stops when operating on the "R" schedule.
  • TRiPS Silver Spring commuter store—Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • TRiPS Mobile Commuter Store—Closed.
  • Metrorail—Will operate on Saturday Holiday schedule, with trains running from 5 a.m.-midnight. See https://www.wmata.com/schedules/timetables/.
  • Metrobus—Will operate on Saturday Supplemental schedule. See https://www.wmata.com/schedules/timetables/.
  • Public Parking Garages, Lots, Curbside Meters—Free.
  • County-provided trash and recycling collections are postponed on Monday. Collections will slide one day later than usual throughout the week, with last pickup on Saturday, Feb. 25.
  • The Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center—Closed.
  • Aquatic Centers—Will operate on normal hours on Monday.
  • Community Recreation Centers—Closed.
  • Senior Centers—Closed.
  • Montgomery Parks—Visit www.MontgomeryParks.org for complete information. Additional schedule changes:
    • Open Parkways Schedule. The Open Parkways will be extended during the Presidents Day holiday weekend. During this time, parkways are open to pedestrians and bicyclists and closed to motor vehicles. This impacts Beach Drive between Connecticut and Knowles Avenue (2.9 miles), from 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21; Sligo Creek Parkway between Old Carroll Avenue and Piney Branch Road and between Forest Glen Road and University Boulevard West from 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb, 21; Little Falls Parkway between Arlington Road and Dorset Avenue (0.4 miles) will be open 24/7 for recreation and exercise on one side of the median.
    • Montgomery Parks Headquarters and Permits Offices—Closed.
    • Montgomery Parks Public Information and Customer Service Office—Closed.
    • Brookside Gardens Visitor Center and Conservatory—Closed. (Gardens remain open.)

‘Shop Maryland Energy Weekend’ Feb. 18-20 Will Provide Sales Tax Savings on Energy Star Appliances

‘Shop Maryland Energy Weekend’ Feb. 18-20 Will Provide Sales Tax Savings on Energy Star Appliances

Marylanders either needing or just contemplating replacing appliances could be motivated to shop from Feb. 18-20 when they can save on paying State sales tax on eligible Energy Star-rated appliances during “Shop Maryland Energy Weekend.”

During Presidents’ Day weekend, appliances bearing the Energy Star label, whether purchased in-store or online, will be exempt from the State’s six percent sales tax. Eligible appliances could include air conditioners, washers, dryers, standard-size refrigerators, furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers and programmable thermostats. Solar water heaters are tax-exempt year-round.

To receive the Energy Star label, a product must meet strict standards for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the Energy Star label and to view eligible products, visit energystar.gov

The tax-free weekend for energy-efficient appliances began in 2011 and its impact has grown since. It is estimated that the State loses $800,000 in direct tax revenue on the purchase of Energy Star product during the three-day tax holiday. However, the State comptroller’s office says that additional sales on other taxable products during the long weekend for many residents generates additional tax dollars.

Montgomery Food Council Unveils 2023 ‘County Food and Beverage Guide’

Montgomery Food Council Unveils 2023 ‘County Food and Beverage Guide’

The Montgomery County Food Council has released its interactive, online 2023 Montgomery County Food and Beverage Guide. The sixth edition of the Guide features 75 businesses in total.

The County businesses listed in the guide include 25 that are women-owned. It includes information on 19 farms, 21 bakeries/confectioneries, 18 prepared/packaged goods producers, nine craft beverage producers, seven non-alcoholic beverage producers, four meat producers and four honey producers.

The guide is interactive and searchable, so users can filter by category and type of business.

The guide also reflects the “MoCo Made” initiative that offers resources and support to local farms and food and beverage producers. It also increases the visibility and awareness of the diverse products made and grown in the County.

The Food Council is an independent nonprofit organization that connects businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and concerned residents to create a robust, sustainable and equitable local food system. In addition to the Food and Beverage Guide, the MoCo Made Program includes efforts to increase networking opportunities for farmers, wholesale and retail buyers and producers; provides educational resources for existing and aspiring food and beverage business owners on how to scale a business; connects small businesses to tools and resources; and provides overall facilitation and connections of small businesses to customers, capital and infrastructure.

For more information on the Food and Beverage Guide, go to Food and Beverage Guide - Montgomery County Food Council (mocofoodcouncil.org).

