September 29, 2023

Message from the County Executive


Dear Friends,

Montgomery County is home to tens of thousands of Federal government workers and so the threat of a Federal shutdown feels very close for many residents. For some of our Federal employee families, losing just one paycheck may create a family crisis.

I invited Congressman Jamie Raskin to join me for my weekly media briefing to talk about the situation. He gave some background and an update on the current situation. He explained that all active Federal employees will be paid eventually, even if there is a shutdown. However, that is not true for the many contractors whose livelihoods are intimately connected to the Federal government. As I said at the press briefing, I so appreciate Congressman Raskin’s effort in this moment and generally. He and his staff continue to be great partners in matters large and small.

The worst government shutdown came soon after I first became County Executive in late 2018/early 2019 when 38 percent of the Federal workforce was out of work for more than a month. I remember the stress it put on our residents, businesses and even our own government operation. If a shutdown happens, it is important to note that veterans benefits, healthcare plans and Social Security payments will generally continue uninterrupted, but some additional services from the Veterans Administration and elsewhere may not be available. Other services like customs and air traffic control will continue, but those employees will be working without pay (although they eventually will be reimbursed). Federal employees can get more information from the Office of Personnel Management.

Let’s be clear: a small group of Republicans is responsible for this impasse. Congressman Raskin believes it could be tied to efforts by former President Trump to create chaos and stop Federal investigations against him. The former President remains all too happy to place himself at the center above everyone else.

A shutdown could jeopardize important safety-net programs. As the Agriculture Secretary told the New York Times this week, “If we have a shutdown, WIC shuts down.” WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and provides healthy food for pregnant and new mothers and children under age 5. In 2021, an average of more than 16,000 children and nearly 13,000 women in Montgomery County participated in WIC. Based on census data estimates, there are more than 65,000 children under age 6 who could be enrolled in WIC. Congressman Raskin and others noted that the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food for low-income families, could quickly run out of funds and also become unavailable. We have multiple food assistance programs and we will do what we can to help out, but we will not be able to replace the Federal resources.  

In previous shutdowns, Federal research labs have had to shutter important work, which could impact some of the companies that have made Montgomery County one of the top life sciences hubs in the nation. Congressman Raskin told us that NIH will suspend new clinical trials during a shutdown. These trials lead to important medical advancements and draw people to our area from all over the country looking for hope in their health struggles.

The fight over this shutdown stems from Republican efforts to destroy important Federal programs that make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. They are insisting on budget provisions that are indefensible.

One Republican proposal is to cut Title 1 funding by 82 percent. What does that mean for Montgomery County? Our school system currently receives about $51 million in Title I, which goes to 35 of our schools serving our most-impacted students and communities. This funds about 300 teachers and staff in Title I schools, including full-day Head Start programs. Given the children who benefit from this funding, their attack on this is nothing less than a racist cynical maneuver to continue the inequality that is the legacy of slavery.

Slashing Federal funding would cut MCPS’s allocation by $42 million to just $9 million and would reduce the critical supports our Title I schools receive. This money funds Title I summer programing, academic interventions, social emotional supports and other direct services to students.

This is absurd, mean-spirited and bad for the nation.

We hope that saner minds will prevail and convince enough Republicans to do what is right for our country and avoid unnecessary damage to our communities, families and quality of life.

To keep up to date with federal shutdown contingency plan developed by each department, visit this website for details on contingency plans for each department of the government.

Safe Streets Bill Signing 

I signed the “Safe Streets Act of 2023” this week. It will add new measures to help protect people on our roads and sidewalks.

So far in 2023, 11 people have been killed on roads across Montgomery County compared to 19 last year. While it is positive that there are fewer as compared to last year, those are still too many. More than 400 pedestrians and cyclists have suffered serious injuries this year.

The bill codifies some current practices, including safety reviews and adjusting walk signs so pedestrians are given a head start on walking before drivers are allowed to go. It also bans right turns at red lights at certain intersections. The law will also require my office to develop a plan to enhance speed camera enforcement, but that will require State legislation.

In addition to signing this bill into law, I also sent over a supplemental budget item to fund the anticipated $1.6 million first-year costs tied to the Safe Streets Act.

It is shocking to see how some people drive today, from blowing through stop signs to speeding around other drivers following the speed limit. The sad thing is, if people would just follow the law and keep safety as the top priority, our government would not have to spend so much of our limited resources on traffic enforcement.

We are expending significant resources to implementing Vision Zero, our pedestrian safety plan. In the end, though, it will take commitment from everyone who uses the road to make them safer for everyone.

The most important thing you can do to help our efforts is to follow the rules of the road, stay away from distracted driving/walking and help us keep you and everyone in your community safe.

For more information on our Safe Streets and Vision Zero efforts, visit

Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Phaseout

The County Council this week passed Bill 18-22, Noise Control – Leaf Removal Equipment, which will phase out the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums. Gas-powered leaf blowers will not be permitted to be sold in the County beginning in July 2024, and their use will not be permitted beginning in July of 2025.

I proposed this bill more than a year ago and I appreciate the Council’s near unanimous support (the bill was approved by a 10-1 vote).

This law is important because we need to acknowledge and address the negative impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers. The transitioning away from gas-powered leaf blowers is beneficial for our communities and helps protect workers. The new regulations will limit noise from leaf blowers and vacuums to 70 decibels at a distance of 50 feet.

I want to thank the many residents who advocated tirelessly for this legislation. We had more than 7,000 residents petition us for this legislation.

The law also authorizes a rebate program to partially offset the cost of replacing gas-powered leaf blowers or leaf vacuums with electric alternatives. Agricultural producers will be exempt from the law and not required to replace their equipment. Our Department of Environmental Protection is developing the rebate program. As part of that process, DEP will engage with local businesses, industry and community members. The rebate program will be presented to the Council for its review and approval by next March. We will keep you updated on the progress of implementing this legislation.

Drug Affordability Update 

The rising cost of prescription drugs continues to be a burden on many families here in Montgomery County, across Maryland and the nation. In fact, just in the last two years with record inflation, prices for more than 1,200 drugs increased above inflation. Unless we do something, those prices will continue to skyrocket. This is why I have been working with advocates to put measures in place to bring down the cost of these essential medicines.

On Tuesday, I joined Maryland State Senator Ben Kramer and Delegates Bonnie Cullison, Charlotte Crutchfield and Vaughn Stewart at Leisure World for an update on the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. I supported the creation of this board. Maryland is ahead of the curve nationally on implementing this new model of regulation.

Despite our success of creating a board, we still have work to do to give it more power and the ability to better regulate the prescription drug market in our State. As other states see how our efforts are working, they can be inspired to create their own boards and join the fight.

The week’s meeting at Leisure World was organized by the Maryland Health Care for All coalition. This discussion reminded me of the impact drug price increases and healthcare company disputes have on families.

One woman who was diagnosed with diabetes said that her insurance company no longer covered a glucose monitoring technology that is now costing her $80 per month. Many of our residents who need these drugs the most also are most likely to be on fixed incomes, such as our older adult population. We know one-in-three Marylanders report not taking their medication as prescribed because they are too expensive.

Pricey drugs are also driving up insurance premiums overall. And that affects operating costs for both businesses in the private sector and for the public sector.

Negotiated prices by Medicare on drugs will not take effect for another three years, but we can apply pressure now to help those struggling with expensive medications. We need to continue to push more aggressive legislation from the State General Assembly and at the Federal level.

These drug companies are getting away with focusing more on the bottom-line of their shareholders as compared to focusing on healing and improving peoples’ health. Exploiting those who are sick and in need of their medicines ought to be criminal behavior.  

In Maryland, our goal is to expand the authority of this board to cover everybody, not just State and local government employees. This coalition is going to make this a priority during the upcoming session, and I will join them. Besides helping those in need, we also must regulate big pharmaceutical companies limiting excessive profits. Drug companies will not be driven out of business, and no one is talking about preventing corporations from profiting, but greed helped fuel our nation’s opioid crisis. Greed is not good for anyone’s health.

We have been fighting this battle too long. It is moving too slowly, and it is time to stop accepting the status quo. For low-income people, people on limited and fixed incomes, like Social Security, their ability to purchase drugs never rises with inflation, much less the inflated drug prices some companies expect everyone to pay.

If you would like to help join the fight to end inequalities in prescription medicine, go to the Maryland Health Care for All website and take action by supporting the Prescription Drug Affordability Resolution.

Community Health Update 

New COVID-19 vaccines have started to arrive in our area, including our first shipment to the County’s Department of Health and Human Services. Shots are recommended for all adults and children older than 6 months, even for those who have never received a COVID-19 vaccine before.

Unlike the first several rounds of vacinations, local governments will be getting limited supplies of vaccine that will be earmarked for those who are uninsured. Find out what local pharmacies and retailers are offering vaccinations at or by calling 1-800-232-0233. Getting an appointment will take some patience. You should also check with your regular pharmacy or health care provider as many are receiving vaccines as well, in case they are not listed on the government website.

Vaccines should be covered by your health insurance, but be sure to check on the specifics of your coverage.  Some plans, such as Kaiser Permanente, require policy holders to get vaccinated at a Kaiser facility. I also want to encourage everyone to take advantage of the returning government program to receive free COVID-19 test kits through the mail. Order those by visiting  

We will continue to provide test kits at libraries, but we recommend you check with your library first because we are seeing a lot of demand for the kits. There are times when a specific branch runs out of test kits. We will continue to request more test kits through the Maryland Department of Health. An order was just made this week.

As far as this week’s cases count, transmission levels and hospitalizations are not much different than last week. We continue to be in the “low” community transmission category. However, as we have clearly seen over the last several years, when we transition to more indoor activities because of cooler weather cases, tend to go up.

Please get this new booster and an annual flu shot as well. If you are 60 and older or have a compromised immune system, getting the RSV vaccine is also recommended.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

September 27, 2023

‘Walk and Roll to School Day’ on Wednesday, Oct. 4, Will Include Special Event at Brooke Grove Elementary School in Olney

‘Walk and Roll to School Day’ on Wednesday, Oct. 4, Will Include Special Event at Brooke Grove Elementary School in Olney

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School program, which encourages students who have a safe path and live near their elementary school to walk to school, will join in the national recognition of “Walk and Roll to School Day” on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Most County elementary schools will participate, with a special event starting at 8:15 a.m. that day at Brooke Grove Elementary School in Olney.

Brooke Grove Elementary School is located at 2700 Spartan Road in Olney.

The event in Olney will begin with a short group walk with students from two different locations at 8:15 a.m.:
  • Prince Philip Drive and Spartan Drive
  • Old Baltimore Road and Fort William Drive
The walking groups, led by MCDOT’s Zeal the Safety Zebra and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue’s Sparky the Fire and Rescue Dog, will meet at the front of Brooke Grove Elementary School. The event will commence with fanfare including music, balloons, giveaways, police officers, firefighters and firetrucks. Students will be singing and carrying signs.

Expected to participate are Montgomery County Councilmemberss Gabe Albornoz and Dawn Luedtke, County Vision Zero Coordinator Wade Holland, firefighters from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, officers from the Montgomery County Police and officers from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Park Police.

Walk and Roll to School Day is an international event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, it has become part of a movement for year-round, safe routes to school and a celebration each October. This year, thousands of schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will participate.