New Legislation Introduced Aimed at Having Certain Businesses Improve Late-Night Safety

New Legislation Introduced Aimed at Having Certain Businesses Improve Late-Night Safety

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich this week was joined by County Councilmember Kate Stewart, Police Chief Marcus Jones, Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jane Redicker and entrepreneur Jason Miskiri to provide details on proposed “Late-Night Business Safety Plan” legislation. The bill would establish new rules for businesses that operate between midnight and 6 a.m. in areas that generate high calls for service, requiring them to develop a business safety plan and have it approved by police.

The Late-Night Business Safety Plan bill was introduced on Feb. 14 to the Council, which will now consider it.

“Last year, we met with business leaders and community members in Silver Spring to discuss the situation and concerns with late night establishments over crime and safety,” said County Executive Elrich. “Since then, we have added safety cameras and new license plate reading technology in areas where they are needed. We have used crime date to reconfigure our patrol strategies. When passed, this bill will be another tool to help keep the community safe by relying on our businesses that cater to a late-night crowd to be part of the solution.”

Changes already in place to improve safety in Silver Spring include the addition of three high-visibility morning posts for officers in the Downtown Silver Spring area, more bicycle officers on patrol and more officers involved in community engagement and crime prevention areas. Adopt-A-Neighborhood programs and support from Maryland State Police have helped the area see fewer incidents of crime since last summer. Adding the Late-Night Business Safety Plan is the next step in addressing safety concerns.

“Like many of you, I want to make sure that our community continues to be a place where young people, children, families, young adults and older folks feel safe and can enjoy all we have here," said Councilmember Stewart. "To do this, we need all of us working together. “

Police credit early adopters of the Late-Night Business Safety Plan—business owners who voluntarily made suggested changes months ago (like adding handheld metal detector devices)—with showing them that adopting these changes can make a big impact.

“Several night clubs have agreed to hire additional parttime officers on the weekend doubling their security staff,” said Police Chief Jones. “We want to make sure that people understand that it is safe here.”

Penalties for noncompliance would begin with fines. The legislation could allow the eventual shutdown of a business that is not seen as doing enough to keep its customers and employees safe.

Registration Now Open for 10th Annual County Energy Summit That Will Be Held March 28-29 in Silver Spring

Registration is now open for the 10th Annual Montgomery County Energy Summit, which will take place in-person on March 28-29, at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Hosted by the County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Energy Summit brings the private sector, nonprofit groups and local governments together to collaborate on expanding high-performing, sustainable buildings.

The 2023 Energy Summit will focus on preparing the commercial building community for compliance with energy benchmarking, building energy performance standards and emerging building codes. It will explore requirements and opportunities in these areas and provide hands-on learning opportunities, as well as case studies from commercial and multifamily buildings.

“The Energy Summit is an opportunity for Montgomery County and the building community to come together to discuss climate and energy strategies that will get us to our goals,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “If you are a professional or business committed to combating climate change and understanding the future of energy, please register to attend. I am proud of our collaboration with the commercial and multifamily building sector to develop a path forward to increase the minimum levels of building energy efficiency, to boost economic opportunities, and create jobs in Montgomery County.”

The summit’s target audience includes building owners; property managers; developers; energy contractors; residents interested in green building; and sustainability professionals working in Montgomery County and the Washington Metropolitan area.

“We are excited to be hosting our 10th Annual Energy Summit in Montgomery County and continuing to offer cutting-edge education focused on the latest trends in green building, energy efficiency, renewable energy and related commercial and multifamily topics,” said Adriana Hochberg, Montgomery County’s climate change officer and acting director for DEP. “The Energy Summit is an opportunity for Montgomery County and the building community to come together to discuss climate and energy strategies that will help us meet our ambitious goals.”

Registration for the two-day summit is $15 per day and includes keynote speakers, educational sessions, hands-on demonstrations, panel discussions and the opportunity for building owners to receive direct onsite technical support for new requirements.

The first day of the summit on Tuesday, March 28, is designed for building owners, managers and facilities staff. In the morning, attendees will cycle through five stations to learn about energy benchmarking and performance requirements for commercial buildings and available resources. In the afternoon, attendees will have the opportunity to receive hands-on support from subject matter experts. Energy audit demonstrations will take place throughout the day to get attendees thinking about opportunities in their buildings.