Youth Basketball Registration Begins Monday, Oct. 2

Registration for Montgomery County Recreation’s youth basketball programs will open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 2.

Online registration will be available at Registration also will be available in person and by mail. If you have additional questions about registration, call Montgomery Recreation’s customer service team at 240-777-6840 or visit any Montgomery County Recreation facility.

Montgomery Recreation is looking for adult volunteers to coach youth basketball. Volunteers with knowledge of basketball rules who demonstrate good character, patience and have a desire to help children learn are preferred. If interested, email

Montgomery County Recreation is still accepting applications for 2023 Rec Assist, which provides eligible County residents with an opportunity to receive a scholarship to use toward most programs including winter basketball.

Learn more about Montgomery Recreation’s basketball programs at the website.

‘Culinary Traditions of the Diáspora Latinoamericana’ Will Be Hosted Online by Restaurant Owner Omar Lazo on Monday, Oct. 2

‘Culinary Traditions of the Diáspora Latinoamericana’ Will Be Hosted Online by Restaurant Owner Omar Lazo on Monday, Oct. 2

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month will take a delicious turn from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2, when Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., presents the free online adventure Culinary Traditions of the Diáspora Latinoamericana. It will be hosted by Omar Lazo, owner of Los Chorros Restaurant in Wheaton. Community members representing the diversity of the Latin American Diaspora will join the program to share their own food memories and culinary traditions from across the Americas.

Mr. Lazo, a child of Salvadoran immigrants, is a graduate of the University of Maryland. With a diverse career, he's worked at the Department of Justice, in real estate and with family-owned restaurants. He is an active community member, serving as vice president of the Wheaton- Kensington Chamber of Commerce, trustee at Montgomery College and chair of workforce development for Montgomery County. He is dedicated to educational equity and small business advocacy. He is a founding member of the Montgomery County Latino Restaurant Association.

Los Chorros Restaurant was founded in 1989. It was the first Salvadoran restaurant in Montgomery County. Los Chorros has been a major part of the Wheaton Community for 35 years.

Registration is required to view the Zoom presentation. To register, go to Meeting Registration - Zoom.

Commission for Women Sponsoring Free Programs on ‘Financial Wellness’ and ‘Separation and Divorce: What Do I Need to Know?’

The Montgomery County Commission for Women is sponsoring two free programs that can help residents get themselves better organized. A series of “Financial Health and Wellness Seminars” will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Seminars on “Separation and Divorce: What Do I Need to Know?” will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

The virtual financial seminars will cover many aspects of becoming more financially organized.

The Commission for Women is joining with Montgomery County Public Libraries to offer the seminars, which will be led by Jamie Lapin, a private wealth advisor and president of RMG Advisors, LLC, and Thiago Glieger, a private wealth advisor and Federal retirement specialist.

The seminars will take place via Zoom from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. To register for any seminar, go to Fall 2023 Financial Health and Wellness Seminars Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite. The link to the Zoom meeting will be provided after registering.

The schedule for the financial seminars:
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10: Financial Planning 101. Learn the basics of financial planning and terms and tools to equip yourself with the knowledge needed to succeed financially.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17: Retirement Planning. Running out of money before running out of time is most people’s biggest concern. The seminar will address how to maximize your understanding of resources and autonomy.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: Social Security and Medicare. Learn how to utilize and maximize the government programs you have invested in for your working lifetime.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 7: Divorce and Money. Divorce is a strain on finances and on nerves. This seminar will address the financial realities that could come with divorce.
The online series on “Separation and Divorce: What Do I Need to Know?” will cover the "ins and outs" of separation and divorce in Maryland.

The seminars will be held on from 7-8:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month through June, with the first seminar on Oct. 4. To register for any seminar, go to Separation and Divorce: What Do I Need To Know? Tickets, Wed, Oct 4, 2023 at 7:00 PM | Eventbrite. Zoom information will be provided after registering.

Local family law attorneys will lead the seminars on going through a separation and divorce in Maryland. The seminar topics will include Methods of Dispute Resolution, When and Where to File, Types of Divorce and Grounds, Financial Statements, Alimony, Property and Equitable Distribution, Role of the Attorney and Domestic Violence/Orders of Protection.

The schedule of seminars in the Separation and Divorce series:
  • Wednesday, Oct. 4
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1
  • Wednesday, Dec. 6
  • Wednesday, Jan. 3
  • Wednesday, Feb. 7
  • Wednesday, March 6
  • Wednesday, April 3
  • Wednesday, May 1
  • Wednesday, June 5

‘Old Time Music in Montgomery County: Will Adams and Beyond’ Will Be Presented Online by Montgomery History Starting Monday, Oct. 2

‘Old Time Music in Montgomery County: Will Adams and Beyond’ Will Be Presented Online by Montgomery History Starting Monday, Oct. 2

In joining the celebration of International Music Day on Oct. 1, Montgomery History will be making available its free online presentation “Old Time Music in Montgomery County: Will Adams and Beyond.” Jake Blount will lead the presentation, which will be available for a one-week period starting Monday, Oct. 2.

The presentation, which originated at the 2021 Montgomery County History Conference. goes in-depth in describing the fiddle and banjo traditions of the Montgomery County area throughout history. It includes special focus on the music of Will Adams, a Black fiddler from Kensington.

Topics in “Old Time Music in Montgomery County” include the early folk music of the Chesapeake Bay region and the modern bluegrass and old-time scenes that developed in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the stretch in between.

Jake Blount, who is originally from Washington, D.C., is musician and writer. He specializes in the traditional music of African Americans. He is recognized for his skill as an old-time banjo player and fiddler.

To view the presentation, go to Events from October 9 - September 12 (

‘Know the Signs’ Campaign is Theme of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

‘Know the Signs’ Campaign is Theme of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

The Montgomery County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC) is urging residents to “Know the Signs” of domestic violence. That is the theme as October will be recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Montgomery County Council will present a proclamation on Tuesday, Oct. 3, recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Throughout October, visitors to the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza will notice a display of several dozen yard signs containing warning signs for those experiencing domestic violence and information about available resources.

People in need of assistance or having concerns for a friend or family member should call the Montgomery County Family Justice Center at 240-773-0444, the Montgomery County Crisis Center at 240-777-4000 or email

More information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month and how to know the signs of domestic violence is available at

The project is an initiative of the DVCC, whose members include the Montgomery County Office of the Sheriff, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the Board of Education of Montgomery County Public Schools, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Montgomery County Council, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Montgomery County Commission for Women and the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.

New Podcast ‘Something to Talk About’ Focuses on County Business Successes, Community Leaders and Economic Growth

New Business Podcast ‘Something to Talk About’ Focuses on County Business Successes, Community Leaders and Economic Growth

Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) has launched its new podcast, Something to Talk About. Hosted by award-winning journalist Bob Levey and business leader Kelly Leonard, the podcast will feature top Montgomery County business leaders sharing their successes, advice for other businesses, County resources and reasons why thousands of businesses call Montgomery County home.

Each guest will bring an interesting business perspective and offer ‘something to talk about’ for the community. The podcast is produced in collaboration with Montgomery Community Media (MCM), an MCEDC partner that provides strong community resources for content contributors, among its many offerings.

The podcast is available directly on the MCEDC website at MCEDC — Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation ( It also will be available through PodBean and the Google and Apple podcast sites, among other media outlets.

In the first episode, MCEDC President and CEO Bill Tompkins sits down with the co-hosts to talk about the assets of the County, MCEDC’s support for growing businesses and his own personal story.

“I’m excited for our team to launch this podcast to help reinforce to the public that Montgomery County is a great place to do business,” President Tompkins said. “Our podcast will bring special guests to the platform and help businesses gain insights to grow in our County.”

A future Something to Talk About podcast will feature Jasmine White, MCM’s CEO, sharing the many ways MCM can be a powerful tool to help businesses and individuals produce their own podcasts and provide other content distribution resources. Another upcoming interview will be with Scott Copeland, president, CEO and owner of online news source MoCo 360, formerly known as Bethesda Beat and Bethesda Magazine. He talks about the importance of local journalism for and about the community, and why his family was inspired to start a school for multi-sensory education.

Suggestions for a topic for a future podcast guest or general questions/comments can be sent to

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) is the official public-private economic development organization representing Montgomery County. Created in 2016, MCEDC is led by a board of directors of business executives. Its mission is to help businesses start, grow and relocate in Montgomery County by helping them gain access to top talent, business and market intelligence and prime locations.

Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival on Sunday, Oct. 15, Will Feature Arts, Entertainment, Food and the Area’s Most Unique Line of March

Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival on Sunday, Oct. 15, Will Feature Arts, Entertainment, Food and the Area’s Most Unique Line of March

The Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival, a showcase of creative marching art preceding a day of food, fun and entertainment, will return to Downtown Wheaton on Sunday, Oct. 15. The parade annually features exhibits that can be pushed, pulled, carried, worn or performed—but none that is powered by motors of any kind.

The parade, which starts at 10 a.m., traditionally has bands, dance groups, artists and large floats that march around the Wheaton Triangle Business District and finish at the Marian Fryer Town Plaza at 2424 Reedie Dr. in Wheaton. Entries in the parade can be organized by groups of all kinds, and in some cases, by individuals.

The festival area will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It will have more than 40 booths of exhibits, including those of artists displaying and selling their original work, community organizations and Montgomery County agencies. Activities will include art making and giveaways. Free art fun in the Kids' Zone will have face painting and balloon art. Click here to see the exhibitors.

Starting at noon, the festival will have three stages of entertainment including Strathmore artists, dance companies and bands. Oct. 15 will be last day of the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, so festival will include considerable Latin music and dance. It also will feature outstanding Irish music, hip hop and good old rock and roll. Click here to see the performers.

For more information about the Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival, go to Parade & Festival | Wheaton Arts Parade.

Input Sought on Renovation of Jesup Blair Park, the Largest Park in Downtown Silver Spring

Input Sought on Renovation of Jesup Blair Park, the Largest Park in Downtown Silver Spring

Montgomery Parks is conducting an online survey, seeking community input on the renovation of Jesup Blair Park. At 15 acres, Jesup Blair Park is the largest park in Downtown Silver Spring.

Jesup Blair Park is located near the Washington, D.C. line and bordered by Georgia Avenue, CSX/transit railroad tracks, Blair Road and Jessup Blair Drive.

The Jesup Blair Park Survey can be accessed through Oct. 31. It can be found at
Jesup Blair Survey.

The park currently has a playground, soccer field, lighted tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and the historic Jesup Blair House. Planners are hoping to increase use of the space by developing a “park for all” that appeals to a diverse group of park users with varying interests, abilities and ages.

“We hope as many people as possible take the survey and let us know what they would like to see in this park” said Project Manager and Landscape Architect Matt Weir. “It is a vital open green space for Downtown Silver Spring and adjacent communities. Spending time walking, playing, socializing or simply enjoying the tree shade can be good for physical and mental wellbeing.”

In addition to the online survey, Parks staff will gather input at upcoming in-person events and community meetings. Details on those meetings and the project timeline will be posted on the Jesup Blair project page on Montgomery Parks website.

The park plan also will be guided by the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan (SSDAC). That sector plan was approved by the Montgomery County Council and the Montgomery Planning Board in 2022. Its goal, in part, is to ensure that development in downtown Silver Spring allows for open spaces to support a healthy community.