The second day of the summit on March 29 will be a more in-depth discussion about County energy regulations and strategies to meet them. The day is geared toward building and energy professionals and consultants. Following the morning plenary, learning sessions will focus on strategies and case studies from commercial and multifamily buildings, with an eye toward improving energy efficiency in buildings.

The Wednesday sessions will culminate with an exciting closing plenary panel featuring local, state, and federal incentives, followed by a networking event and reception from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building.

Both days will feature an Innovation Alley with exhibitors displaying innovative products and services available to the commercial and multifamily building sector. The exhibitors will have products and strategies to aid in building energy efficiency, renewable energy, electrification, building decarbonization, healthy buildings and zero-emission vehicles.

To register and view the full schedule, visit the event’s website at Montgomery County Energy Summit (mcenergysummit.org). Questions can be emailed to energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Montgomery Parks Hosting Special Events and Programs in Honor of Black History Month

A diverse selection of educational and entertaining programs celebrating Black History Month will be hosted by Montgomery Parks throughout February.

“Montgomery Parks not only has an exciting lineup of events for Black History Month, we also have year-round offerings focused on African American history and culture,” said Shirl Spicer, cultural resources museums manager at Montgomery Parks. “We invite visitors to take advantage of these resources throughout the year, not just in February.”

The lineup of events includes:
  • Unshakable: The Rise of Newmantown at the Agricultural History Farm Park. Every Friday and Saturday in February. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Agricultural History Farm Park, 18400 Muncaster Road, Derwood. The exhibit “Unshakable” explores the history of Albert and Mary Newman, freedmen who emigrated in 1862 from Virginia to Montgomery County and became landowning farmers despite unprecedented circumstances. Albert and Mary Newman, and their children, built a thriving African American kinship community known as “Newmantown,” located on the grounds of the Agricultural History Farm Park. The exhibit showcases photographs, documents, family mementos, local history, and rarely seen artifacts excavated from the site. Free.
  • Black History Month Family Day. Saturday, Feb. 18. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park, 16501 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring. Enjoy a self-guided exploration of Montgomery County’s Black history at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. Stop by the visitor’s center to pick up take-home activities (for ages 5-12) and trail maps to explore the Underground Railroad Experience Trail. All ages. Free.
  • When the Stars Align: Celestial Navigation and the Underground Railroad. Saturday, Feb. 25. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Josiah Henson Museum and Park, 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Learn about the crucial role of the night sky in guiding and empowering freedom seekers in their perilous journeys north along the Underground Railroad. Guest speakers: historian Sylvea Hollis, astronomer Lou Strolger and Sophie Hess. Ages 6 and older. (Registration for this program is full but there will be a limited number of seats available on a first-come, first-served basis). Free.
African American history is on display year-round through Montgomery Parks, which is home to several facilities dedicated to the history of African Americans in the County:
  • The Josiah Henson Museum and Park is the first museum in the United States dedicated to Reverend Josiah Henson. Located on the grounds of the former plantation where Henson was enslaved prior to self-emancipating to Canada, the site includes a visitor center, a historic house with an attached log kitchen dating to 1850, and a four-acre landscaped park with accessible walking paths.
    Indoor and outdoor interpretive exhibits throughout the property detail Henson’s inspirational life story, enslavement in Maryland, and the ongoing struggles for racial equality and justice. The park is part of the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.
    Hours: Friday-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 pm, Sundays Noon-4 p.m. Admission: $5 (adults); $4 (ages 6-17); $4 (seniors); Free (5 and under).
  • Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park is a living history museum that promotes awareness of and education about the Reconstruction Era and the free Black rural communities that appeared after the Civil War. In addition to the cabin, which is located on a former farm and plantation, the site includes the .7-mile natural surface Oakley Cabin Trail. Hours: The second and fourth Saturdays, April through October. Noon-4 p.m.
  • Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park is a glimpse into Montgomery County’s agricultural past. The park, which is located on historic grounds, features the Underground Railroad Experience Trail, the Woodlawn Museum housed in the 1832 stone barn and the Federal-era Woodlawn Manor House, which dates to the early 1800s. The park is part of the Rachel Carson Greenway and the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.
    Hours: Woodlawn Museum and Visitor Center, April through November. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays Noon-4 p.m. Admission: $5 (adults); $4 (ages 6-17); $4 (seniors); free (5 and under).

    Note: Woodlawn Manor House is closed for renovations and will be reopening for guided tours and business meeting rentals later in 2023. Trail and park grounds are open sunrise to sunset.