The vacant Jesup Blair House sits in the center of the park. The house and the entire park are included in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation. A separate project is underway to find a tenant and renovate the historic house.

September 22, 2023

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

I visited Montgomery County’s newest Family Involvement Center last week to read to kids and their families during story time, video of which you can see here. I got to see firsthand the powerful impact these centers have on our young ones and their families.

The Family Involvement Center is a place for our youngest children to learn through play and interactions with parents and kids working together. These centers foster an environment where parents and caregivers are given the tools to set strong foundations for their children's social and emotional development.

We now have centers in Rockville, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring serving 250 families. We plan to add two more soon.

I am proud of our County’s collaboration to uplift all children and remove barriers some kids and families have to early education. We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference for their entire school experience and beyond. There have been many studies that demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of this program including those outlined by Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

Every child deserves the best start in life, and with the combined efforts of County Government, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College, we are working diligently to make that a reality for all.

I encourage you to visit our childcare support services website by going to In our reports section, you can see what we hope to accomplish over the next four years by focusing on equity, multilingual learning, helping children with special needs and creating sustainable projects that prepare all children for school successfully.

Inspector General Will Review Sexual Harassment Allegations and Process Issues at MCPS

The County Board of Education last week released a summary of a report by outside law firm Jackson Lewis that detailed issues regarding the June 2023 promotion of middle school principal Dr. Joel Beidleman and sexual harassment complaints against him. The report also raised concerns about processes involved with sexual harassment allegations generally. I was pleased this week when the County’s Inspector General announced two investigations to further explore these issues. You can read my statement from last week here. You can listen to my comments on this week’s media briefing here. I am deeply troubled that this is likely not the only time that sexual allegations have not been addressed, and it appears that several people involved in this particular incident were aware of allegations and did not feel an obligation to follow up. I hope these investigations will produce a more trustworthy process and accountability for people.

Celebrating BioHealth Industry Growth: We Moved Up to No. 3 in the Country

North Bethesda was host this week to the Ninth Annual BioHealth Capital Region Conference bringing together regional industry leaders. It allowed us the opportunity to celebrate moving up in the national rankings of life sciences hubs. This summer’s new ranking of life sciences research talent done by the real estate company CBRE shows our region is now third largest in the United States, up from No. 4 last year.

We have an innovative industry cluster whose companies continue to receive venture and NIH funding. Additionally, companies pointed out that our lab space and housing costs are lower than the other top life sciences regions in the country ranked ahead of us.

Montgomery County has fully embraced the opportunity to grow with the industry. We have seen commercial development add millions of square feet of lab space over the last few years. Our Montgomery County programs supporting business growth in this sector include our wet labs incubator, biotech investor tax credits and Small Business Innovative Research matching programs.

We also have robust training programs through Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove that are putting graduates to work. Within our government, permitting and business center leaders are making it easier for companies to obtain permits allowing companies to get to work quickly.

Montgomery County will continue to be a growth area for life sciences because of our efforts to add a research facility in North Bethesda. The University of Maryland Board of Regents approved funding for the first office for the UM - Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda. This space will be used by the Institute until a permanent office is completed at the North Bethesda Metro Station.

Health computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technology are revolutionizing life sciences and this institute will bring top AI and computing talent that will focus on innovative breakthroughs and solving the medical industry's toughest challenges. This will be the County’s first graduate level academic facility—something that is long overdue. Its presence along a Metrorail line and in the heart of our region’s life sciences cluster will draw more companies and create more jobs in our County and State.

As Dr. Mohan Suntha, the president of the University of Maryland’s Medical system said, the IHC could make Montgomery County “the Silicon Valley of health computing.” Maryland Matters stated this point in “Partnership seeks to make Montgomery County ‘the Silicon Valley of health computing”

You Too Can Drive Electric

National Drive Electric Week begins today and runs through Oct. 1. Montgomery County has seen a sizable increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road. Over the last year, 15 percent of all newly registered cars in the County were electric.

We have increased EV registration from 11,000 vehicles in January of 2021 to more than 25,000 vehicles as of August. That is a 150 percent increase in just more than 32 months. This is great progress.

I lease and drive an EV. I can testify that no longer do you have to give up comfort or power to choose electric. There are fewer limitations with electric vehicles than we have seen in the past. I can take a road trip to New Yok on a full charge with the EV I drive today, but that was not always possible.

Our County is embracing the switch to electric. There are more than 600 publicly available EV charging plugs at 233 different locations in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) now manages 64 charging ports at parking garages in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton. MCDOT has been partnering with Pepco to increase this number.

Federal resources should help us greatly expand community charging once grant money is approved. I want to thank the Montgomery County Congressional delegation and the Maryland Department of Transportation for supporting our Federal grant application.

We hope to receive this grant this fall, which will allow us to add chargers to dozens of additional locations, including parking garages, MCPS schools, parks and other public facilities.

Montgomery County also is making it easier to purchase EVs. Last year, we launched the EV Purchasing Co-op – an effort to engage and educate residents that are interested in making the switch to electric vehicles. More than 1,100 residents have already joined this co-op and have pledged to go electric.

As a result, local dealerships are lining up to offer incentives on the County’s EV Purchasing Co-op Dealership Incentive website. This is a great resource to check if you are in the market for a new car. This month, seven dealerships have advertised offers. Some of these deals let you take advantage of Federal tax credits at the time of sale, instead of waiting to receive a rebate on your taxes. With up to $7,500 available from the Federal government and $3,000 from the State of Maryland, there has never been a better time to go electric.

Poolesville Day Will Bring Out EV Enthusiasts

There is a great opportunity to learn more about electric vehicles this weekend from those who been through the purchase process. Poolesville Green volunteers will be available to show you a wide variety of EV models and talk through the purchasing and tax rebate process at the annual Drive Electric Poolesville Day event. Close to 150 people are signed up to show off their vehicles and be available for questions. The event is scheduled rain or shine. You can learn more about the event by following this link.

I appreciate the work of Poolesville Green in helping our community better understand electric car ownership.

I am excited to see more zero emissions vehicles on the road in the next few years. To learn more about the Co-op and other ways to make environmentally friendly changes in your life, visit

We Are Reimagining Ride On to Improve the Ride

Switching to EVs alone is not going to be enough to meet our ambitious climate goals. It requires many strategies including improving public transit to make it more reliable, efficient and accessible, which is what we are doing with “Ride On Reimagined.” The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will be hosting a virtual open house at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, on Zoom to present a first look at the Ride On Reimagined study findings and get feedback on proposed concept changes to the County transit network.

We have worked closely with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) through the Better Bus initiative to create a comprehensive plan that integrates a regional network of transportation systems. These would help users reach shopping centers and areas where many people work. Improved public transit helps address inequality by increasing transportation access, and in turn opportunities, to historically marginalized populations.

The community will have several chances to learn more and offer feedback through pop up events in October. The events are scheduled for:
  • Monday, Oct. 2, 7-10 a.m., at Germantown Transit Center
  • Thursday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Rockville Metro Station
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7-10 a.m., at Bethesda Metro Station
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Shady Grove Metro Station
  • Tuesday, Oct.17, 7-10 a.m., at Silver Spring Transit Center
  • Thursday, Oct. 19, 3-6 p.m., at Wheaton Metro Station
  • Monday, Oct. 23, 3-6 p.m., at Lakeforest Transit Center
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7-10 a.m., at White Oak Transit Center
Comments can also be submitted via email to

More information on the Ride On Reimagined study and details on how to register for the virtual open house can be found on this website.

Community Health Update

There is some good news about COVID-19 in our community this week. For the first time in more than six weeks, our case rate has stopped going up. The percentage of positive cases compared to overall tests is also down across Maryland. These are encouraging signs that the wave of cases we saw begin late this summer may have peaked.

Over the past week, the new COVID vaccines started to arrive in our community. They are recommended for anyone 6 years old and older regardless of if that person has had a previous Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before.

The distribution of these vaccines will mostly be provided via pharmacies and private medical providers, the County will not be the primary provider. You should contact your medical insurance company because they will help patients identify how to avoid out of pocket costs.

For those without medical insurance, there will be options like the Bridge Access Program that only covers adults. Two Montgomery County clinics have also been given $200,000 in Federal money to help. The Community Clinic, Inc. and Mobile Medical Care will have extra resources to reach more people with the vaccine than they normally would.

The State is sending us more rapid test kits and facemasks. We will make them available at libraries that have run out of them. Starting Monday, Sept. 25, you can request COVID test kits from the Federal government at

Weekend Activities

Wheaton is planning to host the Ninth Annual Friendship Picnic on Sunday, Sept. 24. The free event is held at Wheaton Regional Park from noon-5 p.m. A free satellite parking shuttle service to and from the Wheaton Ice Rink and athletic fields will be available. The Friendship Picnic was created by the Montgomery County Committee Against Hate & Violence 10 years ago to celebrate our region’s diversity. It is now run through our Office of Human Rights to foster discussion among our many community groups.

Food will be provided with Kosher, Halal and vegetarian lunch options available. There will be a wide range of activities for children and adults including music, dancing, moon bounce, face painting, a petting zoo, the carousel and rides on the park’s miniature train.

The event is free, but registering ahead of time is encouraged. You can do that by following this link. Please check the County’s website to determine whether it is canceled because of weather.

We are also approaching the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is a solemn time of reflection, fasting and prayer. It begins at sundown on Sunday. I want to wish a meaningful day to all who observe.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

September 20, 2023

Electric Vehicle Show, 5K Charity Run and Parade Will Highlight Annual Poolesville Day Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23

One of the region’s largest electric vehicle displays, a classic car show, a 5-kilometer charity run and a morning parade will be among the many highlights of the annual Poolesville Day festival on Saturday, Sept. 23. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will be among those joining the celebration.

Poolesville Day has been a tradition for more than 25 years. It is produced by the Poolesville Day Committee, Inc., which is comprised of local volunteer residents. The event annually attracts more than 12,000 attendees to the small Montgomery town. 

The day will begin with the 5K charity run at 8 a.m. The event runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with the parade beginning at 11 a.m. Kenny Mallow, at Poolesville resident who passed away at age 59 in July, will be honored at the parade. Although there are predictions of inclement weather on Saturday, event organizers stated that Poolesville Day will be held rain or shine.

The event will spread down Fisher Avenue in Downtown Poolesville.

In 2022, Poolesville Green’s National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) Poolesville Day Electric Vehicle Show had more than 200 vehicles registered, making it the largest NDEW event worldwide (based on registered vehicles).

In addition to the electric vehicle show and the classic car show, the festivities will include local musical performances and live demonstrations celebrating the County’s Agricultural Reserve.

The event will have arts and craft vendors and other exhibitors, food and beverages from award-winning vendors and children's entertainment. Children’s activities will include rides, a moon bounce, a train ride and pony rides.

For more information about Poolesville Day, go to

32nd Annual Burtonsville Day Celebration Canceled

The 32nd Annual Burtonsville Day Parade and Festival, which was scheduled to held on Saturday, Sept. 23, has been canceled due to predictions of severe weather in the Washington area.

‘Parks Ale Trail’ at Lake Needwood Scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 24, Has Been Canceled

The “Parks Ale Trail” free, family-friendly festival scheduled for Lake Needwood on Sunday, Sept. 24, has been canceled due to predictions of weekend inclement weather in the Washington area.


Eclectic Harvest Moon Festival on Sunday, Sept. 24, in Silver Spring Will Feature Free Art, Exhibitors and Entertainment Including a Bollywood Wedding Dance Party

The 10th Annual Harvest Moon Festival, a free eclectic multicultural event featuring art, entertainment and exhibitors, will energize Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring from 1-7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24. The day’s highlights will include a Bollywood Wedding Dance Party with the South Asian Performing Arts Network and Institute.

Veterans Plaza is located at 1 Veterans Place, adjacent to the Silver Spring Civic Building. The event is presented by Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.

The entertainment schedule for the festival will include:
  • 1 p.m. Mark H. Taiko Connection
  • 2 p.m. Afro-Latin Dance Extravaganza with DJ Bachata Larry, dance instructor LeRoi and Wakanda Dance
  • 4 p.m. Maryland Youth Pipe Band
  • 4:30 p.m. Bollywood Wedding Dance Party with SAPAN (South Asian Performing Arts Network and Institute)
The festival also will have hands-on arts activities for all ages and abilities.

10th Annual Free ‘Friendship Picnic’ to Celebrate Diverse Cultures and Faiths Will Be Held on Sunday, Sept. 24, in Wheaton

The 10th annual Montgomery County “Friendship Picnic” will again bring people of diverse cultures and faiths together to make new friends and discuss ways to build a stronger community. The free event will be held from noon-5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, at Wheaton Regional Park.

Wheaton Regional Park is located at 2000 Shorefield Rd. in Wheaton. A free satellite parking shuttle Ride On service to and from the Wheaton Ice Rink and athletic fields will be available.

All are welcome to the celebration, which will include traditional, Kosher, Halal and vegetarian lunch options. There will be a wide range of activities for children and adults including music, dancing, moon bounce, face painting, the carousel and rides on the park’s miniature train.

Food and drink will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis from 12:30-2:30 p.m. No registration is required.

In addition to recreation activities, there will be opportunities for small group conversations to talk about how to peaceably and respectfully move toward a nonviolent community.

“Our Friendship Picnic is an opportunity to come together, find common ground and community and be a bulwark against hate related violence,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “I encourage people of all ages to attend this annual event.”

The event is an initiative of the Montgomery County Committee Against Hate/Violence (CAHV), which works to eradicate acts of hate and intimidation through community education, advocacy, collaboration and legislation.

The Friendship Picnic is supported by:
  • Montgomery County Office of Human Rights
  • Montgomery County Human Rights Commission
  • Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships
  • Faith Community Advisory Group
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services African American Health Program
  • Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service
  • Montgomery Parks
  • Montgomery County Park Police
  • Montgomery County Police Department
  • Montgomery County Department of Transportation
  • Black Physician’s Network
For more information about the Friendship Picnic, call 240-777-8450 or 240-888-5502.

Volunteers Sought for Nadim Khan Memorial Homeless Resource Day on Thursday, Oct. 19, in Gaithersburg

Volunteers are needed for the Nadim Khan Memorial Homeless Resource Day to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Activity Center at the City of Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park. The one-day fair will provide Montgomery County residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with a one-stop opportunity to access a variety of resources and services focusing on health, employment, housing, legal, tax and veteran benefits.

Bohrer Park is located at 506 South Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg. The event is co-sponsored by the County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the City of Gaithersburg.

Volunteers serve as guides or navigators for the attendees to take advantage of more than 50 participating organizations. Services offered will include free medical screenings, legal support, tax assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling and free haircuts and manicures. Volunteers also are needed to help distribute donated winter clothing items.

“Homelessness is more than a housing issue—it is a human issue,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We need to help our neighbors who find themselves without housing. Homeless Resource Day is an event where individuals can find many resources in one place and volunteers are critical to the success of the event, assisting attendees navigate through many services being offered.”

Training for volunteers will be provided in advance of Homeless Resource Day. Free breakfast and lunch will be offered to volunteers at the event. Click here to sign up to volunteer.

For more information about the event, visit Questions about volunteering should be directed to Gloria Huggins via email at

“We haven’t had the resource fair for several years because of the pandemic and we know that having many different services and resources available in one place can really make a difference in helping people apply for benefits and get assistance with other needs,” said Christine Hong, DHHS chief of Services to End and Prevent Homelessness.

During the 2023 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Point-in-Time (PIT) survey held in late January, 894 adults and children experiencing homelessness and residing in shelters, transitional housing or who were unsheltered were counted in Montgomery County. The PIT survey is part of an annual regional analysis that started in 2001.

Additional sponsors of Homeless Resource Day include the Montgomery County Executive’s Office, the Montgomery County Council, the Housing Opportunities Commission, Covenant United Methodist Church, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish, WellPoint, United Healthcare and Gifts for the Homeless.

Homeless Resource Day in Montgomery County was formally named the Nadim A. Khan Homeless Resource Day following Mr. Khan’s death in 2016. He was the chief of Special Needs Housing (now known as Services to End and Prevent Homelessness) for DHHS from 2007-16 and was instrumental in spearheading planning efforts for this event, which was first held in 2011.

Ride On Bus Ridership Trends Up with Summer Surge in Riders

Ride On Bus Ridership Trends Upward in Summer

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) delivered more than five million rides on its Ride On bus transit system from March 2023 through June 2023, the last quarter of the 2023 Fiscal Year. This represents a nine percent increase in ridership over the same period the previous year. The trend accelerated over the summer, with June recording a nearly 16 percent ridership increase over 2022. July had a 29 percent increase and August reported 31 percent growth.

MCDOT has seen overall bus service improve, with timing and bus reliability trending upward throughout summer months as well.

“Higher rates of Ride On ridership benefit everyone by reducing the number of cars on the roads, improving traffic congestion, and helping our environment,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “I hope to see this trend continue. Increased bus ridership is important toward the County reaching our Climate Action Plan goal of a 100 percent carbon emission reduction by 2035. We have invested significant resources into creating a modern, accessible and customer-focused transit network. We have more exciting plans to come for Ride On including fully transitioning to a zero-emission bus fleet while continuing to provide our riders increased amenities, improved routes and better on-time performance. If you haven’t tried Ride On recently, please consider getting on board soon.”

Encouraging people to return to public transit following the pandemic has been a priority for MCDOT. In August 2022, the department announced the return of bus fare, but at the discounted rate of one dollar per ride. Older adults, persons with disabilities and students under the age of 18 are still able to ride for free.

The department was greatly impacted by the national shortage of bus operators during and after the pandemic. Salary increases implemented last year and ongoing hiring and training efforts are steadily building back staffing levels.

“We are continually looking to hire and train operators and those numbers have been trending upward as well,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin.

Other MCDOT Ride On initiatives have focused on making the transit network faster, easier to use and more accessible.

“Accessibility improvements, service adjustments based on ridership and gradual service increases have helped support the steady recovery from pandemic impacts,” said Director Conklin. “Our Ride On Trip Planner app, launched this past July, allows customers to plan their routes in advance, and track bus arrivals in real-time. It has never been easier, and our fares are still only $1, which is a lot cheaper than driving.”

New COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Available Soon

New COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Available Soon

A new COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new vaccine and the advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control recommended that anyone age 6 months and older get vaccinated. The new vaccines are a much closer match to currently circulating variants. They are updated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

The vaccine is scheduled to be distributed to health care providers and pharmacies across the U.S. very soon.

Insurance companies will pay for vaccinations and shots that will primarily be available through private physicians’ offices and local pharmacies. The County’s Department of Health and Human Services will be working with Montgomery Cares clinics to provide doses to their clients without insurance.

There will be a limited number of County-sponsored clinics distributing the new vaccines, but they will be for residents who are uninsured. Information about those clinics will be available when vaccine is available.

For more information about the vaccine and how to obtain them, residents should call their health care provider or visit The website will provide information on local pharmacies offering the vaccinations by zip codes.

Conceptual Findings from Ride On Reimagined Public Transportation Study Will Be Discussed at Virtual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 28

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will hold a virtual open house at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, to present a first look at the Ride On Reimagined study and get community feedback on proposed concept changes to the County transit network. The ongoing Ride On Reimagined Study is a full-scale re-assessment of how the Montgomery County public transit network will operate.

Montgomery County residents are encouraged to register and participate in the meeting.

The Ride On Reimagined Study has the goal of creating a future-focused public transportation system. The study, which began in February 2022, conducted a comprehensive assessment of the current Ride On and Metrobus network, ridership patterns and ongoing projects. To better address community needs, MCDOT sought extensive community feedback through ridership surveys, pop-up events and focus groups comprised of transit riders and non-riders.

“Ride On Reimagined lets us examine our public transit from every angle to create a transportation system that is a real alternative to cars—fast, reliable and less expensive,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “We have worked closely with WMATA, through the Better Bus initiative, to create a comprehensive plan that integrates a regional network of transportation systems. Ride On Reimagined will bolster the local economy by improving connections for residents and visitors to shopping, recreation, and jobs. Improved public transit helps address inequality by increasing transportation access—and in turn opportunities—to historically marginalized populations. The plans developed from this study will update the County’s transportation network to meet the needs of travelers with efficient, affordable service to regional hubs, shopping and entertainment and business districts. We want you to see what we are proposing and provide your comments. Ride On Reimagined will help make car-free transportation a first-choice option in Montgomery County, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.”

The new concepts from the study incorporate the planned Flash bus rapid transit corridors, supplemented by additional frequent high-capacity bus routes and new all-day express service linking Downcounty and Upcounty hubs and Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia. Local routes will provide connectivity throughout the County, with trips operating at a minimum of every 30 minutes, supplemented by new Flex zones to offer on-demand, corner-to-corner service throughout the day.

“We have seen a significant shift in how and when people are using public transit. The pandemic has accelerated trends that were already in motion; with more people teleworking part or all of their workdays, traffic patterns have more variance throughout the day,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We are seeing more demand for buses that connect to entertainment and shopping districts. We are taking a close look at shifting demographics, including an aging population that requires higher levels of accessibility and shifting trends in housing. Our bus service needs to reflect where and how residents live, work and travel. We will be implementing creative solutions to transit needs on a rolling basis over the next few years. The goal is to improve access to public transit, connect neighborhoods and improve the customer experience.”

MCDOT will also hold a series of eight pop-up events throughout October to share proposed changes to individual routes. The pop-up events will be held at the following locations:
  • Monday, Oct. 2. 7–10 a.m. at Germantown Transit Center
  • Thursday, Oct. 5. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at Rockville Metro Station
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10. 7–10 a.m. at Bethesda Metro Station
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at Shady Grove Metro Station
  • Tuesday, Oct.17. 7–10 a.m. at Silver Spring Transit Center
  • Thursday, Oct. 19. 3–6 p.m. at Wheaton Metro Station
  • Monday, Oct. 23. 3–6 p.m. at Lakeforest Transit Center
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25. 7–10 a.m. at White Oak Transit Center
The Ride On Reimagined Study will continue through January 2024.

Comments can be submitted via email to Once completed, the Ride On Reimagined study will include immediate adjustments to bus routes to better serve the community and long-term plans to implement and expand on-demand, express and bus rapid transit service.

For more information on the Ride On Reimagined study and to register for the virtual open house, visit the website.